Sunday, February 28, 2010

We are going to be offline again :( for a few days while we wait for a new modem to arrive. Apparently the one we have has a problem and that is why we keep dropping in and out all the time. So hopefully this will fix it and we’ll be all good, really hope so.

Our laundry and bathroom are together now. In our other house we had a large bathroom and a large laundry, now we have a large laundry/bathroom, therefore less room than before.

It is actually a good arrangement, you really don’t need that much space and you only keep what you need. The setup actually works quite well and I guess it depends on what you normally keep in your laundry, I have a bit.

So we are going to put in two extra cupboards, one above the laundry tub and one above where the ironing board is kept. This will give us extra storage for toilet paper (can never have too much), old towels (we always need these) and washing powder, vinegar etc.

We can’t use just any old cleaning product out here because of the septic system we have. Best cleaning products are vinegar, bicarb and washing soda, and this suits me fine. If we use other products like bleach, anti-bacterial stuff etc it will kill the septic system and then will cost us a bit to get fixed, it works on good bacteria and you have to be careful not to kill them.

Apparently you can use anything that is biodegradable but not all claims are correct so sticking with the natural stuff works good. Of course no oils can be put down the drain, or chemicals or disinfectants.

So I clean with vinegar mainly and the washing powder I use is on their good list so no change there. I use the Planet Ark washing powder and have for a long time so am pleased that this is a good one according to others, I do use the minimum amount that I can anyway.

I wipe out the shower after use to keep it dry and mould free and throw around some vinegar every now and again, no mould so far. Everything else gets wiped down with vinegar and putting some vinegar in the toilet when we go out keeps it clean too.

I do also use my own homemade cleaner which has 1 litre water, 200ml vinegar, 40ml detergent, 40ml eucalyptus oil and 2 dsp washing soda, I clean a lot with this but don’t put any down the sink because o the eucalyptus oil. I am pretty sure it won’t hurt as it is not much but better safe that sorry and so far no problems.

I do the dishes in a basin in the sink and throw the water out into the paddock. My main reason for this at the moment is the sink is a plastic disgusting sink that needs replacing and I refuse to use it, but the other reason is so that no nasties go down the drain, like oil. So when the sink is replaced I will still sometimes use the basin depending on what is being washed up.

All this works well for the greenie in me and I no longer have to explain about why I do a certain thing, just need to say “it will kill the septic system” and it will be the truth.

Except when people ask why do we no longer have a clothes dryer I just have to say there is no room in the laundry/bathroom. I can’t be bothered explaining that we rarely use it anyway, wear and tear on your clothes is greater, power bill higher therefore the environmental cost is higher (even for only a little use) and no there is just no room at the inn :)

Friday, February 26, 2010

This Internet connection is driving us crazy. So this will be the third blog posted today (if I can get back on). I have posted one of yesterdays before the connection went down and have another one and I am doing this one just because I can (well, maybe I can, not sure yet)

Our new water tank will be arriving next week and we are so glad. Can’t wait for it to fill up so we can have lots of water, it is even a matching colour, it should be anyway. I hope the delivery of the tank is less eventful that the delivery of the container :)

I saw the baby ducks yesterday and they have grown so much since the last time I saw them. They are about half the size of the parent they were with and still cute. The plover babies are also growing, they are now slightly bigger than a small ball, and are here on and off. Of course there is always one that just has to roam more than the others, we can find two not the third and then we see him off further than the rest. The parent then yells at them and they come running, quite funny.

Of course it would rain now, we eventually found the sheets from the bed of our number one and only son. I was searching all the boxes with no luck and then yesterday my partner in crime and life turned up with them, still at the other house. So now I am washing them all but the rain has just kicked in, typical, guess another day of washing hanging around the house :(

So now I had best turn off the computer and restart it to see if I can reboot it and get the internet going again, never had so much problem, hope this is resolved soon. I am sitting here rolling my eyes every time it goes off but such is life got to live with it, so onward :)
I have just done the grocery shopping and wow, how expensive was that? How do people manage? I usually shop for fruit and vegetables at the markets and I try a go to the butchers for meat, so my bill is usually much lower than what I paid today.

I got everything at the supermarket and I did buy some luxuries like coffee, juice, cheese and of course chocolate :) but most of the bill was fruit and vege and meat. I am sure that if the supermarkets sourced their produce from local farmers it would be much cheaper. I do know that when they have bought locally, the produce leaves the area to go to a major city, to a central distribution centre then back out again, some of which then comes back to the area of origin. How crazy is that, there must be a better way, but that is a big company for you.

