Friday, January 27, 2012

Notes from the Dishwasher

Bet you didn't think it possible to blog about the dishwasher, huh? Well, here it is. Advice on how to pack the dishwasher, and other general "rules of engagement".

1. Point all sharp utensils (like knives, peelers, etc) down. After hearing about a little boy's death caused by tripping and falling onto a knife in the dishwasher, both my husband and I changed this habit immediately.

2. Group things together - all forks together, kids/baby utensils together, glasses together, etc - this makes it SO easy to unpack - grab a handful of forks and away - limit the sorting.

3. NO WOODEN ITEMS in the dishwasher. It always seemed that the wooden spoon ended up way down the bottom...on the hot element. After stoves and heaters, dishwashers cause the most house fires. We learned this after the house down the road from us, at the lake, was destroyed by fire. A tragic lesson learned (luckily no one was hurt, as no one was home. Which is why No. 4 is also so important).

4. NEVER put on dishwasher when you are not home, or asleep. It is too risky. It is a fire-hazard. Stay safe.

5. Always close the dishwasher up as soon as possible - little fingers like to explore, and the dishwasher is not the best place for them.

6. Put dishwasher on AFTER everyone has had their shower :) or else, Brrrrr.....

7. Have a system in place so you and husband/ partner know if dishwasher is clean or dirty. Too many times have I put the dishwasher on, and gone to bed, WHILST husband is up watching TV, and can't remember this. He turns it off. I wake in morning and cannot remember if I have washed it or not. And what happens - either I start putting away dirty dishes, or rewash clean ones! Argggghhhh.....! So now we use the magnet system - one side clean, one side dirty. I have also seen magnets that have "clean" and "dirty" on them and you just flip to whatever side is applicable. I might try to find one...hold on just a sec... OK - found one on Amazon:

So there you have it - that's about all I can think of about the dishwasher. Do you have any tips?

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Finding Beauty

"God has pursued and continues to pursue you every day. A sunset. A dandelion growing through a crack in a concrete sidewalk. A favorite song on the radio. He is pursuing you like a love-struck beau. Pay attention and enjoy His advances as He pursues you today."
From Girlfriends in God Daily Devotion Jan 23.

He gave me:

Perfect fluffy daydreamy clouds.

A beautiful blue sky on a winter's day.


Sweet little faces. 

Open your heart to see your reward :)

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Old Country

I guess I can term it the "old country" now. I have been in the States now for 10 years, so Australia is no longer my residence, so to speak. But a part of my heart will always "reside" in Australia. I still have all my family there, so the ties are not broken, or weakened. But I know it is right to give respect to where I live, where I am raising my kids, and the birth place of my husband. So Texas is now my home, and I'm proud of it.

Me as a little cowgirl...destiny!

It is not hard, mind you. Actually, Texas reminds us both a lot of Queensland (where I grew up). The country, the climate (although Queensland wasn't quite as cold), the people (definitely!), the attitude (100%). My kids are American kids - born and (being) raised here. They speak with a (little different) Texan accent - some words are a little mixed - totally my fault :) They love their home, and they know their home is here. They are also aware that my family lives all the way over the sea in Australia, and often talk about wanting to get on a plane again for a visit. But there is never any confusion over where their home is, where they are from. And we like it that way - it instills a sense of value, a sense of place, a solid foundation, a security any child needs.

The thing is that I really don't feel disconnected at all. I'm always in close contact (weekely via Skype - LOVE Skype) with my family. They are fantastic. My parents have always respected our choices, and I know they love visiting us over here. And we don't really carry around our "Australian-ess" on our sleeves. I know you may hear it in my accent, but that's about it. My Australian family is the same way - that's what they are (Australian) but they don't limit themselves to it. Does that make sense? We are just people.

My family.

But there is that something special about Australia. It is always so weird when you go back after a long time away. You fly in over all the red roofs of Sydney. You get that first glimpse of the gum trees, the color of the earth, the way the light reflects differently. Then all that emotion of a heart that has been missing its home hits you. And all of a sudden you are HOME!

At the snow with my Dad.

