Thursday, 19 November 2015

Coming soon...

I am officially the world's most inconsistent blogger. I do, however, have a pretty good excuse for the last couple of months radio silence...
I'm pretty sure you'll all forgive me ; )

Saturday, 19 September 2015

Ahoy! Magical Days Ahead!

Ahoy there, me hearties!

It's International Talk like a Pirate Day and this is one day that requires very little preparation to have a whole heap of fun.

First, watch this video to ensure you've got the basic linguistics sorted.

Then just have fun!

* You can make a pirate breakfast/brunch like we did...

* Dressing up is a simple as a folded paper hat or head scarf. 

* Or make a few Piratey accessories like the hook and spyglass featured here on Make and Takes. My favourite, though, are these cute jelly snacks...
* Walk the plank! There are SO many cute ideas on Pinterest to set this up in the backyard. See here. Those sharks!

So what are you waiting for? Set sail to adventure now you scurvy land lubbers!

It sure is a challenge to homeschool and blog at the same time! My apologies for not sharing September's Magical Days Calendar. Of course, you can always see them over at Moomookachoo. (Hana's Around the World in 80 days has been amazing! Are you following along?)

Monday, 31 August 2015

Grocery Problems and Solutions

I used to love grocery shopping.

Perusing the aisles for new products; selecting healthy choices for my little family. I even used to decide what to cook for the next few days based on which items were on special.

Then I had more children and, honestly, some days even popping out for a basketful of things can become an ordeal. A throw-yourself-on-the-floor-screaming kind of ordeal. NB: Never shop with a tired or hungry child. Never.

Even finding time to do online shopping can be a problem now that the kids are home full-time.

My solution? Is to shop as little as possible.

I plan out my meals for a week to ten days, shop the necessary ingredients and I'm set.

However! Sometimes I'm just not in the mood for a vegetable stir-fry on the night I've planned. Or perhaps something unexpected comes up which means we throw together a quick beans-on-toast and leave the fancy-salad dish 'til later in the week.

Of course, then the problem is that by the time I get around to pulling those vegetables and/or salad ingredients out of the fridge they're a little worse for wear. And I really hate wasting food.

So when the kind folks at Howard's Storage World asked if I'd be interested in test-driving some Oxo Greensaver Produce Keepers I jumped at the chance.

Initially I thought that these would be similar to the open/closed vent storage containers from a well known brand that I already had and use with some success for my celery and lettuce, but these clever little containers have a couple of big differences.
Firstly, they have a basket inside that keeps your produce from touching the outside of the container. This is to stop moisture from touching your veg and making them rot.

Secondly, they have a replaceable activated carbon filter (all natural - made from coconut husks) that absorbs the ethylene gas given off by fruits and vegetables which causes them to over-ripen. 

Then you have an open/closed vent system depending on what you're storing. There's a key in the lid of each container to show you which "breather" your particular produce is. Video here.

You can even get a filter that sits inside your fridge's produce drawer...

So last week I picked up a few items that always end up liquefying in my fridge:
* green beans -because I rarely find good ones here in Darwin and if I do they have to be used the same day,
* zucchini - because I always find excuses not to make zoodles and eat triple-cream brie instead!
*strawberries - because unless I let the kids eat three punnets all in one day they last three days max.

Then I put these Produce Keepers to the test.


We used half the beans on day five and they were as fresh as the day of purchase. The other half are still in their container in the fridge and looking just as good one week after I bought them.

One of the zucchinis had a bit of mould on it. I think that was because I had it touching the lid and some moisture had built up on the lid - next time I'll try not to overfill the container. (I had high hopes for daily running and zucchini noodles this week - Ha! Now where'd I put that cheese knife?)

The strawberries were perfect and the last of them got eaten yesterday - six days after I bought them!

These containers will definitely be changing the amount of food we throw out and saving us money in the process. Win win.

So, tell me, what usually dies a horrible death in the back of your fridge?  

Saturday, 15 August 2015

Magical Days - Archaeology Day

It's been a crazy couple of weeks in our house!

With the new adjustment to our Homeschool routine - and my realisation that I have, in fact, taken on a full-time job in becoming my childrens' teacher as well as continuing to be a full-time stay-at-home mum - there hasn't been a lot of time for blogging. Or sleep.

In fact, I haven't even had a chance to share August's Magical Days Calendar (sorry!). 

This month, we have chosen to celebrate Archaeology Day which falls on Monday, the 17th of August.

Archaeology is the the study of human history and prehistory through the excavation of sites and the analysis of artefacts and other physical remains. (Not to be confused with Palaeontology which is the study of prehistoric animals, such as dinosaurs.)

Here are some of the best and easiest ideas that we'll be using on Monday...

* The Archaeological Institute of America has some fantastic lesson plans and ideas for exploring archaeology.  Watch this introductory video for inspiration.

* This layer cake looks like a fantastic way of introducing the idea of strata and how civilisations build on top of one another.

* The AIA also has great instructions on setting up a dig. They have one in a transparent box to introduce the concept of strata, a Shoe-box dig which demonstrates how proper digs are performed 'blind', and a bigger-scale, school-yard dig which is just amazing! I love that all of these are set up with a back story and incredible details. This is the link to instructions on setting up all of the digs.

