The Red Riding Hood project

I've had this project in mind for a while now. I got the cape made (if you want to make your own, I found the instructions here very helpful. For free hand drawing the hood, I used one of my daughter's hoodies and roughly traced the outline. Make it big!) got the rest of the costume together, then just had to wait for a suitable day to travel to the location.

The weather conditions weren't the best but I managed to get a lot of shots I could use.

My little model was a trooper but did wear out fairly quickly (actually she just wanted to play and explore the forest, fair enough I guess!)

At least one of these photos will be used in the final 6 that I need for a portfolio building assignment. 

I feel that I've found my photography niche, now I just need to keep building my skills and hopefully getting some exposure (pun not intended!)

In case you're wondering what my next creative photography project might be, don't worry, I've been planning it for weeks and will start on the costume very soon :)

Home made peanut butter

We go through plenty of peanut butter here and our youngest daughter in particular is mad about it on toast for breakfast. She is also a huge Nutella devotee.
I had heard that peanut butter is really easy to make and I don't know why I've never tried, but yesterday I was gripped with the thought this was something I needed to do!

I'm glad I did! It is different to store bought peanut butter (it tastes more nutty, more natural, more REAL!) 

Why don't you try it too? Here is how I made it:

* 500g roasted, salted peanuts 
1 teaspoon of salt
2 teaspoons of honey
 ** 2 tablespoons of peanut oil

Place your nuts in a food processor. Blend until they are coarsely ground. At this point, if you want chunky peanut butter (like I did) take about 1/3 of the ground nuts out and set aside.
Add the salt and honey. Continue to blend until your mix is smooth or starts to look like a paste. Times really vary depending on your food processor, but it's generally a couple of minutes to get to the paste stage. Now, drizzle your oil in and blend until it's a smooth paste. Add your coarse nuts back in and mix through. Put your paste into a jar or sealed container. Drizzle a little more oil over the top as a seal.
I've been told that in needs to be kept in the fridge - I'm not sure if this is totally necessary, I think I will experiment by leaving some out to see how it goes.

* If you want to use peanuts from the shell or raw peanuts you can roast them yourself. Then just follow the steps from the beginning.
** If you find your paste is dry try adjusting the oil amount.

Isn't that simple? Next up I want to try doing Nutella and almond butter would be fun too. Let me know if you give it a go!

Frugal February in the kitchen

The months of December through to March are our most challenging financially. Christmas, followed by holidays, plus bills and insurance mean that we really have to pull in the reigns and make an extra effort to save money. I thought I would share with you a few of the thrifty things I've been doing in the kitchen. 

Last month I set myself a water challenge. It's Summer here in Australia and we're using a lot of water on the garden (we have a tank for the garden, but without rain there is no tank water). 

*Place a container in the sink and use the water from rinsing fruit, vegetables and eggs on the garden.
* Run water into a jug while waiting for hot water - I get heaps of water this way, which either goes into our purification jug or onto the garden.
*Halve the amount of water you normally wash up with. There is no need to fill the sink with hot water to do the dishes! I've been really surprised by how little I can use for this purpose. This goes for floor washing too - you don't need that much (not that I wash my floors all that often, ahem..)

Next up is the use of appliances and utilities (gas, electricity) in the kitchen.

*If steaming vegetables, boil until steaming is underway, turn off the gas and keep the lid on. I find this is enough to steam the veggies without having to use another 5 - 10 minutes of gas.
*The oven can also be turned off early. When I make bread, I turn off the oven 5 minutes before the bread is done and let it sit with the door closed. It stays hot enough to cook and it saves 5 minutes of cooking time. Add that up over a year and it would be a lot of time!
*Bake your own bread. I've been doing this for a long time and it saves us a lot of money. The whole family prefers homemade loaves too. I bake 4 at a time to get the most out of the oven.
*Think about the appliance before you use it. Is it really necessary to plug into the electricity if you can do it by hand? For example, we sweep hard floors instead of vacuuming, our cooking ingredients are often mixed by hand and all our dishes are done in the sink with no dishwasher.

I'd love to hear your frugal tips for February too!

365 project

 Last week I joined the 365 project. I thought it would be a good way to form the habit of picking up the camera every day and challenging myself to make the photo interesting. I'm on day 8 and loving it so far! Here are some of my photos from the week: 

Night Beach - my first proper attempt at long exposure for a landscape.

Rainbow Lorikeet - A pair of them have been enjoying our plums. Fortunately we have a bumper crop this year, so plenty to share.

Tomatoes - they are ripening by the dozens each day and make a delightful mouthful.

One of our beautiful girls - I love this portrait!

If you are interested in the 365 project or want to follow my project, you can find it here.

Make do and make a start

I thought I'd share with you a little reality check today. It is easy for us to imagine that people we see on social media, on websites...