I have been thinking lately about the little things I have forgotten. Time away slowly erodes those little quirks or habits. Fairy bread, lamingtons, roasted chicken for Sunday dinners, rhubard. Grandma's cooking, Nanny's pavlova, Poppy's green Holden Kingswood. Swimming in the sea at Christmas time, and camping on Australia Day weekend, celebrating the Queen's birthday. Oh, the good times we have had! Swimming in the dams, the creeks, the freezing cold rivers. Camping in the pouring rain, with the tent crashing down around you, and you blissfully unaware. Watching for spiders and snakes  and sharks and jellyfish (good times! what?). Waking in the morning hoping for a high tide so swimming in the enclosure (wire fenced in area to protect you from sharks - supposedly) was way more fun. The thongs, the bevans, Ugg boots (before they were cool and NO ONE wore them out of the house, except bevans). The sounds of the birds (especially the kookaburras), the smells, the beauty of the bush. The red earth, the black soil, the white sands.

Feeding the birds.
Cuddling a Koala.

Husband and friends being sharkbait!

Wedding transport!

Victoria - where we were married.
The beloved beach of my youth.

Pure bliss.

Happy Australia Day, mate!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Chicken Pot Pie - in the slow cooker

With the new year comes renewed focus on our weekly schedule. One element of which is the family dinner. I love looking at recipes, filing them away for later reference. However, when it actually comes to cooking...well, I'm just not too enthusiastic about the actual cooking part. Unless, it is easy! Welcome the SLOW COOKER!

Love the slow cooker! We have had one for years, but this year I'm really going to focus a lot more on it, because it equals E.A.S.Y! So now my weekly meal planner has one slow cooker meal included in it for the week. And I'm hoping this also equals leftovers, so I can have one night off from cooking :)

Picked up the new copy of Real Simple (because it features slow cooker recipes in it) and so today we are making Slow-Cooker Creamy Chicken and Mushroom Potpie:

Serves 4 - Hands-On Time: 30m | Total Time: 8hr 30m


  • 8 ounces cremini mushrooms, stems trimmed and halved if large (I just used regular white mushrooms - you know, the ones in the package you buy from the grocery store!)
  • carrots, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • medium onion, chopped
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • sprigs fresh thyme (no time for thyme - actually my husband is not fond of it)
  • bay leaf
  • 1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs (about 8)
  • kosher salt and black pepper
  • sheet puff pastry (half a 17.3-ounce package), thawed (I just bought Pillsbury flaky layers biscuits, because it was easier)
  • 1 cup frozen peas (NO PEAS, please - yuck! sorry to all pea-lovers though :))
  • 1 cup frozen green beans
  • 1/3 cup heavy cream


  1. In a 4- to 6-quart slow cooker, mix together the mushrooms, carrots, onion, flour, thyme, bay leaf, and ½ cup water. Place the chicken on top; season with 1 teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper. 
  2. Cover and cook until the chicken and vegetables are tender, on low for 7 to 8 hours or on high for 4 to 5 hours (this will shorten total recipe time).
  3. Thirty minutes before serving, heat oven to 425° F. Using a 4½-inch cutter or large glass, cut the pastry into 4 circles. Place on a baking sheet and bake until golden, 8 to 10 minutes.
  4. Ten minutes before serving, add the peas, green beans, cream, and ½ teaspoon salt to the chicken mixture and stir to combine. Cover and cook on high or low until heated through, 5 to 10 minutes more. To serve, place the chicken mixture in bowls and top with the pastry rounds. 

Ninja - our best purchase EVER! The Ninja is awesome. And to think I was a little worried when I bought it, as I had not consulted with my husband over the purchased, even though it only cost about $30 or $40 (from WalMart). Ours came with two chopping containers - one small and one larger one. They are perfect, and we use them all the time. I originally purchased it for my husband so I could get out of chopping up his hot peppers he could chop up his hot peppers! (This decision was reached when I had spent hours one day chopping them up to freeze, and my hands burned for two days after. Umm...who forgot to mention you should wear gloves!?!?!). Anyway, the Ninja makes light work of chopping anything. I quartered the onion, plopped it in the Ninja, two quick pulses and it was all done! QUICK and EASY :)

And the other reason I LOVE it, is because it is so easy to clean = double awesome!

