Roosters!

RoosterHoly Mackerel, I don’t believe it, roosters are legal in Livingstone Shire!! When Yeppoon belonged to Rockhampton Regional Council I checked to see what the regulations were on poultry and was told that I was allowed 12 chickens and no roosters. I have stuck by this every since however recently I was bemoaning the fact to a friend that the only egg that hatched out of the last batch of fertilised eggs I put under a broody, turned out to be a male.

A relative of his works for the council so he checked into it and apparently the rules are completely different under Livingstone Shire! Now I am allowed 20 chickens including a rooster but there are some rules that go along with this that I consider completely acceptable.

The first rule is that I must acquire a permit which costs $72 and the second is that I have to take all possible actions to ensure that the rooster doesn’t create a nuisance to my neighbours. (There are also housing and hygiene rules)

I went visiting my neighbours and explained that I wanted to do this and was prepared to build a sound proof night box for it. I agreed that the rooster wouldn’t be let out before 9am which would be set with an electronic door opener. The neighbours were very supportive of this and one of them even asked that I didn’t use a night box as she grew up on a farm and loved waking up to the crow. I told her that the last thing I wanted to do was to upset all the city folk so he would have to stay in his box until mid morning.

I am still researching the best methods of sound proofing but will probably go with a cement box with foam lining and a good air ventilation system to make sure he has enough air. I will have a crack at it this weekend!

AMPs

 

AMPs stands for Alternative Menstrual Products. It has taken over the name RUMPs which stood for Reusable Menstrual Products. The old name was slightly off-putting for some people. The new name encompasses a wider variety of products that are available including organic tampons and pads- for if you are just not ready for reusable products, you can still care for your health (and the environment). I will include in my AMPs section mostly re-usable items (that do not last as long as a silicone cup) available, but a few alternative disposable healthier-than-others models too.

Sponges

IMG_0697[1]Honey completely freaked out when he saw me buy a sponge for testing (not everyone can afford a menstrual cup straight up, I want my blog to be relevant to women of all socio-economic situations, I reasoned )... in his defence it was not a covered one; they were all just in a basket. So I popped that one in the bathroom and ordered another one from the MeLuna website. I thought while I was at it, I would try the soft tampon.

Other bloggers have tried them too and here is what they say...

http://labyrinth.net.au/~obsidian/clothpads/spongeexperience.html

http://mwmw.com/dodo/ssfaq.html

The value I see in a sponge is that it's cheaper than a cup initially (at about the cost of a box of tampons, however will last a few cycles) and can be bought locally. If you are wanting to cut down on waste but cannot afford a cup "yet" this could be the way to go. A warning however, there has been one TSS case involving a sponge, but none yet involving cups. Comparatively most cases involve the use of tampons made with rayon.

While I was waiting for my MeLuna package, I must admit, I looked at my bathroom sponge and wondered how it was all going to fit. the next problem I had was that the bathroom sponge started to fall apart after a couple of times washing my face. I really was not confident that sponges were a good path to take.

So my sponge is here, its much smaller than I expected and the sponge seems tougher. I am pretty impressed with it. It was easy to insert, when I popped it up high enough I could not feel it at all. Its not obvious from the picture, but the larger sponge is about twice as high as the MeLuna sponge. The reusable sponge scores an outstanding – on my scale, the minus being that it is not as reusable as other forms of AMPS, however the yoghurt vector and the possibility of “love” (as the soft tampon packet puts it) boosts the sponge far above her other AMPS rivals.

Update

These sponges work very well for putting Greek yoghurt where it needs to go if you are taking a course of antibiotics and want to discourage a yeast outbreak. Tampons swell making them difficult to insert and only a tiny bit of yoghurt it seems makes it to where it needs to go. I love that I can rely on a product to so a better job, and it is re-usable. Remember it should not be used however, if you have had Thrush as you could outbreak again.

