Tuesday, 25 October 2016

Trying To Catch Up......

So much has happened over the past few months and so much of my life wasn't my own......the responsibility of looking after elderly parent's is often overwhelming and can become all consuming.  Things are slowly getting back to normal and I am starting to relax and get back into the swing of things.....the things that form the simple life that I want to lead....I'm getting the Spring garden planting going so next post will hopefully be a garden update. 
Over the last two months I tried my hand at making Kombucha....I purchased the mother scoby at the Warragul Farmers Market and followed the instructions and made Kombucha tea and produced a "son of scoby".  I passed the "mother" onto my daughter and then started a second bottle with "SOS".  Next time will try a second ferment process by adding fruit which will give the Kombucha a fizz. 
My homemade kombucha tea....mother scoby in the bag to give away... the gift that goes on giving.
After Dad's funeral my husband took me away to Lakes Entrance for the weekend. ..... It was a wonderful break...so relaxing.  .... The weather was ordinary but everything else was lovely.  Lots of delicious food and great cafe's.... Boat trip to Metung in the morning and AFL Grand final on Saturday afternoon and lovely market on the marina on Sunday morning.

Always a great surprise to see how cafe's serve up the green tea.....although milk was an odd accompaniment .
The boat trip to Metung was a real surprise...... it's a great spot and the pub had a fantastic outlook over the water and great food.  They also have a pet pelican in the yard who was incredibly tame.  .
This guy was so tame he walked right up to you...could have watched him all day.
 End of September saw us having our usual "monthly" luncheon with friends.  It was at our place this time and the theme was casual and bring a one pot dish to share....we had some fabulous food and Janine's chicken was absolutely amazing.

Dinner in our al-fresco with the gang....a great afternoon of delicious dining as always.
My man and I went shopping in Warragul to get goodies for the luncheon as we provided a starter (crumbed flat head fillets) and a cheese platter.  .......off to Stella's Pantry for some amazing cheeses and also stopped in at the Bean Scene to get some freshly ground coffee. ......  we stayed for morning tea and I ordered green tea (no surprise there as I don't drink coffee)...and it was served in the most amazing tea device......I love how serving tea has come back to being the pleasurable experience it once was....call me old fashioned but for me it's all in the presentation....although nothing beats a fine bone china cup .
Have to admit I had to be shown how to work this gadget ....but what a great idea.
 Most importantly .....this month my GBoy lost his first tooth.....so much excitement....the other kids at school told him you get $5 from the tooth fairy....Wow when did that happen ??

My gorgeous little guy...so excited because 4 more teeth are wobbly... !!
On the subject of teeth....the fluffy girls had a trip to the vet's for their injections and the vet advised they both needed their teeth cleaned....Daphne has been the first to go and have a clean....which turned into "13 teeth needing to be removed"....she is only 7 years old ....poor girl...thankfully dogs have 42 teeth so she still has some left... Maltese x are prone to tooth decay...Daisy is going next week...she is only 4 so fingers crossed not too much damage already done.
Daphne giving me a look....I already feel guilty !!.....she is still cute
...even though in front she has one tooth up top and two at the bottom

Saturday, 8 October 2016

Time is a Healer...

It's been a few months since I have been on this space.  After an exacerbation of his illness and 4 weeks spent in the hospital, doctor's advised that Dad needed to go into a nursing home. .... He was very resistant and unhappy about the situation and along with dad it was extremely difficult for myself and the family, but we had no alternative due to the amount of care he required.  An eight week struggle ended on 22nd September and dad passed away  in hospital with mum and I holding his hand and my daughters with us.  I played Doris Day songs to him as she was his favourite......I hope we gave him the much needed comfort as he slipped away.....old age is not for the faint hearted ....... and my heartbreak is tinged with relief that dad's suffering is finally over and he is at peace.

Tuesday, 28 June 2016

Seasonal Living.....

A book I ordered after seeing it recommended on a blog was delivered this week....have had my nose buried in it ever since it arrived.  It offers up advice on how to live in accordance with ,  nature and your soul...adhering to seasonal and yearly rhythms and living simple and natural lives, honouring yourself and nature....as with all of these type of books some of it is a little unrealistic but have certainly enjoyed reading it and will definitely try to stick to the parts I find relevant to myself .
One of the themes is mindfulness and being in every moment...this is the sunrise from my bedroom window this morning...just glorious but I don't usually make the time to enjoy it....I took the time to really embrace the beauty ...well worth it.

