Monday, 30 August 2010

Going Green in September

I am declaring September a challenge month. It's a combination of Super Kawaii Mama's Relaxation August and the challenge set by the blogging family behind Consumeless For A Year (which, surprisingly, is about consuming less for a year!)

Now, a year is quite an investment, and I have been known to be fickle at sticking to plans, so I am declaring September a "green" month, in the hope that I will create some better habits and help the environment at the same time.

What rules will I live by?

♡ I will not purchase anything for myself. ANYTHING (yeah, this might be hard to stick to)
♡ I must only use reusable shopping and grocery bags - NO PLASTIC! Small plastic bags for fruit and vegies will be saved from my first shop, and reused until they break
♡ I will not be lazy and throw everything in the rubbish! I must sort my recyclables from my true trash, and I aim to separate anything suitable for the compost bin, and not the rubbish bin.

♡ I will cook healthier meals, and we will not eat takeaway. No snacks from the tea-room, no bottles of drink, no lunches or snacks while out and about
♡ I will repair all of the clothes in the mending basket. And any new garments must be hand made!

♡ I will put on an extra layer of clothes before turning on the heater.
♡ I will unplug unused appliances instead of leaving them on standby mode
♡ I will use Blackle

Here's what we're already doing:

♡ I only wash laundry in cold water, and we don't own a dryer (our living room is always littered with clothes horses)
♡ We use water saving shower heads, and I shower at work (after the gym)
♡ We have solar hot water
♡ We don't have mains water connected, only tank water (which isn't by choice, and it sucks having your shower schedule dictated by the rain clouds!)
♡ I buy secondhand
♡ I use green grocery bags sporadically

Now, I foresee some challenges. J's birthday is in September, as is the Gangsters' Ball and a trip to Melbourne to see Mary Poppins! I also have a week of leave at the end of September, but thankfully I won't be able to go shopping in Geelong as a darn cycling race is on, closing down major roads and making it nigh impossible to get in or out!

Anyone up for joining my challenge? I might particularly need help with the spending ban aspect of this challenge!

Saturday, 28 August 2010


Sorry it has taken me so long to post photos of my new 1950s lamps. You see, that involved me tidying up J's side of the bed, and I was putting that off! But it's done now (I have an assignment due on Monday - ergo I need to procrastinate.)

While they don't match, they're close enough. They might also be a fire hazard - the metal sure does get hot if we leave them on for a little while! Luckily we don't do a whole lot of reading in bed - we're more the watch-the-first-half-hour-of-a-movie-before-falling-asleep-and-waking-up-hours-later-to-the-menu-playing kinda people. On another note, I can't wait for winter to be over so our windows stop fogging up overnight.

And in totally unrelated news, I tweaked my blog template a little (damn you CSS, why couldn't it be in PHP?) so I can now display photos at the XLarge setting without them sprawling across into my right column. Hurrah! This involved changing some other settings too though, so it looks a bit different now. I'm slowly working backwards and changing all my pictures to the larger size on old blog posts, so bear with me.

Thursday, 26 August 2010

Mum and Dad, circa late 1970s

I have only seen photos from the 1970s of my parents one other time, and they were actually slides my grandmother had. I don't think these have come from the same collection, because I don't remember these ones at all.

Mum, with one of my great uncles. My grandmother still has the same curtains, blinds AND couches!

Dad's side of the family - he's the bushy one! Ironic, seeing as he's almost entirely bald now (still has the beard though, but it's decidedly white now). His brother (far left) looks so geeky (he's a pilot instructor for Qantas now), his sister (she's a SAHM), my grandmother and grandfather. My grandfather passed away in 1998, but my grandmother is still going (albeit not very strong) at 88! 

It's kinda cool to know that my mum was really pretty, and my dad was cool (but I could have told you that going by his record collection). Dad did pretty well for himself!

I'm working on obtaining more of these photos - a relative has plenty more apparently, so let the email begging begin!

My first award. Part 2.

Right, you should all know the deal... here are my remaining favourite things!

7. Tibet

Quite possibly my favourite place in the world. It was just the total opposite of Beijing (where I was living at the time): full of colour, spirituality, life and very friendly people, amazing scenery, and blue sky! I actually cried when I boarded the train for home (but that might have been the thought of being stuck on another train for 48 hours!). I will definitely return, perhaps for a short study trip to Lhasa University.

The view from the roof of the Johkang Temple

Potala Palace -  it took us over an hour to climb that flight of stairs you can see, thanks to altitude sickness!

