Sunday, 30 October 2016

Prison or Promised Land?



Beets fresh from the self-watering
vegetable box garden.


The inextricable thing about most of the goals I have set myself during my life is that I have not been delighted once the goal is achieved.....or at least not for long. The very 'promised land' that I was striving for ended up quickly becoming a 'prison'. (Snort) you'd think I would have suspected something was 'up' after years and years of this situation repeating itself, but uh-uh - nope.....I just kept repeating the same thing and expecting a different outcome.


Here are some examples:

I would set a career goal, work through the steps and behaviours necessary to achieve the goal, get the fancy new job (complete with a 'life-changing' pay rise)....and within two weeks would feel imprisoned by a whole new wave of responsibilities and corporate responsibilities. Enter deep anxiety.

Houses.....we have moved house over 25 times in our 27 years of marriage mainly looking for a better spot, a better suburb, a better life, a better situation, a better.....whatever. We would lug ourselves through yet another move and inevitably the 'wonderful, new, fix-all-our-problems' house would be no more a home than the last place - just more expensive. A new prison of financial commitment.

Churches.  We were both brought up as avid church-goers. We were on every committee possible, turned up to every single event like clock work, we taught, we gave, we shared, we changed churches every time something went 'wrong' truly believing that idealism was just around the corner and was possible. Every new congregation seemed like the promised land but inevitably ended out being just another emotional and social prison.

Cars - shiny new ones.  How much better would life be with a swanky new car?  MUCH better! The elation only ever lasted for two car loan installments. After two car loan installments got paid, the budget (ha! such as it was) would quickly fall over and turn into a session of me sitting up all night staring at the budget spreadsheet figuring out how to pay for the tin-god-on-wheels in the driveway. There is nothing quite like a shiny, air-conditioned prison with power steering. Meh.

You get the drift.


A rare special treat for date night. Once upon a time we used to eat out
every day for at least one meal.



Leaning into a new life

For the last three years (since the kitchen spray incident), we have been leaning into a new life. It is a life of less, a life of slower, a life of taking responsibility for our previous lack of financial integrity (AKA fiercely paying off consumer debt), planning to make the last 1/3 of our lives livable. We are only just beginning to forgive ourselves for stuffing up our lives this far - it is harder than we expected. Our new life is still unfolding and manifesting itself....and this  is a wonderful thing.

The most powerful things for me have been shifting my thinking, rewriting my pathways of logic, incrementally reinventing my life meaning and seeing a real sense of hope and possibility manifesting itself. I also am teaching myself to use my emotions for better outcomes.....that is a huge shift for me.

The things I once thought were promise lands I now see as prisons and the things I once saw as prisons (simplicity, quietness, self-reliance, productivity, healthy living, limited objectives, agrarianism, frugality, calmness, home, kindness, self-validation, private faith and home economy) I now see as truly achievable promise lands.


Toshi the cat pretending she is the head chicken keeper.
Pan the rabbit getting a little hug too.



Take care folks....and stay nice.


Mr HM

Saturday, 29 October 2016

My Simple Frugal Weight Loss - Week 5 and 6

Food....central to so much meaning in our life.
Dieting therefore challenges this very paradigm.



Hi folks - I was grumpy last week and did not want to weigh in.....so I sulked and did not (highly emotionally intelligent hey!? Not.)

I fell off the wagon but am now back on - phew.



My socks remind me of something off Dr Seuss!


Start weight: 120.8 kg
Start BMI: 34
Target weight: 79 kg


WEIGH IN - Week 5 and 6

Weighing in at 117.8 kg
Lost in last week: 0.7 kg
Total weight lost: 3.0 kg
Current BMI: still 34





Take care and stay nice folks

Mr HM

Tuesday, 25 October 2016

Embrace, Change or Leave

Baked custard baked from scratch - yummo.



Ever heard people whinging and b*tching about their life, blaming everyone and everything for the way things are?  Hmmm, yep, we all know at least one person like that.
However, to be fair, we all probably have indulged in this type of behavior at some point in our lives be it briefly or longer.....maybe we still do in part?

