Tuesday, September 30

poof! time gone

B1 watching TV, newsbreak on
Me, in kitchen not listening

B1: "whaaat!, no way!"
Me: "whats up?"
B1: "they just said we have to put our clocks back 3 weeks earlier, that means my birthday is even further away"
Me: "huh?"
B1: "daylight saving, they said turn our clocks back 3 weeks earlier, my birthday's gonna be ages away"
Me: doubled up with laughter, i mean doubled and REALLY hard, so hard i mumma cass'd it and started choking on my sandwich
B1: ohhhh (lightbulb on) i get it mum , i see where i went wrong, it was logical, stop laughing at me"
Me: keeps going

Kids, theyre great blog fodder

Monday, September 29

The Growing Challenge - Post #6

Along with every other gardening and growing blogger i'm celebrating the springing of Spring and all the joy and lightness it brings. No only are the vegetables getting a move on but the flowers and the blossom in the garden are adding beauty into the mix and the leaves are finally appearring on the European trees, which do well in this area and dont need watering as the creek feeds them well.

I feel a bit of a cheat doing a weekly post for The Growing Challenge hosted by Melinda as im not really doing anything; nature is just doing its job without me.

The horseradish have sprouted and this year i hope to do more by preserving some of it but my favourite is definitely fresh grated horseradish. Does anyone have a good recipe for horseradish cream?

The peas (my second planting, having lost the last lot to the snails and slugs) are looking strong.

Like other bloggers, i resorted to toxic bait as the the natural methods, coffee grounds and beer traps, were just not proving tempting enough.

The parsnips have been located! They are a good 3 weeks behind the beetroot which surprised me as they were such a shallow planting and a very fine seed but they are getting ready to shoot some secondary leaves.

The potatoes and beetroot are looking happy and healthy and i planted up a secondary crop of potatoes today as i just love the taste of organic potatoes.

The rocket is rocketing along and is almost ready for a first small harvest, but the cabbages you can see alongside the rocket didnt fare to well, about half the crop failed to germinate so i replanted some of these today too. i think the surface of the soil was a little compact in areas and they just couldnt burst through, or they may have been a bit waterlogged. the soil surface in areas was a little mossy. I will have to improve this bed next year with even more friable compost.

the rainbow chard is looking beautiful and the companion italian parsley is thriving
and the thyme is going crazy, spreading well and flowering profusely The first mesculuns planted are a few weeks away from some small scale picking but the ones i planted out from punnets and didnt sow from seed are ready to have some leaves removed for salad.

Im waiting for the boybean to go to bed and then im out in the sunshine to construct some structure for the beans and to plant them up. Im sowing a 'purple king' climber and 'redland pioneer' bush. And finally, the pistachio and hazelnuts are budding.

Sunday, September 28

living in the past

I was messing around with Yearbook tonight, wasting time but having a hoot. i havent posted the 1960's 'hot moochie afro with halter neck' me, but i was tempted; its really trippy. This one really frightened me when it uploaded...bloody hell, i look just like my mother in her 'before children and she had time to do her hair' shots!!! promptly emailed this one to her.

Too funny.

babies , bricks and mortar

babies and mortar dont mix. i knew that , really. i just didnt want to acknowledge it to myself. Dammit, i think this is why women tend to get stuck inside, with all the thankless cleaning and cooking tasks. you can do these things piecemeal in between sleeps and feeding. Well, actually you can build from bricks and mortar piecemeal, you just have to do it in very small quantities, 6 bricks at a time, in the shade. but my god, all that cleaning up to be done, immediately! washing the mortar off the buckets, trowels and tidying the brickwork, else it will all go off and set and then you're in the shit with lumps of it everywhere you dont want it. But im hanging in there, 6 bricks at a time. I'm determined to be able to go 'tah-dah, i made it myself'. Pizza at my place may just be NEXT year.

NB i may have to start numbering any posts about pizza ovens, that way you can avoid them if you want. I may yet end up with a Thing 1 and Thing 2!

NBB Please take note of the fact that the bricks are in fact half bricks. Im very pleased with myself. It was also very satisfying whacking the thingy with the other thingy to split one brick into two.

Saturday, September 27

treating the public like suckers

no wonder they're out protesting on the streets. A gazillion dollar bailout out to companies that played financial roulette with determined irresponsibility for a decade. What a crock! Handing billions of tax payer (public) dollars over to prop up a system of golden handshakes and short sighted economic policy that clearly aint working (umm, maybe lending money to people who cant pay it back is not a good national strategy, doh) with NO slap on the wrist is just criminal in my book. Finance people are screaming 'socialist bailout' with regard to trying to save the banking sector but there's no social in it when its just giving away public money to cover private debt. The Swedes bailed out their banks in the last decade, BUT they treated it as an investment; they bought that share of the bank and profits thereafter then went back into the public purse, it became a public asset. What's the bet the big boys at the top still get their multi-million dollar packages and bonus pay. This is what gets me. Economic liberals always demand the market knows how to regulate itself. So, clearly, here the market is saing 'whoooa', cant be living high on the hog like this, all this debt is drowning us', and the market 'fails', as it should. BUT, the government steps in and props up the market??? when the market is merely correcting itself according to its own rules. The hypocracy really pisses me off; the public pays and the shareholders benefit.

Friday, September 26

Food allergies

heard on the radio this morning. New research suggests that national health standards and WHO recommendations may be out dated as food allergies in children are looking like they are not prevented by delaying the introduction of known allergenic foods such as eggs, peanuts and fish into the diet of babies. Additionally, reducing exposure to these foods looks like its increasing the liklihood of developing allergies to these foods due to lack of early 'immunity'. Breastmilk is the only food known to be associated with prevention of allergies. Well, knock me over with a feather (not). Maybe rising rates of allergies in the developed world is associated with rather low rates of breastfeeding and modern baby/food/hygiene paranoia.

