Tuesday 19 July 2016

5 reasons...to compost used tissues

I was first alerted to the fact you can compost snotty or used tissues by the fabulous Jo at Down To Earth Mother about three years ago - and I haven't looked back since. Over the last few months my family has gone through box loads of them thanks to the never-ending colds the kids have, and call me crazy, but I still get a good feeling when I throw them in the compost instead of the bin or toilet.

Admittedly, when you're out and about it can be a little tricky and potentially unhygienic, but if you're not already composting your tissues at home, then it's time to start.


1. You stop them going to landfill
As we're all aware, reducing landfill is a major priority worldwide for saving the environment, and so every little thing we can do to make our household rubbish less is going to help. Although biodegradable, when tissues are sent to landfill they're often trapped inside plastic bags and therefore won't decompose for a long time. And when they do, they're deprived of oxygen and produce methane - a greenhouse gas 20 times more potent than carbon dioxide. So the less tissues in landfill, the better - unless you like the sound of global warming. Plus you'll help appease an overflowing rubbish bin situation (if you have one).

2. Flushing down the toilet is not good
We obviously need to flush when we use the toilet, but what about the times you've just thrown in tissues and then flushed? When you consider that every time we flush we use valuable water - 4.5 litres of it in fact (if you're using a modern toilet on full flush, 3 litres for half flush) - it's just not worth it for the environment, or your wallet. On top of this, facial tissues are not the same as toilet paper. They may look similar, but toilet paper is designed to break down super fast whereas tissues hang around for a lot longer, making our sewage treatment plants work harder and contributing to clogged pipes.

3. You'll boost your soil supply
Making your own fertilised earth is awesome. It's rich with nutrients to help things grow extremely well, and means you don't have to purchase soil or potting mix. So the more compost the better and whether dry or wet, tissues are a great material to add into the mix as long as they don't have anything bad on them - e.g. pet poo or chemicals. For those in units or who don't have room for a compost, keep an eye on your local council as many in Australia are starting to introduce a compost recycling bin for residents that they will empty and compost the contents for you - how cool is that?

4. There's never a good fire when you need one
Sure you can chuck a used tissue on your log fire, but many people don't have fireplaces in their homes these days (or an actual roaring fire on the go at the same time you need to blow your nose - especially in summer). Not sure snot goes down too well in flames either... 

5. It stops you leaving them around 
When the whole household has come down with the flu sometimes the used tissues lying around can get out of control as people get lazier. This is not good because, you know, germs. Strangely though, when they're headed for the compost, they seem to disappear faster. Kids in particular love popping things in the compost bin as they learn more about recycling.

Did you know...
We're talking about facial tissues here, not wipes or paper towel - although you can actually compost paper towel and paper napkins as well. Just be mindful of what is on them first and if in doubt, throw instead. Where possible buy recycled paper tissues too.

Where do you chuck your used tissues?

Photo credit: Crate&Barrel

Tuesday 5 July 2016

5 reasons...to eat the full fat cake

If your child is having a birthday party then you'd better look out because I absolutely LOVE THE CAKE. Particularly the full fat kind. Seriously, I ate five pieces at a kid's party earlier this year. Admittedly there was a lot of cake leftover and I was pregnant, but I blame the cake itself.  It was too delicious for its own good. Full fat crack cake.

Despite my penchant for cake, I do also love vegetables and other good stuff, and try and eat as much organic and wholesome food as possible. But, I can't give up the full fat cake and neither should you. Too many people already have and the world is becoming a soulless place because of it.


1. It's darn delicious
Yes it's true some healthy cakes are also delicious, but let's not pretend here - full fat cakes are the tastiest. I'm talking old school, sugar-laden, most likely preservative-charged, definitely wheat based, usually packet, oh so naughty, full fat cakes. If you don't agree, it's most likely you've just forgotten because the last time you had some was on your 8th birthday when your mum made you the piano from the Australian Women's Weekly Children's Birthday Cake book. Sure, if you want to control the amount of 'fat' in your cake then make it yourself and go a bit easy on the sugar and cream, but why not relive your past? Bring back the sunshine to your life. It's a mouth disco I promise. Eat the fat cake. Do it.

2. We could all die tomorrow
Natural disasters, terrorists, diseases...life is fickle and we never know when our number is up. So why deprive yourself of something that tastes bloody awesome when there is no guarantee on how long you'll be sticking around for? And if you don't legitimately have an allergy or intolerance to something in full fat cake then what the hell is your excuse? Get your cake on! Relish that sh#t. And trust me, everyone munching their carrot sticks wistfully will watch your carefree, allergy-free cake abandonment in complete full fat cake envy. You LOVE the full fat cake. You CAN eat the full fat cake. You WILL eat the full fat cake.

