We recently had some surplus equipment at work that I didn’t know what to do with. Someone suggested that I post it up on the local Buy Nothing group to see if we could find a home for it. My look of ‘Eh?‘ made it clear that I had absolutely no idea what she was talking about.

So she explained that the Buy Nothing Project  is a gift economy – there’s no bartering and no buying/selling. The system is based on random acts of kindness, providing a way for people to give away items they no longer want or use.

This enables you to declutter without wasting perfectly serviceable items / sending them to landfill. Instead they go to someone who actually does want them.

There’s no obligation attached to any of the items shared or given away – they’re a gift. And there’s the add-on benefit of being able to connect with people in your local community if you choose to.

I loved the idea – but since you can only join one group and I don’t work in my own suburb, someone who belongs to that group advertised the office equipment and found a home for it. Good outcome.

In dues course I got around to signing up to my local group (on social media) and this weekend finally had something to offer.

Although we’ve been picking grapefruit and limes and giving them away for a few weeks, yesterday we pruned the trees. This meant picking all the remaining fruit. We filled box after box, ending up with over 200 pink grapefruit and at least 100 limes surplus to our requirements.

So I posted the following picture and message on the my BN site late yesterday afternoon: Pink grapefruit galore and a whole lot of limes: pm me if you’re interested 

By lunchtime today all the fruit was gone. Four people responded to my message and they all turned up at our house this afternoon. Some people took just a few of each, others took a whole box – it was great! A couple of people even climbed the ladder I’d left out and picked themselves some cumquats – which was a bonus both for them and for me. One person brought me a dozen oranges because he has too many of those. A win all round.

The follow up messages were lovely too:

Thank you so much, Nik, for the beautiful fresh fruit you shared with us today and also for showing us your lovely garden & your good advice for my friend’s little dog o nice to meet you!

 Thank you very much for sharing! My kids loved the cumquats!

It was my pleasure folks. There was way too much fruit for us to use – and this is SO not a jam-making year! I’m really glad to have been able to share our surplus and look forward to doing so again the next time we have laden trees.

I heartily recommend that people connect with their local Buy Nothing groups. And if it turns out that there isn’t one in your area: start one!


I can’t remember exactly when I was introduced to the works of W.S. Gilbert and Arthur Sullivan. Looking back, it seems like they were always part of the landscape of my life. My mother had a complete set of the D’Oyly Carte Opera Company’s recordings of the G&S comic operas and these were played often enough to be seem like an always-already-there family tradition.

By the time I actually saw my first live production, the patter-songs were an accepted part of life. We all got to know the words and my older brother in particular could reel them off with remarkable accuracy and speed. One of the outcomes is that  ‘I am the very model of a modern major general…’ was where I first hear of quadratic equations and also where I learned the difference between a mauser and a javelin! 

Our family habit of making reference to G&S with comments such as ‘..a policeman’s lot is not a happy one...’ sometimes got us funny looks from more mundane individuals. This eventually alerted me to the fact that not all families sat around listening to – and singing along with – light opera 🙂

Much to my delight the G&S Society of WA  scheduled two productions for this year. The first of these was The Gondoliers – and  what a hoot it was! Although I’d heard a recording of the Gondoliers many times, I’d never seen it performed – and the two simply don’t compare. The costuming was spectacular (I want a dress like that!), the orchestra outstanding and the interplay between the characters hilarious – particularly the Trumpesque Duke of Plaza-Toro 🙂

All round it was a most entertaining evening and we’re all looking forward to the September production of Patience. Bookings open in June – don’t miss it!

Last weekend we took the parents up to Gallifrey Forrest Farm to commune with the wildlife (hens and geese and ducks and quail and guinea fowl and cats), and to marvel at the progress that’s been achieved on the propriety over the past 12 months. So many trees have been planted, projects started and others completed – it’s well worth marvelling over.

After tucking into a delicious afternoon tea of fresh fruit from the Swan Valley, along with soft and sticky chocolate brownies and cupcakes made by DaughterDearest, it was time for the grand tour. This is when things got unnecessarily interesting…

One of the less cat-aware visitors slid a door open to step outside, blithely oblivious to the streak of grey lighting headed his way. Cat#1, widely known for her uber-escapologist skills, made her usual flying dash for the door… and chaos ensued.

This cat is both much-loved and rather valuable breeding stock, so she’s never allowed outdoors other than on a harness and lead. So everyone converged on the escapey-cat, with loud cries of shut the door! and aaargh! and No, Cloud!. Since I was sitting closest to the door, I leapt to my feet to tackle said cat and/or shove the door closed. In my haste I managed to get my feet tangled in a little rug, conveniently placed just inside the door for people to wipe their feet on.

Chaos ramped up a notch as I crashed to the ground in spectacular fashion, landing solidly on the pointy bit of my right knee. Fortunately, I missed both cat and door – she’d leapt out of the way and the door had been slammed closed in the nick of time to thwart her escape attempt.

Once things settled down, the grand tour resumed – but it seemed wiser for me to stay put and tuck into the remaining chocolate brownies and a cup of restorative tea. My knee had started to swell quite alarmingly and, although the brownies and tea were lovely, the icepacks, anti-inflammatory gel and elevation helped not in the slightest.

