Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Lions and Tigers and Bears Oh My!!

Well, ok, we don't have lions and tigers and bears but we do have crocodiles, mud crabs and bird spiders. With all the talk about the upcoming wet season (and whether we will get lots of or only a few cyclones) my mind always turns to the creatures that seem to turn up more during the wet.

Having junior mud crabs creeping through the yard creeps me out, and even though they are small they are no less vicious than the adults. The dog must have trodden on one one day and it threw the claw, we had a lot of trouble getting it off the dogs' paw, she was very grateful when we did.

While the mud crabs are creepy, they are very yummy to eat. Though if your partner in crime and life can't remember how to tie them it is a bit of a problem, and having them running around the kitchen is, well, I can't actually think of word to describe how that is. Needless to say, don't let that happen as there will probably be lots of screaming. Unfortunately for us, we don't catch many and so it is a long time between trying to remember how to tie them for my partner in crime and life (as there is no way I will be putting my bare foot on a mud crabs back so I don't need to know how to tie it).

We went up to the beach yesterday and had a bit of a picnic and it was a nice day. Our number one and only son had a swim but he forgot his boogy board and had to body surf on our very small waves. I am sure he will remember next time. Next time I take the battery out of the camera to charge I will remember to take time to fix the date, these photos now look like I took them over two years ago.

Talking about taking you time, I was finishing some crocheting (a coaster for my dad so the real coaster underneath doesn't get wet) and I was looking at the pattern while cutting the cotton. Won't do that again, next time will concentrate as I sliced the end of my finger and nail with the scissors, I never knew scissors were that sharp, I do now :)

So now mum has gone I will now turn my attention back to our home, get some cooking and cleaning done and give the car a quick wash as it has so much dust on it. I need to make up some more cleaner and tidy and sweep the front veranda. This is where I prefer for our number one and only son to play with friends as our house is too small for kids to be running through it. We have chairs out there, and those interlocking mats for them to sit and muck around on, kids should be outside anyway, their imaginations work better out there. Well, best get on.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Ten Minutes From Home

Who knew what beautiful places there was just ten minutes drive from our house? It has taken us a while but we have found a few and they are certainly beautiful. We went out so our number one and only son could have a swim in the rock holes, and though there is not as much water there as there is after the wet season it was still enough. Mum had never been there so it was nice for her to put her feet in and the water though low is very clear.

Must say I would not submerge my entire body in there as it is so cold, just having your feet in drops your body temperature. I will go in in the height of summer but of course my body temperature is high and the water feels so cold. As my partner in crime and life sometimes says, I am a big girl and should toughen up, oh well, there are some things I will allow myself to be a wimp about and throwing my body into freezing cold water is one of them.

On Sunday we went out for ice cream and this is a beautiful spot, and yes it is also only ten minutes drive from home. You can swim, canoe, picnic, BBQ or just look at the views while eating ice cream, it is lovely spot.

So today we are going slightly north to another beach, we are going to pack a bit of a picnic and go to a beach we haven't been to for a while, though I guess beaches are much the same, still, different in my head. We will have walk on the beach and try not to get sunburned, maybe think about having a swim, it will be warmer than the creek that is for sure.

While our number one and only son is swimming or collecting shells and generally mucking about, I usually take a bit of crocheting with me or a book to read, something I don't have to concentrate on too much while keeping him in sight. It is nice to kick back for a bit and not think about the work to be done at home, and it will be nice for mum on her last day before she goes home.

It is good having all these places so close, school holidays are hard, trying to keep kids occupied, but kids will always swim so these places close to us are great. You don't need to be out all day, just a few hours, and it doesn't need to cost much, pack a picnic and off you go for a short drive, gets everyone out of the house for a while. So, had best go cut up some pineapple and make some sandwiches so we can go.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

The Bread Has Risen

Two of the yam bean seeds have sprouted and are growing nicely, the others didn't grow but I will put in some more. Though I am finding that some bits of the garden are always in the sun and it is quite hot and dry here at the moment and those parts don't seem to be growing as well. So maybe that is why the other seeds didn't come up, just too hot, even the snake beans that don't have any shade aren't doing as well as the ones that do, at least some are. I just like to make sure I get some things growing so I tend to put the same things in different gardens, just hedging my bets :)

We have put up a small fence around the baby banana plant at the bottom of the garden and hopefully now the bandicoots and bush turkeys will stay out. It also means I will be able to put in some more pumpkin seeds without them being dug up, I so hope so anyway.

