Archive | April 2019

Be micro-ambitious

Have passionate dedication to the pursuit of short term goals.

Taken from Tim Minchin.

Ha, that’s what I do.

Time for an update on my three mini-challenges:

Mini-challenge 1, the garage clean out. The outdated paint is gone. A cupboard has been emptied and now fits painting equipment and the few tins we’ve bought for paint jobs in the last couple of years. No paint sitting on the ground. Still much to go.

Mini-challenge 2, wearing a different dress to work each day. Completed, as documented here and here. I basically only wore dresses to work this year. I might cycle through my dresses again this term. But teamed with jackets and coats.

Mini-challenge 3, plant garden in front of fence and tame jungle around the pool. Front of fence garden completed.

The petals are from our massive camellia shrubs growing over the fence from inside our front yard.

Mini-challenge 1 and 3 will continue and now I’m adding three new mini-challenges:

4. Going to the gym

5. Raising sweet peas

6. Minimising and tracking food waste.

ONE easy thing you can do to help the environment right now

This post is inspired by Fiona’s posts on the environment. The idea is directly taken from the recent BBC David Attenborough documentary.

On the documentary, they give this step which will make a direct impact on the amount of green house gases you put out.

Happily, it will also save you money.

And you can do it without changing your lifestyle. No ashes and sack cloth.

One easy thing to do is use all the food you buy and cook.

OK, it may involve a little change of practice and a little planning.

When grocery shopping, I don’t put things in the trolley out of habit. Unfortunately Mr S doesn’t look in our fridge or cupboard for what we already have before he shops, so often buys stuff we already hav. While he plans our meals, he often over buys stuff, like tonnes more grapes than we can eat before they go off.

We do eat most of our leftovers – for lunch, if I’m lucky. With two grown male offspring, leftovers are often gone – as midnight snacks, breakfasts, afternoon snacks, after dinner suppers.

However, we do toss a bit. Food put in the fridge for later and then pushed to the back and forgotten. Fruit that goes off, especially once it is a little over-ripe, it gets left to fully go off. Cheese bought and not eaten. Veggies mouldering in the bottom of the fridge.

The Chaser’s War on Waste said the average Australian family throw away $3,500 of food every year.

Imagine if your share stayed in your pocket? That’s a good holiday!

And by not having food waste, you will make a contribution to the environment.

My new mini-challenge is to not throw out any food. Fruit tends to be my worst area.

Stay tuned for how I go in this challenge.

In the week since drafting this, I have thrown out some raspberries. They were off in the container in the fridge.

And an end of bread that had gone mouldy.

And some grapes. And some yoghurt that Dirty Boy put in a bowl to eat but then didn’t want to – he is very sick and hasn’t been eating. After he breathed on it, no way would I save the food.

The raspberries and grapes end up in our work farm. Still there was a lot of energy consumed in the product, processing, transportation and storage of these products.

Bargo River & Mermaid Pool

We drove about an hour and a half south, down to Picton, to join a few friends on a bush walk.

A short drive through Tahmoor brought us to Bargo River.

We walked along the river. It wasn’t a signposted walk and several times we lost the path, scrambling up and down the steep surrounds. Someone has helpfully ties ribbons to guide the way, but we hadn’t seen them at first as we walked along the river bank before it became too steep and we realised we weren’t on the track. Luckily we climbed up, as further along the river drops down between steep cliffs. And we found the track, with a few dead ends!

Then we found signposted trees. I do thank whoever put the little handwritten metal signs up. More useful than the map.

We reached our destination – Mermaid Pool. But we couldn’t swim in it. We were up on the cliff. Our vantage point had us looking directly up the river. Even those people we spied closer the pool, on the flat rock face on the upper side of the waterfall couldn’t get into the pool. It would be a long jump down and a climb up the bare face of the cliff.

Photos don’t show the majesty of the place but here goes.

Walking along the track, we found a tool box. In the middle of the bush!! Inside was a log book and free maps of other areas.

Walking out we found the clearer, and much easier track, up along the ridge.

Today was a hot day, 28°, and sunny. So much for autumn weather. As we neared the end of our walk the river was helpfully not bordered by cliffs. There was a little beach area. I couldn’t resist. I stripped off my shorts and took off my bra from under my t-shirt and dived in. Ahh, the softness of fresh water. Soo refreshing. And my skin felt so soft afterwards. I could have floated there for longer.

But we were going for lunch.

Mr S chivalrously gave me his t-shirt for the short walk to the car. By the time we got there I was largely dry. I popped my shorts back on and they were only slightly damp when we entered the cafe for lunch. My t-shirt was not going to be dry. No worries, I had a long sleeve jersey which I wore instead.

Mr S and I both had a veggie burger with sweet potato fries. Not bad. Not the best I’ve had. The chocolate milk shake I had was lovely, with a big dollop of ice cream.

