Friday, January 30, 2009


What a dry summer this one is compared to last summer and what block buster temperatures are hitting parts of Australia! Luckily here it is hot but bearable.

So what's been happening here in suburbia?

We are lucky to have a swimming pool and it gets hours of use. I know they use too much money, too much water, too much power but we love ours and it is here to stay. This year we have put into place some methods to make our pool a little less of a water and power guzzling pit. The first thing we did was get a cover for it. The cover reduces water evaporation by over 85%. It also keeps the pool cleaner as leaves, dust and dirt aren't blowing into it. This means we can get away with cleaning the pool less and running the filter less too. We have also connected a water diverter to the gutter near the pool. When it rains we attach a hose to it and this goes straight into the pool. Hopefully we will be able to put a tank in this area soon whijch will keep the pool topped up and water the gardens in the pool area.

Summer veges are growing well. I have been harvesting okra, capsicum, tomatoes, beans and cucumbers. Also plenty of herbs too which I use prolically in cooking - sage, mints, rosemary, basil, oregano.
The vege patch is looking good.
I have buckets of cucumbers. I pick them when they are really small and deliciously tasty.
I have also been saving seeds. The first few okra I left on the plant too long. Okra are nicest if harvested and eaten when 4 inches or smaller and these ones were probably double that. So I picked them and harvested the seeds. I have been drying them on a plate on the trampoline (along with a plumcot pip.) In the paper bag I am drying parsley. I have found the simplest way to dry things with small seeds like parsley and lettuce is to cut off the stems with the seeds and put the seed heads in a paper bag with a rubber band around them. Then leave them in the sun until dry, give a shake and the seeds fall off and are in the bag.

Popped into the local nursery today for a browse (walked out empty handed). They have some dwarf fruit trees in stock - avocado, mangos and banana. As well as blueberry plants, olives, rasperrys and nuts. I have a birthday coming up so will send the hint to Mr Gadget.

M xx

Tuesday, January 20, 2009


We have fruit!
Very exciting!
Very juicy and full of flavour and I am thrilled that this tree is growing and fruiting and hasn't needed any sprays or additives except plenty of water and some seaweed fertiliser. The birds haven't discovered the fruit so it has been safe to ripen completely on the tree.
This is a plumcot tree (a cross between a plum and apricot). The flesh is orange similar to the colour of an apricot and you can definately taste apricot flavour. The fruit are about the size of a medium apple. I was told when I brought the tree that it was necessary to have an apricot or plum tree for pollination but I haven't. Might be one somewhere in the area. I am thrilled that it is growing so well in this area - I have been told that Newcastle is too humid for success with stone fruits. But my success with this tree has spurred me on and I will be planting a couple more this year.

M xx

Friday, January 16, 2009


Mr Gadget that is. He just doesn't understand my need or want to live simpler. He doesn't get why I want to recycle and reduce, save water and power, say no to plastic bags and minimise our spending.
Now before I go further and you all think I am having a big hubby whinge (which I am sort of) let me say he is a man in a million. He cooks often and makes the best pizzas and a mean curry and many other delicious meals. He cleans - he knows how to use the vacuum cleaner and mop and washing machine. He works extremely hard and has built up his business and is only just now getting to reap the rewards of all his hard work in the past years. Finally the business is at a stage where he can take time off and delegate to others and we are in a great financial state. I am extremely proud of him. He is a very hands on dad to our three boys. He is very involved in their activities and their care.
But if I bring up any enviromental issue I can see the bristles coming up. Recently I was discussing with Mr Gadget how I wanted to eliminate plastic rubbish bags. He thought that was absolutely ridiculous so I dropped the subject. I am forever going around the house and turning off appliances at the power points. This drives poor Mr gadget to distraction. All those gadgets - computers, dvds, microwave, washing machines, monitors with their lights shining while on standby I find totally unneccesary. Mr Gadget argues that the amount of power they are drawing is minimal and not worth the hassle of turning off. I argue my point. I turn them off, he leaves them on. If I argue it will save money that irks him - he reasons that we can afford it so it is okay.

The one thing he is nearly as passionate as me about is the vegetable garden. He leaves it to me to tend and grow but he loves the home grown veges and fruit. He willingly built me the new raised vege patch. He is great at composting green waste too.

I have found the best way forward with dealing with Mr Gadget is to lead by example. If I go ahead and make small changes, one at a time, and he sees them working and me being consistent then normally he is willing to change too. But it is frustrating having so many goals and not having Mr Gadget behind me supporting me in these issues. I feel like he initially resists in most areas I suggest change in. But I am certain he will come around eventually when he sees the sense in what i am doing.

Some of the changes I want to make this year include:
Harvesting water - another water tank, gutter diverters etc.
Buying veges and fruit locally.
Less food waste ( I have gone a long way in 2008 to remedy this)
Make some fruit/veg bags.
Planting fruit trees - thinking either espelier or mini fruit trees due to room issues.
Meeting more like minded people living locally for ideas and support.
Building an outdoor wood fired pizza oven (Mr Gadget is very keen on this idea).
Get chooks
Preserving more foods

M xx

Friday, January 9, 2009


I always have a big declutter after Christmas. It seems a good time as so many new things and presents are coming into the house so it is a great time to get rid of no longer used or wanted items. And to find room for the newer stuff.
I used to have a semi minamalistic house but then along came children and a bigger house. More children meant more items -clothes, toys, bed and so on. And as the kids have grown their interests have changed.
Guitar Dude who has a very healthy lego collection is now music crazy. He has accumulated a drum set, 2 guitars, music stands, sheet music, cds etc.
Zippy began collecting rocks and accumulating sports trophies, posters and paraphenalia.
Super Boy's interests have changed from Dora Explorer and Wiggles to all things to do with super heroes.
Mr Gadget has such a messy office that if he can't find what he is after he goes and buys another. Then a week later finds the original lost item.
Me, I love books and magazines and have accumulated way too many.

Yesterday I began the task of decluttering. Starting with the bedrooms, I have sorted through clothes and toys, books and shoes. Things have been divided into three piles -
Op shop pile
Rubbish pile
Keep pile

Over the years I have become fairly ruthless with my approach to decluttering so here are a few of my tips.
- Have a place for everything.
- Spend 10 minutes each day putting things away.
- Change your thinking about material objects. Value the memories more than the objects.
- As you declutter put items for the rubbish or op shop out of the house. I put op shop things straight into the boot of the car as I am sorting.
- Tackle the house room by room or even cupboard by cupboard. It is easier kto see results this way and the job doesn't get overwhelming.
- RAk your no longer needed items such as books, shoes, clothing to friends.
- Make a rule that if you buy something new then get rid of something old.
- If it hasn't been used or worn for over a year then chances are it will never be so get rid of it.
- Declutter when your partner or kids are not around. They will reclaim too much useless things if they are there.

Tomorrow I am tackling the kitchen cupboards and pantry. Then if I am really brave I will tackle Mr Gadgets office!
M xx
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