Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Garden Update

I love our garden at present. We’ve only suffered a little bit of heat damage (wilting the tops of the snow peas) but enough to make me get a move on building some shade cloth covers before the real heat of summer hits here.

Cherry tomatoes abound, lebanese cucumbers are bursting at the seams, and my carrots are churning along. I’m still losing seedlings with monotonous regularity to the evil snail brigade. They’ve killed off most of my pumpkin seedlings, my beloved rockmelon, and all of my baby spinach seedlings (boo hiss!!).

I have also admitted defeat in growing red capsicum from seed. After 4 failed attempts, I think I may have to go looking for some organic seedlings from a local nursery. I had a really successful plant that kept going well in Autumn from a bought seedling last year, so will head down that path again.

But I love that we are eating fresh produce - cucumbers for lunch, carrots with dinner - its all so rewarding :-)

Monday, December 28, 2009

Toxic House

It looks like the new House of B is rapidly descending into a disaster ☹ Despite our best intentions, it would appear that we have bought a toxic house. The previous owners went to extraordinary lengths to hide a substantial mold problem. And the more we uncover the worst it seems to get.

So far we are unable to use the master bedroom. Initially we “only” found a bad mold patch on the ceiling in a wardrobe. But on pulling the wardrobe out to address the problem, we have discovered mold on the entire wall as well, and in the insulation. So all has been pulled out. And on pulling out a wooden wall in the same room, we have discovered substantial mold all over that wall too.

So all the walls in the room are going to be pulled out today (thanks Mr B!!).

The irony is when we went looking for a new house we were looking to avoid mold due to Mr B’s asthma and Little B’s allergies. We turned this house over from top to bottom but the owners had hidden the mold problem with wooden overlays, chest of drawers and other creative ways.

Another bedroom has another wardrobe riddled with mold as well. But this is from what we assume to be a leaking shower wall. Again this room cannot be used it smells so bad. But it will require a greater level of correction than the master bedroom and having not spoken to a plumber yet, our greatest fear is that the bathroom will need to be torn out as well.

So in the interim, we are:
• ripping out and correcting what we can afford to correct,
• a dear friend gave us a Kentia Palm as a house warming gift due to its ability to remove toxins from the air. This is currently in the worst room and we are looking at getting some more for other rooms,
• HEPA type filters in the ducted heating vents,
• Sealing up all gaps in the architraves etc to prevent toxic air entering our main living areas,

And as a last resort I am looking into getting a mold toxicologist in as I am quite scared that this amount of mold could be doing serious damage to our health ☹ It might be that we cant live here until it is fixed.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Merry Christmas

I would like to wish everyone a very Merry Christmas ☺

I’ve spent much of the week cooking yummy goodies for Christmas as well as enjoying a 3 year old, who is completely aware of and totally into Christmas this year (boy did I have fun when I had to explain “how would Santa come down our Coonara since we don’t have chimney?”– a bit of artistic licence was applied to that conundrum ☺.

We have everyone coming to the new House of B this year (yes I am a sucker for punishment LOL). But we find it hard going elsewhere because of Little B’s food allergies. This way he doesn’t miss out on anything and doesn’t have to watch people eat forbidden foods, which seems to be our extended families version of catering for his allergies.

So ice cream puddings with home-made honeycomb here we come…yummo!!

Monday, December 21, 2009


I had the most amazing moment with Little B the other day. He was driving his dear mummy around the twist as only a 3 year old can, when in exasperation, I offered him some rolled oats that I was eating. Clear as a bell, he turns to me and says “I cant eat that, it will make me sick”.

But the epiphany was that this was completely true!! The oats I was eating had dairy and he knows I normally wont let him have them. But I am so grateful that he has reached the point that he knows to say no to foods he cant have.

The other turning point is he can verbally now tell people he has reflux. He amazed me again a few days later when he started getting reflux, and he a) told me exactly what was wrong (as if I couldn’t tell) and then b) told me what he needed to “feel” better – and was 100% on the money.

We’ve recently moved house and unfortunately the water supply has given both Little B and me reflux. The water tastes truly foul. We have solved this by purchasing a ceramic water purifier. At our old house, we had an inbuilt under sink water purifier, which was fantastic but not something we have the space for here until we renovate our kitchen.

