Thursday, January 31, 2019


Australian native animals, know how to survive in harsh extremes. The kangaroos in our backyard, are no different. So what do they do, to cool down in the afternoon, from the soaring temperatures of the day...well, dirt-conditioning, of course!

Resting, but also alert

This older joey, found an open patch of dirt, in the shade of the trees. I imagine, laying her belly against it, would cool her body down, considerably. She's also perfectly camouflaged, by the brown leaves.

I wonder if she's the same joey, featured in this blog post, of October, last year. Which would actually make her...

Taken, October 2018

...approximately three months older, than the above picture. They grow up, so fast! She's also becoming the spitting-image of her mother, who I spotted drinking nearby, at the birdbath too.

 Her mother

That's another way to cool down in the heat, I guess - drink plenty of water! Thankfully, since these photos were taken, the weather has cooled down considerably. It would be nice for some of that rain in Northern Queensland, to make it's way, down to us, in the south.

Everything around here, could sure use a good drink. Speaking of which, it's time to consider my own water intake for the day, and grab another glass of rainwater.

Cheers! And stay cool, wherever you are in the world. I'm sure, all my Northern hemisphere readers, probably didn't need reminding of that! As if you had a choice, right now, to do otherwise. I'm looking forward to the mercury dropping soon, as I'm sure you're all looking forward to it, rising.

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Backpack, to school

In Queensland, it was the first day back at school today, for another year. My eldest started grade 11, and my youngest, grade 1. So I've been busy the past few weeks, getting everything prepared.

One project I finished yesterday, was an ID badge for my youngest. We purchased a new backpack and wanted an easy way to identify it, for him. Since he's a huge fan of "Minecraft" (a Mojang gaming franchise) we searched the internet for a relevant picture.

 The outline
{click images to enlarge}

Once the image was resized to fit the bag, and printed off, I traced it onto a piece of calico fabric. I already had this in my fabric stash, so didn't cost me anything extra. In fact, this whole project, only cost me time.

 Pencil layer

I wanted something permanent to mark the fabric with, so found my Inktense pencils in the art room. Directly applied to the calico, water is then added with a brush, to make the ink, permanent. Water is what activates it, but once dry the ink won't won't wash out again, Although, I'm sure it will fade, eventually.

Water added

Once water was added to the wolf figure, I began sketching-in the background - making sure the colours didn't clash with the backpack, while remaining true to "Minecraft". Given it was a survival game, based entirely in nature, it was safe to use green.

Ready to cut

After water was added to the background, and the calico dried completely, a circle was traced in pencil, around the figure. I used an overturned, breakfast bowl, as my guide. Making sure to measure the bowl, against the backpack first, I tested the finished badge would fit the space available.

One larger, and one smaller

Leaving a 5mm seam allowance, I cut around the circle in the coloured section. Then cut another bowl template with no seam allowance, out of plain calico. This would be my backing, and give the badge more thickness.


Thanks to the quilt I made for my daughter, almost two years ago, I had some leftover applique paper, in my stash. I cut a circle out with that too, and ironed the seam allowance flat around the paper.

Three layer, fabric sandwich

The applique paper stayed inside, then the calico backing went on top. A simple straight stitch, around the edge, kept them all together. It's much easier to applique on a bulky, irregular shaped bag, when all the pieces are held together, like this.


As it was, I had a difficult time trying to turn the bag, to applique around the circle. There's only so much room in the sewing machine niche, before the fabric starts to bulk up - making it challenging to turn.

So it wasn't as perfect, as I'd normally achieve, on more accessible fabric. But it did the job of helping my son, identify his bag. I never know if other kids' parents, will buy the same bag. Making it more personalised though, ensures little ones can distinguish it, easier.


Best of all, it's Bowser approved! This brawling bad-guy, from the Mario universe (also loved by my son) thought I might ruin his dinosaur buddies, on the backpack. Afterwards though, he said it looked like I was packing them a bag of wolf-snacks, to take to school instead. Oh Bowser, you silly dinosaur!

I've got more crafty projects planned, I'm certain Bowser, will approve of too. Because there are birthday's to plan for, in May! I hate leaving myself short on time, making me rush and really not enjoy, the whole handmade process. So as I settle into the rhythms of my kids going back to school, I'll carefully plan the crafty projects to come - in between chicken coop renovations, of course!

Because I REALLY want my chickens back!!

Tuesday, January 22, 2019


If there's one thing I try and grow, every year, it's spaghetti squash. This year I struggled to get them out of the ground, because the bush rats and mice, were eating the seeds. For those that did survive, night marauders, would behead the plants by morning, and the remaining stalk would be dead by midday.

I did manage to get a few vines to maturity. Far less than I'm used to, but at least now I had a fighting chance at getting fruit. I kept what little water I had, up to them, so the blessed things would flower. Which they finally did. Oh, but only male flowers. For weeks. So I tip-pruned to encourage more female flowers, but for some reason they rotted before being able to open.

