Tuesday, December 30

kale kale kale

It must be winter in the Northern Hemisphere. The stores are full of yummy green and purple, flat and curly kale. Now i have to confess that i had never eaten kale before last week, now im hooked and planning a kale crop in our garden for next winter. I love greens and this is the green to beat all greens for me; cooked greens that is. In the spirit of my new found love, i have ventured into the world of the fast food kale - the kale chip. After consumption and a moment of 'i have to have these', all i can say is, i have done the research and they look very reproducable.

Kale Chips -
chop kale into pieces, toss with apple cider vinegar, lemon juice, nutritional yeast ( the magic secret ingredient in my eyes thats not talked about online), salt, apparently pink Himalayan is best (!), ground cashew, miso. Mix all together and dehydrate in oven for about half an hour.

Viola. Kale chips. Vegan, no oil and ohh soo yummy!

Sunday, December 28

time flies

Our time here is nearly over. we have packed in so many parties and outings its difficult to remember all we have done. my SIL asked me yesterday what my favourite memory of this trip was and i struggled , my overwhelming image is of family, family, family which is fantastic as it was our intention to spend as much time with them all as possible. Well, food and family really, living as a group of 8 adults for 3 weeks means the kitchen rarely gets a rest and throw in the gourmand factor and the entire offerings of an organic food store at your disposal and you've got one tasty holiday.

Christmas morning i fell down the back steps on my way back from the compost, well I slid more than fell, and spent Xmas day pretty much entirely on the couch with my swollen, bruised foot inclined on a cush or two. In hindsight, not a bad thing sitting back and watching proceedings preparing for dinner go on around me. I felt like i needed the break, excuse the almost pun. Santa appeared with some pretty cool stuff and its the first time in years I've truly had a surprise with gifts. it was lovely. My favourite gift, besides the handbag my husband gave me made entirely from inner tubes and recycled wool(?!?), was a stocking stuffer from my SIL of cloth food/grain bags ( available from the Sustainable Fairfax shop if you're interested)! how tragic is that!

Yesterday we walked the California coast, North Beach in Point Reyes National Park. This western coastline is one of my favourite spots in the world. We walked the beach below wonderful soaring cliffs, saw elk bulls with huge antlers roaming the hills and seals on the beach. It was special, wintery and windy. Our plans to fulfill a fantasy of mine; ice skating in Union Square tonight has been cancelled due to said ankle and Im rather gutted. damn foot. Times Square next year here i come!

Oh yeah, and if i had a dollar for the amount of times i've heard someone say "...my guru says"... LOL

Haiku Friday (i know its saturday but i forgot Friday )

warm salty mollusc
makes my body cringe and retch,
count me out on lunch

Saturday, December 27

what do you think?

well, nothing like the proof in the pudding, right? 15 people for Xmas dinner, most had never had a christmas pud ... this is what's left after we set it on fire.
what do you think?

Friday, December 26

Merry Chrimbo

visions of sugar plum fairies still dancing in my head

Merry Christmas to all north of the Equator and a generous and successful Boxing Day to all Down Under

Wednesday, December 24


cozy afternoon
Originally uploaded by MsMoo
just back from a late afternoon walk with the boy. House warm; fire on, grandma fifi reading and watching the boy, Aunty Jen at her easle, Oona too, Ezra working on house plans on his laptop, Bruce Coburn in the air, kettle boiling. Chocolate out. Thinkin' I'm pretty happy right now.

Tuesday, December 23

Pumpkin Pie Vs. Christmas Pudding - the show down

just as i have never eaten pumpkin pie before this week ( the accidentally vegan one brought home from 'the store' did nothing for my confidence) most of the family here have never eaten christmas pudding. It was unanimously decided to have a desert showdown on christmas day. Pumpkin Pie vs. Christmas Pudding (definitely with brandy butter). Somehow i think we may all remain in our respective culinary corners. I spent a good part of yesterday searching for mixed peel. In a country where fruit puddings are not the norm, its incredibly difficult to find; most people had never even heard of it. So my search ended with a tub of candied lemon peel and one of citron. Not too bad, quite delicious infact, but much sweeter than we get at home and without the chewyness. *thinking of the aisles full of mince meat and peel at home* sigh. So we have an all organic pudding hanging ready for the day crammed full of peel, almonds, pecans, almonds, cranberries ( in lieu of cherries as i loathe glace cherries), raisins, currants, dates and lots and lots of rum. God, I hope it works.

*camera phone responsible for pics. Cannot upload from our camera until we get home. Its killing me.

Monday, December 22


i love travel. i love how where ever i am, i find things about that place that inspire me, that make me want to change the way i do things at home or add a new behaviour to my habits. My niece Oona is one such inspiration. She's childless which doesnt help my cause, nor does it lessen my respect and admiration. Shes a girl who loves an anvil if thats any clue...she has just bought a house in Oakland, a run down Victorian which had been abandoned for years and is just about to settle on it. Shes so excited to get started on renovations. She's very artistic and outdoorsy and loves to quilt and cook too and belongs to a group called the Flaming Lotus Girls, a 'bunch a chicks' who make huge metal installations which load with fire, for outdoor festivals. Her role as manager of a local bio-diesel co-op is what's got me all worked up and raring to go. Its such a great idea but i sadly think that the set up for biodiesel is a little better here than at home; more diesel cars here to start with and waste oil is available in bigger quantities. I shall have to investigate. Anyways, just down the road in someones front yard is the co-op tank with a bowser which stores the fuel for use by about 20 local co-op members who all contribute in some way. Oons is filter girl and changes it whenever needed and she co-ordinates memberships and refilling the tank. Its a waay cool idea.

