Friday, 29 November 2013

Flood-Proof Friday - Cars and Floods

Car Safety Emergency Hammer Red Beacon Flashlight Light

Do you have one of these in your glovebox? Or are you like me and never knew one of these existed. This is just one example of an emergency hammer, designed to be kept in your car and used emergency of course. This particular one can smash a window, display a red emergency beacon, be used as a flashlight or a can even cut a seatbelt if required. I can think of a myriad of occasions where I could have used this tool, and this story below is just one of those situations that I want to share with you.

Last week I was asked what we do with our cars during a flood. Usually we are aware that a flood is coming, so we move them up to high ground on a neighbour's property. However, last year there were no warnings and we woke at 2am to find water downstairs. We park our cars close to the house and by the time we got to them the water was up to the bottom of the door. While the kids and I got as much stuff out of the house as we could, Paul got into his car in an attempt to move it before it went under. My little Daewoo was a lost cause, parked on the other side of the house and nearly completely underwater by then.

Paul couldn't get the car started and with the water coming inside, he shut the door...big mistake. Something went haywire with the car's electronics and the doors locked. He tried the windows and they wouldn't wind up or down. The kids and I were oblivious to his situation, busily trudging through floodwater, in the rain, to take stuff upstairs. Paul frantically kept trying the ignition, and moving his feet on the clutch and brake, with the water rising up to his waist. The horn didn't work when he pressed it...somehow, finally the car lurched forward slightly, and in that momentary second he was able to wind down the window half way, and push himself out of the car.

He didn't tell us this story straight away. It was only when we decided we had done all we could do that he told me what had happened. It was a sobering moment, realising what could have happened and what we were both oblivious to - the dangers of electronic windows and doors in a flood situation. He said the really frustrating thing was that there was nothing in the car he could smash the window with...hence my promotion of the above type of tool, and the suggestion that everyone should keep one in their glovebox...just in case. I just have an ordinary hammer in mine, but will be getting an all-in-one tool. I like the idea of the beacon.

This was one of our few scary flood situations and surprisingly, in my research for this post, I could not find any really useful information or safety tips from an authority on what they suggest should be done if you are trapped in your vehicle in floodwaters. Maybe that's an area that should be covered on a disaster website or in a get-ready-for-flood checklist. Paul actually rang in on a talkback radio program about this problem and many people rang in surprised that they did not know about this danger also. If you locate any information I would love to know about it so I can share the link.

This week, I also want to update you on the tasks I have been completing under the Queensland Get Ready program. I have registered online and they send me a task every week to complete. This is what I have been sent to do so far:

  1. Like the State Emergency Service (SES) on Facebook - done
  2. Restock or purchase a first aid kit - done
  3. Purchase a battery operated radio and spare batteries - done

These are my latest two tasks:

     4. Save 000 Triple Zero in my phone - all of our phones
     5. Have three days supply of water - we always make sure our filter is full and we have an emergency
         supply of bottled water

In 48 weeks (one task a week), I should be more than prepared for any disaster!

Do you keep a hammer or flashlight in your glovebox?

Thursday, 28 November 2013

Spiced Beetroot and Orange Chutney

Last week I posted about my Simple Living Christmas plan to make homemade hampers for my family for Christmas. I got a good head-start by making my first chutney on the weekend, and I have to say it tastes absolutely amazing...and looks really pretty. I think this would go really well with Christmas turkey in lieu of cranberry sauce, and it was very easy to make.

The recipe link I provided last week would make a large quantity. I made about a third of the recipe and ended up with about 600g of chutney - enough to fill my three pretty jars...and still have some for us too. It is a UK recipe which required golden granulated sugar. I substituted 2/3 brown sugar and 1/3 white sugar which was perfect.


500g raw beetroot, trimmed, peeled and diced (wear gloves)
1 onion chopped
1 green apple, peeled and grated
1 orange - zest and juice
1 desertspoon yellow mustard seeds
1 tsp coriander seed
1 tsp ground cloves
1 tsp ground cinnamon
230ml red wine vinegar
150g brown sugar
80g white sugar

In a large saucepan, mix together all ingredients well.

Bring to a gentle simmer, then cook for one hour, stirring occasionally, until the chutney is thick and the beetroot tender.

Let it settle for ten minutes and then carefully spoon into the jars and seal while still hot.

The recipe suggested sterilising the jars by running through a hot wash in the dishwasher or putting in a hot oven for 10 minutes. I boiled them in a large pan as the jars have rubber rings which I thought might melt in the oven.

