Monday, September 7, 2009

The English Language

I love words. Words that create beautiful pictures in my head, words that help me to feel what someone else is feeling, to understand why and how things are, and even the shape of words and letters.

Did a quiz today on commonly confused words - thought I'd get 100%, but am still pleased with the 93% result I managed. So...are you an expert with words? Try the quiz and see!

Your result for The Commonly Confused Words Test...

English Genius

You scored 100% Beginner, 100% Intermediate, 100% Advanced, and 93% Expert!

For the complete Answer Key, visit the blog:

Take The Commonly Confused Words Test
at HelloQuizzy

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Dope, Soap and Hope

Click here to see a short video taken on the fly that tells the story of one man's struggle to rise above the past and to forge himself a new future. Many thanks to Zack Arias for making this movie, and for Derrick for allowing his story to be seen.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Older women with long hair

2009 was the year I decided to grow my hair long again. The year I turn 42, I am on a journey to beautiful, dignified, lovely long grey hair! I am convinced this will be a wonderful thing for me, but you know, just say I get my long hair and then don't like it, what'll I do? Shrug my shoulders and cut it all off. BUT I will know for sure that wasn't what I wanted, instead of always wondering.

Have a read here about long hair on women over 40.

Perhaps being an older woman with long hair is a type of retro-rebellion? I kinda like that!

Where I am now. Long way to go, but I am happy to be on the long-hair journey. A journey that I will take continuing to wash my locks in 50:50 bicarb (baking soda) and honey, condition it with diluted lemon juice, and give it treatments as needed with coconut oil and jojoba oil. Probably will trim it every 3 to 4 months at the hair dressers so the long layers look right.

Some more interesting reading about long hair, and about going gray gracefully:

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

The Cloth Revolution!

I've just read an inspirational post over at Frugal + Urban on one mother's journey in the Cloth Revolution. It feels good writing that in capitals! It's a real movement out there, it's partly a return to old values, and partly a quest to save and improve our future.

Like that mother from Ottowa, I've also been on the journey to replace disposable items with reusable items over the past year. As I commented on the Cloth Revolution post at Frugal and Urban, most everything in our home is cloth rather than disposable except…. toilet paper. I am inspired by the description of using the cloth for no. 1’s however, that does seem do-able.

Something I've been doing lately, taking inspiration from several great repurposing blogs/sites, has been rag knitting. Must post some photos of this because words aren't enough to get across the delight that it is to take something that is no longer serviceable in its current form, and transform it into something enirely new that has a useful purpose.

The cotton knit jumper I wore last Friday is now a dishcloth! Looking in the mirror Friday evening I saw that the fabric was starting to deteriorate around the neck line, and that there were stains that wouldn't come it was time to repurpose. First of all I carefully cut it into pieces: front, back, collar and sleeves, and traced each so I can make this comfy top again from other fabric. Then I started cutting a 1.5cm strip up the side of the back, and continued cutting in a spiral so that once finished, I had a long long strip of knit fabric (thin knit, by the way) and the original jumper back was completely gone. Yes I know, this would be much much easier to visualize if I had photographed the process.

I then simply knitted this 'yarn' into a simple dishcloth using size 9 needles, and voilĂ ! A new and useful item is born. I love the luxury of being able to use a new dishcloth every time I wash up. Not that I do use a new one every time mind you, I just love it that I can if I want to.

All these fabrics with their variety of designs and purposes, create such a wonderful atmosphere of steady, simple living – I really really love it.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Rainstorm - Perpetuum Jazzile

If you have a moment, take the time to watch this video of a Slovenian choir singing a cappella what was my favourite song back in 1982. It's fairly long for a song, but worth every second.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Follow-up: Eat Stop Eat and GTD

I've been following the Eat Stop Eat regime for two weeks now, and it feels good and right for me. Measurements haven't altered much if at all, but it's too early for that so I'm not concerned not to see progress in this way (the scales are down 2 kg, though body measurements are around the same as before). I'm intending to continue fasting twice a week for the next two and a half months at least, I figure three months is a reasonable time to see how something like this goes.

What I love about fasting is that it is teaching me about the way I feel hunger, and the ways I am motivated to eat. Sometimes my desire to eat comes from habit or from emotions, and other times it is because my tummy is empty and needs nourishment. It's good to recognize the difference between the two, so that I can get a handle on what is happening rather than being controlled by it.

