Monday, June 30, 2008

Simple Woman's Daybook ~ June 30


Outside My Window... a quiet day outside, dull with stripey clouds, roses that need pruning

I am thinking... about our dog. He had a sore foot, and the vet says he has a sore shoulder and he now is on pain killers and is going to have an x-ray

I am thankful for... the pain killers for the dog, it is winter so not very pleasant to be in pain as well

From the kitchen... our son is frying ham

I am wearing... turtle neck, shoes & socks, light polar fleece windcheater which isn't quite enough, it is a little chilly

I am creating... my Monday blog posts or link ups

I am going... grocery shopping this week

I am reading... trying to read Mother Mason by Bess Streeter Aldrich, I could really relate to the first few pages, Mother Mason is like me in a few years time, she has five children as well, but my three daughters came and sat on the bed with me, and I didn't get any further with it.

I am hoping... our holiday goes well

I am hearing... the little girls playing electronic games, but in the meantime someone kicked or knocked over a tin of beads!

Around the house... hubby is at home on holidays and is fixing a guitar

One of my favorite things... watching sheep

A Few Plans For The Rest Of The Week: hubby has asked me to think about the design of our new garden as we have to move some existing plants

Here is picture thought I am sharing... a photo I took yesterday.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Herbs & German Food

During the first two or so years here on our seachange I shopped at a particular supermarket. It had shopper rewards and I got a flourescent lantern that we still use today when we have black outs, in place of the old fashioned kerosene light that my mother used in the same circumstances. I think I got a watch and possibly men's perfume under the same scheme before they moved away from that. I was surprised at the time, that they still offered store accounts. I didn't want to go down that track again. One little bug bear, is that often I was asked "put it on the plastic" for eftpos. Anyway.

Often I got my meal plan ready and the items weren't there on the day that I wanted them. I am a shop once a fortnight person mostly, so this didn't suit me. I worked out the items that were always there, and worked my meals around that. The constants were chicken mince, rookwurst, things like that. So we had new meals to us, chicken lasagne, chicken balls with plum sauce, & Bigos with mashed potato. I found I was ordering a lot of herbs from my online vegetable shop. So in the end we found two parts of a 44 gallon drum behind our woodshed. Hubby put them on the paved area, filled them with soil and we planted sage, oregano and thyme in them. We also planted some other herbs I think.

Eventually we made our own plum sauce to use for the chicken balls, but in the meantime had moved on to another shop. Now also we try to stay away from chicken, though I miss it. I think I also bought BBQ chicken to make paella.

The sauerkraut that they have here is imported Seaburger sauerkraut. It is really nice, but I can eat other sauerkrauts. I hadn't tasted it before. An online friend taught me to make ribs in the oven. We also had an Indonesian styled ribs with star anise, but I eventually got tired of ribs, boneless ones. We bought the star anise on a trip to the regional centre.

Indonesian Style Pork Spare Ribs (this isn't on the ABC site where it was before)

Serves 4

2 tabs vegetable oil
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 tsp five spice powder
4 star anise
6 cloves
1 cinnamon stick
450g pork ribs
1 tbs dark soya sauce
5 cups water

Heat oil and fry garlic for a minute. Add the spices and meat and fry for another 3-4 minutes. Add the soy sauce and water, bring to the boil, then gently simmer for 1 hour.

Cooks note (us): Try brocolli or beans with this.

We also bought beef sausages with black pepper and kranskys. Do you know at the time the freezer section had limited vegetables. I remember something about being excited about the introduction of either broad beans or brussels sprouts or both. I think broad beans.

Forums were great then. I had been on the ebay community, because of what they had titled it. I think discussion board perhaps, rather than chat or something, so I was encouraged to give it a try. Then I liked other types.

Anyway, with the beef sausages we finally found a way of having couscous, with marinated capsicum. So since then we have kept some in the fridge, though the kids are not keen on couscous so we have gone away from that a little. The kranskys were very good in soup, and only last week we found a variation of our usual soup this one is more like minestrone.

By this stage at the start of our third seachange year we had a go at homemade bread. Also I heard for the first time about cinnamon ornaments. Imagine an Aussie mixing that apple sauce you buy in a jar with bulk cinnamon that I bought on the net to make ornaments for the tree. I think we bought it from Santos.

Our shop started ordering the long Turkish bread and we really enjoyed that. Our shop had banned plastic bags by then and for some reason occasionally the end of the bread was snapped a little in the box I think.

I started to buy rocket for the first time. I found that it is nice in a salad with sun-dried tomatoes and lebanese cucumbers and balsamic dressing.

I had seen some coloured American sunflowers online. They had started to grow which was nice.

We were experiementing with American and other recipes, but this wasn't really anything that had long lasting effect on my menu planning I don't think. Things like French dip sandwiches, spoon bread. Miso soup was good. We just ran out of either dashi or bonito stock. It is very quick to make that way, 10 minutes. Those ingredients came to me in a box in the mail.

One of the last things I bought at this shop was sheets of seaweed. We were collecting recipes from the Family Circle then and putting them into a marbig. We made brown rice & cucumber nori rolls, again with lebanese cucumbers.

During our practise seachange year, we had some recipes that could be made on very little money as sometimes my menu planning made the difference between eating and not eating. I found the vegetarian section of Cookery the Australia Way very helpful in particular spicey lentil noodles.

