Thursday, 18 February 2016

Independence Days Challenge: Week Fourteen

'I think there are a lot of us who have become disconnected from our past. We've been so busy living in the modern world that a lot of the time we've barely noticed the passing of the old ways. Or perhaps we were glad to see them go - glad to lose the things that marked us as from the old country or as a hick or a country person. Those things, we were told, were of no value to the new people we were. And so what our grandmothers and grandfathers knew was lost. How frustrated they must have been to see generations arise who didn't value their thrift and work, and then, how frustrated we all were when we realised we did need to know these things, and the grandparents who could teach us were gone.'
Independence Days by Sharon Astyk pg 209

When I was reading through Independence Days looking for a quote, I found a recipe for Raspberry and White Chocolate Jam. Yes, chocolate in jam! Could there be a better idea?! Has anyone made any recipes for jam with chocolate? 

The big question is, do I actually have anything to report?! And the answer is, yes (but not much!)

1. Plant something

I have planted some coriander seeds, that is all. I need to focus on cleaning up from potting area.

2. Harvest something

It is amazing that, even though I have done next to nothing in the garden, it keeps producing!

Potatoes, rhubarb, zucchini and eggs. Also parsley, mint and rosemary.

Sunflowers, apples and crabapples.

Not sure if the peaches will ever ripen - they have been green for ages. Still harvesting some lemons, but there are tons of green ones coming along.

And this is why I never seem to have any sweet corn grow to maturity! The boys eat it raw in the garden!

3. Preserve something

No real preserving this week, although I did make a big batch of roasted rhubarb for the freezer.

4. Minimise waste

This is my kitchen bench at the end of a school day. I don't use any packaging for my three boys' school lunches, so I think that would be a significant saving in plastic.

5. Want not

I collected three pallets from our local garden suppliers. I am hoping to make a potting bench using our old kitchen sink.

6. Cook something new

As a result of sorting through my recipes to make a recipe folder, I tried a few new recipes this week. The clear standout was this pear and custard tart - really simple and everyone loved it.

7. Manage your reserves

I did another freezer inventory last week, so have made notes of what to use with which recipes. These will be added into my weekly meal plans over the next few months.
Canning cupboard is very low, so I definitely need to start preserving.

8. Work on local food systems

I can't think of anything to report on this front. Although a friend at school was giving away free fruit from her car boot this afternoon, as her trees produced so much. I am hoping to get there too, some day!

Paddocks are looking extremely dry - let's hope the autumn rains come early this year.

Our area is facing a record dry season at the moment, so our town has organised an attempt to break the Guiness world record for number of people participating in a rain dance! It will be held sometime in March. You can read about it here.

I pass the above dam every day and can remember when it really was deep water. It is the roadside dam that the fire brigade use to draft water in an emergency, so not good that it has been completely dry for over a year.

Hopefully the rain dance will make a difference!! And I'll be able to smell that gorgeous rain smell very soon!

Monday, 15 February 2016

Menu Plan For The Week

Linking today with At Home With Mrs M for Meal Planning Monday and I'm An Organising Junkie for Menu Plan Monday.

I am hoping to have a super productive week in the kitchen and get some freezer cooking done. After doing my freezer inventory and seeing exactly what I do, and do not have, it seems some extra planning is required!

I also finally sorted out all my photocopied and loose recipes into my lovely new recipe folder. I found some wonderful recipes while doing this, so this week I am going to cook from my folder.

Chicken and leek pie with salad
Rhubarb compote with coconut yoghurt

Lemon syrup polenta cake

One-pan baked chicken and chorizo
Maple walnut self-saucing pudding

Crumbed fish fillets with potato wedges and steamed greens
Pear and custard tart

Tuna, zucchini and lemon fettucine
Sticky date pudding

Roast beef with roast veggies, honey carrots and minted peas
Vanilla panna cotta with berries

Homemade pizza
Jelly and ice cream

Banana, date and chia muffins
Honey jumbles
Lemon slice
Fig bars
Choc chip cookies
Pear and ginger cake
Rhubarb breakfast bars

Pizza bases
Cookie dough
Roasted tomato sauce

And how much do I love this kitchen?! Is there anyone who would be able to convince their hubby of an all pink kitchen?!

This Week's To-Dos

Let's see how I did with last week's list!

Gardening and Homestead

  • Dead head rose bushes to hopefully get an autumn flush of flowers.
  • Veggie garden - don't even look in there! You may have seen the photos last week - terrible, I know! I did a bit of weeding last week, not a noticeable amount though.

Knitting, sewing and crafting

  • Winding skeins ready for dyeing and plan some dyeing colour schemes.
  • Finish Amy Pinafore - so close!
  • Finish Ugly Yarn Monster.
  • Three hours of hand quilting on Miss Ballerina's quilt - yes, this is still not finished!

  • Freezer inventory -who knew we still had so much beef left in there!
  • Sort out two boxes from shed.
  • Start organising recipe folder. - Finished - hooray! And I have even started using some of the recipes from it.

So some of the items are back on the list for this week, as they are never-ending, revolving list items.

Gardening and Homestead
  • Weeding veggie garden
  • Sow seeds of silverbeet, peas, coriander, lettuce, kale
  • Clean out chicken pen and lay new straw

Knitting, sewing and crafting
  • Pantry inventory
  • Sort out two boxes from shed
  • Make pizza bases for the freezer
How is your week shaping up? Looking busy or relaxing?

Working On Being Happy

To some of you, that title may seem silly. What do you mean, 'working' on being happy? Happy is just how you are, isn't it?
Maybe to some, but to us melancholics, happy is a state that we need to consciously work on. I am not a naturally happy person - believe me, I wish I was - but that just isn't my reality. Relying on God and reading His Word has helped me a lot, as has blogging and all the encouraging words I read at other blogs, but I still need to work at it every day.

