1 July 2015

Kicking A Holiday Goal

One of the things I find about trying to live simply and clutter free, is that it takes constant work. You never get to a point where everything is done. I'm actually OK with this fact. Things come into the house. Situations change, and things that were once useful, are no longer needed. The only problem is that day to day, I don't get to go through of our entire house a cull, so during each school holidays I try to set a few goals. A few extra tasks over and above the everyday things so that the house stays organised and free(ish) of clutter.

These holidays I've had on my list to go through the kids craft stuff, dress up clothes, as well as going through our filing cabinet and clear out the years random paperwork that had accumulated. I had gone through some of the paper work when I was on maternity leave after having Toby, but as he is about to turn five, you can probably imagine how much superfluous stuff there was in those drawers.

  

I kid you not. I found the instruction manuals for our first mobile phones that we bought in 2000 (remember the Nokia 5110 and the snake game?), instruction manuals and receipts for baby equipment bought when Hannah was a baby (and now passed on to family and friends), payslips from  2009, and paperwork for a car we sold in 2010. There was paperwork in there, that should never have been kept in the first place.

In all, I culled close to a full drawer of unneeded paperwork. As I worked I sorted the unwanted paper into two piles. The first was full of paper without personal details: instructions booklets and the like. I put these straight into the recycling bin. The second pile contained papers with personal details. They will be our fire starters next time we have a bonfire.

At the same time I re-organised the files to better suit our needs. I removed superfluous files (we don't get water bills anymore because we are on tank water), and created new ones to help keep the paperwork we do need, in better order.

In the five years since I last did a bit of a sort out, lots of things have changed. We now get a lot of our bills and paper work emailed to us rather than having a paper copy (which I much prefer). Also I have worked out that we really do not need to keep half the stuff we had. Stuff for tax, and to do with insurance etc we absolutely need, but instruction booklets for small items, receipt from piano lessons, we need to just get rid of straight away. My hope is now that it has been sorted properly, we will find it easier to keep tidy, and will be more ruthless about what we do keep. I will let you know how it goes!

So we are only a few days into the school holidays, and I've already kicked a goal.... and I'm feeling pretty pleased about it too!

Do you set holiday goals? Are you terrible at dealing with paperwork or are you a bit of a ninja? Do you remember the 5110?

29 June 2015

Hot Desserts For Cold Nights

Winter holidays mean a few treats. The cold days and early nights are just crying out for a cheeky hot dessert after dinner. So here are a few desserts I have made over the years, that are just perfect for a cold winters night. I feel some baking coming on.


Rhubarb strawberry crunch
Fig and chocolate pudding with caramel sauce
Orange golden syrup dumplings
Cheaty creamed rice 

What is your favourite winter dessert?

26 June 2015

Eight Little Piggies

Our latest litter of piglets arrived in all their cuteness last weekend. Mummy pig popped eight out over night, surprising us a little, as we weren't expecting to see them for another week. They are so sweet when they are young, and we always fall in love with them.

We wandered down the following morning to peek at them over the edge of the sty, and then on Sunday when Mummy pig had a chance to recover a little, we managed to have a little cuddle of her babies while she ate her dinner.


So cute!

24 June 2015

How Do You Like Me Now?

I share lots of little projects and organising ideas here on the blog fairly regularly. Usually I try to wait a little while to check that they really are as good as I thought before I share, but generally the ideas are up with in a couple of weeks of me doing them. So I've decide I should go back through some of my old projects and ideas, and share with you how they have gone in the long run. You know - what things we still love, and what things we have changed or further tweaked.

1. Storing our DVDs in plastic sleeves.
I shared this project at the beginning of the year after despairing about the ugly space hogging DVD cases on our bookshelf. I popped the DVDs and the labels into some sleeves I found on ebay, and then put them in some boxes in the cabinet under the TV. I kept the cases just in case we changed our minds. How has it been?
Well I love that the cases are no longer on display. We all find it just as easy to find the DVD we are looking for in the box. We have bought a few new DVDs over the last 6 months, and each time, I just get out an empty sleeve and pop the DVD into it. I have then thrown the DVD case straight out. These holidays I'm planning on climbing up into the storage loft of the shed to retrieve the garbage bag full of cases, and then get rid of them. I'm not going back to bulky cases!


2. Sorting out and organising our toys
Late last year I wrote several posts about organising toys, and shared the recent clear out that we had done in our play room (See part one here, and part two here). Well half a year later and we still love the new look playroom. The kids find it super easy to tidy up when they need to, and the labels have made is significantly easier for them to know where to put each item. I love that it has reduced what used to be a significant point of tension. I'm sure that the actual toys we have will evolve as the kids grow (the girls have indicated that they no longer use the loom bands and that we could get rid of them), but I think the system has the ability to evolve easily with us. In short, I love our play room system.





3. Labeling our power cords
I wrote this post over a year ago after I spent an hour trying to untangle all the power cords that were under the buffet. I thought there had to be an easier way to work out which cord went with what device. Turns out there was. We don't go poking under the buffet a lot, but when ever we do, it is super easy to work out which plug to pull. Too easy!

4. Stopping our kids interrupting
I wrote this post a few months back after seeing an article that suggested there was a way to stop your kids interrupting so much. We had given it a go and found that on the whole we were experiencing a lot less interruption from the kids. A few months on, we find that Toby is the best at naturally getting our attention using this method, while the girls need a little more prompting to remember. It has definitely decreased the amount of interruptions we get, but I would be lying if I was to say it worked every time.



