Thursday, July 31, 2008

Cootamundra Wattle ~ Ode to July

Although the weather forecast for tomorrow is wintery, the last few days have been almost like spring; and the wattle, that is probably last to come out here, has a lovely perfume.

I have a photo in my album. When I think of wattle, I remember the photo. I had a lovely day with my cousin while I still lived on the farm as a girl, early teen I think. We had been on a big bike ride, and had stopped in front of a wattle. I imagine we picked some, the balls are nice and fluffy and I remember the tree was very large and fragrant. The sun was shining and it was a very happy memory.

Cootamundra Wattle

Lyrics & Music by John Williamson
Don't go lookin' through that old camphor box woman,
You know those old things only make you cry.
When you dream upon that little bunny rug
It makes you think that life has passed you by
There are days when you wish the world would stop woman,
But then you know some wounds would never heal
But when I browse the early pages of the children
It's then I know exactly how you feel.

Hey it's July and the winter sun is shining
And the Cootamundra wattle is my friend
For all at once my childhood never left me
'Cause wattle blossoms bring it back again

It's Sunday and you should stop the worry woman,
Come out here and sit down in the sun
Can't you hear the magpies in the distance?
Don't you feel the new day has begun?
Can't you hear the bees making honey woman,
In the spotted gums where the bellbirds ring?
You might grow old and bitter cause you missed it,
You know some people never hear such things


Don't buy the daily papers any more woman,
Read all about what's going on in hell.
They don't care to tell the world of kindness,
Good news never made a paper sell.
There's all the colours of the rainbow in the garden woman,
And symphonies of music in the sky.
Heaven's all around us if you're looking,
But how can you see it if you cry.

Hey it's July and the winter sun is shining
And the Cootamundra wattle is my friend
For all at once my childhood never left me
'Cause wattle blossoms bring it back again.

I have another memory of the sap, we loved to play with that as well.

It is not quite out yet, but I could smell it!

Thankful Thursday ~ July 31

The theme for this week is Relationships.

This week I am thankful for:

The snow I saw in the gutter on the road on our way to the regional centre. While I was there I went to a plant nursery. I was not blessed from the idea of consumerism, but I was taken with how the nursery was laid out and the plants and statues. I thought it gave the impression of a garden and it was very restful. I found some colours of helebores and was very excited about that. Maybe one day I could add a colour or two to my helebore garden.

We went to the botanical gardens and it reinforced or reminded me of what I liked in gardens. I loved seeing the lillipillies. They are an Australian tree with pink fruit, a lovely shade tree, and you can make preserves from the fruit. We weren't brought up to that idea so haven't tried it.

I was blessed to find some costume ideas at the op-shop and that hubby had the time to alter them slightly for our eldest daughter so she could attend a Youth Group function.

A very kind person included in our seed order some cotton from a bush to show the kids what it looks like, and some extra tobacco seeds. I will look forward to them growing very much.

I was really pleased to get the lawn cut at our other house. I am sure it looks much better. I was pleased that our second son's English teacher responded to a call and helped him out with his homework.

I was able to handsew the hem of our youngest's school skirt that came down.

I found a lovely country music artist to listen to, I am always glad to find country music that is suitable for the kids to listen to.

I got a delivery of two plants yesterday, that was nice too. Not expensive, but will add to the garden. Something for the future I guess.

It felt like spring for a couple of days and it felt hopeful.

We did something this week that we had been putting off and were worried about. Though we haven't seen the benefits of it yet, we are glad everything went smoothly, and I guess we will feel more settled over the coming week.

You may remember last week we were making chocolate cakes in mugs. This week we have still been making them. One night hubby decided he would rather have teacake instead of chocolate cake. He got out a recipe for microwave teacake and he made one. We haven't got to the stage of adapting it for a cup yet.

My son had a newsletter with the chocolate cake in a mug in it, so that was nice.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008


This isn't about truck strikes. Just about trucks, and the trucks I have seen. They are very much part of our life here, even if you stay at home a lot of the time. They make their way through our town with little fuss and don't seem to get in the way and nobody takes notice of them. I suppose when I am sitting waiting for the kids at school I am a bit of a truck watcher.

I mentioned Slim Dusty in a previous post. He is an icon in Australia as a country music artist. He died a few years ago. I found this great clip about trucks in Australia, featuring a song called Lights On The Hill sung by Slim. I remember singing it as a girl I think.

When my Dad came home late when I was a little girl on the farm, I would look out for him, the latest nights were when he was out with the truck. I loved seeing the side of the truck going past to the shed, with the lights all down the side. Usually he brought me some chocolate covered honeycomb (not real honeycomb).

I also remember sitting in the truck beside him going places. I don't remember much now, but part of it stays with you somewhere in the back of your mind.

I had a camera with me back a few months ago, but was too scared to take a picture, of a truck parked not far away in town. It was a great looking truck and I wanted to take a picture as it showed a flavour of where we live. The most spectacular time I think was when there was the drought seeing the trucks with hay on them.

Often, I think in summer, some amazing old trucks come out of the woodwork. My husband and I love them. They are vintage, and speak of perhaps the war era. They have a distinctive style, and I suspect the people who own them couldn't see why they had to get rid of a perfectly good truck, and I suspect they are frugal and not always flash on cash. Who knows, but it makes me proud.

When I was first married we lived very close to a major highway. Not very far away and visible from our back verandah were the lights of the trucks stopped at a shop mostly around 10pm at night. I guess we breathed in a lot of truck fumes. I remember the sound of the brakes the most as there were a set of traffic lights there as well. I like this clip too.

These days we still have trucks about the place. Our new house has log trucks driving right past the front door. The previous owners put good fencing all around the house. Still it is a bit of a worry. The truck actually can be felt in the house. Our room actually.

The trucks also turn not far from where I park my car when I go grocery shopping. The log trucks that is, and thankfully there is a little bit of space between me and my open back door and where the truck actually drives, but I often look to make sure. This third clip gives you a bit more of an idea of the way they sometimes drive. Though you may be able to discount the first truck.

We have milk tankers here. If you have to go to the regional centre early you will always meet one coming to collect the milk.

In our hometown if you wanted to go to the regional centre, or the place of our practise seachange, this is mostly what you saw, and was normal to us then. We mostly drove on these roads, not normal 100km restricted roads.

The one I can relate to now, is this one by Jayne Denham, the country music singer. However, closer to home now, there are other experiences with trucks. We don't really have time to look at scenery. You have to be very careful, and always keep in mind that one could come around the next bend.

I can relate to the trucks in our immediate area more than the ones on the Freeway. They are more interesting. The ones on the Freeway I suppose, I have seen all the older ones, just like I know the sound of the older trains. We lived in an industrial area. At 11pm the shift workers usually woke our babies, and sometimes the trains were rather loud.

Driving across the Murray River during the drought.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

The Wind-up Gramophone

When I was a little girl I lived in a house that was typical of a farmhouse style for the mountain areas. The roofline was a particular shape, and typically it had a front room jutting out and a wrap around verandah. It was a small house, nice but not grand. The location was above the floodline of a creek. Most old houses were always out of harm's way like that.

It had a front door leading straight into the loungeroom. The loungeroom wasn't overly big, and had ornate pressed metal ceilings. Mum had a briquette heater first with a mantlepiece. Long windows on two sides, and lino she polished with a machine. We had a 20s style couch and two chairs, a laminex smokers table I suppose you would call it. Possibly one of those darling lamps with a pink skirt, a 60s light fitting, and a polished windup gramophone in the corner. Oh yes, and a TV, in between two bedroom doors. Another door led to the kitchen.

The 60s flouro light fittings I have revisited since my treechange. There are two shops with those fittings here.

When I did my family research I vagely remember being told that the gramophone was a special aquisition of my Great-Grandparents. It was a piece of furniture, and was in very good condition when my Mum had it. It had a grill on the front with flowers in it I think. Sometimes I had a little hour or two by myself where I played some songs.

Last night I was watching CMC, the Country Music Channel. I was at a bit of a loose end. I was watching a show called Australia Only and came across this song by Melissa Bajric called Too Long Between Drinks. I found her online and thought all the songs on her album Small Town Girl were great, as far as I could tell from the snippets of songs. Imagine how I felt when I came across the words to Wind-up Gramophone.

In the tiny craftroom
Of the farmhouse by the creek
Spending hours and hours on my own
Dreaming dreams and singing songs
That I learnt one by one
From the records on my Granny's gramophone
It was ... shining
In a cabinet made of wood

Melissa Bajric Wind-up Gramophone

Apparently it is a song by Joy McKean who is Slim Dusty's widow. I am probably going to buy Melissa Bajric's album this week. It has an old-time dance music feel to it. There is another video clip titled Luckiest Girl. Do you have any gramophone memories?

