Giving back to your community

Sometimes life seems a little crazy, way too hectic and a big bloody effort.  Sometimes when it is all of these things you add more and it just seems to work out fine.  In fact it can be quite satisfying.  I’m talking about volunteering..

I’m writing this post at 8:30am, I’ve just managed to have a no effort breakfast, the kids are happy lazing around in the TV room-wait the phone just rang. Crisis averted, back to writing. I’m completely stuffed from a big day of volunteering but I’m glad I still do it. So if I babble in this post, you know why.  Volunteering is  a value I want to instil in my children too.  Mr 9 and Mr 12 have already been involved in a few things.

Yesterday, the whole family were super busy! We started at 7am helping the Scouts set up a stall at the TAFE markets (an annual event with about 140 stalls). I also helped my students get their stall ready for the day.  At about 8am hubby and Mr 9 and Mr Almost 5 headed off to help set up for the Annual Volleyball tournament.  Mr 12 and I volunteered at the markets until about 2:30pm.  We then headed over to see how hubby was going with the volleyball tournament that he had organised and has done so for the 5 or so years.  At 3pm I took Mr 12 to the Scout hall to help get organised for the Annual Float Procession. At 5pm I met back up with Mr 12 to help walk alongside the float handing out Scout information. I ran up and down the main street of town, dance bombed the dance troupe (they weren’t impressed), photo bombed a few tourists and made a spectacle of myself, all in the spirit of volunteering mind you. We got home around 7pm only to be informed we needed to head back out to socialise with all the volleyball teams..Okay at least hubby gave me 5 minutes to shower and get ready.

What makes me sad and sometimes downright annoyed is that it seems a lot of people of my generation and younger don’t seem to have time to volunteer. Why is this so?  Life seems to busy, other things are more important, people would rather get paid for their time?  I don’t know.. Sometimes I think there is also a fine line between paid work and volunteering.  I know quite a few examples when there has been a need in the community but there is an expectation that it is filled by a volunteer. I also know quite a few amazing people who seem to volunteer for everything…I’ve also seen volunteers burnout.

The best thing that came out of yesterday was a quote from Mr 12, “I’m kinda of proud of what I did today.” Don’t you wish you could bottle those moments.

My Ocean Harvest

With the salty sea breeze caressing my face, the cool water licking at my feet, whales frolicking on the horizon and the osprey circling  above I was transported away to a moment of happiness.  I could here the kids squealing with delight as they constructed a pool and then later entombed their older cousins in the sand. Yes people I was at the beach, Noosa North Shore to be precise.

Now please don’t be alarmed by what I am about to tell you next…..Are you ready?….Okay…..Sure?……So beside the fact that I was having some well deserved R & R with my family, I was also on a mission to catch a fish!  Earlier on in the day we had collected a couple of dozen pippies in hope to entice our dinner to join us.

So after a few unsuccessful attempts at casting a surf rod beyond the first breaker, my darling husband, Reece, decided to man up and help me out. (He’s so strong!) Shortly after I hauled our first dart of the day. Reece stepped up yet again by dehooking, rebaiting and casting my line. Over the course of the afternoon I caught three more dart and a bream (all legal size). I was happy.

I felt it was important to write this blog as this is part of who I am.  Ever since I was old enough to hold a rod, my parents would take my brother and I fishing in the passage near Bribie Island.  These were magical times.  For not only did we connect as a family, it was an opportunity to connect back to our roots. Yes we are all descendants of hunters and gatherers and depending where we lived would determine our diet.

Today it is a  completely different story.  It’s convenient food for our fast paced lifestyles.  Too tired to cook? Busy day at the office?  Nothing in the Fridge? Food these days for the affluent, comes premade, precooked, packaged, frozen, chemically altered and potentially has travelled more times overseas than I have.  Getting all your meals from a grocery store, dining out or take away conveniently also disconnects us from the source. Take for instance the frozen prawns my friend bought the other day.  Caught in Australia but packed for your convenience in China.  My friend had made the innocent assumption (like most of us who have any nous of common sense) that being Australian it would be packed here.

