Monday, September 28, 2015

This weeks insourcing #19...bits of whimsy...

I had help with my insourcing this week.
Miss Granddaughter aged 3, is obviously taking after her Mother (my daughter in law who is a florist), in the floral arranging stakes, seen above...
And she did a grand job of walking the family pet, our little whippet, to boot.
We learned much about each other, in shared companionship over the roses and racing around the local park.

Christmas gift making is in full swing at Chez Mimi.
You may recall my Be Fabulous heart mentioned here.
Here's another I've worked in Chinese brocade offcuts, pink tulle, vintage ecru lace, and glittered flower petals.

I've been finger painting too. Not with Granddaughter though. Just all on my lonesome.
Sheets of butchers paper are roughly and quickly painted with acrylic paint in jewel and pastel tones, then ribbon effects created by swirling fingers through the wet paint. I peg these up on skirt hangers, allowing them to dry, before using them as gift wrap.
A trick I learned from Annabel over at The Bluebirds are Nesting in one of her many gorgeous posts on gift making here, is to wrap inexpensive soaps, and embellish them with lavish ribbon and rhinestone buckles.
This one is for a dance teacher who adores that shade of teal/peacock green, and the wrap is one of my finger painted lengths of gift wrap. As you can see, the finger painting gives a really lovely sort of texture that almost looks quilted. Whilst my interpretation of 'the wrapped soap' is different to Annabels, I know that the person this is going to, will love it. She's a redhead, and teal, ecru and navy are her favourite colours. She'll love the varying textures of the paper, the velvet ribbon, the taupe tape, and the rhinestones. It all just begs you to touch and enjoy. I'll do a box of four for her. Remember when gift soaps came in little boxes of four? I'll do three more like this and box them the same way. Again, it's about taking the idea, and adapting to what the recipient likes.

Another little bit of whimsy here, where I've made a nest from stiffened lace. I cut a circlet of  organza, and trimmed it with wide white lace and ruffled blue tulle ribbon. I then fashioned a little yarn nest from some wool, soaked in the fabric stiffener and laid over an upside down glass to form the shape. I nestled some hand embroidered organza eggs inside, interspersed some pearls, and fashioned a Mama Bird from matte pastel lycra and lace to watch over them. I even gave the birdie a little ecru Nanny cap on her sweet head. This one is a gift for another Grandmother I know, for her little granddaughter to play with.

Financially, it's difficult to say what I've saved this week, but certainly I'm saving my sanity and my bank balance by creating my own gifts. It's so much fun to wake up with a project already on my mind, and to have the time to work when inspiration comes.
What's your week been like?
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Friday, September 25, 2015

Five Star Frugal #20...Little Treasures...

This weeks features have me looking for lemons, miniature pumpkins and lovely bargains...all the little treasures in life....
Fiona from Saw It, Did It shared this luscious looking lemon cake...
...Jolenas golden pumpkin had me looking everywhere for the accompanying Cinderella...
...and Sharon from Blue Willow House shared a great tip for finding those bargains at Target.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

This weeks insourcing #18...Spring, Possums and Blossoms...

