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Friday, 16 December 2011

In the garden

This year my summer crop has taken a while to kick off. Partly because of the unpredictable weather we've been having due to La Nina and partly because some of my seeds didn't like the egg carton seed trays (I had to transfer them to either bigger pots or toilet rolls) and simply because I haven't had the time to get out there and give the garden a good workout.

I've managed to install drip irrigation (yes, plastic.. I know) onto one of my vegetable beds. Although it took a few trips to the hardware store and a diploma in irrigation installation, it helps IMMENSELY with saving time and saving water.

Drippers with a zucchini just starting to take off.

My herbs haven't looked back and its just an absolute delight walking out the back and picking fresh herbs for dinner. I can't wait till I can do that with my vegetables too!

Parsley going to seed.

Plenty of coriander!

Thyme and oregano.

Last year I bought some lemongrass as an experiment. It was a small sad looking punnet and its now grown into quite a large sedge of grass. I've got no clue whether its doing well or not, still, come end of summer I'll be harvesting and re-potting.


In the my irrigated patch I have oxheart and roma tomatoes, long cayanne peppers, eggplant, capsicum, zucchini and kale, along with a few bits and pieces here and there to assist with companion planting.

Oxheart tomato plant and calendula.

Sadly, my apricot and orange tree produced poorly, I've only managed to pick five delicious apricots. Although we'll have tons of mandarins this year!


 So that's whats happening in my garden.. what about yours?


Sunday, 11 December 2011

Intwinde in matrimony

Tomorrow is Mike and my second wedding anniversary and although our two years have gone really quickly, its also felt like around ten. We've been through joyous occasions and at times our relationship had definitely seen better days. But we've managed to stick together and I think we've learnt a lot about each other during our hardships. Without struggle, a relationship's strength is never truly tested. I pray that our love and friendship can grow and evolve together, becoming stronger as the years go on.

At this time of year I love to reconnect and reflect on our vows that we made to each other. I take our vows very seriously as they are a deceleration and promise we made to one another in front of our family and friends.

I love you.

You are my best friend.

Today I give myself to you in marriage.

I promise to encourage you and inspire you,
to laugh with you and to comfort you in times of sorrow and struggle.

I’ll love you in good times and bad,
when life’s easy and when it’s hard,
when our love is simple and when it’s an effort.

You bring out the best in me, and I promise to cherish you.

These things, I give to you today and all the days of our life!

Photo by Jess White

I love you my darling man, thank you for being a wonderful husband, for listening to me when I have too many things to say, for giving me cuddles when I need them the most, for laughing with me, for taking the courageous journey into parenthood with me, for going into work everyday and for washing the dishes and folding the clothes when I ask you to. You have shown me how to love with humility, to communicate without fear and to accept and love who I am. I cherish you dearly, even though at times it seems that I don't.


{This moment}

Inspired by Soule MamaA single photo – no words – capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

If you're inspired to do the same, leave a link to your 'moment' in the comments for all to find and see.

I know I'm almost two days late but I haven't posted in ages and this moment is such a wonderful one!


Tis the season

This is going to be Grub's second Christmas and if her second is anything like her first, shes going to be overwhelmed with a large amount of gifts. I think its wonderful she has so many people that adore and love her but I find that even I can be overwhelmed with the amount she receives. She generally wants to play with the boxes and wrapping that they come in and I'm quite happy to let her do this as I tend to place her gifted toys in storage so I can gradually bring them out for her to play with.

Grub last Christmas

Some of the presents don't sit well with me and my 'rules' of trying to minimise consumerism in my household or some are poorly made and I find myself recycling gifts or giving them to charity. Shhh... don't tell anyone! Although I'm not really throwing away items, I still feel a sense of unnecessary waste. Not to mention the wrapping, boxes, cards etc etc that have been used to present the presents.

So this year and onwards, Mike and I have decided that we'll be getting Grub one present for Christmas, that is until shes old enough to bring up Santa with us. Then Mike and I will have to have another discussion on what our views are about that situation.

As for gift giving to other family and friends, we're planning on creating homemade yummy treats and goodies wrapped in recycled packaging and card.

