Sunday, February 26, 2012

Homeschool Group Calendar is Up

See Gin Gin Home Educators to know what the homeschool group are doing each week. I'm using the blogger platform because it saves logging on somewhere else or making another website.  The KISS principle wins every time :-)

Hey, Strawberry Shortcake!

Blueberry Muffin's here for breakfast! 
This is not my child. 
But she looks suspiciously like this one... she must have escaped from TV land.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

That Time of the Month

It's amazing what a little pressure can do to my productivity. Normally I will spend a good week tinkering with the wording of a grant, finely tuning the nuances, clarifying the points and culling redundancies. But when the pressure is on, I finally pull my finger out and it all falls into place.


This week Sean had to buy mower parts (cue: native drums) and there was a HUGE pack of washing powder on special in IGA so I grabbed it. Haven't done the cull yet due to it being that time of the month* but I am expecting couch surfers tomorrow so I'll do it when I clean the bedroom.

On the topic of washing powder, about 15 years ago washing balls came onto the market. They claimed to clean your clothes without washing detergent. They appeared to be inert, some were made of ceramic and others were very obviously just basalt rocks in a plastic cage. The sellers tried to tell me that the balls had some sort of magnetic property which made the water molecule smaller so it could penetrate the cloth better (Here comes a Charlie!).Nevertheless, it made me think that if these people were still able to wash clothes without washing powder (a) those people obviously did not have kids and (b) washing powder in itself was overrated.

SO! I experimented with how little washing powder I could use and still successfully wash clothes. My conclusions after a few months were; YES, if you worked in an air conditioned office like Sean, you certainly can discard washing powder BUT you might like to pre-scrub the collars and chuck in a little vinegar to deodorise the effects of stinky male armpits. However if you were a massage therapist who worked at a mud farm like myself then NO!  Massage oil, mangrove mud and fish guts have particularly penetrative properties and will not come out even in hot water without some chemical assistance.

Once Kirk was born, people gave me LOADS of advice - one of the best parts was from a lady around the corner who raised 6 kids with cloth nappies, "If you soak the nappies in Nappisan then don't bother with washing powder as the residual will give the kids nappy rash."  So again I experimented and found that I didn't even need to soak the nappies in Napisan. I discovered if I dry pail the pissy nappies the urine converts to ammonia so I don't have to use Napisan at all and 1/2 the recommended amount of detergent suffices.  Note also I generally use an eco-wash so there are no brighteners or bleaching agents so the nappies come out clean but not retina-piercing white.

*That time of the month" means lots of grants are due.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Story of my life...

Last week, I opened the PO box, stretched up and shoved my arm inside, feeling around for stray mail that I can't see.  I then jumped up and down a couple of times (yes, very amusing for onlookers) to verify I hadn't missed anything and then I noticed there was a note taped on the other side, sticking down so the post office staff could read it. It was bent inwards and although upside down it was legible so with great curiosity I dragged myself up to the level of the box and read it. It said, "Two short ladies live here."

Monday, February 20, 2012

The Month of Rejuvenation

This is turning into a month of rejuvenation. Not for myself unfortunately (far from) but for appliances. Earlier this month we involuntarily bought a freezer and a washing machine. This week the stove needs new parts (for god's sake it's only 16 years old!), the speakers on Kirk's computer died (damn, it's not like he uses them on full bore), and the mower needs the starter motor and fuel pump replaced (can you say "Lemon"?). It appears the whitegoods are revolting....  "Computer! I know your keyboard is starting to be faulty and you're getting slow in your old age but you know I love you very dearly, and want you to continue working indefinitely!" friend is selling a wood cooker...but I really don't want to light a fire every day...

Friday, February 17, 2012

Sweet Relief

The response I get in highschool when they see me coming for their relief teacher is "Oh no, it's HER! She's gunna make us do work!" Usually followed by a series of expletives. It's better than the response another teacher gets, "Woohoo it's Miss ** - Bludge time!"

