Friday, February 27, 2009

Quote from the backseat..

"I'm so thirsty! My mouth is as dry as a hot summer's day in Egypt!"


Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Weather Unit - Science

In case anyone is interested, here is what we covered in our science Weather Unit. (Even if you're not interested, it helps with my record-keeping!)

1. Weather observation
• Record the weather each day for 1 month – ie sunny, cloudy, rainy
• Make a chart to summarise the weather for the month.
• Identify suitable clothes for different weather - Cut out pictures from magazines to show what you would wear when the weather is hot, cold & rainy. (PDHPE)

2. Wind
• Make a wind sock to measure direction. Use compass to read direction.

3. Clouds
• Learn about stratus, cirrus & cumulus clouds
i. Use digital camera to take photos of each type of cloud
ii. make a clouds poster
• Make clouds in a bottle (
• Make fog (

4. Precipitation
• Learn about the types of precipitation (
• Use website to make a snow flake (
• Make a snow flake using paper cutting (symmetry)
• Make a rain gauge

5. Temperature
• Record the temperature at several points throughout the day using a thermometer.
• Discuss when water boils & freezes

6. General
• Practice spelling weather-related words
• Write a weather-related acrostic poem

As we were driving along the other day, Billy looked up and said - "hey, look at the cirrus clouds" - so I guess something sank in from all of it :)

Monday, February 23, 2009


While I'm extremely pleased Billy can think & reason for himself and doesn't accept what he is told without questions, my goodness it is tiring to be on the receiving end of it 24/7!!!!

Menu Plan Monday - 23rd Feb

Notes on last week's menu:
* We didn't get to the orange chicken stir fry this week - it was late by the time we got home from circus and I didn't feel like being adventurous. I ended up just seasoning the chicken and pan-frying, throwing in some carrots and frozen cauliflower, and serving it with rice. I must remember that Thursdays are late home & to plan something simple.

To use up this week:

Menu Plan this week:

Fairly plain & simple this week - we have quite a busy one.

Monday - hamburgers
Tuesday - steak & salad / veges depending on weather
Wednesday - tacos
Thursday - chicken laksa
Friday - grilled fish & veges
Saturday - out at a 50th party
Sunday - roast chicken & veges

For more exciting menu plan ideas, see Organizing Junkie's Menu Plan Monday.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Recipe: Chocolate snowballs & condensed milk

The recipe is based on one from the weetbix site -

8 Weet-Bix, crushed (I used Aldi brand ones and had to use a few more to get the right consistency - maybe they are smaller?)
½ cup coconut
2 tablespoons cocoa
395g can sweetened condensed milk

1. Place all ingredients, except some of the coconut in a large bowl. Mix well.
2. Form mixture into 30 balls and toss in coconut. (Forming in balls works better if your hands are wet)
3. Refrigerate until firm. Eat!

If you don't keep condensed milk in the pantry, you can make your own! (I got this from the Simple Savings site)

1 cup (250 mL) of water
2 cups (500 g) of sugar
2 cups (500 g) of powdered milk
6 tbsp butter

Place all ingredients in the blender / food processor and let it blend for 2 minutes.

Keep it refrigerated. Makes the equivalent to two tins and can be used in any recipe that calls for it. (Or just eat it with a spoon lol!)

Grocery Challenge Wk 2 of 6

The Challenge: To only spend $25 / week on groceries for the next 6 weeks.

The Result (Wk 2):

Spent $14.60 on cheese, bread & a bottle of pepsi for the invalid on Sunday.
Spent $8.95 on noodles, bread & butter on Thursday.


Groceries: $6.25+$25=$31.25-$14.60-$8.95=$7.70 (into change jar)
"Stash": $100
Meat money: $20

Our week of Learning - 22nd Feb

English: He practised the letters 'e' & 'f' in handwriting.

Maths: Leap into Maths Yr 1 workbook - Unit 20, as well working with balancing scales to measure weights of lots of things.

Science & Technology: Lots of science this week. Wednesday he finished off the weather unit by learning how to read a thermometer and recording the temperature every hour between 9am and 6pm. On Friday he started the new "Push/Pull" unit by doing experiments with a hair dryer & ping pong balls (air force).

HSIE (Human Society and it's environment): No formal history this week.