Do you and your family try to reduce the amount of consumerism during Christmas? What do you plan on giving this Christmas?


Friday, 30 September 2011

{This moment}

Inspired by Soule MamaA single photo – no words – capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

If you're inspired to do the same, leave a link to your 'moment' in the comments for all to find and see.

Thursday, 29 September 2011

Biodegradable Seed Starter

Its spring! And that means its time to get my vegetable seeds ready. I've been saving extra large egg cartons from Rosie's Free Range Eggs for the past few months so I can use them as seedling trays.

Because the cartons are biodegradable when its time to plant I plan on cutting them into individual pots and plant them as is.

Yay for kale!

When the weather becomes warmer and a bit more predictable I'm going to use You Grow Girl's method of using toilet paper rolls to plant seeds that require a bit more depth in the soil. There are loads of newspaper seed starters online too, but I think I'd become a bit impatient at folding all those little boxes!

For your information; I'm using organic veggie and herb seeds from Green Harvest which is an organic garden supplier based in Queensland. I'm yet to find anything similar with such variety closer to South Australia. They provide such a variety of heirloom plants, permaculture resources, organic gardening resources, natural pest control.. the list really does go on.

What veggies are you growing this season?


Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Sustainable Seafood

When choosing fish from your local fish monger have you ever thought what purchase would have a lesser impact on the environment? Now you can make a more informed choice with The Australian Marine Conservation Society's Australia's Sustainable Seafood Guide. They've released a free iPhone app, PDF file or hard copy you can purchase off their website for easy access to the information.

They've made the database easy to use, classifying seafood under "better", "think" and "no". It not only takes overfishing into consideration, but it also takes into account destructive fishing techniques, contamination and leakages dues to poor aquaculture practices and pollution. I highly recommend it for people who do consume seafood.

Overfishing, destructive fishing gear and poor aquaculture practices impact significantly on our seas, marine wildlife and habitats. An incredible 80% of the world's fish stocks are now over-exploited or fished right up to their limit. Once considered inexhaustible, our oceans are now in a state of global crisis, and they need our help.

As consumers we can and do make a difference through the choices we make. By choosing sustainable seafood we take a step towards a future with healthy oceans by helping drive change in the way our fish and shellfish are caught or farmed. We can all help make our seafood sustainable.

Also The Australian Conservation Foundation is conducting an independent Sustainable Seafood Assessment Program and provides an interactive map of Australia with a few sustainable seafood available in some states. As the assessment continues the map will be update and hopefully they can gain enough funding and momentum to have an extensive assessment avaliable.


Monday, 26 September 2011

A World of Plastic

My latest post is a bit depressing but I encourage you to turn your mind set and use it as a powerful tool to encourage you to make a difference in the way you live.

Take a moment to think about the popular saying "think globally, act locally". A large proportion of people have trouble thinking globally. They only think about the effect of their actions in a certain vicinity. They don't think about the consequences of their waste thrown out of a car window will most likely aid in the death of a sea creature or end up in our oceans adding to the indescribable amount of waste, with no way of degrading in our lifetime or their grandchild's lifetime. Out of sight, out of mind.

With my recent research into chemicals plastic are made out of, plastic pollution and how little of our plastic is actually recycled, I've become somewhat scarred. I think its a good thing, its a motivation to do something about it, to act locally (my family) but think globally! Looking around my house at the moment, although I consider myself to be more 'eco' than others, our cupboards and fridge are overloaded with plastics, not to mention the massive amount of plastic packaging from the food we buy. I try to buy products with the least amount of packaging, but I've never really gone out of my way to search for alternatives, only whats avaliable at my local Foodland or markets.

After being inspired by Gina's, A Plastic Free Year, I also want to take this vowel on October 1st and try to be virgin plastic free for a year and hopefully there after.

A Plastic Free Year Guidelines

  • Do not purchase or be gifted virgin plastic.
  • Where a plastic free alternative to a product can not be found, plastic re-used or recycled item of that product can be purchased or borrowed.
  •  If any plastic is (unwillingly) purchased or gifted during 2011, it can NOT enter the waste stream - it must be kept by me. The accumulated plastic will be weighed at the end of 2011 to measure what my annual plastic footprint is, and will be turned into plastic 'art'.

