What happens when I have no menu plan…

Seriously, after a week with a menu plan and then a week without, I daresay a menu plan is the anchor to my week.  I think we really suffered last week without a plan, and I felt so adrift.  So, with that in mind, as the the boys watch Steve Irwin’s “Collision Course” I’m off to inventory the pantry and fridge and do up a plan for the week.  Stay tuned…

Boston Bean & Sausage Hotpot and stuff…

Whoa nellie!  Another one to add to the meal list because everyone enjoyed it.

8 thick pork sausages, pricked (I used 8 thin beef sausages as they were what I could find)

1 Tbsp oil

1 onion, chopped (I used a Spanish onion as I find them sweeter)

420g can baked beans in barbecue sauce (we buy and used plain no added salt)

400g can diced tomatoes

2 Tbsp maple syrup

2 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce

1 Tbsp chilli sauce (didn’t put this in)

1 Tbsp chopped parsley, thick toast, to serve

  1. Heat a large non-stick frying pan on high.  Cook sausages, turning, for 10-12 minutes until well browned and cooked through.  Cut them into chunks and transfer onto a plate.
  2. Heat oil in a large saucepan (er, I used the same pan as above because it has deep sides and who wants more dishes??) on high.  Saute onion for 1-2 minutes, until tender.  Stir in baked beans and tomatoes.  Bring to the boil, stirring.  Reduce heat to medium and simmer for 2-3 minutes.
  3. Blend in maple syrup and sauces (since my baked beans were non-barbecue and as I didn’t use chilli sauce, I stirred through 2 Tbsp HP Sauce for a bit of flavour).  Reduce heat to low and add back the sausages.  Simmer for 5 minutes.  Season to taste.  Serve topped with parsley, with toast on the side.

I also served  green beans as it was all looking a bit too tan/red/brown for my liking and everyone liked everything.  Quite impressed with this new book.

In other news, I became a bit of a Do-It-Yourself plumber today.  At some stage overnight our bathroom vanity decided it wasn’t going to drain properly and this morning after brushing my teeth and rinsing out my toothbrush, the sink filled up.  The plunger was sitting beside the vanity after Alex’s previous attempt at clearing the blockage, so I picked it up and had a go.  Let me tell you this:  I did not get the sink unblocked and the water flowing down the drain freely until almost 5 or 6pm tonight (evenings are generally a blur around here; who knows what the time was!).  It took a lot of trial and error and a bit of thinking outside the square.  I noticed our bathroom sink drains out after passing the bath drain to go into the main pipe, so ended up taking the plunger to the bath.  After a few goes of the bath, then some bicarb, vinegar and boiling water down the vanity, a big BURP by the sink and ahhhh… a free flowing drain.

Meanwhile, while M was at kinder and G fell asleep in the car on the drive home, I pulled weeds from our front garden’s hydrangea bed.  It was so feral, I had to actually use tools from the shed, even though I’d started off thinking, “Oh I’ll just pull them up before I go inside…”  Ha, yeah right!  I spent two hours - TWO HOURS - weeding that garden bed.  It’s done now though and looks really nice and I have a bit of an idea what needs doing there.  The hydrangeas could use a little more pruning so they all come up relatively the same next spring and the entire bed needs remulching.  I think they were last mulched with a pine bark or something, but it appears the neighbours cat likes to dig (read: wee and poo) in the garden bed, so will have to look at pebbles maybe.

Once M was home from kinder the boys watched a bit of TV while I was busy with the bathroom sink.  I’ve started a bit of a routine where once ABC Kids is finished, the TV is turned off and they do “colour” (G’s word for it) while I prepare dinner.  They can draw in their new sketch books or picture colouring books and use crayons, markers or pencils, whatever they fancy.  It’s a nice way to signal the start of winding down for the night and if I’m waiting for something to simmer or boil, I can grab a marker and join in.

Feels nice to be blogging again :)  Here’s a recent family photo for you.

The Verdict: Meatball Wraps

These were a HIT!  Even M, our resident vegetarian, ate dinner tonight thanks to kid-friendly mountain bread and do-it-yourself veges to fill up the wrap with.

Meatball Wraps

250g beef or lamb mince (we used lamb)

1 small carrot, coarsely grated

1/4 cup dried breadcrumbs

2 Tbsp chopped parsley (left it out as not enough in herb garden to pick)

1 egg, lightly beaten

1 Tbsp tomato sauce

Mountain or Lavash bread, hummus, shredded lettuce, red capsicum (seeded and thinly sliced) and grated tasty cheese.

