The best of intentions and the not quite best of outcomes, that’s been my week. Well that, and doing a little bit of intentional discerning of what’s important and what’s not, who matters and who doesn’t and understanding what my limitations are, despite them not being what I want them to be!
Another huge week! I’m really looking forward to that week when someone asks me “what’d you get up to this week”, and I respond “well, fcuk all actually!”
Oh to be boring, or bored.
Fancy having a week where I didn’t have to wipe a tear, or shed a tear, or break up an argument or have an argument. Where my biggest decision is what to watch on TV. I’d just like a vanilla week! I imagine that I probably wouldn’t like it to be that way all the time, but just once in a while would be nice.
Many challenges have come my way recently, where I’ve had to accept that I can’t fix everything or everyone. In some cases, the realisation was liberating! Finally having the sense to be able to say, “not my circus, not my monkey” and to stop owning the problems of others, whether they wanted me to or not (because being a fixer, even if they don’t expect me to own them, I still try to).
In other cases, that same realisation was heartbreaking, and challenging. One of my biggest challenges is to remove my ego from situations. Decide when I should keep by plentiful opinions to myself, and when I should share them. Understanding that sometimes people aren’t seeking my counsel, they just want to talk and have someone listen without trying to solve what’s bothering them. Sometimes they just need a sounding board, and they trust me enough to be it. Sometimes, people won’t understand the solution (even though you know what it is), until it comes to them organically, through their own problem solving process or through living through their own crisis. My growth has come from finally getting that. Who says you can’t teach an old dog new tricks!
To everyone who had a rough week last week, I hope this week is better.
I’ve been busy! Just reporting in on the month long Creative Challenge (only a week to go!), I’ve done pretty well this week. This business about being intentional about creativity, or thinking outside the box has been really great on several fronts. It’s taken me out of “making excuse mode” and put me into a “challenge mode”. Those who know me well know that once I challenge myself, I don’t back down, so great things happen when I become determined.
So here’s what I’ve tackled in this Creativity Challenge this week – and a few more words to explain the list (If it doesn’t interest you, scroll on…..I get that it’s not everyone’s thing);
Challenge – reduce waste – put some thought into what we create and how to reduce it.
Knit a pair of house slippers for my Grandson Flynn
Bake using leftovers
Forage for food in my garden (not the obvious food, but the stuff we don’t see everyday)
Feed my pets right
1. REDUCE WASTE
As part of my quest to eliminate single use plastic from our (my) lives I’ve creatively reconsidered garbage (the landfill variety, not the recycle or compost variety) and how we create it and how we then dispose of it. What a hit that was! In 7 days we filled only 1/2 of a 10 litre garbage bin in the kitchen, bathroom and office. I walked our big wheelie bin up to the kerb tonight, with about 10cm of garbage in it! I stopped using plastic garbage bin liners. I found that if the bin has a bag in it, you don’t worry so much about what goes in there because you don’t have to deal with the sloppy, smelly mess right? So if the compost bucket is full, and you don’t want to go outside to empty it, you just throw those scraps in the bin. You just lift the bag out and put it in the big bin. The problem with that is that nothing ever decomposes in land fill, so we add to the problem.
But when you have to consider what’s going to be smelly or slimy and how you’re going to dispose of it, because you don’t have a bin liner in your bin, you re-think the whole consumption process. The compost heap has a new lease on life. Cooking quantities change so you don’t create as much waste. Spending goes down. Menu planning comes back so you can find ways to consume leftovers within 48 hours so you don’t have to throw them out. Packaging becomes a big consideration when you’re shopping if you have to consider how to get rid of the packaging and what impact that’s going to have. This challenge led to better eating, wiser shopping & less waste. SO GOOD! I’m so happy with this outcome.
2. Knit A Pair Of Slippers For Flynn
Doesn’t take too much describing, but I owed Flynn a knitted garment, after my last failed attempt at knitting him a hoodie/cardigan. I don’t know how I managed it, but in order for him to wear it, his arms would have needed to come from out of the back of his neck… not my finest hour, so I was pretty happy with this project and how they finished up. I handed them over yesterday and was rewarded with this cute thank you pic tonight!