Please post me any suggestions you have on how I can survive My Plastic Free Year - I need all the assistance I can get! And feel free to join me - the less demand created for virgin plastic, the better for all of us!

Thanks for your support ;-)
 I'll post updates every now and then including thoughts, the amount of plastic accumulated and products I've found helpful. I encourage you to join me in this journey, if not to re-think your plastic situation and review the links on this post. Everyone is accountable!


Also, if you have any ideas to help reduce plastic consumption to share them with me... this is going to be a hard task ahead! 

Friday, 23 September 2011

{This moment}

I couldn't decided on what photo to choose. So I posted both :)

Inspired by Soule MamaA single photo – no words – capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

If you're inspired to do the same, leave a link to your 'moment' in the comments for all to find and see.

Monday, 19 September 2011

A Mother's Guilt

When I became a Mother it didn't even cross my mind the level of guilt I could feel when I have regret or think I've made a mistake. 

Recently Grub has been feeling under the weather, with a fluctuating fever for the past three weeks. My GP couldn't give us any answers and after a night of Grub's temperature reaching 40 degrees, I decided to take her to children's emergency to see if they could tell me anything my GP couldn't. The Doctor at emergency asked for a urine sample, a stool sample and a blood test. I don't know if its because of my severe sleep deprivation, my thoughts over run with worry for baby Grub or that I'm just a bit slow but it didn't occur to me how invasive a blood test on a little one would be.

 At first the nurse asked me to sit Grub on my lap and hold arms while she tightened the strap to Grub's arm and then began to forcefully pump her arm to find her little veins. She called in another, most likely senior nurse to ask if she had found a vein or not. The senior nurse nodded with the go ahead. At this point Grub was already trying to break free but as the nurse used her needle over and over to try and find Grub's vein, she began crying and flinching. The nurse gave up on that arm and asked if we could lay Grub down and try the other arm.

I held her for a while, offering my breast for comfort.. she wouldn't have a bar of it. She suckled for a little, still whimpering as she sucked, but pushed me away. We were hurried along by the nurse, Mike had to hold down Grub's legs while I had to hold her arm and her chest. The nurse forcefully pumped Grub's arm again and she began crying in protest, then as the nurse tried to find her vein with the needle, Grub started screaming like I've never heard before. She went all red, tears where streaming out of her eyes, she was frothing at the mouth, she kept looking at me to help her... but I didn't, I just looked into her eyes with complete shock, that I was letting this happen to my baby girl. I didn't stop it and I feel so guilty.
Its been almost 4 days now the fever is gone... no thanks to the blood test and what was once a happy, independent baby Grub, is now clinging, whinging, rarely smiles or laughs, hits me, and is having sleep problems and night terrors. We've both been traumatised by this expereince and I'm trying my best to rebuild our bond and I'm confident I'll gain her trust again... But its the guilt thats killing me.

How do you overcome the guilt that comes with being a Mother?


Friday, 16 September 2011

{This moment}

Inspired by Soule MamaA single photo – no words – capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

If you're inspired to do the same, leave a link to your 'moment' in the comments for all to find and see.

Wednesday, 14 September 2011

Homemade Playdough

Sorry I haven't posted in a while, all my efforts have been redirected towards Grub who been dealing with a bit of a tummy upset, fever, teething etc etc. She has been wanting my full devotion at all waking hours and its my pleasure to give it to her but by the time shes in bed all I want to do is...
absolutely nothing!!!

I have fond memories of playing with the homemade playdough my Mum used to make for me as a kid (mostly eating it than anything else). So much so, I couldn't wait to make some for Grub and start playing with her. I scouted the internet for a playdough recipe I could make out of natural ingredients and which incorporated the use of natural dyes. Quickly I discovered this one and the many other tutorials of awesome play things that minieco have posted. I highly recommend you check it out.

Playdough recipe

½ cup of flour
½ cup of dyed water
¼ cup of salt
½ tbsp cream of tartare
½ tbsp cooking oil

Place all ingredients in a heavy bottom pan and mix well.

Heat mixture on a medium to low flame while stirring continuously.

