Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Some days I just don't seem to get anything done at all, yesterday was one of those days, but it was still a good day, we just didn't do anything at home.

Our number one and only son and myself went to visit a friend to return a borrowed item and then we all went to one of our local swimming holes for a swim. It was lovely and the water was very cold and fresh. We hadn't been to this spot before (you know, live somewhere for years and never visit the local area) so it was good to see, there are so many spots so close to home and it is a shame we haven't made the effort before this.

So we had a lovely time with my friend, who also gave me some leftover calico so I can make a Christmas pudding, which I am going to get onto today after a general cleanup. It is a recipe I haven't made before so I will see how I go.

It is funny how sometimes you don't see people people for months and then run into then a couple of times. Last week ran into one of my friend's from Tai Chi and her husband, had a huge chat, haven't seen him for ages and then the next day ran into him again at the markets. Then yesterday ran into another friend I haven't seen for months had another huge catch-up chat and then ran into her again a bit later, yet haven't laid eyes on her for so long. Weird how that happens :)

My partner in crime and life came home a little early yesterday so he finished helping the neighbour give new life to his boat trailer and then we did some more house painting. Little by little it is getting done and it looks really good, our house is an old one but looks good with some paint and freshening up.

So best go and do the million squillion things on my list and later on visit another friend, if she is home, and later on this arvo go to another different swimming spot (we are doing the rounds). Maybe some of those million squillion things will have to be done tomorrow :)

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Yesterday was such a stinking hot day and today seems like it is going to be the same. The dog is looking old after walking, we think the heat is affecting her (then again so does the cold), and even though she is only 8 1/2 years, I think her age is catching up due to health problems when a puppy. She is very healthy but looks so tired and old after walking, though if you opened the gate back up she would head back out. Unlike a dog we see most mornings, so far behind the owners, and yesterday we went past their house as they were leaving and the dog refused to come out, it is a very slow and lazy looking dog and walks SO, SO, slow, it is quite funny :)

So yesterday was just catching up on the housework I didn't do on the weekend, but it was just so hot it was difficult to do. So mid afternoon I took our number one and only son to the creek for a swim. There isn't much water in it at the moment but it is still very cold and I refuse to put in more than my feet :)

It is a lovely spot, very popular with lots of people going there and only about ten minutes from home. Unfortunately, when we move up the mountain we won't be so close but hopefully it also won't be so hot up there :) and we will have other distractions.

I finally got my partner in crime and life to cut down our bunch of bananas, and it is a beauty. I have been refusing to buy bananas as we have our own, and now they are down we will have to eat them up, they ripen quite quickly once they are cut.

This morning (once our number one and only son eventually gets out of bed), we are going to visit a friend to return a jigsaw puzzle and go to another swimming hole for a swim. I told my friend that our number one and only son said he wanted to go visit her and would love a swim, what he actually said in his pre-teen, one word sentence way was "cool", though I know how to interpret his language so I know just what he meant :p

So, we are going to take the ham and cheese muffins I made yesterday arvo (even though I left out one ingredient they still are good) and also the chocolate biscuits I made at the same time. I had never made these before and they are a bit soft but yummy, so of course we will eat them anyway, but I won't bother to make them again. Then again, my cooking is sometimes questionable, I can make a double batch of something, at the same time, and both batches turn out different :)

I did however, make a great meatloaf last night, I normally am not a meatloaf person but this was really good and the men in my life LOVE meatloaf (obviously a man thing). The secret ingredient was chutney, I have got no idea what sort of chutney or how old it was, but it was homemade, not by me, and made the meatloaf wonderful, and we are not dead yet and our number one and only son is having it for breakfast. Guess I will have to make another one.