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Scroogezilla Revisited

Week 1 of the the Buy Nothing Challenge has not been very challenging so I'm going to add another dimension; I'm also going to shed an item every day - this does not include garbage - and when we HAVE to buy something (eg mower parts) I will shed 2 things for every 1 that we buy. Stuff should also go to a new home if possible and not just be dumped on Lifeline. Now it's a challenge.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Born a rev-head

Kirk has taken possession of an old, electric whipper snipper which, thankfully, has no powerhead so essentially it is useless. But in the hands of a mini-rev-head the sound alone evokes from him evil genius laughter.  I'm sure he's thinking about strapping it to the canoe...hey...yeeaah..."Oh Kiiirrrk!"  [sound of two evil geniuses cackling].

Garbage Guts

This morning I cut up a 5kg fillet for smoking. Naturally Kurgan was on hand to help. Half way through the process I called to Sean, "Go get me another dog, this one's full."


A friend was shopping at the markets with me and asked about some leafy stuff I bought. The Philipine name is malunggay (in Tagalog) and it is similar to spinach and is it is just 1/5 the price. However it is very twiggy so if you're a lazy cook like me, your diners have to pick the sticks out of their curry.
I looked it up online years ago and had a laugh as it sounded like a miracle plant - much like the Neem and Aloe Vera - largely overrated as it is here:   I think people mistake the intake of better nutrition as the agent of cure but with the right building blocks the body largely cures itself. (Hippocrates had something there). 
To me malunggay seems a better deal because you get 4 products in one, being a tree it only has to be planted once unlike spinach which needs to be planted annually,  and from what I see it needs little care and can cope with bad soil and drought.  One day I'll get around to asking one of the Philipine ladies for a few cuttings.

There's your lecture for the day... 

Saturday, February 11, 2012


As I drove towards town this afternoon, I saw a police helicopter land at the showgrounds....bad.
As I passed the hospital hundreds of cars, police & SES were gathered there...very bad.

This evening I discovered it is the Lawrence family grandfather who is missing. Their grandfather is a spritely 88 year old man who has dementia and was last seen heading north along the highway....catastrophic.

His large family literally CARE for the people of Gin Gin. They work as fieries, ambos, counsellors, teachers, foster parents and chaplains.  They are ALL open minded, non-judgemental, unassuming people who work incredibly hard. I hold them in the highest regard. Darren Lawrence performed Rohan's funeral (his first as a chaplain), his family prepared the church and were on hand with food and support the whole time (+ months afterwards).

The search resumes tomorrow 6am, a lot of people are going on horseback because it is all bushland north of there.

Sigh...and our day started off so lovely with the baby music class - run by the Lawrence family girls.


Friday, February 10, 2012

One for Rachel

From Highly Irritable ;10 things to do before you graduate University 

 Sigh...Yes, uni at 18 was sooo much more fun than uni at 25 ... actually uni at 25 was no fun at all. However TEACHING at uni was GREAT - it's so cruisy compared to normal jobs.


Wednesday, February 8, 2012


Adjective. When something is so boring you go barking mad. eg How is the introductory IT subject? Borking!

Crash Test Dummy

Yes, it's permanent pen so I'm glad Sean is taking her to the swimming lesson tomorrow.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Snip Snip Snip

So what ELSE can I cut? 

Bathroom: I've pushed down the usage of toiletries down massively - I have not bought anything for months. One bar of soap in a jar of water refills the soap pump at least 20 times which far outlives a bar of soap going squishy on the sink. I hang the shower soap in a net bag so it does not dissolve  down the plughole. We rarely use shampoo - hot water each night seems to be enough. I am still using up moisturisers people gave me for Skye 2 years ago and will make my own in the future. I make my own deodorant (bicarb & peppermint oil). Installing the butt gun (bidet) cut our dunny paper usage to 1/5. Toothpaste: tiny squeeze & lots of brushing. Shaving: optional. Hot water is free but if we had shorter showers then the pump would not have to run as long.

Laundry: I MIGHT use a box of laundry detergent every 8 weeks and I am currently sorting our towels and putting away the excess so the kids can't drag them around the house to provide me (now THEM) with more washing. Also I'm going to keep a tighter control over their clothes to reduce the kids need to wear clothes at all?

Cleaning: I am conservatively using up the odds and sods in the cupboards, some of them since the previous owners moved out 8 years ago - although I think this says more about my negligent cleaning habits than my frugality.