Beautiful sunrise seen from my bedroom window.
 The Winter Solstice has come and gone and I really want to feel the connection with the seasons and the cycles of the moon which is covered in some depth in the book.....It says Winter is the time for hibernation, rest, reflections and preparation.  The books highlights how the pull of the moon affects us and I have to admit I personally find it very hard to sleep when it's a full moon...apparently this is very common....so much to think about.

the book involves taking the time to ask yourself lots of questions to help connect yourself to what is essential ...... nurture the body, invigorate the mind and lift the spirit. Sounds good to me.

Wednesday, 15 June 2016

What To Do About Must Haves .....!!

The no plastic July challenge is coming up....I am going to get involved this year and give it all I've got...some great information shared by Tammy from Gippsland Unwrapped is terracycle ... it's a great website to join to help with recycling the things that seem impossible to give up...like toothpaste !! I have very sensitive teeth and no amount of home made paste is going to help with that.  I find there are some things that are unavoidable and the angst associated with "what to do with the packaging" has been a genuine concern.....at terracycle  you can drop off or send your items to them (for free) to be recycled...I love this.
Empty toothpaste tubes, toothbrushes, dental floss cases can all be recycled

I run a small business from home and receive quite a few express post bags and mail satchels (completely out of my control as people send water testing kits and samples)... this plastic can also be dropped off / sent to terracycle for recycling....there are several other product groups that can be recycled including plastic cleaning product spray packs and pump packs.... well worth joining their project and making sure that the things you find difficult to replace without the use of plastic can still be recycled and not sent to landfill...
Plastic satchels, post packs can be sent to terracyle where they are recycled.
Something that I always find poses difficulties for eco solutions is parties....I threw a surprise 60th birthday party for my lovely brother on Sunday....catering for 35 poses lots of decisions regarding plates, cutlery, cups, decorations etc....I decorated with paper lanterns I had saved from my gboy's baby shower over 5 years ago!!.... re-purposed decorations from his birthday party in March and my daughters party last month...she also had left over paper plates (pink with white polka dots no less) , napkins and plastic forks....they were all going to be binned so I had to weigh up the choice of them going into the bin or being used for my brother's 60th...it made sense to use them and I added some bamboo paper plates which are sold as eco but I still think china plates, cutlery and cloth napkins would have been better.....but it seemed so much worse to throw unused items away rather than use them....the rubbish that went into our bin at the end of the day was upsetting though!
Speeches .....I think Rob has forgiven me for surprising him with a 60th Party.
I'm sure difficulties will arise in July but I hope that I can find solutions to drastically reduce (if not completely eliminate) the amount of plastic that enters and leaves our home.

Sunday, 5 June 2016

Making Sense of Plastic.....

I read/follow lots of blogs from people whose lifestyle choices are similar to my own.  Simplicity, permaculture, growing your own food and reducing waste etc.....I have followed Tammy on her blog for several months....she is a huge campaigner for the no plastic revolution and is an extremely passionate and committed individual...I was amazed to meet her as a guest speaker at last week's Permaculture meeting.....Small World ...she also lives in the Gippsland area and came to the meeting to discuss/share her no plastic journey..... I am aware and do try to reduce the use of  plastic , but Tammy highlighted loads of areas where it is possible to refuse the use of plastic...including taking her own containers to the butcher..... which I hadn't thought of myself and while I do take my own carry-bag the butcher puts the meat in single use freezer bags ........don't think I have been making quite enough effort.....very inspired to step up and introduce more of her ideas.  It does take quite a bit more effort but plastic is a huge environmental problem that will not go away unless people refuse to use it in all it's shapes and forms.

Image of Tammy from a report in a local newspaper.
It just takes a few minutes to check out these horrific images of seabirds who have died with stomachs full of discarded plastic which has found it's way into the ocean.
Heartbreaking image of decomposing Albatross full of plastic stomach contents.
A lot of plastic bottle caps....which can be a difficult one to avoid because they are used on so many containers...even eco products...... That is my goal for the next 6 months....try my hardest to avoid any purchases that have plastic tops...and keep the ones I haven't managed to avoid in a jar as a reminder of how I need to do better......  How do you avoid these?

Wednesday, 1 June 2016

Au Revoir Autumn.....Welcome Winter !!

