September 10, 2011

9/11...a view from an Aussie

There are things happen in our life that we will always remember where we were and what we were doing at the time. September 11th 2001 was one of those days.

We had just moved into a new house. We that is, except my husband who was back in America visiting his family. The children were all in bed and I was on the computer chatting with friends from all over the world. One of my friends mentioned that a plane had just hit the world trade centre. I was asking questions like "Was it a small plane? What was it doing so close to the buildings?" etc. He of course wasn't able to answer the questions I was asking then all of a sudden he said "Another plane!!! Another plane has hit!!!"

September 1, 2011

The Elusive °....or degree sign

I type a lot of recipes. Whether it's to post on my blog or just to put in my file on the computer, etc, I type a lot. Everytime I've come to the temperature I have to type the complete word...degree. It gets old and it just doesn't look right.

Surely there's a way to simply type ° rather than write 'degree'. So I went in search of the 'how to'. I found help all over the place...as you do.

Zucchinis Galore.....

This is the time of the year that neighbours are dropping off 'zucchini bread' or 'zucchini brownies'. Everyone is trying to disguise this abundant vegetable (although some may argue that it is a fruit). If there was such a thing as a 'State Vegetable' then zucchini would be it for here in Utah.

Everyone has a thriving garden here (all except me it seems) and everyone plants zucchini. There is nothing unusual about opening your front door to find a bag full of zucchinis that some kind neighbour dropped off as they went for their morning walk.

So what to do with them? Yes the bread and the brownies are lovely but I think I have hit on a real winner here. I found a recipe for...wait for it...Zucchini CANDY!!! So being the kind of person who tries different or interesting recipes at least once (Vinegar Pie  and Velveeta Fudge for example) I tried it.

These are such a huge hit in my home with my teenage sons that now I am going to have to plant a garden next year and grow my own zucchinis.

August 25, 2011

Salsabol

If you have found my recipe for Eggplant Salsa then you will know how much we love salsa in our house. Today I found this bowl online that would fit perfectly in our family.

This bowl makes the art of scooping salsa onto your chip, effortless. No more fear of having the blob of salsa fall straight from your chip onto the table as you lift the chip to the edge of the bowl. Just think of the money you save right there.

August 23, 2011

Tip Junkie....Homemade Projects

I messed up big time on my first time at all this 'sharing'...but...Oh well.

Bloggers from all over are sharing their homemade projects. The one I shared is my Eggplant Salsa...but of course when it asked for 'Name'....I put MY NAME and not the name of the project. DUH!

August 21, 2011

Menu for a month

For the past number of years I have found that making a menu, and following it, makes my life so much easier and find it saves us money as well. I thought I'd share my latest monthly menu with you in hopes that someone might find it helpful.

Monthly Menu Blogger





July 27, 2011

July 15, 2011

LDS Welfare Square

Yesterday my husband an I took our three teenage sons to visit the LDS Welfare Square.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has always shown concern for the poor and needy, from the very beginning. For example, back in 1842 the women's organization, known as Female Relief Society of Nauvoo. That same organization continues to function today known simply as Relief Society and is about 5 million (give or take) members strong.

They also showed concern when they traveled across the plains by planting crops that they would never use themselves. They planted them for those who would follow after them.

The church continues this concern and care today, all over the world, through tithes and offerings and this incredible place known only as 'Welfare Square'.

At the square they have walking tours to show you throughout all the buildings. They say it takes about an hour but I think we were there much less than that. We were shown through the 'Bishops storehouse' which is where those people who are in need of food can turn and be given what they need (member and non-member alike). All that is asked is that they then volunteer in someway so as to be able to feel good about themselves by helping others.



This building is stocked with foods that have been prepared and or canned by volunteers. In fact, I myself have worked, as a volunteer, in one of these factories many many years ago. As a congregation we were asked to work the 11pm shift to can beans. We were to drive 45 mins away and work a four or six hour shift. We did so happily because this we knew, was helping others. As we left another crew came in.

Yesterday as we were shown around, the factory there was working on jars of pasta sauce. Again manned by volunteers of the church.....but I am ahead of myself.

