Greening my backyard

Creating habitats!
My plants when they were delivered – I was VERY excited!
Greening fingers
You never know, perhaps this sight will become so common, I won’t have to photograph it! Timbo getting his hands dirty.
My beautiful boy liked spending time with me planting in the garden.

It was National Tree Day today.  National Tree Planting Day was an initiative that started in 1996 to encourage grassroots action to improve the environment. It was started by Olivia Newton John and Planet Arc and apparently since its inception over 2.8 million people have planted over 17 million native trees and shrubs.

I participated in National Tree Planting Day years ago and today I was planning on going to my local event, but instead I decided to stay home and plant away in my own backyard.

A few months ago I told my local Council (Lane Cove Council) that I wanted to participate in the Backyard Habitat program which is a local initiative to encourage local residents to create habitats for native wildlife and encourage the creation and maintenance of biodiversity through planting of native shrubs and trees. It’s a fantastic service that the Council offers, which involves someone from the Bushland Department coming to your home and undertaking an evaluation of the conditions on your property and advising you on the best plants to plant and where. They even provide all the plants and the whole thing is free of charge.

One of the challenges I faced coming back to my house was my backyard – thanks to my mother, it wasn’t as huge a mess as it probably was when the tenants left, but  I have spent many a day in there weeding and planting. My initial enthusiasm had me planting pretty things and usually not native. I decided to re-dress this by participating in the Backyard Habitat program and honestly I couldn’t say no to free plants!

So this morning I dragged my husband (who tells me he doesn’t like gardening) and my son, who is way too into cars to want to leave them. We were supposed to go to our local event, but as my plants were delivered a few weeks ago and had not been planted, I decided to celebrate National Tree Planting day by greening my own backyard. For  our efforts we ended up planting about 75 locally indigenous shrubs, grasses and groundcovers from 13 different species. I look forward to watching their growth and hopefully attracting native birds and insects to our backyard, although I have to say I don’t want too many more possums, as we have plenty of those already!

One always feels invigorated after spending some time in nature – my son enjoyed planting some plants and I look forward to pointing out the ones he planted, as they grow and even my husband told me over dinner that he enjoyed spending some time in the garden. I think to most of the family the garden is ‘mummy’s area’ and no one dares come out – but hopefully our National Tree Planting Day can help me instill a sense of pride and wonder of the space that surrounds the house (ie the garden) to the rest of my family.

For anyone that wants to help native insect, bees or birds or just wants to plant something that is likely to grow without too much maintenance, then contact your local Council to find out what is native to the area. Most probably the Council will also have a native plants nursery where you can buy locally indigenous plants (even better than going native is to maintain the genetic diversity of plants by planting locally indigenous species). If you want to get even more involved, you can also contact your local Council about becoming a Bushcare Volunteer.

If you missed National Tree Planting Day today, you can re-create it at home any day. Enjoy and happy planting!

A tast of Morocco

 

Moroccan Dinner

 

So my mum is really into cooking blogs. She can spend all day reading these blogs. It’s actually how she got into reading blogs at all. When I told her I was starting a blog, she was very excited, because I think she thought it was going to be about food!  While I may blog about food from time to time, it obviously isn’t the main theme.

Until tonight, when I put on quite a feast, I have to say!  Tonight’s theme was Morocco.  My son is really into this book called the ‘Mirror’ book (Janine Baker), which is about two boys on opposite sides of the world, living very different lives, but something connects them. He loves that book. I’ve wanted to go to Morocco for a long time. When I was in Abu Dhabi I had a Moroccan colleague who surprised me on my birthday with a box full of Moroccan things.

In my current job, we have a book club and I was so excited when I saw a Moroccan cookbook. Since then I have been planning this meal and tonight I decided to cook it all up.

My Montessori book also told me to teach children about countries one at a time, focussing on a country, its culture, food, geography etc. So this is our first country assignment. This morning I showed my son where Morocco is in the world. We looked at some photos of its geography from snow-capped mountains to desert, from the markets to the villages. I also told him he would help me cook this Moroccan feast, so this morning he woke up very excited waiting until we cooked ‘Moroccan food’.

