Saturday, 31 January 2015

In Garden Therapy - Dont Disturb

So when someone asks "Where's Lynda" you can tell them she's having therapy. That would mean I'm out in my garden. Truly I'm feeling so good that i stopped taking anti-depressants before Christmas and managed to get through the crazy season.  Way to go for sharing Lynda.  Just tell the world you are a loony.  Well I'm not, I'm just extremely emotional and FEEL everything, even when its a fictional character or (hello!) a TV commercial. Some people have a little sniffle, I'm totally wrecked.  So, the news is that I'm doing more than OK and much of that has to do with my garden, my family, friends and the motley crew of  bloggers that i check in with each day.  Thank you to all!

The yellows of the sunflowers and zucchini blooms are waving their magic over me. The dark green knobbly cucumbers and the weird shaped Tromboncino are in-sighting me to laughter. Its all so beautiful and abundant. I cant see any major bad bugs anywhere.  I've not sprayed a thing.  Just companion planting, plenty of water, lots of poop when necessary and laying down the grass clippings when the soil is exposed. The soil has a soft moist doona on top of it.  The only fly in my ointment is the occasional half eaten cherry tomato or strawberry from visiting birds which is nothing when i read in other blogs of the vast array of creatures invading gardens elsewhere.

My wall of tomatoes are providing me with an abundance of produce and our meals are based around them.

Oh my goodness, lets just pause and take a moment shall we.  

When you look at this basket of today's morning pickings, then you know that lunch is going to look a lot like this.

It looks like its swimming cheese but it was just a sprinkle, honest.  So yum...  When i was making the tomato base i looked and found that i didn't have any Italian Herbs.  DOH!  Hello!  its growing outside duffa!

So when husband brings home even more tomatoes from work (I'm not the only one having a good crop) then i feel a pasta sauce coming on.  Six hours later, the smell is right through the house.

My latest thing is adding a few slices of salami to the sauce while its cooking.  It really enhances the flavour.  I dont remove skins, in they go chopped.  I was missing carrots but im sure it will taste as good as it smells.  
My tomato futures.  You didn't think I'd put all my eggs in one basket did you.  In fact there are tomatoes in every one of the eight beds because they are coming up all over the yard.  This crop is about a month behind the other one and has been protected from the heat.  They are mostly heritage varieties.   I've opened it up now to get some sun and i will have to trim back a few stems to open it up to air.  That's lovely job for cool evenings.

The lettuce bed is now providing me with a daily salad.  I need to stagger the crops better as I've had a month of no fresh lettuce.  Shopping in your back yard is real convenient when you are making lunches at 5.30am.  You can just see one of the poles that are painted and ready to go in for my espaliered fence garden.

Egg Shells - more therapy.  I save all the eggs shells for the week.  They are washed as used and then dried on the window sill in the kitchen.  (Great decor).  On a weekend morning, i take them out with a cup of coffee into the pergola and while enjoying the view i break them up by hand.  Its very therapeutic.  Try it. There is that initial ouch factor and then over time they break up until its quite grainy like sand.   This is about half way.  I add it to my soil, worm farm or on top of soil around the lettuce to stop slugs and snails.  

Tom's vertical pumpkin frame is working well.   I cant wait till its covered.  The cucumbers are in there as well.

Not everything is perfect.  I have leaf curl on my mandarin tree.  Dr Google tells me that since its also yellowing i might have a potassium deficiency and i also need to keep the water up.  I'm not seeing any little bugs but a dose of while oil wont hurt.  I had one mandarin last year and now i have about a dozen on my small potted tree. 
OK, i think I've bored you all with the garden overview but really, not much is happening at the moment, which i guess is a blessed relief.  While I've been playing here the sauce has finished and I've made tonight's dinner.

Creamy cauliflower, bacon & corn chowder - with the late addition of yellow zucchini.  It was yummy.
Today's menu was brought to you by the following inspiration.

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Tuesday, 20 January 2015

One rule for All - Aged Pensions

As reported in many of the daily papers and on the news today

Treasurer Joe Hockey says changes to Medicare and pensions are needed because a future generation could live to the age of 150. 

Wow!  Do you really want to live to 150?

I don't often get political but sometimes things flow into your email box that jump out at you and you think to yourself "i agree with this". 

I'm not stupid (at least i don't think i am) but i understand the numbers game when it comes to an ageing population, greater life expectancy, a fairly static number of taxpayers and the ability to fund the public purse. The money has to come from somewhere BUT the proposed changes to the aged pension, medicare, centrelink payments etc should apply to all Australian, including politicians.  They are no better than any voter.

