Saturday, December 2, 2017

Christmas Shopping Days

It's that time of year where we burn a really big hole in our pockets; and wonder how we're going to pay off the credit card bill for the next twelve months... then we go and do it all again.

Right?

Yeah... I get it.

But this year, I'm not doing that.

I'm doing hand-made and op-shopped presents for my family. I know that sounds like the cheap way of doing it, but in all seriousness, it's not.

I like making things by hand and enjoy op-shopping; so it's the best of both worlds. 

It also takes times to make things; so I also have a lot of that up my sleeve if I time things right - which I have. 

The best thing of all is that I haven't spent an awful lot of money on things that people really don't want... because when you think of it, you don't know what your relatives want - and it's not normally a lot - and so the best thing to do is to make something they can eat, drink or hang on the wall... and it is normally something that makes them happy. 

And I'm doing that... I'm hand-making things for my family members and some of them have taken a few weeks, another thing will take another 3 weeks to do, while I've been working on yet another item for the last 3 months. 

So, really when it comes to Christmas shopping, I haven't spent all that much money - except on things for myself. I bought a new vinyl and a left-handed desk calendar for next year (the latter I always get)... and that's it's. I've spent around $80 this year compared to around $200 last year; and that says something about how I'm looking at my budget. 

Yep, this year should be fun! So, do tell, what are you doing for pressies this year? You don't have to go into detail, just hint around the edges... hehe... until my next post, take care, stay safe and remember I'm always here.

Friday, November 24, 2017

Thankful Album

Today, on Facebook, I started a 'Thankful' album. Every day, for a month, I'll be taking a photo and uploading it and explaining why I'm thankful for that item, those people, event or the ways I'm thankful.

It's going to be an ongoing thing - but I'll begin with Christmas and see how it goes. 

But right now, I'd like to say how thankful I am to be still alive, still breathing, still living, and as healthy as I am. However, it took a lot of effort from me to get where I am now -  didn't just expect people to take care of me and leave it at that. No, I had to make sure I got to sleep at the right time, I ate the right food, I did the right things and was doing everything right in my life.

Yes, I have Epilepsy, and it can really beat me around, but staying on my medications and making sure I do all the right things in my life - like everyone should - is a thing which keeps me healthy.

I have found that there's a few things to learn by:

Don't be lazy. It's your life, and you take care of yourself.

Don't expect people to do everything for you. A little elbow grease and work never hurt anyone.

Always be learning something new. No matter how old you get, the learning process is ongoing.

Hand on your knowledge to the next generation. There's always somebody to help out who doesn't know what you do.

Being thankful doesn't mean you take life for granted; it means you see life as a gift. I love life and will always love living... no matter how much depression gets me down. I enjoy reading books, and collecting them. I love writing books, even though there's a high chance they will most probably never be published. I love painting and art, even though I most probably will never sell a single piece of work... I'm thankful to have learned how to do all these things in my life and knowing how to get these things done is a good thing for me. I have learned skills. 

I am thankful for family. I am thankful for friends. I am thankful for the roof over my head. I am thankful for the beautiful flowers in my garden and the birds who fly freely singing overhead. 

I am thankful.

Thursday, November 23, 2017

A Busy Month

It's been a busy month; and so the reason why I haven't been writing in here all that often.

But at this time of year, I do slacken off writing online; on my blogs and do write more offline. So, what has been happening in my life is more cleaning out, Christmas Card writing, decluttering, working on what to give who for Christmas and enjoying the time of the year - which is supposed to be boiling hot, but it's not.

And this year, I'm making things for my family or op-shopping the things for them... so there's no mad rush to the big retailers for me. I'm going out to the charity stores to look at what's there and getting nice things for my family.

What a way to shop!

So far, I've got two presents on their way to being done... one is a painting, another is a t-towel. And next week I'll be pulling together the third one for another relative - well the beginnings of it anyway. 

This is the least stressed I've been for Christmas presents ever; mainly because it's the most fun I've had doing something for this time of year.