Then we started experimenting with black turtle beans. They also came in a bag from Kwikshop. I love black bean soup, though these days make a more simple one that everyone likes.

In the winter past we celebrated our first Christmas in July. We made Hot Pecan Banana Cake from Australian Good Taste magazine. Not sure if the shortage of bananas affected the next year or not, remember we couldn't buy bananas one year?

I must have ordered grits by this stage. I can't say that we are a fan.

We also had chicken burgers with a radish salsa on the menu, that was very nice.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Acorn Squash & Swimming in the Creek

We started doing things like taking the kids to visit this creek, they really enjoyed it. I also did things like buy winter squash seeds from Eden Seeds. We had grown self-sown Tom Thumb tomatoes and herbs before our seachange.

Actually before corporate life, we grew a good vegetable garden every year. Right from the start hubby had a chook house and vegetable garden beds with edging. He had already planted oranges and grapefruit trees, and there was an existing lemon and peach tree, that grew preserving peaches.

He also had a Fowlers outfit and lots of jars and the equipment. I remember cutting up fruit and vegetables for preserving while hubby was at work. Sometimes he cut things like cucumber with the oldfashioned bread slicer. His ex-mother-in-law was fond of bread and butter pickles so we made those as well.

The garden had the same plants each year. In 1983-84 I saw the pumpkin vine growing over the chook shed. We had staked tomatoes, probably Grosse Lisse, silverbeet, carrots, beans, zucchini, cucumber, capsicums, possibly some basil. There were some chives. In the end we ended up with some Jerusalem artichokes, I think some eggplants, I remember because the last two ended up in bottles or jars. There were always enough tomatoes to put into jars and we didn't buy tomatoes for cooking. We always had our own homemade sauce. Once we tried gingerbeer, I don't think I would do that again, maybe when we don't have children at home. Also, if anyone is thinking about it and put it into bottles and store it under the house, don't. One exploded. I am so glad my son wasn't walking past at the time.

We always had our own homemade drinks, old fashioned lemon cordial with citric and tartaric acid in it. It also had a lot of lemon peel when heating it up on the stove.

When my step-children were living with us, the eldest helped me with the silverbeet, and we made gnocchi and lasagne. Silverbeet and carrots are vegetables that here can be still picked from the garden in winter.

We had to grow kiwi fruit along the side of the house to keep it cool. We made kiwi sauce as well, and had some plum sauce in the cupboard. The cupboard was homemade, and full. It is very big and doesn't fit in every room. After our first shift when still in corporate life it was made into a book cupboard. It can be flat-packed.

Great joys then were Jerusalem artichoke soup, we had a great time with our cooking. I made nice meals every night for years. With my child and two step-children I suddenly stopped.

I had a recipe scrapbook that we started by putting in the recipes hubby had been making as he looked after his son for awhile by himself. His recipes are Anzacs and sweet & sour fish sticks. I cooked from 80s Australian Women's Weekly cookbooks. Some of those recipes are still favourites, though we have found some recipes now that we like better than those rich dishes I cooked in those days. One was Osso Bucco and I liked to put in Anchovy Sauce. My bottle ran out and the only thing I can replace it with is an online Anchovy product that is similar. I had Anchovy Duck as a favourite hunting recipe, and grape stuffed quail, rabbit with onions. I had a nice big Beverly Sutherland Smith cookbook. My first try at different types of cooking was with a Ellen Sinclair book. We had an abattoir nearby, I sent my second stepson down there to get things like 1kg veal roast. I tried that here and didn't get the response I wanted. Things have probably changed. I like to cook veal roast with green olives and have the left overs for vitello tonnato.

We did actually get a larger vegetable garden on the block outside our fence. I think we grew beetroot too. Yes, we pickled it and it tasted exactly like the canned beetroot.

So back to our seachange and our very slow reacquainance with growing vegetables.

So at the end of our second year we had okra growing for a few short weeks until it died. We also tried collard greens. I just was inspired by the American world that was opened up to me on the net. I enjoyed seeing the collard greens seeding down. I had a go at the squash bread. Not something Australians would make usually. That started me cooking the odd thing. I tried a few acorn squash recipes because I didn't want to waste them. The last link shows what the squash looks like. A little hard to peel.

I did cook when my husband worked in the factory as he worked afternoon shift. At that time, with supermarkets so handy, there were lots of pies, and fish fingers cooked, but to be fair I was probably pregnant with my fifth child at the time. I do like peeling spuds.

Then the fried green tomatoes!! Hubby loved them. Some of the recipes I got from forums. I am pretty sure that in that summer that a unknown pumpkin came up in the scrap heap and turned out to have lovely pumpkins on it, we think Jarradales.

Our Second Seachange Year

During our practise year, towards the end, hubby's boss told him that his contract wouldn't be renewed. There was no work for him. That gave us time to look for work. This was when at 39 years old, nearly 40 that the penny dropped about saving money. By the time we were to come home I had $800 saved. On top of that I had food organised in the form of Chrisco which arrives in late November, early December. Our job finished just before Christmas, just to give an idea about the time of year.