Before we hit the road home, we popped in a homewares shop. My friends thought Mr S was just humouring me by going in. No way! He loves buying knick-knacks. And we did. Silicon straws – Mr S uses straws a lot. These are reusable. So no more disposable straws. And a new kitchen timer. And my favourite soaps. And slippers for Mr S’s mother for Mother’s Day.

It was a lovely day – all the better for having spent it with friends.

My sweet pea experiment

Sweat peas are on my top 5 favourite flowers.

No, top three.

But only if they have a scent.

I’ve never grown sweet peas because:

  • The thought of growing any flowers from seeds scares me
  • The thought of having to prepare the flower bed is too much like work
  • I’ve never had a suitable bed for annuals in the sun
  • I have too many perennials, Australian native shrubs and trees and camellias, and there is no room
  • My life is too busy and I miss St Patrick’s Day, the traditional sowing day in Australia. Well, before global warming. Now they’ve pushed it back to Anzac Day.
  • I know the snails, possums and birds will cause me heartbreak

This year, I’ve bitten the bullet. Fingers crossed it doesn’t come to naught or I will kill the f’n possums.

First step was reading up on growing these divine things. Thank heavens for the Internet and people who are sweet pea experts.

Next was sourcing seeds of varieties with scent. Sneaky seed suppliers. They don’t say if the flower doesn’t have scent. They also say subtle scent. Is that code for hardly any?

No one stocked the recommended seeds. So I made do with two types: a tall and a short variety.

I rubbed the seeds on sand paper and soaked them overnight.

Then I planted them in pots. Not ideal for the tall ones but this is an experiment. If they take, I might stake out an annual garden bed.

Some people say the seeds are fussy. Don’t water them after planting, they say. So I didn’t.

And look what has come up after a week:

Fourteen weeks till flower time. Stay tuned for updates.

Not a Richard in sight

In the past 8 years, I have been one of the few who hasn’t watched the Game of Thrones thing.

Not so as much as a scene, let alone an episode.

Now that the world is enthralled by the final season, I’m starting out on season 1.

So why now? Why the change?

You know how my current reading and viewing obsession is Wars of the Roses? Well I thought I may as well watch a modern interpretation.


Episode 1:

  • love all the horse riding! (Sent this text to a mad GoT friend and she said “Not the first thing that comes to mind when watching GoT.” But it was mine. What do you think?)
  • The head chopping isn’t frightening or violent because it is so fake.
  • Why is so much of the sex done doggie style? How can the actresses stand be pounded from behind? (This was my second thought. And second text.)
  • Does the boy die? (I know the answer. I googled it. Can’t stand suspense.)

Episode 2:

  • Too many characters with names I couldn’t possibly remember. Reading about the Wars of the Roses, I was bamboozled by the many people sharing the few names – Richards, Henrys and Edwards abounded. Now I can’t remember anyone’s name, except John Snow.
  • Can’t stand suspense, so I’ve read up on the story arcs. I don’t want evil people to live long and prosper. Feel able to watch on knowing that the horrid prince dies.
  • Who is that man? I know his face from somewhere. After googling it, he’s been on so many things, I couldn’t place the one thing I’ve seen him on.

Episode 3:

  • Love the castle. Wonder if it is real or fake.
  • I can see links to some of the Wars of the Roses central people but while WoR May have inspired GoT, GoT isn’t a modern interpretation of WoR.
  • If it is so cold, why don’t they wear anything on their heads?
  • Brother-in-law walked in as I was watching and said it’s called Game of Moans cause of all the soft-porn. Yep, pretty much the case.

I am actually glad I am doing it later. It means I can look up spoilers. Spoilers don’t actually spoil the experience for me. They enhance it. I can relax and enjoy the story without being on tenterhooks. I mean we read history but we largely know what is going to happen when we read about an event. The interest is in the details, the whys, the revelling of character, the interpretations. Not just the plot twists and surprises.

So am I hooked?

I’m enjoying it. I will watch more. But not obsessively.

The above image is taken from this YouTube vid. Interesting and has good overview of the WoR (despite the pronunciation of Warwick as War Wick. Oh and it’s Wars [plural] of the Roses.)

Paint be gone

It’s gone. It’s all gone. All the old paint.

Monday last week, I roped in my eldest, AKA Dirty Boy, to load up my car.

Then off to the council waste recycling place I went.

OK, it wasn’t that simple and it isn’t quite all gone.

A couple of tins have rusted through and two are leaking. I can’t open the two leaking ones as they are rusted shut. I’m hoping they will dry out. The council says to put empty dry tins into the normal rubbish bin.

Turns out the recycling place doesn’t open on Mondays, so I slowly drove home, unloaded my car, putting my back out in the process.