3. Bake Using Leftovers
With thanks to Lady Flo Bjelke-Petersens, wife of the Ex-Queensland Premier, I whipped up a double batch of Pumpkin Scones today to share with my Mum for afternoon tea. Kinda ties in with my reducing waste quest. I had some leftover baked pumpkin that was headed for the compost in a few days. I was heading down the bake some biscuits track when I went to the fridge and found the pumpkin…. so glad I did. We’ve eaten 1/2 doz, sent another 1/2 doz home with Mum, and still have 15 begging to be eaten.
I feel like I’ve discovered new territory this week. Who knew that a patch of totally out of control sweet potatoes would yield a whole new favourite vegetable. Ladies & Gents, let me introduce you to Camote Tops. The leaves that grow above the ground, attached to sweet potatoes that grow below the ground are quite simply amazing. They can be used in salad, but I haven’t tried that yet. I’ve been chopping and then wilting the leaves just like you do with spinach and they taste amazing. I’ve used them in most meals this week and they even made it into the home made pet food! Here’s a link if you’d like to know more about them and how to use them. Cooking with Sweet Potato Greens . If you’re close by, let me know if you’d like to try them and I’ll pick some for you!
I’d set myself a challenge of foraging for food that’s right under our noses. I’d done a bit of reading a few weeks ago about edible weeds and how so much of what grows is perfectly edible, we’ve just been trained to go fetch our food from the supermarket and pay huge prices for less than fresh produce. What I was reading was telling me that many of the common weeds that we pull out of our garden beds and toss in the garbage are the foods of our ancestors before we lost our ability to hunt and gather. A few months ago, I decided that with a bit of research, I’d find out what parts of the plants in my garden are edible, but specifically, the parts that we throw out, not the obvious parts that we eat. Aside from the obvious things like zucchini flowers & beetroot leaf, which I use in salads and also treat like spinach and kale, I was surprised to find that carrot tops are great steamed, or finely chopped into a salad and make amazing pesto! We now also use the leaves off the broccoli plants & with the next batch of pumpkin, I’m going to use the baby leaves & flowers off the pumpkin vines, having found info on how to use those too. Kudos to the interwebs, that helps me discover a whole new world in my own veggie patch & nature strip!
5. Helping My Pets Eat Right & Heal (not heel!)
My pets are all elderly. I have an 19 year old cat, a 14 year old cat and a nearly 14 year old dog. They have some of the same problems that elderly people have. Not all their bits work as well as they should. They’re cantankerous, they sleep alot and just like Nanna, tucked away in the the nursing home, they rely on their carer/s to look after them and feed them food that will keep them healthy, inside & out.
I’m ashamed to say that almost a lifetime of a steady diet of kibble (which the advertising tells us, is everything a cat/dog needs), hasn’t done my elderly pets too many favours. Just like people, too much grain in their diet has an adverse effect on their health.
Zeus, our dog is a fat bastard. I’m mean you could land a plane on his back he’s so wide. Aside from sleeping 18 hours a day, he also struggles with arthritis and farts alot.
Mia, the 19 year old feline matriarch of our furbaby family members eats all day, eats all her food, all Mia’s (the neurotic 14 year old cat) food and would eat all Zeus’s food too, except that she can’t get at it, because Zeus is an inside dog (yep, a Siberian Husky inside dog) and Mia is incontinent and not allowed inside anymore because she doesn’t respect my furniture! She struggles with a bit of arthritis too, but mainly, we all struggle with her attitude…. anyway, she’s as skinny as a beanpole, regardless of the fact that she eats twice her weight daily (yes, she’s been wormed). Anyway, with all their health issues, that slightly align with mine (not the incontinence bit, mine’s just LBL), I figured they needed the same types of considerations to achieve a healthy weight and to just eat good food that’s good for them. So, we’re ditching (or almost entirely ditching except for emergency days), the kibble from their diet and instead we’re switching to homecooked pet food.