3. It will make you feel good
Depriving yourself constantly of food you like is not good for you. Experts claim it can even have the opposite effect and lead to binge eating. Food is not just fuel, it's meant to be enjoyed. Ok, so eating five pieces of cake in a row is a bit crazy and not recommended if you like wearing skinny jeans and seeing your toes, but one piece occasionally is not going to do long lasting damage. Your diet will not be ruined. You can indulge from time to time and you will love it. Just don't eat the cake and then beat yourself up about it - this only works if you surrender to the cake and don't allow yourself any guilt. So savour each bite and don't feel bad about it. You can go back to your kale salads after. Give in to the fat cake. 

4. It's the polite thing to do
What about the host who has slaved over baking an awesome cake for your eating enjoyment only to have everyone politely refuse? Because, you know, DIETS. No one (apart from maybe me) wants heaps of leftover cake lying around after a party. So don't be rude. Eat the fat cake. 

5. French chicks eat it
Like the book says, French women don't get fat and they LOVE THE CAKE. And pastries, and chocolate, and wine, and cheese (mmm cheese). It's all about moderation people. Plus French chicks are cool. You could be cool too, like this woman below - if you eat the full fat cake. Vive la cake!

Did you know...
Eating excessive amounts of full fat cake on a weekly basis will make you fully fat.


Wednesday 22 June 2016

5 reasons...to grow lavender

Think lavender is just for old ladies? Think again.


1. It looks and smells great
You don't have to love Prince to appreciate a nice burst of purple in the garden or indoors - certainly makes a nice change from all the green succulents and hardy shrubs that are so popular these days, and it means you'll always have some flowers on hand to pop in a vase without spending a cent. The fragrance is lovely and relaxing too, making it a quick, non-toxic and cheap way to freshen up any room; and you can even use it to decorate a table setting or add as a finishing touch to a wrapped present.

2. It's super easy to grow
You can buy lavender seeds or plants, but better yet simply take a softwood cutting from a neighbour in spring, stick it in a pot and watch it take on a new life. You can then transfer to the garden later if you wish. It's a very resilient, low maintenance plant so perfect for those who struggle to keep anything in the garden alive. Why not grow a few cuttings in pots that you can then give to friends as gifts? 

3. You'll help save the bees
If you weren't already aware, the worldwide bee population is in serious trouble due to diseases, pesticides and a reduction in flowers everywhere, thanks to drought resistant plants like succulents being all the rage. If the bees disappear we lose more than honey - our food crops which rely on bee pollination will be drastically affected meaning globally our food supply is in danger. Bees particularly love flowers with strong colours such as purple, so lavender will not only make them happy as they can get a good collection of nectar, but they'll also be more likely to hang around your garden and pollinate the flowers of any edible plants or trees you have which will result in fantastic harvests for you too.

4. It's a tasty culinary herb
Lavender margaritas anyone? Be the coolest kitchen cat around by using dried or fresh lavender in your cooking. There are stacks of recipes available on the internet that incorporate the flower such as cakes, teas, salads, cheese and cocktails - even the old lamb roast can be given a fresh twist with it instead of rosemary. Plus, it can also double as a nice garnish on the plate - fancy!

5. It's good for you 
Scientific studies have proven that lavender scent can reduce stress, anxiety, depression and even things like headaches and labour pains; so if you're feeling a bit down get into the garden, take a seat next to your lavender plant and breathe deeply. If you're particularly handy you can go even further by creating your own lavender essential oil which you can then use in concentrated form on your skin or in creams, baths, candles, surface sprays, linen fresheners and more.

Did you know...
There are 39 different types of lavender that range in shape and colour? The purple English variety (shown above) is the most common and is considered the sweetest for flavour.    

photo credit: Echter Lavendel (Lavandula angustifolia) via photopin (license)

Thursday 5 May 2016

Buzz off bush turkey bastards

Hello - I'm a bastard buzzard

At first I thought they were cool. "Hey check out these gigantic birds in our backyard!" I'd never seen bush turkeys (or brush turkeys, as they are actually called), in gardens before - even though I grew up in Sydney.

A few years on and the novelty factor has completely worn off. Bush turkeys are bastards.

Ok sure, they're protected native birds of Australia, but I couldn't care less at the moment because they are PESTS. Just like possums. If they stayed in the bush I would probably still think they were cool, but they don't. They're bloody annoying backyard intruders who scratch up your garden and trash your plants.

The reason we're seeing so many more of them now is because you're not allowed to kill them or their eggs anymore (aborigines used to eat them - can totally understand why). There are also less foxes around (which used to hunt them), and lots of gardens are now shrub and mulch heavy which is just what they love.

