Titus Turns 1 – Hungry Caterpillar party

Photos as always but the wonderful Catherine from Cazpix

Birthday boy and Mommy

The Hungry Caterpillar theme. I got a lot of good idea off Pinterest and then just made it work for us, what I liked was that the worm eats a lot a fruit and it was easy not to have a lot of sweets as the kids loved that all the food the caterpillar ate was on the table. I did a row on the fruit he ate from Monday -Friday and behind was all the food he ate on Saturday.

Monday

Tuesday

Wednesday

Thursday

Friday

Saturday
chocolate cake, ice-cream cone, pickle, swiss cheese, lollipop, salami, cherry pie, sausage, cupcake and watermelon

Sunday

Table

Crafts
making egg box caterpillars

I found a sticker book with the story so I read the story to the kids and they got turn to stick the stickers in

Titus and Bear played – bbf

Sleeping – the excitement was too much for some

Eating

With Oom Jacques

Cake and singing
Cake was made by Nadine from Jorja’s Cakes

Titus needs to learn to blow not grab the candle

The Geek looking Handsome

dirty

1 I can’t believe it

And the winner is…

Julia

I entered all your names into this random picker http://andrew.hedges.name/experiments/random/pickone.html and it picked Julia so well done!!

Email me your address or I can bring your Shewee at our next knit and chat. I hope you avoid many nasty public toilet seats!

Thank you once again to SheWee for this great prize and to those who did not win, go buy one or put it on your birthday list.

Some other random news

1) Our one chicken has a hole in her back, we are not sure what happened. Rachel saw the dog sniffing around her but we are not sure if the dog did bite her. I don’t think he did, as they free range around him all the time and if he really wanted to eat one he would have by now. The only time he might have, is when he was eating. She is the greediest chicken in the world and she tries to eat the food out of his bowl while he is eating and I have seen him snap at her. In any case we spotted it last Friday and cleaned it everyday and put ointment on it but by Tuesday it was looking horrible and The Geek decided to take her to the vet and see if they could close the hole and if we could get something to put on it. Rachel went with him and they returned with doom and gloom news, the vet said it was necrotic and that it could not get better and that it was better to cull the chicken. We could not even eat her as the meat would be affected if the infection had spread around her body.

The Geek did come home from the vet with the purple livestock spray that helps wounds heal. Necrospray or something like that. But he said it was good to have on hand for next time. Rachel was in tears and both her and Caleb said they would be cross with the Geek if he killed Potter. I got stern with them then explaining that it was not a job that anyone wanted to do and that at least Papa was being kind enough to do the horrible job for all of us and it would not be kind of Potter was suffering.

In the mean time I thought to put a post of the back yard chicken forum that I belong to. I took pictures which I will not put here as they are gross and I asked if she was worth saving. I said the vet was not hopeful and had said to cull. The forum is usually very quick to say cull if they think it is necessary. But the overwhelming answers were advice as to what to do and stories of chicken surviving horific wounds. Potter had up to this point being wandering around the garden eating as usual and did nto look stressed or in anyway distressed so I convinced The Geek to help to make a separate place for her in the garage and that we needed to clean the wound and see if we could get her better.

3 days later and Potter is going strong and is in fact very cross at being locked up in a small space but I need to keep the wound clean ( chickens like to sand bath) and keep her from moving around too much. I can also watch what she eats if she is on her own. The wound is not too much smaller but it looks less necrotic and I hope it might start to heal. I think it will take awhile. The hole is about 2cm across and goes into her internal cavity.

If she gets worse or looks distressed at anytime then we will be kind and cull her but I am going to try my best to save this chicken.

2) I have new seedlings sprouting and am getting ready to plant our late summer/autumn crops. The companion planting and winter rainfall charts from Afristar that I blogged about here have been so helpful. I can at a glance see what to plant this month. The planning beds and companion planting is more difficult and I do wish that I had time and money to go on a permaculture course but I will just have to learn through trial and error.

3) Titus turns one on Monday and it is his hungry caterpillar party on Saturday. We have been making things tonight and I am baking tomorrow but I have tried not to overdo it. I even got someone else to make the cake so I would not have too much to do.

