Sunday, June 21, 2009

Winter Solstice 2009

It was wet, really wet, cold and blustery but the prospect of a bonfire made for two very excited Munchkins who happily put sticks into the fire and toasted marshmallows in between showers.

It takes a huge effort to get me out on this kind of night, but I guess once a year you have to, to really remind yourself what winter is all about and help you really appreciate the warmer weather when it returns. It helped that we had family around us, a lovely meal, some mulled wine, and a short drumming session which some of the family kindly humoured me with.
Good company and good food will always warm the coldest night.

The rain held off at sunrise this morning, so today for a change I gallantly ventured out to my thinking log, warming my hands on my first morning coffee and counted my blessings out there amongst the dew dripping gumtrees and bird calls. Sigh..... :)

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Pay it Forward

I will make a handmade gift for the first 3 interested people who comment on this post. I have 365 days to do it in…What it will be and when it will arrive is a total surprise!The catch is that you must participate as well: you must have a blog and before you leave your comment here, write up a pay it forward post on your blog to keep the fun going.(just cut and paste this one if you like!, which I did)

So, if you are interested, sign up and send me your address :) . Also please let me know your favourite colour, one word to describe yourself (the you you aspire to be) and a natural element you identify with.

Look forward to your responses!

I responded to Crone's 'Pay it Forward' @

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Eostre Moon Sleepout

We camped out on the trampoline last night and couldn't have asked for a better night. Perfectly cool, clear skies and a full moon.

We went for a nightstalk with our torches, watched the stars, found satellites, saw a helicopter pass overhead, watched and listened to the small flocks of cockatoos that flew over us on their way to their roosting tree and then bickered for an hour like kids at a sleepover, had a midnight feast and heard the story of Eostre and the Rabbit before snuggling down to sleep. After which I quietly took a few photos - this was one of them.
If there's a nicer way to spend a night I don't know it! :)

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Pics at last!

Finally some pics - the patch looks so bare now since I've ripped up all the summer fruiting stuff. time for a clean canvas!
Here are the peas and ....carrots!

The other beds are a mix of stuff. Can't wait for the 'weeks ahead' photos. They grow so quick in Blogland!

Today Hubby sprayed poison (yes I know it's dreadful) around the house before the rains come and the millipedes do too. For those of you who aren't familiar with Portugese Millipedes (and I'm sure they're fine in Portugal) these introduced little blighters emerge after the first rains in plague proportions.
We have tried every natural trap there is, and sure pots of water with little lights etc work - but when you're talking about millions of the things coming in at once those remedies are a pee in the in the ocean. We literally need a moat. They have been getting worse and worse over the last few years. Last year we woke up every morning to our hallway and toilet walls that were black and wriggling. I kid you not. They form a mat of bodies over every surface and release a pungent odour in the oil they secrete. It meant about an hour of vacuuming every morning before we could start the day - and the house reeking for hours after from the smell of the bodies you'd walked on, and the full vaccuum cleaner which had blown out that smell throughout the house.
We finally sprayed last year around the perimeter and it meant that we just had to sweep up the piles and piles of them every few days. I filled our kitchen bin to the top with bodies in one morning.

Can you tell I really dislike these things?!

On a brighter note - I have promised the Munchkins a sleep out on the trampoline tomorrow night. It's a full moon or close enough to for a short bushwalk, and likely to be one of the few dry and warmish nights left of the year so we're taking advantage of there being no school the next day (Yay for holidays!) and making it fun. Might be some pics if we're lucky enough to spot some interesting animals.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Operation Chilli Dog and birthday greetings to Cynthia!

Bindi the Dobermann is an ...interesting mutt. Stunning looking, a true beauty, affectionate and very loving (when she's not mauling the kids), highly intelligent...and a thief.
She steals any morsel of food from the kitchen or anywhere - she has pinched entire school lunches that I was in the middle of preparing and left for 5 seconds to deal with some munchkin disaster, stolen whole pounds of butter, tipped breakfast bowls off the table int he time it took us to go get a spoon etc etc. NOTHING edible can be left unattended.