Today we will also be going to get our turkey and ham, I wasn't going to, being all Christmas resistant and all, but I changed my mind, a women's prerogative. We were just going to have prawns and salad for Christmas lunch, while we are out kayaking, and then we go to our neighbours (guess we are this year too, it is an every year thing) who always have enough to feed and army and they always invite an eclectic group of people. However, if I get turkey, that will keep our number one and only son happy and a ham will feed us for days, including ham and eggs everyday :) yummo.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

The Only Planet We Have

I occasionally hear comments from people that they can't afford, be bothered or are too old to be green. I don't think we can afford not to be green, regardless of whether you believe in climate change or not, polluting the only planet we can live on is not a good idea.

Not everyone can afford solar hot water, green electricity, hybrid cars or sometimes even the extra few dollars to buy recycled paper. There are things that most of us can afford to do and are sometimes the cheaper version, may require a bit more work and regardless of age we can do them, after all, there are many people still going to be around long after we are gone, like our kids and grand kids.

Everyone always talks about the things we can do and there are many books written about it to but if we don't keep it in the front of our head we slip into bad habits, like getting plastic bags instead of taking our own. This is one of my things I forget, not when grocery shopping but when at the markets getting fruit and vege I often forget my vege bags and then for some things I have to use a plastic bag. Having thirty lychee's or cherry tomatoes running loose in the carry bag isn't a good look, luckily the larger things don't require bags.

The things that most of us can do aren't very hard nor are they rocket science. Take our own bags when shopping, even our number one and only son refuses a plastic when shopping knowing I always carry calico/jute/cotton bags around with me all the time. And really, who needs a little plastic bag just to carry a CD or a bag of lollies or whatever only to then chuck it away as soon as we get home.

Having a compost bin or pile or just digging a hole in the garden and putting your kitchen scraps in it, you then end up with all sorts of things growing. I know that is a bit wild for some people but I love finding tomato plants growing in weird places or pumpkins just growing wherever.

Turn off the lights and fans when not in the room, turn all those standby lights off, they are all just on for no-one, just like that ad on TV. We all hear this all the time, and maybe because we do hear it all the time it goes in one ear and out the other. I know I switch off when I start hearing the same old thing again, but we need to keep it in mind all the time.

Save your jars and make sauce with the excess from your garden, or at the very least make sure the jars are recycled. Or reuse the jars to store stuff in like seeds, our sugar "bowl" is an old jar.

There is always conflicting information about what is really happening with our planet, but if we keep in mind we have live here, our children and grandchildren after us, and all the animals and plant life that rely on us too, we really can't afford to make excuses and do nothing because we couldn't be bothered.

There are things we can do, don't cost much or anything at all and we are never too old. So we need to do them, they become second nature after a while, like the bucket in our shower which then gets emptied onto the pot plants. After all, we can't move anywhere else, this is the only planet we have.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

We have started our decluttering so we don't have to take as much stuff up the hill with us, perfect opportunity to get rid of the stuff we just couldn't be bothered doing anything about.

So, I have chucked the broken solar lights (note to self: buy only really good solar lights next time)thrown away my cherished fishing stool which I broke while painting out the front, gone through my clothes, our number one and only son went through his and I am not sure I shouldn't have been there.

I have dedicated a shelf in the kitchen of for things to get rid of there, we don't have a big kitchen here but things can still be culled. But it is weird the things that can be kept, like the egg separator. I only use it when I make my mayonnaise but it is so handy, oh, I also use it when I make ice cream :) But really, it looks quite useless and I can do without it but I choose not to.

So what to take and what to leave, a lot of my plants will come with us, like the chives, kang kong, betel leaf, sweet leaf, some sweet potato, stevia, and I am collecting seeds from basil, rosella and pigeon pea. I am sure there is more like aloe vera, I will just go around the garden an find them all. And a friend has also offered any cuttings form her garden which is lovely and I will take her up on that :)

Friday, December 18, 2009

Live Your Life

Well, what a week, my head is still spinning and I am trying to get my head around it. We have found our green acres, offer accepted, bank giving us lots of money, oops, did we mean that?

