Monday, November 26, 2012

Christmas Wreath

This year will be our first Christmas in our new house as well as our first Christmas with our own Christmassy things. After losing everything from the old house, we celebrated the last two Christmases at Granny B’s and decorated/celebrated with things we either made or decorations Granny B already owned.

Luckily for us, last year we were gifted a handful of decorations from family members. These things were given with our green beliefs in mind (one of these angels, and some handmade gnomes on reindeer). But this year I wanted a wreath to hang on the door.

In an old (2008) Burke’s Backyard magazine, I found a simple how to guide to making your own wreath. Then I spent 20 minutes picking up a variety of sticks from our backyard before sitting down with an old coat hanger and a hot glue gun. And voila, we have our own Christmas wreath to hang on the door.

I love the front cover of Country Style magazine at the moment with their feather wreath (not the bird though), so we think we may weave a few feathers from Little B’s nature collection into our wreath before we hang it up. I also want to cover the hanger in white wool, so it blends in a bit more with our white door.

And what has surprised me is that I really feel a unexplainable happiness that I made this wreath from simple things already in our backyard. I guess sometimes it’s the simple things that give us the greatest pleasure?? :-)

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Inverloch Shell Museum

One of our favourite places we visited on our recent holiday was the Inverloch Shell Museum. It is a community museum with over 6000 shells in display. Little B loves everything to do with the ocean and has quite the shell collection himself, so this was a must do for us, but I think most people would find it interesting as well.

The museum cost $5 entry for a family and is made up of collection of shells, crabs and even preserved octopuses. The sheer variety of shells was mind boggling as was the size of some of them. In different corners they have touch tables, where you can touch different shells as well as things like starfishes, and fish bladders.

It is set within the Bunurong Environment Centre, which also had other really interesting free displays. Firstly a dinosaur display provided by Monash University, which allows children to dig for fossils, do dinosaur puzzles and watch the history of dinosaur discoveries in the South Gippsland area.

Secondly more hands on displays about the forests and the seas. Little B loved a faux forest floor where you could search for different objects with tweezers and a magnifying glass.

This area allowed children to put shells into alphabetical order, or draw pictures to add to a collage of the foreshore. It was also really interesting for Granny B and I as it talked about all the environmental conservation measures the local community had taken to eradicate the marine pest, the Northern Pacific Seastar (they removed them all by hand over a 2 year period).

Little B absolutely loved the hands on nature of these displays, especially being able to touch shells and starfishes. He hopes to go there again "really soon" :-)

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Fun in the Sun

There’s nothing like a dead computer to give you an enforced break :-) Lucky for me it happened just before we went on holidays to Phillip Island. Change of place and things to do make for great distractions!!

We also were lucky with the weather – while nowhere near hot, it was sunny and mild and we had zero rain throughout the duration of our holiday!! The house we hired turned out to be delightful and a great base too.

:: Lots of mini golf was played. Little B loves to play golf, and really who could resists pirate mini golf around a pirate ship or as a mini-inventor, mini golf around a mechanical invention track??

:: Beach babies abound in our family, so we spent lots and lots of time at the beach building castles, looking in rockpools, walking and flying kites.

:: Our beloved canoe came with us too. Not as much fun as we hoped, but Mr B and Little B stuck almost up to their knees in mud on the foreshore was priceless (and hilarious). Not so hilarious were the muddy shoes or clothes that I got to wash (those shoes above are light pale mauve).

:: We spent time checking out the mangrove walks around Rhyll as Little B loves everything ocean related. I fell in love with their composting loo system and aim to put one in as our second toilet when we extend (and I now have Mr B onside).

:: we spent some time in Inverloch investigating their Shell Museum (another post on this coming up)

:: The final highlight was visiting the museum at the Grand Prix Race Circuit. When he was much younger Mr B was an amateur motorcycle racer and had raced at Phillip Island. My dad was into racing cars and I grew up at the drag races in Adelaide. So it was nice to share these different things about ourselves and our childhoods with Little B where he could put it all in context.

And now we are back - well rested, sunned up a bit (it's of course cold and wet at home at the moment *sigh*) and ready to tackle are garden just that little bit more.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Slow Living Diary October 2012

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

NOURISH: Our favourite bickies at the moment have to be these jammy oat biscuits courtesy of Jude Blereau. I’ve also discovered you can freeze them and then warm them back up in the oven without any difference in taste or texture.

I've also been cooking lots for our canoeing expeditions - easy to eat hand held food like tombolas, gozlemes, the above biscuits, roast vegie tarts. Things that are easy to bulk cook and then defrost or reheat and take in our little thermos jars.

PREPARE: Not food per se but I've been getting ready for Christmas. Working off a detailed list I've been slowly making or buying hand made goodies for family. 

REDUCE: Using Mr B’s old socks for sewing projects (see below).
GREEN: I’ve started using aloe vera as a hair product on my hair. Since having Little B my hair wants to be curly but looks more like I stuck my finger in a light socket LOL. After reading about aloe vera, I gave it a try with great results. My hair is so soft and when it air dries it goes into a soft soft curl.

I’ve also been trialing a home-made sugar wax recipe from Plastic Free by Beth Terry for my legs to avoid using razors. So far so good – though very messy. I’m hoping I’ll get better at it each time.

GROW: Our potatoes are growing like crazy and our zucchini, squash and pumpkin seedlings are doing really well in the ground too. Our tomatoes are not so spectacular but since you shouldn’t plant them out until Cup Day around here, fingers crossed they start doing better soon.

We have loads of baby apples and nectarines on the trees too (the benefits of buying a house with established fruit trees though the nectarine is hideously affected by leaf curl). And the almond tree is full as well.

CREATE:  This month I made a spider costumer for Little B out of Mr B’s old socks. They have just the right kink for legs and then finger knitted cords to join them with his black tshirt. I then sewed cardboard eyes onto his black beanie. It was a total hit and I spend a lot of my time with said spider these days :-)

DISCOVER:   I’ve taken a rest from heavy reading this month. Interesting reads have been Goodbye for Now by Laurie Frankel (a novel look at “life” after death) and The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd. I’m currently ensconced in the sequel to The Passage, The Twelve by Justin Cronin.

ENHANCE: Mr B and I have actually been cutting back on our outside commitments to spend more time at home as a family. Instead we have focused on ensuring that we buy local when we can and support local businesses.

ENJOY: We loved going to the Stringybark Sustainable Living Festival again this year. It is such a great place to go as a family, to see and hang out with like minded people. So many native animals to see and chat about. Little B met Dirt Girl, and they had an amazing nocturnal nightwalk set up inside. I also loved that they had stands for the kids to make Seed Bombs.

The Planks above were a huge hit with Little B. This stand spread across multiple areas and attracted kids and adults alike like bees to honey. We spent about 20 minutes sitting on the floor building. Made from sustainable wood, we now know what Little B is getting for Christmas :-)

We’ve been having so much fun as a family at the moment. Mr B and I have designated one day each weekend that we devote to going out into nature as a family. Mainly we have been canoeing, bush walking and “exploring” as Little B puts it, but it’s been so much fun.