It occurred to me that years ago when our ball mad Border Collie took to jumping up and stealing all the mandarines because they looked like balls, that we cured him by painting the bottom few fruits with Chilli oil. He tried one ....and tried his luck again once more before deciding they weren't such a good idea. Cured.

So tonight after Bindi stole one of the kids bowls off the table (tipped it onto the chair so she could lick it out). I put her outside as usual as penalty, then liberally sprinkled chilli powder over the remainder of the contents of thebowl. I let her back in, shut her in the dining room and left the room so she felt she was alone.....ha HA!

Needless to say she took the bait...but this dog is like no other...she decided it wasn'tbad really....lick lick, not bad at all actually and promptly finished off the bowl licking it especially clean.
Admittely she went to the water bowl after with a little more urgency in her step but that was about it as far as a reaction.

This isn't over - there are hotter things than chilli powder. Breakfast tomorrow = Stage 2 in Operation Chilli Dog.

On another note altogether it is our dear Aunt Cynthia's birthday today and I've heard she occasionally drops into this blog - so if you're reading this Cynthia, we hope you're having a lovely day and are thinking of you!


Saturday, April 4, 2009

Autumn plantings underway

I met up with a new friend today - the mother of one of Elder Munchkin's school friends. the morning went very quickly as she and her husband are avid gardeners so there was lots of info to share. I'm thinking of trying out her hexagonal bed idea. She said there was noticeably less evaporation from those beds than the rectangular ones they'd put in.

In any case I was inspired to get out into the garden after they left despite my early decision to wait until the rains before planting stuff.

Today I planted some lettuce, celery, 2 types of broccoli, broccolini, bok choy, spinach and snowpeas. The ones I got are a dwarf variety (not sure if they are hybrid or not - they were from the nursery) and I made a kid sized frame that the munchkins can walk all the way around to access both sides without trampling everything else in sight! All up I spent $20 on seedlings but I know I'll get WAY more than that of vegies from them. I had thought about only planting from my saved seed, but decided to get a head start with these and use the seeds for successive plantings downthe track.

Last week I did plant some sugar snap and bush feast peas (just a few) and they have already sprouted. Some of the garlic has too, though it needs a little TLc as the soil was a little water resistant. It felt so good to get out in the garden today after the long hot summer. I had lost a little enthusiasm after collecting the last of the bulk of the harvest and watching every starting to seriously dry up. It's good to see moist soil again and green shoots appearing.

Pics over the next few weeks - once the hols are here and I have more spare time!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Good news...sort of...

Our youngest munchkin has had a wheat allergy since the age of 11 months, so we thought, resulting in chronic eczema every time wheat was ingested. We were told most children grow out of their allergies by the time they're 3, but this wasn't the case with younger munchkin, and in fact we've been noticing more and more things that seem to be causing allergies. With this in mind, and the worry of the development of asthma and further allergies, we decided we had waited long enough now to see if the allergies would go away by themselves, and now we would look at the desensitisation option. So today we took younger Munchkin to an allergy/immunologist and found out Munchkin DOESN'T have a wheat allergy per say (though yes wheat is having a negative effect). It could be Coeliacs or a partdermatology type eczema. That bit remains a mystery but the good news for munchkin is the doctor recommended trialling small amounts of wheat again, while being very careful to keep Munchkin's skin in very good, moisturised condition and see what happens. Munchkin got to have an icecream cone today, complete with cone, for being so brave, and you never saw a child enjoy one quite so much!

We did find out our suspicions of dust mites was correct. Munchkin tested positive to dustmites, pollen and 3 types of grass. The kiwi and pineapple is being tested next time.

So now an order has been placed for the desensitasation stuff (gets made into a lozenge to be dissolved under tongue - no injections for paeds - yay!) and we wait 6 weeks for it to arrive from France. The treatment continues for 3 years or so and hopefully within 6 months we'll start to see results.

