Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Joining in on the Slow Living Challenge

I've decided to join in on Christine's challenge.

Many of what she is challenging I'm already doing or trying to do.

By putting my name out there, as it were, I'm effectively making myself accountable for what I'm doing.

It's too easy to fall into the trap of going back to old habits because it's perceived to be easier to just grab a heat-and-eat meal from the supermarket freezer, or watch tv instead of reading a book.

These are Christine's goals from her blog:

NOURISH: Make and bake as much as possible from scratch. Ditch overpackaged, overprocessed convenience foods and opt for 'real' food instead. Share favourite links/recipes/tips from the month here.

PREPARE: Stockpile and preserve. Freeze extra meals or excess garden/market produce. Bottle/can, dehydrate or pickle foods to enjoy when they are not in season. Aim to reduce dependancy on store bought items especially those known to contain BPA and other suspect additives. Stocking up on dry goods when prices are low counts too.

REDUCE: Cut down on household waste by re-using, re-purposing and repairing. A ladder into a strawberry planter? A sheet into a dress? Share ideas and project links here, allowing others to be inspired.

GREEN: up our lives. Start (or continue!) using homemade cleaners, body products and basic herbal remedies. The options are endless, the savings huge and the health benefits enormous.

GROW: plant/harvest. What's growing this month? What's being eaten from the garden? Herbs in a pot, sprouts on a windowsill or and entire fruit/vegetable garden -opt for what fits space and time constraints. Don't have a backyard? Ask a friendly neighbour or relative for a small patch of theirs in return for some home grown produce, they may surprise you!

CREATE: to fill a need or feed the soul. Create for ourselves or for others. Create something as simple as a handmade gift tag or something as extravagant as a fine knit shawl. Share project details and any new skills learnt here. 

DISCOVER: Feed the mind by reading texts relevant to current interests. Trawl libraries, second hand shops or local book shops to find titles that fill the need. Share titles/authors of what is being read this month.

ENHANCE: community: Possibilities include supporting local growers & producers, help out at a local school/kindergarten, barter or foodswap, joining a playgroup or forming a walking or craft group. Car pooling where possible and biking/walking instead of driving. Even start up a blog if you haven't already - online communities count too! Or maybe just help out someone trying to cross the street! The rewards for your time are often returned tenfold.

ENJOY: Life! Embrace moments with friends and family. Marking the seasons, celebrations and new arrivals are all cause for enjoyment. Share a moment to be remembered from the month here.

This is what I am aiming for:

Nourish - spend more time on making school snacks from scratch rather than relying on packets of Vegie Chips or Potato Sticks from the supermarket shelf to stick in lunch boxes. I also need to consult more with the children on what they actually want to eat - a bit hard since Little Man is not fussed on vegetable sticks or rice salad or anything remotely 'different' to what other kids at school get in their boxes (damn that peer pressure!).

Prepare - reduce waste of food by buying vegetables in bulk that I can cut up and freeze, like pumpkin etc.  That way I can add these foods to food as they are readily available.  I also need to work on finishing preparations to this year's vegetable garden - it's too humid outside to do any 'real' work and because it's too awful outside I keep putting it off.

Reduce - the amount of clutter in my house.  I don't like throwing things out because you never know if it will come in handy one day or I might want to read/use/watch it again.  We have little storage space in this house and no matter how much I try, our kitchen table is always a dumping zone.  It's getting ridiculous.

Green - try harder at finding things that reduce its impact on our environment.  I've fallen back into the habit of buying commercial washing powder and dish liquid simply because I've got the beginnings on arthritis in my right hand.  We have started using the grey water from the house to water trees in the back paddock and we plan to set up another grey water tank from our ensuite to water the little citrus orchard we are developing.

Grow - put more effort into growing more vegetables in our garden that will further reduce the amount we have to buy.  At the moment my vegie garden is more of a novelty but I need to make it more productive to feed us.  I'm also experimenting with tropical peaches - a new little plant is growing in the chook yard (much to their disgust because it's behind a wire cage).  I also need to get over my attachment to my chickens and my squeamishness at the thought of killing and eating them if we want to grow our own meat.  The Groom says if I name it I won't eat it - how true he is, he knows me too well.

Create - my mind feels like it is turning to slush; I want to go back to uni to do random subjects just for the enjoyment of doing assignments on things I really enjoy, but we can't really afford for me to do that.  I could look into online courses but I want to do things that are free.  Instead, I shall continue to develop my library of literary classics and other things I'm interested in.  I also want to sew more and knit more.  