8. Family

I love my family with all my might. I'm lucky in that my extended family is very close, so we regularly see great aunties and second cousins - almost everyone lives in or around Geelong, apart from a few who still manage the trip down to visit a few times a year!

My brother and I are particularly close - we used to spend hours Skyping while I was in China, talking about music and movies. Mum was like my rock while I was living first in Canberra, and then in China. It wasn't uncommon for me to call mum to ask how long I should cook something, or what was the best way to remove a certain stain! And Dad... he's knows everything, and I admire his amazing work ethic. 

Dad in Guilin, China. The only one brave enough to hold one of the birds!

One of my great uncles, my Pa and my brother - at our shed warming!

My uncle Dazza, great uncle Eric (who passed away, and it's his farm we now live on), and my Pa. We're a farming family... can't you tell?

Me (during my metal phase), Mum (who always has her eyes closed in photos, and looks nothing like that now as she's just lost 15 kilos!), my brother, Nan, Pa and Dad

Dad, Nan and Mum...

P.S. I have some really cool photos coming of my parents in the late 70s... but that's another post. Stay tuned!

9. Music

I feel sorry for people who are tone deaf or hearing impaired - it must be a horrible existence without music. I constantly need music, wherever I go. And I'm lucky that my parents had fantastic taste in music. As a child, Mum would sit my brother and I on her lap and she'd teach us to read by singing the lyrics that were printed on the Beatles Blue Album (1967–1970) record sleeve.

My genres? Rockabilly, 1950s r'n'r, doowop, swing, big band and metal (the heavier, the better). An interesting mix, I admit.

10. ???

I'm really stuck on number 10. I can't really put "food" down, because food and I often have a love/hate relationship, and I've struggled with an ED in the past. Do I put "bourbon"? My all-time favourite drink, but it's silly to rank an alcoholic beverage up so highly in your life (I really do love it that much though!).

I like reading, but not that much. I like movies, but I could live without them. Maybe something will come to me, but for now, lets leave it at "freedom". I have a lot of freedom in my life - my work is flexible, my commitments are few, financially I am alright (but working on making it better), I am able to express myself however I want without repercussions (apart from a few stares when I walk down the street) - so life is good.

Me with a carved Buddha statue/painting on the side of a cliff, Tibet. Whoops - my memory fails me, it isn't actually toilet paper strewn about - they are silk scarves!

(I could have been sneaky and put this chap as number 10, but then I'd be in big trouble with J.)

(Or.... perhaps I should have listed "the exclamation mark" or "the bracket" as one of my favourites... I probably tend to overuse them! Case in point ----> ! )


And now I must nominate 10 other bloggers to receive this award!

1. Kitty's Vintage and Kitsch - a fellow Aussie living in a great 1950s pad, who finds the most amazing vintage finds, leaving me extremely jealous!

2. When I Grow Up I Want To Be A Pinup - a gorgeous Aussie/Indo girl in Scotland working her way to fab

3. Old Lady Chic - Kerri and I have the exact same taste in almost everything, so her blog really appeals to me!

4. Emma aime - I love Emma's weekly "What Emma Did" posts, and she posts some awesome outfit pics too!

5. Pop-o-matic Deluxe! -the girl who introduced me to the Vintage Network Worldwide!

6. Wearing History - I am amazed at what this blogger can create with some fabric and a sewing machine!

7. Circle 7-2099 - More awesome 1950s op-shop finds than you can poke a stick at (and jealously ensues!)

8. Believe Me.. Nothing is Trivial - this blog appeals to the dark side in me - scientists, fashion and Marilyn Manson.

9. Ballarat Vintage Style - A fellow country blogger with some awesome outfit pictures - but she hasn't blogged in a little while - blog soon if you're reading this!

10. PearlCraft - sure, most of you won't be in the market for an awesome restored steering wheel, but there is plenty of cool cars to drool over on their blog! I'm sending my steering wheel to them soon for beautifying!

Wednesday, 25 August 2010

My first award. Part 1.

Wow, I am honoured to receive an award from Laura over at Ramblings. My very first! I'm actually going to do this in two parts, if you don't mind... otherwise it is one MASSIVE post, because I tend to prattle on, and I want to include some cool pictures you may not have seen before! So numbers 1 through 6 on this post, 7 - 10 and my nominations on the next!

