Cooking for those who hate cooking

You’ve probably picked this up by now, but I’m not a big fan of cooking.

I’d rate cooking as being about as enjoyable as ironing, cleaning the bathroom or mowing the lawn. Unlike ironing, cleaning the bathroom and mowing the lawn however, I have to cook every day. Ick.

I’m amazed by the number of cooking shows on tv. Is it not enough that we have to cook everyday? We have to watch other people on TV doing it too? I’m waiting for the launch of MasterLaunderer. A show where contestants compete in stain removal, brightest brights and making your clothes feel like you’re wearing a million baby duck feathers. I would watch that.

Oops, went off on a bit of a tangent there…

squirrel-up-dog-gifSo,

I’m very lucky to have a husband who enjoys cooking and does it well. In the past he has taken on the lions share of cooking, but now that I’m home most days, I’m cooking a lot more. When Matt’s away with work, all cooking responsibilities fall to me, so I’ve had to devise some ways of feeding myself and Miss E, without having to spend a lot of time in the kitchen.

One of my strategies is to cook during Miss E’s nap times in the middle of the day, when I’m not worn out, and still have a little enthusiasm to bring to the process. If I cook just before dinner time I’m usually frazzled by the million other things going on at that time of the day (Miss E waking from her nap, then having her dinner, bath, bottle, bedtime story and bed, as well as Matt coming home some time in there, all in the space of an hour and a half). If I can avoid cooking at the same time, I’m sure I’m far more pleasant to be around.

I start off by cleaning any dirty dishes, clearing off benches and making sure the dishwasher is ready for a load of dirty dishes.

I then start preparing several meals at once. If I have to be in the kitchen, I make it worth my while and do as much as possible in one hit.

A few days ago I had an hour of power in the kitchen and whipped up some puree’s, some play dough, and a few freezer meals at the same time.

banana and strawberry puree 1As we get closer to the end of the week, I look through the fruits we seem to have an abundance of and make up some puree’s to freeze. This lot is a punnet of strawberries (they were cheap this week) and two bananas.

banana and strawberry puree 2and because I already have the stick mixer out, I make up some peach and apricot puree’s out of some preserved out of season fruit I had in the pantry.

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IMG_5367I freeze ready-made baby meals in a Heinz freezer tray. After 24 hours in the freezer I pop them out, and put the cubes into ziplock bags in the freezer.

In between batches of puree, I made some stir fry and rice.

stirfryIf you don’t have a rice cooker, get one. They’re pretty cheap, super simple to use and wash, and they make life much easier!

riceI made up some freezer meals, and the next day’s lunches.

stirfry 2and while waiting for the stir fry to cool, before I put it in the fridge and freezer, I made a batch of play dough as well.

playdoughThen when it was all done, I put as much as I could possibly fit in the dishwasher and set it going, then cleaned up. Apart from our good knives, anything that fits goes in our dishwasher, if it can’t go in the dishwasher, it can’t live here. I have a similar policy for clothes and the washing machine.

So that’s that. An hour of pain in the kitchen, for a few days gain 🙂

Do you have any other fabulous techniques for making cooking quick and painless?

Abby xx

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Day in the life of a SAHM

This is a long one, sorry!

Before I had children, I was one of those people who wondered what on earth Stay at Home Mums did all day. Surely with all that spare time on their hands they could be doing so much!

and then I became a Stay at Home Mum…

Someone once asked me whether I’m getting bored with all that spare time on my hands, and I laughed. When they asked me what I did all day, I couldn’t come up with a good response. Some days it just feels like you’re on the go all day, and then when you turn around at the end of the day, you can’t recall a thing you’ve done.

So today, I’ve decided to record what I actually do all day.

It’s definitely not a jam packed day, and I do get some down time, I just don’t always get to choose when that is, or how that is.

My Ordinary Tuesday:

6:15am – Matt gets up for work.

6:30am – I get up, thinking that I’ll be able to have breakfast with Matt before Miss E wakes up, and maybe even sneak in a shower! No luck, she wakes up. I go to her and discover an explosion… I call Matt in for back up. He takes the clothes and puts them in a bucket to soak, and I deal with the baby. Nice start to the morning!

6:50am – Miss E and Matt play while I tidy up and prepare her bottle. I feed her and put her down to play, while I have a cup of coffee and read some blog posts.

7:20am – Matt leaves for work, Miss E and I play with the sensory basket. I watch her as she sorts the items into ‘things that make noise when you shake them’ and ‘things that don’t make noise when you shake them’. I take photos and videos, and send text messages to Mum and Matt declaring her a genius.

emptied sensory basket

8:00am – Feed Miss E her breakfast and then set her up to play in her highchair while I bag up the frozen puree I made yesterday.

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8:30am – Naptime! As soon as she’s asleep I eat my breakfast, have a shower, fold some laundry, unload and load the dishwasher, tidy the kitchen and just as I start doing the dishes, she wakes up.

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9:45am – Plonk Miss E in her highchair again while I finish the dishes and make some more puree.

10:15am – Read a book together, play together for a few minutes, then leave her with a bowl full of plastic coins to play with while I try to hunt down an email and sort out some work related stuff.

10:45am – Make myself a cup of coffee, grab some meat out for dinner (I’m a bit of meat bargain hunter) and sit down to finish the sewing I started last night. Stop and start my coffee sipping and sewing a million times to sit her up after she’s fallen over or help her get the toy she’s thrown out of her reach.

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11:00am – Feed Miss E her bottle, then reheat my coffee and try to finish my sewing. Give up on the coffee and sewing after having to do a nappy change, realising the nappy bin is full, as is the dirty clothes hamper, which I empty. Put a load of washing in, and deal with this mornings soaking clothes. After putting the load of laundry on, I walk through the kitchen and find three dirty bibs that should have been in the same load. Sterilise some bottles while I’m in the kitchen.