So my saving thing continued. In our early days here I heard that some students in my eldest's age group who were studying History were planning to go to China. So I saved up for this. I didn't quite allow for any changes for the cost of the trip, so a little disappointed in that, but mostly I did good. The international airport here is 5 1/2 hours away. Since my husband was working in the corporate world for a time we had experience with the airport. Once I packed up the kids (four of them?) and woke at 2am or so one morning to drive 3 hours to be there waiting by six. I thought that was stupid later, we didn't believe in mobile phones at that point. Mind you our new one is just for show in some ways because it probably wouldn't work here along the road.

This flight from China was also pretty early in the morning. So we stayed in a caravan park unit, great for large families, and got up at 5 and made our way there to collect him. The trip made such an impact on his life, that a year later he made a decision to study Chinese in a double degree at uni. He got exactly the right marks and did exactly that; at least for a time, but that is another story. He sees a lot of Chinese on a daily basis where he lives so it is good he visited their country.

Our house here had a fantastic Japanese garden near the back door when we moved in. I remember spending time on the net learning about Japanese gardens, and eventually I got a statue as well. A lot of things I am forgetting now, all of these things were a big deal at the time, lots of detail I could have shared. But with being in limbo about our new house that we have bought, I guess these memories have been pushed to the back of my mind.

The statue was named something related to viewing snow, I was excited as you can see snow from the house once a year if you are lucky. So I thought it was special. I got the statue for my birthday, I don't usually get presents, I allowed myself this statue.

We visited the Lennox Gardens in Canberra and studied what plants etc. they had used in that garden and took photos. I tried to buy one of the ground covers, but had to settle for another one as I couldn't get my hands on them.

We went shopping in Coles, and I think bought things we couldn't buy here, like black cake decorating gel and other special things to add to the pantry.

We saw a blue-tongued lizard in our garden that year. We saw another one this year and he is the one pictured. We have seen other wildlife, like the tortoise that just walked along basically the footpath up the hill in the side street. We put him in our yard, and he went up the driveway still wanting to go up the hill. So we put him down on the corner and he continued on up the hill along the pathway.

Not too long ago I was at school waiting for the kids, and an echidna was just walking around on the lawn. Once I saw a fox running around town. Early on we saw flocks of corellas and those black parrots, Major Mitchell cockatoos?

Before we started on our seachange, our cat died. It was a Siamese seal point that we were very attached to. For some reason she started having fits. At some point I told our eldest daughter that when were were settled in a new place with a stable income we would get a cat. So in our second year here there were some free cats. I was quite stressed about this new cat and looking after it. I feel now I have done a good job, and the children get daily joy from the cat. I named him Cassidy from Hoppalong Cassidy. Manx are supposed to have longer back legs and remind me of a rabbit the way he moved as a kitten. He is also named after Butch Cassidy and David Cassidy, need I say more? Or was it Sundance that held my attention?

I remember we got Bigpond movies about this time, where the DVD arrives in the mailbox. I got a DVD of David Cassidy in concert. It was fairly recent. If you loved David Cassidy years ago, have a look at it. He was in the UK in the concert.

I didn't think the cat thing would work out so well, I was very negative at the start. There is a photo of him here.

I found some online friends at some stage. Two people in particular that I met on forums. I remember that really helped me with adjusting to my new environment.

During a visit to the health centre for our three year old daughter the nurse mentioned because of the way the town was, our daughter should attend, I think it was daycare, not sure. But anyway, I took it seriously in that I enrolled her in a local dance class. The friends she met there are still her friends today. It took ages for me to get to know the people and put names to them etc. so it was good I started early.

There was no 3-year old kinder here. I had put the older girls in three year old kinder. It turned out there was a kinder in our Shire, in a place I wouldn't have thought of. I wasn't going down the daycare route.

That year I decided we needed a visit to beach. So we did a day trip to the beach we visited in the early 80s. Amazing.

Earlier on in the year we went to the Agricultural Show. In our hometown I hadn't attended very often. I am not sure if this was our first or second visit to this show here, but our daughter won a prize for her toy bear that miraclously appeared during our practise year Christmas. I remember the first Show included a Punch & Judy performance and I was thrilled. The Show included what was in my childhood a Red Cross flower show. The Junior part had been joined to the Agricultural Show and the senior part left as it is. Need I say more?

I was thrilled to get reacquainted with Floral Saucers, though my daughters don't share my enthusiasm. My Nana and I had a lovely time attending flower shows, until the day, well I still enjoyed them; but, Nana put rag curls in my hair and I ended up with an afro.

At the end of the year there was the dance concert. The local Pentecostal church lent the hall for it which I thought was nice. The dance was a can can, and I was able to use an old tutu with a character skirt over, that we already had. Our other daughter had a matching character skirt and I got a sparkly leotard from ebay.

In my life before marriage and after the farm, I went to a Pentecostal church, but I haven't gone to this one. I guess you just get set in your ways.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Chick Ute Kind Of Thing

This was our first experience after our seachange of a street parade. Even though I love my 4x4 that has a good engine, and have owned a Monaro in the past I don't see myself like that. Remember that I have a large family and for 11 years drove a 4 cylinder van on gas (LPG), slowly. I listen to Adam Brand, love his car in the DVD of the making of Eve, but I am not in that space. Except to say that I do love my car, and really it is a distraction or perk of living here, that keeps me amused. Utes are going to America now, only they are called a different name. I hope to get the album with this song in it if my shop gets it in sometime.

