short and sweet, goodbye


I am starting to have an attachment to my identification with this blog, and so this will be my last blog post.

I am looking forward to continuing to be a part of a growing collective awareness of how life should be lived, and will still read everyone else’s blogs for guidance and reassurance that there is a way out of the lunacy of our current lifestyles.

I am grateful to everyone who has read this blog and best wishes.

Thursday’s garden gobbles


I am linking in with Veggie Gobbler for her Thursday’s Garden Gobbles.

Not much to harvest in the garden at the moment as I have pulled out most of my plants to prepare the new beds for the year ahead.  These included all of my tomato plants and I picked the last tomatoes, red and green San Marzano, earlier in the week.

For tonight’s dinner, it was the usual.  Anything edible from the garden tossed in a pan with an egg on top.

The plants:

Purple amaranth, thyme, basil.

An eight ball zucchini.

Sad looking transplanted chillies.

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The harvest:


I added a clove of organic garlic and red onion from the local farmers’ market; an egg from my neighbour’s chooks; walnut, parsley and feta dip from the farmers’ market; and a slice of my homemade bread.

The dinner:


The only non-local ingredients were the salt and pepper and bread mix.

Stay tuned for next week’s instalment of vegies with egg on toast!

so simple


There is no manual, no one set way to downsize, seize life, focus on what’s important.  But geez, when I read Rohan’s Whole Larder Love blog entry today, I was ready to make him my guru, his website my guide to ‘simple living’.  Read it for yourself.  Just this one post struck me deeply and I cannot explain why.  But I sat at my desk looking out my 6th floor office window reading it on my iPhone at lunch time with tears thickening my eyes.

His words are so much more eloquent than mine, but to summarise, the key words of wisdom for setting out and staying on your path to a simple life are:

  • there will be detractors, ignore them
  • aim for contentment, not happiness
  • nobody and nobody’s life is perfect
  • this is a movement, and we are in it together

So simple.

Sometimes I feel like I am not gaining as much ground on my journey as I would like to. Sometimes I feel like I have made so much progress, but other people’s comments belittle or demean what I am trying to be.  Sometimes I feel I read a hundred blogs a day and become disheartened because everyone else seems to have skills that I’ve missed out on.

But you know what, I do feel like there is something happening. Like I am a little bit of flotsam  in a rising swell.  I have had qualms about blogging, but now I am glad to be a part of this movement, with us all going in the same direction, helping each other along, none of us perfect.

I am glad I am because I get to read posts like Rohan’s and feel like he is speaking to the core of me.


thunder chocolate and zack


Today we said goodbye to two members of our family: Zack and Thunder Chocolate, the kids’ guinea pigs.

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Thunder Chocolate is Zack’s father, and the two of them will not be split up.  They have been through a lot in the past week, losing their hutch to the weather, they were locked inside the laundry during howling winds and pelting rains, wondering why they weren’t getting their usual green beans and carrots every day.

Unfortunately for them, I had 2 weeks’ washing to get on with, this gorgeous sunny, windy weekend, and need my laundry back.  No that sounds too callous!  Really, I considered buying a new metal hutch which wouldn’t warp in the rain, but that would set me back at least $300.  They would be worth the expense if the children paid them any attention at all.

As parents, I am sure we go through the same routine over and over again.  – Promise you’ll feed them every day, wash them and clean out their hutch? – Yes Mum we will.

For all of 2 days.  Then it was up to me.  On top of everything else.

So we took them back to the Produce store we bought them from last year.

Despite knowing this all week, the kids hadn’t bothered even going to the laundry to pet them, until this morning, when I made them.  R1 was overcome for a moment.  ‘Oh Zacky, I am so sorry I did this to you.’

I am glad she took some personal responsibility, as that is one lesson that pets bring to children.  Unfortunately, a little too late.

Leaving the Produce store R1 was wailing and sobbing her eyes out.

But by this afternoon, the kids had captured 2 tree frogs from our spa and built a little tank for them.  Freddo and Freddy frogs.

toxic work environment


Today was not a good day at work.  I am one of four people who have temporary contracts until June when we will all be ‘competing’ (manager’s word) for one permanent position.  We have been told this week to ‘throw our hats in the ring’ for other positions, and to ‘not put all our eggs in one basket’ (manager is fond of cliches).

