A Busy Week

I have missed blogging!  It has been a terribly busy week here at the Meagre home and I can barely keep up with the work of every day.

Today was a bit of a breather for me and I was finally able to make some soap for the Hanger Swirl Challenge over at the forum.  I’d decided at the last minute that I would do a Butterfly Hanger Swirl like the one at Handmade in Florida.

My soap curing for the Hanger Swirl challenge.

I wanted to use four colours (black, deep purple, red and white) as I had a Black Raspberry Vanilla FO from Kim and Gavin’s Little Green Shop. The deep purple for the blackberry colour turned out greyish so I couldn’t differentiate it from the black.  It’s my first natural colourant soap so I’m excited to unmould it nonetheless.  This one had alkanet, madder root, titanium dioxide, and activated charcoal.

While waiting for the laundry to get done (so I could use the powerpoint for the stick blender to make soap), I decided to roast some coffee beans using my Handy Roaster.  I opted for a light roast this time.

Using my Handy Roaster and the portable butane Gasmate to get a light roast. These coffee beans are from Nicaragua (bought from Di Bella Coffee at QLD).

We’ve also been busy getting quotes for a small kitchen refresh we’ll be getting done next month.  It is certainly difficult working with a small budget for a kitchen makeover.  We’ve been scouring online factory clearance shops and so far, we’ve been able to purchase the gas cooktop, canopy rangehood and a sink package.  All have been purchased for about 70% off.  We’re targeting a budget of 3-5k which seems very tight for a kitchen refresh.

Mum and MIL are enjoying their stay here and have decided to learn breadmaking.  Looks like I’ll be taking them along at my baking challenges!

I hope you have all had a good week.


A Place for Like-Minded People

Tulips from last year. I am still hoping they’d come back this year.

In the past few years, it has become more difficult for me to find people with the same ideals as my own.  Being away from my childhood friends has not helped;  neither has the fact that we seem to be leading our lives misaligned from the so-called mainstream…

The support of an online forum has been truly appreciated, as I am sure it has been for many others.  With the closing of one door, there opens a window, so to speak.  I am happy to say that the team at The Home Maker’s Forum has done a truly wonderful job of creating a special home online.

If you enjoy turning your house into a home, love to garden, sew, knit, cook, bake;  live sustainably, or simply want to have a cuppa with online friends, please come in and join us there.  We shall be waiting!

Night Routine

Last month, I shared my morning routine with you.  Doing all those things help me make a great start to my day, despite the fact that I am not a morning person.  Of course I could not do it easily if I don’t prepare some things the night before.  Enter my night routine.

Floor recovery.

The first thing we do after loading the dishwasher is to find our loungeroom floor.  Throughout the day, this room often looks like a massive storm has been.  Toys strewn about, balls lined up from the lounge to the kitchen, bits of food on the pristine (not!) carpets, books scattered everywhere.  My mind craves a sense of order after hours of chaos, and this is where it begins.  We pick up the plastic building blocks and zip the bag closed, put the books back on their respective shelves, balls in the toy box, and run the broom or vacuum cleaner across.  My obsessive-compulsive nature derives great satisfaction from fluffling up the throw pillows and arranging them neatly on top of the lounge.

Seeing the floor clear signals the end of the day for me. Oh what a relief it is, just to see the carpet once more.

Get the uniforms and bags ready.

From a young age, we were taught to prepare our school uniforms the night before.  We made sure all pieces of clothing we need were in hangers, the small items tucked neatly, and the whole thing placed in front of our wardrobe or hung up on the back of a chair.  Bags were readied;  shoes polished.  Our morning alarm went off at 6 am and that leaves us very little time to eat, shower and get dressed before the school bus arrived at around 6:30 am.  I tell you, it was mayhem every time we woke.  I pity my poor mother who had to deal with our mess afterward.

Nowadays, we tend to do the same, even for those who do not need to go to school.  I still get my clothes ready at night and hang them in a rack near the bedroom door.  My bag stays by my side of the bed, ready to go in under five minutes.

Put the kettle on.

While the dishwasher is still humming, I fill the kettle to the brim and light the stove.  We like to have hot water in the Thermos all day, so it is usually refilled after dinner and before breakfast.  As I wait for the water to boil, I inspect all our jars and refill empty ones from the pantry.  The jug of drinking water is washed and refilled as well.  When the dishwasher beeps, the dishes and cutlery are stowed away, clean and ready to be used again.

Time to top up jars from the pantry. The last thing I want in the morning is to be rushing to grab some flour, milk powder, salt, coffee or sugar only to see it completely empty.

Final touches.

As bedtime nears, we go around the house to check that all doors and shades are closed , the curtains drawn, the pet fish fed.  If the kids are hungry, I usually whip up a snack (their all-time favourite is mac and cheese).  While doing this, I think about what’s for breakfast the next day…  Pancakes, you say?  Well then, let mummy get the batter mixed and ready to go in the fridge for tomorrow’s breakfast.

