Our winter garden

Today we are doing something different. I’m going to take you around our winter garden! It is the middle of winter here in Australia and where we live (in the state of Victoria) the average temperature during the day is around 13 degress Celcius. Some nights the temperature drops to zero and we wake up to a frost, but most often the temperature drops to around 5 or 6 degrees Celcius. I know it’s nothing like having snow like lots of places in the world, but for us, this is cold!

Winter garden

When I think about our garden, I think that not much grows during the winter, but a walk around the yard during the week proved me wrong! We have plenty of lovely plants flowering at the moment, even though it is mid-winter here. I took some photos for you and did a bit of research so that I could tell you what the plants are (just in case you are wondering what they are called). Here is what I found!

Osteospermum (or purple daisy)

Purple Daisy

Cyclamen

Cyclamen

Hardenbergia violacea (or Happy Wanderer)

Happy Wanderer

Gastrolobium celsianum (or Swan River Pea)

Swan River Pea

Cotyledon orbiculata (or Pig’s Ear)

Pig's Ear

In our veggie patch: brussells sprouts and cos lettuce

Veggie Patch

Flowering rosemary

Rosemary

Savia involucrata “Timboon”

Salvia involucrata "Timboon"

Jonquils

Jonquils

Lavender

Lavender

Salvia leucantha santa barbara

Purple Salvia

Acacia pycnantha (or Golden Flowering Wattle)

Golden Wattle

Clover

Don’t think we don’t have weeds too! Our garden is lovely but it’s far from being weed-free. The weeds thrive here.

Clover

I hope you enjoyed our little tour of the garden in winter. I’ll try to remember to show you around again another day…maybe in the spring. The plants in our garden are all really hardy. They endure frosts in the winter and scorching heat in the summer. It is amazing how many plants flower in the middle of winter don’t you think?

Trina xx

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Zone cleaning – everything you need to know

Have you ever heard of “zone cleaning”? I’ve known about it for years but it has never really been my thing until recently. In the past I have just tackled tasks other than my weekly cleaning items as I find them (and am disgusted with myself for how yuck I’ve let it become).

Well, it’s time to be a bit more deliberate about those extra jobs (because I really don’t get to them otherwise).

Let me tell you about “zone cleaning” and how this system is helping me.

Zone cleaning

Zone Cleaning

I originally learned about zone cleaning many years ago from over here, at the Flylady website.

Basically, you just divide your house up into logical sections or zones. Make a list of all the cleaning and decluttering jobs you can do in each zone. This part is very individual and depends on the size and layout of you house or apartment. Once you have the lists, you simply concentrate on just one zone each week. Set your timer for 15 minutes each day and do just one or two jobs from that list each time. Over the course of the week you should have thoroughly cleaned that section of the house. The following week you move on to the next zone of the house. Once each zone of your house is done (will take me 8 weeks because I have divided my house into 8 zones), then you start again. Once you have done it the first time, each time after that is easy because it only has 8 week’s worth of dust and dirt to clean from it (not around 7 year’s worth like it was the first time I did mine!).

The FlyLady even has a PDF file listing each job for each of her zones. You can download it to print out and read for yourself from here.

Here is another great resource for you: Jen, from How Jen Does It, also does zone cleaning. You can find links to her YouTube videos about zone cleaning here.

My Zones

Here is a list of the zones I have divided my house into:

Zone 1

Front porch, entry hallway and staircase.

Zone 2

Study and lounge rooms.

Zone 3

Laundry and pantry.

Zone 4

Kitchen

Zone 5

Dining room and living area

Zone 6

Master bedroom + ensuite

Zone 7

Family bathroom + linen closet

Zone 8

Other bedrooms

Other

This section includes things I know need frequent cleaning but I slot them in willy-nilly.

