Monthly Archives: February 2012

More Productive Home Making – Smell That Coffee

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People who know me will know that I am pretty serious about my coffee. Well, as serious as you can be when you drink Decaf lol.
A few years ago I did a Barista course, and I have worked in a coffee van and a cafe, so I expect my coffee to be pretty good. Unfortunately the rest of the family has raised their coffee expectations as well, and with 3 or 4 coffee drinkers in the house it was becoming a major expense.
I have found a fair trade coffee that we can grind fresh at our local Health Food Supermarket. It is just beautiful, but costs $10 for 200grams, and that lasts us less than a week.
This was obviously an area where we could make cuts to the budget. We often buy cheaper pre ground coffee from the supermarket, but I don’t think you really save much money this way because you need twice as much coffee to get the same strength, and the flavour will never be the same.
I was looking for places to buy cheaper coffee on the internet when I came across an online store that was selling green coffee beans. The Decaf green beans were only $18 a kilogram – a huge saving on the the little 200gram bags which work out at $50 a kilogram.
A bit more internet research showed me that home coffee roasting is actually a growing trend, and also I found that you can actually roast coffee in a home popcorn machine! A little harder to find was a local source of green coffee beans (I didn’t want to spend all my savings on postage), but eventually I tracked down a factory that wasn’t far away and was open to the public.
And so my coffee roasting adventure begins…

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We got this popcorn machine for $8 at a garage sale. It actually works really well for roasting the beans. I put 1 scoop of green beans into the machine then switch it on. After a few minutes the beans start to pop and when they have popped for a little while our popcorn machine conveniently switches itself off (because it has got too hot), and about this time smoke will start pouring out. This is all ok though, I quickly tip the beans out into a saucepan so that they don’t burn and shake them around a little as they cool. They are now lightly roasted.

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I tried some beans at this stage, but the coffee flavour was very mild so I decided to roast them a bit more.
The beans went back in for one more go, this time they had just started popping when the machine cut out. When I tipped them out they actually looked pretty perfect!
In the photo above you can see the green beans, the lightly roasted beans, and the darker roast.
Next step was to grind our beans. I have been drooling over a Rancillio Rocky grinder for a while now, but at $400 it’s a bit out of my price range, then I spotted this grinder at KMart for $12. To my utter amazement it works really well, as long as you only need a small amount of coffee.
You really should wait a week after roasting before using the coffee, but I couldn’t wait to try it, and I had run out of my regular coffee, so after the beans had cooled down they went straight into the grinder.

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Here is my coffee shot, very nice creama from my freshly roasted and ground coffee beans.

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And here is my latte.

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Delicious!

I’m looking forward to learning more about coffee roasting and experimenting with some blends in the future.
Hope you can get your hands on a really good coffee today too.
All the best,
Sharee

Best Ice Cream Recipe Ever

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I made this ice cream recipe the other day, and it was soooo delicious I thought I would share it with you. Before you make it though, I warn you, I am a cardamom addict – I absolutely love cardamom in anything, sometime I even crave it lol. So, if you’re a cardamom fan like me, give this one a try. You wont be sorry.
I found this recipe on the back of a packet of Herbies Spices cardamom seed – thanks, Herbie!

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Cardamom Ice Cream

1 tsp cardamom seeds crushed (the little brown ones, not the green pods)
3/4 cup caster sugar
3 cups light cream (I used 1 cup cream, 1 tin of evaporated milk, and a little bit of milk to make three cups because)
4 eggs separated
1 tsp vanilla essence

Combine cardamom, cream, and sugar in a saucepan and bring to the boil, stirring often.
Remove from heat, allow to cool slightly.
Lightly beat egg yolks and gradually whisk in 1 cup of the hot cream.
Stir this into remaining cream and return to heat, stirring constantly, until custard thickens enough to coat the back of a spoon.
Beat egg whites until soft peaks form, then beat in the hot custard until well blended.
Add vanilla and cool completely.
Freeze until icicles begin to form, then beat again and refreeze, or churn in an ice cream machine.

Yum! Try not to eat it all before it freezes lol – enjoy!

Natural Learning Falling Into Place

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Homeschooling is a nice place to be when everything just falls into place. It’s been like that for us these last couple of weeks. School has gone back this week in Queensland, but I’m not pushing my boys into their bookwork just yet. I really want to put some energy into natural learning for a while first and see how we go this term. If the boys start complaining that it’s boring or they don’t want to do anything I suggest, that’s when I usually throw all my good intentions out the window and bribe them to do their books. It’s all going well so far though.
The boys have been loving the Horrible History series in TV since we moved to Brisbane, and I have too. It is a great educational show, very clever and funny – a must view for homeschoolers (I know you all discovered it years ago!). I was just thinking that we should follow up with some history activities for our homeschooling when I heard a lady on the radio talking about Knight School. A quick internet search and I found this info…

“Knight School courses provide an excellent opportunity for parents and children to learn about and participate in knightly pursuits of the Middle Ages in a fun and active way.Participants will be trained in the art of combat by our experienced instructors using safe, rubberised weapons and shields, and leather helmets and you will be thrilled by our own knights engaging in battle with each other using real weapons and armour in a traditional knightly combat display.”

Perfect!
So the boys both headed off to Knight School which amazingly went for an entire day.

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They both loved it and can’t wait for next holidays when they can attend the Knight School Master Class where they get to fight with even more serious looking weapons.

Ok, so now we have two boys who are pretty enthusiastic about Medieval History, well at least the fighting part of it. I am trying to get the boys more active too, as they’re not really into team sports, so sword fighting is a great physical activity that they can both enjoy together – hopefully without too many injuries.
We already have a couple of wooden swords that their Pa made, but for serious battles we need some decent strong shields.
This is a bit of a challenge for us as wood work is definitely not my strong point, but I think it will be good for us to have a challenge.
We started by looking at some shield making demos on You Tube. Then I had to go out for a short while and when I got back there were the boys working on their designs.

