Wednesday, 31 July 2013

Ten Dollars a Litre

Tomorrow night on ABC a documentary called "Ten Dollars a Litre" will be presented by Dick Smith.  I am really interested to see what is discussed.

Episode image
Photo from here

Here is a synopsis about the show.

We feel it at the petrol pump and in our household bills. It affects our businesses and the
cost of virtually everything we buy and directly alters the course of our everyday lives. Yet
until recently, we have barely given energy much thought.
All that's changed now of course. Prices have doubled in the past five years and will double
again in the next five. And now the battle to control energy supplies and the consequences
of burning it are affecting things on a global scale.
As one of the world’s highest per capita energy users, and also one of the world’s biggest
exporters of fossil fuels, Australia is bound to be deeply affected by the changes coming
down the energy pipeline. How will we cope? Where will it all end? What are the options for
Australia as the world moves from a golden era of cheap and abundant energy to an age of
scarcity and high cost?
These are the questions that self‐professed fossil fuel addict Dick Smith sets out to explore
in this engaging and surprising documentary. Hostage to no vested interests, and one of our
most trusted figures, Dick brings his signature brand of common sense to the issue, and
along the way explodes a few myths, upsets a few politicians and surprises us with his
conclusions about the decisions Australia should take.

There is a big part of me that is deeply concerned about where we are heading in terms of climate change and the distinct lack of action by governments around the world to put in place policies that encourage a massive reduction in fossil fuel use by its population.
I know that we are by no means perfect, and there is plenty more we could be doing, but I also believe that many people will not be motivated to change until things reach a drastic level, like petrol at $10.

What do you think it will take people to change?
Do you worry about what the future holds?

Tuesday, 30 July 2013

Turn Down the Heat

Photo from here

A positive report that I read just today is that the World Bank has announced they will no longer be investing in coal and there is hope that this will be a trigger for things to come.

Here in Queensland there is a lot of talk about natural gas being either a replacement or a transition fuel away from coal but I am still not convinced that it is the solution, not that I have any idea what is.

This article also lead me to a very interesting report about why it is so vital that we avoid global warming titled Turn Down The Heat.  It is a long and very detailed report but I did find it really interesting.  For those who are not inclined to read it here are the concluding remarks:

A 4°C world will pose unprecedented challenges to humanity. It is clear that large regional as well as global scale damages and risks are very likely to occur well before this level of warming is reached. This report has attempted to identify the scope of these challenges driven by responses of the Earth system and various human and natural systems. Although no quantification of the full scale of human damage is yet possible, the picture that emerges challenges an often-implicit assumption that climate change will not significantly undermine economic growth.  It seems clear that climate change in a 4°C world could seriously undermine poverty alleviation in many regions. This is supported by past observations of the negative effects of climate change on economic growth in developing countries. While developed countries have been and are projected to be adversely affected by impacts resulting from climate change, adaptive capacities in developing regions are weaker. The burden of climate change in the future will very likely be borne differentially by those in regions already highly vulnerable to climate change and variability. Given that it remains uncertain whether adaptation and further progress toward development goals will be possible at this level of climate change, the projected 4°C warming simply must not be allowed to occur—the heat must be turned down. Only early, cooperative, international actions can make that happen.

It is hard for me to imagine some of the changes we will face in my life time and I hope that we are smart enough to adapt and innovate.  Sometimes I find it all a bit overwhelming but I am sure that there is hope I just hope that we have the time to make the changes required to transition to a new way of life not dependent on fossil fuels.

What do you think?  
Does the subject of climate change keep you awake at night?

Monday, 29 July 2013

Lemon Ricotta Cake With Blueberries

This is such a tasty cake and although the original recipe calls for the addition of blueberries I quite like it plan as well.

