Sharing ideas and knowledge on teaching our kids some nearly-forgotten low and no tech lifeskills. Can yours do long division? Make a campfire? Mend a flat tyre on their bike? Grow tomatoes from seed? Replace a button? If it can't be done with the click of a mouse or the flick of a switch, you can find out how to do it here, and how to get your kids involved in some serious Low Tech Fun!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Oh, I am terribly excited...

Last year whilst in the depths of despair at the seeming impossibility of finding work, I seriously considered running some cooking classes for children which would focus on whole, healthy, local foods.  I even blogged about it HERE if you want to read more.

I started looking into the viability of the idea and got absolutely tangled in a revolting mire of bureaucracy and red tape because of the food hygiene issues.  Now, as a hospitality educator I am very damned well aware of the requirements, lol, but local councils didn't seem to agree.

Just this morning I was adding new and exciting Twitter folks to my "follow" list, when I rediscovered Perth City Farm.  I was browsing their site and to my delight I saw a post announcing that they have a lovely big commercial kitchen which is underused, and they're looking for people to conduct cooking classes in line with their organsation beliefs of local, community-based food.

ZOMG!  Is this a sign?  Would you and your kids be interested in participating in something like this?  I was thinking of weekends, school holidays or even after school classes.  I'd also love it if fellow Perthies would consider getting involved and perhaps host a class in whatever is your cooking speciality.  And hey - why limit it to kids?

I'd be eternally grateful for your thoughts.


Saturday, June 11, 2011

Loving the Spud Shed (part 2)

OK, so I didn't actually end up buying from the Spud Shed itself, as the queues were crazy, so I went to another part of the market and just bought a few things from a market garden stand and a seedling stand.

I ended up with my fruit and veggies, along with 4 pots of assorted types of habanero chillies, all for just over $20. I'm pretty happy with that!


Loving the Spud Shed! (part 1)

A friend of mine put up a post on FB this morning bemoaning the shocking rise in the cost of fresh fruit and veggies by the big supermarkets and some fruit and veggie shops. Her point was that if locally produced produce is still affordable in farmers' markets etc, then it seems simply ridiculous for the supermarkets to still choose to buy in expensive items from interstate and overseas and jack up the prices willy-nilly.

Obviously, I totally agree with her. I admit I'm not always organised enough to do the weekly shop at the farmers' market, but I'm going today, and am trying somewhere new, which I'm pretty darned excited about!

The Spud Shed has been around in Perth for a few years now, and has a rather interesting history, which you can read more about HERE. (Yeah, I know it's TT, but we'll let that slide just this once, shall we?)

It seems kind of crazy for anyone to buy fresh fruit and veggies, meat and dairy products from anywhere else, really, doesn't it? Seriously - who would actually CHOOSE to pay a much higher price for an inferior product that leaves local farmers struggling. Let's cut out that middle man - let's chop him metaphorically into a zillion teensy pieces and support our local farmers whilst feeding our family the best of local fresh food!

I shall report back later with a breakdown of my Amazingly Affordable And Yummy Purchases!


Friday, June 10, 2011

Healthy lolly bags for kids' parties

This is a recycled article I wrote a few years ago and I thought I'd share it here as well:

We’ve all been there. The kids go to a birthday party, load up on sugar, additives and deep-fried junk food and then as a special treat, are given even more sugar and additive-laden lollies and treats to take home.

More and more parents are becoming aware of the health and behavioural impact of allowing our children to eat these kinds of foods, and are taking action to limit their intake of such items. Families are now much more familiar with dietary requirements such as gluten, dairy additive and egg intolerance, and are having to change the family diet accordingly.

In addition to the sugary treats, most lolly bags also have some sort of miniature toy, gadget or novelty item included. These often consist of cheap plastic items that fall apart the first time they are used, or ones which are choking hazards or made with toxic materials.

So how do we, when hosting a children’s party, provide the expected lolly bag with healthy alternatives which will still be attractive to kids? There are lots of options, which are not only healthy and environmentally friendly, but are also delicious and lots of fun!

Edible options:
Natural and organic lollipops, lolliess and jellies from companies such as Yummy Earth (just search online for local distributors)
Homemade mini-muffins or mini-cupcakes, made from healthy ingredients. These can even be decorated to match the theme of the party.
Homemade muesli bars – these could be wrapped in gorgeous paper or fabric with ribbons to dress them up.
Dried fruits, also packaged in themed or decorative wrappings (think mini-tulle bags, decorated mini-boxes etc.)
Homemade cookies or gingerbread men (or women) – there are thousands of recipes online to make your own healthy cookies.