The church pew in the clip reminds me of a shop that sells them. Another joy were the shops when I first saw them. One is still very 60s on the outside, very nice it would have been then, lovely display windows. It is called an Emporium. It has upstairs and has lovely things like butter churns that I haven't bought yet, but would like to if I had the spare cash. When I was little Mum made butter and we used to squeeze out the buttermilk with a wooden spoon.

There was an organic dairy here until recently that had real cream. Real cream is thin, and really I should have been buying it regularly. I cannot get the same satisfaction eating something like apple pie or stewed apple etc. without this thin pouring cream, it is just the best.

The other shop, is by modern standards perhaps easily overlooked. It has a lot of stock, but a fantastic shop. The prices are very cheap, yes, even for way out here. There is no way anyone could go broke buying clothes here, they are very reasonable and even the op-shop is fantastic. There were two other ones in the closest towns that were great too, however, one had to close which is very sad. You can see there has been a lot of change since 2004. We had come here for a job interview in 2001, and it had changed a lot even from that time.

Our son started to learn how to drive in 2005, our second year here on our treechange. At first I thought he could just find a quiet country road, or track to learn the basics on. I am not sure, but I don't think there really were any. But they did get going and he did drive quite a few hours while hubby took scenery photos.

One thing I found particularly hard to do that year was to organise Christmas. My daughter went with me to the shops as I didn't really leave her with anyone just took her everywhere with me. We do get Chrisco and all those deliveries, haven't had a time when they wouldn't deliver, though I think it was on the cards once, but not sure. They just keep sending letters that delivery was going ahead and it did. I have had Chrisco for many years.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

More on our first seachange year

This outfit, was bought at an old-fashioned craft shop. We have enjoyed buying things from it. I have bought things for international forum swaps, a cute present for Christmas last year that was just the ticket, things for the house, and the children bought me some things for Mother's Day. Mostly though it surprised us with special plants.

A craft shop is where people can sell homegrown plants, and their sewing and jams, knitted items.

During the first year we bought our wood. A nice man stacked it here for us. Eventually we bought another second hand chainsaw, though ours was good. The newer chainsaw is lighter, because at one stage we were collecting wood in this most gorgeous high place and to access the fallen trees hubby had to scale steep banks, yes, the chainsaw had to go up too. That is why the trees were left there and not cut up already.

Our electronic washing machine never made it past the first move to the farmhouse. It wasn't the same after that. I have a 7kg washing machine rather than a 5kg one. So in our first year we bought one the same, a Fisher & Paykel. Setting yourself up, someone called it. I suppose it has been nice not to have to worry about servicing the machine. As far as we know that doesn't quite happen here, but heard lately that they do do basic fixes. The question is how basic and how do you organise it? I suppose if you were doing a proper slowdown, you would have the time to find out.

We put a surge breaker I think on the new washing machine because of the electronics. We get such surges that we cannot have normal light globes, eventually we replaced them all.

We were given lots of plants we wouldn't have bought ourselves. We bought some nice trees, and I had to just stop buying plants, mind you I didn't really start. It adds up quickly but is a shame. As usually happens with a new house, you need the time to get furniture etc. sorted out, but twice, or rather three times now we have spent a lot of time on the garden. The last time I enjoyed it, the other two times I think I was stressed.

So in the first year, we planted osmanthus hedges, standard roses, put in bulbs and those new non-fruiting pear trees.

We only had the one house by then so had money for the odd car trip. The little one had never been to a zoo, so we went to a country zoo. I particularly loved the Shakespeare garden. We also went to the snow. Our son got involved in a country tradition called a Deb Ball. It was similar to this one. There was a dance? version of a Shannon Noll song I think that was really special. The dance teacher was young and had some great ideas. She actually was very welcoming to us when we first came and I don't know what I would have done without her. She reminded me of that new song Chic Ute Kind Of Thing. I love it.

It is funny, I wouldn't buy a ute, but I do have a CB aerial. Yes, I chose the car. I saw it in the paper, tried it out with eldest son and the little toddler and organised the paperwork.

At the Deb Ball we had our family portrait taken. It is the best one we have had done. So we didn't have to travel anywhere to get that done.

There were Welcome Packages availabe when we came. I got mine after awhile. The lady there quizzed me about how I came to be here, or had I been here before possibly. A few people got told the story of how I used to come here as a girl. Yes, it is true, and also when I was first married, or on the way to the beach. There is a photo of me when I was 6 drinking out of an anodised cup on top of the mountain. There are lots of connections to our hometown one was a boarding school that some of the ladies my Mum's age attended then.

She was asking what I liked or something, I suppose some of the things I have mentioned here on the blog got quoted, and then she said "What is here for you?" or something like that. I didn't think it was relevant really.

The springs here go on forever, just like in the farmhouse in our "practise" year. I find that the hardest I think. In our hometown, you had winter, spring and summer clothes. When the summer ones were out, there was no way you needed the winter ones, and probably the spring ones were put away too. The weather was that predictable.

I am not sure when I found online food shopping. But our fruit, vege and bread is shipped 1 1/2 hours in a refrigerated truck! I still think it is great. The bakery here stopped making standard sandwich bread at some point. We actually found some tins at the tip, and we have them if ever we wish to make more than 2 loaves.

