Thursday, October 29, 2009

The greatest gift

There's a parcel waiting for me at the post office.

I think I know what it is, and if it is, then I'm very excited.  I'm hoping it contains the things from my grandmother's house that I asked for - the photos, the Tupperware and other odds and bobs.  I'm eagerly waiting for 2pm to roll around so I can collect it!

I'm feeling a bit better today.  I have put on my blue floral, frilly apron.  I've stocked up on vinegar and I'm ready to clean.  The dust that comes into our house is amazing, it never seems to let up.  I hosed off the dust off the car before I put it into the garage, now I'm going to dust, vacuum and mop the house out the best I can.  I think a lot of the dust in our house comes from the housing development going on around us.  I refuse to close up my house so I choose to bear it.  I seem to be allergic to the dust and smoke around us so try to keep up with the dusting.  

I'm making corn and chive muffins today for school snacks.  For dinner the children and I will be having chicken cooked in a green curry paste with stir fry vegetables and rice.  It's rather hot today so I've chosen to cook something that is light and won't take long to make.  

Well, off to the dusting.  I've got a pile of cotton knitted dusters/wash cloths soaking so once today's jobs are done I can wash the lot and hang them out to dry.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Remembering the best things in life

It is almost two weeks now since my grandmother died.  The pain of losing her is easing, but it won't ever really leave me.

I am forever thankful I attended her funeral.  I heard stories about her I've never heard, and we reminisced over ones we'd heard hundreds of times before.  I wandered through her house, remembering little things that may not mean anything to anyone else but me.  I gently stroked her pillow, ran my hands over the chair she sat on, stared into her wardrobe.  Remembering all that I know and loved about her.  The most important part for me was to be able to keep some of the things she owned or take home some of the things I have sent her over the years that she has treasured and kept.  My aunty will be boxing up other things and posting them to me, things that wouldn't mean anything to anyone, but provide a stronger link between my grandmother and me.  Like her old Tupperware.   Old photographs.  A tea cup.  Silly little things that others may consider unworthy of keeping.  Once my aunt has gone through everything, Salvation Army or the like will be asked to collect everything else.  This upsets the bowerbird in me, but then again, we cannot keep everything.  My grandmother literally kept everything - even all of her old lotto tickets from years gone by, we even found receipts for furniture from the 1950's!

I'm still hurting, but I know that life goes on.  I'm feeling different somehow.  I don't know in what way, but I know there are things in my life I have to change or re-evaluate.  I know my focus is to be more on family and less on 'stuff'.  Life is to short to chase after one thing or another that we think will make us happy or better, even though deep down we know that is not the case.  

While I'm not an overly religious person, I've been drawn to Psalms and Proverbs in the past couple of days.  I've written out a whole heap and will take my time in reading them and working out what they mean to me and why I've been drawn to them.  


Wednesday, October 14, 2009

For the woman I most wanted to be like

My grandmother died this morning.  

I don't know much about anything yet other than what my mother sobbed over the phone in the car on the way to Melbourne.  

I loved my grandmother more than I loved my own mother.  She virtually raised six children as a single mother after my grandfather died, leaving her pregnant with their last child.  

I shall miss her hugs and the way she always smelt of Johnson's baby talcum powder.

Today, I am grateful that I got to visit her a couple of months ago and that my children got to spend a couple of days with the great-grandmother they hardly knew.  

I would give everything I own to have my nana back.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Things I do to save money and the world

I wrote earlier about a Women's Health article on planet-friendly living.  It is from an April 2009 issue and is on pp 92-94.  I read through the article and thought about what I already do and what I could try harder on.  Or start doing.  Ironically, the magazine is printed on glossy paper so I don't know how 'earth-friendly' that is.  It doesn't seem to break down in the worm farm!

