Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Holiday camping

A week or so ago was the September school holidays and lovely hubby took some time off so we could go camping.
 
We packed up two vehicles and off we drove.  Me in one towing the camper trailer and hubby in the other towing the boat.  We had one child each and Patch the dog was in his crate on the back of hubby's ute.  When you go on a family camping holiday you really can't leave the dog behind.
 
We went to Boondooma Dam which we have been to before but it's been a few years.  No other family members came with us this time, it was just our little family of hubby, the kidlettes and me. 
 
 It was lovely.
 
From late on the first afternoon we had the campfire going which pretty well ended up getting stoked up for every meal.  Our butane gas can stoves broke within the first 24 hours because their springs aren't very sturdy so it was back to the old fashioned fire to boil a billy to have a cuppa tea.
 
 

 
 
It was pretty dry and dusty where we were.  In fact it's been pretty dry and dusty everywhere with fire bans, crunchy brown grass and big patches of parched dirt everywhere.
 
The dam levels are really down from our last visit which turned into a bit of a positive for us.  Most people like to camp near the water so they can have their boats anchored near their campsites.
 

 
 
Being camped RIGHT NEXT to other people really doesn't appeal to us unless they're our family or friends.  We camped in the same place as last time and had no neighbours at all.  If you look in the middle of the next picture you will see our little camp right there in the middle of nothing. 
 
It's not that much of a walk down to the water and we were able to keep the boat down there the whole time we were camped as well as the kids kayaks.  We seriously had a whole huge amazing area to ourselves.
 
 
 
 
There's a bit of a walk to the top of the opposite hill up to the dam wall which the kids and I did one day.  They loved the walk there but decided it was a bit too long to have to go all the way back to camp again.  (Ice-cream bribery was involved and everyone made it just fine).
 

 
 
Patch came with us on our walk too and was a very grateful pooch that he was able to be a part of our family holidays too.  He did get a treat for walking all the way too but it wasn't ice-cream for him.
 

 

 
Not only were the kids bikes utilised a lot (perfect for a quick trip to the amenities when you camp a little further away from them), but the kayaks were used quite a bit too.
 
No electricity.  No computers.  No X-Box.  Just some old fashioned fun. 
 
Bikes.  Kayaks.  Tennis.  Reading.  Card Games.  Board Games. 
 
Hubby found out Master M has been learning to play chess at school so there was a lengthy chess tournament.
 

 
 
We taught Little Miss R to play Patience.  Most people would refer to it as the American name of Solitaire these days not the English version of Patience.  Once she realised that Poppy calls it Patience, that's the only way she will refer to it now.  She then played it A LOT!
 
 

 
We did catch a few Red Claw as well which is one of the main reasons we went camping at Boondooma Dam in the first place.  Unfortunately it was still a little cool (about 0 degrees celcius our second night there), and some decent pot fulls were still a few weeks away.
 
What we did catch was pretty tasty.
 

 
 
I cooked them very basically by keeping them in their half shell, brushing them with some garlic butter and cooking them on the hot plate on the campfire.  Bloody delicious is one of the best ways to describe them.
 
Time seemed to pass all too soon and next thing we knew we were packing up and coming home.  Lets hope we don't leave it so long before our next trip away.
 
xx Susan
 
 
 

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Time flies

This last school term seems to have flown by so fast and I can't believe we're already half way through the first week of the Winter school holidays already.
 
We've been busy.  I've been making myself do more things and get out more and we're all loving the results of this.  Sometimes it's not for long, just a little outing to get us out of the house.
 
I've also finally finished my picnic blanket which I sewed the top of a couple of years ago.  I just cut up squares of old jeans and pieces of fabric that I had left over from other projects and joined them all together.  It has been patiently waiting for a backing during all of that time and I ended up buying a dark blue sheet which I cut up and sewed onto the back.
 
It was used the day I finished it and a few times since.  It's the perfect size for us to sit on for a snack and me to crochet upon while the kidlettes go off and have some fun.
 
Then it goes straight in the washing machine when we get home to get ready for our next outing.
 
 
 
 
On weekends if I've decided there's been too much screen time, we'll grab a snack or buy something yummy from one of the local bakeries and head off to find somewhere to run off some energy.  Sometimes it's up to Maleny and Mary Cairncross Park, other times it's to Skippy Park or Pioneer Park which are our usual favourites.
 
We usually have something to eat, a play and a run and are home within  1 1/2 to 2 hours and much happier that we've done something, no matter how small it seems. 
 
 
 
 
There's also been more cooking by Little Miss R (with help from Mum).  She decided she wanted to make Crème Caramel which isn't something I've ever made but we gave it a go.  OMG!  It was incredible and really EASY.
 

