Sunday, January 30, 2011

Be Prepared - Home Preps & a Go Bag

Still in Week 2 of the Be Prepared challenge - this week has focussed on Acquire.

Home Preps
We have done a lot of the preps suggested over at Bec's, mainly because we live in a high bushfire zone. Our old house was in what is known locally as "the indefensible zone", so we have always taken the notion of being prepared very seriously. Whilst where we live currently is marginally better (the CFA will actually come to this area *bonus*) we still take it to heart.

The other problem with living in such an area is we often live with power outages during hot weather. In fact our electricity provider often sends out letters saying they cant guarantee power during summer (we also lose power in winter but that's from trees coming down).

So we have to make sure that we can cook, be warm / cool, hear important messages - and that's where preps come in.

Some key home preps we have are:
* wind up lanterns
* battery operated lanterns
* solar charger for our mobile phones
* a wind up radio which can also run on batteries
* a portable gas hot plate
* a bbq and gas bottles
* wool blankets (good in summer and winter)
* our stockpile
* well stocked first aid kit

** and obviously all the trappings for fire readying your home

Another key thing we have is water tanks. And water purifying tablets. I would not hesitate to drink the water from our rain water tanks should we need to do so. Mind you that's probably because I come from South Australia originally and drinking rain water is normal over there.

Go Bag
Again an obvious necessity in a bushfire zone. And one unfortunately that we have fine tuned due to evacuating a few years back around Black Saturday. Make sure you check at Bec's post at Eat at Dixibelle's for a really comprehensive look at Go Bags.

We have a couple of dedicated bags for this. One is a bigger duffel type bag that stays in the boot of car during fire season. It contains mainly change of clothes, a few precious things and sits with our sleeping preps (sheets, pillows, a couple blankets). We also always have a car first aid kit.

Then we have another backpack that stays inside the house by the front door. This has a copy of our important docs (i.e. rates notice to prove you own your house, ID docs, insurance docs), a mobile hard drive plus USB's (photos, backups of work docs for Mr B), some snacks, some money, and most importantly Little B's bedtime lovey. Everyone knows they grab this if nothing else!! LOL

Now money may seem like a strange thing but in times past I always assumed I would grab my hand bag. But we evacuated for a fire and had smoke whipping around the house a few years back (though we found out later fire wasnt that close) but in the panic, I left it behind. Mr B was in another car,ten minutes behind me and we were going to our safety meeting point. BUT I was alone with a 2 year old dressed only in a cloth nappy (it was 46 degrees) and I had no ID and no money. Now nothing bad happened but still it was not a good idea!! Not making that mistake again!!

Another thing we did was buy an exact replica of Little B's bedtime lovey and keep it at a safe house. Which makes me feel better as he couldnt sleep without this and its a little well of security when you cant be at home and are camping / sleeping somewhere different / unusual.

Snacks are also a key thing for our go bag as we cant whizz out and buy Little B something to eat due to his allergies. In high summer, I always have a little kit of things I can snatch and go. Plus the few things we can buy and store easily.

Both these preparations are really important - even if it's just having copies of important docs. And it always helps to be prepared for a power outage in winter or summer. Once you can get the mind set it just becomes a common part of your thinking. For example, it's going to be 40 degrees here today and we already organised a meal for dinner tonight in case there is no power.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Tutu cute :-)

Little B and I had the best fun yesterday. We went on a play date outing with his favourite gal pal, where he rocked it with the ladies at an Angelina Ballerina concert. His best bud insisted on him wearing a pink tutu to match her hot pink one when we got there and he was more than happy to oblige.

The hilarious thing was that while he was only one of two boys wearing a tutu, we witnessed some tantrums and whinges from boys who wanted tutus. Gotta love it ;-)

They had a great time and we mum's enjoyed soaking up the sun (even if it was on fake grass). Little B was totally gob smacked by fake grass though and cant stop telling people about it LOL.

Friday, January 28, 2011

{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, January 26, 2011

Chocolate Cravings

Normally, I'm one of those weird individuals who can take or leave chocolate. In fact, I dont normally crave much of anything (other than my morning smoothie but that's just hunger LOL). So when I started having strong cravings for chocolate 24/7, and a few obligatory morning headaches I knew something was up.

Turns out that something was magnesium deficiency. After a few blood tests, it become abundantly clear that I was magnesium deficient. This can come from a combination of things but for me most likely from malabsorption issues due to my mold exposure and potential food allergies (more to come on this one later). So I'm on supplements until I come back to a base line, and then I will maintain my levels through food.