At the moment we have four of the buggers lurking around our place - the Turkey Gang I call them. They're ugly and so destructive. I've tried getting our cat to scare them but he couldn't care less, so have resorted to spraying them with the hose. Even the kids get in on the act and try and scare them off too by shouting at them.

I know this might seem mean considering they were here before us settlers, but we live near the Manly Dam so there is plenty of native area around for them to find food and create their mounds - the piles of earth the males create to impress lady turkeys. If they're lucky, the female will choose their mound to lay her egg in, but only after a quick sexual favour has been granted. The egg is not theirs either but the next one will be, when she's moved on to some other turkey's mound. Nice.

Anyway, my efforts to get rid of the Turkey Gang aren't working. It's a downright invasion. So I've researched a few tips for frustrated gardeners like myself. Knock yourselves out fellow turkey haters... 

How to save your garden from bush turkey bastards
* Make the ground hard for them to rake - so place stones, sticks or heavy mulch around plants or chicken wire under the mulch.
* Use netting over plants you particularly love.
* Try placing a large mirror outside - they'll think it's another male and after attempting to fight it will find another place to create their shag piles.
* Don't leave pet food or other food for animals lying around outside.
* Don't leave your compost uncovered.
* Don't leave piles of mulch lying around.
* Do leave piles of mulch lying around - only if you've decided to give up the fight and coexist with the bastards. This way the pressure will be off your plants and garden beds, and they can use the mulch to make their mounds. 

Do you have any other solutions for the suburban bush turkey conundrum?

Photo credit: Birds in Backyards

Thursday 24 March 2016

I'm too scared to go to the Easter Show

Laugh it up clowns
I used to love the Easter Show when I was little. The best part was when the special newspaper supplement came out showcasing all the different showbags you could buy. My sisters and I would spend hours looking at that thing discussing the pros and cons of different bags and what would get us the most stuff with the number of bags we were allowed to get (Bertie Beetle hands down always a winner). I also enjoyed seeing the animals, fruit displays, food and general vibe of it all - but mostly it was about the bags.

The last time I went to the show though was probably 20 years ago as a teenager. And it wasn't that fun. I went with one of my sisters and after fighting our way there on the train with the hoards of people, we stupidly tried to get money out at the venue but the ATMs were all bust and we had something like $20 between us to buy food and bags - which even back then was a complete joke. Disaster.

And now, even though I have two small ones myself, I haven't been since. I just can't face it! The crowds, the expense, the hassle, and with two children to lug around - it's not appealing at all. I hear others talk about it, and even those who say the kids love it admit it's a mission. In recent years I've sometimes entertained the notion by bringing it up with my husband, but if you thought I wasn't keen, well in no way, shape or form is he up for the challenge. The closest I've come is getting a friend to buy me some showbags.

It's such a shame though. I wish it was easier to go because I'm sure I would go back and let my boys soak up the Easter fun. But sorry, I think I'll just stick to the good old Easter Bunny visit instead. Luckily the children don't know what they're missing out on, yet...

Do you go to the Easter Show?

Photo credit: The Thud

Wednesday 23 March 2016

The writing's on the wall: you suck, Sam Smith!

I need to talk about Sam Smith and Writing's on the Wall - his theme song for the latest James Bond film (Spectre). Quite frankly, it sucks.

I thought it sucked when I first heard it on the radio. I thought it stank when I watched the movie the other weekend. And I thought it positively reeked when I watched him on TV singing it live on a talk show and then again at the Oscars - I cannot believe he won a gold statue for it (and tried to claim he was the first openly gay man to win an Academy Award, but that's another story).

Sure it's not the first undeserving Oscar to be awarded, but has the world gone mad? In the words of Mugatu from Zoolander:

I've tried to work out why I hate the song so much, and I think the main culprit is Sam Smith himself. His falsetto is TERRIBLE - and even more horrific live when he can't hide behind fancy record production wizardry. Men singing waaaayy too high is really not my thing. There are exceptions of course - The Bee Gees, Jeff Buckley, Prince, Thom Yorke, Frankie Valli and Matt Belamy to name a few - but generally I find dudes singing like chicks annoying (hello Justin Timberlake and Chris Martin). Why can't they sing an octave lower?

Anyway back to Sam Smith. His song, if you really listen to it, is not actually that bad from a songwriting point of view. If it had been arranged and produced differently, and sung by someone else (I really think a female voice would have worked better - let's say Lady Gaga for now to keep things even on the commercial pop front), then I think the song could have worked. It would have been way more powerful and perhaps done justice to the Bond franchise.

But alas, we're stuck with Sam warbling and whispering his way to a golden statue. Crazy times.

Of course, he's not the first to have produced a 007 shocker hit - Madonna ranking the highest on my shit list with her tune Die Another Day. But surely by now you would look at the mistakes others have made and be sure to up the anti?

