Monday, May 24, 2010

Crocheted Hat For Indi

She has been interested in witchy-type things lately, which I took as a good excuse to make another funky design with the rainbow wool ... ;-)

She tied the spider on herself... 

... which was promptly pulled off by Keanu! 

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Orphan Babies :(

I'm sad to report that Bali the guinea pig died last night from unknown causes, leaving her three little babies all alone :(
Unfortunately I don't have another lactating sow who could feed the little ones either.
I've brought them inside with Jazzy, who is the oldest, most maternal guinea pig we have and so far she seems happy to have them huddle under her.
They have been eating grass and vegie scraps for about a week now, so hopefully they are strong enough to survive on that but tomorrow I'll give them some bread soaked in milk and see how they take to that.

Stay tuned ... and send love to the little piggies!!

Friday, May 21, 2010

Dog Poo, Worms, and a Mexican Walking Fish

We recently acquired a Mexican Walking Fish named 'Nim' along with a fabulous tank, courtesy of Karisma (who most of you probably know from here). I've set the tank up in the kids' playroom; a great executive decision on my part, as I often find Keanu pressed up against the tank mesmerised by the little albino amphibian ...

Anywho, I digress. Nim came to us with the specific instruction that he only eats fresh food ie. worms. Being that my daughter is something of a bug fanatic, Aunty Karisma thought it perfect that Nim should come to live with us! So after about a week of plucking juicy big worms out of the garden I suddenly remembered about my worm farm!

About 18 months ago, I started an experimental worm farm to dispose of the dog poop. At the time we had four dogs and in a suburban backyard the poop was getting to be something of a problem. I didn't want to bag it in plastic and put it in the bin -- that, to me, is just the same as using 'disposable' nappies. I didn't want to compost it either, as we use the compost on edible crops and dog poop can carry all sorts of bacterial nasties that can be easily transferred to humans. After a bit of searching I deduced that worms could be used to compost poop ... so long as that's all they were fed (i.e. you can't feed them poop and vege scraps at the same time). So armed with a box of worms, a couple of styrafoam containers and a whole load of doggy doo I set up a little farm.
It started out veeeeery slowly; a few months in there seemed to be very little action. The poop didn't seem to be getting touched, and the worms didn't seem to be multiplying. The box got shoved in the back corner where it is nice and shady and that's where it stayed, full of poo, all but forgotten until we had to replace the fence. This meant that we had to clear up all the crap that had accumulated in those little-used corners of the yard. My brother and I went down to start moving it all, when he asked what to do with the styrofoam box.

'Chuck it' I said. 'It's full of dog poo; a failed experiment.'

'Are you sure? It doesn't look like dog poo ... it looks like pretty good soil.'


Sure enough, there was little dog poo left in there and, when we turned it over a bit (with a shovel of course!) we found it to be FULL of big fat wriggly red worms!
So not-so-failed after all. We moved it out of the way with plans of extending it but again it kinda fell by the wayside. Until Nim came along ...

We trudged down to the back garden, wrestled with the grass (which is still threatening to strangle us even with this colder weather ... we have the greenest backyard in the suburb!) and found the styrafoam box ...

A thorough dig turned up absolutely no worms at all :( I guess they all left to find greener pastures -- or should that be browner pastures? He he he!
In their wake though is a box chocka block full of glorious dark worm castings ...

So this weekend I'm going to go buy another box of worms. I found a few more styrafoam boxes when we cleaned out the garage last weekend. We only have two dogs now, but that is still more poo than I'd like to be dodging when I go out the back! Once it's established again, we'll have an environmentally friendly way of disposing of dog poo which in turn provides a source of food for Nim who in turn provides nice fishy water that I can use on the garden!
Ahhhh ... biodiversity!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Homemade Laundry Detergent

A few days of cold cold rainy weather has seen me spend most of my time in the laundry; washing, ironing, hanging, airing, everything possible to avoid using the money-sucking dryer (I weakened and used it twice in 7 loads of washing.)
So on that note, I thought I might share my laundry detergent recipe.

It's really easy to make, fairly good for the environment (well, at least better than the over-fragranced-shop-bought ones) and best of all it's CHEAP! It costs bugger-all to make 10 litres. And yes, as far as I'm concerned bugger-all is a standardised unit of measurement ;) .
Most people probably know how to make it; it's a fairly common concoction but for those who don't and are interested, here it is.

What you need is:
1 cup of soap flakes. I use the cheapy homebrand laundry soap and either grate it or grind it up in the blender.
1/2 cup of washing soda
A good swig of essential oil. I use eucalyptus.
About 10 litres of water.

So first, I chuck the soap flakes in a saucepan with about 1.5 litres of water, whack it on the stove over low heat and stir it gently until the soap flakes completely dissolve.

Once the soap flakes have dissolved completely, add the washing soda. Stir it around for a bit; it should start to thicken up. Once they have dissolved, I add the essential oil. Stir it around for a bit longer, until it is all combined and smelling lovely ...

Then tip it into a big bucket and make it up to about 10 litres with hot tapwater. Stir it around a bit more until it's all mixed properly.

When it's cool enough you can pour it into bottles. I use old juice and milk bottles. Sometimes, if I'm feeling lazy, I just leave it in the bucket and scoop it out of there.
Once it cools it will solidify a bit. If you tip it into bottles, leave a bit of 'shaking room' or else it will come out like slugde.

I use about a half cup per load in the top loader. I only used half that amount in the front loader. It doesn't foam up like store-bought detergents, but it does the job for me ;)

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Baby Guinea Pig Love

Here are Bali's babies ... I'm such a sucker for baby guineas. I call them my 'turners' ... they turn my vege scraps into nice hot manure that keeps the compost heap warm over the cooler months ;)

Look at the beautiful colours in this little one! 

That's Bali, the light coloured one in the middle; Jazzy on the left, and Haania on the right

Little baby enjoying some grass with mumma Bali

munching with Aunty Jazzy :)

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

A Little Harvest

Ok, so my garden is nowhere near where I'd like it to be. Truth be known, my whole Alternative Suburbia dream is nowhere near where I'd like it to be!

 But tonight we ate stuff from the garden, and that makes me happy.

Nothing huge, just an eggplant and some basil, mixed with a jar of passata and some pasta. We didn't have a lot of money this week, so I'm raiding the cupboard to make a decent meal. So while I'm still working on providing the staples, the eggplant and basil certainly made a tasty contribution to dinner.

Sunday, May 16, 2010


I always feel a little melancholy on Sundays. No, maybe melancholy isn't the right word. Maybe pensive.
Craig usually goes back to work on Sundays.
Sunday is when I like my solitude.
Think about the week gone, think about the week ahead.

This cold weather helps.
I feel like hibernating.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

And Some Rainbow Crochet For My Girl

Monday, May 10, 2010

Warm Little Hands

We are certainly starting to feel the chilly breath of winter around here of late, so I have been jumping back into the winter crochet.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

The Budding Entomologist

The problem: An old leaky fishtank, a bug-crazy daughter and a mamma getting a wee bit tired of finding snails all over the house.

The solution: Build a snail terrarium!

A quick Google search to find out what snails require.

An old fishtank with a crack in the bottom, former home of Crabby Labby, RIP.

A layer of soil, about 4cm deep. 

Next some greenery, for food and shelter. 

Snails like dandelion leaves, which are abundant in our front lawn! We also picked leaves from the plants where we most likely find snails. 

And in with the snails! 

Sunday, May 2, 2010

An Alliterative Look at a Sunny Sunday