Archive for September, 2019

How sugar cane grows and how much fun growing up on a cane farm is…

Posted by Amy Aquilini
Video by Farming Media – YouTube

In our house – our big boy when he turned one would carry on until we turned harvesting videos on and he would sit on one of his tractors or his harvester and would not move! Probably the reason why he drove nonno’s harvester last season. Dad was playing around with his GPS – next minute the harvester started moving. It was hilarious! Our German Au Pairs were amazed how he could tell them exactly what was happening and what everything is.

Sugarcane has been my life – since the day I popped out. Essentially sugar cane is the main industry that fuels our town. I’ve recently been researching the production process and things like that… I’ve got an idea, but I can’t explain it – so I teach myself, the internet is the most powerful tool in the world you just need to know what you’re looking for.

sugarcane is a tall tropical perennial grass that grows to between 2-4m high. It’s used to make heaps of different processed foods, drinks and things like molasses and golden syrup. The biofuel ethanol can also be produced from sugarcane which can be used as a fuel for vehicles in its pure form but is usually blended with gasoline to improve vehicle emissions.

Sugar cane has heaps of nicknames like sugar bush, sticks, there are so many different things we call it. Sugar cane needs 1.5 m of rainfall each year if not more or access to irrigation to survive. Sugar is made in the leaves of the sugarcane plant through a natural process called photosynthesis. Photosynthesis occurs when a plant, using energy from the sun, transforms carbon dioxide (CO2) and water (H20) into oxygen (02) and glucose (sugar).

The plant absorbs water through its roots and oxygen from the air through the pores in its leaves. Sugar is created when this process is combined with the help of a substance called chlorophyll. Chlorophyll is green and gives plants their colour. It allows plants to absorb the sun’s energy more readily. In the same way that animals store fat, the sugarcane plant stores energy that is doesn’t need. This extra energy is sugar and it is stored as sweet juice in the plants’ stalks.

When ripe, sugarcane stalks are harvested (the fun part!) and taken to a sugar mill and converted into raw sugar. In the Herbert River district we have two sugar mills – Victoria and Macknade Mill. Victoria mill produced 3330 million tonnes of sugar in 2007 being the mill that produced the largest amount of sugar in Queensland.

In Australia, sugarcane can be seen growing along 2,100 kilometers of coastline between Mossman in far north Queensland and Grafton in northern New South Wales. Because of their proximity, many cane growing families spend their weekends outdoors riding motor bikes/quads and fishing. Cane growers go out of their way to manage the land so it is still in excellent condition for their children and grandchildren to enjoy for many generations to come.

I miss the days were we would burn cane in the Herbert. Black snow (ash) everywhere! I still remember the smell… I wouldn’t let mum wash my shirt for a week after it… #Farm kid. There is nothing better than growing up on a farm! I remember finishing my homework so quick so I could go mowing, ride the quad bikes/motorbikes or go and chat to dad in the shed. I remember my old headland bomb – cheers uncle Micky! My cousins and siblings helped me paint it – I strolled off to the shed – noone there, it’s all good, a drum of John Deere green paint, i’ll take that! We painted it with rollers and ended up banging it up pretty bad.

I can’t remember if I got away with murder or I just didn’t listen… You know – a regular teenager! I made friends with the kids that lived out my way and we used to run amuck. I remember one had a go kart OMG – so. much. FUN. Dad still has the same quad that we have had since 1997 – It’s never been rebuilt and it still has the original tires. I don’t know how it’s still alive – we flogged that thing… Good ole Honda.