Sunday, December 21

Chanterelle Hunting

Yesterday, after another night of rain and day of sunshine it was decided that some mushrooms might definitely be out. We headed out into the hills behind Fairfax to the favourite spot the family has for Chanterelle hunting but a powerline had come down and we couldnt get through on the road we needed so we detoured and went nearby to a new hill. My favourite thing in the world besides a good book and a beach is wild mushroom hunting and living in a very dry part of the world, besides whoopee making mushies, not alot are to be found out in the wild. Its a great way to walk as it takes any effort you may have resisted, out and replaced it with a focussed and meditative like experience. The hills were steep, covered in oak and californian buckeye trees which produce a wonderfull looking nut which hang like cojoined pears. Their chamois-like skins split whilst hanging, revealing the most wonderful nut which is very hard and very shiny and looks like a ball of highly polished wood. Sadly, when on the ground, they also look very much like a mushroom. The walk was challenging and very beautiful. We found lots of newly sprouted funghi, but none of it edible, well we found one Bolette. Today we will try again with memories of last years bumper harvest of 24 pounds of Chanterelles for Xmas lunch on everyones minds.

Keep close to Nature's heart...and break clear away, once in awhile, and climb a mountain or spend a week in the woods. Wash your spirit clean. - John Muir

Friday, December 19

Haiku Friday

the shaker chair rocks
the boy makes his way across
the room to reach me

Marin Farmers Markets

Im a gormless tourista. my mouth hangs open, always and i walk around not speaking; just looking, absorbing. it doesn't matter how exotic or plain the location. if its new, its fascinating and i just want to absorb all of it in every way, with every sense. i think it must be pretty boring being alongside in someways. Im not talking unless its to ask endless questions. im a socio-cultural anthropologist disguised as a a visitor. 2 new finds for me today, 1 edible, 1 visual/emotional.
We managed to squeeze in a trip to the Marin Farmers Market today. After reading great things about it on Im Mad and i Eat i insisted on trip downtown. Now if you were here, you'd see that we definitely do not need anything edible to be brought into this house. Between Mark owning the store and Jen (his partner, my SIL) being a shopaholic, i have never ever seen a fridge /freezer like this one ,nor pantry nor shelves, id take a picture but i might look odd! its just OTT. the most incredible thing is everything is organic. The cashew butter, the sausages, the avocadoes, the tea, the coffee, the egg nog, the pie, the beans, the chips, the breadcrumbs, the capers, olivees, anchovies, fish, turkey, the pepper and salt, the black sesame tahini, blah blah blah, i could go on. But its america folks and not content with organic wholefoods, the house is full of 'value added' ( a loaded term) organic food product. Im not even going to look at food miles...anyway...i digress.. i went to the market just for a looksee pretty much and i did discover the most wonderful 'new to me' vegetable. Its jicama and it has the texture of a water chestnut, similar consistency to a nashi pear and the smell/taste of a celery/apple/and something undescribable and its just fantastic. Its eaten raw and is refreshing and quite frankly just delicious. The markets were full of ripe persimmons, satsumas (oranges not plums here) ruby reds and pink grapefruits, wonderful lebanese spinach stuffed flat breads with cilantro pesto, yoghurt and many other toppings ( i did buy some), tomales and tortillas of many kinds, walnuts, waffles, cheeses, breads. Farmers markets the world over are always lovely. I discovered my favourite rotisseried organic chickens but decided against it due to said fridge situation.Sigh.

My second newbie experience was the christmas tree lot. Soo cutesie and pretty and full of ohh so not the bagged up sad floppy things one picks up from the back of the 'servo ( gas station to you outside oz) but spritely pretty perky sprucy ones, all set out in pretty formations with little stands and a fantastic fragrance and a cute white picket fence surrounding the lot, swathed in fairy light, stands of life size toy soliders, candy canes and snowmen. It was quite a sight and a long way from faux christmas trees of my childhood. LOL.

Thursday, December 18

american landfill

just read in the paper...Americans purchase 23 BILLION bottles of still water annually, of which only an estimated 10% are recycled and consume 300 million cups of take away coffee DAILY. Those numbers are just staggering, especially when you live in a county with a population of around 21 million... and thats just coffee and water...yikes...Moral of the story...buy a water bottle and take a mug.

I think this piece in the paper struck a cord as i am constantly blown away by the consumption that goes on here. its pretty mind blowing. from the size of the cars, which often verges on the ridiculous; cars that would never be allowed on the roads at home as the wheels base exceeds the road width! (doh), the sheer quantities and varieties of foods and other stuff and the amount of stuff that leaves the stores... people are going crazy about christmas here like i have never seen. It not surprising that the charge for frugal and simple living has come from the land of the plenty. Abundance rules here.Im trying very hard not to get swept up with it all and feel guilty about the very minimal amount of small gifts we have brought over with us for the family. will try and do a post on the store tomorrow- its full of organic abundance and stuff stuff stuff, but very cool and exciting and hopefully a trip to the Marin farmers markets tomorrow will eventuate.

Tuesday, December 16

carols, cider and wreath making

yesterday saw us down at the Fairfax women's centre at dusk for a bout of community lovin. It was picture post card, chocolate box stuff like i have never experienced and i had to keep my cynical self in check. I was very impressed with myself at allowing the festive moment to engulf me and not let Miss Party Pooper out for the occasion to ruin all my fun. The womens centre hall, sitting in a grove of redwoods, itself picture post card, was decked out with pointsettia and christmas lights and decorations, a fire was 'on' (switched on - playing on a tv screen, was a shock but i acclimatised!), carolers were on the stage singing and there were party goers sitting at the trestle tables enjoying spiced cider and a 'pot luck' dinner (i kid you not). Out the back of the hall there was much activity at the tables loaded with branches, berries, pine cones and wire where the wreath making was being undertaken by parents and children with much enthusiasm and joint carol accompaniment. As a first christmas for the boy i have to say it was a pretty good start to the christmas celebrations; it was a moment to remember and apparently its normal. Here's my wreath on the front door ( a gift from Sean Penn to my SIL - how cool is that?).
* yikes - my phone is having trouble uploading to Flickr , so i will keep trying - its tres cuuuuute! Hmm ended up bluetoothing it across but the door colour looks very washed out..its actually Chinese red!

