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Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Farewell My Friend

Gentle giant,
Eleven human years (99 dog yrs)
A massive wolfhound of 90kg of devoted doggedness with a face only a mother could love.
Passed peacefully into an assisted death.
Loved by his family.
Awed by many.
Give my love to Indy-Dog

Monday, September 26, 2011

Big Ideas Around The Blog

A moment of your time....
or perhaps 15mins!
Funkbunny's Kitchen Garden nominated me for an award and I like to take the opportunity to show what has caught my interest these past couple of days by some bloggers who have less than 200 followers.
In no particular order.....
has a good idea about achieving tasks one step at a time. Just 15 mins a day
It's a really good habit and certainly not mammoth.

How bright and vibrant are these arrangements?
over at....

This story about Home Economics that
found at Etsy

What do you think of the new colour scheme Lee is toying with;
Mustard Seed 
Fog Grey

This short but thought provoking post 

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Mandarin Puddings and More

Mandarins are beautiful at the moment.
Have you got a favourite lemon or lime recipe?

You can substitute in most cases.

It will be more subtle but a nice change. Perhaps not strong enough for something very eggy like a citrus tart but lovely in a self saucing style pudding.

Goes well with passionfruit also.
A squeeze in icing sugar makes a beautiful icing for custard cream biscuits or coconut slice.
So get into your mandarins while they are in season.

Here is a sneak peak at the surprise gift bags for my first attendees at the Living Better With Less class tomorrow. I couldn't find any small paper bags to buy so I made these with scrap cardboard and simple brown paper using the tutorial here
Frances at Kussen has also arranged a special for attendees too. They sell vegan friendly soap products, soap nuts, shampoos, moisturisers, essential oils and more. I am not affiliated with Kussen in any way, just a happy customer nearly two years now.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Vitamin D

I have something important to tell you while we wander in my spring garden.

Do NOT take it for granted that because you are regularly in the garden you are making enough vitamin D from the sun. 
Vit D is important for calcium absorption and the creation of strong bones.

A chance inclusion in my routine blood test revealed that I have a severe deficiency. 
My doctor was calling me in for an immediate consult and a bone density test which revealed that I already have a loss of bone density.
Not cool.
I thought my constantly "broken feet" hobble was because of too many years retailing!

Especially if you live in Tasmania, 
or extreme northern areas,
please talk to your doctor about vitamin D.

It was the last thing I expected.
It's probably one of the least talked about vitamins.
I am on a massive 80 000ius a week and have every confidence that my level will be much improved in a few months when we check it again.
For more information about Vit D see here.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Sent Away At 14yrs old

Our bus trip this week took us through Campbell Town which is about 68km south of Launceston.
This is a picture of The Grange built in 1847.
 The Elizabeth River and Campbell Town were named by Governor Macquarie after his wife Elizabeth Campbell.

One of the attractions in Campbell Town is the convict trail of bricks, telling the stories of those who were sent to Australia as convicts.
Can you imagine a 14yr old being convicted and sent on a boat across miles and miles of ocean to a land not even properly established. Months and months at sea, the risk of not even making it to the destination.
14yrs old!
Never to see family and home again.
No phones, no mail, no email, no television images, no photos in wallets.
Can you imagine it happening to your child?
Makes the world a vast, lonely place.

Story after story stretched for metres and metres up both sides of the street.
Many of them so young. Many probably just trying to feed a family.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Price of Lard and Dripping

Do my eyes deceive me?
This is what I saw in one of the large chain store supermarket where the prices are supposedly down.
Prime Lard.....$13.40/kg
Come on! It's pig fat for goodness sake.
And next to it,
Prime Dripping......$11.20/kg
From your roast....
Are you seriously telling me that people will pay MORE for fat, a normally waste by-product, than they would for many meat cuts.
This is what happens when you ditch your friendly butcher and support the Big 2. They have so much of the market now and have squeezed out the little guys.
People get your dripping pots out.
Get back to your butchers.
But remember, all things in moderation.
P.S. If you would like to know more about rendering go here

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Reusing and Recycling Also

Today Rhonda is having a link up of recycling and re-using ideas and hoping to create a trail of inspiration. I agree with her and think visuals provide a more lasting or re-callable memory.
Here are some of ours.
Above is where the grapevine grows and looks so lush and green in summer but in the winter, it's a boring old fence. I took some saucepan lids and made butterflies so that I have something bright and happy to see from my kitchen window during the winter. They are simply screwed on. You could make simple art on your boring fence too by recycling waste metal and wood items.