I feel relieved to have been able to do something about this finally, especially a no pain option because when we first looked into desensitisation a few years ago the option was needles every week and not something we wanted to do to our little one. Fingers crossed now that the treatment will work out successfully and we work out what's happening with wheat.

Have to say though - that we're not too keen to change our wheat free diet. It has been good for us as a family in terms of varying our diet, especially grains.
Sometimes blessings are hidden.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Help! Rotten Egg Smell Problem!

We have a chook who is clucky and noticed the most putrid smell coming from her nest.
I went to investigate today (after taking a day or two to work up the courage) and it looks like there's a rotten egg that's broken. She and her eggs were in a wet smelly puddle.
I took all her eggs from under her and cleaned them up with a warm wet cloth the best I could, transferred her to a clean nest and cleaned her up too. I'm guessing there may be one or two more that are rotten that she's sitting on and only hope they don't break before the chicks hatch. They are due in 3 days.

Anyway the trouble is I now STINK of rotten eggs - AFTER a really really good scrub in the shower. I can't get the smell off my hands and I'm supposed to be going out this afternoon.

Is there are remedy for this? I'll try anything!

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Peter Singer, Choice Theory and CHANGE!

It's been ages since I've blogged - life has been so busy...but hopefully now things will be different.

Firstly though - I went to hear Peter Singer speak at UWA the other night about his book 'The Life you can Change'. He discussed aspects of the psychology of giving, why people do or don't etc. His speech was moving and very interesting.

He talked about the fact that people don't give because they don't think the money gets there, the issue never improves (there's STILL poverty in Africa after decades of aid) they don't see other people giving and think 'Why should I when others have more money?' they feel like it's a drop in the ocean etc etc.
The facts tell a very different story. 20years ago 40% of the world were in extreme poverty, now it's only 20%. The aid is getting there - in more effective ways (which support whole villages and promote self-sustainability). And as he points out, it's not about the ones you can't save - our focus needs to be on the life we CAN save.
There were suggestions from the audience about the government giving on our behalf via taxes, but Peter Singer said whilst that was a good idea, some people were put off it because when you give through taxes your donations go to the politically motivated destinations. Australian aid predominantly goes to PNG, Indonesia and Iraq.

A lot was said, but in essence his plea was for not for some people to give a lot, but for everyone to give a little. His suggestion for an low to average income was 1% and the scale rises with income proportionally.

He has set up a website where you can pledge your support. We talked about it and decided we would pledge this and work on it this year through buying many of our goods through OxFam (they have heaps of Fairtrade Organic stuff like tea and coffee) and buying'unwrapped' goods for family and friends who would appreciate it. The kids decided they'd like us to buy a goat as a family too so that's next pay's project.

Check out the website yourself. You can buy his book from it too if you're interested in buying it.

On another note - I returned from the 4 day intensive Choice Theory course...changed.
I walked into work straight after and resigned from my HOD position. Still teaching but not as HOD. I feel liberated! I learned that sometimes what you want and what you need are two very different things. And I will be making very different choices as a result.

To anyone out there who has heard of Choice Theory and contemplated doing the Intensive Course - I say GO FOR IT. I know this has/will be life changing for me, and the flow on for my family and how I interact with others is already noticeable. What a positive experience.

Have a wonderful week. :)

Saturday, January 24, 2009

New babies at Cwm Goch!

We have had some new additions to our family this week.
Firstly we bought 6 new chicks (since 60% of our flock was lost in the last month or so).

Then today we brought home a very special little bundle. Her name is Bindi.

She is a Dobermann Pinscher and 10 weeks old and utterly adorable. We've learnt a thing or two over the years with dogs and breeders, and were really impressed with her family. We met the mother, grandmother and half sister and all of them had the most wonderful temperaments and very obviously genuinely loved by their owner.