I honestly believe that if you source food directly from mother nature you will reap the benefits.  So what does one learn from a fishing experience? Catching a meal takes time, patience, respect and knowledge. That afternoon helped me reconnect with ocean. The fish that I caught we were grateful for, we only took enough for a meal and the osprey who had been patiently circling above graciously accepted the frames which we shared with him.

Jamie Oliver and Me

Confessions of a foodie.  My ‘not so secret’ love affair.

Intrigued? Jealous? Well don’t be too shocked! My relationship with Jamie Oliver is purely based on my food obsession.  Have you ever made a list of people you’d love to invite for dinner? Well Jamie’s definitely on my list. Rest assured Jools (Jamie’s better half), I’m not one of those crazy stalkers who sends inappropriate gifts.  For heaven’s sake it’s not that sort of relationship. Besides I’m a happily married woman.

Although my relationship with Jamie is purely one sided we do share a love of food, the environment and helping others.  My apologies if my heading misled you, I really wanted to see if my husband is reading my posts (love you honey).

So I’m loving Jamie’s new series based on his new book, ‘Save with Jamie’ (Penguin, 2013). Jamie has such a natural way of engaging with people.  His passion is contagious. His book and the series is dedicated to cooking beautiful  home meals that are  reasonably healthy and cheap. Jamie’s instinctual cooking methods allows home cooks to feel good about being flexible and creative.  YES- it’s okay to not measure everything (lugs of oil, knobs of butter), get your hands dirty and substitute ingredients. More importantly though, Jamie’s committed to showing you clever ways to reduce food waste by snazzing up leftovers, freezing and planning.

Save with Jamie is far from being just another cookbook.  In addition to the 120 money saving meals, it also contains detailed nutrition information, shopping tips, kitchen organisation and plenty of inspiring photos.  What a great team Jamie must have!

So to wrap up my post, I thought $24 for Jamie’s book was a great investment.  I also don’t mind sharing my living room with Jamie on a Thursday night, 7:30pm,  when he brings the pages of his book to life with his TV series.  So Jamie if you’re reading this, feel free to pop in for dinner and we can talk turkey about employment opportunities for an obsessed foodie who wants to change the world with you. Love you Jamie (note to self-okay, that may be a little stalkerish).

For your own copy of Jamie’s book visit: http://www.jamieoliver.com/savewithjamie/

FOOD WASTE NASTY FACTS (extra)

Food waste is one of my all time pet hates. Did you know that in  New South Wales (Australia), 800 000t of food from households ends up in landfill? This equates to 315kg of food waste or 38% of  household waste or $1036 per year per household. As it is a significant amount, it also contributes to climate change as the breakdown process of food creates methane. (http://www.lovefoodhatewaste.nsw.gov.au/love-food/environmental-impacts.aspx#production) On a more global scale, according
to a study conducted by the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization,
one-third of all the food produced around the world, approximately 1.3 billion
tons a year, is never eaten. I know Jamie would not be happy about that.

 

 

A Celebration for Foodies

When it comes to food I am fairly obsessive.  If I’m not in the kitchen creating or in the garden collecting eggs or picking vegies, I’m probably reading a food mag or watching a cooking show.  Let’s not forget the regular practise of consuming food too.  That I do quite well.  So when one of my BFFs (Best Friend Forever) suggested we go to this year’s Causley Fresh Gate To Plate Degustation (http://www.gatetoplate.com.au/main.html) well I did backflips.  What a great foodie challenge to eat through several courses highlighting local products and local Chefs.  Of course this would be deliciously accompanied by some beautiful near local wines.

Helper Dianne Luxton and Chef Antony Perring at the Gate To Plate masterclass on Saturday afternoon. Photo JoJo Newby / The Daily Examiner

Helper Dianne Luxton and Chef Antony Perring at the Gate To Plate masterclass on Saturday afternoon. Photo JoJo Newby / The Daily Examiner

Well did I cry in my pillow and comfort eat my way through a bag of Choc Bits when my BFF informed me that she had been too late to book us a table.  Okay I may have been a little too dramatic with the crying into the pillow scene but I was genuinely upset.  However there was a silver lining on a cloud of pink fairy floss to our dilemma.