And isn't that the main thing? To have fun?

Sure it is.

So, when you're looking at what to get your family this year, stop and think. Do they really need something that's going to blow out your credit card, or do they really need that little something that will last longer than six months? 

I'm picking carefully... and going for something from the heart which is either hand-made or preloved. Until my next post, take care, stay safe and remember, I'm always here.

Friday, November 10, 2017

Chilly Old November

It's around the time we're supposed to be warming into Summer, and here in Brisbane, we're using our duvets and jumpers still.

Now, how strange is that?

It's raining instead of lovely sunshine, we're still eating our stodgy, winter food and hot cups of coffee instead of cool salads and glasses of mineral water. And yet, we're heading faster and faster towards Christmas... and it doesn't feel like it.

I haven't sent out any Christmas cards - yet - and I'm hoping to have plenty of presents by that time. Actually, I'm secretly working on one for my parents and I hope they like it.

However, I do hope the weather does warm up more by the time December shows up... all my Summer gear is just sitting around waiting to be worn; but the chilly weather seems to be holding out on us all. 

Oh well, it just means the Summer will be hotter and more disgusting than ever! This is something none of us like - right? And the all-famous thunderstorms Brisbane gets copped with are going to be more powerful and amazing than ever before as well.
I do have a love-hate relationship with those storms. They're great for letting the pressure off the day they seem to accumulate, and yet they're freaky as hell. 

Well, I have been looking at my garden and trying to keep it from drying out - but with the showers we've been getting, there's no problems with that. The cooler nights are keeping the temps nice and low enough for us all to sleep and I'm working on NaNoWriMo too; which is always fun. Well, until my next post, take care, stay safe and remember, I'm always here. 

Friday, November 3, 2017

Where Has The Time Gone?

I've been meaning to come in here and post something ... anything... but my life has been incredibly busy lately.

If it wasn't for NaNoWriMo this month, I wouldn't be sitting at the computer at all. I'd probably be decluttering my house more and sending even more junk off to the charity stores for somebody else to have.

But over the past few months, I've been posting about a few things that may have bothered a few of you - but really it's just what's on my mind. 

I'm not going to talk about what's going on with the weirdness going on in Hollywood right now. That's too... well, you know... it's a touchy subject; and I just don't want anyone telling me what I should be thinking or saying.

Over the next few weeks, I'm going to be really busy; and this is why I'm writing now. Tomorrow I have a boutique market. On Monday, there's art class (but I'm home early) and then on Tuesday, is Melbourne Cup Day (but I'm home and not placing any bets on that - not that I don't want to. I just don't want to spend any money this year). And I'm hoping to get the garden all cleaned up, mowed and fertilised for Summer... so I don't have any bindis growing in it. 

Then, there's Christmas Cards to post off; and not to mention Christmas shopping to do - yep I get in and to that early for my family. I have been looking at doing some hand-made items for my family. Some of those things I get from markets while I'm out and about being the retailer at them; which is always the fun part of taking part in those things.

I've been busily writing, editing and working on new books, new poetry and other pieces of work, and then, I'm hoping to save up for a new, taller, Christmas tree this year (as I want to put all my decorations on it instead of having my small tree and have to put away about 20% of them because they don't fit). 

So, this is what's been happening. I simply haven't been around to post anything because it's the small things that have been keeping me away from here. 

And besides, it's that time of year where we all get really busy and life gets really complex, isn't it? Well, I hope this year isn't stressful for you all, as I'm trying to keep my stress down too. Until my next post, take care, stay safe and remember I'm always here. 

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Zero Tolerance

I've seen it far too many times on Facebook and other social media sites, and I'm damned well sick of it!

Online bullying, body-shaming, being a complete arsehole to anyone who you think doesn't live up your standard, being a horrible person to somebody you think is less intelligent than you... well guess what?

You're the one who is the less intelligent person here.

