Tuesday, September 2, 2014

How to not get swooped by Magpies.


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We are in the thick of Magpie Season here in south east Queensland, and I am not enjoying it very much at all. Several magpies have taken up residence in my street, one almost immediately outside my front gate, and people (including me) are getting swooped daily. It's become a bit of a sport for my children to watch this from the front window. "Lady with an umbrella Mum! That guy with his hoodie right over his head!' Sadly, no one is immune from getting swooped. 

Male Magpies swoop at certain times of the year because they are hepped up on testosterone while their babies are small, and are defending the nest. The official advise is to just stay away from swooping Magpies, but this means not walking on the footpath in my street between June and November, and as a rate payer, this feels a bit unfair. I mean, I live in a beautiful seaside suburb, why should I not get to walk along it for a large part of the year? I know there are whingers out there whinging about the people whinging about magpies, and frankly I don't care - I bet those people have no qualms killing a huntsman spider or removing a possum from their roof. It's hard to be sympathetic to the poor magpies when one has just made your ear bleed. Maybe the magpie lovers haven't been swooped?  In recent years a small boy in our town was swooped while riding his bike, fell under a bus and had his arm broken. People have lost eyes to Magpies! Terrifying! Just getting swooped is bad enough. This photo is of Marcus, a local walker who I've met on a few occasions. He is a lovely man, cheerful to everyone, and doesn't deserve this sort of aggression!


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Magpies have excellent memories, and will remember you if you walk past their territory more than once; this territory is likely to have a radius of 150 metres. I've tried changing hats when I walk, with a small (not complete) measure of success. Magpies particularly hate cyclists for some reason, and many cyclists thread cable ties through their bike helmets. I've read this doesn't work and although it won't stop the magpie swooping it will stop the magpies beak and claws connecting with the part of your head that is covered. Magpies are clever, and after the first swoop will go for the ears or back of the neck. 



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As a young girl we used to wear home made hats like this to school, which must have looked quite a sight, especially walking in a group. The ice cream container protects your head and the magpies wont swoop if they think you are looking at them, so remember to draw eyes on all sides of your hat! I must admit I haven't tried this anti magpie hat for a while now, but I have been thinking of stitching fabric eyes on the back of my hat.




What I have found to work is waving a large stick above your head. It doesn't have to be a heavy stick, but it should have a few smaller twig like branches at the top. The magpies start to swoop but pull up because I guess they can't lock in the target (my head) with a stick waving in the way. 




I don't carry the stick the whole way, I walk for ages and my arms would get tired. I select a stick from the ground at the top of my street or other known Magpie territory to wave above my head. When this gets too much I then select a smaller stick and stick it in the back of my hat. It works best if there are a few leaves at the top, unlike the one I am modelling here. It works on the same principle as the bigger stick but with less effort. Do I feel like Daisy Head Maisy? Yes. Do I care? No, because I am not getting attacked by Magpies.





Brisbane Council is adamant that Magpies should not be fed under any circumstances, but many people have told me the way to stop them swooping is to feed them. The magpies that swoop me are not just in my street, they are 5 kilometres or more away, so I don't see how this is practical. I mean, I could rig up some kind of feeding dish on the top of my hat, but won't that defeat the purpose? It's a shame they don't like potatoes, I have the perfect delivery method.
available here 
What do you do to repel magpies? Have you been swooped this season? How do you feel about spud guns? Did you wear an ice cream container hat on the walk to school?

xx

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Prawns! My FAVOURITE! #myfamilylens

This post is my final post in the #myfamilylens competition, sponsored by Olympus and part of #voicesof2014, organised by Kidspot. All images in this post have been taken with the Olympus OM-D E-M10. The prompt I have chosen is Favourite.

Growing up, I ate a lot of prawns. Dad was a very keen fisherman, and if it was prawn season he would be out there every night, with his home made underwater-torch-on-a-broom-handle-prawn-attracter, bringing home prawns by the bucket. This would mean we ate prawns for breakfast, lunch and tea. Did we appreciate it? NO! My sister and I would open our lunchboxes, check our sandwiches, and roll our eyes before trying to swap for something exotic, like lemon spread. These days prawns are my absolute favourite, and every time I eat them I think of all those swapped sandwiches at school. At least someone appreciated them.


