Monday, May 26, 2008

I'm the World's Meanest Mother...

Image from
Click on the image to read the poster - I'm sure all parents will have a chuckle!

I'm the world's meanest mother tonight - he's been sent to bed without - *gasp, shock, horror* - a story!!!! (I know! Ring Dept Of Community Services now!!!)

He's been answering back all day and ignoring me when I told him to do things he didn't want to - like clean up his mess. So he's gone to bed without a story - poor man is heartbroken...

After the day I've had, I'm heading to bed early with a trashy romance novel.. I think I might even go searching for chocolate :)

Menu Plan Monday - 26th May

Review of Last week's menu -

* The Swiss Steak was nice - Master 5 didn't like it because it had "sauce" all over it - he's not a sauce or gravy fan lol
* Pork Stir Fry was a bit bland to be honest. Don't think I'll bother with this one again.
* Continental Frankfurt bake - this was the surprise of the week - DH liked it! Again Master 5 wasn't fussed because it had sauce! It would also work really well with the spicy sausages that our butcher makes. I served it with this One Hour French Bread recipe I found on another blog - very delish!!

To use up this week:

Menu Plan this week:

(Quite unimaginative this week - trying not to buy meat until next week).

Monday - Eggs of some description - omelette / scrambled eggs
Tuesday - BBQ blade steak & veges
Wednesday - Fish & chips
Thursday - Vietnamese Pork Stirfry and rice (from Mealopedia)
Friday - Swiss Steak (from freezer) & couscous
Saturday/Sunday - don't need to plan for

For more menu plan ideas, see Organizing Junkie's Menu Plan Monday.

Eating from the garden:
* may get a couple of more leaves of spinach
* a little bit of lettuce

Seedlings underway (on the windowsill):
* Lettuce
* Cauliflower
* Silverbeet
* Parsley
* Broccoli
* Pakchoy

Stuff growing in the garden:
* Lettuce
* Cauliflower
* Silverbeet
* Broccoli
* Pakchoy
* Garlic
* Snow Peas
* Peas (greenfeast)
* Roma tomatoes

Planting this week:
* Not planting anything but just ordered a heap of stuff from Diggers so will be doing some planning & prep work

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Low energy cooking

For a while now I've become increasingly intrigued with the idea of low energy cooking (funny how things like that happen when you get your electricity bill lol!)

I've been doing some experimenting over the last month or so with mixed results!

My first method was with the food thermos I bought on sale. I have managed to successfully cook porridge in it - yay! It's quite simple - I put one cup of rolled oats in the thermos (not quick / instant oats but the old-fashioned ones), and fill it up with boiling water - I think it probably takes about 1.5 cups of boiling water. Put the lid on, go to bed, and in the morning (about 9 hours later by the time I get to it) you have porridge! I haven't experimented to find out how long it actually takes before it's ready but I'm sure you wouldn't need to leave it that long! It's luke-warm by that stage, and I like creamy porridge, so I just tip it in the saucepan with some milk and heat it back up. No stirring over a stove - so easy!

I also tried to cook potatoes in it the same way - by peeling and chopping potatoes, and then pouring boiling water over them in the thermos, but didn't have much luck. They had started to soften a little, but were nowhere near cooked. I'm going to try again by boiling them for a few minutes first and then putting them in the thermos to see if that helps.

My other experiment was making a haybox cooker - google it for heaps of ways to do it! The idea of the haybox is that you start the meal cooking, then transfer it to the insulated box to finish cooking.

What I did was take our old metal esky that we picked up at a car boot sale years ago, grab a pillowcase and fill it with styrofoam peanuts and place that in the bottom as the bottom insulating layer.

I wanted to try it with sweet rice (white rice boiled with milk & sugar) so I grabbed a saucepan that would fit in and boiled it up for a few minutes using my normal recipe. Then I popped it in the Esky.

I put a towel & a bunny rug over the top and tucked it in tight :)

Popped the lid on and left it for about 4 minutes.