I had all but given up, recently. Seems I wouldn't be manually fertilising any female flowers, this year - as none of them were surviving. Then the other day, while out in the garden...


...low and behold, I discovered a lonely fruit, hiding behind the leafs. FINALLY!! The bees must have been doing their job, in the early morning. I'm hoping once the weather cools in autumn, I may get a second flush of flowers, that will do much better. I suspect it's the constant heat, which is stressing the plants.

Looks to be no rain forecast (again) and a long stretch of hot days ahead. Compared to previous summers, the temperatures are much lower (like under 40 degrees Celsius - but not, by much). So I am at least grateful for those small mercies. Like a lone fruit of spaghetti squash, that overcame the odds too.

I hope the rest of your gardens are weathering the elements, well.

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Big Lizards

In Australia the Perentie (commonly known as the Goanna) is Australia's largest lizard. The one which visited our backyard recently, was at least 1.5 metres long. Considering they can grow up to, 2.5 metres in length, he (or she) is quite the mature specimen.


I caught a glimpse of them prowling the lower gully, a few days ago. But I wasn't quick enough to grab the camera, before they strolled out of view again. Even at a slow gait, they can move quickly.

Yesterday, however, I heard the small wrens and finches, going berserk near the back verandah. Which had me looking out the window, to the lower gully. Guess who showed up again...?


Only this time, I caught them flat on their belly, trying to gulp something down. I thought, poor bird or eggs - which one did they get? This is why all the small birds go berserk, whenever there's a Gonna or snake around. Because they're hunting for the eggs, or young in their nests.

I snapped a few photos from the safety of our back verandah, and then the Gonna decided to go looking for food, elsewhere. Curious to know if there was any evidence of it's morning meal, I headed down to the gully, where I found...

Sternum bone

...the remnants of our last chicken cull.  This had been unearthed before Christmas, by a dog we assumed. As it wasn't consumed in any way. So we left it above ground, to see how long it would take for the environment to consume. I'd completely forgotten about it. Yet this bone, is right where I found the Gonna trying to eat something.

Once gone however, the small birds quickly returned to their business of splashing in the birdbath - as if nothing happened. I went inside to upload my photos, and wondered if the Goanna would eventually find a decent meal for the day. Because at that size, they've got to eat something substantial!

Sunday, January 13, 2019

Stepping up

During my cleaning blitz recently, I had to share something that made a world of difference, to what I could accomplish. I didn't always own one of these. A chair often sufficed. But when you have a lot of jobs that require "height", it's worth getting this simple tool.

In the kitchen

A portable step-ladder has several advantages over a chair - ease of getting up and down, non-slip rubber surface, and a place to stick a bucket, or tools, if you only need to go as high as the second step. Plus, you don't have to wreck your chairs. Especially if they're wooden, like ours

This folding step-ladder lives in one of our utility cupboards (flat) for the most part - which saves on storage space. But easily unfolds again, for use. It's handy for reaching on top of, or inside, wall cabinets. I like to be able to see right inside, to clean the back corners.

Near the ceiling

With a step-ladder, I can also see right over the ceiling fans as well. Which is handy for reaching that built-up grime, you wouldn't normally see from the underside. Thankfully, we have a standard ceiling height, throughout our house, which makes this step-ladder a suitable tool.

Nine-foot ceilings, on the other hand, require a proper safety ladder, to get up that high. We've lived in rentals with those lovely high ceilings before, but sure was difficult to change light bulbs. Getting the big ladder inside the house, was quite a task too.

Fiddly jobs

In fact, changing light bulbs, would have to be the #1 reason, we now keep a smaller step-ladder in the house. If you have light covers (like ours) that require unscrewing several nuts, to be able to clean the bug carcasses out - you'll really appreciate the step-ladder, for this specific job too.

Because if I don't have a pocket to place the bulbs, or screws into afterwards, I just use the top of the step ladder. No traipsing up and down, which can be incredibly arduous. Especially since I never clean just ONE light cover, when the ladder is out.

Caution required

Step-ladders, are also handy to reach above sensitive areas, such as the television. Recently, I needed to clear the shelf above the television for Christmas decorations - then put them away in the new year, again. Followed by a good dusting.

I try to avoid reaching up so high (on tiptoes) close to the television screen. Just in case, I bump it with my body. A sturdy step-ladder however, keeps my footing secure, while allowing enough clearance to reach the shelf, without accidents.

Use with care

Each brand of step-ladder, is designed to hold a maximum weight capacity. So observe the limitations, clearly identified on the ladder. Occasionally, you may want to use the top step, to hold a bucket of water while cleaning. So keep in mind, not only your weight, but anything you might take up with you.