Measure the flour.

Spices are overflowing in our house. I was getting sick of digging through the dark cupboards trying to find what I needed, so I decided on a better solution!

This is the bottom section - the mushrooms, onion, carrots, flour, bay leave and water. The recipe calls for 1/2 cup water, but I put more in, say 1.5 cups. I wasn't so sure whether it would be too dry with just 1/2 cup, but guess we will see how this turns out. I can always adjust next time.

Then you layer the chicken on top. Salt & Pepper.

Lid on. Done...until dinner time.

Will let you know how it turns out - so far smells pretty divine!

P.S. I have not been reimbursed for any of the opinions expressed in this post - I just wanted to share with you some of the things I love!

Monday, January 23, 2012

Odd Little Savings Plan

"I read about the five-dollar savings plan. It goes like this: Every time you find yourself with a five-dollar bill in your possession, you set it aside instead of spending it. At the end of the year, you use the money you've saved for either a big purchase or to do something you wouldn't normally spend the money to do."

I read the above on another blog, via pinterest (and do you think I can find it again - NO.WAY! - sorry - wanted to credit them).
Anyway, I am going to give this a try. I don't tend to have any money on me - mostly use the old debit card (while I still can, you know, before the credit card companies lobby to get them banned).

What will I do with the "extra" moolah?? Hmmm...

Maybe this?

Silhouette Cameo

Or a little of this more often...


Extra spending money for our beach vacation.

Or homeward bound?
I could add it to the "Going Back Home" holiday savings account.

Or maybe this for next year - would be perfect! I think I dream about this every January. Next year the kids would be a great age for the snow, really able to enjoy it. Hmmmm... decisions, decisions.

What would you do with your stash? Do you think it will work? I think it is worth a try. Not a bad way to start the year. Better go raid the purse :)

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

This New Year Thing

This year has had such a flat start to it - I'm in such a slump. It may be due to working most of the Christmas break (trying to figure out Quickbooks) and not doing as much stuff with the kids as I wanted. Or it could be due to a few other things weighing on me. I'm trying to work through it. So, as a diversion, I thought I would go add my Pinterest button onto my blog. Then, as I was reviewing my layout, something drew me to click on the first button (Imparting Grace) I have for links to other blogs, and I found the perfect formation of words that I needed today. God is awesome!

Create in me a clean heart, O God,
and renew a right spirit within me.
Cast me not away from your presence,
and take not your Holy Spirit from me.
Restore to me the joy of your salvation,
and uphold me with a willing spirit.
(Psalm 51:10-12, ESVUK)

Sometimes I can get so bogged down in my own feelings, what I want (for me and my family) that it is hard to see past it and have an open heart. I have been praying each night for a renewal, for forgiveness, for hope. It will take some pushing, but maybe we can get the connection back.

And it makes me want to refresh my house too. Today was the first day I really considered painting my kitchen white - fresh, clean. Should I do it? I KNOW my husband would L.O.V.E this!!

And the light floor - had never even considered that until now. I like the wood cabinets, stainless steel, black countertops and then everything else light. Mmmmmm..... back to the store to price this option out. All I would have to do is paint, tile and work out a black countertop option that would fit our budget. Not that much, right?? hahaha....

The other project going through the processes (very complex ones at that) in my head at the moment is a new wreath for the front door. I have decided that I need a Winter Wreath. I have put 85% of the Christmas decorations away, which included the front door wreath. So, in tune with my fresh-renew theme, here are my inspirational picks from Pinterest. (UPDATE: went to Michael's today - have some materials to begin!!)

Source: via Kathryn on Pinterest

Source: via Kathryn on Pinterest

Source: via Kathryn on Pinterest

Source: via Kathryn on Pinterest

Oh, I am so excited to start! Now that's a good way to start the new year.

Hoping your 2012 is one full of love, light, faith, happiness and good health.