Monday, January 29, 2018

2018 Week In Review: Week 2

I debated skipping a week in review for this week as it was an unusual week for us, especially being week two. But I’m also big on sharing that while we have a lot of great days, everyone has bad ones. It’s just a matter of one foot in front of the other when they occur. So, despite having a semi chaotic week, I figured I’d share about it anyway.

We started out with all new material, but I realised that we’d worked at half pace in some areas & full pace in other areas. So on day 2 we decided to play “catch-up” with the half-paced subjects as well as continue forward movement in math.

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Planner Monday: Wk 4

No, I didn't miss the fact that I titled this Planner Monday when it's really a Tuesday, life was a bit chaotic & busy for us this past week which is the way of life when dealing with the care of an older relative at times. So here we are, on Tuesday, writing about Planner Mondays.

It's also not the best photo because I took after collapsing for the evening in the lounge room, which means there were no lights on, but hey it's been documented, right? And lest I should be asked, those temperatures in the top box are in Fahrenheit, otherwise we'd be puddles of humans. I accidentally  sent the weather to Mr S in Fahrenheit the other day instead of celsius & he was like, "What?!" Ahh, we had ourselves a great laugh about it in the end.

Monday, January 22, 2018

2018 Week In Review: Week 1

It was back to school around our house this past week, & boy was it nice to fall back into routines & structure. To have a semblance of normal in this crazy life we live right now. Life is anything but normal & calm for my family, so when we have that one reliable thing that is.. yeah, it’s good.
Ironically, two days before school was set to start we made some last minute curriculum changes. I was already under a lot of stress from the whole airport saga, & then as I sat down to finalise schedules for the week I felt led to take another route with our oldest. Crazy, I know. We sat him down & had a chat about it, & unrolled the new plans.

Friday, January 19, 2018

Silly French Fries

These cute & cuddly little fries were a gift from my youngest last year. There are actually 5 in total, but two are currently hidden somewhere.. They seriously are adorable to look at, but we both said the same thing, "It's a shame they don't come out!"

Upon closer inspection I realised they were only held in by a few, very large, stitches in which they'd been tacked in to keep them "safe." I decided to clip them out one evening & hide all 5 chips around the house, leaving the empty "packet" on the hall table.

When the kids realised it was empty they asked what happened & Mr S declared that he'd eaten them. After the laughter stopped I suggested they look around & see if they could find them. It took them most of the day, but they did eventually round them all up, I'd put a few in rather obvious places including a child's bed.

Thursday, January 18, 2018

What's On The Book Shelf This Week: Wk 3

Pride & Prejudice:

Okay true confession I’m not a fan of Jane Austen. I know, I know, let the cuing of tomatoes be thrown, but it’s true. I’ve started many of her books over the years & put each one down in turn because, “Ugh.” I’ve read Shakespeare, Dickens, & Verns without issue, but Austen gets me every time.

However, my mother told me early in life to never say never, so here I am, reading P&P. I’m not going to say I’m loving it, but I also don’t hate it. I think it’s going to be very predictable, & no I haven’t watched the movie a million times. I’m not even sure I’ve ever watch the movie or the BBC shows or anything of the likes.

So why am I putting myself through it? Well, I’m putting together a list of Brit Lit I want my boy to read, & here’s the thing.. P&P comes up on a lot of lists, so I figured before I subject my child to it I’ll subject myself to it & decide if it will remain on our list or not. I started chapter 25 last night. Audio Link

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

New Year's Eve 2017

We kicked off our annual New Year's Eve party at 2 last year instead of noon as planned. We had an unexpected call come through that needed dealing with so our town to town bike ride was canceled. Instead, we had just enough time to squeeze in a walk at our local footy oval before we came back home & I iced up my knee before the kids started opening bags.

At two they opened up our NYE board game which was CodeNames. I had to go through so many hoops to land that game that I nearly opted for something else, but I'm glad I didn't. We enjoyed a few games of this, over much laughter based on how each person's mind works, before we moved on to our three o'clock bag

At 3 we made peanut butter cups & watched a movie. Honestly, the adults weren't too keen on this choice, but it fit the time requirement & we figured we'd give it a go. We'd actually had something else selected prior to realising our bike ride was off, but learning to roll with the punches is something we do around here. In the end the movie wasn't half bad.

At 5 we started work on homemade pizzas. We do this every year, & I'm telling you every year I feel like it takes longer than the year before. It's weird, but it's a tradition we enjoy. Sadly we can't just order pizza thanks to gluten & dairy allergies, but making them is half the fun, right? This year the pizza making session went so fast we had time to clean up the huge mess we made AND still found ourselves waiting a few minutes before opening the next bag!

At 6 the kids decorated the house with our typical NYE banners, but I also threw in some 2018 glasses & a number balloon thingie that required no helium. I may have been the most excited over that one. They have tabs at the bottom you can slip a straw in to blow them up, & each time the kids got one filled with air I may have squealed a little too excitedly over it. Ahh, small pleasures, right?

At 7 we turned on the cricket, the Big Bash League is a big deal in our house so we watched the Strikes completely wipe out the Heat. In fact, it was such a blow out that the game ended 30 minutes earlier than any other game this season & the commentators were scrambling to fill the space before the fireworks went off at the stadium.

