Thursday, April 30, 2015

Listening to Wanda

The other day I arrived at Mum's house. She had just gotten back from the day out at the football, she had taken Gran to watch my nephews play.

Gran was sitting in the car while Mum ran inside before dropping her back at the old folks home. The girls ran ahead of me into the house, and I almost did too. I noticed that old Wandy was still sitting in the car, and I couldn't walk straight past without thinking of her having to sit in the car by herself, alone. 

I felt guilty for almost walking straight past her and going inside. I didn't want her to think I had ignored her, and as oldies age I guess it must feel like the younger ones are forgetting about them. Her days above ground on this earth are numbered. She recently had shingles and I can see the toll it took on her. She is looking much paler and much more weathered. 

If she does go soon, I would have never forgiven myself for almost walking past that day. Now is the time to cherish her the most. 

My Gran still has a mind like a steel trap. She can recall stories of things that happened years ago, with so much clarity. Here I am, having listened to those stories and can't remember a word of them. 

What I do know is no matter how much she rambles on, I really do enjoy listening to her.

I visited her over the ANZAC day weekend with the girls, to see her. She was so glad to see us and didn't shut up. I guess it gets a bit lonely in there. She marvelled over how lovely the girls are. "Dear little things", she called them, and gave them most of her lollies. "But not the snakes", she piped up. "I like the snakes!".

She told me stories about the dementia patients, and how sorry she felt for them. Even though their antics were sometimes very entertaining. There is one old duck there that has dementia/alzheimer's and Gran says, she never stops walking, always going somewhere, (but nowhere really). She says she wished she could walk like that. Grans body is giving up on her. She can't even support her own weight on her pins. It seems it doesn't matter when you get old, either your body packs in first, or your mind.

She recalled one lady walked in to the common room with an armful of clothes. She immediately thought, hello, she's been in someones room and taken their clothes. Only to recognize a pair of her pants and realise it was her room she'd been into! 

While I was at the Mount Gambier hospital on Wednesday, visiting a fellow Mothers grouper who'd just had a baby, I overheard a telephone conversation at a nurses station. I heard my Grans name, and that she was being transferred from Millicent.

After I spent time with my friend and her new, gorgeous little girl, I dropped in on Gran. She's in the high dependency ward. She looked weak, and was having trouble talking, and catching her breath.

She was overjoyed to see me. I was as thankful as all hell, I overheard that phone conversation. I was so glad, not long after arriving, she had a familiar face. I lifted her hand and kissed it. I felt like crying, but didn't. She reassured me that it's not her time. But I can see that time is near.

I'm heading back to the Mount tomorrow, after I go to Pelican Point to vacuum all the bugs after the great surface spray of last week. We actually have a paid customer staying friday and saturday night! Woo hoo :) 

I'd better take old Wandy some lolly snakes. It's her 86th birthday next week. It's always around Mother's Day. My sister is coming over from Gippsland, I hope she gets to say goodbye.

A Parenting Life
Linking with Rhianna.
Thankful for overhearing a phone conversation

Monday, April 27, 2015

Just call the me the exterminator

The Mortein pest control products you see in this post, were gifted for the purpose of this post.

Ever since we've had our holiday house, Summer has been shit scared there might be spiders in the toilet. She's fine at home, but any toilet she doesn't know well is terrifying territory. Public toilets are heralded with screeching if she sees an inkling of cobweb, and she won't go in the cubicle unless I am there holding her hand.

Before we bought the Pelican Point house, there had been no one living in the house for at least two years. The bugs, spiders and every other creepy crawly insect had moved in and taken over.

When I cleaned the house for the first time, I filled a vacuum bag of cobwebs, dead millipedes, dead flies, spiders, dust and dirt, and what looked like to me spider or bug egg cacoons! Gross!

I sprayed the place with fly spray, but every time we go back there, there seems to be more millipedes, and daddy long legs lingering in the corners of the ceiling.

Over the weekend I went armed with surface spray. I sprayed every cornice, doorway, window and skirting board. I am five foot and a skerrick, and the flip out spray nozzle helped me reach and direct the spray to the ceiling cornices and in between tight spaces, like beside the fridge and stove.

The Mortein surface spray will keep killing them, even when I'm not there, for six months. Our hot water service is under cover in the car port, so I gave that a spray all around too, because bugs, ants and spiders like to nestle in around it's warmth.

After only five minutes, the surface spray had millipedes appearing all over the carpet, escaping there hidey holes. I honestly DO NOT know where they were hiding! I couldn't see them before, but the spray brought them out. I ran around with the dust pan, and a minute later there were more!

I know I am going to have to go back before anyone stays there to clean up the dead bugs. I am expecting to see loads of dead creepy crawlies when I do! I'll be glad to have them under control.

