Monday, December 27, 2010

I feed my family from the bin

I don’t really, but I had you going there didn’t I? But I reckon I could if I wanted to, as long as we were happy to eat LOTS of dairy.

DSCF6854 This is the haul from one supermarket’s dumpster one evening-four dozen eggs, seven litres of custard, loaf of bread, cottage cheese, yogurt galore and funny over-marketed yogurt drink thingys. About $70 worth, bought full price. We didn’t get everything either-we left the meat pies, lobster and bacon with even more custard, vegetables, dog food  and cans of Pepsi, plus another three dozen eggs. Tis the season to be wasteful.

Most of this stuff is within date too-the eggs had two weeks left, the custard three. The yogurts and yogurt drinks were one day over, with no mark down. The cottage cheese was the only thing with price reduction stickers.

The chickens had a Christmas feast, but they’re blase about it. Last time it was six dozen of yesterdays rolls, cheese topped and all. This type of waste can be seen in virtually every supermarket’s bin, every evening. It’s absolutely criminal.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Christmas craft, day 24-Crackers

These are the last thing to be done, ready for us to stick a little something in them tonight. The kids hoard toilet rolls for them, but if you’re some weird germ freak you can buy them. Idiocy. Then twist wrapping paper around. We normally make a paper crown and pop something small like stickers inside, then tie the other end up. They don’t crack, but they don’t care.


Saturday, December 18, 2010

Christmas craft, day 18-Countdown

Countdowns are big in this house. They are created for every occasion, and Christmas is certainly not excepted.DSCF6783



Friday, December 17, 2010

Christmas craft, day 17-lacy decorations

We didn’t actually do these today. As the husband was born on this rather inconvenient day 28 years ago (and he wasn’t even SUPPOSED to be born until March, he just likes to be difficult) we went out for the day.

But if you’re desperate for yet another Christmas related craft, try these. Easy-peasy, pipe cleaner through eyelet lace. Hang on tree. Done.


Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Christmas craft, day 15-mice

Outsourced again, library I love you! DSCF6787

I assume these are because ‘not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse’.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Christmas craft, day 14-colouring competitions

I didn’t photograph these-but we dropped five advertising-filled colouring competition entries off to the supermarket today. Ever since Nanna left a That’s Life! magazine here and I explained the concept they’ve had a keen eye for entering competitions. They have my genes-something for nothing!

But I hope no-one wins. The prizes are all branded, electronic rubbish. I’d have to sneakily break it as a good excuse to throw it out.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Christmas craft, day 8–angels again

Outsourced again to the library-I sent them off with the husband and got some uninterrupted work time. Only to be told the like the library’s version of angels better than mine! Ingrates. They can’t hairdress these ones.


Monday, December 6, 2010

Christmas craft, day 5-reindeer

Hands and feet reindeer, always a hit. Especially good for tracking growth-but very sad when I realise my nearly two year olds hands really don’t qualify as ‘small’ anymore.


Yes, there’s one missing-Sparkles hadn’t finished hers to her exacting standards. Shorty, however, gets the prize for biggest buck going by the points.

Christmas skirts

I’ve never really had event-specific clothes for the kids before, but couldn’t resist making these for the girls. They’ll last a few years so were worth it.




They’re very, very twirly, very nearly circular. But not quite, we’ll preserve some modesty.DSCF6570 

They had a ball dancing around at the carols night. They were even asked by the newspaper photographer if he could have a picture of them in their outifts for the paper-he was a bit taken aback when they said ‘No thanks!’ and wandered off. They’ve been attacked by Asian tourists one too many times (and I mean attacked-think massive cheek pinching and hugging by masses of giggling girls).

Time to make something for my boys now.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Christmas craft, day 4-Angels

These are a bit of a tricky project-we did them two years ago and it was an exercise in patience. This year was much easier. They took particular delight into ramming a metal skewer through each head to facilitate easier threading of the halos. Barbarians.DSCF6636 

Frosty decided to pull his all apart halfway through, then the girls helped him reassemble it into Alien Angel.DSCF6622

Hairdressing of the angels was the best bit in their opinions-they have had plaits, pigtails, haircuts, the lot. They’re all looking a bit punkish now.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Christmas craft, day 3

Paper chain. There must be kilometres of this, all around the house, where ever there is something to attach it to and drape it over.

