Sunday, 31 May 2015

What Sherri Did - in May 2015

All man's miseries derive from not being able to sit quietly in a room alone.
~ Blaise Pascal

In General

Life is getting busier and busier as the year goes on. I am experiencing less time to sit quietly alone and think. As an INFJ personality type I NEED my down time. However I know and trust that on this carousel of life, I will come around again to the point where things will slow for a time. And then I will enjoy some time to sit quietly in a room alone and ponder the universe and its themes.

As mention in this post, I attended a women's workshop in May. The following weekend my sister, niece and I got together to make vision boards for ourselves.  We enjoyed our play time very much. After we packed up all the gear we used for making our vision boards, we played board games. Then later on we worked on our knitting and crochet. 

What I have been reading

The 5:2 Diet Recipe Book, published by Bounty Books.

13 Things Mentally Strong People Don't Do by Amy Morin

The Sugar-Free Kitchen published by Parragon Books

What I have been watching

Back to the slave pen? Does your day job ever feel like you have been penned? This is a short extract of a video interview with Scott Nearing. 

Best of the Web

I was so excited to find this article on 14 easy ways to bring more flavor to your food. Why didn't they teach me these things in Home Ec at high school? Perhaps they did and I forgot. 

The article above mentioned 'brunoise' and I didn't have a clue what that was, so I did some research and found these instructions on how to dice, julienne, brunoise and batonnet. Which just goes to show that one is never to old to learn new skills. 

I think these bath bombs are a great idea.

I found this article on the mindset of millionaires interesting especially the bit toward the end of the article about fear motivating them to try harder. 

After reading this article I have been keeping my eggshells to put around my plants in the garden.

Is the middle class disappearing? The results of this Gallup survey shows that fewer Americans are identifying as middle class.

I took a trip down memory lane with this post on the Transcontinental hotel. My first job was in an office in a building on the other side of the hotel. In the photo of the hotel as it is today you can see a brown brick building next door. There used to be a second hand/antquarian bookshop in that building. I think it was called Hollywell Street Bookstore. It was in this shop I bought a certain book written by John Seymour that left a lasting impression on me.

Permaculture Studies

I have submitted my paper on appropriate technologies. For this paper I looked at upgrading the irrigation system on our property. 

I am working, working, working on animal profiles. I have to complete ten profiles in all. It is a lengthy, time consuming assignment. 

Monday, 25 May 2015

Housework routines - drudgery or a supportive framework?

Creating a home - one with soul, personality and as sense of history - is a journey, rather than a project.
~Wendy Moore

I have been thinking for some time of writing on the topic of housework routines. Why? During the year some of the blogs I follow have written about how they are trying to implement routines. Other blogs have had clean alongs - like Rhonda's pantry challenge earlier this year. Some of the blogs I follow have lamented that we seem to have less time than our grandparents had in their day. All these topics tend to make me think about routines in general and my routines in particular.

I find it particularly interesting when people hark back to the 'good old days'.  I have read a lot of literature from the late 19th century to the mid 20th century, and the themes are the same that we talk about today. Too much stress and worry, not enough time, not enough money, insecurity.  So why do we speak of the 'good old days?" Is it merely nostalgia? 

 Could the reason we  seem to have less time than our grandparents did is because we are spoilt for choice?  All our time saving appliances provide us with more free time, but we have so many more options than our Grandparents had.  And because of this we don't get the chance to slow down, because there is so much more we want to do, be, and have. The lives of our grandparents were simpler, not easier, just more basic. Too, looking back it seems to me they had less, not more, in the way of support than we do today.

What I do know is that women and men of former times  followed routines much more than we do today. In our world we seem to try and fit things in where we can rather than have an established routine. I see a housework routine as a framework upon which the rest of my activities can rest or lean upon. Something that gives me support and provides structure to my day. Sarah Ban Breathnach wrote "We want our lives to feel limitless, so we must learn the art of creating boundaries that protect, nurture and sustain all we cherish." For me having a housework routine is part of creating those boundaries.

Since mentioning last month that I have drawn up a new routine for myself, I have had requests to share my new routine. I will share this new routine in Part II of this post.

Monday, 18 May 2015

Preparing a property base map - Part 2

"They depend utterly on vastly complex organizations, on fantastic machinery, on larger money incomes. What if there is a hold-up, a breakdown, a strike, or unemployment? Does the state provide all that is needed? In some cases, yes; in other cases, noMany people fall through the meshes of the safety net; and what then? They suffer; they become dispirited, even despondent. Why can't they help themselves? Generally the answer is only too obvious: they would not know how to; they have never done it before and would not even know where to begin." 
~Dr E.F. Schumacher

The above quote and the quote from part one both come from the forward of the 1976 edition of John Seymour's Complete Book of Self-Sufficiency. I bought a copy of this book many years ago and I cannot count the hours I have spent over the years staring at the illustrations of the one acre holding and the five acre holding. 