I love the feeling of lightness when I fast. This is not just physical, though of course my gut is emptier. It's a freeing sensation, it's liberating, not having to think about what or when to eat. I love the mental clarity that comes when I fast; I'm much more alert and seem to be able to see things more clearly. I've been drinking water as well as warm drinks of ginger and lemon tea made with grated ginger root and lemon juice.

* I've managed to put a picture here, at last! This was added on June 25th 2009 *

About GTD (Getting Things Done - see side bar for link): my folder continues to evolve around changing needs and events, and I'm really enjoying using it. At last, my planning tools reflect who I am and how I work!

The miracle of miracles is that my in tray and my desk continue to be relatively clutter free, after more than a month! Those who live with me know just how amazing this is. Usually after only a week or so, the desk can't be seen for all the stuff piled on it, and eventually it all had to be swept into a shopping bag where it would sit for months or years waiting to be gone through.

There's still one of those clutter-catcher bags waiting to be dealt with down near the bookshelf, but hey - there's only one! And I'm trying the trick of taking one or two things out of it at a time and finding places for them.

I'm not spending large amounts of time studying this way of organizing things. Once I did the initial reading, it sort of clicked and now it's just ....well, it's just working! I love things that work for me and which flow, instead of creating extra work just to keep them going. I'm still just as scatter brained as ever, but each time something shoots out of my brain at an odd angle, I now have somewhere for it to sit and incubate until I'm ready to give it a home or delegate it or throw it away.

The secret? For me it's not a Palm Pilot, it's not a computer, it's a blank piece of paper. Actually, lots of them. When something needs to be remembered I just write it down in the In Box or Calendar sections of my planning folder. Then if necessary it can be transferred to sections of the folder that represent the main categories that make up my life at the moment: Home, Work, Church, Me. Within each section I have a page for Next Tasks (things that can be done in one single step), another page for Projects (things I have committed to do that will take more than one step), and another page for Some Day / Maybe things. This is where I put things I can't do right now, but which sound interesting and which may need to sit for a while (or for ever) - but which won't be forgotten.

In order to keep this system running the only maintenance needed is to take a few minutes once a week to read through all the sheets. This way I can mark off what's been done, put new projects into the system if needed, check my calendar for upcoming events and what needs to be done to prepare for them.

I really really hope what I've described above doesn't sound complicated and like a waste of time! I know that not everyone thinks as I do, and that doing things this way won't suit every single person. Still I hope that someone will catch the vision of it, and that it will help them in their efforts to make their life more of what they want it to be.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Eat Stop Eat

Yesterday I came across the concept of intermittent fasting as a way of increasing health, and decreasing body fat if that is necessary. Have to say in my case, it is definitely necessary!

Today is my first day of fasting for health, I'm drinking water and fresh lemon juice and ginger tea. Feels good, not really hungry at all. I am used to fasting for two meals once a month, so the hardest part for many people isn't that hard for me: going without food for a day just takes adjusting the way you think. If you're thinking about how much you want food, it's going to be way too hard.

I recommend reading up about EatStopEat, try Googling it and see how many negative reviews you can find - there are almost none that you can take seriously. The Pro's are lengthy, and the Cons are about getting used to fasting and the fact that you need to do some kind of resistance training coupled with 2 x 24 hour fasts per week.

I haven't bought the book, by the way: I'm doing this based on my prior knowledge of the science behind fasting, coupled with the info I've gleaned from the internet about E.S.S. Honestly I would love to read the book, but it's US$39.99 more than I'm willing to pay right now.

The proof will be in the pudding, as they say. I currently have 10kg or 20lb of excess bodyfat that I'm happy to say goodbye to, let's see what happens as I start to implement the simple concepts of Eat Stop Eat.

I should warn you that if you click on the heading of this post you'll be taken to what looks like a hype filled page convincing you to try the newest fad. Ignore the hype, there really is more to this than you might think. The author's blog looks worth following.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Things as they really are -what is real, anyway?

What is real? Is it relative, or absolute? Something that is real to me (my faith in a higher power, for example) may not be real to someone else, and that's a perfectly valid difference between them and me. Even with differences like this, I think there are some lines that should not be crossed but which can be all too easy to cross without even knowing it, with regards to living a healthy reality.