Just my thoughts.

*couldnt find the published research paper with a quick look around PubMed. will do some more digging, im intrigued.

Haiku Friday

weariness is my hurdle
the tree bears its fruits

Thursday, September 25


ive got nits. Well, i had nits last night. plural as i found 1 and figured there was at least a mate in there somewhere. I doused my head with tea tree soloution and combed this morning. i found 2 more of the bastards. I feel VERY unglamorous, not that i felt particularly glamorous last night in the five minutes before i discovered i had nits. But i feel pretty daggy. Haven't scratched today so thats a good sign but i keep worrying that a big dead one will fall out and land on my white tee when im out. Ugh. The kids are s'posed to get nits not me, but i suspect that one of them has given them to me, so its treatment and combing for them tonight too. Sigh. i thought we had left nits behind.

Wednesday, September 24

Diva Cup update

I sent this email out today to every woman i had listed in my email address book, both personal and work related. Some replied they already used them (i rest my case!) and others replied with a 'thanks very much Im so onto it'! So, a worthwhile email to send. Why not give an email like this a go yourself if you use one and have found them useful. Spread the word to those close to you and give those big organisations a run for their money and save the planet from some landfill, unecessary packaging, transportation and other costs associated with use of disposable products. Personally, the feeling of being 'free' is what i like. free from needing to rely on a shop being open, a product being available etc. I feel like im in control of my body and its process and its a great feeling. Liberating.

A little bit of wimmins business.
Hi all. I dont usually do emails like this but i figured what they hey, i wanna share what i know. This is not a hard sell, pyramid anything. Its just me letting you know what ive found so that you if you havent discovered these things or heard about them, then now you have! If you have known about these things for ages then im gonna get grumpy at you and shout 'why didnt you tell me about them!

"what the hell are you talking about" i hear you screaming at me.

im talking about womens business... Menstrual Cups branded as Diva Cups, Moon cups etc. been around for ages but they are not widely marketed. I had been searching around for some eco friendly alternative to tampons and VIOLA! I had used sea sponges in my uni days but they are not long lasting. The cups are made from medical grade silicone, last almost a lifetime and are NOT disposable. You only need ONE! I have been using it and its really quite fantastic. So fantastic that I wanted to share it with all you lovely women just in case you might be interested or have family that might be. i bought mine on ebay for 31 AUD. bargain. I'll have that paid off in tampons in 6 months (for just me) Maia uses one too and we are both completely converted; they are easy to use, not messy at all, very convienient, comfortable and reliable ( i can even say the nerd in me finds them fun and fascinating!) So check them out if its piqued your interest.


Cheers, kel

Tuesday, September 23

Adelaide Central Market

I went along on school excursion today with my B2s Montessori class to the Adelaide Central Market. i love the central markets; great atmosphere, loads of fantastic produce, great organics, great cheeses, great breads, coffee and a huge selection of asian supermarkets and grocers. I supervised a group of 4 as we wandered around. the kids took notes and wrote down observations and i was impressed to see them engage with stall owners to answer their sheet questions and ask for tastings of fruit, veg and cheeses.

The mushroom stall had a mouth watering array of wild frenchies; chanterelles, trompet de mort, pied de mouten and mouserrons, and Im so glad they were priced at 150.AUD per kg or else i would have been sorely tempted to buy some of the imports for a pasta or risotto or my husbands favourite,omelette. i wish we grew these varieties here as the flavours are just fantastic.

What was affordable was a mega chocolate crackle made with belgian chocolate which is still sitting in the pantry waiting for the kids to go to bed! (they've eaten their treat already) and the slab of rocky road that was just to tempting to not bring home.

The markets hold a fantastic selection of cheeses and meats and the kids had a ball wandering around soaking up the vibe. After 2 hours of tasks we met up with the rest of the class for lunch at Ding Hao where we had spring rolls, dim sum and rice for lunch and a few pots of tea. It was the first time i have taken the boybean out all day and on the move like this and he held up a treat, despite only having an hours sleep all day, but Im glad B1 came with us as she really was a much needed extra pairs of 'adult' hands/ears to manage extra questions, toilet trips and the boy. By the time we all fell into the bus to come home, i was marvelling at how teachers manage day in and day out. Those school holiday periods are a well earned break i reckon. I parked myself on the couch when we returned home and just sat and enjoyed the silence.

Monday, September 22

Sunshiny days and an anniversary

Its pouring with rain again today and the day is cold but the weekend was glorious; sunny and warm and relaxing. I managed to concrete in the pizza oven base, i get so frustrated that its so slowly slowly but as long as it keeps moving ahead then i have some confidence that it will be finished in this lifetime. So, technically, its ready to have its dome constructed. That should be a challenge. Yikes.

Simon hammerred in the last nail on the studios' deck (thanks christ for that, the boybeans room isnt far away and he kept waking him with all his hammering and buzzing). We decided to use pine for the deck after umm and ahh-ing about recycled plastic (which if you'd read an earlier post i wasnt too happy with the aesthetics) but it was twice as expensive as the pine and we could not source any decking plank in sustainable forest hardwoods. The pine is treated without the copper arsenic, so its suitable for small people to do their crawling and sucking. It still smells weird. We think it wont need to be painted or stained and we will leave it to weather to a silver.

The vege patches got weeded and *warning, toxic admission to follow* more snail bait sprinkled around the peas; the last lot has been consumed by rain, and snails judging by the roadside carnage out there; they're doing their job. I tried to plant some beans but simon was adamant that we hold off until the moon was in a better phase. he did suggest we do a trial and plant some now and some then and i could see for myself that the ones planted now would not be advantaged. I chose just to believe him and will plant them out next week.