The rules of the tag are:

1. Post who gave you this award
2. State 10 things you like
3. Give this award to 10 other bloggers and notify them with a comment

So here goes (in random order):

1. Vintage

This pretty much had to come first, didn't it? What started off as a love for the 1950s has swelled into love and appreciation for the 1930s and 1940s as well. My love has led me to sewing, knitting, trying my hand at being a pinup, and rock'n'roll dancing. I also love how simple life was back then, and I would love to be a 1950s housewife (granted, we now have the choice, for which I am grateful.)

2. J

Goes without saying too. He's my best friend and my love. He puts up with my obsessive cleaning, my kooky tastes, and he keeps me sane!

3. My car

This car represents me finally being independent - it was the first car I'd bought with my own money, and I have struggled for two long years to get her roadworthy. The battle is only partly won, though, because I still have a lot of cosmetic things to fix! Also, I am officially taking the dodgy panelbeater to court, I'm just waiting for the hearing date. I can't wait to put that all behind me.

4. Animals

Some people love children. I love animals. And we have lots: plenty of cows, 14 chooks, a sheep, two dogs, a snake, a bearded dragon and a scorpion (but I don't love the scorpion). I have what J calls a 'snyaw' attack whenever I see a baby animal - there is lots of squealing and excitement involved. Of course, there are the sad times with animals too (poor Brando) - but such is life!

(Poppy and Ace, and Ace's ball)

Mary... she likes to eat crunchy stuff - gravel, concrete, flaky rust...

5. Where I live

It's quiet, peaceful, beautiful and best of all, it's been in my family since 1855 when my relatives bought it from the Clyde Company. I plan on living here until I die.

The Moorabool River provides part of our boundary

Pretty much everything you can see is our land, apart from the hill in the distance

6. China

I'm sure some of you know that I lived in China. I miss China immensely - mainly the friends I made over there, the delicious food and the shopping! I really want to go back, but I fear it wouldn't be the same without my friends, who have all returned to their home countries as well.

Being clowns atop of Fragrant Hills/香山 - check out the smog... that's a pretty good day!

Being clowns again, this time at a restaurant!

Making dumplings to celebrate Christmas (but on Boxing Day... we had to attend class on Xmas Day)

Fish cakes! Cooked vanilla batter with chocolate center, eaten piping hot. My friends bought me a huge box of 30 for my birthday, which I shared with the class

Freezing my ass off in Ha'erbin - it was minus 25 degrees in the day, minus 35 at night! So cold that your eyelashes froze, as well as the hair and moisture inside your nose as soon as you stepped outside!

Our farewell China party - held in the function room of the Louis Vuitton store! One of my friends was a frequent shopper there, so they offered him a party as a goodbye gift! Night to remember.

Stay tuned tomorrow for the second installment, plus my nominations of blogs to pass on this award!

Sunday, 22 August 2010

RIP Brando

Well, since my last post, my night just got a whole lot sadder.

I went out to give Brando another feed at 9:30pm, after hearing him bleating, only to find him curled up on his blanket on the floor of his little room. I picked him up and took him over to a seat, so I could feed him, but his little legs gave way.

Thinking he might be too cold, or needed to wake up properly before I fed him, I brought him inside and he was all toasty and wrapped up in a blanket in a massive cardboard box in the living room. But he failed to wake up, and instead bleated oddly and kicked out his legs occassionally.

So I set up the swag next to his box, so I'd be right there ready to give him his next feed when we awoke properly. But he didn't. And when I picked him up, he was limp and couldn't hold his head up by himself. He started having trouble breathing, and his mouth and nose seemed congested. I took him out of the box, and laid him on a towel next to my swag, with his hot water bottle keeping him toasty.

He began having a real hard time to breathe, and was occassionally stopping breathing, then a little fit of the jiggles would get him going again. He kept opening his mouth too, like he was trying to exhale, but nothing would come out. I think I sat there for about 2 hours, watching his little chest rise and fall, and feeling his little heart beat. Then feeling it beat slower. Then less frequently.

I prayed that it would be over quickly, and it was, I guess (but really, it's never quick enough). I watched him as he struggled for his last breath, and at 1:51am his little heart stopped beating at all.


I feel like a downright fool for being so emotional and upset. I only had him for a little over 12 hours. I feel like it could be my fault, like there was something I did (or didn't do) that could have avoided this. Was he too cold in his little hut? Were his blankets not thick enough? Did I not feed him enough at his last feed? Did I tire him out?

Or was it something he gained last night, spending the night without his mother's heat, protection and milk? I know it's probably the latter, and that the first 48 hours in a lamb's life are the toughest, and not all are strong enough to survive. Maybe the mother knew this when she gave birth to him, and abandoned him because he was ill. I guess I should be thankful that he didn't die out in a paddock, alone, and at the mercy of foxes. But that doesn't make me feel any better.