End result - not too bad but not perfect. The rice was still a bit crunchy and not very hot, and there was way too much liquid. The size of the esky made it hard to find a saucepan to fit. It didn't keep it very hot - I'm not sure if it was the type of pot I used, the lid may not have fitted tightly or whether the insulation was insufficient in the esky and my added stuff. It definitely needs tweaking but the idea is good!

I'm also very tempted to try this solar cooker that Molly posted about on her blog - - I just don't have the necessary "bits" atm.

BUT wait there's more...

Yesterday I went to the Caravan & Camping Show with my parents and purchased a brand new toy - the Dreampot thermo cooker.

The Dreampot works on the same idea as the haybox but someone has already done all the work for you :) You basically put your food in the pots, bring it to the boil and cook it for a few minutes and then place it in the insulated outer pot. Seal it up and it finishes cooking the food and keeps it hot for up to 8 hours. You can cook stews, rice, pasta, breads, cakes, yoghurt and heaps more! You can also use it as a cooler.

I will admit that I got a bit swayed by the sales pitch - I hadn't gone there planning to buy one but I had been looking at them and lusting for a while. The saleslady was one of the owners of the company and what impressed me most was that she wasn't trying to push a whole heap of accessories with it. Cake tin - use an empty baked bean tin, trivet to raise the pot up - use a couple of small tuna tins etc. It impressed me. She and her husband have developed the product and use it themselves as they travel around. I'll be using it both at home and in the caravan - how nice to have a stew for tea and an egg custard for dessert cooking away as we travel around lol.

So hopefully a combination of the above will help with electricity costs!

What price is your limit?

Image from

An article in the West Australian newspaper has claimed that up to 30% of motorists will stop driving if petrol prices stay over $1.50/l.

"Up to 30 per cent of motorists will leave their car in the garage if petrol stays over $1.50, a survey has found.

With prices in Perth to average a record 151.3¢ a litre today, the RAC survey found $1.50 a litre is the last straw for most of the State’s drivers, with many saying they would switch to public transport or use another form of getting about."

Have you thought about what your limit is in your own household? I haven't really put a dollar figure on it but I do know that it's affecting how often we drive. I've been pretty good about combining trips and not making unnecessary long ones, but now even the short trips are getting examined to see if they're necessary. We used to go to a few libraries in various suburbs - now we stick to the one closest to home. We have 2 days that we "have" to go out - Tuesday is drama day and Thursday is Billy's swimming lesson. I try to fit all trips into those days when we're out anyway. Extra days out are carefully thought out now.

Pete drives to the train station and catches the train to work most days. I've looked into Billy & I catching the train when we go to Newcastle for his drama lesson, but two things are stopping me at the moment - it would cost about the same as the petrol cost (esp since we'd need to drive to the nearest train station first - about 8kms away) and secondly, during winter we'd be catching the train home at night which from a safety perspective I'm not thrilled with. I'm going to re-examine this one when summer comes though.

Bus travel isn't really an option either without driving to a bus station - there are none within a reasonable walking distance (nearest is about 3km away) - well reasonable to me with a 5yo anyway!

At the moment I'm just cutting down driving where I can and absorbing the increases in the budget. As much as I'm reluctant to do it, I may need to re-examine which activities Billy does in the future, and transfer him to ones closer to home.

Because as much as it hurts, cheap petrol prices won't be back..

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Front Door/Back Door Meme

Lisa, who lives in The Tin House, tagged me for the Front Door / Back Door Meme. It's an easy one - you just have to take photos from your front door and back door.

The first photo is taken from our front verandah and looking slightly left (downhill). You can see our new van in the driveway. The big brick structure in the middle is our letterbox, our side fence is where the big trees are.

The empty paddock across the road doesn't look like it will stay that way - we have received a DA from council a couple of times for about 4 houses there :(

Looking uphill you see our other side boundary just to the right the big tree.

The front is all pretty open and empty although we do have a couple of trees that one day in the future will be big - a flame tree, jacaranda and something else that I can't remember!