Saturday was our anniversary. Not for our wedding but for our 'first contact'. We met online and we like to acknowledge it every year. I sent him an email after deciding that his picture and profile looked really interesting, although we are never sure which day to celebrate. i was in australia on the 20th and he was in the states and recieved it on the 19th. We emailed for weeks, he came back, i went overseas, we texted and talked on the phone and when i returned we caught up. We've been together ever since. It was a very funny first email session. i had worked out that this guy was pretty genuine, trustworthy, competent etc, all the things you dont really expect to find online and we were both using pseudonyms, as you do on these dating sites and after a few more personal emails we exchanged real names. I nearly fell off my chair when he told me his name was Simon, as my ex husbands name was also Simon. Then told me his surname and you could have really picked me up off the floor, its my surname, which i had never changed. blimey. Then he tells me about his neices, same names as B1 and B2. I could go on but i wont, but there were loads of these similarities. Our wonder and excitement is all there in old emails and simon spent an hour or so reading them out on saturday. The girls were really interested to hear about a side of me they dont see often and we all had a lovely engaging evening reliving the past together and talking about the last 4 years of our collective lives. Then he told the girls that the rest of the night was theirs to do as they pleased with and he took me up stairs to our bedroom. NO!, dont freak out! Its all PG. He had put fairy lights on which were swathed around the muslin floor length 'curtains' that surround the three sides of the bed ( a surprise gift from him on our wedding night that we have never taken down), made the bed, incense was burning, limoncello and glasses out, Coldplay playing; he had made me a haven to sit in comfort and chat with him or be alone, my choice. i chose him. It was a beautiful evening and for an hour or two i forgot i had 3 kids in the house and felt very loved. It was another wonderful anniversary. It never ceases to amaze me that im actually in love with the man i'm married too.

Sunday, September 21

warm french lentil salad

We had this for dinner tonight. Its our most favourite salad around here to have as a side with a vegetable pattie or if Im feeling like a bit of meat, some duck. We usually also serve a green as well; brocollini, sauteed spinach or sometimes roasted beetroot and some goat curd on the salad. It really is a taste of France and sublimely wonderful. Im not usually a fan of cooked celery, but in this dish its really beautiful and the Dijon mustard ties the whole thing together.

2 cups french (du puy)lentils - the little lovely green ones
2 bay leaves
2 cloves garlic, whole and unpeeled
8 cups water
3/4 tsp salt
2 carrots, diced
2 sticks celery, diced
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 onion, (i prefer spanish), diced
thyme, as much as you like
1 Tbs Dijon mustard
red wine vinegar
olive oil
rock salt or salt flakes

Place the lentils, bay leaves, garlic, 8 cups of water and salt in a medium pot and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, uncovered, until the lentils are tender, about 20 to 25 minutes. Drain the lentils well, discarding the water, bay leaves and garlic. Transfer the hot lentils to a large bowl. Keep warm if possible. Alternatively, you can just use a can of lentils, but make sure they are the small french ones, the Indian lentils will taste muddy and become mushy.

Make vinegarette in small jar/pot with mustard, vinegar, olive oil and salt and pepper to proportions you prefer. Shake well. i use about 3:1 oil to vinegar.
Fry vegetables in olive oil until they reach the firmness you prefer adding thyme about half way into cooking. When vegetables are cooked to your liking, add lentils and stir through to warm then add the vinegarette. Stir until dressing is somewhat absorbed. 'Adjust' for seasonings (i LOVE that expression, 'adjust' for seasonings sounds so competent!, LOL) using rock salt or salt flakes.The crunch of the salt really makes the final zing of this salad.No pic as i really had to draw the line at whipping out the camera in front of the family and shooting the dinner. They already think im a bit blog nutty. didnt want to confirm it.
Let me know if you make this one, love to know what others think.

Saturday, September 20

shopping with teens

'shhh, mum!"



Stop what?

"stop, just stop, you're like, you're like singing and dancing"

Huh? *me thinking like yeah right, I always just break out into song and dance when Im out shopping in the malls*

Decide to not say ANYTHING and just nod and pay. I loathe change of season clothes shopping with my anxiety prone, not size 10, super self conscious teen.

i came home with a major headache and seriously, I walked in, opened a bottle of fizz and downed a whole glass in about 5 minutes.

Im only just winding down. Thank god the bean is a boy. Only one more to get through this period ...

I had to just draw on my memories of being an awkward self conscious teen and just let stuff go.

I want a medal.

Friday, September 19

WWOOFing in Hawaii

After making the decision to take the boybean to the states to visit his Grandma and Aunt for Xmas, we decided to incorporate a stop over in Hawaii for a week on the way (kids are extra not impressed). so what do you do when you make these decisions? you hop online to look for places to stay. Ya! Waikikki concrete jungles and 2000 room hotel complexes aint quite our thing and simon has no sailing buddies left on the islands to impose on for a bed or two. Hmmm, we searched 'alternative accomodation' and came up with boutique B&Bs for only 250 USD a night. Bargain. Not. Really, i said to Si what i was really looking for was to stay with The Fockers, i just really identify with Mr and Mrs Focker, my kinda people. If you havent seen the movie, its not what it looks like; its a hoot. Light bulb on. WWOOFing .Willing Workers On Organic Farms. So we are heading off to a guava farm where they make organic fruit wines and a micro goat dairy that specialises in goatsmilk cheeses. Im a pig in...! We are expected to put in 2-4 hours work a day in return for accomodation and we think it will be manageable with the boybean; well at least we will see how we go!. My share may take me all day if i throw feeding into the mix! LOL

Some more good news, B1 accepted into Math and Science School next year, so thats a huge weight off our shoulders and she's really excited. Homeschooling is all sorted for next term, school contacted this week and we have an exit interview next week, poor girl, in attendance besides herself and me will be the head and the deputy, 2 x school counsellors, year level co-ordinator and her 'therapist' (the girls have been seeing a family therapist since their dad high tailed it outta their lives). Talk about making a girl uncomfortable, but she's agreed to go and tell them about her experience in detail. I am so glad that we had her 'therapist' on side. She did all the negotiating with all the required authorities on all fronts to sort this whole mess out and in the space of an hour we had everything organised. It really pays to have an advocate. Thank you Nina!

