Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Worm Farm

This worm farm was my first Mother's Day gift, seven years ago, and is still going strong. It's a worm swag type of worm farm. These type of worm farms hang from a support (in this case the patio beam), and have the advantage of not being readily accessable to vermin like mice.

It is also great in that it is easily moved around. This position is great in winter as it's close to the back door (which is near the kitchen), gets some winter sun (worms tend to slow down a lot in winter and is semi-sheltered. But in summer I tend to move it to another spot in our yard, that has full shade as the West Australian heat can be a bit much for my worms.

You really don't need to buy fancy or expensive set ups to have a worm farm. Those black can-of-worms are great if space is a problem, and are easily obtain cheap from the newspaper. However the best worm farm I've seen is one made from an old fridge. It was just turned on it's side, air holes were punch in the lid (the fridge door) and a pipe/tap was fixed to the bottom. This set up had the advantage of a greater amount of surface area, meaning scraps could be spread over the top and the worms could spread out and do their job. If you just dump scraps on top, it takes the worms longer to work their way through, meaning the scraps will start rotting and this is not what you are aiming for.

Friday, April 18, 2008

More Garden Work

The couch grass is causing me no end of stress, so I decided a passive aggressive approach is necessary. The 'No Dig' method does work, but needs to be done properly. I've half-heartily done it before, but failed as I didn't set it up right, nor did I continue with it. This method does smother the weeds, but couch grass is very resourceful and you have to be really on to it if you see it re-appearing.

The top layer is some mushroom compost. Around the edges I planted sweet peas, mostly so they can add some colour and interest over winter and also so my daughter can pick some flowers (she loves picking flowers). In the bed itself I put broad beans, oats and woolly pod vetch seeds. This is for a green manure crop and I purchased the seeds from the beautiful people at eden seeds. The green manure crop will help suppress weeds as well as add nutrients and (eventually) mulch to the garden bed.

More info on 'No Dig' garden beds here and a great video here.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Ninga Shirt!

After spending some time on making a mock up for the burda top I mentioned previously, I hung it on my dress form and my son walked past and commented " Cool you made a ninga shirt". Not quite what I had in mind. I know it's a mock up, made from calico/muslin, but the sleeves don't quite sit right, giving it a ninga look to it.
I'm going to have a play and see how we go.

Monday, April 14, 2008

A Productive Weekend

I had a pleasant, productive weekend.

I weeded around the apple and orange tree, and popped in some bulbs. Not sure if they are meant to, or even can co-exist, but it should look pretty if they (bulbs) pop up and flower.
I bought 6 punnets of seedlings, alyssum, calendulas, petunia's and pansies. They are mostly for Lilian to plant, she loves gardening, but also to encourage bee's and nice insects. They haven't been planted yet, ran out of time.... but will go in today along with some sweet peas I've raised from seeds.
I bought some weed killer (*gasp*) to kill the couch grass. This stuff is indestructable. It has invaded the vegie patch and I am fighting a loosing battle with it. So I decided it was time to get hard core. I looked online to see what other people have done to get rid of the stuff and decided on chemicals. Hopefully this will work.

I started the mock up for the Desira top over at Burda Style. If it works out well I might buy some nicer quality fabric and whip up a nice top for myself. I don't normally do mock up's, I'm far to impatient, but at the same time, I have a high rate of failures, or 'dress up clothes' (because that's where they end up). Then I get frustrated and nothing is achieved. So, hopefully doing a mock up first will help me make adjustments before I make the final product.

It's also the beginning of school holidays, which means a lot of 'what can I do now'. I firmly believe it is healthy for children to experience boredom, which I believe helps them think outside the square and also helps them creative their own happiness. However it's also important to take advantage of the extra time, and do stuff with the kids. I stumbled across the Crafty Crow, which is a delightful collective blog, with links to various crafty/arty activities for children of all ages.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Family Outing

My oldest has been involved with the million puppets project school and scouts, so when I heard they were going to have a big activity day in Perth, I said we would go.

Unfortunately, we left my husband and youngest child at home, hubby just doesn't get into these type of outings and the little one still needs her day time sleep. But the big two had fun.

I was pleased that the whole day cost $7. I went halves in a family ticket for the train with my sister, which cost $4 (my half) and I bought a drink $3. I made the kids eat a big breakfast and we each took a packed lunch and we didn't by any useless junk at the event.