The back is more where we live. Looking out the back door to the left we have the swing set which doesn't get a lot of use and Billy's cubby (which was mine when I was a kid!) which gets a reasonable amount of use. Further back from there is the pond (you can see a line of bush rock as the edge) - which the frogs absolutely love - and which is cunningly situated under our bedroom window. Not a great idea on a hot day when frogs are mating!! That area is all surrounded by a row of grevilleas for privacy.

To the right from our back door is Zone 1 of the vege garden (in Permaculture terms - the area you visit most often) and the deck. This is where the majority of my admittedly small vege garden is atm otherwise if it's not close to me, it doesn't happen! I'm contemplating making this area a raised bed, but on the other hand I like the flexibility of being able to move the pots around to get the sun etc (and yes Julie, I know they're in styrofoam - sorry!!)

Our back neighbour's house is in the background - they have the most wonderful vege gardens. We have a row of citrus trees near the back fence - they're not doing that well and we have plans to move them.

If you step out on to the back deck you can see past the row of grevilleas! Up along the side fence towards the top of the photo is where the vege garden is supposed to be - I'm using that for stuff like potatoes, melons etc that don't need constant attention. The area in front of that is where the citrus trees are going to be moved to - we're ordering a whole heap more trees and making an orchard area in a circular pattern ala Linda Woodrow.

To the right from the back deck is our solar powered drier (aka clothes line!), our side fence, and looking over the neighbour's yards, our wonderful view.

I hope you've enjoyed that little peek into our yard - hopefully soon it will be much more productive!

I have no idea who else has done this - so please, if you want to, consider yourself tagged.

What's eating my garden??!

Grrr! Something's been nibbling in my garden - any ideas as to what it is and what I can do about it??! It's mostly my cauliflower, broccoli and *sob* pak choy..

Also can anyone identify this plant?? It came in a pot of tomato plants I got at the last LETS picnic and has been quite happily growing ever since. More than likely it's a weed if I'm managing to grow it well :)

First picture shows the flower (obviously!), 2nd shows it's leaves.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Menu Plan Monday - 20th May

I really shouldn't go out on Mondays - it throws my whole week out! So here we are, a little late!

Review of Last week's menu -

* The bubble and squeak were quite nice. I liked them, I don't think Pete was as impressed but I'll keep making them occasionally anyway.
* Nasi goreng - very yummy, although not really that different from fried rice apart from the plum sauce. Added to the recipe book.
* Steak pie - turned into shepherd's pie. The steak was very tender from being cooked in the slow cooker - I thought it was very yummy. Once again, Pete not a huge fan of shepherd's pie but will eat it if I don't cook it too often!

To use up this week:
* zucchini

Menu Plan this week:

Monday - ended up having fried chicken & chips (homemade). Not very healthy but quick & fairly easy.
Tuesday - Swiss Steak in slow cooker & mashed potato & vege - recipe stolen unashamedly from Lis at Altered Cutlery
Wednesday - Pork Stir Fry - add Pak choy & cashews, serve with rice
Thursday - Continental frankfurt bake - not sure how this will go over but what the hey, I have frankfurts in the freezer to use up!
Friday - Thai chicken curry & rice
Saturday - blade steak & veges
Sunday - baked dinner - pork, potato, veges

For more menu plan ideas, see Organizing Junkie's Menu Plan Monday.

Eating from the garden:
* spinach - just about finished
* basil
* pakchoy - something has been eating my leaves but hopefully I can scavenge enough for us!

Seedlings underway (on the windowsill):
* Lettuce
* Cauliflower
* Silverbeet
* Parsley
* Broccoli
* Pakchoy

Planting this week: (didn't get to it last week - still waiting for the worms to move out of one bin into the other so I can use the compost!)
* Garlic
* More peas / snow peas

Monday, May 19, 2008

Swansea Heads Rockpool walk

We had a great afternoon today. One of the local homeschool dads and his daughter organised a "rock walk" - a walk along the rock platform at Swansea Heads looking into the rockpools.