Creative & Practical Arts: Drama class. We also had an art day at our homeschool meeting so he got to do lots of arty things like making marbled paper, drawing a still-life, wet painting & more.

PDHPE (Personal Development, Health & Physical Education): Circus class, plus he has been doing lots of practice at home. He mastered spinning the hoop around his wrist this week - a small step, but one he's very proud of!

Life skills (cooking, gardening): He learnt the necessary skill of making chocolate snowballs :) (Recipe to follow).

Friday, February 20, 2009

Paying it forward

Last year I was a very pleased recipient of Lisa @ The Tin House's Pay It Forward challenge. I've finally gotten around to reciprocating.

"This is how it goes : it's the Pay It Forward exchange, based on the concept of the movie "Pay It Forward", where acts of kindness are done without expecting anything in return, just passing it on, hoping that the recipients will do the same and pay it forward, like a never ending chain of kindness...

I will make and send a handmade gift for the first 3 Aussie friends who post a comment to this post, requesting to join this exchange, and promising to pay it forward to 3 other persons, etc....

I don't know what my 3 gifts will be, and I can't make them in the next few weeks, but I can promise I will send them within the next 6 months . (I hope!)

What YOU have to do in return then, is pay it forward by making the same announcement and promise on YOUR blog."

So if you're an Aussie reader (sorry to any overseas readers - postage is a killer!) and you'd like to receive a handmade gift from me (bearing in mind that I am a beginner knitter & sewer lol!) and are willing to pay it forward yourself, leave a comment with your email in the form keztol at hotmail dot com so the nasty spambots don't see it.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Look what I made!!

I finished this dishcloth / face washer a couple of weeks ago and haven't posted about it yet. It's not perfect, but it's pretty special to me! It's the first thing I've made following a pattern that's more complicated than "knit x rows" :)

I used this waffle pattern I found, and made it out of cotton. It's so soft. I can see myself making a few of these!

Monday, February 16, 2009

Menu Plan Monday - 16th Feb

Notes on last week's menu:
* Thursday's spag bol was shifted to Saturday night.
* Homemade fish fingers went over well (basically just cut the fish into fingers, crumb with egg & breadcrumbs & cook in the oven).

To use up this week:

Menu Plan this week:

Monday - fried rice
Tuesday - pork chops & ?? (DH cooking)
Wednesday - shepherd's pie
Thursday - orange chicken stir fry
Friday - steak & veges
Saturday - leftovers
Sunday - steak with mushroom & onion gravy & veges

For more exciting menu plan ideas, see Organizing Junkie's Menu Plan Monday.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Our week of Learning - 15th Feb

English: He practised the letter 'd' in handwriting, and did some find-a-words & crosswords with a "show" theme, as he was off to the regional show with his grandparents later in the week.

Maths: Leap into Maths Yr 1 workbook - Unit 19, as well as some show theme maths worksheets.

Science & Technology: He used the camera, Windows Movie Maker & his lego pieces to make a movie called 'Fire'. I'll post a link when it gets uploaded to the kid's video site we use. He's also been using a couple of different card-making programs to make cards for people.

HSIE (Human Society and it's environment): It turns out that the episode of 'Walking with Cavemen' that they showed on TV as episode 1 was actually episode 2!! So this week we watched episode 1!

Creative & Practical Arts: Drama class. He made chocolates for Valentine's Day for his cousins and grandparents.

PDHPE (Personal Development, Health & Physical Education): Circus class again - he seemed a lot more settled this week, and spent more time on individual equipment rather than flitting between everything.

Life skills (cooking, gardening): Nothing major this week.

Grocery Challenge Wk 1 of 6

The Challenge: To only spend $25 / week on groceries for the next 6 weeks.

The Result (Wk 1):

I was doing quite well in the start of the week - spent $18.75 on fruit, eggs & bread at the fruit shop on Tuesday.

Things fell off on Thursday though. Pete had to go into day surgery for a (relatively) minor procedure - we dropped him at 2pm and were told to pick him up at 5:30 on our way home from circus class. We got back - and he was still sitting there waiting to go in! He finally went in about five minutes later, and we were told to come back in another 2 hours!!! I had packed a few snacks in case we had to wait for 30mins or so, but 2 hours!!

