Sunday, July 31, 2011

Worst First Lines - for 2011

The results for the 2011 Bulwer-Lytton Fiction competition for the worst first lines are in.

My favourites are...

Cheryl’s mind turned like the vanes of a wind-powered turbine, chopping her sparrow-like thoughts into bloody pieces that fell onto a growing pile of forgotten memories.
Sue Fondrie
Oshkosh, WI
As his small boat scudded before a brisk breeze under a sapphire sky dappled with cerulean clouds with indigo bases, through cobalt seas that deepened to navy nearer the boat and faded to azure at the horizon, Ian was at a loss as to why he felt blue. 
Mike Pedersen
North Berwick, ME 
Detective Kodiak plucked a single hair from the bearskin rug and at once understood the grisly nature of the crime: it had been a ferocious act, a real honey, the sort of thing that could polarize a community, so he padded quietly out the back to avoid a cub reporter waiting in the den. 
Joe Wyatt
Amarillo, TX 
Convinced that the fabled Lost Treasure of Eggsbury was concealed within the statue of the beloved Sister Mary Francis in the village square, Professor Smithee would steal away in the darkest hour of each night to try to silently chip away at her impervious granite vestments – a vain and fruitless nightly exercise, he well knew, but it was a hard habit to break.
Rodney Reed
Ooltewah, TN
You can read the rest of the entries here.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Trip to Umina beach

It was cold and rainy last Saturday.

So we went to the beach.

It was intermittently pouring, there was a brisk gale-force easterly breeze, it was was a king tide and there was a warning for dangerous surf conditions.

My kind of beach weather.

Check out that sky.
Stay OUT of the water.
OUT... oh never mind
What? Soaking wet AND freezing
Told. You. So.
Why no,  there was not another soul on the beach - even the surfies were bailing.

We had a change of clothes, and in no time they were both snuggled and warm, tucked in the car eating fish and chips from Woy Woy.

Car still smells of fish.


Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Building Strength

I went into the school holidays, about a month ago now, in a state of utter physical and mental exhaustion. Anyone who's followed this blog knows I'm an absolute expert when it comes to burnout, though, in my own defence I am learning, and when I started to see the symptoms this time I realised very quickly what was happening.

With the help of my wise woman - who basically sits there whilst I figure out all the stuff I knew anyway - I picked myself up.  It was no small feat when I had three and a half weeks of school holidays (my kids are educated in the independent system and we get longer winter holidays - yay) which any mum knows, can be pretty fraught - and I have children that are very highly strung and give new meaning to fraught.  Bless them.

I knew there wasn't going to be any chance for downtime - so I made three priorities...

  1. Sleep - 8 hours, no arguing, yes an exception was made for Downton Abbey on Sunday nights
  2. Eat - Fruit, light and healthy(ish) meals, make sure I never never get hungry, vitamins
  3. Drink - tea and water, okay and wine and peach brandy if there is no wine but NO absinthe, well okay absinthe if really needed

And you know what, even though the holidays included a high stress (for me) kids party mid way, and we were slaughtered by flu over the last week, and that I've only got Miss 5 back to school as of yesterday, it really worked.  I've come out of the holidays feeling one hell of a lot better than when I went in, when really I was expecting to be a gibbering wreck.

The things that I think have made the most difference were; snacking on fruit constantly, taking massive amounts of vitamins (esp Vit C, Vit B and Iron), and rest (not so much sleep, but sitting down with some knitting at every chance - so maybe not rest so much as pacing myself through the days).

I'm not saying its all delightfully wonderful and I'm bouncing off the walls, radiant with inner peace and energy. But I'm building up my physical strength, and as I get stronger I become more positive and have the energy to focus on the things that fill up my soul and build my mental strength.  Like knitting, and blogging, and writing, and carrying out bizarre kitchen experiments cooking, and killing plants gardening.


Tuesday, July 19, 2011


I was going to post a picture of how awful I look right now, but it was too horrible and hubs said it'd frighten people.  I have the flu.  I have not been sick like this for YEARS.  Not since the kids were tiny and I was existing on four hours of sleep a day.  Urgh.

Miss 5 also has the flu, tonsillitis (I think, doctor again tomorrow) and glands like golf balls.  Hubs is claiming to be sick but is battling on, mostly I think to get out of the house and away from drippy, sneezy, coughy, moaning females who blame him entirely for bringing this plague into the house in the first place.  Miss 7 is swanning along without a care in the world, which makes me highly suspicious, but at the same time deeply hopeful of perhaps one day selling her to science.  How can she not be sick???

To add insult to injury school holidays have now ended, but Miss 5 is in no state to return.  So rather than dying with grace and dignity on the couch, alone, surrounded by used tissues, I must spend my time bickering about whether we watch Olivia (my favourite) or Total Drama Island (Her favourite), and rushing back and forth with glasses of apple juice and vegemite on toast.  Also she keeps falling asleep on my arm which means I can't knit.


Be back soon.

If I survive.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Skeins to Balls

 Was out at the wonderful Wool Inn in Penrith yesterday, and picked up some on-sale skeins of 100% cotton for knitting dishcloths.