Takes less than an hour every 2nd Sunday, costs about $7-$10 and makes enough to feed 2 cats & 1 big-arsed dog for 10-14 days. Bonus on their health, bonus on my pocket, heaven points for me. If you’re keen to do the same, hit me up for the recipe or just guess your way thru the process like I did. 2-3kg pet mince (all the nasty bits that people don’t like) from the butcher or pet supply store. 3 carrots, 1 potato (not too big), leafy greens (like sweet potato tops!), 1 zucchini, 1 table spoon of gravox (because they deserve some flavour treats), 1 cup rice, 2-3 litres of water. Brown the meat, stir thru the rice, gravox & veggies. Add the water. Pop the lid on, bring to boil, reduce to simmer for 30-40 min. Let cool, decant into jars or containers (not to big), and then sit back and enjoy your pets treating you like a God!
I feel like a human pinball machine lately. Not the machine when it has just one ball in it, but the machine when the player sets off a bonus ball feature and 5 or 6 balls drop into the machine all at once and bounce off the rubber bands and back into play and the player is frantically trying to keep them all in play, not losing any down the multiple exit allies of the machine. All so the player can stay in play just a while longer, maybe even get a free ball or if they’re really skillful, a free game!!
My big challenge is to willingly let some of the balls fall through the exit, admitting that I can’t always keep up with being a super pin-baller and resolve to keep just one or maybe two meaningful balls in play without feeling guilty about not being able to juggle all six at once. Trouble is, how do I pick which ball is the most important?
What a head-smash couple of weeks I’ve had lately. I think the biggest challenge is not giving way to feeling sorry for myself, and finding ways to focus on the positive. I think that the challenge of decision is one of the pin balls too and I think it’s one of the most important ones. I’m sure that the minute I let go of focusing or staying positive, I’ll find myself on a very steep, slippery slope into the doledrums, an overcrowded, lonely place, that I don’t want to be in!
I’m amazed at how my month long creativity challenge has helped me during this very stressful time. I mentioned in a previous blog that my knee-jerk reaction was to declare myself too busy, and opt out, but being as determined as I am and not letting that be an option, looking for a way to be creative each day has taken my focus off whatever Shit Soup I’ve been served up to sip for the day and has usually taken me someplace much more positive.
When you create, it requires focus. That creation doesn’t have to be on canvas or have a finished product that you can hold in your hands, sometimes it’s as simple as being creative in your thought processes to solve a problem.
For me so far, it’s been about creating:
good food, which provides me with both a sense of accomplishment and comfort, not forgetting nourishment too.
I’ve had some crafts on the go and this week finished another string bag
I’ve done some creative stuff (planning and practice) in the garden
I’ve designed some kitchen curtains (a designer I am not, but a gave it a red hot go!)
I’ve problem solved (till I’m blue in the face ……… enough with the problem solving already!) and
I’ve been writing more.
So in the end, the creativity challenge that I regretted accepting has been a real blessing in disguise.
I’ve been posting my blog posts on Facebook too, which I don’t usually do, so please, feel free to scroll on by if they’re of no interest to you when they appear in your news feed, but I know of a few friends who like to follow, but are having problems subscribing to the blog, so FB is there alert. Just while we’re on Facebook, is anyone else over it just a little bit?…….that’s for another day……I’ve got a dog groomer arriving in 10, and I’m still in my PJ’s. Now there’s a Gratitude nugget…. I’m grateful for my Dog Groomer, Pieta. If she didn’t exist, I may have to wash that big lump of dog!
Oh….& here’s my bag & my kitchen curtains in case you’re wondering 🙂
This morning I posed this statement to myself as a question and decided that I’d like to think they do. I asked myself this question as I read a post, written by a total stranger on the other side of the world. She belongs to a special interest Facebook page that I also belong to. I only joined it yesterday, so I haven’t even got familiar with any of the members, we’re not connected in any way other than a passing interest in being self sustainable.
Though now that I’ve shed a tear for her and her plight, I’ll think of her all day (and probably for weeks to come) & so I had a thought. Wouldn’t it be great if in times of sorrow, the tears of others diluted your sorrow, if others sympathised, it eased your burden? That’s not say that I want the world to be collectively sad, that would just suck! But, as my tears flowed unabated for this total stranger, whose world is in pieces, I really wanted my tears, to mean something – to be useful. I didn’t want them to only be a knee-jerk reaction of a silly old girl who’s a bit soft!
