Friday, August 5, 2011

Early Spring?

The weather this week has been beautiful. Cool enough to wear long sleeves and snuggle under quilts at night, but not cold enough for hot water bottles.

Just before going away with Ess last month, I was fortunate enough to be able to purchase the Nikon 28-300 lens! It's quite a handful. I've been enjoying learning how to use it, and yes, there is a learning curve - for me, anyway. Going out into the garden has been an enjoyable way to see just what this lens can do, what my camera can do, and what I can do with them both. Lots of awful shots, but lots of learning even from those.

Here are two of our neighbours, happily roosting in the big tree in our front yard. This shot was taken this week from right under the tree (the tree is taller by far than our 2 storey house), using a tripod.

Friday, June 17, 2011

E-Readers versus Real Books

Books - a part of my life. I love them. Especially books like this:

My life has changed, in a way I'd never have predicted. I am now the owner of a Kindle. Me! Me, who loves holding onto the past, and who thought that e-readers were only for people who had forgotten how soul-satisfying it is to hold a book, people for whom the tactile part of the reading experience no longer had any meaning. I felt sorry for those people. Deep down sorry. For their ignorance in what they felt was progress, for what they were traitorously losing and destroying without even knowing they were losing or destroying anything.

My sister and her family are to blame, and I am thankful that they helped me to see that it is possible to embrace a new world without losing my grasp on the old one. Thanks, L!

So, I have a Kindle. I can carry around over 3,500 books with me wherever I go - most of which have cost me nothing at all - in my small leather backpack (*note to self for future blog post: leather bags from the Saddleback Leather Company*) - without breaking my back. I still love books; from their smell to the way it feels to turn real pages to the way they look on my shelf. Love them (especially old old ones with deliciously antique bindings).

I have this cover, in chocolate brown. Not the cheapest cover out there, but the light is great - powered by the device itself, and quite comfortable to read with in a completely dark room.

What is it then, about this thin piece of tech?

In a word - power!

The power to have access to the information I need and want, when I need and want it. It's that simple. I am finding that I can get lost in the joy of a really good e-book just as easily (if not more so) as a book with printed pages. What is more important, the information, or its packaging/method of delivery to our brain? A gorgeous and satisfying printed book is, after all, of no lasting, real use whatsoever if it does not contain ideas which have the potential to raise us to a higher level.

Technology is my servant, it does my bidding. I am not its slave. Well, that's what I'm aiming for, anyway. So many times I see people using hand held technology to connect with people and computers in far distant places, while neglecting to interact with the living breathing people right in front of them. I have been guilty of being like this... it feels fun and even exhilarating at the time, but all I was left with in the long term was a feeling of hollowed out emptiness. Not to mention the example I was setting for my children; they don't need much encouragement to fall into this trap so it's important I show the way by modelling responsible behaviour.

It is my opinion that for many people (me included), remaining the master of the various pieces of technology that surround us instead of becoming their slave, will require constant concerted efforts on our part. I do not think it is going too far or being melodramatic to say that constant watchful vigilance is vital to safeguard ourselves and our families from going down the gurgler of 'progression' and losing the link to who we really are and should be.

Some really good books I've read lately:

The Boy Who Drew In The Mud by Zachary Harper
A series of parables/fables for adults and children alike, some in prose, some in poetic form. Magic.

The Muirwood Trilogy by Jeff Wheeler
A fantasy story with a medieval flavour. Very well written, great story, brilliant symbolism. Reading this series has helped me listen more closely and carefully to the whisperings of intuition that come from time to time.

The Little Hunchback Zia by Frances Hodgson Burnett
Classic short tale of a 12 year old hunchback boy who is cast out. Ends happily as you might guess. Makes good bedtime reading for older children (and for adults).

Little Dorrit by Charles Dickens
A delightful melting pot of brilliantly portrayed contrasting characters in typical Dickensian style. Also highly recommended by my whole family is the recent BBC adaptation of the same name. (We were singing "Qu'est-ce qui passe ici si tard" for weeks, and shuddering delightfully everytime someone sang or whistled the tune)

So many truly good books to chose from! I am trying to become discerning as it is more than possible to waste a lot of time trawling through less than excellent literature. Amazon (and other e-book companies) give away multitudes of free e-books if you can be bothered checking for them regularly. I have been....and have wasted lots of time. As I said, trying to become more discerning. Currently there are over 100 books in my To Read: Fiction folder, and my To Read: Non Fiction folder. All were free, from this page at Amazon which changes daily, so they tell me. A great resource, but beware! Lots of dross amongst the gold, and the sheer number of book available is overwhelming and potentially time wasting.


