Using up whats available

In the spirit of using up what we have and saving money I went through our freezer to see what we had and pulled out a few things that have been in there a while.  I still had a few things I made for the boys 6+ months ago that I have pulled out for them to eat this week.  And I’ve sorted hubbys meals into what he needs to eat first and what has just been made and what can stay in the freezer longer.  On top of that I took a lot of meals out of their plastic containers and put them into sandwich bags which I wrote on so we know what they are!  Now I have back about 10 containers which is great as my cupboard was empty and I had been looking for some.

Yesterday I made the diced carrots, celery and onion which was in my freezer that I had cooked in chicken stock a long time ago into a vegetable soup with some cans of crushed tomato.  I threw in a packet of risoni that I had found in my pantry clean up to use that up and add some bulk to the soup.  It’s a perfect lunch for my husband and uses up a whole lot of bits and pieces that I honestly wasn’t sure what to do with.  He says it tastes super yummy too so thats a bonus!

I also made a decision last week to try out Aussie Farmers Direct.  I had been thinking about it for a while and when they actually knocked on our door I deceided it was time.  Years ago when we lived on the other side of town, before children, we used to have a mixed fruit and vegetable box delivered once a fortnight.  I had mixed feelings about it.  It was great because we always got fresh produce but we also got things that I didn’t use which was a waste.  We ended up cancelling it.  But when I looked into Aussie Farmers Direct I noticed that they had a pick and mix box which is perfect for us.  I placed my order for this week, choosing my own fruit and vegetables which will come on Wednesday.  I have also ordered some other bits and pieces – they actually have a great range!!  My thought is that this will save me some trips to the supermarket which will save me money as I won’t be able to buy any extras!  I have set it up to have a standard order fortnightly delivered to me which I can change as it suits me.  I will still get my bread and milk from a major supermarket simply because of how much we go through and at $1 a loaf/litre it would just be too expensive for me to change that.

Hopefully with this change I will not need to go to the supermarket this week as I can just send hubby to get some milk which is great as with all his cancelled shifts lately and endless bills I really can’t afford to be spending money on this and that.  If you follow this page on facebook you would have seen that last week I used up a bunch of apples making juice with my juicer and using what the juicer considers waste to make apple pikelets.  They were both hits with my boys and I plan to make some more this week.  I also made apricot balls last week from a recipe card I got from Woolworths, and last night adapted it to make a peach version and I have plans this week to make a couple of other flavour versions.  The boys love them and they seem to be much cheaper to make than to buy.

I still have quite a lot of things to use up that are in my cupboard/fridge and I am trying to use up all the bits and pieces slowly but it is going to take quite a long time!

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Meal planning for the week

So last weeks meal planning actually didn’t go too badly.  I didn’t deviate from my plans to much at all but I did end up swapping it all around to suit when hubby’s shifts got cancelled.  We still have alot to use up and not much money so my plan this week is to only go to the supermarket for milk, bread and fresh fruit and vegetables.  Hopefully I can stick to that, but I know once we walk in I’ll end up spending a small fortune!

Monday – Beef stiry fry

Tuesday – Grilled marinated chicken breast with rice (hubby will be at work and we have a busy day so this is my fall back easy receipe for me, which the kids can enjoy for lunch the next day)

Wednesday – Potato and leek soup

Thursday – Steak (marinated in red wine and spices) and mashed potato

Friday – Savoury noodles (from the Tandaco One Pan Dinner Range)

Saturday – Home delivered pizza (hubby will be at work till late and after a long week I just don’t feel like cooking)

Sunday – Tandoori Chicken (from the Chicken Tonight range) with pasta

Emotional Week

So it’s been a busy week.  I feel very very tired but I haven’t stopped moving and I’m honestly not sure when I will get a chance to stop.  It’s been an emotional rollercoaster as we’ve had a mixture of things happen that have honestly rocked me a little.

With all that has happened it has reinforced how important my kids are and that I am on the right path, despite the endless judgement I get from family, friends and strangers.  I often wonder why we have become a society that judges each other for our decisions.  I’m the first to admit that I make judgements too and anyone who says they don’t is a liar.  We all judge, either out loud or in our own heads, it’s a part of life and I understand that.  I just think we may be going a step too far.  As a mum, who doesn’t work, it’s really hard to constantly be judged over my choices.  Some days it breaks my heart and I have had to teach myself to toughen up.  I admit I still cry on occassion!