If you're out there taking photos of people who have cellulite, stretch marks, wear glasses, aren't perfect, aren't good at maths, can't spell properly, speak perfect English (or whatever language you're speaking), can't count money properly, doesn't eat meat, isn't vegetarian, doesn't know how to draw, doesn't know how to drive a car, doesn't know how to read, write or understand what things are in the everyday world, has a guide dog or assistance dog, is walking down the street alone, tripped over and fell down ... 

well, the list goes on with just about any scenario you lot out there can think of, and I know there's people out there who are more than willing to pick and pick people to pieces.

I went to school with some of them and you know something? It got very dull being around people like that very quickly - and what they dished out every single day of my life became boring, predictable and showed just how intelligent they were deep down inside.

They're weren't.

They were the insecure little children who wanted to be seen by everyone and noticed because there was something going terribly wrong in their lives. They took out their frustrations on everyone one else; and didn't know how to ask for help, didn't know how to turn around and say they needed to talk to somebody - no, they just thought picking on somebody, anybody, was a great way to push their anger and frustrations in another direction.

This just pisses me off.

When this kind of thing reaches out to workplaces, gyms, shopping centres, high schools and other public places, it makes it difficult for people who find those places intimidating to go to in the first place. 

And I'm going to tell you something about myself that only a few people know: I find going out into public places the most horrifying thing to do. I'm always double-guessing myself. Am I taking too long to get back to the car? Do I have enough money, did I look weird when I sneezed? Am I dressed in the right way that won't bother anyone? Am I walking too fast/slow/the right direction? Where do I look when I'm walking along to the next store on the other side of the shopping complex? All of this goes through my head and exhausts me throughout a day - and it causes me to not go out anywhere.

So, I stay home as much as I can - if I can. But if I have to go out, I don't stay out just for the hell of it. I get myself home as soon as I can so I don't have be somewhere to impress anyone... or so I don't feel as though people are staring at me; even if nobody is staring at me - I still feel as though they are.

This is what happens when you've been bullied through primary school, high school, college/TAFE and then in your workplace. And once you're not working anymore - and you're on disability support pension - you still can't please anyone; and people still bully you. I've been told off by people who tell me that I should be 'out working, getting some money', but I'm not allowed to work. And the older I get, the more this shit bothers me. So, it's gotten to a point where I just don't talk to anyone anymore.A couple of years ago, I realised I wasn't happy - and in some ways I'm still not. I'm working on this to make my life better.

But it's time we all took a really good look at ourselves people. 

What we have to do is stop looking at what everyone else is doing that is stupid, wrong, dumb, idiotic and half-brained and start looking at how we think, speak, act and treat people around us. If you're one of those people who snapchat and instagram other people's faults and think you don't have any of your own, well, you've got a long way to go in your development. It's quite clear you're most certainly not happy within yourself if you're picking on other people to make yourself feel so superior to them. 

Let's have a zero tolerance to this bullying online, in the world around us and wherever we go. Let's get back to basics, people, and think about exactly how bullying somebody into thinking they're below us makes them feel, by first thinking how it would make us feel if somebody did that to us. 

Now... the ball is in your court to start making our world better.

Friday, October 20, 2017

Busy Week

It's Friday - at long last - and there's been a lot going on this week!

On Monday, it was art class where it was cold and we were all in our jeans and jackets as though it was Winter again; when really it's Spring. We were told that the Logan Artists Association gallery was held up the day before and only one volunteer was there at the desk; and not only was the association robbed, but that volunteer was too! The gutless little wonders covered their faces and scared a good friend of mine.

Tuesday was a wet and rainy day, where I stayed home and watched it from the comfort of my house... nice when that happens... but I made sure the shopping list was up-to-date and chilled out for the day; knowing the rest of the week was going to be spent with me going out.

Wednesday was shopping day. I got everything I needed within 2 hours and still forgot to buy QV soap! Darn! Oh well... never mind. I'll get it next time. Anyway, I got the wrappings for my niece's birthday present and for my brother's too.