Dr Schumacher could have been writing about me in reference to me preparing a base map of my property. I did not know how to, had never done it before, and did not know where to begin.

In the end  drawing up the base map was not too complicated, but did take a lot of time. In permaculture design before getting to the point of creating a design, a base map is completed. The base map shows everything on the property as it is currently before any designing is started. Essentially the base map is a proportional, visual representation of your landscape.  The base map is where you note all the information gathered in the analysis phase, for example soil types and pH, slope of the land, and the different sectors - fire, predominant wind directions etc. And the base map is the launching pad for the design you want to create.

I have had a bit of a set back though - in the photography department. I was intending to post a photo or two of my base map. Even though my base map looks very clear on paper when I take photos of it they turn out very faint and indistinct. However as I promised last month here is an account about how I prepared my base map.

My supplies were graph paper - mine had five mm squares, pencil, rubber, ruler, calculator, and a tape measure.

The first step is to measure the lengths of the boundaries of the property. If you have a property or title map the boundary lengths should be shown on the map. If you don't have a property or title map you can use Google Earth to obtain the measurements if you know how to use that application. Failing that you could use a tape measure to determine the length of your boundaries.

Now you have the measurements you can draw an outline of your property on the graph paper. My property is a long thin perfect rectangle  - by perfect I mean the two longest boundaries are the same length and the two shortest boundaries are the same length. This made it nice and easy to draw, using my ruler to give me a straight line.

First draw a line to represent the longest boundary of your property.  My longest boundary is 281 metres. Once you have drawn that line measure how long it is on your plan in centimetres. Mine was 39 centimetres. Then divide the length of the actual boundary by the length of the drawn boundary and that is your scale. In my example I first multiplied the 281 x 100 to convert the metres to centimetres - 28 100 centimetres. So 28 100 centimetres divided by 39 centimetres = 720.5 centimetres. And that is my scale 1 cm: 720.5 cm. 

Of course you could choose to use a basic scale of 1:10 or 1:50, depending on the size of the area you are working on. If you used a scale of 1:10 it would mean every centimetre on your map would equal 10 centimetres in your garden. 

 So once you have your scale you can draw the other boundaries by dividing their measurements by the scale of your map. For example my short boundaries measure 80 metres or 8 000cm. By dividing 8 000 cm by 720.5 cm I get 11.1 cm. This will be the length of the short boundary drawn on the map.

Using your scale you can measure and plot on your base map everything that currently exists on your property, trees, gardens, clotheslines, house, pathways shed etc. 

So for an example if you wanted to put your garden shed on the base map you would measure the shed to get its dimensions. Then measure in from two of your property boundaries to plot the shed's location. Then using your scale you would plot that location on your map. 

Of course I had to put a lot more into the site map including direction of prevailing winds, soil pH, the direction the water flows across the property and so on. So as I indicated earlier it is very time consuming to produce but well worth the time spent in my opinion. 

Monday, 11 May 2015

The Wisdom of the Women

A wise woman wishes to be no one's enemy; a wise woman refuses to be anyone's victim.
~Maya Angelou

On Saturday I was privileged to attend a woman's workshop run by Uniting Care Community. The workshop was designed to lead participants in the discovery and exploration of our heart's dreams and desires. It was a small, relaxed gathering consisting of five participants and two workshop leaders.
 The workshop was extra special because my sister and I attended together. With one accord we participants sat around in a circle and created a nourishing, safe space for each other. A place we could open up and each provide a witness to the other; quietly affirming each others struggles and triumphs. 

We practiced mindfulness and the workshop leaders guided us through relaxation and meditation exercises. These activities led group members to individual insights which we were invited to share with the group.

We were led to connect with our inner selves and the values we hold most dear. We were reminded of the importance of the mind/body connection. Our stresses fell away, and we became absorbed in re-discovering our inner vision and direction.

My favourite exercise of the day was where we explored our wise selves. Firstly we entered a relaxed and meditative state. Next we were guided to ask ourselves "Where is my inner wisdom?" We were told to pay attention to where we were directed in our bodies, to where our inner wisdom dwelt. I assumed my wisdom would be in my heart and was surprised to find my hand resting on my throat. We were then told to acknowledge to our selves that "this is my inner wisdom, this is the part of me that knows".  We were told to take notice of images that came to us. I tried to dismiss the first image that came to my mind. The image was my lap top and I judged this image as not being an image of my inner being. Then I felt that the image was relevant as it pictured the access I have to the 'world wide web' within; my inner wisdom, guidance, intuition, and the answers that come to me through prayer. I also saw lots of blue, aquamarine and ultramarine during this meditation. After we came out of our meditative state we wrote a reflection in our workbooks and created a visual representation of our inner wisdom using drawing, words and collage.