 
 
The biggest problem we had was with the caramel as it didn't get cooked enough.  Not having ever made it or seen it being made I kept thinking I was burning it and there were a few other problems too.  As a result we ended up having more toffee in the bottom of the ramekins than caramel but there was enough to make it really good.

 
 
There's been other outings with specialist appointments for the kids up the coast which luckily turned out to be after school time and hubby was home.  We headed to Cotton Tree in Maroochydore for some fun in the playground and fish and chips by the water for dinner where we watched the sun set.
 
 
 
 
Of course there has also been Zoo time.  These school holidays they've got an obstacle course set up so we headed up late one afternoon when I decided we needed to get out for a bit. The kids really love the waterslide they had in the summer holidays so we decided to check this out.
 

 
 
A few times around this really got the heart pumping and the kids hot. 

 
 
They expelled a lot of energy, especially by the 5th and 6th times they went around so we all went home happy.

 
 
There was also a drive with hubby.  This was a spur of the moment drive on our way home from the shops and ended up being a little bit of an adventure.
 
We're not hard core 4WD enthusiasts but hubby took us on a track that he used to drive a lot with my brother when they would go hunting.  It's been really churned up from the weekend warriors over the past year or so.
 

 
 
Some parts were really muddy and other parts the road was hard and really gouged out.
 

 
 
We got through it all easily though and the kids were pretty excited about our spur of the moment drive.  I'm just glad we didn't get bogged.
 
I hope you're all having a great week. Hubby heads back to work tomorrow and I have an appointment today so I'm off to have a lovely day to myself.  I'm REALLY looking forward to this!
 
xx Susan
 
 
 


Sunday, May 28, 2017

Birthdays, cooking, kidlettes and eveything else in between

The last couple of weeks has seemed to have just whirled by.
 
I've had so many plans which haven't worked out that well but then we've had quite a few special family events and random things that have been really good.
 
First of all was a completely random late (school) afternoon trip down to Bribie Island.  It takes a little over half an hour to get there (more or less depending on taffic). 
 
 
This was also a lovely hubby suggestion and idea which is so extremely amazing because as much as I love this man,  he NEVER instigates ideas to do absolutely anything.  Every idea for outings, events, celebrations etc have to come from me so this was sort of an angel singing kind of moment.
 
 
 
 
The fact that we ended up having fish and chips (after he'd bought the blood worms for his fishing trip the next day - I knew that there had to be some kind of reason), watching a beautiful sunset over the mainland in the distance was so much of an unexpected added bonus. 
 
Then a couple of dolphins swam by which added to the extreme excitement of it all.  No photos of the dolphins sorry.  I was just as excited as the kids feeling like I had been 'let out' for the afternoon.
 
Anyway, it was really lovely and a couple of days later we celebrated my Uncle's 70th birthday with a lovely lunch out with the family.  I didn't even think to take a photo of the day as I was having such a good time.
 
The next day was Mother's Day and there's no photo's here either.  It was about the 2nd or 3rd time in a decade that lovely hubby was home for Mother's Day which meant that for an extremely rare occasion I could actually relax and enjoy myself.  (I've often said that Mother's Day is usually the busiest and most stressful day I have every year). 
 
 
I've also been doing some more cheese making.  Please turn your head to the side....
 

 
 
The editing of my photo way beyond me at the time, even if it was to give a quarter turn to a photo. 
 
What you see though is the process of making Haloumi cheese.
 
Yes I made it myself.  Yes it is incredibly yummy and awesome.
 
I blended a couple of people's recipes and ways of doing it and ended up doing what was best and easiest for me. 
 
Pressing it between something heavy (water filled milk containers on a baking tray and a cutting board worked a treat)....



 
 Then blanching and salting the final product made me pretty proud of what I had achieved.

 
 
Then there was the final drum roll and cooking of the Haloumi to see if it really turned out okay.  No matter how well you think you have done, it can all turn to pot if it tastes like crap. 
 

 
 
It was INCREDIBLE. 
 
Even Master M said that it tastes exactly like the shop bought cheese.
 
I also made some ricotta which is super easy and made a pretty incredible spinach and ricotta filling for some ravioli the kids and I made.
 

 
In between all of that we also celebrated my brother's birthday and then my birthday.  (One week in May is always a busy family time.)  Oh and lovely hubby was home for my birthday too which was just as miraculous as having him home for Mother's Day so it was a good week.
 
 ...and just to finish things off for the moment.  I've finally picked up the crochet hook for the first time in a couple of weeks and have started a new project with this lovely pure alpaca yarn I have.
 

