Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Moving House

Hello all!

From today, you may now go and visit Mrs Smyth Made This at...

drumroll please...


I've been working on a new site for awhile now, and I'd love you to come on over, change your links, join up to the newsletter and enjoy the show.

Please tell your friends, and share this post as much as possible. I love youse all.

Friday, June 19, 2015

You may call me Senorita Ranty Pants

It's been quite a week here. A friend sent me a hilarious text, to which I replied 'Thanks for this. It's been a really shitty half hour and that made me laugh so much!' My phone actually said 'Thanks for this. It's been a really shirtful half hour and that made me laugh so much.' So I replied 'Ducking autocorrect.' That kind of explains everything I think.

Today's ranty pants are brought to you by some first world whinging, and a handful of WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU, PEOPLE?

It is sinfully cold here at present, and after battling through a load of somewhat damp firewood we ordered another load. It did not turn up when it was promised.
'Ah, sorry Amy. We got caught up. We can bring it tomorrow afternoon. Have you got any wood left at all?'
'Um, we'll be ok. Tomorrow arvo will be fine.'
Tomorrow afternoon rolls around and there is still no firewood. We are down to the wood splitting block and a blow heater.
'Uh, Wood Lady? Just wondering what time you'll be here.'
'Hour and a half at the latest. See you then!'

Five minutes later.
'Hey Amy, it's a bit dangerous and wet in the paddock here. My partner doesn't want me to be driving the tractor in this weather. Besides, the wood is all wet.'
I leave an awkward silence here for her to explain what her next plan could be.
'Uh, Wood Lady? Did you want to leave it then?'
'I think that'd be best Amy. It's just a bit dangerous.'


I begin trawling Gumtree and Facebook to find some dry firewood. Eventually I give up, head next door to my lovely young neighbours who give me an armful of firewood over the fence. I comment on the loveliness (hey, it's winter. Good firewood is sexy.) of the wood. (That's what she said...) Jack mentions that it's from his Dad's property.
'OH MY JACK. Does your Dad want to sell it?'
It's agreed upon. A load will be delivered tomorrow at lunchtime.
Delivered it is. When I return from town I find it stacked neatly in my yard and covered in a tarp.

It's lovely dry firewood. Bam.

This summer will be the Summer of Firewood. I'm sorry friends, I won't be able to do anything remotely fun this summer, I'll be cutting and stacking as much firewood as I can stand, because this is truly the most shirtful part of winter. Don't even get me started on the cost.

I was feeling much better about the wood situation now I was warm again, when I saw this on Facebook this morning.

Right here, this is why I hate Australian culture sometimes. We're so intent on dragging each other down that 'keeping up with the Joneses' headlines like this are normal.
I see a young man proposing to his girlfriend in a fairly public fashion. That's awesome, FOR THEM. Love should be celebrated. But tell me, why does it make everyone else look bad? Because our loves didn't propose to us in a cinema for all to see? Because it makes you feel like you should have paraded your moment in a social media-esque fashion? Because they did it differently? 
How about we just be happy for them? 
I know it's a clickbait article. I hate that articles and headlines like this even exist, and I know they exist because people continue click on them. I struggle to understand the dog-eat-dog mentality behind articles like this, where you can almost see the sarcasm dripping from the headline. 'Thanks mate. You showed us all up.' Yes, it's meant for a cheap, quick laugh, but I truly believe it's symptomatic of something much deeper. 

Why do we let other people's choices make us feel so inferior?

On that note, I'm off to enjoy my kid-free Friday. If you need me, I'll be sewing the remainder of 137 roman blind rings whilst binge watching Downton Abbey.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Coffee's dirty little secret.

I guess coffee has a FEW dirty little secrets. Fair trade issues, the unforgivable description of "expresso" at several coffee shops, the false advertisement of "coffee" when they really just mean instant coffee with a Haros-steamed milk substance floated on top, and more recently coffee pods.

Nespresso have the market on coffee pods, courtesy of spunky George, with his silvery-fox hair and dreamy eyes.

But it's a dirty, dirty thing. You see, those pods that assist your pod machine to pour out the most glorious smelling coffee, are NOT easily recyclable, reusable or compostable. Sure, Nespresso offer a recycling service. All you need to do is peel the foil off your pod, dispose of the coffee grounds inside, wash the pods and take them to your nearest garden centre that supports Nespresso recycling. No biggie, it's only 40km away.

How did I wind up in this world of coffee pods? My beautiful BEAUTIFUL Nemox Cafe Fenice machine exited this world in a somewhat lacklustre blaze of glory. A few weeks ago we had a storm and my house circuit shorted. I looked around outside, called my power company and wanted a fix time. They asked if I could check my circuit board... and sure enough it was tripped. We narrowed it down to my kitchen.