One last thought: something I miss about holding a real book, beautiful bindings aside, is knowing how far I am through the book by the feel of the weight of pages on each side as I hold it open. It's just not the same looking at a digital percentage figure.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Moments That Matter Most

I love this video, thanks to Ess for pointing it out to me. Need some perspective? Click. Watch. Smile. Do.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Drying clothes the frugal way

I sent these photos into one of my favourite blogs a while ago, Frugal and Thriving. Click on the heading to this post to see it there.

Here's what I wrote:

One particular day the weather was good for drying clothes, but I could see that a storm was on its way - and I didn't have time to bring clothes in and out unnecessarily. Looking around the backyard I noticed a spare piece of pool fencing that had been discarded by someone at some point, which we had claimed a couple of years ago. It makes a perfect place to hang clothes up to dry!

We set it up on the balcony, as you can see. It's easy and (most importantly) quick to bring the whole thing either under shelter or inside when rain starts to threaten.

Yes, it is a rather odd feeling to see our personal laundry (albeit clean) decorating cyberspace!

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Gloves Made Out Of Socks!

The other day I was sitting working at the computer feeling quite miserable, because my hands were so cold. Wearing gloves was no good, because I have a lovely Apple magic mouse which is brilliant, but which requires the warmth of bare skin to make the scrolling and navigation functions work.

The solution? Make some gloves that can roll or fold down at the top.

Criteria? They would have to be quick (I had to get back to work), and would have to be made from something I already had on hand.

So... I raided my husband's sock drawer (hooray for people who give socks as gifts year after year!) and found a lovely pair of socks perfect for my plans. A few snips later, and my hands and arms (these were mid calf socks) were toasty warm. Bliss!

Here are some instructions I put together in a spare moment; hope you can make sense of them.

I've made at least 6 or 7 pairs by now, each better than the rest. I encourage you to experiment until you find a thumb shape that works well for you. Maybe when cutting the slit for your thumb you might like to cut out a few millimetres at the sides, making it a very skinny elongated oval rather than just a slit.

Take note of the warning to ONLY use a ball point needle when sewing stretch fabrics like socks. The seam will run and look very ugly in a short time if you don't. If you really don't have access to a ball point needle and just have to make some of these wonderful gloves (glovvoks? sokkovs?) right now, then use a loose back stitch and sew the thumb in by hand.

Op shops are great places to find cheap socks to experiment on; our local thrift store sells socks for 20 cents a pair.

Good luck, and let me know in the comments how you go!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Frugal Iceblocks / Popsicles

It’s summer here, so I’ve been making iceblocks (frozen treat on a stick) for my children to snack on. Mostly we just blend up whatever fruit we have in abundance, and freeze it in an iceblock mould I was given a few years ago.

The really frugal part? I ran out of popsicle sticks, so we’ve started using well cleaned twigs from the eucalyptus tree in our front yard! We break them off in about 12cm lengths, then scrape each end on the cement to get rid of any sharp bits, before cleaning them thoroughly in hot water.

They can only be reused a few times, but that’s ok because after all, they DO grow on trees. :D

Having a ready supply of sticks means that I can have 20 plus iceblocks waiting in the freezer (stored in washed out mountain bread bags, or the press-seal bags that frozen berries come in), all ready for hungry people to munch on.

Some of our favourite combinations:

Pinapple and banana

Pineapple and mint

Mango, banana, strawberry

Orange juice and berries

All you need to do is to put the freshly cut up fruit into a blender and whizz till it's smooth. So simple, but such a healthy snack. SO much better than the artificial ice treats from the shop, and usually a lot cheaper.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Christmas 'Advent' Calendar 2009 mark 2

The 12 days of Christmas I prepared for my sister's family is described in the post before this one. Here is a file (56KB, pdf) you can download which consists of 4 x A4 pages, with 3 activities per page. Note that some activities are LDS specific.

If the file doesn't download successfully, try coming back to it during the Australian daytime; I think it's dependent on my computer being on.