At 8 the kids opened up their new calendars. The Lis Climo one was new to our home, but oh my goodness it's a fresh new laugh each day! I keep thinking we should save all the comic strips & when we need a good laugh pull them out. Jayden got an Adventure In Odysse cd, Morgan's was still "in transit" out there somewhere & didn't arrive until the 2nd.

At 9 we geared up to go watch the early session of fireworks in our town. We live close enough that we just walk a couple of blocks over & watch from the top of the hill. They were a bit shabby this year as the new organisers this year were unaware more people turn out for the early fireworks than the 12am fireworks, but it was still enjoyable as we don't get to see fireworks very often.

Once we got back from fireworks the kids opened the ten o'clock bag to find another movie & American marshmallows inside. True story, not all marshmallows are created equal, & lest you think I'm making this up you'd just have to try an American Mallow if you haven't, or an Aussie Mallow if you haven't. Our preferred is the American so I picked some up from Happy Tummies {AU}. Our 10pm movie was Escape From Mr Lemoncello's Library which is the same book Morgan had read earlier that year & raved about for ages.

Sadly, he said the movie was nothing at all like the book & just kinda.. weird in comparison. However, he was good enough not to say anything while the movie was on so I'll have to see if I can snag his copy to read sometime soon.

At 1130 we opened our final bag of the night which contained glow sticks for each of us, party poppers to share, sparkler, & to my kids shock a giant bottle of champagne. In reality the giant bottle was a huge party popper that I spotted at the grocery & couldn't resist picking up for our party. We had a time getting it open & I think I may have actually been recording the whole thing which is likely worthy of "Epic Fail" or some other like minded website.

After that we all clambered inside made a million "last year" type jokes & after telling the guys how lame their jokes were I ended up saying, "And now I'm off to bed because I haven't had a wink of sleep all year.." which pretty much did everyone in on their way to bed.

Scrapbook pages made with the Project Life App.

Monday, January 15, 2018

Planner Monday: Wk 3

Planner all set for the new week. To be honest, knowing how busy our school weeks can get I put the To Do, This Week, Fitness, Goals, Next Week, Bible, & washi tape down for the first 2 months some time ago. That way I could go in & fill out my lists as needed despite how busy things got. However, I had some spare time & $2 so I picked up the back to school stickers from Planner Penny.

I appreciate that I can print these out, size them to fit my own planner & use them again down the road. I've flagged a few of her sets to use this year if I have spare change & time. We'll see.. In the mean time, it's back to school here in our house on Monday, incase the planner page didn't give it away!

I used Back To School Full Boxes & Back To School Decorating Kit, all though I only used one of the boxes & the flags. All the other stickers are ones I made, the cutlery is the Lawn Fawn Plan On It Stamp, & the washi is DoodleBug back to school coloured pencil washi. Mr S gave it to me for Christmas.

This is a Plum Paper 7x9 Personal Planner, option #3 {vertical all lines} & I've just broken it up to fit my own needs with the homemade stickers. No affiliate codes for it, all though I've you've never ordered one & would like to save $10 I think I can email a code, not sure why they've made it that way instead of a simple link. Or you could pop on to their Facebook or Instagram page & check to see if they ave having a sale.

I ordered mine unpunched & unbound so that I could use the Staples Arc punch on it. I purchased my discs from Discbound Marketplace out of the USA. I do have a Plum Paper cover on it, but I also have a Happy Planner cover on it.

Saturday, January 13, 2018

It's Not That Simple

I had to take my MIL to the airport yesterday, a family wedding on the mainland that she was off to. Admittedly, I didn’t have the best attitude about it because I was volunteered for this job without asking me, & in reality I needed to be at home finalising school plans for the week ahead. A million and one last minute things to do, but sometimes when people volunteer you for things you’re stuck. Jammed into a hole & there’s no way out. It’s a huge peeve of mine, that whole being volunteered for things without asking me first, but that will have to be dealt with later. Instead Mr S calls his mother & tells her I’ll be there at quarter to one to collect her.

She interrupts this to 1145. We’re not sure why & repeat ourselves, “So you mean 11:45?”
“No, 12:45.”
“But it should be 11:45.”
“There’s no need for that, 12:45 is more than enough time. We live 5 minutes from the airport you’ll still be there 1:10 minutes prior to your flight.”
“Right, so you’ll be here at 1145?”
“NO! 12:45, go get a pen & paper, right it down quickly. Write 12:45. Be ready to go when she arrives."

Because she said 1145 SO MANY TIMES I actually showed up at 1145. Irony for you is that she was standing there ready to go. House all closed up, case in the doorway.. I say, “Do you have your ID?” 
“Yes it’s in my thing!” 
“What thing?” 
“That thing you have!”
It’s like a game we play, I have to guess the missing word, the missing item. I have to fill in the word before the frustration of not remembering it takes over, the stress levels in both of us rising, so I say, “The suitcase?” 

“No.” I don’t have anything else, but I presume she means handbag & am about to ask her to look when I realise her neighbour is in the home & waiting on Nana to give her a key. 
“Make sure you give the right key this time, not the one to her home, but the one to your home..” I refrain from pointing out she’ll only be gone 1 full day & there’s really no need for a big key exchange.

“No, it’s the mailbox key this time. I can’t get it off my ring, have you got one?”
“No, sorry I don’t.”
The neighbour looks up & says, “You realise you’ve locked her out of the house right?”