Discover - This sort of links back in to Create; I want to discover more about the world in which I live so I shall read more blogs and articles as well as books.  I have no particular interest in any one topic so shall broaden my mind as much as I can.  Although, my grandmother was diagnosed with Alzheimer's last year, so with dad and nana having it I feel obligated to learn more about that.

Enhance - My relationship with many of my father's side of the family was not really developed when I was a child due to family conflicts.  I've decided that my mum doesn't control or influence me as much as she used to so I'm making more of an effort to get to know my family.  I'm going to go home to Melbourne later in the year to spend time with my nana at her retirement village, asking about our history, learning her trick to great scones (and get rid of my 'heavy hand' if I can), learn new knitting stitches and anything else I can from her and her friends.  I also plan to catch up with a long-lost friend from school who I've recently reunited with on Facebook.  She owns a yummy looking cafe, too, that was featured on a tv series, so I am sure I will enhance my waist line after a day spent in the shop with her!

Enjoy - my children more often, despite the rapidly looming teenage years.  I also want to enjoy more out of life and with the family that I made myself with The Groom.  We have a strained relationship with our parents and we need to compensate for that by focussing on our own children.

Well, that's about it for now.

I know I meant to write on my trip on the Disney Wonder but I'm sure you won't mind.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Knott's Berry Farm

Ah, Knott's Berry Farm.

What can I say?

Okay, if you are going to to the L.A theme park thing, and you have never done it before, PLEASE do Knott's, Universal Studios et al first.

Do Disneyland last.


Or do Disney and that's it.

I'm sad to say that Disney spoiled us for every other theme park we did.

The attention to detail at Disney led us to expect similar standards elsewhere.

We stayed in Buena Park, opposite Knott's, and we could see the tall rides from our room.

Each night it was lit up like a Christmas tree and we looked forward to riding the rides.

But, the entrance to Knott's kind of tipped us off that what we were expecting after Disneyland would not be what we would experience.

It was confusing as we walked in off the footpath with the gate for the carpark being the first thing we saw.

The entrance to the park was sort of tucked away off the side we felt. 

Knott's was rather expensive to get into, even with a discount coupon we found in a tourist booklet.

We got there shortly after opening time and we felt like they were still about to open; some rides and attractions were deserted or not even operating.

The first port of call - Snoopy.  Or Camp Snoopy to be precise.

But we didn't really see Snoopy or any of the Peanuts characters until much later in the evening when we were walking through to leave.

Linus is one of my favourites and I didn't see him at all.

We rode the train through Camp Snoopy.

It was kind of a let down seeing all of the 'background' stuff behind the rides, like rusting metal, broken down carriages, general maintenance equipment; it was all stuff you rode past and there was no attempt to disguise it.

All of that was well hidden at Disney so it was a bit of a let down.

Camp Snoopy is designed for the smaller child so there wasn't much to see or do there so we went looking for the fun, scary stuff.

The Accelerator was so fast!

The take-off takes you by surprise and jolts you into awareness.

It was heart-stopping when it rockets straight up then plummets you straight down - vertically.  

We rode it a few times.

At one stage I had a bit of a brain freeze and was momentarily terrified that The Princess had fallen out - luckily it was just the tip of my scarf that had brushed my face on the way down!

We wanted to see the Snoopy on ice show - but the ice had melted and the shows were cancelled.

There was no public announcement made and it was only when you went to line up that someone told you that there was no show and they didn't know when there would be another one.

So the kids rode the dodgem cars instead.  

Lunch was a disappointing meal of burgers.

I would have loved some more salad on my burger or at least a tasty beef patty that I didn't have to drown in salt for some flavour.

It was also rather expensive for what you got.

This place for lunch was our second choice after Johnny Rocket's which was full and had a wait time of over half an hour for a table.

Lunch done with, it was back to the rides.

I don't think we'd do Knott's again if we go back to L.A. 

It was full of local teenagers on the day we went and even though the rides were great, it was a bit of let down.

It was a completely different demographic to Disney and it just didn't feel 'as fun'.

Many of the stalls and shops were completely unrelated to the park and just felt 'added on' to make money.

Maybe if we were younger and the kids were older we would have liked it better.

Oh, and sorry for the massive length of time between this and the last post.

I have just finished getting all but one memory card downloaded on to my computer and sorting them into albums.  

I'm very lazy I think!

And it took me over 1/2 an hour just to download these photos to Picassa - the joys of slow internet speeds.

There are still more from Knott's to add but I might do a post of just random pictures another time.

Next post will be on the Disney Wonder - one of the highlights of our trip and our main reason for going to America.