Thursday, May 31, 2012

Super Chicken Soup

Of course as luck would have it, after Little B was sick recently, Mr B caught the cold as well. With Mr B an adult asthmatic we generally hate anything with a cough. So we quickly turned to an old standby – our Super Chicken Soup which we find speeds up recovery or in some cases stops the cold /sore throat etc completely in its tracks before it can take hold.

We morphed together this recipe from 2 different recipes  (Bec’s Kill Anything Soup on Simple Savings and Jude Blereau’s Chicken Soup to Heal All Ills in Wholefood for Children).

4 chicken legs (skin off)
4 cloves garlic (finely diced)
2 red chillies
1 tsp grated fresh ginger
1 tbsp coconut oil
5 cups water
1 finely chopped carrot
1.5 good handfuls of baby spinach
1 packet of udon noodles (chopped)

Put chicken legs in with coconut oil and sauté slightly. Then add rest of ingredients except noodles. Cook for 30 minutes, then take chicken out and pull meat off the bone. Put chicken back into soup. Add noodles and simmer for 15 minutes. Add salt & pepper to taste.

This meal is quick, yummy and really clears the sinuses. We make a similar version for Little B sans the chillies. We also puree everything together for him to make a smooth soup and he just gobbles it up. Mr B prefers the soup clear with the vegies, chicken etc floating around in all the garlic/chilli goodness.

I make this as soon as I know either of the boys are sick and it seems to really help. Definitely helps them either not get or get over chest infections really quickly. Which as chief cook, nose wiper and all round go to girl, is nothing short of a bonus!!

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Fabberdiculous Bread

I love making bread :-) It’s one of the things that I really enjoy doing and love to experiment with.

But bread making can be temperamental and moving to the new house, I found that our bread wasn’t proving properly (due to temperatures). I resorted to putting it on a heat pad which worked but the bread wasn’t as nice (I now know I was overstretching the gluten). I even resorted to using the breadmaker to make the dough and then baking it in the oven, but still not as successful as it used to be.

So what to do?? After seeing an episode that River Cottage did on bread, I borrowed the River Cottage Bread Book from the library. And voila – I had my answer. This book has 30 or so pages dedicated just to the process of making bread and on reading this I could plainly see what was causing the problem.

A few tweaks here and there and I’m making beautiful bread again. In fact, I’m prouder of my bread now than before. It looks and tastes like it came from a bakery.

I also like the fact that this recipe makes 2 loaves at a time. I’m all for time saving at the moment in the kitchen as I have to cook so much. So spending half as much time to make twice as much bread is simply wonderbubble**!

** Faberdiculous & wonderbubble are lovely made up words courtesy of Mr Mentor the Inventor (from Grandpa in my Pocket)

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Winter Preparations

Picture courtesy of here

With the cool weather we’ve been having for most of May, I started our normal preparations for winter early this year.

We’ve had our woollen underlay’s and flannelette sheets on our beds for quite a few weeks already. But after really cold night last night, our extra comforters came out and have been pinned to our doonas and put back inside their dust-mite covers. We use these comforters as emergency evac linen during summer (they live in the boot of my car).

Our hot water bottles have been in high demand!! LOL

We’re really wary about the increased cost of utilities and having never experienced a winter in this house, we are being fairly frugal with the heating. It goes on for 2 hours in the morning and 3-4 hours in the evening and the rest of the time we turn it off or keep it set to 17 (unless Little B is really sick). So far, so good – the house doesn’t really drop below 17 degrees (yet!!)

I’ve aired out our jumpers and winter jackets, and dug out all Little B’s winter clothes. So with frugal and green living during winter in mind, it’s all about layers here at the House of B – I’m more likely to pop on a beanie or a second pair of socks than to turn up the heater.

We also have lots of snugly blankets to cuddle up with when reading, crocheting or watching tv at night. There’s definitely something romantic about snuggling up in blankets, when it’s dark and chilly outside.