Monday, July 28, 2008

Mindful without being mindful

Mindful, has a nice ring to it doesn't it? It has a kind of feeling of being mindful of your Mum as a child or something like that. Mindful of the road perhaps?

Simplicity has a nice ring to it as well. It brings up memories of gorgeous sewing patterns. Simple, not quite as good, no one wants to be called the other kind of simple, but maybe that is OK.

The question is, if you are living a simple life, do you have to be mindful as well? I had a little look at what it meant in basic terms, and dispensing with the monkeys found it was about not looking forward or back just being in the present. I just thought of a song by Slim Dusty, Looking Forward, Looking Back. It has a positive message.

I admit to not spending much time thinking about the past. If I do, because of the fast pace of living with five other people, not little kids anymore, and a husband with a fast paced job, and two houses, I guess I set a kind of time limit on it. I get bored and move on to something else.

Yes, you hear lots from perhaps un-enlightened people that being on the computer for long periods is bad. But, for being mindful, if I wanted to be mindful, it is an excellent tool. I find I can spend many happy hours this way. Of course, visiting lovely positive places. No forward or backward thinking. I find it bad though if I am supposed to be making medical appointments or spending the odd half and hour just thinking, which certainly helps with remembering and thinking of nice things the kids need done for them.

I guess places that celebrate the simple things of life, like cooking, lovely retro homely things, and things of nature, nice fellowship.

In my house at the moment, I have an electronic washing machine, and a microwave timer. Both can be used to do things and to alert me on the computer of things that have finished that need my attention.

The future, well that is something that can be covered by faith I guess. The year before my eldest went to uni was a challenge to me, same this year. Underneath I wonder if I will do all I can to make sure that all the bases are covered to get things organised for next year. My Mum is a wonderful example of that. It is called responsibility. Sometimes I am a tiny bit of a shirker. I didn't always do that though. Mum is more disciplined in taking on things that don't fit a routine and things like that. Hairbrained was one of her sayings that applied to me when I was a teenager, and probably rightly so. I guess my faith and positive though sometimes outweighs practicality and my abilities. I sometimes scream up to the line.

Mindfulness though, I didn't realise was complicated. I do feel a comfortable life can sometimes bring too much time and a lack of experiences that makes us more susceptible to thinking too much. I guess we will all come to the point of being less busy at some point in our lives. I think at that point we could remember we all did the best with what we knew to do at the time.

How do you deal with anger then? Not sure at all what I do about that. I have heard that my Grandfather put a great deal of emphasis on the miracle of having food on the table and I have to agree with that.

Being aware is a phrase that goes with mindful. I had no idea. I think I am of this mentality. (Click for sound sample.)

Anyway, it reminds me of this song called Big Black Cloud by Felicity Urquart, an excellent country music singer. When I first heard it on TV I loved it. The lyrics, I don't find that nice, but the song is lovely.

Here is a nice piece, albeit oldish, of retro images and lovely music.

I found my happiness the highest when the kids were smaller, reading magazines during my daily rest period, this must have been post daytime TV lol. Dreaming about making or doing the things in the magazine. The magazines of course, were decorating ones, and things like that. I loved Our House magazine, even For Me, which was pretty radical, but had a new interesting way of looking at things.

I guess the scripture sums it up nicely. Philippians 4:8 KJV

"Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things."

Mindful & Simplicity are put together as well sometimes. I guess the original downsizers were dropping out in some ways. Still it is still an option for some and a healthy one if it is best for you at the time. And a lot of good things have come from these people's enthusiasm especially their tolerance. I lived in this type of community, albeit a bit separate, in 2003 and found it the friendliest place and very accepting of me. As long as I could keep my separateness that would be very nice.

I wonder if simple then, is ever used without mindful? Yes, it is. I rechecked Wiki and all is well.

A gumboot moment.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Menu Plan Monday ~ July 28

Monday ~ Mince Stoganoff
Tuesday ~ Spaghetti Bolognaise
Wednesday ~ Tuna Casserole
Thursday ~ Pesto Pasta with Chorizo & Olives
Friday ~ Spanish Chickpeas with Spinach
Saturday ~ Spaghetti with Zucchini & Cherry Tomatoes
Sunday~ Pumpkin & Pancetta Risotto

Weekend Musings

Saturday I went out a couple of times, well three actually. I went to netball twice and to the Takeaway to buy lollies. As it turned out gummy bears & mates.

I was walking along, camera-less again, and I saw a cloud with a straight across brilliant gold lining. Walking along further I saw a van pass by with a slogan written boldly on the back, something like: Simple, doesn't go out of style. So I am thinking, even though it is possibly an American concept, quite popular in Australia.

Earlier on, those cockatoos (sulphur crested) where on one person's nature strip. Very hard to drive by. Quite a large amount on one small lawn, amazing. A few of them tried to fly up by my front window so I drove slowly.

Remember the character in Philip Gulley's books, the newspaper man? I could do a running commentary on what I saw on my walk, but of course I can't.

It was very quiet when I went for my walk, quite cold. I enjoyed the historical photo on the wall, the couch in another shop window, it was very pleasant. The couch was the orange version of a blue one I bought not too long ago. I love orange!

FOR TODAY Sunday...

Outside My Window... Grey cloud with a lighter patch near the edge of the mountain, very pretty

I am thinking... about blog posts

I am thankful for... a clean loungeroom

From the kitchen... we are having the rare, but becoming more frequent left-overs, lentil soup with bacon bones, and perhaps buns

I am wearing... polar fleece v-neck jumper, op-shop jeans, black skivvy, pooh bear socks and slippers

I am creating... fixing the hem of youngest daughter's school skirt. The hem came down after school on Friday

I am going... to ballet next, or maybe to take back a sombrero that we borrowed

I am reading... Minnesota by JoAnn A. Grote

I am hoping... we feel more cheerful this week

I am hearing... Myth Busters, I don't like hearing it in the background particularly

Around the house... two girls in their room, one teen boy doing homework in his room

One of my favorite things... anything warm today

A Few Plans For The Rest Of The Week: getting the food shopping done

Here is picture thought I am sharing...

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Growing Vegetables

Last year when we acquired our new house on the last day of August I think, we spent the spring moving plants and doing lots of gardening. We had a visit from hubby's parents who brought along with them some loganberries and raspberries. We started a garden for the loganberries at the back of the carport where the fence is, so if worst comes to worst we could just hook up a string for them. We made a bed, and put the raspberries in a row next.

At some point we ran into trouble coming up against a lump of concrete that we think is actually the foundation of a windmill or tank stand or something. Later we are going to find out if there can be water drawn from this place. Our bed didn't get finished. But, our second son watered the berries all summer and we know we want to extend this fence all the way to the back gate which is in the other corner.

However, the jam melons came in the soil, and were where the watering system was and they grew very well. Some tomatoes and pumpkins came up by themselves and we were able to ate those, and it did help.

We have an argument of sorts in this house, about the value of growing vegetables. I know with the price of water, that it hardly makes up for the vegetables we grow. I am not sure how many vegetables you would have to grow to make up for this price. Gardens are not just the price of seeds these days.

However, this could be the case if you use a community garden. If we stay in this house, I think we would have to take advantage of the community garden.

I still will grow vegetables though, because we pay for the water because we enjoy flowers so much and water those. So it is not about saving money really, though on some paydays it certainly helps a lot. That was the case with the pumpkins and tomatoes I mentioned. It was nice to be able to use them. Sometimes gifted vegies work the same way.

Both gifts and homegrown alike are to me something very vital to our children though.

When my husband was put out of work during a restructure in the corporate world, they have lectures on being able to manage afterwards. The word "change management" comes up. I very much believe in being able to manage change, and being independent. Though, that is probably because my husband is doing a lot of the work. But in this partnership we are in, I believe very much in being independent and not being part of an institution or a case to be managed. Just think of all the retro institutions and think of the modern equivalent of those, even though they are well hidden.

I am happy my boys can chop wood, even if it is limited knowledge that can be built on later. Many, many places in Australia still have wood heat, especially Canberra, though I haven't been aware of it so much as about 14 years ago. If you lived through the power strikes during the late 70s or early 80s you would understand why you shouldn't if you can rely totally on electricity. I would prefer to have a gas stove, especially to manage the black outs we have here, but haven't organised anything like that yet.

Vegetables and knowledge about them is very important. Watching Jamie's School Dinners and You Are What You Eat makes you very aware that in the end people eventually don't have the ability to even buy vegetables as they don't know their names. This affects their diet and their health. On one show the lady had to have the vegetables written on with texta. I could empathise with her very much.

