Thursday, July 29, 2010

Secret Women's Business - Part 2

I recently wrote about the benefits of cloth menstrual pads in one of my previous posts, Secret Women's Business.

Today I received my latest stash in the mail, and I wanted to show them to you. Aren't they pretty?

We have some fabulous Australian made pads, but for those of us on a tight budget, they can be a little bit expensive. My two super pads, three regular pads and four liners were only USD55.00. Not expensive when you consider that they will last me for years! These gorgeous little things come from Punky's Pads, a US seller on They are beautifully made and the service was second to none. I ordered and paid for them only 8 days ago, and I couldn't believe it when they arrived this morning.

It's always so exciting to get things in the mail!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Full moon antics...

By now I should know better than to let my 7 year old out when it's a full moon. The last three months should have taught me well enough. So what was I thinking this morning when I let him compete in his Joey Scout billy cart derby!?!?!

His run of full moon bad luck started with a broken arm, was followed the next month with swallowed magnets, and then last month in Malaysia he was almost hit by a motorcycle and then a bus! We were really tempting fate this morning, and true to his nature, the morning ended with a strained ankle after he lost control on the home run. It turned out that his pride was more wounded than his ankle though. His head is still drooping with the thoughts of his lost trophy, but thankfully this time he got off relatively lightly! Who knows what next month will bring....

It was a fun morning, even if cut short, and here are some photos. Hope you like them! Oh, and a special thanks goes to the St John's Ambulance crew who not only wiped away a few tears, but administered ice in a most professional manner!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Let me paint you a picture....

"You are a mother, a wife, a daughter, a friend, and a sister. You only want what is best for your family, yet you struggle to provide even adequate shelter from the harsh weather. There's no shade during the hot days, and thread-bare blankets do little to keep you warm at night. Every day is a struggle as you search for food. The packages delivered by the allied forces are scarcely enough to fill those aching bellies, but you are grateful nevertheless. The wells are drying up, and clean drinking water will soon be just a memory. Each night is a hell like no other as you listen to mortar fire and bombs dropping in the distance, never knowing where the next one may fall. You feel blessed for the moment because your children are still alive, and guilty relief washes over you as someone else's child is found to be the next landmine victim. You envy those allied troops as they come through your village, and wonder what life is like for them, wherever it is they may be from. You are happy for their presence though, as it means that the bandits are kept at bay and the knife you keep under your pillow leaves less of an impression on your cheek each morning. You wonder why this is all happening. Why is your government persecuting it's own people? Why is there so much death? You have no radio, no tv and no way of knowing if this will ever end.

Then one day a stranger comes into your village, bringing with him great promises. Promises of escape. You wonder if this is really possible? Could selling all your possessions, leaving everything you have ever known, and travelling across wild oceans really mean that you may be able to find a new life? A life in a peaceful land? The idea hardly seems real, but you decide that the risk is worth taking. Your children deserve to live free from oppression and war, and you are willing to make this journey. The stranger has promised you Australia. Your knowledge of this country is small, but he tells you that it is a great land. A free land. The stranger tells you that you can seek asylum there, and in good time, it can be your new home."

Imagine living like this. And then imagine the courage and desperation it takes to put your life, and the lives of your children, into the hands of complete strangers. Imagine the fear and helplessness you would experience when faced with the rickety boat that is supposed to carry you to a new land. I find it hard to picture myself in that situation, and thankfully I will NEVER need to experience it.

So what is an asylum seeker? Many people believe that they are illegal immigrants, but that is incorrect. They will only become an illegal immigrant when and if they overstay any visa they may be granted. An asylum seeker is quite simply someone who has fled their own country, generally escaping war, violence and persecution. On arrival in another country, they then apply to the government for protection as a refugee. The are not breaking any rules and should not be punished with remote or indefinite detention. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights states in Article 14 that "everyone has the right to seek and to enjoy in other countries, asylum from persecution".

I don't have the answer to Australia's immigration issue, but I do know that we accept far fewer immigrants and asylum seekers than many other first-world nations. We have signed treaties that assume we will take in our fair share. It is only fair that we do. I agree that arriving by boat puts many lives at risk, but in most cases this is the only chance these people have to be able to live the life we all take for granted. To turn those boats around and to send them back to their troubled countries, is no different than sentencing these unfortunate people to death. The idea of that is horrifying to me. Nor should we be sentencing them to lengthy terms of detention. They are not queue jumpers. They are still required to undergo the same immigration application as anyone else, and while that is being processed, they are entitled to asylum.