The mixture will thicken quite quickly. Keep stirring!

Keep stirring!

 When the mixture becomes similar to this consistency, take your pan off the heat.

Scrape out all contents onto a floured surface.

Knead until you get an smooth dough and taa-dah!...


Have fun with this easy recipe!


P.S. I didn't think that the colour I chose to photograph would look so... err... well. I was editing my photos while Mike was eating, he asked me to stop because it was making him feel ill. Oh well!

I had to share the below photos of Grub's first play with playdough, absolutely hilarious!

Friday, 9 September 2011

{This moment}

Inspired by Soule MamaA single photo – no words – capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

If you're inspired to do the same, leave a link to your 'moment' in the comments for all to find and see.

Wednesday, 7 September 2011

The branded child

I feel as part of a Western culture, its somewhat predetermined that our children will grow up being taught to be greedy. They are bombarded with TV programs that have its marketing arms extended into the world of childrens clothes, food and toys. They're subliminally instructed to crave the latest and the greatest, to want more and need more and the more that they have, the cooler they are. Dora the Explorer yoghurt, Hannah Montana t-shirts, Thomas the Tank Engine pyjamas (Do you know how hard it is to find non cartoon branded pyjamas?)

From what little television Grub watches, I agree some shows are educational. But its one thing to watch a half hour show once a week, compared to obsessing over Dora the Explorer merchandise because the girl at Kindy has a so and so. Its this type of mentality that is detrimental to a childs ability to accept who they are and what true happiness is, without the aid of materialistic things.

The combination of marketing creeping its way into our childrens lives and rise of Tween consumers, its more important than ever to provide a home environment where our children can grow up without feeling like more is better. These are my 'rules' I've set up for myself to combat the onslaught of the marketing world and to help Grub appreciate and respect her toys:

No plastic toys - The majority of branded toys are plastic. Not only are a lot of plastic toys poorly made, they are made with toxic substances that over time can cause various health problems including, reproductive defects, an increased risk of breast cancer and organ failure. Wooden toys last longer, are aesthetically pleasing, are hardly ever branded and lack flashing lights and sound allowing the imagination to express itself. Eco Toys sell amazing wooden toys for all ages and types of play.

      Don't allow toys to get out of control - Every toy has a home on a shelf or in a cupboard. I like to display Grub's toys so she can easily access them when she wants to play and so they can easily be put back when shes finished. I try to get her to focus on one toy at a time, when she moves on to another toy, I put away the previous. If shes abusing or rough handling a toy, I take it away until she can play with it respectfully. 

        Limited media exposure - Grub seriously only watches about 30 minutes of TV a week... Maximum! Some weeks the TV isn't even switched on. On the odd occasion that she does watch it, I switch it off when ads are playing. 

          No kid focused branded foods - Since starting baby led weaning, I've only bought one branded kids food. Cheese stringers, it was an over priced, saltier, plastic laden version of mozzarella. 

            Stay away from branded clothes - Majority of Grub's clothes are either hand me downs, from op shops or gifts. I've rarely had to buy new clothes, but when I do, I look for non branded clothes, that are easy to move in and made from natural fibers. 

            Homemade or handcrafted toys -  Simple ideas like creating a hanging toy out of a Christmas bauble and a stick. Making a rattle out of pasta and a bottle. A cubby house out of two chairs and a sheet. For older kids, fun can be had by making toys together or doing activities like those in Action Pack

              As parents we should be teaching out kids that self esteem comes from the inside out, not the outside in!


              Tuesday, 6 September 2011

              Photo Discovery Box

              This is a super easy playtime idea for babies who have progressed to grasping objects and young toddlers who have become inquisitive and love looking at familiar people. Its also a fantastic way to teach them the names of people who are in and around their lives.

              I sifted through my photo box and picked out a few photos, including ones of Grub's Grandparents, Uncles, Aunties and of our family pets. She especially loves the animal photos because she can make the corresponding noise.
              Kindly, my Aunty gave me an old wicker sewing box which was the perfect size for the photos and for Grub to maneuver. I placed the photos inside and presented her with the box.

