Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Cash in Boots

Three weeks ago I was hit with the news that Cash, my standardbred, had Navicular Syndrome. In the past this has been a diagnosis with no positive outcomes for the horse.

My barefoot trimmer was far more optimistic, as was I after hitting the internet and searching for information. I stumbled across Rockley Farm who work on rehabilitating horses hooves and who are out there competing on barefoot horses. They are actively bringing back the chronic lame horses in pain and giving them and their owners a new lease on life.

Well, off Cash went for another assessment with another vet who is also a rehabilitation barefoot specialist.

Anyhoo, I loaded Cash up into his float, hairy eyeball and all, and took him off to this very knowledgeable vet. She had both Cash and I scooting along in straight lines and circles walking and trotting. Actually with Cash it was a lot of lurching, stumbling and understandably, resistance. With me and my heel spur it was also alot of stumbling and lurching...and cursing. All in all, it was not a pretty sight. And no place for small impressionable children.

This vet does not think it is navicular, rather low grade laminitis.

That is a big ¨yay¨

She popped some horse hoof boots on him and aside from the obligatory walking as though he had chewing gum stuck to all four hooves for the first five or so minutes, he started moving without pain at all. His walk to trot transitions were smooth and that big ole trot of his was back. He moved happily, without pain and with minimal encouragement. He WANTED to move. The boots came off and he went straight back to reluctance, stumbling and tripping.

You can tell at this point that I am new to blogging, otherwise this post would have been flooded with photos of my poor horse and his first attempts to wear these boots. (Apologies to Cash, but it was hilarious!)

He will now be a booted horse.

Just when I thought I couldn´t possibly get any hippier, I am now the whole hog hippy horse owner. Bitless, treeless, barefoot/booted, non-rugging, non hard feeding horse owner...and loving it!

A Little Spot of Op Shopping.

I could not help myself. I was consumed with getting out and indulging in a little op shopping. I jumped on the internet to search for a community based op shop. I had very recently scoured through my own local so was ready for a fresh new unexplored by me op-shop. I found one in Whittlesea. So into my little car I jumped and off I went on my merry way and no doubt blew a few carbon credits up along the way, as well!

Boy is that a dangerous little op shop!!! There are no Salvos prices here. I came across a pair of bootleg Wrangler jeans, my favourite, for the grand price of $2.50. I just about fell over. They are in great condition and will wear for many more years yet.

I also snagged a lovely crisp white linen Country Road shirt for $3.00. Again, someone pick me up off of the floor and don´t worry about calling an ambulance!

My third little find was a floor length Anthea Crawford black evening skirt for the outrageous sum of $3.00. I have no idea why I even purchased this skirt, but I have a weak spot for anything black and this lovely skirt has a gorgeous fall and floats beautifully when worn. I could I NOT buy it?

This little shop is underpriced, or perhaps, I have simply become immune and used to the higher prices at other opportunity shops.

My little pre-Bowen session op jaunt last week yielded a really nice corduroy jacket for (and I am cringeing a little here) $9.00 and a lovely winter weight flared skirt for $8.00, both from Chelsea Design. Not that I am a label shopper, but the fabrics are just lovely.

Between the two little forays I garnered some really fantastic pieces of clothing. The linen shirt and the black skirt will accompany me on a holiday in the tropics later this year. I love travelling with linen in the tropics. It always looks classy, travels well and breathes beautifully.

I am an out loud and proud op shopper. I have never been a trendy dresser, but I can dress with style for a fraction of the price.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Why Do I Love Reading Blogs?

I am quite partial to writings of others. I enjoy reading about gardening escapades. I shamelessly indulge in foodie/cooking blogs, horsey blogs, self sustainable blogs and straw bale blogs. Rest assured, if you write ANYTHING about these topics, I am in like Flynn, stickybeaking around and whiling away a good couple of hours devouring your words. I am a word stalker.

