Saturday, May 26, 2012

1:30am Rat encounter

Let this be a warning to all men, put cornice in your wife's cupboard!

This morning at 1:30 am I wake to my necklaces making noise in a closed cupboard.
On opening the door there is a bush rat at head height looking back at Pooh.

What do you do at that hour of the morning, how do you remove a rat? Is it going to leap from the cupboard and go for his throat, run on to the floor and run through the house of sleeping children, get lost under toys or clothes?

It just seems very bad to my confused just awoken mind.

Pooh gets gloves, maybe he can catch it? It's not going to stay in a container with paper like an obedient spider. No way, springs straight past onto the floor of the bedroom and into the corner where my chair resides.

Words fail to express the horror we felt.

 A stroke of early morning genius, call the dog. She was very bashful about coming into the bedroom, normally the forbidden zone, however on entry in less than 2 seconds she spied and caught the offending rat.

Victory and relief rushed through my body then remorse, I sort of felt sad, the bush rat is very very cute, but lets remember it crossed a boundary.

So needless to say I'm sure, Pooh is currently installing cornice into the now defiled cupboard, the dog is by the fire and the rat, well by all accounds it will reappear shortly in a new form ;o)

A wood fire dinner

Tonight we had the most delicious dinner. DS won a blade roast at the club last night and we cooked it in the wood oven. I have to share this recipe, it is amazing, the gravy is second to none!

  • Heat out the dutch oven in coals or wood fire oven 
  • In the thermomix chop 2 onions and cook with 30g olive oil, 40 mins. Add 1 cup red wine, 3 crushed cloves garlic 1 cup beef stock. Salt and pepper to taste. Simmer briefly.
  • Seal 2 kg blade roast in hot dutch oven, once sealed add onion and stock mix and into coals or oven for 2 1/2 hours.
  • If you don't have a thermie, then seal meat first in hot dutch oven, remove meat and cook onions, and add the rest as above, stir, add meat and cook as above.
  • Turn and check from time to time, when ready. Remove meat to rest. Wrap and place in an insulated container or cover with foil and blanket.
  • Get gravy made with pan juices. Add corn flour and whisk, add more water and red whine, 1 TBS brown sugar and splosh of vinegar. You can do this in the thermie or the dutch oven.
  • Carve up and serve with veggies. Drown in gravy!

The point being, use your camping equipment and skills on 'normal' days, saves money and tastes oh so good!

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Local Radio

During our busy semester, our DD was a guest speaker on our loacl radio. It was a terrific experience for her and I thought I'd use this post as a reminder about local radio stations. Free and fun activity if anyone is interested in this sort of thing.
Sorry about the photo quality, it was on a phone and we couldn't get any closer, so zoomed in.

Vintage caravan restoration

We have a camper van, a thing that has tent like ends; it's great except when it rains. We had a horrible experience last year, it poured and poured, the wee ones got diarrhoea, it was a long walk to the park toilets and the littlest got very ill and ended up in hospital. So from then on I wanted a 'real' caravan. I wanted to be able to pull over, open the door have lunch a cup of tea and keep driving, no set up.

We had a check box of things we felt were requirements.

  • Under $10,000
  • Not too long, around 18 foot.
  • Single axle
  • Bunks and queen sized bed.
We finally found it and it was in another state, a huge task to go and see.
We met possibly the dodgiest vendor in all of existence. While our new van fits all of the above criteria except the queen bed but that can be changed, it was internally in poor condition. It was carefully disguised and we felt quite sad later. However it had towed beautifully, couldn’t be happier as that's extremely important. So the renovation begins in our study down time.

Here’s the before interior view:
The aim is for a cute vintage caravan, all new lining boards and a tiny ensuite. I have had a ball googling pictures and I think we might acutally go quite.. ahem... loud! I'm considering flowers on the outside!
I have decide on white linings, Micheal Miller fabrics (vintage prints), through Etsy of course and I'd love red and white checked flooring but I can't locate any as yet.
Sadly this is a long term project and our study break will be finished soon and all life as we know it is on hold again, until the end of the year.
Pooh, the body in the picture, found a screw had gone through electrical cable! I'm so glad he pulled that overhead cupboard off. Perhaps a complete rebuild is a blessing in disguse?