Apart from the organisers and us, there were 4 other families - for a change I knew 2 of them already! Obviously it was carefully organised for low tide so we could do it safely.

We saw lots of blue & zebra periwinkles, black nerites and limpets.

as well as Neptune's Necklace algae (the beady type ones above) and Dead Man's Fingers sponge (below).

We also found this Chiton - an ancient mollusc with eight shell plates that curls itself up into a ball like a slater.

I think the coolest find was this crab shell (because we found it lol) - the crab had obviously moulted and moved out to grow a new one. Cool hey?! He does have other legs, they were just folded up underneath. We know it's a boy crab because he had one front claw bigger than the other. The things you learn!

Some braved it to make their way out to the end of the rocks - apparently they saw an octopus in the pools out there. I decided that we'd stay dry and watch the others!

Billy practised his diving stance while we were waiting! (Yes I know he's odd - gets it from his father!)

They had to make a bit of a scurry to get back to dry land though once the tide started coming back in. We were able to watch from our dry vantage spot.

It was a really great day - beautiful weather, very relaxing wandering along peering into rockpools, and we learnt lots too. What more could you want?!

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

A (Very tired) Day in my life - May 14th

This is part of Jenny Wren's "A Day in My Life" carnival where you document your day each 14th.

5:45 alarm goes off. Half-listen to the radio, half-doze. I'm very tired - didn't get home from working with a client until 11 last night. Up at 6:15, make Pete's lunch (soup in thermos, bread roll, fruit) & coffee to take to work, while he showers and gets ready, and then gets Billy up.
Pete leaves about 6:40 - wave goodbye from the front door. Can hear the magpies in the tree across the road. Very foggy today.

Turn computer on. Check email.

Make B & I toast for breakfsat, and a cup of tea for me.

Back to reading blogs etc. Shower, make beds, tidy up kitchen. Folded the 'chinese laundry' hanging around the house.

8:30 Sat down at computer to make some lists. Went outside to water the garden while Billy jumped on the trampoline. Worked on the computer some more.

11:30ish Had lunch. Sat in the sun with a book for a while as I was feeling very tired and fragile! Put steak & gravy in the slow cooker to make a shepherd's pie for tea.

Did some maths with Billy. We're just about finished the kindergarten maths book and are ready to move on the Grade 1.

Make some spreadable butter (beat butter with olive oil).

Clean out a shelf in a cupboard to rearrange the pantry a bit.

Peeled potatoes for tea - trying out cooking them in the thermos to see how it goes.

Washed the day's accumulated dishes.

4:30ish Pete came home - find out he had squash tonight instead of tomorrow night so had to get a wriggle on with cooking tea! So much for my thermos experiment!

Helped Billy make fruit salad for dessert.

Had tea - Billy of course didn't like it (*sigh*) so he had to have a taste and then I cooked him some noodles.

6:30pm Pete left for squash. Billy & I had dessert.

Put B's folded clothes away, dried the dishes I washed earlier, read stories with Billy and tucked him in. Washed the dishes from tea, they can drain until the morning.

9pm Wrote this post, not sure it makes sense - I'm so tired I'm seeing triple so I'm off to bed.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

More on stockpiling

In the last post I wrote on stockpiling for emergencies, I said that governments were suggesting a 10 week stockpile, but then couldn't find a link to back that up. Sara over the Simple Savings site has just found something everyone should read.

Here's an excerpt from an article in The Medical Journal of Australia - full article here

  • Influenza pandemics are a real risk and are best managed by self-isolation and social distancing to reduce the risk of infection and spread.

  • Such isolation depends on availability of food of adequate quantity and quality.

  • Australia has one of the most concentrated food supplies of any country, making rapid food depletion more likely in a crisis.

  • Food stockpiling by both authorities and citizens is an important safety precaution that should be given greater media coverage.

  • Food and nutrition guidelines are provided for survival rations in the event of a pandemic or other catastrophe."