If you're in the market to buy a new step-ladder, be sure to open it out and test it, before leaving the store. We purchased ours a while ago now, but there were so many that wobbled like a drunken sailor. I've never regretted our investment in a step-ladder. There are so many jobs I do, which require a higher purchase, it's made my life easier.

Has a step-ladder found it's way into your home yet? Or how else do you make do? Other things we've been known to use in the past, were coffee tables and overturned, milk crates. Just not as easy to get up and down from.

Thursday, January 10, 2019

Thank you

As I get back to blogging again, and saw all your friendly faces drop in for a chat, I would like to thank you all, for reading my blog. I know life can be busy, so when you take the time to comment, I feel touched that you do!

For those who have stuck with me so long, thank you. To those who are new, I'm pleased to meet you. And for those who don't comment, I'm an introvert too! I get all that you do. It's enough to have you visit. Thank you!

Here's to another year of blogging, and chatting with friends. I'm grateful for all your kind contributions. If I could give you a virtual cookie (not the Google kind) on my blogging table, it would be warm, chewy, home-made, and possibly covered in chocolate!


Wednesday, January 9, 2019

What a Miracle

The beginning of a new year, is probably when I like to potter around the house, the most. I'm usually busy, re-organising and cleaning-up after Christmas. The tree and it's sparkling decorations, are always the first to be packed away. Then before you know it, you're washing windows and dusting shelves!

My particular challenge this year, was GREASY surfaces in the kitchen and elsewhere. Enter the magic of Miracle Spray. It's a homemade recipe I gleaned from this blog, and particularly useful for cutting through grease!

What do I mean by grease...?


Well, it's the kind that accumulates, above the rangehood cupboards! This has been building for a few years now, and I was tired of the reminder to trade my rose-coloured glasses, for a lovely shade of brown, instead.

I wonder if this can get any worse? The trusty step-ladder, reveals ALL...

The grime scene

Yes, indeed. It can get worse. The very TOP of the kitchen cabinets, accumulates even more dust, grease, bug carcasses and even food particles! How did that popcorn, get there? Seriously. The stove is directly underneath the cabinets. So it would have accomplished some rather fancy, ricocheting, to land there.

Mummified popcorn, just waiting to be discovered. The wonders a step-ladder will reveal in your home!

I've seen the white

And this is why I love, Miracle Spray, so much. It cuts through sticky, dusty and greasy surfaces. It's possible to use regular dishwashing liquid instead, as I've done in the past. But your bucket of water, becomes incredibly sudsy, afterwards.

A spritz of Miracles Spray, however, and not only does the cloth cut-through all that mess, but your bucket of water (to rinse the cloth) remains watery, instead of overflowing with suds. Which means, you don't have to change your bucket of water as often.

 Grime sins, are no more!

While regular dishwashing liquid, will achieve the same result, there's less mess to clean the tools, you're actually using to clean with. The cloth in particular, can get quite manky. So clean water for rinsing, is important.

The cleaning tools I used in this application, was a bucket of warm water, Miracle Spray and a cleaning cloth, or rag. Something that can at least handle, the caking of greasy gunk all over it. Some heavy cotton, flannel, or in my case, a microfibre cloth. I don't buy microfibre myself, but these were given to us when someone was doing a clean-out, of their kitchen supplies.


These are my kitchen cabinets now, which look as good, as the day they were installed. So much cleaner. At least for another year or two. Grime always finds it's way back! I suppose that's the blessing of having a working kitchen though. All that home cooking, inevitably leads to mess. I wouldn't have it, any other way.

Miracle Spray, has other applications around the home too, which are just as easy to deal with, when the cleaning supplies are out...

In plain sight

Do your light switches, end up with as much dirty marks around them, as ours seem to collect? Natural oils, mixed with a good helping of dirt! Being a live, electrical switch however, I never spray liquid directly on it. Spray the cloth instead. The grime is still removed in a few seconds.

There are even more jobs for my cleaning kit and mojo, to tackle though.

Almost finished shedding

Time to give the ceiling fans some love. I didn't get a photo of what they looked like, "before" I started cleaning. This was only the remnants, I had yet to finish off. But just imagine these white blades, had sprouted a thick, brown, furry coat. All over! No wonder they were slowing down, with all that fuzzy drag.

Ideally, I should have cleaned them before Summer, but I always get so busy with the Christmas plans instead.

Ready for takeoff

Now I have my white, ceiling fans back - and I didn't have to get covered in suds to do it! They sound like a jet plane again, when starting up. Aerodynamic. I'll save the fluffy coat, for next winter. No doubt, it will re-sprout!

On the blog I gleaned the Miracle Spray from, it claims to remove stickers as well. Frankly, I had the perfect test subject, for that theory too...

Stuck on you

My son and our coffee table, are inseparable. He loves to create all sorts of lego, on it, play board games, and of course, the obligatory stickers. Which I absolutely told him NOT to stick to anything but paper! I was cross at the time, but didn't let it rise to the surface. I mean, I could just rip them back, off. Right?