Monday, December 15


Makaha sunset
Originally uploaded by MsMoo
Hawa'ii was surprising. Beautiful, green, warm; ohh soo nice and warm she says from winter further north ( we are now bunked down in picturesque Fairfax, California. We stayed in Makaha, a coastal town on the leward side of the island of Oahu. Not the most picturesque of the islands that make up Hawa'ii but with small person who needs sleep every two hours or so, we had decided a bigger trip on to the big island and a walking holiday probably wasnt going to work without some major hair loss for someone. beach holiday it was. The bean slept for about two hours in the 14 that it took to get from home to the apartment. thankfully he appears to be a brilliant traveller at this stage and was a cheery little guy the whole time. He then fell into a deep coma. The island of Oahu looked a bit like a tip. De rigeur is to stack about half your worldly goods outside your place. its nuts. so between all the stuff piled up and about 24 cars in each front yard in varying stages of usefulness....you've got a tip. Americans love their cars! The beach was glorious. warm, clear, tropical and most mornings i would go for a swim alone, watch the turtles silently cruise the shoreline waves and read my book. heaven but a bit weird when you run into them body surfing into shore. i also was pretty pleased to sight 3 humpbacks just off shore before the tourist boats also spotted it and ruined the very natural view! They blew, waved and did some spectacular side divesw, rolls and some tail waving;it was a sight and experience that made me very happy. Our last night there saw a huge rain squall hit the west coast and the poor guy downstairs in the basement woke to water lapping his bed. biggest flooding in 40 years. ..no insurance. bummer, he lost his whole place as water rose to over head height. it was dramatic and the beach of Makaha was totally swept away, so the picture...taken with my phone so the quality is not that great...completely gone and covered in trash. The homeless population was depressing and the incredible 'towns' of tents along the coast were very confronting and many lost it all with the storm; strip remnants of tents waving around, lots of couches and bedding and kitchens out in the open and not alot of of repair looked possible. lots of people over here are doing it tough and its a pretty unforgiving place to be poor. Aloha and mahala and hope you are all doing well...until i get to a pc again!

Friday, December 5

Haiku Friday

there's no turning back
what's forgotten stays behind,
waving behind glass

Thursday, December 4

the last post

dramatic huh? well it feels that way. i must be the last person on earth without a laptop(more drama, i do have a big screen though, does that count?) and B1 nearly dropped dead at my tongue-in-cheek suggestion that i borrow hers while we are away, so its internet cafes in Hawaii or zip. Embarrassingly, Im feeling deprived already. Hows that? you go on holiday, have heaps of time, loads of good blog fodder and you cant blog! Cruel. I even considered buying a laptop...just for a teensy weensy second my mind did go there...is that bad? We are suitably 'putered up in San Fran thank god. I should manage a week...

As of last week, we dropped the WOOFING plans. After our meltdown we decided a h.o.l.i.d.a.y was required and thanks to Craigslist, we found a beautiful old colonial style plantation house, which has been converted to apartments. Its about 40 minutes from Waikikki, 30 seconds from the beach and is according to their speil anyway, is rich with turtles and whales. Bliss. So Ive packed the books instead of the boots but we will visit the biodynamic dairy and winery where we had planned to stay. Im hoping that unlike the mainland of the US, Hawaii has some decent cheap food offerings else we will be living on bananna and pineppples. Eating out in the US is a real hit and miss affair in my expereince. i remember searching, on foot, high and low in Santa Monica for a restaurant that served side of salads or plain vegetables with their meals and not just jumbo fries. Dont even ask about Annaheim! Maybe things have changed in 3 years... thank god we are heading to Marin in San Francisco where food is GOOOOOD. 3 weeks of yummy biodynamic farmers market fare. whoohoo! and BIL is a mean cook too...Im salivating already. I will be very interested to see what the plans are for Christmas day, i have never done a US Christmas.

The man and the boy are packed, kindly used a suitcase betwen them and left a whole one for me! The hall is looking like a creche, en route. Its absurd ...stroller... kindercot... nappybag... sling... beetlechair... rugs... bowls... nappies..summer clothes..winter clothes...which toy to pack? small babies sure don't travel lightly. I cant tell you how relieved we were when the airline informed us yesterday that our baggage allowance was 62kg each. thats nuts and doesnt include the stroller. PAX load HERE I COME.

Preparing for a month long home haitus isnt easy when you factor in not only house,garden and pet maintainance but also dealing with the girls end of year school and club festivities, productions and celebrations and sending them off to another state two weeks after you have departed. Needless to say i have lists, more lists and lists of lists covering the dining table for each shift of caretakers, of which we have 4. Im looking forward to getting on that plane and that's saying something coz i hate flying, the beans crawling and has now cut a tooth.

My gift to you in celebration of rain...a really nice salad recipe that i am going to make when i get back to use up some of my beetroot and carrot ( if our minders havent chowed through the lot) and a pic of the boybean i took yesterday.

'now bugger off' , i hear you say!

