Sunday, 30 November 2014

Recital Laughs and Garden Update

Now what does it take to turn this little tiger into....

They are her real eyelashes - so long!
this little ballerina.

(PS. i have bought her new ballet shoes and tights for Christmas)

Patiently sitting for ages while her hair was tonged and then her makeup done.  
Isn't she so cute and doesn't she know it.  She had the whole audience laughing all night with her prancing around, posing and bowing.  Chelsea really knew her stuff but the other "Tinies" were not so confident and she was so frustrated with them.  Telling them to "come on" and waving her hands at them, pulling them into position.  At one point she looked at her teacher in the wings and just shrugged at them as if to say "i give up".  Its like she was born to be on the stage.  My favourite costume was the little red Minnie Mouse costume with white polka dots. Unfortunately they don't allow any camera or phones during the recital.  

Maison on the left.
Maison (9) is one of only two boys in the company and he was spinning on his back and "popping and locking" with the best of them.  I was so proud of him and i love the fact that he dances because he loves it. He's pretty good at sport as well so i guess he's got it all going on - one cool little dude.

It takes a lot of effort to get the kids to their various activities and with their Mum working it falls to Glenda (my sister, their Nan), who lives with them. Lucky lucky children.  Unfortunately after doing the hard yards all year she had to be in NSW for her other grand children's baptism and so i went in her stead.  Bell had to be a stage Mum for the night and i could see her up in the theatre box with the other Mums, covering her face in embarrassment while her daughter confidently flounced around.  We certainly will be showing this DVD at someones 21st.

Since we've got the cuteness meter turned all the way up, Tilly wants to get in on the act.

Please Mum, can i have some dinner too!   Time for a summer groom i think.

Its Mirandah's 20th birthday today (Bestie's daughter) and i enjoyed a lovely family BBQ lunch with her family and friends.

OK,  now to the really important stuff, my garden.  You might have noticed that we have just finished a November that was more than just a little hotter than normal. It was 33C today.   All the forecast have us heading into extreme prolonged heat this summer.  A recent article in the HWT on the weather suggested a 70% chance of another El NiƱo which will bring even more heat.  See article here as it really explains (in layman's speak) what it is.  So what is a gardener to do.  Prepare

I've been looking for some grow cloth to shade my beds that is 30%.  Shade cloth only goes as low as 50% and that doesn't allow enough light through for growth.  Today i chose this product as i believe that the weave is fairly open and yet provides shade.

Plenty of space for air and light to pass through.
and the finished bed...

Rob and I made a frame up out of polypipe and bends.   The open side faces south-east  and the north side (which can be lifted up for access) is completely covered.  The whole cover is firmly attached with cable ties. I'm kicking myself that i didn't use white ones, but hey, its a garden.   This is my lettuce and herb bed.  
The tomato bed (2m X 1.25m) is full of small seedlings and so it was given a covering of bird netting before i made the shade covering similar to above.    
This bed has sunflower and corn at the North end so that they will provide shade for the zucchini plants that are growing.  
I know the kale is overgrown and the leeks have gone to seed but it looks so cool.  Veggie art.  I have pulled out the spinach that went to seed and have planted some more seedlings in here.  

Small sweet chillies ready for picking.  Goodness, you can see what a hot day it was.  
Snow Peas for my lunch tomorrow.
Peppers galore.  Something is also having a munch on my leaves.  

One of the more mature tomato plants in the wall bed.  I prefer cherry tomatoes.  
In the same bed as the above tomatoes, peppers, dwarf beans and spring onions is a pot of marigolds and alyssum for companion planting and beauty.   

I have pots of strawberries around the place that i will need to lift.  A certain Miss Tilly likes strawberries.  This week she discovered bananas.  She climbed over me while i was asleep and took an unfinished banana from my bedside table.  

I'm watching these blueberries, everyday and i cant see them changing colour.  PLEASE........

Potted pretties that are lit up at night with a $2 solar light.  
Pink Aster Lillies that i planted in the corners of my beds.  How beautiful.  I've only ever had these in bouquets and now I'm growing them.  Cool!
That's it guys.  Time for bed as i have to get up in 5 hrs time.  In the evenings, I am able to spend at least half and hour to an hour in the garden during the week.  I've got Jessie from rabidlittlehippy coming next weekend to teach me preserving so I'll being cleaning up the garden for a professional look over.