Thursday was my brother's birthday. I went out to Garden City and bought another present for Riley and wrapped it up and added it to the present I had already for her. I spent the rest of the day at the Mount Gravatt Book Exchange over near the Mt Gravatt College of TAFE. I arrived home around 1:30pm, chilled out until around 3pm and got ready to go out to dinner with family for Gabe and Riley's Birthdays (Riley's Birthday is on Sunday - she's 18). 

Today, I'm not doing much - just catching up with anything to do with laundry; as we're getting a lot of rain over the weekend... well so we're told. So, this morning, I mowed the lawn, put together the plants I'm hoping to sell at the market on 4th, November, put out 2 loads of laundry, put away the shopping bags, dusted the piano, cleaned on of the toilets, cleaned up the television, put away the knee rugs from Winter and collected together the calico bags I use on the weekends. Then, I put away the clothes horse (which I'll probably pull out again tomorrow, but that's okay), put away some t-towels in the kitchen and finished breakfast... *phew!* what a morning! I got all that done by 9am! 

I'm not sure what I'll be up to tonight, I've been invited out to an art opening but I'll see how I feel first. The weekend is going to be me cleaning out the living room and attacking the home office again and putting away all the laundry before Sunday night. Well, until my next post, take care, stay safe and remember, I'm always here.

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Old-Fashioned Values

For my birthday last week - last Thursday to be exact - I went out with my family to a great hotel and had dinner. I love this old-fashioned way of celebrating; it keeps everyone in contact with each other.

But then, I also love old-fashioned things anyway. 

I collect vinyls/records. I collect books and don't own an ereader (and with all my real-print books, why would I?). I cook all my meals from scratch and enjoy every minute of making something where I know what goes into that meal. I love to knit, stitch, sew and paint presents and create things from raw materials - instead of going and buying things from a store and giving it to somebody.

Why, just recently, I brewed up Limoncello... it was amazing and brilliant! I loved doing it - even though it made a complete mess and I had to clean the kitchen a few times to get rid of the stickiness of it. But it worked out and everyone loves it!

I also love to write letters to people. There's one lady in particular who I write to - who will never see this post - and she lives in Toowoomba with her family. Joan Lane has been known to my family for years - decades. Since I was around 6 years old, I've known Joan as my second Grandmother when I met her down the coast at Brunswick Heads. She was just the most lovely and wonderful person there. When my folks wanted to have a night out somewhere, I could go to Joan and Ted's van to be somewhere safe... these people were trustworthy and generous and loving. They were hardworking people and great kids too. 
However, times change, and Ted and Joan moved to Toowoomba when they found they were feeling the holiday to Brunswick Heads was becoming to hard to do. Then, Ted passed away and Joan's family kept her closer. This was around the time I started writing yearly letters to her - and about the time I found out she wasn't too crazy about the internet or technology. 

So, I adapted for her. 

I tried to send her a cd of photos, but she wouldn't even approach a computer - not without Graham, her son - to help her out. However, Graham is busy with work; so it would have been days before she got to see the photos which correlated with the letter. So, I put them onto thumb drive, went to K-Mart and got them printed up. Then, I numbered them, wrote on the backs of them all and then, sent the rather plump parcel to Toowoomba - to her home address - and she could see them all as she read the letter! 

And the letter! Well, there's no printer in my home (as my computers have a habit of closing them down because I don't use them often enough - silly things!). So, I get in and hand-write them. This takes me around 3 - 5 days and I take my time. Sure I make mistakes, but I just cross out the mistake and keep on writing; doing the best I can. 

Well! Joan loves receiving these photos and letters; and I totally enjoy writing them! It's a great way to get my mind to work slower. This is also why I write an offline journal. I get to write down more personal things that I would never dare write on here for the whole world to see, hate me for and criticise me for even thinking... I mean, how dare I be any less than a Human Being having a mind of my own, feelings of my own and the ability to write down my own feelings in my journal; and this is why I don't write down how much things of this world bother me here.