Behind the Bishop's Storehouse was the warehouse that holds all these canned foods. They showed us a remarkable box that contains enough food to feed a family of 4 for a month. These boxes fill trucks and shipping containers and are sent to where they are needed after a natural disaster...wherever it happens in the world.

We walked past a bakery, and a dairy where we just missed seeing them with the milk bottles...(they produce regular and chocolate milk)....and passed by a group of volunteer workers just leaving after they had finished with the cheese. We got to taste the chocolate milk and the cheese. They were both DELICIOUS. The sister missionary who showed us around made the comment that the factories produce the best food that money can't buy. Even if we wanted to buy the chocolate milk we couldn't. It is merely to give to those who are in need.

We walked past big silos that store wheat that is only for use in disasters. Our guide said that every 4 years or so if it hasn't been used they empty it and fill it up again. They don't waste the wheat that is emptied out. They give it to organizations who could use it and distribute it.

We then walked through the back of Deseret Industries where goods that are donated are cleaned up and place out in the store front to sell. Money from DI is then used to help with this humanitarian/welfare effort. After the tour we went back to the store and provided our own 'help' in the effort and purchased some fun items. "Hello. My name is Wendy and I'm a DI addict."

At the end of the tour we sat and watched a video that ran for about 15 minutes. It was about 'why' and 'how' but mostly it was uplifting and inspiring. I can not imagine anyone going on this tour or even watching the video and not leave with a desire to do something that would contribute to this effort....or some other great cause (I'm thinking of the Red Cross or the Salvation Army who also do INCREDIBLE work).

This video is a good 10 minutes but it shows examples of what the humanitarian leg of The Church of Jesus Christ has done, there are stories from some of those who have been on the receiving end as well as comments from Senator Ted Kennedy and leaders of countries who have been recipients.



To all who look at the news and see devastation around the world and wish there was something you could do...well there IS.

July 9, 2011

Homemade Cereal and teenage boys.....

 I get a real kick out of making my own things. A few months ago I tried my hand at a recipe I'd had sitting in the bottom of the recipe pile for some time. You know the 'one day I'll try this' recipe pile. After trying it I found my teenage sons loved it and actually told me not to buy cereal anymore. 

Well...we made the big move from Australia to USA and I haven't made it because I don't have my grinder yet...but soon I will and I look forward to making it again for my boys.

Grape Nuts
  • 3 1/2 c. whole wheat flour (I sift the flour I grind myself but I reckon you could leave the wheat germ in it)
  • 1 c. brown sugar
  • 1 t. salt
  • 1 t. baking soda
  • 1 t. cinnamon (this is optional but I added it this time and the boys really like it)
  • 2 c. sour milk or buttermilk (you can make milk sour by adding a T. of vinegar to it)
  • 2 t. vanilla
Mix thoroughly and pour into a greased cookie sheet with sides. Bake at 180° C (350° F) for 15 minutes. Cool completely. At this point, this looks and smells like cake. Once the cake is cooled completely, cut it into pieces and whirl it into crumbs in the food processor. Don’t process too long because you don’t want it to get gummy. Spread this crumbly mixture into two jelly roll pans. Bake at 150° C (300° F) for one hour, stirring every 15 minutes. Take out of the oven and allow to cool before putting it into a storage container.

A few notes: I grind my own wheat but using store bought whole wheat flour will still work fine. Someone who makes this recipe also tried adding some dried TVP (textured vegetable protein) through the grain mill and added a cup of that to the grape nut recipe. Then increased the milk by 1/4 c.  "This built in some extra protein which some of my young athletes-in-training need for breakfast." I haven't tried this but it is worth a try. TVP makes me shudder but because it will be dried it will have the same texture as the 'grape nuts' and should be fine.

What homemade items have you made that you get a real kick out of? (ie: laundry detergent, shampoo, etc)

July 5, 2011

Homemade Chocolate

I have been making chocolate for years and for years people have asked me for the recipe. I have finally put the recipe up for everyone to see over here: A String of Pearls

If you go over and like what you read please leave a comment there and if you're interested I will be happy to share just how we made STRAWBERRY chocolate....but you'll have to leave a comment so I know.