The tip is lovely. Because of lack of electrical servicing we find some great things, collectibles, all sorts of things. Yes, you can still do that. We used to do that years ago, at some point we were embarassed, but not here, I think it is great.

Food is expensive. I buy mostly the cheapest items, some homebrands, and try not to memorise the prices. I can get bin items from the F&V shop as fruit is the most expensive thing to buy for families.

I must add that since I didn't watch the first year of Australian Idol, I vowed not to miss it the next year, after hearing the deb ball music. I am glad because I didn't miss this moment, or this one. Nor this.

I Remember Laura ~ Family Heirlooms

Welcome to my new blog. This is where I think you will find me from now on. Please excuse my lack of Blogger skills. Here is the place where my previous entries are. This is the theme for this week.

"This will wind up the blog-a-thon with one last link up featuring your cherished family heirlooms. Ma Ingalls most prized possession was her little china shepherdess which rested upon a hand carved bracket made by Pa Ingalls as a gift. Show us something or more than one thing that has been handed down to you that you cherish and plan to hand down to the next generation. Tell us the story of how it came to be in your family, why it is special, and who you plan to gift it too."

I didn't realise we had another week of the blog-a-thon, so thanks for the reminder!

I am at the point now in my life that things that were given to me or photos, I am starting to forget the details of. So it pays to write more details, things you will remember forever, because they may be a chance that you won't. Or maybe tell someone with a younger memory while you still have a good recollection of the items history.

I think there may have been a mention of this in the Caroline series of books.

Today I visited a collectibles shop. There was a notice on the window that it is closing tomorrow. We were there for other reasons, but my daughter knows we always take a peak in there, and went to look in the windows before we did the other thing we had to do! She told me that there was a book by Laura in the window. So to remember the closing of my special shop and the memory of the other things I do in that town I bought the book. It is My Little House Book of Animals and I bought it for my six year old daughter. I thought it may be of interest to those who read the interview with Melissa Wiley. These picture books, and chapter books are other new books that are fantastic along with Melissa's books and those by Celia Wilkins, and Maria Wilkes and Cynthia Rylant.

When the girls paged through the book I noticed the picture of Ma with her apron full of chickens. You could just imagine.

The collectibles shop today had a button accordian and some lovely metal canisters. A lovely dresser, odd pretty plates, beautiful doilies, a wok, a cute chair, all lovingly displayed. I wonder if the lady would have minded if I wanted to take a photo. I didn't think of that.

I did however notice a Billy Tea sign. I want to share that with you. The photo gives an idea about the town, that is why there is such lovely collectibles to be found in that area.

When we were first married and my husband was in his original job before he went to a corporate job, he had the time as he had quite a lot of holidays to make things for our home and garden. The first thing that comes to mind is the garden bench. He was given some oregon and this is what he made it with.

When my last grandparent on my Mum's side died, we were allowed to take some of the furniture. We also were given some of my Mum's furniture from my childhood at the same time. My hubby refinished some of those.

I think the things that we like best from the time we were starting out as a family where the etchings that my husband's family gave to us. It is nice to have some art to hang on the walls that is timeless.

I don't know what kind of things my daughter's would like passed on to them. As they grow older I am hoping they give me a little clue.

Please visit Quill Cottage to read other posts in the Blog-a-Thon, I Remember Laura.

Thankful Thursday ~ June 26

This is my first Thankful Thursday on my new blog, which I suppose means I have made a commitment to my new blog. Here is my last TT post there so you know who I am.

This is the week before the winter school holidays here and also the lead up to the children getting their school reports. We also are able to visit the ballet school to watch. My eldest is on university holidays as he is in another State. I am thankful that he had a two safe flights to visit his girlfriend's parents and her little nephew and family, and was able to visit some fun places in our State's capital city.

We were able to have another left-over meal this week. The dhal was great reheated. Being a large family left-overs don't happen a lot. The left-over coincided with a busy day at work for hubby. We have to take the first few days of holidays slowly rather than expect the wow factor or some improvement, as if you have been doing too much I have found this to be better. I think we get a couple of days overstrung sometimes.

Last Thursday I drove 50 minutes to go shopping through heavy fog. Well it was on the way home I had the problem. I had seen a calf on the side of the road on the way there. I was thankful that when I met a car in fog on the way back in that spot, that the calf was not on the road.

My husband had his birthday last week. We had a pinata, teacake, some magazines, his favourite cornchips & salsa and gingerbeer (fake). I am thankful that all the children seem very content afterwards. We also had rabbit balloons that we didn't manage to learn how to blow up the ears, even though our daughter's friend kindly told us how to do it.

The next day I enjoyed the letter from ebay about paypal and the enclosed incentitive for me to join, though I haven't managed that yet. In Australia we have probably two weeks to get an account or we will be unable to pay for our items. Until I work it out I am using Oztion instead, if I do manage it that is.

My eldest daughter managed to go to another Youth Group function which I am very thankful about. It was a nice bonfire. I am thankful we are past the shortest day here, but with spring comes lots of change and lots to do, so I will try to enjoy winter while it lasts.