So, wouldn't it be lovely if we all could sit down and write a letter to somebody we know who would love to receive something in the letterbox. Write about how your week is going, what you've been up to, how you're working on your latest piece of art/writing/sewing/work... let that person know in your own words how you're feeling about the weather and the other things in life that seem to get in the way of what you wish to do... then... add in photographs of what you've been up to, your garden, flowers, places you've been to and people you've hung out with. 

DO NOT PUT THEM UP ON YOUR SOCIAL MEDIA - IT DEFEATS THE PURPOSE OF THIS EXERCISE.

What you're doing is:

*  Using the postal system in the way it was designed to be used.

*  Taking your time and enjoying the fact you were actually taught to write with a pen and paper when you were little for a reason.

*  Hoping the person you write to (be it your sister, uncle/aunt, mother/father or grandmother), returns a lovely letter of their crafting. 

Now, you don't do this to your neighbour... you write to somebody you rarely see. You write to somebody who hasn't seen you physically in over a year, but you talk over the phone. And the one thing you must do to make this stick is to write a yearly letter to this person - including photos in your letter - and they will love what you're doing for them.

This is: keeping up communications and contact. They will enjoy the fact you've gone out of your way to sit down over a weekend and actually write something on paper to let them know they are more important than the internet, television and your phone right now... and this is a good thing to do.

So, who do you write letters to using snail mail? I write to Joan Lane. She loves receiving my letters so much; as much as I love writing them. Until my next post, take care, stay safe and remember, I'm always here.

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Living Without Experiment

Over the past 6 months, I've started on a little experiment on my finances. Now, being a person who doesn't have that much in the way of funds, I thought this would be a good thing for me to try to save money.

And you know it was interesting to see how I lived without spending too much money on things.

The first thing I did was really look at what I spent my pension on in the way of food. Did I buy more than I needed? Did I eat everything in the fridge and pantry? Did I use all the shampoo and conditioner to the very last drop; and did I squeeze all the toothpaste to the very last bit I could get out of the tube? 

A lot of the times the answer was no.

So, I worked on making sure I did that. 

Also, I looked at what I was doing in the way of clothes. I went through my wardrobe and gave away clothes I just didn't wear or fitted into anymore; and started wearing a good and nice wardrobe of clothes which were easy to wash, dried on the line and didn't really need ironing - just folding from the line and putting away. 

This saved me time and energy - but not that much money on my gas bill unfortunately; only around $20 in the last 6 months. My power bill is another thing though. I've made it go down by $20 by using only one light in the house at night - and that's the one I'm in the room I'm using. All the others are turned off. Also, when the new energy-saving bulbs came out on the market, I went out and bought them up and replaced my old bulbs immediately. This halved my electricity bill within 3 months! And seeing these bulbs last around 2 years, it also saved me on how many I buy of them.

But buying only what I needed in the way of food has really helped me out. I have been cooking food and only eating a quarter of it, and then putting it away for the next night... more often than not, I'll make a pizza (from scratch, the dough and all!) and it'll last me around 3 nights. This means, I'll only have a plate and a few things from the day to clean up on those following nights; instead of the huge clean-up I'd have normally. 

This has helped me greatly in how I use my food and how much food I throw out. The amount of rubbish I've thrown out has halved and so the amount of shopping I've had to do lately has been smaller and my budget has become something of a good thing for me. I have more money to put away in the bank and more time to be able to work on other things around the place instead of thinking about what to cook for dinner and taking a long time doing that. 

The best thing is that I've taken up art school and I'm able to afford the paint, brushes and other things which go with going to art school, so I'm not thinking about how much it's costing me. I have the money to do it because of how I've adjusted my spending, how I've changed my way of living as well.

However, I've also done one thing and that's to have no actual money in my purse. This worked for a little while... but it also has backfired on me in a big way. 