So I have been trying to look after myself, my husband and my kids a bit more this week.  It helps me to keep busy but I have been finding that I am not falling asleep as easily as I usually do.  Before kids I had alot of trouble sleeping, I found it hard to stop the thoughts going on in my head.  But once the boys were born and sleep became rare I think my body just became used to when I’m in bed it’s time for sleep.  With the added stress this week I have noticed myself awake for a lot longer and my mind racing.  I’m really not happy about this to be honest!  I don’t want to get back into bad sleeping habits.

Having suffered from depression in the past I know how important it is to step in before you find yourself in that deep dark place.  Theres a number of things I have learnt over the years that I have been putting into practice this week to look after myself that little bit more – keeping busy, going for walks, talking about it, catching up with friends/family, and flowers.  And I can honestly say it does help.  Although we can’t afford to be buying flowers I know the affect it can have on my mood and think that a $8-$12 bunch from coles is well worth it.  I bought this bunch when the buds were still closed and they are now looking stunning.  Going up to them and smelling them is a joy.

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Recipe – Pumpkin Soup

So on Wednesday I had an off day, hubby went off to work and the kids went to bed and I needed to keep myself busy. So I started on my pumpkin soup. And I may have gotten a bit carried away!! It almost didn’t fit in the pot – oops!

Ingredients –

* 2 butternut pumpkins

* 6 granny smith apples

* 3 small onions

* 3 -4 cloves of garlic

* 2 litres of vegetable stock

Directions –

* Set oven to 180 degrees

* Peel and chop everything into chunks

* Put the pumpkin in a roasting pan and drizzle some oil over it, tossing with your hands

* Bake in the oven for approx 30 mins

* Pull out of oven and turn / stir the pumpkin

* Add in the apple, onion and garlic

* Bake in the oven for another 30 mins

* Meanwhile put your vegetable stock into a stock pot (I used cubes so I heated it for a few minutes to dissolve them in water)

* Add everything from the roasting pan to the pot

* Bring to the boil and simmer for up to 10mins (depending on how hard your pumpkin still is)

* Pour in batches into a blender / food processor or use a stick mixer to blend to a smooth consistency

Note –

I don’t think my pumpkin were quite large enough for the amount of liquid I used so my soup turned out quite watery.  So I put it all back in the soup pan and grated one potato into the mixture.  You need to reheat the soup for up to 10mins to ensure the potato is cooked.  As an alternative you could also make a roux, use cornflour, add more pumpkin or add sweet potato to thicken the soup.

You can also add salt and pepper in before roasting – I never put salt or pepper in my recipes simply because my boys may eat in and I don’t believe at such a young age they need that in their food.  Its much easier for hubby to add it when he eats it because once its in I can’t take it out!

 

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Recipe – Vegetable Muffins

So last week I had planned to make a Zucchini Slice.  On Monday I got out my recipe and ingredients, started making it and decided I really didn’t want to make it anymore.  So what to do?  I decided to add some extra ingredients and make mini muffins instead!

 

Ingredients –

2 zucchinis – grated

1 onion – diced

1 carrot – grated

1 cup self-raising flour

5 eggs

150g bacon – diced

1 cup shredded cheese

1 can corn

 

Directions –

* Set oven to 180 degrees

* Put the eggs into a bowl and whisk

* Add in flour and mix until smooth

* Add in all other ingredients and stir

* Spray a mini muffin tray with olive oil

* Spoon mixture into tray – fill to top but don’t overfill

* Cook for 25-30 mins

 

Variations –

* Mix up the vegetables – sweet potato is a good addition, try peas, tomato or beans

* Use a different cheese – fetta, parmesan

* Swap bacon for ham or just remove the meat altogether

* Add salt and pepper to the mixture

* Make into larger muffins or bake in a pan as a slice and serve as a meal to the whole family

 

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Pinky McKay – Toddler Tactics Seminar

Over the weekend I attended a seminar with my husband on Toddler Tactics run by Pinky Mckay. I have met Pinky previously at the baby and toddler show and have a great respect for her. I read alot of books when I was pregnant, but not many since I had my boys. Many have been suggested to me, and although I have flipped through some of them I have never really found any that worked with the way I wanted to parent. Then I came across a book by Pinky called Parenting by Heart. To me it was so different to what I had come across. It was just so refreshing. The basis of the book is about trusting your maternal instincts and bonding with your baby, her approach of acknowledging that every parent and baby is different and that one size does not fit all was just what I was looking for.