July 2, 2011

Money...money....money.....

This is a picture of an ATM receipt someone left at a gas station recently. Alas it is not from my account but it sure can make one daydream about the 'what ifs'.

So....What if it was yours....what would you do? List the top five things you would do if you had this kind of money.

Sibling Rivalry

Who hasn't lived through it with your own siblings or dealing with it now as your own children grow. Here is a fantastic idea that is sure to help with who gets to sit in the front seat of the car or who gets to choose the TV show to watch or ANYTHING for that matter.

The Pocket Referee

 

I'm sure you have some tales to tell of sibling rivalry in your life. I'd love to hear them so go ahead and share.

January 17, 2011

Helping a Hoarder

Yesterday I was out and about with three of my four children (#4 has an arm in a cast) helping with the flood clean-up effort. It was Sunday. Our Sabbath. We are Christians. We go to church every Sunday and love it. The mess that this flood has caused made me think of a few scriptures:

Ox in the mire

In the service of your God

So with those verses in mind we set off in the morning to help in someway.

My husband had worked in an area on the Saturday that he said was in a bad way. That would be our starting point then. We had been watching the TV for hours everyday so we'd seen the destruction....or so we'd thought. People who spoke about the mess, always mentioned 'the smell' so I knew there'd be a smell to it all. We were not prepared for what we saw. Being on the ground and seeing things first hand and up close and all I can think of is complete devastation. And oh the smell. It hits right away. I had smelled this smell before but for a little while couldn't place it. Then it hit me. This was the smell I'd smelled as a child when I'd go to the dump with my father. It was a 'dump'. It wasn't a 'transfer station' or a 'land-fill'. It was a plain, simple and stinky, dump....and it wasn't pleasant.

These first images are what we drove past on our way to help someone.

This is where the water would have come from and less than a week ago would have been beautiful and green. I don't know that the plant life is dead (yet) but for right now it's brown because it's caked in mud.








There were cars everywhere and really no place to park. There would be no parking on the shoulders of the roads because they were mudpits. So people were parking beside the shoulders...which was pretty much...the ROAD.

We were going to the RSL (Returned & Services League of Australia) because we knew someone who would be working there. However, there was no where to park so we had to continue driving. We kept driving for a few more blocks until we came to a road that we could drive down and actually park. We got out of the car and headed to a house where there were people working. I asked if they could use us...they could.

The first house we helped at was this beautiful big Queenslander. It was situated right across the road from the river so it was hit hard. I noticed the water mark was over a metre on the top level.

As we started working I quickly came to realize that this was a home of a hoarder. Underneath the house was completely FULL of stuff. The owner was on the lawn instructing what was NOT to go on the dump pile. It was already a big pile. They had maybe been working an hour before we got there. At one point I had counted thirty people forming three different chains emptying the stuff from under the house. I do not know how many people were upstairs. Every now and again a man would come down with a laundry basket FULL of STUFF for the keep pile and others upstairs would come out and throw stuff over the landing into a wheelbarrow that we'd empty into the dump pile.



In this second photo you can see through to the neighbouring house. When we got there you wouldn't have been able to. It was filled from the ground to the roof, with STUFF. 


After we'd worked there for about 2 1/2 hours they didn't need us so we left the other workers to it and went to find someone else who could use us. On the way back, 4 1/2 hours later, we passed the 'first house' and found the pile of stuff to keep, had exploded to the front of the fence. The 'keepers' extends the length of the fence line on the inside of the yard, and now is on the footpath.


It was an interesting experience to see what made it to the 'keep' pile. This owner had some beautiful things that's for sure. Beautiful antique furniture. Would I have kept them having been caked in this thick, (some things had up to an inch of slimy mud) stinky, mud? I don't know. I doubt it. I think I would cry...sob...and say goodbye.But then there'd be things come down from upstairs and I'd think 'why??'. Like the M&M statue made it to the keep pile when the photos in frames did not.