Lemon Ricotta Cake With Blueberries

200g Ricotta
150g Sugar
240 Flour
15 gm Baking Powder
3 Eggs
80g Milk
1 Tbls Vegetable Oil
Rind and juice of 1 Lemon
125g Blueberries

Preheat your over to 180 degrees.  Grease and line a 28cm spring form cake tin.  In a bowl mix the ricotta, sugar, lemon rind, oil and lemon juice until smooth.  In another bowl mix the eggs and milk to combine.  Sift the flour and baking powder together into a large bowl and add the two wet mixes.  Mix to combine and pour into cake tin.  Sprinkle blueberries (if you are using them) over the top and bake for 50 mins to an hour.

Thursday, 25 July 2013

An Afternoon Off

Hubby has been working really hard around the house over the past few weeks on top of his work, and I have been really busy with some community projects on top of my work.
So yesterday we decided to head to the coast for an afternoon off with Jessie.
It was a glorious day to beat the beach and the water was not too cold either, about 20 degrees I would guess.
There was lots of stick chasing and stalking and we had the entire beach to ourselves, well almost.  There we millions or little crabs all over the beach.  So many in fact that as they moved on mass you could hear them scuttling across the sand.  But they were really had to get a photo of because as soon as you got near them they buried themselves in the sand.

The three of us had a great afternoon in the sun and we hope to do it again soon.

Wednesday, 24 July 2013

Retaining Wall Make Over

A short trip to the hardware store last weekend resulted in a busy afternoon and another job ticked off "The List".

We were checking out the varieties of blocks available to rebuild the low retaining wall around our fire pit.. The idea was just to get some ideas but we ended up finding one that we liked so we brought enough to do the job and headed home.
I thought that once we got home I would go back to my plans for a relaxing Sunday and we would tackle the actual rebuild another day.
I was wrong.
While I was putting some shopping away Hubby had headed out the back and was dismantling the existing retaining wall.

The wall was made out of some very old, very ugly H blocks and the wall had never looked nice since we brought the place.  It was just a weed patch that was hard to maintain and looked ugly.
Quite a few of the blocks had broken or been chipped but we kept the good ones and will try and find a new life for them somewhere on the farm.

The dirt in the blocks was almost pure worm castings and would have been lovely to add to the garden but it was also full of biting green ants so it stayed where it was.

We knocked a stake into the ground and measured a circle from that point with a string line.  I tied a loop in the string so that it didn't move and we were able to create a semicircle with out new blocks.

Once we had it marked out Hubby mixed up some concrete and we got busy laying out the blocks.

I am a bit of a stickler for doing things properly, it is something I grew up hearing from my dad.  "Do it once and do it properly", the complete opposite to how previous owners have done things at our place.  
So as much as Hubby would have liked to have just slapped those blocks down I made him concrete, measure and level.  He moans a bit at the time but afterwards he always comments that he is glad we didn't cut corners.

It only took us a few hours working together to get it done and we are really happy with the result.  We really love our little fire pit area and have given it a christening with friends over the weekend to celebrate Hubby's birthday.  I am sure it will get plenty of use in the future too.

Monday, 22 July 2013

Have You Seen No Impact Man?

The other day I happened to see this documentary on ABC.  It is the personal story about 1 man, his wife and daughter and their experiment to reduce/eliminate their impact on the environment.

For one year, my wife, my 2-year-old daughter, my dog and I, while living in the middle of New York City, are attempting to live without making any net impact on the environment. In other words, no trash, no carbon emissions, no toxins in the water, no elevators, no subway, no products in packaging, no plastics, no air conditioning, no TV, no toilets…
What would it be like to try to live a no impact lifestyle? Is it possible? Could it catch on? Is living this way more fun or less fun? More satisfying or less satisfying? Harder or easier? Is it worthwhile or senseless? Are we all doomed or is there hope? These are the questions at the heart of this whole crazy-assed endeavor.
You can also check out his blog here.

I found this to be a fascinating insight into exactly what is possible even in our modern world if you just have the determination to do it.