We are very pleased - all of us! The boys are thrilled to bits and dying to play with her, though it will have to wait until she's settled in a little. She is curious, confident and very gentle - what better mix could there be.

No doubt more photos will follow as she grows.

There's nothing like animals about to make a house a home. :)

Monday, January 19, 2009

Home Sweet Home

There's nothing like a remind you how much you LOVE home!
We just came back from a few days down south. It was lovely. No flies, cooler weather and the munchkins and Zach had great fun at the beach.
But coming home, as we pulled into the driveway, we had to pause at the gate as a family of Silver Eyes flitted across in front of us, and drive very slowly avoid the Bronze Wings (who seem to forget they have wings once they get in front of a car!) and then we gazed at the crows and 28s (Port Lincoln Ringneck - for non locals) who were sitting on the chook fence...and wondered if any other chooks had been taken by the Wedge Tailed Eagle, who we suspect was the culprit responsible for the injured and subsequently dead chook we found the morning we left, and which plants had survived the few days without watering, and how many more tomatoes were ripe now.....

And I sighed with contentment, glad as glad to be home.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Ta Dah!

I have just patched my first patch on a pair of jeans. The jeans were well worn (from kneeling in the garden!) and finally a proper hole appeared. I was so excited! Yay a hole! Hubby thinks this is yet another sign I'm slightly demented.

Anyhoo, I now know how to put a patch on - thanks to a mix of 'how-to's' from the net, and some sticky stuff which was supposed to be for hems, but that I stuck between the patch and the jeans and it worked anyhow!

Yay me! :)

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Sewing advice please!

I've wanted to learn to sew my own clothes for a while - mainly because I don't like a lot of the stuff in the shops and want to wear what I like.

Bought what looked like a really simple pattern from Spotlight (for kids pj's), which the lady said was 'Absolutely basic - only 2 pieces for goodness sake'. This has done nothing for my self-esteem since I gave up on those pants and made my own. The trouble with the 'easy' pattern is it assumed prior knowledge and seemed to skip heaps of steps so i was left baffled as to how I was supposed to get from one illustration to another.

Have made a couple of PJ pants for the boys now (using a simple, sew 2 bits together, stick one inside out into the other, sew turn them out, fold the top and thread elastic through the hole. Keeping in mind that THIS was an achievement, can any of you suggest any REALLY simple (we're talking stuff a 10year old could do!) patterns that they may have seen on the internet anywhere (free preferably).

I've seen the Burda site - not simple enough. Lessons just aren't possible at the moment timewise. But tips and suggestions always welcome. Even good blog site addresses where people have made simple items of clothing.

Thanks in advance - I know there are a number of you who are great sewers out there.


Monday, January 5, 2009

@*&!ing March Flies!

I am strongly debating the right of this post to be placed under a 'Beauty of Cwm Goch' label.
We have been inundated with March flies (Family Tabanidae) this year - more than ever before.

Here is a picture.

You may notice the photo of the March fly and my knee is slightly blurry - that's because it is DARNED hard to keep still when these things are biting you - even through pants!

The females have a nasty bite and this year have swarmed on us in groups of up to 10 at a time the minute we step outside. The info on them says they are attracted to dark blue (which we haven't been wearing). They just seem attracted to any bare skin they can find. No amount of insect repellant or Eucalyptus oil, which we use around the decking to ward off the usual house flies, seems to work.

Cat suggested fly traps - we're looking into those. Any other suggestions gratefully accepted. We are wearing long sleeves and jeans in 40degree heat just to be able to venture outside.


Sunday, January 4, 2009

The Brain that Changes Itself

You all just HAVE to read this book. You'll find yourself amazed on every page.

I can't recommend it enough - for anyone, but especially if you know anyone who suffers from dementia, Alzheimers, or any physical damage or condition related to brain damage. This book will astound you.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Early morning walk

With 4 little boys in the house we decided the best way to keep us all happy would be to keep them all very busy. The day started with a quick brekky then off to the Bridle track for a walk before the weather got too hot.
Great opportunity to take some shots too!