These thoughts have come to my mind most recently because of the talk I heard yesterday by David A. Bednar. He spoke about seeing things as they really are, and of the dangers of becoming too entangled with virtual people and worlds. Amazing and sad about the man who spent countless hours going for drives, window shopping, buying a house, a dog, and in the end proposing marriage to someone he has never met other than as an avatar on his computer....doing all this for up to 14 hours a day, while his bride of 7 months watched tv in an adjoining room and felt helpless and betrayed by his behaviour.

That's an extreme case, sure. What about the forums I visit? Am I placing the online conversations and friendships I have with people I've never met, over real flesh and blood relationships? I think I did once, but no more. No more. It's just not worth it. Escape...this is probably one of the prime motivators for this type of behaviour. Seems to satisfy, but in the end it does you about as much good as reading a cookbook does for someone who's starving.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Zen To Done - simplifying your life

I'm adding a new link to my list of handy links on the side bar. It's called Zen To Done, and I'm really looking forward to reading through the posts Leo has written on how to take control of your life, and to make it as simple as possible.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Frugal and charitable

Take a look at this post over at the Simple, Green Frugal Blog: it's on being both frugal and charitable. What a small but enormously powerful concept! Even if I have nothing, I can keep all the 5 and 10 cent coins I find on the ground, and give them to worthy charities.

Here's a great post at Zen To Done which talks about ways to be frugal. Also remember to check out the Simple, Green, Frugal Co-op.

I have really been enjoying reusing and repurposing everything I can recently. It's a challenge that is fun, and very satisfying.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Wow, I can see my brain again!

Just have to say that after a couple of weeks implementing as many of the GTD principles that I can cope with, life has changed!

The very best thing about my experience so far is the freedom I feel from being able to empty my head of all those little things I don't want to lose track of, but which I was losing track of anyway. They're out of the noggin, most of them, but they're in places that are easy to get to and review.

They aren't rigidly contained, the system is still fluid, and that is the most empowering thing of all for me.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Getting Things Done

When I was a child, my mum used to say that procrastination was my middle name. Here I am over 40 and the same label is still a comforable fit! Having had a weakness for notebooks, new pens and organising systems for many years now and still finding myself disorganised, I'm wary and tend to look the other way when a 'new method' intrudes upon my consciousness. Partly because I don't like the guilt factor, and partly because when I find a method I like I've tended in the past to spend more time setting up pretty folders than actually getting on with what needed doing.

DIY Planners is a great site for templates and instructions for putting together your own paper based organiser. [Click here for their beginner's guide to setting up a planner, and here for their handbook on the same topic which has a GTD bent.] It's through this site that I came across Getting Things Done, by David Allen.
Click on the link in the last sentence to download his FREE articles (you do need to register, but there's no cost) on personal productivity, written in real english with not a hint of patronisation in sight. This man is like Jamie Oliver with his Ministry of Food; he has some simple but brilliant insights, and he's willing to give a whole chunk of it away free. Just because.

So this week I've had a lovely cool and sweet smelling breeze blow through my brain as I put together a paper based organiser in the leather (*yes!*) organiser folder that someone threw away last week. Rescued it after it'd been in the rain for quite a few hours, but it still seems fine. Thank you to my anonymous neighbour (kind of hope I don't find out which neighbour it is, I think) for this fine addition to my organising efforts!

I love what I've seen so far of the GTD things because they aren't telling me what to do. They're explaining what's happening when I'm disorganised, and suggesting ways to capture and tame information, that won't strain my brain. I love the idea of the InBox, this is the first thing I've set up and it's helping me to springboard to the rest of the principles. Flexibility is so important to me in any organising effort; if I can't make it fit the way I do things, if I can't make it change from day to day or minute to minute, then I won't use it for long.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Call for ideas! Eco/self reliance workshop

In early July this year our Stake Relief Society will be holding a day convention. I've been asked to lead one of the workshops, and the topic will be eco living and self reliance in the home (or something like that). This is exciting! My problem is deciding what to share in the 1/2 hour time frame, what should be concentrated on and what might be better left out.

My ideas so far:
Sandwich wraps and bags
Homemade alternatives for deodorant, shampoo, washing powder/liquid
Recycling/repurposing clothing

Please leave any ideas you may have as comments, I'd really appreciate input as to what you consider would be of worth to share in the workshop.