Wednesday, December 3

in my inbox this morning

Beyond the Ordinary December newsletter:

Energy Light globes
I just had every light globe changed over for energy efficient ones for nothing by phoning Envirosaver and the phone number is 1800 368 476. Why not do the same if you haven’t already. You make the appointment, they come round and do every light they can (shower heads also available) All free!

Tuesday, December 2

thoughts on leaving a veggie patch (a Growing Challenge post)

Leaving a vegetable garden on the brink of blooming into full productivity is a tough gig. how do you say goodbye and hand over your baby to garden variety strangers? people who, even if they are your best friend and your mother, really dont care and love as much as you do? Detailed instructions to 'turn every cabbage leaf and look closely, keep an eye out for earwigs, monitor the corn munchers; "just gently rub your forefinger and thumb along the strand", watch out for 'the limp', carefully check carrot moisture, irrigate the basil WELL, apply liquid fertiliser on the 23rd and please dont forget to pick all the snowpeas and beans you can and use the coriander, yes lots of it'. This all seems a little OTT when you have to spell out loud your own gardening regime.

and sounds a bit too neurotic i might add. After all the hard work, time invested and diligent application of precious water, its difficult not to look at the potentially lost investment and want to aggressively stick up for it. Its a living, productive system that's offerring up its bounty, needing care and respect wouldnt you say? So i leave it with some trepidation about the state in which i might find it when we return.

Monday, December 1

very very bad news

the boybean has learnt to crawl... this morning...just now...4 days before a long haul flight...he has just scuttled across the floor to reach a toy...the nappybag...the combustion heater (as yet not fully cleaned from winter so not something i particularly want him gobbing)...this is a worst case, 'mogadon me up to the eyeballs' scenario for me...one i have been vocal about definitely not wanting to experience...the 'get me down on the floor limp body and arms straight up' technique that only small kids do perfectly and visions of 1001 trips following small person up small narrow and busy aisle as he practices his new found freedom. Bright side...the beach should be hell fun.

Sunday, November 30

back on track

well the relief is palpable. After far too long, 'The Conversation' was embarked upon. SIL had returned east, babybean was in bed, and the other 2 beans were happily embedded at friends houses for the night. Chilled wine opened (could have been a bad idea, but it wasnt) and we sat end to end on the couch and waded in to the depths of our fears, hurts, anger and expectations. As anticipated, it was a very fruitful and respectful evening; we both have quite strong opinions about how such conversations need to be managed, self hung on to and dialogue held very much in the present. It just took us a week of acceptance of our sadness, 'innocence lost' (it was only the second big dispute we have ever had) and reflection as individuals to get there. We are both taureans (stubborn as hell) both with the experience of our last big relationship being to Scorpios, so we have pretty much identical patterns of expectations about who is responsible for what when it comes to sorting out disagreement! Laughter did occour.

Being a blended family comes with challenges. In our case B2 is a strong willed extrovert and empathy is not very present in her emotional vocabulary. She likes to argue and argue her point when asked to do something not to her liking. It appears to be her tool for tying you up in knots in order to get you to drop the request. I've been dealing with her since birth (obviously) and am sometimes quite unaware of this behaviour, certainly as a parent who encourages debate and negotiation, perspective on what is healthy posturing can get skewed. So thats B2. Simon brings to the table a very conflicted relationship with his late step daughter, who fell off the rails then into a negative crowd and behaviours, ending with her very tragic death in her teens. B2s apparent similar behaviour traits pushes all his panic buttons and he goes into a tailspin which i am yet to be able to pick. So he gets spooked, reacts innapropriately, B2 gets worse, i get freaked and we all head down into a very murky place for a while, culminating in an argument between them; she gets beligerent, he regresses and then gets beligerent and i blow up at both of them. Pretty. Not.

So this morning i find myself in a place that is a little battered and worn but feeling loved, loving, supported, understood, understanding and a little wiser with a mutual resolve to do it a little better next time, and bloody looking forward to an uncomplicated and hopefully hot week with the boy in Hawaii and Christmas with his family in San Francisco.

Saturday, November 29

pining for romantic transport

Greening of Gavins post on zero footprint week and transport reminded me of this article in the UKs Independent Weekly, last year. When i read it i fair swooned. call me naive, idelaistic, too romantic, commonsense-less, whatever, but i just fell in love with the idea.
More than 70 French towns have already gone back to the future by introducing horse-drawn carriages to replace petrol- and diesel-powered vehicles for local tasks such as collecting rubbish, street-cleaning and taking children to school. And at least 30 more are set to join the revolution next year.

The revival of horse-power is being pushed by the French National Stud – that's not David Ginola or even President Nicolas Sarkozy, but an organisation set up four centuries ago by "the Sun King", Louis XIV, to supply horses for his military campaigns.Last week, it told France's annual conference of mayors that gee-gees were "a serious alternative" to the gas-guzzler as municipalities seek to cut their emissions of carbon dioxide, the main cause of global warming.
Children in the flower-bedecked tourist town of St-Pierre-sur-Dives, in Normandy's Calvados country, are being ferried to school in picturesque carriages rather than school buses.

Thirty-five miles away, the seaside resort of Trouville is using horse-drawn carts to pick up glass bottles for recycling. And they have been used in the same way, as well as for carrying water tanks to clean the streets, around Beauvais airport, 55 miles north of Paris.The National Stud even brought along a sample carriage – called the hippoville – to show the mayors. It has disc brakes, signal lamps and removable seats and prices start at a remarkably precise €11,562 (that's around £8,270 or, as it points out, the cost of about 170 barrels of crude oil) for the most basic model.