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They had also cut patterns for their shields out of newspaper. What a great start – gotta love those homeschooling days!

A trip to Bunnings for supplies and we were set. The pictures tell the story…

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The boys were both very pleased with their finished shields. Unfortunately there hasn’t been any sword fighting going on because no one wants to risk damaging their shields lol.

Where to from here?
Some ideas of other things we might do,
– find out more about medieval history, reading, movies, timelines, project type display
– medieval buildings, food, weapons
– build a catapult, bow and arrows
– look at other types of swords/weapons in history
– go to Fencing Club and learn fencing
– Medieval Festival

Lots of fun to be had there.

If anyone has any great ideas for Medieval books, movies or activities that might be suitable please let me know so I can add them to the list.

All the best,
Sharee

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Saving money through Productive Home Making

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Oh, it’s been a good couple of days for me here. The jobs on my ‘to do’ are dropping like flies, which is awesome because I have felt pretty over run this last week.
Yesterday was a day for paper work. We finally got our car registration and drivers licenses changed to Queensland – thank goodness that paperwork is out of the way. After that I was on a bit of a roll and knocked off a heap of other paper work jobs – woohoo!
Today was a stay at home day and I have got so much done. One of my plans when moving to Brisbane was to give myself time to try and make my artwork into a business. This of course means that I am not bringing in any income at the moment, so to compensate for this I have been looking for ways to cut our budget and to live on less.
One of the ways I am doing this is by thinking about my weekly grocery shopping and especially looking at the items which are more costly and trying to think of cheaper ways to get these things.
Hair and skin products, ice cream, yoghurt, coffee, washing powder and breakfast cereal are some of the higher priced items in my trolley each week.
I started looking on the internet for different ways of making or getting these items. I have been hugely influenced by Rhonda Hetzel’s Down to Earth Blog, she has so many great ideas and also is very inspirational with her words about the value of home making.
I have been making bread and yoghurt. I am working on my yoghurt recipe trying to make some nice thick yoghurt like the type we love to buy at the markets. I haven’t got it quite right yet, It is fairly thick, but hasn’t got the same texture as the market yoghurt. I think I will add some powdered milk next time and see how that goes. It is looking pretty good though, especially when it is pot set in these gorgeous little jars that I picked up at the cheap shop for $1.

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I have tried a few different bread recipes, looking for one that’s easy to become my everyday bread. I tried a recipe for no knead overnight bread that looked really cool because I made it in my tagine, but I wasn’t really happy with the bread.
Since then I have made Moroccan Bread and this Pumpernickel (note to Mum – click on the bread names to see the recipes xxx)
These were both great. The Moroccan bread was really easy, only one rise, and I actually made my dough in the morning and put it in the fridge for most of the day before rising it and it still came out great. I love the Pumpernickel too. Apparently this is a North American Pumpernickel which is not as dense as the German style Pumpernickel that you buy in supermarkets. It has coffee and cocoa and caraway seeds in it which makes it quite strongly flavoured. I am never quite sure what to have with my Pumpernickel, but I like it with cheese and with honey. My husband hasn’t tasted this one yet and I’ll be interested to see what he thinks.

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I have just started making a sourdoug starter which is bubbling away nicely, so hopefully we’ll have some home made sourdough bread later in the week.

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Not so tasty for us, but a huge money saver for me is making my own dog food. I have only just started doing this and I actually find it really gross, but it costs me about $2 for a weeks worth of dog food, plus I can put my vegetable scraps to a good use, so it is a great thing to do.
Here is my dog food recipe…
In a saucepan, put any fruit or vegetables that you find dying in the bottom of your fridge, chopped up a bit, into a large saucepan (important note: no onions, leeks or grapes for dogs!)
If it doesn’t look like much you can add some carrot peelings, an egg or some frozen veg, also any leftover dinners that have been in the fridge a few days too long.
Add to the saucepan about 1 cup of rice or pasta and enough water to come half way up the pan.
Bring to the boil and simmer until really soft, maybe 40 minutes to 1 hour.
Leave to cool, then puree this all up with a stick blender.
Mix in about 2 kg pet mince from the butcher (most butchers have this but you have to ask for it).
When it is all mixed together well, divide the mixture into serving size containers. I started off using ziplock bags, but am now using plastic take away food containers because Fergus can eat straight out of them so it’s less handling of gross dog food for me.
My dog is pretty fussy, but he seems to love this as long as I keep a ratio of about 2/3 meat to 1/3 veg mix. Keep a couple in the fridge and freeze the rest.

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Now, with everyone fed, I started to look at cleaning and body products. These recipes were all so easy. I made this home made deodorant from Amy’s Homestead Revival Blog. Then I made some hair gel using linseeds (which are basically the same as Flax seeds I think), following the instructions that I found at The Hairpin, you need to scroll down to the bottom for the gel instructions.
Next I made some orange cleaner thanks to NellyMary at Just Like My Nan Made.

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Finally, I whipped up a batch of Rhonda’s home made laundry liquid which you can use for lots of different cleaning needs. Here is a link to the Down to Earth Blog, you just need to scroll down a little until you get to the recipe for the laundry liquid and there are lots of other cleaning tips too.

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This recipe makes a LOT of liquid, so make sure you have plenty of containers handy to pour it into, and also a funnel. As you can see, I did not have these things handy, so my floor got an impromptu mop as well!

After all of that productivity, I think tomorrow is going to be a day devoted to Art – yay!

I’ll let you know how I go with using all my homemade products in future posts.

All the best,
Sharee