4) I feel the the priveladge rich person, which I am not as we don’t really make ends meet, but I have decided to investigate someone coming to help me as a nanny/housekeeper full time. The biggest problem is that I am not getting around to doing all the work, writing and home schooling that I need to do with Titus around. He is a lovely sweet boy but he is busy and into everything. It is affecting my ability to earn money and my time to help Rachel with her schooling. I am worried that we are going to get behind. I am also spending a lot of my time, cleaning, doing laundry etc etc.

This sounds like I am trying to justify this, does it not? I know plenty of people that live overseas, where help is not affordable, and they manage to look after the kids, homeschool and have a clean home. I don’t know why I am failing but I am getting irritated with my kids all the time and it is not fair. The poor Geek hears me moan all the time and it is not fair on him either.

I hope that by not worrying about the house and by being able to have decicated time to work, stress levels will come down. The nanny can watch Titus while I do school work or projects with the other 2 or they can watch the 2 boys while I work with Rachel on her reading and maths. And sometimes they can watch all 3 so I can get some writing or Earth Babies work done. I hope I find the right person.

5) It is nearly weekend – yay

6) I really need to blog about our water saving and how we are moving slowly forward but that will have to come in another post dedicated to water developements

The other arm and Greener sex

One night after coitus ( you have got to love Sheldon) I was lying behind The Geek, he was asleep, my brain on the other hand was far from done with thinking for the day.

Firstly, we should have screw off arms for spooning. What the hell do you do with the arm underneath? You can put it up above your head but that is not comfortable. The other person can lie on your arm, but then what about when you want to move? Because lets face it, spooning is great and lovely but then it’s enough and you need to move to your own bit of bed to actually sleep.You can sort of lie on it but then in gets in the way on being close and spooning the other person, which is after all the point. My solution is instead of pins and needles in your arm that has gone to sleep being tucked under you or bent at unnatural angles above your head, or due to the other person lying on it and you are plotting how to get it out without seeming unloving and ruining the moment of intimacy. Instead of these, it would be so much easier if we could just screw off the underneath arm and spoon in peace, enjoying the moment of un-baby-interrupted sex rather than worry about what to do with the arm. And yes I am aware that I over think things.

Secondly I thought about how much a baby changes your life, your sex life to be exact. From frequent sex to just being thankful that you managed to at least have sex once that week. You are lucky if both are awake at the same time and the baby is not. I think it is the baby’s evil plot, their way of enforcing birth control and preventing further siblings.

Birth control brings me onto my 3rd thought. So in this whole sustainability challenge is some contraception greener than others? And what about condoms, are there green biodegradable condoms? What I do know is that I do not want any more babies and that I can’t take hormones. In my brief Google search I saw something about sheepskin. I am not sure how The Geek would feel with his manhood wrapped in sheepskin. I am not sure how I feel. I will have to research this topic and will fill you all in with the greenest contraception options, dilemmas, debates and products and of course most will not be available in South Africa.

Stay tuned

but for now, over to you

what do you do with the other arm?
do you think the environment should be a consideration in birth control choices?

And just in case you thought I was the only mad person that has these arm thoughts check out this cool article by Christoph Niemann

Product review and competition – SheWee

I did a wee outside, standing up just like the boys! I should not be quiet so excited about this fact but it really was fun. My SheWee arrived this week. I was very keen to try it out especially in the light if my discovery about the amount of water we waste flushing urine and how it is actually a great fertilizer. The boys have been doing their bit and ‘watering’ the garden and Rachel has been bravely squatting on the grass but that left Pinky. I was not going to wee on my feet so I have a old glass coffee jar that I use when I go to the toilet and then empty on the compost heap, it feels a bit like giving a urine sample everytime I pee.

I was delighted to discover SheWee in South Africa and they very kindly donated a SheWee Extreme for me to try and one for me to give away as a prize on the blog.

It is very nicely packaged and the extreme is PINK, how cool is that. It comes with an extension pipe and a lovely case so you can keep it with you in a handbag. Rachel claimed the first try and was delighted to stand and pee like her brother. I noticed that it took her a while to get going and thought it was the attention of her brothers and I watching to see how it worked so I sent them all away.

