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Thursday, October 27, 2011

Motivation For Housework

Very few people I know really enjoy housework but I'll tell you what gets me in the mood.
Firstly, I like to do it on my own. I like everybody out of the house. No other pulls on my time.
Secondly I have found that if I have the radio on I am more likely to potter about. Chosen music on the stereo is not as effective for me. I listen to City Park radio where I get a very broad variety of music, a bit of chitty chat and few advertisements. It's a community radio station run by volunteers.
Saturday afternoons is the best time for me to make pasta - when the Italian program is on of course!
Yesterday I worked 8hrs in my paid job but before I got there I had washed the floors and washed the ceilings and walls in the bathroom and hallway.
I don't know what it is about the radio but it puts me in a contented housework frame of mind. It could be that it triggers something like Pavlov's dog. I remember my grandmother in the outback always having the wireless on. 
When I sit myself down to prep vegetables or fruit for bottling and preserving, the radio keeps me company over those hours. 
So I can't sit here all day and I must go and turn my radio on. I sure hope after I wash another few walls that it will motivate me to sew that tea towel order I have waiting. 
So what gets you in the mood? What is your motivator? Is it lists? Is it pinning on the pinny?

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

The Nesting Boxes

Craig made our nesting boxes from recycled wood and we have two for our chickens.
It's an interesting example of behaviour when the fowl are ready to sit and they check out who is on what nest and a bit of juggling and jostling goes on. We like to situate the boxes so they are not facing the door, turned and a bit dark and private. I think it's a time of vulnerability and the last thing you want is a predator coming upon you. I also believe when passing an egg you would appreciate a bit of dark and quiet.
When I clip the poodles I have at least a shopping bag packed with soft hair (not fur). Because it is quite cold here it is rare to have flea cycles. I have only ever seen fleas here on our dogs once in the last 25 yrs. The dogs are only clipped after being freshly washed and they use the same products I do, pure home-made tallow soap and vinegar herb rinse.
This makes a beautiful soft and insulating nesting material.
I also sprinkle some huon pine shavings in the boxes to deter insects.
Nutritionally do these sort of things improve the egg quality? Probably not but I believe that working with an animals proclivities rather than against them makes for a happier animal that stays healthy and produces well.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Changing Shades of Love

Both the girls travelled up from Hobart last weekend and stayed till Sunday afternoon.
They brought me some beautiful big old fashioned roses, heavenly scented, from the garden.
I had a concept of love that I used as a yardstick when I was expecting my first child but I was not prepared for the many shades it takes over time.
No-one told me it changed and found other dimensions, not even my mother.
I wish my grandmother was alive now so I could ask her about it.
When my children were little I had a fierce, protective love. It was a very "busy" love of the heads down, bottom up keep going soldier on love. I became a lioness when anyone threatened my children.
Now they are grown, I no longer hold the reins, it is a more intense love. One that is not hampered by value judgements and lesson giving but of sideline barracking.
I am ridiculously and exquisitely excited when I see them. They are not perfect yet I feel so proud of them. They are not yet formed and are still changing, finding out what and whom they want to be. Their little hurts and disappointments still cause me pain and I wish at those times I could still be Mummy that makes everything go away.
Perhaps Mum has tried to tell me these things and it is a case of me not really paying attention. There are not many things that Mum has been able to tell me till I was ready to hear (listening and hearing are two different things I have found)
I know Mum has talked about "physical pain" that she has felt deep inside her when I have gone through my many trials and tribulations but I listened and judged it as a touch of the melodrama (which is ridiculous as my mother is definitely NOT melodramatic) and a way for her to communicate empathy with me.
My girls are yet to go through such things for they stand at the beginning of their adulthood.
I can't help wondering about the next familial love - that of and for the grandchildren and for the change in my children when they in turn become parents (of that I am sure)
I was astonished to experience the change in love for my brothers (4) too as we got older. Distance makes it harder to revel in but it is a much maturer loving feeling that is without the competitiveness that I think we must have subtly operated on as children. I'm sure it is just a biological hard-wiring fact. 
Do families talk about this changing love or is it something the generations aren't able to hear till they go through their various stages of life.