I spent a fair part of the day crying into my computer screen as this situation has turned friend upon friend, and made two faces out of every one.  I hate this.  I am not a competitor. I would much rather have everyone like me.🙂

This is a crazy time though for job security.  Despite this, I withdrew my hat from this particular ring and requested a reduction to part-time work.  I am not sure how I will cope financially, but hopefully I will be able to use the spare time to make more from scratch and not drive anywhere, therefore, saving money.  And bringing me closer to my purpose in life, which is to be mother to my children.  We haven’t worked out when this arrangement will start – but it is out there.  Enough for now.

However, there is more toxicity in the work department.

The reason why I wasn’t aware of all the backstabbing going on a few pods up from me, is because I used to sit opposite the staff kitchen.  Which the cleaners cleaned every day at 4 pm with overpowering bleach which made me nauseous and dizzy.  My manager requested that they reduce this, which they did marginally on Mondays to Thursdays for a while, but now it is back to the daily napalm of the kitchen.  ‘I love the smell of bleach in the mid-afternoon‘ – not.

So I moved desks.  Which is how I became embedded in the nest of vipers.

There is more.  I came back to work this week to find a sign stuck in the lift from the building’s pest control service announcing that this Saturday:

It is recommended that no-one be in the building during this time.’

Any person with health issues / concerns relating to standard treatment should report to security or XXXX‘.

‘(Please note that chemicals used comply with Queensland Health approved chemicals list)’

Hell yes I have issues / concerns.

on electricity


I did get the children back home on Saturday night, thankfully, as the waters steadily rose through the night and by Sunday morning, when my neighbour and I waded through several mildly coursing creeks, we found that our road into the valley had started to resemble a 30 m wide raging river.

So Sunday was a bit of an adventure for the kids, and we gossiped and drank milo at our neighbours’ house.  But by 4 pm, our ‘valley lock-in’ turned into a survivalist crash course.  No power means no water, as I am not on town water, and need the pump to get water through the taps.

For meals I toasted bread in the frypan, boiled water for tea (which I desired every 10 minutes for some reason), and made a lot of rice.  Normally I have a stockpile of UHT milk, but had none, and no fresh milk either.  Sunday I had planned to buy food….  We had no fresh fruit and minimal veg.

For entertainment the kids drove me mental with their constant fighting made puppet shows, played spotlight in the lounge, and tidied their bedrooms🙂.  In the evenings we told ghost stories by torchlight, and R1 was especially good at throwing menacing shadows across the ceiling.

On Monday they started to pong, so I washed their bodies and hair in the sandpit.  I was quite angry with R2 when he dumped sand in the water I was going to wash R1’s hair with, but I suppose he didn’t realise the stresses I was under to provide the barest necessities.

I am pretty sure that we could have had a lovely few days inside with no power, but trying to source water was my biggest worry.  I put a water filter jug out in the rain which provided drinking water for some time, until the damn sun came out…  I had buckets filled with water in the bathroom which we used for hand washing, then toilet flushing.  I collected water from empty planters to boil for washing the dishes.  Today was a gloriously hot sunny day which dried out all the mould which had already started to form, but oh my god I was thirsty.  Thankfully we bathed in the neighbours’ swimming pool, which made all the difference.

I learned some very valuable lessons, and by the time of next year’s floods, I will have installed a tap in the side of my water tank, or a separate water tank for this purpose, and have a generator for the fridge.

But I think I will also leave the kids on the outside with their father, if possible.  It entered my mind that of course, this would be the time of all times that the kids would probably need medical attention, and there was just no way of reaching the outside world, apart from a very long and arduous hike over the hill.  At least down in the suburbs, while they may not have power, they have amenities, roads they can journey along, people they can visit, supermarkets they can shop in, and water that actually comes out of taps.

After the power came back on tonight, my first comment was, ‘what do we do with it?’.  It had only been 48 hours but to all of us in the valley it had seemed like a marathon of back-to-back survivor episodes. I felt an affinity with ‘olden days’ women who made do and got on with the business of making our children stink less.  I soon got over that, though, and embraced my new old life again.

in an octopus’ garden



There are more hills beyond these, which on a clear day are quite visible.  Today we are under water.  For some reason you can’t see the thick sheets of vertical rain in these pics – but I also took them when the rain had eased a little.

Today is one year to the day when I planted my first food plant.  And I have not looked back.  At first, I madly planted everything that took my fancy, but now I have learned a lot and lost a lot (of seedlings), and have planned out my vegetable garden for this year.  And that plan stated, Australia Day – the beds are to be built.