The last days of May here in Drouin were crisp as we headed into Winter.....but the sun still put in an appearance most days....A lovely autumn day trip to Warburton with the girls was a real treat....the walking path along the river is so beautiful.....enjoyed lunch and bought delicious home made pies which we had for dinner.
My man with the girls...they loved the walk with all the new smells...lots of distractions

Warburton township is so beautiful...the river is a major attraction.
The Lake/Pond  around the corner from our house has a visitor who arrives most days and spends several hours dipping his head in and out......fishing for whatever.....  I was astounded that we would have a pelican so far from the coast....swimming around on this small lake....by himself....It's a real joy to see him there ....usually its just all the local ducks.
Fishing in the Pond.
He appears not in the least disturbed by me taking his picture.
This month I also joined the group at Baw Baw Beekeepers.....I am keen to get my own hive set up and the members share lots of useful information ...and discuss any issues they are experiencing....a really diverse group and a great bunch of people ....My first meeting and it was a honey tasting from everyone's hives!!!....amazing how different they tasted.... a great experience....I was actually able to detect an orange blossom honey...my favourite...among the 24 samples...it was the only one I was able to guess by taste......delicious.

My eldest daughter also celebrates her birthday in May.....(yes I have two Taureans!! ).....We all shared a lovely dinner at her favourite local restaurant....free meal for the birthday girl, who can resist that......my gorgeous gboy pulled his goofy look....can't resist adding his recent school photo to show his beautiful face......I love this little guy so much...I miss my Monday's minding him now he has started school. 

His fresh faced smile.......gorgeous
Birthday celebrations ....

Sunday, 22 May 2016

Humble Permaculture Beginnings ......

 Early development stages of starting a permaculture garden in our small back yard....we started in February by pulling out old steps and re-using on the other side... and adding retaining walls to get the actual structure right ... removed the lawns by mulching and set up 4 additional raised garden beds on the top section of the yard.....planted mature fruit trees...added two pear, an apricot and an orange tree to join the two lemon, mandarin, lime, loquat, plum, fig and 3 apple trees.....fenced off a large section around the chook pen and had new gates put up in place of the old farm gate at the back.

The old steps and concrete gone
new retaining walls and plantings

This was the big mess from February when we had the additional retaining wall built
I'm pretty happy with what we have achieved in 3 months to get from the picture above to the vegie gardens we have now... my man and I put in a lot of hours moving 20 cubic metres of garden mulch over the top of cardboard (I kept the boxes from when we moved in) to get rid of the back-lawn.  We removed the clothes line and installed a wall-mounted unit alongside the garage/utility area to free up more gardening space.
Three months later we now have four additional metal raised garden beds and things are taking off.

I have planted passionfruit vines and kiwi fruit vines along the fences as I need to try and create a more temperate climate in the yard as it was very hot during summer with little protection for the vegie gardens...hopefully the fruit trees will also take off and provide a bit of shade in the afternoon.
A herb spiral planted out with chamomile and various flower bulbs
also can just see one of the 3 new smaller raised garden beds waiting to be filled.

 The three water tanks were already here when we moved in and they water the garden and flush the toilets inside...It really connects you to the garden when you can keep tabs on your water usage and you love to hear the rain fall and fill up your tanks !!. 
Potatoes look like they are going well...loads of broccoli already and cauliflower coming along,
rhubarb, brussel sprouts and silver beet down the end bed and artichokes at the back near the citrus trees.
The herb garden seems happy in this spot along the wall ...the big plant this end is Chia...see how it goes.

There's carrots, beetroot, cabbage,  garlic, kale, snow peas, sugar snaps, lettuce
spinach, broad beans, capsicums and chilli . 
 There is still such a long way to go and so much to learn....the compost bins and the worm farm are slowly creating the much needed goodies to put back in to the soil...the beehive should be here in a month or two....we hope to put in a little water feature to encourage native birds and beneficial insects..I'm trying to create a food forest in the back yard and hopefully be almost self sufficient for fruit and vegies.  It's a couple of years away but I'm really enjoying the journey. 
If anyone has any good tips please share them.....I'm still a beginner.

Wednesday, 11 May 2016

There Goes April.....!

The months are really flying by....there was so much I wanted to achieve in April but I haven't managed to quite get there.  I have joined the local Permaculture group...a lovely bunch of like minded people that meet once a month for discussion, food sharing and seed swaps.  I took along broccoli, eggs and capsicum and bought home a bag of quinces....tried my hand at making quince paste but didn't cook it quite long enough so didn't get the right texture...tastes great as stewed quinces with fruit and yoghurt for breakfast!

Lots to learn about permaculture....would love to put into practice in my backyard.
I took part in a yoga retreat for six days in Bali....Travelled to the village of Ubud in the mountains...absolutely amazing part of Bali...healthy eating and yoga twice a day...a very inspiring and spiritual experience which I hope to bring into practice at home.  While Bali would not be a place I would normally choose to visit, the Balinese people are warm, gracious and very spiritual.