I don’t have a key for the screen door either, but I decided to pluck a few random bits of grass out of the garden instead of worrying about going inside. “I’m so sorry, let me— Oh, are you weeding the garden? Are you the one who did it before?”
“No, sorry I didn’t weed it before, I haven’t had time to weed my own garden much less anyone else's.”
“But someone has done it!”
“Aren’t you lucky, perhaps they thought you’d like it. Are you ready to go?”
“Nearly, I can’t get this key off!”

I point out that the only mail day she’ll be gone for is today, & as it’s raining the postman is running early, at least on our street, but by now the key is free & there’s no point saying much of anything. 

We dash off to the airport, now keep in mind we live in a large town, but have a dinky airport that only opens when a flight is coming in/out. We sit down to wait for things to open up. Some English tourists show up & ask where everyone is. I explain this is normal & that the boarding area will open once the 135 flight lands & all people have collected their baggage. She’s in shock/horror. She & Nana strike up a conversation because they are both from England. Italian tourists show up, I repeat myself. Followed by repeating myself, again to the Asian tourists who are far more laid back about the whole ordeal.

I note the signs about not leaving things laying around & note that the postman has broken this rule because he’s left a parcel outside a high security door. I debate banging on the door to report said package or running for my life & decide that I shall do neither. If God decides to call me home I only pray that the fly buzzing around my head is not called home with me. And thus I sit.. listening to Nana critique the appearance of the Italians, who in fairness could use a comb on their hair, their children could use baths & shoes for that matter & am attempting to be calm, relax & let go of my irritation. I double check the time on her boarding info & that’s when it happens..

She leans over & says, a tad more loudly than needed, “You know there’s no point all these people pushing each other around because *I* will be first as I will be in a wheel chair. It’s a benefit of being in one, you get on first.” I look around, smile, & say, “Hopefully they will remember the chair.” “Oh, they WILL remember the chair, trust me.” I decide to send my children a txt message & point out that I’ve mad a grave error in getting out of bed today because I am now stranded in an airport with a variety of tourists who can’t believe how laid back our airport is & their grandmother who is informing everyone how she will be first on the plane. I refrain from telling everyone that the tiny elevator on wheels will prevent her from being first.

Instead, I watch the flight arrival & departure screen for a few minutes before wondering how long I’ve been sitting there. I note that the tourists aren’t use to flies buzzing them & wonder if I’ll be arrested if I go to the car & get a fly swatter. I decide not to tempt things. I note the creepy man who comes into the airport & is far too caught up in his dark coat & making sure his equally dark hat is on his head just-so. I note he’s wearing sunglasses, lest I should have to give testimony to security of police when it all goes down. Suddenly he removes his dark glasses & I stop paying any mind to him because I figure he just has bed hair & wouldn’t like it if Nana noticed & offered him a comb.

It is shortly thereafter that the gate opens & everyone surges forward, except myself. Why bother, I mean if she IS going to be first why rush? I can not put off the fact that Nana is becoming increasily anxious though & finally subject myself to standing in line knowing there will be minor complaints about no chairs to sit in. It’s at that moment I take note that the security lady is scanning for bombs in the lounge, & thus I do the only logical thing & scan the area I am in for anything with wheels. If I have to make a fast break with Nana in tow I need to know what I can throw her on to rush her out because she’s only brought a walking stick instead of walker with wheels. I see nothing suitable & determine that if anything is found in the lounge I am stuck having to throw her over my shoulder & regret that my teens are not with me to help. Thankfully nothing sinister is found & I realise we are next in line.

It’s at this moment she decides it would be wise to pull out her ID to show the clerk. “Yes, that would be wise..” I mumble while quickly putting her case down so she can balance her enormous handbag on it. I’m left wondering why now that backpack purses are back in style she’s given her’s up, especially considering her handbag is so big she often can’t carry it without help. I have little time to consider what the answer could be because the hat she’s taking for the wedding she’s off to attend is quickly thrust at me. I consider putting it on to keep a hand free, but I honestly can’t bring myself to do it. It’s not that the hat is overly posh, covered in feathers, or anything. Rather it looks like it belongs on a school girl from Anne of Green Gables. I no sooner reach this conclusion than the walking stick, which I am reminded is not hers & I must deal with kindly, is thrust at me. I realise, that the ID is clearly missing & I bite my tongue, hard, to keep from saying, “But I did ask..”

Instead I suggest I look, but it’s simply not there. Not in any one of the million pockets, not in her trouser pockets, not in the suitcase.. it simply isn’t. She’s hit pure panic now & I point out there’s no point panicking until after we speak with the young man behind the counter. But before I can point out we’ve been called forward someone slams a large parcel down beside us. It’s covered in a million fragile stickers & I wonder how fragile it is if one is going to slam it down so hard, but who can ask when the man quickly exits the boarding area. I debate reporting this, international air travel does this to a person. I scan out all exits, I look for things with wheels to get my family out faster, & I report all unattended baggage. Before I can say anything the female clerk comes round the counter peers closely at the box & runs for the high security door. Bangs on it & drags someone over to it who starts inspecting it. They ask who’s it is, & I say, “A fellow with glasses put it down & walked out.” They scoop it up & take it through another high security door, & that’s when someone starts shouting.

“Oy! You can’t take that it’s mine!” I avoid eye contact & point out we’re being called up to the counter. The man eventually gets his package back, around the time Nana points out she’s in a spot of bother due to no ID & asks if a library card will suffice. The man avoids a smile, but before he can say much she says, “I do have a frequent flyer card.” Oddly, he does smile & says, “That will work Ma’am.” 