Last Tuesday I made the second trip in the week to the recycling centre, and yay!!! I got rid of the paint. And a bag of dead batteries. And a computer monitor.

I feel better. There’s still a lot more stuff in the garage to go. But the old paint is gone.

And low and behold, Mr S helped with one small section, around a square metre. All swept and sorted.

Easter traditions

I don’t believe in supernatural beings. I don’t believe Jesus died on the cross for my sins.

But I’m thankful for the Christian traditions that have given me Easter. I love Easter.

I love decorating with Easter-inspired decorations. Bunnies, eggs, flowers. Strange, I know on so many levels. Symbols of spring and rebirth – in our season of autumn!!! Rabbits are such noxious pests in Australia.

I loved all the decorations my mother did growing up. I hope when I go to Germany, I will be able to find some authentic German Easter decorations. Doubtful, I know, as it will be the wrong seasons. I also loved colouring and decorating hard boiled eggs when we were growing up. My Oma was the master egg blower. Not for her hard boiled. You could hardly find the hole through which she blew out the contents.

Growing up, we would get Easter gifts. Normally things we needed coming into winter – new PJs, new slippers – and a book. Always books. I still give little needed gifts to my sons. This time undies!

Laid out on the decorated table, it just adds a bit of specialness to the year. And so much better than getting a packet of undies tossed at you.

I love hot cross buns. The traditional ones with fruit. Not chocolate ones. They’re just chocolate muffins with a cross. Not apple and cinnamon. Come on. They’re a travesty. At a pinch, I can have the traditional-looking ones without fruit bits. I confess, while I do eat them on Good Friday, I don’t only eat them on Good Friday. I eat my fill a few weeks before and a week or two after Easter, and then that’s it until next year. But on Good Friday, we eat lunch them together as a family. Well, Mr S and I do, kid-ults not generally being up.

I love chocolate eggs. Red tulip bunnies are my fav. I loved the chocolate chicken on a basket I used to get as a child. I love little eggs. Ever since I can remember, you have to smooth out the foil covering of the little eggs and make a ring or a wine glass. It’s mandatory, don’t you know. New is my love of MnM crunchie eggs. New because we didn’t have them decades ago.

I love the family roast lunch on Easter Sunday. Numbers are dwindling, as cousins grow up, but with family visiting this year from the US, we still have a full table to enjoy Mr S’s roast lamb.

Mr S and The Dreamer have their own annual tradition of going to The Royal Easter Show. Dirty Boy and I don’t usually go to The Show. Tacky. Crowded. This year, I went to The Show. We took our US visitors. Spent hours there. And loved it. The district displays. A bit of wood chopping competition (which I never see anywhere else, but can’t miss if I go to The Show.) Animals. Dog show. Horse riding and tricks/competitions. Spent heaps on things I never knew I wanted, let alone existed, but once seen, simply had to have. Like this electric massager and necklace with the moons from my birthdate and both of my sons’.

Like everyone, we finished at the showbag pavilion and compulsory annual purchase of the must-have-every-year-even-if-we-haven’t-eaten last-year’s-lot Bertie Beetle bag.

“Where’s my Ninja bag?” asked Dirty Boy when we got home. Since getting one from Nanna as a kid, it remains the most loved one, full of plastic crap and a few lollies and something to inflate to hit your brother with. “Sorry, they didn’t have them anymore.”

Normally Easter falls towards the end of the school term, a week or two before term breaks up. The public holidays are much appreciated. Ahhhh, rest. We sit and relax while other maniacs rush up the highway for the traditional camping trip. “Ha! We’ll have holidays soon. We don’t need to be stuck in the highway parking lot. We’ll eat and read and rest over Easter and go exploring in the break.”

Except this year, Easter fell in the school holiday break. We feel a bit ripped off. No extra long weekend. And horrendous traffic during our holidays!!! With visitors from the US, we broke our usual rule of NOT venturing out in our car over Easter, and did a day trip to the Southern Highlands. This time of year is perfect for exploring and picnicking.

Thank you, Christians. I love Easter.

Slow and steady decluttering

Mr S was off grocery shopping. So I ventured into the garage for a second little decluttering adventure.

Quite disgusting down there. No wonder it is known as “The Place I Won’t Go”.

What did I remove?

  • Paint in glass jars from the previous owners. Who puts paint in glass jars? Most can’t be opened. Some were decanted into a tin I could open. Another tin was rusted and the paint inside dried out. The paint in the jars can’t be recycled.
    Lots of rotting rubbish. Plastic bags falling apart. Empty boxes from small kitchen appliances. Broken tiny terracotta pots which I must have bought as Mr S would never have bought them. But I can’t remember buying.
    God knows what else.
    A plastic bucket which went into the laundry.
    Chocolates which he hid down there.
    And shhh! A tea pot and tea cup he got several years ago as a gift. He hid it “down there” because I said I’d regift it. No, he said, he loved it. But he never used it. How does it show you love something if you dump it with rubbish and junk? I’ve moved it to my own hidey hole to regift.