* I love this simple 'ancient' pot from Tikkido. Might be fun to make one of these and bury it in the sand pit. (Though, keep in mind that sand is very loose and any sand pit 'dig' will be over quite quickly and will not be able to demonstrate strata.)

* This lesson on Pompeii is awesome! What an amazing Lego city!

* Why not spend the day talking about ancient cultures. Here's some ideas from our unit on Egypt. 

* Read a book about archaeology. We love the adventure novel The Phoenix Code by Helen Moss, which is fantastic for nine year olds up.

* Or forget about the kids and just cuddle up while they're in bed and watch your favourite Indiana Jones film! (We've decided they're a bit too scary for our boys.)

Of course, it's never too late to join in the Magical Days fun. Here's what the rest of August has in store for us...

Sunday, 2 August 2015

Harry Potter's Birthday Dinner

We celebrated Harry Potter's birthday last night! 

As we've finished reading - and were about to watch - Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, my goal was to recreate the banquet in the great hall that is given to welcome the students from Durmstrang and Beauxbatons.
We had the house banners and suits of armour typical of Hogwarts... And, of course, we needed the goblet of fire...Then I set about making the ceiling resemble that of the great hall.

I was lucky enough to find these 'realistic wax' LED tea lights at my local hardware store. I unscrewed the battery compartment and used it to secure some fishing line, which I then sticky taped up the side and tied together on top to form a big loop.
The easiest way to make them 'float' was looping them over the blades of our (incredibly dodgy-looking, old) ceiling fan. I also wrapped a few around the down-light fittings and secured a few more with some Command picture hangers - the Velcro kind that lock together. 

Then, to make the enchanted ceiling, I added some glow-in-the-dark stars and a few gold stars from a Christmas garland that I found in the craft box. 
The table was set with golden plates and goblets and then it was time to wait for the guests.
The two big boys had spent the day fishing with their father and Grandfather, so I was really, really excited to see their faces when they walked in!

I had the candles all 'lit' and met them at the door dressed as Professor McGonagall who instructed them to bathe and change into their robes before reassembling in the Great Hall for dinner.
Not a great photo, but I sure got the reaction I was hoping for...
My photos really aren't doing it justice and make the fan look glaringly obvious, but it looked pretty magical last night.

The boys insisted we have a sorting ceremony...

And I did a bit of Transfiguration ; )
Then we sat down for dinner. I had planned to make a Bouillabaisse and "an odd sort of pale blancmange" as described in the book, but - as I thought the kids might be bringing home fish - decided to make something Bulgarian instead.
According to my research, this Mycaka is similar to Moussaka and we served it with a traditional Shopska Salad. 
For dessert I whipped up some Creme Brulee and a few meringues with the leftover egg whites.

Professor McGonagall took her role of guarding the goblet from under-age students very seriously... 
Then (after getting Rohan to sleep by pretending they were asleep!) the big boys cuddled up with us to watch the fourth movie. Which is my least favourite of the HP films- I really hate it when they change the book too much and leave favourite bits out.

Did you do anything special for Harry's birthday?

Wednesday, 29 July 2015

Magical Days - Harry Potter's Birthday

If you’re following along with the Magical Days calendar you might have noticed that it’s Harry Potter’s birthday on Friday (the 31st July). Here are some quick and easy ways to make an ordinary day a little bit extraordinary…
 * If you haven’t already, read the book/s to your children. I know it depends a lot on the maturity/sensitivity of the child, but I think six is a good age to tackle the first book. Harry celebrates his birthday in chapter four and by that stage you’ll both be captivated. 

* Make magic wands. Heaps of ideas on Pinterest and this one looks fairly easy. Be sure to make a few different ones so the wand can choose the wizard.

* Make golden snitches. Those tricky-to-see tiny quidditch balls get a tasty makeover. Look super easy to make too; full instructions here.
Via snazzify lm
 * Play Quidditch. There’s this table-top version or you could really get into it like this one...
Via Martha Shmartha

* Explore J.K. Rowling shares new writing about Harry’s world here and you can also shop for a wand and an owl, then go to Hogwarts to be sorted and complete lots of challenges. (I’m in Hufflepuff!)

* Bake a cake. Whip up a cake for Harry. Love, love, love this one inspired by Hagrid's… 
Via Craft Marmalade

* Cuddle up and watch a movie. Which Harry Potter film is your favourite? Make some popcorn, or the yummy golden snitches above OR you can make things a little more elaborate like we do.

Two years ago we decided to combine watching the first movie (after finishing the first book) with a little afternoon tea party. We soon realised that one book/film per year is actually the best fit for our kid/s so we made it a yearly event. You can see our first Hogwarts Express-inspired party here and last year’s Honeydukes extravaganza here.

This year, after reading Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, I’ve decided to recreate a feast in the great hall – picture floating candles, an enchanted ceiling, house banners and gold plates. I think this house elf has got her work cut out for her this year! 