“But will that suffice once she’s in Melbourne for her return trip?”
“It shouldn’t be much of an issue.”
“Mm..” I mean it’s tempting, oh so tempting, but no I can’t.. “Nana I think I need to run back to your place & look for the ID, where did you put it? Can you remember?”

There’s a long pregnant pause before she says, “I do believe it’s in that brown bag you gave me.” 
“Right, I’ll help you through security, dash back to find it, & bring it here to you.”
“Oh no, you shouldn’t go to all that trouble..”
“Let’s deal with security..”

I note all the signs that point out if you have artificial limbs or metal inside of you it must be reported before going through the screening. I sigh again knowing this will cause another hiccup, ask the man beside me to pass me a white tray & remind Nana to empty ALL her pockets. Sadly, the ID does not magically appear. A mobile phone does, but before I can mention taking off her watch her walking stick is confiscated & she’s handed a wooden one instructed to remove her shoes & step through the security booth.

“Wait! She has a metal hip, & wrist.. two actually.”
“Ma’am get away from the booth! You must sit down on a chair instead.”
“What? I can’t sit down I’m trying to get on a plane!”
“Nana, just sit down a moment, they will use the magical wand of security on you.”
“The what?”
“Remember the plates in your wrists? They have to use a special scanner on you, look her comes someone else who will get special treatment too.”

She goes to sit down & the security guard calls her forward, she doesn’t miss a beat, “You didn’t even allow me a moment to sit down!”
He smiles, but waves her through.

I realise, after she’s scanned I still have her ticket. Drat! Security freaks out when I hand it to her over the barricaded area, but let it slide. I point out some chairs she can sit down in & that I will be back as soon as I can, but I can see the worry setting in. She’s not sure where to go or how she will carry everything. The guard asks if I’d like to come through, “No, I’m sorry I can’t. She’s forgotten something & I Must go back for it. She’ll be okay, she needs a wheel chair.” He nods.

I make a run for the car in the pouring rain. Then remember I’ve been inside too long & have to go back to the arrivals to pay for parking, then another mad dash back to the car. Thankfully we live 5 minutes from our small airport. I make it back to her house & pretend I don’t see curtains moving to see who’s arrived & why someone is dashing in. I make a beeline for the brown bag, but the ID is not there.I check the black bag. No ID. I look under the bed, on the bed, under the covers. on the table, in ever spare bag I can find. I dig through every pile of papers, I make emergency calls to Mr S at work & beg him for ideas, He instructs me to check the forbidden box. 

 I check for the forbidden green box that her own kids have never even peered in. I find an expired passport & other things I swear I will never mention until the time for them to be revealed to her own children is right. I’m in a panic myself now. 40 minutes to get back to the airport, clear security & hand her the missing ID.. the ID I can’t find. I am desperate now & check the bathroom, no go. I tell Mr S to quiz her hard on where she put luggage upon her return a week ago. Walk her through it step by step, they suggest I check the bed.. again. I refuse & am busy checking the pockets of every coat, sweater, & bathrobe I can find. I am terrified a neighbour will walk in & think I’m ransacking the house. I have no time to dwell on this & look in the fridge.

I’m running out of ideas & now have 20 minutes to get back to the airport. I can hear the rain coming down & remember my car windows are open, & debate dealing with it, but the ID must be found. I dash into the garage, I normally avoid it. It smells like laundry soap, very floral. It makes my skin itch & my head ache. I check the washer, I check the laundry that’s drying, the craft table & then I see the walker in the corner. I dash over & lift up the seat to discover the missing ID. Score! I tell Mr S I’ve found it & that I have to run, literally & abruptly hang up. The car seats are soaked, as is my purse, I’m drowning in my own sweat at this point & just praying I make it in time.

I make it back with 10 minutes to spare, rush in to the security corridor & throw everything in a bin. The guards are all staring at me, as if they know me but can’t decide where. Apparently my 30 minute absence is too great a period & I’m tempted to just say, “Wheelchair.” which will likely bring it all back to them. Instead I’m pulled aside from random drug testing. They wave the magic wand over me, touching my shirt, my shoes, my keys.. I am tempted to call the kids via FaceTime & point out that this is just like Border Security, but don’t want the guards to think I’m being cheeky. I pass, with flying colours & dash over to the corner where I find Nana, near tears.

“I found it!”
“Oh, Kendra! Come closer let me give you a hug.”

I debate saying no, because I’m not joking when I say I’m drowning in my own sweat & I don’t trust any deodorant I can buy here to control what might erupt from under my arms, but how can you deny an 83 year old woman the right to have a hug when you’ve just stopped her from crying? 

“It’s just,” she says, “I was so scared someone had stollen it. I wasn’t worried about getting back on my flight I figured I can go to the NAB & get ID.” I smile & decide not to point out that her return flight is Sunday & the bank will not be open. Instead I say, “Look, I think your plane is here! It’s raining pretty heavy out, you’d better put your fancy hat on.”

Thursday, January 11, 2018

6 Favourite Gluten Free Recipes

When people find our most in our home can't do dairy, half can't do gluten, & one of us can't do eggs it really overwhelms them. I know that feeling oh so well when the diagnosis came through.. I remember sitting down to figure out dinner & wondering if anyone would mind picking a few blades of grass & calling it good-- No joke!

