Friday, August 31, 2012

Spring Seeds

Reading on various blogs how people are starting to sow their spring seeds has been just the kick in the pants I needed. You see I’ve been stuck on a bed rest of sorts….while digging over our biggest bed and filling it full of lovely things like compost and manure, I managed to step sideways, trip and hurt my hip (aah the joys of gardening).

So I’ve not been outside as much as I wanted for the last 4 weeks (read heaps of books though ;-), but with spring in the air and blossoms abounding, I’ve started sowing our seeds in our bebe greenhouse. So far just delicata squash (thanks Bec), spaghetti squash (thanks Bec again), Waltham Butternut & Kent pumpkin, and Californian Wonder capsicum. I’m also hoping to start some Little Finger eggplants and to finally decide on tomatoes. I’ve not had much luck growing tomato from seed at Granny B’s (the possums either ate or knocked over my little seedlings before they could do anything interesting).

We had hoped to have more veggie beds ready for spring but since it’s only a few days until September that’s not looking too promising at the moment. I’d be happy if we could just get one more in (ok I’m lying I’d love all 4 but would settle for 1, or 2 more).

We are however intent on starting our herb garden for this year – lots of garlic chives, Genovese basil, parsley, chamomile, and calendula – in window type boxes on our deck.

I’ve also been checking out these DIY vertical pallet beds (we have easy access to heaps of free untreated used pallets locally) – I’d love to make some for strawberries and lettuces around the edge of our back deck.

Lastly, our potatoes have finally found their way into our grow bags. We had such a great success with them last year and are going to attempt them at the new house as we get more sun. We also dedicated a few little veggie beds to potatoes so that we have a comparison between bags and in the ground. Fingers crossed this gives us a bumper harvest!!

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Real Boys

Do you ever find that at certain times you read certain things in a sort of Perfect Storm kind of way?? That happened to me recently. As the mum of a young boy and with a background interest in psychology, I’m often interested in articles / books / theories about parenting boys. So firstly I read this in The Age (it's since been removed from their website). The next day I found a book called Real Boys at the library. And then tripped across this TED talk - I’m now a huge devotee of Sir Ken Robinson and his take on education. So of course I went on to read his book The Element.

I liked the first article mainly because it pointed out that educating boys is different and that we currently have a very feminized form of education (mainly sit still and learn by talking). What I didn’t like was the assumption that all boys are rough and violent and operate in a bang bang kind of way.

I’ve read Raising Boys by Steve Biddulph and liked it but it was still sort of ho hum. Yes parenting boys is different but I didn’t get much from it, more really from chatting to other parents about it. Then came Real Boys. I loved/love this book and heartily recommend it to any parents of boys.

It’s written by Dr William Pollack – a ground breaking researcher at Harvard Medical school who has been researching boys for more than thirty years. Real Boys explores the myths of boyhood and the “silent crisis” of why so many boys are sad, lonely and confused about the conventional expectations of manhood.

This book quite simply blew me away. It covers all age groups (preschoolers, school age, adolescence), covers parenting as a mother and a father, schooling – you name it. And I really feel it has a) changed the way I tackle certain parenting needs and issues and also b) made me feel quite strong and passionate about advocating for my son in the education system (which he starts next year).

I’m not one to buy books these days, but I went out and bought this one immediately, even though I was only half way through the book. It offers tips and guides so that you parent within your own family but how to avoid alienating your son and help make him resilient and strong (and not in the rough and tumble mans man way of The Age article). Emotionally strong, supported, educated to make decisions about life!!

And then came The Element. Sir Ken Robinson’s 3 talks on TED are worth watching if you have children in the education system. Actually they are just worth watching full stop. So I borrowed his first book from the library. His take on creativity and “education” is sublime, not to mention all the different people he spoke to and their stories. People who have succeeded in so many different areas not typically mainstream cookie cutter education. And his focus on creativity shows its success in things like science and maths as well.

Again it’s a book that has made me appreciate my son so differently. Little B has a tendency to make piles of crap  make interesting structures out of odds and ends and his toys. After reading The Element, his tendency to collect every rubber band and make these miscellaneous structures shows itself as creativity not unlike those used by sculptor mentioned in the book.