So out I went in the rain, without a raincoat which just made me too sweaty, knee high socks and my gumboots.  It felt so good to be gardening again, as lately I haven’t been able to venture outside due to the extreme heat.  In the rain, I got so much done.  Until I started slipping over in the mud puddles all over the ground.


Did I mention there was a lot of rain?

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The cows didn’t seem to mind getting their hair/fur wet.  But I was thankful to strip off my sopping clothes and have a hot shower (the last of the hot water though until the electric water heater kicks in).


Then I made mango relish and started knitting a new dishcloth on the snuggle couch.  Quite possibly the most perfect Australia Day ever…

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Until the neighbours rang to say that in a few hours the creek will be up over the only road into the valley and 4 tornadoes will come through overnight.  So out into the rain again I went, to secure the guinea pigs on the deck, and all loose items in the shed.  Then I tried to get the kids home and secure, but that is a lot more difficult as their father doesn’t want to leave his Australia Day party early, despite the prospects of my valley being flooded in for the next 3 or 4 days.



If I cannot keep my 6 year old away from alcohol, then I have to refocus on what I can do, to ensure that the world my children live in is as sustainable and healthy as possible.

So I am hitting the refresh button today, and refuse to give way to anger and loathing.

In the last 12 months I have been continually refreshing, resetting and revising our lifestyle choices.  This has mostly been reactive, as a response to a new author or blogger I have discovered.  Of course, credit where credit is due.  It was Rhonda’s blog http://down—to— which started me on this path, and her ethos is that simplifying your life is a step-by-step process.

Here are the steps I have already walked this past year:

  • cut out kitchen sponges and wipes and knitted my own dishcloths
  • cut out chemical cleaners and made my own laundry detergent
  • eliminated paper towels
  • avoided takeaway coffee
  • reduced packaging of bought goods, especially plastic bottles
  • refused plastic bags
  • reduced indiscriminate hobby spending drastically
  • reduced meat consumption, and only organic when we do eat red meat once a week
  • stopped flushing the toilet and use buckets of bath water instead
  • baked every loaf of bread since June

But looking into the next year, I am making a list of other conscious steps I want to make towards a simpler, greener, cleaner, freer life.

These include ridding our home of tupperware / plastic containers; cling wrap; canned food and petroleum-based candles.  We will eat more solely vegetarian-based meals – this on request from R1 who is starting to realise where meat comes from.  Any meat we do eat will come from animals who have lived in our valley.  We will also cut down on any non-essential travel, and particularly air travel.  I feel so guilty and flying 4000 kms for a long weekend a few weeks ago. The last time. I am also going to go one better than the home made laundry powder which has borax in it, and will buy some soap nuts, which can also double as head lice remover – school goes back next week!!

I still feel very guilty about small habits which I can’t shake, one of which is my Nespresso coffee machine with its dependency on capsules bought in a store which makes my skin crawl with its ostentatiousness, a cathedral to consumerism.  But today while stocking up my habit, I found out that I can recycle the capsules at the store and the aluminium will be melted down.

So tick, I have solved one tiny dilemma today. And also made an inroad on my first step for 2013 – I bought metal and BPA-free tupperware for the kids’ lunch boxes (yes more brand new spending, but will hopefully last a school lifetime).




I need to vent today, so please excuse any ensuing ramble.

I am not a parent any more, but a ‘co-parent’.  What this means is that nobody is parenting my children, as I cannot make any long-term decisions regarding their welfare without his acquiescence / veto.  And I cannot talk to the man.

I have just found out that their other ‘co-parent’ is moving into a [$2.9 million] share house with 2 mates, and he has the children almost half the time.  I may be overprotective, but I am not happy with this arrangement, not just for the oh my god what could happen overtones, but for what this will mean in terms of any boundary setting such as ‘bed-times’, if there are grown men who work in the mining industry (please ignore overgeneralisations) playing loud music, drinking beer, etc, on weekends.

I also found out that on the children’s recent holiday with their ‘co-parent’ to the co-parent’s parents’ house, one of the grandparents mixed an inch of white wine into my (6 year old) daughter’s juice and didn’t tell her until afterwards.


And I can’t do a thing about it legally.  As the orders he won against me state that he has 100% decision-making over their daily lives while they are in his “care”.

Yet I cannot exercise  my duty of care for my children which I cannot switch on and off according to ‘access days’ and my heart is breaking.