Toy / Gift options:
Fairy wand / tiara
Tiny terracotta plant pots with some herb or flower seeds. If you’re particularly creative you could even hand paint each one, perhaps with the birthday child’s name as a keepsake.
Glow sticks
Handmade bead jewellery
Handmade hair clips (bows, sparkles – use your imagination!)
Finger puppets (knitted or made from felt)
Juggling balls
Mini art kits with pencil, tiny sketch pad and crayons
Homemade play-dough
Mini-photo frames (you could take instant photos of each child at the party and present them with a picture to put in their frame)
Handmade paper windmills (my 13 year old still has fun with these!)
Pencil toppers
Diecast cars and trucks
Colourful bandanas or headbands

Packaging ideas:
Coloured cardboard noodle boxes, or save money by buying plain white ones and decorating them yourself with stickers, ribbons etc.
Mini tulle or fabric drawstring bags (like those used for wedding bonbonnieres)
Coloured or decorated paper bags
Paper cups, perhaps ones decorated with the theme of the party, then wrapped in coloured cellophane

Just a little bit of imagination and creativity on your part is all that is needed to make sure that your party guests leave with something extra special, which is both healthy and fun! Some of the ideas, such as the plant pots or photo frames could even be used as a group crafts project during the party – the kids decorate their own and then take them home.

For more fantastic ideas on frugal and eco-friendly birthday parties, visit Eat at Dixiebelle’s fabulous blog.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Knot happy, Jan!

Actually, I lie. I'm very happy. I just found the home of all things knot-related and then some. From basic multi-purpose to fishing, camping rescue, household, decorative and more uses for knots, this site has them all!

Animated Knots By Grog is an absolute gem of a reference source for the Humble Knot, and as he says, "Better to know a knot and need it not, than need a knot and not know it"!

The instructions are all very step-by-step and are actually animated. I think even I could follow them, and I'm not very good at that kind of thing. At all. No, really.

Here are just a few that took my fancy:

Figure 8 Knot - it just looks cool, and I'm sure it's terribly useful as well:

Round turn and two half hitches - I remember this one from sailing lessons at summer camp:

Child's swing - who doesn't love a swing?

Go and have some fun playing with rope!


It's just an idea in the very early stages...

This blog came about due to a combination of being inspired by an audiobook entitled "The Ecotechnic Future" by John Michael Greer and being totally frustrated by my children's seeming inability to do anything The Long Way. If it can't be fixed or discovered without using a mouse, button or switch, then they seem baffled.

Now, I'm no stranger to the high-tech world myself - I live for my Thermomix, microwave, internet, mobile phone, car, and eleventy-billion other newfangled electronic devices designed to make life easy. I like life easy - who doesn't?

I do, however, remember vaguely how to do long division, hem a skirt, catch a fish, and bake a loaf of bread, so if all of my gadgets were suddenly rendered useless I don't think I'd catch death in the first week.

I'm not so sure about my kids, though. I swear they think food grows in a supermarket sometimes, and that everything worth doing in life can be done with an "app" of some description, so I think it's time I did something about it.

I am personally challenging myself to teach my children a few basic low-tech life skills by the end of this year, and maybe by next year they may even enjoy some of them. Here are a few of the ideas swimming madly around my head right now:

Catch, clean and cook a fish
Repair a bicycle flat tyre
Bake bread
Sew a basic hem
Grow at least 2 types of veggies from seed and then (gasp!) cook and eat them
Sail a dinghy
Learn a bit about ham radio
Build a cubby without powertools
Make a roaring campfire from scraps at hand
Do basic maths tasks without a calculator
Handwrite a basic business letter
Knit a small square of something made out of wool
Handwash their clothes

I know they'll be dead keen on making campfires, and that knitting will be about as popular as a very unpopular thing, but I think it's important. Hey - I might even learn something useful along the way!

One thing I'm hoping from this blog is to share knowledge, which is why I'm asking for contributors. I can bake bread, but I can't knit for shit, so to speak, so I need your help! I'd also love to help local groups get together for skills-swapping and kid-teaching. I'll teach yours how to bake bread if you teach mine how to knit kinda thing.

Like the title says, this is an idea in the very early stages, so any suggestions you may have are more than welcome - they're an absolute must.

Take this challenge with me. Let's both learn things ourselves and share that knowledge with our kids. and maybe even have some fun and make new friends along the way.


PS. If you scoff at this idea and The World As We Know It ends next year imma laugh bigtime at you!