"The Australian Government and the Australian Food and Grocery Council (AFGC) have been planning for such a scenario for several years and have advanced plans in place (Russell Neal, AFGC, Canberra, ACT, personal communication). Nonetheless, the logistics and practicalities of household food stockpiling should be given greater media coverage. Australia has one of the most concentrated food supplies of any country, being dominated by two large supermarket chains. These organisations operate with such efficiency that their logistic chains hold only a few weeks’ supplies (Russell Neal, AFGC, personal communication). If the supply chain shuts down, or if there is no delivery from central stores, supermarkets’ stocks will be depleted within 2–4 weeks (Clare Buchanan, Public Relations Officer, Woolworths Pty Ltd, Sydney, NSW, personal communication). If domestic stockpiling begins at this late stage, then depletion will be accelerated.

Food supplies in the home will need to last as long as it takes for vaccine development and production. For ordinary seasonal influenza vaccines, there is a lag of 6 months or more after a new virus strain has first been discovered until a new vaccine is available for distribution. For weather-related catastrophes, food stockpiles might be required for much longer. A destabilised global climate, where small changes in atmospheric and ocean circulations have major consequences for temperature, rainfall, wind and storm patterns, may precipitate food stockpile dependence for several years.4 While long-term food stockpiling could be considered a governmental responsibility, we suggest that home stockpiling of food to last about 3 months might be done by individual households. This would allow a window of time for governments to put emergency action plans and food deliveries in place."

Dare I say - food for thought??!

Monday, May 12, 2008

Menu Plan Monday - 12th April

I've had a bit of a shopping spree over the last couple of weeks - a couple of food thermos, and a coffee one, shoes for Billy, underwear for Pete. None of the expeditures were over the top but it still needs to be paid for. So I'm trying to eat out of my freezer this week.

Review of Last week's menu -

* The quesadillas were a hit, they'll be added to the menu plan again.
* The pork burgers using minced leftover cooked pork roast were very successful. You wouldn't know the pork had already been cooked once, and they were very light and tasty. I think this would work well with turkey as well.
* Apricot chicken was ok, but I probably should've only added half the tin of apricots - they were a bit overwhelming. Will give it another try anyway.
* Friday night's fish turned into bacon and eggs as we didn't get home until late and I hadn't thawed the fish out.
* Saturday night's pork chops turned into a roast chicken dinner so we'd have chicken for lunches.

To use up this week:
* pumpkin
* a couple of leftover sausages (lunches)
* leftover roast veges
* rest of roast chicken

Menu Plan this week:

Monday - Pork chops with bubble and squeak (leftover veges) - from LoveFoodHateWaste site
Tuesday - Nasi goreng (leftover roast chicken - minus the prawns) - from LoveFoodHateWaste site
Wednesday - Steak pie & pumpkin, spinach, carrots (cook steak & gravy in slow cooker + cook extra steak for lunches)
Thursday - Jamaican Chicken thighs & veges on BBQ & couscous
Friday - Homemade pizza
Saturday - Panfried fish, mashed potato & veges
Sunday - Something easy - Leftovers / Pasta & cheese / Eggs (Pete home late)

I did it! I should just need to buy fruit & vege and maybe eggs for the week.

For more menu plan ideas, see Organizing Junkie's Menu Plan Monday.

Eating from the garden:
* spinach
* basil

The pakchoy should be ready next week.

Seedlings underway (on the windowsill):
* Lettuce
* Cauliflower
* Silverbeet
* Parsley
* Broccoli
* Pakchoy

Planting this week:
* Garlic
* More peas / snow peas

Friday, May 09, 2008

Three Remarkable Women

Some time ago I read a wonderful book called The Woman on the Mountain - the author, Sharyn Munro, lives alone on a remote property in the Upper Hunter Valley, NSW. She's completely self-sufficient in her mudbrick cottage, has turned her property into a wildlife refuge and is regenerating native species in the bush. It really is a fantastic read - I'm actually quite surprised that I didn't blog about it when I read it. Once I read the book, I wanted more lol, so I searched for her blog and found it. I leave the odd comment on there, as you do :)

Our library regularly presents a "Look who's talking" series of talks by authors, so when I found out that Sharyn was going to be one of them, I booked in! I've never been to one of the talks before - I always look at them and think "wow, that looks interesting", but arranging babysitting etc is just always too much hassle to bother. Not this time, I didn't want to miss it!