Best magnesium sources are:
* Pumpkin seeds
* Spinach
* Almonds (not an option for me at the moment)
* Oats
- and it's helped most by having a calcium source at the same time.

So I'm alternating my favourite breakfast smoothie (now a green smoothie with baby spinach) with a warming bowl of porridge. I've also started including a daily handful of pumpkin seeds to my snack regime.

There's a lot of information out there on the web about chocolate cravings and magnesium deficiency as well. So if chocolate is ruling your world, this might be something to investigate.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Be Prepared Challenge - Acquire Week #2 - Stockpiling Food

This is week 2 of Gavin & Bec's "Be Prepared" Challenge. Gavin's post today is about doing an inventory to work out what you would like in your stockpile. Bec's post focusses on the questions you need to answer to work out what you might need (and it's a fab list which will really get you thinking). Julie from Towards Sustainability did a great post last week about what she keeps in her stockpile.

The best adage I've heard is to only keep foods in your stockpile that you will actually eat (I've learnt this the hard way - uht pineapple juice was not a good addition to our stockpile in times past). Our stockpile has changed over the beginning it had some canned meals for Mr B, plus toilet paper & cleaning supplies and pasta. Then progressed to things like canned tuna, dolmades, canned fruit and beans.

Due to my distrust of BPA, I dont like to focus so much on canned goods anymore (though I do use some Fish 4 Ever canned tuna) and my New Years goal is to preserve more food in glass. I know some prefer plastic and in tough times I wont be picky but an earthquake is extremely unlikely where we live, so I'm not worried about using glass.

Now my stockpile holds more "from scratch" type foods and items:
- dried & BPA free canned beans (pinto, cannellini & adzuki)
- rice
- two kinds of pasta
- bread flour
- yeast
- SR & plain flours
- home-made jams
- a few uht milks (cow & oat)
- sugar (caster & brown)
- salt
- maple, rice malt & golden syrup
- weetbix
- oats
- dried lentils (red and green)
- oils (olive and sunflower)
- a variety of organic herbal teas (peppermint, raspberry leaf & rosehip)
- jarred capsicum
- tomato pasta sauce (hopefully soon to be home made)
- baking powder, citric acid

Laundry / Bathroom
- toilet paper
- borax
- soap flakes
- pure soap
- tissues (for illness, otherwise we use handkerchiefs)
- bicarb soda

- I always have 6 months supply of the supplements Little B needs to take for his allergies
- olive leaf extract
- Bepanthen first aid cream
- sambucol (elderberry extract)
- flustop
- up to date first aid kit
- tea tree oil
- manuka honey
- the herbal teas are good here too (i.e. peppermint tea for fever)

From this I can always make bread / rolls / flat bread, cook porridge / weetbix for breakfasts and make a variety of main meals from beans & lentils supplemented with veggies from the garden.

"Animal, vegetable, mineral: A year of food life" by Barbara Kingsolver is a great read for how to plan your veggie garden to feed you throughout the year BUT when you have anomalies in the weather like this year, your whole garden could be destroyed by flood / fire, or just stunted by bad weather.

So for this part of the challenge, my aim is to look at what veggies I could can / preserve to supplement this. Blanching / freezing is great but what if you suffered from power outages??

Take a look at Bec's post above if you are interested in which questions to answer to help you along in being more prepared. Think of a stockpile as insurance - sure its great during a disaster but it's also insurance against higher food costs, the loss of a job or even just as some security while you go about daily life.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Sheer heaven...

Picture courtesy of a 3 hour belly dance workshop :-)

I had the best time today at a 3 hour belly dance workshop. I was hoping that my body was ready for this and in the most part it was. I hit the wall in the last 30 minutes, so sat that out and watched everybody else.

Some advice from my rehab guru Paul helped as well. I ate like an athlete yesterday and this morning (lots of carbs & vegies), drank HEAPS of water (an un-airconditioned factorette on a 33 degree day) and in the first 10 minutes after exercising inhaled 2 cups of diced watermelon and some chocolate milk.

Interesting fact, chocolate milk is a better recovery drink than most sports drinks.

Friday, January 21, 2011

{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, January 19, 2011

Gotta love slime

With the school holidays still upon us we have been doing lots of crafty things, but this has been the hugest hit (with both of us LOL).

