So I am off for the weekend, leaving my family behind and spreading my wings… I am heading out to the GreenPop Family Fest and hopefully I will post tons of pictures on Instagram, and get back to you all on Monday and tell you about a weekend of tree planting and learning more about green living…
I had big plans to squeeze just one or two more blog posts in before I left, but actually… I am going to do the right thing and get some sleep, spend some time with my kids, and lets not forget a visit to gym in the morning!!!
I have been writing a series on Getting things Done this year… and in January I focused on all things to do with the computer and February I focused on the Kitchen. It turns out we aren’t nearly done with all things kitchen and I have at least three projects still to do there… so March is going to be another kitchen month and then because we are building a Library book by book, we should most definitely move on to sorting out books… because between you and me, we are in the season of literally drowning in books. The plan is finish up in the kitchen and move onto books.
So everytime I post a picture of our Wonderbag on instagram folk ask all about it. For the longest time this has been the most efficient kitchen tool we have. It all began during the season of load shedding and we needed to find a way to cook for a family of ten much more energy efficiently. Wonderbags are really just a cooking bag, surrounded by large cushions that insulate your pot and keep it cooking after you have removed them from direct heat, for a couple of hours. Using the Wonderbag has reduced our use of electricity significantly, not only that but you have to preplan and prepare things somewhat… and just the fact that I need to think about things slightly ahead of time means that when things are running smoothly and efficiently I am much more likely to use the Wonderbag.
The thing is you just have to prepare your meal in advance and then leave it to cook for a number of hours. There is nothing nicer than waking up in the morning and breakfast is made or returning from a cold wintry hike and there is a hot meal waiting for you. So we begin by preparing our meals as usual, all the chopping, all the browning and all the sautéing and then… pop a tight fitting lid on the container and pop it into the Wonderbag for a number of hours.
I have to admit, it is a different way of cooking to my usual last minute dash… and for the first while that we had it, I looked at it a lot, before I actually began using it. And our first Wonderbag adventure was just our breakfast porridge. That is already one meal of the day that I don’t have to think to much about… We chop up apples, cook them with some cinnamon until they are soft, pop in our usual oats and water, let it bubble away for a minute or two. Put the pot lid on tight and pop it into the Wonderbag and there you have breakfast ready on the table. different folk in our house leave home at different times in the morning… all they have to do is open the wonder bag and grab their porridge, seal it up and leave it for the later risers.
Otherwise everyone knows that a good pasta sauce or stew tastes better the day after, so the day of our massive monthly cook up, we do a massive chop of all the vegetables and then saute them one by one… we put all the ingredients into roasting pans and heat them up in the oven. Then I pop them into one large dish, the fuller the better, and seal it really tight and leave it in the Wonderbag overnight. The following morning I divide the sauce up into meal size portions and freeze them until we need them.
Otherwise, we use our Wonderbag for lunch quite a lot, for dishes like savoury rice or mixed beans. We start the rice on the hot plate as usual and let it bubble away and add in all sorts of finely sliced vegetables and herbs from the garden and then once it has boiled for a couple of minutes we pop it into the Wonderbag while we do school and at lunch time our meal is ready for us. A huge family favourite is mixed beans and we often have these on Sunday evening. Finely chop an onion and maybe some bacon or chorizo into a pan until they are browned, and then add a selection of canned beans… about half a can per person… and a jar of tomato sauce. Let it simmer away for a couple of minutes and then pop it into the WonderBag. Not even ten minutes of preparation and when we get home from church on a Sunday evening dinner is ready.
Now the reason that this Wonderbag post is part of the Getting Things Done series is that I would like to try a lot more recipes in ours and discover more than a handful of recipes that our whole family will enjoy… So my quest in March is to discover a new Wonderbag recipe each week… and that has to include making yogurt!!!
Last week was somewhat busy and this week is going to be crazy… with all of us off in a million directions… I am so grateful for a weekend of chilling and hanging out together in the great outdoors. Not to mention I am discovering the dawn… after years of sleeping late, I find myself waking up for gym, even on days when I don’t have gym… a peaceful time of day, when the house is quiet…
Anyone need a decluttering challenge, I did the 40 Bags in 40 Days challenge a few years ago and the habit stuck… I still toss out a bag or two of stuff every week… don’t even ask where all the stuff comes from… that is one of life’s greatest mysteries!!!