So off I went today for "High Tea" at our library, to listen to Sharyn and 2 other authors talk. The talks were all wonderful.

It was called "Three Remarkable Women" and I think it was put on to tie-in with Mother's Day. As well as Sharyn, the other 2 authors were Jane Mundy, author of Cholas in Bowlers and Cheryl Keonig, author of Paper Cranes.

Jane Mundy's book is about her journey to the other side of the world - in her late fifties, she met a man who asked her to go to Bolivia with him, so off they went for an adventure! It was a really interesting and amusing talk - I can't wait to read her book now.

Cheryl's talk was quite heart-wrenching - I'm positive I wasn't the only one wiping away tears as she spoke. At the age of 12, her son was hit by a car and was severely brain damaged - she was told he would never walk, talk or eat again. They took him home and cared for him, gave him intensive therapy, and now at the age of 22, he can walk, snow ski, is learning to drive, and is doing a course at TAFE (tech college). It's a remarkable story and I've added it to my library list too!

I purchased Sharyn's book, chatted to her afterwards and asked her to sign it. She recognised my name from the comments I've left on her blog which I thought was very cool!

It was such a great morning!

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Tocal Field Days

Last Friday we went to the Tocal Field Days - it's a big weekend Agricultural Exhibition and the Friday is the day for schools to go. One of the homeschool mums in our area organised for us to go as a school group, so off we went for a fun day.

We were split into two groups, and booked into two educational sessions for the day, the rest of the time was free to wander.

Our first talk was called Web2Spider - it was all about classifying the types of spider webs you see around the place, and identifying what type of spider built it. Sue from the Australian Museum had some cool spider exhibits set up for everyone to look at first of all, and then she gave us a brief talk on how to classify the webs. We were only looking at orb webs in the brief time we had.

Then for the real fun! The kids split into small groups, and armed with spray bottles of water & a classifying chart, off they went to find spider webs. The spray was to be able to see them more clearly - as you can see we found some great ones!! I think there was more finding & spraying than classifying going on, as most of the kids were young, but hey, they had fun, and I'm sure they all learnt something. I know I did!

Our 2nd talk after lunch was Amy from the Newcastle Markets. Annoyingly called 'Apples ain't apples', she spoke about the differences between fruits & vegetables, identified the different parts on a flower (eg flower, stem, root, leaf) and how you can classify vegetables by that method. It was another good talk - I know Billy learnt heaps from that one as he has been lecturing me on it all week! We were with a school class for that one, and gee there were a couple of kids that needed a good .. um .. talking to?!

The fun bit of that talk was the kids then got to taste 3 different types of apples and were asked which ones were sweeter, crunchier etc.

The rest of the time we wandered around, sometimes by ourselves, sometimes with others from the home school group. Billy went on the jumping castle, we looked at and patted various farm animals, ate lunch and looked at loads of displays.

We also sat and watched a show put on by local performers "Ship of Fools" - I've seen them before in various disguises! - it was all about saving water.

This was demonstrating how the water cycle works - Supa Squirt, the man on the unicycle, was holding a cloud to catch the water droplets that Bubbles was juggling!

All in all a good day, but very exhausting!

Monday, May 05, 2008

Menu Plan Monday - 5th May

Review of Last week's menu - The Honey mustard pork kebabs & the balsamic steak were both very yummy - they've been added to the recipe book. I couldn't be bothered making the tortillas for Wednesday night's tea, so I ended up crumbing the steak and serving it with mashed potato and gravy - mmm, comfort food!. Friday night I was completely exhausted after a day out walking around, so once we picked Pete up from the train station, I suggested Thai for tea - we ended up eating in. Expensive but very yummy, and we don't do it very often at all. So the steak for Friday night ended up as Saturday night's tea - I did the pork roast last night.