My partner in crime and life has made the bread again this week, he has made rolls and foccacia and I must say I am fairly certain the yeast went in this time as they have risen beautifully. And so they should have, they spent quite a while sitting in the sun before going into the oven.

The bread smells so yummy coming out of the oven and this afternoon we are going out for ice cream while mum is still here. To finish off the day we are going to make chicken pies for our tea tonight with leftover chicken and a salad picked out of the garden, which will be good and healthy, well we did start off with pancakes,golden syrup and icecream for breakfast :)

Friday, September 25, 2009

It Is All Dust and Smoke

Hasn't the dust and smoke been bad? We haven't had it as bad as Sydney or Brisbane but it did manage to come all the way up here. The photo above is looking down our street towards a mountain and it is quite obscured by dust and smoke. Not sure where the fires are but we can smell the smoke so they are somewhere.

This morning when my partner in crime and life and I went for a walk we couldn't see the mountains at all from the esplanade. Not much of the horizon either, but a lot more smoke today, no mountains behind us either. People with respiratory problems would be having a hard time, even my partner in crime and life had a tight chest yesterday after riding his push bike to work and then working outside.

Luckily for us, today our number one and only son is going to be dissecting an squid this morning so while we are waiting for him mum and I will be inside a shopping centre out of the open air. At least we will be dust and smoke free for a little while, to bad about the washing hanging in the outdoor area.

We went off to the zoo yesterday, our number one and only son won passes in so we took mum with us. The zoo was not so big that it took all day to get around, just a few hours and it was really nice, conservation playing a big part of it so these days so it is not so bad.

Of course there was many cute animals, a lot of Australian ones and a few from other countries, I love them all. Of course the lemurs were gorgeous, the red pandas, dingoes, koalas, cockatoos, crocodiles and snakes.

Our number one and only son wanted a photo taken with a koala and he took a beautiful photo. So now he has it all, a photo with a snake, a crocodile and now a koala. It adds to our collection of photos of animals, many many photos, he took a lot yesterday and he is a pretty good photographer.

Anyway, we all had a good time and now just have to put up with the smoke and dust until goes away, then probably have to rewash all our clothes to get rid of the smell :) Oh, well, such is life.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Don't Forget The Yeast

My partner in crime and life made bread on Sunday and forgot to put in the yeast. It took a while to realise, he waited a very long time for it to rise and of course it didn't. So for the second rising he added in the yeast but of course didn't really work, even to use as toast(not that I eat much bread but I thought I would try it and it was yuk). So yesterday I made more, with the yeast added of course.

Our bananas are coming along well, though haven't cut the flower of it yet but the fruit are looking very healthy. Getting to them is a problem and in hindsight, we should have put in dwarf bananas, they are just so tall and not very stable if you put a ladder against them to reach. My partner in crime and life had to get the first bunch down and how he survived the experience is beyond me, but the little bananas were very sweet and lovely. I would love to have a lot more plants in.

The weather is so dry here at the moment and I can't wait for the wet season just so things aren't so crispy. My washing water is running out onto the lawn to keep that alive and if I wasn't so lazy I would bucket it onto the garden a bit more, but at least it is not going to waste. The bore is run onto the vege gardens and I try and time it so it is only on for 5-10min in each section but the rest of the yard is quite dry. The fruit trees in the pots get watered from water saved in a bucket in the shower, and the coffee plant gets the saved water from the laundry tub.

So looking forward to rain and it not being so crispy, and must not forget the yeast :)

Friday, September 18, 2009

Ceylon Spinach and Yam Beans

Some of the seeds I planted have started to show. The snake beans were first and are growing quite quickly, and now the ceylon spinach and yam beans are poking their little leaves through the soil.

I am really glad the ceylon spinach is growing as the last few lots of seeds haven't grown, except some old seeds I put in months ago have now started growing too (go figure). So the new ones are growing like they are supposed to, and hopefully it won't be long till I have put in some stakes for them to climb on.

I have never grown yam beans before and don't even know what they look like (the plant that is). It is actually a vine and you eat the tuber, according to my book "Tropical Food Gardens" it is like an apple when raw or a water chestnut when cooked or substitute for bamboo shoots, also cut into strips to have with dip. The seed and leaves are poisonous, I have been told not to eat anything above ground. So I am looking forward to them growing so I can eat them.

The picture above is of one of my gardens, it has ceylon spinach, yam beans, snake beans, kang kong, some long lived rocket, a small pumpkin,and on the outside at the end are rosella.