Modified to add:
Do you think it would totally freak people out if I addressed albeit briefly, the concept of non-disposable womens sanitary items? Like the Diva Cup / Moon Cup, and cloth pads. I think this is something all women should at least be aware of, but hey, no point alienating the audience if that's a bit too much for them to handle at this point.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

How convenient is convenience, really?

"Convenience items are designed to be lifestyle addictive. They're designed, not to make your life easier, but to make you consume them over and over again. They give you the illusion of ease while sapping you of yet another lifeskill. Think microwave food - you don't have to cook! Some rob you of honest human interaction. Think bank ATM - no need to ever meet the person you are entrusting all your money to! Others remove the need to perform even a little bit of exercise. Think Swiffer - you never have to bend over to deal with a dust pan, just throw that nasty cloth right in the trash when you're done! The more convenience items we rely on the more consumption we become addicted to and we're getting more and more tired every day trying to keep up with it all."

You can read the rest of this inspirational post here, at Rabbit Hill Farm. I highly recommend paying this blog a visit and reading the rest of the post. The solution? Slow down! Pick one thing, just one thing, that you can do simply, the old fashioned way, the not-out-of-a-tin way. Then do it! And love doing it. When you're ready, choose something else.

Here's a random thought: ever since switching to all wooden pegs, I find I love hanging out the laundry! Some of my pegs are dolly pegs, which make me think of my grandmother. All the other pegs are hand oiled wood which are easy to mend if the spring comes off, and which seem to me to be able to.....breathe.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Food, attitudes, and the middle classes

I read an article today that points to some interesting facets of attitudes regarding food held by some who are known as 'middle class'. Here's my response to it.

The article puzzled me a bit at first. I couldn't understand why people were apologising for wanting to eat perfectly good food, or why eating quinoa or homous or buying organic produce could qualify a person as being a snobby middle class foodie.

Reading the comments clarified things, however! I think the point of the article is not what people eat so much as it's the desire to be fashionable and to believe that what you eat makes you better than less discerning plebs. Is that right? Using big words to describe luxury or unusual foods and ways to eat them really did begin to sound like a way to start a class war as I read further down!

I eat quinoa regularly, organic quinoa at that. I make my own homous, grind and bake with biodynamic spelt and wheat, and the list goes on. I spent about 2.5 seconds wondering if this qualifies me for groans and categorizing as was being done in this article, then decided I didn't actually care. *grin* It is interesting to observe other people's reactions to food and lifestyle choices that are different to their own.

I'm certainly not upset and don't feel the need to whinge because this food isn't available everywhere I go; by jiggity, that's why I make it at home! It's amusing to me that eating good healthy food can possibly be a status symbol - guess I just don't travel in the right social circles. *breathes sigh of relief*

Someone recently enlightened me as to the target demographic of the Guardian, the newspaper the original article came from. "The thing that made the blog even more amusing, in my personal opinion, was that it was in the Guardian. This is the title of choice for people who don't care if others call them decaffeinated/organic/veggie-munching/Fairtrade/trendies. In fact, the Guardian's food pages offer some lovely recipes, often with a veggie emphasis and plenty of baking." Thanks to Sharon for allowing me to use her words.

And now to put things into perspective. There's a movie that I saw on These Days In French Life called We Feed The World (it's a long one, but worth watching; see highlights here), that has further changed the way I think about the food I eat. There are so many tragedies behind food production on a human and animal scale, it is staggering. Here's a quote: "Any child today who dies of starvation, is in fact murdered". There is enough food in the world to feed everyone, but for plain old human greed.

This afternoon I'll be buying my first box of locally grown organic produce. I suspect I won't get to much for my money, but the concept behind eating what has been produced from my own area and without chemicals, is very appealing. It's simply not feasible for me to grow enough food at home to feed my family at this point, though I'd love to get to that stage eventually.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Why I don't like Twilight anymore

I read this series because my girls were reading them, wanted to know what they were getting into, and I'm telling you, this stuff is addictive. An interesting story though not very well written in my opinion, flaws in the story line all over the place, but still highly emotionally addictive. Kind of like food with lots of MSG; tastes good, leaves you hungry for more, but doesn't satisfy in a healthy way.

I don't by any means condemn the Edwards and Bellas of this world for being in love, not by a long shot. A well portrayed romance gets me every time, I love them. This one had me for a while, but in the end just didn't cut it for various reasons; reasons which are personal and my way of thinking about what is right and wrong for me. I am not and will not judge anyone who still loves the books, this is an individual journey, and I'm attempting to describe part of my journey here.