Sure my kids know their vegetable names, but I still think it would be nice if they could know the joy of growing vegetables. This year we are growing cape gooseberries. My Mum grew them in the garden, and it is my belief that they will stay in the soil at our new house once we start growing them. I think the kids will enjoy their little paper coverings very much. They can be started now. We are extending a bed and shortening it both, and we hope to start the seeds off there, maybe even next week. Apparently you can start them early.

Depending on where you live, I am sure you can save money preserving the vegetables you have grown with your flowers. To me Green Tomato Pickles from the Ezy Sauce bottle is my idea of heaven. Below is the recipe, not from the bottle I used last, but an older label I cut out and stuck in my scrapbook years ago. I remember salting down the vegetables last time I made it. I can eat a few tablespoons straight with a teaspoon from a bowl.

The lettuce and other vegetables our daughter has been growing this winter have not needed water. So her vegetable garden has provided me with much food for thought.

Green Tomato Pickles

Slice into dish 5.5kg green tomatoes, 2kg onions and mix in 140g salt. After 12 hours empty contents into pan and bring to boil before adding 1.5 or 2kg sugar and a bottle of Ezy-Sauce. Boil until thick enough (usually 1 hour). To improve recipe, mix into thin paste 1 rounded tablespoon of each mustard, curry powder, cornflour, also 2 teaspoon of turmeric. Add these about 10 minutes before end of boiling.

My husband was due home for lunch the day I made mine and I did turn it off after one hour and it was too soon, but still edible. He made the other half (Mum suggested doing 1/2 a bottle at a time which is good advice) and accidently put in hot curry powder. But both were nice. The main cost when we made it was the onions, as we had an old bottle of Ezy Sauce, thankfully with the recipe still on it. I found if I slice the onions with one of those great modern serated knives, not to leave the slice in a half, it makes it too hard to get the pickles in the jar. Maybe cut in half.

Friday, July 25, 2008


all our troubles seemed so far away... No only joking.

Yesterday I got ready for a trip to the regional centre. Two of the six of us stayed home, the rest came in the car. Middle daughter and I did a deal, if she had a packed lunch she could buy Tooth Tunes; yes we watch the Disney Channel. So I got into this packed lunch and asked hubby to make me a thermos as he is of the thermos generation, or his Mum and Grandma were. He had made me a couple of thermos' last year when I had to go early to meet tradesmen at our new house or other jobs at the new house that required my presence possibly for a long part of the day.

I decided against taking the camera with us, couldn't think what I would take a photo of that hasn't been taken before. That turned out to be a mistake, and fairly predictable really.

I am not sure if I would have taken photos in the nursery. Haven't worked out how people feel about you taking pictures at their place of business, I suppose it is OK. I would have been alright really, I wanted to express how lovely the helebores I saw where. So antique flower looking.

There is a purple one that is so purple that it is nearly black. So many beautiful ones, and it would have helped my memory to have photos. After the drive back it is like I wasn't even there almost.

We had an hour to pass, so we went to the botanical gardens. It was really enjoyable. I was particularly impressed with the kauri pine I saw pictured here. In real life it is very impressive. This is the pine that lots of old Australian kitchen dressers are made from.

We went to K-mart. At the door we were able to get some of the free 3-D glasses for the movie on Austar this Saturday. I guess on the Disney Channel lol. The Tooth Tunes were on sale, joy! We had been trying to get them for ages. Last time another shop didn't have the right one.

This is how my brain works. Went to Coles. Walked past the green beans in perfect plastic sealed bags. Very interested in those. Thinking later they must be a great pack to put in the basket after a day at work or quickly buying something for tea or whatever happens at the supermarkets that I don't know about. Found Admiral Melon Balls in a jar. Very small balls of rockmelon. Couldn't work out what you would use them for. Relieved they are not worth much considering the amount of melon in the jar. Hubby suggests icecream. Ahhh. Website, icecream.

I have been chasing Chai Tea for awhile and got some. It is mostly to perfume my mug & cup cupboard. Coles have their own Chai Tea, but Twinings costs about $9. Wonder how my Chai Tea compares. Bought a jar of Fluff. Still couldn't find the "red" shaving cream hubby wanted. Nothing fancy, very old-fashioned but hard to find.

Back to the park with a bag of chips. Previously, at the shopping centre "baby" decides she is too old to ride on the little merry-go-round. I have a cup of tea. Walk to the car over lots of squashed lillypillies on the street footpath. Hubby had tried one earlier. We haven't been brought up to think of them for fruit for making jams, so still suspicious, like there is another one, not the one we know.

Dart back to Target to get a newspaper that I forgot after walking straight past the shopping centre newsagent. As predicted they don't have any. Daughter got side tracked in there, bit worried for a minute. Ran out of time to get Freedom catalogue. Shopping is like that when we go to the regional centre or our hometown. Last time the girls got side-tracked in BigW and that was it, time's up.

Checked out the roses in the nursery, all have shot. Can't believe how advanced everything is out of the mountains a little way.

On the way home we saw snow in the gutter at one point, and also some kangaroos together looking at us. The mountain view was very high and glorious.

Today I had to get the girls ready for a Mexican night. I went to the op-shop and bought six pieces of clothing from a trunk with dress up clothes in it for 50c each. I didn't know which pieces the girls would like. One girl thought she didn't have a costume to wear, so I guess she was surprised. A skirt was taken in for her, and she wore a white lace shirt with red shiny vest over it with a rose print. The skirt was homemade with crepe and velvet in vertical panels. In the end our other daughter borrowed a sombrero and wore "boys" clothes and a black wig which I thought was a great last minute decision.

The birds are funny around here. I mentioned Jays having a great time earlier in the week. The last few days it was the cockatoos. I took this poor photo of them while walking around today. I even noticed a whole nature strip with curious holes like someone had airated the lawn, only occasionally it was a triangle shape like a beak!

Four Things Meme

I found this great blog Gillybean, and an open meme, that I would love to take part in. Thanks for letting anyone tag themselves Gillybean.

Four movies I'd watch again

Love's Enduring Promise
Love Comes Softly
Love's Long Journey
Love's Abiding Joy

Four places I've lived


Four TV shows I watch

Life Begins Again
Ready Steady Cook (UK)
Britians Best Dish

Four places I've been

Port Arthur

Four people I email

My hubby
Eldest Daughter
Eldest son
Sometimes the library

Four things I love to eat

Stewed Apple
Homemade Icecream
Silverside & Potatoes & Homemade Sauce plus Green Beans

Four places I'd rather be

Melbourne City
Melbourne Zoo
By a stream on a farm

Four things to look forward to

Watching the ballet eisteddfod
Maybe watching Australian Idol
New flowers in the garden, new plants for this year
Books arriving in the mail

Four people to tag

Everyone is very welcome to tag themselves. I won't mind at all.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Skywatch Friday ~ July 25

Our son spent the day at Mt. Selwyn recently. The mountain is covered in eucalyptus, as are all mountains in Australia that haven't been cleared.

Thankful Thursday

Friday my girls went to Youth Group which I am pleased about. They had a great time, and came home with a program and sound excited about a special night coming up soon.

This week the jays have been singing, and lots of other birds as well. They come down out of the mountains when it is snowing there. Jays are like Australian magpies like Maggie in Bananas in Pyjamas, except bigger with less white on them, and strong looking beaks.

On the weekend I got my rue planted. The punnet was full of tiny little plants, so if they grow we will know all about rue by the end of our summer.

On Monday I saw a gorgeous rainbow. I was in the middle of picking up my daughter from ballet, and also hubby was taking the cat to the vet with our other daughters. So many people saw the rainbow. I haven't seen one for ages, so it was a blessing to be thankful for. I was able to do some writing and I enjoyed that.

Tuesday saw our cat looking so much better. He is his old self again so that is very nice to see. I really enjoyed reading a book I had picked up from the library on Monday.

Tuesday and Wednesday were beautiful sunny days preceeded by sharp frosts. It was so nice to see the sun and the sunsets again. Now the stars are out.

I was happy hubby found a switch so we could reheat our water if we wanted to. I have been having trouble with the temperature of the water when I go to have a shower.

I was thankful that when hubby and our second son went to pick up the last available wood on the farm, that they were able to fill the trailer right up and will be able to come back again for some more.

Our daughter had good weather for netball (Aussie basketball of sorts).

Our son had a lovely day at the snow. He lost the camera and was able to find it again. He went to a ski resort, it is a low key one, I suppose it is still a resort.

Our lounge was cleaned up and hubby went to our new house and cut the lino for our kitchen. He was very nervous about doing it, so I am glad he has made a start.