Our mulberries are coming on now too, we usually just eat them straight off the tree and our second ever bunch of bananas is coming along rather well too. Though we really must do something about the paw paws, no female plants only males. We also have a lot of limes coming on so I guess we will just have to drink tequila in the hammock or something, the sacrifices we make so we don't waste anything :))

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Green Cleaning

I have been thinking a lot about cleaning this week with my mum arriving this weekend for a visit over the school holidays. I always think about cleaning when visitors are due. So far, I haven't done anything except put a new cover on the bed and put stuff away so mum actually has somewhere to put her bag and a place to sleep. Unfortunately for her, it is our computer/craft/put-stuff-when-there-is-no-where-else-to-put-it room, and it is also the smallest room in a small house.

So, there is a new green happy cover on the bed, which I love, and now I really must start a bit of a clean. Seeing as I avoid chemicals as much as I can, my current household cleaner is one I use on everything, and seeing as I am lazy one product suits me perfectly,I only have to make up one thing.

The recipe I am currently using came from the Simple Savings website and before that I don't know, however, I have read various combinations in some of my books and on different websites. They all use environmentally friendly products and they don't give me a headache, which is pretty important, and also our number one and only son doesn't complain about the horrible smell. He seems to be fairly sensitive (though not in an allergic way) to smells - chemicals, smoke and other strong unpleasant smells.

Anyway here is the recipe for the household cleaner.

Household Cleaner

1 litre water
200ml vinegar
40ml detergent
40ml eucalyptus oil
2 desertspoons washing soda

I just put this into an old bottle and it is ready to go, I clean the kitchen, bathroom, the floors, everything with this, and it leaves and nice clean smell behind. Make sure you put everything into the bottle in this order or it will foam up all over the place, I deviated from the order once, didn't do it again.

Unfortunately, I do have to use bleach for the mould in the bathroom, but I don't use it too often so not too bad, but must get some oil of cloves and try that on the mould. It is supposed to be good and doesn't nearly kill you.

Now I just have to get people to stop buying chemical cleaners when they visit and not to laugh at our more natural ways, at least not to us. I do take the environment seriously and regardless of whether we are to blame or not for climate change, polluting the place we live in is pretty foul. So we try to do the best we can, ignoring all those have a go at us and be individuals and do our own thing.

In saying that here is the laundry gel recipe I have used on and off for years, for the environment, for financial reasons and for when I have run out of my other environmentally friendly washing powder. This recipe has come from books, magazines and the internet, and use vinegar for fabric softner (or not, if you are lazy like me).

Laundry Gel

1 cup grated pure soap
1 cup washing soda
3 buckets or 1 large one

Pour boiling water over the soap flakes and keep stirring until it is disolved, some boil the soap on the stove but I find boiling water is sufficient. Add the washing soda, stir and divide between the buckets or just put into the one big bucket. Add cold water to fill up the buckets. Use 2 to 3 cups of the gel in the washing machine, there will be no suds but there will still be washing going on.

We recently went and bought a large 20 litre bucket with a lid and just use that, I don't have to move it anywhere so it doesn't matter if it is heavy. I have read about adding borax to this recipe to get the clothes whiter but I have read that borax isn't good so I don't put it in, and white clothes are ridiculous anyway. I always spill hot chocolate or drop chocolate on white things without fail, and can never get the stain out (even with sucking the chocolate off) without using a long list of chemicals, so we don't bother with white things.

I will probably go off now and think some more about cleaning (it is the thought that counts isn't it? Well, maybe not in this case so cleaning will eventually be done) I will get around to it, as the house is reasonablely clean, mostly, as I do clean, can't help but clean as we can't live here unless cleaning happens. Plus also there are usually remarks like "Mum, the washing basket is full" and "Mum, there are no cups".

So on we go with our homemade environmetally friendly products, our reuseable bags, our vege garden and our strange ways. We like it like this, and know that there are many kindred spirits out there, waving to all kindred sprits :)

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Space Station and Cake

Another warm day here and I think we skipped spring (if there is such a thing as spring in the tropics) and went straight to summer with worse to come with the humidity.

Our morning started with the usual walk, and looking down the road we could see the haze of smoke under the street lights and of course the smell was in the air. When we got to the beach we saw a beautiful sunrise, a haze of grey then pink/orange/yellow stretched out across the horizon, it was lovely, all because there was fire on one of our mountains.