LDS girls of all ages are getting into this by the droves, and I can see why: these books are promoted as "clean", "no bad stuff at all in them". So girls who are taught that sex before marriage is wrong, can get a hormonal fix as their baser emotions are aroused through reading about one couple's desires in surprisingly evocative detail. To me this goes against the spirit of a very serious and wise principle.

A theme that runs through all four books has a teenage couple unable to function without thinking about or being with one another all the time, not a healthy thing in my opinion.

In the first book there is a scene where the boy spends the night in the girl's bedroom, just to watch her and protect her. Nothing excommunicable happens, other than the fact that he is IN HER BEDROOM - a no-no in no uncertain terms from an LDS perspective, and there is a very passionate kiss that is broken off, eventually, by the boy - in spite of the girl urging him repeatedly to go all the way.

Here's an interesting point: in this scene I have referred to above the girl is described in the book as wearing a baggy old sweatshirt top, and old daggy sweatshirt bottoms, while in the movie the apparel is changed (very deliberately in my view) to a tight tshirt that reveals her tummy, and a pair of briefs/undies. Why the change, I asked myself? Answer: the movie makers are trying to elicit the maximum response from the audience, the maximum arousal of sexual feeling. I'm shaking my head here, thinking of the very young people who are being exposed to this and what effect it must be having upon them. Because no matter what the rating of the movie, no matter who it is aimed at, the truth is that many children of 10 and younger are being exposed to this story.

It is so easy to justify this sort of thing. The whole series isn't solely as described above, there is also a storyline which is exciting and makes you want to find out what is going to happen. I viewed the books very differently at first, so yes I suppose I was taken in along with the crowd. Now I find myself preferring to seek for the highest literature rather than the mediocre. There's so little time for reading, for any recreation really, I want to make sure I'm spending my time well.

Now as an aside...I finally finished Middlemarch! It's been a year I think, since I began. The relationship between Will Ladislaw and Dorothea Casaubon is one of the most beautiful I have ever read about, so honorable, sweet, pure, delightful, hopeless then hopeful, and so superbly described from both points of view by George Eliot.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Reusables, the un-old way

This is a drawing I did yesterday showing some of the things I've been making recently, to show some friends who have let me reap the benefit of their hard work and who I want to thank by making them something they can put to practical use.

Monday, March 23, 2009

The storm over the tv

There wasn't actually that much of a storm, just a few grumblings and thundery type rumblings and the threat of rain. Mr11 wrote a note back to the antenna asking it to please come back home, and that he promised not to watch too much tv, but to no avail!

What a feeling of freedom. I love it. No more having to be ready or we'll miss the beginning of a show, no more having to change the channel quickly but not quickly enough because the ads are indecent even with the volume down, no more hedonistic consumer fest paraded before our eyes constantly. What bliss to see the box in its box (wooden furniture piece with doors that close), and two young boys sitting in the lounge room reading books instead of vegging out in front of the box. Mr 10 is reading the Alex Rider series, and Mr 11-nearly-12 is a third of the way through The Return of The King.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Our TV antenna has gone on holiday!

The storm has not yet broken, but it will! Our tv antenna has gone on holiday: it even left a farewell note in an appropriate digital style script. We can still watch DVDs and videos, but the tv part of tv with all its awful ads and consumer worship of stuff, is finally deactivated. Yay!!

Arr and Ess are fine with this idea, and I think that Lor won't mind too much, but Jae and Sea are not going to like it one bit. How, precisely, can a nearly 12 year old and a 10 year old be expected to grow up whole, sane, and above all accepted by their peers, without tv?! Saturday mornings will never be the same, and I'm looking forward to that. We shall weather the storm and be better people for it. Stay tuned to hear how it goes, and wish me well!

The only thing that may bring the antenna and cabling back from holiday may just be..... Doctor Who. Can I live without seeing Doctor Who on tv? I've watched the show almost ever since we got a B&W box when I was 8 (I had to help pay for it to convince my parents we should have one), and loved it, talked about it, bit my nails in front of it, laughed at it, enjoyed it, ever since.
Ah well, I tell myself, there's always youtube.