We had a 5.30am phone call from our eldest who had trouble with his plumbing. Later on he was very cheerful. I am so glad he was able to clean up the horrible mess at that hour, I felt so sorry for him. The problem was fixed and the people obviously very nice to him. He had cleaned a spot for a new lounge suite so no damage done. He lives in a very nice area, but the building is pleasantly vintage.

An ambulance silently sped along our road in the dark and wet while hubby was walking to the library. I am glad he was not in the way of it.

Our daughter had a very big trip with her ballet class. They had to drive on a bus 1 1/2 hours to a rehearsal in the regional centre after school. She got home at 11pm but was well and happy. She had organised what she wanted to take for a packed tea, and snacks. We had made some chili con carne and she had asked me to buy some burritos. Also they did two lots of baking and managed to save some to take.

I was able to do some baking, albeit a microwave chocolate cake. I tried it with two measurements but it was pretty much the same both times. I thought maybe the recipe wasn't metric. In the photo I didn't mix the first one in the right sequence. The second recipe, the metric one was better because it fit the cup better. Anyway, it was nice and filling. The second one looked more like the one on the net. So this is the modified version for Aussies, though you may prefer the original.

Five Minute Chocolate Cake

3 tablespoons Self-Raising Flour
3 tablespoons raw sugar or white sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons cocoa
1 egg
2 tabs plus 1 teaspoon milk
2 tabs plus 1 teaspoon oil

1 mug.

Mix flour, sugar and cocoa in mug. Add egg with fork. Pour in milk and oil and mix.

Microwave for 3 minutes on high. Wait until it stops rising and sets in the mug. Tip onto a plate and eat, maybe with cream. I cut ours in half lengthwise, but maybe it is better to let it cool by itself to keep it moist.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

5 Things I Love

I was tagged!

I was tagged by Susan at A Happy Heart At Home. I loved reading Susan's tag post and Jan before her, great photos girls. Thank you Susan. Susan also tagged Carolyn, I loved that post.

I am tagging:

I tagged some people not that long ago, so won't be tagging anyone today. If you are reading this consider yourself tagged. Yes, you, if you want to join in the fun.

5 Things I love:

1. Perennial flowers

I have been looking at the flowers on the July Bloomday, and realised how much I like perennials. I saw an astilbe on one of the entries, found an online store and bought one for near our pond. Today I saw some cape gooseberry seeds for sale as well. They probably are all in the category of antique plants. I like unusual bulbs as well, like the one above. I was horified to find out that we had accidently pulled up a thorn apple. We may have actually bought it from the craft shop. But really, I think they are a tobacco paddock weed. I assumed it came up in some silt that someone put in the garden once I think at our new house. Many weeds from tobacco paddocks I think were once useful plants, but a bit on the toxic side.

2. The Bush

I was driving to the place where I do my groceries last week, and I particularly enjoyed the green lichen or moss on the sides of a bank in the bush, it was lime green. The colour came out because of a spring or the wet weather. I really enjoy that sort of thing. I often fed out cows when I was little. One place we fed sometimes was a place that had spring water coming out of the place where they had cut the road, the small bank. I must have been in the bush more than I realised over the years because I love driving through it. I was devastated, well not really, when a paddock of native grass was made into nice improved pasture. The native grass gave the impression the place was miles from anywhere. It probably is, but it doesn't seem like it now. I love shale as well.

3. Blue Hills

One reason I could give you to not move from here is the blue hills. I grew up with them. I remember once looking at a house to buy 10 minutes of of our hometown once and just the view of the hill with bush on it was a good incentive to want the house. The last house in our hometown had a tiny glimpse of the bush on a hill, and I loved that. I had to crane my neck a little. Some people can't live away from those hills and I can relate to that. I in some ways like my kids to experience them.

4. Reading Historical Christian fiction

Well, I have read two of these books so far. I have read lots of Lauraine Snelling. The book I have read the most in this category is one by Stephen Bly, The Outlaw's Twin Sister. I like Ginny Aiken and Catherine Palmer.

5. My car.

My car might be an SUV, but it runs on LPG, if that helps. It was so easy to drive after my people mover. I was watching Chick Ute Kind Of Thing yesterday, and I think I can relate to some of their utes better than I thought possible. I've left out the front of the car, driving lights, bullbar & aerial.

Another Old House Picture

I was reading a post at An English Girl Rambles, it is lovely. Here is an old house picture we took. The house is not as nice as the one posted so be sure to check it out.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Wordless Wednesday ~ July 23

Simplicity & Routines

A Vision Splendid has several posts that describe a simple country woman. A woman who, these days could earn money telling us all that they know, because some of us either don't know their skills, or need their memories refreshed. I know lots of Australian women have retained the knowledge they built up from maybe being a newly married woman in the early 80s but sadly I find if I don't keep going with those things I forget them. I am so thankful that these women are still around and that I can be blessed by them even very occasionally.

One such occasion was once when a local primary school in our practise seachange year was catering for a horse riding event, riding horses around for the day in the country. It went very well. The school kids were given some of the left over cake. Oh, the joy of having a real piece of dateloaf! Or was it nutloaf, that is the problem. I have collected all these recipes of course, have the right bakeware; I love vintage bakeware. But I find unless I have written very good notes of that time, some of the things mean nothing, or very little. It is the things you think that you will never forget that you should write down. Because, if you do happen to forget you are in trouble. Though, I think with practise and going over the things again, then writing the notes I will be fine. I did this recently.

At that time, I was reminded of what it was like to make fruitcakes. I used to make the odd Christmas cake. There is no greater joy that mixing a proper, not boiled, fruitcake by hand. You know, mixing it with your hand literally. Maybe I am just a brandy freak? I read somewhere not that long ago that modern people don't buy brandy as much as other spirits & things. I can't imagine anyone not liking brandy. I suppose that is why occasionally I would watch a TV show like Two Fat Ladies, just for the reminder of that type of cooking.

Recently I was at Belinda's blog and saw a recipe for 5 cup cake. 5 cup cake was printed in the Family Circle magazine at one time. My Mum always bought the Women's Weekly when I was little, so did my Grandma. My Nana always bought the New Idea. Until the Family Circle disappeared a couple of years ago, then reappeared recently, I bought it every month. Not sure how long back I had been doing that. I did add lots of recipes from Family Circle since moving here to my marbig recipe collection.

I think collecting recipes from magazines was very popular in the early 80s, I know I did it. That was how I supplemented what I had learnt at school or from others about cooking etc. I bought some recipe books as well, especially Australian Women's Weekly ones.

I mentioned the 5 cup cake online, and another lady of the type I mentioned above said straight away she had been making it for years, like Belinda, and added her experience with the cakes. It is like the older date loaf I suppose. How precious magazines like the Family Circle have been to those of us of a certain age. So I make it like Sue's now, with sultanas. We have made it a few times now and the batter is ready before our oven heats up! How lovely to have been taught online some good Australian cooking and managing things. Even our kids get in on the act of baking the cake.

I must have missed this years ago, and I made one with currants, left over tea from a pot, eggs, brown sugar and flour, called Irish Speckled Cake. I have since found one I like better I think. Perhaps I was 5 cup cake, because it is lovely spread with butter too.

The Vision Splendid's country woman days were "baking, cooking meals, washing, cleaning, gardening, ironing, farming, knitting, sewing".

I remember when I was first married I loved to collect knitting books, mostly new ones. I do have the Odhams Knitting Encyclopedia (1968). I was learning to knit and it was a book from the 60s. My step-Mum taught me to cast on. After awhile my husband's Grandma gave us some old patterns. My MIL told me that when she sewed for her family she used the Enid Gilchrist patterns. I remember buying lots of TopKids magazines, as my Mum sewed, she did make a few things, but really if I wanted handsewn things I would have to do it myself. I inherited her old machine, but that proved difficult for me to use. However, I can't part with it just yet.

These days you can't even give a good machine to an op-shop as they can't take them. Our op-shop has been giving some away but they can't charge for them. I do know one that sells excellent second hand machines, and if I do have anything electrical to give away that someone could use, I would drive the one hour to take it there. I did come across a corner shop in a very tiny village near here when we first came that also sold collectibles and furniture that had machines, what a lovely shop. Collectibles & milk.

Cooking meals before the 80s and the Women's Weekly cookbooks involved mostly the meat and three vege. My Nana had her chest freezer, and later I did as well. Her speciality in the freezer was frozen pumpkin mashed and in a freezer bag. Nana did not like things to be overly hard to do, so she would pop her pumpkin in the saucepan and reheat it. Like me, peeling potatoes is no great hardship, but peeling pumpkin in a rush; sounds like a disaster waiting to happen. Indeed, my Mum often had knife mishaps. I love my vegetable knife in the shape of those times. Brown short blade. It is not sharp at the moment. It is because in this modern age, if you share a kitchen, sometimes things are not exactly the way you would want them. In the 80s we always had sharp knives, then again my hubby didn't work quite as hard then. These days if you get paid well you have to work very hard to maintain your senior status.