Tomorrow morning (or this morning, rather) I'll bury him under the lone tree in our backyard, and make a little cross for him.

I feel just terrible.

Saturday, 21 August 2010

Meet Brando!

After the excitement (or lack thereof) of voting, I set aside today to make some soup in the slow cooker - lamb shank and barley... delish! - and do some study. Then, I received a phone call.

A lamb had been abandoned during the night by its mother, so was therefore mine! I quickly jumped in my car, picked up my mum, and drove to Werneth to my uncle's farm. Werneth is about an hour away inland (between Rokewood and Lismore), and has an even smaller population than where I live (I think there are two houses?).

I wish I had taken some more photos, but there were more important things on my mind... i.e. getting my 18 hour old lamb to learn to drink! My uncle thinks that he was born sometime yesterday afternoon or evening (after his last check of the paddock), and this morning his mother had just left him to his own devices. By lunchtime he was still on his own, so I was called to save him.
You may have noticed - lambs aren't born all white and fluffy! He's covered in placenta and dirt, which should rub off in a week or two. A fair bit rubbed off onto mum's car interior - sorry mum! (Also, his milk bottle is a Chinese Coke (可口可樂) bottle that I brought back from my 2002 trip - I collected drink bottles that trip - I think I brought home about 20!)

After struggling to come up with a name, J decided he held naming rights, seeing as the little tyke is such a manly man (he's very, err, well endowed!) It was a toss-up between Steve McQueen and Marlon Brando for strong, manly names - and we went with Brando, because the thought of SMcQ brought the theme song from The Great Escape to both our minds - actually, it's currently stuck in our heads at the very consideration of the name!

At the moment, all that is in his repertoire is bleat, drink, sleep, poop and pee. Then repeat. He's fed about 8-10 small feeds a day for the first few days, then it gets scaled back to larger, less frequent feeds. Luckily my mum is able to feed him during the day while I am at work. And I won't be surprised if I end up adopting more abandoned lambs this season - I wasn't expecting receiving one so soon, as the lambing only started a few days ago.

If it is a toss-up between spending a bit extra on milk powder and getting a bit less sleep, compared with the thought of a helpless lamb dying because its mum rejected it, well... I think we'd all probably choose the less money/sleep option, because that equals more happiness (and more laundry... they're slobbery, messy little fellows!)

Wednesday, 18 August 2010

Take me to prom!

As I mentioned last week, my 1950s prom dress arrived from the States. It fits like a glove, and is very, very itchy! It's quite clearly handmade, and has really withstood the test of time, as I can only find one teeny tiny hole in the tulle.

It came with a pretty strong smell of old wardrobe - you know that musty storage smell? So I soaked it in the bath, and now it's drip drying on a mannequin. Fingers crossed that will remove some of the creases in the outer layer of tulle too, because I don't think it would be ironable?

The colour is a greeny yellow - well, pale green tulle, yellow lining. I don't know whether to wear it to the Gangsters' Ball in September, or save it. I think I will save it, and just keep it hanging in my wardrobe - I don't want to risk damaging it at a boozy party. Perhaps I can wear it to the races in November (providing I don't drink, and it's not too cold!) or maybe save it for a very special occassion in the future.

Do any of you have garments (or perhaps shoes or handbags) in your wardrobe that are too precious to wear? Are you saving them for a certain event, are you too scared to wear them, or are you just not wanting to feel overdressed?

Tuesday, 17 August 2010

Woods Point (pic heavy)

Well, I survived our weekend 4WDing at Woods Point, and I survived the dentist yesterday. The combination of a massive hangover and dental surgery is not something I'd like to repeat. Anyway, nobody broke down, nobody got bogged... we did pretty well for ourselves! There wasn't much snow around either, as the heavy rains and days of sunshine had melted most of it away. So without further ado, here are plenty of pics.

The haunted servo. Really... there is a sign on the window warning people to keep out as it is possessed!
The main street
Woods Point public spa!
Dave (left) and Dad
The Goulburn River
Somebody lives in that little hut... it makes my tiny house look like a sprawling mansion
I wish icecream was still a health food!
Snow! About as much as we saw
One of the boys getting muddy
Our convoy
Preparing for a river crossing
River crossing
Only 10% of the gravestones survived the 1939 bushfires
Taxidermy in the bar
Iron and arsenic as a health food supplement?