So at that moment, as my tears flowed, seemingly without end, I decided that my tears did mean something and that in some form of cosmic symbiotic healing, the puddle of tears forming around the world, from people like me reading the tragic post, would in some way form a buffer around this poor woman whose heart and soul are currently in a million tiny shards. At some point, all those tears will come together and become something in the universe that will help rebuild this grieving mother. I don’t know what, I just know it, as sure as night turns to day, I know this to be true.
My last act to cement my conviction was to create something to convey my thoughts to others, so as amateurish as it is I made this tile. I didn’t draw the eye, I’m not that good….that’s courtesy of google images, but the words are mine. They’re for anyone to know that when I cry with you or for you, that my tears are never empty. So it appears that Creativity Challenge Day #8 is done without me even planning it.
I think we all know that we will never again be a plastic free society. So, if we must suffer this putrid product and the horrible things that it is doing and has done to our planet not to mention what it does to our wildlife then we need to find ways to minimise its use and to reuse what’s already here.
This stuff doesn’t break down. There’s a whole lot of misinformation out there about bags that break down, that actually don’t, or that take years and years to break down, but never will, because we stupidly put them inside another bag that won’t break down. Either way, what we are left with is lots of plastic in lots of places that you can see (that’s called litter) and in lots more places that you can’t see (like in the stomachs of wildlife and that bottom draw in your kitchen).
I don’t know about you and what your stance is on plastic, but I have two beautiful grandchildren I would really like to keep this planet safe for their future. So if you have children, grandchildren, nieces and nephews, or if you love wildlife or if you’re connected to another human that you just like a little bit, you owe it to the planet and to humankind to take responsibility for how you use, consume, and dispose of plastic, but in particular, single use plastic.
This is your problem too! Don’t pretend it isn’t….it’s everyone’s job to take responsibility. I’ll do another one of these posts, with the how to make changes (don’t eye roll me… I saw that!)….it’s really easy!
So, what does this have to do with creativity you might be asking yourself? Linda has clearly gone off on a tangent and lost the plot (you know that’s been coming for a while right?). Well I’ll tell you what it’s got to do with creativity, back in March, at an International Women’s Day breakfast I was introduced to PLARN, and its use in making the challenges experienced by people who sleep rough a little less “soggy”.
Plarn is basically yarn, made out of single use plastic bags. You know the ones that you promised you wouldn’t use again because you have 47 calico bags in the boot of your car, but you forgot to take them into the supermarket with you? I personally think that all retailers should charge $2.50 per plastic bag (never mind the pissy 10c a bag….who the hell cares about 10c?), maybe then, we might sit up and take notice….but I digress, again. Sorry. Anyway, Plarn is made out of single use plastic bags, and then used to crochet sleeping mats for our fellow humans, who are sleeping rough in parks, doorways, under bridges etc. They don’t sleep on the plastic, but they put it down on the ground as a barrier between the cold, often wet, ground and whatever they sleep on, be it cardboard, bedding, a sleeping bag or whatever else is at hand. In the morning, they roll it up, stash it with their other mobile sleeping arrangements and move on to start another day, dry (or drier than they would have been if they’d slept on the ground without a barrier).
There’s a group near me who’s collecting PLARN and turning it into sleeping mats, so if you’re interested in making some, but don’t want to do the crocheting, get cutting and joining and get in touch with me…. I’ll get it to them. Here’s a link on how to make PLARN https://youtu.be/TzYsRHk-8qo and above is a photo of my work in progress
Well I didn’t really always want to be a song writer, but, when I got up this morning, I decided that that’s what I’d do for my challenge today.
I figured, that with the catastrophes & life challenges that have crossed my path in the last few weeks, I had all the fodder for a good old country & western “somebody done somebody wrong/my horse is dead/my love left me/I got a flat on my pick up truck type of ballad.
I mean, none of that actually happened to me, but it’s pretty hard to make a song up about the downstairs wooden floor having termites in it and us having to cough up $5000 to get rid of the bugs and lay and new floor. How’s that for a sexy first verse?
Or how about, second verse, our fridge/freezer died sometime around Wednesday, but we didn’t notice until Sunday night, by which stage everything was defrosted, spoiled, or on it’s way to being spoiled, and had to be thrown out to the tune of about $700 worth.