Our chest freezer in the 80s had lots of beans in it. My Mum always grew Purple King, Nana liked yellow beans. We always had our beans on star posts as hubby calls them, the ones you use for fencing, the metal ones. Not sure if he welded two together. I think we still have a couple left.

When I had my first baby in 1988, routines were impressed upon me. I also I think had some left over from example. So in the mornings I did the washing straight away except on the days we went grocery shopping once a fortnight. Same time each time, straight after the banking. I had a twin tub just like my Mum did when I was little. We had high door knobs in the house, and the kids were safe with the TV for the time it took to do this washing. Though by that stage my Mum I think thought I needed a automatic. I had two others in school. The twin tub was better in some ways, because you did the day's washing all at once until the next day. I always had the nappies to do every morning, for years until my fourth child was 3 in 2000. I also did them again in 2001-02 when my last was born. I quite like a laundry with a view. Mine had a view of a crazy filbert, a blueberry bush, a wintersweet tree and a grapefruit and the happenings of our backyard. The second one a great 70s room and quiet.

Knitting I realised is such a peaceful thing, and I am sure smoothed over lots of stress when I was doing it. I see Still At Home's blog and see her squares and notice that is far from my current experience these days. Not sure why that is, have been trying to work it out. I know someone IRL said to me they didn't do those things after awhile and she had six children. Anyway, that is the routine that the country women sometimes had. The ladies that I know that either milked or helped in the fields, had very capable teenaged daughters. But, that, like mine, is a different stage in their lives. Though I think there were others that carried on the same routine even perhaps all the way to the present.

I did read a funny skit in a local flier that went around once though. It seemed in imply that some women these days might suggest something violent if asked to do those things. I wonder how true it is. I remember a similar thing when we bought our last dishwasher by the salesman.

The routine went, at our place in the 80s, get up have shower, breakfast etc. do washing. Give baby farex or whatever, put them down for nap, or after shopping. Have lunch, watch an hour of Days of Our Lives, for the rest, pick in washing about 3pm, maybe collect kids from school. Snacktime or rest, then the tea and bath thing, TV, kids bedtime. Hubby's schoolwork then bed ourselves.

That is a composite of different things in the early days. The times it went wrong was when for example I moved and had to take my then three year old daughter to the clothes line with me, and she kept putting the dog food in the dog water. In the old days nothing interfered with the washing etc. I believe old fashioned housewives went to great lengths to enable their routines to keep flowing nicely, I suppose the obvious is not to move. In these modern times, sometimes the fencing or whatever is not done in time and well things aren't perfect. At the moment I have problems with hot water, I hang over from my early washing experiences is that I prefer to wash in warm water.

My Mum's friend is in her 70s now. I have not been in contact with these great homemaker's in their older years. In some ways my role models are not so much in front of me anymore. I know last time we visited my MIL she and FIL made a steamed pudding. I was very impressed with that. Again, I have the steamed pudding basin in the cupboard. We did hear about my daughter's friend. She had gone to stay as she does sometimes, and her friend's Grandma made Golden Syrup dumplings. We had a go at them using recipe stored away. Everytime you do something like that you realise so much what you are missing out on, not following the old ways. I love English food. I don't know if this English or Australian food in in the genes, or it is just memories of childhood. Because we are very multicultural in our food choices here. But when we eat something oldfashioned it is like Ahhh.

Here is an example of our then well used Lemon Cordial recipe. The things that I thought I would always remember was the method, not so. However I do remember some of it to pass on.

Our Lemon Cordial

1 pint lemon juice (often we froze it into old sandwich style containers, retro ones)
3lbs white sugar
1 1/2 pints water
1/4oz citric acid

Dissolve sugar in heating water. We used a stock pot, our was aluminium, I am getting away from those, and I stirred it constantly with a wooden spoon as it was heating up. We used a potato peeler to peel some lemon rind that lay in the water while it was heating up. Maybe we strained it, or just scooped them out.

Add juice (and acid?). We saved the commerical lemon cordial bottles because they had lemons imprinted on them. To see if they are still available look near the Ribena in the supermarket.

It was bottled in clean bottles, possibly sterilized in the oven. It would last as long as we needed it to in our preserves cupboard. Maybe the lids were boiled. As I say, write everything down! Will have to try this again to jog my memory.

I have written in pencil ~ 6 bottles. And also 4pt.

Irish Speckled Cake

1 375g packet currants
1 cup cold tea
1 cup brown sugar (lightly packed)
2 cups SR Flour
1 egg

Put currants, tea and brown sugar into a bowl. Cover and soak overnight. Next day add SR flour, and unbeaten egg. Mix well with a wooden spoon then place into a well greased loaf tin. Bake in a moderate oven for about 1 1/2 hours. Test with skewer. Turn out and cool. When cold slice and serve with butter. This is a very moist cake and it keeps well for at least a week. This recipe is probably before fan forced ovens.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Menu Plan Monday ~ July 21

We were happy with the new recipes we tried last week. They were:

Sausage, Pea & Feta Salad
Mixed Bean & Pancetta Soup
& Barley & Bratwurst Salad that I mention heaps, because it was really nice. Here is this week's menu:

Monday ~ Pork Chow Mein
Tuesday ~ Cabbage with Split Peas
Wednesday ~ Tuna & Sweet Potato Cakes
Thursday ~ Chili Con Carne
Friday ~ Penne with Anchovies & Broccoli
Saturday ~ Farmhouse Hotpot
Sunday ~ Pasta with Pumpkin, Tomato & Butter Beans

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Simple Woman's Daybook ~ July 21

Outside My Window... Grey, mist over the gumtrees, small amount of fog below the mountain
I am thinking... about my son at the snow fields, he has been busting to go for ages
I am thankful for... my son's trip
From the kitchen... I think I will have Anchovette on brown bread for lunch
I am wearing... just my usual winter gear, I need to buy more windcheaters, this one is the warmest
I am creating... I want to write some more blog posts
I am going... to the regional centre, we won't be shopping, maybe we could buy a jar of Fluff or something like that
I am reading... nothing, but I want to start something, I was reading Mennobrarian's blog
I am hoping... our son gets a nice snow photo for this post
I am hearing... game cube game on the wii
Around the house... our cat has been in a fight and is resting, we haven't had too much trouble with cat fights in the past
One of my favorite things... the cute spice containers the girls used to play shop this morning
A Few Plans For The Rest Of The Week: I will get a delivery of seeds from Beautanicals
Here is picture thought I am sharing...

Farmlife ~ A 40s Reflection

My Grandparents were married in 1936, and built their house in the same year. From what I understand this date was found in their house somewhere after they died. Co-incidently or not so co-incidently my Grandfather's Grandma died in the same year. 1936 was during the Depression. My Great-Grandparents were still living on the farm and lived next door. They had built their house from an insurance claim. There was a big fire in the district at one point (I got to read a piece from the Argus?) and really when you think about it there weren't really too many really old houses there in that district. They lost their house in 1928. The new house was made in much the same design as Great Grandma and Grandpa's. From what I understand there were even kit homes in those days.

So the house was not separate, all part of the farm from what I can gather. Great Grandma's mother was a widow and had hung onto a farm in the Wimmera after her husband had died. She was an immigrant in the 1850s as a little girl from England with her brother and father.

My parents were born in 1939 and 1942. They have memories of the war years. The road signs were taken down and there were temporary Army camps nearby. My Nana talked about it a lot apparently. The Great Grandparents died in the mid to late 40s and our farm expanded a lot during the 50s. Australia is supposed to be built on the back of the sheep, and from what I imagine the cheques that came in were enough to be able to get the car salesman to make a call on you. I can imagine that because I think the same thing happened when the tobacoo first started up in the 1960s. I was surprised to learn that there was a problem with water one year.

Mostly I have heard that those glory days were a freak of nature. Not only were the prices etc. good but the rain in those retro years was something that doesn't usually happen. Australia was extremely lucky to have those good years, because there wouldn't be much here otherwise. Look at all the bridges and buildings in the country and you will know what I mean.

My father worked very hard. He even helped when his Aunty was widowed and milked their cows, but this would be in the 1950s I imagine. People travelled huge distances, the teen boys to attend dances. But, I have heard my Grandma's life was very happy.

My Nana in the early 40s was married and living in her father-law's house to start with on the farm. Both Grandparents only had three children each. Near the end of the decade I heard when Nana was milking cows she put her little todder in a cream can to keep him safe, kind of like a old-fashioned play pen. I think there are different sizes to them. I think they used to take their children to dances and my Grandpa used to play music.