I am grateful for the wood hubby and second son collected on Saturday. Our son found some interesting wildlife in the logs, and it was interesting to here him talk about it.

I noticed my sasanqua camellia has caught up with others around the town and is now flowering.

I am thankful that although we have colds, everyone is feeling OK and they are not getting worse despite the cold weather.

Please visit Iris at Sting My Heart to read more Thankful Thursday's the theme this week being Life. Click on the above button.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Our first seachange year

This picture has a lot of elements that sum up our first year in our place amongst the trees.

I was so happy that the school children decorated the Christmas trees that decorated the street. When I first came here I felt that I was transported back to the 60s. By the end of the year, as you can see the town had started changing. They were improving the streetscape and eventually put in roundabouts. The local paper had to print an article to tell people how to use them. The Christmas trees now are no longer. I never did hear the story about that.

At the time there was a pile of trees on a lawned area that people could take away and use in their homes. Imagine how thrilled I was about that.

The council has street Christmas decorations that include kangaroos, which is nice. But you do get used to these things over time. However, in the time that things are changing here, they are also changing in your town of origin.

This photo was taken of my daughter ready for our trip to the regional centre 1 1/2 hours away for her ballet concert. Her older sister was taking part in it too. She was ready to put her costume on. I had rung before we moved to see if there were any ballet schools here. I had heard of one 30 miles away, but then couldn't get a contact number. A few years later we did actually find this school and our youngest daughter started there.

Yes, you guessed it, for a year I drove at 7am every week to the regional centre to attend ballet classes. We left again for home at about 12.30. This had the effect that I got used to the road. In the May after our house sold I got a 4x4 and this made it easier. We had been driving a van which may going up some hills very hard. I also did things like bring a cooler for drinks, but that doesn't seem to be an issue with an air-conditioned car now, but the kids seem to take water bottles with them these days and manage it themselves.

The regional centre is not very far from our hometown. Also the place we went to ballet the year before was in a similar place to my hometown, so I had my weekly "near hometown feeling" fix. Because it was near our hometown and I used to shop there sometimes after we bought a car on LPG in 1993, I knew sort of how to get around the regional centre. I was able to go there sometimes if I wanted to because I didn't have to worry so much about the price of the trip.

The thing about this long trip, was that I really enjoyed travelling back and seeing the snow and things like that, seeing the unique sights, seeing wallabies and how they are more shy than the kangaroos.

I think that year and the previous one we missed our dishwasher the most. I was doing the dishes in the farmhouse for awhile and hubby did them here. We had gone home for a month before moving here. It was the school holidays. Because it was more urban there I remember taking part in a survey and got a year's subscription to Home Beautiful. So that made the first year nice as well. I remember when we first saw this house we thought the back yard was too steep!

No one was in a critical year at school. Our youngest wasn't in pre-school yet, the second in Grade 2, then 5, 8 and 11. No major milestones and I guess that helped. We had town water again, had missed the bushfires here, that drifted to our hometown, so by being at the farmhouse we had escaped all that. At our hometown house there was lots of drama we missed out on too, the neighbours had a couple of crises. Let's just say that moving from our long time house to a better one across town wasn't necessarily better for us, but we did love the house itself. Before we left the hometown the smoke smell on our clothes was very strong. We have had smoke since but it hasn't settled on our clothes like that. In the drought of the summer before last, our hometown actually nearly ran out of water. The river had dried up, we missed out on that worry too. I can only go on someone's word, I didn't actually see that I don't think.

One thing I really liked about the farmhouse before coming here was the country mailbox. I bought things on ebay, and they were sitting up waiting for me when I came home from picking the girls up from school. Sometimes the farmer asked me to help him with the cows. I wasn't sure I remembered how to do that. We didn't have a mailbox at first. We used to pick up things from the shop down the road. Hubby made one from an oil drum, something I remembered from when I was young. There was a star post out there already so that made it easy. The lady at the shop offered to ask the post lady to put our mail at our house which I thought was lovely.

We had a large tyre sandpit at the farmhouse. When we came here we asked at the shop if they had a tyre and made one the same. I did find shopping in small country supermarkets very hard with a young girl at some point, there just doesn't seem to be the room to take someone shopping with you.

Our Practise Year

I am so very grateful for my year of practising my lifestyle change, or changing from the lifestyle I was now accustomed to to something more like I had experienced in the 1960s-70s.

In January 2003 I organised some basic things that we would take to our new rental house. Hubby had a job 2 hours away, we felt that was a long way. His corporate job was 2 years in the past, very exciting it was. Followed by 2 years on a factory floor, we liked that too. (I've left the bad bits out, I did forget them after awhile.) One benefit of living here is that you feel so far away, that your bad things get left there as well.

We had visited the area once. We had seen a house to buy on the internet. I felt with children you really don't remember anything about how it feels to be there after you have driven home. We didn't actually choose a place to live right by hubby's workplace but 20 minutes closer to Melbourne. At the time our son was going into Year 10 and I think I was thinking he may enjoy Engineering and we thought her could perhaps study in Healesville I think. If I had know what the road where like to get to Healesville I perhaps would have thought again lol.

On the day we visited we saw a pear tree by the creek and the children enjoyed playing at this stop. There was a road that I thought led to a farmhouse and I thought wow, wouldn't it be nice to live there. Some cows had come by to say 'hi' I think.