For the record, my top Bond theme song is Live and Let Die by Paul McCartney and Wings. Ok, I know it's a predictable choice, but it's an awesome song in it's own right yet also perfectly compliments the movie which is what a good theme tune should do. Other ones that nailed it are Goldfinger (Shirley Bassey), We have all the time in the World (Louis Armstrong), A view to a kill (Duran Duran), Nobody does it better (Carly Simon), and another personal favourite: You know my name (Chris Cornell) which I think is the best Bond theme for well over 20 years. It's a cracker of a song that perfectly embodied Daniel Craig's 007 and introduced a new generation to the series.

Alright, Adele's Skyfall wasn't too bad I guess either (do NOT get me started on Hello), but it certainly didn't deserve an Oscar either. At least she sang in the right octave though.

What's your favourite Bond track?

Here's the chronological list for you with clips to boot:



Tuesday 8 March 2016

8 things I've learned since becoming a SCHOOL mum

I ain't afraid of no school!
Around two and a half years ago when my youngest was not long walking, I wrote a post about the surprising things I learned since becoming a mum that no one had ever told me about (check it out here). My eldest has now just started school, and once again I've found my eyes have been opened.

I'm only a month or so in, but here are a few things I've already learned since becoming a SCHOOL mum...

1. School shoes are f#*$ing expensive
I didn't think they should be super cheap (at least not ones from a proper kids' shoe store), but $124.95?? Somebody somewhere is laughing their head off while they count their bags of cash. Plus the magic shoes are already scuffed and looking ratty - which to be fair was to be expected I guess. Next time I'm going Target or Aldi shoes - how different can they really be? They're all black and look the same. Kindergarten kids are certainly not comparing brands with their friends, they don't even know what day of the week it is!  

2. School bells aren't what they're used to be
Forget the boring old bell. Our local school cranks out music to signify the start of the day - and awesome tunes at that! For the first few weeks it was the theme from Ghostbusters (!!) and now it's We are the champions by Queen (both sans lyrics). I think some people were confused though as now they've starting ringing a bell after the music, but seriously how cool is it? Most awesome school ever? Ah yes! I can't wait to hear what the next track is. 
3. Everyone knows you
I knew we would get to know lots of new parents from the school but already it's insane. We live just down the street and now I literally can't walk more than a few metres without seeing another mum,  dad or teacher who knows me. Gone are the days of ducking up to shops in trackies!

4. There is so much to worry about
I'm really trying not to get carried away with this, but it's pretty hard not to worry about how your little one is doing at school - especially when you chat to other parents and realise their child seems more advanced or you have the teacher telling you they're refusing to do tasks in the class and being difficult, so you know they might fall behind. And then there's the worry about whether they're playing with anyone or being bullied. It's nice to be concerned and involved with your child at school, but we need to take away the microscope and let the teachers do their thing I reckon. It's Kindergarten for crying out loud! So I've decided to let this one go a bit until I have serious things to worry about. I only started worrying I think after speaking to other parents.
5. School rules are really strict
You can't play on the play equipment before school, or be in the wrong area of the school grounds. You can't play if you forget your hat. You can't even volunteer to read in your child's class or help out at the tuckshop if you don't have a Working with Children check. The list goes on...I could be wrong, but I don't remember school policies being so strict in my day - especially for primary school. 

6. Food restrictions ahoy
Following on from above - everyone knows you can't let one solitary nut into a school or daycare nowadays, but did you know you can't even bring cupcakes in for your child's class when it's their birthday? That is, unless they happen to be egg-free (and who makes egg-free cupcakes?). Apparently eggs are off limits now. And so is sharing food. And I thought working out what to put in their lunchbox and what they will actually eat for their early morning fruit/vegie break snack was hard enough!

7. School is high tech
Tablets and computers at school were to be expected, as was email for communicating to parents; but there's also a smartphone app where they release newsletters and alerts, plus other stuff like online log-ins for maths homework. In Kindergarten! Even ordering at the canteen has to be done online prior. Well I guess it is the digital age...

8. Weekdays are now soooo short
I had been warned a bit about this, but didn't envisage it to be so true. After drop-off once I've done some house chores, or gone to an appointment, there is barely time to do a bit of work before it's time to go for pick-up. Luckily I can work from home but so many others can't. If it wasn't for before and after school care, there is no way that working parents could function properly. And then of course once you get home, there's homework, dinner and more chores to be done. By the time everyone's in bed you're exhausted, and then before you know it it's morning mayhem once again.

Oh well, only another 19 years to go! (with another one on the way, I just worked out I won't be done with school until 2035). Imagine what craziness will go on between now and then?

What things have you discovered since becoming a school parent?
Image credit: CaN Trust