Haiku Friday

my moo, i love you
happy anniversary
fortunate we are

Thursday, September 18

air travel, being green and guilt

I know that the no.1 thing to give up, if you're going to give up anything in your life in order to reduce your carbon footprint on this planet, is air travel. Ive just made our carbon neutral life flip over into the red (or is it the black?? i can never remember, whatever the word is, i mean the BAD one) by booking a trip to the states. No amount of greenwashing with carbon credits will cover the motherload.

Simons dad died 8 years ago and his mum has a very advanced case of diffuse scleroderma, an autoimmune disease which expresses itself in calcification of your organs and skin, a terrible disease. You can 'knock' on Felicite's leg, like a door, its weird. So far, she is the poster girl for scleroderma sufferers and has outlived the 3 year death sentence it ususally is, and has been living with it for about 8 years but surprisingly to all it appears to have stabilised. Its important for me and my sense of family to have her meet her boys little boy. After all simon has been through, losing his late wife and step daughter both within the space of a few years, having family together like this is so important. So we're going. While we can.

We will spend Xmas with Simons sister Jen and her partner Mark, kids Ezra and Oona and Simons mum Fefe and her partner Mark. Jen lives in Fairfax, in the San Francisco bay area. Its the last outpost of the 1960 hippies; home to Joan Baez and Van Morrison and now Sean Penn. i love Fairfax, its a really cruisy, California dreaming kinda place and the whole town is really into sustainability and community and Im hoping this time to visit some innovative farms and co-ops while we are there. Needless to say the girls are NOT happy. They love Aunty Jens too and are less than thrilled at spending 4 weeks at their Dads while we go away. Jen n Mark own a huge organic supermarket, the Good Earth which provides me with hours of endless fun cruising around; its a really great innovative community shop which advocates and provides for GMO free, healthy school lunches, employee justice, fair trade, sustainable farming and the like. Simons Mum, who is 76 and her partner Mark who is 60 (you go girl) live in a van on an organic farm where they paint, garden, make music, do reiki and generally live an alternative life. They are a very funny, loving and totally eccentric couple so Im looking forward to catching up again. I cant wait. Here's Grandma Fefe and Mark.

So, guilt in hand, we hop on a plane in early December.
Pass the Dutchie, dude.

Wednesday, September 17

'pit bull hockey mom' and the worlds future

As a global citizen, Im clearly rather caught up with the US election. We are at a philosophical cross road and the direction that this world power takes, will shape significantly, the future direction of the international political economy and the moral and ethical discourse of the globe. Quite frankly, I do give a damn. How this direction will impact both the people and planet we live on, remains to be seen. Bitch PhD has a blistering commentary on the republican VP nominee Ms. Palin and public opinion. Read it. Its good.

Tuesday, September 16

Decision to Homeschool

Yup. Bit the proverbial bullet. Making this decision has lifted an incredible weight from my shoulders (thanks Lisa for your comment on a post, it was the catalyst i needed to do something).I have spent countless hours worrying and fretting, not to mention the buckets of tears, about the effects of sending B1 into a space everyday where she was being bullied and teased and not supported by her teachers nor challenged by the learning and where the school seemed ill equipped and uninterested in managing the situation effectively. We have never encountered anything like this before but have subsequently heard from many people that they didnt send their kids to this school or took their children out of this school because of the culture of bitchyness. Needless to say, B1 is over the moon. Now its not really, in the big picture, a huge decision as its only for a term, but it feels like a monumental decision, and a great one. When i told B1 we had to talk to her Dad about it, her response was 'why'? Oh the commentary and truth in a single word. But Yahoo!, my girl is happy and excited about this new phase in her life, excited to spend more time with her brother and i am looking forward to spending this time with her.

Monday, September 15

The Growing Challenge #4

Sprouting finally at the kitchen window are my purple basil and sage. Depsite being indoors i had a few issues with small slugs munching some early sprouts.

The corainder planted in the herb garden have sprouted, but theres no sign of the chives yet. The new snow and podded peas i planted to replace the early ones sown, which were then sawn down by same small slimy things, have poked through the surface and are looking strong only 7 days after planting. I must admit to having no faith left in 'natural' smail and slug repellants and have resorted to quite gleefully sprinkling those toxic green/blue pellets around *accompanying evil sound* to protect those tender pea sprouts.

The potatoes needed some more covering today as each has developed substantial side shoots and grown significantly taller in this week of Spring weather. The beetroots are now about 1 inch tall, most have developed the more mature lateral leaves, as have the carrots which are showing tiny curly tops.

Im feeling doomed about the parsnip seeds which were planted out at the same time as the betroot and have shown no signs of breaking ground. I have absoloutely no idea why. I covered with paper, watered, planted 0.5 cm down...I think i may have to start again.

The grapefruit and oranges are starting to ripen but no sign of apples, heck, the trees dont even have leaves yet.