Critics counter that the horse – which produces around 20 kilos of dung daily, enough to fill a suitcase – is hardly pollution-free. They point out that, before the advent of the car, environmentalists were seriously worried that a proliferation of horses would leave cities knee-deep in merde and that New York had grave difficulty in disposing of some 12,000 equine carcasses a year.

But Stephane de Veyrac of the National Stud was undaunted. "It's about sustainable development and bringing some humanity back to today's monotonous machine-driven jobs," he said.Oliver Linot of the Regional Horse Promotion Commission – which holds an annual convention in Trouville to advocate the use of horse-drawn carriages – agreed. He said that our four-legged friends can also reduce stress and increase job satisfaction. "It's great for workers and the community to have contact with a living thing," he said. He even thought the beasts could reduce the civil servant strikes currently crippling the nation. "If they had their hands on a horse, they'd be happier," he insists. "I've never seen a driver kiss his truck."

The context of cobbled streets in rural France filled with boulangerie and french native speakers may have helped somewhat, but its a great idea. Its SLOW, its sustainable, its everything you want it to be. I live in a village, i wonder if our mayor would agree? might get my very active council minded husband onto this one! ha! He got solar for our local library, maybe we could get a horse and cart for the school...? Im not sure if its just been a card carrying Francophile ( not sure if thats genetic or just pathetic)but french country life, even 'a piece' in Paris, really appeals and i think after our circumnavigation adventure we may just have to give that dream a go.

*picture was taken one morning in Rocheford En-Terre, France on our daily patisserie search. He was seriously impressive on that huge horse; tweed coat and cap, necktie, boots and beard.

Friday, November 28

Op Shopping

I dont know if its due to current circumstances or being reinspired by fellow bloggers' finds, but Ive been out trawling the second hand shops 3 days in a row, sometimes with the whole clan and sometimes alone. We've been bringing in the loot i have to say; never worn patent red flats for B1 ( shes got size 10 feet and is hard to buy for) and vintage Nina Ricci sunnies; B1s find of the century (she is a VERY pleased bunny) mint condition Custo tank top for my SIL (damn! she got to that rack before me!) baby tupperware (sad and suburban but great for travel) and more. Its been cheap, philanthropic and public service therapy and good practice of the 3 R's (she says hopefully, nothing like ignoring a problem to make it go a way). I was flicking through some really great scarves in one shop today wondering if i would wear some of the funky retro silk ones but feeling unadventurous i came home emptyhanded. Reading Vegan Yum Yum this afternoon, and her cross post on Etsy featured buyers, I found inspiration for using some of these great scarves! Reusable silk sacks for bulk purchases. weightless, washable, strong, durable and tieable and puts an end to my plastic bag reusing , washing, and waiting for them to bust! So, im going to keep my eyes peeled for silk scarves on our travel, and when we return im gonna run myself up some recycled silk scarf bulkfood sacks.

Haiku Friday

of sticky, milky, figgy
summer fruit of love

Thursday, November 27

blogging blues

blogging when you're pissed off and totally angry is really friggin' hard. Im having a mega bad week, day 7 but who's counting, right? im soo miss grumpy pants and blowing off my own socks but i havent managed to resolve anything. we (me and the as yet unmentioned other half of miss grumpys problem) have made no space and no time. i hate that and totally when we have relatives over and really need to be in a good space for their pleasure and comfort but we have had no time or space to get into a better head space together so were going through the 'pretending everything is ok but everyone knows somethings off rigmarole' (maybe they cant but it feels that way). i cant remember the last time i was in a funk for this long - its totally stubborness related. i think im playing the 'im not gonna do all the emotional relationship work around here so im not gonna be the one to start the conversation, you have to start it' game. its killing me. im sleep deprived from baby, breastfeeding, parenting two others, menstruating and ships cook and i dont want to add 'emotional manager of the relationship' to my list. Fuck. I'd better do something about 'it' before we go on holidays! i just refuse to believe that men cannot start conversations of this kind and refuse to pretend that the catalytic blowup didnt happen. Im wanting a conversation but refusing to start it. just how juvenile is that ? ugh.

Wednesday, November 26

Shonky winners

Consumer lobby group Choice has unveiled its annual Shonky Awards for what it terms dodgy and deceitful goods and services. 3 personal standouts for the Shonky awards this year ...

The Australian Egg Corporation won its Shonky for its definition of free-range eggs.

"We've got some fantastic egg cartons here with happy looking chooks, it looks like they've got designer-built coops to live in," Mr Zinn said. "The fact of the matter is according to the Egg Corporation's standard for free-range, they're packed in at 14 to the square metre. Well battery hens are 18 to the square metre so there really isn't much difference.
"We believe there needs to be a much clearer, stricter definition of free-range and really people are buying free-range eggs under the misapprehension that the chooks live in anything like the conditions shown on the cartons."
Planet hurricane Green cleaner got shonkied for being a 'storm in a tea cup' and failing dismally at living up to its own hype.
Planet Hurricane Green Cleaner, it makes so many green claims about being biodegradable and recyclable and all the rest of it, those really don't add up, so we love people who blow their trumpets loud and clear in a way that is really very hollow." He says the cleaner is an example of a relatively new trend known as 'greenwashing'. It's really important that those companies that make genuine environmental advances are rewarded in the market and those who are really just pulling a fast one are really held up to shame and ridicule," he said.

And my favourite, the Airobe luxury body dryer.
Imagine a device that lets you dry yourself “in minutes” after a shower. But wait – you’re saying you already have one? No, we don’t mean a towel. We’re talking about the Airobe Luxury Body Dryer – a 9kW heater and fan installed in the bathroom ceiling (think really big hair dryer) that creates an “envelope of rapidly moving warm air” in which you can immerse your wet body. And don’t forget to take the remote control with you, so you can switch between full and half-blast.

