Wednesday, September 29, 2010

The Winter of our Disconnect

This is a really interesting book written by an Australian journalist. It follows her experiment of removing technology / multimedia from her three teenage children as well as herself for 6 months.

The process as well as the outcome is well worth the read. As is her in-depth study of the effects of technology on both children / teenagers / people today. She found the that giving up technology completely changed the way her family interacted, the way they slept, the way they “friended” and they way they played. She believes it changed their life for the better.

Each chapter charts their experiment but also discusses different areas like iPhones, boredom, homework, facebook, eating / playing / sleeping, technology withdrawal. And along with the facts, their actual experiences make for fascinating reading.

Some chapters were eye opening and shocking in a sort of a way. I’ve seen the disconnect myself (my brother is a computer obsessive and his friends all get together on a weekend with their computers, and then sit in a room together while they play online games – he’s 30). But one particular example sticks out in my mind from this book as an example of how obsessed we are with technology and how disconnected we’ve become from real life. When two young girls got stuck in a storm drain in 2009, a 12 year old and 10 year old boy who saw it happen, didn’t call for help. No instead they used their mobile phones to update their facebook status. Another individual happened to read this and called 000. How’s that for a disconnect??

A close friend of mine lets her 3.5 year old use an iPad and an iPhone. Both of which he mastered quickly and uses quite adeptly. But you can also see the disconnect. He’s more upset when they are gone, than that they have gone with his dad overseas (i.e that his dad is missing from daily life). He looks at new things to see if he can scroll them with his fingers like a iPad, and tries to press buttons rather than play. Maushart describes studies where they’ve shown early use of computers by young children can actually alter neural pathways. 

I am not an avid technophile myself and am happy with minimal technology in my life. My phone is a basic one (it rings, though it can take photos), I do have a laptop computer and an iPod but use it for audiobooks for Little B. But that would have to be about it. I prefer real life connections with friends and family. I have next to no interest in Facebook, have never looked at Twitter and have never even seen an iPhone. 

We have also chosen not to allow Little B to access or play on a computer until he is at school. He has plenty of time to adapt to technology but not so many years to enjoy free unstructured play without pressures or obsessions that computer technology can bring. It’s for this reason that he is also tv free.

I think this is a great book and recommend it as an interesting eye opener to the changes technology has made to our society.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Food Challenge Update

Picture courtesy of

Well our current round of food challenges for Little B has been interesting.

Goats cheese - Yes
Cashew Nut Butter  - Yes
Eggs – the jury’s still out.
Yoghurt – Paris Creek Biodynamic Swiss Style - Yes

Yoghurt was a really interesting one for us. Little B has always reacted to yoghurt quite badly. The drawback has always been that he adores yoghurt. After reading Jude Blereau I started looking at the kinds of yoghurt you can buy in a different way. She believes that people react to the milk solids added to yoghurt not the yoghurt itself. So I went off to look for yoghurts without milk solids (no mean feat).

We tried two kinds – Marrook Farm and Paris Creek. And we hit jackpot with Paris Creek. Little B can eat this with no reaction whatsoever. So now we add it to his porridge in the mornings, sometimes as a snack with fruit and it’s a handy standyby when he is sick and doesn’t want to eat anything.

Goats cheese was another tricky one. He can eat it with no reaction. But if he eats it too often then we get a reaction, like a slow build up. But it’s handy to add to pasta once a week.

Eggs – the jury’s out for this one. He reacts but it is delayed and much smaller than it used to be. So we will hold off on eggs for the time being and try again at a later stage.

But this has still let us expand Little B’s diet and that is a good thing for both him and us. It’s nice to branch out and get a bit more creative in the kitchen LOL. Well creative for a house catering to a child with multiple food allergies.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Lazy Sundays

Artwork by Art Harrison
- pak choy and lettuce mix

- My first loaf of spelt bread!!
- Chicken Noodles
- Chicken Stock

- yay I’ve finished the back of my jumper. AND I’ve started on the front :-)

- The Winter of Our Disconnect: How three totally wired teenagers (and a mother who slept with her iPhone) pulled the plug on their technology and lived to tell the tale by Susan Maushart
- Horsing around with Mr B’s vintage lambretta

Plus a little gardening of course – who could resist in this sunshine – lots of weeding and we layered up our new veggie beds with compost, manure and soil.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

School Holidays, Part One

It was a slow start to the school holidays as we battled getting over our cold and the subsequent ear infections for Little B. But this week we have:
Done giant floor puzzles

Made good use of the rain, our rainwater tanks and our home-made bubble mix

Been to the library and made spring birds

Visited sciencworks & the planetarium

And back to the library to see and dance along to Paul Jamieson, The Music Man

Friday, September 24, 2010

{this moment}

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.  Inspired by soulemama

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Moldy House Update

So what to do with our moldy house? We have been told what we do depends on the type of mold we have. Some samples have been taken but it will take a while to tell us exactly what kind of mold is the cause of my health problems.