I do not dispute the salaries of politicians.  When you pay peanuts, you get monkeys.  I want our politicians o be educated, experienced and successful in their chosen field.  I want to be proud of those that represent us both domestically and internationally.  Can i sneak in here that i am as proud of Julie Bishop (Minister for Foreign Affairs) as i am embarrassed by Mr Abbot (Prime Minister).   As compensation for foregoing what for many would be quite substantial salaries in the general workforce, they should receive a decent salary whilst working in Government.  I do however agree with the following that this salary/compensation for public service should have a time limit.    

Take a look at these numbers and see if you think that its a bit rich for those on the gravy train to be dictating what we voters can live on in retirement (WHEN we are allowed to retire that is) when they have given themselves very generous perks.  

This is the email i received from several people this week.  

I absolutely agree, if a pension isn't an entitlement, neither is theirs. They keep telling us that paying us an aged pension isn't sustainable.
Paying politicians all the perks they get is even less sustainable! The politicians themselves, in Canberra, brought it up, that the Age of Entitlements is over:

The author is asking each addressee to forward this email to a minimum of twenty people on their address list; in turn ask each of those to do likewise.
At least 20 if you can. In three days, most people in Australia will have this message. This is one idea that really should be passed around because the rot has to stop somewhere.

Proposals to make politicians shoulder their share of the weight now that the Age of Entitlement is over

1. Scrap political pensions.
Politicians can purchase their own retirement plan, just as most other working Australians are expected to do.

2. Retired politicians (past, present & future) participate in Centrelink.
A Politician collects a substantial salary while in office but should receive no salary when they're out of office.
Terminated politicians under 70 can go get a job or apply for Centrelink unemployment benefits like ordinary Australians.
Terminated politicians under 70 can negotiate with Centrelink like the rest of the Australian people.

3. Funds already allocated to the Politicians' retirement fund be returned immediately to Consolidated Revenue.
This money is to be used to pay down debt they created which they expect us and our grandchildren to repay for them.

4. Politicians will no longer vote themselves a pay raise. Politicians pay will rise by the lower of, either the CPI or 3%.
5. Politicians lose their privileged health care system and participate in the same health care system as ordinary Australian people.
I.e. Politicians either pay for private cover from their own funds or accept ordinary Medicare.

6. Politicians must equally abide by all laws they impose on the Australian people.
7. All contracts with past and present Politicians men/women are void effective 31/12/14.
The Australian people did not agree to provide perks to Politicians, that burden was thrust upon them.
Politicians devised all these contracts to benefit themselves.
Serving in Parliament is an honour not a career.
The Founding Fathers envisioned citizen legislators, so our politicians should serve their term(s), then go home and back to work.

If each person contacts a minimum of twenty people, then it will only take three or so days for most Australians to receive the message. Don't you think it's time?

THIS IS HOW YOU FIX Parliament and help bring fairness back into this country!

If you agree with the above, pass it on. If not, just delete

If your wonder why the above individuals are asking for your help look at the figures below.
Date of Effect 1 July 2014
Specified Statutory Office
Base Salary  (per annum)
Total Remuneration for office  (per annum)
 Chief of the Defence Force > $535,100  -     $764,420
Commissioner of Taxation > $518,000   -    $740,000
Chief Executive Officer, Australian Customs
And Border Protection Service > $483,840  -      $691,200
Auditor-General for Australia > $469,150  -  $670,210
Australian Statistician > $469,150 - $670,210
Salaries of retired Prime Minister and Politicians
Additional salary (%)
Salary as of 1 July
Prime Minister
Deputy Prime Minister
Leader of the Opposition
House of Reps Speaker
Leader of the House
Minister in Cabinet
Parliamentary secretary
Other ministers
Shadow minister
So if I press all the right buttons, the TOTAL annual wages for the 150 seats in the Parliament are:
Prime Minister
Deputy Prime Minister
Leader of the Opposition
House of Reps Speaker
Leader of the House
Minister in Cabinet
Parliamentary secretary
Other ministers*
307,329  x 71 =  A$21,820,359
Shadow ministers*
$243,912  x 71 =  A$17,317,752