Basically you take one cup of cornflour, then add any food colouring you like, and slowly add in water. When it mixes well together - you have slime.

The thing I love about it is that it is gooey and dry at the same time. You cant really make too much of a mess with it as it holds its shape, but Little B will spend a good hour playing with it. It sort of melts in your hand and you can even cause a drip, but it still stays together kind of firm.

Aaah the joys of cornflour!!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Be Prepared - Organise Day #1

 Yesterday's first tasks included organising a space to store a stockpile / emergency gear and to declutter to make space for such a space.

As I mentioned yesterday, we have had a stockpile for at least the last 5 years. But prior to that I had always worked on 1-up philosophy. We always had 1 extra of whatever we used, i.e. pasta sauce, mayo etc. I just did this as a matter of course as it was what my mum's family had been raised to do by my grandma. But we initially started our stockpile as a frugal measure. We had just bought our first house and were keen to pay our mortgage down as quickly as we could. So if I saw something we ate on sale, then I would stock up on it.

Then I had an allergy child. Not only was I a SAHM but what he ate was/is so limited, that I needed to have it on hand if we ran out. I cant always just run out to the shop and hope it is on the shelf. Plus he was so sick in the early days, I would have been lucky to even get out. So my stockpile grew.

But back to organising a space for your stockpile / emergency gear. We have always kept it in 2 shelves in the linen cupboard plus 1-up on a single kitchen shelf. Granny B had already taken this idea on board and it has been replicated at her house for the last few years. So yesterday I had no need to declutter, instead I just reorganised the pantry and noted what we were low on.

Which resulted in an afternoon of jam making :-)...I made 6 jars of pear jam after seeing some ripe pears at a local farm stall. As this is something I cant buy and the only jam Little B can eat, it doesnt hurt to have a few in the cupboard.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Floods :-(

As so many, I have been really affected by all the stories coming out of Queensland about the floods. But this hit even closer to home on Friday as the floods hit north west Victoria. My dad lost his house to the flood early Friday morning. His house was completely flooded and unfortunately it is mud brick - the house started to melt almost immediately and now has massive cracks through the walls, ceilings, not to mention mud throughout. He has been very brave through it all and says "if it can be fixed by money, then it's not a problem", but I know he is heartbroken as most of his belongings have been ruined as well and the flood has not peaked in the area yet. He just missed out being flooded in the September floods.

The most amazing thing though has been the community spirit. Neighbours turned up to try and help move things to higher ground (which was impossible in the middle of the night, knee deep in water). They have again been trying to help salvage anything.

So in the community spirit, I've decided to join in Gavin (from Greening of Gavin) & Bec's (from Eat at Dixibelle's) "Be Prepared" challenge.

They are running the challenge over 4 weeks and using the OARS principle - Organise, Acquire, Restock & Rotate & Spread the Word.

As Bec says:

"Together we are hoping to help other people, and ourselves, to increase our preparedness for short term emergency situations".

Here at the House of B we like to be prepared anyway as we live in a bushfire prone area, and our trusty stockpile held us in great stead when Mr B was between jobs a while back. Plus it never hurts to be prepare just in daily life. But I love the idea of this challenge and cant wait to see what their tasks involve :-)

Friday, January 14, 2011

{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, January 12, 2011

I am enough

After being sick for the last two days with who knows what, last night I reached a sort of epiphany.

I posted and subsequently removed a post this week about joining the “6 items or less” challenge. I was quite excited about the challenge but in retrospect I can see now I was also conflicted and reserved. After all, I already have a tiny wardrobe now after having to throw everything out from the mold, and I lived with 2 items or less in the early days. Then over the next few days, I read a post here by Julie and then here by Dixibelle, and on top of that have been feeling very tired, flat & extremely unwell.

Little B & I went to a kids crafty session at the library yesterday which I normally love (the library lady is seriously brilliant). I just couldn’t feel the love or enjoyment. In fact, my fragile ego was further sunk by some fellow mummies who implied that I wasn’t doing enough for Little B because we didn’t do the same fantastically outrageous and expensive things they’d done for their kidlets over the school holidays thus far.

So last night I re-checked out a blog by Tracey Clark and her “I am enough” self-kindness collaborative. And that’s when it hit me “I am enough”. This collaborative blog spoke to me at some deep fundamental level - I need to stop guilting myself about my life and my choices, to stop comparing my journey to that of others, to be free to enjoy my life.