We did have a booking last week, but they decided to stay in a neighbouring seaside town instead. We still kept the deposit, so we made something!

We've still yet to have a paying overnight guest.

I really should have bought the surface spray home with me, because there is this one cockroach that scurries out of it's hiding spot every few months. They are quick little buggers, and as soon as I have seen him, he disappears, and out of my memory. I'd like to think he is the only one, but there must be more cockroaches around. Not to mention the ants, and spiders as well.

I had a spider dangle down from the ventilation fan yesterday. Right above the pasta I had just finished cooking on the stove. Imagine if he fell in and I had no clue. Eeeew, right?!

When is the last time you surface sprayed? Do you have kids that freak at the sight of bugs? What creepy crawlies have started squatting in your home?

Friday, April 24, 2015

A free autumn harvest and some soup.

With the early rain in autumn and days, that are slightly warmed by the suns rays, mushroom spores are brought to life in the soil.

Mushrooms are springing up from the ground, in our favourite foraging grounds.

I like to think they are secret, but there is no doubt, other people know about them too.

I never forget the time, as we drove home from Brett's brothers house, on Mayurra Road. He was driving and I was just gazing out the window, probably mesmerized by the wind towers in the distance. A lot of white patches caught my eye, before I could utter the words, Brett asks, "Did you see what I just saw?". Immediately the car wa pulled over on the white metal road, and we pile out, the girls too, and walk over to the biggest ring of mushies I have ever seen. That was two years ago, probably around the same time of year too.

I can vaguely remember a pile of rubble sitting in the same spot in years past. Where a farmer has scoured the paddock and deposited the rocks by the roadside. I can only guess, thousands of mushroom spores were dumped along with it. When the rocks were finally taken away the spores remained, creating a huge ring of future mushroom harvests.

We aren't complaining.

One mushroom I haven't cooked for myself, is the Slippery Jack. They are found growing around pine trees. I do have vague memories collecting them with my parents with their Italian friends, around the pine plantations around Kalangadoo, where I grew up. Very vague memories of eating them too.

Mum tells me they cook them up with garlic and some vinegar. This is how I remember eating them. From memory, I didn't mind them. I think I just liked eating all the Italian food, and generally liked the Italian ladies. I went missing one day, and Mum found me sitting on one of the Italian ladies' toilet, just down the street.

Mum had already told me to look for them down the road from her place in town. There are pine trees that line the drain, running down beside Belt Road and Fifth Street. The community garden is on Fifth Street, along one side, is flanked by the pine trees. There are Slippery Jacks everywhere! Mum has told me several times before to not take the ones growing on wood, only ones growing in the dirt.
I did take the ones I picked, to show her before I ate them. I would strongly advise you not to eat any mushroom you are in doubt about. EVER!

Slippery Jacks are named for the slippery skins after the rain. Once I'd peeled the top (apparently the skin can give you the runs, I guess the sliminess just goes straight through!), I washed the dirt off the underneath.  They were a bit dirty and when washed the spongy underneath, became quite soggy and had absorbed a lot of water, so I removed the spongy bit. It came away easily.

What you are left with is perfect mushroom goodness.

I have to be in the mood to eat cooked foraged mushrooms. The smaller, younger mushies aren't too bad, but the bigger ones really have an acquired taste. I was so glad this soup turned out great. There have been times I have made it and not been overjoyed by it. The Slippery Jacks don't really have a heap of flavour, so I guess it evened out the strong taste of the foraged field mushies.

I am going back to pick more mushies when I get the chance. I have a hankering for some creamy mushroom pasta. But in the meantime I made soup.

If you are not feeding an army, or want to be eating mushroom soup, til the cows come home, feel free to halve the recipe. You could always freeze the soup for Ron (later on).

You will need:
1 kg of mushrooms, sliced (I used half field and half slipperies. You could use ones from the non- nature supermarket. All good)
25 grams of butter
1 tablespoon oil
3 cloves garlic  (use less if you are not me, or not)
1 tablespoon flour
1 teaspoon thyme, or 1 teaspoon of mixed dry herbs*
1 litre of water or stock**
1/2 cup cream

Place butter, oil and garlic over medium heat in a large saucepan.

Add mushrooms and stir well. Saute for about 10 minutes, until the juices have evaporated.

Stir through flour for 1 minute.

Add stock, thyme and simmer for 5 minutes.

Add cream, turn off the heat and serve.

I loved this with some garlicky toast and a sprinkling of chopped chives. You could use garlic bread.

* I dry my own fresh herbs from the garden in a little posie. When dry, chop up the leaves and keep in a sealed jar in the pantry. Good for sprinkling in and on everything, from roasts,  baked spuds or adding to casseroles.

