2020, What a year!

What a year. It needs no re-cap. As 2020 draws to go a close, my heart goes out to those in other parts of the world. Life is relatively normal for us here in Western Australia. We have no community transmission, and haven’t had any for many months. We can come and go virtually as we please within our own state, and without any real need for Covid caution. (I only hope we haven’t become to complacent). We’re all aware that it will only take one slip up, and the sense of security we’re currently blessed with could be gone in an instant.

I hope all my friends, relatives, and blogging associates throughout the world are well. I hope you all manage to enjoy some sense of Christmas festivity, and above all, I hope life returns to some sort of normality early in the New Year.

Try to have a happy Christmas everyone. Keep safe, and join me at midnight on New Year’s Eve as we all say good-bye and good riddance to 2020. Let’s hope 2021 is a better year.

We’re in!

Come in, I’ll show you around!

The old garage used to have a shoppers entrance leading into the laundry. We’ve changed the direction of the new door so as it now opens into the new bedroom. The door, and it’s new framework are still to be painted, but Paul is currently suffering from painters arm. Next week, or maybe next year – it’s not going anywhere! The entrance leads to a little entrance hall with hooks for hats, or jackets, or dressing gowns. We found a great little jewellery cabinet on line with a full length mirrored door. It’s perfect in the entrance, and I found jewellery I’d forgotten I had when transferring everything from a small jewellery box into the cabinet.

Opposite the entrance is the new bathroom. Toiletries are now in, so it has a lived in look.

We love the twin vanities. Still one door handle to arrive (it’s on board a ship).

Curtains arrived on Friday. We had moved into the room two nights before their arrival, so the darkness they provide was most welcome after two nights with street lights shining in.

Sheer whites with soft grey block out hanging behind on a seperate rail

Paul has fitted out the wardrobes using Bunnings cubes. We’re really impressed with the quality, and versatility of the cubes. We’ve opted to do without a dressing table, so Paul has fitted drawers into some of the cubes for our socks and knickers. Wicker baskets fit the cubes perfectly for hand bags or jumpers. Dividers section each of the bottom cubes into four for shoes. A lower clothes rail goes between the two in each wardrobe for shorts. Paul says they went together very easily too, so that was a bonus.

Two double sized wardrobes for our clothes now. Each double robe is bigger than the only wardrobe we had previously. As you can imagine, our clothes were scattered throughout the house wherever we could find hanging space. It’s lovely to have all our clothes in the one room now.

So far there is only two of the eight bespoke doors hung. The hardware for the remaining six doors is currently on a ship somewhere out there in the Pacific Ocean. Strike action by the wharfies prevented the unloading of the ship when it sailed into Sydney a few weeks ago. The ship, and its cargo sailed on. It’ll turn up one day, until then we can manage without doors.

Still six be-spoke wardrobe doors to be hung when the hardware finally arrives.

We were going to white wash our old Tasmanian oak bedroom suite, so moved the el-cheapo rattan and white cabinets in from a spare room until we had done the required work. Our daughter had promised us the return of a lovely grey wrought iron free standing towel rail. The rail was something I had used for draping my clothes over at the days end, but when we went travelling Alice inherited it for her spare room. I was to swap her my $15 K-mart, pine, free standing rail for the return of the lovely wrought iron one. However, we rather liked the look of the el-cheapo cabinets, and the $15 rack for our clothes to rest on at the days end. So our Tassie oak bedroom suite will remain, as is, in the guest room, and instead we’ve ordered a rattan bedhead. We’ll be looking forward to that addition in a few weeks time. We also left our good Bohemian crystal bedside lamps in the guest room, preferring the look of the cheap, raw wood Big-w lamps.

After the bedhead arrives we plan on adding some oyster shells onto a hessian border in white shadow box frames to hang above the bed. I got the idea from the following photo copied off Pinterest. What do you think? I love them in the photo, so hope we can do justice to our own version.

it’s not hard to see were some of the influence for our room came from.

The new bedroom is much closer to the road noise than our old room, so that was a worry. However the room has been extensively acoustically lined. With the heavy block out curtains, and the water fountain outside, I’m impressed by how little we actually hear of the traffic noise. It’s quieter than our old room, a surprising bonus.