We indulge in lots of warms soups for lunches & dinners, plus we've been cooking lots of casseroles and warm oriented foods for lunches. Also nothing hits the spot like a warm drink...Little B loves to snuggle and read library books over a cup of hot carob. Plus we keep warm working in the garden, baking, and playing during the day.

Finally, Mr B is going to put in some insulation batts underneath the floors of the bedrooms to stop some of the cold coming up from underneath in those rooms at night. This is a fairly expensive exercise so we aim to do it room by room as finances permit :-)

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Permaculture Pioneers Review

I am absolutely loving this book at the moment. I’m only half way through but it’s given me so much food for thought that I cant wait to read the rest of it.

It’s a series of stories/essays representing the first three decades of permaculture. And as other reviews have said it joins the dots and connects the who's who of Australian permaculture history. Which is interesting in itself but what I’m finding more interesting is the diverse opinions and passionate beliefs that these pioneers have not just about our past but also our future (the whole earth community).

My particular favourites at the moment are the stories written by Geoff Lawton and Robyn Francis.

My brain is swimming with words like “living with intent”, “work discipline”, “re-weaving the fabric of communities”, and “expanding your life into time experience”.

I love books that challenge your brain (like The Great Disruption did for me last year). And in the last few months, I felt a bit bogged down in survivalist mode. But after reading this for a few days, I’ve realised that I’m uplifted (and no it’s not a book all about positives), I feel energized & reconnected to our sustainable journey.

Here’s hoping the rest of the book is as good as the start….two thumbs up!!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Love is...

...staying up all night with a sick child :-)

Well we came home with more than artwork and good stories from preschool yesterday…..a doozey of a cold that has started with the most horrendous cough. Little B has been up all night with a high temperature and this morning coughing till he vomited (not a pretty picture, I know but yay for the vomit bowl we keep under the bed!!).

So I have spent most of today ensconced on the end of Little B’s bed listening to Sparkle Stories, reading him The Wandering Wombles, crocheting squares, and knitting dishcloths.

And when he has slept I’ve done loads of laundry before being called back to his bed, where I have been used as a pillow or a tissue and read books of my own (I'm loving Heidi Swanson's new cookbook).

As for dinner, whenever Little B is sick, I resort to whatever is fastest to cook and eat – so the moment I knew what I was in for, I threw on the slow cooker with a lentil vegie casserole. Just add some rice and it’s all sorted.

On days like these, I just surrender and go with the flow, don’t try to get anything in particular done, and hope that it passes quickly!!

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Crochet - Feeling the love

I started crochet lessons this week and I have to say I’m feeling the love.

I’ve crocheted the odd beanie in the past but found it a really difficult concept to pickup let alone continue with. And now I know why….I had learned off a leftie when I am right handed. 10 minutes into my first lesson yesterday, I discovered this as my teacher Kirsten showed me how to do it right handed and then I was away.

I dont enjoy knitting very much these days...I'm very slow and it hurts my eyes (I wear glasses). So I love the immediacy of crocheting and crocheted my way through my first granny square yesterday and am already onto my second. Our first project is a scarf – rather timely given the freezing weather we’ve been having.

And sitting in that lovely local craft shop with a group of women (and all our children crafting and playing in another room) snug with a heater, while it was dreary and cold outside was quite simply lovely.

I'm now full of ideas of what to do with all the wool I have lying around the place :-)

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Happy Mothers Day

Picture from here

Before Little B was born I was a HUGE movie buff. I absolutely loved the cinema, and could talk about movies, genres, directors, actors and loved chatting to my brother about movies & dialogue we had seen and loved. I even scored my dream job at the time and put myself through university working at the cinemas (in the days where you scooped the ice cream and made the choctops between sessions). This sort of fell to the side when Little B was born and is not something I’ve fallen back into though I do try to see the occasional DVD.

So what to do yesterday when I woke up with a raging sore throat, a cold and a migraine. First up Little B and I climbed back into bed with Mr B where we lay chatting and listening to Winnie the Pooh on audiobook (read waited for the painkillers and coffee to kick in).