Apparently this chutney will taste better in a month (just in time for Christmas) and will keep for six months stored in a dark cupboard. Once opened, refrigerate and eat within two months. This photo was taken just before I sealed the jar and the chutney has now settled down to a more 'mushy' consistency with lovely squares of tender, spiced beetroot.

After I made this I was so motivated at my success that I made another chutney using my golden squash. It was not part of my Christmas post, but will fill the hamper out beautifully! Will post that one later in the week.

Have a look at these wonderful packaging ideas I found at our local discount store for my biscuits, bread sticks, mustard, relish and individual Christmas cakes.

And... I just found these large Christmas boxes for $2 each! Can't wait until I can put it all together

Do you get excited planning your Christmas gifts?

Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Wordless Wednesday - Thailand


My Little Drummer Boys

Tuesday, 26 November 2013

Social Media and Missing Persons


It probably comes as no surprise that the first 48 hours when someone disappears, is the most crucial. But, have you ever thought about what you would do if your child or another family member went missing? Recently I received a phone call from the local police wanting to know if one of my boy's friends was staying at our house for the night. His mother did not have our phone number and he had been missing for 24 hrs.

Through Facebook and appealing to friends of friends the boys were able to track down their friend, who had had an argument with his mum, and was staying at his girlfriend's house. Now, that girlfriend's mother probably never knew that this boy's mum did not know where he was. I know because the boys have done it to me too - not staying at girlfriend's of course, but staying at other kid's houses. Needless to say we now have a policy that I have to meet the parents (some of them actually think this is odd?) and talk to them on the phone to ensure the boys are there. Anyway I am now sidetracking....

The reason for this post is to provide some information which I gained from a link mentioned in our local paperMissing Persons Guide Australia offers some really practical advice on where to start if someone you love goes missing. You can even create a Missing Persons Poster - hopefully you would never need one. They suggest that most people are found in the first 48 hours but damned if I would wait that long before doing anything. This is a summary of the suggested steps to take:

  • Gather details (physical description, circumstances)
  • Report to the police (Missing Person Details Form)
  • Create poster and distribute 
  • Contact Australian Missing Persons Register (AMPR - Facebook)
  • Spread the word - doorknock, email etc
Before doing all of the above, I would obviously try and locate my boys the old-fashioned way - by doing a ring around. After ringing around with no result I would put a post on Facebook. I have seen them many times on our Gympie Buy and Sell pages (these have thousand of members) looking for a missing teen and encouraging people to share. To date, the child always gets found, so I think this is really effective.  I have liked the Australian Missing Persons Register Facebook never know when you may spot someone who is missing.

I found the poster template on this site a little primitive and it saves as a PDF which I have no idea how to share to Facebook. Did you know that your local Officeworks (who have a charity fund) or Courthouse will print your Missing Posters for free? Handy information to know.

First Week
  • Create Facebook page
  • Create Twitter account
  • Store information centrally eg. drop box
  • Send a media release
  • Contact relevant people and organisations
I would think that if your loved one is missing for more than a few days then all of the above would be handled by the Police, to ensure that all bases are covered. I sure don't want to lose someone for me to find out whether that is the case.

I guess if your child was missing you would automatically assume the worst ie. that they may have been abducted. I certainly would. I am wondering if you know about the awesome app available on the Daniel Morecombe Foundation website. It is called the Help Me App and everyone should have it on their phone.

"The 'Help Me' button sounds a warning and allows you to send off an SMS text to two (2) nominated safety numbers, as part of your Trusted Safety Network. Included in the text are GPS co-ordinates from where the text was sent, so the sender can be located or a last known place of contact is indicated. It also provides a range of helpful resources and assistance that is designed to educate kids and parents on how to keep safe plus keep them up to date on the latest news! It offers safety and assistance for children and reassurance for parents and adults."

For a 99c donation to the Morecombe Foundation it is well worth it! The alarm itself may be enough to scare a predator off.

A serious topic I know, considering I have talked a lot about floods, bushfires and cybersafety lately, I don't mean to be so serious...but when I see something interesting and learn something I didn't know before then I figure others may not know too.

Have you ever had a loved one go missing? What would you do first? (Besides panic!)