 
 

I hope you are all having a lovely week.
 
xx Susan
 
 
 
 


Thursday, May 11, 2017

Cheese and Butter

I have been channelling my inner "Little House on the Prairie" lately and have had the urge to make my own butter and cheese.
 
The cheese was the first thing I tried and with the modern day version of learning things (Google and You Tube), I decided to try the most basic of cheeses using just milk and lemon juice.
 
The first time I tried this it was a disaster because I used some UHT milk that I had in the cupboard and knew it would sit there forever if I didn't use it for something.
 
UHT milk does NOT WORK when you make cheese. 
 
So the next day I bought some more milk and went to work on my cheese experience take 2.
 
 

 
After heating the milk up, adding the lemon juice and letting it sit for awhile until it separated, I then tied it up in some cheesecloth over the sink to let it drain for awhile.


 
 
After salting it, wrapping it back up then pressing it for a couple of hours with a few cans of baked beans on top I was left with cheese.
 
Yay me!
 
I'm not sure if I really like the lemon flavour though so I think I will try it with vinegar next time to give it a more neutral flavour.
 

 
It is quite yummy on crackers with a little of my homemade relish though so that's got me quite chuffed.  The cheese making story has just begun though as I've just ordered an Italian Cheese beginners kit from our local brewing shop so I'll keep you updated on my progress.
 
The other thing I made was butter which I'm sure is one of the easiest things in the world to make.
 

 
All I did was pour a bottle of cream into the mix master and turned it on to do it's thing while I tidied up around the house a bit.  Then when it started to thump around, I knew that it had separated and I poured the lovely buttermilk into a jar for future use in pancakes.
 
 

 
 
I then washed the butter which is basically pouring some water on it and squishing it around then draining the water off.  Then pouring some more water on and squishing it around again a few more times until the water is clear and not cloudy.
 

 
 
That's it.  Seriously.
 
You can add a pinch of salt if you want but otherwise just plonk it into a container as is.
 

 
 
I melted a little of it in a pan with some garlic, added some zucchini and mushrooms then mixed the whole lot through some leftover pasta for a quick and yummy lunch.
 

 
 
It was also really nice on the hot scones I made for an after school snack on a cold and rainy day.
 

 
 
Delicious!
 
xx Susan
 


Monday, May 8, 2017

Random

The last few weeks have certainly seemed to have flown by.  My life really is a cycle and it revolves around when lovely hubby is home and when he's at work.  
 
Things that need a little extra time to do, I always try to plan when he is at home so I have a little extra help with the kidlettes.
 
Things like making pasta.
 
 

People make their own pasta all the time and I can see why.  It's incredible.  It's also quite easy if a little time consuming which is why we really do love shop bought pasta that you can just bung into a pot.  The homemade stuff is worth it though and when I'm a little more comfortable with making it, I may even do it when it's just the kidlettes and myself.
 
 
The kidlettes themselves..... One moment causing me absolute joy and the next I'm on the brink of a mental asylum.  The below photo is an in-between moment....


 
5 minutes before I was ready for the asylum.  Then they kept at me until I came and saw what they were up to (the photo is the happy co-operative proof).  5 minutes later I was ready for the asylum again. 
 
Mum.  I apologise for when I put you through this when I was a child.  Sometimes I wish time machines were invented for just these moments.
 
There was also an outing to the Clydesdale and Heavy Horse Show at Gatton.
 
 
I didn't know it was on so I thank my Mum for the suggestion.  We left Master M with my Dad, my brother and Master M's cousins for the day (all boys),  and the girls headed off to look at the horses.
 
I'm not that big on horses but Little Miss R loves them and Mum thought it would be a nice day out.
 
 

 
 
It really, really was.  Three generations with my Mum, me and my daughter.
 
It's not quite a 2 hour drive to Gatton (maybe two if you add toilet stops), and the drive over and back were part of the fun of our day out.  In other words, we got to check out a few things that husbands and fathers drive straight past because the are on the A-B track and looking at things in between is not an option.  We happily meandered a bit.
 
Our girl got to pat plenty of horses.  There was a beautifully made wagon (see above photo) and plenty of demonstrations from the heavy horses and the jobs they used to do before the good old petrol engine was thought of.
 
There was also a farrier competition and a petting zoo which Little Miss R just HAD to experience.
 

 
 
Our girl also got to have a ride on a wagon drawn by 6 horses.  She LOVED this.
 

 
 
Just once around the arena but she thought it was fantastic.  I was only thankful for most of the day that Master M wasn't with us as he would have been so totally bored out of his brain.
 