Is there parts of our life that truly dissatisfy us?  Do we find ourselves  verbalising this in some way to others? Does it go around and around in our heads? Then it is time to stop.
Stop and do one of three things....embrace it, change it or leave.  The more we complain or cogitate about our situation the less likelihood there is of us actually taking action.


Coconut cream cakes - one for the freezer and one to eat now.


So, embrace it, change it or leave - let's look at each of these individually.
Each has merit, each has risk and each is very powerful if applied judiciously.


Pumpkin cupcakes
ready for Halloween


EMBRACE IT

Just deciding to embrace our situation and flourish despite our situation can be surprisingly powerful. Intentionally bringing the best out in a situation - juicing the orange - playing to our strengths - leveraging the possibilities....teaches us to take control and create our own reality despite the odds.

This is especially true in situations where life deals us a difficult hand e.g. sick or disabled children, partners or indeed our own health issues. We can either be a sum of our pain, or, rise above it and embrace the situation and leverage it to experience a purposeful and meaningful life.

Conversely, embracing a life situation that is toxic, abusive or dangerous is a clear risk. Embracing such things is to be avoided at any cost.  Enter 'Change'


Two types of breakfast quiches.


CHANGE IT

If we are not prepared to embrace or leave a life situation then committing to changing our life situation is a powerful alternative. Many, indeed most life situations can be changed (despite what we convince ourselves of).  We can change our money situations, we can change our behaviours, we can change our relationships, we can learn new habits, we can change our beliefs, we can change religions, we can change our world view, we can change our friends, we can absolutely change most things in our life.

The risk is that change takes personal courage and commitment. We are often our own biggest hurdle in changing our own lives. Our beliefs about ourselves often are our biggest hindrance.

Conversely, trying to change a life situation that we should just simply walk away from is not a sound solution.  If we truly need to walk away....then simple do it.  This then brings us to 'Leave'.


Curried vegetables in coconut cream
with rice for supper


LEAVE

Sometimes we need to take a step back and have a cool look at our life situation. Sometimes the very wisest thing to do is just leave.  If it is toxic - leave.  If it is abusive - leave. If it is violating your core values - leave. If it is making you unrelentingly sad or frightened - leave.  If it simply is not working in any way, is not changeable, is not able to be embraced - leave.  Just leave.

The risk to leaving is that it does not always feel very good - there can be regrets, sadness, anger and a sense of defeat. Many folk stay in bad life situations instead of leaving as they cannot face the temporary emotional fall out of leaving.

Conversely, not leaving a bad life situation will ultimately make our lives a mockery, a pointless existence and strip us of any shred of self-worth.

**************


Ultimately, whatever we do - never just do nothing.



Take care folks and stay nice.


Mr HM

Saturday, 22 October 2016

Saturday Gossip

Least night's supper. Fresh fruit, small goods,
dips, crackers, pate, bread and wine.



There's nothing like indulging in a little harmless gossip.  Lean in and I will let you know all the bits and bobs of what's been going on around here lately.

Well, over the years I have been sent on such a 'ride' by motor mechanics that I now deeply mistrust all motor mechanics (totally unfair, I  know), so when the old 1988 Mitsubishi Colt (only has 70,000 kms on the clock however) would not start a couple of days ago I decided to give the local mobile mechanic a go. So, $571.00 for a new starter motor and a major service later....and then moving onto the need to fix a pre-existing carburetor problem which will cost me a further $740.00 for rebuilding the carburetor and reinstalling along with all new filters etc.  Thank goodness for an emergency fund! In fairness, plenty of this came out of my budgeted car maintenance account that I put into each week.  Time will tell if these repairs have been carried out professionally - fingers crossed that I might have found a reliable and honest mechanic.


Bottles of oils, wines, spirits and sauces lined up on top
of the kitchen cupboards.


We had a super rainstorm last night with lightening and thunder.  The rain fell heavily all night long. Time to let the dove out the window maybe? The place was awash this morning but seems to be draining away now. We have a tin roof.....any wonder I did not sleep last night.  I do enjoy the sound of heavy rain on a tin roof....but just not all night long perhaps.


Time to move the pumpkins
to their own spot to spread out.
They will take over in no time.