So here is my list from the 43 suggestions in the magazine of things I already do:
  1. shop online where possible
  2. I use olive oil in a pump bottle rather than in an aerosol can (I decant it from a 4litre tin into the pump bottle and a smaller pouring bottle to keep in the panty)
  3. I try to reduce the amount of resources I would ordinarily consume - I really only buy the weekend paper as I read the news online or read the library copies.  I also have stopped buying weekly magazines.  I do subscribe to Grass Roots magazine, though.
  4. not using herbicides on the garden.  I do use white oil or pyrethrum spray but only when necessary on my vegetable garden.  I have 'sacrificial' plants that I don't care if they get molested by caterpillars or mealy bugs etc.  I figure if you give them something to 'eat' they'll stay away from the 'good' stuff!
  5. buy recycled paper
  6. buy vintage - I think this is funny because vintage has now come to mean anything from 'last season' amongst certain sections of society.  Unless it's something from my grandmother's or great-grandmother's era, it really can't be vintage!  I do like going op-shopping.
  7. don't buy more than you need.  In saying this, I do stock up on items I regularly use and need when they are on sale.  We in the North are fast approaching cyclone season so we need to be prepared for the inevitable road closures where the highways can remain closed for days or weeks.  No trucks equals no supplies to the shops.
  8. dematerialise.  I think this also relates to reducing resources.  At least I think so.  I also Freecycle as much as possible the things I no longer have a use for.  
  9. make a list of things you are grateful for.
  10. whip up a stir fry rather than a packaged meal.  My children and I love stir fry and I make spaghetti sauce in bulk and freeze it in portions.  It gives us months of meals as we usually have spaghetti once a week.
  11. buy fair trade, organic chocolate.  I do not always do this but do try and make a conscious effort to, especially when I go to the Oxfam shop (and also because the ladies who volunteer there are all so wonderful).
  12. disposable batteries.  One can never have too many when you have a power-hungry camera!
  13. banish individually wrapped stuff like cheese slices, dishwasher bars and coffee sachets.  I do not like processed cheese and so I don't buy it.  The only concession is little cream cheese portions I confess.  I use washing soda and vinegar in the dishwasher and a bar of Sunlight soap for the sink.  I do keep a small supply of coffee and sugar sachets in my bag as some schools I work at don't have communal supplies of tea/coffee/sugar etc.  You don't always know this until you get to a place and I've found some staff-rooms where teachers actually lock their supplies in their desks so nobody else can access it!
  14. I use bi-carb, vinegar, borax etc for cleaning rather than anti-bacterial products.  I do admit to a can of Glen 20 in the toilet because my children can be prone to tummy upsets and I insist on spraying the toilet and surrounds lightly with Glen 20 after every non-liquid trip to the toilet.  
  15. I use plain old water in the loo rather than the pretty blue thingys that cling to the edges.  I use a scrubbing brush and vinegar to clean the bowl.
  16. I don't use air-freshener.  Our house is quite breezy and the doors and windows are always open.  
  17. I use the microwave more than the oven or stove, and I use an electric frying pan or the bbq rather than the stove-top.  
  18. I don't preheat the oven and I turn it off about 10 minutes before I have to take the food out.  
  19. I use Tupperware containers to store food in the fridge instead of using cling wrap. 
  20. the list suggests keeping indoor plants, but my cat will tear it apart if I was to.  Instead, I have a vegetable garden and other plants outside to shade the windows and walls - my green thumb has always shrivelled up when it's in the house.
Oh, that seems pretty dismal, but then again, I skipped some of the hints because I do do them but not all of the time.  I don't always turn appliances off at the wall for the simple fact I can't always get to the power point if it's behind the tv cabinet or the fridge or something.  I do what I can though and that is all that matters to me.

There are other things that I do that aren't on the list.  We use cooking oil to run our cars, I hang washing outside and I probably only use the dryer a couple of times during the year when it's been raining for weeks on end and I must wash the sheets (we have a clothes line in our garage and also have some little foldable clothes horses - in really bad wet seasons our house often resembles a laundry with clothes hanging off door handles and backs of chairs etc), I don't iron unless absolutely necessary and only under sufferance if it's a going-out shirt or dress.  I can't actually remember the last time I used the iron, I think it's the newest looking 12 year old iron in the world!  So, these are just some of the things I do.  I would like to do more though, if not for the environment then for the hip-pocket.  Today I bought three singlets from Big W that were $8 and $10 each, but I justified that by having looked around at op-shops and couldn't find what I wanted (actually the Big W ones were cheaper in some cases), and that they all went with different skirts I have for working.  I'm happy with my purchases and know I will get plenty of use out of them over the years.