Obviously we’ll have to re-visit Morocco, but for tonight we enjoyed some of its foods, even if I had to take short cuts to get the meals all cooked. So what did our menu consist of tonight?

  • Spicy aubergine and tomato salad (zaalouk) – very yummy!
  • Roasted peppers with goats’ cheese, onion and parsley (salada felfla wa jban) – yummy also!
  • Chick pea salad with onions and paprika (salda hummas) – very nice
  • Chicken k’dra with chickpeas, raising and red peppers (k’dra djaj) – for the kiddies
  • sautéed spinach with orange and almonds (saute d’epinards) – interesting, but nice!
  • Honey glazed pumpkin with spices (ambassel mechoui) – very yummy

If anyone is interested I can share these recipes – all were nice and spicy.

For those inspired to cook, here are some vegetarian friendly cooing blogs:

However here are a few vegetarian friendly cooking blogs (I’m vegie) http://www.veggienumnum.com/ this looks really yummy actually and I’ve cooked a few things from it.

Here is the one my mum really likes: http://scandifoodie.blogspot.com.au/

Enjoy and if you have any favourite recipes that kiddies might enjoy also, please share.

 

Wooden Toy Dilema

 

 

I have wood on my mind…several things have cropped up to cause this. No pun intended!

Firstly, I have been wanting to buy a little kitchen set up for my kids to create a ‘pretend play area’. My Montessori book tells me, why have pretend, when you can actually have your kids in the kitchen, where they want to be? Well it’s not really where I want them to be and apart from the odd times where I may get my son to help me prepare some food, I thought it best to give him a ‘pretend area’. It is also my way to trying to diversify his interests a little away from cars and trains and I have a daughter and niece who will enjoy playing with it also.

I tried E-Bay to no avail. My few forays into E-Bay have left me wary of buying other people’s crap, as I have done on a few occasions. I know many others beg to differ.

Research at the local toy store and elsewhere showed that these toy kitchens (I wanted wood, as Montessori also says that having beautifully crafted wooden toys is good for kids – they appreciate it apparently. Also I think it looks better than plastic) cost around $250 and up! This was not what I had in mind.

I had about given up the idea and was trying to think of ways to convert a bookshelf into this elusive oven, when Aldi had a toy sale extravaganza and what were they selling? All kinds of wooden toys for kids.  I was very excited and ordered my husband to buy all kinds of these wooden toys: oven and food accessories; dollhouse and spaceship.  But as I did this, I ignored the niggling voice in my head which was questioning where Aldi was sourcing its wood from. At these low prices for which the company prides itself, it surely could not have been sustainably managed forests.

Does this make me a bad Eco-mum? It probably does. Around the time of the purchase, I happened to watch a documentary about the Earth Liberation Front (for more info on them, go to http://earth-liberation-front.org/ ) and the fact that some of the guys in the group have gone to jail and are effectively in isolation.  After all, deforestation is a major environmental threat and issue. Trees provide habitat to many species, clean our air by absorbing carbon dioxide (greenhouse gas), stabilize soil and prevent erosion, provide us with fruit and other natural resources (like wood) and are beautiful.

Since, I have tried in vain to find where this brand ‘JacknJill’ source their wood from, but I haven’t found anything. I have also gone to the toy stores to see if the alternatives were more environmentally friendly, but they weren’t. I have however found a website that does sell the alternative at a price: http://www.ecotoys.com.au/store/eco-toys.php?cat=6

In the end, the price was too hard for me to ignore. I could have avoided the whole thing and not bought anything at all, but sometimes being a mum takes precedence over my moral conscience. I have however vowed to write to Aldi and voice my opinion. At least they should say where the wood comes from, maybe in time, the alternative won’t cost 5 to 6 times more.

DIY Project 2

Inspired by trying to reuse and do craft, I decided to supervise a craft activity with Jayden, my Naty nappy box and other bits and pieces. It was my husband’s birthday last week and Jayden and I made a frame! It looks pretty good too. It was easy to do.

All you would need is the cardboard, glue, pretty things, paint etc

Cut out rectangles for where the photos went and make a backing for it with two bits of cardboard – one for the photos and one for the back of the  frame – then get creative with your little one and put it all together.

Enjoy!