As the roses get blousey and heavy, past that first proud magnificent show, I have been plucking them from the stem and drying them for when I have amassed a suitable quantity for rose petal jam. If you can get hold of some pesticide free roses do try it, there is nothing quite like it on scones.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Disappearing Bees

This too important for you not to read.
It is the continuing fall out from the effects of intensive cropping as seen in Food Inc.
This is the story of disappearing bees and colony collapse disorder.
Even if you can shrug and feel apathetic about the loss of our food pollinators, I would urge you to think and make the link to your own health and safety.
This is part of a chain and we are part of it.
Without further ado here is

Here is the link for "Food Inc" a must see for every household.
and the link about systemic pesticide (that's poison IN you food not ON your food)

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Danger Lurks Everywhere

Yesterday I was invited to speak about the Living Better With Less concept at a women's rural group.
A science teacher (ex or current, not sure) raised concerns about teaching people how to make soap. She was concerned that lye was a very hazardous chemical to have in the home.
Despite reassurances that all the proper cautions and protective wear was covered off in the class she continued to rant about the danger. 
So despite the reassurance, her ongoing concern clearly suggested that housewives and mummies were not capable of following process and procedure. She had no trust or faith at all that parents could keep hazardous substances out of reach of children.
This is the kind of over-kill and fear that has started to over-take common sense. 
Inventions like the tamper resistant cap and mandatory obvious warnings and internationally recognised poison symbols mean our awareness of the way we store and handle such products have come a long way. I can assure you that anyone taking my soap making class was left in no uncertain terms about the cautions and warnings.
Because something is potentially dangerous I don't think it should be removed from the home all together just locked away safely. There is no evidence to suggest that a person without a degree cannot learn procedure or process.
Our playgrounds for instance are becoming so sanitised that I don't think kids are ever going to learn about tumbles, falls and the lessons of being careful. I can still remember the play rules; "don't walk too close to the swing", "one at a time on the trampoline" and "get smartly off the slide when you get to the bottom".
Danger lurks everywhere.
And not in such obvious ways as the chemicals in our home.
What about the dangers we can't see?
Salmonella is a killer that we can't see. It is only by proper practices and procedures that we prevent it.
So where is the line on dangers in the home?
Should we take the potentially hazardous food preparation role from parents and leave it solely in the hands of manufacturers or qualified chefs? 
Of course not.
Our role throughout our lives is to learn and to teach, not to be frightened and wrapped in cotton wool.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Going For Gold

I'm drying Calendula petals.

For some soap and for a healing ointment.

I'm also juicing lemons and freezing the juice

It's nearly time to make the Christmas Cake.

I've cut into the last of our stored pumpkins and made some warming soup.

And I've mixed up a good hearty cake for Craig's lunch box.

Apricot and Pumpkin Seed Loaf.
Mum likes to eat it buttered!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Sowing The Seeds

It is still too early for summer planting here despite the popular Tasmanian mantra which says basically plant out for summer on Show Day (which always falls at the very beginning of Oct). I don't know where this myth came from; maybe it was tied in somehow when the Show used to be in December (1834) or maybe the weather patterns have changed in the last few decades, or maybe it is something touted by the nursery industry to deliberately boost sales.
We are still getting frosts and I guarantee that anyone who put tomato seedlings in a couple of weeks ago are buying more already.
Our winter crops are coming to their finish; I'm picking broccoli, silverbeet, salad greens and soon will harvest cabbage and broad beans. I'm sure if I had bare beds I would be breaking my neck to get something in there too, but for now I am content with successive sowings of mizuna, bok choy and rocket etc.
In the meantime, this is where our summer crop starts....

Using recycled seedling punnets, egg cartons and toilet rolls, seed is sown and protected by a "lean too" of glass. The area gets lots of sun and is protected from wind. The combination of pavers, sun and shelter provides the ideal climate for germination. A lot of people forget that it is the soil that needs to warm up not just the outside day temperatures.
Can you see how Craig has written on the rims indicating what and when?

Turns out a marker pen is more indelible than a biro.
Doh! I'm going to have to call in Lee the wonder horticulturalist to sort out what I have planted in here! 
The other protection you must provide for seedlings is from slugs and snails.
So in a few more weeks when danger of frost has passed and the soil has warmed up, we will be pulling out broad beans and brassicas and the time will be right for our seedlings. This year I am going to try staking the tomatoes with this Florida Weave method that Funkbunny blogged about here.

Here is a bit of a walk around and update on the Front Yard Fruit Forrest

I have a Pomegranate and a Blueberry bush that were given to me for my birthday in June. You may be able to see silverbeet seedlings tucked all about in order to make use of more space while these guys are growing.

I have transplanted some raspberries from the back garden. The idea is that a lot of these berry and currant bushes are planted in proximity to each other so if I have to resort to netting they will be easier to protect. I like to think that animals and humans can get a share of food but sometimes the bird population out numbers what I think is a fair share. After all, my chooks also have to get a feed of raspberries too, it's their favourite.

Here are the rat tail radish seedlings. You can't see them yet but you know where they are! This is another good tip. Grab an ordinary old stick fallen from a tree and stick it next to your seedlings, especially in heavily mulched areas. This way everyone will know there is something precious there and won't stand on it or weed it.
Has anyone tried the Florida Weave method? What is your preferred staking for tomatoes?