So we are moving, we are buying five acres of lovely land with a great shed, built so we can live in it while we build our house (if we can afford it after this).

It has all happened so fast, we were going along looking around, ho hum, not much around that interested us then, bam, there it was. It called to us, and while we were going to wait till after Christmas, what if someone else made a move on our land? Couldn't take the risk, so we moved very, very fast and within two days things were taking off.

Of course things couldn't go too smoothly, some problems with the conveyencer so now have a new one (before the first could do anything), and we also have advice being thrown at us left right and centre and who do you believe. The real estate agent wants to move things forward, the solicitor wants to put things back and the bank doesn't know why we can't proceed as planned. Being Christmas there are public holidays and people away and everyone not really working to speed so who knows if it will go through in the planned time or if it will be put back a little.

So we are going through our stuff and decluttering as we won't have as much space, and we are painting our current house and getting it ready to put on the market, so for a while we will be living on the smell of an oily rag :) However we now have a place that ticks all the boxes (though my partner in crime and life would prefer a place about a thousand times bigger)and it is still close enough for work and school (about 30 mins for each) and I will be able to continue my Tai Chi.

Though I am having visions of all my Tai Chi friends coming up to visit, and we sit around on the veranda drinking tea and eating muffins and thinking about doing Tai Chi, but maybe we'll have just one more cup of tea first :) I think in front of the very pretty dam would be a good place for doing Tai Chi.

I am going to miss my home here, I love this house and the garden (though some of the garden is coming with us) and I will have to start from scratch with the garden and fruit trees up there as there is nothing. They built a great shed to live in with a bed room, bathroom/laundry, toilet (biocycle system) full on kitchen (bigger than my one here) but no gardens or fruit trees (this is beyond my understanding why have five acres if you don't do anything with it?)

This week I have been so busy, doing all the running around, phone calls, some painting and also all the regular stuff like cooking, washing, cleaning etc and today we go sign our life away (again) so we can go live the life we have always dreamed off.

Have to step outside the comfort zone sometimes, take some risks or you don't ever do anything, and one of my biggest fears in this life is getting to the end of it and wishing I had taken those opportunities that came my way, not doing something because of fear. So even though a lot of things make me very anxious, I make myself do them anyway, and regardless of how things turn out, there can be no regrets as I have tried the things I want to do (even if I end up not liking it, I have done it). I think the only regret is if you don't go and do, live life as you were meant to :)

Monday, December 14, 2009

Another beautiful morning here, I know I take photos from about the same spot but doesn't matter, still nice sunrise. It sprinkled only a little and then the sun came out, which reminds me I haven't hung out the washing, oops, best go do that and put another load in.

I know I said we had enough mangoes to share with the bats but I have changed my mind, we seem to be rapidly running out, so I am making more sauce today to help preserve them. The sauce sure tastes good, spicy, and this time I used real garlic, purple spanish garlic to be precise and it tastes yummo.

On Saturday night we went out to dinner with our neighbours for their work Christmas thing, had a great night and our number one and only son was amazed by card tricks, so were we. There was a guy there that in a previous life was a magician or some such thing and what he did was amazing, how he changed a card from one colour and number to another colour and number I have no idea. We tried to pick it but we couldn't, he was a popular guy.

I have realised today that I am just not going to have time to send Christmas cards this year (though I guess I could be doing that rather than writing a blog) so I will just write a letter to everyone in the new year when things have settled down. Can't even think about cards, at the moment I can only think about what I have to do here in my small world, I am not thinking about what is going on outside my front gate, happens sometimes :)

So I had best get on, there are walls to paint and cupboards to clean today and I had better make some bread or the hoards will be hungry :)

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Mango Sauce and Daredevils

I have made mango sauce this morning, trying to use up some of our mangoes. The bats have gotten quite a lot, however there are certainly enough left for us to have mangoes for breaky every morning. Of course they all ripen at the same time so I am trying to use them up before they are too far gone.