Thanks for Vising Living In The Land of Oz

Tuesday, 25 November 2014

I fixed the Stove!

Shout it from the rooftops.  Lynda fixed the stove.  Yeah Me!  Step aside husband, I'm a woman with a screwdriver.  I'm no longer Robin, I'm Batman!

Both my stove, oven and grill are cheap units installed in the house by the builder 20 years ago. I guess it was whatever stock the project builder had at the time.  Oh, how i wish i knew what i was doing back then.  I wish i had as much confidence as i do now.  Such is the beauty of middle age.  We know stuff and how to get it done!

It all started with a cleaning urge.  You know those urges.  Usually you get them when you are pregnant but mine was brought on by observing lacy spider webs in the corners of the kitchen that had dust on them.  OK that screams bad housekeeper to me on any day.  I can spend all weekend in the house cleaning or i can shut my eyes and go out into the garden.  I think you know from my posts which i choose.  Domestic goddess i am not.  By the time i had finished cleaning the kitchen including stove and the oven on Sunday,  i had disabled both.

So, I'm thinking of the meals in the freezer already prepared which only require a microwave (nope, didn't break that) or perhaps a roast chook from the deli with a salad.  The boys were thinking "Take Away".

I was cleaning the stove with the steam cleaner and as i went around the rubber seal it all sort of buckled, came off and fell to pieces.  Perhaps i should not have applied heat to an old rubber strip, me thinks.  Add that to my DIY notebook. So after removing all the knobs and burner thingys i was presented with a view of the inner sanctum.

Who knew what was under all those screws.  Yuk!   Hidden mess that had leaked through the burner holes that had escaped cleaning since the last time hubby fixed the stove eons ago.  By this stage Rob had joined me in the kitchen wondering "what the".   Doesn't every husband walk in and find his wife pulling the appliances apart.  All those projects I've been doing outside have given me a glorified sense of my own trade abilities.  Since it was open he showed me why one of the burners wouldn't auto ignite and he rejoined the plug. Good thing i watched as it fell off several times and i fixed it all on my own (so there).  

OK, lets move onto the oven.  I'm steaming away and you guessed it, once again the rubber went (I must be thick). Note to self - do not use steamer near appliances. In truth the rubber was loose already.  I've been hearing the hot air escaping from the oven for ages. The rubber seal had deteriorated and was hanging at the bottom so the door couldn't close properly. This means that it took twice as long to get the oven to temp and it used even more electricity to keep it there.  Not good for my electricity bill.

By the way, while I'm disabling the cooking appliances i was soaking my oven racks in Di-San in the bath. I did a post on this miracle cleaner here.

So its decision time.  Do we bite the bullet and finally get new appliances.  I know a friend who tells me its long overdue. In the same time she has replaced all of hers, her oven twice.  My oven door handle is burnt from the escaping hot air (read brown).  The metal burners are slightly rusted, there are chips and scratches in the enamel BUT they work people, they work!  Cost of new ones?  Approx $1500.  Cost of parts i picked up today - $42. You do the math.

I was determined that i was going to do this job myself.  Talk about an exercise in frustration. You have to be a juggler to manage all the things you have to do at once.  When you are fixing the rubber on one side the other side falls off and the corners keep folding in.  If you stretch it while you are putting it on even slightly, as soon as you let go its buckles and comes off.  Now imagine finally getting it right, lowering the white cooktop over the burners, making sure that you position the holes correctly and pulling 4 ignition switches through each hole to the outside without them falling back in.  If you don't have it perfect, when you move it, guess what?  Either one of the ignition thingys fall back inside or the rubber comes off.  I did this about a dozen times before i got it right.

When Rob finally gets home and he tried to light all four burners. Two go on and two wont.  I'm clicking like mad but nope, no go.  It was then we smelt the gas and realised that i had crossed the ignition wires and i was turning the gas on one hob and igniting another.  Doh!  If i had kept on trying eventually the amount of gas would have built up and it would have ignited across the stove.  Oh and the other two were burning at the same time.

Slight exaggeration here for effect and some added colour to post - too much writing.  
Back to the drawing board and I pulled it all apart again, fixed it and you guessed it, the rubber fell off, again and again and the ignition doobies fell inside just when i had it perfect, several times.