Monday, 25 November 2013

Monday Menu Plan - Almond Pesto

This week was a little disorganised due to after work commitments and I didn't stick to my plan every night. A couple of nights we had leftovers which has kept the freezer meat supply up. I am making home baked gifts for Christmas (Simple Living Christmas) so this did push the grocery bill up to $190 this week. I am aiming to buy the ingredients over the next four weeks to ease the expense a little. This is my menu plan for the week:

Monday - Beef Lasagne and salad
Tuesday - Ginger, Chilli and Cider Chicken with Vegetables
Wednesday - Chicken Burritos with Salsa and Sour Cream
Thursday - Beef and Vegetable Curry with Quinoa
Friday - Pesto Chicken Pasta
Saturday - Roast Pork
Sunday - Chicken Schnitzel with Potato Bake

I made the lasagne today from Annette Sym's Cookbook - Symply Too Good To Be True no 1. So, I am already prepared for dinner tomorrow. Yay! I was going to feature it as my recipe this week but the photos were really ordinary so I am going to showcase something else I made today....Almond Pesto.

This is one of the basil plants I have and I let it go to seed so I can grow some more. I have had this plant for well over a year and it just keeps producing.

Each of these little pods holds four seeds. I put off harvesting the leaves as I was not sure what I wanted to do with them. I tossed up freezing or drying but then Paul brought home something he was given by a client...and I was inspired:

Excellent ingredients for a pesto but I did not have pine nuts so I wondered if I could substitute almonds. Of course I can...Google says so :)

I put 3 tablespoons of raw whole almonds and 3 cloves of garlic in the food processor and ground them for about a minute.

I then added 3 tablespoons of chopped basil, 3 tablespoons of parmesan cheese and  5 tablespoons of the beautiful olive oil.

Voila! About 125g of my very own almond pesto and to be honest....I prefer it to the pine nuts. The almonds add more texture and that wonderful almond flavour. Can't wait to try this with some chicken and pasta. I can see my menu plan might change this week.

Have you substituted and created something better than the original before?
What's for dinner at your place this week?

Linking up with

Sunday, 24 November 2013

Simple Living Sunday 5

Isn't it great to be alive! I just finished a beautiful breakfast of eggs benedict made by my husband, Paul. It rained overnight and is steamy today but the soil will be nice and soft to work with today - I need to do some weeding. So, what did I achieve this week at home and in the garden:

I harvested my magnificent golden squash. We have enjoyed them with our meals this week and I was inspired to make this amazingly yummy chutney to go with my Christmas hampers. Will post the recipe during the week.

I picked these little beauties to make the spiced beetroot and orange chutney I posted in Simple Living Christmas.

The sunflowers have grown really well in the toilet rolls. The roots are hanging out the bottom so they needed planting. Five of them were ready to go.

I planted them with toilet roll intact which was really easy and I did not have to disturb the roots. Will be interesting to see how it goes. The toilet roll was soft from the watering and will eventually break down in the soil.

There is beauty even in wildflowers. Not sure what these are but they pop up in random places and the tiny native bees seem to like them.

I never tire of the beautiful blossoms on my Geisha Girl. I let them grow way too big but they do shield the house from the hot summer sun.

The aloe vera plant I was given at the herb farm has settled in nicely.

This watermelon has grown amazingly quick. It is now the size of a rockmelon so looks like we will have watermelons for Christmas. Yum!

I was happy to see a few more baby watermelons starting off. I just need to get in and pull a bit of grass from around the roots so that it gets plenty of water.

These roma tomatoes have not grown for weeks and finally I have a ripe one to pick. It is only about 4cm long so I am not sure if it was a smaller variety or just did not grow because of the heat or the 'wilt'.

The Lemonade tree is starting to bear fruit again after being cut back. They are a very interesting fruit. They are basically a sweet lemon and make a beautiful juice without having to add sugar.

I did find this big fat caterpillar clinging to one of the branches though. I have removed him and will keep an eye out for more. There is not much else you can do about them and you only ever see a few of them. He is actuallly quite beautiful and reminds me of the very hungry caterpillar from one of my favourite childhood books.

I found this cicada shell whilst planting the sunflowers. This means we will have a noisy summer. It reminds me of growing up back home in northern NSW.

I found this dead bee at the base of my marigolds that died. I usually do not have trouble growing them but this time they did not take off. This bee is large, furry and a beautiful golden colour. From what I could find out he seems to be a teddy bear bee.

I found this great guide to Australian bees online Aussie Bees in Your Area. Isn't he beautiful?

I harvested the seeds from my dead marigolds and scattered them around the front garden. These I will store and also grow a few seedlings. It may be the bore water they reacted to. I am not sure.

Well, there is my weekly recap. I am off to go weeding and to pick more spinach and kale.

Do you grow anything interesting like lemonades? How is your harvest going this week?

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