Australia needs to come up with a plan that is both humane, quick and the best for everyone. Whoever comes to power in the next election needs to find a solution that has 'human rights' as it's first priority.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Jennifer's Lemon Curd

Here is a recipe shared with me by Jennifer, an old 'new' friend - ain't Facebook grand!? I made it today and couldn't even wait until it had cooled to try it out on some toast. Absolutely scrumptious! It used up another two of my excess lemons but I still have plenty left. When I get the time I think I'll whip up another batch or two for friends and family. Just need to get my hands on some jars....


2 eggs plus 2 egg yolks
3/4 cup caster sugar
1/3 cup butter
zest and juice of 2 lemons

Whisk whole eggs, yolks and sugar in a saucepan until smooth.
Place pan over low heat, and add butter, juice and zest. Whisk continuously until thick. Strain through a sieve into sterilised jar. (I gave up on the straining halfway through as my sieve is ready to go sieve heaven, and besides I don't mind a little bit of rind!).

As Jenny says, "its meant to keep in the fridge for 2 weeks, but I've had some over a month and it's still yummy". I doubt mine will last that long...

While we are still on the topic of lemons, here is a picture of my fermenting Lemon Ginger Ale. I posted the recipe on yesterday's blog. I had to tweak the recipe slightly as I didn't have rapadura or organic, unrefined sugar! I used half a cup of brown sugar and half a cup of white sugar instead. I didn't get quite the half cup of whey that was needed, but hopefully what I did get will suffice. Now to wait the 10 days before I can drink it...

Monday, July 12, 2010

When life hands you lemons....

... make lemonade!

We have a beautiful lemon tree in our backyard, and this citrus season has proved to be extremely bountiful! We have literally had dozens. I've given some away and I've had to throw away a few that didn't make it. Yesterday the boys came inside with shirts filled to the brim of more bright, juicy lemons. They must have collected at least 30!

This morning I juiced 12 of them and got almost 800ml of juice! They really are delicious lemons - full of juice and not particularly tart. I made a simple sugar syrup, added the juice and then diluted it with filtered water. It is super yummy, but super sweet too! Definitely an adults drink, and I plan to have some tonight over ice with fresh chopped mint. I found the recipe here.

I have another recipe that I am going to try too. It was shared with me by a friend who also has a plethora of lemons to deal with! This one has ginger in it. One of my favourite ingredients. It's made with a slightly different method though and is probably much healthier! You can find the recipe here.

Here is my fruit basket AFTER the 12 lemons were juiced, and the tree still has some left on it. Looks like some lemon curd and lemon tea cake might be on the menu this week too!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

For Lena....

I've been thinking a lot today about friendships, and the reasons different people come into our lives. Some come for a long time, others for a short time, but each one brings us a gift to be cherished. Sometimes friendships wither, and I know now that this is ok. It's part of the transient nature of humanity, and proof that with growth, comes change. Sometimes a friendship is eternal, regardless of how often we see one another. Some of my best friendships are like this, and I believe that these people are written into my life, to both teach me and to learn from me. True friendship is about give and take, in the least greedy sense.

Tonight I am going out for dinner with some of my dearest friends. Most of them I have only been friends with for a short time, but we have shared some incredible moments including the birth of children, the loss of loved ones, sick babies, our children's educational achievements, personal awakenings, the discovery of our creative pulses and of course, plenty of laughter. We are going out to celebrate tonight, as one of us is leaving. Lena is taking a very brave, but adventurous step, and is moving north with her family.

I say brave, because that's just what it is. It's no easy feat to move - to pack up everything you have, to leave friends and family, and to start again in a new town. I know. I've done it. It's hard, it's emotionally draining and it's very stressful! But Lena knows that it is a challenge they are all ready for, and I have no doubt she will love every minute. Life isn't meant to be mundane, and an opportunity like this needs to be grasped by the reins and ridden for the exciting thing that it is! I'm proud to have friends who recognise this.

Thankfully in this day and age of technology, none of us will ever be far away from her. We can chat daily, swap photos and enjoy Lena's escapades from the comfort of our own lounge rooms! I'm sure I don't speak only for myself though, when I say that I will miss seeing her smiling face at school in the afternoons. I'll also miss the craft evenings, where undoubtedly more wine was consumed than craft was made! I'll miss our dinners out, our True Blood swaps, our sneaky cigarettes when we both should know better, and our book chats. These are things that are always much nicer to share face to face, and I look forward to catching up on lost time when she comes back to visit us all.