Once rinsed it was my turn, I was surprised how thin the shaped funnel was, I did worry that it would not catch all the wee, But I worried in vane, it is so cleverly designed. You can pee standing up without removing any of your clothes. It would be easy to stand next to a bunch of peeing boys and join in without showing anything. Not that you would want to but you never know, at a festival after a few beers it might be a fun freak out a few boys and join in 😉

What did surprise me what how hard I found it to start peeing. As a girl you are just conditioned to wee when you sit down, as much as I needed a wee it was still hard to get my brain to let go and actually wee. I think the fact that I still had my clothes on too subconsciously made it harder to start. But once I got going it was awesome. No peeing on my feet! You do just have to watch the wind direction especially here in the windy Cape.

When I mentioned on twitter that I was getting a SheWee some people asked me if it was disposable. No this one is not. I am trying to cut down on our rubbish so I would not want it to be disposable. I actually can’t see why you would want it to be. You hold the outside plastic which is fluid repelant so any liquid runs off it very quickly and does not leave much residue behind, you can then rinse it ( and remember urine is sterile) and never come in contact with the wee at all. I would so much rather rinse something with my own wee on it that have to hover or sit on a public toilet. If it was dispoable it would be a waste of resources and then you could only use it once. I want to use mine all the time. My SheWee is now going everywhere with me!

When and where to use the Shewee? – From SheWee website

The list of uses below are just a few of our suggestions, but there are many more occasions when Shewee will prove invaluable…

General uses
When faced with a grubby public toilet
In foreign countries with unconventional facilities
When giving a specimen for medical testing
When you are stuck in traffic (a bottle would also be required!)
When on a long walk in the country
Elderly or disabled women who find bending difficult

Occupational uses
Women in the armed forces; camouflaged bottoms will no longer be necessary
Commercial drivers
Police Women

Hobby related uses
Campers
Skiers
Festival goers (we all know the stories about the toilets at festivals!)
Hikers/Ramblers
Boaters
Private aeroplane owners
Runners/joggers
Cyclists
Motorbikers
4×4 enthusiats

I think they need to add fertilizing the garden to the list.
You can order straight from the SheWee webiste, this is something every girl should have. Get one for yourself, your daughter, Mother, friend, Girlfriend.

I have one to give away on the blog, please comment below if you would like to win one, Just tell me about why you would love it or an embarrassing storey about needing to wee and not being near a toilet, you know the kind where you feet get wet.
Please comment anyway and tell me what you think, just say no thanks to the competition if you don’t want to be in the draw to win one. The draw will be randomly selected from those wishing to enter. Entry closes midnight Thursday 23 February ( South African time) I will announce the winner on Friday and then post off your prize. ** Please note only open to people in South Africa unfortunately**

Goodbye Toilet Paper


Now this was really not where I thought I would land up when starting the sustainable year challenge, but hey I am open to going with the process and learning and trying new things. I was searching for information about grey water friendly products when I came across the urine as fetilizer idea which I have blogged about here It has been going well and so far the boys are happily moving around the garden spreading their love and I have my trusty jar in the toilet which gets emptied on the compost heap. And great excitment, tomorrow I go and collect my Shewee from the post office and I promise to let you know what I think.

The children now know the rhyme “If it’s yellow let it mellow, if it’s brown flush it down” and I even heard Caleb telling this to a friends husband when they came around for a braai on the weekend. *blush*

Okay so back to the dead trees that we are using to wipe with. The manufacturing of toilet paper cuts down trees and uses a lot of resources to make the white, soft luxury stuff that comes on a roll, we then wipe flush and all those trees and resources are wasted. The amount of trees needed for toilet paper is frightening. Wikipedia says: One tree produces about 100 pounds (45 kg) of toilet paper and about 83 million rolls are produced per day. Human consumes 27,000 trees daily to make toilet paper. Even if we like to fool ourselves that they are not cutting down old forest but special forest made for paper. Stop and think what they had to do to clear an area for ‘special’ paper trees. They had to clear and kill all the indigenous vegetation and animals and plant a single species of tree. This never happens in nature, nature is diverse and works in an eco system. Having an area of just one type of tree needs lots of fertilizer and pesticides to grow as it is a system out of balance. In a normal growing environments in the wild plants fertilize and pest control for each other. These huge forest also use large quantities of water.