So hopefully this resurgence in reflux will abate very quickly!!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Because I Am A Girl

Plan in Australia have started a new campaign called ‘Because I am a Girl’ to raise funds for their GirlsFund. This fund is aimed at investing in young women and girls to help them access their rights and have every opportunity to thrive and break the cycles of poverty. Plan believe that “investing in girls is one of the best ways to end poverty and create global prosperity – an investment that is currently blocked in many countries around the world by persistent attitudes that girls are not as important as boys”.

I already sponsor a child through Plan in Zambia and feel that this is a really important project. And am planning to sponsor a second one in 2010. As the parent to a young child, I believe that is essential that we tried to help end abject child poverty, regardless of gender.

You can buy (link t-shirts to support this fund. The t-shirts are fair trade certified organic cotton.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Fruit Trees

When we bought the new House of B, I had seen that the backyard contained a prolific lemon tree and two other fruit trees of some kind. They had blossoms on them when we inspected the property but I couldn’t pinpoint what they were.

Well I’m proud to say that I am the new owner of a prolific apple tree and a prolific nectarine tree as well as the lemon tree. It’s been such a blessing to move into a new house that has fruit trees that are covered in fruit. No waiting time here ☺

We currently have two pear, two dwarf apple, a dwarf peach and dwarf nectarine, an orange and a lemon tree at Granny B’s. So these new trees are a nice addition. I am also planning to plant some more along our fence line as well a la Jackie French.

Let the mini orchard begin ;-)

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Goodbye and hello

Goodbye old House of B (and our solar panels *sob, sob*)

Hello new House of B (permaculture garden and solar arrays here we come!!)

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Birthday preparations for Little B

Last year, the aim of Little B’s birthday was to show our guests the variety of party foods that you could make and have that were allergy free. I used the opportunity to show case some really yummy foods (sushi, chocolate crinkle cookies, home made sausage rolls and party pies, chicken nuggets etc).

And I’m hoping to do something similar this year. Though this year’s food is aimed at the 3 year olds not the parents. So I’m looking at simpler, easy hand held food like pikelets, faux gingerbread cookies, but will again bring out the sausage rolls. And who can forget the party cake – a dinosaur one that will be dairy, soy, egg and nut free and low in salicylates.

We've already done a trial run of the birthday cake and it was delicious. And didnt last very long - Mr B particularly like it (and we use him as our daily critic).

But it never ceases to amaze me, that children take and embrace simple wholesome food so easily. A pikelet is just as warmly embraced as a chocolate (not that you’ll see any of that in our house unfortunately LOL).

Little B is nearly 3

Last year, the aim of Little B’s birthday was to show our guests the variety of party foods that you could make and have that were allergy friendly. I used the opportunity to show case some really yummy foods (sushi, chocolate crinkle cookies, home made sausage rolls and party pies, chicken nuggets etc).

It was still good fun and little B had a blast driving his “boat” (yellow box) around the floor. There’s irony in that – lots of toys from friends and relatives and Little B liked a box. We still have that box ☺

This year we are having a “real” birthday party for Little B. Little friends, party bags, and fun party food. But again it will be allergy friendly but this time my focus is on ensuring it is environmentally responsible. We had invitations on recycled paper in recycled paper envelopes going out to his friends. I found brilliant party fabric at the op shop and we have made it into party bags. We’ve made our own bunting and I’m currently on the search for some paper lanterns in lieu of balloons (so they can be reused each year). I have made dinosaur shaped cookies and play dough (in recycled plastic containers) as party favours.

All food again is dairy, soy, egg, nut free and lows in sals.

Now we just have to hope for some good weather ☺

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Old Crone

Picture from feature pics

I’ve been dyeing my hair since I was 15 and after 17 years, finally decided to stop dyeing it a few months ago. Not impressive I hear you say? After all, I’m only 32. BUT the sad fact is I have been going grey since I was 12 due to family genetics (my dad has been silver for as long as I can remember).