This is the second time I have taken this workshop. I took the first back in 2013. At that time I was inspired to write in my workbook the words 'Thrive through thrift.' 

I still have a lot of material in the workbook to complete, and I will do this over the next few weeks. 

I spent Sunday studying permaculture. I hope everyone had a lovely weekend.

Monday, 4 May 2015

In My Garden In May, 2015

"When you see the world as part of yourself, you will take care of it.  When you see yourself as part of the world, you will be taken care of."

We ended April with heavy rain that will be very good for the garden. The hot, sultry days have passed making it possible to enjoy mornings and afternoons spent in the garden. I hope wherever you are, you have found some time to spend in the garden connecting with nature.

Here is my list of things I would like to do this month in the great outdoors.

In general

While I need to make sure my lychee tree does not dry out, I can taper back the water on the plum tree as it defoliates. The passionfruit can be watered less now too.

This year I will remember not to worry if the leaves on my gardenia plants start to yellow. Apparently this is a normal reaction to cold weather and once the warm weather returns the leaves will green up again.


I would like to plant some bush bean seeds and some lettuce seedlings.


I have some citrus gall that I would like to prune out of my trees. 


May is the month  I apply compost to our choko vine to give it a bit of a boost. It has been flowering and tiny fruit are forming. I didn't manage to fertilise the mango trees last month so hopefully I will get it done this month.

Pests and Diseases

I will check the lychee for erinose mite. If I do find any signs of the mite I will try a spray made from Lux flakes. Gardener (and local government Councillor), Tom Wyatt talks about erinose mite in this video. 

What are you planning to do in the garden during May? 

Friday, 1 May 2015

What Sherri Did - April 2015

"…the primal cause of that inconvenient dissatisfaction is the feeling that you are every day leaving undone something which you would like to do, and which, indeed, you are always hoping to do when you have "more time"; 
~ Arnold Bennett

In General

Time has just flown this month. I don't feel like I got much done, hopefully I will do better next month as my energy levels should keep improving. I had my first visit to the hairdresser since my hair has grown back. It was only for a light trim and I had a few very fine foils put through my hair in brown and blonde. I asked for the foils to be subtle and to blend in, as I still haven't made up my mind whether I am going to stay gray or go coloured. I don't really want the bother of having to re-colour every three or four weeks to hide re-growth now that my hair is all gray. I decided that now was a good time to try a new hairdresser and I must say she understood what I asked for and gave me exactly what I wanted. So I was very happy and will go back to her again.

I have my vegetable garden beds set up, filled with soil and ready to go. I added some of my home made compost to the beds. I have planted my zucchini seeds and my tomato seeds as well as some tomato seedlings. I have also planted two strawberry plants.

I have done lots of weeding, and fertilised the citrus and the plum tree (I think it is a plum tree it hasn't fruited as yet)  . Don gave the biggest mango a pruning. We harvested lemons and lots of passionfruit. 

I have been wanting to put an order in with either Diggers or Green Harvest, but haven't had the time this month.

What I have been reading

The Google +Guide by Scott McNulty - I am reading this book as I am thinking about setting up a google+ page. I like  the idea of having circles and being able to share different things with different circles. I also like the idea of hangouts - video chats with people in a circle - I thought it might be a good way of catching up with family and friends. So If you have a Google+ page please let me know what you think the pros and cons are.

Thrift by Samuel Smiles - I am loving this book though I am making my way through it slowly.  I just wish I could find the time to spend more time reading.  At the rate I am reading this book it will be on my reading list for a while.

An Unfinished Marriage by Joan Anderson. This is the third time I have read this book in the last 10 years. Back in February I re-read A Year By the Sea.  It is a candid memoir of an 'unfinished woman'  spending a year living by herself in the family holiday home in Cape Cod. In the second book in the series, An Unfinished Marriage, the author and her husband are rebuilding and re-configuring their lives and their marriage. Both these books are full of gentle wisdom, which is why I enjoy reading them, and have returned to them yet again.

What I have been watching

I found this video on making 'plarn' very interesting. I would like to make some plarn and use it to make a bag for shopping. However that project will have to go to the bottom of a very long list of things I want to make.

Best of the Web

I thought this idea on making your own house numbers from Gentle Joy Homemaker, very lovely.

I also really liked these book slings.

Permaculture studies

I completed and submitted my base site map. I have started the next unit of study in this course and am now looking at appropriate technologies and animals that can be included in our system.

How was your April?