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Rust Busting

We live with chooks and a couple of dogs so we have found it helpful to be able to have some fenced stages. This protects the garden from them both...
and them from each other.
I am so proud of Craig and his handiwork. He has made it all from recycled materials from the tip shops.
There has been some straitening and some "cutting and shutting" and a bit of welding.
This gate used to be part of a an old wrought iron fence and stairway set. 
Craig has hung it on a simple "male/female" type hinging system from the post.
With the weather so good now I have spent an hour or so giving it a thorough brush down with a wire brush removing all the loose rust and flaky paint.
The next step was to paint it over with a product that converts the rust back to a solid again and inhibits any further degradation. Some of you may already be aware of this product but I thought it was worth mentioning in case some haven't because it is one of your best weapons in using recycled materials. It can be found in the hardware store or where you buy your paint.
The gate is ready after 24hrs for a normal application of paint now.

 We have various catches and spring loaded clip closure arrangements but on this gate he has used a simple slide bolt.
Can you see what he has recycled this time?
It is a Mercedes (1976) wheel wrench!
This is part of another fence that he has made to show you how old odd bits and pieces come together.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Money Is Not Everything

Yesterday I had to pick up some day old chicks from the freight company. When I arrived the courier was running late and they said it would be probably another hour.
I didn't want to waste petrol going home again coming back again so I started thinking of all the things I could do with an hour.
You know what the best thing you can do with an hour is?
Donate blood.
Because of changes to work schedules I kind of got out of the habit of giving blood every 3 months.
Boy there has been some changes....
You can donate whole blood or plasma and soon even platelets.
If you haven't given blood before or would like to find your nearest centre check out
Some people cannot donate blood but there are a lot of healthy people who can and there is a short questionnaire on the site if you are unsure. I think it is a privilege to give blood because it means I am one of the lucky ones.
There are some who don't like needles or are scared. I say to you this, I have experienced more pain burning my arm on the kettle or banging my knee on a door jamb....seriously. It is just a prick. If you feel scared about the sight of blood then ask yourself "am I scared at the sight of my urine or my saliva?" It's just another bodily fluid. 
Life saving fluid.
After enrolling and filling out a questionnaire and talking with a staff member here comes the other bonuses;
You get your blood pressure checked for free
Your haemoglobin checked for free
and a recline in one of the most expensive comfortable electric chairs.
Afterwards there is relax time in the lounge with a magazine and a FREE drink and some biscuits and cheese.
WIN/WIN situation I say and a good way to spend an hour.
The actual blood donating part only takes about 5-10 mins 
Here is an opportunity to give something of yourself to another.
Money isn't everything.
LOL, how to make even donating frugal!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Suburban Jubilee Calendar 2012

It's fast approaching the end of the year and I have produced a calendar with the intent of buying a couple myself for gifts, especially the "hard to buy fors" and the "need to post tos".
They are available for anyone to purchase from Red Bubble for $26 so if you feel inclined please have a peruse HERE.

Little Jenny Wren also has her dolls calendar available here and it showcases some darling creations. In fact I think some of the images made into cards would be beautiful gifts too!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Just How It Is Sometimes

Outside is cold and bleak....

Inside the prospects are even bleaker.....

Luckily I have two new books to kick me in the pants.
Surely Shannon Lush will get me motivated!
The "Perfect Preserves" book has some interesting recipes to ponder and plan for;
"Red Pepper Jelly"
"Oil Cured Mushrooms"
"Tarragon and Orange Jelly"
"Italian Vegetable Pickle"
After last weekend helping two daughters move house with an entire house and garden spring clean I deserve some feet up time. Besides, this is research for my next class.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Wash Your Hair for Less Than 30c/Month

With a body in sensitivity overload I have gone on a journey over many years trying to live comfortably with myself. It has cost a lot of money (mostly wasted) and the word most often used to lure me from product to product was "hypo-allergenic". 
It turns out the cheapest and the simplest method is the one the works best but it takes a long time to break the conditioning in your head from manufacturers that "the more you pay the better the product" and "something only has worth if it costs".