Kitchen: Maybe we can eat more Arabic & Indonesian dishes where everyone shares from the same platter rather than making a mountain of dirty dishes? AND I'm going to put away all the extra cutlery & crockery. That one will be hard because I always seem to have a house full of visitors. I suppose I could also cut down on hot drinks and hot, buttery toast because those appliances cost a fair bit to run...

Electronics: Sean already turns off the unnecessary things at night and I work with just one desk lamp.  We don't have a TV or stereo system but we do have computers running all the time but that should change when Sean farms out the server and maybe I can discipline myself to only turn the computer on when I sit down to work at night (Hard!)

Climate control: The fans are on constantly during summer but maybe solar panels would cool the roof even further and negate that completely. Also we could move outside earlier instead of turning on the fans or just get used to the heat!  In winter I have started to sit under an electric rug instead of turning on a heater and maybe I'll move the whole family into one bedroom next winter so only so heater is required.

Food: I don't think I can get more frugal in this department without ceasing to eat completely - with the exception of bread and cheese I make everything from scratch.  Mind you,  I  CAN make the bread and cheese from wheat and milk but that costs more than buying it. I suppose we could cancel the wine subscription - but then we'd need to turn up the heat in winter.

Transport: Another tough one. It is hard to cut the miles living here and I am out 4 days a week with kids activities. I NEVER "pop down to the shops" and we try to organise all the homeschool activities on one day. Also it is common sense to take care of the cars properly so we do not skimp on maintenance. HA! It took me 7 years to wear through the first set of brake pads so my driving can't be too bad but maybe I can turn off the air conditioning and drive even more slowly. Perhaps I should take more care about where I buy fuel and at what time of day and start keeping he fuel vouchers from the IGA.

Anyway, PLEASE feel free to give me more ideas! I would be very appreciative  :-)


With a new freezer & washer, swimming, soccer & vet fees plus car repairs all amounting to a rather ouchy sum, my next personal project will be to buy NOTHING for the rest of the year.  Food, transport, electricity & education are acceptable.  My kids won't object - they'll be too busy washing clothes.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Wishy Washy Memories

The washing machine died 3 weeks ago and I finally replaced it. I loaded it the minute it arrived home and the kids watched the whole process exclaiming and squealing in delight... Bunch-a dags! They won't be squealing when they have to do the washing themselves!

My first machine after leaving home was a twin tub (TT) in Japan (1993). I always hold the rinse water for the next wash and one very cold winter the cat, Arbuckle, jumped onto the machine thinking the lid was on and was shocked to find himself crashing though an icy crust. Do I need to describe his reaction?

The next washer was a late 70s TT from my grandma, followed by Sean's mum's TT Whirlpool - an early 70s (?) vintage - which washed so violently the clothes looked like they were trying to escape (socks were regularly thrown clear across the laundry). It was FANTASTIC! But soon I inherited Nana's top loading automatic and Sean kept repairing it until the only things which kept it running were washing line pegs and wire. When Nana had a stroke and she and Pa moved into nursing homes their newer machine came to live with us and I suppose we wore that one out too.

Around 2004 we moved to Gin Gin where the property owners had left behind their monstrous top loader which used 140 L with every wash. Now we were on tanks I choked at the water consumption. However my sister moved in and introduced us to front loaders. How curious! How DID the water stay in? Did it wash as well as a top loader? Was it as fast as a top loader? The damn thing used just 60L for the whole cycle so when Sean moved to Kingaroy I sent the white elephant with him and  *BOUGHT* a washing machine. OMG! *ME* SPEND MONEY?! And it wasn't a cheap one - it was an $800 whoopty-doo-scrub-yer-jeans-and-polish-yer-dog front loader.  Was I impressed? You bet! And I was sooo thankful for it because we then entered 5 years of severe drought and right at the end, when the rain failed completely, we were still able to wash nappies. MOST families ran out of water early that year and the kids were showering at school (or going to the public pool a lot more regularly! BLEAH!)

Anyway the Bosh has died (only 7 years old!)... and I replaced it with a twin tub.  NO, I am not nostalgic for manual washing but right now my wallet us firmly sewn shut. The TT cost 1/3 the price of a regular washer and can wash 3 loads in the time it takes a front loader to do one. It is simple enough for Sean to fix, uses the same volume of water as a front loader and if it is anything like its predecessors it will last 50% longer than an automated machine. And yes....EVEN A CHILD CAN USE IT.