Many years down the road later & I'm no longer overwhelmed. I still read every label before I purchase something, & often again before people consume it. We make a lot of our own food from scratch, & we are simply grateful for feeling better. Our asthmatic can finally dash from one end of our home to the other without needing his puffer due to lack of breathing. Our eczema boy is no longer itching. There are no longer major digestion issues, headaches, & all the rest of that ick.

There has been, however, a lot of experimenting.. Because let's be honest even "safe" recipes can need tweaking in our home. So below are 6 of our favourite recipes. Keep in mind that not everyone in our home can eat everything that is made, but that's okay too. I'll note what it's "free" of.

Vegan Nacho Cheese Sauce {dairy free, gluten free, safe for all} We use to consume a fair amount of Mexican Food in our home because most of the time it's gluten free {you have to watch those packets of taco seasoning if you don't make your own!!}, but for two of us who don't do dairy & don't like the smell of melted goat's cheese our Mexican Feasts were a tad lack luster until I stumbled upon this recipe. 

Don't be overwhelmed by the amount of ingredients, my boys make this you can too! My "secret" would be to double or triple this & freeze the extras. To make the recipe go faster you can boil the veggies while you put all the other ingredients in your blender so that you are ready to rock it when those veggies are done. As a weird side note, I didn't have lemon juice the first time I made this & thus don't use it in this recipe. Also, I do add the required jalapeno liquid, but I go light on the peppers themselves until my mild heat child has tested it first. When our jar of jalepnos runs out I just fill it up with water to keep those pickles fresh. Also, weird fact, in their video they forget to add the tomato paste which made us giggle.

Creamy Vegan Mac & Cheese {dairy free, gluten free} My kids REALLY missed macaroni & cheese. Homemade, out of the box, frozen, anything they just missed it. It was a homestyle meal I'd make once a month in the winter & serve with garlic green beans & homemade warm applesauce. Ahh, those were the days, you know minus the fall out. Anyway, I was determined to find a recipe & serve it for Christmas, as a small surprise for my kids.

There are many out there to choose from, but this is the one we tried & it was a huge huge hit. I doubled the recipe & it was gone on Boxing Day with cries of, "I wanted more, you could have saved me some!" Sadly, if you're dealing with a nut allergy this is likely not going to work for you as it uses cashews.

I simply use a box of Barilla Gluten Free Elbows to make it 100% safe. I can't eat those as they have rice in them, but the boys love it & that's all that matters to me. Again, I double this recipe & told the kids we might make a quadruple batch this weekend so they can have some for lunch next week. I like having leftovers in the fridge for school day lunches, don't you?

The only major difference I make to this recipe is that I don't soak the cashews, I dump them right into the pan with the veggies while they boil. Less fuss & muss. While the veggies cook, again I dump the other ingredients in the blender to save on time.

BuckWheat Pizza Crust {gluten free, dairy free} I think I may have shared this recipe previously, but it's our staple pizza crust. It makes one very VERY thick pizza crust or two thin ones. My boys are very adapt at mixing this up while I'm busy doing other things, & then I spread it out on the tins, we pile on toppings, bake, & consume. I have made bigger changes to this recipe in that I use Buckwheat instead of Sorghum, I just find that we like it better that way. Also, keep your hands wet {not oiled} when spreading this out on the tins. I use pizza tins with holes in the base, lay a piece of baking paper down, spread it out. Cook for 15 minutes, remove baking paper {it should slide out form under the crust pretty easily} & then return to the oven for an additional 15-20 minutes depending on how crispy you want that crust.

Gluten Free Pie Crust {gluten free, dairy free} Pie isn't something we eat in our home a lot, all though I'm pretty sure the men-folk wish we did. However, a good crust is vital to any decent pie, & I have to say finding a crust that is as good as the old oil crust I use to make is amazing. This crust gets plenty of rave reviews from friends & family who've been served it. The best thing about this pie crust is that you really can't mess it up by overworking the dough. My eldest recently made this crust up to make a cherry pie for Christmas, & he had no trouble working with it. We find that it works excellent for a large well filled pie shell with enough dough left over to put on a piece of baking paper with a bit of cinnamon & coconut sugar for a special "cookie treat".

KFC Style Chicken {gluten & dairy free} Who doesn't love that seasoning blend of KFC chicken? Perhaps not the greasy content unless you get tenders or popcorn chickens, but that seasoning! KFC is basically an allergy break down waiting to happen for our family between the massive amounts of gluten & dairy used in that place.. a while back my youngest was really craving some KFC so I went scrounging for some kind of simple recipe that might fit the bill. Does this taste exactly like KFC? No, I don't think so, but then again I can't remember when I last ate in that place either.

We do make a few changes to this recipe to make it safe for our whole family. First off, no yogurt or milk is used to "wet" the chicken prior to breading. Instead we put the chicken in a bowl & pour in 2-4 T of oil {whatever kind I have on hand} & the amount depends on how much chicken I'm working with. Lately I double things & work with about 2 kilos of chicken breast fillets cut into reasonable sized strips.

I also don't use the "must use" flour blend because I can't do rice unless I want to be sporting sores all over my nose & mouth. I'm weird, I know. BUT, thankfully the origional author of the recipe worked with weights so it's pretty easy to alter. If you can do rice, go with the origional recipe to safe yourselves hassle, but if you can't I use a combo of: 30g millet, 50g potato, 50 buckwheat, & 50g sorghum for that 184g flour mixture. Everything else is the same as the origional recipe!