It may require mass amounts of fungicide (toxic poisons) under the house, removing all the floorboards, removing all the topsoil under the house, and finally removal and replacement of the bearers. But we have also been told that there is one kind of mold that even burning down the house would not fix.

As for my health, I can happily say there has been a slight improvement at Granny B’s house, which has been a cause for much joy. I gained half a kilo people and felt like shouting it from the roof tops :-) The bad news is the mold has damaged my central nervous system. The extent of which is not quite clear just yet. But it is fairly extensive.

So for now I’m cooking nourishing soups, making gorgeous whole food muffins and meals and enjoying planning my spring veggie garden (which has been relocated to Granny B’s house). I also start a physical rehabilitation and hydrotherapy program in the next few weeks to build up my frail little body. Kiss that muscle wastage goodbye xxx

Monday, September 20, 2010

One big happy family

It’s been great fun living with Granny B at the moment. It’s one big intergenerational household and we are really enjoying the time and support that this brings. I’m enjoying being the cook for all. Due to his business being home-based, Mr B flits in between the two households depending on what the day’s workload requires, but being so close, that’s not far (we live 6 doors down from Granny B).

I’ve also got my knitting teacher on hand to help me out with my mistakes. I should really say mistake, as I make the same one over and over and we cant work out why LOL. I am the “adding a stitch” queen when I purl. And since my jumper is turning out to be the worlds longest knitting adventure for a beginner, I really appreciate having help on hand.

Little B loves having all of us in the same place. There’s always someone to give him some extra special attention and he has much more easy access to a contained garden here. He loves a good fossick in the garden to watch the bugs and the birds, and the possums. Plus it’s completely safe and flat in a way our yard can never be!!

And Granny B is enjoying the company at night (we have big long girly conversations, business strategy meetings with Mr B, and just the usual chin waggy sessions with us both), the handy man help from Mr B (fixing curtain rods on super high ceilings) and having a “wife” as she says (coming home after work to home cooked meals and a warm house *grin*).

And we’ve put in our new veggie beds with the existing beds that exist at Granny B’s. I love being able to walk straight out the back door into our veggie garden escapades. It feels like years since my own veggie garden at the old house. I find such peace in an established garden and it’s nice to have a peaceful place while I try healing my body.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Lazy Sundays

Artwork by Art Harrison
- Totem Cherry Tomatoes, Burnley Sure Crop tomatoes, Yellow Oxheart tomatoes

- Chicken & Shiitake mushroom Noodle Soup
- Pear Jam
- Gingerbread Cookies

- The Amtrak Wars, Vol. 2: First Family

- so what to do when Mr B is away, and I have spent the last few days being used as a mobile doona and tissue by a sick Little B? Why get sick myself of course :-)

Lot’s of this
Some chicken & shiitake mushroom noodle soup
Some cuddles

Friday, September 17, 2010

{this moment}

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.  Inspired by soulemama

Thursday, September 16, 2010

I heart...

Another addition to the plastic free household. A few weeks back, I told Mr B that we should invent stainless steel icypole moulds as I think they would be so timely. Well a lovely family in Canada beat me too it, and they are currently available at AshnJuls. Pei-shan has put so much thought into importing quality plastic-free items for your kids and kitchen.

Hmmm I would love some of these for my birthday (hint, hint Mr B ;-)

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Home-made Beauty

Picture courtesy of

Being anti-chemicals etc, I’ve been using more natural beauty products for the last 12 months. I wash my face with organic honey, and moisturise with Moogoo full cream moisturiser. But I’m keen to start trialling coconut oil as it’s good for sensitive skin or jojoba oil as my moisturisers.

After reading Home-made by Readers Digest, I’ve been trialling a few concoctions, shall we say :-) I sometimes like to do a facial mask after working or digging in the garden. Depending on what I’m doing, I can be rather grimey and grotty (especially after digging in compost or working with mulches).