Today at the fish market, I couldn't go past these giant tiger prawns. I almost did because of the price, but ended up getting half a kilo of these, and half a kilo of calamari which are both favourites of the children in this house. Tomorrow morning I am off to ProBlogger for three days, and I like to cook something special the night before I go away, to make them miss me just that little bit more. I told Mr BC of this plan and he admitted to feeding them rubbish while I was gone in a ploy to make them miss me, but I suspect they actually like his famous 'Dad's Surf and Turf' i.e. a fish finger and a sausage on the same plate. We don't really have the same agenda at all, what do you think?


Garlic Prawn and Calamari Pasta with Broccoli



 Ingredients

  • 500g of the best prawns you can find, peeled and deveined
  • 500g of calamari
  • olive oil
  • minced chili to taste (optional but delicious)
  • minced garlic to taste
  • 1 head of broccoli, cut into sections
  • a large handful of fresh rocket, straight from the garden (optional but delicious)
  • 1 packet of pasta of your choice, cooked and drained.
  • 1 lemon


Method

The method is also printed in one lump at the bottom to make it easy to copy or print, and there is even a bonus section on cooking this recipe for fussy children!


Check out these prawns! Incredible. I am super impressed with the way the Olympus OM-D E-M10 really captures every glossy delicious detail.



Huge. HUGE prawns. Much different from my school lunches. Amazingly fresh, I think they were caught this morning and in the fish market by lunch, which is when I bought them. Peel and devein these babies, then rinse them in a colander with the calamari.



Cut the broccoli into sections, I like to include some of the stem. It doesn't make sense to just cut the florets off and discard the stem! I steamed these in the microwave and refreshed them under some cold tap water so that they'd keep their brightness.


Finely mince some fresh garlic (and chili if you are using) and fry it off in some olive oil just until it loosens up - don't burn it or it will be bitter and ruin the sweetness of the prawns. Add the seafood and stir until cooked, then add the broccoli and finally the cooked pasta. Make sure the pasta is still warm so it can soak up all the delicious flavours in the pan. Stir through rocket and squeeze in the lemon, and you are good to go!




Garlic Prawn and Calamari Pasta with Broccoli
Ingredients

  • 500g of the best prawns you can find, peeled and deveined
  • 500g of calamari
  • olive oil
  • minced chili to taste (optional but delicious)
  • minced garlic to taste
  • 1 head of broccoli, cut into sections
  • a large handful of fresh rocket, straight from the garden (optional but delicious)
  • 1 packet of pasta of your choice, cooked and drained.
  • 1 lemon

Method
  • Quickly steam the broccoli, but don't over cook it. If you rinse it under cold water after you cook it, it will stay beautifully green while until you need it. No one likes sad grey broccoli! 
  • In a wok, stir fry the garlic and chili in a glug of olive oil for a minute or two, don't let it burn.
  • Add the prawns and calamari and toss for a few minutes.
  • Add the broccoli and continue cooking until the seafood is perfectly cooked, then add in the pasta and rocket if you are using it, toss until everything is mixed and the rocket is a little bit wilted. 
  • Add a big theatrical squeeze of lemon, and serve! 

Fussy Child Friendly Version
  • Do not use chili.
  • Do not use rocket.
  • Do not use any lemon for heavens sake!
  • Ensure you use pasta that is pleasing to the child. 
  • Set aside some plain pasta for when the child tries it, but doesn't like it. 
  • Serve the children first then add chili for the grown ups. 
  • Be so hungry you forget all about the rocket and lemon. Be a little sad about it.
  • Inhale the garlic deliciousness with a nice glass of wine. 


This post is part of the #myfamilylens competition, sponsored by Olympus and organised by Kidspot as part of  #voicesof2014. All images in this post were taken using the Olympus OM-D E-M10, I used the camera's inbuilt WiFi functionality to transfer images to my phone, where I used the Olympus Image Share App to apply art filters to the images. This is my final installment in the #myfamilylens competition and I don't mind telling you I am sad at the thought of sending this camera back, it has been a pleasure to use and has added value to the way I take, share and store photos. I wish I had enough time to master video! Don't you think a House of Chaos Cookery series would be just darling? Me too...