These three books have been so eye opening to me in such a tremendous way. I like things that make me think more, think outside the box and make me feel confident in my choices.  I like a Perfect Storm, it can be a game changer :-)

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Spring & Our Solar Tracker

Spring is definitely coming – you can almost smell it in the air. The blossoms are blooming, we are having slightly warmer days here and there (though the nights are still really cold) and the sun is slowly changing perspective moving on our block.

This week our flat panel solar was finally connected to the grid. Electricity companies sure take their time and I’m starting to think it’s intentional…a way of penalising you for trying to make some of your own power.

But in time for spring, our solar tracker is coming along. We have half her panels up and the other three to be put up over the next week or so. As you can see, she is very tall so it takes a bit of handy work to lug the panels up into place.

Aaah spring - how I love thee...please hurry up...I'm really looking forward to some more warmth and sunshine xx

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Slow Living Diary July 2012

Once again, I am joining in with Christine from Slow Living Essentials for a monthly reflection of slow living…

NOURISH: Carrot, Banana and Coconut muffins have been a huge hit (on a side note, how cute are Little B's napkins....frogs and snails xx). Might sound like a strange combination but they are delish and keep my tummy full all afternoon (full of spelt, oats, sunflower seeds and pepitas).  Spaghetti with kale, garlic, potatoes and olives from Annie Smither's Garden to Table has also featured quite high on our rotation list - it's quick, easy and tasty. I’ve also had a go at making churros to celebrate a birthday….all I can say is yum. Who knew – flour, water and sugar could make a feast??

PREPARE: I’ve made the move over from canned beans to dried beans. Mainly because I was buying Eden Organic beans to avoid BPA so I figure I should just get organized and side step the whole can thing entirely. It’s worked well so far and I’ve found baked beans work brilliantly in the slow cooker.

REDUCE: I've been plodding away reducing what we buy from the supermarket. We no longer buy the following from the supermarket: fruit, veg, meat, pasta, cleaning products, bread/rolls, butter/cheese, toilet paper, spices, cat food and rice. It's quite a small shop now but I cant seem to find alternatives or alternative places to buy a few things like Little B's milk, my rice milk, Mr B's lactose free milk, Australian olive oil, environmentally friendly cat litter to name a few. 

GREEN: After being inspired by this post on Christine’s blog, I’ve started using a shampoo bar for washing my hair (from a local soap company that sells at a local market). I have terrible rosacea on my face and I found being ‘no poo’ my rosacea got worse from the apple cider vinegar rinse. The shampoo bar has been fantastic for both my hair and skin.

GROW: Nothing growing here but dreams for spring and summer plantings. Oh yeah and our never ending baby spinach…but I’m a bit over that at the  moment LOL.

I also planted some garlic under our new pear tree as a companion plant to prevent bugs and it’s just shot up straight away :-)

CREATE: My quilt is finally finished and is now decorating and keeping us snug on our bed. It feels like forever since we started it but we’ve been waiting in a queue to get the backing done (6 months) as Granny B doesn’t have a long arm quilter. But I adore the end result, even more so because it was done in conjunction with mainly by my mum. We’ve also been told it looks a lot like a Civil War quilt. What can I say…I love it!!

DISCOVER:  This month my reading has focused on more than just cooking. I’ve also being planning our spring planting for the new vegie gardens. Not to mention checking out patterns to crochet rugs for our bedroom floors (I’m getting a bit ahead of myself methinks).

Little B and I have also been reading The Water Horse. My favourite fun reads have been Memoirs of an Imaginary Friend by Matthew Green and The Help by Kathryn Stockett (these were both incredible reads for totally different reasons!!).

ENHANCE: Joining in our local school holiday community at the library was good fun as was the Community session we attended. We also sorted through Little B’s baby books and donated them to a local playgroup.

ENJOY: We got a canoe secondhand from a family whose teenage boys had grown up. Very excited!! Mr B is a keen sailor, kayaker and canoeist, which we have sort of put on hold since Little B was born. Now with swimming lessons going well, we are keen to get back into camping and canoeing.