The limoncello has been bottled up and i have a few smalls stashed in the freezer ready to go.

...and finally, we installed the cafe doors today in the 'solar studio' ready for the glaziers. Almost there.

the cranky is spent

Things are a little more even keel and back on track around here. i spent most of last night ridding my pc from some backdoor malware which required some serious root cleaning, scary stuff when youre only half smart when it comes to major pc cleaning. clicking ok can be terrifying, wondering if youre about to generate even more damage! The pc is now faster and i can once again 'click and go' but i think something is still lurking deep 'in there'. Cranky has gone but im feeling a bit spent, a little down. Sending B1 off to school when she hates it and leaves for school in tears is really hard. I feel negligent but i do feel at this point there is no other option but to ride out the school year and then start at a new school in the new year. We looked into homeschooling but it looks like a mammoth organisational and bureaucratic hurdle to embark upon for just 9 weeks of term. So, poor chook, she's off the the lions den every day! This is what we woke up to this morning after a glorious sunny Spring weekend. Its a good thing Im feeling better!

But i still have to work out my header image problem.

Sunday, September 14

Cranky came out to play

Cranky came out to play yesterday. Despite the glorious weather, low level responsibility and a productive day, Cranky got cranked. I think ive got just one too many balls in the air or maybe just a few too many loose ends. I feel a bit like crawling in to bed and sleeping for a day or two. At this time of the school semester we are all usually preparing for the girls to go to QLD for the holidays to visit their dad but theyre not going this school break( i wont go into it but needless to say from my point of view its a CROCK of SHITE that could have been managed if it was anyone else besides him) so B2 is getting her old cranky socks on too and Im responding by flinging my stinky ones right back. Sometimes its so hard to hold your tongue when they're hurting and telling you they'd rather go live with their dad and not to retort with a 'well thats all very well and good but he doesn't want you'. ive never done it but when they're being mean spirited and trying to hurt, being the grown up comes a little slower than usual. I just have to keep reminding myself that as parents we have a whiteboard each; Im writing on mine and he's writing on his. Its up to the kids to choose to reflect when they are older what each of us wrote and to believe that the children will come to their own conclusions about us as people and as parents.

On top of children-ex cranky, Ive got some malicious spyware that wont let me search Google to rectify my header image problems and Im feeling very cranky about this. Im so cranky i cant even work out how to end this post, my brain is just going on cranky overload, so before i get cranky at you dear reader, i'd better go.

Saturday, September 13


ok. just tried to upload a new 'spring' header image of Chez Pandragon; home of Taurus Rising and no longer will it resize my image to fit. i have sized it at 1200px wide and cannot make that damn white bit go away. Any suggestions.

Major thought and query for the day. What is the collective noun for Bloggers? I came up with a clog of bloggers.

Friday, September 12

Pizza on its way

Im finally getting somewhere. A trip to the garden supplies shop this morning saw me return with five bags of paving sand for the foundation of my pizza oven. Must have looked a bit odd with the camera... LOL. Ahh, *the things we do for blogs* After digging out the base which took me a whole day, in between feeding the boy and ferrying dozens of bucket loads of good rich loam into other parts of the garden. The wheelbarrow is a bit tricky for these kinds of jobs as the garden has many steps, so buckets it is. I removed the chardonnay vine which was in the way and never really fruited well and the top layer of edging stones in order to mortar in the bricks and will return them to finish off the base.

The idea of having a whole baking day really appeals to me and opening up the use of the oven to friends who want to bake bread too sounds like a great way to justify some pizzas in between and a glass of wine or two along the way and is about as perfect as a day can get. Thinking that a lot of my posts are about food...

Anyways, due to everyone being outside busy the inside is looking a bit like a heap. But its the weekend so no point cleaning yet, it can definitely wait until Monday.

Haiku Friday

laughing and rolling
too eager to close his eyes
blankets gone awry

Thursday, September 11

Deepak Chopra on Sarah Palin

Sent to me by my very concerned SIL in California.

Obama and The Palin Effect
From: Deepak Chopra
Sometimes politics has the uncanny effect of mirroring the national psyche even when nobody intended to do that. This is perfectly illustrated by the rousing effect that Gov. Sarah Palin had on the Republican convention in Minneapolis this week. On the surface, she outdoes former Vice President Dan Quayle as an unlikely choice, given her negligent parochial expertise in the complex affairs of governing. Her state of Alaska has less than 700,000 residents, which reduces the job of governor to the scale of running one-tenth of New York City. By comparison, Rudy Giuliani is a towering international figure. Palin's pluck has been admired, and her forthrightness, but her real appeal goes deeper.

She is the reverse of Barack Obama, in essence his shadow, deriding his idealism and exhorting people to obey their worst impulses. In psychological terms the shadow is that part of the psyche that hides out of sight, countering our aspirations, virtue, and vision with qualities we are ashamed to face: anger, fear, revenge, violence, selfishness, and suspicion of "the other." For millions of Americans, Obama triggers those feelings, but they don't want to express them. He is calling for us to reach for our higher selves, and frankly, that stirs up hidden reactions of an unsavory kind. (Just to be perfectly clear, I am not making a verbal play out of the fact that Sen. Obama is black. The shadow is a metaphor widely in use before his arrival on the scene.)

I recognize that psychological analysis of politics is usually not welcome by the public, but I believe such a perspective can be helpful here to understand Palin's message. In her acceptance speech Gov. Palin sent a rousing call to those who want to celebrate their resistance to change and a higher vision.

Look at what she stands for:

~ Small town values - a denial of America's global role, a return to petty, small-minded parochialism.

~ Ignorance of world affairs - a repudiation of the need to repair America's image abroad.