As women we are all inextricably bound by the same thread. We all want what is best for ourselves and our family. Sometimes this means that other parts of our lives need to change, that we need to move on and create new truths for ourselves. Lena has gifted me with a wonderful friendship, and we have both grown immensely from the experience. We've learned new things together, and these things have shaped our friendship into what it is today. I have no doubt that Lena's friendship will be one of the eternal kind.

Thank you Lena. I want to wish you all the luck, love and light you will need on this journey. This is definitely NOT goodbye!

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Calling all Wonder Women!!

I got the job. Not sure how I really feel about it - bitter sweet, I guess. I'm looking forward to the independence it will bring, but at the same time, I'm a little nervous about the trials and tribulations that are ahead of me as a working mother. That said, I'm pretty proud of the fact that my employment hit rate was 100%! Two interviews and two job offers - not bad considering I've been seven and a half years out of the workforce! I turned the first job down because the hours were just not going to fit in with family life and it involved a rather lengthy full time training period. Some judged and told me that beggars can't be choosers, but I knew the right job would turn up, and it did.

So now I'm calling on all the other Wonder Women out there - all those fantastically brave and busy working mums - and asking for your advice. What tips do you have for me? How can I keep life running relatively smoothly, whilst still maintaining my sanity? Do you have a routine that helps you to get things done? Any easy meal ideas, or school lunch tips?

I'm new to this game and would really appreciate any advice you might want to share. Drop me a line and help me out. Please??

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Gingered Beef with Bay

Recipe time! It's been a while since I've posted something food related. This one won't disappoint! I cooked this casserole yesterday and it was mouth wateringly delicious. The only problem I had was that there wasn't enough! I'm about to make another batch tonight and will freeze it for the week I start working.

Hope you like it!

Gingered Beef with Bay

2 tblspns olive oil
750g lean braising beef, cubed
1 onion, chopped
2 tblspns plain flour
450 ml beef stock
1 tblspn tomato puree (I used tomato paste instead)
1 tblspn balsamic vinegar
2 teaspoons dark muscovado sugar (I used plain old brown sugar)
3 bay leaves
4cm fresh root ginger, peeled and finely chopped
salt and pepper

1. Preheat slow cooker on low. Heat the oil in a large frying pan, add the beef a few pieces at a time, until all the meat has been added. Fry over a high heat, stirring, until it is evenly browned. Lift out of the pan with a slotted spoon and transfer to a plate.

2. Add the onion to the pan and fry, stirring for 5 minutes or until softened and lightly browned. Stir in the flour, then mix in the stock, tomato puree, vinegar, sugar, bay leaves and ginger. Season with salt and pepper and bring to the boil.

3. Transfer the beef to the slow cooker pot, pour over the hot stock, cover and cook on low for 8-10 hours.

Serve with mashed potato and steamed baby carrots tossed with a little butter.


Thursday, July 1, 2010

A Malaysian Adventure...

We've just returned from a wonderful family holiday in Malaysia, and while we enjoyed the adventure of a different culture, ate the most delicious food, and saw some wondrous sites, we are really glad to be back in our cosy little Australian home.

Travelling with three children under the age of eight is no easy feat! And it most certainly is not relaxing! Trying to keep them occupied on four flights, and in tiny hotel rooms was completely overwhelming, and at times we wondered why on earth we had decided to put ourselves through the experience. Looking through our hundreds of photos though, I realised that while it might not have been the lazy, do-nothing kind of holiday we imagined, it certainly left our children with some experiences that other's may only dream about.

During this week away, our children experienced long haul flights and had to learn a hell of a lot about patience; they enjoyed discovering new 'favourites' in the hawker food bizarres we frequented; they learned the value of money as they bargained for their souvenirs in the night markets; they made friends with children from lands and backgrounds so completely different to our own (the ability to communicate in ways other than words, comes so naturally to children); and they experienced a culture full of religious tolerance.

Having our kids experience the beauty and diversity of the world we live in, is so very important to us, and despite our superficial hardships, we enjoyed a truly educational, enriching and heart warming experience together as a family. We are already planning the next one, but perhaps this time we'll choose somewhere that doesn't require overnight flights!