I was very interested to learn only recently, that the town my Grandma had come from in Scotland had a lot of people that the Scottish government had assisted to move there. See Scottish Voices book. It was a kind of a deal for people who were struggling.

My Grandma didn't move from her new home, she lived there all her life. It seemed a long time, altogether it was 56 years. They had an extension done and the white ants had a very good go at it. The hallway still had holes in the wall. Her wood stove was re-instated recently, not the exact same one though. A treechanger has her house and they are enjoying it. They live their life slightly differently from what I have been told, by shopping in a different town to what the locals would have done in the past. They are interested in history and get on very well with the family. This is the second seachange family to live there.

My Nana's house is now a holiday house, she had moved twice in her married life into a village last. I felt very relaxed sleeping there, so it is a good match.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Childhood Role Models Pt. 2

My aunty baked for the shearers. Her cakes were different to Nana's. Nana made easy slices, Aunty biscuits and beer cake. The mother's of the children at school sent their kids to school with boiled eggs with salt in Glad Wrap, and with French toast. They were the Italian and Spanish children I mentioned. I took fruit I think and rarely ate my lunch. It was always very neatly packed.

There were two families of 12 at our school. I don't remember a lot of what their Mum's did. Not all the Mum's sewed. I had handmade clothes until I was quite old. I remember a lovely winter dress I had once. My jumpers were handmade, Mum said from remnants. I actually inherited Mum's and Nana's wool straps when I started to learn to crochet. I wore a jumper and kilt like skirt and gumboots when I was very little. I had a pinafore that was lengthened many times. Mum's with tall children have to do more work, did you know that?

Verandahs were where people dried their clothes in the winter, it always seemed to be raining. The hoses at home were always on in summer. My Mum's friend, her daughter cooked the tea and washed up when I was a little older, my friend got the baking job in the family, and any extra potatoes the girls accidently made got regularly made into bubble and squeak. Their Mum used to go to our regional centre which was quite a way away and bought food in large cans from a bulk store. She also bought clothes when we were older from Target, even then. The girls sewed and they all ironed. Their Mum did lots of washing and one of the girls aired it in the small space between the oil heater and the TV. They did their own preserves as well.

My other aunty when I was older, her husband killed their beef himself. Their chooks were fed with maize from a maize bin. They had a machine to take the maize off the cobs. I think the kids used to do it when I was little. They also availed themselves to the shops far away, this time in Melbourne, when I was older it involved wheels of cheese and chestnuts.

Our butter and cordials and drinks were all delivered to the door at home. Mum only bought enough things each week to fit into a box or two. She went to the bakery sometimes as well, it was down the road, maybe it was over the amount that was delivered next door or later on.

Our grocery in the next town where Mum shopped was Chinese when I was very little.

At my Mum's friends when we were little we had to go outside to the toilet, it was nice to see the stars. The lawn was used to save going all the way to the toilet, only before bedtime. We had our baths in the dairy. I remember when older the bathrooms of my other friend was always heated with a kero heater. We used one of those when I was first married because our house was long, so we used one in the kitchen, then got another gas heater instaled, a wall one. They are banned now. This lady with the kero heater had a seat with was a cupboard with padded lid, and she stored her cans in that. I remember the house in our hometown before we came here had a seat that had storage underneath and we used it to store our excess kitchen equipment. I liked her cooking, and learnt retro dishes from both her and my step-Mum, one I still cook today.

My Grandfather sprayed his fruit and apparently these days it would not be considered a very good spray to use. Apparently curing meat in those days used a very bad chemical as well. Everyone picked lead paint off walls and was around broken asbestos walls. Once I saw the fish floating in the creek, I can still remember it very clearly. I regularly was around formalun and benzene which was used to stop the baby tobacco plants getting rot. Though everyone was very careful. My Dad and his brother kept a constant vigul, and there was only two children each.

Our sharefarmers, there were a few, their Mama's made nice meals. One girl always had her sweeping to do before she could come out to play.

Anything to do with knitting, I observed with Mum's employer. She was employed inside her house, and her mother lived next door. I copied her Christmas decorating ideas. I think they still got their water up from a well. My Nana loved crochet and soap operas, and I copied that lol. Not now though.

I copied my other aunty again with her dried fruit. They also made their own cheese from lemon and cows milk. There was always great occasion when my Nana toured gardens to see how everything was growing. Even everyone's idea of keeping chooks was different.

People used to put their rubbish sometimes in a 44 gallon drum. Local tips were sometimes gullies. My husband and I went through a couple of them and found Australian Jam Company jars that make great vases. They were not actually running as tips at the time I don't think. I don't touch old jars from people's sheds, if there are still any standing because I knew that often they were used to store poison. People used to poison foxes themselves, with strychnine.

Broken plates can sometimes be dug up, when pretty china some people had. In our first married house we found one such tip in our backyard.

My Grandma had coffee essence and I also like parisian essence. I notice the bottle we have in the cupboard here has the word browning on it now, because it is used to brown up stews, and the modern one is made by Queen. Mum always got Rawleighs from the travelling merchant. Apparently he had been doing it for years. I can buy Rawleighs here on my treechange which was also very special. I had a chat to the checkout chick, she on her family's farm had a Rawleighs lady I think. I bought some vanilla for celebrate finding Rawleighs again, and it is found online. Rawleigh's could be a little like America's Watkins. I think you can possibly buy it at markets now. I loved the pink shampoo. My Grandma had a Myer catalogue, and I liked to copy that too until they ceased to exist replaced by Ezibuy.

My Mum and Nana home permed their hair, but I chose not to do home hair, except for buns, opting for my Grandma's plain style, though hers was in a neat bob. My friend's sisters also had a go at our hair and clothes I think, like my middle daughter has started to tell our little girl what is trendy too. I wonder if my Nana's older two sisters did the same with her? I came in contact with her cousin who said when they visited the girls were always hard at work and even worked at the neighbours farms.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Childhood Role Models Pt. 1

When I was a little girl, I had role models and influences of all the families I knew both family and people I knew. I had my parents, two sets of Grandparents, my Great Uncle, two sets of uncles and aunties, Mum's friend and her family, families of ladies from school, other district families, and my uncle and uncle & aunt and family who lived a little further away. After awhile I had my high school friends families and my step-mum. Share farmers.

So basically I am going up to about age 14.

I can honestly say, that even though our world was only about 8 miles wide except for some visits to the city and some visits each week to town and the role models were contained in those 8 miles. My childhood I think was isolated to some extent. We did have cars and we did use them, but there were a lot more kids, and each little district was small and very distinct, each with a little school.

Each family, though we lived in a farming community was very different from each other and I haven't thought of anything they did the same as each other. I would think that this is not so usual in a farming district but I wouldn't know for sure.

Who do I start with and what points to touch on? From a simplicity and retro point of view. The house and garden my Mother started off with was a remnant garden and orchard of my great-Grandma & great-Grandpas. I grew up listening to stories of their broom crop and their potato paddock and stories about their dog. I heard about their first tractor, the first there altogether, their walnut crop. Sending produce on the train. Some of the stories I learnt later when doing the family tree or wanting to know about it. They also lived in a rented farmhouse themselves at one point, probably more than once, and they also lived in another house that burnt down. Our property also had in it another house site again. All these sites were on the property. They all spoke to me of the life that the people there must have led.

I will give you an example. When I was little the same week every year was the week my Dad ploughed the tobacco paddock. When it was finished it was very fine and soft. I loved to walk in it in bare feet. One day I saw eight snakes because I walked along the creek in the next paddock. I had been down to the house site as lots of fruit trees grew there, including oranges and her signature pears I think. There was a coolgardie safe hanging in a peppercorn tree, who knows who put that there, that was closer to the tobacco paddock. The tractor that pumped water later on in the summer had a crank to start it.

Another one I visited when the cows where rounded up by horses after we got a horse into a very crude stockyard that included old bedposts around an old dairy. There were fox skins on the walls? Fox skins were sometimes nailed to trees, walls etc. The house itself had a garden with bulbs and morning glory falling down the bank to the creek. There was a remnant car axle in the creek. The buildings fell down one at a time, not all of them, but each building had a special memory of what went on before. The fence had that great orange creeper growing over it. The kitchen was more on the verandah than inside the house.

One other one that I had forgotten about had a small remnant orchard with a quince tree on it. I just love milkwood's video with the remnant fig tree. That is special.

Anyway, Mum's garden was good by the time I came along. It still had Great-Grandma's grape vines, and her gooseberries and walnut trees, and also I think her various kinds of plums and heirloom apples. I think I know which trees were added, but don't quote me. We had all sorts of fruit trees.