I don’t need to drive myself into the doldrums striving to be the ultimate “winner” of some purity eco lifestyle brigade / challenge / competition. I just want to be me and my life to be a great representation of me - the real me. I want my lifestyle choices to be made from passion and interest. To bring me peace and in some sense happiness, not made from constant feelings of not being good or worthy enough.

I’m a good mama, wife, friend…we choose to live the way we do because we love it…because we want to make a difference to our lives, our child, your lives and the planet. As one lady said "live a life your proud of" - and that's what yesterday gave me. The discovery and the spark to move back towards authenticity - the authentic me.

I am enough! *hugs to me*

Monday, January 10, 2011

Lots of Little Projects

 I finished my first "proper" sewing project just before Christmas. This is the skirt I made during my dressmaking lessons. My teacher was fantastic and at the end of the term I felt I'd learned a lot :-)

Since then I've made a Waldorf birthday crown for Little B, lots of Christmas present bags and lots of storage bags for toys.

But now I'm itching to sew more clothes and one of my Christmas presents were some vouchers for fabric. So I've been working on this shirred top / dress. I'm just getting the shaping right for the bottom section before I decide whether it will be a short dress or top. Or I may even keep it as a dress for a while, the make it into a top. This is sewing at it's easiest as I bought the cotton already shirred :-)

I have a new kindy backpack to make for Little B.

I fell in love with this fabric but they only had 1.5 metres left (which of course I bought LOL). Originally I was inspired to make a dress from Peppermint Magazine. I've cut out the free pattern but I think somehow it's wrong (the pattern not my cut out). Or at least the way they want you to cut the fabric is wrong - you cut the back and half the front out along the selvedge and the remaining front half across the grain?? Hmmm something not quite right there.

So now I'm on the search for another dress or skirt pattern....

Friday, January 7, 2011

{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, January 6, 2011

Garden Update

I wish I'd made our garden bigger :-) This is our most successful harvest in the last 3 years (probably because I'm learning more every day, and also every time we plant).

I'm currently harvesting 250g of green beans a day. What we dont use daily, I blanche and freeze. We've eaten all of our lettuces and spinach and just planted some more lettuces.

I lost one of my roma plants to early blight, but after ruthlessly pruning the others they are doing really well. My mistake was not re-staking the plants before we went to Adelaide, so they drooped onto the soil. But they are all fruiting like crazy now.

My zucchinis, pumpkins and cucumbers are still slow. But I have 3 baby cucumbers growing and 2 zucchinis *happy dance* This is the first time in 3 years that my zucchini plants have fruited. No luck the first year (but that was inexperience) and last year every seedling was eaten by snails / slugs (I gave up at the 12th seedling). Fingers crossed my pumpkin plants start producing too!!

Edited to add: While watering this morning, I noticed that we now have two eggplants growing as well. Up until now I'd been too scared to touch the old blossoms in case they dropped off :-)

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Summer Reading

"Honour, duty and a properly brewed cup of tea ... get ready for the Major to steal your heart in the sweet, moving and uplifting story of a highly unlikely relationship between a very proper English gentleman and a widowed Pakistani shopkeeper".

If you would like a great book to read over summer, I can highly recommend "Major Pettigrew's Last Stand". It's a first novel for Helen Simonsen and is a lovely relaxing read. The story evolves quietly but completely sucked me in. I would even re-read it again at some point in the future which is a big endorsement for me :-)

Sunday, January 2, 2011

New Years Goals

It's that time of year again ;-) On New Years day I sat down to reflect over the last year and contemplate last year's goals. I'm happy to say that we managed to do most of them except plumbing our toilet and washing machine into water tanks, and getting new fruit trees.

I love how far I've come with my knitting and I loved our first "real" holiday with Little B in South Australia.

So here is my list for 2011:
* increase the number of our veggie beds again (we'd like to have 8)
* since I didnt get any new fruit trees last year, I'd like to add an apricot and plum tree this year
* to expand on and improve my sewing skills
* make more of my own and Little B's clothes
* preserve more food (home grown and store bought)
* to keep improving my health

My word for this year is "Enjoy"...

* I'm going to enjoy my last year as a stay at home mum
* I'm going to enjoy my sewing and knitting
* I'm going to enjoy spending more time in the garden
* I'm going to enjoy more time with Mr B (thanks to his new part time job)

I've decided that this year I am going to enjoy more simple pleasures, more colour, and investigate my arty side.

2010 was not the best year for us, so we are looking forward to the changes and adventures that 2011 will bring :-)