~ Family values - a code for walling out anybody who makes a claim for social justice. Such strangers, being outside the family, don't need to be heeded.

~ Rigid stands on guns and abortion - a scornful repudiation that these issues can be negotiated with those who disagree.

~ Patriotism - the usual fallback in a failed war.

~ "Reform" - an italicized term, since in addition to cleaning out corruption and excessive spending, one also throws out anyone who doesn't fit your ideology.

~ Palin reinforces the overall message of the reactionary right, which has been in play since 1980, that social justice is liberal-radical, that minorities and immigrants, being different from "us" pure American types, can be ignored, that progressivism takes too much effort and globalism is a foreign threat. The radical right marches under the banners of "I'm all right, Jack," and "Why change? Everything's OK as it is." The irony, of course, is that Gov. Palin is a woman and a reactionary at the same time. She can add mom to apple pie on her resume, while blithely reversing forty years of feminist progress. The irony is superficial; there are millions of women who stand on the side of conservatism, however obviously they are voting against their own good. The Republicans have won multiple national elections by raising shadow issues based on fear, rejection, hostility to change, and narrow-mindedness.

Obama's call for higher ideals in politics can't be seen in a vacuum. The shadow is real; it was bound to respond. Not just conservatives possess a shadow - we all do. So what comes next is a contest between the two forces of progress and inertia. Will the shadow win again, or has its furtive appeal become exhausted? No one can predict. The best thing about Gov. Palin is that she brought this conflict to light, which makes the upcoming debate honest. It would be a shame to elect another Reagan, whose smiling persona was a stalking horse for the reactionary forces that have brought us to the demoralized state we are in. We deserve to see what we are getting, without disguise.

cheese school

Yahoo! Cant wait. Just booked me and a bunch of girlfriends into Cheese School. One email response from a friend said "sorry, cheese making just doesnt ring my bell but catch up soon". My head went 'whaaaat?!' how could anyone not think that this would be just the best, most fabulous way to spend a whole day...elbows...well, elbow deep in milk and rennet, making lovely soft mushy pungent stretchy and hopefully very tasty cheese. I have been planning on doing something like this for years with some equally passionate cheese loving friends but we never found a place to do it that didnt require a whole week and a thousand bucks or so until now. Udder Delights have been running these classes for just a few months now which fit in perfectly with my baby growing and apparently with the cheese makers too. Udder Delights is located on the main street in the pretty little German town of Hahndorf which is just 10k from home and make really high quality goats milk cheese product ( and my favourite, a marinated chevre). A whole day of cheese making, lunch and wine included for $120 buckaroos and you take home all cheese made, hoops, rennet and hopefully lots of knowledge so its a fair swap i think. I have given myself this week off from The Thing, guilt free, just to enjoy this first burst of spring with the boybean and get a good start on the pizza oven. So , i will keep you posted on the cheese front and hopefully, i will remember to take my camera!

Wednesday, September 10

america the great

"Some people, I think they're called racists, say America is not ready for a black president. But I know America to be a forward thinking country because otherwise why would you have let that retard and cowboy fella be president for eight years? We were very impressed. We thought it was nice of you to let him have a go, because in England, he wouldn't be trusted with a pair of scissors."

UK actor Russell Brand on George W Bush at the MTV Video Music Awards.


check list

Despite avoiding The Thing (as the PhD shall now be known) i have been busy with other things besides makin whoopie, gardening, digging, hauling and cooking for the crew. We have been getting together an application for the Australian School of Maths and Science for B1. Now she has just had a change of school about a month ago and it hasnt worked out quite as we had hoped. She left an all girls schools to go to the local co-ed hoping to make some local friends and get some better teachers and escape the bitchyness of this all girls school. Bad move. Its worse. Waay worse. Even 'badder' news, old girls school is full and she cant go back! The Year 9 petition to get her back was futile. Even 'more badder' news, maths work is easier and she finishes her lesson in 5 minutes and her teacher wont provide her with more. Soo, as it happens, serendipidy prevailed, the uber modern Maths and Science school made itself known and Orientation Day attended and SHE LOVES IT. Its the only public specialist school of math and science in the country, located at Flinders University. Its a world leader in innovative teaching methods and obviously has a math and science focus; no home ec, no wood work; its right up her alley...math math and more math. Even better she says no more boys throwing paper planes around in class and she wont get teased for loving it. Im actually still shocked that that still goes on, I mean its just maths... So, we had to put together an application. Bloody Hell, its worse than applying for a job with the government and i mean really, i never thought she'd have needed examples of her math and science work from YEAR 8! Most mums would have used them as kindling for starting the fire, right?
So its on the phone ringing around for people to write lovely wonderful exemplary things about B1 in lieu of any concrete evidence. I would have thought all hers A's would be enough????
So, i will post this monster package today and hope she gets an interview.

Tuesday, September 9

blog shmlog and thingy's

sorry, ive got blogger block... been too busy in the garden enjoying this glorious weather, digging my foundation for the outdoor oven, hauling buckets of soil and just sitting in the sunshine staring in a baby hazed wonderment at all the little sproutling things emerging from beneath in the garden, more digging and then going back and looking at those sproutling things again...life is cruising along and ive not had much contact with the outside world of late, so no interesting or even remotely funny incidents and the kids have been remarkably unbloggable, except that my daughter came home from the Royal Agricultural Show not only with half of her savings still in her pocket (it was all crap and so expensive, her words not mine , hoorah!) but a lovely tale of a sighting of a woman with a t-shirt with 'im blogging this' emblazoned across her chest and wanting to wrestle it off her for me. Im also pretty sure you'd all like me to spare you the details of the hour or so spent while the kids were at school and the boybean was sleeping (which i will say was the highlight of my week so far)...i think im pretty much just having my brain space taken up with the fact that i really am very seriously avoiding that PhD thingy and contemplating the dream of never having to go back to work. So, lunch over, im back out to stare lovingly at those lovely hot pink sprouting beetroot.