At this stage of our life when we are looking at moving overseas and starting over we are questioning many aspects of our life and looking at what changes we want to make.  We are also starting to declutter our home and reduce the possessions we own.  I think for me this documentary just proved that it really is possible for everyone to live a less impacting life and tread a little lighter on our planet.

It also made me realise that there is a lot more we could be doing.  It's not that I am plagued with guilt over the life we lead but it has made me questions some of my beliefs and assumptions  which I think is always a good thing.

So if you didn't get to see it you can watch it on ABC iView for the next 6 days.  If you have seen it what did you think?  Could you relate to the ideas shared?

Tuesday, 16 July 2013

The Worst Neighbours?

There is a good chance that we are committing a massive sin when it comes to being a good neighbour.  We have just purchased 8 roosters from a local chicken dealer and most of them are crowing.  So in addition to the 2 roosters we already had that makes 10.
However there is a chance that we could get away with it.  We do live in the country and everyone in the street has their own rooster so we are hoping that the extra crowing will just blend in.

These roosters are all destined for the dinner table and the 4 larger ones will be the first to go in a month or so.  We will be feeding them on broiler finishing food which is about 28% protein so they will bulk up quicker that if we fed them mixed grain (10% protein) or layers mash (15% protein).

 Hopefully we will have cut down the numbers before anyone complains (which I don't think they will) and then we can rest easy (in more ways than one).

Have you ever done something that would make you sound like a bad neighbour?

Monday, 15 July 2013

Flashing Underway

Now before you get the wrong idea this is not a post about nudity or the flashing of body parts.
Instead it is just another job on "The List" (see my side bar) getting under way.

We were really lucky that our friend Richard was able to help us calculate all the angles and measurements for the flashing we needed.
Then he came over to help Hubby install it.
The men hard at work.
 This is a job that should have been done when the addition was tacked on to the back of the house.  But it is just one of many jobs that that was not done and as first home buyers 4 years ago it was not something we even knew to look out for.
There have been many issues that we have discovered over the last 4 years (septic issues, plumbing, flooring, drawings on the ceiling)  and in the scheme/cost of things this is a minor one.

The left is complete just one panel to go.

It is really good to have this done and just in time as it has started raining again.   sigh.....
We still have to do the flashing over the bathroom but we will have to wait till it stops raining.

Have you ever brought a house only to find you have taken on some one else's "Handy Work or lack there of".

Wednesday, 10 July 2013

Apparently We Don't Eat Mung Beans

Or Millet for that matter.
And we don't eat as much tomato relish, strawberry jam or mustard pickle as a family either.
Funny that since there is just the 2 of us.

During my recent pantry clean out I came to the realisation that buying things (Mung Beans) just because they good for you does not make sense if you don't actually like them.
With mung beans it is not that I don't like them but I cannot stand the smell of them when they are soaking and sprouting.

They didn't go to waste though.  The chickens were quite pleased to get mung beans for breakfast.

Mmm we like mung beans

And the plan for the future is to scale back the quantities of jams, pickles and chutneys that I make.  That is "when" I make them in the future.  Based on our stockpile it will be a while.

Is there anything you have brought and never eaten?

Tuesday, 9 July 2013

The List and One Job Done

Before moving to NZ we need to sell our house and to make that easier (I hope) we have a list of jobs we want to get done.
I have added "The List" to my sidebar and as it stands is:
Paint the verandah
Oil the deck
Paint the kitchen/dinning ceiling
Install flashing on the back of the house
Repair/replace 2 weather boards
Rebuild retaining wall around fire pit
Install garden edges
Plant out garden at the front of the house
Renovate the bathroom
Install new carpet in the spare room and lounge
New curtains for our bedroom
Renovate the entrance way
Replace/Repair boundary (paddock) fences

It is quite a list but we are just going to keep working through them until they are done and over the weekend we got the first one ticked off the list.
Painting the verandah.
It was in a bit of a shabby state with peeling paint and we have wanted to do it for a while but the weather has not been settled enough do do it until now.
The starting point, excuse the mess on the verandah
 Hubby got all of the sanding done while I was working in Brisbane late last week.  So when I got back home on Saturday (thinking I could have a quiet weekend) Hubby had work lined up for me.