5. Once a month grocery shopping
This is a very old post where I explained the process of planning a once a month grocery shop, and how we managed all the details.These days, we have now stretched our grocery shop out to every 5 to 6 weeks. We have dropped the rigid menu planning  (you can read more about this here) because it wasn't working any more. Also now that I work closer to home, we have a little more flexibility when it comes to getting our groceries. The printable list is still a staple of our shopping.  We also tend to stockpile dry goods a lot more than we used to. I guess that this also helps to stretch out the shopping trips.  Over all we still love doing a big grocery shop less often (though perhaps we just don't like grocery shopping).

So there we have it. Five things we have tried out over the last few years and how they are working for us in the long term.


19 June 2015

Say Yes To New Adventures

It's been a big fortnight for me. I've been working hard at work (it's reporting time - always busy), and working hard at home too. Last weekend we popped down to Melbourne for a long weekend. It was a fantastic (and rare) chance to have some time away from the farm without the kids.

On the Saturday I went to the Kidspot Voices of 2015 launch, while Country Boy checked out the botanic gardens and the St Kilda community garden. I was quietly chuffed to have been named in the "Top 100 Digital Creatives" - in the Parenting and Style section (which I had a little giggle about, since neither of those things particularly pop into my brain when I think about myself).


I had a fabulous time meeting some bloggers who I had quietly stalked followed for the last few years, as well as some lovely bloggers who I have started stalking erm, following. Blogging is a bit of a strange business - we work very much on our own, but our connections are incredibly important. I met several people for the first time, who I "know", but had never met. We exchange comments, and know a little about each others lives through our blogs, and it was great to be able to actually chat with them in person. I'm already looking forward to meeting up again sometime soon.


As part of the Voices of 2015 program, there was a masterclass, which was a series of workshops for bloggers to learn more about various aspects of running a blog. Boy did I learn a lot. It's going to take a little time to digest everything, but I have an action list and I'm getting moving.

The masterclass could not have come at a better time, because for the last month I have been getting ready to move this little blog to a self hosted site. It has been my goal since Problogger last year, and I'm on the home stretch. I'm hoping that the move will give me a lot more flexibility in terms of design (I love fiddling around with code etc), and also a greater chance to grow the community of lovely people who pop in here to catch up on my country life.

My blog has changed a lot over the last 4 years. What began as sort of an online diary for my family and friends to keep up with our new farm adventures, has evolved into a creative place for me to share my thoughts and ideas. I'm writing about what I love, what I believe is important, and what life (to me) is all about. I'm always so glad that so many others pop in and share their thoughts with me. Although the farm is a long way from so many people, this little corner of the internet is my happy place, where I can connect with all sorts of people.

You will probably notice a few changes on the new blog over the next week or two. Hopefully it will be prettier, and reflect more of my personality, and taste. Fingers crossed that all the links will work, and that it functions well (I've been getting my sister to check everything for me). I'm also considering putting some affiliate links or ads in the sidebar to help cover some of the expenses that this blog has and keep my children in socks and shoes. I know that advertising etc isn't everyone's cup of team and I have got mixed feelings about this myself, but I want to stretch myself and try some new things out.

What won't change is that I will continue to write about what I'm passionate about. The recipes, simple living ideas, and stories from the farm are here to stay. So too are the photos I love to snap with my trusty camera. After 4 years, I'm not ready to stop doing this. I'm ready to start a new adventure.

Have you had any new adventures lately? Want to join me on a new adventure?


15 June 2015

Pumpkin Fruit Cake

I'm beginning to wonder if I should start a series called "the pumpkin files" or something similar, because pumpkins seem to be a bit of a theme around here. Possibly due to the fact that Country Boy grows lots of them. Lots of them!!!


Over the years I've been blogging, many people have sent me recipes to try to use up some of the pumpkins. Most of them we have made several times, but this recipe (seen here in the comments- sent by Lyn) is one of Country Boy's favourites. He whipped up this cake to take to church on Sunday, so I quickly whacked it on the table and snapped a a few pics. Don't you just love those little mini pumpkins I grabbed to pop into the picture? So sweet.

Pumpkin Fruit Cake
Ingredients
1c warm mashed pumpkin
1c sugar
125g butter (softened) - it will melt into the warm pumpkin
2 eggs
340g mixed dried fruit (we used sultanas, dates, cranberries, dried apple, dried apricots - but you can use whatever you like)
2c SR flour


Method
1. In a bowl, mix the mashed pumpkin, sugar and butter.
2. Stir in the mixed dried fruit, and eggs.
3. Stir through the SR flour.
4. Grease and line a 22cm round cake tin.
5. Pour the mixture into the tin.
6. Bake at 180*c for 1 hour, or until cooked through.

Gratuitous mini pumpkin pic:


Have you got a great pumpkin recipe? Care to share? Aren't those little pumpkins so cute!?

12 June 2015

Winters Afternoon


One of my favourite winter activities is to light a bonfire in the late afternoon. Toasting our fingers (and perhaps some marshmallows) in front of that radiant warmth. The kids usually go nuts throwing sticks into the fire, and after a while run away and invent their own little games. Country Boy and I enjoy a rare time to just sit and shoot the breeze. We talk about plans for the garden and house, and our future. Of course we never solve anything, but it is still good to just sit together and chat. A winters afternoon, on a long weekend. Perfectly spent.

What is your favourite winter activity? Are you a bonfire fan?
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