Throw in a chorus of how my knees are hurting, I’m dealing with arseholes and I’m putting on weight before we hit the third verse about that we have to wait a full working week before we can get a repair man out, and we don’t even know if it can be fixed!
Add instrumental thinking music about here before we go into the final verse (sung with a catch in your voice) which deals with the fact that I threw the entire contents of my fridge & freezer into the garbage bin, which we’d wheeled into the kitchen because there was so much to throw out and as well as all the food we threw out, we also soaked up with towels, all the melted blood and other food juice sitting in the bottom of the freezer draw and we wrung those soaking towels into the bin, only to find that the bin had a big crack in the bottom of it, leaving a pool of bin juice on our kitchen floor.
And one more big sing-a-long of the chorus again before the music fades out.
My career as a song writer ended on the same day it started. I can’t pick a tune that I like that does my tale of woe any justice, and I just end up humming the chorus of “The Gambler”….
You got to know when to hold ’em,
Know when to fold ’em,
Know when to walk away,
And know when to run.
You never count your money
When you’re sittin’ at the table.
There’ll be time enough for countin’
When the dealing’s done.
It’s been really hard to practice Gratitude today, I spent most of the day feeling stressed and feeling sorry for myself, or just giving those who pissed me off a piece of my mind. So I had better remedy this before we hit midnight……..I am grateful for;
The roof over my termite infested floor and
The spare fridge.
and Spotify, so I don’t have to listen to my own songs 🙂
What else do you do on Mother’s Day morning, but get up, make yourself a coffee and wander down into the garden to get a bit of morning serenity.
Get a bee in your bonnet about finishing a job that you started the day before, because you’ve finally got some clarity of what a space should look like and how it should work.
Today, in my creative challenge, I created space, and order, finished sorting a wood pile, and re-purposed an old derelict compost structure at the end of our garden.
I’m especially proud, because I did all the work by myself & I do believe, it was at least equal to a gym workout! The created space is where I get the tick for today’s creativity challenge, the rest was just good old fashioned feeding the OCD beast. It seems that the need for order is never too far away. I’m always amazed at the peace that order brings me.
More than 100 planks of hardwood that had been left in a heap by the previous owners of our house were moved and sorted into short & long lengths good for re-use. Those that are rotted and only good for fire wood were thrown in another pile to be cut down. I’m excited about my re-use of wood plans, but that’s for another creative challenge.
At least two seasons worth of leaves shed by our neighbour’s big arse oak tree were raked up and piled high in the newly uncovered compost bay, and what didn’t fit in there, was scattered across the other two existing bays.
A pile of rocks, rubble and concrete slag was uncovered, half embedded in the soil which had been made rich by the rotting leaf cover and discarded timbers, were dug up and piled into a collection for me to use on another creative project that came to me while I did my Mother’s Day garden workout.
It appears that the more time I make for being creative, the more the beast is fed, and ideas flow. I could have probably worked all day, but was called to order and reminded that we had a Mother’s Day lunch to attend. Turning up in my pj’s, disheveled and sweaty, wasn’t going to work, so I reluctantly downed tools.
I’m looking forward to the creativity challenge when less time is available during the working week, determined to meet the challenge. Maybe finding ways to be creative with time restrictions can count as being creative. Problem solving is creative. As is wringing the necks of people who piss me off. I hope there’s not too many of them this week…..though I don’t hold out much hope for that. Watch this space to see what transpires, or don’t. But whatever you decide to do, have a great week. 🙂
Continuing on with my determination to see something through for more than a week, I’m stoked that I’ve arrived at Day 2 and I’m still committed!
I was waiting for the universe to present me with the challenge of creativity for today, but by 4pm I was still at a loss – totally ready to admit defeat. Wandering down into the garden, leaving my conundrum at the back steps, I headed towards my veggie patch to complete my daily annihilation of my most hated garden enemy, the caterpillar of the White Cabbage Butterfly.
Seriously, I kill about 10 of these shitty insects every day, and yet they continue to decimate my Kale & Broccoli plants, but I won’t give in, I’m determined to eat my fill of broccoli before the end of winter.