Mum had cape gooseberries and parsley in old concrete laundry tubs. She had her house renovated before moving in I think, and had a built in cupboard made for her preserves. We had a kero fridge, brickettes, then oil heater, plus and open fire in the kitchen plus the wood stove. She did use a copper to start with and then a twin tub. She did vegies, we got the abbatoir to kill our beef, she raised the odd pig, we did our own chickens and I very definitely didn't stay around and watch, though I was a regular visitor to our butcher shop every night when they were killing the sheep, I put the weight tags on the hooks.

My Great uncle used tinned jam and lived on worcestershire sauce. That is basically all he used, he had his bread delivered into his cream can at the front step, and I collected our from there as well. Sometimes I ate a little crater out of the top of the high tin loaf. They were very large and wrapped in tissue. What we didn't eat the ducks got. My Grandma kept hers in a cream can inside the house under the table. She made G-Uncles tea and wrapped it in newspaper and Grandpa took it to him, with pudding, wrapped too I think. Grandma and Grandpa used a cane shopping basket and the girls, my cousins were sent to the shop with a list.

I spent a lot of time at my Mum's friends house. They got their milk from the vat in the morning in a white plastic jug. At home, Dad either milked the cow, or Mum milked the goat.

Both my Mum and her friend sewed. The friend bought her bread and kept it in a cupboard with a tin lining, which I have one myself now as it fitted the exact space of my wall and no one could put junk around it. I am hoping I have the memory right, I know the catches were the same.

This family had six children. They put two houses together in the end. Originally in the old part of the house they made toast with a long fork I think on the stove or open fire. The older girls washed my friend's very long hair. They entertained us when the adults were talking by playing games or opening up their great dressup box. When we were older they entertained us with their music playing on various instruments during holidays. The windows had open out catches. Their Mum made me dolls clothes.

My Nana had her own preserving cupboard. She had to go into town for her health food supplies. Town for us was 30 miles. They killed their own sheep and chickens, and Nana kept her eggs in a colander under the sink. Her salt was loose in the cupboard I now have. It was in a crock or something. She wanted a new built in cupboard and had flour drawers made because she was always baking.

My Grandma baked, but very large fruit cakes and cream puffs. Lots and lots of food. She came from a large family. My Nana came from a family of five and I have heard since she liked invited people for tea.

My husband and I were thrilled once to come into possession of a very large cake tin.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Skywatch Friday ~ July 18

Thankful Thursday ~ July 17

The theme for this week is trust. And I think I agree with Iris' sentiments about that. These are the points that I can relate to:

"Trust no one! Well, except the Lord and the ones that are very close to you ...

Again this week I was reminded that we really can trust only a handful people this side of heaven. There are a lot of mean-spirited people in this world. But I digress, so here is my thankful list for this week…

I am thankful that I can share my heart and concerns with my beloved. Even when I loose total focus on a matter, he is there to comfort me. He helps me to see reason (thank you Lord for placing this particual treasure in my life)

I am thankful that I can trust that everything will work out for the good and that all mean people will be exposed in due time…

Last but not least, I am thankful that I can trust my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ to be my protection until eternity…"

I am thankful I can trust my husband as well. And edited to say I feel that there are probably lots of trustworthy people out there that I just don't have the pleasure of knowing.

I found Iris' scripture online on a neat site, and looked for other trust verses and found this one:

2Sa 22:31 [As for] God, his way [is] perfect; the word of the Lord [is] tried: he [is] a buckler to all them that trust in him.

I read this scripture fairly recently in a novel by Al & Joanna Lacy called The Tender Flame. The book mentions the scripture a lot and is a nice book.

This week my blessings have been related to the weather. Last Friday it snowed up on the hills. I was on the phone to my son who said his colleagues had mentioned they could see snow outside, perhaps on the hills too. I went outside and saw some! I was blessed because if I didn't talk to my son then I wouldn't have seen it. On Saturday we went to our other house, and saw so much snow it was lovely. I saw some on some hills again today. I also noticed on Saturday how an insignificant flower we found by the road, turned out to be a stunner in the right conditions. It flowers in winter and is lovely (see photo).

The cold was getting me down. On Monday the school holidays were finished and I didn't want to be home alone in the cold. Guess what? It was a beautiful day. Some days have been cold again but I am OK. Monday I had to go out so it was very pleasant. Same today. And some of our nights have been warm.

A lot of Aussie's and Kiwi's that live in the colder areas have been posting their pictures of helebores and wintersweet and snow, so it has been a little celebration.

I lost my rain jacket, so I am blessed today that it didn't rain, then I found it.

I was worried about my dog who has cancer, but today he seems to be learning to get along and not use his sore leg. He doesn't have to use his front leg, so it is great he has learnt to do that. Of course he uses it when he wants to. I feel better I have some small bones in the freezer for him and some dog biscuits for when he needs cheering up. On Monday I heard a dog crying and was so afraid he had hurt his leg. It wasn't our dog.

Today I felt blessed. I have been wanting to buy some rue, the herb. I saw also some Lad's Love and Pyrethrum, but I am saving my money for a trip, so only bought rue. I want to see the flowers again. I haven't seen them since I visited Nana and Grandpa in my teens. Rue smells bad, but is a pretty bush.

I have been very blessed by a meme called Bloomday (see post below). July's Bloomday was very inspirational and it made me realise how much I love flower gardens and perennials. I looked online for astilbe and a place to buy it just popped up. I haven't had that plant for years! I was very good, and to make the most of the postage I also bought flowering tobacco. I have always wanted one since I saw it in someone's garden in the late 80s I think. I thought it was amazing since I am used to real tobacco plants. I love the lime green coloured flowers. (Yes, tobacco has pink flowers.)

I know it is a lot colder in the US & Canada in winter etc. but our houses have not been designed for it really. I was also blessed by the Barley & Bratwurst salad we ate.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Natural Parenting ~ Green or not green? That is the question

10 notes wrote a blog post that really got me thinking. I wanted to post a comment, but I couldn't get my thoughts together. I have thought about it for a day or two, and thought I would just relay my experience and see if this answers any questions, as thoughts lead one to another.

"So where do you think we are now? Are people who cook from scratch, grow their own food, declutter their houses and spend very little, cloth diaper and breastfeed their babies and use their car only when necessary crazy or innovators?"...

Well, I know they are not crazy. I read once that some people store their shoes in their ovens.

"Will we see in 10 yrs that even the late majority will live on a budget and stop buying mass produced goods from huge factories? By free will and because they believe or because the world is coming to an end?

Do we have to be optimists and spread our word about how wonderful life can be this way or just shut up and do our thing until the rest will see?"

If you think of mass produced in the case of food, it is interesting to watch You Are What You Eat. Some of this food is making people potentially very sick.

To me very very complicated. I am new to simplicity and sometimes think others get their definitions mixed up, but I think I am the one that has the problem. What causes it? I don't read newspapers, watch commercial TV or listen to the radio. When I do comment on a program hubby is listening to on the ABC I get in trouble, because he assumes that I am agitated, yet again. Sometimes I am just asking questions. Why aren't we on the same page? Much time spent at work or at the other house, not necessarily of our own doing, but possible.

My Mum asked me this week, or rather told me about the price of petrol, I said I don't care about it. I didn't realise at the time, that she was referring to a media thing that hubby then filled me in on, about the price being $8 in 8 years. For me personally I am not worried about it. Apparently the prices are based on speculation, which I didn't know about, but I digress.

Are the terms, simple, green & a natural parent all interchangeable or very distinct? At first I am thinking they are very distinct, and different to each other. Then, on reflection, I thought maybe my natural parenting and breastfeeding, is green. I don't see myself as green, because green and "hippy" are often very much different from Christian. Of course, you can be green and a Christian, because they are separate. It is just that people get lumped into groups. For example, I love meals made with vegetables only. But I am not vegetarian as a label. I dislike it when people discount lovely meals with no meat because of the label vegetarian. But in reality I am vegetarian, and also love meat. I have very fond memories of eating in a prominent arcade in Melbourne years ago in a well known vegetarian restaurant, that I have been told a few months ago still exists, but now I have forgotten the name after going to all the trouble to ask.

All I can do is write of my cloth and breasfeeding history to get an idea of my sympathies.

My son, as I mentioned before was born 20 years years ago. My step-son was due to come to live with us. His Mum organised a family councilling sesson for their family and it was due around the time of my doctors appointment. Not sure which followed what, but hubby was asked to go to counselling. Anyway, my doctor found I had high blood pressure. It may not have anything to do with the issue, as it was my first baby etc. I was to be induced I think the next morning, when the counseling sesson was on? Baby stuck for 3 hours then in humicrib. Cracked nipples. Anyway, having a parent from the 60s, she encouraged me to get a bottle. I was breastfeeding and the nurse got me to supplement bottle. Of course 6 months along, baby was totally on bottle.