I also mix the dry ingredients in the blender with 2 T of solid coconut oil. Freeze it & then bread the chickens. Thus I try to keep this on hand at all times in the freezer. However, if I don't have time I add a little guar gum and that does the trick.

I also don't fry these, I put them in my air fryer on 200 {C} for 8 minutes. Then pop them on a pizza pan {the one with holes again} into the oven on warm while I cook the rest. I've also made this chicken up in advanced, frozen {prior to cooking} on pans in the freezer & cooked when ready. Works beautifully. We eat this "as is" or in wraps or salads.

Gluten Free Tortilla Wraps {gluten & dairy free} These are the FIRST gluten free wraps that we've made that are AMAZING. They fold & wrap without breaking which means that anything store bought now is just cardboard ick to us. I make massive batches of these {we're talking quadrupled or more} up, roll them all out, & layer them between baking paper & store in the fridge. Then when we want them I just cook them up.

The recipe does say you can cook them all up & reheat, but I prefer them fresh vs reheated where as my boy doesn't care he's just grateful to find some in the pantry. He's also a huge help in making these as he mixes up all the dry ingredients & often deals with the cooking while I'm rolling away. We keep talking about getting a tortilla press, but they aren't so easy to come by where we live. Plus, we need one that does the "jumbo" sized tortillas because we love using these for salad or chicken wraps, all though we do make mini ones for fajitas too.


These are all staple recipes in our home, & my kids know where to find them so they can cook them too. I use the Paprika Recipe App which makes it pretty easy for everyone to find the recipes, all though little do they know I'm working on putting together cookbooks for them of their favourite recipes so they'll have their own private cookbooks.

Meteor Showers

Last December, I happened to catch that there were suppose to be meteor showers happening between the 12th & 15th of December, & it just so happened that on the 12th Mr S had one of those crazy long work meetings that we generally stay up waiting for him to roll in. So, when it got dark out the boys & I gathered up blankets & went out back to see what we could find.

In fairness we weren't really sure what we were looking for, & I'm totally blind when it comes to the Southern Hemisphere's night sky; I still find myself looking for constellations I grew up knowing! Thankfully there's an app for that, one of many ways I'm grateful for modern technology. The boys brought up the app so we could locate the stars that we thought the meteor showers were most likely to be happening near, & then we sat, & kept on sitting for ages.

I nearly fell asleep to be honest, it was so incredibly peaceful & quiet.. you know if I can discount my boys hushed laughter & my constant, "Shh, the rest of the neighbourhood might be sleeping!" By the time Mr S got in we'd watched the same 2 satellites cross the sky more than a half dozen times, watched a plane fly out over the Bass Straight, & finally googled meteor showers so we know what to be looking for.

Mr S quickly got out his fancy pants camera & joined us, but when we did finally start seeing meteor showers they were far too quick for us to capture anything more than complete awe. All of Jayden's science lessons seemed to come up in topic as we sat there & watched the flashes arc across the night sky that evening.

We decided to have a go the next night as well, but we only saw one. In all our waiting the kids dragged mattresses outside, & a half dozen blankets including the "snuggly" type blankets Mom made & mailed to them. One is a giant slice of pizza & the other is a Starwars space ship. They were all snuggled up & looking innocent.. gazing at the sky & discussing various things they'd each learned at some point, & discussing how cool it would be to spend a whole year studying astronomy.

Me, being the Mom,  thought, "Aww look.." & decided I should snap a photo... except it was so dark my phone wouldn't capture anything. I decided to pop on the flash & just be quick. Well, I blinded my poor kids, which was only made worse because they'd both taken off their Irlen tints. I review the photo & think, "This will never do!"

I don't warn them, I just snap again, & there's screams of, "MOM!!" Followed by, "Shh, it's just a photo & you'll wake the neighbours!!" Followed by another brilliant stream of flash going off, which resulted in kids curling up in balls wailing that they were blind, Mr S erupting in laughter, the dog barking, & neighbours starting to turn on lights to see what all the fuss was about. We packed it up & called it a night pretty quickly.

Scrapbook Layout was made with the Project Life App.

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Read Scripture

In 2016 I read through the Bible using THIS plan. I did not create the plan, I have no idea where I found it, but I converted it into neat little squares I printed on sticker paper, cut out & put in my planner as a visual reminder. While Mr S thought it would be choppy to read the Bible in such a way, I really enjoyed it. In 2017 I debated repeating the same plan, but admittedly I failed & fell pretty short.

So for 2018 I really wanted to find something new & fresh to inspire my Bible reading. I was given My Year In The Bible for Christmas, & really love the idea of journaling something each day as you read the Bible. I could see someone, far more artistic than myself, drawing something from their readings. I didn't realise that the book itself was a Bible Reading plan, I actually thought there was just a spot for each chapter from each book, so I was still debating what to do when I heard about Read Scripture.

Intrigued I decided to bring it up & take a look. The idea behind Read Scripture is that you read through the Bible at whatever pace works for you, a year, two years, whatever. Just read. I will say that the app itself only uses the ESV Bible so if that doesn't suit you may want to keep your own Bible handy.