***UPDATE: You can see how our Goblet of Fire dinner turned out here.***
P.S. Heaps more of my favourite ideas on my Harry Potter Pinterest Board.

Wednesday, 22 July 2015

Magical Days - July Calendar

Long term readers will have heard me (frequently) mention my friend Hana. She's a mama of three and the creative genius behind Moomookachoo - one of my favourite blogs that is packed full of simple ideas to make family time fun.

Hana's Magical Days Calendars have long been a source of inspiration to me- providing the spark in my quest to make the ordinary extraordinary.

I'm super excited that Hana has asked me to be part of a Magical Days collaboration project. Hana, myself and some other creative bloggers will be sharing some of our ideas for ways to celebrate these out-of-the-ordinary calendar days.

Okay, so it's been July for a few weeks now but I know you'll forgive me because I've been busy enjoying myself in this wide brown land.

If you follow SAHT on Facebook you'll have seen the link to this printable Calendar last week.

So, stay tuned because I'm going to be sharing some awesome ideas for celebrating Harry Potter's birthday!

Tuesday, 21 July 2015

Ten for Tuesday - Road Trip Edition

We've driven over 4400km in the last month and in spite of a few long days in the car we had an absolute ball. Here are a few of my fave shots from 'On the Road'...

1. Got to love a big car with room to spread out the children (and all our stuff!) | 2. Stopping for brekkie on the road means choosing whatever you want - even the Big Breakfast. | 3. Classic outback views. | 4. It was so much fun to have Grandma come and join us too. | 5. Driving at sunset means watching out for roos as they like to hop out in front of you - don't worry we were going really slowly and he hopped off happily.

6. Passing the time with Uno... | 7. ...Dinosaur play... | 8. ...and travel-sized Connect Four - I think there are still tokens floating around in the back seat. | 9. Easy to tolerate big drives when you've got views like this! Traveling the West MacDonnell Ranges. | 10. Excitement building as we draw closer to Uluru.

It's been a while since we caught up! How's your week month been?

Monday, 20 July 2015

Back Home and Ready for Our Big New Adventure!

Things have been a little quiet here on the blog as we've been busy travelling around this big ol' Territory of ours for the last month. I made a decision to just take a break and enjoy my time exploring with my family and I'm glad that I did because now we are home and ready to embark on our next big adventure.

What is our big new adventure?


I wrote this post nearly two years ago when I first got the idea in my head and since then I've done a lot more reading, research, planning and convincing my husband thinking about the benefits homeschooling could bring all of us.

Sure (as I mentioned two years ago) money and time were and are big factors in our decision, but the biggest motivator for us has been reflecting on the ways that our current education system - even at the best schools in the Territory/country - are failing our kids. 

I disagree with the standardised testing that is becoming the central focus of our learning and is being forced upon children as young as 8. I disagree with the over scheduling of daily routines and strict regulation of time periods that interferes with our childrens' innate desire to learn and explore topics that are interesting to them (what Montessori calls sensitive periods).   

I want a slower, less rigid and more personalised approach to learning for my children. I want a calmer, less rushed and more loving approach to the time we spend together as a family.

So we are jumping in - with open minds and open hearts - for a six month trial, anyway!

Do you homeschool? Helpful advice greatly appreciated.

Tuesday, 16 June 2015

Ten for Tuesday - Dry Season Edition

Here's my recipe for the best dry season evening. It's how we spent the Queen's Birthday long weekend and is really just all the best parts of a great camping trip (but with a hot shower and a good night's sleep in my own bed at the end of it!)

Step 1. Make something fruity and delicious. 
I made Lemongrass, Lychee and Lime White Sangria - just throw ice, a tin of lychees, a sliced lime and a few stalks of lemongrass into a jug and your favourite sav blanc in a jug. Easy!
Make the kids their own version with soda water instead of wine. Fancy! Step 2. Drink it in the pool
With the warmer-than-usual weather we've had the pool is the perfect temp - cold at first but perfect once you're in. Step 3. Watch the sunset
Or the sky change colour depending on your vantage point. We had the added bonus of bats flying overhead - lots of counting practice! Step 4. Wish upon the night's first star
Then have your kids whisper their wishes in your ear. There's nothing better than a special insight into how their minds work. We found Venus too. Step 5. Snuggle up around a fire
The best part about a cold pool is getting out, being wrapped up in a big towel and snuggling up in front of an open fire. We substituted the Kamado. Step 6. Plan to eat something that can cook on the fire while you're relaxing in the pool
Our pick? Grilled Kransky sausages which we then piled into rolls with grilled onion, sauerkraut, grated cheese, pickles and sauces. All prepared before we headed outside for fun. Step 7. Enjoy!
Delicious food and great family conversation. Doesn't get much better.
Step 8. Prepare your marshmallows a ninja!
Step 9. Toast those delicious morsels over your fire 
My big boys loved being in charge of the marshmallow roasting and took their role very seriously. Dad is a great teacher.
Step 10. Make S'mores
We like to squish our mallows between choc-chip cookies. Mmmmm. 
Step 11. Repeat
We loved this so much we did it all again the next night! Hooray for long weekends!

What's your secret for the perfect weekend?