It's Spring here in the Southern Hemisphere, and while all our Northern Hemisphere friends are decorating with Pumpkins and admiring the golden, auburn, and rust foliage, we here are basking in the glow of Spring sunshine, gardens full of colour and clear blue skies.
I always admire the enthusiasm with which my Northern Hemisphere blog friends embrace the change of the seasons. It's actually never occurred to me to do so until the last year or two.
Last year I made a pretty in pink feather wreath to welcome Spring.
I loved it. It was pink, it was girly, it had roses...what's not to like?
This year, I wanted to stay true to what Spring is really like in our back yard. There are, sadly, no Roses to speak of, the pink oleander has yet to bloom, and whilst we have abundant birdlife, none of that is pink in any way, shape or form.
For us, Spring means lots and lots of rain, and lots of new wildlife, from lizards, to birds, to possums, and perhaps not so much in the way of pink feathers and!
Which brings me to Poe the Possum.
We've had a Poe the Possum residing in our roof ever since we moved here 13 years ago. Not the same Poe the Possum. And sometimes more than one. We and the Poe(s) tolerate one another. Mostly it's a peaceful relationship.
But then there are those years,  when the Mama kicks the baby out of the nest....a regular occurrence come Summer, and one of them comes off worse for wear. This usually means the injured one crawls off into a corner to kiss this earthly life goodbye. Don't be sad. That's Mother Nature for you...survival of the fittest and all that. We don't know about this despite the screaming, howling, wailing and tumbling in the roof cavity, until about October when the weather warms up.
Cue scary music and evil smells....
How many times have I gone searching for a rotting potato in the kitchen, only to realise it's poor old Poe (we always call them Poe), leaving a last loving reminder of his or her time with us, whilst adding a certain something to the ambience of our home. Poor Musician Husband. He's the one that has to mask up, crawl into the furthest reaches of the roof, and peel Poe from the rafters. Sorry for the graphic image.
Poor Poe.
Fortunately, there is always another Poe. This year we have two Poes, dancing across our rooftops in the wee small hours, claiming their part of our home as their own. Oh Joy!
So I've decided to celebrate Poe. Poe is as Spring to us as Pumpkins and rust foliage are Fall to my American friends. And our Spring downpours...they're scarcely 'showers' in this part of the world...mean that we never leave the house without an umbrella.
So Possums and Brollies it is.
Here is Poe peeking expectantly from my frilled umbrella. He's waiting there with his best cravat on, to greet Sweet Granddaughter when she comes for a sleepover this afternoon. She'll be VERY excited to meet Poe.
And before you ask, yes Possums are this big. Bigger. Ask my whippet. They are not cute lil critters.
I must say that personally, I think the Poe I bought for Sweet Granddaughter looks rather more like a wombat actually, but who am I to argue.
And here is Poe yesterday, nestled with my pink geraniums at repose.

I think Poe will keep us entertained for some weeks.
Here's a real brushtail possum of the kind that shares our home with us.... I guess our Poe looks similar enough.
While Poe decides his next move, I planted these Blue Eyed Yellow something-or-others....I lost the tag...sorry, so I don't know their name. But they're very pretty anyway...this photo is completely un-retouched...they really are that eye-popping vivid colour.
On the insourcing front, I made an enormous batch of Coriander Chilli Chicken Fried Rice. That fed us nearly all weekend what with The Diva off at Dance Concert rehearsals, me visiting a cousin from overseas, and the Musician Husband doing the garden and whatnot. Big savings there. Around $120 at least I think, given the alternatives of easy but expensive fast food.

I bought a $10 bunch of neon orange Gladioli (who doesn't like Gladi's...tall, elegant, and they last WEEKS!), swathed them in burgundy paper and tied them with an orange organza ribbon and a home made card, to gift to my sister who just got engaged for the second time in her life (after an unhappy ending to her previous marriage 12 years ago), at the age of 50. Go Sis! She loved 'em.

Things are astir in the garden including geraniums....

...and Clivea.
Not much else on the insourcing front this week, but that's okay. I still saved lots on potential takeaway purchases, and a bit more on a traditional engagement gift (which Sis doesn't want or need anyway).
Previous weeks have stood us in good stead, and insourcing regularly, building up your home stores, socking away a few simple meals in the freezer for those days when everything goes wrong, and making sure you have other small joys in your life, still saves big dollars.
That's was certainly the case here last week.
What did you insource last week, and what was your value in the home?
And how do you celebrate Spring?
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Sunday, September 20, 2015

Five Star Frugal #19....Nesting and Dreaming...