I've banned ads when my children were watching tv for some time now; if I heard an ad from another room the kids knew I'd be in there asap to turn off the box. So they've become fast at either changing channels so quickly that the sound doesn't register for a bit, or at muting the ads before I get to the room. When the ads for things or other shows were on, it really felt like manipulation and often like filth; definitely like something I did not want in my house.

Such a lot of RUBBISH has come through that box into our home even with all my efforts to reduce that, and it's such a lot of bother to try and police it, I feel really at peace about the idea of not having it at all. My sister did this some time back when hers broke, but now that she has a new screen she also has no desire to bring commercialism back into her home. Honestly folks, we are SO much better off without it.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Reuse, Repurpose, Recycle

What do you use to pack lunch for yourself or for your children? I used to be like the thousands of people (millions?) who would answer that question with - plastic wrap, press seal bags, greaseproof paper, and foil.

Since an awareness for the impact I am making on the environment and my habits as a consumer in general has been growing upon me, I'm finding that using those disposable wrappings just doesn't feel right any more.

So I did some research, made many prototypes, and finally came up with a reusable sandwich wrap that I am happy with. No complaints from the children, unless it's that one of their siblings has already grabbed the wrap they were hoping to use that day!

Plastic bags have been around for 30 years now. It is estimated world wide that 1 trillion bags are used and discarded every year.
Australians use 3.92 billion plastic bags a year, that’s over 10 million new bags being used every day. An estimated 3.76 billion bags or 20,700 tonnes of plastic are disposed of in landfill sites throughout Australia every year. Australians dump 7,150 recyclable plastic bags into landfills every minute or 429,000 bags every hour.
Did you know that:
• plastics are made from non-renewable natural resources such as crude oil, gas and coal.
• just 8.7 plastic checkout bags contain enough embodied petroleum energy to drive a car 1 kilometre.
[Information above is from the Clean Up Australia website]

What can I do?
Recycle, repurpose and re-use.
Plastic bags, plastic wrap, foil, press seal bags, all add to land fill and thereby harm the environment. Press seal bags can be washed and reused, but it can be difficult to get them really clean and dry.

One alternative is the reusable sandwich wrap. It is easy to clean, just open out and wipe after each use. If the fabric backing becomes soiled, wash it in the sink with the dishes and leave to dry overnight or hang on the line - easy and hygenic.
Food stays nice and fresh all wrapped up in a neat little package, and the sandwich wrap also serves as a placemat while eating.

What kind of plastic should be used for sandwich wraps?
Only reuse plastic that is classed as food grade. Look for strong thick plastic that previously held food. The best plastic I have found is from the bags used to hold the food I buy in bulk from Honest To Goodness, through a local co-op.

What if I don’t want to use plastic to wrap my food?
Sandwich wraps are easy to make. Try making your own from two layers of octagonal shaped fabric, with water resistant interfacing sandwiched between them.

What kind of fabric should I choose?
Natural fibres are best, cotton is recommended. Always pre-wash your fabric, and try to choose a fabric that does not wrinkle easily - once the plastic is sewn on, ironing is not an option.

Where can I get a pattern for these wraps?
Make it yourself! Experiment with different shapes to see what works best for you. Try elongating the basic octogon to fit longer sandwiches like pitta bread wraps or subs.

What if I don't have any velcro?
Put a vertical buttonhole into the tab, and sew three buttons onto the wrap where the velcro would have been, to allow for different sized food.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Birthdays and Blessings

My baby turned 19 yesterday! She left early, 4 hours of travel total as usual to and from uni, then came home for a family birthday dinner. And why not try to eat an icecream cake* with chopsticks?
Laughter, gifts, conversation, food, candles, peace.

And she gave me the best gift of all: her big, giving, compassionate, serving, birthday heart decided that she wanted to clean up the kitchen at the end of the evening...words cannot express what that means to me. I felt ill and couldn't do it, had to go to bed knowing that I'd need to tackle the mess in the morning, but having so many other things to do this would have made the next day very stressful.
Ess, remind me in a week or two to tell you just what I did today that made your gift so amazing - I can't tell you just yet, but really want to let you know how inspired you were.

* Icecream cake recipe:
A yummy cookie recipe, basic butter bikkies made with freshly ground biodynamic wheat. We added chopped nuts to the mixture just before baking.
Frozen banana, nectarine, mango and blueberries, all whizzed up till smooth and creamy.
Crushed cashews, peacans and almonds mixed with rapadura and a bit of butter, baked till just going brown.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Another school year begins

Tomorrow it starts....the beginning of a brand new school year. The last one that this century will be less than a decade old. Three children at school, one beginning university.