I'm proud to say i didn't lose my cool, no profanities escaped my lips but i can tell you i was certainly frustrated. Its either my extraordinary self control or those little white pills that kept me from ripping the thing out of the bench, throwing it and marching off to the closest white goods store with a credit card.

Hubby did offer to help but i said "No, i have to do it myself.  I cant tell them i did it if i didn't".  What does it say about me that i look for your approval or your accolades.  Shrink needed perhaps?

OK, so then its the ovens turn.  I wasn't putting my hand up for that one solo.  The inner cooking area has to be pulled out and that involves unscrewing it from the outer case and unhooking the temp gauge and and and. I made an attempt and then retreated to hold the torch.  By the time we got to the finish line, all three of us were involved.  Me holding the starting point of the rubber, Tom holding torch and Rob doing his thing. Being new, the rubbers were a tight fit. Success!!!   A fly on the wall would have had a good laugh at all three of us trying to squeeze into the opening of the oven.

Definitely Entertainment
What a monologue.  Are you still with me?  All is well and they are both now fully functional.  I may have a few more grey hairs but i fixed what i broke.

Its now after 10pm and I'm going out to get the milk for the morning.  Perhaps i should stop trying to be superwoman and let my very capable husband do his thing and ill just do the woman's thing.

Thank for Visiting Living In The Land of Oz

Friday, 21 November 2014

Handmade Gifts From Simply Living Shop

Isn't it beautiful.  Its my new market bag, handmade by Teena.  It says so on the label inside.  Lucky me, I've met this Teena.  She is Gavin's (Greening of Gavin) sister from Queensland and we were both at Gavin's 50th. She is talented.  The stitching is first class and its lined with calico making it "like totally" washable.  I'll be sure to turn it inside out for drying to avoid the fabric fading, its so pretty.  There is also a gusset in the bottom to give it lots of width and it holds plenty,   So how was i so lucky to score this one?

Last week Gavin posted that the Simply Living Shop over at Little Green Workshops was open for business. Did you not here the trumpets blowing all the way from Melton?  I'm sure i wasn't the only one to click on the link and peruse the items for sale.  Go on, if you haven't already, have a look .........

I'm waiting for you to come back.....
I do own a sewing machine but I'm running on all thrusters at the moment and there isn't room/time for sewing and craft.  I could also do with a little tuition so feel free to start a sewing workshop as well Gav & Kim.  In fact i can think of lots of skills I'd like to learn, bread making being one of them.  That would be really bad though because I LOVE BREAD and I'm on a diet with no wheat and starches. Making dairy products like butter and yoghurt would be another workshop id sign up for but same again, I LOVE DAIRY food and at the moment I'm limiting dairy products.  I could go on and on and at the end of this monologue you would be left with the very strong impression that I LOVE FOOD!!!!!   Problem is that food loves me too and doesn't want to leave.  Its all over my on my butt, my legs, my arms, my chins, my.......

Oh, was i talking about the Simply Living Shop .   You know us bloggers, its all

Since you've all had a look at the shop now, you've seen a some lovely bags and a couple of nursery items in the handmade gifts section.  They would make lovely gifts for Christmas, especially for someone "greenish" who would appreciate that they are handmade and would use them instead of shopping bags.  There is also a range of Gavin's books, cheese making kits, ingredients and equipment and some candle products. This is only the beginning so I'm sure the range of products will grow and I for one am looking forward to it.  Don't forget to checkout the workshop tab as well and see if there is something you are interested in.

Now here is what i was most impressed about.  This is a fully functioning on line shop.  Gav has used his IT skills and created a shopping experience similar to EBay or Amazon.  I'm so so impressed.  It was a seamless transaction.  I'm so dumb about techo stuff that i really appreciate knowing people who aren't.

Once you visit the Simply Living Shop site you can register online, which is followed very quickly by an welcoming email confirming your registration and another to confirm your subscription.

You then fill in your profile and shipping details and then select payment options, including PayPal.

Then you go shopping, adding to your cart and confirming purchases.   Shipping costs are very reasonable.

I received three emails confirming my order, receipt for payment and lastly a shipping advice which included tracking details.