I am getting a little mixed up, but I talked to the agent who was from Melbourne, not a country agent, he suggested we needed a large house for the amount of children we had and suggested one for me, and that we should rent to see how we liked the area. I loved how it looked on the internet, I couldn't believe we would get something like that. The thing about it was how many bunks it had in it. We only had to take our bed and the cot. So we ended up taking one of our spare two seater couches and a table that we used to have that Mum used for sewing. No fridge, but I think we did take our washing machine. So we were moved in pretty quickly. On the day hubby got the key he and our eldest did some grocery shopping and that was about it. We took all our extra things and basically left two houses set up.

I have found that the properties that the agents choose, at least for me turn out the best ones. The agent chose the house I am living in now as it wasn't listed at the time.

The rental house we looked at coming from the other end. Later we realised that it was that house at the end of the track! Why did we get it, to other people's standards it wasn't good enough. We loved it though, the space and the trees and grass.

Back to the point at hand. I didn't want to leave my comfortable home. We had been living in it 3 years, never thought it would be comfortable and I didn't want to leave it. So by renting I didn't have to come fully to that decision, but I was baulking, even though it was my idea to pursue this return to previous career line of thinking.

I had just started feeling like I belonged in my hometown. Why would it take that long for me to feel at home there? As I said it a previous post coming from a farm, our hometown was foreign. I was comfortable there, but when I started having school aged children I felt I didn't fit in. Just before I left I had a friend, who it turned out was the wife of a man I knew as a child, and she herself lived in the closest town to where we are now, an hour. So we were a good match. My second son had been involved in choir, I got to sit outside the cathedral with the kids waiting to pick him up listening to the bells. My daughter had asked to start ballet and we had had a good year with that, things were quite settled.

So we came home each weekend, at least for a little while. The first night I was there, hubby and eldest son went home for another trailer load of things. It took longer than they thought so had to ring and tell me they wouldn't make it. Hubby had to be moved in before work started at the beginning of the school year. I got the kids ready for bed, and because there was one room with lots and lots of bunks we all made up a bed each and I put my one year old daughter with me and then the lights went out. It was scary, the customary rental blinds were in the cupboard and there was a scarey but beautiful tulip tree outside. Our hometown rarely had blackouts. Thankfully we all went to sleep and that was that! I remember the next time the were watching The Wizard of Oz on TV and I think one of the girls started screaming. They have changed a lot from that time. One was 6 and the other 9 at the time.

Hubby was telling me during lunch that the reason he had a chainsaw, which is now antique, is that years ago he lived in a house in our hometown that only had wood heating. So during this year he had to get it out (in our first house we threw nothing out). Don't ask me how we shifted into our next home! It was a shock.

The farmer let us cut his wood, the kids, even the six year old I realise now with horror went to help Dad. I used to cut wood with my Dad as a girl.

I didn't put wood on the fire at all until it got progressively colder and I was forced to do it. It was a good heater, but I got good at it as it needed feeding very regularly during the day and the house was cold. The kids didn't get croup or anything because their rooms got the heat from the chimney. I had wood stoves etc. when I was a child but I believed I didn't remember much, but I must have really.

What did I practise? Packing lunches for little one to take on shopping trips. In the end I drove 15 minutes some to the side to get LPG put in the car, the guy there put it in for me. Then back a little and on to an outer suburb of Melbourne to visit Coles. Little one would eat her sandwich in the bag and go to sleep, then shop with me etc. On Monday's I packed sandwiches again to take the girls out of school slightly early to drive 40 minutes or so to ballet. I think there turned out to be a closer ballet school but I didn't hear the details. They would eat their sandwiches on the way to ballet. After ballet we had our only special treat for the week, four pieces of cake from the bakery. It would be dark when we got home. I got used to driving up steep hills. Our hometown was freeway driving only, I had nearly forgotten how to drive on normal roads, in fact I think I did. In the dim dark recesses of my mind I did country driving with dirt tracks with my car I had at 18 and my V6 Monaro.

How many grocery shops did I visit? Outer Melbourne was basic then. I tried 1/2 hour to the north, the town my husband worked in, the one ballet was in, Healesville, Kinglake, Broadford, Kilmore, then settled on Coles Mill Park. Here I have done a similar thing, tried the local shop for a very long time, but settled on another, after trying at least three others. I feel food shopping is my major responsibility. In my hometown I shopped at Coles and I think had done so for years. I remember my two last babies, 5 years apart sleeping while going around in the trolley.

Broadford's tall hills, the echidnas, kangaroos near our house, wearing a jacket, were all practise for my new life here. We even learnt more than was necessary, we had to buy in water and lots of other things, but gave us some country experiences. Though the water came from Kinglake which is actually a suburb of the second most populated city in Australia I think.

It was a high rainfall area (not in a drought year though), but we did have a small tank, and possibly the cows may have benefitted from it, not sure), just like the rainfall of my childhood home and where we live now. The kids and Dad picked mushrooms they saw in the paddock on the way home from school. The school children are very much the same as the ones we have here. That place though was very special, very friendly.

I remember thinking while at the creek one day though, that I really didn't want to go back to my country experience.