Deep-cleansing Facial

3 tsps yoghurt
3 tsps finely ground oats
½ tsp honey

- First cleanse your face with any natural cleanser, so that you can be ready to apply the facial mixture when it has been stirred together
- In a clean bowl, combine the yoghurt and oats and mix together to a spreadable consistency. In a small glass bowl sitting in a larger bowl of hot water, warm the honey and pour into yoghurt mixture. Use a spoon to blend.
- Immediately apply the mask to your face, avoiding eyes and leave on for 10-15 minutes. Wash off with warm water then moisturise.

Your skin feels so soft and fresh after this facial. Plus it smells nice as well.

Another easy recipe is for oily skin (I have combination skin).

Oily Skin Mask

1 tsp yeast
1/3 cup yoghurt

- Clean your face with any natural cleanser. In a small bowl, mix yeast with yoghurt to make a thin paste. Pat onto the oily parts of your face. Allow the mask to dry for 15-20 minutes.
- Rinse with warm water, splash with cool water. Gently pat dry

This mask leaves your skin feeling fresh and a bit tingly.

But there are a few that I will wait and try in summer (like Peachy Complexion Cream…sound yummy!!)

Monday, September 13, 2010

Is your house killing you???

Is your house killing you?...because it turns out that for the last 8 months our new house has been killing me…literally. As some of you would know, I have been battling unwanted weight loss since we moved into this house. Now I know for some this would be a good thing, but for me it’s been a progressively bad thing.

It started off as losing half a kilo every fortnight. Then I would manage to gain a little, then lose it and some more. Now it has accelerated to half a kilo a week, and the maintenance weight I strive for just gets lower and lower. It doesn’t matter that I currently consume 3000 calories per day, lots of proteins, fats, do zero exercise….the weight just falls off week after week.

I have also suffered ongoing bone numbing fatigue, headaches, numbness in my arms and hands (which has been getting more aggressive), severe postural hypertension including momentary blindness (hence my recent broken nose) and a general fogginess in my thoughts. There are days I feel like I’m swimming under water – slow and sluggish, and other days where I quite literally cant get off the floor.

My local GP’s were at a loss, so I was sent off to a series of specialists, who have also been at a loss. They all agreed that there was something seriously wrong with me, but could only rule out cancer, and problems with my endocrine system to name a few. Finally, someone recommended contacting a mold toxicologist to assess our house.

Little B has also been sick, quite literally, every 8-10 days since March. He, who has never had a cough, has had many coughs plus colds, plus major congestion. He is also always tired (unrelated to the amount of sleep he has had).

When we moved in we discovered the previous owners had hidden a substantial mold problem in two of the bedrooms. We removed all the said walls and ceilings and replaced them with new plasterboard. Had subfloor ventilation put in to dry out under the house as it seemed to be a bit damp. Problem solved or so we thought.  It turns out there is a major mold problem under our house.

The mold is in the bearers, in the earth, and we have water pooling in odd places under the house (not from leaking pipes). Anything we have under the house grew mold but that didn’t seem odd. But now we have mold growing in the house in weird places – smack bang in the middle of a glass window that get’s full sun. Our toilet brush rotted, our washing machine grew horrid black mold on the door seal that wouldn’t come off and microscopic mold was all over my clothes and I was breathing it in (the worst bearer was under my wardrobe).

Our lovely wooden floors are bringing these mold spores in via osmosis. No room is immune.

After speaking to a mold toxicologist, and a building biologist, Little B and I have moved out of the House of B for the time being. I’m currently undergoing round after round of tests to see how much damage this mold has done to my body. You see it turns out that mold can be so toxic that it can induce autoimmune or neurological diseases, damage your lungs, and even in some cases cause permanent damage to your body.

We still don’t know what the future holds for us or this little house.

Mold - 1, The B Family – 0

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Lazy Sundays

Artwork by Art Harrison
Seeds ordered
- Scarlet runner beans, Blue Lake Bush Beans, Muncher Lebanese Cucumbers, Greenfeast & Massey Gem Peas

- Cupcakes, cupcakes everywhere
- Tuna Spelt Spaghetti with Goats Cheese

- Gwenhwyfar: The white spirit by Mercedes Lackey

- New veggie beds – hooray :-)

- Getting ready for a friends birthday

- Knitting an egg and lettuce sandwich

Friday, September 10, 2010

{this moment}

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.  Inspired by soulemama

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Baked Fruit Bread Custard

This is a great filling dessert while the nights are still cool. It has more of a baked custard feel (less bread, more fruit) than a traditional bread and butter pudding. It’s also low GI. It’s a mixture of recipes from Low GI Food and Jude Blereau’s Coming Home to Eat.