The TOTAL ANNUAL SALARIES (for 150 seats) =
 $41,694,311 - PER YEAR!
And that’s just the Federal Politicians, no one else!
For the ‘lifetime’ payment example (below) I used the scenario that:
1.   They are paid ‘lifetime’ salaries the same as their last working year and
2.   After retiring, the average pollie’s life expectancy is an additional 20 years (which is not unreasonable).
It’s worth remembering that this is EXCLUDING all their other perks!
SO, for a 20 years ‘lifetime’ payment (excluding wages paid while a Parliamentarian)
Prime Minister                    @ $507,338  = A$10,146,760
Deputy Prime Minister    @ $400,016  = A$8,000,320
Treasurer                            @ $365,868  = A$7,317,360
Leader of the Opposition  @ $360,990  = A$7,219,800
House of Reps Speaker     @ $341,477  = A$6,829,540
Leader of the House          @ $341,477  = A$6,829,540
Minister in Cabinet             @ $336,599  = A$6,731,980
Parliamentary secretary  @ $243,912  = A$4,782,240
Other ministers**              @ $307,329  = A$6,146,580 x 71 = A$436,407,180
Shadow ministers**           @ $243,912  = A$4,878,240 x 71 = A$346,355,040
TOTAL ‘life time’ (20 year) payments, (excluding wages paid while in parliament) = A$833,886,220 OVER $833 MILLION
Julia Gillard, Kevin Rudd, John Howard, Paul Keating, Malcolm Fraser, Bob Hawke, et al, add nauseum,are receiving $10 MILLION + EXTRA at taxpayer expense.
Should an elected PM serve 4 years and then decide to retire, each year (of the 4 years) will have cost taxpayers an EXTRA Two and a half million bucks a year! A$2,536,690 to be precise.
A 2 year retirement payment cut-off will SAVE our Oz bottom line A$792,201,909  *** NEARLY $800 MILLION.
There are 150 seats in House, minus the 8 above = 142 seats, divided equally for example = 71 each for both shadow and elected ministers.
This example excludes all wages paid while a parliamentarian AND all perks on top of that - travel, hotels, Secretarial staff, speech writers, restaurants, offices, chauffeured limos, security, etc. etc.
150 seats, 20-year payment of A$833,886,220 less annual salary x 2 years of A$83,388,622. [$41,694,311 x 2]

“Instead of giving a politician the keys to the city, it might be better to change the locks.”
 Doug Larson (English middle-distance runner who won gold medals at the 1924 Olympic Games in Paris, 1902-1981)

You’re Right, you have found where the cuts should be made!
Action: Push for a MAX 2 year post retirement payment (give ‘em time to get a real job). Spread it far and wide folks. People should know.
Dr. Dale Kerwin
School of Education
MT Gravatt Campus
Grifffith University
ph. 07 3735 5884
fax. 07 3735 5991

Now there are some interesting figures above.  Some that many ordinary Aussies would not be aware of. Change is good but that change needs to apply to everyone.   

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Saturday, 17 January 2015

Garden Joy '

Honest, at the moment there is nothing that brings me as much joy as spending time just playing in the garden, picking a few veggies and then displaying them on the table.  Promise i will eat them, but i can take few pictures and just look at them a moment, cant I?  

Veggies and flowers in harmony.

I know i said i didn't want marrows this year but these don't seem to be getting any bigger. Grow my babies. I think ill give them some more worm pee.

I'm losing a lot of strawberries these days, so I've lifted them up even higher.  Surely Tilly can't eat them up here.


At last the new crop of lettuce is almost ready to eat.

Crazy shaped tomatoes  - I tell you i'm in the dark this year.  I mixed the seed up and i don't know what's up .  I'll just eat them anyway.   I

Homemade blackberry yogurt.

Nope, didn't grow this one or make it (might have married him), but he does comes in handy in the garden sometimes.  He was given a sign for his garage for Christmas.   It didn't need it as its definitely his domain, full of boys workshop tools, electronic doo dads and stored things that of course, will come in handy one day.

While i'm off topic, are you as incensed as i am about these being on sale the first week of January.  Crazy.

I haven't learned any new skills for ages and so I've little to share that might stimulate, educate or even amuse. You'll just have to admire my veggies.

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You Too Can Be Beautiful

Nope, I'm not giving make-up advice or recommending a plastic surgeon.  I was raised to believe that WHO you are on the inside is reflected on your outward appearance. Not everyone looks like a model (i certainly don't) but by being clean, groomed and by paying attention to your spiritual and emotional health you can be more beautiful than you thought possible.  Certainly you can avoid that deep crease between your brows if your face is relaxed, fresh and smiling.  You don't need a lot of money, only personal effort.

I've put together just a few thoughts on how to be a beautiful person inside.  I'm a work in progress.  If you are as well, feel free to add onto my list in the comments and I'll edit them in.