3 ripe Bowen mangoes
1 cup vinegar
2 1/2 cups sugar
4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp curry powder
1/2 tsp Worcestershire sauce (optional)
1 red chilli (optional)
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp cloves
1/4 tsp pepper
1/4 tsp mixed spice
1/4 tsp nutmeg
2 cloves garlic

Place all ingredients in a saucepan and bring to the boil. Simmer for half and hour and then put through the blender and bottle.

I got this recipe off my neighbour a few years ago now and it is great, use it anywhere you would use tomato sauce I guess, and seeing I have cut my partner in crime and life off from tomatoes because of the arthritis in his hands this is a good substitute.

With this batch however, the garlic I have is growing like you wouldn't believe, so I substituted dry garlic, and I wasn't looking what I was doing and put in half a teaspoon of cloves and then tried to get some back out. So hopefully it will taste OK, I hope so as I really need to make more to use up the mangoes.

On Thursday when I got home from our Tai Chi lunch I walked in to the house and there was a lovely smell of incense, our number one and only son came home at bit before me. That was all good to do and then I saw him in the kitchen, looking through his "101 Things To Do Before You Grow Up Book", this puts fear into me as I have visions of him blowing up the house when I am not here (not that I want him blowing up the house when I am here).

These books are frightening, this is his latest one, the others are "730 Easy Science Experiments", "SAS Survival Handbook", "The Daredevils Manual". I have visions of him parachuting of the roof and eating a live scorpion(though I don't think we have them here thank goodness), though learning how to ice fish is OK and so is making a rope from grass and vines :) I know, kind of boring in comparison. Also there is to be no growing a beard of bees, jumping a motorcycle through a wall of fire or riding a raging bull. It reminds me of that add on TV, I think it was for health insurance? anyway, the kids made a rather large jumping ramp out of milk crates and boxes and then one kid was going to ride his bike up this rather large ramp, the vision in my head is enough.

Building a soft drink bottle rocket was a bit dicey, the second time he made it he did it with the kid from next door and the kid from next door nearly lost his head, of course the boys thought that was quite exciting, I did too in the heart failure kind of way. Got to keep a close eye on them otherwise they just go and do stuff, you encourage them to try stuff and then you say no, no, no. No wonder kids are confused and get in trouble all the time, we say go do something and use you imagination, and they do. Oops, sorry, didn't mean for you to use THAT much imagination, only a little bit :)

Thursday, December 10, 2009

We have just had our final week of Tai Chi and today had our Christmas lunch, everyone brought yummy food to share and we had a lovely time doing Tai Chi and eating. A few of them gave me gifts which was lovely, but the gift I get from them all the time is the gift of having great people around me that are like-minded, they are genuine, self-less and great friends, I really couldn't ask for more in the people that I have in my life. I do consider myself very lucky, as all I wanted was to have a couple of classes with people I enjoy being with, teaching Tai Chi, and I got exactly what I asked for and don't want more :)

I managed to get the pumpkin fruit cake and White Christmas wrapped and made sure I reminded them to open them or the dog will eat it :) My partner in crime and life helped me by putting the curling ribbon on, and we still had some cake left over for us.

We think we have found the property that ticks all the boxes, plus it has to be close enough for work, school and Tai Chi (which it is) and it is flat and cleared so I can have people up to do Tai Chi (though I think the best spot is where the imaginary house is). My partner in crime is already talking about the chooks we will have and "where do we put the chook shed?" and what sort of chook shed, well we are not there yet and we have to be friendly with the neighbours so they will look after chooks when we are away, but this is getting way way ahead of ourselves.

Of course because I watered the garden yesterday, it rained today, I had been putting it off because it looked like rain, or felt like it, and it didn't, so I watered. So typical isn't it?