Then Mr B decided Mothers Day could come just a little bit early. It was a group effort including Granny B but last night Mr B took me out to the movies to see The Avengers. I’m a massive Joss Whedon fan and this movie didn’t disappoint.

Today we celebrated Mothers Day with our mums with flower bulbs, rose bushes and home-made kindy presents (the best kind of mothers day present if you ask me). So I’m feeling loved up and appreciated at this particular point in time. Not to mention stuffed as a goog with lovely winter casseroles and cakey crumbly desserts.

So Happy Mothers Day to all the mum’s out there – you do a fabulous job!! xx

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Digging for Change

There have been so many amazingly positive posts to read around the web at the moment (like here and here and here). I love that people are so excited about making changes and making a difference to “humanity” (Bec and Gavin say) as well as themselves and their lives.

Here at the House of B we have been digging for change ;-) We have been digging out a base for our new 5000L water tank, digging out and over old veggie beds and digging out and putting in the pole for our new solar tracker. We’ve been getting earthy and downright grotty digging deep in the mud. And I’ve loved it…it feels like we are moving forward to the house we’d like to live in (now if only it was on 10 acres or so).

We hope from this to have another solar source, some beds ready to plant for spring and a water tank to plumb our toilet and washing machine into.

Next up we hope to trim the tops of the trees that are blocking the sun to our vegie beds in late autumn/winter and put in 3 new vegie beds before spring...I forsee lots more digging in my future!! LOL

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Slow Living Diary April 2012

Once again, I am joining in with Christine from Slow Living Essentials for a monthly reflection of slow living…

NOURISH: What can I say…I‘ve become totally addicted to popcorn and make it as much as I can using olive oil or coconut oil and sea salt..yumm!! Best snack ever ;-) Other favourites have been Vegetarian Fried Rice & Banana Bread from The Low GI Family Cookbook. Donna Hay’s Apple (but pear in our house) slice is divine!! We couldn’t stop eating it (though I added lots of oats and less flour to the crumble to make it healthier).

PREPARE: I know this should be about food but after a nasty wakeup call, I updated our first aid kit and made sure we have everything on hand for mini emergencies. I cut a bit of my finger off making soup (hello sharp new knives). Whilst I have first aid training, I didn’t have the things on hand to do it solo. A trip to the doctor led to a trip to the hospital. It had more bark than bite but they helped me dress it properly. Here’s a tip…always keep pads on hand they are the best thing to hold onto a wound to stop bleeding!!

REDUCE: We’ve been reusing old bubblewrap envelopes from Mr B’s work. They fold out into a decent size (see below). We reused some old fencing, locks and hinges to make some side gates – took a bit of match making but now our yard is fairly secure.

GREEN: I’ve been bubble wrapping alot of our windows and using door snakes as window snakes on our old sash windows. They leak pretty badly at the bottom but this solution works a treat!! Go fabric and sawdust!! I’m surprised how well the bubble wrap works as well. Our solar has finally been inspected so now we hope to get it officially turned on.

GROW: Have been eating copious amounts of baby spinach. I’ve never had it work this well, you just cut what you want and it keeps growing. Little B has also enjoyed eating peas straight out of the pod hand picked. Though I have to watch him as he would pick and eat them all if he could

CREATE: Have cut down some old t-shirts of mine to make long nightshirts for Little B. He wears these as layers beneath his current pj’s to stop his back getting cold at night (a huge source of nightwaking).

DISCOVER:  I’ve been re-reading The Dirty Life and some secondhand copies of Good Organic Gardening. I’ve also borrowed Escape to River Cottage from the library but have only just started watching it.

ENHANCE: Have been helping out a friend who has just been diagnosed with breast cancer…she’s new to living green so has been picking my brains and checking out our bathroom, pantry and laundry for ideas.

ENJOY: The weather has been such a lovely mix this month of sun, wind and rain. Little B is loving all the autumn leaves and we spend a lot of time playing leaf boats, doing leaf paintings or just burying him in the leaves while I do some gardening!! LOL I’ve also enjoyed catching up with family before they went overseas for a few months and also our mini break in Adelaide. It’s been nice to just slow down and relax.