Blackie the hen is becoming slowly more blind and is starting to have trouble finding food.  I am going to have to feed her specifically I think.  She also seems to be getting increasingly confused....I wonder if chooks get dementia?  Yesterday she was stopped in front of the retaining rail that separates the grass from the pathway and could not seem to figure out how to step up and over it.  She just sat there and clucked in annoyance. She also gets frightened when she cannot see where the rest of the hens have wandered off to and goes into a mad clucking frenzy.  Poor old thing. She is going to need some special love me thinks.


Hmmmm....time to sort our my
tie rack.


I am thinking of starting a series of posts on leaning into the discipline of stockpiling....perhaps from the view point of a tentative beginner to stockpiling and not committing much money upfront.  I will also continue on and finish the core values series too. On my previous blog I was far more disciplined about pumping out posts - this time around I only write when I have the urge.....when I feel 'moved'.

Consumer debt at our place is being systematically smashed and the light is definitely shining brightly at the end of that tunnel. However, I can feel end-of-race exhaustion creeping in - gotta stay focused. Freedom is just around the next corner.


The container vegetables
going great guns


We have had a couple of weeks off and am due back to work on Monday.  I had big plans for the last couple of weeks, however we both just spent the entire two weeks in a state of catch-up exhaustion and did absolutely nothing.  We were actually surprised just how tired and worn out we both were and on day number two agreed that we probably just needed to scrap our plans and just chill for the two weeks. Both of us underestimated just how much we had 'hit the wall'.  I am glad we have done nothing as we can feel some energy starting to come back.  Perhaps we should have taken longer - I have so much unused annual leave accrued.....maybe next time.




I'll stop leaning over your side of the fence now and let you get on with your day.

Nice chatting.


Take care.  Stay nice.


Mr HM


Sunday, 16 October 2016

Simple Food From Scratch

Two plump roasted hens stuffed with quarters
of lemon and onion.


Hi folks

I thought that tonight I would just post a handful of food pictures.  This food is made from scratch, prepared with love, does not stand on ceremony, fills hungry tummies, makes everyone feel loved and nourished.

Here goes:

Tip: use saved butter wrappers instead of baking paper.
...see the fresh eggs in the background?

Southern fried chicken - just makes
you feel better about life.

Broccoli and cauliflower bake with
cheese and cheese sauce.

Table set out on the verandah

Pulled chicken hot, juicy
and ready to eat.

Baked potato and baked
sweet potato hot and fragrant.

Pavlova made with fresh eggs
from our hens.

Peas and corn in the background
steamed with a little honey drizzled
over them.

Chicken carcasses and vegetables
being made into chicken stock.
Tip: use chicken stock in your mashed
potatoes for a beautiful flavour.



Take care folks - stay nice now!


Mr HM

My Simple Frugal Weight Loss - Week 4

A random picture from out on our
deck.  Now that the weather is warmer we will
be eating out on the deck all the time.


Well now, it's that time of week again for the scales to howl in derision and pain  - hee hee!

So here goes - weigh in time:



0.2 loss - eeek!
Do you love my alluring socks? Ha ha.


Start weight: 120.8 kg
Start BMI: 34
Target weight: 79 kg


WEIGH IN - Week 4

Weighing in at 118.5 kg
Lost in last week: 0.2 kg
Total weight lost: 2.3 kg
Current BMI: still 34


In other news we bought ourselves a Himalayan salt lamp. It is not only beautiful it also has health benefits (apparently).  If it turns out to have no health benefits (!) it still looks gorgeous.



Himalayan salt lamp sits in the lounge room bookcase.

Also, I did an Epsom's salts cleanse this week to flush out my bowel. This required me mixing 2 x heaped teaspoons of Epsom's salts into a tall glass of fresh juice, downing it (super yukky) then stretching with my arms up 10 times then followed by 10 repetitions of swinging my arms around both ways to 'pat' my kidneys (this really gets the fluid moving - you can feel it!).  This total process is repeated 4 x in the hour. THEN...off to the loo! Oh boy! This is the closest I have ever got to levitating off a toilet seat.....I nearly shot into orbit!

Now, I am no doctor or dietitian, but gee, no more constant tummy pains! Wonderful. 

Obviously - do not try this without proper advice.