I have twins so that in itself is unique. Although twins are alot more common now thanks to the wonders of science, there are not alot of experts on twins. And the approach of making what works for single babies work for twins is at times laughable. Personally I have had alot of unsoliciated advice from friends, family, strangers and “experts,” none of whom have had twins. Those first few months of having the boys home were a difficult time for me, my husband had gone back to work the day after we all come home from the hospital, I had no one to help me, I was sleep deprieved and scared. On top of all that I had everyone telling me what I should be doing instead of asking me what help I needed and supporting me. I cried, ALOT! I am not ashamed to say I ended up with post-natal depression.

I wish that I had found Pinky McKays book sooner but instead I found my own way and eventually we all settled into routine and I stood up for myself and my new family and cut people out of my life who would not support the way I was parenting. My boys are now 15 months old and thriving. Sure we have had our ups and downs and there are moments that I am at a complete loss as what to do, but I do what I can in the moment and then think of ways to avoid that tantrum in the future. It is a huge learning curve.

So when I saw Pinky McKay was having a seminar on Toddler Tactics I bought tickets straight away. Although I have the book and I have read sections of it, it was important for not just me to go, but for my husband to go to. I took pages and pages of notes and I’m sure alot of it is in the book, but note taking helps me solidify things in my mind and it is a great reference for me to look back on. My husband and I learnt alot and have been able to discuss many key points since and we have tabled a discussion for some important topics that we believe are important to discuss.

My husband is not a reader so for him to go and hear Pinky speak was important. He has a greater understanding of how we are affecting our boys and has acknowledged that there are things he needs to work on and change. It has only been a few days since we attended and we are both trying hard to implement small changes that will in the long term have a big impact.

Pinky openly admits that she is not an expert on twins and that only increases my respect for her. Too many times have I had experts tell me how to make their methods for single children work for my twins – it is actually really annoying and honestly it doesn’t work. Twins are unique and special, there is a bond that I don’t understand but it is beautiful to watch. And although Pinky’s tips are for single babies alot of what she speaks about is aimed at the way we as parents deal with and teach our children, which can be easily adapted for twins (or more).

I don’t have any concept of how much more complicated triplets, quads or more is and I don’t pretend to but I do have an enermous amount of respect for just how hard it must be for any parent going through a rough stage with their child/children. Too many times we are judged by complete strangers because our child is crying in public. I have had some awful things said to me and I have heard far worse from other mothers. I would love for all parents to respect the way other parents choose to raise their children (unless it is unlawful) but we don’t live in that type of society. Thankfully I have been able to join a group with other liked minded mums who do ‘Parent by Heart’ which has certainly helped me on my own parenting journey.

Recipe – Dukkah

So the other night we ran out of Dukkah.  To me this is just a disaster.  And in the interests of vowing not to go to the supermarket and in all honesty not being able to afford to buy it as its quite expensive, I went on the hunt for a receipe to make it.  Unfortunately Dukkah is made with hazelnuts (or so the receipes tell me) and I do not have these in my cupboard.   I do however have pistachios – a hidden stash I found when reorganising my pantry, that I had previously used for making macaroons (I love macaroons!!).  So I set about finding a receipe using pistachios and I found one.  Hip hip hooray.  But I of course had to change it to suit what I had in my cupboards so here is what I came up with.  If you were making this from scratch I would not consider this a budget receipe, but if you had just a handful of pistachios or cashews you could easily divide this receipe in 4 and make a small amount.

Ingredients

* 1/2 cup finely chopped pistachios

* 1 cup ground pistachios (I had previously done this for making macaroons in my spice/coffee grinder – yes I own ALOT of appliances)

* 1/2 cup unsalted cashews, finely chopped

* 1 cup sesame seeds

* 4 tablespoons ground corianders seeds

* 4 tablespoons ground cumin seeds

* 2 teaspoons ground black pepper

* 4 teaspoons salt

Directions

* Toast the sesame seeds in the frypan over a low or medium heat until they are nice and golden (do this when the kids are asleep or otherwise preoccupied, they can pop and you don’t want to burn the seeds or the kids which does happen quite quickly)

* Add in all the other ingredients except the salt and cook on a low temperatue for a further 1 minute

* Take frypan off the heat, stir through the salt, allow mixture to cool

* Store in an airtight container

Dukkah is great with a good quality olive oil, balsamic vinegar and bread, but it is also a lovely crust for lamb roast, cutlets and salmon.

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