  1. Preheat oven to moderate 180C.  Line a baking tray with baking paper (I just spray the tray with oil).
  2. In a bowl, combine mince, carrot, breadcrumbs, parsley, egg and tomato sauce.  Season to taste
  3. Mould tablespoonfuls of mince mixture into balls (or wing it and grab little bits with your fingers).  Place on prepared baking tray.  Bake for 15-20 minutes until golden and cooked through.  Drain on paper towel.
  4. Spread bread with hummus.  Top with lettuce, capsicum, cheese and halved meatballs.  Roll up and serve.

(From Woman’s Day Marvellous Mince & More)

I doubled the recipe, which made up roughly 30 meatballs, and there are some leftover for Alex to take to work for lunch tomorrow.  There are some tips included with the recipe such as using tomato chutney in place of hummus, rocket or tabbouli instead of lettuce, and crumbled feta instead of grated cheese.  I was thankful for the hummus though, because as I mentioned the small vegetarian above, it meant he got some protein with his meal.  G just had mounds of ingredients on his plate and played around with the mountain bread.  A thoroughly enjoyed meal that we will SO be having again.


Menu Plan Monday…ish

So while I’ve got a few minutes as both boys nap, I thought I’d post something (!).  Yesterday I had some time to think about time management and organisation and how it affects us, and came back to menu planning.  Generally, I don’t menu plan, never really have, but it apparently works.  We’ll hopefully know what we’re eating (for dinner at least) and that will stop the endless spaghetti meals and last minute take away.

Without further ado… my first time participating in Menu Plan Monday!

Monday  ::  Shepherds Pie (last night)

Tuesday  ::  Meatball Wraps

Wednesday  ::  Boston Bean & Sausage Hotpot

Thursday  ::  Sausage, Potato & Rosemary Pizza

Friday  ::  Pork Fried Rice

What was that - looks like a lot of mince and sausages?  Well, that’d be because I just bought this new cookbook magazine by Woman’s Day called “Marvellous Mince & More”.  It’s a great little magazine and has inspired me to mix it up a bit.  If anything turns out super-fabulous, I’ll try and remember to post the recipe, and that might get me blogging more frequently ;)

On that note, the youngest is just awake.

A compliment… of sorts.

Long, long, long time no blog.  It’s just been busy, there’s no other way to put it.  This year has seen the start of four-year-old kinder and a bit more busy-ness than I was planning for.  I guess that’s what happens when you foolishly put your hand up for kinder committee president.  Oh, and there’s the whole two kids thing, which is a lot harder than one kid, especially when the younger one can walk and run and kinda talk and just generally be a very busy kind of child.  So, when it comes to the end of a day, whether it’s been a kinder day, or an at home day, or a hosting day, or an out with friends day, I just want to switch off.  I feel like blogging takes more brainpower than I’ve got spare when I finally get the time, so I just, you know, don’t do it.

Anyway, on to my compliment, I think.  Today we had a workmate of A’s and his family over for lunch (souvlakia with homemade tzatziki dip ta-da!), and it was their first time here.  I didn’t know until the last minute, but apparently this guy has just been hanging to see the place.  It seems when A first told people at work about moving and showed around pictures and floor plans, this guy thought it was just too small.  Never mind he doesn’t know us beyond working with A to know what our family needs, but as I said, never mind!  So, before this workmate and his wife and daughter arrived, we were madly cleaning the place (see, it’s not always spotless, only when “people come over”), to help show that indeed, it’s not that small.

Well, as it turns out, at some point this guy said to A that he like’s what we’ve done with the place and likes that we have just enough stuff to live… or something to that effect.  From what I understand, it was to do with clutter and furniture, and believe it or not, this is where I take the compliment!

I try every day to de-clutter and organise something.  I make weekly trips to Vinnies with a car boot full of bags and boxes.  And I am constantly thinking and looking and considering what to tackle next to make our house a home, and comfortable one at that.

Certainly this house is much smaller than our last, and certainly we have less stuff than we once had, but it’s lovely and it’s home and we quite like it here.

Also, how lovely is it when someone meets your child and comments on how polite they are?  It does help to hear these things once in a while, to give yourself a pat on the back and know you’re on the right track.  M is 5 now and I must admit so far I think it’s easier than 4 ever was.  There are still challenging days, but it’s like overnight he had a little nibbit of maturity increase.  He is starting to show more interest in ‘big boy toys’ like Lego and his iPod.  He still listens to childrens music, but I get a few more requests for the car radio these days, and often when I peek into my rearview mirror can see him bopping away, maybe even hear him humming along or trying to sing some words.