The chook shed itself is the old wood/garden shed recycled. It is fully lined for insulation with recycled building materials like dado removed from the hallway inside and old reject fence palings.  The nesting boxes were made entirely from a wooden pallet that something was freighted on. On the floor of the house we also use shredded paper from my work at the doctors' surgery. It is then recycled again into compost. 

In the chicken "nursery" which is itself made from an old tin sign that can be looped and and clamped into a circle. As the chicks grow, so can the enclosure by un-clamping and making it larger. The warming light is an  old bed head light suspended over. Click on the picture to enlarge and look at the clever water set up and feeder that Craig has made from milk containers. We store the feed in an old milk churn where it is safely secured from rodents and kept dry.

Of course there are all sorts of sewing projects from old curtains, upholstery fabric, buttons,

sheets, towelling and my all time favourite pillowcases. Pillowcases I seem to find regularly in hardly worn condition and for about 50cents.

Also old woollen blankets and scraps.

Much of the iron fencing around our place has been made from old stair and porch railings that we sourced from the tip shop at a fraction of the price of buying new materials.

Including this arch (since painted and looks a treat) that Craig gave me for Christmas one year.

These buckets I sourced from a cafe (they are mayonnaise pots etc) and and they are ideal for picking berries and olives as the little handle slips over the wrist. Come olive curing time, they are handy containers for the brining process too and the perfect size for slipping a bread and butter plate just inside to keep the olives submerged.

What about sheep fat into soap. An otherwise wasted product. 
The list could go on...
You're only limited by your imagination sometimes.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

The Hankie Debate

To hankie or not to hankie,
That is the question.
Once upon a time it was never a feared object but it seems to be slipping into obsolescence.

When you have a cold and blow your nose there are typically many viruses that may be found. There is still debate about how long these viruses can live outside of the body, some say days and others a few hours. If nasal secretions get onto our hands they can then be passed to others by touching everyday objects like door knobs, light switches, telephones etc. If you have watched a sneeze recorded on camera, slowed and macro then you will get an idea of the power and spray potential of the nose.
 Best practice is to wash your hands after sneezing or blowing to remove and kill the viruses regardless of whether you are using tissue or cloth.

The ABC Health and Wellbeing published an article citing as their source Professor Jack Gwaltney who says putting hankies into a normal wash is sufficient to kill viruses and washing at high temperatures is not necessary. Your nasal secretions are natural bodily fluids and water soluble.
So good hygiene obviously is key and that includes disposing of tissues and washing used handkerchiefs.

Rebecca Blackburn also wrote an article Tissues Vs Handkerchiefs in which she lays out all the number crunching on environmental impacts from both sides. At the time of her writing the article, Australians were using 273 000 tonnes of tissue products mostly all from virgin fibre. She based her calculations on a 1g tissue and a 15g cotton hanky assumed to be good for 520 uses.
It takes 2.2L of water to produce ONE tissue; that is four times as much as to produce 1 cotton hanky even though a huge amount of water is used to produce the cotton initially. It takes 165L to grow and produce one cotton hanky and a further 0.15L to wash but given that it is good for 520 washes, it's water footprint comes back to a mere 0.47L.

As far as energy goes, it takes about the same amount to produce a single tissue from virgin pulp as it does to produce and launder a cotton hanky 520 times.
As far as waste goes, tissues produce about 1.3g of waste including manufacturing waste. Hankies produce about 0.05g mostly from coal mining waste created to produce the energy needed to wash the hankies.

So the humble hankie wins on all accounts on the energy debate and I can think of better things to do with virgin fibres. As far as hygiene goes I think we have also busted some of those myths too. It is perfectly OK to use a handkerchief and wash it normally, no tricks or hoops jumped.

As you can see, I have a large hankie collection. They are much kinder on the nose and a beautiful accessory. I always believe a true gentleman always carries a hankie and can be relied upon to assist a lady in distress. 

They wipe hands and brows as well as eyes and noses.
They dust seats or wipe spills.
They carry money tied up in the corner.
They are tucked in sleeves as well as pockets.