I aim to be more organised this year with school lunches. I have cake and slices in the freezer, fresh fruit waiting to be packed, and home made plastic lined fabric wraps to put the food in. Trying to avoid plastic as much as possible, but I'm not ready to make the break just yet. Inspired by Julie at Towards Sustainability I have made little drawstring bags and those lovely plastic lined sandwich wraps which J (year 5) calls 'nappies'. Ahem...can I ever look at them the same way again?!
Hopefully there will be some photos of these baggies to show you when a) I get organised enough to take some, and b) I find out which of the styles I have made actually turn out to be practically useful in every day real life situations.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Boxing Day with friends

This is a temporary post, I'll leave it up for a few weeks. These are very low resolution (not good for enlarging), let me know if you want the higher resolution versions.

JW and the youngest B at Bateau Bay

A and BB at Bateau Bay

Bateau Bay panorama

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Early morning at the beach

What a beautiful time of day the early morning is! We went to the beach before breakfast on a day that turned out to be in the mid 30's, C. Just gorgeous. Almost I am persuaded that all that gritty awful feeling sand and salt is worth it, after all.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Summer Holidays

7 Layer Dip - The Taste of Summer!

This recipe is very simple, very healthy, and I find that most people love it and many ask for the recipe after trying it. Variations of it abound: you can mash the beans or leave them whole, use whatever ingredients you have on hand as long as you stick with the salsa / sour cream / cheese mix. Big thanks to my dear friend BB for introducing me to this dish some years ago.

1 large tin of red kidney beans, drained - spread in base of pie dish

1 jar mild salsa (or hot if you prefer) - mix about 3/4 of the jar with the beans

Sour cream - spread a few generous dollops evenly over the salsa/beans

optional: 1 avocado - mash, spread over beans and salsa

Diced veggies of your choice - this bit takes the longest.

I used capsicum (red and green), tomato, lebanese cucumber, grated carrot. Use whatever veggies your family likes.

Top the lot with grated tasty cheese, serve with corn chips.

At the beach near dusk.

My breakfast on New Year's Day: lentil sprouts with fresh mango and fruit and nut gorp. Absolutely delicious.

Spiced nuts:

2 cups mixed raw nuts
3/4 cup pepitas (pumpkin seeds)
1 cup dried fruit
1/2 - 1 cup unsweetened carob pieces
1 teaspoon garam masala
1 tablespoon cold pressed olive oil
1 teaspoon good salt (vegetable salt works well)

Toss the oil through the nuts until they are well coated. Toss again to coat with the garam masala and the salt. Bake in a moderate oven until the nuts are lightly golden, allow to cool. Mix in the dried fruit and carob pieces. Dare yourself to eat just one handful :)

A panoramic shot of the beach, a lovely sheltered cove.

Ess made this wonderful meal from her Jamie Oliver Ministry of Food cookbook (highly recommended), with couscous, chickpeas, and sheep milk yogurt.
Do give Jamie's site a visit - he is doing a marvellous work and is even giving confidence to people like me who are generally completely tone deaf in a kitchen sense.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Today is enough

I made this as a signature line for a forum I visit regularly, to help me remember these important concepts. Life is about now! It's about what I choose to do right now. Remembering yesterday and planning for tomorrow are still both important, in their place; but both of those are built on today. I will not forget that today is all I have. Thanks to Jewells from Eyes of Wonder (see list of inspirational sites in my side bar) for sharing these wonderful words of wisdom.

Exercise builds muscle;
More muscle burns more fat;
Less fat makes it easier to exercise;
Exercise builds muscle;
More muscle burns more fat;
Less fat makes it easier to exercise;
Exercise builds muscle...

I read this at SparkPeople recently. I know it's true, so why aren't I doing it? The new year is 10 days old, and I don't believe in new year's resolutions any way. I do believe in the continuity of the journey, however: that the thread of my life from birth to death has many wiggles, some spiky up and down bits, and some parts that do very little. I am weaving this thread of my life each day, each moment, and it is part of the tapestry of everything. So, about exercise. I shall keep striving, keep encouraging myself to do it, to love to do it. I will not give up, but I won't beat myself up either.