              At first she didn't realise you could open the box, until I showed her by opening it a little and then closing it again. She said her usual 'OooOooh!' with the excitement of something new. She spent sometime opening and closing the lid, to perfect the movement, then we looked at all the photos of everyone while I named who they were. The photo discovery box held her attention for a good 30 minutes, which in baby language is a LONG time.

              In essence, I'm making my own flash cards out of real pictures. Young minds learn best when looking at a realistic representation of an object, not a flashy cartoon version. At the moment they're her favourite toy to play with but I can easily swap photos in the discovery box and her photo frames to keep her attention and build on her knowledge of familiar faces and names. Not only this but I can expand to pictures of animals, fruits, vegetables, flowers, anything that I would like Grub to become familiar with.


              I think over time I'll create more discovery boxes for Grub with different themes and textures. She loves it so much.


              Saturday, 3 September 2011

              Eco friendly Father's Day

              Tomorrow is Father's Day! Forget presents that will eventually end up in landfill, quality time or handmade crafts from the kids are much more valuable and memorable when it comes to giving for Father's Day.

              Here are a few eco friendly ideas you can do with that special guy.

              Rent bikes and cruise the town. A great way to spend your outdoor family time, plus its cheap, green and gives you some exercise.

              Go for a hike. Check out this list of Australian National Parks, pack a picnic, find a cool spot and check it out.

              Plant a tree with or for your Dad. Research what trees are endemic to the area you live in, stop by a nursery and plant it together. You'll have something that will be around for years to come. For a global perspective, buying trees will help combat desertification, climate change and deforestation.

              Visit a nursery. Nothing says 'inspiration' like visiting a nursery. Take the time and maybe plan an new garden bed or project over the weekend. Nurseries Australia have a list of nurseries in all states.

              Spend some time in the garden. Its Spring! Get out in the garden, weed away those Winter weeds, prepare your veggie beds, turn the compost. Go on, smell the fresh air.

              Swing by a farmers market. Cut down on greenhouse emissions and support your local growers and producers. Everything is beautifully fresh, homegrown and handmade. Every area has a farmer's market, but if your not sure where to go, take a look at the farmers market online directory.

              Cook him breakfast in bed. An oldie but a goodie. Make sure its his favorite breakfast and organic! He'll feel pampered and special, a great way to start his day.

              Above all, remember, its the thought that counts and what better way to show you care, than to spend some quality time with the old man!


              Friday, 2 September 2011

              Natural household dyes

              A friend of mine studying art at Uni told me about the dye making class she was enrolled in and how it made her feel like a mad scientist or a wizard experimenting with different types of plants, brewing colourful concoctions. She inspired me to make my own dyes at home using different organic materials, plus it sounded like so much fun! Plus I think it would be a great way to get older kids involved in collecting and learning about different plant names and what they look and feel like.

              At first I didn't know where to begin, or even how to extract colour from plants, but I came across this VERY useful site which lists various plants that you can use to dye fabrics. But considering I don't want to dye fabrics just yet, I only used the plant information and not the recommendations for dye baths and fixatives. I also wanted to use things that I already had in or around my house as to not over complicate things.

              These are the recipes and results I had using my household items.

              Purple Iris - Blue

              I went for a walk yesterday and I remember admiring someones Purple Iris but I didn't remember where. After scouting the neighbourhood a few times, I was about to give up when I realised it was my next door neighbours Purple Irises... I need more sleep. Anyway, I knocked on the door, told her I wanted to make dye out of her flowers and asked if I could take a few heads. My neighbour looked at me as though I was extremely odd but then told me I could take as many as I liked.

              The darker the purple the better.

              In a heavy bottomed saucepan place 3 roughly chopped Irises and 1 cup of water. Bring to boil, reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes or until water has reduced by half.
              The picture doesn't show, but the water is actually a blue colour

               Using a strainer, strain liquid into a container and allow to cool before use.

              Powdered turmeric - bright yellow
              In a heavy bottomed saucepan place 2 tablespoons of turmeric and 1 cup of water. Bring to boil, reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes or until water has reduced by half. Using a strainer, strain liquid into a container and allow to cool before use.