Negativity is a curse to all, including you. It makes you grumpy and turns you into someone that no-one would want to be with.  Find the positives in any situation or at the very least look for the opportunity to improve a negative one.   Being positive is a choice YOU make.

Offering the best of yourself to others is truly a gift and one that is often a catalyst for friendships. I value my friends like gold. Why wouldn't anyone want to spend time with you?.  You make them feel good.  Giving compliments and encouragement to others (including strangers) feeds your soul as well as theirs.  Bringing a smile to someones face is a gift to yourself.  The gift is in the giving as well as the receiving.

There's a saying "rubbish in, rubbish out".   I'm not talking about what we eat and drink but about what you watch on TV,  what you listen too, where you go and who you spend your time with. If it or they don't add something positive to your life then why have it in your life?  Its a personal preference but i don't watch horror movies, or anything with gratuitous violence.  Aggression frightens me so why would i choose to allow it into my home.  Why would i volunteer to experience negative feelings when i can i can choose to grow with positive experiences.  

Sometimes, we don't have a choice in situations and we just have to deal with stuff.  We should all be like Taylor Swift and "Shake it off, Shake it Off" rather than brood and wallow in the muck.  Self pity is definitely not attractive on anyone.  Just watch people run away or make excuses to leave.


Don't dwell on what you cant do but what you can.  We all have special and unique gifts that when we give them our attention and focus we can shine with confidence.   No one is expected to know everything.  Gosh, that would be tiring.  So admit what you cant do, ask for help (usually it makes people feel good when you ask them for help) and focus on your special gifts.

I could go on and on but I'm hoping you get my drift with what I'm so poorly expressing.  Let your light shine and you will be a bright as a star.  

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Saturday, 10 January 2015

Lets Gather

In Rhonda's Weekend Reading List (here) she listed an article called "Our Year Without Groceries" which certainly had me hooked.   Fantastic article but then i kept reading the others in the issue.   Its addictive, i just want more.  So inspirational.  See if you can resist.

Issue 1 - Come Together

Issue 2 - Wellness

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Thursday, 8 January 2015

Pink - Glitter in the Air

Ok guys, this would have to be my favourite you tube clip.  It's in my favourites and i have watched it over and over again.  I love the song, i love the acrobatics and i just adore (gosh how do i say this without sounding really strange) the female human form.  Its all just so beautiful.  Enjoy.

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Sunday, 4 January 2015

Can i give them back now?

Only joking, but goodness I'm exhausted after having two children in the home for three days.  Literally "in the house" due to the extreme heat outside.  A 9 year old boy "technically" 10, I'm told, as his birthday is in Feb and a hypo 5 year old that has kept us on the move from the time they wake up (early) until they literally pass out after bath time. I promised Maison I wouldn't publish the photo of him and Chelsea in the bath, covered in lemon scented bubbles.  I guess we are not use to having kids in the house any more.  Tom is "technically" 18 as his birthday is in Feb (don't laugh, i get this all the time) so its more of an adult household. I love these children to bits and think of them as my pretend grandchildren. They belong to Bell (my niece) and my sister Glenda but they are in the first week of a new business venture and really needed the time to settle in without the kids in tow.  I'm back at work tomorrow and so i could really only give them this week.

A visit to the local park before the heat set in.
Chelsea very busy creating her masterpieces.  That empty bottle was from Christmas Day, honest.  I only bought it for the blue glass bottle anyway.  

Tom and Maison duelling PC's playing Minecraft.

While i was busy on the other side of the table making my Ollas, Maison was painting his pot with the title "Ultimate Wolf".  Today we bought a Venus Fly Trap for his pot  - a boy plant if ever there was one.  

Chelsea and Mirandah with her newly created pasta necklace.
I am thankful that my bestie's daughter, Mirandah came over several times to play with the kids.  She has known them since they were babes and now that they live on the other side of the city, visits are far and few between.

Chelsea's painted pot (sealed with clear varnish) with her plant and a chosen ladybug - a gift for Mummy.
 Maison is Type 1 diabetic, which is no problem as he monitors and injects himself and throughout his visit he was getting great readings.   I had to keep a few foods for highs and lows but generally they were not needed.  There was lots of reading books, dancing around to You Tube clips (I'm pretty good at Taylor Swift's Shake It Up now), the inevitable Frozen DVD and the boys running around with plastic guns.   Hide and Seek inside can get pretty wild as these kids are tiny and can hide in anything.  I was surprised that Chelsea has given up the giggling while hiding and was usually the last to be found.