Uh oh.

I called my electrician bro-in-law who suggested taking Nemox to a different room and checking again. Sure enough, it shorted out the house twice more. Upon investigation, poor Nemox wasn't financially viable to fix. Enter my limited funds and an almost-brand-new Nespresso machine on a buy/swap/sell site.

Back to the dirty coffee...

I've been testing a multitude of coffee pods in order to find a solution that would work for me. Mr S and I roughly costed out pods vs ground coffee to find out if it were more worthwhile for the outlay of buying a pod machine than a ground coffee machine. It is. Buuuut whilst Nespresso pods taste delicious, I cannot come at the waste.

Big Red in action. 
My lovely lovely neighbours threw a few Nespresso pods way to try when I first purchased my machine. LORDY ME. THE TASTE. SO GOOD.


My BFF gave me some of her pods to try too, the Piazza D'oro L'Or brand that you can buy at the supermarket. Not as much of a fan, and also the waste factor.

I did a bit more research and found Tripod Coffee. I asked, and they kindly sent me a discount code to try some of their pods. Whilst delicious, Mr S and I traditionally like our coffee strong and it has taken a few weeks of trial and error to come to a simple solution... less milk. These pods are household recycling bin-able, once you peel the foil off, dispose of the coffee and rinse them out. Not as time consuming as you might imagine, but still slightly tedious.

I've currently using EcoCaffe's Ethical Coffee Company pods, and I made a phone call to ascertain some of the finer points about their pods. They are fully biodegradable in a compost heap/landfill in 180 days and this seems evident to me by the way the coffee pods come out of the machine, slightly soggy and ready for composting. Again, it's been trial and error to make a coffee taste the way I like it, but we've gotten there with Ethical pods. Less milk. I have found that the pods aren't as strong as I would usually make my ground espresso coffees, but I do also presume that over time we've started having our coffee stronger and stronger. We have toddlers, people.

I ponied up this week and have a larger selection of Ethical Coffee Company pods coming to try. Including shipping, 50 pods is coming to around 84 cents per pod. It's roughly the same as Nespresso pods and Tripod Coffee pods. It's slightly more than around 60 cents for supermarket L'Or pods. It's also perhaps slightly more expensive than ground coffee, but for the taste and environmental factor I'm willing to go the distance.

The one thing I haven't tried yet is the refillable pods.

Crema Joe popped up in my Instagram feed after I followed Tripod Coffee. Crema Joe have refillable stainless steel pods. I'm keen to try, but I'm also baulking at the cost - $50 for two pods with the stickers required to make them work. It's a double edged sword - if they work, that's an awesome price for a potential lifetime of pod supplies. If they are rubbish - that's a lot of money to waste for some pretty stainless steel thimbles. However they have competitions weekly to win, so I will throw my hat in the ring and cross my fingers.

Pssst! Crema Joe! You are quite hard to find on Google. A check for 'Stainless steel refillable pods' did not yield your page at all. I had to search through my Instagram to find your page name.

Things that are worth mentioning:

  • Tripod Coffee is roasted and packed in Australia.
  • Ethical Coffee Company is roasted and packed in France, I think. I don't have a packaging box right now, and I can't easily find the info online. I will update this once I hear back from EcoCaffe.

Usually I'd pick Australian roasted and packed over anything else, however the fact that the Ethical Coffee Company pods are biodegradable makes me for now, choose to use the Ethical Coffee Company pods.

I've spent quite a bit of time thinking about coffee pods and coffee in general, but given the time of the day and my predisposition to insomnia... I'll have a decaf, thanks.

Do you pod? Which pods do you use? What do you recommend? TELL ME EVERYTHING.

Saturday, April 4, 2015

In defence of home.

Home. It's a word that brings a warm glow to my heart, visions of smiling family members, a warm wood stove, and more recently, the THUMP THUMP of toddler feet running around.
MY home isn't where we use harsh words or call names. Home is where we rest our hats and share our news.
Today my heart isn't glowing warmly with visions of my home. I'm mad like a Mama Bear whose kid got pushed at daycare. I've just read an interview with Leo Schofield in the Sydney Morning Herald and I want to make a few things perfectly clear to Mr Schofield.