It wasn't practical to go home, so we headed off to the nearest food court to get some tea. By the time Pete got out of recovery, it was after 8pm and he'd had nothing to eat since 8am but the small sandwich post-op. Needless to say, he was starving, so more take-away on the way home.. So for the night, we didn't get much change out of $40. Oh, and I was feeling stressed so I bought Billy an activity book to do that he didn't need, and didn't even use. It all came out of some "emergency money" I'd stashed away, but still..

The rest of the week went better.


Groceries: $25-$18.75 = $6.25
"Stash": $150-$50 = $100

A Day in My Life - Feb 14th

Welcome to Saturday 14th Feb. We don't do Valentine's Day so there's nothing special going on here..

We're child free this morning (Billy is having a sleepover at his Ma's) so I could have a bit of a sleep in. Got up about 8am into a blissfully quiet house.

I curled up on the lounge in my pyjamas with my book and listened to the sound of the rain on the roof. Got up to make myself some breakfast and a cup of tea and went back to my book!

Finished my book about 9am, switched the computer on and answered some emails.

About 9:30 I went out into the kitchen to do the dishes as quietly as possible (DH was still asleep).

Back on the computer about 10am and started doing some research for the homeschooling group.

10:30 finally got to have a shower once Pete woke up, and put a load of clothes on to wash. A bit of tidying, a bit of time on the PC.

11:30 Clothes in the dryer, made up some of the now-famous One Hour French bread. Still waiting for MIL to drop B off. As much as enjoy the time to myself, I don't settle until he's back home...

12 My MIL & SIL dropped Billy off and visited for a while. Once they left we had lunch and watched an episode of Robin Hood. Did the folding and ironing, got a few things ready for our meeting on Monday, and then sat down (3pm) with a cup of tea.

Paid some bills, and balanced our accounts. Answered some work emails, and tried to schedule some new work along with existing clients.

Cooked & ate tea (spag bol + I used the rest of the bread I made for lunch for garlic bread). Played around with a design I had in mind for a new client (I don't normally do paid work on the weekend but when inspiration strikes .. lol)

I downloaded a free yoga class from (thanks to Libby for the heads up), then played around putting it and some music onto my new phone. Put Billy to bed during this time - listened to his stories of what he'd been up to at the regional show last night.

I went off to my room and did my yoga download - good thing I downloaded the gentle beginner's one - it's been a long time since I've done a proper yoga routine!!

Went to bed where I tossed and turned for quite a while - I'm not sure if it was doing the yoga straight before bed, or that my mind just wouldn't turn off.

For more "Day in my Life" stories check out Jenny's blog.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Evacuation folder

The devastation of the fires in Victoria has really made me think about our vulnerability here. The current death toll stands at 173 with 750 houses lost. It's shocking, scary and indescribable.

Our house is on the outer suburbs of our town. While we're not surrounded by trees, the bush isn't too far away. Seeing how quickly and ferociously the fire has swept through Victoria has spurred me to think about what would happen here.

Basically our fire plan is to get out - we wouldn't want to stay with the house if at all possible. We do need to talk about what to do if we were forced to stay and where we would go if we did evacuate (in case we were separated).

I've started to make up a fire evacuation folder that could be grabbed on the way out of the door. Currently it has our insurance policies, DVDs with our digital photos, and keys to our safe. I want to include bank account, superannuation, credit card details, addresses & phone nos of loved ones. I'll have a list of stuff to grab if there is time (in order of importance).

I think I should also have an emergency box (first aid kit, torches, radio etc) & go bag with snacks, water, change of clothes etc.

Do you have something like this in place? What do you have in yours?

Monday, February 09, 2009

Menu Plan Monday - 9th January

Notes on last week's menu:
* Both new recipes (thai beef salad & the orange honey cashew chicken) were very nice.
* We didn't do the spag bol because it was too hot. I think we had cold meat & salad instead.
* Friday night we had a blackout as I started to cook tea, so I ended up cooking the fish on the BBQ and having salad with it.