Here are some Mulla-Mullas.


And beautiful acacia seeds about to drop from their pods.

What a lovely way to start the day!

New Year's Resolution - Choice theory

Those of you who know me, know that I am forever reading. Over the last 6 months I've been reading a lot of William Glasser's work. Glasser is a psychiatrist who developed Choice Theory, an interesting concept that I have become more and more intrigued with, the more I read about it.

There are few things I don't necessary agree with in his first book, but what has been interesting in reading subsequent texts is the applications and implications it holds for use in so many situations.

Choice Theory teaches some interesting concepts like the idea of a person's 'Quality World', what that looks like to a person and how it impacts on their perception of their lives and how they live it. And a concept called "External control psychology', which is fascinating!

Glasser asserts that all we do is 'behave' and that we choose all our behaviours (with the exception of some physiological ones) - based on our aims to achieve 5 basic needs. He makes verbs out of actions, for instance, he would say that we are not 'depressed', rather we are 'choosing to depress'. We aren't angry, we are choosing to anger' etc.
His theories and ideas go hand in hand with other authors I've been reading lately - like Stephen Covey (Habits of Highly effective people). Like the premise that you can't change other's behaviour, but you can choose to change your response to their behaviour etc. This relates back to the ideas of circles (inner one of personal control, sphere of influence outside that, then things in the outer circle that you can't control).

He has a whole range of sensible, workable ideas regarding relationships and people's interactions. Like the advice to 'stop before you open your mouth, and ask yourself, 'Is what I'm about to say going to push this person away or bring them/us closer' - I'm paraphrasing but this is the gist of it.

In talking about people who are unhappy, he puts the majority of people's unhappiness down to them actually being unhappy/unsatisfied in their relationships (hence his strong focus on relationship building).

In another book 'Unhappy Teenagers - and a way for parents and teachers to reach them', (brilliant, brilliant book that I'd highly recommend to anyone who has teens or works with them) he says that the biggest influence on the choices a teenager will make is not the threat of grounding/punishment, but the strength of the relationship that youth has with the parent. THAT is what stays with the teen when he's out of sight/reach of the parent and so that is what needs to be nurtured.

I think Glasser's work is wonderful and I'm lucky enough to be going to a Choice Theory/Reality Theory course that it being held in Perth in Feb. Very excited! A colleague at work told me they are in 'a different place with their life' since doing this course.

My New Year's Resolution is to live by Choice Theory as much as possible, and try to integrate it into our family life as much as possible.

For those of you who find any of this interesting the Glasser Institute has a website. Just Google 'Choice Theory - Glasser' and you're bound to find it.

In ending - Glasser talks about 7 Deadly Habits (and there are behaviours you should replace them with...I'll let you visit his site for those!).

The 7 Deadly Habits are: Criticizing, Blaming, Complaining, Nagging, Threatening, Punishing, Bribing/reward control.

Sound like some habits you could ditch? Read 'Choice Theory' for how!

Weeds are our friends...and beautiful too!

Another photo!

Spoilt Brat!

I have been so unbelievably spoilt lately that it's hard not to feel a little guilty!

To top it all off, today my Dad came around (having just bought himself a new camera) and gave me his old one! I already have the one he gave me previously, so this is an upgrade...and it does MACRO! Superbly stoked!

We are babysitting the two extra munchkins again at the moment, but I managed to get them all to bed by about 6pm - yes just call me Super Nanny! That left me heaps of time to get out in the garden to have a play with my new toy. I love having the macro feature. You stop to notice everything you'd usually walk past when you're looking for small things.

Here are some shots to enjoy!
Christmas spider as promised!

New shoot growing out of lichen.

A spider - still to be ideintified. It makes a lovely zig-zag thread in it's web.

Rusty gate - just cos.

One of my favourite flowers in the native garden - unsure what it's called.

No doubt ever post will now come accompanied by photos!