I’ve become quite a fan of desserts at the moment. They fill Little B up (he has hollow legs) and Mr B (he works hard physically) plus they are quite nourishing when made from natural whole foods.

4 slices sourdough bread (or fruit bread or wholegrain)
1 tbsp jam (your choice)
½ cup dried peaches (or any fruit of your choosing, we used diced bananas)
2 eggs
¼ cup sugar
1 tsp grated lemon zest
500ml low fat milk
freshly grated nutmeg

- Preheat oven to 170 degrees. Spread the bread slices with jam, and cut each bread slice into quarters and arrange in a 1.25 litre ceramic baking dish. Scatter with chopped fruit.
- Whisk together eggs, sugar and lemon in a bowl. Whisk in the milk. Pour over bread and sprinkle with nutmeg. Set aside for 5 mins to allow the bread to soften.
- Put the dish in a roasting tin of hot water. The water should come halfway up the sides of the dish. Bake for 35 minutes or until set.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Cloth Pads

In recent years, more people are turning back to cloth nappies in a bid to save money and reduce their environmental foot print. And some mums on considering these options for their children, start to contemplate the use of their own disposable menstrual products and it’s environmental impact. After all a child is only in nappies for roughly 3 years, whereas a woman may menstruate for 35 years.

Approximately 20 billion pads and tampons are discarded each year in North America alone. That has a massive environmental impact when you apply it to multiple countries. It’s also estimated a woman may use 11,000 tampons in her lifetime . So let’s assume there are approximately 3.5 million women in the world (currently WHO says there are 1.07 women to every man) . That means 37,997,784,000 tampons / pads are used in their lifetimes.

Obviously this isn’t a realistic figure as there are women who use cloth, have gone through menopause, are pregnant, too young or too old. But still that figure is staggering. In one household with 3 women alone, they will use 33,000 menstrual products in their lifetime.

But there is another key reason to use cloth pads or cups such Lunette cup, and that is exposing your nether regions to a cocktail of chemicals. Using disposable pads / tampons can expose you to dioxin and the cotton used to make these products has been sprayed with insecticides. Dioxin is part of the bleaching process and has been linked to cancer, endometriosis, immune system suppression, heart and liver disease and hormonal disruption.

Scary thought if you are putting it month by month on your girlie bits.

Conventional cotton is the most pesticide sprayed crop in the world. Pesticides are endocrine disruptors and your ovaries are part of the endocrine system. 

So what to do?? There are so many different options in cloth pads and menstrual cups. The most well known menstrual cup is the Diva Cup with the Lunette Cup following not far behind . Both are easy to use once you get the hang of them. Cloth pads are just like using a cloth nappy. They do need soaking the same as cloth nappies. There are so many different kinds out there and which you prefer will be an individual choice. Again much like cloth nappies.

I’ve been using a lunette cup and cloth pads since my period returned when I stopped breastfeeding Little B. They are so easy to use. I soak the pads in a bucket of cold water, and then throw them into the wash. They dry really quickly. I started off buying a few different kinds to see which ones I preferred and then bought the rest when I settled on my choice. The change was easy, painless and I felt better reducing my environmental impact.

But if you’re not up to making a change to cloth, then at least use organic products such as Jolie Tampons  or Natracare to reduce the impact on your girlie bits.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Lazy Sundays

Artwork by Art Harrison
- Chicken Noodle Soup
- Plaited rolls
- Pear Crumble

Listening to
- I Am Sam soundtrack

- The other half lives by Sophie Hannah

- We started on our back deck area renovation. Up went all the fence extensions to block out our neighbour who is too close for comfort.

- Then we planted a few succulents as we begin our new garden bed along the same fence line. It's a sort of desolate area that needs cheering up - next stop some salvias.

Friday, September 3, 2010

{this moment}

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.  Inspired by soulemama

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Meet Brad ;-)

So what do you do on rainy days if Spotlight has had a sale on yarn:

Meet Brad

Brad with his work hair on the farm

Brad with his party hair

Brad with his skate boarding hair (and obligatory skateboard)

And finally some food for brad (sponge cake and sandwiches)

This has been a really fun game for Little B. He loves making pom poms and the majority of them are being used as pretend dogs LOL. We hope to knit a fried egg next and maybe some more sandwiches.