Take care folks and stay nice

Mr HM


Friday, 14 October 2016

Bread - Dough Hook Method PICTORIAL




Hi Folks

Do you have a mixing appliance with a dough hook? Then this bread making recipe and method is for you.

We have never had a machine with a dough hook before so we have always been relegated to either kneading by hand (phew) or using a bread maker (OK but....nah). Recently we managed to frugally acquire a KitchenAid (read about this here) which of course came with a dough hook. Naturally I got to trying out the said dough hook pretty smartly and I absolutely love it.

So here is a simple, yummy bread making recipe and method using a dough hook.

I combine the ingredients and the method together in this tutorial.  If you just want to see it in pictures, then jump straight past the writing and scroll down to the pictures now (that's what I would do  hee hee!). I have taken over 30 photos showing every single step.

  1. Set up your mixer with the dough hook attachment and bowl in place. You will be placing ingredients in by specific order straight into the bowl....so do not alter or mix up the next steps.
  2. Add 2 x teaspoons of  dried yeast (I keep mine in the freezer for best results)
  3. Add 1 x level tablespoon of soft brown sugar
  4. Add in 5 x tablespoons of very warm water (not hot or it will kill the yeast)
  5. Take a 5 minute break (make a cuppa or something) and allow the yeast to begin to activate before adding any other ingredients
  6.  Add in 3 1/2 x cups of plain flour
  7. Add in 3 x teaspoons of bread enhancer flour (I keep this in the freezer too)
  8. Add 3 x heaped dessert spoons of full cream milk powder
  9. Add 2 x level teaspoons of salt
  10. Add 1 x tablespoon of olive oil
  11. Add in 1 x teaspoon of corn flour starch
  12. Add in 250 mils of warm water. (Not hot water or it will kill the yeast)
  13. Lower dough hook and turn mixer onto lowest setting till all ingredients combined
  14. Turn up mixer to medium speed so that you can see the centrifugal force throwing the dough off the hook just a little. Your mixer will thump around a bit - that's OK.
  15. If the mix is too dry it will form a tight ball around the dough hook whilst mixing.  Conversely, if the mix is too wet it will stick copiously to the sides and bottom of the bowl whilst mixing. We are ideally looking for an elastic ball of dough that collects around the dough hook but is also mixing freely and slapping the sides of the bowl whilst mixing and leaving just a little trace of mixture on the bowl.  If the mix is too wet, add flour 1 x tablespoon at a time.  If the mix is too dry, add warm water 1 x tablespoon at a time.
  16. Once we are happy with the consistency of our mix from step 15, allow mixer to operate on medium for a further full 10 minutes undisturbed.
  17. Stop mixer, lift the hook and slide the dough off the hook into the bowl.
  18. Place 5 or 6 inches of very warm water into your kitchen sink (Not hot water, or it will damage the yeast and proofing of the dough)
  19. Place the bowl with the dough still in it into the warm water and cover with a tea towel.
  20. Leave till dough has doubled in size - this could take 1/2 hour or up to 2 hours depending on a zillion variables.
  21. Prepare your bread tin and line with a saved paper butter wrapper (buttery side up) or baking paper brushed with a tiny amount of oil.
  22. Once dough has doubled in size, place bowl back under the dough hook and mix on low for 1 x minute only.
  23. Flour your hands well
  24. Remove dough from dough hook and form into the shape needed for the baking tin.
  25. Put dough into lined baking tin smooth side up. (Now is the time to groove the dough with a very sharp knife if you want)
  26. Empty water from the kitchen sink and replace with fresh very warm water (only 2 or 3 inches this time) and place bread dough and tin into water and cover sink with a cloth. Make sure the cloth does not touch the dough.
  27. Turn oven onto 230 degrees Celsius.
  28. Allow dough to rise right up in the baking tin (usually 30 mins or certainly maybe much longer).  This is happening whilst your oven is heating up.
  29. Very gently remove baking tin with dough from the warm water and gently place into your very hot oven.
  30. Bake for the first 10 mins on very hot (230 degree Celsius) and then drop the heat to 190 degree Celsius continue to bake for a further 20 mins.
  31. Have a cooling tray ready to place the cooked bread on to cool. (Let it cool in the tin)
  32. Please allow hot bread to cool for 1 hour before cutting as the cooling process is vital for the bread to finish forming its flavour and texture.
  33. Turn out of the tin, carefully peel off the butter wrapper paper and ENJOY!