I guess that is why it is best to shop with the local guys, you get cheaper and fresher, and know that your food hasn’t travelled thousands of kilometers to get to your table.

I like to buy organic when I can, local organic is better, sometimes I can’t get either, I know I should then give it a miss but usually don’t. Buying seasonally is better too, as you know that the produce hasn’t been sitting in cold storage for who knows how long, or has been imported from Brazil, Spain or Russia (not sure what they produce in Russia but you get the idea).

We have an organic shop here which I go to regularly for some stuff, and must say I haven’t asked where the produce comes from but I will (it is now on the list of things to do) but I am pretty sure most are local. I don’t mind paying a little more for it as it does taste better and if nothing else I know that it hasn’t been sprayed with all sorts of nasties. I am also pretty sure that they only have seasonal produce, another thing I must ask.

I once asked at our local markets where the carrots came from, remembering that these market were originally for local farmers to sell their stuff. Anyway the carrots came from WA, and we are in QLD, far north QLD, I didn’t buy those carrots as I know we grow them here.

There is a lot of local produce at the markets so I just pick and choose which stalls I buy from. As I get to know some of the stallholders, and I usually have a bit of a chat, I have found out where they are from and so go back to the locals that actually grow their own stuff.

The banana lady is one of my favourites at the markets, they are from not too far away and have lovely bananas and she is always happy and loves a chat with everyone. She also usually gives the kids a banana for free, a lovely lady :)

So, needless to say, I need to get myself together and get going back to the markets, the organic shop and the butchers, their stuff is so much fresher and the experience of shopping is better than the supermarket.

I was talking with a couple after class today and we were discussing gardens, and they said that they just put all their scraps into the garden as compost (dig a hole and put the kitchen scraps in). They went away on holidays and when they came back found sweet potato growing and some other things that they are going to wait and see what they are. What a great way to garden, I do this from time to time and you end up with this wonderful wild garden with surprises everywhere, they are enjoying discovering what is growing.

This reminded me that I had best get my sweet potato in, so I dug it up out of my old garden and have (for the time being) put it into a large pot. I just cut off the ends with some roots and plant on the end and kept the rest for eating, so I really hope they take.

Though, I must add, it doesn’t get any fresher than the cucumbers picked this morning and brought to Tai Chi class today to share with everyone. I came home with a lovely cucumber which will be added into our salads, and knowing that it was grown just down the road in a backyard veggie garden with love, will make it taste so much better :)
Our Internet connection seems to drop in and out at will, and that seems to be the norm for wireless Internet in a rural area. My partner in crime and life has decided that a bigger antenna will fix it, isn’t that just like a man?

What is also just like a man, is deciding that having the desktop computer living on top of the bedroom. So up it went, they love it, the ladder gets put up every evening so they can climb up and play. It is a good spot as it is out of the way, and we probably are able to say that we are the only people that have a computer on the ceiling of the bedroom.

Our dam has been overflowing with all the rain we have had, but yesterday was a day of no rain so the overflow from next doors dam has eased. However the dam looks lovely, very, very full and shiny, when the sun is out it is shiny, like a mirror.

The dog enjoys the dam and has a swim every day, our number one and only son enjoys swimming in it too, but comes out rather dirty as he stirs up the dirt on the bottom. The dog probably gets dirty too but we can’t see that so it doesn’t count.

Off to my Thursday Tai Chi class today, then to do some work at the other house, to the library and then some shopping. Busy day all day but I don’t mind as I haven’t been out all week this week, and I think that I will enjoy it because of that (though have really, really enjoyed not going out and being able to work at home). I always enjoy my class anyway, as the company is so good.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

I like tea in teapot, I don’t do it as often as I should, but now I have a bigger kitchen, I think it will be easier to get to.

I like to have my teapot and two cups on the bench under a food cover, sitting on a cloth thingy (the name of which escapes me right now) that my Aunt made. She also made some lovely potholders as well.

A friend of mine always uses a tea pot, I love having tea at her house as it tastes really good, maybe the company makes it all that much better. She only uses loose leaf tea and blends two types of tea together which makes a lovely tea, thing is I can never remember which teas she blends. (Note to self, must write that down)

Loose leaf tea is also more environmentally friendly, no little paper bags that may or may not have been bleached. There is the lack of packaging, only the box the tea comes in, I keep meaning to get loose leaf tea but I really have a lot of tea to drink first before I can do that. Every time I see an interesting tea I buy it, so I am on a no tea buying challenge :)

So, I just throw a tea bag in the pot and some hot water and off I go. There is of course the ritual with the teapot, my partner in crime and life insists that you must spin the teapot three times and tap it on the lid (once I think, or is it twice?). Don’t really know where that came from, probably some old wives thing that has been passed down through the ages and whose origins have been lost in time :)

I think the spinning thing is to help stir the tea through the water and the tapping the lid…. Well, I don’t know, maybe to indicate that the spinning has now finished.