Two days later, on Saturday morning no less, there was a loud knock on the door and my parcel was hand delivered.  Me, sitting in bed with coffee listening to some smooth George Benson, was handed a parcel. Parcels come into this house all the time (electronics, computer and car parts) but never anything for me.  It was like Christmas morning.

Now you just know it wasn't going to come wrapped in plastic express bag didn't you.  Gav practises what he preaches and it came wrapped in brown paper, brown cardboard and some bubble wrap. The only thing missing was the reused string but i'm not sure if Australia Post could handle that.  There was a little personal thank you note from Gav & Kim inside and an extra little note from Kim apologises for the bubble wrap.  They are waiting for a shipment of tissue paper.  They need not have feared though as i have shredded the brown paper and it is already mulch in my garden and the cardboard and bubble wrap have been stored for future use.  Very handy.

I wish Gav and Kim all the best with their workshops and online store.  I'm hoping it grows and becomes not only a medium for teaching but a profitable business that they can run post Gav's retirement.  I'm sure this is his plan.    If only we were all such forward thinkers.  I am certainly happy to support any of his ventures. Through his blog he has inspired and taught me so much. I'm sure he has done the same for you and many others around the world.

Thanks for Visiting Living In The Land of Oz

Tuesday, 18 November 2014

Ugh... Gastro - Norovirus Epidemic

Nope this is not a pretty picture of a flower, it is a bug.  Not the garden variety we are use to but the virus kind.  We've had a yucky few days in our home this week as first my sister, then me, then Tom have had gastro (Gastroenteritis) .  It is apparently an epidemic throughout Melbourne at the moment and is of a particular strain for which we have no immunity.  This Norovirus strain is highly contagious and has been working its way around Australia for the last few months.

My work has quarantined me to my home for a few days to avoid making anyone else ill.   At any other time this would be a blessing but not when you are not feeling well and you are looking after someone else who is also not well.  Poor Tom was vomiting so bad yesterday he has strained all his tummy muscles and they're aching today. Lucky I'm on a diet since Monday, so not eating hasn't been a problem.    Little Chelsea (6 - my sisters grandchild) was wiped out for two weeks and Glenda was very concerned.  Her childcare centre was closed and the council had to bring in a Hazmat team to scour it clean, twice.

Normal Symptoms?

stomach cramps
headache  - I've had one for 3 days

Germs which cause gastro get into your body through your mouth and it usually takes several days for symptoms to appear. This time is known as the incubation period. Sometimes symptoms may occur within hours of the germs entering your body but it is usually longer.

If you want to know more about Gastroenteritis see PDF  here

I'm sure we have all had it at some point but its hard to watch loved ones being ill and Aspie's in particular find it very difficult to deal with illness emotionally.  You would swear that in their mind the world is coming to an end. Though i didn't want to be ill and he no doubt caught it from me, I'm glad i was home to help Tom as it came on very quickly and very violently.  It was all i could do to get him to take a few calming deep breaths in between trips to the basin or the toilet.  Poor Tom.  

So, what to do?  

There is no antibiotic for this and a doctor will advise you to let it take its course.  Vomiting usually settles in 12-24 hrs but the diarrhoea can take a few more days.  If it lasts longer than this or the patient is an infant or elderly then seek medical advice.

Hydration is the key as the body is losing fluids in all directions.  If you become too dehydrated then you may require hospitalisation to be put on a drip to rehydrate.

So how do these meds work?

Usually when you eat food, your body processes it through your intestine with slow muscle movements, giving your system enough time to absorb the food’s water and nutrients before disposing of any waste matter through your faeces. With an attack of diarrhoea, these muscle movements can speed up and become erratic, pushing food through your system before your body can properly absorb its water and nutrients, resulting in loose, watery, and often excessive bowel movements.  Meds such as Gastro Stop relax and slow down the muscle movement in the intestines to a normal pace allowing the body to absorb the fluids and nutrients.

Every time i gave one to Tom, he vomited it straight back up so i wasn't sure how much of it he was getting.

As suggested, i tried to keep him hydrated but this was difficult.  When i was a child i remember being given flat lemonade when i had a tummy upset but all advice these days say to give rehydration fluid which contains electrolytes (body salts).  We should avoid fruit juices, sports drinks, undiluted soft drinks, cordials and most importantly, milk.