Monday, September 8

10% swing, MAYO now a marginal seat

dammit, the Greens are 3000 votes short after the federal by-election was held in my seat of Mayo this weekend. Alexander Downers old seat, never lost by the Libeals since the creation of the electoral zone, has sufferred a huge swing of 10% now 11% against Liberal candidate Jamie Briggs, creator of 'workchoices' fame (but he's still claiming victory). Hes a born to rule arrogant twat who says the swing (unheard of in this blue ribbon electorate) is still a good result. Nobody in Mayo , even the die-hard Libs, were happy with the Liberal party handing this school boy a plum job for life. He drives a souped up Black Commodore with spoiler and mags and likes to play intimidating road games with The Green's party supporters. Not Happy Jan

Sunday, September 7

The Growing Challenge - Post#3

Finally, a moment. Ive just scraped this weeks growing challenge post in...Yesterday was a glorious day. I had B2 to myself and we spent the day in the garden. We planted out some more dwarf snow peas under the bamboo pyramids, coz the snugs and snails got the last lot. they were a bit of an experiment to see how early i could plant them out up here in the hills, so im not too dissappointed and the ones that the razor gang missed are rather straggly. The forget-me-nots are running rampant in this vege patch and i find it hard to cull them coz they are so pretty. So we cleared them from the perimiter of the bamboo posts and left the rest. We planted out into seedling trays the black prince zucchini, cinderella pumpkins and heirloom tomatoes of various varieties. In my haste towards the exotics i clean forgot to get seeds for a regular red. We also planted allyssum and lobelia seed in the walls of the vege garden beds for some summer prettiness and chive and coriander seed. I also managed some more digging of the foundation for the pizza oven and i should be ready to get a load of sand and pavers for the foundation and oven base this week.

Saturday, September 6

the diva cup [no, its not a horse race]

Last year before i started blogging i had been looking into tampon alternatives *memories of sea sponges from my uni days* and then i fell pregnant and didnt need to think about menstrual cycles for a while. But now that my body is back on track (whats the point of breastfeeding if you get your period!?) I had been meaning to talk to my daughter about buying some of these for months now and yesterday i fnally remembered. Now, for you male readers out there, if you havent already been enlightened to resuable menstrual cup use through your reading of other green blogs or your partner/sister/mother uses one or you are interested in eco-friendly 'feminine hygiene product' (god how Ive always LOATHED that term, its a bit like when news readers use the word 'panties' UGH, internal cringe, its so, so, so ummm.. uptight!) then read on or gracefully exit.

Now most things I choose to do she is very supportive of, sees the logic and approves. This was one that I really thought she may look at me with a 'what the?' expression and proclaim 'no way, that's gross'. But she didn't *pick me up off the floor someone* The girl's a champion. She asked me 'does that mean i never have to worry about carrying tampons around and having to take a bag to the bathroom?' (dont we all know that feeling) when i said 'Yup', she sad "yes please, that sounds really cool". Now this sounds really really cool. According to Diva Cup manufacturers, in 1998, 7 billion tampons and 12 billion sanitary pads and their packaging were disposed into landfills and sewage systems in the U.S. alone and menstrual cup usage obviously will reduce the serious eco-footprint of feminine hygiene. And thats not counting in manufaturing and distribution. So, i hopped on ebay this morning (dont fancy freecycling this one) and purchased 2 of the little contraptions. Maybe i will or wont let you know how we go...

Thursday, September 4

Beetroot wine recipe

In response to a few requests for a wine making recipe, here's a relatively easy one for Bosun's Creek Silver Medal Beetroot wine. My husband is really the veritable wine making champion in this family and getting him to do a post was first on my mind when confronted with the request. However, my husband is, besides being gorgeous and brilliant, a pedantic GASBAG so i felt it was safer to respond myself. However, i did glean a few salient tips from the maestro himself. Now wine can pretty much be made from any fruit or vegetable, and im gonna show off here and tell you that in our cellar we have wines made not only from beetroot (1 half bottle left i found today. in pic), but carrots, parsnips, fejoa(ugh, no thanks) elderberry, elderflower, stock standard grape varieties,various blends, damson and satsuma plum, orange, peach, lemon balm, passionfruit, gooseberry, loquat, apricot, nectarine, blackcurrant, blackberry, rasberry, loganberry, rhubarb, rice, quandong, and quince.

In addtion to a still wine, we also have done the rhubarb and quince in the methode champenoise style which is quite spectacular and well worth the not so much more effort, just time. For my taste, which in a grape variety tends towards the more dry style of wines, the root vegetables make a really nice wine as do the plum and plum/grape blend.

1. Borrow a book from the library or net search wine making basics, just so you are familiar with the basic chemistry of wine making and fermentation; yeast and sugar issues.
2. The right gear is pretty essential and requires a few more bits and pieces than beer making so a trip to the brew shop will be on the cards. I think you can hire corking machines from the brew shop too.

Beetroot wine is interesting as the wine will change colour once exposed to light so bottle up in a dark glass. Once it oxodises it will turn from a lush amber to clear liquid after time, so dont leave it open for too long...