Here are some of my favourite photos:-

My nonno (Jack Aquilini) back in the day with a python he killed – Photo by Beattie Aquilini
My nonno – Photo by Beattie Aquilini
My Nonno & Dad down in the Burdekin – Photo by Beattie Aquilini
Dad & Douggie – Photo by Beattie Aquilini
Cane fire south of Ingham – Photo by Beattie Aquilini
When the Maxis first came on the scene – Photo by Beattie Aquilini
When the Maxihauls were new and dad still had the ’97’ Cameco ‘Pac man 2’ – Photo by Beattie Aquilini
The transporter ‘Fat Boy’ in action – Photo by Beattie Aquilini
One of the days I went hauling back in 2012 – Photo by Amy Aquilini
Dad ‘Big Al’ – Photo by Amy Aquilini
During my recovery, this is where I loved to be – with my daddy! – Photo by Amy Aquilini
Sunrise at our farm – Photo by Amy Aquilini
My sister-in-law Katy Irvin and I at the field day – Photo by Allen Aquilini
John, Andrew & Jack and Allen & Amy Aquilini, Irvin – Photo by Amy Aquilini
The day my boy drove the harvester – Photo by Amy Aquilini
Our wedding day – Photo by Rachelle Angela
It’s in our blood – Photo by Andrew Irvin
My big boy and I – Photo by Amy Aquilini

Aquo Xx

Life as a confident country girl…

Posted by Amy Aquilini

I was born – and have lived (bar from a rebellious stage when I left high school and said I was never coming back) – and vow to die in the small country town of Ingham. Sorry to disappoint the haters – but do you really think I was going anywhere without a fight?

Who is Aquo

My two sisters and I were raised to be very confident, very outspoken, not afraid of anything young ladies. Six months of the year mum was a single parent (due to the sugar cane crushing season) and we didn’t have dad there with his old ‘Don’t make her do something she doesn’t want to do’ line so we all become our own versions of strong. We have the queen of Ice Queens, The queen of survivors, and the artistic flare of the family !

Lene, Aquo & Maddy – Aquo’s 21st @ Mission Beach, May 2013

Still to this day when mum wants me to do something I’m not keen on I pull out my ‘my dad said I don’t have to do anything I don’t want to do’ line – I’m 27.

It’s really important to teach girls from the time they start to understand the world that no matter what, they are strong. Raise your daughters to be independant and not be the victim of anything that comes at them in life. Growing up will still be a challenge, I suffered from terrible anxiety through school. But as they get the hang of being a young woman, they will come out the other end with a set of balls as big as a bull!

Look at the set on this one!

No but seriously – give your daughters the best tools to become the strongest, most confident version of themself and she will go far in life.

When people ask me how I’ve come as far as I have I say – ‘Well, I wasn’t going to roll over and die. I was given a second chance (Or third or forth, I’m like a cat – 9 lives but we will talk about that another day) so I’m going to tell my story to my whole town, and if I get to tell the world – great!

People need to discover their own superpower. Mine is my strength, my honesty and lack of filter all fall into it but I’m strong. No – I’m fucking strong! You go through what I have in my last 6 years and let me know how you go! And no, that’s not a challenge – so settle down.

I want to become a public figure who promotes my town to ensure there is a town for my boys to grow up in. Ingham is a beautiful place and it would be a shame to see that all fade away.

There comes a time in life when you need to stop requiring validation from others and simply start living your best life.

According to the ‘culture trip’ there are 11 Inspiring Australian Women Who Changed History… I want to be the 12th Australian woman to change history!

Here’s a list of those wonderful ladies!

Wilhelmina (Mina) Wylie (1891-1984) and Sarah (Fanny) Durack (1889-1956)

Edith Cowan (1861-1932)

Evelyn Scott (1935-2017)

Maude Bonney (1897-1994)

Jane Foss Barff (1863-1937)

Faith Thomas (1933-)

Louise Mack (1870-1935)

Nova Peris (1971-)

Elizabeth Kenny (1880-1952)

Gladys Elphick (1904-1988)

Elizabeth Blackburn (1948-)

I would love more than anything in the world to become number 12. I would love more than anything for the list to read:- The 12th Amazing woman who changed Australian history – Amy Shannon Aquilini – Irvin (Aquo)!

And… here are a few sayings I have found through the years that I wrote down that have helped me dig my way out of the darkest bloody hole you have ever seen! I don’t think they are famous quotes – but I apologize if they are and I haven’t referenced them!

Today isn’t a great day for me, I woke up and couldn’t drag my ass out of bed, slowly slowly I got up as my husband was going out the door but I see it like this – I’M STILL HERE! – That is my running song! It gets me so pumped!