At the moment I have so many things open on the computer I can't keep track of it, I keep thinking of things and so open another page, or need to send email or need to check something or (like at the moment) need to download from my phone. What did we ever do without technology, human contact is good but being able to whizz off an email to someone is great, to instantly send them photos or just to say I am thinking of you even though I might not have time right now to be with you. I don't understand people who don't use use this technology to enhance their lives, of course it could take over as it sometimes threatens to do here, some homes are like gadget heaven. However I like it, makes our lives easier and as long as you are in control of it (not the other way around) and still get out and be with people it is fine. That is my opinion and I am sticking with it so don't ask me to give up my stuff :)

Seeing that I am raving about all sorts of things today I had better put in about our BMX trophies. Our number one and only son got a lovely glass trophy, it was an incentive award and it is good that they give encouragement to all the kids not just the ones that always win. In saying that, they also do that for the adults so I ended up with two beer mugs, one for my cruiser class and one for my 20inch class. Last year I got second place and only ended up with a stubby cooler which I wrote on so I wouldn't forget what I got it for, bit disappointing seeing it was a one off thing, but now I have beer mugs. I know, I shouldn't think about these things and I don't in the big scheme of things but well.... OK, I have no excuses, I just want a nice trophy seeing they are giving them out :p

Monday, December 7, 2009

Pumpkin, Property and Tim Tams

How is it that a kid whose first food was mashed pumpkin (couldn't get enough), now hates pumpkin says it make him want to throw up so won't eat it off his plate but will happily eat pumpkin soup and pumpkin cake and even ask for more? I am confused :(

We have had a busy weekend. Saturday we went and looked at some property, the one we really like we think is overpriced but we really like, so chances are we won't get that one but you never know.

The other property was only twenty minutes from the nearest town but was down a really long dirt track through four or five creeks and over a river. Twenty years ago we probably would have just moved out there and lived in the bush, but now we think a lot about getting to work and school and how hard it would be to clear. It was good to go see and it was a great area just too remote and no power, would have to put on solar power.

So the search continues and we have about three other properties to check out hopefully on Sunday (who would be a Real Estate agent, their hours are really bad), two are vacant land and the other is slightly less acreage but already has a house and shed.

On Sunday we went kayaking, trying to find a place that is away from the boats and jet skis proved slightly difficult, and it was windy and choppy. Doesn't look very busy in the photos but the boats and jet skis were there, we had fun but will find somewhere closer to home for our regular kayaking.

Every year our local sports club puts on a Christmas party, all the kids get presents and lollies, there are free rides, music and everyone has a good time. We find it is a time to catch up with people we haven't seen for a while and just relax, so Saturday was the party and we enjoyed it though never stay too long (we get peopled out). Parachuters landed on the school oval which is next to the sports club and the kids (and adults) love watching them come in, I am sure sure Santa parachuted in one year but this year he arrived on a bike and with much fanfare.

Today I have made White Christmas and Pumpkin Fruit cake (with the last of my homegrown pumpkin)to give away to my Tai Chi friends, the last couple of years I have made up little parcels with chocolate spiders and chocolate balls but this year I thought I would change. Now I just have to find the cellophane and curling ribbon which I think is more effort than cooking, and hope that White Christmas looks like this, guess I had better try it before I give it away, it was a school recipe from our number one and only son.

Have my last classes of Tai Chi this week, really it is just tomorrow and Thursday we just do a bit a Tai Chi to say we did it and then we have lunch. Everyone brings a plate of food and we all sit around eating and talking, and there is usually enough food to feed an army and most is homemade, though one lady said she only knows how to make Tim Tams :)

Friday, December 4, 2009

Christmas is Nearly Here

In my wanderings around the internet I have started frequenting a blog called "The Survival Mum", I think she may be a bit like me as she also stays awake a night thinking about stuff and making lists.