To use up this week:
* Zucchini

Menu Plan this week:

Monday - steak sandwiches with caramelised onions
Tuesday - no idea at this stage - I have to go to work that night so has to be something DH can prepare
Wednesday - homemade fish fingers & veges
Thursday - spaghetti bolognaise
Friday - chicken curry
Saturday - leftovers
Sunday - pizza

For more exciting menu plan ideas, see Organizing Junkie's Menu Plan Monday.

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Freezer inventory & grocery challenge

Apologies for the flurry of posts this afternoon!

I decided what better thing to do on a 40 deg day but a freezer inventory and re-org! I had to work fast though to avoid everything thawing..

This is what I have in my freezer & the number of portions (after I tossed the unrecognisable or badly freezer-bitten stuff):

  • steak - 14
  • mince - 10
  • chicken - 4
  • chicken wings - 1
  • sausages - 10
  • pork chops - 2
  • fish - 3
  • bacon
  • bacon pieces (use for pizzas & flavouring)
  • salami (handful - use for flavouring)
  • ham
  • devon
Frozen Veges
  • celery
  • mushrooms
  • capsicum
  • broccoli
  • cauliflower
  • peas
  • carrots
  • chillis
  • mashed pumpkin (use for scones / bread)
Frozen Fruit
  • bagfull of bananas (to make bread or muffins)
  • 2 apples (cook for crumble etc)
  • tinned pineapple - 3
  • tinned fruit salad - 1
  • coconut cream - 1
Prepared Meals / Sides / Other stuff
  • cooked snags - 1
  • cooked snag & onion casserole - 1
  • pizza dough - 1
  • couscous - 1
  • tomato soup - 2
  • chicken stock - 5
  • shortcrust pastry - 3 or 4 sheets
There are at least 6 weeks worth of meals there (along with stuff from the pantry), so how's about a challenge?

I'm going to keep shopping to a minimum for the next 6 weeks. I'll try to keep it to fresh fruit & veges, and staples like eggs, milk, cheese, bread etc. Hmm, can I sneak ice-cream into staples??!

So the money I save doesn't just disappear I'll put some figures on it.

Normal grocery shopping budget is $95/week. If I allow $25/week for purchases, that should be $70/week I save - or $420 over the time.

  • I have a higher than normal water bill due in a couple of weeks, so $70 will go to that.
  • I'll put aside $20/week to go to restock on meat at the end of the 6 weeks - $120.
  • That will leave $230 to go into savings.
I'll report in each week - Anyone want to join in?

Our week of learning - 8th Feb

We had such a busy week this week. Monday our homeschooling get-together started up again with an Australia Day theme, Tuesday we had drama class, Wednesday we went up to visit Mum & Dad, my sister & nieces as they were home from holidays, Thursday was circus class, Friday I had to go and see a client (which means B comes too) - so despite my good intentions of only being out 3 days / week, we were out every day! I'm tired...

He practised the letter 'c' in handwriting, and wrote an acrostic poem about weather. (Acrostic poems are ones where the first letter of each line form a word).

Wind makes me
Thunder makes me
Hide under my bed.
Every time lightning strikes I

Maths: Leap into Maths Yr 1 workbook - Unit 18.

Science & Technology: He played a DK computer CD called 'Become a Science Explorer'. We had other things planned but it was too hot and we were too exhausted, so we substituted. I love the flexibility :)

HSIE (Human Society and it's environment): We watched the first episode of 'Walking with Cavemen' - in fact Billy watched it a 2nd time just because he enjoyed it! So there's been lots of cavemen discussions going on around here! I've requested the DVD from the library as for some reason the tv is showing episode 4 this week, not episode 2!!

Creative & Practical Arts: Drama started back with lots of new kids in the class. I think there are 16 in the class now - I pity the teacher :) (I think she has an assistant now to help out)

PDHPE (Personal Development, Health & Physical Education): Circus class started! They started off as a group doing work with hula hoops (round the waist & wrist) and then moved on to balancing - I expected balancing would be on beams - but no, it was on each other's backs!! Then for the rest of the time they could go and do whatever activity they wanted out of what the instructor had - unicycle, juggling, spinning plates, diablo, devil sticks, not sure what else. They could just swap between them whenever they wanted. The only things with restrictions were the "high" stuff - trapeze, rope & pole - Billy did have a go at the rope under supervision.