Wrong! Now my son's stickers, were inseparable from the table too...

It really IS a Miracle...Spray

That was, until I sprayed my trusty homemade cleaner on it, and left for a few minutes. It does actually remove stickers, plus, that all important gummy residue. It states in the blog I linked this recipe from, not to spray on wooden surfaces. This was my exception though.

I'm not sure why it cannot be used on wooden surfaces, as I regularly use eucalyptus oil to clean mine. Maybe the washing soda will dry it out, and make the wood brittle, over time? I'd stick with the recommendation to avoid using on wooden surfaces. But I'm sure a one-off, desperate measure, can be forgiven. I mean, it was either the Miracle Spray, or the paint scraper!

Ready to play

Back to business as usual, at the coffee table again - minus the stickers. You'll be happy to note, that no coffee tables were actually harmed in the filming of this process. Even the lego managed to stay in tact! I'd like to thank my bare feet, for avoiding any random pieces of lego on the floor though. Sometimes you get lucky.

Have you tried the Miracle Spray at home? Any interesting applications I haven't thought of yet?

Monday, January 7, 2019

More or less

 Melting Moments for Christmas

So here we are again. Another year on the clock. Where did the last one go? Do you remember I had a word to reflect on, for last year? Sacrifice. It turns out, I had to make a few of those. Ones, very close to my heart.

The extended dry, killed parts of my garden and then the kangaroos ate what was left. My small kitchen garden, gave me a few rays of hope. Although, I suppose, 2018 was the year my garden ultimately broke me. Just because so much of my garden was affected. Normally, it's only the annual edibles, I give up on. Because they're so thirsty, and I just don't have the water to keep them going.

 Two Lady Finger bananas, barely survive
Lost all my Ducasse, varieties

As so much of the land dried out this time, however, I simply couldn't run small amounts of water to the perennials, to make a difference either. I've lost several hundred dollars, on plants. Some haven't even made it, into the ground yet. Some have struggled for years and finally gave up the ghost. With them, went my hopes for resuscitating my garden, in any meaningful way.

But you know, "sacrifice" is not about feeling hopeless. Or thwarted. I don't feel any of those. In fact, I feel liberated. I'm simply letting go of the things I cannot keep. Something else will eventually filter through. Will it be plants? I cannot say for sure. Now though, I don't want for something else to take it's place. Embracing it's okay to let something substantial go, doesn't require a substitute or recompense. That's not the point.

Experiments in mixed media,
with an old, Australian icon - the suburban Post Box 

The other sacrifice I had to make, took me quite by surprise. Last year, our youngest started school. I was looking forward to settling him in and focusing on something I've always wanted to do. Starting a creative business. I had all these plans, and even initiated a few. Then I found myself getting depressed and unhealthy. It slowly crept up on me.

Instead of focusing on my creative business, I suddenly had to start focusing on my health. The guilt inevitably arose, because I hate being sick. I'd rather be productive! But for this season in my life, if I didn't stop and do the things necessary - what good, would I be to my family? I've lived too long to know, you cannot ignore these things.

 Our youngest, at a few weeks old ~
turning 6, this year!

What was ultimately driving my sadness though, was the choice to give up, having kids. No more babies. The very last, was now spending a lot of time at school. On the other end of the spectrum, my eldest, was only two-years away from graduating high school. Yikes! My babies.

So aging was no longer on the far horizon any more. It was camping firmly on my doorstep. Forcing me to identify, who this new me, was going to be. One thing was for sure though, it wasn't the old me. Yet, how to let go of someone, I liked being, very much?

Child's play

Sacrifice. There's that word again. I just had to let, what was once a flourishing season of my life - go. I'm turning 45 this year, and that's the NEW season I'm heading into. The upside of this sacrifice and realisation process, is being healthier than I've been for a long time. I took up lifting weights, and eating really well. It's not a passing phase either, because the meaning of sacrifice, has finally sunk in.

It's not the wanting, or waning, once you have to give something up. It's not scrambling for distraction, or something else, to replace it. You have to take life with both hands, and accept you're going to be fine, "without". Sounds simple enough, but it took me a whole year to work through so much change, and feel grateful for the process.

Saving seed for planting again

So thank you 2018, for what you were. The no frills. The loss. All those goodbyes. Finally. Acceptance. So that 2019, can be what it needs to be, also.

I hope you all recognise, and get to enjoy your own evolution process, during 2019. Whatever it holds. May you discover, you're more than you appear to be, or have achieved prior. Even if that requires giving something up. Because on the wide spectrum of more or less, you're going to land somewhere you need to be. Embracing your own "without" moments, is ultimately about liberating yourself.

What did you have to forgo in 2018, which set you up for 2019?