Each day you open up the app, select where you are up to, & just follow the layout. Many days there's a video to kick off your reading. A video? Yes, a video. I actually really appreciate these videos because they give you a wide view of what you'll be reading about so you can gain perspective & be on the lookout for things as you read that day. I find that those videos actually cause me to dig deeper into my readings to find little things that were said.

If you've ever watched the What's In The Bible videos for kids, you'll have a slight idea of what the videos in the Read Scripture app are all about, but on a more grown up level for teens & adults. In fact, while I've been using it daily myself I haven't shared the app with my kids yet {selfish I know!} & am really excited to share it with them when we start up our school year next week.

User tip, if you have an iphone & an apple computer or tv you can do a mirror from your phone to a larger device so multiple people can watch the video at once.. if you're not an Apple User you could just go to The Bible Project YouTube channel & find the video there to share on a larger screen with more people..

Reading the ESV is new to me, I grew up with the KJV & then used the NKJV for a while before moving to the NASB which is used with most Precept Ministry Bible Studies {my favourite!}, but I've really enjoyed the ease of reading the ESV which has only made the experience that much more enjoyable.

In fact, the only real downer that I can give is that it's digital. Ha! I'm not a huge fan of spending a lot of time reading on a digital device for the sake of my eyes & the fact that it can set my Irlen into a tail spin. Having said that I'm really enjoying reading the ESV & as I don't own a copy of an ESV I have been "screen reading" until I can pick up a physical copy of the ESV Bible.

Back To School 2018

Next Monday it’s time to dig back into our books as we get back into the routine & rhythm of school. We had a mad dash flurry of purchasing books & curriculum at the end of last year in hopes of getting it all to us prior to the annual post office closure that happens here in December & lasts through January. 

We almost made it, but not quite & found ourself stalking the postie when mail was up & running again, groaning about an additional closure, & then nearly bowling the poor fellow over to procure our final books.

We haven’t really changed much, one is sticking with his beloved Sonlight & the other with his beloved HOD. We'll  share our choices, which are always subject to change at any time:

Jayden 8th Grade:

Our goal this year with Jayde is to continue working with him to help him be an independent learner, so there are aspects of this he will work solo on & I will attempt not to hover too much. We are VERY excited about his science this year. Last year's scheduled science was very enjoyable, & such a delight with the meteor showers, eclipses, & so forth, but admittedly it lacked the experiment wow that we'd have liked. I have to admit I was very nervous about this science, remember science is not my strong suit, but when it arrived & we opened up the box with all the beautifully labeled & packaged experiments my boy's face lit up with excitement.

The only concern I have with this plan, other than the step up in work for our boy, is our IEW SWIB. HOD is well scheduled, & that includes LA but we live what we've been using & have opted not to switch to what they use. Having said that, with this level they only scheduled writing once per week as students do a fair amount of writing with research, written narrations, notebooking, etc. This is why I have included dictation this year. We will do the dictation as scheduled & leave the SWI for our 10th academic week per term & have very literal writing intensive weeks.. unless, of course, plans utterly change.

Morgan 10th Grade:

Morgan is very excited to be using Core 200, this wasn't a level I was sure we'd get to, but he was very excited about it so here we are. Admittedly, the literature for this level is pretty amazing & I think of it as very classic or even British Lit. It will likely go on his transcript as the later. I've opted to pull out our Drive-Thru DVDs to have him watch an episode or two each week, he really loved when we pulled out BBC documentaries with Core H, & was dissapointed I didn't have any on hand for him with Core 100. It's been a while since we've watched these so I thought they might fit the bill, & if nothing else it's always so fun to see where we are learning about. I've debated picking up the Drive-Thru Ancients DVDs, but they are a tad dear so for now we'll stick with the ones we already own.

He'll continue with Logic where we left off last year, so he'll have a little bit of Fallacy Detective to go & then jump right into The Thinking Toolbox before wrapping up with The Art of Argument. We've purchased the lecture DVDs for AOA for him to use. He really enjoyed listening to his science with the audio lectures & taking gobs of notes so I thought this might work down the same line.

Science was rearranged a bit for him. His 4 year plan had him with Chemistry for 10th, but due to an error on my behalf with ordering 3 of the same math books {& none of them right!!} he's a bit farther behind in math that intended. {Can you all say Mom guilt!!} Rather then being upset about it he just slipped biology up a year & postponed his plans for Chemistry.  I love this kid!

French will simply continue forward. He's really enjoying the journey with his choice in languages. Over the summer holidays we watched the latest "live" Beauty & The Beast & our French was well enough to know what was being said when spoken, but it also meant we knew when the wrong accents were being used. We had ourselves a lovely giggle about it. His end goal is being able to read, without using the dictionary, a Tintin book in it's origional language. 

I'm not sure yet if he'll do the SWI as scheduled or just join Jayde for a literal intensive week on our 10th academic week of each term. It may depend on how heavy his schedule is with all that he will have going on and his own preference. I'd like to see him wrap up the SWI & move into a continuation course to be sure we've covered all ground needed. Yes, I'm probably worrying for nought considering how well he applied all that he learned to his papers last year, but it's my job to worry, right?

Don't you just love his planner? I expected his work load to be increasingly heavy as he moved along & when our umbrella school shared that photo with verse I saved it for the front of his planner. It's actually much lovelier in person, but you'll have to take my word for it as I don't have any better photo to share at the moment.