Hubby working hard
We had fantastic weather and the days were very warm so although it was a shame to have to spend them working it was lovely to be outside enjoying the sunshine.
We got it all repainted and I am really happy that we have ticked it off the list.  Now that the painting is done we can weed and then plant out the garden along the front, and oil the decking boards.  The will get those jobs off the list too.
All painted.  Now I just have to get rid of all the weeds and feral cherry
tomatoes that are growing in the front garden.
Following on from the pantry clean out I really feel motivated to get lots done at the moment.  I know it is not spring yet but I do feel like this is a bit of a spring clean vibe I have.

Is anyone else feeling it too?

Thursday, 4 July 2013

A Book Give Away

I mentioned the other day that I am reading the Game of Thrones series of books and really enjoying them.  So I though I would share the love.
I had the first 2 books in the series and then I was given the entire box set of all 7 books.  So I have decided that I should give the first 2 away.
The series, set on the fictional continents of Westeros and Essos at the end of a decade-long summer, interweaves several plot lines. The first follows the members of several noble houses in a civil war for the Iron Throne of the Seven Kingdoms; the second covers the rising threat of the impending winter and the mythical creatures of the North; the third chronicles the attempts of the exiled last scion of the realm's deposed dynasty to reclaim the throne. Through its morally ambiguous characters, the series explores the issues of social hierarchy, religion, civil war, crime, and punishment.

Below is the description from one of the websites promoting the books.

Long ago, in a time forgotten, a preternatural event threw the seasons out of balance. In a land where summers can last decades and winters a lifetime, trouble is brewing. The cold is returning, and in the frozen wastes to the north of Winterfell, sinister and supernatural forces are massing beyond the kingdom’s protective Wall. At the center of the conflict lie the Starks of Winterfell, a family as harsh and unyielding as the land they were born to. Sweeping from a land of brutal cold to a distant summertime kingdom of epicurean plenty, here is a tale of lords and ladies, soldiers and sorcerers, assassins and bastards, who come together in a time of grim omens.

Here an enigmatic band of warriors bear swords of no human metal; a tribe of fierce wildlings carry men off into madness; a cruel young dragon prince barters his sister to win back his throne; and a determined woman undertakes the most treacherous of journeys. Amid plots and counterplots, tragedy and betrayal, victory and terror, the fate of the Starks, their allies, and their enemies hangs perilously in the balance, as each endeavours to win that deadliest of conflicts: the game of thrones.

Here is the first volume in George R. R. Martin’s magnificent cycle of novels that includes A Clash of Kings and A Storm of Swords. As a whole, this series comprises a genuine masterpiece of modern fantasy, bringing together the best the genre has to offer. Magic, mystery, intrigue, romance, and adventure fill these pages and transport us to a world unlike any we have ever experienced. Already hailed as a classic, George R. R. Martin’s stunning series is destined to stand as one of the great achievements of imaginative fiction.

So to the give away.
Just tell me why you you would like these books (pre loved by me) sent your way and I will put you in the draw.
I will draw a winner on July 21st and contact the winner to arrange posting.
Available to Australian residents only sorry.

Wednesday, 3 July 2013

Happy Birthday To Me

Today marks the day I am another year older and hopefully a bit wiser and more knowledgeable that the year before.  

There will not be any big party or fan fare.  Hubby's birthday is only a couple of weeks after mine and we often celebrate together so there is likely to be a nice meal or 2 out with family and friends to celebrate both our birthdays. 
Often Hubby and I do not buy each other gifts instead we buy something that we both want.  This year  however Hubby brought me a lovely gift for the kitchen, three lovely Victorinox knives.
There is nothing better than good knives in the kitchen and the boning knife (the bottom one) is something I have wanted for a while.