You know I make my own pure unscented tallow soap. 
I like the way it leaves my skin feeling.
I also use it to "shampoo" my hair.
One of these bars costs about 7 cents to make.
For "conditioner" I use a vinegar herb hair rinse.
Vinegar rinses leave the hair clean and close the hair cuticle making it shiny and tangle free. It is also good for the scalp. I use apple cider vinegar at a rate of 1/10 to water.
After shampooing I rinse through with vinegar water from an old shampoo bottle using about 1/4-1/2 a cup.
I leave this in and when the hair is dry there is no smell.
There are herbs that you can easily add for other hair benefits.
The one I am using above is a rosemary hair rinse.
Using about 6-7 pieces of rosemary (about 20cm long....a good handfull!!?) put it in a large jug and pour on about 1 1/2 - 2L of boiling water and when cool (overnight) pluck out the herbs and refrigerate.
I have several saved shampoo bottles that I mix up the solution into and keep them in the fridge. Our bathroom is on the south side and this IS's ALWAYS cool. So I have no problem keeping a bottle at a time on the shelf in the shower. The bottle will last about 4-5 rinses and then I just get another one.
Here is a great site to go to if you would like more information about vinegar herb hair rinses.
I could as easily use; Marigold, Camomile, Nettle, Peppermint or Calendula  to name a few that are free from my garden and probably yours too, or easily foraged in the neighbourhood.
The cost is about 20 cents for a months supply.

So I can wash my hair, remedy scalp/hair conditions, be truly hypo-allergenic, earth friendly...
all for less than 30 cents a month.
Don't just take my word for it, try it.
All you have to loose is about 20c.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Soap Nuts

I forgot to tell you what was in these.
I gave all the recent class attendees a little packet of soap nuts.
Soap nuts are grown on a tree in the Himalayas and is a natural surfactant. I thought it would be a great introduction to alternative washing cleaning methods that are environmentally friendly and economical.
I bought these from Kussen and when I explained to Frances what we were doing, she kindly arranged a discount period on her products for the attendees too.

Soap nuts are used by tying 4 cases in a hanky or a sock or a piece of muslin and popping them into the wash. They will do four or five loads. When they go grey and mushy, they are thrown on the compost.
It was a new product to most of the group but one couple said they have had much better results by steeping the nuts in some boiling water and using the resulting liquid.
The soap nut bag also suggests a way to make a "soap" concentrate from them and more information can be found on the Kussen website.

Monday, October 3, 2011

What Are the Boundaries of Care?

I overheard a conversation the other day.
A lady with an elderly father was vehemently denying she would ever assist her father with his toenails. She said "there are some things that are just too personal."

Well it got me thinking about elderly care in the family.
I asked myself, if Dad had surgery would I be prepared to look after him and assist with showering and dressing? 

As for his toenails! 
I used to show my love for him from about 8 years of age by doing his toes and massaging his feet when he was tired from work. I appreciated that he went to work all day to provide for the family.

Now looking back I could not deny care to someone who cared for me.

I had not thought about the limits before.
Is it because my mother was a nurse and care for the elderly was something that we were more attuned too?
I watched her care for my grandmother until her death.
Am I just de-sensitised to age and personal care?
Is it a cultural thing?
My Italian friends and Asian friends place no boundaries on parental care.
Is it a class thing?
Is it a sign of economic progression? We have all sorts of people we can pay to do these jobs.
Obviously there comes a time when the level of care required is not always able to be provided in the home environment. There is a lot of other "stuff" before that time though.
Because of the work I do, I see more and more elderly couples trying to maintain nursing care of each other when they really are at their limit already. One of the reasons is that families are more far flung these days. Once it was that children moved interstate but now it is common for them to re-locate to different countries all together! 
I'm not judging here, just making an observation. 
Have you ever thought about the day your elderly relative may need care?
Have you had experience with elderly care?
I would really love to hear your thoughts and experiences.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

A Time For Everything

What a week!
Dr. M is putting in some big days which has me not finishing work till 7-7.30pm these days.

We kicked off the first Living Better With Less class at Exeter on Sunday and made soap.

Our darling Arthur had to be assisted in death by the vet.
Thank you so much for all your kind condolences and messages of hugs. I know that there are many of you who know the path of grief.
This is the last photo I took of him about 10mins before the vet arrived. 
Up until this point I had been massaging his shoulders and neck for about an hour but I pulled back to try to take a photo with my phone. We are on the floor in the back porch and he has pinned me with both his front paws asking for more. Glutton for affection to the end!
Puts his size into perspective doesn't it with my foot in shot too.

Then it was celebrating my other boss' big news with surprise champagne after the surgery.
Dr H is now an Ass. Professor and well deserved it is too.
Tasmania is very lucky to have him.

Then it was the first class at Perth making more soap.

Don't you just love my "drying basket" for curing the soap. It is an old fashioned vegetable hanger that I picked up from the tip shop and it is perfect. It was probably bright red once but is now faded to a soft salmon.

And then today up at 5am picking for the growers market.

I'm a bit pooped. So for now the feet are up.

I've done some more seed swapping

And dinner is going to be left over pasta and fresh herbs from the market.
Very easy and very fresh.
I've met some wonderful new people this week, celebrated exciting news, shared lots of inspiring ideas, received much loved, farewelled a dear friend and fed some families with some good wholesome food.
As a favourite old Australian saying goes;
"You wouldn't be dead for quids"

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