I mean, come on, how can you seriously look past Hazels Buns of Steel, her potage garden or the Cooks AMAZING offerings. Or Alison Sampsons Idea of Home. I do not have children, nor have any forseeable plans to have any, but her writing is just beautiful. It is so easy to get lost in her musings, poignant, funny and soul-searching. She takes me back to when I was a child and the things I used to do. Those squirreled away memories come flooding back and I find myself laughing out loud as her children, and no doubt everyone elses, are exactly the same as I was at that same age.

Dom´s lovely blog tugs at my Standardbred Horsey Heart as does, Standardbred Excellence and Now Thats a Trot. These fantastic blogs remind me why I love the Standardbred horse. They are a beautiful and talented breed of horse that is greatly underestimated and under-valued. Once my boy, Cash, is back in action, hopefully I will be contributing to raising the awareness of the breed as a talented allrounder in the horse world.

Frugal Queens blog is one womans astonishing online journal of eliminating personal debt. Her committment and dedication to achieving this goal is astounding. She shares all of her cost saving measures, recipes, shopping strategies, personal and financial sacrifices to achieve this goal. Hers is a very frank blog.

Reading blogs takes time, BUT, it is time well spent. I am being educated, entertained, exposed to thoughts, ideas, and ideals. My recipe repertoire is constantly being expanded. I get to drool over fantastic food photos, horse photos, garden photos and house photos. I get to share in peoples victories, op shopping finds and money saving tips. All of this education, entertainment and enlightenment has been offered through the writings of others.

Bloggers of the world, stand tall, be proud and blog strong.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Why do I Blog?

I blog to get some of my thoughts out there where I can easily access them and amuse myself. If someone happens to stumble across my across my words and enjoys for them for a couple minutes that is great! If they score a faceplant out of something on my blog...BIGGER GREAT!

I don´t offer all that much in the blogging stakes. I still use electricity that has not been generated by me. I still drive a car to work as I cannot stomach the thought of using public transport to get across the 80 kms required to get me there. Having said that I have just resigned and taken another job closer to home. Of course, being a country girl that is measured in time and not kilometers! I now have a 40 minute drive reduced from 75 minutes on a very good run.

I live in a strawbale house that HH and I built ourselves with the absolute minimum of subcontractors involved simply because it was cheaper to do it that way. My kitchen and bathroom were mostly sourced from eBay. We have own septic treatment plant on site that deals with grey and black water and being worm based also happily deals with anything organic. The subsequent worm castings are then dispersed underground throughout our orchard.

We grow our own happy meat in the form of the two little pigs that accompany the straw bale house and the chickens that churn our soil and spread the mulch in the orchard from here until next Christmas. Hence their feathery incarceration for most of the daylight hours. They are allowed out to reign havoc for about two hours a day,,,and they do.

However, I still own and ride horses, BUT we have great plans for one of our little clydesdale crosses. He will become our cart horse. I am hanging out for the day when we can simply hook him up with his little cart and drive into town to do those little bits of shopping, pick up parcels from the post office or visit the local farmers market. HH also wants to hook him up to a little plough to till the soil and go all Amish on our little farm.

My blog is not a blog of self sustainability. It is not a blog of thriftiness. It is not a blog on horses, electricity generation, hardcore peak oil or arts and crafts. It is a blog of bits and bobs, sometimes whining, sometimes getting downright outraged and sometimes a pic of something that I found delicious. I am not a diligent blogger, but I do enjoy the writing process.

In the great scheme of things and some of the phenomenal blogs I follow, my blog is really not that great, but it is mine and it is all me. Deranged as that may be!

BUT...thanks for reading.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

I Swear By Bowen Therapy...

I am a nurse which almost automatically equates to having a dicky back. Nurse for long enough and you can always find future employment as a bell toller.

I am also compromised by owning a heel spur. I am a chiropractors dream. I look like a pretzel as my spine and heel work in perfect unison to contort me into a posture where I look like I could be the actual missing link. Give me arms a couple of inches longer and I could sport a serious set of knuckle dragging callouses.