Today I am thankful that I have money available to me to spend and that I don't have to forfeit something else in order for me to buy the singlets.  I'm also thankful I have a husband who works hard for that money and didn't complain about me buying those three singlets!  Most of all, I'm grateful I have feet to carry me around places.  I saw a promotion for a show on tv about a man who was born without legs who has not let that get in his way of doing what he wants to do.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

A full belly is a happy belly

I have had a dreadful migraine in its early stages threatening to turn into something worse since Thursday night.  I had planned to go the chiropractor on Friday but ended up being called in to work, which one cannot really say no to in these times.  As is normal for me, working fell on a day when I hadn't prepared lunches for the children the night before and hadn't any money in my purse so we all used up the last six slices of bread we had to have vegemite sandwiches.  Aaah, good old vegemite.

I did read the magazine article I spoke about in the last post, I just haven't gotten around to listing the things I do yet.  That's me, I end up getting around to things sooner or later.  This will be a case of 'later' as I'm not ready to spend a lot of time at my monitor.  I think the migraine was triggered by a whole Thursday day and early evening of sewing my Christmas gift shopping bags, and then I sat up during the rest of the night working on a knitted dishcloth.  I turned my head to see something on television and felt and heard a big cracking pain in my neck.  My chiropractor only works part time and I do not like the other person at the practice so I shall make an appointment with him as soon as I can.  Ouch!

We have a wonderful Greek Festival here and that is where the children and I headed early this afternoon for some wonderful music and to fill our bellies with great food - for us it was octopus, lamb yiros, Greek shortbread and our favourite - honey puffs.  After all that food I don't feel the roast chicken I have planned for dinner!

Enjoy your day with delicious food and a cool breeze on your face - here in the tropics it feels like summer already!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

The sounds of magpies warbling in the morning

We are blessed to have a little family of magpies that visit us each year.  We love seeing their arrival as for me, it heralds new life, and spring.  We have been in our home for six years now, and they have been coming here for the past four or five.  Which is amazing really, since we are in a housing estate where there are next to no trees for them.  The bushland surrounding us has been bulldozed over the past year or two to make way for more housing.  While I know our living here has ultimately contributed to this destruction (supply vs demand) I do miss the early years when we would have kangaroos, snakes, echidnas, wallabies, cockatoos, honey eaters and the like as part of our surroundings.  I know there are dingoes nearby, but so far they haven't come near our house - that we know of.  We have only seen one kangaroo (well, the Groom has, on our front grass in the early hours of the day when he was heading off to work), and one echidna in our yard since 2007.  We do have birds, which I call 'rain birds', that call out all day every day leading up to the storm season.  I love hearing them, but none more than our little magpie family.  Each year they bring us their latest family member to show off, it's almost like they are part of our family coming up on holiday!  Amazingly, despite their being mostly on our front lawn, they have never once swooped any of us or anyone in our small street that I know of.  Curiously, the day we see them most is on rubbish day - I think they wait for any maggots that fall off the bins!  I love this family of magpies as much as I love the little family of bush-stone curlews that come out and walk around our front yards at night.  

I didn't end up getting the washing pile sorted and folded yesterday.  I decided to do basically nothing.  I like being alone with my thoughts and today was a lovely day to do just that.  Today, though, I really must tackle that mountain.  I have fabric shopping bags that I want to get a start on for gifts for my sisters and mum for Christmas - if I don't start soon I shall never get around to it!  My grandmother called last night and I was telling her about the bags, so she kinda-sorta dropped a hint that she would like another one.  I gave her one that I had made and had with me when I visited her during winter, and I think they must have been a big hit at the retirement village where she lives.  She said she gets lots of comments on it and I think she just likes telling everyone it was made by her grand-daughter.  You see, my nana knits - a lot!  When we were little it was always jumpers, leg warmers, gloves, beanies and the like.  Now, she is happy making knee rugs "for the old dears in the nursing home" (mind you, the lady herself is not far off 90, so I think that is amusing), as well as coat hanger covers.  I covet every single coat hanger cover she sends me.  So while my knitting skills only extend to plain and purl stitch squares and rectangles (ie: dishcloths and scarves) I am more than happy to make bags for her to brag to her friends about.  