So there you have it, the grand tour. I’ve enjoyed showing you around. Next will be the completion of the garage, and then the conversion of our normal laundry into a European styled enclosed laundry, there-by turning our current laundry into a hallway leading to our room. (Who wants to walk through a laundry to their bedroom). But that’ll all wait for completion now until in the new year. For now it’s time to unwind and get into the spirit of Christmas. I just love Christmas. It’s my favourite time of year.

Lancet offers a way to feed the world and save the planet

A bold title, and perhaps a little more will be needed than the worlds population to simply be following EAT – Lancet’s Commission dietary recommendations. But hey, it’s a start, and it sounds like a pretty damned good start to me. It’s a place I can start!

The purpose of the EAT -Lancet Commision’s report was to create dietary paradigms that aims to:

  • Feed a worlds population of 10 billion people by 2050
  • to greatly reduce the worldwide number of deaths caused by poor diets
  • to be environmentally sustainable so as to prevent the collapse of the planet

I’m not a diet faddist, nor am I a greenie. I do a little bit now and again for the planet, and have a bit of a conscience because I don’t do more. Truth be told I’ve never really found a starting point that didn’t seem to put me in danger of becoming a zealot, and who wants to become one of them! Not me that’s for sure. But I do want to do a bit more….

You may remember a few weeks ago I posted a blog with my thoughts on dietary pyramids. https://lifeofrileyow.com/2020/10/25/the-perfect-diet-pyramid/

I’ve never been a dieter, nor someone who follows any dietary guideline with any real dedication. If you read that post you will have realised that I take most dietary recommendations with a pinch of salt – why? Simply because history tells us that the findings of any diet that eliminates an entire food group will be overturned eventually. Those who followed the diet recommendations to the letter will usually have done themselves a certain amount of damage. I usually eat whatever I feel like eating, sometimes with a clear conscience, and sometimes feeling as guilty as hell for the damage I’m doing to both myself, and the planet.

When I wrote that post I did take a bit of notice of the Mediterranean dietary pyramid. I had never been aware that grains and beans were prominent with the Mediterranean people, in fact, more prominent than fish. That surprised me.

My interest had been tweaked. I decided to look a bit closer. One google search led to another, and eventually led me to the planet’s blue zones, and then led me to the Planetary diet. If the Blue Zones are old news to you, then please forgive me for having had my head buried in the sand. If you’re not aware of the blue zones, they are the areas where the general population is known for their outstanding longevity. I won’t list them, as it’s easy to look them up. The blue zones are, as you can imagine, often a hot topic for dietary researchers. I gather the EAT – Lancet Commission looked closely at the blue zones when developing their Planetary diet. So what is this Planetary diet? Start by taking a look at this double food pyramid.

The pyramid doesn’t seem to omit any food group completely, thank goodness for me, as if it had I wouldn’t have given it a second look. At the bottom of the pyramid is fresh fruits and veges, next comes grains, beans and lentils. Yet it’s not a high carb diet! Oils, dairy, fish, eggs, red meat, and even cookies and cakes figure in the pyramid. Nothing is forbidden, but some things are definitely recommended in smaller amounts. Then if you take a look at the upside down pyramid, you’ll notice the impact each food group has on the planet. It’s clear that the highly recommended foods have the least impact on our planet, and the foods that Lancet advises us to eat in moderation have the biggest adverse impact on our planet.

Being a lover of food, all food, I can happily eat a well prepared Buddha bowl full of fresh vegetables and vegetable protein, as much as I can enjoy a perfectly cooked steak, or a crisp chocolate eclair filled with real fresh cream and topped with crisp dark chocolate. I love it all. My conscience often pricks though when I slip into lazy dietary habits. For me that means eating un-imaginative animal protein, carb and veg meals night after night, day after day. When I slip into these lazy meals my diet becomes basically, bread or a roll with meat, chicken, fish, egg or cheese with salad for lunch, and meat, or chicken with some sort of carb and veges on the side for dinner. So, why does my conscience prick – simply because in some part of my sub-conscious mind I know it’s not healthy for me, or for the planet to be eating 14 animal based meals a week. I’ve never done anything about it, because in some other part of my sub-conscious mind I’ve felt that a purely vegan diet isn’t what it’s about either, and Vegetarian Monday just didn’t seem to cut it. Plus I’m to much of a hedonist to want to commit to a life without a perfectly cooked steak now and again, or a deliciously crisp, melt in the mouth chocolate eclair when one presents itself.