This is no April Fool’s Day gag; it’s real, and it can be yours for $995, plus about $350 installation. But it gets better; according to the marketing material the Airobe is in fact a money-saving green product, because you won’t have to wash any more towels. The creative calculations used to prove this assume two washes of towels only per week (none if you have an Airobe), the use of a tumble dryer and include fixed water supply fees.

Even using those figures, the break-even time for an Airobe is about 10 years. Without deducting the water supply fee (after all, you may still want to use water for other purposes), it will take 20 years. And if you use a clothesline instead of a dryer, the Airobe uses a lot more energy than you do washing towels – part of which is about 10W of standby energy it draws all day, every day.

And the moral of the story is...educate yourself, as for all things in life! Be a disbeliever first and use your brain!. Know the definitions, know the standards ( or lack thereof) and read the labels.

Tuesday, November 25

today, happiness is...

... great smells wafting from the kitchen and you're not cooking it
... clean washing folded in the basket and you didnt fold it
... new sheets on the bed and you didnt ask for it
... the lavender hedge beginning to flower
... seedlings still intact the morning after you planted them out
... gummy grins and pealing squeals
... random mentions of 'i love you mummy' followed by a kiss
... a glass of red appearring at 6pm
... children engrossed in a book for hours
... a clean refridgerator vegetable bin
... a clean refridgerator vegetable bin packed with fresh vegetables
... a loving hand on the small of your back
... the thought of a month long holiday

Monday, November 24

weekend communal chaos

well, a failed pizza warming went down. the weather turned and the thought of 30 people wandering from outside to in, over the course of a cold, antartic fuelled, windy evening wasnt really turning me on and seemed a bit daunting to tackle for the first big evening do at our place with a small person. So, we cancelled the pizza party and instead invited everyone up to the local pub for a celebration drink. The real tragedy was, everyone ended up coming back to our place anyway and we finished the evening by ordering 10 take away pizzas and the boy slept throught the flamenco dancing on the floorboards and raucous laughter! So , we learnt that bad weather is never an excuse to not have a wood fired pizza party.

Sunday saw us at our mate Lauries place for a showing of his years work from his MA in Fine Art. Same crew from the night before traipsing around the house which he had set up gallery style showing his wooden sculptural and glass pieces, including a great uplit glass and wooden unicorns' alicorn in the bathroom. He gave us crowd the presentation he gave his tutors for his end of year work, which was a discursive and pictorial representation of the theories and influences which shaped all his pieces on show. It was really fascinating and having had 8 months away from abstract thinking i found it really exciting and i was so pleased when B2 told me afterwards that she found his presentation inspirational and was keen to try her hand at some abstract and post modern interpretive work! i was hoping they'd get something from his 'lecture' and certainly this was a wonderful outcome. I've had a lovely friend filled, communal weekend.

* thats my lovely SIL, Berry holding the boybean, who is over from her warm home in Bellingen and staying for the week! And thats Si talking to the artist in blue (and his lovely partner Maggie in profile
on the right).

Saturday, November 22

Everyone's a winner baby

would have posted a pic of the winning moment, but my camera batteries died on the scene. story of my life really. but yeah, i won. my mum could not be contacted. but we did have 3 bottles of fizz when i got home. i can stil type... i think

Friday, November 21

Haiku Friday

plate high with cupcakes
do i have to be polite?
one, two, three, maybe four

Thursday, November 20


some pea action
flowers and pods

i always plant 3:1 at a planting
3 edibles: 1 ornamental

i wish i could post the fragrance along with the picture
...next lifetime

Wednesday, November 19

reflections on pink spotty underwear

when i reflected further on todays shopping adventure in a big commercial centre in my search for something 'suitable' to wear to The Friday Function, it struck me that i'd overlooked a pretty extraordinary moment. Namely, while i had been popping in and out of my change booth seeking 'expert' advice, I had spent a good 20 minutes intermittently chatting to a sales woman who was also trying on clothes. Now this seems stange in and of itself... i mean arent they supposed to be working? What has really made me think twice is that she was doing all this with the change room door open and i was chatting to her whilst she stripped down to her very 'Betty Boop' pink, black and white spotty and very lacy knickers and bra whilst she tried on dress after dress, chatting to me and advising me on whatever i had tried on. is this normal???

a great 24!

its been a great 24 hours. 2 blogger awards kicked it off. Thanks so much Phil from Camp Quality Country Mile Tour and Gav from The Greening of Gavin for the grand thumbs up for this here wee little blog. Its very nice to be appreciated in this somewhat intimidating and big wide bloggy world, so thank you. I have to do something with them huh?? Yikes! id have to handball them right back! Let me get back to it.

The first firing of the pizza oven was not so much spectacular but fun and exciting in that innaugural home made way. We cracked a bottle of home made red and sat back and enjoyed the unfolding spectacle of the oven.

. The flue works brilliantly; its got a great draw and was puffing away ever so sweetly. *High five myself here* No cracking in the mortar to speak of yet.

While outside enjoying the fire we were honoured with the presence of this cheeky guy making his way up one of the garden gums letting all the girls know his whereabouts with that ever so guttural and quite frightening male koala mating call. Its so special to see them like this and its a bit of a surprise as we are close to town and not in what you would consider a rural setting. its a crappy shot taken at over 50 m, but its proof!

B1 headed off for her first transition day at the Australian Maths and Science School and i attended her first assembly which was inspiring and so full of talk of the love of learning, the importance of self motivation and the community they the kids and the parents make, that i felt like standing up and cheering. i wish everone could attend school like this. Its so inspirational and i feel really lucky that we have a chance to experience it.