I really hate getting a cuppa in a paper cup, no takeaways for me, at least not when I can help it. I like a ceramic cup, I don’t drink coffee (yuk) but have chai tea and hot chocolate when out and about, so sometimes have a glass, as long as it isn’t paper.

My mother-in-law apparently insists on a handle with her cup. A lot of places give you cups and mugs with no handles but with a serviette wrapped around the body of the cup. I can understand wanting a handle.

This reminds me of that song, I think these are the correct words, though I guess it is like Chinese whispers, and all those songs which you can’t quite catch the words too, it may be a bit distorted from the original.

What I want is a proper cup of coffee
Made in a proper cuppa coffee pot
I may be off my dot
But I want a cuppa coffee in a proper coffee pot

Tin coffee pots and iron coffee pots
They’re no use to me
So…if I can’t have a proper cuppa coffee in a proper cuppa coffee pot
I’lllllll, have a cup of tea.


Tuesday, February 23, 2010

The rain has been coming down during the night and this morning we had 35mm in the rain gauge. It was still pouring down this morning so no early morning walk for us today, the dog refuses to get out of bed on these days.

Last night I cooked a meal that is hugely popular in our house. It is a recipe that my mother-in-law gave me years ago, it is simple and doesn't require lots of unusual ingredients and in our days of no money was made a lot.

I don't know where the recipe originally came from but it makes heaps and there is always enough for lunches. I always add in more vegetables and also a can of beans, so here is the basic recipe, I know my mother-in-law won't mind me sharing.


500g mince
2-3 carrots
small cup rice
1 small onion
1/4 shredded cabbage
chicken noodle soup
3 cups water
curry powder to taste

Brown mince and onion in a little oil. Sprinkle soup, rice, carrots into pan, and add water and curry powder. Simmer for 10-15min, then stir in the cabbage and season with salt.

That is it, kids love this as it is simple and doesn't have weird veges in it, but I do add more veges, just whatever extra I have in the house, and the beans never get noticed by anyone so they are a a good addition. I also think it would be good as a Sheppard pie or wrapped in puff pastry, that would make it easy for the lunch box too.

My partner in crime and life came home starving last night, wet and a bit cold and he ate two bowls of this to fill the hole in his belly, he took it for lunch today and so did our number one and only son. Though I am surprised that it wasn't eaten for breakfast, a lot of leftovers are had for breakfast here, as things like toast and cereal are very boring.

So I had best go and see what is the freezer for tonight, so I can try and make something interesting, which means searching my recipe books. I can't create anything myself, don't have that much imagination on my own :)

Monday, February 22, 2010

The baby plovers have finally hatched out and they are so cute. We have endured a month or so of being swooped by the parents and not being able to mow that section of the paddock.

They are actually called Masked Lapwing, and are a protected species despite that people think they are a pest. If you can put up with them for about a month or so, the babies hatch and then they are gone, all the swooping and screaming is only about protecting their family, and that is fair.

Ours didn't cause us much grief, they did some screaming, and of course they didn't like the men who live here as they made some aggressive moves (like trying to look at the nest). If you don't get too close and ignore them they only seem to be a bit noisy, and they seem to like the ride-on mower as they can get more bugs and things.

The behaviour of the mother had changed in the last couple of days, and then yesterday my partner in crime and life woke me up early (on a Sunday) to see the babies playing in our mud. They are very cute, little and round and short, there was three of them and whenever there was some perceived danger the parent would call out and they would bob down and disappear. However I do think the parents had some trouble reigning them in and keeping them under control, like most parents I think :)

So after playing at our back door for a while, they gradually moved off and are gone. So, after seeing the mother nesting every time I looked out, and hearing them screaming at us for some transgression, they are just gone, and have taken their little balls of fluff. I feel strangely alone, but in a good way, as I can now walk across the paddock in peace.

Actually, I would walk across the paddock if it wasn't raining. I suppose I could if I put on my gum boots and raincoat, but the view from here is pretty good and the dog is all curled up in her bed (she is not a rain dog) and the water is splashing away into the dogs' pool.

The tank must be filling and the dogs' pool is overflowing, all good things, I have become obsessed with the rain and now we have our new rain gauge up, am keeping a log of how much rain we are getting. Doesn't seem like much in the gauge, 8 1/2mm, 16mm or 5 1/2mm, but it is a lot on the roof. Still waiting on the new tank but if we keep getting this sort of rain, this regularly, then when it does get here it won't take long to fill :)

Friday, February 19, 2010

Still connected, YAY. We have had some rain, thunder, lightening the whole bit, yesterday there was 21mm in the rain gauge and this morning there was 16mm, keep it coming and that rain tank full.