BFF had suggested we book in for the Yamba Food Trail followed by a Master Class.  All day taste testing local food and getting foodie tips from experts, “Yeah, count me in!” Locally ground coffee (http://www.espressobotero.com.au/), a tour of a local fish farm (http://pim.net.au/),  a local deli shopping experience (http://www.causleyfresh.com.au/), lunch at Wato’s Fish and Burger Bar, Yamba, and  let’s not forget to mention the beautiful bottle of Sparkling we consumed(http://www.robertchannonwines.com/Scripts/openExtra.asp?extra=1) made for an unforgettable food trail experience.

Our day continued on a high with a Master Class at our local Art Gallery. Our host for the day Chef Antony Perring (http://www.ironsandcraig.com/) , roped me into assisting him to make ricotta.  (Between you and me I was totally loving the limelight). We were also spoilt with some mouth watering BBQ prawn and scallop nibbles.  No one could resist the  dessert presentation (http://www.nicholsonfinefoods.com.au/) which was truly a work of art.  On the inside we were all plotting the quickest way to get to the dessert display and which people we would need to knock over (lucky I was in the front row and therefore could throw myself at temptation).  All of this amazing food was perfectly matched with Robert Channon Wines from the Granite Belt and coffee made with love from Espresso Botero.

Alas all good things must come to an end, so I bid my new friends farewell but I was happy in the knowledge that not only do I have all of this amazing produce available to me in my Clarence Valley, I know that I’ll be doing the food trail and master class again next year.  One last word, this obsessed foodie enjoyed herself so much that she has volunteered to help organise next year’s event. Maybe this way we can be guaranteed a table at the Degustation!

 

Why my human loves me

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Purr… My name is Sugar Minx. I’ll try and keep this short and sweet.  I just wanted to let you know that domestic animals play a vital role in society and we should be taken more seriously. I’ve been with my current humans for about six months and to be honest with you my job is exhausting but so rewarding.  I make sure I share myself around the family as I’m sure you know what a calming effect I may have on them. They constantly need my attention so I endure about 50 or so cuddles and pats daily.  The male elder of our family needs extra special attention (although he is still somewhat resistant to this).  I see him off to work every morning and greet him when he arrives home.  At night when he is asleep with exhaustion, I sometimes groom him, which he has now turned into a game of let’s hide under the sheets!

My humans in return do look after me quite well too.  When I first arrived in their home they took me to the vet to have me desexed and vaccinated.  Rumour has it that there are thousands of unwanted domestic animals euthanized every year due to irresponsible humans. My humans also ensure that I am kept inside at night so I don’t  hurt wild animals.  I know, to look at me you would think butter wouldn’t melt in my mouth but my hunting instincts are still strong.

So if you are thinking about getting a cat, remember it is a commitment for about 15 years.  I’ll keep you posted on my humans progress.

A tough gig this Father’s Day

It has taken me a couple of days to get my thoughts together to write about Father’s Day 2013. I want to firstly dedicate this post to three great men; my husband, my father and my father-in-law.

This was somewhat of a tough Father’s Day for our family.  My father in law passed away in July so it was our first year that he was spiritually with us.  My husband and I have not had the chance to talk about this yet, so thank you blog you have made me realise this.  I do need to sit down with hubby and see how he is going.  There is a bit of an emptiness knowing that he has passed over.  I know that my husband loved his Dad very much and that he will be missed. When we lose people it gives us the opportunity to reflect on what is important in life.  I have been struggling with this for quite a while but for me I do know that good health, love and time are on the top of my list.

We were fortunate enough to spend time with my father in law a couple of weeks prior to his passing.  This in a way was a wonderful gift for us.  In some ways maybe he knew his time was up for he shared some thoughts with us that he had never expressed before.  This was out of character as he usually just stuck with safe topics like trucks and rally driving (two of his passions). During our stay, he expressed some very kind words about my husband.  This I will always treasure as I know that my father in law was not big on sharing these types of ‘feelings.’ This meant so much to me.

My husband gave his sons a beautiful gift on Father’s Day too.  He spent most of the day canoeing and fishing with them.  He was showered with usual preschool and school handmade gifts which were gorgeous and I know he got a buzz out of these.  I refused to give out cash to the boys and take them shopping to buy ‘stuff.’  When it comes to commercial gift giving, it always been fairly low on our priority list so I know that hubby didn’t feel disheartened when he did not receive the token socks, jocks, quirky coffee mug, chocolates or bottle of rum.