Now thanks to Lancet, it seems I can have it all, and it’ll not only help to save the planet, but it’ll do me a lot of good to. The past few weeks Paul and I have been trying to commit to eating a lot more vegetable protein, and considerably less animal sourced protein. We’re by no means following the Planetary diet guidelines with any zealous fervour, but we are eating better than we were, and with a clear conscience. Currently most of vegetable protein is coming out of cans – black beans, lentils, chick peas etc. I’m sure cooking these from scratch is better for the planet than all those canned products, but I’m finding it’s a good place to start. Monday to Friday lunch time, most lunches and dinners consist of fresh vegetables, beans or pulses, or/and nuts, healthy fats and a little bit of canned fish, grated cheese or an egg sometimes thrown in. From Friday night to Sunday dinner we add some animal flesh, making sure some iron rich beef is included. Cakes and cookies – well I’m not ready to say no to them any time soon, so if they’re on offer, count me in.

Here’s another look at a Mediterranean. Diet – whoops at the bottom of this one physical activity figures strongly. Maybe I’ll get to that one day soon! The rest of the diet is very similar the the Planetary diet recommendations. If you haven’t looked at the Planetary diet, it’s worth taking a look. You’ll make me very happy if I’ve inspired you in some way, so please let me know if I have.

The end is in sight

Yes, our new bedroom is only days away from virtual completion now, so the end is definitely now in sight. All the electrics to the master suite have been completed – phew, that didn’t go as smoothly as I would have hoped. The electrician had a series of mishaps that had us a bit worried for a few days, but all good now. As I type this we are awaiting the floor people to arrive to lay the vinyl plank flooring. Tomorrow the entrance door to the room will be hung, and the skirting boards will be fitted.

That will then only leave the strips to go into the corners to butt the walls against each other and create a neat finish, and the curtains are scheduled to arrive in towards the end of next week.

The wardrobes may take a while to complete. The specialised soft close hardware to hang the sliding doors is currently on a ship off the east coast of Australia, with strike action preventing it from being unloaded. Paul will still be able to fit the wardrobes out, and we’ll be able to move both our clothes, and us into the room as soon as the curtains arrive.

The wardrobe, currently fill of all sorts of shite, ready to be fitted out – probably this week -ends job.

We endeavoured at the outset to use only one of the spare bedrooms for storing all the displaced stuff until the project was completed. The rest of the house was to remain functional and tidy. Did that happen – noooooo it did not. Up until around a week ago, we hadn’t done to badly. This is what it looks like today.

The room reserved for the clutter, one bed on top of the other with everything piled on top

the other end of the same room.

The spare room that was to be kept functional and tidy now houses the wardrobe doors, stacked paint side down, and still requiring the final coat.

The alfresco, a shady place to paint the barn door from the ensuite
Even the kitchen bench isn’t free of clutter. In case you’re wondering why the empty cereal box is there, they slide between two walls that are being painted different colours for masking.

It feels like it’s been ages, but in actual fact it’s only been about seven weeks. There are still a couple of things to be completed after this – the garage, and the laundry. The garage is almost finished, the laundry is yet to be started. I’m looking forward to getting the house back in order again. It’ll be great to get back to normal, and to have the time to get down to the beach for a swim.

Chasing butterflies

Mr Tilly’s biggest obsession is, without a doubt, chasing butterflies and chasing the shadows of butterflies. If the suns out, so are the butterflies, and so is Tills. Only it’s more than just a simple obsession, more like an obsessive, compulsive disorder, but perhaps all dogs are a little bit OCD.

where’d it go!

He’s over three now. We’d hoped he would grow out of chasing butterflies and shadows, but I don’t think that’s about to happen any time soon. He’s funny and cute to watch him on his sentry duty when at home, but a real worry if we take him to the beach during the day. The butterflies hang out in the low dunes, so that’s where he heads to. He knows just where they’ll be, and he darts around trying to make them take flight. He has no interest in catching them I’m sure, it’s just the thrill of the chase he loves. I doubt if he’d take any notice of the snakes that also inhabit the low sand dunes, but I suspect they wouldn’t take kindly to him trampling on their terrain at a million miles an hour when in hot pursuit.