Yesterday morning, my partner in crime and life pointed out the International Space Station as it sped across the morning sky, and sped it did, I think it was six minutes for it to go from horizon to horizon. It looked just like a large star that was moving quite fast, and then last night when we all went for a walk we saw a smaller satellite, not so bright and you had to have fairly good eyes to see it in the first place. Two in one day, when normally we would see nothing. The place to check these things out is

Today, apart from teaching a Tai Chi class, I made Rocky Road (for a 12year old who wanted it on a whim after seeing it on TV) and a Date Loaf/Cake for which I must thank my friend Joan. She brought it to my Tai Chi workshop last week and then gave me what was left to take home, my partner in crime and life loved it and requested that I get the recipe from Joan. I am sure she won't mind me sharing so here it is (and it is yum)

Date Loaf/Cake

Place in a basin - 4 crushed weetbix
1 cup brown sugar
3 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon bicarb soda
1 1/2 cup diced dates and 1/2 cup ginger
1 cup hot coffee or water

Soak for one hour the add

1 cup SR flour
1 egg

Cook for one hour at 180 degrees

Really easy, and Joan says she uses the coffee instead of water to give extra flavour and she also puts in more ginger than it says as she likes ginger.

Anyway thank you Joan, great cake which I managed not to burn and will be making again.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009


I am starting to think about making lists. These will mainly be in my head but I need to make a list to clean the house before my mum comes to stay for a visit in the school holidays. Though it is also a spring cleaning list, but if it doesn't get done mum will just have to take us as we come, which is usually how people have to take us.

The other list is about having a clean up before the wet season. I know it is only September but we are a bit slow around here so we need to start early. We need to do some trips to the tip to get rid of the palm fronds that keep accumulating, it is a never ending job seeing someone planted lots of them in the yard and we haven't taken many out.

We actually don't have much lying around the yard but it is good to have a clean up and get on the roof and clean the gutters so there are no blockages when it first rains (had that happen a few times, not good to try to clear it in the middle of the night in the pouring rain).

Apparently my Tai Chi workshop was a success, rumour has it everyone loved it but were very tired after. So I am very happy about this.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Bandicoots and Pumpkins

I think bandicoots have been walking over where I planted pumpkin seeds and even though I have chook wire on top they just seem to scrunch it down. The wire is there to keep them off but they don't care and no seeds have germinated yet. I really want the pumpkin to grow down the bottom of the garden so it is out of the way but we'll see how it goes with the creek rising during the wet season, it will either work or not.

Today after some cooking I am going to put some more dirt and fertilizer on one of the gardens and plant some seeds. The garden is in need of work and more plants so maybe more beans and I am not sure what else.

We have been using our homemade liquid fertilizer which smells really bad but we're hoping is good for the garden. So one of the other jobs for the day is to fertilise and it is a nice day to be out in the garden, sunny, sunny, sunny.

It is also a good day for the clothes spinning around on the clothes line, don't understand people who always put their clothes in the drier. The smell of sunny clothes is amazing, and it is environmentally friendly, and it is free, couldn't ask for more.

So I am going to go off and enjoy the day and hopefully get lots done, and ignore the hammock which is calling me to lie in it with a cup of tea and a book (maybe later)

Saturday, September 5, 2009

You Know You Are Getting Old When....

You know you are getting old when the child of the house is out for the night and you have the opportunity to stay up all night and party and sleep really late the next morning and you can't make it. After only a couple of relaxing drinks, kicking back, you then fall asleep on the lounge in front of the TV, drag yourself into bed and then are wake at 7am. So much for an exciting life.

We used to stay up half the night, often till the wee hours, socialising with friends, playing games, whatever and going home about 4am, just because we could. These days, 10.30pm is a late night and 7.30am is a sleep-in, the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak.

And it is not just me, my partner in crime and life is no different and probably worse, and most people we know (our age and older) are also the same. Well, we may not be able to stay up late, but I bet we have a better credit rating than the young, more toys (and all of the day to play with them) and better taste in music. Still just means... not much really, and we don't mind, it is all part of the journey and all the changes that life brings make it a rich one, even if we can't see the New Year in any more :)

Friday, September 4, 2009

Wet Season

Well, yesterday was exhausting, the Tai Chi workshop went well, I covered everything I wanted to and everyone seemed to enjoy it. So hopefully they really did enjoy it but it took so much out of me it will be a while before I do it again. Though must say, I did enjoy it very much, and we got to cover a lot of things they needed to know but we don't get time for in a regular class. Teaching is something I never thought I would enjoy and I love it but only adults.