These items include:

-clean the car

-wipe tv remote controls

-wipe phones + tablets

-empty ducted vacuum canister

 

In each zone it is pretty easy to figure out what goes on the list. Things like decluttering, then dusting and wiping down doors, doorknobs, skirting boards, light switches, windows, etc. Obviously in the kitchen I include cleaning out the fridge, wiping out the oven, cleaning under the kitchen sink, etc. These are all jobs I hate doing but by doing them regularly they are not the big job they seem to be and they don’t take long to knock out.

Zone Cleaning Kit

To make zone cleaning super easy, I have set aside a little zone cleaning kit.

Item 1. In an old cleaning spray bottle I make up a solution of 1/3 white vinegar, 2/3 water + squirt of dishwash liquid.

Item 2. A microfibre cloth to do all the wiping down.

Item 3. A small old towel (or two!) to dry off surfaces (if I need to replace items on a shelf after cleaning I dry it off first).

 

Give this system of cleaning the extras a go. It is currently working really well for me (maybe it’s also because I love lists so much!).

Let me know how you go!

Trina xx

 

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Spaghetti Vegan-aise

I have recently found an excellent Meatless Monday (vegetarian/vegan) recipe that you might like too. We had this for dinner last Monday night and I made enough for two meals, so we are having it again this week.

When I served up this delicious Spaghetti Vegan-aise my family thought that it had beef mince in the sauce. It was only when I asked them how they liked it and I got weird looks (we eat spaghetti bolognese all the time, what’s the big deal Mum?” ….and I had to come clean. No meat in this one folks!

Vegan-aise pasta bake

I came across this ripper of a recipe in the latest “Woolworths Fresh” magazine thingie. It looked easy and the picture made it look yummy so that’s how it got on the menu here. I am keeping this Vegan-aise Sauce recipe and will bring it out of my bag of tricks regularly now I think! It’s a winner.

Here is a screenshot of the recipe, but actual website can be found if you click HERE:

Woolworths Fresh Vegan-aise Sauce

Spaghetti vegan-aise

The mushrooms in this recipe make it “meaty”. Sounds awful but I think that’s what the secret is. Processing the veggies in the food processor also seemed to make the sauce really substantial. For once, I followed the recipe exactly but you could add in all sorts of vegetables and herbs. Whatever is in your fridge will work. Next time I’d like to add capsicum and broccoli stem. Lots of wiggle room for hiding veggies from the fussy eaters. When you use the food processor it’s really hard to pick out the bits you don’t like!

I love recipes with only two steps! I encourage you to try this easy pasta recipe. Of course you can use any kind of pasta for this, even rice will work well. I used Penne pasta this time. For the first night we ate the sauce over the cooked Penne pasta. Then I mixed the leftover pasta and sauce together and froze it. So this week I thawed it out and put it in a baking dish covered with cheese. Baked for around 30 mins (moderate oven). So easy and yum!

Let me know if your family can be fooled by this deceptive Meatless Monday dish!

Trina xx

PS Find my meat version of bolognese sauce over HERE.

 

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Trina’s Sausage Rolls

Do you want the recipe for Trina’s Sausage Rolls? Well, I think you need this one in your life. This is my go-to sausage roll recipe and I made them over the weekend so I thought it was time I shared it with you.

This time I made Trina’s Sausage Rolls to take as our pot luck dish to a family lunch (we struggled to not eat them straight out of the oven!). They make a delicious lunch for adults and children alike. See a previous lunch ideas blog post over here. I also mentioned my sausage rolls in a blog post about preparing for guests in your home over here.

My sausage rolls have a few sneaky vegetables in them for added nutrition. I also include a grated apple for moisture and natural sweetness. Adding chicken stock powder, Worcestershire sauce and tomato sauce give the sausage rolls their yummy flavour.

Best sausage rolls

If you have ninja knife skills then I’m sure you will be able to dice your vegetables nice and finely, however my knife skills are pretty ordinary.  This is why I prefer to use a food processor to finely dice the vegetables for my sausage rolls. It is also really quick so you know that appeals to me too!