We’ve tried all of the training tricks to keep him down by the water with us, or to get him to come back to us if he sees a butterfly. Early in the morning, (which is the time he mainly gets his beach walks) there is no problem. The butterflies are still sleeping I guess, but in the heat of the day, they’re happily flitting from plant to plant, and he knows it. No reward is greater than the reward of chasing butterflies, so we can’t offer him anything that will tempt him away. As soon as he sees one he goes totally deaf to anything and everyone. With absolute tunnel vision, he zeros in on his target. First the butterfly, which quickly flits out of reach, then it’s shadow which dances here, there and everywhere.

We tried to stop him chasing them at home, figuring it was best to make the game completely taboo for him. We tried all last summer, and again at the beginning of this summer season. We had thought that a winter without butterflies and that magic third birthday in July, was going to see him turn into a dog ‘far to mature’ for such puppyish pursuits. No such luck!

I was considering calling in Dr Harry or a local equivalent, but then I really watched him in the back garden. His back straight, as he sits up on high alert, going from one shady place to another, his head quickly turning from side to side. Five minutes, ten minutes, fifteen, maybe more, like a disciplined soldier on watch, he remains hypo alert and vigalent. He sees them as soon as they dare to pop over the fence, then he gets up, ready to give chase. He lets them get down near the plants then off he springs, darting in and out around the roses and plants with the agility of a panther, They quickly fly up out of his reach leaving just their shadow dancing before him on the ground. He switches from chasing them to chasing their dancing shadows until they disappear again over the fence again, taking their shadows with them. Then back under the clothes line he goes to await the next brave intruder.

It might be half an hour between butterflies, but he never gives up. His favourite place to watch from is in the shade of washing hanging on the clothes line. He’ll sit there for about ten minutes before changing his vantage point. He’ll try under the baskets of strawberries, then the lawn. That gets to hot, so he’ll move between the garden plants, then back to the clothes line again.

There’s a butterfly there somewhere!

I guess he’s trained me. It makes more sense to let him happily chase butterflies all day long at home, and keep him on a lead if the butterflies are flying about at the beach. Most days Paul walks him at the beach in the early morning anyway, long before the butterflies have woken up. The few odd times when we do take him there when the sun is shining brightly and the butterflies flitting from flower to flower, well, he just has to suffer being kept on his lead for those few walks. And as I’m typing this the sun is shining brightly on our back garden, so no prizes for guessing where Tills is!

Out ‘n’ About eggs

I mentioned in my last post that we drove past a farm with a few dozen dilapidated old caravans. Turns out it wasn’t the caravan graveyard that we had at first thought it was. The old caravans have been re-purposed to serve as hen houses for several thousand red hens.

just a few of the dozens of caravans on the farm
The girls looked happy enough with decent land to be freely roaming on

We purchased a dozen eggs from the farm gate. Inside the carton was the following clever little note:

Hi.It’s Freeda here, (you know Freeda Roam)

Well, you think we’ve not been busy enough recently with the Nannup Flower Festival running over five weeks this year and the school holidays with all the extra traffic passing by our farm here at Out ‘n’ About eggs. As egg production Manager, yes, I have finally been made permanent (about time I say) I’ve had to keep the girls in order and at peak laying levels to meet all of our extra orders. Now it has come down from the “big house” that if we see cars stopping at the farm and people standing at the fence and looking at us (I call it gawking)we have to go over closer to them so they can take a nice photo. That’s alright for us older girls, we just wander over as we are, though it is pretty hard to smile when you have a beak. The younger girls, nooooo! They have to have a quick dust bath and preen themselves so that every feather is in its place, then run around looking for mulberries that have dropped over the fence to put a bit of colour on their beaks, then they go and strut their stuff clucking and cooing. What a sight.you would think they were doing a photo shoot for the “Poultry Weekly” magazine. Anyway, till next time, Freeda.

Freeda, it was a pleasure to see you and the girls with plenty of room to roam, and all the neat little caravans to keep you and the girls warm and snug at night.

