Cheap entertainment

My sweet peas did not like the heat of the last few weeks and they up and died. I pulled them out and threw them onto to grass. The chickens had a field day!

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All the ladies (minus Maggie who felt that the journey to the other side of the yard was not worth it) had a field day. They played in there for hours. Walking around, over, playing under. Eating the seeds in the dried pods.

I pulled out so many sweet peas all at the same time so I made a second pile. Herbs loved it! He went straight under and sat there. He watched me garden from his spot, he did some random rolling around but happily stayed under there the whole time I was in the backyard.IMG_4442.JPG

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Low waste entertaining

I am having 8 people over for dinner tomorrow (Saturday). I don’t entertain a lot, I don’t really enjoy cooking for other people. I’d rather meet somewhere and relax. Saying that I am not really sure how this happened.

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It is going to be 41 degrees (106F) so I don’t want to be doing much actual cooking. I am determined to make it as low waste as I possibly can. This has meant preparation! I started Tuesday night, soaking lentils, and starting a batch of sprouts. Wednesday night I cooked the lentils, due to the glorious heat we are experiencing I was able to drain them Wednesday morning and leave them on the counter and by the evening they had started sprouting! Yay! More nutrition availability! Wednesday night I soaked chickpeas and made pasta. I had to alter the machine, it has been driving me nuts! got the spanner out and broke off the piece that was causing me grief. So much better now. Mental note to self, when it is 28 degrees (82F) inside, cranking what seems like an endless amount of pasta is not ideal. I have never made paste and not cooked and eaten it the same day. This lot I put in a tin in the fridge. I am hoping that it will be fine…

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Spanner and piece I removed. Could have used any tool, spanner sitting on top…

Thursday night I cooked the  chickpeas and made hummus dip. I cooked quinoa and brown rice and made the dough for the crackers that I will cook today (while the sun is shining and solar can power it).

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When I next make lasagna I am going to stop at this point and use these as sheets.

Today, Friday, I am going after work to the market to get the 3 cheeses that I need, hopefully with no packaging!

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All my helpers in the background

The menu:

Dip and crackers

Cous cous salad with lentils. (all the veggies will be from the backyard, maybe some goats cheese)

Green salad, not yet picked. Sprouts are ready.

Pesto pasta salad. Basil to be picked tomorrow.

Zucchini fritters. I have been picking zucchinis all week, I have plenty.

Bread to be purchased from farmers market tomorrow.

Fruit for dessert.

So far everything has been bought in bulk, package free! This is super exciting to me. I have not worked out beverages yet. I hope the cheese works out, I haven’t been to this market before but I am hopeful. It did cross my mind that if I just bought a bag of crackers I could go to bed… I persevered. It seems more labour intensive because I spread it out over a few days, mostly due to not wanting to heat the whole house up doing so much cooking at once.

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Done, that is apparently enough to serve 6 adults a huge bowl of pasta, I don’t need that so I don’t know why I made so much, I am going to freeze some. Do you like my super expensive professional pasta holder?
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I can’t leave the pasta out to dry for long as Franklin thinks it is a game designed purely for his fun. It is called Let’s swat at the swinging stuff, break it, watch it fall to the floor then walk away.

Festival 21

On Friday I went to Festival 21. It was so great!

I didn’t take many photos, it was more about the information. They had some awesome people speaking. A lot of people passionate about the same things I am.

My idol was there, Joost Bakker (according to The New York Times “the poster boy for zero waste living”). He spoke about supporting the farmers, paying a fair price for good quality food. He gave some examples, in cheap white supermarket bread the farmer got paid 8 cents for the wheat that went into that loaf. 8 cents is crazy when most of a loaf of bread should be wheat.

He spoke about the nutrients in food grown in good soil, one of his catch phrases is “It’s all about the soil”. He spoke of the whole oat groats that he purchases (he rolls his own oats everyday). He knows of a man that grows oats for Uncle Tobies, he gets paid (I may be stuffing the numbers up slightly but the gist is right) $300 per tonne of oat groats. Joost’s neighbour (who he buys his oat groats from) gets around $2000 per tonne.  “He deserves to earn that” by paying the farmers properly it allows them to grow less, look after their soil, grow more nutrients rich food, add livestock into the picture for better soil health. Actually make a living.

The unspoken but general message of the day seemed to be We need to make farming a viable career option. In the 1990’s there were 400 farms supplying tomatoes to 7 canneries in Victoria. Now there are 9 farms supplying 2 canneries and most of our canned tomatoes come from Italy. If this trend continues we will not have anyone willing to work the land. This seems inevitable with the current trends, I am remaining hopeful that things will change. I only shop at farmers markets for fresh produce, I am going to make even more effort to purchase Australian dry goods. I am usually quite aware of where my food comes from but my aim is to make it 100% Australian. I think it is possible.

They hope to run this event every 2 years. I look forward to the next one 🙂

IMG_4457.JPGThis was a really long table, I was standing about half way down. Through out the day at different points along the table people were giving talks about their field of expertise.

IMG_4458IMG_4453There were free grapes! They had quite a few wooden box set ups with plants in them.IMG_4452IMG_4456

 

 

The Market

I had my very first market stall yesterday. It went better than I thought it would. A few things were purchased. A lot of discussions were had. The people were lovely.

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This was moments after we had first set up, we ended up moving the table to the front of the tent thing.