DSCF6617 DSCF6620

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Christmas craft, day 2-patty pan wreaths

Cheated, and outsourced…….they made these wreaths today at the local library’s kid session.DSCF6769


Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Christmas craft time-Day 1

Two years back we decided to use Christmas to ‘out-craft’ the kids. Considering they usually craft everyday it was a bit of a challenge. The goal was a craft a day from the first to 24th of December-they made it to the 19th before they started complaining. I didn’t mention it on the 20th and neither did they. Success, we beat them!

Anyway, it’s turned into a yearly tradition. I start collecting all the Christmas books from the library in November, before they all disappear, and write down a big list of crafts with their book and page number, as well as a list of stuff I need to buy.


Day One is always putting up the tree. This must be done solely by the children with the assistance of a ladder-hence it looking as if it’s been through a cyclone.


It’s much better than it has been previous years though, when they’d stick all the decorations on one square foot and leave the rest naked. It’s also a work in progress-they often move things around on their way past.

He’s manly enough to pull it off


Friday, November 26, 2010

Mystery pumpkin

Another result of my whacking in seeds thinking i’ll remember, but I never do. I discovered this stalwart at the property in an abandoned garden bed, along with two massive bright yellow marrows. I *think* it’s a Blue Banana Jumbo which looks like it’s now sold out (I couldn’t resist buying something called that………..and yes I bought the Pink too).



It took the husband about five minutes and risking chopping his arm off to get it in half-it would be a great keeper. It was crap roasted, dry and floury, but made pretty good soup if I do say so myself.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Note to self:


Never leave paper patterns i’ve drafted on the dining table. Even if i’m exhausted after a frenzy of creativity, it’s already tomorrow and all I can manage is to stumble to bed. Because Murphy’s Law states that the children will wake, see paper, tape and scissors on the table and decide they are there for cutting. And I will stagger, bleary-eyed, out to the kitchen in the morning to discover my precious pattern is now in 32 pieces and needs to be disassembled from craft projects and reassembled into the outlines of a pants leg, then completely redrawn and cut.

I have been warned.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

A romantic evening out………dumpster diving?

What, you mean you wouldn’t choose to spend your first evening in two years without children digging through bins? Madness! We had a ball-especially with the treasures we found.SDC13465

SDC13467 A huge Rhino toolbox-one side was caved in but after some quick work with the hammer it shuts properly. With a bit more work it’ll probably be barely noticeable.

SDC13469Glazed pot-it has a smallish crack down one corner, nothing that isn’t fixable with 15 spare minutes. It has been earmarked for a blood orange tree.

SDC13470 And a garden’s worth of plants-mostly African daisies but there’s quite a few rosemarys in there, plus two Callistemons, a couple of punnets of Italian parsley and some mini Syzigiums (probably not edible, but i’ll check anyway). They were all a bit unwell, but most have recovered spectacularly in the week we’ve had them, and half have been planted in the ground already.

All of this was in one bin, from one store infamous for crushing local businesses. Their bins are the only way any stock from their store enters my possession-hopefully with their attitude to waste they don’t realise the wannabe freegans are onto them anytime soon and lock them up. I’ll be checking more regularly!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Rip-off Fred Bare caftan

When Eden posted a link to a FB caftan due to be released this month, at the price of $65 (!!!!!!) I knew I had to make one. I’ve never made a top like this before, but knew that they’re dead-easy, and based on easy rectangular shapes, because they were developed in the days before fancy sewing, scissors, sharp needles etc. Different cultures had slightly different versions, such as kimonos and dashiki. Plus they’re modest and sunsmart, which is increasingly hard to buy as my girls get older.

V1-total cost 50c, op-shop fabric. Time was about 3 hours, from beginning pattern drafting to finish. There’s two pieces-the top is cut in one piece, with a neckline facing.DSCF5818DSCF5815 

It fitted well and looked pretty good on, but still homemade-ish. So a week or so later I pulled the pattern out and redid it, but curved the sleeve openings and bottom, and instead of folding up the hem (virtually impossible on curves) I cut some strips of fabric, folded them in half and overlocked them to the edges so they show. I don’t know what this technique is called. Much, much better!