I'm sorry for the late start. We had a family emergency that required my attention for several days.
Without further are this weeks features...
I'm a sucker for a cutie-patootie birthday cake made with loving Mothers hands...from Pastels and Macarons, this one is adorable...
Farm Animal Theme Birthday Cake Recipe by Pastels & Macarons. #kidsbirthday #toddlers #baby #birthdayparty #cakerecipe #recipe #baking #farmanimaltheme #animaltheme #kidsbirthdaypartyideas #kidsbirthdaycakes #birthdaycake
Sarah at Sadie Seasongoods, never ceases to amaze me with her creativity. This quiver full of arrows as an Autumn door welcome, has me wanting to make a quiver and arrows all of my own...
All a Quiver- Autumn Door Decor
...and this Holy Moly Chicken has got the thumbs up three times in the last fortnight from the family here, so a well earned spot....
...and not forgetting the previous weeks features, which due to a strange and busy week with family, have not yet been acknowledged.
So here they are....
Carol over at The Red Painted Cottage got my attention with her Family Heirloom Cookbook...I have a soft spot for old cookbooks, and this one is no exception...
...Annabel from The Bluebirds are Nesting showed us how she stocks her pantry for free...
...and Liz from Howling at the Moon, shared her dreamiest ever dreamcatcher. I saw a similar one on Etsy, and it was nearly $100! Nice work Liz...

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

50 & Fab...Quick weekday hair for long silver hair.....

Honestly, who amongst us in the grey haired brigade, wouldn't want to look like Daphne Selfe in our 80s? I love this take on the bouffant high ponytail, and it's a favourite here. A bit of texturizing mousse or dry shampoo to the roots, a light tease with a fine toothed comb, hair scraped up roughly, secured with a non snag ponytail elastic, and you're done. Actually I think Daphnes is a sort of high ponytail with French pleat under... very nice. Needless to say, track suits, capri pants and birkenstocks are a no-no with this hair style. The rest of you needs to be sleek and tidy. I don't know why. Because. It's nicer when you're our age. Just because you've decided to go grey, doesn't mean you sell yourself short. You actually have to make more of an effort in many respects....or at least as much effort.
For more on that, read my post on going gracefully grey here.

My hair used to tumble over my shoulders in delicious ringlets with no effort whatsoever. Not so now, thanks to the march of the years and merciless menopause. Now I just get untidy, unwieldy frizz...sigh. But I can get curls just like this lady in the picture above, using the wrap headband method. Google 'headband curls' and be enlightened!
I use a 5cm (2 inch) wide crocheted headband to wrap my curls. It works surprisingly well, and makes me look less like a granny should I be called to the door mid-curl. The great thing about this method is that you really can sleep in it (Google, and you'll see), and be fab in the morning.
Alternatively, I've wrapped my curls first up in the morning, and had them bouncy by lunchtime. In a pinch, you can convince friends you're channelling Downton Abbey when you're 'wrapped' and surprised by visitors. It's a very Lady Mary sort of look really. I have to emphasise though, that the key is no product before wrapping, almost dry hair (just barely damp), and unwrap the same way you wrapped, gently separating the brushing! Do NOT be tempted to drag the headband from your locks in haste....that will end in tears....and a haircut.

On days when I'm still smooth and sleek on Day Two after washing, drying and straightening, I like this last one. It keeps my hair off my face, embellishes it neatly, and makes me feel a little more polished. This is a regular go-to for me. As with the ponytail, clothing and jewellery must be neat, sleek and tidy. NO other frou-frou required.

It's a minefield this grey hair thing, I tell you.

But I'm getting there.

Thanks go to Vicki Archer of French Essence for inspiring todays post with her own post on the silver up-do, found here.

Had a natter with my friends on this one....
Wow us Wednesdays
The Heart of the Home
Home Sing Monday
Thoughts from Alice
Inspire Me Tuesday
Roses of Inspiration
Tuesdays @ Our Home
The Art of Homemaking Mondays
Best of the Weekend

Monday, September 14, 2015

This weeks insourcing #17...why I make my own Veal Parmy....