All in all, life is good, we’re all healthy and busy, and I’ve got a lot to be grateful for.  And to top it off - we have a week of cold weather ahead of us - bliss!  I hope you’re all happy and keeping warm and snug.

Environmentally friendly washing powder

I was going to tweet this rant earlier, but it would probably take about thirty tweets, so thought it best to just blog.

We try to be environmentally friendly in this house as much as we can, and part of that includes washing products.  Having two boys who like to get dirty in the actual dirt outside, and love to eat, well, hands-on (or on-clothes, as the case may be), a husband who rides a bike to and from work (sweaty!!), I need a washing powder that gets the clothes clean.  Our usual washing powder is Omo-matic, and it does a spectacular job. It gets the whites white, keeps the brights bright and gets rid of all obvious visible dirt.

So, ok, I get it that there are probably nasty chemicals that do all those amazing things for our washing, so I branched out into the eco-market and bought some Eco Store washing powder, some Earth Choice washing powder and a bottle of Earth Choice liquid.  They are all vegetable based, ok for grey water and relatively inexpensive - brilliant, right?


I’m willing to have duller than white whites and hang white washing in the sun to be bleached naturally, no worries.  I’ll even turn my brights inside out to avoid fading, easy done.  Tomato, texta, and other heavy stains might need some pre-treatment - and I’m down with that.  However, when obvious, run of the mill, dusty brown dirt is still showing on clothes and towels, that is jut not good enough.

Saying this, I do still have half a box and half a bottle of all detergents left and it wouldn’t be very environmentally friendly to just throw them out in frustration, so I’ll keep using them all until they’re gone.  Grit my teeth and suck it up as I hang still dirty washing on the line.

In the meanwhile, what can anyone recommend?  If it comes down to it, I might stick with the eco powders for nappy washing to keep detergent residue at bay, and use the nasty powders for the clothes and towels.

Give me joy

What does the garden grow?
Even after scorching temperatures, and through the sudden cold spell, the garden keep growing.

Impatiens :: Bought from the local market to brighten up the front veranda.

Fig tree

Fig tree :: We lost the original fruit that started during early summer, but the tree survived and grows stronger.

Lemon tree

Lemon tree :: Another which lost its fruit, but hope is budding.


Jasmine :: The heavenly scent that always comes back.


Mint :: Surviving heat and hungry possums, we think!


Rosemary :: That awesome perennial shrub which keeps on giving.


Oregano :: Creeping and crawling ever so steadily.

Chives & Oregano

Chives & Oregano :: Brightness in a little black pot.


Basil :: Happy in a morning sunshiney spot.


Cucumbers :: Just one please, thank you very much.


Zucchinis :: Plentiful and fresh, growing in the front yard.

Mama tries: Tap Dancing

At 7:30 I am off to adult tap dancing and really looking forward to it.  Originally, I found out about this dance school from another mum at kinder when I mentioned putting Matty into dancing.  As I started looking at their time table, I noticed they do adult classes to, well, two adult classes.  Tap Dancing and Hip Hop.  Quit yer laughin’!

I finally got the courage to call and enquire, so tonight I do a free trial of Tap.  I mentioned to the woman on the phone that I am a little worried about being too old, and she had a giggle and said most of the people are in their 40s.  Phew!  I’d be one of the youngest, that’s not so bad.  I asked about Hip Hop and she said 18-30, so oldest in that one.

After all that, in about two hours then I’ll be giving it my best shot, see what happens and hopefully come back and blog about it.

What kind of $$ am I looking at for tap shoes?

Have you tried anything new lately?

What worked, what didn’t and what I’d like…

Today we spent some time in our garden and as I was raking old leaves and grass, I had some time to think about the Spring and Summer.  Mostly as per above…  So, here is the brain dump (and I do wish I had photos to go with it all!)