This week -

Monday - baked ham & cheese quesadillas (happy Cinco de Mayo!)
Tuesday - Pork burgers with leftover pork roast & salad (from
Wednesday - Apricot Chicken in Slow cooker & rice
Thursday - Steak with caramelised onion, & steamed veges
Friday - Panfried fish, mashed potato & veges
Saturday - Pork chops & veges
Sunday - Mother's Day so will probably be out & about visiting.

For more menu plan ideas, see Organizing Junkie's Menu Plan Monday.

It seems logical to add in what's in the garden in this post so I've edited to add.

Currently the only things we're eating out of the garden are spinach and basil.

Last week I planted out the seedlings that I was growing on the window sill - so far so good, even though the few days after I planted them out we had extreme heat for this time of year, followed by extreme winds! Hopefully in a few weeks we'll be eating pak choy, lettuce, silverbeet, followed by cauliflower and broccoli. The snow peas & peas are starting to grow in the back garden as well.

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Prepare for the worst but then hope for the best

My quest to live a frugal, simple life has been fuelled partly by wanting to live a slower life, partly to afford our life on one income, and partly because it feels right to take care of the resources we have. I have to admit though that the consequences of how we've been squandering the earth's resources hadn't really hit home to me. I guess I've always just felt that we haven't gone too far yet and that we can turn it around without it affecting me personally. I've read about Peak Oil, rising prices, looming food shortages but it hasn't really sunk in.

Until this week.

I have no idea what changed. There must've been some trigger but I can't pinpoint it. It must've started by Monday because I bought a few extra things in the grocery shop and stashed them away. I started reading a long series of posts on the Simple Savings site about the subject that I've been avoiding since December. I've been reading stuff that has shaken me out of my naivety and shouted in my face "this could happen - wake up!". We could have food rationing, we could have regular power outages. Is it possible? Absolutely. Is it likely? I have no idea, and I think very few people could put their hand up and say for certain one way or the other.

I'm sure by now I have 2 distinct groups of readers - those that are nodding their heads and saying "Finally! What took you so long?!" and those that are looking at me like I've just stepped out of the loony bin. (Actually maybe 3 - the ones that have just stopped reading, but I'm not sure you can class them as readers anymore!!)

So my mind has been in a spin for the last few days taking it all in. I've felt rather disconnected from what else is going on in the world, but strangely enough it hasn't frightened or depressed me. Maybe I'm basically an optimistic realist - I'm going to prepare for the worst but hope like hell for the best. I'm going to start actively working on building a stockpile - just building it up slowly. I'm not panicking, but I *am* thinking about alternatives far more carefully. At the moment, we'd have enough food to last for a couple of weeks - providing we didn't lose power. Cooking would be a real issue if we didn't have power - everything in our house is electric. We have a gas BBQ but not much gas left at this current moment in time. We grow so used to just flicking a switch and having power, or turning on the tap to have water.

I also found out that Governments are warning people that they should have a 10 week stockpile at home in case of a pandemic. To me, that's like saying "Run for the hills, we're scared but we can't tell you why! Consider this your warning."

This article - The Waking up Syndrome - talks about the stages of realisation. I've been at Stage 2 (Semi-consciousness) for quite a while and have just hit Stage 3 (The moment of realization) and Stage 4 (The Point of No Return).

And let's face it - even if the worst never happens, as long as the stockpile is rotated properly, the stuff isn't wasted - it's there if a job loss occurs, in case power is lost for a couple of days after a big storm (not so far fetched!), in case of illness or even if unexpected people drop around for dinner!

I'd be interested in your thoughts - as long as they're politely put. But whatever you do - please do not bring up the fact that people prepared for Y2K and it "never" happened. I was one of the huge number of IT workers who slaved away testing, replacing and fixing to make sure Y2K "didn't happen"!! (Yes, it's a sore point lol!)

Sorry if this post is a bit disjointed - it's how my mind feels atm.