The good thing about not having the real dosh in the purse is that I don't feel the need to spend it. It in the bank and when I think about having to use the card, then I know there's bank fees and other fees that go along with buying something. This discourages me from buying an item unless I absolutely need it or really have had my eye on it for a long time.
But today, I wanted to give some coin to a charity at the checkouts and found not having a little bit of money on me was a bad thing. I felt horrible not having any money at all to give to a good charity. This is something of a backfire on not carrying money with me. So, I've decided it'd be a good thing to start carrying some money with me now.

So, there's my 6 month experiment to see how going without has done for me. 

The food and pantry thing has worked out really well. The results are plain to see that buying only what I needed and will use and eat is something that I'll continue to do. Also, I'll wait until I completely run out of something before restocking it.

However, not keeping a little bit of dosh in my purse? Well, I think it's a good idea if I do that. Not too much, but a little bit of small change wouldn't hurt. Until my next post, take care, stay safe and remember, I'm always here.

Saturday, September 30, 2017

Home Made Limoncello

I haven't been on here for a while, but that's because I've been busily working away on a few other projects which have to do with the upcoming markets at Murarrie State School.

And it's been really hot lately, and so, I've also been making the most of the hot weather too... airing out the house, doing all the laundry and doing as much as I can outside in the garden. 

It's been nice - except the day I went to Thorneside and was attacked by midges all over! OMG! It was horrible. I've still got huge bites all over my legs and some on my arms which drive me nuts at night. I am finding it hard to sleep though; even though the ones on my kneecaps aren't so bad since I've gotten the poison out of those last night.

Otherwise, I've been making Limoncello... for those who know what this delicious stuff is, you'll be wanting to know how to make it. Well, I have a recipe I've dug up on the internet and I'm hoping it works out - as I've yet to bottle it and chill it for 2 weeks.

Ingredients:

13 lemons
1 large bottle big enough for over 2 litres of liquid
1 bottle Vodka 40 proof (not 80 or it'll crystalise and the bottle will rupture in the freezer; and you'll be scraping Limoncello off your freezer walls for months).
1 litre water
2 cups of sugar (raw sugar is fine, but it'll turn the syrup brown).
Sanitising solution - can be purchased at home brew stores for around $7.00
Bottles for Limoncello - can be purchased at home brew stores for around $3.50 but only in plastic. I have found they don't have glass bottles for this kind of thing anymore.
Wooden palate knife - keep it separate from the rest of your cookware and label it to save on cross-contamination.

Method:

Take the peel only off the lemons - without the pith. The pith is the white stuff on a lemon and makes the peal taste sour. If you're finding this hard, use a lemon zester, or a grater... but with the grater, you only need to rub the lemon once and you'll have the zest you need off the lemon. 

Put the lemon zest and vodka into the large bottle, and put the lid on - make sure it's an air-tight lid - and leave the jar/bottle in a cool place away from the sun. 

Stir it once a day, for a week.

On the seventh day, get large saucepan and put in the one litre of water and two cups of sugar and heat until the sugar has melted away. If you're using raw sugar, the syrup will turn brown. Don't worry, that's the molasses in the sugar. I've read that it won't affect the outcome of the Limoncello; just the colour.

Turn off the heat and leave the syrup off to one side for an hour to let cool and funnel it into the vodka/lemon peel jar/bottle. Put the lid back on and leave it alone for five more days. 

A day or two before bottling, clean the bottles you're going to use and ready them for the Limoncello. 

Separate the peel from the vodka/syrup and ladle the limoncello into the bottles then chill for 2 weeks before serving. Keep chilled.

I've yet to bottle and chill mine... so I can't tell you what it tastes like. I've used raw sugar in mine, so it's gone brown from the molasses in the sugar. I'm not worried about this, it'll have a different colour and maybe a different taste to the other type of Limoncello I've seen around the place. I'm hoping it turns out okay... I hope it does.

If not? Well, I've learned something about how to make Limoncello. If it has a great taste, but is brown, and yet my Mum still loves it, I'll mark it down as my own style and keep making it this way... who knows? I may yet still refine this recipe and tweak it more to make it better; as there's so many different ways of making it too.