The beautiful vintage bungalow that I stayed in at the Sharing Bali retreat
I had intended to do the volcano climb which was part of the retreat package....I made the sad realisation that I am not as fit as I would like to be....I didn't make the climb but did enjoy the spectacular scenery.  Better get on to a fitness regimen I think.
The view of the volcano from the hot springs.
 Everywhere you look in Bali there are religious offerings made...in doorways...homes...restaurants ....you name it...they are a simple thing that really highlights the spiritual belief of the Balinese people.  along with the incense... I loved them.
The offering and blessing that was placed at my front door each morning.
 The retreat was amazing....Sharing Bali is a beautiful secluded sanctuary in the small village of Singaprang.  Outdoor bathrooms and vintage bungalows....fabulous yoga space...healthy food, no grains, red meat or dairy... a great detox.
The en-suite that came with the bungalow....quite an experience outdoor toilet and shower.
 I flew in from Bali the morning of my baby girl's 30th birthday party....We had a great celebration at a local hall...which she had organised and did a fantastic job.....helped by her sister who made her famous macarons and decorated the birthday cake...Can't believe my baby is all grown up..
Me and my baby girl.....all grown up.
 While I was away I managed to catch up on some reading.....The Harp in The South is an oldie but a goodie....was recommended by my writing teacher to help with the novel I am trying to write....I really enjoyed this one.  It is part of a trilogy by Ruth Park so I am keen to read the other two.

 My lovely first born...as I'm choosing to call her, as apposed to my baby girl.....suggested The Diving Bell and the Butterfly as a good read for the plane journey....it is the remarkable story of Jean Dominique Bauby who is struck down with locked-in syndrome and only able to communicate by blinking his left eye.  Amazingly he manages to compose this memoir...I loved it.

So that was some of my April.....do have lots happening in the garden which I will hopefully post soon ....May has arrived and bought with her some wet and chilly days this week....no doubt preparing us for the winter that will be here before we know it.  Enjoy the last few weeks of Autumn.

Tuesday, 29 March 2016

Catching Up on March...

It's been a busy month...I've picked the last of the summer crops from the garden and cleared all the vegie beds and have started to replant with cooler weather crops...will post some pictures of the backyard later....we've done such a lot of work and it's almost finished now...yay.

the last of the summer vegies from the garden...
 I made my hot cross buns for Easter as usual ....however these ones look like they came from the Zombie apocalypse...don't know what went wrong with the crosses on top...very dodgy looking!  We ate them on Good Friday morning and put some in the freezer for later....maybe.
My sad looking hot cross buns....not sure what happened.
Went to an evening with the CWA girls on chooks and ducks....lots of good information but this little guy stole the show ...very cute and friendly.  Would love to have a couple of Indian Runner Ducks but not sure if I have the space....food for thought though.
If I could have ducks ...I'd go for an Indian Runner
Since moving to Drouin we are trying to get out and about visiting the country towns in and around Gippsland.....we took a quick afternoon trip to Walhalla...only 83km from us....WOW.....the road into the town is 11km of very sharp turns and hairpin corners .... and the only way in and out....but the historical gold mining township more than compensates for the journey....it is fabulous....we plan to go again and do an overnight stay as there is an old historical cemetery...(don't think I've ever mentioned how much I love old cemeteries)...which I would absolutely love to visit and read the headstones.
The town is full of beautiful old cottages from the 1870's .... Just gorgeous

I just love the details on old character homes......my dream home would be just like this.

The stores are all original and still very functional for the tourists who flock here.
The older I get the more I realise that time is fleeting....you need to look out for amazing moments in every day....my man and I experienced such a moment eating our lunch at a lovely cafĂ© in Walhalla when a kilted clad chap managed to get himself high up the mountainside and sent the haunting sound of his bagpipes resounding throughout the town...it was something very special.

A lone piper playing on an outcrop in Walhalla....amazing.
 Easter has been and gone and the first month of Autumn is just about done....the weather has turned a bit cool after our very late burst of summer heat.  I do however love the change of seasons don't you.

Tuesday, 1 March 2016

A Day of Mixed Emotions....

It's been two years today since my beautiful friend Heather passed away.  It's always going to be a difficult day for us as it's also my grandson's birthday.  It's a mixed day for me, so happy for my Gboy's 5th birthday and still heartbroken for Rich and the family as we all miss her desperately.  Life does go on  when we lose loved ones...I will always remember her beautiful smiling face. 
 She was an amazing woman.

In happier times before she became ill.
To lighten my day I took the girls to the groomers....they certainly cheered me up no end when I picked them up all gorgeous and decked out in bandanas  !! 

Daphne actually looks like she's smiling ..

Daisy looks like a puppy...love the ears

I've lit a candle for Heather and spent a lot of time today thinking about her.
 It's time for a glass of wine and a silent wish that she was still here to share it.