Batter pre-mixed at night…
Means we get to have hot, fluffy pancakes for breakfast… without the fuss! Pass the maple syrup, will you?

What about you?  Have you got a nighttime routine, too?


What I’m Doing

Things have been rather busy at our Meagre home.  Here are a few things that have kept me on my toes these past few days.

We went bird watching.

Our council had organised a beginner’s course on bird watching at the local beach.  We all had a great time listening to the various tips:  from choosing binoculars, to which books to read, and which birds to look out for in our area.  We walked around the Werribee South Beach, and discovered many places there where families enjoy fishing, bird-watching, riding canoes and motorboats, or simply lazing around the picnic mat.  Definitely worth another visit.

At the James D Bellin Reserve off Werribee South Beach. These aren’t the birds we watched; it was rather difficult to take photos with binoculars 🙂

I am volunteering at the local community centre…

Volunteering is something I have always wanted to do.  I have always believed in community playing a substantial role in raising good citizens, and I would be honoured to take an active role.  I have put my hand up to train or assist in conducting a bread making workshop.  If I can help teach one person make bread, I would be more than happy.

And have put my hand up as a council committee member for Cultural Diversity.

No, I have no long term plan to be a councilor or anything of the sort.  It is a huge step for me, sending an expression of interest for a council with a population greater than 200,000.  But I figure, if everyone reacted the way I would normally have, there would be nobody left to put their hand up.  So I took the plunge, and now I just await the final list of committee members to see if my name is on it.

I am knitting again!

On the lighter side of things, I have dusted off my circular needles and started knitting again.  I hope to finish at least one dishcloth per week.

Knitting Continental-style with my Clover Takumi bamboo circular needles, and 100% Australian cotton from Bendigo Woollen Mills.

And working on my business plan in my spare time.

I am still working on the business plan I was talking about.  I suspect it will take me at least six months to finish that.

What have you been working on lately? 


Life, Rewind

On the news this week, something has hit home.  Hard.

A young mother was walking back to work after lunch when she, along with many others, was mercilessly mowed down by a troubled man driving erratically around the Melbourne CBD.  She was struck more than a week ago and had been on life-support since.  It was her first day back at work after maternity leave, and she had just breastfed her baby at a day care within walking distance of her office.  She was 33 (bless her soul).

I was lying awake at midnight, reading the news from my tablet trying to fall asleep.  The little boy tossed and turned and kept me up all night, and there I was, muttering under my breath and on the verge of asking myself why on earth I had children.  And there it was on the news.  It could have been me.  She could have been me.  No, hang on a minute… I WAS her.

In my youth, I was this career-driven madwoman who always wanted to have her way.  Work was my life, and I never, in a million years, would have thought I would be happy staying home with the kids.  But the universe has its ways;  people make their choices.  I am thankful to have been given this chance.  I am renewed in my joy of being a stay-home mum.


The Morning Routine

I am not a morning person.  Up until a few years ago, I would wake up no earlier than 8 am (often much later) and drag my feet all morning until I am sane enough to tackle the day.  It is no wonder I struggled through the first few months of being a stay-at-home parent, and eventually having a school-age child.

Dough on the rise and ready to be cut.

Nowadays, I look forward to starting my day early.  Waking up before the kids are awake is THE best thing since sliced bread!  It means I get to enjoy my cup of coffee in peace, free from the screams and babbling.  It is just the most relaxing, calming moment.


In those first few minutes while I sip my hot drink, I mentally go through everything that needs to be done for the day. Often, it is a load of washing, or some baking that needs to be dealt with. Occasionally it could be other tasks, like calling banks or decluttering the kitchen. It takes no more than five minutes, but it makes all the difference especially when there is a lot to be done and there is an optimal order of doing them. There is something about that time of day that speaks to me gently. The soothing sound of the birds chirping, the neighbours’ car engines purring, the golden sunrise peeking through the blinds in the bedroom window.

Proofing now… Nearly there…

The kids’ alarm rings and then it is time to wake them and get ready for school. The moment everyone is out of bed, I fluff up the pillows and smooth out the sheets. As I walk around the house with toddler in tow, I tie the curtains, pull the shades up, and open the windows and doors. Sunlight fills our home and soon the pot is filled. Breakfast, and lunch for the schoolkid is made, and the kettle whistles softly to let me know that another day has begun.  

Hot bread rolls, ready for the taking.  Now where is that butter knife?

I go through my day knowing that when the sun goes down, my bed will be ready for me — with its sheets refreshingly cool and pillows so soft, offering a respite for my tired but happy self. And tomorrow I start my morning routine again.

Tell me, what is yours?