Electricity goes up 20% & carbon tax, reduce usage!

July 1st the "promised" 20% increase in power comes into effect. I *think* this is on top of our governments idea to give us a carbon tax. Either way it's time to reduce our reliance on our electricity usage.

*We have one tiny refrigerator only (as in no freezer in it) and 1 deep freeze chest style.
Out fridge uses very little power and we turn the freezer off by a timer every night. I can't reduce them much further other than doing away with them altogether which is possible. I could survive using a pot-in-pot style to keep a few things cool, I'd prefer not to at this stage.

*We have a tiny solar panel on our roof, in fact it was my Christmas gift last Christmas from Pooh. Of course Pooh bought a regulator and is so small these days, amazing. This panel charges two second hand small sealed gel batteries that we got from a mobility scooter man. Here they are in the cupboard, looking rather dodgy at this stage, but we are still in the "testing phase"!

*From these batteries we run a car CD player and radio. We have car speakers through the ceiling, the sound is awesome and if the main power goes out we can listen for community announcements during bush fire season.

*Also from these batteries we have some 12volt lights that are in the ceiling, neat little down lights so at night we don't require the mains power and of course when it goes out which it does regularly here we have very little interruption to our life.

*On top of this, we use a tiny inverter, you can get them cheaply from Dick Smith or car supply places. We charge our lap tops too. While studying, between the 3 of us, there was always a laptop charging. We just changed over to charging this way.

*We have the computer modem on other than that we have nothing else plugged into mains on stand by mode. We turn the TV on for a few shows then turn it off.

Replacement: Worcestershire Sauce Recipe

I don't know very many people that don't use worcestershire sauce. We certainly do and a homemade recipe was shared years ago and in the spirit of casting off supermarket reliance, here is our  tweaked version:

In a 3 litre bottle  (an old juice bottle is perfect) put:

  • 2 litres vinegar. White, brown, malt whatever you want.
30 grams (1 oz) of the following:
  • tamarind (optional, from indian grocer)
  • Chopped garlic
  • Cayenne pepper
  • whole cloves
  • sea salt

  • 1 tin treacle 850g
  • 3 TBS fish sauce
  • 2 lemons chopped 1/8th with skin left on (they add flavour)

Mix all together in bottle. Leave for 6 months, turn occasionally, give it a shake. When you go to decant, strain into another bottle. We have 3 bottles on the go, one we are current decanting from, one that will be ready soon and one that has just been made. We really like the stuff!

What can you make that you normally buy?

I was pondering how supermarkets are a relatively new concept. My grandmother, long since departed did not have supermarkets for the bulk of her life. I am trying to make a conscious effort to reduce my reliance on supermarkets, to avoid their excessive chemicals, their packaging and over inflated prices.
But lets be honest some of their stuff is just darn convenient, so this week I have started to look through my pantry and see what I can replace with home made products. Well, not entirely home made, the basic ingredients still come from the shops but at lest I have a better idea of the contents.

CUP-A SOUP, this weeks replacement item. We rarely use them but they are good to have on hand for an emergency meal. Google recipes, there are so many wonderful sites with recipes to try. Something like this. Here's the one we are sampling this week. I tried to stick to organic ingredients, but my milk powdered isn't :o(
However, very simple and store in a glass jar.
For our child with wheat allergies, we cook 3 TBS rice/water in the microwave and 1 TBS of this mix so he can have a 2 min noodle equivalent.

A productive silence

In some ways I can't believe it has been so long since I've posted, on the other hand I've not had time to scratch. As mentioned earlier we have undertaken study again and it has absorbed almost every waking hour. Here we are at mid semester and taking a well earned break from the books.

We have made some interesting discoveries! Having no time to go anywhere or do anything, we have hardly spent a thing!
We used our food supplies and just popped into the shops if we really had to, never spending more than needed.
We filled the car up once a month which is amazing as we live in a rural location and not walking distance to anything.
The only clothes we got where 2 pairs of $6 track suit pants for the wee ones. I don't think I've even op shopped.
I've not had time to craft, except for one set on gorgeous fabric coasters for a friend, I used scraps and 3 precious hours :o-

Our needs and wants went down and it has been reflected in minimal spending. We did well with our studies so all in all a productive silence.