My mother in law made me a tapestry cushion.  It is actually the second one she has made me as I loved the first so much I asked for a second one to match.

 I feel very lucky to have received such lovely gifts.

Tuesday, 2 July 2013

Slow Living June 2013

Linking up with Christine again this month.  Although I missed last month so this may cover the last 2 months.

Nourish -Make and bake as much as possible from scratch. Ditch over packaged, over processed convenience foods and opt for 'real' food instead.
At the moment there is silverbeet and parsley in the garden ready for harvest plus the odd cherry tomato.
I have been making a few nice Asian meals lately including the caramel pork belly in the picture below.
I have also made up another big batch or home made baked beans as Hubby likes these to take to work for lunches.  Just this week I have been doing a bit of baking including my chocolate and beetroot cake except that I used carrots instead of beetroot and I made some bran muffins as well.

Prepare - Stockpile and preserve. Freeze extra meals or excess garden/market produce. Bottle/can, dehydrate or pickle foods to enjoy when they are not in season.
We have been working through our food stockpile rather than adding to it.  But what we have been stockpiling is fire wood.  Back at the start of the year Hubby built a wood shed out of recycled materials.

The wood shed
Then we got a wood splitter in to split all the wood we have been drying in the paddock.  We ended up with about 6 trailers loads like the one in the below photo.

And now the wood is stacked floor to ceiling and all the way to the door.  We should not have to get wood again before we move to NZ.  In fact we will probably be selling the house with at least a years supply included.

Reduce - Cut down on household waste by re-using, re-purposing and repairing.
This has all been about using things up for us.  We seem to have all these half bottles of things in the bathroom and I am absolutely refusing to throw them out until the contents have been used up.  Last night I had a bubble bath and I have been using up the almost empty bottle of moisturiser  before moving on to the slightly less empty bottle.  I am not even sure where they all came from, I think some have been left behind by visitors, either that or they are breeding...

Green Start (or continue!) using homemade cleaners, body products and basic herbal remedies. The options are endless, the savings huge and the health benefits enormous.
I have been trying a new recipe for a home made body scrub made from coconut oil and sugar.  I have not perfected it just yet but it is getting better.  I will post more about it when I am happy with the recipe.

Grow plant/harvest. What's growing this month? What's being eaten from the garden?

The self seeded Jap pumpkin that is set on world domination is starting to bear fruit  I just hope they are ready before it gets too cold..

Create - To fill a need or feed the soul. Create for ourselves or for others.
I am still practising my knitting when I can find time and have been doing lots of scrap booking and card making.

Discover Feed the mind by reading texts relevant to current interests.
I am still reading lots of books.  I am currently reading  the Game of Thrones series and really enjoying it. I am up to book 5 of 7 and if you tune in later this week I have the first 2 books in the series to give away.

Enhance Community
Planning for this years Classic Car Show is well under way again and will be keeping me busy for many months to come.  I am also in charge of organising all of the stall holders for the festival so it is a huge job.  I would say that I currently dedicate about 10 - 15 hours a week to these community events.

Enjoy - Life! Embrace moments with friends and family. Marking the seasons, celebrations and new arrivals are all cause for enjoyment.
I have been so blessed over the last 2 months catching up with family in New Zealand as well as spending time with Hubby's family and friends here in Australia.
My Niece and Nephew in NZ
My mother in law and I went to the Brisbane Art Gallery 2 weeks ago to see Quilts 1700 - 1945 which was fascinating.  Quilts 1700–1945’ comes from one of the world’s most important and loved collections of textiles and decorative arts — the Victoria and Albert Museum, London. This exhibition offers visitors an unprecedented opportunity to see over 30 quilted and/or patchworked bed covers and bed hangings, as well as sewing accessories, created over two-and-a-half centuries.   If you get a chance to see it it is worth it.

What have you been up to?