The soft tampon

Why would I want it? It's not re-usable. Initially my thoughts were… I do however, prefer a small handbag and I have this irrational fear that I am going to be stranded cupless or even... asked the question we have all been asked (and had to ask at some point) "do you have a spare..." and these just seemed a little more user-friendly for "non-cuppies". I have thought of keeping organic cotton tampons in my hand bag along with my soft-cup for "Justine Case" but then the tampons go manky... The soft tampon looks more hygienic.

Then my thoughts were… I love Greek yoghurt. Sometimes you need in more personal places. Putting it on a tampon makes it swell and difficult to insert. The soft tampon appears to have a wider surface area, therefore making it easier to get the cream where it needs to be. Sounds fantastic in theory. Softtampons_einzel_m

It scratched on the way up and more on the way out. This is possibly because I used the wet method instead of the lube method. AKA there are 2 ways of preparing the soft tampon for insertion, one is with KY type gel and the other is wetting and squeezing most of the water out. It took me a good day and a half to try it again, this time with the KY gel (and as a period hygiene tool, rather than a promotion of friendly bacteria tool). That was much nicer. It lasted about as long as a mini would have lasted me (which is the size I bought).

The other benefits of the soft tampon are… you can wear them over-night. If you are not ready to take the “cup-step” and hate pads this could be a good alternative for you. There are several brands available and sizes and shapes vary with the brands.

One more thing that might be of interest, is the fact that you can use them (If you and your partner are game) for sex during your period, which is beneficial to fight cramping. Also one more benefit is that you can rinse your sponge before putting it in the bin, which will attract less flies to your bin.

This AMP is rated Acceptable + the rinse method and germ-free packaging bolstering its ratings after a staggering drop due to user-friendliness.

images2Softcup

Why would a person who loves her cups bother with a disposable cup? One reason is I love to blog... and I want it to be relevant.

Not everybody can afford a silicone cup straight up, you could even be telling yourself... that's $50 of food or fuel I could have and what if I hate it?

What do I keep in my handbag? In the past it was a few tampons, with a little bag and some painkillers in a handy container like an old mini M&Ms or eclipse box... which helped keep them water proof, gave me a handy way to dispose of them if a sanitary bin was unavailable and allowed me to soldier on if I had cramps.

I like a small handbag and there is just not room for a silicone cup in there... a Softcup however, fits very snugly. But until this week, I really did not know how to use it effectively... so it would not have been helpful in an emergency. images

This information can also be helpful for a cup owner who has an imbalance of probiotics and yeast or who has a fungal infection... it has been advised that you not use your silicone cup for that cycle as yeast and fungi can “stick around” and re-infect you next time. If you had some disposable cups available, you wouldn't have to go back to tampons and pads (if you didn't want to) and you could just dispose of the cups when you are done.

Insertion of a soft cup is quite different to inserting a silicone cup, really don't make the mistake I made of trying to do it the same way, they are totally different cups and they need to be inserted in the way they were designed for. Reading the packet instructions was the best way I found to get it right. But you could also go here... http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=amPXaswKxyk or I also found this website, it has a few more steps than the packet instructions... namely step 6 http://www.wikihow.com/Use-an-Instead-Softcup.

The Softcup manufacturers do not recommend re-using the single use cup, however many women do, and I am one of them. Some women even find that they can use a Softcup for several cycles. There a multiple ways for sanitising a cup, obviously boiling is not an option for the Softcup, however, soaking for a few minutes in a solution of Milton and water or vinegar and water, washing it then popping it into the sunlight for a few hours, or rubbing it over with a cotton ball dipped in rubbing alcohol would work.

Compared to a silicone cup...

Insertion (for me) was harder to get accurate, I had a few “bathroom emergencies” as I had not taken the time to practise before life got busy, however, it really came together for me on my study day at home... I was calmer and I had time to get it right.

You are going to need two cups or to swap it with a pad at night... just as with silicone cups, using just the one cup eventually smells like something crawled in there and died. However, washing it in a solution of water and vinegar, and leaving it to dry for a few hours restored the smell to neutral. Soaking overnight in a solution of Bicarb soda and water was also effective. Actually I also used a solution of Tee tree oil and water, but I read this morning that TTO (along with any other essential oil) is not that great as it can damage your cup, I will remember that for the future.