The friend that helped me organise the whole thing and set it up also sold a few things. All round, a good day. The time went quickly. I am still unsure whether I will do more. Tonight I will take photos of all the remaining stuff and put it in my etsy shop til I decide about another market.

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It was a massive weekend, starting on Friday day with festival 21 all about food security into the future. It was amazing!! I’ll talk about that next time.

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Solar panels

With all the lovely sun that we have been getting I have been avidly watching my energy meter. I have a 2 kW solar panel set up on the roof.

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I love to watch how much is being made, how much we are using, and what is being fed into the grid.

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I am feeling quite disgruntled after getting the last energy bill. We buy at 26 cents per kWh but we sell our excess at 6.2 cents per kWh. To me this is crazy. Plus they can change the price they give us at any point (see addit :(). Not long after they were installed a letter came in the mail saying they had decided to drop it from 8 cents to 6.2. Rude! Anyway, back to the last bill. Usage was 330 kWh and we sold back 330Wh. Electricity neutral essentially. But due to this ridiculous discrepancy in cost between buying and selling and the stupid supply fee the bill was $173.

I just found another bill from earlier, we used 310kWh and sold back 800 kWh. Bill of $130. This makes my blood boil.

People who got solar before 2011 were locked into this brilliant scheme that lasts till 2024 and won’t be altered til then (unless they alter their setup) and they get paid 60 cents per kWh. So they generally make money from their solar panels. I wish wish wish I had got in on that! To be fair they did install them when the prices were really expensive.

I have a dream. I want to be off grid. Tesla has made this dream ever so much closer. When they announced earlier this year their 10kW storage unit for only $3500 USD. It all seemed so possible!!! I am unsure when this will come to Australia and what the pricing will be like here. But to receive no electricity bills would be heavenly!!! It would take approximately 4 or 5 years to pay itself off but I absolutely think that is worth it. The possibilities excite me!!! I think it is awesome that thanks to Tesla and I am sure other companies, a suburban house has the potential to get off the grid and it isn’t that candles only, cook over an open fire kinda crazy.

Now to work out how to get rid of the gas…. Oooh and install more rainwater tanks and disconnect from that too. I love dreaming!!!!!

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Absolutely unrelated, but pretty stoked to find some pretty poppies come up. I have only grown them once before and I think they are beautiful!

 

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And just because I can, More Sunflowers! 3 different sorts. No idea which one is which. Have I mentioned that I love sunflowers??? I do…I love them.

ADDIT:  Holy moly, it is like they knew. I received a letter in the mail today. They are dropping the feed in tariff from 6.2 cents to 5 cents per kWh. Insert angriest face you can think of here. Please Tesla, bring your batteries to Australia, please please please.

Summer sun

It has been a hot and muggy few days here in Melbourne. The boys and the ladies have not really enjoyed it.

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Looks like he is screaming for Summer to go away. Hehe. Really just yawning after a particularly satisfying nap.

The chickens are better at communicating their heat distress, although sometimes I suspect they are putting it on. Maggie has been known to open her beak and hold her wings out when it is only 20 degrees C.

This is legitimate heat, so I have been half filling a glass container and freezing it overnight. Then around 2 or 3pm when they are sick of the sun I top it up with water and they have super cold water to sip on. They don’t like warm water, I have read on the internet that a chicken will die of dehydration even if there is a water source there if it has warmed up too much. I do not know if this is true, I know mine don’t like warm water. I am not willing to test the theory out.

The boys aren’t as obvious in their overheating. They will pant a bit if it gets really warm in here. Generally though it is body language, location of nap and respiratory rate.

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This pose from Herbs doesn’t mean he is hot, his location tells me that he is.

Franklin handles the heat better. Despite wearing perma boots and scarf. I love the tufts of fur under his paws.

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Just chillin’

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Herbs is nearly ready for his annual shave. Herbie the Lion. Once he gets his lion cut he is a new cat, the heat doesn’t get to him, he wants more love. Funny boy!

Long live Summer I love it even if they don’t!

Christmas has arrived at my house

I don’t really love Christmas, I like it. I like spending time with my family but I don’t love the commercialisation of the day.
I love the Christmas markets in Europe, I love the smell of pine, I love making gingerbread houses. Just not the massive stress and spending that usually accompany the day.

A couple of years ago (coincidentally when Christmas trees started costing around $60 for a nicish one) I felt it was a bit wasteful to grow this tree, cut it down and have it slowly die in your lounge room. Albeit smelling gloriously of pine whilst dying. So I looked into growing one myself in a pot that I could somehow get inside each year. Turns out that they are illegal to grow without a permit as they are considered an invasive weed.

I went to the plant shop to see what my alternatives were. They said the only real alternative is a spruce. They don’t smell of pine but they look kinda Christmassy.

Enter Bruce, Bruce the Spruce.

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He isn’t fully decorated yet. I will find the other coloured balls to put on him. Poor Bruce, put on the internet under dressed…

He lives outside for most of the year. He comes in for December. He grows about 1 or 2 cms a year. This will be his third Christmas with us. The star is for a full sized Christmas tree but I feel it gives him a bit more pizazz.

The rest of the house has a touch of Christmas. Just enough to feel somewhat festive. I burn an incense mix of wild orange and cedarwood (absolutely not pine I know but smells kinda earthy and woody, insert imagination here) when I want it to feel a little more Christmassy.

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The cactus came home with my sister after a night of drinking, for some reason he has stayed. He adds a little colour. Now he helps hold up some Christmas decorations.

 

And that is how Christmas arrived at my house.