Next time, determined to do better. At the time it was recommended to feed baby for 12 months. I got to 14, thought I had gone past when was right and stopped. Same with next baby. On the fourth baby I thought I'd do extended breastfeeding, and I did that to 4 years and 6 months, same with the next baby. Really they were only going to sleep that way in the end. After watching Super Nanny, I am starting to feel a little foolish, I respect Super Nanny a lot.

Cloth was the opposite, I used cloth nappies exclusively with my first three children. Just the squares or rectangles, flats they call them now. Flannelette for the first 6 months or so with velcro pilcers or covers, then terri with plastic pants. I didn't know how to use disposables. My fourth was cloth until we moved house at 3 years. I didn't train them until quite late. My fifth baby was in cloth until over 1 year old after the incident when the water in the tank in our practise treechange year ran out, combined with running two houses and perhaps being in a strange laundry. I definitely was upset when the garbage was strewn over the dirt road one day and I was picking it up, and one disposable was broken and I saw the beads inside. I had no idea. So being green and wearing cloth could be related for sure. What is being green anyway, for the environment or yourself. Perhaps for yourself it is being natural?

With cloth I lived with a family that did cloth, and hubby did cloth, so I copied them.

A point I often refer to is the aging Australia problem. The largest groups of people are the baby boomers. As they all retire, and that is under 20 years, more like 10 for most of them perhaps, I suppose it depends on their retirement funds as to whether they will have to spend less money or consume less. And are retirement funds available to spend dependent on the economy?

Cooking from scratch and growing your own food. This is something my family have always done. So to me it is was a given. Because I was married young by modern standards, and my husband had established his way of doing things in the household, keeping a budget, growing food and cooking and preserving came as a package with hubby. Maybe he is the innovator? I had been cooking in my flat for a little while, I remember wondering about how you flavour meat stews. I had learnt to cook at school, quite a few hours a week for 3 years. It was how all girls at our school were educated, then in the 4th year you could go on to learn other things more career or job related. So after being with hubby my cooking skills matured and I learnt preserving though I had been around it all my life. He still has the superior skills because of the science aspect and having a good eye for things. But I think lately some of my knowledge of food has improved his cooking as well, 24 years later. How did I learn about food. I was very blessed to have a vegetarian uncle who spent time loaning me his non-fiction books on nutrition. He taught me various things as we both lived with Nana and Grandpa for awhile in my teenager years and we sometimes ate what he was eating, they both cooked. There were a lot of housewives interested in the produce at the health food shops in those days. My Mum, Nana and hubby's Mum as well.

What kind of things did Uncle eat that were different, that I learnt something from? Grilling capsicums, particularly yellow ones, and peeling off the skin, soaking them in oil and garlic in a saucer. Part of this is often seen on cooking shows these days. Eating cooked normal Aussie potatoes with kelp. I bought some kelp recently, and either my tastes have changed or the kelp has, I suspect it is the latter. I was taught to eat brewer's yeast, learn the wonder foods. Yesterday I mentioned eating muesli with hot water, yoghurt and honey. So therefore I was introduced to plain yoghurt. Lots of things really.

I've gone back to the inspiration of 10 notes post, Rhonda's original post to help clear up my confusion and add something that makes sense, I hope.

"A few years ago, when I started to live more simply, my friends and family thought I was a bit of a nutter to want to give up spending, cook from scratch and save resources."

I think only lately have I given up spending. I mean it literally. I don't have the desire to spend. I actually bought our new house this time last year to give me more opportunity to spend in part. But work has progressed slowly with the works, and still more work by hubby is needed, while I think a lot. I feel maybe myself, hubby and the children should have more clothes etc. Both hubby and I need shoes, yesterday. Well, mine are OK to a point. The shoes we will get won't be the lasting kind, they are not here to buy. I will get mine at the Athlete's Foot, which means a 1 1/2 hour drive.

I was considering what to post at lunchtime, and my thoughts were too radical to write. But here it is, we all have lots of social conditioning, and a certain amount of brainwashing. If there is another word kinder, please use that one instead. If you don't believe me, if you were brought up to say, go out on New Year's Eve; try not doing it one year, and see how hard it is. However, if you get rid of all your conditioning I believe you are in slight danger of things going too far. You need these things in some ways to enjoy life and to keep going. However, simple living is a very nice state to me in, and if you have no other major stresses, is how life is meant to be lived, I think. It was the way my Grandparents and hubby's Grandparents modeled their life for us.

I have heard say "I don't want to be like Dad" secondhand from someone. If they meant that they don't want to live retirement sitting in a grape vine covered little one sided shed, with a great view of the garden and peaceful surroundings, not me, I would love that. I have missed being able to do that. Maybe I only enjoyed it at the time, because in some areas of our life we did have stress, or maybe it is a great way to live when you have small children. But I love gardens, nature and plants, so I think I would enjoy it.

Back to petrol. Because the child support system was the way it is back then, and I have heard recently changed, we felt we had little money. But really it was inherited by hubby's father. He has for a long time driven with his car on LPG. When we had an opportunity through a lump sum payment to buy a car on gas, we took it. We needed a car for all our children, which was overplanning, because my stepchildren left home one at a time not long after that. So we got an 8 seater on gas. We always had enough room for whatever we wanted to do. We have a 7 seater car now, and when helping our eldest shift found we were one seat short, but we managed.

There is a queue in Canberra to put cars onto LPG, which is great because when I go to replace our current car I will be able to find one to buy.

So what I am getting out of this is that what we do is then a heritage to our children.

Part of Lake Hume

Yes, American frugality was to save money to spend it. Yes, American's are hurting now. (By the way Australia has an official name too, it is the Commonwealth of Australia, obviously CA has been taken a couple of times. Don't believe me? Our money had it printed on it, then it was simplified down.) But it was much the same in the 1980s here when I think Malcolm Fraser was said to have said that Life Wasn't Meant to Be Easy. He was our Prime Minister. I read up on it on the internet, and he said that at a different time, and the opposition brought it up in a different time frame about a different thing. But he said that it helped his case, because Australian's could identify with it, which I did myself. I think there is a lot of truth in it, and other's must too. When you had little money in the 1980s, there were no cheap things you could buy. Now, there are, which is good in some ways. There was no ebay, some towns like our mill town had no good op-shops when others did. No Aldi.

America not so much "got it" but their economy went downhill because of lending to people that shouldn't have borrowed. In Australia we have a strange phenomena happening, especially in Victoria. Melbourne's real estate was the fastest growing in the world. People are probably embracing treechange etc. because it makes sense to cash in their house. Also most people in Australia before this treechange lived all in the same places. So with things like piping water, that is the idea that pleases the people who live in these populaced areas, or so it looks from outside. Having people more spread out can only be good for Australia. Quite a large population in Australia is probably squashed 2 hours from Melbourne. The people change once you get outside those areas, or the group thinking perhaps.

If you watch Escape to the Country English people are using capital to buy two homes. Usually a flat in London and a country home. I must add here as part of my treechange experience, if you lived in the country in the 60s you may find it different now.

Our country, we were taught at school was socialist, not capitalist like America. Our water now that we have become more capitalist is privately owned. Some of our water is sold. The water that was saved to fill up places like Lake Hume, look like it never got there. Lots of lakes were originally to have a stage 2 built but they never did. I am not an expert on water, so I am not going to say I am right or wrong about it, but people don't realise these places are not public anymore so hard to compare to what went on in the past. A note: one of the banks in America they may buy out with Government money, so maybe they are more socialist than immediately obvious. I wonder if they have credit unions? Credit unions are not corporate and we have found them very good.

In answer to 10 notes original question. What helped me a lot was to watch Outrageous Wasters. I think a lot of knowledge the older generations have about these issues, perhaps the younger ones have missed, and this is a trendy way to pick it up. I know my son loves Carbon Cops. I watched it once and some things that they mention are things we have done ourselves, and continue to do. Our hometown was a very hot place, and cold as well. A lot of things were necessary for just comfort. Sleeping in a West facing room without those things was very depressing for example.

How many of the houses built above are totally from double income people with high debt, and how many are people that have moved to the country? I was informed that these are flats. A long way from either Melbourne or Sydney, if anyone is thinking of treechanging there. Lots of great country cities are outside the 2 hour distance from Melbourne or Sydney, but they do have a great airport. (Maybe there are lots and lots of country towns with buildings like that. I'd say there was.) Having said that I am not sure how many simple living people could relate to those houses. So whatever we call ourselves, and however much we disagree on the finer points we have a lot in common. Maybe if we were in a different place in a different time we would have gone down that route ourselves?