They do not hold as much as a silicone cup... on my day at home, after a few hours I felt a leak... it was like... grrrr this cup is just not going to work for me... however the problem was just that the cup was full. The size is deceptive. The clear part folds up as you insert so really only the rim can catch the fluid. You will need to change your cup on a heavy day as often as you would change a regular to super tampon.

Light days... well I liked the Softcup better on light days than my silicone cups as they were easier to remove. This makes me think that they might be a good option for teenagers too.

Availability... here in Australia, I had to get them from the internet (just the same way I bought my silicone cups). I had bought a huge box of “disposable” Softcups which I thought would help me get used to using the silicone cup... LOL my silicone cup arrived first, so now I mostly give them to my friends who want to try a cup but are not sure it its for them... and then there is the one in my handbag. I would possibly take a disposable MC or 3 camping just in case one gets lost.

In other countries I have noticed Softcup will send you a freebie.... I have also read that they are available in the tampon section and 2 cost about as much as a box of tampons. This could be a convenient way to start saving some money. Neither of which are available to Australians.

I rated this AMP as exceeds expectations (even though initially it didn’t) its popularity skyrocketed on my light days with how easily it was removed. I love that people seem to use this cup as a stepping stone to Silicone and that rocks.

Affordability... the initial price is more affordable; however over a longer time, the silicone cup is going to be better value. I got my Softcups from here http://www.vitamingrocer.com.au/Soft-Cup-Reusable-Softcup-2-Count-p/154402.htm?utm_source=google&utm_medium=shopping&utm_campaign=pla&utm_content=154402

Organic Tampons and Pads

tom-organic-natural-tampons Available at Woolworths and Coles is a brand of organic tampons and pads called TOM organic. TOM standing for Time Of Month. Before I bought my cup, I was using TOM tampons (I was not so impressed with the pads as they were not individually wrapped and therefore could have been in contact with dust, germs, fungi and other nasties). As far as tampons go, they were comfortable, had less environmental impact as they were not made with harsh chemicals (which are washed off into waterways… etc) which also made them healthier for the user. The other fantastic thing about this product is that the box was narrow about the size of an old mobile phone and fit snugly in my handbag.  

TOMs tampons were a reasonable size and comparable to the “cooler” brands in shape, as opposed to the tampons that were available from the health food store (big enough for an elephant to feel) and no-name brands (with no pointed tip that felt like they were being inserted backwards). They were not available in the “shrinky” kind or with wings, but with the lack of bleaches and rayon I was happy to go with that. Pricewise other brands are slightly cheaper but in my opinion, TOMs is better quality.

I give this AMP an exceeds expectations – this was a good product which prepared me for silicone cups and rescued me from pads.

The Verdict

If you are up for reusable; the natural sponge is the nicest NSCAMP (non-silicone cup AMP), it did not scratch at all going up, did not make me cramp, lasts longer than a box of tampons and was easier to use than the softcup. I read today that it can also be used during sex too, but I have not tried it. I love the fact that I can reuse them, so next time I need some more probiotics inserted, I will give it a go with the sponge. I am thinking that this could also be a better solution for my “emergency” gear for my handbag, I like the idea that if kids go through my bag (as happened once at church)… its a neatly wrapped sponge and if I lose it its not as expensive to replace as a cup.

If you are just not ready for other AMPs I cannot recommend TOMs (and other organic tampons) enough, if you are not a tampons girl (and for night time) Anion pads. Both are top quality and work very well. The soft tampon is good too, but remember the lube.

JUDIE

My free “mason” jars

I love being able to take my lunch to work or Uni in glass. I love being able to re-use something that would normally be tossed away as junk and I love that I am eating less nasties along the way.

curryI’m not completely plastic free, the jars are not microwave friendly. However it is very handy to have a re-purposed Pataks curry jar to keep my iced coffee in, which saves me from buying coke. I love that I can make my iced coffee at home with fair-trade coffee, organic milk and back off the sugar a bit instead of having an Icebreak from a plastic container which uses milk and coffee from goodness-knows-where. More importantly I am happy that there are a few more nutrients going in and way less nasties along with it then if I was relying on Coke for a caffeine pick-me-up.

