Thursday, December 31, 2009

wombat's holiday

wombat had a great time in paynesville (i think it's the first trip that she hasn't ended up with red, raw feet that she licks constantly-- we think it's either from salt water or something in the garden). she got to go "swimming" twice in the lake (and then her legs and belly were bathed with neem soap which seemed to keep her itch free). she's a bit top heavy- when she grabs the ball her head goes under and her bottom goes up and the back legs splay out:
fetching the ball (watch her back end as she grabs it: video

worried she's gonna get kicked off the couch that she wasn't supposed to be on (she didn't get kicked off but she wasn't allowed to use the pillow anymore):
fetch in the backyard:


waiting very patiently while we started christmas lunch (that only lasted a couple minutes until we did the christmas crackers, then she refused to come out from under the table:
opening her pressents
she did very well at opening gifts and after she finished opening her own she walked around the room helping people get theirs open. it was pretty cute.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

the food side of christmas

(also the part of christmas i forgot to take photos of)
i feel like we did nothing but eat for 4 days. it was good though. christmas eve we had a feast of nibblies at zac's aunt and uncle's place in paynesville after we arrived from our drive up from melbourne with nanna. there was lots of vegan stuff in the nibbly things-- marinated mushrooms, sun dried tomatoes, homemade hummus, homemade white bean dip (which i will be making when i get the ingredients off zac's mum), vegan sausage rolls (made by zac's aunt), vegan sushi, homemade pita bread chips, garlic and herb cheezely......
christmas day lunch included a nut loaf and a thanksgiving loaf (basically stuffing made into a casserole-- sooo good!) as well as salads and veggies and other good stuff (a very filling feast).
boxing day was another christmas dinner to celebrate with lea and jay who arrived that day. mostly nibbly things that had been left from the last 2 feasts plus plus some amazing guacamole (very lemon-y with tomato chunks). the food was so good i didn't mind still eating it.
a couple meals we ate out with family at local places in paynesville. we went for lunch at the fickle fig. there wasn't anything vegan on the menu but the pumpkin and rocket salad was easily made vegan without the cheese and it was really nice (and surprisingly filling).
we did breakfast at alma's cafe in paynesville. we both ended up ordering toast with sides of mushrooms and baked beans. simple but nice (they also included a side of baby spinach i think cuz they thought our plates looked boring).
the nite before we left we were still feeding on leftovers (there were still a couple pieces of nut loaf and thanksgiving loaf in the fridge when we left even though i'd snacked on it several times). i always feel a bit bad that we never take anything to christmas lunches/dinners but i guess there is already WAY too much food and we would just end up adding to that.

2 great ideas

i've been going through a lot of coriander (cilantro) lately (mostly for salsa). the problem is that i'm not growing it in my garden right now and it cost about 2.50 for a bunch (i think-- i don't pay too much attention but i just know every time i grab it i think i could get a whole punnet of seedlings for not much more or a packet of seeds for probably less). i do stick it in a cup of water in the fridge and it seems to last a week or more but i still seem to end up putting some in the bokashi bucket from every bunch (i was freezing some but now i just have a bunch of little baggies of freezer burnt coriander because you can only really use it in cooked dishes when frozen and i don't cook with it often). its too hot to try to plant it in the garden now so i figured i'll just have to pay the price for fresh but i walked into aldi's and found this today:

its hard to tell from the photo but its a bunch of coriander planted in a little pot so it'll probably keep a lot longer than the cut stuff-- and it was only $3! i've got it in the fridge (with water in the orange tupperware container under it) right now because it's 34C but on cooler days i'll keep it in a nice light spot.
the other great invention is the bread maker. not only cuz i can make bread with very little effort (although occasionally i like to do it by hand and in the oven) but i can make bread on 34C days and not add to the heat in the house by having the oven on for hours. next project i have to get going while it's nice and hot is a batch of alcoholic ginger beer (i just gotta remember where we got the coopers ginger beer home brewing syrup cuz they didn't even carry it in the large home brew section at the huge beer shop in yarragon).

Thursday, December 24, 2009

hot

way too hot for 8am:

we did actually sleep somewhat well. i soaked our sheet on the bed in water. unfortunately i couldn't get it wring out very well so it was a little too wet but it kept us cool (and everything is completely dry now).