Finally, after leaving B1 to enjoy a full day at her new school, i managed to haul myself off to the shops for what i had anticipated would be a painful search for something 'businessy' to wear to Fridays awards night. Its hard post partum and when you're lactating to feel excited about badly lit changerooms and clothes made for women who dont exist, but surprisingly it wasn't painful at all. just expensive! I had myself a bean free, clothes-horse, 'Pretty Woman' hour (minus the sugar daddy!) in a shop with a great sales assistant which is exactly what i needed, someone who was really into their job and doing it well. Thank you girl in Cue. I came out feeling great which rarely happens. Probably had something to do with the fact that i decided not to look at price tags and just cop it at the checkout, meaning i got what i actually liked! Cinders can now go to the ball!

Tuesday, November 18

The Wood Fired Pizza Oven

Yesterday was a busy day. i finished the oven. First up for the day was the vermiculite mortar, it went on first to act as an insulating layer, to maintain the thermal properties of the brick. Its an efficiency measure to maintain maximum heat inside and it hopefully means we wont have to burn so much fuel. Its a bit of an experiment as i havent read about incorporating it into the mortar, its mostly used as an insulating layer inside a box structure built around the dome, but i wanted to maintain the dome shape.

After all the hard work to get the dome just right, i didnt want to be hiding such a hard won, beautiful shape. You can see that i have added a flue and again, im hoping (lots of hope here) that the angle of the flue doesnt inhibit the draw. i know it will to some degree, but how much remains to be seen. Then a finishing mortar and oxide mix was used to render the insulating layer and was slightly buffed. All that remains is to clean the brickwork around the outside of the oven base and the floor inside and of course the first firing. Thats happenning tonight if the rain stops. Im really excited. Now to choose the first pizza to enter...margarita...anchovy...pumpkin...

Overall, Im pretty pleased with the final result and i never, ever want to build one again!

* its like a new baby, i find myself wandering outside periodically just to look at it, give it a bit of a rub on the curve...

Monday, November 17

A huge success

Yesterday was the second Hills Garden and Environmental Expo, B2s schools annual major fundraiser. It was a great day but really tiring; it was the earliest bedtime i've had for a while. We finished icing and wrapping the organic chocolate cupcakes to sell at B2s class' sustainability stall where they showcased their schools new recycling programme and sold local organic produce provided by parents; home grown eggs, vegetables, cakes and the like. I was pretty pleased with these as they were pretty eco; brown paper pans, fully organic/biodynamic with organic green tea icing, cellulose wrapped on recycled cardboard boxes for trays. B2s Montessori sustainability group then joined other school sustainibility groups to each do a powerpoint presentation in competition for the Mike and Claire Bossley Prize for achievement in the 2008 Hills Sustainability School Project.

It was fantastic to see the all the schools projects, developed solely by the kids and implemented by the schools under guidance from the class groups and evaluated by the kids themselves. It was inspiring to see them all working as teams, having brainstormed ideas, consolidated and followed through on a practical sustainability project.The future is in good hands.

The speakers invited in for the day were crowd pleasing. Sophie Thomson from Gardening Australia spoke on sustainable gardening, Ian Dolman spoke about 'life beyond the door snake' and retrofitting your home for energy and water efficiency and Liddy Dolman spoke on 'a beginners guide to eco living' and how to start and my fave was Tim marshalls talk on 'Organic gardening, Organic Food Production, Food Supply and Food Security'. It was a whizz bang talk, full of politicing and was very well attended. The atmosphere was very carnival like ( minus the noisy side show alley and fairy floss), very chilled, jazz and strikers playing all day and lots of interesting stalls showcasing all things sustainable and environmental; water wise products and information, native plants and vegetables for sale, regeneration and renovation ideas for your home and garden, home food production displays, wind turbines, solar displays and wandering fauna rescue teams. there was heaps of positive living going on! Thousands of people came through the gates so it was a rewarding end to a years planning and hard work by the Montessori Expo Committee. You shoulda' been there!

Saturday, November 15

Salma, breasts and sustainable living

Just finished a brilliant post by Hoyden about Town which illuminates all that is wrong in the world right now. As we talk about peak oil, sustainable practices, the 4 R's, ethical living, the press still, still print perspectives on breastfeeding refering to it as an alien practice. Hoyden tells it like it is; cant get my head around the reasons people view it as perverse and primitive, save the fact that people are just uptight and dont like women who refuse to conform to a particular mold. Now for everyone trying to promote sustainable and ethical living, get up in arms about breastfeeding rates, or lack thereof, and promote and support the healthiest sustainable infant feeding practice and the basic human right to give and recieve human milk without all the leery, mysogynist crap that goes with it. Yay Salma!

Friday, November 14

i *heart* pastry

ok, so i know i should* make my own and sometimes i do when dinner isnt a last minute decision or i have decided to boycot dinner making, just because i'm in a belligerent mood. I get that somedays. when i've been out digging or building and come in at the end of the day to find no one else had given it a passing thought either. expectations of me...gender issues rise up...i get cranky. Now, they'd all be happy with pasta and cheese and pepper and a carrot or cucumber on the side. Having taste buds that demand adventure is a curse sometimes. So i relent; stomp around the kitchen a bit, pull things out, grease, chop, organise. one of the kids fetches the herbs and salad and the other helps to chop and usually i'll 'send' the bloke down to the cellar with instructions to not come back until he's found something suitable; just to continue the gender sterotyping. then im happy.

So being rather impartial to the mass produced pastry stuff on offer in the supermarkets, mainly due to a) big company b) crap ingredients c)a passion for local foods, when i accidently 'discovered' (it looked so inviting just sitting on the shelf) this local product made with local ingredients, i felt that i could quite happily give up pastry making forever and keep a few of these in the freezer for emergency quiche nights. I tell you, it seriously put my homemade wholemeal pastry to shame; best pastry ive ever tasted. hence the post.