I have seen pictures of coffee served in mason jars, but I am not sure Rocky is “there” yet for acceptance of that, so I transport in the jar and drink from a mug.aoli Honey stole my stash to make avacado seeds sprout. I was annoyed that he didn’t use the less fave brand until one sprouted and all was forgiven. In fact, the wider neck of the Pataks jars helped the seeds stay put better than the other jars. Oh well good excuse to take advantage of Coles half price curries this week.

My other favourite lunch item is a “blessed and lucky” aioli jar. It fits just the right amount of soup or yoghurt in for a snack. Yes I have been “accused” of eating baby-food and mayo which is why I have not gone the next “coffee glass” step yet. You can find out more about their products here. A sneaky little side fact: If you have trouble with co-workers sneaking your food (I have not had that yet… in case anyone reading this has worked with me) keep the label on… if you are having yoghurt or custard it will blend right in.

IMG_0760[1]Last week, I was able to store the unused quarters of grapefruit in the jar I had brought my coffee in, after a quick wash. Grapefruit is also a nice alternative for “lemon water” I found too.

Having a ready-made iced coffee ready in the fridge is handy on Uni days too. It takes a few minutes off the morning routine, allowing me to snuggle in my warm blankets for a few minutes longer. coffee

My coffee of choice is Republica South American blend. Aside from being fair-trade, so I can drink it completely guilt free, knowing that the money I spend is not going to line the pockets of evil people who exploit others for their own greedy gain… This is the first coffee I have ever tasted and said “Yum” to. Its incredibly smooth. It dissolves in cold milk so it’s perfect for iced coffees. Coffee gurus like it too. One thing I would wish for it, is that the jar was more up-cycle friendly but other than that… it’s awesome. Mix it with brown sugar and milk and it tastes just like a caramel mocha from a coffee shop. If you are feeling naughty adding a dob of cream or ice-cream is perfection.

Now for another trick, blend your raw sugar to a fine powder or add icing sugar to cold milk, if brown sugar is not your thing and the sugar dissolves too without the need for hot water mucking up the flavour.

JUDIE

The Diva has Arrived

 

I was fairly excited to try the DivaCup, mostly because of the name, Diva. I still have fondDivaCup Logo memories of living in a house with 5 chicks, on Weaver St. and being known as the Weaver Divas. Though we have moved on it was a fantastic part of my life and I love to catch up with my old housemates when I can. Just a reminder no menstrual cup companies including Diva have paid me for this review.

You may notice, I said fairly excited what held me back a little was that the shape (when looking on a computer screen) it appeared to be similar to a moon cup or Keeper. It is in fact, larger so if you have a heavy flow you are going to love this cup and the brim is not as thick either so that will definitely be a bonus cramps-wise.

M1-M2-boxesAnother bonus for the Diva is that she can be purchased in a store, if you are lucky enough to live in a town that they are stocked in. Surprisingly I do and I have seen her for sale in person at our local chemist. The DivaCup can be found in store and online in 23 countries around the world. Check here to find a store near you. If not, the DivaCup can be purchased online.

A few things to keep in mind about The DivaCup:

  • The DivaCup can be worn for up to 12 hours at a time and needs only to be cleaned 2-3 times a day with warm water and the DivaWash or a mild, unscented, oil-free soap.
  • Since The DivaCup is a personal hygienic product, a general guideline is to replace it once a year, but ultimately, it is up to the consumer to decide when it is necessary to replace the cup.
  • The Divacup is one of only 3 brands of silicone menstrual cups that are TGA approved.

I used the Diva cup for two cycles before writing my review as I wanted it to be thorough. DivaCup on Bag

Initial Reaction: Ok after the… Yea I have mail; it was the ray of sunshine on a horrible day... when the package was opened there was surprise, it was larger than I anticipated, the DivaCup model 2 was the same capacity  as my large JuJu size 2 cup. The DivaCup is longer and slightly thinner than the JuJu cup. There is also a little badge on the cotton bag that holds the cup.