I was sorting through old magazines this morning before putting them out for recycling and came across an April edition of Australian Women's Health that was passed on to me.  As I was about to put it in the pile my eyes glanced upon a title on the front cover about a "Smug-Free Guide to Planet-Friendly Living".  I don't remember reading this so I've set it aside to read later.  I am going to note the things on the list that I already do and commit to making a few more that I don't.  I shall list them tomorrow I think.

Remember, kick off your shoes every opportunity you have and just be free.  After all, who on earth can feel the grass or sand or dirt between your toes if they are enslaved in fabric?

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Some people are amazing

I witnessed a car accident this morning whilst taking the children to school.  

It wasn't a serious accident and it involved a student from a school where I sometimes work.  I wasn't able to pull over and help her or check on her at the time, but I did return later when I had dropped off the children.  I kept my eyes open for her on the way home and found her waiting for her mother to come and get her.  Her car sustained minor damage and she was physically okay but she was rather shaken up, as one would be in that situation.  

I apologised for not being able to stop and check on her straight away, and told her that I was prepared to be a witness if she needed one.  What amazed me was that she said the driver of the other car basically blamed her for stopping too hard at the lights!  The lights had turned orange before we both got to the intersection and the other car had to brake that hard that their brakes screeched and there was smoke from the tyres, pushing her car forward as he hit her.  I believe the car thought she was going to go through the light so he would too.  I feel really sorry for her that she could have been taken advantage of by the other driver because of her age and perhaps she was made to feel intimidated by the male driver.  On a good note, she is okay but a bit shaken up.  I would like to think that if it was me in that situation someone would check if I was okay.  I mean, the driver of the other vehicle didn't even bother to get out of the car to check on damage or on her.  

Today, I am at home.  It is too early in the new school term for work for me.   I take advantage of this by having quiet 'me' time - no children running through the house, endless repeats of Hannah Montana or Spongebob Squarepants on television, barking dogs chasing the kids around the yard.  It's just me, the quiet and never-ending chores.  I don't mind it today.  I shall fold the mountain of washing that has collected on the couch (after two weeks of school holidays it really builds up), cut up the potatoes for dinner and put them in a bowl of water in the fridge until they are needed, then I think I shall sit on the couch with my dishcloths-in-making and either listen to music or watch some television.  The Boy has his birthday party soon, too, so I might even start putting together the party bags for his guests.  

I saw the funniest job advertisement in the paper today.  It's a sad state of affairs when an employer has to pay for an ad that outlines basic job application etiquette - don't use 'hey' as a salutation; use spell check and basic spelling and grammar; and a concise resume means just that, not an 8 page story of your life!  I love it.  

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

The Maiden Post


This is my first post as a Barefoot Bride and I can't wait to see how it all works out.  Let's hope I can show more commitment to this as I did with following the first season of Lost.  I failed miserably at that.

Today I want to write about what I am grateful for.  I am sure lots of people do the same thing, but you know, when you think about it, there is so much negativity in the world it is important to stop and be thankful for what you do have.

Here is my list:
I am grateful for the gift of life - mine and that of those I love
I am grateful for a loving husband who works his butt off so I don't have to
I am grateful for life's basic needs such as food, water and shelter
I am grateful I have basic human rights

I think that covers it in a nutshell.  There are other things I could list, like chocolate and Tim Tams, but that's too simplistic I think.

Today I bought some fabric and more knitting cotton/bamboo.  This Christmas I am making shopping bags and knitted dish cloths for gifts for my family.  I love reading Rhonda-Jean's Down--To--Earth blog and she inspires me in much of what I am doing now.  So, thank you Rhonda for what I shall make.  

By the way, I welcome comments but if it is mean and hurtful I shall disregard and delete it.  I don't really want any negativity in my life if I can help it.  So, as my mum used to say, "if you don't have anything nice to say, then don't say it".  If you don't like my blog, then it is as simple as just don't read it.  It works for me.  :)