V2-$7.00 with new quilters cotton, about 1.5 hours, with redrafting pattern and making up.DSCF5855

Detail of edging on the hem.DSCF5857

Neckline-no buttons, no zips, just a simple V-neck. And yes I know I should have used black thread in the overlocker, but i’m lazy. When I get one with automatic threading then i’ll use something other than white.DSCF5858

Eat ya heart out Fred Bare! I’ll sell it to you for $55 Eden, bargain. :P

But realistically, this is a very easy item to draft and make. There’s very little cutting, very little actual sewing, virtually everything is rectangles based on measurements and nothing requires more than a basic level of skill. Plus it’s very forgiving-you could sew very badly and not really notice!

Anyway, now i’ve finally attempted a top it’s got me interested in making more. If only I could get up the mojo to make some proper shirts for the boys, i’d be set.

Gardening, rental style.

We have really moved in here. To the point where the first question neighbours have been asking is whether we’ve bought it. We’ve been so transient for so long, but my spirit of adventure has been thoroughly beaten from me. I don’t want to travel, or go on any holidays longer than three days that take more than four hours to get to. I’d rather lounge around at home-trust me, it’s a massive step for me.

Food gardens are a must-have now, they’ve gone beyond a hobby to something I need to have. They’re in the same league to me as televisions are to most people-I cannot imagine life without food growing around me. Plus pottering around checking out new growth and paying close attention to what’s happening is immensely relaxing and a great way to slow down and defrag my head when i’m feeling frantic.

Which is why within a week we had transformed this ratty front garden of weeds and ugly plants into something productive. We did cheat a bit-we pulled up a lot of seedlings from the property and transplanted them. Insta-garden!DSCF5780 There’s many mature edible trees here, a macadamia, lychee, guava, lemon and an overhanging mango tree, plus our rear neighbour keeps giving us bags of mandarines. I do love old suburbs for their productive trees, mock oranges and other crap featured in designer gardens that has been developed specifically NOT to feed us, as if fresh fruit is a problem, does my head in.

In the back corner of the yard was accumulated years of garden crap-as well as three trailerloads to the tip I also found a garden bed which i’ve green manured ready for a pumpkin patch, a rampant Monstera Deliciosa of which the base has been found and potted up (never eaten it but there’s one in town i’m planning to raid when it’s mature), piles of compost and leaf mould and some fantastic concrete garden edging. The latter three, along with newspaper to smother the grass, food scraps and straw have made this bed.DSCF5782

The leaf mould also held less wanted prizes, like four of these strange little burrowing snakes. Four! Anyone know more about them? They’re about 30cm long, with no discernable neck and a blunted tail, and were living under the dirt.

This one tied itself into a knot. DSCF5819

OK, since I started posting this i’ve quizzed the neighbour, who told us they’re legless lizards. They actually have tiny little useless legs a bit behind their head, but as these can’t be seen unless you’re really close, we didn’t see them. And their tails fall off.

But now we know, we can play with them. It’s still rather disconcerting to have your child run upstairs with what looks very much like a snake in her hands. DSCF5956 But still much preferred to the giant centipedes we got at the property-I found this pic of one that made it’s way into our tent when it was airing after camping. Seriously, these were about 30cm long. They freak me out.Image002

OK, I wandered off there for a little bit-but the gardens have begun!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

What i’ve read-August

I thought it may be useful for me to keep track of what I read. I read a lot, and mostly non-fiction. Already, after only six weeks, I can track my interests waxing and waning through my list of books.

Here’s August-gardening seemed to be the dominant theme, appropriate for a month of setting up gardens in a new house.

Child of our Time-Dr Tessa Livingstone

A Year of Slow Food-David and Gerda Foster

Growing without Digging-Esther Deans

Earth Garden Backyard Farmer #4

Is it just me or is Everything Shit? V2-Lowe and McArthur

Absurdistan-Eric Campbell

Easy Aquaponics-Earth Garden

The Crafty Minx-Kelly Doust

Sewing Green-Betz White

If you want to ask me about any, feel free! I love a chat about a good (or not so good) book.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Moving on.