I’ve heard many stories of so called free range eggs, stories that suggest the hen’s living conditions aren’t a lot better than caged, battery hens. Apparently the Out ‘n’ About hens are allocated a hectare of land for every 400 chooks, and I can tell you, they looked like pretty happy little chooks. There are several small retail outlets near me who stock their eggs, and as I have now seen with my own eyes that these hens are truly Freeda roam, I know where I can now buy my eggs with a completely clear conscience. I’m happy about that!

Out ‘n’ About

It was a cool week-end, in fact, a return to what felt like winter. The guys finished around 4.30pm on Friday, by which time I had decided it was cool enough to justify a final Friday night outdoor fire. An impromptu casual dinner followed with a couple of good friends, a bottle or two of red, and some black bean nachos cooked over the fire. Then toasted marshmallows to follow, which is much more about the ritual of toasting the marshmallows than it is about the actual taste. A good start to what was to be a good week-end.

Saturday, Paul did a little bit of work on the renovations, a few fixtures added to the bathroom, and a bit of filling ready some more painting on Sunday. Saturday evening and another couple of friends came over to share our company. Dinner and more wine! A great night, to much food of course, and probably a bit much wine too. Neither of us really overdid it though as we anticipated a full day of painting on Sunday.

Sunday started with a leisurely breakfast prior to commencement of the painting. Then the phone rang. Kaye says, “ Brian and I are going to do that drive over to Balingup today, would you two like to join us?” Painting walls, or being chauffeured around the countryside? Of course we chose the latter, the painting could wait.

What a lovely relaxing day. Brian had been told about a pleasant drive that started about 20kms before Nannup which would take us through some lovely forest to Balingup, then we would take the Balingup/Nannup road for our return. Here’s a map of the days travels.

Amblin holiday village is close to where we live, so I always use that as our starting point for planning a trip using Wiki camps. I think I can use our own address, but I’ve never worked out how.

We found the road, as advised, about 20 kms short of Nannup. It took us past a field with dozens of old delapidated caravans, and thousands of red hens. Turned out the caravans are the accommodation for the Out ‘n’ About, free to roam egg farm. I must say I was impressed. More about that in a later post perhaps….

A few of the dozens of caravan chook homes, and dozens of the thousands of happy little layers

Not exactly knowing where the road led, we turned back on ourselves once or thrice throughout the day. Instead of seeing multiple fountains (all the same one), we seemed to be seeing multiple Out ‘n’ About chooks and their caravan homes – the fountain’s another story though and a bit of a joke between us and our travelling companions.

We eventually found ourselves in the quaint little town of Balingup. It’s years since any of us have there, and my goodness, hasn’t that little town just blossomed, growing into the promised quaintness it was showing the last time we went there. That must have been at least 20 years ago.

A bit of a lunch first at The Mushroom Cafe, amazing pies, and a delicious lemon Meringue pie (a pie each, followed by one serve of lemon meringue pie with 4 dessert forks – yes it was that BIG). Then a meander around the town to help it all go down.

Obviously recognising that Sunday is a good day for people to be out ‘n’ about, most retail businesses were open. I found a gorgeous little wool shop, but stopped short of buying more wool. I don’t know why but country wool shops always appeal to my creative side and usually inspire the beginning of another crafty project. However nothing seems to inspire me to complete any of the said projects, so this time I used restraint. Instead of buying more wool, I instead took with me an idea for using some alpaca wool purchased during one of my previous, moment of madness, purchases.

Here are some pictures from around the little village of Balingup.

Then back home via the Balingup/Nannup road. First a look around the Wrights camp ground – inspiring for a caravan trip one day perhaps. Then a stop at Nannup on the way and another stop at the new brewery, The Shelter, on Busselton foreshore.

A pleasurable day was had by all, and the wall painting on the home front – well tomorrow’s another day, it’ll wait.

The first hiccup

Everything has been going well with the renovations, but as anyone who has had renovations will attest, it’s unheard of to go through to completion without a hiccup. This renovation is no exception. We’ve hit our first hiccup, in fact we’ve hit two.

Fingers crossed that the two little hiccups stay small. We had the flooring booked to be laid this coming Monday and Tuesday. I phoned yesterday to confirm that only two days would be needed. However it seems the ordered flooring has gone astray. A week ago when the arrangements were made, the flooring had, supposedly, just arrived into store. Yesterday I phoned to confirm the days needed would be only two, only to be advised the flooring had disappeared. Tracking indicates it left Melbourne and it arrived into the Perth warehouse. From there it should have been transported to Busselton. It’s not there. Tomorrow the Perth warehouse is going to have a thorough search. I hope it turns up, but it’s not sounding promising.