We also practised things like frosted up old wooden bridges, watching out for roos on the road, and learnt the value of UHT milk. Our hometown dairy made deliveries. We don't do that here, I am over cheques I think.


Seachange is mostly an Australian expression. Treechange is a variation of it. But yesterday I noticed Seachange had made it to mainstream web.

Here is a quote from the site: "Downshifting and seachanging can be the same thing but they need not be. For example, you can downshift and stay in the city, and you can seachange and keep a high income."

Why did we want to keep a high income?

We wanted to be as free of Centrelink as possible and maintain some sort of independence. It is not possible with children to do that entirely, but we are happy the way it is now more or less.

The other ideas for a name for my blog were centred around words like "accidental treechanger" agrarian, things like that.

What is agrarian? Agrarian, I didn't get a handle on except that it means someone that likes a particular place, likes farming. Well I am agrarian, I do love where I grew up, this point is brought home a lot, especially since my Dad died. Farming, well I haven't been on a farm since the age of 14 and had little to do with killing animals since my husband went corporate for 10 years and we didn't go hunting anymore. He finished corporate life in 2001. So I am still thinking about that. Our new house that we haven't moved into yet is zoned agricultural, so we will see. I will always feel displaced, but haven't done anything to rectify that. My brother has, I haven't. So I guess that is where the accidental fits in. How did I come to be 2 hours plus from my hometown and further from my farm homeplace?

In order to get back into my husband's old career we took a contract position with the view that since his skills were in apparent shortage that we could either stay there or get a job back home. This didn't happen. We were very grateful at the last minute to get a job here. There were no rental houses big enough for us at the time, so we bought instead. There were few houses available to buy as well, but this suits us well.

This is my favourite article about Seachange. There is an interesting list of reasons why people don't seachange here. And here is a website where you can view a video about the government's push to try to get more doctors to seachange. They even have the actual videos of some peoples new lives too.

Why Remote Treechanger?

I have been thinking about a name for my new blog for a long time. I wanted a new blog that fit in with the suggestions of my blog review, but first I needed a name.

The one I chose is not ideal, because I am not a city person here to annoy the locals, although they may think so.

I was born to a farming family, who on my mother's side can be counted as pioneers and I could be involved in the Pioneer gatherings they have near my hometown these days. When I mention the word hometown, I mean the town I was born in, and lived in after my family left the farm when I was 14. I lived in "hometown" for 25 years and hubby lived there 2 years longer I think. Wow, I don't think I realised that, since he doesn't think of himself as attached to that place. We were both unwilling movers to the place in the first place. I had a culture shock myself moving to a town with I think then 16,000 people in it. We think it is like living in a suburb of Melbourne. We never knew the grass outside of town was burnt to a crisp in summer, we didn't go there!

To be fair, when we were first married and lived in our first house I was still missing the country, and I dragged hubby to my childhood place 30 miles away often. Also he had a church friend with a farm and we went rabbit shooting very often, and hunting for ducks, quail, kangaroo, whatever.

On my father's side, I was the fourth generation on the farm. From the couple who started it, my Great-Grandma was from good Wimmera stock, which my husband can also lay claim too, his Grandma is the same.

It is ironic, that when I went to school in a tiny 30 child school which was considered a lot in those days, it was a lot smaller when I started, we only had a prep teacher for half a day then. In the afternoon we were all together in one room with it divided off with a bookcase, until the bookcase fell over, thankfully not hurting anyone. The irony is that the family names I went to school with, met at the school 8 miles away and heard about later at a place just down the road, were all people that lived where we have seachanged too. Their families had moved to where our farm was and we grew up together. The families weren't watered down by anything. By that I mean that, apart from us, and a couple of other families, the rest were from this place where I am now, or recently migrated from Italy or Spain.

Why did the families from where we are now go to live in the farming district where I grew up coincidently? I think it was a similar environment. Same cool weather, blue hills, it seems a similar culture as I have met people in another town nearby with my personality. Our hometown was not in the hills.

I'll start by saying I know we are remote in the town where we are now, as my husband gets paid a very small remote allowance to work here. I have as yet to work out if our new house about 30 miles down the road is remote as well. I started up a webpage a long time ago, haven't got very far with it as I couldn't seem to do much with the Bigpond hosting. I set it up as I had contacted a magazine that is free for people in the city and now regional centres I think saying I missed it. I used to pick up a copy of Melbourne's Child in 2003 when we lived an hour from the city of Melbourne. They said why don't I set up a website to help with the things that the magazine covered. It was called Remote Families. It took me quite a lot of searching when I first came here to find some online shopping to help me with being so far from the chain stores etc. Food was my particular interest. The photo at the top is one of the butterfly photos I have on the webpage, not this particular one, but more lifestage photos.

More about treechange in the next post.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008


Welcome to my new blog.

I really enjoyed blogging with Homesteadblogger, however, I wanted a blog like most of you, and wanted to try out some things I think homesteadblogger either can't do or I have been too lazy to find out about. I was going to have a plain background and use colours from degraeve color palette generator from my picture, but maybe later on I will do that. I have always admired this brown background, so I am sure it will suit me for awhile.

I really didn't think I could use Blogger, can you believe it? I was very much encouraged I think by Tina & Jeff's new blog, some penny just dropped I think.

I was also trying to improve my existing blog, after my blog review. I still have much to work on.