Basically apart from being unco like me, and having very little strength, he had a good time. John (the teacher) told me afterwards (in a nice way) that he has a problem with listening & following instructions (like that's news to me!), so he won't be allowed on the trapeze until he can listen because of safety issues.

In an effort to get fit& strong for circus class and Auskick, Billy has developed an exercise chart with Pete and he marks it off each day - too cute! He's doing squats, jogging around our yard (bit hot for that atm), sit ups and bench presses with the hand weights.

Life skills (cooking, gardening): He cooked more scrambled eggs - this time completely by himself, even serving it out. They were pretty tasty too! It's been too hot to do much else in the kitchen or garden.

Sixth photo tag

Libby tagged me (*ahem* a week or so ago) with the 'sixth photo' tag. The rules are simple:

* Go to your Picture Folder on your computer or wherever you store your pictures.
* Go to the 6th Folder, then pick the 6th picture in that folder.
* Post that picture on your blog and the story that goes along with the picture.
* Tag 6 other people that you know or don’t know to do the same thing and leave a comment on their blog or an e-mail letting them know you chose them.

Here's mine:

This photo was taken at a play cafe when a few local mums got together back in 2006. The boys (Billy at the back) are about to dive into the ball pit - always a fun occupation!

So now, over to you.. I won't tag anyone but if you want to do it, leave me a comment to say you will.

(And I know I have several other tags to get to - I'm slack!!)

Monday, February 02, 2009

Our week of learning - 2 Feb

Last week we were pretty much back into school but our external activities hadn't started - this is the first full on week!

I've succumbed and set up a weekly routine for our school work - it felt too much like school to me so I'd resisted, but I think we will both benefit from the routine (as long as it's still flexible!). Basically I've allocated a subject to each morning (an hour or so), with the external activities (this term drama & circus class) in the afternoons.

He started writing a script for a play - it's an ongoing project! He did the letter 'b' in handwriting. I've also been teaching him how to use the dictionary (a kid's one) to look up words he wants to spell - in an attempt to save my sanity!

I'm an avid reader so I was so pleased to see him pick up a book and sit down and read it to himself this week. Finally I think he's feeling confident enough about his reading that he is enjoying reading a book.

Maths: Leap into Maths Yr 1 workbook - Unit 17.

Science & Technology: He's discovered Publisher and has been busy creating newsletters, business cards etc!

In our Weather unit we made a wind sock, learnt about the points on the compass and how to read one, and checked se
veral times through the day to see which way the wind was coming from.

HSIE (Human Society and it's environment): We discussed the rise of the mammals and the ice-age. I'm having to rethink the way I was doing history - it wasn't holding his interest at all and he was getting very reluctant to do it (declaring 'History is boring' - *gasp* - it wounded my history-loving heart!!). He did enjoy the dinosaur lapbook though. So not so much of the book, and more hands-on from now on - and in impeccable timing 'Walking with Caveman' started tonight on TV so I got Pete to tape it ready for history this week.

Creative & Practical Arts: No lessons last week. There's been lots of imaginative play, finger puppets etc etc though.

PDHPE (Personal Development, Health & Physical Education): It's been too hot to be active!

Life skills (cooking, gardening): I've incorporated this into our routine as well, inspired by Stephanie Alexander's book. No gardening this week, but he made a salad pretty much by himself - washed & tore the lettuce, chopped cucumber etc. I just need to make sure I don't try to incorporate it when I'm short of time!! He also made scrambled eggs under supervision.

Menu Plan Monday - 2nd Feb

Notes on last week's menu:
* Didn't get to the freezer meal as it has been HOT and they are mainly stew type things.
* I ended up grocery shopping on Friday just because I won't have time next week, but we managed the 'hardship' of doing without stuff quite well.

To use up this week:

* Zucchini

Menu Plan this week:

* I'm going for mainly cooler things or quick cooking things this week as the forecast is for another hot week.

Monday - thai beef salad
Tuesday - spag bol (sauce in freezer, just need to reheat & cook pasta)
Wednesday - Orange honey cashew chicken
Thursday - steak & salad
Friday - Grilled fish with zucchini agrodolce (Stephanie Alexander book)
Saturday - leftovers
Sunday - marinated chicken wings

For more exciting menu plan ideas, see Organizing Junkie's Menu Plan Monday.