Headed back to Mums where we dug out her contraption for winding skeins of wool into balls...
Sort of like a bizarre mini hills-hoist
 You place your skein thus...
Its school holidays, this is how I amuse myself in school holidays
 And then proceed to swear and weep as it tangles itself up, falls off because you have it too loose, won't wind into a ball because you have the winder thingy too close, and generally makes a Nuisance of itself.
Skein in mid-fall-off
After the kids got back from feeding the cattle they helped as well - Yay.

Still it was worth it in the end.  Dainty... erm... well... roundish balls of cotton ready to be knitted into a plethora of dishcloths for various gifts etc.


Monday, July 11, 2011

Saturday, July 09, 2011

Birthday Cake Friday

A special cake this week.  Miss 6 turns 7 today :).

After seven years of this parenthood thing, you'd have thought I'd be getting the hang of it.  But no. It still bewilders me!!  Though these days it's not so much the enduring surprise that I am actually someone's parent, but more that the someone does things like kick-ass at maths and is quite the chess champion.

Happy Birthday little Girl.  We love you so much.


Thursday, July 07, 2011

Making Wheat-bags

 Its been perishing cold, so I made the kids some wheat-bags yesterday.

I made an inner sleeve of calico and filled it up to about 3/4 with wheat and half a cup of lavender, then sewed the end shut.

Then the kids chose their favourite fabrics from my stash and I made a cover.

They go in the microwave for 2 - 3 minutes on high, with some water in a mug to stop the wheat drying out too much, and stay toasty warm for ages.

They can also be kept in the freezer, if you're after cold rather than hot.

I got the wheat from the local pet food store, and the lavender is leftovers from when Mumndad grew it out in Orange.  I believe you can use rice instead of wheat, though I haven't tried it.


Wednesday, July 06, 2011

Chicken Coop Disaster

The hen enclosure did not fare well in 85kmph winds yesterday.
Of course I was out when it all happened, so the ladies took foul (heh) advantage of the situation to rape & pillage my newly replanted lettuces.

They were then placed under house arrest in their coop.

Hubs and I won't be able to even start rebuilding this mess until Sunday, so I have spent the morning devising temporary accommodation for daytime foraging.

Taa daa.
Why no, I never thought the fire-guard would be so useful
Whilst not ideal, the dog can't get in and the remains of the lettuces are safe, and they're digging in my green manure for me.

NB: When I took this photo I had managed to capture the two Australorps, but the Rhode Island Reds were still running around like... er headless chickens, but with heads.  With the assistance of the wretched bloody dog and the kids we eventually managed to catch them as well.


Tuesday, July 05, 2011

The Freezer

So yesterday I posted about our fledgling food stockpile.  In addition to The Pantry, we've also invested in a new freezer.
My new bff
Bought ridiculously cheaply on ebay because it has a couple of dents and one of the drawers needs a corner glued back on.

This replaces our old second fridge, which has never been made good use of.  It also uses about 200kWh less power.

My next job is to investigate wholesale meat and how you go about buying half a cow and getting it into bits small enough to fit in the freezer drawers.  I believe there is a wholesale butcher in Dural, so that will be my first stop, if I can find him.  Liss over at Frills in the Hills heads down to a butcher in Wilberforce every month or so, which might be worth a trip.  And I know MumnDad's butcher at Mulgoa might also be able to help.  I'll keep you updated on how I go.


Monday, July 04, 2011

The Pantry: Why oh why do I keep typing The Panty??

This post is not about my underwear.  No siree.  I have posted about my underwear in the past, here, but today underpants will not be mentioned. Well not again. I hope.


The Panty (bugger) Pantry.

Creating and maintaining a grocery supply is something I've been thinking about for a long time, but I've been putting off, mostly because my cupboard looked like this.
The Last Bastion of the War on Clutter
However, we've decided its time to get our stockpile up and running.

I'm not going to write an instruction manual on it, because (as usual), others have done a brilliant job already.  If you want info on creating a food stockpile check out...

Down To Earth

Eat At Dixibelles

Simple Green Frugal Co-op

Hubs spent an afternoon tackling The Cupboard, and I have slowly begun to stock it.
Its a start
I'm not one for making huge lists and inventories, so I'll be adding to our store as I see things on sale in the supermarket.  I aim to get about a three month supply happening, and have it all up and running in the next few months, before hubs next work contract runs out.

I am already loving having the extra jars of peanut butter on hand.  No breakfast disasters/tantrums in this household, not any more.


Sunday, July 03, 2011

Small signs that I'm feeling better....

Was utterly thrilled to discover a local has started a seedling and organic veg business, and yesterday I rocked up at the monthly market to scare her with my enthusiasms say hi.  It was only 11am and she'd already sold out of most of her produce, but I was still able to grab a few veg for us.
It is not the size of your carrot, but what you do with it that matters.
I'm getting my bounce back, can you tell?


Friday, July 01, 2011

On My Mind: Electricity Prices

This post is part of Down To Earth's On My Mind

Washing on the line, not in the dryer.  Its been a cold wet winter this year and the dryer has been getting a work out.  But with the massive increases in electricity prices, I know I need to stop using it so much. I'll probably still have to finish these off in the dryer, but I'm getting them as dry as possible before I start chewing up the power.

I wanted to write a post about electricity prices, and the fact they're increasing by 17%.  But Rhonda has done a wonderful post here, that says everything I could have thought of, and more.

Rhonda also has a great post on the rising cost of living and homemaking.  If you are feeling stressed or worried about increasing prices its well worth a read (or even if you're not) :)