I am not a shoe person at all, if is comfortable than I wear it, don't wear heels, must have some tread, must be comfortable. However I must mention my last acquisition, the best shoes I have bought in a while (I don't buy shoes), they don't match any skirt but I can wear them with my shorts or with jeans and It doesn't matter if they get wet. They are not stylish but very practical, they are my new gum boots.

Aren't they pretty.

Of course they perfectly match the holey straw hat that seems to be glued to my head these days.

Here is my kitchen, I hope in the very near future will be organised enough and have benches clear enough for me to get back into cooking. I actually bought a packet of biscuits the other day, apart from rice biscuits I can't remember the last time I bought a packet of biscuits. It is so not us to have bought biscuits that I even feel weird eating them, and I really don't want to think about what is in them, so I won't :)

My camping cupboard is still sitting on the veranda with the tool cupboard, when my partner in crime and life gets home we will be able to move them into containers and get them out of the way. Mind you, I don't think we will be doing much camping for a while, though it is nearly like camping here a the moment with all the wandering around in the mud and all :)

I am feeling very time poor at the moment, spending so much time driving up and down the mountain for the school run and various other things. However the bus is back on Monday, though we now have to meet it at 7.30am, fifteen minutes earlier than before (much groaning from me). Anyway, I am looking forward to having the time to do the things I should be doing like cooking and gardening and getting on with our new life here. Should be only a few more weeks and routine will start to kick in, YAY :)

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

We are still actually connected, so I have emailed people to let them know our email address, however the connection does seem to drop out from time to time so we are hoping we are still online in a week. We have given ourselves a week to sort it all out, I think it will be fine, as long as I don't have to swing off the roof again any time soon :)

We had our new container arrive yesterday and what a mess. The truck got bogged in the middle of the paddock, twice, and the second time we couldn't get it out. The poor truck driver, he was a really nice guy and he had to wait all day for someone to come out. That is actually making a very long story short, so in point form here are some details.

* The truck was bogged about three foot
* It was very hot.
* There was lots of digging going on.
* There a very large truck stuck in the paddock which wasn't going anywhere
* The truck was listing to the left
* The truck kept getting lower
* It wasn't funny till way, way later
* We now have a huge muddy mess to fix including drainage pipes that got squished.
* We are probably going to get another bill.

This is a happy photo of the container before things started going wrong.

I had to drive our number one and only son to school today (please let this be the last day and the bus be on the road tomorrow) so while I was there I went and bought a new shovel. Well, let me tell you, buying a shovel is like buying a letterbox, there are lots of different kinds.

There are post hole shovels, square shovels, light shovels, pointed shovels (not sure if that was a name but the look pointed), shifting shovels, digging shovels, digging and shifting shovels (I got one of these, it is also pointed), long handled shovels. Now don't get these confused with spades, the difference between the two is a spade is girly thing and a shovel is a manly man thing. There is nothing wrong with girly things (like spades) but a manly shovel is much tougher (and spoken in a much lower manly voice), so we have a manly, tough, digging and shifting shovel.

Last night we had another blackout, it was the second on in a month, not sure how regular this will be but we are ready. We have torches, rechargeable batteries and solar charger, solar charger for the all important IPOD belonging to our number one and only son(unfortunately for him I don't think I have unpacked it yet) and of course we have our handy dandy generator. This is currently sitting on the front veranda with the rest of our stuff, and so is close to the meter box if we have a blackout and I need to plug it in and start it :)

So I had now better go and start putting everything back into the original container, the one that didn't get moved due to unforseen circumstances :) It will be staying put and we now have to create a plan D for the extension. So best go do some work and work off those biscuits I just ate :)

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

I think I might actually be back online. Last night I was hanging off the peak of our roof helping my partner in crime and life attach an antenna so we could receive more than one bar (reception wise). So now we have two bars and that, it seems, is all we need to receive good reception. Though of course my partner in crime and life wants to eventually make it much taller, not sure why, guess it is man thing, everything must be bigger, faster, taller, smaller.

We look like the Beverly Hillbilly's at the moment. You know when they are in their truck, piled high with trunks and furniture and Granny sitting in her chair on the top. Well, that is our house at the moment (without Granny) and today it is worse because the shipping container we ordered arrives today so we had to empty the other one so it can be moved. So lots of things piled up on the veranda and out the back and my partner in crime and life isn't sure why we bother to lock up as there is so much outside.