These rehydration products are also useful for those who have lost fluids due to heavy sweating, vigorous exercise and excess alcohol consumption (suffer - you deserve it).
Problem is that despite the orange flavour they taste salty and if an Aspie doesn't like something, there is no way you are going to force him, especially when he is ill.  We stuck to warm water in little sips until he could hold it down and then when he had recovered a sweet tea. He had quite a temp at one point and so ice cubes are one way of getting fluid in small portions and also keeping cool.

Its good to have an electrolyte fluid on hand anyway as i sweat a lot when gardening and I'm not such a fan of plain water.  (I know, so Shoot Me)

Dont Mess With Mama

So when can i go back to work?  (How long will i be contagious?)  

You can be contagious from a few days to two weeks, depending on which virus is causing your stomach flu (gastroenteritis). A number of viruses can cause gastroenteritis, including noroviruses and rotaviruses. The contagious period — the time during which a sick person can give the illness to others — is slightly different for each virus.


With norovirus — the most common cause of viral gastroenteritis in adults — you're contagious from the moment you begin to feel ill. Symptoms appear within one to three days of exposure. Although you typically feel better after a day or two, you're contagious for at least three days after you've recovered. Some people may be contagious for up to two weeks after recovery. Also, children are often contagious for a longer period than are adults.

Huh! So if I'm no longer contagious tomorrow but Tom still is, then what do i do?  I want to go back to work!


Symptoms of rotavirus — the leading cause of viral gastroenteritis in infants and young children — appear one to two days after exposure. But you're contagious even before you develop symptoms, and you typically remain contagious for two weeks after you've recovered. Children are often contagious for a longer period than are adults.

The viruses that cause gastroenteritis are spread through close contact with infected people, such as by sharing food or eating utensils. Washing your hands or using hand sanitizer is the most effective way to stop the spread of these viruses to others.

What Now?

Now that i am feeling better its clean clean clean.  I've dragged out the alcohol fluid to ensure hands are clean at all times and especially for me as i prepare the food.  I'm also spraying Glen 20 around the house.  If you believe the hype (?) it kills 99.9% of all germs and viruses.

Hope you are all well and gastro free.

On a good note - i passed 70,000 views today.  Yeah me!  

Thanks for Visiting Living In The Land of Oz

Sunday, 16 November 2014

Old and Unused

Now the post title will mean something to only a couple of people i was with today but when they read it, they will be giggling like school girls from the shear audacity of me saying it out aloud. I love to shock! Such is the nature of conversations when women get together and at the most unexpected times, something is said out loud followed by a pregnant pause when everyone goes silent and then we all burst out laughing as one by one we all "get it".  The moral is that you shouldn't listen in to others conversations when you don't know the subject matter.  I'm not saying any more as i will make you blush except i think there still resides in all of us mature ladies a naughty school girl just aching to be let out to play occasionally. Or is it just me?

I've had a lovely weekend visiting and going out with girlfriends.  The boys were occupied and i think they seem to have accepted that if i don't get some "girl time" occasionally, i go nuts.  "Happy Wife, Happy Life" should be stencilled onto the forehead of every husband and "Happy Mums Are Lots More Fun" onto the children's.  Its so true. So thanks boys (Rob & Tom) for allowing me this time to be just me, Lynda.

Friday night i left straight from work and travelled an hour to Ballarat to have dinner with Sharon (Miss Townmouse and family.   Click on the link and you will have the recipe for the yummiest slice that is so easy to make.

Just 4 ingredients

What i didn't get was a picture of dinner which was a beautifully baked silverbeet and ricotta pie with salad, including a quinoa salad to die for.  I didn't like quinoa the last time i had it (in a 5 star restaurant) but i loved this one prepared by Sharon's daughter, Teneale.  The texture was much softer and with the addition of a little maple syrup,nuts and fruit it was delicious.  As we are apt to do, there was a garden tour and a huge greeting for me from Alaska (India's dog).  At 5 months old, she had her paws on my shoulders.  Problem is she thinks and acts like she is about a foot high so you can just imagine the result.  I think I'll take my 5.6kg bundle of trouble called Tilly.