What worked

  1. Planting in the front yard.  The zuchinis are going nuts and the cucumber and eggplant are also doing well, although I’m not sure if those two have actual fruit yet.  Alex waters them on his way to work in the mornings so they are getting a fair amount of care without a lot of work.
  2. These plastic ring things at the base of the camellias and lemon tree to keep the water at the roots and fill up with mulch.  The camellias are on a hill-y bit, and the water kept running off, and also, because of the hill were difficult to keep the mulch in place.  I like it for the lemon too because it keep the sheep poo contained and covered and away from the small inquisitive ones..
  3. The herb garden lives!  In fact, glancing at it tonight on my way out the backdoor, I saw new growth at the base of a lot of the oregano plants.  Last week I would have sworn it was all going to go to seed then die, but it looks like only a few have gone to seed and others are starting afresh.  The whole bed needs weeking and the rosemary needs to be tamed, but at least it lives.
  4. The potting bench.  While we don’t do much potting, it’s great for storing garden bits and pieces that we want easy access to like buckets and watering cans.  It’s not used a LOT, but it’s been useful.
  5. Our grey water system from the laundry works!  What I mean by system is a grey water hose that lives under the laundry sink and comes out to connect to the washing machine outlet hose.  Then it goes down through the laundry sink floor and out into a 60L bin with a lid which subsequently has a hold drilling into the lid and the end of the hose straight in.  With small ones in the garden it is important to me that the grey water has a lid on it at ALL times.  The bin lives next to the potting bench with the buckets on it, so when the bin is full, I just dip the bucket in, fill it up and dump onto the trees or camellias or the drip system
  6. Oh, the drip system!  It has a special cute name, and I just can’t think of it at the moment.  But it’s a bucket with a lid and a hose that comes out of it, which Alex has split to go two directions to drip into the vegie patch.  That’s awesome :)
  7. The potatoes grew and we ate them!

What didn’t

  1. The vegie patch didn’t work out too well.  I think I should have swallowed my pride and got Alex to leave the bird netting on.  Aside from keeping birds out, we think it was also deterring the possums that we know live either in our garden or near enough.  The carrots, celery and onions died, and the tomatoes, bless them, keep trying to come back.  We got a few cherry tomatoes out of the lot, but something was possibly not quite right as they all did take quite a while to start growing at all.  Also, while I do see Alex’s point that a no dig garden can be a waste of materials (the timber or pavers for the edges, the supplies for making the soil/compost/mulch), I really think future vegie patches need a defined border of some sort.  It looks like we’re trying to line up some reading about gardening so next year will be promising.
  2. Watering the garden under water restrictions.  As it stands, we are only permitted to water the garden (NOT lawn) on Sunday and Wednesday mornings from 6am-8am.  That’s not Sunday through to Wednesday, by the way, JUST Sunday AND Wednesday.  I need to look into buying the best eco laundry powder or liquid I can find that will clean the clothes of a 4 and 1.5 year old and also be safe for the garden AND lawn.  Recommend one?
  3. The roses in the front garden.  Oh they are thorny and when a plastic bag or somesuch blows into the yard, they catch it ALL.  On the bright side, it means we can collect it and put it into the bin or recycling asrequired so it doesn’t end up injuring wildlife or gathering someplace else or ending in waterways via a drain somewhere.

What I’d like

  1. TREES:  Avocado, lemon, olive, some other fruit and perhaps a new bay tree (we hope to try re-potting our current tree which dried out in the heat - stew anyone?)
  2. GRAPE VINE!  Ideally at the front of the house to maybe train over a pergola that might shade the car and maybe one out the back near the kitchen window, too.
  3. GRASS:  Hoping when I find a new eco powder/liquid to be able to use the water for the lawn, this will come about naturally.  It doesn’t look too dead and noticed some new green shoots today, so things are promissing.
  4. BYE-BYE FERNS!  These area pain in my backside and just unsightly.  Can’t wait for a slow fornight in the green bin to dig them out.
  5. NEW VEGIE PATCH LOCATION:  Once we sort out the tree situation, what is dead, alive, to be purchased, etc, we’ll know where the new vegie patch will go in time for Spring ‘09.

All in all, more worked than didn’t work and I don’t think I want much.  Like I said, I so wish I had photos to accompany this post so you can see what is what and where and how and why.

Meanwhile, we are all healthy and well and getting back into ‘Term’ life with kinder and sports and activities all around.  Slowly slowly, not forgetting to BREATHE, eh?

ps.  Visitors next month!!! :D  Looking forward to Dee and family!!!

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Possum and Bee Home Welcome! I'm Rach and here you'll read about growing up my young family in a very old house with a very busy garden, a few rants and general thoughts as a navigate this parenting journey and general craziness!

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Recent Posts

  • What happens when I have no menu plan…
  • Boston Bean & Sausage Hotpot and stuff…
  • The Verdict: Meatball Wraps
  • Menu Plan Monday…ish
  • A compliment… of sorts.


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