However, yesterdays blog is called "The 12 Days of Christmas: Day 1, A New Craft for Your Kids" about teaching your kids stuff over the holidays so they don't get bored. This got me thinking about what I am going to do to keep our number one and only son occupied, without having to do all the entertaining.

I was thinking things like helping me paint the house, sort through his clothes and get rid of the ones that no longer fit, get rid of toys that he is too old for that sort of thing. I know, doesn't sound very exciting but these things need doing and I don't see why I have to be the only one doing it. And what do we do with all his books from school that have now come home but have nowhere to live (except on his chair and floor).

We are going to do other fun stuff like go kayaking and swimming, visiting friends and kayaking (seeing this is our new hobby and will no longer cost us anything to do except the petrol to get there). However there are some things we just have to do.

So apart from kayaking in our sexy new kayaks (this word is starting to look funny now I have typed it a few times)we are looking for our new acreage so I can have an outdoor shower and roll around on the grass without anyone seeing me :) We are going tomorrow to look at a place that is very promising and looks like the one but we will see. Regardless, we have to start getting this place ready to put on the market.

So that will be our holidays, which is alright as I am not particularly fond of Christmas, I like the idea of it just not all the stress and pressure people put on you and the commercialization. You have to send cards to people you don't normally keep in touch with, give gifts to people you barely know and if you don't well...I don't know, I think that says it all.

I had now best go and get our Christmas boxes out (if I can reach them) as we have just received our first Christmas card today and I had better see if I can find some cards to send one back. I am actually unorganised this year, normally I am, so not sure if I can find the motivation this at this late stage, though in saying that, I do have most of my stuff done, I just have so many other things to think about this year.

All is good though, and I will muddle through as I always do and look forward to relaxing on Christmas afternoon with a glass of wine, maybe in my very, very comfy hammock :)

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Hasn't summer hit with a vengeance, it is so hot we have been putting on the air conditioner, the humidity has kicked up a notch too. Our thermometer is telling us it is very hot.

We are currently looking for some acreage up the mountain and are going to look at a place on the weekend, from the road it looks good, from the internet photos it looks good so we'll go and check it out. If we move up there, the summers will be a bit better, the temperature drops a bit as you go up.

When we first got married we had a dream (but no money)to live self sufficiently on a large property, in a cabin, somewhere away from the rat race. Finally twenty years later we are in a position to do something about the dream, though the dream has slightly changed. I want electricity, water and my computer, love technology, twenty years ago technology didn't really come into the equation (don't think there was technology back then)and being completely self sufficient is hard work and I am tired now :) I like (actually love) my creature comforts and now have no intention of giving them up, I think when you have no money and no technology the dream is simpler (mainly as there is no money). Now I want it all, not asking too much is it? :)

If this is THE place, I am really looking forward to living in a shed. Admittedly it will be a bit cramped and we will need another shed for our stuff and eventually we will build a house (if there is any money left). The place we are going to look at has a shed that has been made liveable ie one bedroom, bathroom, laundry, kitchen lounge room and of course it has electricity (yay), phone and internet, biocycle greywater system, irrigation, dam, rainwater tank at the back of the shed, solar hot water, bore. It is in a little green valley, no through traffic, is 5 acres and sounds great, half the hard work is done (except the house) and we can live there now.

This may not be the place but it might be, it is everything we are looking for and what it is lacking, over time can be put in place. I really hope it is as good as it sounds, if not we keep looking, but I think it might be.

So with all this happening, it is time to fix our current house (which we love)so that is why I am painting and have made long list of things to do to make the house marketable. Mind you, within about six houses either side of us there are five houses for sale, I don't' think that is a good look but by the time we get around to selling hopefully they will be sold.

On Monday I am going to a funeral, one of the ladies in my Tai Chi class lost her husband last week so I am going to the funeral. Not much more I can say on that except it is very sad, I didn't know him but she is a lovely lady and I am very sad for her.

Off to do some more research on selling our home privately, and best get on with more painting or some such thing, something off the LIST :)