In desperation I turned to Bowen Therapy late last year for my back. After one session I was walking like a normal human being. Everyone at work commented on my newly reformed posture. I swear that even the guys who review the security camera footage were impressed at my improvement. It was that noticeable. I bleated for weeks about how brilliant I felt. The treatment itself was excruciating as I was so tight, tense and wound up, but oh, the following day and I was back to normal.

My biggest issue is that I refuse to go under the knife to surgically intervene with this blasted heel spur. So I am back at my Bowen therapists and they are working their magic hands on it. I have just been freshly Bowened and essential oiled. I feel fantastic and I smell even better! I have improved range of movement and almost no pain, and that is after just one session.

I am hanging out for the next one now.

And that is just a little boring insight into my life, apologies, but I just had to share, I feel THAT good!

An Opping Obsession

I am an Op Shop tragic. I cannot help myself. I am drawn to Op Shops like a moth to the proverbial.

I started my op shop obsession almost 30 years ago. I was invited to go shopping for a fancy dress party with a friend. We hit the op shops with her mother and I was gobsmacked at what was available and for how little money. I was hooked. My first purchase at the age of 12 was a gentlemans dark grey and black houndstooth jacket that I wore everywhere for years. I simply rolled up the cuffs to reveal the gorgeous grey silk lining. Very Annie Hall. It was 50 cents. I loved it and I cried when it died. The lining may have frayed in the pockets and was forever gobbling my small change despite numerous attempts at sewing it up. The lining on the cuffs then slowly faded and also frayed. It was duly sewn up and the cuff roll lowered to hide the obvious scar to the lining. I got almost 10 years of wear out of that jacket and for an initial purchase price of 50 cents, that represents phenomenal value.

My wardrobe over the years has been spectacular. Very vintage, very stylish, some of it very over the top, but very modestly purchased. At one stage my wardrobe had a dedicated bedroom to house it in all of its second hand glory. Then op shopping took off and the true vintage pieces were very few and far between. One of my last true vintage pieces was secured almost 6 years ago as a true op shop find. A 1960s ladies French Cashmere/Silk/Wool Jacket for the grand price of $10. That is not to say that the vintage pieces are no longer out there, but rumour has it that donations are thoroughly picked clean of the high end labelled and vintage pieces that are then hauled off to vintage clothing stores and flogged off at a premium price for those who cannot be fagged doing the armwork themselves.

Op Shopping is a sport. It takes time and dedication to develop that quick roving terminator eye that can detect a beautiful cut and fabric of an item that is jammed into a clothing rack like sardines in a can. You need to perfect the wrist flick as you quickly and artfully dissect a rack full of clothes down to a process measured in seconds of gracefullness as your fingers skim the wire hangers across the rod with minimum fuss and combine that with a speed readers eye to record potential labels and, of course, the clothing size.

Once a potential target has been found then the real armwork comes into play, that single sweeping motion that enables you to ascertain the condition of the piece. We are talking of the degrees of wearability from immaculate condition down to the reason that piece was donated was that little Laura took to mummy´s favourite skirt with her craft scissors that were only supposed to be capable of cutting paper are now suddenly slicing through french silk like butter. It does not matter how beautiful the piece, unwearable is unwearable. Walk away.

I regret off loading the majority of my vintage wardrobe. Truly regret it.

However, I still love a good day of op-shopping. Whether the practical and useful for the kitchen, the obligatory shirts for work, the pants for the same, a cute skirt for summer, a pair of cheap jodhs to ride into the ground or an entire wardrobe to take on an overseas jaunt. You can´t beat the humble op shop for value, variety, shopping out of season, or picking up some funky piece that you may only wear once but cannot justify spending a fortune on. Even worn once and then donated back to the op shop, it is still a bargain and saves perfectly good items from being reduced to unnecessary landfill.

One persons trash is anothers treasure.

Op on everyone!

