Monday, January 17, 2011

Filling the biscuit jars

Today Jonty and I did a little baking to top up some of our snack supplies. I've been a little slack with the cooking lately but now that the weather has cooled I'm enjoying getting the oven going again. Not to mention that we have a lot of cost cutting to do this year due to an upcoming project which I will tell you about soon and if I find the time to do some baking each week it really cuts down on the grocery bill. A lot of people ask me how I manage to spend so little on food and I think a big part of that is trying to never buy snacks. They are often expensive and can blow your budget. Plus the ones that you make at home are so much better than anything that you can buy. I see it sometimes as not saving money but spoiling ourselves with better food. Actually, that goes for all the food in our house. . . . if I have managed to get away with spending very little at the supermarket it means that that week we will be eating like kings because everything will be made from scratch with all our vegetables coming out of the garden. And if I have a week where I do lots of cooking the fridge fills with food as the week goes on instead of emptying as we reach shopping day.

I think often that trying to spend less and live more simply means that you have the best quality and eat better than anyone who spends endlessly at the supermarkets. Mainly this is because no matter how much you spend you will have trouble finding anything that compares to what you can make at home. Most things are made for the mass market so they have added ingredients to account for this; and I have found that this is even if a product is advertised as all natural, no added preservatives, etc. For example, I try to always make my own bread but when I have gotten behind and have to buy a loaf I spend ages in the bread aisle reading ingredients on packets looking for a list that reads only flour, yeast, sugar, salt and water. I know that this is all that is needed to make bread but rarely will I find a loaf with just these ingredients. And, it is never as good as what you can make at home so you are paying a high price (and it will be expensive) for an inferior product.

I know that this mostly comes down to time and that many of us are so busy these days that the thought of making your own bread seems completely out of touch but if there is just one thing that you are going to make yourself rather than buy make it be the snacks for the week. Compile a list of throw together cakes or biscuits (and there are some healthy options in this department) and quickly put them together at the beginning of the week or make up large batches and freeze them. The snacks that you can buy in the supermarket or the ones that you grab with your coffee on the way to or from somewhere are generally not very good and seem to be the most expensive of grocery items. This is a good way to cut some costs.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Rainy day crafting

The days have been pretty wet around here lately so there has been little time outside. So, in attempt to keep my two year old happy and occupied there has been a lot of craft, drawing and painting going on.

I never want to throw these little pieces of art out so I have a few simple clip frames along my hallway where I rotate the pictures. Jonty gets very proud to see his creations hanging all specially framed for everyone to see!

Monday, January 10, 2011

A morning walk in the garden

Often early in the morning, at least as soon as the sun comes up, Jonty and I head out into the garden to say hello to the chickens and just to try to burn off some energy.

Jonty's chicken Priscilla (or Percy to Jonty) is often clucking around outside the kitchen somewhere so that is generally where we head first.

Then the other chooks are checked on and have their feed topped up and water changed. Jonty always likes to spread a little seed on the ground so he can get amongst them and give them sneaky pats when they are scratching around.

My hydrangas are looking fantastic this year and there are always bunches of them around the house.

There is always time for a little ride as well!

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Garlic harvest

Before we went away for Christmas I harvested all of my garlic, and when I came home it was dried out enough for me plait. I was very excited about doing this as it was something that I had always wanted. . . braids of garlic hanging in my kitchen that I had grown myself. I had to do a little google search and watch a few videos to teach myself how to plait it but that is the beauty of the internet, anything can be learnt, you don't need someone that you know to show you how.

I had calculated when planting to grow enough to get us through to the next harvest and also allowed enough to be used as seed for the following planting.
It is a great crop to grow. Basically you get a bulb from planting a clove, so save ten cloves for seed and you get ten bulbs (approximately 100 cloves of garlic). I figure that I have only had to buy the seed the once and from now on I'll just save from the previous harvest for planting and it will go on and on year after year unless I lose a whole crop due to disease or something. This is basically the principle behind seed saving, and if you are going to start anywhere on this process then garlic is a good place to start.
I've found it really easy to grow. It's a long growing season but once it's planted you just need to keep it watered and you should be right. I can't imagine that there would ever be any pest problems.
And, it tasted better than the generic white bulbs that you buy from most places!

A handmade Christmas

I am a little late on this post really but I have have been having trouble settling back into my regular routine after being away for Christmas and also Jonty has been sick and needing all of my attention . . . at ALL times!
Anyhow, things are returning to normal again and I am hoping to now post regularly, or at least more often.
So, a little update on Christmas. About two weeks beforehand I decided that I was going to make all of my gifts and in hindsight I now realise that this was a little too ambitious, but having set myself the goal I had to follow through (I am very stubborn you see) and after a few late nights I was able to cross everything off my list.

So, much soap, preserves, jam and granola was made and packaged up for the adults.

And for the kids I had a few little ideas that I made up. For one nephew I sewed up a pencil roll from recycled denim and vintage car fabric,

and for the other nephews I made my own version of a wall pocket organiser that I had seen in a book somewhere. My nephews have just moved house and need somewhere to store all of their collected odds and ends.

And for the real littlies I made up some aprons from vintage fabrics. I made Jonty up a few as well as I find that when we cook together I have to change his whole outfit afterwards.

I didn't use any patterns for any of these sewing projects but really they were very easy and all seemed to work out ok.