Towards the end of our efforts, the lady was in her car driving off somewhere when all of a sudden she stops, in the middle of the road, jumps out of her car yelling something and waving her arms all about. She had spotted a chair in the dump pile that she wanted in the 'keep' pile. So, even though it was broken, we took it off and put it in the correct pile. I'm glad to have made her happy.

At one point I was taking a wheelbarrow of stuff over to the dump pile when I slipped on the mud and fell straight on my already sore knee. That was pretty much the end of me for the rest of the day. It hurt but I could live with it if only I don't have to walk too much (and defiantly not in the slippery stuff). Of course there was no where to sit down so I just stood and watch my children work with the many others.

While working we had countless number of people, clean people, coming up offering us food and water. People who out of the goodness of their heart, purchased and prepared this food and drink with their own money. Our hands, along with the rest of us, were filthy. We'd take the water or can of drink and ask if those with their clean hands could open it for us, which they did. Oh the goodness of people is overwhelming to me.

We were told that there was a street around the corner that could use some help. So off we went.

This is a spiderweb that had been hidden behind the TV unit but was now a work of art on the wall. I thought it pretty in amongst this tragic mess.


At this house (our second) it was a lady and her two daughters who had been stuck out of town and only now able to make it back to the house to start to demolish it. They didn't know what to do. We didn't know what to do. Thankfully there was a guy and his partner show up who DID so they got stuck into the work.




Where the plasterboard was taken off is the height of where the water came up to. I didn't take a photo of the kitchen but the water covered the countertops.




Three of us after the first house. Muddy, hot and stinky but couldn't be happier that we were able to do some good for someone.



This scene is played out over and over again. House after house. 


House #3

This husband and wife team only had each other...until my kids came along and helped them move items out then demolish the house as they had the previous one.


You can see on the open fridge door the line of mud as an indicator of where the water came up to. This was about 4 houses from house #2 and the water level was about a foot lower. About 4 houses up from this one there was no water damage at all.



The gentleman in the white was in the area to help his mum and dad out. After he had finished with their house he went house to house with his expertise telling what had to be done and how to remove it. Then with his trusty tools he proceeded to cut the walls and jimmy the skirting boards....and everything else.


The Energex (electricity company) were out and about checking every house on the street and all the power boxes. They are working hard to get power back to the houses where it is safe to do so.


This was a group of guys from the armed forces who were also doing an INCREDIBLE job around the place. Some of them even working shoulder to shoulder with us at house #1.


A house we saw on the way out of the suburb as we made our way home. This house should be white. It is obvious it was entirely under. 




You can see the water level on the freeway as we drove past an overpass. It's hard to imagine that it was so far over our heads only days before. So much water. So much damage.


This is under the overpass.


Muddy feet of a hard working 15 yr old boy, on the way home. A job well done. A well deserved rest to follow.



What did I learn from this? Things could be so much worse...STOP COMPLAINING!! and belongings are just things....'let it go' (which I also learned from my time helping out at a service provider for adults with disabilities some months ago.) I also learned that wearing out in the service of others is a WONDERFUL thing...as my children would also attest to.

January 13, 2011

Battling the Brisbane Floods

I live in Brisbane. I love Brisbane. I sit in my safe, dry house here on the south side and I weep. I weep for the loss of precious items...photos, letters, home movies, etc. I weep for the loss of things.....beds, TVs, curios, pianos, etc. I weep for the clean up that people will encounter for months and months to come. I weep for the loss of income for so many. I weep especially for the loss of life. Whether it is a beloved family pet or a brother, I weep.

Last night I went to the store. I didn't go there because we needed anything but I had been told that the shelves were bare. I took my camera so I could share with those who haven't experienced this, what it is like.


Toilet paper:



Fruit 'n Veg:











Eggs:


Chicken:


Beef:



Fresh Milk:











Sugar:

Long life milk...UHT and Powdered:


Flour



It will take a long time to recover from this. The areas most affected were our farms, dairies and cattle owners. Trucks won't be able to get through due to road damage.

I have grown up being taught at church to have a supply of food and other items on hand. This teaching has helped me and my family many times over the years. It is wise counsel and again we are reminded just why this is taught. You NEVER know!!!


Here is a link to the start of your own family storage...or disaster cupboard: Provident Living