Monday, January 8, 2018

Planner Mondays: Wk 2

I thought I’d share some fun planner spread again.. I can’t promise they’ll all be glorious, but they make me smile which makes tackling my to-do lists a wee bit more fun. This week I’m sporting some Wizard Of Oz style stickers that I printed off & cut myself. If you’re keen you can pick them up for $2 from Planner Penny: Kit 1 & Kit 2.

I printed them at 100% which is sized for a planner space slightly larger than mine & used a craft knife to cut them to the exact size I needed. The set came with many “fun” stickers, but as the design wouldn’t play nicely with my Silhouette & I didn’t want to spend ages manipulating the files I just went with the fun boxes, & the weekend banner.

The rectangular banners {To-Do, Fitness, This Week, Goals, Next Week} I made myself, & the Bible Sticker is one I made too. It’s slightly different than the one from last year as I’m using a different schedule this year which I’ll share about later. I’ll also share the stickers at a later time as I haven’t made the whole year’s worth yet. The font is cute on the computer, but a bit more difficult to read when printed out so small, which means I need to change that.

Starsasterisk flags are from Studio Kylie, no clue where the little tape measure came from to be honest. The Must Do Today is a Happy Planner sticker that were sent to me from the US & the little rectangle under it is from an old pack of Carpe Diem stickers. The grass washi is DoodleBug {also sent from the US} & the cutlery is from the Lawn Fawn Plan-On-It stamp set.

Since I didn't share the first week's spread, I thought I'd sneak it in at the end here.. All the stickers are the same as listed above, except the lovely critters across the middle. They come from a variety of Lawn Fawn sets, & the numbers are the Sparkler Numbers from Sweet Stamp Shop. 

Starting Again

I’ve received a lot of emails, comments, messages, & so forth hoping we are all well & stating how much blog posts were missed. I didn’t reply to a single one, because I wasn’t really sure what to say. In fact, I wasn’t even sure if I’d continue with this little blog, my intention when I created this blog was to connect family across the world, especially grandparents, with what was going on in our lives, & over time it’s grown & changed, & with that the reasons I posted various things.

Children grow up & life changes & with that the purpose & use of this blog has changed. That’s not at all different now. I really struggled to find the right words over the past 18 months as my heart was heavy with my own emotions & burdens, that I didn’t want to post here. And while that road has been painful & difficult, it’s also been a private ordeal for me.

Eighteen months ago a family member verbally attacked me. It was a painful ordeal. I allowed myself to be defined by that attack. The words of that family member hurt deeply, as did the actions. Sadly, other family members joined the fray, but there were also those who did not. 

For me, the those who didn’t step in hurt me as deeply as those who were calling me ugly things & slamming accusations at me. The craziest part about all of it was that it was over some big world event {not the election thank you very much, all though I took a nifty beating on that one too..}

It’s pretty hard when people you trust attack. It made my world stifling hot, small, & painful to face. Being an Expat is never an easy thing, you are always an ambassador for your home country, but you are also an adopted member of the country you live in. You are never quite home because everywhere becomes home, which means you are always homesick. 

You never fit in no matter which country you are in. You get tired of good-byes which are deeply emotional & it can make starting new friendships hard because you don’t want to make an emotional bond that will, one day, be severed.

And all this hot mess of emotions came floating up from that place I keep them deeply locked & under control. I’ve spent the past year & a half fighting them. It’s hard, you know, to fight emotions, to take care of you when you’re always the one taking care of everyone else.

Over the holidays at the end of 2017 my husband had two glorious weeks off work, & they were the best two weeks we’ve enjoyed in a long long time. All our stressors were gone, which include the beloved Nana we care for on a regular basis. Yes, I just admitted that it’s a stressor, because it is. It’s no easier parenting a parent than it is a child. 

You have to be everywhere & everything at once. You have to be both listener & story teller, parent & child, helpful & needy. There were days prior to that vacation where I hit the floor running, & by bedtime realised I’d only eaten one meal & hadn’t had a shower. Busy, stressed, overly emotional, & exhausted are mild adjectives to express what I was dealing with.

So those two, stress free, weeks where our schedule was our own, our family time was truely our own, was amazing! It left time to do some deep soul searching & to consider what things needed to change to move me in a new direction. To let go of the pain & emotions that were swirling around.

And I was reminded how I use to enjoy doing things, how I use to have hobbies, how I use to write often both for enjoyment & for a stress relief. How I use to craft, & often, for the very same purposes. See, when I say I’m busy, stressed, & exhausted I’m not kidding!  

It’s funny how one little word or comment can change a life, both good & bad. 

But here’s the thing, it doesn’t have to. People are going to be mean at times, & people are going to be amazing at times. How we choose to react to that is totally within our power.

Not that I didn’t know that before, but it’s hard to let your heart heal when you are busy being there for everyone else. When you are busy helping them heal their own hurts & pains & falsely tell yourself that it didn’t hurt, that you’ll be okay while hiding in the bathroom crying.

Which is when I realised, that part of what I enjoy doing is blogging. I enjoy sharing that insanity of our lives because it makes me laugh. I laughed so hard last night over a 2 minute cake, yep— really! I love sharing our school days so we can look back on them & be reminded of all the amazing things we learned. I even enjoy, on rare occasions, sharing the more personal things, rather like this blog post.

A big thank you to each of you who reached out & wondered how things were. They made me smile, & the truth is I AM fine, a little battle weary, sporting a few new scars, but I AM fine.