Monday, March 21, 2011

Sunday, March 20, 2011

An Open Letter to Frugal Queen

Dear Froogs,

I stumbled onto your blog a couple of months ago. I had not been actively looking for a frugality blog but there you were. Your words resonated with me. I have been a fanatical op shopper for almost 30 years. I have not been to a hairdresser since 2005 when I got hit for an outrageous sum of money for a second class crooked haircut with an admittedly phenomenal colour. Now I rely on the generosity of anyone who feels they can wield scissors without cutting themselves and I embrace the greyness that is hell bent on Daffodil hair domination. I have always valued my time and cook along the principles of cook now, eat for three days and freeze the rest. I may have actually been a minifroogs already but I still plonked myself down on your coattails and went along for the debt reduction ride with you....however, not once did I leave a comment to let you know that you had another avid follower taking in your words.

That was very selfish of me.

..and now you are gone.

I had actually re-read every post of yours just this last week...and I am glad I did. Thank you for sharing your words and your wisdom, your enthusiasm, your highs and your lows. You and your blog will be sorely missed around the world. I am missing you already. Even this morning I jumped on the internet and googled ¨Frugal Queen¨ without even thinking, or maybe quietly hoping against all hope that you had changed your mind and was back blogging.

Take care of yourself, DB, your gorgeous daughter and son. Stomp that debt out of your life and move into that cute little 2 up and 2 down...I have no idea what one of those are. The really sad part is that a few little nasty trolls have done this and the blogging world will miss you for it.

Maybe one day you will return and blog again, maybe from your new little house and without the debt that drove your first blog! That will show those idjit trolling bastards...you cannot keep a blogging queen down, frugal or otherwise.


Cursive Blue

I am not normally one to indulge in profanity...at least not in public! However the cursive blue language has just been flowing thick and fast over the last couple of days. I am really pissed off at little sections of the blogging world who it take it upon themselves to personally attack those bloggers who extend themselves, their words, their wisdoms and opinions out on the WWW for all to share, to learn from and to open peoples minds to new and different ideas.

Frugal Queen has just closed down her blog. For those of you who do not know her blog, she lived a life of frugality in order to eliminate her personal debts and she wrote about it in all its non-blazing non-glory. She was very frank, very committed and left no holds barred in sharing her journey. Warts and all. Every cost saving measure, every recipe in depth, every strategy she used she wrote about and shared. She was an inspirational writer. In reading her blog, you shared her journey, you could use what you wanted and ignore what didn´t or wouldn´t work for you. If you never got to read her blog, you have missed out on a generous blogging legend. BUT there are some dickheads out there who for whatever sick reason take it upon themselves to voice their own opinion and personally attack these dedicated bloggers. Rhonda at down--to--earth has experienced it recently and my all time favourite blogger ¨These Days in French Life¨ pulled the plug on her blog a while back as well. I still have withdrawal symptoms from losing that blog.

It stuns me that there are some complete and utter ignomorons who take on self appointed status of blog police and viciously attack bloggers whose only interest is to share information. These idjits obviously have nothing better to do than surf and troll to incite a little bit of excitement into their miserable little dead end lives.


ooo, now I am getting warmed up!!!!

I do take this personally. There are some absolute ripper bloggers out there and admittedly it is through their popularity that their word net is cast over a greater area and they run the risk of snagging a blogging troll.

Stay strong, hit delete, do not feed the troll.

I know this will never happen to me as my deliberate low profile/lack of popularity/small fish status will maintain my cloak of invisibility to trolls.


Saturday, March 19, 2011

A Sea of Green...and A Purple Haze

This year has been a tomato write off. The weather has played havoc with the ripening process that has left me with a field of green tomatoes and not so many red ones. The cherry tomatoes have been the only saving grace for this growing season. The Roma cherries in particular.

I will give the tomatoes another two weeks before I lop them off at the knees and bring the tomatoes in on their vines to hopefully slowly ripen indoors.

I am really liking the idea of a hothouse (HINT HINT, HH!) to avoid further growing disappointment. But as with all things when you are an owner builder, these things take time. There is a backburner, and it is overflowing with things to do.

Having said that, we do have cabbages and some broccoli, so maybe I am not sporting a gardening thumb of death, afterall!

Said broccoli and purple cabbages donated themselves for dinner tonight. Those sporting vegetables that managed to mature despite the appalling growing conditions joined some pan fried free range bacon that crisped up beautifully with a smidge of butter. Also on the plate featured some mashed taties with greek yogurt and black pepper.