Im thinking there must be tonnes of other local products which fall into the 'can use in an emergency' genre and i may have to do a bit more serious searching around in the local shops to see what else i can find. Mind you, at $7.00 a packet (no plastic, just paper), im thinking that it'll have to be a pretty good emergency.

Emergency Quiche
roll out dough and blind bake in case whilst simultaneously lightly roasting all vegetable bin floppies. Cool (well, leave for a bit) and toss in with some milk, grated cheese and eggs (i never measure or know how many eggs to use with what proportion of milk so its always variable, ranging between blanchemange with vegetable bits or a solid frittata, in a tasty pastry home) toss in salt n pepper, fresh herbs or leaves of whatever you've got. pour into pre baked pastry case. Bake.

*used in full knowledge of should being a perjorative term and that for better mental health, 'one'would be better off if 'one' were to substitute such a value laden term with could, a more forgiving word.

Haiku Friday

morning breeze carries
sweet perfume through the window
nuturing my soul

Thursday, November 13

The Growing Challenge - post # ummmmm...??

Need some pressure to get you movin'? its not too late! Join the Growing Challenge hosted by Melinda and it may be the finger pulling ya need! Click this link for teleporting to Melindas host site.

What grows up, must get eaten... i've got minor cabbage issues- who doesnt? never grown a cabbage without holy(?!) leaves.

planting them amongst the 'decoy' rocket appears to have worked as only a few have sufferred from the perilous green grub so far. i read somewhere that the cabbage moth is attracted to the shape of the leaves, so hiding the leaves inadvertantly among the feral and flowering salad leaf was, retrospectively just brilliant! Despite the few grubs and holes, they're looking healthy and happy (but there is something that makes my skin crawl seeing that black spotty crap they leave in the budding heart). For the record, the grubs were removed and 'disposed' of.

The carrots are devloping stems that look like tree trunks and are fluffy and forest like, im pretty pleased with how they are growin. No problems with the carrots above ground except trying to keep the water up to their needs; who knows what they look like below ground.

The beetroot is booming and im using leaves from the bulls bloods almost every night in salads. Its never ending! Ive got tonnes of the stuff. Sadly the parsnips havent germinated as well as the carrots coz im a total nerd for a roasted/or fried parsnip and i read today that maybe soaking the parsnip seed overnight aides germination so next sowing i will give that a go. Cant remember whose blog i read it on, but Thank You!

My beans, like every other bloggers, are zipping up and away; its shamefully effortless with beans. The purple king climbers have wonderfully sticky tendrils and seem to know exactly what they are doing and find their supports with no problem. i wish climbing peas had the same sense! Im forever assisting the damn things early onwith their climbing drection as they wander in the breeze until they're well established.The bush beans look strong and healthy and have started getting flower buds. I planted the corn among the climbing beans so they would grow within the structure provided and make use of space. Most of the kernels germinated and after they sprouted i trenched lightly between the rows to make watering a bit easier.

Only a few parsley plants haven't gone to seed and im hoping that they last until we leave on holiday; I really like whole leaves of the stuff in my salad. Likewise, the rainbow chard has bolted and im salvaging small leaves. The boy bean is enjoying it in his pumpkin and sweet potato smoosh. I need to plant out some more. Im picking coriander which is heavenly. I bought some weeks back ,not from the asian grocer, from the white mob up the road and bloody hell, they're grown in perlite stuff which knots in with the roots and takes hours to remove! Im mean c'mon, i use the roots! Don't most people?

Finally, my tomatoes are in, pumpkins, zucchini and cucumbers too, although the damn cat, who tends to follow the newly turned earth for his defecating pleasure, has abandoned attempts in the coriander patch and promptly buried a few hard fought for pumpkin seedlings whilst on his daily rounds.

And finally, after months of meaning to do it, a Nellie Kelly passionfruit has found its obligatory home on the new rain water tank.

Wednesday, November 12

The Hills Garden and Environmental Expo

Here's a shameless plug for all Adelaide dwellers. The Hills Garden and Environmental Expo is on again.
The Hills Garden and Environmental Expo aims to become the premier annual event for those interested in environmental, gardening and “green” activities, products and services in the wider Adelaide Hills district. The event will be held at the Uraidla Showgrounds, and will consist of stalls and exhibits from organisations and businesses involved in environmentally friendly activities, sustainability, natural resources, gardening, renewable energy and associated areas. It is a condition of the expo that stallholders and exhibitors meet these criteria.

In addition, the showcase stage will feature a program of highlights from local and national high profile identities talking, displaying or demonstrating techniques and topics relevant to the theme of the event. (see the Timetable of Events).

The Hills Montessori School is creating and managing the event. The school operates from a site in Aldgate (formerly owned by the Field Naturalist Society) and has a significant area of the property still as natural bush, which is actively managed to maintain its integrity.

The School has a commitment to educating students and the wider school community in the preservation of the environment and working as a community to encourage practices that will enhance and sustain our environment for the future.

The cultural curriculum across the School is heavily focussed on environmental issues and sustainable practices. The School’s commitment to this approach has been the driving principle behind the creation of this event. It also reflects the School’s willingness to “put something back” and engage more deeply with the community.

Hopefully some of you locals can come along. B2, the boybean and I will be in her class' 'Sustainability Stall' selling 'worm wee' made by her class from school yard food waste and some lurid but 'green' cupcakes, home grown produce and other treats. Last years Expo was a huge success and this years is shaping up to be bigger and better.