In the zone: Inserting the cup was fairly easy, it opened up quite well inside. It has been my 2nd easiest cup to insert, the Ruby being the easiest. While the cup was in; I did not feel it and felt no extra cramping or pain from the rim opening up too fast which happens with cups that have very thick rims.

Rims are handy as they help to stop “air pockets”, (Tampon users will know this too) you may be familiar with the feeling of “OMGoodness my cup is leaking… run” Then you get to the bathroom and there is nothing there. It’s like being punked by your cup/tampon. Removal does tend to be messier.

If you have read my other posts, you may know that I have mentioned pain upon removal on a dry day. I inserted the DivaCup on a day I thought I was getting my period however it ended up being a dry day and this was the easiest “dry-day” removal.

Verdict: the DivaCup is truly Outstanding. It has all the things I like in a cup, size, flexibility, smallish rim. I now have 2 go2 cups for my heavy days. I love that I can keep it in for longer than the smaller cups, and also (as I found out by accident) if I pop it in on days I am expecting my period, its no a big deal if it ends up being a dry day. The Diva cup is longer than many other cups, I found that it just fit me, lengthways but I loved the narrower circumference.

Choosing a cup: Keen to try a Diva but not sure on the sizes? Check here.

For more information on DivaCups, menstrual cups in general visit the DivaCup site http://www.divacup.com. You can also like DivaCups on Facebook and Follow them on Twitter. Become informed and help spread the word about Women’s health issues.

JUDIE

Soups…

IMG_0755You might remember that I wanted to try making some Maltese soup in the TM, It worked but the timings were wrong and as a result I had chewy chicken, nutty rice, not quite done potato, carrots and celery. It was still a better lunch than the food they serve at the canteen.
Maltese soup (and I have found this also with Italian soup) is best served hot with a squeeze of lemon juice. When I was nanny for the Maltese family I learnt to make the soup from, the lemon juice was always fresh… when I moved on the squeeze bottles worked quite well (lemon and lime worked). Squeeze bottles do not work so well for me these days as “someone” puts the open ones back in the cupboard not the fridge and they go black by the time I need them again.
Lucky for me my Mother in law has some grapefruit trees that are going insane at the moment and she gave me a bag to try. I have been testing them to see if they can be used instead of lemons and in this case it’s a huge YES. I have played with this recipe and come up with this one. I have also found that small chicken legs will fit in the rice basket and can even be placed around the butterfly or you can "fillet" them with a knife and use the bones for stock. I have not tried this recipe with my MyCook and do not recommend the butterfly method for GSM machines as it is outside of what it was designed for.
I came across a “4 ingredients” recipe for chicken soup when I was unwell and tweaked it as I am not keen on canned foods and neither of us like hot roast chicken breast much either.
I used vegie stock, 1/2 chicken breast, Frozen corn, Onion and carrots
Wizz onion and carrots, sauté with a dob of butter
add cubed chicken breast, stock and corn, cook on varoma temp about 15 mins.
Enjoy your Yummy chicken soup.
I later tried this recipe with raw chicken, I cooked it in the basket for about half hour and cooked everything together for another half hour.
Chicken wings fit better into the steam basket than chicken legs, but both work. Wings are handy in that you can buy a kilo for about the same price as 1/2 a kg of legs. Chop the top of the wing (that looks like a little drumstick) and pop it in the pot. Save the middle part for hors d’oeuvres and treat the cats to the tips.
IMG_0757
This is the Pea and ham soup I made with Thermie this week. I used fresh peas as I have a lot of them doing nothing in my freezer. I found that cutting the ham chunkier helped too.
2 thick chunks of Ham off the bone
1 onion
2 carrots
Peas
Vegie stock and water
Chop onions and carrots in thermie speed 5ish add ham and sauté 10 mins.
Add the rest of the ingredients, make the water/stock go to the top mark. Varoma 1 hour, speed slow, reverse. Improve consistency by slowly turning the dial midway for about 10-20 seconds when the soup is cooked.

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