The protein was going to be restricted to the bacon and yogurt, but we had two small lamb rump steaks that needed to be consumed before being relegated to the dogs. So I quickly pan fried those and them left them to heat through on the pile of cabbage and broccoli.

The whole lot was then assembled and lightly dressed with some raspberry infused balsamic vinegar and duly photographed for your viewing pleasure!

Rest assured, it was......


Monday, March 14, 2011

My Wessex Saddleback Rototillers.

I actually do have a motorised rototiller, but I don´t really like using it as it annhilates the soil structure. Having said that, my two little Wessex Saddlebacks have done exactly that. Every morning when I stroll on over to feed the little pigs, they can be found ear deep in the soil and happily rooting away for whatever tasty entree they can find.

Some breeds of pigs can be very destructive to your land...our two go above and beyond the call of duty. They are hard core excavators, they till, they toil, they turn and they upend. I wouldn´t be surprised if we find our clay pan, which normally sits around 2 meters underground, to feature as the newly installed topsoil layer.

The biggest issue with this newly crumbed layer is the loss of soil moisture...and the fact that when it rains, it ceases to that have lovely crumbly texture and becomes a mud slick. Do the pigs mind? HELL NO!!!! It then becomes the worlds best wallow. Of course, it makes feeding the pigs hazardous as it clumps to the bottom of my wellies and suddenly I am engaged in a very unwanted weight training regime whilst trying to fend off two hungry little piggy cannonballs hell bent on getting the food bucket down to their level immediately. Me suddenly hitting the deck with the bucket is merely a further impediment to accessing the bucket. Feeding pigs in the rain is a hazardous sport. You must be quick, agile, strong and cunning. I often lure them out the gate into their general run then quick as a flash head on into their feeding/sleeping run, nimbly closing the gate behind me, deposit the goodies, open the gate and then duck out after they have sped into the run.

Once the piggies have been dispatched into the freezer we will engage in a very enthusiastic reforestation program for the pig run. We have great plans for that churned soil. It involves alot of pumpkins, zucchinis, cucumbers and sweet taters. That little piece of land deserves a living mulch layer. Also, it will provide some foodstuff for the next batch of piggies.


Sunday, March 13, 2011


Cash and I had a major setback setback last week. He has been diagnosed with Navicular Syndrome and has effectively been retired. This diagnosis has traditionally been associated with a slow decline in soundness and eventual euthanasia. In fact, the vet who diagnosed Cash, essentially suggested palliative shoeing which sets the ball in motion for decline.

My hoof trimmer, who keeps herself very up to date with the latest research regarding horse hoof health, is far more optimistic. Which, of course, sent me scuttling off to the internet to begin my own research. You wanna know something, Cash may just able to be rehabilitated. But that is not the point of this post.....

I spent three days in the doldrums over my horse...A HORSE, PEOPLE!!!

Japan, on the other hand, has been plunged into an apocalyptic state with potentially thousands dead, an unknown number missing, thousands injured, water and food scarce, vital infrastructure destroyed, a radioactive meltdown reality and the imminent threat of continued aftershocks. Japan is existing in a nightmare of destruction with no immediate way to safety. The psychological, fiscal, environmental and structural recovery will take years.

My horse issues are pretty insignificant in comparison.

Another Disaster....

We are only into March, and yet another country has suffered a natural disaster. Northern Japan experienced an earthquake and subsequent tsunami. HH and I had actually turned on the TV on Friday night in preparation to watch the news when the details of the tragedy were being relayed before us on the screen. We were gobsmacked by the unfolding disaster. Again, it is unfathomable that such devastation can be wrought so quickly and effortlessly by Mother Nature.

Just watching the wall of water descending on seaside Japanese towns and seeing houses swept inland, sometimes completely intact, was gut wrenching. Cars just swept along, boats and ships tossed around with less effort than a child in bathtub. It was all very surreal.

Again, our thoughts are with another country and the people affected by this disaster.