Family Reading A-Loud: We have been reading this DK book for two years, almost to the day!!! What an adventure it has been. The History of the World in 1000 objects, from the ancient of ancients right through time until the space race. It’s been fantastic!!!
Listening: Now that I have an almost daily commute to gym and back… so I picked this epic series and I am absolutely loving it… riveted!!! I thought it would take weeks to listen to, but no… just can’t stop listening!!!
Watching with the Kids: They finally watched the whole of this… the last of the big screen watchers may now stand up… I just never think to watch stuff with my kids, but this has been fun and we all enjoyed it, though for some folk in a somewhat “scared out of our wits way.”
Watching Myself: And for the person that almost never remembers to watch a screen… I did manage to watch the entire first series of Land Girls, oh in about one sitting. Just saying. I kind of got into it and then couldn’t stop watching!!!!
After just over two weeks of getting up before dawn I have to say I am enjoying the early morning… though it is far from being a habit and it is throwing my night owl habits into quite a spin, not to mention blogging into disarray. This is of course is a good thing, part of being here is to jumpstart all those lifestyle habits that are draining me of energy and late nights is definitely something that needs to go.
This is where all the busy folk appear to be working out and with smiles on their faces!!!
I am loving the workouts, I rediscovered the rowing machine this morning, sigh!!! It was brilliant. But still those gym bikes are elusive, I have yet to figure out how people sit on them… maybe folk who haven’t had eight kids. Whatever it is these particular gym bikes were not designed for actually sitting on, let alone sitting on and pedalling. Really just no. No. NO. The agony and no ecstasy. Otherwise, crunches… can we talk about these… I just can’t find my joy in them, my head is saying that I don’t have stomach muscles and the other folk in the gym class (all three of them, there is no escaping) just get on with it… so I say in my head crunch, as the coach counts 1, crunch, as the couch counts 2…. but seriously I don’t thing my nonexistent stomach muscles are doing anything. Then again there are things called planks, and I love them… love… can do those forever, it could possibly be from carrying small children around for a number of years.
These are my worst enemies, just saying.
There are things I just don’t understand… how can stepping on and off a step be so exhausting… we do such seemingly inconsequential moves for 60 seconds, and then move on to the next inconsequential thing, then round about and do it again. Well there are times in my life when I cannot even believe how long a minute is… anyway I am doing it, I am loving it. And after so few workouts I am already feeling more able… I am feeling fitter, and feistier for sure. Though I am nowhere near doing this on my own. I need someone to tell me what to do, I need to hear just 15s more and I know that if I was doing it on my own I wouldn’t put even half as much effort into it. My head just isn’t nearly ready for the slacker in me to workout as hard as I can on my own.
This is where the elites hang out, we walk past them a lot!!!
The one thing that is really hard is that I am so tired at the end of the day, after the early morning start, that I can hardly keep my eyes open, let alone blog once I have put the kids to bed. This is a really good thing, this will force me to make some essential changes. Before I began this programme I didn’t even recognise tired… I would just push through and keep going and do the next job and the next job… not things that my family are unable to do, just stuff I do for them. When they sit down to dinner, I pour the water, I collect things that were forgotten from the table and I often start eating when a couple of folks have finished already. Even though we always eat every meal together, I realise that actually I am not sitting and relaxing and enjoying meals at all, I am dashing about like a mad thing making sure everyone has what they need.
That water fountain and I are going to be best friends. Except it is way across the hall!!!
So while the workouts are not affecting my kids at all because I leave in the morning LONG before they wake up and get back just as they are stirring, the programme as a whole is affecting them and not just because we have added a few five minute workouts into our school routine… I have a feeling this eight week programme is going to be life changing for me in more ways than just getting fitter… for the first time ever I am noticing that I can actually say I am too tired and go to bed or if someone needs a bit more water, I can say… I will get it for you when I am finished dinner. There is a whole lot going here that isn’t about gym at all. Good stuff, though not at all what I was expecting and it will mean rearranging folks expectations of me… and that is another whole game changer!!!