On behalf of our narrow-minded Liberal government, I'm sorry that the Baroque Festival funding went the way of SO much arts funding. It's unfortunate that it happened and I completely understand your reasoning for taking the festival elsewhere.
"Tasmania's such a beautiful place," he says. "It's blessed as no other area in this country is blessed, and yet they can't wait to dig it up, chop it down, sell it to the Chinese..."
I agree with this loosely as a whole. The landscape in Tasmania is like nothing I've ever seen. The wildlife is stunning and again, it's unfortunate that since the mid-20th Century there's been a push to make the land work for man, not man work for the land. I've sat in forest in the Florentine Valley one year, only to return the next to find the trees missing and a massive logging road in it's place. Plantation forestry has a place - after all, where does your toilet paper, newsprint etc come from? But old growth? There's no reason for that.

Again, unfortunately Mr Schofield goes on in the same sentence to say "All the young people leave, and the only ones left are the dregs, the bogans, the third-generation morons."


In one sentence Leo Schofield has derailed any respect I had for his forward thinking ideas. In one sentence he has clearly revealed himself as those who he is attempting to defame.

I am a young person. I guess. 32? I'd still call myself young. I was not born here. I moved here by choice ten years ago. Five years ago I chose to buy a house and make a home in a very special part of Tasmania. I have a Masked Owl living in the trees behind the house, a mating pair of Wedge Tailed Eagles in the bush behind our block, tens of varieties of amazing birds, quolls, bandicoots, possums, wallabies, pademelons, and more rats and mice than we can catch. 

I'm quite disappointed that Schofield had, in his view, a soured experience of living in Tasmania and sees fit to use his cultural standing to speak ill of a very special place in generalised terms, instead of recognising and stating that this was HIS experience.

Mr Schofield, I'm sorry that you experienced such a hard time that you experienced mental health issues. I only hope that you've received the necessary and available help. I also wish you well with your future projects. I also hope that in time you can recognise and perhaps remedy your public views with those that Tasmania is a beautiful place, filled with kind and gentle people who do care about their home.

Sunrise, Narawntapu National Park, 31/3/15.
(c) Andrew Smyth Photography

Friday, January 30, 2015

Between 8.30am and 8.55am...

This happened.

After a 5.30am start thanks to Lady Pip we were in pretty good shape to get out of the door on time for a 9am start. Sure, no end to the endless hysteria that is two children:


'No. Eat your own. It's the same.'
'I... WANT.... YOUR.... BREAKFAST....MUM!'

However, bags were packed, children had brushed teeth, I put my socks on and wiped the bench. Suddenly I realised I was STILL humming a melody and random words. A song?! A SONG?! For the first time in four (yep, four, count 'em!) years?! Quick! Get thee to the piano!

I sketched out the basic structure to the song with two toddlers thumping the keys around me, which evolved to M asking if I'd like to have bass guitar in my new song? Yes, yes I would.

I realise what the time is, make a dash to include the packed lunches in the girls' bag, pull the fridge door open... too quickly. An unopened 2L bottle of milk jumps out, misses my outstretched hands and face plants on the floor. Exploding in all directions.

Choice words said, I mopped up with several towels whilst managing to tread on a wet milky towel with my socks.

I turned to the sink where I'd put the offending bottle, screwed the cap tightly and turned the tap on. The tap missed it's mark, landing instead on the bottle lid and creating a fountain of icy cold water all over the front of my running tights.

In the bathroom I blow dry most of the water off my pants and realise it's a great thing I wear a cap when running because my hair is... interesting.

Pip has taken off her shoes after refusing to wear anything but the gold party shoes. She won't reveal where the shoes are so I grab her some socks ('Mil, can you grab Pip some socks please?' 'No thanks, Mum.') and we are almost ready to leave the house.

I carry Pip out the front door whilst Millie bounds down to the fort on her way to the car. Pip is heavy so I set her down to run to the car with Millie whilst I wrangle my handbag, the beautiful Barbie backpack and my Garmin watch, complete with charger still attached.

Halfway to the car I realise Pip still isn't wearing any shoes and running around in the mud. I scoop her up and she immediately wipes her socks all over my running tights.

After a considerable discussion in the car we listen to 'Shake It Off' on the way to daycare (NO MORE 'LET IT GO' IN THE CAR PLEASE?!). My two children who have not let me out of their sight for two weeks (day or night) suddenly run off to the toy kitchen and refuse to hug me goodbye.

Frantic over? Time for coffee and a walk with BRFAABF...

I order a takeaway coffee for Mr S with my order, meaning for it to arrive before our have in coffees. They all arrive at the same time so I race his coffee down the road to him. Who brings two have here coffees and a takeaway coffee at the same time without figuring it out? Truly.

Thankfully my coffee is still hot and L has not inhaled my scones as well as her own.

Because really? She could keep the scones, I needed that coffee and I was not afraid to push over a pregnant lady for it.