Here is the recipe for Trina’s Sausage Rolls:

Trina’s Sausage Rolls

Trina’s Sausage Rolls

Ingredients

  • 500g beef mince
  • 1 tsp chicken stock powder
  • small bunch fresh parsley
  • 1 small onion
  • 1 stick celery
  • 1 small zucchini
  • 1 carrot
  • 1 apple, grated
  • 1 egg (+ 1 egg for glazing)
  • 1/2 - 1 cup of breadcrumbs
  • squirt of tomato sauce
  • 1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 3 sheets of frozen puff pastry

Instructions

  1. Lay out the puff pastry on the bench to thaw.
  2. Preheat oven to 180 deg C. and line a tray with baking paper.
  3. Finely dice the onion, celery, carrot and zucchini (I use a food processor).
  4. In a bowl, combine the diced vegetables, chopped parsley, beef mince, chicken stock powder, lightly beaten egg, apple and sauces.
  5. Combine well with your hands.
  6. Slice each puff pastry sheet in half lengthwise. Distribute the sausage roll mixture evenly along each pastry strip.
  7. Roll pastry around the mixture and brush with extra beaten egg to seal.
  8. Slice into small sausage rolls and place on prepared tray.
  9. Dock with a fork and brush with egg.
  10. Bake in oven for around 30 minutes or until cooked and pastry is golden.
  11. Serve warm with tomato sauce on the side.
http://trinamichellehouse.com/trinas-sausage-rolls/

Print this recipe out and keep it with your favourites. Your family will love it.

Whenever we have guests coming who have traveled a long way, I like to make these so that they are ready for when they arrive. They seem to hit the spot and are easy to keep warm in the oven until they get here.

Do you have any great sausage roll variations? Sometimes I make sausage rolls using chicken mince but these beef ones are the best. What are your secret ingredients?

Trina xx

 

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“Lone Wolf” by Jodi Picoult

This morning I finished reading “Lone Wolf” by Jodi Picoult. This is the third Jodi Picoult book I’ve read recently and I noticed some common themes in her writing. See my posts reviewing “Small Great Things” and “The Storyteller”.

Lone Wolf quote

“Lone Wolf” is about a family separated by divorce and circumstance. The father, Luke Warren, is a well-known wolf expert. He became obsessed with living with the wolves, so much so, that he left his family and spent two years living with a wolf pack in the wild. This changed him. Luke struggled to resume life with his human family and to live back in the world he left behind.

"Lone Wolf" by Jodi Picoult

Luke and Georgie’s eldest son Edward left the family and the country after telling his mother that he is gay and having an argument with his father. Then there was the divorce and Georgie went on to remarry and have a new family. This leaves their daughter, Cara. With her mother busy with new twins, Cara decides to live with her father Luke and shares him with his beloved wolves who he cares for in captivity.

One night, Luke and Cara are in a serious car accident. Cara drags Luke from the car. She has hurt her shoulder. Luke is in a coma. After being overseas and disconnected from the family for six years, Edward returns home to be with Cara and his mother once he hears of the accident.

Here’s where the story gets controversial. After brain surgery, Luke remains in a vegetative state and the doctors tell the family that the chances of him ever recovering fully are non-existent. The chances of him waking up at all are extremely slim. Cara clings to a sliver of hope and is advocating that he be kept on life-support for as long as possible. Edward, however, believes that Luke would want to be allowed to die and donate his organs.

The story is then about the struggle within the family, the struggle within each family member individually and the court case that they find themselves involved in to decide who becomes Luke’s medical power of attorney.

"Lone Wolf" by Jodi Picoult book review

For me, the courtroom side of this story became a bit laborious and although there were a couple of good twists, the story was quite predictable.

However, like all of Jodi Picoult’s novels, this one got me thinking. What would I choose for a family member in this situation? What would I want for myself? How does God fit into this? This topic is huge.

So if you want to read a book that gives you something for your mind to wrestle with, then this one will do that!

Have you read it? What did you think?

Trina xx

 

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