              Raspberries & red currants - pink
              In a heavy bottomed saucepan place a handful of raspberries, a handful of red currants and 1 cup of water. Bring to boil, reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes or until water has reduced by half. Using a strainer, strain liquid into a container and allow to cool before use.

              Blackberries & blueberries - purple
              In a heavy bottomed saucepan place a handful of blackberries, a handful of blueberries and 1 cup of water. Bring to boil, reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes or until water has reduced by half. Using a strainer, strain liquid into a container and allow to cool before use.

              Red onion skin - an earthy musk
              In a heavy bottomed saucepan place the skin of 3 onions and 2 cups of water. Bring to boil, reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes or until water has reduced to half a cup. Using a strainer, strain liquid into a container and allow to cool before use.

              Black tea - brown
              In a heavy bottomed saucepan place 3 teaspoons of tea leaf and 1 cup of water. Bring to boil, reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes or until water has reduced by half. Using a strainer, strain liquid into a container and allow to cool before use.

              Spinach - green
              In a heavy bottomed saucepan place 5 roughly chopped spinach leaves and 2 cups of water. Bring to boil, reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes or until water has reduced to half a cup. Using a strainer, strain liquid into a container and allow to cool before use.


              End result of Purple Iris is on the far left

              The end result should be an array of beautiful colours in different shades. You can easily play around with different measurements and simmering times to get different results but personally I'm quite pleased with my colours, although I think the green could be a bit brighter. I might try using nettle next time.

              Purple Iris, top right
              Although you can't use the inedible dyes in foods, you could most certainly use the edible ones as alternatives to store bought, preservative filled food colourings. Especially the berry based dyes for desserts or icing! I plan to use these for Grub's finger paints and playdough once I get some time to make them.

              If you plan to use these, remember... they're dyes! They stain! Use an apron when making them.

              Have a great weekend!


              (Excuse the shocking lighting of the last few photos, I ran out of daylight!)

              {This moment}

              Inspired by Soule MamaA single photo – no words – capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

              If you're inspired to do the same, leave a link to your 'moment' in the comments for all to find and see.

              Tuesday, 30 August 2011

              An hour outdoors

              As Grub is getting older, I think its very important for her to spend time outdoors everyday, weather permitting. Providing Grub an environment that allows her access to the outdoors, I feel will help her become closer to nature and therefore appreciate and respect the wonders that nature offers. Besides children naturally love the outdoors, so a good time should be had by all.

              So I've promised myself to try and get outside for at least an hour a day and then on weekends we have outdoor family time too. Even if its just our daily walk around the neighbourhood, I'll stop and allow Grub to feel different textured leaves, smell flowers, look at the cat following us on the fence. To stop and look for birds while I try to name what type they are. Its all about stopping and allowing her to absorb and learn from her environment. We're already teaching her about seasons, plants, animals, textures, sounds and shes just loving it.

              Early morning at Playford lake

              Taking it all in

              Last weekend we spent our outdoor family time at Belair National Park, Mike insisted we take Grub somewhere with lots of tree and birds. We definitely got both. We found a variety of birds including a variety of ducks, the Australian Wood Duck, Pacific Black Ducks and hybrids of Mallards.

              Hybrid Mallards

              An Australian Magpie gave me a fright and swooped at me, Magpies are known for their aggressive behavior around mating season.

              Magpie starring at me after its attack

              Dusky Moorhens followed us basically all the way around Playford lake, hissing, the way they do. I think the water birds thought we had brought food because they were crowding us and acting abnormally friendly.

              Dusky Moorhens chasin' and a hissin'

              Surrounded by Dusky Moorhens

              On the other side of the lake I spotted a Koala perched in a tree not far beyond the path we were on. Mike and Grub went in for a closer look and to Mike's delight the Koala had a joey with her. We had a brief chat to Mama Koala, Mike told her she was doing a good job at raising her baby and that he wished her all the luck in the world. Grub was mesmerised by Mama K, she wouldn't stop starring at her and every now and then would wave and add a 'hello'.

              Mama K and her little joey

              Grubs in love

              Moments like these bring the family closer

              Its moments like these, unaided by man made objects like television or even books or toys allow you to appreciate the natural beauty of things, it allows families to come closer and find happiness from 'simplistic' joy.