We girls loved it though.

 
 
We even loved the fairies on their mounts.
 

 
 
Onto other things.  I've tried to make cheese.
 

 
It was a total disaster but I know where I went wrong so will update you when I get it right.  I didn't even take a photo of the disaster, it's too embarrassing.
 
The scones were perfect though.
 

 
 
It was raining and the coldest day of the year so far (not even 20 degrees celcius!) 
 
On the drive home from school the kids asked if we could have scones for afternoon tea.
 
I told them years ago that my Mum used to cook either pikelets or scones on cold, rainy days when we got home from school.  I know she didn't do it all the time but it really stuck in my mind on the days when she did do it.
 
It looks like my kids are loving this tradition too and I have to say when it's cold and raining outside, there's nothing better than a hot scone (or pikelet) smothered in butter and dripping in syrup, honey or jam. 
 
They're cheap to make too and now I have extras for school lunches tomorrow.
 
:)
 
xx Susan
 
 


Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Master M's blanket is finally finished!

I started this blanket back in November I think.
 
I was determined to work a little bit each day on it but sometimes plans and good intentions don't always work out do they?
 
I will admit that I did do pretty well with doing just a bit on most days, except for the 6 weeks when we had no air conditioner.  I think I can be excused for not wanting to be anywhere near a blanket during that time.
 
The other delay came not far from the end when I ran out of some of the colours of yarn so I had to order some more.  That took 3 weeks and 3 days to arrive so there was another bit of a delay of almost a month.
 
It's now done though and I'm so very happy with it.  Master M had it in use almost the second after I tied in the last end (lucky I tied the ends in as I went along so I only had the final ones to do).
 
 
 
I just love the ripply goodness of this blanket and my boy does too which is what counts.

 
These coastal colours are just perfect for a boy I think.

 
 
Now I need to decide what to do next. 
 
 I've got a number of smaller projects ready to go and I need to remind myself to work on them ONE AT A TIME. 
 
I'm really thinking about a blanket for hubby's and my bed which would be good to do over the winter months.  I'll let that stir around in the grey matter for a bit before I decide though as I'll need plenty of yarn for that.  I'll then have to decide what pattern to use and whether I use an already made up colour pack or if I work out my own colour scheme.  I'm sure it will all come together soon though and then I'll let you know what I decide.
 
xx Susan


Sunday, April 16, 2017

Busy

We're getting close to the end of the school holidays.  There's just this Easter weekend left and then it's back to school and the usual weekly routines again.
 
We've certainly been a lot busier these school holidays and there's even been more sleepovers so we've had kids coming and going constantly.
 
I've finished another lovely scarf.  This one is in the last of my pecan alpaca yarn that I have and is really beautiful to work with.
 
 
 
 
I did have a small amount leftover which wasn't enough to make a big project. 
 

 
 
In the end I decided not to waste the yarn and make something in alpaca that I can wear myself this winter so I made up the lacy scarf you see below.

 
 
It's not very long because of the amount of yarn I had left but it does wrap around the neck nicely and isn't bulky so I'm really looking forward to wearing this one a few times when the weather gets a bit cooler.
 

 
We also had our usual trip to the zoo.  Little Miss R loves to ride the horses and they're only there on the school holidays so we try to give her at least one ride per holiday.
 
 

 
 
There's also a 4 month old cheetah cub that the kids were so excited to see.  They loved the fact that it was sleeping with it's head on a blue whale toy which was very cute.

 
 
There is usually some kind of activity on at the zoo during the school holidays.  This Easter weekend it was a hunt for hidden clues.
 
The kids were given a small 3D thingy and had to read the clue on the card they were given at the entrance.

 
 
From there they had to find the animal enclosure in the clue and there was a board with another hidden clue on it.   Around the zoo we went to different enclosures until we got to the last clue which had a special phrase on it.
 

 
 
Armed with the phrase we went to the information desk and they got to pick a small prize from a treasure chest which was pretty exciting.  There were tiny little koala animals, fridge magnets, arm bands, stationery (zoo themed) and animal stamps to choose from.
 
We have movie plans (Power Rangers for the boys, Beauty and the Beast for the girls) , Easter Sunday to enjoy then hopefully a quiet day on Easter Monday before heading back to school.  Then I can hopefully get a little bit more crochet done as I've sorted through and organised my yarn as well as my patterns this holidays. 
 
Everything's much easier and nicer to find now and of course I got plenty of inspiration for more projects with some of the lovely yarn that I had forgotten I had.
 
I hope you are all having a lovely and safe holiday.
 
xx Susan