The white man's hankie above with the letter "A" belonged to a dear friend and it was all that I wanted after he died as a token.
The little square folded purple one is my newest. Mum brought it back from France for me.

These are perhaps my oldest personally owned. They always remind me of another dear elderly friend of my grandparents. His name was Peter and he owned Mellicks store and drapery at Longreach in QLD. I felt so grown up when he gave me beautiful boxed handkerchief sets, not like the childish ones in the photo above with drawings on them and days of the week. They were the ones I would take to Mass on Sundays, not for school, too precious!
The child's hankies in the photo earlier are the remnants of a number of sets my children had and isn't it interesting that we have four "Sundays" and a "Tuesday" left.
And still I use them....

Like these precious one that family members have made. Hand embroidered and crocheted edges.
Some handkerchiefs are works of art and some are exquisite examples of lace making and cut work.
Some have frayed hems but they are the softest of all.

They can be used as air filters like when people tied them around their noses and mouths fighting fires.
They are emergency bandages for cuts and grazes.
They are personal coolers; dampened and worn around the neck or around the wrist on pulse points.
Remember when they were also used as "hats" upon the head with a knot tied at each corner?

So what are your memories? Do you still use Hankies? Do you remember wrapping one of your precious baby teeth up at school in your hankie to take it safely home for under the pillow that night?

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Pumpkin Goes With

Butter, Olive Oil,
Nutmeg, Rosemary, Thyme,
Coriander, Parsley,
Garlic, Chilli,
Parmesan, Chevre,
Chickpeas, Cous Cous.....
Some of my favourite things.

Using up the last of the stored pumpkins in,
Soup, Ravioli,
Cous Cous Pumpkin Salad....

Friday, September 16, 2011

Rotate Your China

I like to change my china seasonally to reflect my mood but there is a very good and practical reason to do this. Well several reasons really.

If you are a china horder collector, it gives everything a rotation for use and enjoyment. 
It's a rotation of memories for me.

It gives the opportunity for the dresser/cupboard to get a thorough dusting and de-cobwebbing.
You'll rediscover pieces you'd forgotten about.

The CSR sugar tin in the background has no monetary value but it is a little reminder of home (QLD). There is additional writing on the tin below the picture titling it "Early Queensland Cane Grower's Bungalow" and it reminds me of places around Bundaberg.
The glow in the dark statuette of Mary standing on the snake is a recent find from my day trip a couple of days ago. It was from the antique emporium and only $4.50. It is very dear to my heart of the child going to sleep with such things glowing comfortingly after lights out (or was it scarily? sometimes I swear I could see them moving) Whats more they were also quite common in other houses too, so very much a part of growing up Catholic.

I sold china for more than 15 years and I also advised my clients to rotate and handle and clean their china at least once a year. Nobody knows definitively what causes stress fractures in china but in my experience it was always a piece that had remained in a cupboard, never touched for years.
It is devastating when it just springs a large crack for no reason.
My theory is that there is a lot of tension held in the round. When you tap them there is a sound you hear, a subtle vibration through the body, almost like a ring from crystal. Remember, bone china is 50% animal bone ash. I believe handling your china and figurines prevents the tension build up that can lead to a spontaneous crack. I can't explain it scientifically but can only express what I know from experience.

The dinnerset is an old J&G Meakin sometimes back stamped "Greenways" and it is not worth anything really as it is a plain clay composition body (so quite prone to chipping) and is well worn but it is a link to family times. It is the dinner set that we used to have Christmas Dinner on when we were young. It was brought out for birthdays but my brothers favoured the soup dishes for their weet-bix and now the few we had are all gone. 
This is the dinner set that shall go to Emma and she will be the next keeper of these family memories.
The little embroidered doily set was recently given to me recently by a friend who is at the stage of her life where she is scaling down her household and I, still accumulating, treasured it.

Those yellowy mustard bowl are Bessemerware and belonged to my Nanny. These are the "crockery" we used at her house. She lived in outback QLD and when I see these I can; feel still hot days, smell bull dust and bore water and see cloudless blue skies and horizons that go on forever.
And the song that I hear is my grandfather, Norm, singing 
This link will take you to a clip. The song was written in 1901.
See, it's not an obsession or lunacy, just memories.

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