We had some rain yesterday and I realised that I can't wait for the wet season to start. I love checking the weather every morning and watching storms and the rain, and this year I plan on watching more of them from the hammock out the back.

We get on the Bureau of Meteorology website a few times a day and check out the radar, watch the rain come over and see how heavy it will be. The weather is so interesting at this time of the year, the weather is nicer in the dry season but so predictable that we don't ever check the weather.

So, we still have some time before the wet season but the weather is starting to get hotter and some parts of Australia already have had some very hot weather, but then again the weather all over has been very strange. We haven't even gotten out the extra blanket this year as it wasn't so cold and other places have been extra cold with lots of snow, don't tell me some sort of climate change isn't happening, whatever the reason.

So I guess we will soon be getting ready for the hot, humid weather and also for cyclone season, though they said we wouldn't get much activity this season but I don't think they really know, it is always unpredictable. But it is time to get prepared, so I must make my lists of what needs doing.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Beautiful Mornings

As my partner in crime and life is starting work early this week, I am walking the dog alone, and she sets a cracking pace.

The "Beach" is a lovely place early in the morning, before most people are out and a lot just starting to get ready. There are a lot of older homes here, with all the character that goes with it, louvre windows, verandahs looking out onto the street or the beach, so much better than (in my opinion) than new areas with their soulless houses, blank looking windows and no people out and about. Here there are always kids playing in the street, people walking their dogs and the sounds of the houses. Early morning is a favourite time (never used to be), I get to spend some quiet time with my partner in crime and life before he goes off to work, not speaking much (it is early) but the quality is precious.

The sounds coming out of the houses in the early morning as we walk down the streets to the beach are lovely. First there is the smell of soap and deodorant as people shower and start their day, then then are the breakfast sounds. The clatter of cutlery and plates, and sometimes for some lucky person, the smell of bacon and eggs wafts through the streets.

Sometimes before the sun has risen, we see someone up early, sitting on their verandah, overlooking the ocean, waiting for the sunrise. They are having coffee or tea, their laptop is on the table in front of them, maybe quietly checking the news online or getting those work emails out of the way while it is still quiet. It is a lovely way to start the day very peaceful.

The sounds of the ocean as it laps the rocks, the sky becoming paler as the sun rises, the dog smelling every rock she finds, this makes for a great way to start the day. This morning the sky was a pale pink on the horizon, then a pale blue and some light streaks of clouds going across and all the quiet morning sounds as the "Beach" wakes up, just makes me feel connected with the world somehow.

And next week will be better as my partner in crime and life will be back on his regular work times and will be back walking with us, listening, smelling and seeing the world getting out of bed.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Tai Chi to BMX

I think I must check my garden at least six times a day, just in case anything has changed, usually not. But it does help my decide what I should be doing, like planting more seeds.

The plan is to put seeds in about every two weeks, hasn't happened yet but thought is there. I need to put in more pumpkin over the fence, beans are always good and rosellas and pigeon peas. I really want to have paws paws, but you know, the things you really want are always hard to get. I always seem to get lots of male plants and no females, so I will just plod along and keep trying, though I will pick a different spot and prepare it properly.

I need to do some proper research about what will survive the wet season here, I usually manage to keep some stuff growing, I had rocket that survived last year and gota kola,abika, but I want more. Isabell Shipard's books are the best I have come across with information about all those things I could find elsewhere and more.

I am getting ready to do my first Tai Chi Workshop, I have been teaching for about six years now and haven't done one before so hope I do a good job. If everyone turns up who said they would it will be a large group, so hopefully I will live up to their expectations. So I have been busy getting my notes ready, photocopying, going through my books to see which I will take and planing the workshop programme. I am now not sure I will fit in everything in the three hours, but we can always do another if it is successful.

Of to training for BMX this evening, this is a family event for us as the three of us all race. It is a great sport and there ar other whole families involved but mostly just the kids, and more fathers than mothers. The ladies section is sadly lacking but we have good time racing against the fellows and are working on some other mums to come and give it a go.

My partner in crime and life, is resting for the rest of the year from BMX, though is still training and coaching me. Sadly for him though, I am not very athletic but am working on my techniques and not being so lazy ie pedaling more. Though I did do more pedaling and was going too fast over the jump, didn't control it properly and scared myself silly. Well, back to working on techniques and control and only a little extra speed.