What I’ve been reading this week

This week I’ve read a few and seen a few things that made me pause and wonder (and one of them made me cry). So a few links for your Friday night entertainment:

2014 Sony World Photography Awards Shortlist – some stunning photos on here, that left me wanting to know more about their backstories.

This Crappy Obituary – For the Woman I Found Dead in the Starbucks Parking Lot - like many of my friends have said, read the comments. It turns a sad snippet of a life into something more, something that makes connections between humanity.

A Meaningful Garden – a new series from Rebecca, talking about people’s very different gardens. First up is Cityhappyfarmgirl, with a tiny inner city courtyard garden.


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World Nutella Day

I’m interrupting these lack of updates and slightly neglected blog (did you notice that I got halfway through a re-brand and then got distracted again?) for this important news – today is World Nutella Day.

If you have a jar of nutella in the house, better go grab a spoonful right now.

My preferred method of eating Nutella is in a Nutella Mug Cake (if you don’t have cocoa, you can use Milo. I found this out when I stopped buying cocoa so I’d stop making this cake). We don’t have mugs giant enough to fit one serving in, so we mix it in a bowl, split it between two mugs, and then add a bit of custard in the top.

(Nutella does use palm oil, although it has switched to sustainable palm oil. Aldi have a version of a hazlenut chocolate spread that is palm oil free. But you’re all big people and can make up your own minds.)

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Eating local

I just finished reading this post on Eating Locally by Cityhippyfarmgirl. The challenge is to eat locally one meal a month. I thought at first, “I can do that!” Then to think about it a bit more – how local is local? Even the local farm food boxes that I’m thinking of signing up for get food from a four hour (or more) drive away.

The first thing that came to mind is salad. Add in some local eggs, and it’s a complete meal. So perhaps I need to think beyond salad.

I am thinking a bit this year about how we eat and what we eat. I want to cut down on the amount of packaging that comes from our food, and that means rethinking the way that I currently shop. I shop for budget at the moment and with an impatient toddler, for speed as well.

So I’m looking into local food boxes that I can order online and either get delivered or pick up nearby. Perhaps those will work, although last time we got one delivered, they didn’t recycle the boxes, so we had cardboard boxes piling up until we could reuse no more and had to recycle them all. Finding one that reused the boxes themselves would be ideal.

More research and thinking is needed.

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A Cup of Tea With Me

Pip has posted a little interview for her November students (which includes me!) to do – A Cup of Tea With Me.

1. name, state and a bit about what you do on a daily basis (work/parent/art/etc!)

My name is Alissa, I live in Brisbane in Queensland. I am a toddler wrangler on a daily basis. The official terminology would be stay at home mum, but my toddler hates staying at home. So we travel out, and adventure and have lots of fun together.

2. favourite things to do

I like to stay at home. I garden and look up things on the internet and drink a lot of cups of tea.

3. favourite place to be

Fraser Island – I grew up going there almost every school holidays and I love going back. I love the colour of the sand, the smell of trees at Central Station and the smell of the wind. 

4. favourite things to eat/drink

I like to drink tea (which is very appropriate for this post) and also Fanta. My liking of citrus flavoured things developed strongly while I was pregnant and I still enjoy them. I like lots of food and it changes all the time what I am craving – dumplings, sushi, baked beans, corned beef, more dumplings. Oh and cheese. Lots of cheese. I might just really like food. 

5. favourite inspirations

When I need gardening inspiration I like to read “Animal, Vegetable, Miracle” by Barbara Kingsolver, and also “Living the Good Life” by Linda Cockburn – both women who decided to grow as much food at home as they could. It reminds that it is achieveable, but that it does also take a lot of committment and time. And then I dream about doing it myself. 

6. something i want to know more about

Building stuff and doing home improvements. There’s a few things I want to do around the house that I don’t have the skills for. My usual mode of learning to do it and see how it turns out, but these jobs are too big (or obvious!) to make mistakes like that.

7. some favourite blogs

Made by Rae – an inspirational crafty blog with nice tutorials.

Purple Pear Organics – a urban farm blog.

No Big Dill – Katy has six children and still has time to sew lovely things.

I hope that interview was interesting for you! I’m getting back into the blogging swing after the disaster that was my December (for Christmas, the toddler gave me a tummy bug and it kind of all went like that), and will have lots of interesting things to chat about soon!

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A simpler Christmas

We’re doing a scaled back version of Christmas this year – the little one won’t cope with our usual busy day, and with not working, I don’t have much money to buy presents. But that’s making for a much less stressful time.

I’m trying to do some hand crafted presents, and some baking over the next week, but with a toddler who refuses to nap, the sewing may not get done. Every year I think I need to be more organised with the sewing, but I forget. Someone remind me next September, okay?

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Weeds and more weeds

I decided to take the advice of my Yates Garden Guide and treat this summer as a season in which I do not grow much. The weeds did not get this message though.

I am trying to do as much weeding as I can at the moment in the brief moments of time I have, and get the gardens prepared for the next season. While I know that looks aren’t everything, I’m looking forward to having garden beds that look neat rather than ones full of weedy patches.

I’ve been trying to work out the best method of keeping weeds down and I’d like to hear any ways that you use! Weed mats? Newspaper? Does your mulch actually keep weeds smothered?

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Our worm farm

Mr Worm

Mr Worm

To my surprise, our worm farm is playing a big part in the garden. Little F likes to check on the worms a few times a day, and has even learnt how to say worm so he can demand more visits.

We open up the top, pull back the cover and listen to the movement of the worms inside. They wriggle away, trying to get under cover and away from the light.

I’d been draining the worm farm after each storm we’ve had and putting the liquid on the garden that has the basil and tomatoes. I found the garden a bit hard to take a photo of – green plants with a green fence background – but the photo below shows a little bit of it. The plants on the right have been watered with the worm farm liquid. The plants on the left haven’t been (although I’ve started now).

Worm power

The plants on the right have been watered with the liquid from the worm farm.

I noticed that the plants on the right were a fair bit bigger and the only difference that I can work out would be the worm farm. The plants on the left are slightly more shaded than the ones on the right, but not too much more.

I’ve switched the watering the ones on the left with the worm liquid now, so I’ll see if they start catching up. In the meantime we’ll keep putting the vegie scraps in the worm farm and checking on them three times a day.

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