And all this so we can wipe our bums of dead trees and flush it away! Recycled toilet paper is a good start but they can’t make recycled paper as soft and fluffy as virgin toilet paper made from new tress rather than recycled paper. Are you willing to have a slightly less soft wipe and save trees and in turn the planet. After all your butt is not that important.

I am going one step further. I have made some reusable wipes from the left over and too small cloth nappies that I have used for the kids. I made one side with towelling and one side with soft flannel. I could have bought new material but I am all about up-cycling and reusing older nappies that I can’t pass on to be used by someone else. This way less resources are used in making these as they now have a new job. I am used to washing cloth nappies and really it is not that hard. So just adding the toilet wipes to the bucket of water with lavender oil in it and then washing the whole lot in the machine is no hardship to me. I just tip the bucket into the washing machine. Is it slightly more work. Sure, but I think our plant is worth saving. Imagine if we all flushed less and used less or no toilet paper.

They actually wipe better than toilet paper and the flannel is as soft if not softer. If you want to make your own try use something you already have at home. An old towel and old t-shirt or old flannel pajamas. Just cut them into rectangles and overlock along the edges.

Would you be willing to use recycled toilet paper?
Are you willing to try the leap for reusable wipes?
(if anyone does not have an over locker and needs me to make some for you, I will use new fabric for yours I promise, please feel free to email me cameronsallyjane (at) gmail.com
Please let me know if you make your own and how it turns out.

Or am I just mad?

More reading:
Ancient trees for toilet paper
trees of soft paper, what do you choose
National Geographic – trees use for toilet paper
The Daily Green – sustainable paper
Rethink Toilet paper for Earth Day
Wikipedia – Toilet Paper

Why we should not ignore Valentines day

Oh the same dilemma every year. Do you or don’t you do anything for Valentines day? I am glad that xkcd had the same dilemma

I have heard all the reasons not to.
It is too commercial
Money making scam
Everyday should be Valentines day.
We are busy it is a working day.

And while I agree with all this, plus the fact that we have no extra money to spend going out, I am still not convinced we should ignore it.

Our lives are busy and hectic and no matter how much you are in love, the mundane and the everyday creeps in. Yes should be loving and doing things for each other everyday, but sometimes we are just trying to survive. Do we need a day to be reminded? A day to stop and think of ways to spoil and appreciate our loved ones? It is all too easy just to say that it should be everyday, but if we are honest we don’t go out of our way everyday to show our love.

If we don’t use this day in our rebellion against the commercial but we don’t really do any other day either. We all moan that Christmas is too commercial but most of us still celebrate and enjoy it. We can find ways to make it congruent with our own values, spend less money, make it an eco friendly day if you are a green nut like me. It does not have to be commercial but I don’t think we should ignore it. A day to show someone how much you love them does not have to cost a lot. But I think it is wrong to pretend it does not matter.

We show our kids that a day of Father Christmas and presents is important but a day to show someone you love them should be ignored? That does not sound right, kids need more examples of people showing love, they need to know that sometimes you need to take time out and make an effort to show someone you appreciate them.

My ex husband ignored it every year, well he ignored everything including our wedding anniversary. I would secretly hope that this time he would do something nice. I tried a few times and maybe I did not try hard enough either. But each year his ignoring it hurt.

How do you feel about Valentines day?
Are you celebrating Valentines day?
What are ways to have a inexpensive but still romantic day?

(great Pinky! Now you have talked yourself into this you know you actually have to find some awesome cheap way to spoil the geek tomorrow!)

Growing can be easy – start with sprouts

Growing stuff does not have to be difficult. You can start with something that you can eat in about 3 days. Yes healthy crunchy, full of goodness sprouts. Even if you don’t like them too much they can be hidden in most meals so even the most fussy eater will not notice the taste. Great in stew, salads, soups, stir-fry and on a sandwich

I am big on not buying more stuff but using what you have, so I took some glass jars from finished mayo, gerkins and other food. Poured a little of the different kinds of sprouts that I wanted into the bottom and covered with water. I used alfalfa, mung beans, radishes, and a salad mix. Leave in a dark place to soak overnight.