Next outing is next weekend for Buddah's Birthday at the Supreme Court Gardens in Perth. Again we will take a packed lunch, but this time I will let the kids pack there own. I'm hoping this will cut down on wastage as they will be more inclined to eat what they themseves pack.

I have been ordering seeds from green harvest. Just alitle order of seeds for a green manure crop for the veggie patch. I need to get the veggie patch weeded and ready soil wise (crap coastal soil here) before the baby is born. I'm due in 15 weeks so whilst I have heaps of time, it will go quick and I will be out of action for some time after. This is my first time sowing a green manure crop. I also ordered some rosella seeds, with the idea of sowing in spring, growing and giving away some plants for xmas. My bulbs have also arrived the other day, some daffodils, tulips and anemone's. They were a fundraiser for guides, and I'm looking forward to planting them out. At the moment they are getting nice and cold in my crisper.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Laundry Liquid

Using the recipe found here I made my own laundry liquid
Perhaps I'm gross, but I was never taught or told that it was a requirement to scrub your kitchen sink, so I therefore never have. I wipe it down, but never apply cleaning products and elbow grease. Am I the only one?

Thursday, April 3, 2008


I've recently been thinking about life, about changes, changes for the good and changes for not so good. I've also been thinking about my place in the world, the example I set for my children, nephews and for my guides (well I am a role model for them too) and happiness.

Something that has bothered me for sometime now is the change in the type of person I am now compared to 10 years ago. Ok I admit 10 years ago I was a young fresh 18 year old with no children, but I did things differently then that make me kind of jealous of that 18 y.o I used to be.

I used to walk, ride, or public transport it everywhere. This was for practical (no car/licence), financial (no money for car) and environmental reasons. I used to be vegetarian (environmental and financial). I used to fanatically recycle, reuse and reduce in terms of consumerism. Nothing was wasted. Life was simple, and happy.

And although I am happy for different reasons now, more and more I find myself frustrated and unsatisfied. With an increase in income and life changes I seem to have become more busy, more materialistic, more consumerist. And I don't like this part of me.

I realise all mothers are busy, but life seems so fast with guides, scouts, dancing, school, playgroup, storytime, swimming lessons etc etc. I spend so much time driving from one event to another, buying the latest gizmo, buying clothing in 'acceptable' brands and the like, and I wonder is this what I want for my children. Do I want them to watch their mother compete with the other mums, yet never quite getting there because her heart really is not in it.

Yesterday my son and daughter did not want to do there after school activities, and being pregnant and tired and emotional, I gave in and said we are staying at home. You know what they did instead? Built a cubby and then taught there 2 year old sister to play hide and seek. The tv was off, they ate most of there dinner, they showered and then fell into bed. It was normal, happy, family centred evening.

Making a cubby!

I have been reading more and more blogs that express theses thoughts too. And as I am a doing person, I've decided that it is time to downsize and simplify some. I've started to put into place simple measures to do this.

The first is looking at how we spend our money. To much money is being wasted on over priced, over packaged goods that do nothing for my family anyway. I've cut out buying baby wipes, I'm going back to the simple reusable homemade wipes and water for my daughters bottom. I've investigated some homemade washing powder recipes, and this weekend we will be making up our own laundry liquid. I've looked at going back to cloth nappies, and although I will be using mostly disposables, I have got some PUL fabric ordered so I can start making my own nappies (the goal is to have the new baby in all cloth). I've cut the take-away to once a fortnight and that is going to be cut further to once a month then down to only on special occasions. I've stopped buying limited use washing up sponges and when we run out, I will be making reusable ones. I've cut buying the crap I was putting in the kids lunch boxes (like over packaged cheese dips, individual chipscrackers ect) in favour of fruit, home made cake, fresh cheese and a couple of crackers.

What I estimate I'll save from just this:

Cost (what it was costing) Yearly Saving

Baby wipes $6.50 p/w $338

Laundry liquid $20 p/m $240

Cloth nappies $ 15 p/w $780

Take-away $30 p/w $1200

Wash-up sponges $5 p/m $60

Crap school lunch $15 p/w $400

Total saving $3018

Just from those limited changes, we'll be saving $3018. That is massive!