Mostly. If I pushed L, I think she'd just push me back. And that's why I love her.

Do you have mental mornings like this? Please humour me and tell me that yes, yes you do.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Daily Positive - Sheila

Back when I used to work in a bookshop, I worked with a lovely lady named Sheila. Sheila was divorced, lived with her cat Ollie and loved to read. She read spiritual books, new release novels, pretty much anything. Sheils had no pretensions about things she did and did not know. I learned some huge lessons from her that I'm sure she never had any idea she taught me.
  • Sheila was humble and unafraid to show it. She showed no ego about being blown away by things that others would find mundane.
  • Generous. She would write you a note because she was thinking of you. She'd bring you a book to read if she thought you'd enjoy it, even if you'd be challenged by it. She'd bring you a plant cutting from her garden because she thought you'd like it. Wonderful, yes?
  • Curious. If Sheils didn't know something she'd ask you all about it, in a simplistic 'Wow, I had no idea. Tell me more about xyz, or more specifically, why is the xyz about the xyz?'
  • She also had a wicked, dirty sense of humour that seemed so at odds with her religious beliefs but were absolutely hilarious.
  • Sheila was so honest about her feelings, yet also delightfully tactful. I never wanted to disappoint her because she respected everyone so greatly that I always wanted to show her the same respect. In a society where it's often easier to gloss over that someone has hurt your feelings, or express it in a passive aggressive way, Sheila's simple yet workable approach was such a breath of fresh air. The environment that we worked in often left me guessing as to where I stood with my superiors, but never with Sheils.
Unfortunately Sheila stopped working with us at the bookshop after a back injury. I haven't seen her since I was pregnant with Millie, and she didn't have the internet when I last saw her. I hope she's well, I think of her often.

Is there someone in your life who inspires you? Why?

Totally unrelated to this, but I wanted to know - do you care if there's a picture in a blog post? I don't because I tend to read blogs on my phone and pictures never flow properly in an RSS feed. What do you think?

Very related to this: I think my Daily Positive posts need a name. Any ideas of something snappy?

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

The Daily Positive

A few months ago I deleted Facebook off my phone, un'followed' all my 'friends' on Facebook, forgot my Twitter username and turned my phone back into a phone. It was glorious for a few weeks. I still haven't put FB back on my phone nor found my way back to seeing what everyone ate for lunch, all the time. But I've been dipping back in to finding 'things' to 'do' on my phone.

I read an entirely fabulous book called 'Enough' by John Naish at the beginning of this year. I then promptly loaned it to L, she loved it, I got it back from her, read it again. And then I started reading it again. He waxes lyrical about our society's obsession with celebrity, linking it back to our primal ages when if we heard about someone's exploits or success - we probably knew them. It makes sense to me.

So I try to not be so involved in the world of people I don't know and more involved in the world of the very few very awesome people I DO know. However, I still love Project Runway and other escapism television shows. I'm pretty sure I saw every episode of 'Kim and Kourtney take New York' complete with 72 day marriage and Kourtney's obsessive coupon clipping.

I still love to read the news. I refresh several times per day and it has really started to grate on me. I have begun to grate on me. Sheesh. But news.com.au are getting Mamamia'esque in the clickbait headlines and I can't quite stand it anymore.

Surely there's some good daily positive news kicking around?

A quick google search revealed Dale Partridge's Daily Positive. Partridge is an entrepreneur, father, husband, and maintains a wicked beard. He reminds me a little of JB Glossinger's Morning Coach. I was a subscriber and lover of Morning Coach for years, and then I dipped out and dipped back to find it a paid platform - hardly surprising given that Glossinger was transparent about his desire to be a millionaire in a given timeframe.

Dale Partridge's articles are so concise and I love his storytelling style. I am not a religious type, so the fairly frequent God mentions do turn me off a little bit... but it's not stories about mutilated humans like the newspaper so I can live with it.

This week I watched and LOVED Felicity's Mental Mission on iView. She was so transparent about her mental health journey and her obvious empathy to others in similar positions was so difficult to watch without sobbing along to the iPad whilst doing the dishes. Felicity is terribly inspiring and has inspired me to be the positive I want to read about. No frequent refresh clicks, but having my own mission to find and share happiness and positivity can only be good for everyone, right?

Sidenote: I couldn't have been prouder to see my cuz, Chris Wagner being interviewed by Felicity. I know that both of our Dads would have been so chest puffingly proud to see Chris making a difference in his new role at the Mental Health Council of Australia.

So today I point you toward Dale Patridge.  Enjoy his gentle words and stories. What will tomorrow bring?


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