So I have been brave and gone cold turkey for the last few months or so. And boy am I grey in the front. I have huge silver sections that are really prominent and noticeable on my crown (if only it would grow in defined sections like Rogue from X-men or Morticia Adams LOL). Plus my lovely mousey brown has gone very very dull.

The good news is that while I have no urge to return to my chemical laden days of colouring my hair I have begun investigating henna. Decisions, decisions – do I go red or brown?? Henna doesn’t actually colour grey hair but it does make the rest of your hair rich and glossy. Something that is very appealing at the moment when my hair is so flat and dull looking.

But I do have to say, though it is dull in colour, my hair has never been better since going no poo. I occasionally wash it with Moo Goo shampoo (which is all nasties free) as a bit of a boost. But it is so clean, and feels great. The best tip I got (from Aussies Living Simply) was to make sure I seriously brush my hair every second day with a bristle brush (100 strokes anyone?? LOL). I had one of these brushes from my super long hair days and it has been resurrected with fantastic results.

Apparently it spreads your natural hair oils throughout your hair. Before this I was still having the odd attack of the greasy’s but now that’s a thing of the past ☺

Friday, December 4, 2009

Garden Update

The changeable weather here in Melbourne at the moment has actually really worked in our garden’s favour. Things that were disliking the instant heat at the start of November, have boomed with a bit of rain, cooler weather and the periodic bits of sun.

Our pumpkins are doing so well and our lettuces have finally come good (*dance, dance*). I was starting to think it was all over for the lettuces (all varieties). Our Lebanese cucumber has literally taken off. I’ve never grown one of these before, so am really surprised how quickly they have started growing cucumbers (tiny at present but still there).

But our strawberries aren’t fruiting and I’m stumped. Some friends have told me it could be the changeable weather or the variety (maybe it’s a late fruiter). Anyone have any ideas? The plants are huge and lush with green leaves but no fruit. We didn’t have this problem last year (then the problem was the crows ransacking them and eating all the fruit) so its all new to me.

Edited to add - I spoke to soon. A few days after this post, we had our first strawberries appear. Obviously a late fruiter or the weird weather held them off :-)

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Probiotics and Vitamin D

Probiotics and Vitamin D have made the most amazing difference to our lives in the last few months. Our paed gastro encouraged first the Vitamin D as it boosts the immune system (hence minimizing the bodies allergic response) then probiotics because they re-colonise the gut and boost the guts immune capabilities (ditto above).

We rarely see reflux in Little B now. This in itself is a miracle. Reflux has plagued him since birth, affected his sleep patterns, and made it difficult for him to eat and to feed. If we see it at all, it’s because he has drunk too much water and bent over (so a completely mechanical response). Little B also seems to react less to scent and he has always been overtly sensitive to perfumes / scents etc.

We are also seeing a less instantaneous reaction to some of his allergies. They reaction still comes but is delayed somewhat depending on the form in which he has tried his allergy food. This again is so tremendously exciting for us here at the House of B.

Now in the past I would have been a sceptic, but I have been so blown away by this transformation that I’m now trialling the theory on myself. I’ve suffered from GERD and been on medication for the last 10 years, but since being on Vit D and probiotics, I’ve managed to half the dose of my reflux meds and hope to do so again in 5 days time. I have never been able to do this. I eventually hope to follow in Little B’s tracks and wean myself completely off the meds altogether.

Xmas Presents

After reading many blogs (namely One Green Generation), I decided to try and make this year’s Christmas one of home-made, ethical and / or locally made gifts. If I cant make it myself, then I have bartered skills with friends to get the same result, or as a last resort bought beautiful home-made products from local women and men.

I’ve been knitting, growing, baking and putting together some interesting gifts for loved ones. And I feel like it has more meaning for me this year. That’s partly because Little B is old enough now to participate but also because my gifts are well thought out and from the heart.

So far, I’ve potted basil plants in recycled terracotta pots, baked favourite biscuits and sweets, knitted dish cloths, raised seedlings and there’s more to come. I’ve also been bartering my child caring skills with a friend to help with a crafty present I want to give. Some I cant say as the recipients read my blog and I don’t want to spoil the surprise ;-)

My only downfall has been Little B’s present from Santa. In this case, I bought new but next year I hope to be able to make some more goodies for him from the jolly red man.