That's why I was pleased this week to find this post, appropriately entitled Being Happy, at Life Is Good. The title of that blog post and the name of the whole blog just sums up how I really want to be.
The post lists guidelines for being happy. Again, this sounds silly to those naturally happy people. But for a melancholic who loves list making and list following, this is a perfect solution for me!

I also acknowledge and accept that this is a major part of my lack of happiness problem. I just can't seem to embrace the 'bloom where you are planted' concept. Things in my life have not gone the way I would have wished and I admit I am having real difficulties with that. But one of my daily prayers for 2016 has been to try and let go and just let God lead where He will. I need to let go of the resentment I feel and the lack of control I feel over where my life and that of my family has headed and just live for now. And God will take care of the future. It may not be what I had in my mind, but His plans will always be more than I could ever have imagined. I pray this verse every day.

I realise that I am making my hubby's life and that of my children not as happy as it should be with my moping around. Not that I am saying anything about it, but just being sad around them and not being the best wife and mother I can and should be.

So I am going to:

For me, it definitely means making that choice and sticking with it every day. And if that means following a list, even if I don't feel happy, so that I can act happy, then that is what I will do. And eventually, with God's help, I am praying to actually reach a state where I am happy where I am and don't need to follow lists to help me.

I am hoping there are others who understand where I am at, maybe have been there themselves and come out the other side. I am sure that I can beat this, but I would love to hear from anyone else for whom this has been, or still is, an everyday reality.

I am linking today with Darling Down Diaries for Good Morning Mondays,

and with Strangers & Pilgrims On Earth for The Art of Home-Making Mondays.

Sunday, 14 February 2016

Happy Valentine's Day!

I don't want to be an old Scrooge, but I do tend to think Valentine's Day is WAY too commercial and tends not to have any real meaning.

But that being said, I still love vintage Valentines! So thought I would share some.

How about some vintage vegetable Valentines?

Or some knitting and sewing ones?

Bee ones are always sweet.

And just a few others.

And there are millions more - I could go on forever.
I quite like all the corny word plays in these vintage Valentines - some of them are really stretching though!
What do you think? Do you celebrate Valentine's Day?

Have a happy Valentine's Day!

Saturday, 13 February 2016

Period Drama Challenge - A Royal Night Out, A Review

Another movie review for the Period Drama Challenge at Old-Fashioned Charm.

A Royal Night Out was not on my list for the challenge, but I have been wanting to see it since it hit movie theatres and it finally arrived at my library.

The movie is about the young Princesses, Elizabeth and Margaret, and their adventures on the night of VE Day in London. This was to be their very first night ever out on their own.
Although Mummy promises they can have a night out, the Princesses find that is really just a staid outing with the lords and ladies, well guarded by two officers. So they give the officers the slip and the real night out begins.

There are some funny scenes where Princess Elizabeth, of course, has no money and no concept of how the buses work or where places are in London. She also has to use public toilets, which is a new experience!

And of course many scenes in which people speak of the royal family candidly. Lizzie is in a pub when the King's speech is broadcast, so is able to see the real people's reaction to her father.

A romantic element is introduced with the character of Jack. Lizzie meets him on a bus after being separated from Margaret and Jack spends the night reluctantly helping her find her sister.

Being the unabashed Royalist I am, I really wanted to love this movie. But it took a while to get moving for me. I only started to really enjoy it about halfway through, but by the end I loved it. Although totally and utterly unbelievable, it was still a lovely bit of royal family fun.

Casting was impeccable - all the characters were wonderful. Rupert Everett was fabulous as the King as was Emily Watson as the Queen. Understated elegant performances from both.

The two Princesses were lovely, although the plummy accents grated after a while. They looked divine - I just love everything about the 40s; the clothes, the hairstyles, the fact that everyone dressed so well.

The two officers charged with guarding the Princesses for the night were typical English officers - the stiff demeanour, the moustaches.

Princess Elizabeth's dress (on the right) was gorgeous; not so fussed on Princess Margaret's - long sleeves and fur are not for me! Not sure if this was a deliberate design choice to play her down against Elizabeth. Poor Princess Margaret - there is a scene where she introduces herself as P2, Princess Number 2. No wonder she always felt overlooked.

I loved all the scenes of the celebrations on VE night. I like to watch the interviews on DVDs and the director mentioned that they actually filmed the scenes on the 8th May, the anniversary of VE Day. So there were a lot of people already there in period costume who took part in the filming.

As to historical accuracy - well, I'm not fussed! It was just a lovely fun bit of fantasy entertainment, showing what could have possibly happened if the Princesses really had a night out. 

Obviously if you are really into accuracy, the movie would annoy you as, although it could be believable that Elizabeth may have been able to enter pubs and drink alcohol at 19 years of age, it is ludicrous to think the same of Margaret at 14. Yet in the movie, she is drinking pink gin in bawdy houses and definitely does not look 14 years old!

There is an interesting article in The Telegraph, What Happened When A Princess Went Walkabout?, that describes the actual events as related by Lord Porchester, the palace guard who actually chaperoned the Princesses on their incognito adventure that night. And he didn't give anything away! So I guess only the Queen now knows what really happened that night over 70 years ago and I can imagine she isn't telling!

Watching movies such as this does always make me wonder whether the Queen watches all these movies made about her, her father, Diana, etc. and what she thinks of them.

But if you love the era, as I do, or you love the British Royal family as I do, watch the movie for a bit of light fun and to be carried away by the sense of jubilation that existed on VE Day. I don't like crowds at all, but even I would have wanted to be at the gates of Buckingham Palace at midnight that night.