8 Things I Learnt This Week: 15 March 2015

Sunshine! It's been a week of the most beautiful blue-skied, bone warming but not skin frying sunshine this week in our part of the world.  Early Autumn is truly magnificent. The most reliably good weather that we experience all year.

To get the maximum autumnal effect I have been getting outside.  Last weekend was the Ballarat Begonia Festival.  Described as a 'community cultural festival,' that's exactly what it is. Three days of family fun in our beautiful Botanic Gardens with a loose focus on plants, specifically begonias.  Every year they pick a theme, around which a lot of the kids activities are based and this year it was Lego. Which leads me to the first thing I learnt this week...

Begonias.

Begonias.

That's a big, Lego begonia flower.

That's a big, Lego begonia flower.

1.  There are professional Lego builders (Lego Certified Professionals).  These are people who are paid to build things with Lego. There are 13 in the world and only one in Australia.  His name is Ryan, 'The Brickman' McNaught and last weekend he built the worlds largest Lego begonia flower (maybe the world's only Lego begonia flower? Not sure there's a big market out there).  We saw it.  I took photos.  I reckon Ryan is a man who loves his work.

2. You can make a lovely handscrub using olive oil and raw sugar combined with a few nice smelly things like lavendar oil and sandalwood oils. This may not be news to some of you - and others may not care - but I tried some out while perusing the lovely local arts and crafts stalls at the festival and it was luscious.  My hands felt gorgeous after. So soft.  The lady who makes this one is from Creswick, an increasingly stylish little town just up the road from us.  I love that she's local but has spread her wings to provide her products to the world via the interweb.  The business is called Rub-A-Dub and you can see all the lovely pretty, organic products - and Bloke Soap - here.    

3. Simple Living is popular the world over.  The post I wrote about the Psychology of Simple Living has been my most popular and most shared so far.  Yay!

Concentrating hard on some serious cardboard box cubby creation.

Concentrating hard on some serious cardboard box cubby creation.

4. I learnt how much kids can get from basic play with cardboard boxes and just how creative they can get.  The Begonia Festival hosted the Creative Cubby Project this year; a great place for kids to forage amongst recycled materials to design, build and decorate a giant collaborative cubby and play space.  My boys and I contributed a cardboard box and tube chimney to one larger box structure and a little peg doll to watch over the kids' play.  The boys had a lot of fun crawling through the cardboard tunnels and finding hidey holes too. So clever, simple and creative

5. Did you know that the 'high' that an ice user gets (the dose to the brain of the happy chemical dopamine) is at least three times greater than for any other illicit drug, six times better than sex and about 12 times better than any typical positive daily experience like eating something yum?  We had a psychologists' professional development session in town this week and I learnt a lot about substance use, abuse and treatment.  I don't work with drug users (that I know of) but this little piece of information alone gave me some insight into why ice usage is so problematic, particularly for young people.  If your day-to-day life is pretty low and you can get a high from this drug that doesn't even come close to any other positive experience in your life, that has to be hard to give up.

6. While talking brains, I learnt that Australian scientists have made a breakthrough with a relatively cheap, non-drug treatment for Alzheimers that may help to restore memory lost as a result of the disease. It uses ultrasound and while they're still dabbling with mice at the moment they are hoping to have access to the treatment made available to the human population within a couple of years.  The experience of Alzheimers is a heartbreaking one, as you can read from Caz Filmer's beautiful and poignant posts about her family's experience with Alzheimers so this is a magnificent breakthrough for all of us.

kids afl ballarat

7. If you want to see AFL live and up close, you can't go past a regional game.  Melbourne Football Club played the Western Bulldogs here in Ballarat yesterday in the pre-season NAB Cup. Representatives of three generations of the Jackson family attended and a great time was had by all. The littlest spent time playing in the dirt and wrapping themselves in a large fleece blanket while the six to eight year olds were glued to the fence line the entire time watching all of action just about within touching distance.  

8. Last but not least I learnt that inviting family to stay is a great way to get meal prep done for the week.  They brought more food than they consumed and I have enough left overs to get us through a busy few days. Yay! 

AFL in action.  Begonias. Put music videos on and kids will dance: Begonia Festival twilight showing of the Lego Movie. Avid six year old footy fans.  Bought plants at the Begonia Festival? Leave them to be cared for a the Plant Chreche :-)

AFL in action.  Begonias. Put music videos on and kids will dance: Begonia Festival twilight showing of the Lego Movie. Avid six year old footy fans.  Bought plants at the Begonia Festival? Leave them to be cared for a the Plant Chreche :-)

What did you learn this week?