Gifts and Mysteries #myfamilylens

This post is part of the #myfamilylens competition, sponsored by Olympus and part of #voicesof2014, organised by Kidspot. All images in this post have been taken with the Olympus OM-D E-M10. The prompt I have chosen is Gifted.

I am one of those people that become the repository for 'family heirlooms'. Some people might call these heirlooms 'junk', an in actuality a lot of them are. Rusted manual pottery wheel, anyone? No? Maybe people instinctively recognise the secret hoarder that lives within my spirit, and feel safe in the knowledge that I will never throw out precious hand stitched tea towels, the kayak that cost a lot of money in the '80s, or the thesis that my Great Uncle did as part of his studies to become a Reverend in the Episcopalian Church. I don't really mind because I do indeed have the soul of a hoarder, and along the way I've been gifted with some very special things; things that are precious to me and maybe even have a bit of mystery about them.




This fine china tea set was my Grandmothers when she was a little girl, and it was always too precious for my mother or her sister to play with. It's very fragile and the hand painted parrots seem to sing off the cup. It really is delightful, and is the perfect size for tiny fingers. I understand my mothers frustration at not being able to play with it! I also understand her resentment when my Grandmother casually gave it to me as I sat in the sandpit one day, and laughed at my mother's outrage as I broke many of the pieces in a sandy tea party. Apart from another two plates, what you see here is all that is left of the Parrot Tea Set. Apparently there used to be a lot more.




These costume jewelry orchid ear rings belonged to my Grandmother on my fathers side, and this is all I have of hers. I didn't know her very well but I know that she was adored by all of her children. I wonder where she wore these, and who was there, and did my Grandfather buy them for her? These ear rings are made for ears that are not pierced, did she ever get her ears pierced? Maybe she stopped wearing them after that. She passed away when I was quite young so I guess I will never know. I don't know if they were precious to her but they are very precious to me.



This book was a gift to me from my Great Grandmother, and she told me that her mother bought it with her from England. It must have been fairly old even then, because they migrated many years after 1841. It's a bound collection of weekly magazines that seem to be the equivalent of Womens Weekly.



There is no celebrity gossip, although there is 'Local Memories of Great Men' which would appear to be the same thing!







It's mostly a compendium of information regarding farming, livestock, history and geology. I can see how it would be a very useful thing to have if you were emigrating to Australia in the early nineteenth century. But that is not all that is hidden in this book.....



A few loose leaf papers are inside the front cover, and no one seems to know anything about them. Obviously it was during the war, but it doesn't seem to be real correspondence; just a vague series of lists and envelopes.



GL Bransgrove was my Great Grandmother, and it's a little bit thrilling to think that her hand may have written this. I have no idea who Robert Raad was, but I do know the Bransgroves lived at Enfield, in Sydney.



Who was AE Norden, Esq; and why was he receiving letters from the National Electro Plating Co? Was he getting something chrome plated? I wonder what it was, and I wonder what connection he had to my family.



Does this actually say Pfarters Hotel?! Why was someone getting a a one pound refund from the Pfarters Hotel? Was it my Great Grandmother?? This mystery is making my mind boggle.



This seems to be the beginning of a budget for some sort of fantastic event. Piano, Artists, Beer, Dinner and Tips. Giddy up! I wonder if it was at the Pfarters Hotel?  I wonder what the censor made of all of this when he opened it. I do love a mystery, some gifts just keep on giving.

This post is part of the #myfamilylens competition, sponsored by Olympus and organised by Kidspot as part of  #voicesof2014. All images in this post were taken using the Olympus OM-D E-M10, I used the camera's inbuilt WiFi functionality to transfer images to my phone, where I used the Olympus Image Share App to apply art filters to the images. Super easy and super clever huh? Such great quality from something so easy to use. Be afraid, iPhone.. 

xx


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