THE PICTURE VERSION



1. Set up your mixer with the dough hook attachment and bowl in place. You will be placing ingredients in by specific order straight into the bowl....so do not alter or mix up the next steps.

2. Add 2 x teaspoons of dried yeast (I keep mine in the freezer for best results)

  3. Add 1 x level tablespoon of soft brown sugar

  4. Add in 5 x tablespoons of very warm water (not hot or it will kill the yeast)


  5. Take a 5 minute break (make a cuppa or something).....


.... and allow the yeast to begin to activate before adding any other ingredients

  6.  Add in 3 1/2 x cups of plain flour

  7. Add in 3 x teaspoons of bread enhancer flour (I keep this in the freezer too)

  8. Add 3 x heaped dessert spoons of full cream milk powder

  9. Add 2 x level teaspoons of salt

  10. Add 1 x tablespoon of olive oil

11. Add in 1 x teaspoon of corn flour starch

  12. Add in 250 mils of warm water. (Not hot water or it will kill the yeast)

13. Lower dough hook ........

.....and turn mixer onto lowest setting till all ingredients combined

lowest setting

  14. Turn up mixer to medium speed so that you can see the centrifugal force throwing the dough off the hook just a little. 

Your mixer will thump around a bit - that's OK.

  15. If the mix is too dry it will form a tight ball around the dough hook whilst mixing.  Conversely, if the mix is too wet it will stick copiously to the sides and bottom of the bowl whilst mixing. We are ideally looking for an elastic ball of dough that collects around the dough hook but is also mixing freely and slapping the sides of the bowl whilst mixing and leaving just a little trace of mixture on the bowl.  If the mix is too wet, add flour 1 x tablespoon at a time.  If the mix is too dry, add warm water 1 x tablespoon at a time.

16. Once we are happy with the consistency of our mix from step 15, allow mixer to operate on medium for a further full 10 minutes undisturbed.

17. Stop mixer, lift the hook and slide the dough off the hook.......

...... into the bowl.


18. Place 5 or 6 inches of very warm water into your kitchen sink (Not hot water, or it will damage the yeast and proofing of the dough)

19. Place the bowl with the dough still in it into the warm water.....


....... and cover with a tea towel.


  20. Leave till dough has doubled in size - this could take 1/2 hour or up to 2 hours depending on a zillion variables.

21. Prepare your bread tin and line with a saved paper butter wrapper (buttery side up) or baking paper brushed with a tiny amount of oil.


  22. Once dough has doubled in size, place bowl back under the dough hook and mix on low for 1 x minute only.

  23. Flour your hands well

  24. Remove dough from dough hook and form into the shape needed for the baking tin.

  25. Put dough into lined baking tin smooth side up. 

(Now is the time to groove the dough with a very sharp knife if you want)

  26. Empty water from the kitchen sink and replace with fresh very warm water (only 2 or 3 inches this time) and place bread dough and tin into water...... 

.........and cover sink with a cloth. Make sure the cloth does not touch the dough.


27. Turn oven onto 230 degrees Celsius.

  28. Allow dough to rise right up in the baking tin (usually 30 mins or certainly maybe much longer).  This is happening whilst your oven is heating up.


29. Very gently remove baking tin with dough from the warm water and gently place into your very hot oven.

  30. Bake for the first 10 mins on very hot (230 degree Celsius) and then drop the heat to 190 degree Celsius continue to bake for a further 20 mins.


31. Have a cooling tray ready to place the cooked bread on to cool. (Let it cool in the tin)




  32. Please allow hot bread to cool for 1 hour before cutting as the cooling process is vital for the bread to finish forming its flavour and texture.

33. Turn out of the tin.........

......... carefully peel off the butter wrapper paper and ENJOY!


This is my very favourite recipe for a good basic white loaf. I modified Rhonda Hetzel's recipe that you will find HERE.


If you have not baked bread using a dough hook before, I'm pretty sure you will quickly love this method and be able to do it with your eyes closed in no time flat.


Take care folks and stay nice.

Mr HM
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