So I set about removing the pesky grubs, and having squashed two in my hand, the creativity challenge came to me! Find a different way to kill them that doesn’t involve getting their green slimy guts under my finger nails!
When I was sure I’d collected all that were eating my plants today, I toyed with freezing them and then crushing their frozen corpses, but that didn’t appeal. Then I thought I’d pour boiling water over them, but that required me going back into the house to boil the kettle and putting them somewhere safe until I could murder them. Not an attractive option.
I was starting to become concerned about the serial killer type pleasure I was deriving from planning a caterpillar massacre.
I have a leaning toward the principals of Permaculture, so I channeled my inner hippy, had a truly “Ommmm” moment and decided their fate in a second. They needed to become part of the circle of life once again…..so, with my handful of grubs, doomed never to be butterflies, I leaned over next door’s fence, called to their chickens, and, once I had their attention, threw them a handful of fresh, bright green, plump, warm caterpillars.
I regularly listen to a great podcast put out my Brooke & Ben McAlary, an Australian couple who hail from the Blue Mountains, west of Sydney, but who are currently travelling through Canada with their two children…. anyway…. if you want to know more about them, you can go to https://slowyourhome.com/the-slow-home-podcast/ and check out their thing… I love ’em.
So each month, they put out a challenge. Last month was get out in Nature for an hour a day. I failed.
This month, is be creative (in whatever way suits you) for 15-30 minutes a day. I was just about to dismiss that one as “too hard, I don’t have time”, but listening on, I thought maybe I can do this, and maybe it’ll get me out of some bad habits, caused by stress and tiredness, which have instituted themselves in my life of late. B&B told me (yes, they speak personally to me, all podcasters do) that creativity could be writing (doing it) cooking (just done it), gardening (was there 30min. ago), sewing, craft, whatever (see here for the actual words & not my disgraceful paraphrasing https://slowyourhome.com/236/) so…….whatever takes your fancy.
So this morning, I awoke with a cracker of a headache/migraine that effectively put my left eye out of action as far as focus goes (& that, Ladies & Gents, is my body’s way of saying, “I tried to warn you, and you didn’t listen, so here’s a kick in the head of you! Are you listening now?”. So, I listened, and took the day off work (well not in the office, but not quite off work) I went back to bed, pills on-board, and slept it off.
When I tried for land of the living Part II and felt a little more human, I remembered the challenge than thought, what the heck… I can stay online and keep getting pissed with people, or I can calm my farm and take up a challenge.
This is a long way of telling you I made Cream of Chicken & Mushroom soup, from scratch! Just how much from scratch even impressed me when I broke it all down.
I served this with home made bread (that I made too!). You know, I’m not a fatty because I eat junk food. I’m a fatty because I love my own cooking too much! LOL!!!
Read on for the recipe & how to.
Linda’s Cream of Chicken & Mushroom Soup
This is the finished product… a rich, hearty pot of soul food!
8 mushrooms (I grew them!) (tick creative)
1.5lt of chicken & vegetable stock (I made this last week and put aside for later) (tick creative
1 Cup of Natural Yoghurt (I made this too) yep….I’m in creative credit now
1 Chopped onion
2 chicken thigh fillets (browned first with the chopped onion)
+ 1/4 cup Asian style fried onions (or an extra onion at the start – was just emptying my pantry)
1/2 cup grain or legume of choice. I used Amaranth today, but you could use lentils, rice….whatever suits….it just helps to thicken things later on.
pinch of salt & a smidge of pepper
Sauté the fresh chopped onion and chicken thigh fillets
Add roughly chopped mushrooms, salt & pepper. Lower heat to med, and continue to cook for about 5 min., stirring occasionally.
Add dried fried onion, stir
add grain or legume of choice
cover with stock, bring to the boil & reduce to a high simmer for 5 minutes
drop to a low simmer for 20-30 min.
Remove from heat and with a stick blender (or whatever you use to blend), blend the contents of the pot. I used a stick blender because I’m lazy and I don’t want to dirty another vessel that I will then have to wash.
Add sour cream & yoghurt, blend again
return to heat, bring back to a simmer.
Serve with bread of choice & nourish your soul while you’re at it