By the time we were ready to leave it was pretty clear that walking up to the car was right out. After some conferring, K (the resident Eagle Scout) and Himself (my go-to guy in all things) came up with a cunning plan: a two-handed seat carry.

This involved positioning themselves one on each side of me, passing their arms behind and under my thighs, grasping each other’s wrists firmly, and then lifting me. In effect I was sitting balanced on their crossed over wrists, wedged up against their bodies. It wasn’t comfortable, but it was very effective.

In short order I was stashed in the vehicle and we were off on our hour-long journey back to Perth to drop off the parents, then on to the local hospital. There I spent four exceptionally long hours waiting (a lot), gritting my teeth (a lot), snivelling (far too much), undergoing triage (a fancy word for a first-stage medical assessment), being issued with paracetamol/codeine tablets for pain relief (eventually), examined and sent for x-rays.

In due course the attending physio informed me that I have a fractured patella. This, by the way, is a remarkably painful injury and one I whole-heartedly do not recommend putting on your bucket list!

I was fitted with a removable (hot, heavy, padded) leg brace to immobilise my knee and told that I’d need to be on crutches for a while. The physio recommended a lot of lying down and that I should keep the weight off my knee for the next week. After that, she said, I’d be reassessed at the fracture clinic and we’d ‘go from there’ (whatever that means). Thinks wistfully of magic wands…

So far it’s been a long week (for everyone). My audiobook library is a little depleted, I’ve caught up on my current knitting projects, and discovered that sharing the bed with a couple of anxious dogs who want to be close all the time has its moments. All things considered, I think I’ll leave rescuing Miss Cloud to others in future! 😛

It’s always deeply satisfying to make tasty things for my family (and pets), and this week is no exception.

With Cassie and Molly both at school this term, we’re going through a prodigious amount of puppy training treats. This week I’m trying out something new: Tuna Fudge. I found the recipe on the dog club’s website and thought it would provide some variation for the (not at all picky) dogs. It’s a much less messy and time consuming option than the liver treats I made a couple of weeks ago, so I may stick to these for a while. I did change the recipe slightly, using one cup of plain flour + (about) ¾ of a cup of polenta (corn meal) in place of the wholemeal flour.  The dogs approve 🙂

tuna fudge_31jul16

While the training treats were baking, I did the final preparation of some Rosemary Seasalt Dutch Oven Bread for our lunch. I mixed up the dough yesterday, using ½ a cup of my excess sourdough starter in place of the suggested amount of active dry yeast. This may be what resulted in the bread not rising a whole lot (and thus turning out pretty dense), but the crust was absolutely delicious!

I’ll do some research into getting the quantity of starter right, but will definitely make it again. So much yum – particularly on a blustery winters day. There’s not a lot out there to beat freshly made (hot) bread with lashing of butter!

rosemary seasalt sourdough_31jul16

What I need now is a really great chicken and corn soup recipe to try out as an accompaniment… Any suggestions?

It was dark and rainy when I left the house this morning. As mentioned previously, this is a regular event for one or the other of us every six weeks or so. It starts with a silly o’clock scramble out of bed on Saturday morning, followed by some bumbling around to find a random assortment of (preferably our own) clothing, whilst trying not to disturb the rest of the household. I usually manage to sneak in a rushed cup of tea before the next step, which is loading a trolley into the car and heading off on a foray to the local meat markets.

Whilst this may seem like a daft thing to choose to do on a weekend, having two dogs on a protein rich diet makes it well worth the effort – particularly since I have an antipathy to commercial dog food. Firstly, it smells dreadful (both going into and coming out of the dogs). Secondly, the sulphur dioxide, sodium and potassium sulphite preservatives in ‘fresh pet meat’ can cause health issues. Thirdly, after having had a few dogs with gut problems in the past, it’s now my policy to feed my dogs human-grade meat products wherever possible – and to have as much input into it’s production as I can.

Yes it is time consuming, but it’s also well worth the effort. With Cassie growing in leaps and bounds and Molly still heading towards her full size, meat consumption is at an all time high. This means that our food production regime has had to be bumped up a notch to keep pace; today I bought 10kg beef mince and 8 ox hearts (no liver this time).

When I got home, I trimmed the fat off the hearts and cut them up into chunks that could be fed through the mincer attachment on our Kenwood. Once this was all done we added the packs of regular mince and 2kg of tinned sardines-in-oil, then mixed it all up together. This is a rather messy process and rather fraught with danger, since the dogs both reckon that the best place to be at food processing time is as close as possible, i.e. under foot. Clearly what they’re aiming for is to nab any morsels that might fall on the floor; what they achieve is to ramp up the general chaos factor several notches. Sigh. #lifewithpuppies!

So the next step is generally to take a break and feed the dogs their breakfast. This settles them down for a while and allows us to package the meat and clean up the mess. We measure the mix out into (a lot of) appropriate plastic containers, pop them in the freezer, then stack the dishwasher – before finally sitting down for a well-earned cup of coffee and (this time) a banana-pecan muffin.

In total we processed 2.16kg of meat/fish this morning. Combined with an appropriate amount of kibble with each meal and occasional added vegies, this’ll feed the dogs for the next 48 days. Total cost for the meat (excluding time) was $84 (meat $72, fish $12). We’re pretty happy with that, the dogs love it – and we’re off the hook for another six weeks!