I have moved house. Weeks ago actually, but i’m back in a ‘no internet at home’ stage, and loving it.


I am (gasp!) back in suburbia. No more of the above in my everyday life, the property is up for sale. And guess what? I’m loving it. I’m loving having neverending power, hot water on tap, 24/7 refrigeration, ample space and I think I could hug my automatic washing machine. I’ve never eaten so well in my life, after being limited in fresh food for over a year i’ve been gorging myself at every opportunity. Particularly on vegies and dairy. Stuff the ability to keep ice-cream, i’ve been attacking the cheese cabinet at the shops. I currently have cheddar (normal and vintage), feta, marscapone, mozzarella, parmesan…………..and lots of pastry. Oh how i’ve missed pastry. Especially with cheese. But even with this gorging i’ve actually lost a kilo, seeing as I can WALK places (I had to check the scales this morning, I was scared of the results after all the stuffing of my face). Like, every place I need to go, virtually. The quad pram is back out and in all it’s attention-attracting glory, but I don’t mind any more. Because if living like a hermit for the last year has taught me anything, it’s that I LIKE human contact. I used to think we could take off to any secluded place and be happy with each others company because we’ve never been particularly social, but I was proven completely wrong.

We used to think that having an acreage would give us freedom, and in part it did-no-one could see or hear us. We could live in a non-council approved house and build mulch pits and do lots of other things authority would have a heart attack about. But the things we had to give up proved far more important in the end. Spontaneity has always been a big part of who we are, and living so far from anything and having animals that no-one would want to travel so far to look after wrecked that. There was definitely no getting up one morning and deciding it was time for a three week road trip. And after spending so much time in the car on a regular basis I was auto-phobic anyway. If we buy a property again it will be a far tamer, and therefore far more manageable one.

So for now i’m fully embracing suburbia and all it’s benefits (and ignoring the negatives, like the stupid barking dogs). I’ve given up planning the future because we can’t, we’re too erratic. For now we can be suburban ferals, with a backyard full of pots and a vegie garden in the front, kids making bike jumps when they ‘should’ be in school, and touring around the dumpsters of the industrial estates for freebies. And ‘for now’ is seeming pretty damn good.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

I shall call you rump, and you sirloin

As part of our efforts to eat well and ethically, here is next years dinner.
They have no names, they are just 'the moos'. They were five weeks old when we got them a week ago, originally from a Friesian dairy herd which has no use for boys like ours. I wondered if it would be hard to raise animals for eating, but so far it's not at all-sure they're cute, but their final destination is first and foremost in our minds. I now understand when people say it's not like eating your cat. I saw the husband playing with them and crooning to them, and thought uh oh, he's getting attached...........then got closer and realised he was saying to them 'I'm gonna eat you. You're gonna to be delicious!' Pick the family that hasn't eaten any meat for a year.............

But for now they can gambol around the paddock, eat our long grass and save us slashing, and give us lots of bedding straw and cowpats for the garden. Most definitely a good multiple use animal.

Friday, June 11, 2010

And to commemorate my 100th post........

I bring you snail racing.
 Just another strange weekday in a home educating family really.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

I'm the proverbial plumber with a leaky tap

  Except i'm a nappy maker whose son wears such rags as this. Unfortunately, this is not an oddity-most of his stash has been worn so much that it's looking worse for it. It's what happens when you're #5.

Frugality gone too far maybe? Or completely sensible given its purpose? I'll stick with the latter.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Oh how the smug has fallen

After I had Frosty I was one of those horrible people who don't do any exercise and eat whatever they like yet steadily lose weight. It was fantastic. Not exactly as easy as it sounds as it was a result of ravenous round-the-clock breastfeeding, but it was a great side effect. I thoroughly enjoyed eating masses of chocolate in front of my husband, and being able to say I need high energy food, suck it up husband, i'm not making you eat it. Then it got to the point where I hit 55kgs and started to look gaunt, which wasn't so fantastic, and so decided it was time to cut feeds right back to three a day-this was around his first birthday after all, it's hardly as if he was relying on it.