Special mention must be made of Tilly.  Not only did she keep Chelsea giggling and oohing and arghing but she really demonstrated extreme patience with over exuberant hugs and kisses.  I think she gave as big a sigh as the rest of us when i finally took them home today.

Anyway, helping each other out is what families do, isn't it?

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Olla Irrigation in Hot Weather

OK, for those who haven't had to sweat it out, the past few days in Oz have been scorchers, hovering at 38-40+C (100+F) and even over night staying at 27C, and that's down south in Melbourne. Panic set in on Friday, as this was accompanied by gale force northern winds (i told my Mum up north to turn her fan off) and everything in the veggie garden was flaccid, including myself.  It was heartbreaking watching my roof high tomato vines that were strong and full of heavy fruit simply falling over themselves.  In the heat of midday poor Rob was tying up vines to give support (they are way above my head even on a step ladder).  I'm afraid i was beyond having a hissy fit, more like an anxiety attack, so he stepped in.  Everything had been well watered it was just the hot hot wind doing the damage.

Since we thought it better to cancel all outdoor planned activities and confine ourselves to the house for the duration, i brought out the craft paints and some recently purchased clay pots for some Olla making.  OK, I'm no good at secrets so I'll just say that i had the pots because i was making Jessie's (rabidlittlehippy) Christmas present (a bit late).   Merry Christmas Jess!

An artist i am not.

Now these don't exactly look like the beautifully shaped original olla pots below but i know they will work because Nanna Chel from Going Grey and Slightly Green has road tested them already.

The Making of Olla

Olla Success

Olla Production Line

I would have preferred clear but i used Robs silicon sealant which just happened to be black. This is a strong glue and it must be used outside because of fumes.  Since its in a caulking gun it was a bit like decorating a cake, first filling the bottom hole and then running it around to top of one pot before adding the other (like a piping bag).  A quick wipe with the tip of a finger and it was done.  

This one was my favourite.  After painting and drying, the pot was covered in tape so that only the top was sealed with a clear glaze so that the paint wouldn't flake and the moisture wouldn't evaporate from the exposed top.  The whole idea is to keep the pot porous.

I made little cork plugs from a left over bottle cork.   You can test how much water is in there but simply using a dip stick and seeing the water level on the stick.  
OK, so here is the history of the Olla.

The following information has come from this site Permaculture News - 16/9/2010

Isn't it beautiful
Ollas (pronounced “oy-yahs”) are unglazed clay/terra-cotta pots with a bottle or tapered shape that are buried in the ground with the top/neck exposed above the soil surface and filled with water for sub-surface irrigation of plants.

This irrigation technology is an ancient method, thought to have originated in Northern Africa with evidence of use in China for over 4000 years and still practised today in several countries, notably India, Iran, Brazil (Bulten, 2006; Power, 1985; Yadav, 1974; Anon, 1978 and 1983) and Burkina Faso (Laker, 2000; AE Daka, 2001).

Ollas may be the most efficient method of local plant irrigation in drylands known to humanity due to the micro porous (unglazed) walls that do “not allow water to flow freely from the pot, but guides water seepage from it in the direction where suction develops. When buried neck deep into the ground, filled with water, and crops planted adjacent to it, the clay pot effects sub-surface irrigation as water oozes out of it due to the suction force which attracts water molecules to the plant roots. The suction force is created by soil moisture tension and/or plant roots themselves.” (AE Daka – 2001.) The plant roots grow around the pots and only “pull” moisture when needed, never wasting a single drop.

“Ollas virtually eliminate the runoff and evaporation common in modern irrigation systems, allowing the plant to absorb nearly 100 percent of water.” (City of Austin Water Conservation, 2006.)

To use ollas in a garden or farm, one buries the olla in the soil leaving the top slightly protruding from the soil (ideally the neck of the olla is glazed to prevent evaporation or it should be reasonable to apply a surface mulch that covers the neck of the olla without spilling into the opening). The olla is filled with water and the opening is then capped (with a rock, clay plate or other available material to prevent mosquito breeding, soil intrusion and evaporation).

I'm thinking of putting these around my fruit trees in the future. 

Another way of using this irrigation technique is using multiple pots fed off a main source of water.

Check out this link.   This 10 pot system costs $189.   I know its a gift but my pots were 99 cents each and i had the paint and glue. 

So how did the tomatoes fare?   This photo was taken this evening, which is beautifully cool.

I cant believe that these are Truss Cherry Tomatoes, they are huge, way past golf ball size.  

Sunflowers certainly loved the heat

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