I picked up some bits and bobs from the ground and put them into the cupboard left empty from the removing paint.

Oh dear! This caused distress to Mr S. He went searching for some yoga blocks which he used for exercises.

Turns out some things on the ground are purposely placed.

Yeah, right. If you believe that, you’ll believe anything.

Mr S suffers frequency blindness. That is, things seen all the time are not actually seen. Lost in plain view. On the ground there’s plenty of absolute rubbish. He sees nothing except the few items he uses.

If you ventured down there, you’d not notice any improvement.

But little by little, in 18 months it will be noticeably better.

Retracing her steps

Part of my upcoming trip is to explore where my mother came from and grew up.

I visited over 25 years ago. That time staying with family – but they are no longer alive. My mother was the youngest of her cousins, so I will be touring around without local knowledge and without being driven around.

That’s all right in Bremen. In a city, you can get there by train and walk around to see a lot.

But my mother was evacuated during the war to the countryside, to East Fresia, or Ostfriesland. You can read about it on her blog.

This is where my grandmother comes from. It’s an isolated part of Germany. Has its own dialect. Seen here in the trailer of this film. The butt of German insider jokes. And not a popular place to visit, especially for English speakers, as outlined here.

I can’t seem to find easy or direct ways to travel between the villages I’d like to visit by bus or train. And car hire seems MUCH more expensive than it did on our French trip.

So mindful of advice given on my previous post, I’m limiting my visit to two villages. We will stay in one village, one that has a few restaurants and is a short train trip from Bremen. I’ve booked a unit for four nights. That’ll give us a day of doing absolutely nothing. Sitting around the little house, the Hexenhausen (witch’s house!) having a few beers, resting after two weeks of travel and sightseeing; then a day to walk in the forest and along the peat moor; then a day to visit the little town my mother lived in, Lahrheide; and then a day to visit a bigger town to the west, Oldenburg.

I would like to find the farm house that my grandmother’s family owned. Seen here, I think, behind all my grandmother’s family, gathered together for her grandparent’s (my great great grandparent’s) golden wedding anniversary. My Oma is the sixth female from the right with her hands in her legs.

I visited the farm house in 1991. My mother’s cousin had sold it so it was no longer in the family but she had an agreement with the new owners that they could visit and her husband could grow veggies on a bit of the land. Unfortunately, I won’t make it. (And for whatever reason, I never took a photo.)

Frock it two

There were lovely dresses galore,

Now here’s a few more!

My micro- goal of wearing all my dresses at least once has worked well. I only have a couple that I haven’t worn. One because it is more for cool weather and another that needs hemming. Here’s the rest of my audit.

I can date this dress with precision. I bought it for Mr Sans’ 40th birthday party. He has just turned 58. Eighteen years later and I’m still wearing it. Have I told you I don’t like waist bands? Well, this is another reason not to have them. You can fit in dresses for a lot longer.

Cut on the bias, for many years this dress was one of my favourites. And you know me. Buy one, buy many. I had this same dress in purple. It was my ABSOLUTE favourite. I wore it until it wore out. Was so see-through, I had to use a slip. OK, I could have tossed it out but I loved it. And I found a purple slip so I got a few more years’ wear. But sadly, it has now passed away.

In the same style by the same designer, David Lawrence, I have this dark navy one. It is slightly older than eighteen years old.

I bought this next dress, mainly because it was so cheap and I bought it at the same time I bought an exxy Ribkoff dress. How does that compute, you ask? Well, it makes it seem reasonable – to get two dresses for the amount. Anyway, I seem to get more random compliments when wearing this dress, even from students. Strange, because I’m not convinced about this dress. A little too low cut for me. And the material, while ruched on the front, is kind of piling. (The dress is also navy. Looks darker in the picture. I do seem to have quite a few navy dresses.)

And another navy dress with little zips as decorative detail. (Why can’t they just put in real pockets? Who doesn’t love a dress with pockets?) This one is a little shorter than my normal length and made of thinner, more clingy material. I usually wear a stretchy slip under it. Still, so practical in that it is wash and wear.

This one is made of similar material. Love the pattern. I also wear a stretchy slip under it. Here’s a hint. Buy one of those Spanx-style slips in many sizes too big. I wear one in a size 18 – in dresses, I’m a 12. Wearing a bigger slip means the slip is firm but not tight.

That’s about it. No more work dresses. I have about the same, maybe more, casual and dressy dresses. My goal is wear out my dresses before we have the year off and then have a smaller wardrobe which I will renew each year.

What would you like to see next? Casual dresses? Work skirts and tops? Soon it will be winter and I could do a coat and cape challenge!