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

waitin for the change


it's 9:30pm and it's still 33C out. the change (and a bunch of rain) is supposed to come tomorrow. hopefully the rain will wait until after we get to paynesville but i'd be happy if the cool change came now (especially since the house is probably still much warmer than the 33C outside).
i also just noticed on the forecast the overnite low: 26C!!!! ugh.
i got bitten by this guy earlier this evening:
i'm pretty sure it's a black house spider (which isn't poisonous). i had just come in from the garden and was standing behind the couch when i felt something prick the side of my foot. i rolled my foot a bit to try to rub the pain and when i looked down i saw something big and black next to my foot. at first i thought big, black bumblebee type thing but when i looked closer (it was curled up a bit) it was a spider! i realized a minute later that it was still alive so i got a clear glass bowl to trap him under and identify it. i think i may have stopped him mid-bite when i rolled my foot. there's no swelling or anything-- it just went a bit red and hurt a bit. i don't know if he came out from under the couch and i just happened to put my foot a bit to close to it and scared it or if it got a lift into the house from the garden on me and just happened to fall and then bite me at that point. i'm just glad it wasn't the redback that i found in the garden yesterday.


Friday, December 18, 2009

FINISHED!

another year done and another batch of kids ready to head off to school after the summer break. i'm ready for my 5 weeks off. it's been a long year.
the end of year thing kinda bugs me with the amount of gifts parents give. there are 5 staff in our room so obviously to get us all something can cost a fair amount so there's a few things the families tend to do. some get us large boxes of chocolates or other baked goods (which instead of splitting up and just taking a few pieces of each thing-- especially since me and 1 other co-worker are vegan-- we each take a couple of the gifts. i manged to find 2 things i can eat/drink and my vegan co-worker took a couple things she can re-gift or use for a cookie exchange she has to go to tomorrow). other families just get the main teacher a large gift and then get us little things to thank us. unfortunately most of the time it's little boxes of cheap chocolate (not vegan) or soaps (that usually aren't vegan). a few families had a great ideas this year which we all LOVED. about a dozen families collected up money together and then donated it to oxfam and got us a few oxfam unwrapped gifts. the children from those families then drew special pictures which were copied on a high quality colour copier (i didn't even realize they were copies until i saw we all had the same pictures) and bound them together in a little book for each of us.
other families got us something for our room at work. one family got some a whole setup from the friendship tree and another got us a large potted plant. i like those sorts of things much better than the homemade food or little packets of chocolates. another great gift idea was a little box of spices from the oxfam shop. they were spices that i'm sure all of us use and the money from it's purchase goes towards supporting farming communities in sri lanka.
i think next year i may try to teach the kids what the word vegan means from the start of the year (although i can't tell them about the horrible lives that the animals that become their food have i can teach them what i do and don't eat as a vegan and of course they all go home and tell their parents everything). it was a bit annoying that even the couple of parents who did know we were vegan still gave us home made baked goods and just said things like "sorry it's got butter in it." i don't really need the gift. just a thank you is nice.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

a bit of everything

after a 39C day yesterday, today our high was 25C (and that happened at midnite, i don't think it's been above 21C since sunrise). this afternoon we've had some thunder showers and hard rains come through:
wombat actually turned down a trip to the park across the street. i suited her up with her jacket on, got my jacket on, got her harness and muzzle on and walked out the door. the rain started coming down pretty hard and wombat just stared out at the rain from the covered area of the driveway and refused to move forward (usually she's happy to go for walks in the rain even if she won't go out in the backyard in it). i unlocked the front door and she happily bounded in right at my heels. now she's sitting in the hall in a very similar position to this:

this is my tower of dukkah.

i decided to make a little something for my co-workers in my room for end-of-year/christmas. dukkah ended up being what i came up with. quick, easy, not expensive and will work with all the different diets in our room. i got the recipe off the sbs website while searching for dukkah recipies online (a commenter stated that it is the best dukkah recipe ever). i printed off a little discription card to attach to the jar so they would know what dukkah is/how to use it if they aren't familiar with it (the wording i used is what's at the top of the recipe webpage). it is really nice tasting dukkah. i was hoping to get some little jars from an op shop but i never really got a chance to look for them so i just ended up getting a couple sets of $2 shop spice jars with fluro lids. now i just gotta write on the greeting cards i made with a photo i took of a snowman decoration i have (i realized after i printed them up how unaustralian they are for christmas/summer but that's ok cuz i'm mostly canadian anyway-- even if i come from the part of canada that rarely gets to make snowmen).
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go green

from failblog.org:

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

eggless nog and heat


i accidentally used some firm tofu in the fridge instead of the silken tofu to make sour cream so i wasn't sure what to do with the silken tofu that i had bought specifically to make the sour cream with. then i remembered my favourite holiday treat- egg(less) nog from how it all vegan. i made a batch this afternoon. i forgot i was almost halving the recipe though and put in the normal amount (so almost double) of vanilla extract. i think i might put in extra vanilla from now on because it worked well.
it's a bit hot today. how hot? hot enough to do this:

the second (warped up) bottle was in the top of the recycle bin in the backyard. i'm sure our backyard was hotter than the 39C temperature with all that heat and sun on our mostly paved yard and corrugated iron fences plus the lid over the recycle bin probably turns it into an oven but it's gotta be pretty warm to melt plastic (although they do use plant based materials in their packaging so maybe the plastic has a lower melting temperature than most plastic).
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Friday, December 11, 2009

gnawing


i pulled the dead lemon tree out of the garden the other evening-- it just kind of happened. i was working around it and bumped it with my hip and it seemed to move really easily so i just grabbed and gave it a bit of a pull and it was out (i had tufts of grass that were harder to get out than the tree was). i called zac out to show him what i did and he just asked "now what do we do with it?" i figured we'd just saw it into smaller lengths (with our little hand saw) and put it in the green bin. i called wombat over to show her and right away she started gnawing and continued on for probably almost 10 minutes (she slept well that nite). she was a happy girl with that stump. i was a little worried she might get splinters in her mouth from it but she seem ok and she had a good time. maybe i can teach her to gnaw around the middle parts to help chop it up.
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consumption and stuff

a couple weeks ago my work had a parent information nite with a great topic and a guest presenter that i have been to a couple of her workshops at conferences and really enjoyed them. i decided to go the the evening and it was really good. the topic was consumption (great topic for families going into the holiday season). part of the evening included the 20 minute video "the story of stuff"-- it's a great video that is worth the 20 minutes and you can either watch it on the website or download it for free)
one minute of the movie:

it was interesting what a lot of the parents had to say too (we had some group discussions afterwards).
just before i left home to go to the meeting zac came home saying he NEEDED some musical related thing (i can't remember what it was that nite because most of the time it changes every couple weeks). fortunately he doesn't go out and buy most of this stuff he says he needs but i did come home with this fact for him (from the video): in america (and i'm sure that australia is similar although probably a bit better) 99% of things bought are not used 6 months after purchasing and are just thrown away. just looking around our lounge room i can see several things that we haven't touched in months (and i don't even want to think about the stuff in the spare room). it's amazing how much stuff we've gained (especially since i moved from canada with only 2 large bags and have only brought over photo albums and a few other special items since then) even when we do try to be careful about what we buy.
i've even tried to be much better in what we give to others in gifts over the past year. i'm only buying books, fair trade toys (sold from local shops) and handmade clothing (either by me or local person) for children and we're trying to get more meaningful gifts for people (i.e. photo gifts). i'm also trying to buy a lot more from small local shops (and we have some great shops around the area).

muffins and mexican


earlier this week i made a batch of zucchini spelt muffins from eat, drink and be vegan. i love these muffins (i think i've made them 3 times this year and i almost never bake anything). the banana in them makes them really moist and sooooo good!
i've also finally started making fresh salsa. whenever we're in canada we eat a LOT of fresh salsa from the deli section of supermarkets (and we get it at every mexican place that has the option of fresh salsa). it's so good but i've never actually made it even though i knew it was pretty simple. i found the perfect recipe in vegan planet (tomatoes, shallots, garlic, lime juice, cilantro/coriander, salt, pepper and an optional chili). i don't think i can go back to the stuff in the jar now.
also mexican related- we went to the vegie bar last nite with a friend (and got SOAKED riding in just after the worst of the torrential downpour). i'm sure the burrito has almost halved in size in the last few years. it's still really good and i still get it pretty much every time we go. i think this may have been the first time i've got it since i went vegan and i did miss the sour cream a little (although i did have a very generous serving of guacamole which was nice). i wonder why they chose not to put any vegan cheese in the vegan option (it's all over the vegan supreme pizza so i'm sure they could put it in a burrito too). they also have a new system for seating people. they won't seat you until your whole party arrives (our friend was next door finishing a coffee he got while waiting for us) but they have a new bar area with a courtyard on the north side of the building. you can go over there for a drink and sit on nice comfy couches while you wait and when a table is available after your party is complete they come and get you. great idea when they're busy (which they always seem to be).
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Wednesday, December 09, 2009

a few favourites

just a few of my favourite ornaments on the tree
my canada ball from my mom:
my julian apple (from the town in cali where me and zac met/worked for 18 months-- they were known for their apple pies from the local orchards):
our alaska bear from our 2005 very quick but fun road trip from vancouver to palmer, alaska and back to visit my friend from university):
montana moose from a christmas i spent in montana so i could attend my friend's wedding just after christmas (the same friend who now lives in alaska)
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