This week, someone asked me why I bother making my own Veal Parmagiana, when we could just go to the local club and get one each for $7.95 or buy a frozen or ready made one to go straight in the pan from the supermarket or butcher. The whole point of their question was that it was all too hard to make it yourself, if you can go somewhere and buy it already done.
I said that making my own Parmy (as its fondly called here), as well as DIYing a heap of other stuff around Chez Mimi, means that I can shop in a street market on the Cote d`Azur in France, eating rosy radishes straight from a market garden...
...and that I could wander the gardens of a centuries old Villa in Tuscany, tasting their olive oil and home made biscotti with honeyed sweet dessert wine....
....and finally get to see Positano with my very own eyes...
...and the incredible masterpiece that it Gaudis' Church of the Sacred Family in Barcelona, which simply cannot be appreciated from photographs alone....
....and the ruins at Pompeii, which Mum and I used to discuss at length when I was just a child, and which I never dreamed I'd see....
...tasting raspberries still warm from the sun...
...wandering the cobblestone streets of Mykonos...
...and the Mosques of Istanbul...
...the magnificent ruins at Ephesus in Turkey where Christianity was born (or so it's said)...
...and not forgetting the visit to the British National Gallery in London on the way to all those other sights, scents and sounds... means that my 15 year old daughter will NEVER feel the need for a Parmy at the Pub...she knows there are far better things in life that are worth saving for....
...that's why I make my own Parmy.
You can too....and in will reap the rewards.
Mimi's Own Veal Parmagiana
For 4-6 serves
500 gms Veal steak (chicken fillets work well too)
2/3 cup plain (all purpose) flour on a flat plate
2/3-1 1/2 cups almond meal (or breadcrumbs) on a second flat plate
3 tablespoons finely grated parmesan cheese
1-1 1/2 cups grated tasty cheese
1 tin peeled tomatoes
2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
2 sprigs fresh thyme
1 beef stock cube
2 eggs, beaten in a bowl
Salt and pepper
Oil for pan frying
Cut the veal steaks in half and pound with a mallet until paper thin.
Put the tinned tomatoes in a small saucepan, mash them well, and add the thyme, stock cube, garlic and a little salt and pepper. Bring this to the boil, reduce the heat to very low, and allow the liquid to evaporate, so that you have a thick slushy paste. Check on it frequently, stirring often. This should take about half an hour.
Mix the grated parmesan into the almond meal or breadcrumbs on the plate. This is what you'll use to crumb your steaks.
While the tomato reduction is simmering, dip each flattened veal steak in flour, then into the beaten egg, then into the almond meal/parmesan mixture. Press the mixture firmly onto each steak, and set them aside on another plate once done. Repeat until all steaks are 'crumbed'. Put them into the fridge to set the crumb coating for about 10-15 minutes.
Heat about three tablespoons of Olive Oil in a large frypan. When sizzling hot, drop in two to three of the crumbed veal steaks. Pan fry until light golden brown. These are very thin remember, so will cook quickly, but you really want that crumb coating nice and firm and golden once cooked. You may need to add a little more oil for each batch you cook.
Drain the cooked steaks well, on some absorbent kitchen paper.
Set each batch of cooked steaks aside on a baking tray, and top with a spoonful of the tomato puree paste, spreading it over the surface of your steak. Top this with a generous sprinkle of grated tasty cheese.
Once all of your steaks are cooked and topped with yummy sauce and cheese, put them under a grill (broiler) heated to high, and leave them there till that cheese is bubbly and golden brown.
Now they're ready to serve, with a crisp salad, and a chewy Ciabatta with olive oil and balsamic vinegar in little dishes, on the side. Tear off some Ciabatta, dip in the olive oil, then into the balsamic, eat....heaven.
Who needs Pub Parmy, when Mimi's Parmy can take you to Italy ;-)
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Friday, September 11, 2015

Five Star Frugal #17....Vintage Treasures...

Thankyou all for coming together to share your pretty wares and gorgeous projects last week.
Due to my own busy schedule, I have yet to choose this weeks features, but will bring them to you, in all their glory, tomorrow.
Meanwhile, let's get on with sharing this week.
Please link your pretties projects, vintage finds, lovely heirlooms, wisdom of life, and home cooked recipes so that we can all live elegantly for less.
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Wednesday, September 9, 2015

A Mothers Wisdom....

"No-one else will ever know the strength of my love for you. After all, you're the only one who knows what my heart sounds like from the inside."
Author Unknown

"The humblest of tasks are beautified when performed by loving hands."
Louisa May Alcott

"Every day is an occasion worth dressing for."
Mimi's Mum

"Family is like music...some high notes, some low, but always a beautiful song."
Author Unknown

"I'd rather have roses on my table than diamonds on my neck."
Emma Goldman
A post to honour my Mum and all she taught me.
Always missed, never forgotten, forever in my heart.