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11:30am – Miss E, Penny and I all have cabin fever. It’s a nice day outside so we go tend to the veggie garden, talk to the neighbours chooks, sit on the stairs in the creek a little while, listening to the kookaburras and watching Penny explore. Then Miss E has a swing while I water my seedlings.

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IMG_3950(wearing Matt’s thongs because my gardening shoes seem to have gone wandering. I suspect Penny may have played a role in their disappearance)

12:00pm – I prepare Miss E’s lunch, all whilst singing a song about how I’m preparing lunch, to the tune of Mary had a little lamb, to try and stop her grizzling. This is only the third time she’s tried chicken, and she hates the texture. She spits most of it out, then gags on it. I give up and give her pear and apple instead. She plays in the lounge while I clean pumpkin, carrot and chicken off of everything within a 2 metre radius.

12:15pm – I give Miss E a catalogue to play with / rip up while I eat my lunch (last nights leftovers). This amuses her for about five minutes, and then she decides she’d rather pick dog hair off the carpet and eat it. I rethink my previous genius statement and try not to take it to heart that she’d prefer eat dog hair to my cooking.

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12:30pm – I put Miss E down for a nap, and quickly vacuum the dog hair off of the carpet before she goes to sleep. I start writing this post before I forget everything, or lose the piece of paper I’ve been writing stuff down on.

1:15pm – She wakes up crying. I get her up, and try to get her playing, but she’s grumpy and clingy.

1:45pm – I put her back in her cot in hopes she’ll sleep some more. Success! Back to blogging.

2:15pm – I go to grab the laundry basket that’s still in our room and catch a glimpse of myself in the mirror. So glamorous in my ugh boots, daggy clothes, and covered in baby food. Go and hang out  the washing.

daggy mum2:30pm – Try get this sewing finished!

3:00pm – Finished sewing. Waste some time on social media & unload dishwasher.

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3:30pm – Afternoon snack (ham and cheese toasted sandwich. Culinary Genius). The second my food is ready, Miss E wakes up. Give her a bottle and then play.

4:00pm – Put away her washing and sort through what fits and what doesn’t (I swear I have to do this every couple of weeks. She grows so quick!) A bit of play time, then a coffee for me while she plays happily by herself. Yay!

5:00pm – Matt gets home and we have some family time before I feed Miss E her dinner and he starts cooking our dinner. After Miss E’s had her dinner, I give her a bath while Matt finishes cooking dinner.

6:00pm – We eat dinner and I clean up the kitchen while Matt gives Miss E her bottle. He then explains how the internal combustion engine in her toy truck works.

6:45pm – I head to my parents place to pick something up for Matt, while Matt stays at home and puts Miss E to bed. Stop by McDonalds for a McFlurry on the way home. It’s every bit as bad as I should have known it would be.

7:45pm – Home again, and parked my butt on the couch.

8:30pm – Miss E wakes up, and I give her the ‘dream feed’ early. Then back to the couch.

9:15pm – Writing the last of this blog post, re-reading it and scheduling it for the morning.

9:30pm – Blog post all sorted for tomorrow. Miss E’s still unsettled and Matt’s attending to her. He’ll be off to bed soon and I’m hoping she’ll settle enough that I can too!

Abby xx

How I get stuff done

One of the first thoughts that occurred to me after I’d walked in the door of my home with Miss E for the first time, was ‘How on earth will I ever get anything done again?’

I’m still not sure how to get things done with a newborn around, but now that things have settled down and I have a 4 month old, I’ve found a few techniques that work for me:

1. Naptime

Okay, no surprises here. This is when I get much of my ‘quiet’ housework done. Things like cleaning bathrooms, watering plants, hanging out laundry etc.

2. Highchair Dance-off

Miss E loves her highchair! This is probably helped by the high chair toys we have on her tray.

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In the mornings and evenings, when I spend the most time in the kitchen, I put Miss E in her highchair in the middle of the kitchen. We pump the music up, and while I’m washing dishes, unpacking the dishwasher, cleaning benches and preparing food, I make a fool of myself dancing to the music. Despite lacking any kind of coordination, Miss E loves watching my dancing! Penny (Our beautiful labrador) always hangs around as well, just incase I drop some food, and as you can see, Miss E loves watching her too.

3. Bouncer

This was probably our best non-essential baby purchase. I try not to use it as a baby sitter too often as it’s not overly stimulating, but for sanities sake, being able to pop Miss E in there for five minutes so that I can eat lunch with two hands is often a blessing!

4. Laundry helper

If I’m folding laundry I’m either sitting on the floor next to Miss E as I do it, or I put her on my bed and we fold the washing there. It might make the process a little longer, but games of ‘Where’s Miss E?’ with the clothes I’m folding and letting her touch the different fabrics, is fun for her and allows me to get housework done guilt-free.

5. Reading while feeding

I learned early on that sometimes feeding little ones is a long process. If Miss E is alert and watching me, I’ll try to talk to her and hold eye contact as she feeds. Often she feeds with her eyes closed though, so I take this as an opportunity to read. Sometimes holding a book with one hand can be a struggle, so I ended up investing in a Kindle to make life a little easier.

6. Taking baby with you

The best way to do this is probably by baby wearing. This worked well for my husband, but I found every carrier I tried hurt my back, so I relied on the pram a lot more. I take Miss E outside with me while I’m gardening in her pram or on a picnic blanket. I talk through everything I’m doing as I do it, and she enjoys watching, listening and getting a little sun.

I don’t expect these techniques will work for everyone, but anything’s worth a try, right?

Abby xx