Sharon gave me a pile of old magazines.  Some date back to early 90's.  They were all new to me.  Earth Garden and Grass Roots Australia have been going for over 40 years and are Australian's original sustainable living magazines. They are fabulous and have many well known contributors, like a very young Jackie French.  They are certainly not glossy mags but have an organic feel to them that is far more in keeping with the subject matter than today's gardening mags that are very slick and full of ads for trendy so called "green" must have items that are so over priced its ridiculous.   I'll certainly be wading through them and bringing you a few blasts from the past.

I've reviewed a few already and found great articles written by families sharing their journey from the cities to a new sustainable life on the land back when "permaculture" was a new word.  I get more out of reading these real accounts written by real people than from a host of professional writers.

After great conversation and lots of laughs i left around 9.30pm to make my way home.  I wasn't planning it but between Sharon's place and home, just off the freeway is Ballan where a certain rabidlittlehippy lives.  Its been ages since i visited Jess and if you read her blog you'll know that her garden/food forest is starting to come together after starting from scratch a few years ago.  So much has changed since the last time i visited and so after coffee, she donned a head light and we took our phones out (handy torches) and you guessed it, we did a garden tour at 11pm.  The new orchard layout is great and her apple collection is vast.  I see an apple press in her future and cider in mine.  One good thing about being in the garden at night is that we got to see the slugs and snails having dinner.  Obviously if i am using my phone as a torch, i am not taking photos, so you missed out again.

Saturday, my sister Glenda was over and so after a hair cut (well make that lots of hairs) we managed to fill the last of my raised garden beds ready for my own tomato seedlings.  I can hear them singing "it time for bed".    Its already fenced against a certain four legged visitor and i will also cover it in bird netting.  Im having terrible trouble with mynahs at the moment.  We had big plans to visit the State Rose Garden today with friends for their annual picnic.  We were expected to be serenaded by live jazz and to eat artisan food whilst gazing and taking pics of over 5000 rose blooms. Mother Nature had other plans and a serious storm and downpour over night would have decimated the roses and made the car park a bog.  I feel so sorry for all those volunteers and small businesses that put so much work into the preparation.   We made a joint decision to try and find something else to do and whilst watching a dark cloud covered sky we took off to Queenscliff for lunch.  It turned out to be a marvellous day with patches of brilliant sunshine and by the end of the day the sky was clear.  As always, we went to the Queenscliff Courtyard Cafe & Nursery for lunch. Its my favourite.

Don't you just love this sign.  

This is my new favourite picture of my Bestie.  She looks so happy!
Yummy Chicken Soup and toast

After going for a walk we returned for desert and not being able to decide we asked for a taster plate each.   Vanilla slice, orange muffin, fresh fruit and yoghurt and the best by a unanimous vote, gluten free orange and almond meal cake with cream.   
So that's it for a month.  What?   Since we had a picnic planned today, i had put off my diet until tomorrow. A likely story i hear you say or haven't i heard that one before?  Well usually i do diets for myself and I'm not that successful.  This one i am doing for a girlfriend who is having major surgery in a month and has to lose a lot of weight.  Its going to be hard for her and so to support her and so that we can whinge and whine about how hungry we are together, i am doing it with her.  Glenda is joining us so we have decided to call ourselves the Shake Divas!  Doesn't misery love company?

Following "my last supper" we drove to Port Lonsdale to gaze at the entrance to the bay.  There is a turbulent rip here where Port Phillip Bay meets the Bass Strait.


There were lots of families strolling on the beach and plenty of people, like us just watching from the lookouts near the lighthouse.  Its way too hot and crowded down here in mid summer so from now until December is a lovely time for a day trip to the ocean.  

Once back home i found a very happy hubby pleased to have finally finished laying the bamboo flooring in Tom's room and to have made it out into the back corridor.  Two rooms down and the rest of the house to go.

Never was there a man so happy to spend his weekends working.  He (and everyone else) hates our 20 yr old stained carpet and he told me it really depresses him and prevents him from enjoying the house.  Rob has made it his mission to get rid of it, piece by piece.   The bamboo is actually quite expensive but very hard wearing and environmentally sustainable.  

Say farewell to glorious photos of food for a while or get your fill on Sharon's blog.  I'm happy that my plan includes one real meal a day so i can continue to have my salads.  I have a whole garden full to use and the tomatoes are on their way.  Till next time.....

Thanks for Visiting Living In The Land of Oz