** I just use water if I don't have stock. A good way to make easy stock, is to add water to the pan after a roast and let it sit. Scoop off the fat, when it is cold, and keep the water. Easy, freezable, flavoursome, stock. Not gourmet, but better than nothin'.
On this same double star thingy. If you get impatient after ten minutes, and there is a bit of water to be evaporated, bung in the flour and use three quarters of a cup of stock.

Flogging the blog over at With Some Grace

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

April #52weeksofmemories

 13. Sharing
The start of April may have been shorty nightie weather, but now, at the end, it's definitely time to get the flannies out!

I froze some muntrie berries I collected last month. I love using them in Hot Cross Buns instead of sultanas.

Summer at the playground on Good Friday wearing a santa hat. Huh?
Easter Sunday evening, down the beach with family.

15. Reading
It is amazing how much Izzy has learned in the first term of school. We've been a bit slack with the reading in the holidays though.

16. Favourite
Some favourite photos from this week

Finding Myself Young 52 Weeks of Memories

Monday, April 20, 2015

Last hoorah at the swimming lake for 2015

It's the start of the second week of school holidays here in South Australia. The first week seemed to fly by with a wink of an eye. I can see this week passing just as quick.

We stayed in Pelican Point over the weekend. We have our first guests staying there this coming weekend, so I have to go back this week sometime to make all the beds and give it a once over. Bit exciting. It had only been on Stayz for a day, and who would have thunk anyone would want to come and stay in Pelican Point! 

There's actually a few holiday houses in Pelican Point and Carpenter Rocks.

It rained all day Saturday and yesterday was a top of 14 degrees. The cold weather has really snuck in. I made a pot of my celery and potato soup, but put some sweet potato in as well. It was awesome with a drizzle of chilli oil and paprika.

We got a couple of days of around 25 degrees last week, a heat wave! The girls wanted to head down the lake. I thought they were a bit mad, but went anyway. We were the only ones of a few who did. The kids had a ball, I was glad we went down there for one last hoorah for this year.

The lake is usually open from November to March, but the council opened it up in October last year and have left it open longer this year. It was good to see tourists there swimming and a man turn up in a wetsuit, swimming cap and goggles for a few laps.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Celery and potato soup

I knew I felt like soup for lunch. The days are getting pretty cool in the south east of South Australia. It's feeling very much like comfort food weather, soup weather. 

I'd ducked into the supermarket, there greeting me as I walked in, were bunches of celery for one whole dollar. Yes please! 

I came home and made soup for lunch, and it was choice!

The leftover celery I wrapped in alfoil, and kept in the fridge. I saw this tip on Facebook a while ago, and it really works. The celery stays crisp for a couple of weeks. 

It's probably one of the top veggies that gets chucked out, because it never gets used up before it goes all limp and boring.

You can slice it up and freeze it for later use, in casseroles and soups. Better than chucking money away.

When I was a kid, I loved it spread with peanut butter. I can't bring my kids to love it though, they've never been big lovers of peanut butter. Celery they do love to crunch on though. At least it is one veggie I know Izzy will eat. Fresh anyway, she is not a cooked veggie lover. She'll only eat cooked corn cobs, that's it. It's a good thing she likes her veggies raw and crunchy, as I'd never get her to eat them. She would never go for this soup.  

So. I had two bowls for lunch.....

Celery and potato soup

1 tablespoon of butter
1 onion, sliced
1 large potato, or 2 small ones
5 big stalks of celery
700 mls water or veggie stock
1/2 cup milk
salt and pepper

Place the butter in a large saucepan over a medium heat. Cook the onion, potato and celery for 5 minutes.

Add the water/stock and simmer for 20 minutes. 

Puree the soup in a blender or with a stick blender. 

Put the saucepan of soup back on the heat, add the milk. Stir to warm through the milk. Season with salt and pepper. 

Serving suggestions 

  • Serve with crispy bacon or pancetta
  • A sprinkle of paprika and blue cheese(pictured)
  • crusty bread
  • drizzled with chilli oil

Do you love your veggies fresh and crunchy, or cooked? 
Did you ever have celery with peanut butter?

Friday, April 10, 2015

Germs are just everywhere! - review and giveaway

I was provided with Dettol products for the purpose of this post.

It occurred to me the other day that my wallet must harbour so many unthinkable germs. 

Starting with my credit card, as promiscuous as it is. Just think about it. It gets put into so many different slots, that have 'had' other credit cards. God knows where those other cards have been. Even the buttons on ATMs and eftpos machines must be a bit grubby, I shudder. Then to think my card, which gets around, gets put back in my wallet, along with any change I have. 

Grossed you out yet?

What better allay against those germs, to have a bottle of hand sanitiser in your handbag. 