Drain the water off and rince the sprouts twice a day. I catch the water and the nutrient drain off and water the plants with it.

I covered the tops with some net tulle that I had and tied the tops with yarn. You can get a fine mess wire that you can also use that fits into a special lid and bottle but I used what I had and it works as well.

Put the sprouts on a window still, it is best to store them top sloped down so that excess water can drain off. You get special racks that you can stack the jars on that hold them at an angle but I found a tupperware worked just as well

Depending on the type of sprouts they can be ready in as little as 2-3 day but some take about 5

Ready sprouts

I want to sprout beetroot next, apparently it sprouts bright red! How cool

Help I need a new hot beverage

Why is it that we find a hot beverage so appealing? I love to have a cup of something on the go near me most of the time.

I have decided I want to cut down the amount of cow milk that I drink. Lately I have not really been enjoying my tea with milk. My usual is Rooibos with a bit of milk no sugar.
I drank a lot of coffee before I was pregnant. Morning-Sickness, no lets call it what it is, All-Day-Sickness put a stop to that. I could not even drink Rooibos let alone coffee. I do now occasionally have a cup of coffee but I am finding that I don’t enjoy it like I used to.

I like having a hot drink now the question is what should I try?

In my cup at the moment I have some Coca Tea which does not taste so good on its own but with lemon juice is quite nice

It is a tea of the Inca and supposed to help control mood and appetite, both of which can do with some controlling. Especially since my domestic worker asked me if I was pregnant again, I replied that I was definitely not so she said, oh well then I must just be fat! Coca is the non addictive leaves of the plant they use to make cocaine. It was used a medicinal plant by the Incas long before the process that would change the chemical configuration to extract cocaine.

I am not even sure where I got this box, it has been hanging on the tea shelf for ages.

What do you drink?
Do you take milk and sugar?
What new drinks have you tried?
Any suggestions for something interesting I can try?

Planting the 3 Sisters

I am trying to follow some of the permaculture principles when planting our vegetable garden. I would love at some stage to go on a permaculture course but they usually cost a lot and are for longer periods of time that I can be away. I know that there is a lot to learn so I have reading and trying to discover as much as I can for myself.

Permaculture promotes planting in group of companion plants that each help the other to grow better so the group grows better than the individual things on their own. One of the popular groups that I came across was called the 3 sister. It has a Native American origin as these 3 form part of the staple Native American diet.

Excuse my simple drawing

The story goes:
Corn, the oldest sister, was said to grow strong and proud. Squash, the youngest sister, crouched at the feet of the other two, keeping them protected from predators. Beans, the middle sister leaned on her older sister for support and twined the three together.

I am one of 3 girls, so Rachel asked if my older sister was the tallest so I said no I was, so she said then I have to be the corn, Jenni can be the beans and my younger sister Sarah is the squash.

How it works

The corn grows tall and provides a frame for the beans to climb up and grow on which the squash on the bottom acts as a sort of living mulch. Providing shade and preventing water loss. Beans also act as a nitrogen fixer and squash and corn are both heavy on the soil.

Technique


-You make flat top mounds of soil that are about 30cm high ( I am not sure mine got quite so high) and about 48-50cm in diameter. I used worm compost, some shop bought compost as I did not have enough and some of our soil.

– I put a glass water bottle upside down in the center to act as a direct waterer

– We had previously started growing corn in seedling trays and so I planted the small plants out around the bottle using the North, South, East, West Pattern. These may need to be thinned out later to about 2 or 3 of the strongest corn plants
– In the link I read on line about this method they said to plant the corn direct and then wait until it was about 2 weeks old then add the beans around. Since I had the corn plants already I just planted the bean seeds around now. I planted about 5-6 bean seeds per mound.

– The squash gets planted in the side of the mound and you really only need 1 but I planted 2 in each and will thin out as I see how they grow. I had some of these already in seedling trays too. I used gem squash which would probably not been the squash used by the Native Americans but they grow well here.