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Monday, September 7, 2015

This weeks insourcing #16....

This week was a good week for insourcing at Chez Mimi.
Lots of gifts were created, meals prepared, plants propagated or seeds sown, cleaning, washing, airing, polishing, and primping achieved.
I bought some gold leaf and applied it to some beautiful faux orchids, gifting them in an arrangement to a friend who is having a tough time. These arrangements sell for the most ridiculous prices of between $90 and $600, and they're so easy to replicate.
I buy my faux orchids from Koch & Co.
I source the gold leaf from discount stores and craft stores, although I find the $2 discount stores are the best place to buy it. Gold leaf is so much fun, and pretties up just about anything really. Edible gold leaf is even more fun, but that's a whole other topic!
It says on the packaging to use Gold Leaf Size, and to apply it and leave it till it feels 'tacky' before positioning segments of the gold leaf on the item concerned. I read that and thought...craft glue is 'tacky' straight away. Well I used the craft glue, and haven't had a failure yet! But it must be said, I haven't covered an entire item. I've only applied it as an embellishment, and usually on ornamental items that do not get touched much. So that's worth considering. A packet of gold leaf at my local discount store is about $5 for several sheets and you only use the tiniest amount at a time. I've also applied it to succulents with good success. Fun!
I estimate my faux orchid arrangement was the equivalent of one worth around $450. That's a saving of $425 after purchasing what I needed to make mine.
Pillow sprays were made using boiled water, essential oils, witch hazel and spray bottles sourced a couple of years ago from Aussie Soap Supplies. They don't seem to have these clear ones any more but they do have the divine apothecary style cobalt blue ones here. We give these as gifts to The Divas friends, and similar ones sell for anything from $25 to $55. We'll say ours are the equivalent of The Body Shop ones at $25, and say that's $200 we've saved after buying our oils and bottles.
And Fairy scarf necklaces created for gifting, wearing and fundraising for the dance studio.
Similar types of mixed media scarves sell on Etsy for anything from $25-$150, so I couldn't even hazard a guess at what the 15 The Diva and I have created so far are worth. The Dance Studio is selling them for $10, which I think might be a bit of a bargain ;-)
So let's call it $10 each as that is their true value here, and that's $150 worth.
I cleaned my house, saving $100 on a cleaner.
I pre-prepared all our meals, saving on pre-packaged foods and takeaway to the tune of at least $100 more.
I made The Divas school lunches every day except one, and on the one day I didn't, I gave her $20 for the school canteen and she told me after school that it wasn't enough! So yet again, it was plainly illustrated to me, that I save at LEAST $100 a week by supplying her with a home assembled, home made lunch. $80 though for last week as we missed a day.
I bathed the dog...saving $25 on a dog groomer.
I cleaned the car inside and out saving $65 on a car detailer.
We enjoyed Barramundi Tacos, Roast pork with crackling and King Prawn salad for Fathers Day. I made all that for 12 people and it cost me just under $100. A similar meal at a restaurant...well, it would have to be $60 a head. That's $720, so I'm calling that a saving of $620.
So this week was a busy one. But a happy-busy one. And I saved my family the mind boggling total of  $1790!
To have earned that outside the home, my before tax, weekly pay would have to be $2556 (truly....check the Australian Weekly Tax Schedule), which equates to $132,912 a year. No joke. Truly.
Now this week was a good, busy, productive week. But I haven't even factored in my baking, the costumes I am making for the school Dance Troupe, which would easily retail for $100 each (14 of them), my walking and Zumba at home that save me on a gym membership or a class, and the herbs and vegetables I've planted, the home grown bananas that I've made into banana bread, banana relish, and banana jam, and my home manicure, pedicure, and hair treatment.
I DO however, treat my role in the home as a REAL job. I work through the day, taking only small breaks for morning tea and lunch, and manage my time without watching TV, or mindlessly shopping.
Contrary to what you might imagine, it's a good feeling.
You can do it too. Go on. Try it.
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