My Dad on the other hand was a different story.  I felt SO guilty about not producing a commercial gift of some description.  My Dad is far from materialistic but it is so engrained in me (years of advertising brainwashing I suspect) to go out and get Dad something that I really struggled this year.  Here I am trying my best to change habits (one being buying less useless stuff) that I have lost sleep and may get a cold sore over this.  This year I gave my Dad the whole day with me.  (Mum and Dad have just spent the week with us as they live 4 hours away.) So we did a little day trip, had a picnic and Mum and I arranged a special dinner at home for my Dad, hubby and the kids. I don’t know?? Father’s Day was kind of a fizzer for my Dad and it will never be the same because I know deep down inside the only thing I think my Dad would dearly love is my brother back who with us in spirit.

So it really shows us all that we don’t need all this ridiculous commercial crap.  What we need is time spent with loved ones; young, old and in between.  So give someone you care about a big hug today because you never know what is around the corner.

Start by doing one simple thing…..

It truly is as simple as making one change.  I did the other day by putting up a “No advertising Mail” sign up on my letter box.  According to www.ecohub.perth.wa.gov.au Globally, it is estimated that 100 million trees are  harvested to produce junk mail each year. In Australia, 8.2 billion  articles of junk mail are produced every year, along with over 650  million articles of addressed promotional mail. So what are the pros and cons in doing this?

Cons- needed to outlay money to buy the sign, time to put it up, possibly miss out on a few specials

Pros-reduce my annual paper waste by about 40-50kgs, not be enticed in buying more ‘stuff’, time better spent doing something a little more constructive than reading junk mail

I have to admit that once the sign was up I felt really good that I was making a difference. In a way I felt empowered. To be honest with you I have not missed the junk mail at all. So, an easy DIY project for this weekend.

Source: http://www.ecohub.perth.wa.gov.au/categories/waste/actions/no-junk-mail-and-spam/

 

World Orangutan Day

Did you know that there are approximately only 7000 Sumatran and 45000 Bornean Organutans left in the wild?  According to the experts orang-utans have 97% DNA in common with humans. Over the last 20 years these beautiful animals have had a massive decline in numbers mainly due to habitat loss. Sumatra alone has lost nearly 80% of its natural forest. Orangutans are one of many species threatened with extinction.  It is estimated that if nothing is done they will be extinct within the next ten years. For me, they represent ALL species that face extinction in Borneo and Sumatra due to habitat loss.

Their rainforest homes are being wiped out for mainly palm oil and paper pulp plantations. Palm oil is something I’ll blog about later.  In brief, it is a used in many food products and personal hygiene products. Not all companies disclose its use in the list of the ingredients either.  There are a myriad of names it is listed as but most commonly in food products it is simply listed as vegetable oil.

So what can we do to support World Orangutan Day?

Without spending a cent you can help the orang-utans and the many other species who are facing a grim future by;

  • Spreading the word through social media
  • Spend some time in your pantry/bathroom checking out what products you use that contain palm oil and start buying palm oil free products or make your own
  • If you’re unsure whether your products contain palm oil email or message (via facebook) the company
  • Sign a petition about labelling, logging or palm oil
  • Find out more about the plight of orang-utans by visiting one of the many organisations that are doing amazing work to save them.
  • The following websites are a good place to start;
  • http://www.palmoilinvestigations.org/
  • http://www.orangutan.org.au/index.htm

Just remember you can be part of an eco revolution. You have the power to act especially through social media and as a consumer. Your contribution may seem small but together we can make a positive change.

 

 

 

Blogs away!

We are go! I am so excited to be finally blogging! Hooray! This has been a while in the making.  So welcome to my blog.  My mission is to share with you all the triumphs and as one of my son’s would say, “Epic fail Mum,” of becoming a more sustainable family.

My focus is on changes we can make at home.  I will cover topics including health and well being, anything foodie and also any changes we can make to reduce our ecological footprint. Along the way our lives will hopefully improve through a slower and simpler lifestyle.  We will certainly be saving a few dollars too (that’s always a good thing)!

I would love you to be part of my blog as we  discover new ways to be more sustainable and improve our knowledge on environmental issues. So please share your thoughts too.