– I mulched my mounts for now with straw as it is very very hot at the moment and I did not want the small plants to burn and I added small logs or bricks around the mounts to help contain the water.

You want me to do what with my wee??

Gosh there is so much to learn about trying to cut down on our negative impact on the planet. I am reading a fascinating book but I will get to that in another blog post. Last night when researching grey water and what kind of detergents are grey water safe I came across liquid gold and it was too good not to share. So the grey water discoveries will also have to wait for a new blog post.

To start with there are a few things you need to know:

– Fertilizer has 3 basic ingredience (NPK) Nitrogen (N) for stem and leaf development, Phosphorus (P) which helps root development and flower and fruit production and Potassium (K) which is good for all round plant health and resistance to disease.

– Human Urine has these same 3 ingredients – you can see where I am going with this can’t you.

– On average a person pees 4-5 times a day. Each time the toilet is flushed it uses about 8 Liters per flush, that is 40 liters a day of fresh drinking water, per person per day!

– This water goes into the sewage system where the process to make water safe to drink again involves chemical treatment and separation.

– fresh human urine is sterile and free from bacteria. In fact it is so sterile that you can drink it when it is fresh but lets not got there okay. When urine gets older than 24 hours the urea turns to ammonia which causes the wee smell.

Yes you guessed it human urine is clean and makes great free fertilizer and it saves water in the process.

How to use it:

If you have external genitaila (a penis) you can pee outside in the garden. I am lead to believe that it is a ritual amongst boys and dare I say men to ‘water’ the garden. A girlfriends parent’s house is apparently a big bonus and is usually done when drunk, but maybe I just had odd friends when I was at Varsity.Back to the point, direct peeing can be done on well established trees, and the lawn or compost heap. Just make sure that you move your love around. Just like the grass can go brown if your dog pees in the same spot all the time, the same is true for human urine. This is due to the salt content.

If you don’t have dangly bits or prefer not to pee outside then a glass jar in the bathroom can serve to collect urine. After reading about this last night I pee’ed in a coffee jar over night and poured it out on the compost heap this morning.

Neat urine is a bit strong for plants and should not be put on the leaves, you want to dilute it about 8 to 1 or 10 to 1 and then water at the base of the pants or into a direct water bottle if you have one.

Everyone in our house now has to pee in the garden and strangely enough The Geek seems to be the most reluctant. Maybe I should get one of those female urine funnel (she wee) things so I can pee outside too because the squatting and peeing on my feet thing is just never going to happen.

The science:

2007 Washington Post, they followed a study in which human urine was used to fertilize cabbage (cabbage was chosen because it requires a lot of nitrogen for strong growth). The study found that the cabbages fertilized with human urine were larger at harvest, grew to their maximum size more quickly, and suffered less insect damage than cabbages grown with conventional fertilizers.

From The Washington Post, October 8, 2007:
“Urine is “a good natural nitrogen containing substance and probably could be easily utilized” as a fertilizer, said Dr. Philip Tierno, director of clinical microbiology and immunology at New York University Medical Center, New York City. “There’s nothing wrong with using it,” Tierno said. He added that there is little risk of contamination by urine-borne pathogens, because they would be in competition with microorganisms found in the soil and would “probably lose the battle. Urine is actually a relatively clean substance.” Tierno is the author of the book The Secret Life of Germs.

During a pee, a healthy adult will release 11g nitrogen/urea, 1g phosphorus/super-phosphate and 2.5g potassium. Patrick Makhosi, a soil scientist with Uganda’s Kawanda Agricultural Research Organisation, confirms the efficacy of human urine as a fertiliser. He says that applying urine to growing vegetables once every week for at least two months will more than double the yield.

In one year, the average human being produces enough urine to fertilize 6,300 tomato plants which would produce 2.41 tons of tomato fruits in just one season. – ABC News Technology & Science column, Sept 9, 2009

Some additional reading it you are keen:

Science Daily
Big Blog of Gardening
Liquid Gold Book
eHow

And finally over to you

what do you think?
Is it gross?
Would you do it?
Have you done it?
Are you going to try now you know how cool your humble wee is? seems a waste to flush it.