And as for challenges, well I found the bathrooms at gym (my challenge from last week!)… and yes I still need to get myself a pair of actual sporty shoes… yes, I am still wearing my comfy croc loafers… there is an issue here – I loath and detest shopping and while I have to shop for my kids I will put off shopping for myself forever. I literally need to be forced out the door to do this, so my personal challenge for this week is to have a photo to post of a pair of new athletic shoes by this time next week.
It’s World Book Day, a huge day on the world of children’s books. This is the day we think about all the books that fired up our imaginations as kids… our favourite favourites. The ones we have to keep on our shelves forever and the ones we love so much that we have to share them…
It is also the perfect day to talk about our Book Giving Day Project. The point of World Book Day is to encourage kids to read… and we are doing just that by creating libraries for children, who would otherwise not have access to books at all.
We are trying, with your help, to build a library for a school with over a thousand students in it and no access to a library, either at school or in their community. No books for dreaming, no books for thinking and no books for just escaping… I think we could set as a goal to create a library that each child could take out a book every week. When I ask my kids what their favourite books are… we can be busy for hours. Our dream is to give each of these kids a favourite childhood book by the end of the year. I believe we can, just by gifting one book at a time…
For those of you that are new here I thought I would quickly tell you a little bit about our Building a Library Book by Book Project: Once a year for a number of years now, we generate a library of books for a school in desperate need. With the help of our blogging community we have been able to build a rural library, a inner city library, a township library… it just grows every year. How it works is that folk all over the world send a gift of a book or two, either they buy them online or they ship books that they have already read and would like to share… and slowly but surely the books roll in, one by one until we have a library to share. It is completely possible to build a library book by book…
This year we have sponsor, that you are all going to love, to help us with our project. Super Nova Magazine have come on board and as well as gifting our library with a collection of books they will match each order bought with our coupon code, by gifting the same order to our library project. Anyone who subscribes to the magazine before the end of April, is also buying a subscription for our library project. So already they have gifted a collection of magazines to the school, but your subscription can help our library grow…
Super Nova is a locally produced, real live magazine for curious kids, geared towards primary and middle schoolers… it is a great quality magazine absolutely packed full of facts, issues, science, stuff kids (and their parents) love to read about. We recently featured in an article that they wrote on Citizen Science and you can check it out here… And if your kids do great and exciting stuff they can write in and join the story too… they love hearing from kids. This is the classic magazine of our childhood, reinvented for kids today… there is everything to love about it and we are so excited to have them onboard and helping us to create a library for these kids.
You can read about our Citizen Science Project over here… and how dreamy is it to find yourself in real live print. Funny thing, instead of calling the hoods by their “real names” Hood #1, hood #2 etc… they gave them assumed names for the article… and that gave my guys hours of hilarity… they called each other by their Super Nova names for weeks!!!
Use the coupon code: ”7+1” (no spaces) in their shop and they will know to match it. You can also leave a note in the notes panel.
So How Can You Help to Build a Library?
Step 1: Select a Book or Books
You can search through your books for gently used books that your children have outgrown or no longer love. Remember these books are gifts, we will visit the school when they unpack them. Loved books are great, over loved books… not so much, and old tattered textbooks from your college days that have been used as door stops… really not so much.
You can buy a book or two with your children and package them up.
You can shop at Amazon and ship directly.
And you can shop on-line, locally at Loot, and ship directly as well.
While all the students do learn English, many of the learners have Afrikaans or Xhosa as their first language. English books are very welcome, so are books in Afrikaans and Xhosa. Any books will be great, story books, picture books, craft books, cook books, reference books… really any books. There is a large community being served here. If you are shopping overseas and would like to buy local language books then click on the South African vendor to find books and they will deliver locally for you.
Leave a comment and tell us that you intend to help or contact us. I will reply to you all as soon as I can with the shipping details, with the address to send the books you have chosen. There is a human person behind each and every email (that would be me) and they take time… please be patient the address will get to you.