The electrician was coming today to complete all the electrical work. It was around 11 when he called in on his way to the hospital to get x-rays on an elbow that’s been giving him grief. He hoped to get back later. Fortunately for him (and for us) nothing was broken, so he did make it back, but with half the day gone of course there wasn’t time to finish everything. His hope is to be able to come back Monday, and possibly Tuesday of next week to complete the wiring. However, he informed us, that also may not be possible. He has an appointment in Perth on Friday at the eye department of one of our major hospitals, and it’s possible he may have to undergo a vitrectomy. If so, it’s possible he will be out of action for a short while.

We decided the best thing to do is to postpone the floor in the hopes that the electrician is able to make it back to finish the job (I’m sure he’s hoping he’s not going to need any eye surgery, as are we). We had been hoping to get the ceiling, and the remainder of the walls painted before the flooring went down anyway, and the ceiling can’t be painted until the lights, and fan etc have been fitted. So the floor has been postponed for a week. That should give us time to get the wardrobes completed, the barn door attached to the bathroom, the cornice up, and all the painting complete. I hope the flooring turns up.

In the meantime, here’s a sneaky peak at the progress….

Our toilet has also been fitted, but I’m sure you don’t want to see a photo of the toilet. It’s a rimless toilet, which I’d never heard of. I like the idea of that!

The start of the wardrobes. The doors will be made with vertical panelling for contrast.
The guys checking out the work thus far on the garage. We’re converting the carport to a garage. It used to be a garage, with a carport in front. Our kitchen and one dining room window opens into the carport, and if we block in the windows the room will become a bit to dark. We’ve decided to keep the windows, and opaque panels have been fitted on the sidewall of the garage, plus the sectional door will be opaque. That should still allow the natural light to filter in. We’ll have to be strict about keeping the garage tidy!
I’m not sure if the plan will be clear from this photo. We enter the bedroom off the laundry, which used to open into a single garage. A double garage would have given us a good amount of space which would have allowed for a good sized walk in robe, a bigger room, and a good sized bathroom. But we only had single garage space to work with, so have optimised the space (we think) in the best way possible. The laundry will, in time, be changed to a European laundry giving it a corridor effect. We’ve created a private, little hallway that leads to bedroom area, and the bathroom is off the hallway. Not having the bathroom entrance directly off the bedroom maximises the useable space in the bedroom. We’ve forfeited the walk in robe and have opted instead for two, good sized floor to ceiling fitted robes. Forfeiting the walk in robe meant we could have a reasonable sized bathroom with a good sized shower (1200 x 1200). We’ve also decided the room will be more spacious if we keep things minimalistic. The wardrobes should provide enough storage so as not to need a dressing table.

So that’s today’s progress report – providing the hiccups remain small, the completed project won’t be far away. Watch this space….

The perfumed garden

It’s a wonderful time in our garden at the moment. The lawn is growing vigorously and needs cutting at least weekly. There’s nothing quite like the smell of new mown grass. The deciduous trees are re-clocked with their new leaves, and the flowers are blooming. The perfume wafting around in the breeze is delightful.

The jasmine is in full bud, all just starting to open

The roses are blooming

The honeysuckle is coming into full flower

Fragrant lemons mingle with the powerful scent of citrus blossom heralding more fruit to come

And our favourite garden perfume comes from our elephants ears. If you try to smell the flower up close, it appears to be almost odourless, but at certain times of day an almost elusive, delightful, floral scent carries on the breeze and permeates the surrounding area. It took us a long time to pinpoint where the sweet scent was coming from. Now we can’t wait for the rather plain flower spikes to appear between the large, glossy leaves, knowing that our noses are in for the most amazing sensory delight.

So that’s our garden in November. For December we have more beautiful perfumes to follow. Our three frangipani trees are just starting to come into leaf, so the gorgeous, sweet smelling, cream and yellow flowers will soon be here too. Gardening has always been a labour of love for me, the colour, the produce, and the perfumes. The garden is surely life’s simplest of pleasures!