Our other house is slowly getting tidied up, we have decided to rent it rather than try and sell it. It is still taking longer than we hoped to get organised with it all and my partner in crime and life is working very hard to get it done, we are finding it a bit hard trying to stay on top of everything, get that place done, get things done here running up and down the mountain to do the school run while the bus is off the road (couldn't have happened at a worse time for us with everything going on)and do the regular stuff like washing and cooking. However, when it is all finished with it will be worth it and we will be able to get on with things like gardens and stuff and just being here.

We have finally put away the camping chairs, we now have a lounge to sit on but can barely cook in the kitchen as there is so much in there and we have to look through twenty cupboards before we find that thing we are looking for. I guess it will get organised in time, and hope no-one wants to visit too soon as not sure where the tea is :)

But the sunsets are worth it, and so are the sunrises with the flock of white cockatoos that we disturb when we walk past. This is what we have always wanted and when we have done the initial hard yards we can really enjoy being here :)

Friday, February 12, 2010

Well, I finally have a washing machine and don’t have to work as hard as a pioneer woman. They must have had it hard, and no wonder they only washed once a week, and yes it would have taken all day. I have been washing by hand for only about three or so weeks and all I can say is thank goodness for modern technology that has given us electricity, running water, computers, the telephone, toasters, temperature controlled ovens, and of course washing machines :)

We still don’t have the Internet connected but it has been promised that it is on the way….. I really miss the Internet. So a blog about once a week is all I can get on (hopefully that will change soon) but my partner in crime and life told me to keep writing anyway so I will, then I may post them all at once :)

We are still moving up here and another big push this weekend is on the way with us again hiring a truck to bring (hopefully) the rest of the furniture. We are living around boxes and stuff piled up till it gets here and hopefully with a bit of decluttering it will all fit.

We have now ordered our new water tank and have discovered that the current tank isn’t as big as we were led to believe. It is a 5,000 gallon (23,700 L approx) tank, not a 30,000 L tank (6,500 gallon approx.) that we were told, but that is OK, another one the same size is on the way. We are going to connect them and I expect them to be full at the end of the wet (actually well before that). We had to move a big pile of rocks were the new tank will go, and our number one and only son must have been thinking he might have to call the someone about child labor laws, but he survived. We are still yet to level the area but we have a couple of weeks before it arrives to get the area ready.

We have built ourselves an outdoor shower. Yes, we can now stand in the buff next to the dam and clean all that dirt and grass and sweat and grime off under a cold bore water shower. I think it is a very pretty shower, and we have decided that it is one of the many luxuries we have here. After mowing, moving piles of rocks, brush-cutting we are very dirty and hot (in a clean way for those whose minds tend to run away from them) and stripping off and getting clean is great (and we don’t have to drop grass and dirt though our shouse).

A shouse is what we are living in, part shed, part house and the word was created by a very smart eight year old who visited up here just before the move. I quite like the word and am sticking to it.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

I Am Still Here

Well, I am having Internet withdrawal symptoms. Our number one son and myself and now permanently residing on our new plot of land and we still have no Internet. I feel so isolated, I can't read the news, I can't read my sites that I go to daily and I can't write my blog. I am on another computer just to try and catch up while we are waiting to have wireless Internet connected in a rural area GGRRRR I guess some things were not meant to be easy, and those are the things we really want so I suppose they are worth the hard yards.

I can't post any photos yet but am taking quite a few, though not sure if I will post one of myself in my new gum boots, old faded shorts, old holey straw hat and our new brush-cutter that I am using to cut a path to the creek and scare away the snakes. I think just my look would be enough without the very loud sound of a power tool.

We are enjoying it up there and don't seem to want to come to town, it is quiet and much cooler. We have met our neighbours and both seem good, one even invited us over for a few drinks on the weekend and we met all the family, they have kids the same age as our number one and only son and there are a few other floating around.

I started back Tai Chi classes today and it was great to catch up with everyone, I am dropping one class and will only do that one once a month and they will practice without me on the other weeks. I felt bad doing this but it is the practical thing to do and I will still continue with the other class. I plan on inviting my Tai Chi friends up when the dry comes and I am a little more organised (mainly with more chairs).

Well must go, I have school kids to pick up and take home, would you believe it, after only three days at school the school bus is taken off the road for two weeks to have work done. We are now sharing the school run with another dad and the bus driver has promised us a discount on our bus fare.

So much for only coming into town once a week, the best laid plans and all that, oh well......

Hopefully we will get the Internet soon so I can get back into my blog, I haven't really gone away, just hovering around and waiting, I hope it is not too difficult :)