Step 3: Let us Know All About the Books You Chose
We would love if you could photograph the books you are sending, if you shop on-line then just send us a list of the books that you ordered. If you have a blog and write about it then let us know and we will have a Progress Post almost weekly. I will pop the photo’s you send into the blog post and if you do have a blog there will be a chance for you to link up as well…
Step 4: There is a Deadline…
We would like to deliver the books that we personally collect and accumulate in the first week or two of May, so while you can ship anytime… we are hoping to end this campaign by the end of April.
Otherwise if you have contacted us and left a comment, I will be emailing you all over the next few days with the shipping information… and if you haven’t received an email by next week then please please please comment again.
March is here!!! Really!!! And as promised here is your March printable calendar. You are welcome to print it out, use the landscape option, it works better!!! Click on the image and it will open in a new tab. Print it out and write the days you would like to celebrate on it then pop it onto the fridge as a reminder…
I didn’t post our Kitchen decluttering post last week, what was I thinking… to spring clean the kitchen the same week that I began a “crack of dawn” gym routine. Everything round here has been thrown somewhat by the new gym regime, so I decided to embrace the rest I needed and I will just keep the posts rolling out as I write them. Meanwhile a little kitchen project that I have started and neglected and then started again, for the longest time… is the recipe and recipe book situation.
Se7en Steps to Getting Your Recipe Collection in Order
Honestly recipe books are works of art, their functionality has gone way beyond putting ingredients to work and following step by step until you have dinner on the table. Recipe books are beautiful collections of photographs and books that you want to linger over for hours. Even if you never cook a recipe from them, you will walk away inspired. I love recipe books and love reviewing them, but I cannot keep them all. The way I keep our recipe books under control is to limit them to one shelf, it is hard, in fact it is brutal. But one shelf it is and I only keep my absolute faves. I have a new trick, I gift the recipe books I love, but don’t fit on the shelf, onto friends because then I can call them anytime I need a recipe.
Recipe Collecting and Gathering:
Whenever I see a recipe I like, or a friend shares a recipe with me I toss it in a box, and literally forget about it there. I never keep magazines or recipe pamphlets, I cut out the recipe I want to keep and literally toss them into the box and then forget about them until the box is full.
Make Time to Try Those Recipes:
The question is, what do we do with all the recipes we want to try… firstly we have one night a week for trying new recipes. It has to be a planned night for us, because new recipes tend to require slightly different ingredients to the ones that you usually use and so require a special trip to the store. Not to mention new recipes take a little longer to prepare because there is usually something new to learn. Anyway, if a recipe is a keeper then it is written into our family cookbook on the day. If I leave it any longer it gets forgotten and never re-surfaces.
A Family Recipe Book:
I started putting all our favourite recipes and recipes that we use frequently into a book… filling it up slowly and steadily as time wanders on. Whenever we review a recipe book and a new recipe becomes one that we embrace then I pop that recipe and which book it comes from and the page in the book was well. Every now and then I dedicate a double spread to a cook book we love… and list the recipes in there that we love, because is there anything worse than knowing that there is a recipe you want to make again and again but you just aren’t sure which book is it from. I want this book to be a bit of an heirloom, something that my kids would look back on and remember Monday Morning Pancakes and our favourite cookie recipes all on one page.
Creating a Quick Reference:
I found that while the family recipe book gets fuller and fuller as we try new recipes… it isn’t quite the quick reference that I need on our kitchen counter. We have a heap of kids that are all growing up and they like to cook… so I keep a small recipe book, just with ingredients in it. They have been watching how to make recipes for years… but sometimes you just need a quick reminder of the correct amounts of ingredients. So it really is a teeny tiny recipe book… a quick reference that is really unique to our family. Our basic cookie recipe, our quickest cake in the world, milk tart.
Let it Grow Naturally:
Every time the kids want to make something and the ingredients aren’t in the book, then I add that recipe to the book. Just this morning I added banana bread to the book. This little book is really just a guide, so that drastic mistakes aren’t made. If they need to know the procedure then they can refer back to the recipe in the family recipe book.
And a Challenge:
Right now our box of recipes is full to exploding… I need to go through it and toss the recipes that we will never actually try and make a plan to use and keep the ones that we really are. This is a task I can easily do, while the kids are busy at the table alongside me. I just never get round to it… a realistic goal to tackle this week… empty out the messy recipe box.
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