Beetroot Wine ( Silver trophy winner for best overall wine made from a fruit or/vegetable 2002)
3 lbs beetroot
2 bananas
3 litres dark grape juice
3 1/2 ltr water
4 limes (zest of 4)
6 oranges (zest of 4)
3 oz ginger (grated)
1 tsp coriander seeds (bruised)
1 tsp allspice
1/2 tsp whole cloves (bruised)
1/2 cup blackcurrant wine (juice if you dont have to hand ;-)
1 tsp malic acid
2 tsp tartaric acid
2 lbs 80z sugar
ENDFERM H2 (2.5g /10ltr)
DAP (150mg/1ltr)(diammonium phosphate, is necessary to prevent formation of the byproduct urea which the yeast cannot metabolise)
FERMAID (yeast nutrient)(2.5g/10ltr)
RAPIDASE EXCOLOR (2.5g/10ltr)(Rapidase® Ex Color is a pectic enzyme with enhanced side activities, it will promote a rapid extraction of color during maceration of red grapes (or beetroot!)
TANIN GALACOOL (220 mg/1 ltr)(protects the must from oxidation)
VINOSUPER - removes pectins

You'll need food grade bins for the mash and fermenters for the wine; the ones with the fermenting seals.

Method: wash beetroot, slice thinly and place in a saucepan with cold water. Add sliced lemons, ginger, orange and lime zests and spices. Boil for approx. 30 minutes until tender but not mushy, this is the mash or must. Strain this 'must' into fermenter, add grape juice, orange and lime juices and wine. Now this strained liquid is called the 'wort'. Cool to 20*C, add remaining ingredients, pitch yeast (add yeast to the wort) and add to fermenter, ferment for 7-10 days. (pH=2.8/6.2g total acids per ltr) Starting Specific Gravity(SG)=1032, after addition of sugar SG=1090.Read this. SG is the viscosity of the wine, the sweetness measure; thick wines are sweet wines. You measure SG with SG instrument. likewise pH can be measured using pH strips like those used for swimming pools.

After fermenting wine 7-10 days, strain into another fermenter.
Leave for 3 months. Siphon wine from one container to another leaving the sediment behind. This is called 'racking' the wine. To this is added 50mg/L of So2 ( sulphur dixide). This protects the wine from bacteria and spoilage and is an impotant measure in sanitation of the wine. Rapidase is added 50mg/L and Vino Super 0.3ml/10L, resulting in pH of 3.15.

5 months later a second racking was completed. pH was 33, SG was 990. Wine was seperated to make 1,5Ltr of dry wine and 4.5 Ltr had 11lb of sugar added to make a sweeter wine (raised SG to =1026) also SO2 was addedd to sweet wine only (5mg/L).

One week later potassium sorbate was added to the sweet wine to further sweeten it. (350mg/L). The dry wine was bottled and a few days later the sweet was also bottled.

I hope i've explained everything clearly.
Happy wine making!

**addendum** The fermentation process can be done in any container; food grade bins, demijohn or fermenting bottle. The essential component is the rubber bung and air lock which lets gas out but keeps the inner environment sterile. Search Flickr for wine and fermenter and you will get an idea of what the various processes all look like.

Wednesday, September 3

cellars and pantrys

Maybe its being a taurean, you know, a reputation for living the high life, too much wining and dining, overconsumption, eating all day, cant say no... two of my most favourite rooms in the house are the cellar and pantry. now im no post war/depression born kid, so i dont think i have issues of dearth and wanting that are fuelling my passions here, maybe its just a human condition to like to hoard food and drinkstuff?? maybe its about a feeling of abundance? but i get a sense of peace and fullfillment every time i go into either of these rooms. Looking around at walls stocked with homemade wine of every imaginable type and seeing the foodbins packed with grains, flours, pasta and rice makes me feel like mother hen. Im like a pig in... Well this post is a homage to the last bottle of beetroot wine in the cellar which we drank last night. it was a 2001, smooth and velvety and its colour was intense, like amber. it was truly very beautiful.

So here's a respectful cheers and thank you to the maker of this particular drop, Gabrielle, Simons late wife, Australian champion amateur wine maker many years running *Clink*

Tuesday, September 2

the dinner dilemma [again]

we have an unspoken deal around here that i do most of the cooking...its just worked out that way, i think we tend to migrate towards ownership of responsibilities that best match our proclivities and talents. Not that im boasting, but my husbands late wife was mother bear inside the house,inside was her space,'her' kitchen, outside was his. My SIL told me a story about when, just after simons first wife had passed on, her son asked her who was going to get uncle simons breakfast now that aunty gabrielle had died? So when i met him, he was very timid in the kitchen having basicly not thought about meals for 25 years. i just cant imagine it. This traditional splitting of the household tasks made me very uneasy when we first got together, but im ok with it now, i figure im just as unlikely to go out and rebuild the bridge thats rotting over the creek as much as he is about to offer to make pancakes and omelette for the whole family on a sunday morning, besides, sometimes i really want complex flavours and know that i will have to make them if i want imbibe. He cooks at least one night a week and they tend to be simpler, one pot affairs; risotto, soup, pasta, pizza. What does get me however is the sheer bloody regularity of feeding. We do it every day people! Trying to make healthful and varied food choices every day requires mindfulness and some skill. We tend to not do takeaway very often at all and with a 10yo who is a staunch vego since age 4, a teen who doesnt like the taste of meat anymore and 2 adults who dont eat much meat due to issues around cloven hooves, topsoil and input/output energy values, takeaway is limited fare; indian, some thai or pizza. My mum is a vegetarian so growing up we ate pretty well but it was in the days of the meat substitute; gluten roasts, mock chicken, TVP bolognese. Shes better now...the introduction of asian cooking into aussie culture has been a vegetarian delight. My kids are not fans of the mock meat style of vege cooking so we do lots of interesting things with beans and lentils. I digress, what im really trying to do is say sometimes throwing a chop on the grill and making a salad sounds like heaven! Im not sure whats on the menu tonight.