I always had one in my nappy bag, for those changes on the car seat, in the middle of nowhere or in a car park. I can totally vouch for taking a bottle when you go fishing too. There's nothing like not having any, and having to eat an apple or apply more sunscreen with smelly bait all over your fingers! 

I recently joined my local community garden. I am really excited about it and have been down there quite a bit. I've just created a garden bed and set myself up a garden caddy to take with me. I have a bottle of hand sanitiser included in there now.

The last time I was there, I dug a new patch, surrounded it with rocks, and put a bird bath in the middle of it. It was hard work, and I realised how unfit it am! The rewards though, far outweigh the work. I am so eager to see the gardens flourish. They have been let go, the last year.

I was a little grossed out when I used the toilet at the gardens. It is used by the blokes mostly, from the adjoining local Men's Shed. 

Men and toilets, left unsupervised, usually don't spell clean. 

I left a bottle of Dettol surface spray cleaner, so I could give it a quick clean when I am there. The kids use these loos too, I don't want them getting crook from a dirty dunny, and I am sure the fellas will appreciate a woman's touch someone giving it a clean. I might make a rod for my own back, but I don't mind, it's something small I can do to contribute to our community at the Hub. One thing I can guarantee when Summers singing away in the toilet when she goes, is that she's piling in the dunny paper. I sneakily left a couple of rolls as well, just to keep in good with the old fellas at the Shed, in case they get grumpy.

One product I received, to do this review, I am extremely impressed with is the surface cleaner wipes. They are freakin' awesome for quick cleaning jobs, like the toilet seat, door handles, taps and the rubbish bin lid. Rubbish bin lids can get gross really quickly, and it is nothing to grab one of these wipes, give it a good going over and then throw the wipe away. I wasn't leaving those anywhere, they are mine!

I don't often buy shower gels, I know my hubby is a sucker for nice personal hygiene products. He's a bit metro sexual like that. 

I loved the way the Citrus Splash shower gel felt on my skin, with it's added moisturiser. Not as harsh as the normal cheap soap I buy. It smells nice, and I really did feel cleaner during the day. I think having something like this to pamper myself, in the 10 minute flat shower I manage to squeeze in the morning before school drop off, makes me feel a bit special too.

Now to the most exciting bit, you can WIN a Dettol prize pack, delivered to your door. All you have to do talk to dirty to me. Let me know a situation where you were all grotty and no immediate way to wash yourself. Or you could tell me a time that hand sanitiser has saved your life. 

The best answer, that ultimately makes me spit my cuppa tea, wins!

Terms and conditions
1. Give away is only open to Australian residents.
2. There is one prize pack for one winner.
3. Competition starts at 6am, Friday 10th April, and ends at  6pm, Friday 17th April.
4. Winner is judged on skill of answer. Not a random draw. 
5. Prize pack contains 1 bottle surface cleaner spray, 1 instant hand sanitiser, 1 surface cleanser wipes, 1 citrus splash   shower gel.

Monday, April 6, 2015

How to achieve a waste free lunch box

Izzys' auntie Margi chose a good week to come along and watch assembly a couple of weeks ago. Izzy won a very special award.

Izzy's class won a week long competition, to see who could accumulate the least waste from their lunchboxes. It coincided with a performance called 'Wiping out waste', at another local school.

Izzy won an individual award, because for the week, she accumulated no waste. Which meant she had no rubbish left over from her recess or lunch. By rubbish, it means no cling wrap or wrappers, because she would have had the odd apple core or banana peel. So I guess they didn't include recyclable materials in that waste. I've also noticed there is now a green waste/chook bucket outside the classroom door.

I was so proud, happy and just a tiny bit emotional. Just a little bit, no tears were shed people!

It wasn't until Margi mentioned it, that it dawned on me. That award, was a credit to me too.

I thought I would share how I achieve a waste free lunch box, most weeks.

While Izzy was standing with her other classmates, in front of the assembly, she was holding her lunch box. It's the same lunch box I used last year at Kindy. I bought a new one for school this year. It a Nude Food Movers lunch box, I bought at Woolies.

It has a compartment for a sandwich, so there is no need for wrapping it. Under the sandwich there is plenty of room for a piece of cake, some biscuits, cut up veggies or fruit.

There are a couple of containers with screw top lids for loose things like popcorn, sultanas or savoury biscuits like Shapes, or rice crackers.

I don't buy individually packaged snacks. I buy a big bag of sultanas, whole packets of crackers and make my own popcorn.  I then fill the coloured containers with whatever I have at the time.

These lunch boxes are available in a larger version too, with an extra compartment of containers. If I had one of these, I'd probably put yogurt in one container and freeze one with water in it, as an mini ice brick to keep it cool.

Do you ever think about what you can do to reduce waste?

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