I then started to put on a little weight. Only a little, so I filled out and looked healthy again. Then a little more...............and today I got on the scales and I now weigh 60.1kgs. Crap. I know, it's hardly obese but five kilos has just crept up on me in a matter of months. This is bad. This is the result of me being a big lazybones in regards to exercise-I just don't. Unless you count getting up to make another cup of tea. I eat quite well overall, there's not much I could change there. And i'm still breastfeeding thrice daily, I don't want to think about what would happen if I stopped completely.

So this afternoon I ran around the house yard a few times, and I am so embarrassingly, shamefully unfit. And I got to do it to the husband's version of a pep talk 'Run faster tubby! Go on fatty, do another lap!' he yelled while he sat and watched me. Damn. I knew he'd get me back.

Now I shall do it regularly, as penance for my smug ways. It's about time I got healthy again.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Gardens, May 2010

This year got off to a crappy start. Everything was going well in January, then the firemen came and torched the place (they called it backburning, but i've never seen anyone backburning 30-odd acres all at once. Including half the irrigation, our waterbike and nearly my husband). But anyway, the bushfire didn't burn the house down, so all was well in the end.

Then the skies opened. And it rained, and rained, and rained. And everything died and died and died. While the temperature was perfect, it was too humid and mould was rampant. So we just green manured everything, and now we're back to dry the gardens are just getting up again. The malabar spinach lived, as it always does, so i'm making more of an effort to source tropical vegies, as insurance against it happening again.

 OK, vegie garden. There's now five beds 1.5 wide and around 8m long.

Sweet potato, which loved the wet. The vine is from the common orange one, and there's now a patch of one with white skin and purple flesh down the left hand end.

The kids beds-there's four sections seperated by a couple of rows of garlic. There's a bit of everything here, from broad beans to chia.

his one has the malabar spinach, a 2.2m tall Giant Russian sunflower (and growing), and a bearing Tommy Toe tomato. Coming up is more garlic (pick the couple with European blood), strawberries, Thumbelina carrots, loose leaf lettuce (Lollo Rosso and Darwin) and.....stuff. I've gone blank here.
There's also a bed with Balinese corn and a couple of tomatoes (Thai Pink Egg and something else), and a bed with cassava canes planted and an empty end.

Passionfruit, which have certainly thrived.

Fruit trees, which mostly liked it. But the grumichana died so we stuck in another ice-cream bean for more nitrogen fixing. We've also added in a tamarillo and pepino and now the chooks are away will start on an understorey. Pulling the tyres off is on the to-do list, again now that the chooks aren't out to bare-root them.

This bed is unfenced, so we've only just planted into it now we've imprisoned the chickens (seriously, their run is about 1/4 of an acre, but they mope around like battery hens.) Lots of zucchinis and pumpkins in here so far, and sunflowers-I want a wild ramble of food and to discover massive fruits completely by accident. What i'll probably get is an outbreak of mildew and everything rotting and dying on the verge of producing. And that's a lemon tree in the middle, ringbarked repeatedly by the geese (now banished to the dam) but fighting back.

Mulch pit, still charging along. Surely there'll be some edible action soon, it's been a year now?

The inside-the sheer volume of mulch required to keep this filled is mind boggling. Especially as we don't buy mulch (except to begin the food forest off as the ground resembled concrete.) As well as the spent banana leaves and suckers it seems we're constantly throwing cardboard, palm leaves, gum leaves, weeds, old bedsheets and sticks in there, and the next day it's sunk a foot again. We have some red pawpaw seeds germinating so should be able to fill the gaps soon.

An example of our version of an ornamental garden-we stuck a heliconia and bromeliad in there, but then couldn't resist a pineapple and a pawpaw. Food! FOOD!

My sad-looking herb bed-it's producing really well and survived the heat with minimum casualties, but i've been too slack to fill the gaps. Shorty has taken to eating garlic chives raw, his breath is truly revolting afterwards.
Plus there's a feral pumpkin on the fence (the only sort we can grow).

Phew, that was exhausting. And i'm not doing it again until i'm drowing in food, it's rather depressing to see how much the rain slowed us down. Although the soil improvement from the green manure was probably well worth it, and great to see. Considering the gravelly, dusty, impermeable stuff we began with it's very satisfying to see lots of worms and be well on the way to good soil in such a short time with very little imported.