I may be sitting here typing as my baby is asleep in the bouncer but I feel I’ve been productive. My kids are fed, they’re clean, I’ve got dinner defrosted and will have it on the table by 5.30pm so no matter when hubby gets home dinner is ready for him to eat. Usually I stop what I’m doing and we sit down together and discuss the days happenings, but if there’s something pressing – i’ll go handle that and the household moves on.

When I lose concentration I’ll go make a coffee and play with the kids. I have all my apps linked to all my devices so if my 2 year old wants a cuddle after a big day, we sit down and put Blippi on tv and i’ll work away on my phone or tablet. Tonight after we have all had a shower I will put our clothes in the wash. Then the kitchen is cleaned and just before I TRY switch off for the night the clothes get either hung up or depending on my day (and how much of a head-f$#k it was) they will go in the dryer.

So guys – that for me is a lazy day, those days where you don’t want to do shit! (and on that note – i’ll go do a 30min sesh of weights… brb.) So I did that and a million ideas come to me while I was working up a sweat but now I sit back down you think I can remember any of them! See I don’t know if it’s scaring from my TBI (traumatic brain injury) or mum brain… but I think every person in the world would benefit from using the app ‘Elevate‘ to exercise their brain so that humans can get back in the lead of the race between humans and computers! or… at least try!

Aquo Xx

How to be Organized for School, College or Life [The 6 Habits of Highly Organized People]

Posted by Amy Aquilini

Living with a Brain Injury

Posted by Amy Aquilini

Understanding Pain in less than 5 minutes, and what to do about it!

Posted by Amy Aquilini

3 Ways to Simplify Your Daily Life| Tips to Organise & Declutter

Posted by Amy Aquilini

Body Image – The Female Perspective…

Posted by Amy Aquilini

Your body image is how you perceive, think and feel about your body. This may have no bearing at all on your actual appearance. For instance, it it isn’t uncommon for women to believe they are bigger/fatter than they really are.

According to the Better Health Channel only one in five women are satisfied with their body weight. Nearly half of all normal weight women overestimate their size and shape. A distorted body image can lead to self-destructive behaviour, like dieting or binge eating. Approximately nine out of 10 young Australian women have dieted at least once in their lives.

A negative body image is created over a lifetime from many different influences, including family, friends and the media. And let’s face it… unless we change our thinking, we are all (as us Aussies say it) up shits creek!

It seems most women are looking for that something extra in their lives so that they feel ok in their own skin. I was going to post a questionnaire on Facebook, but I then thought because it isn’t completely anonymous, women either wouldn’t do it because it’s letting their guard down and they feel as if people would have the opportunity to hurt them, or they would lie about it. This is the questionnaire that I was going to post on Facebook:-

  1. Have you avoided sports or working out because you didn’t want to be seen in gym clothes? Yes___ No ___
  2. Does eating even a small amount of food make you feel fat? Yes___ No ___
  3. Do you worry or obsess about your body not being small, thin or good enough? Yes___ No ___
  4. Are you concerned your body is not muscular or strong enough? Yes___ No ___
  5. Do you avoid wearing certain clothes because they make you feel fat? Yes___ No ___
  6. Do you feel badly about yourself because you don’t like your body? Yes___ No ___
  7. Have you ever disliked your body? Yes___ No ___
  8. Do you want to change something about your body?
    Yes___ No ___
  9. Do you compare yourself to others and “come up short?”
    Yes___ No ___

I also put it to you that the most confident women in the world are either skinny or famous. I told you this blogs going to be real! Let’s discuss… Seriously I want to make a discussion on this piece. I’m currently trying to set up a forum so please bare with me!

You should look at the following blog about the 11 habits of a confident woman:- https://projecthotmess.com/11-habits-of-a-confident-woman/

I want to build myself up to be the best, most positive… most successful version of me. I want to build women up – regardless of where they sit on the economical scale because, really – we are all equal….

The following blog lists 20 Affirmations To Boost Your Self-Confidence And Achieve Your Dreams – and you know what… fuck it… I’m giving this everything I have because I believe I am motivated and crazy enough to pull it off. https://evedare.com/blogs/news/20-affirmations-to-boost-your-self-confidence-and-achieve-your-dreams

New studies suggest that cosmetic surgery is on the rise:- https://plasticsurgery.org.au/procedures/surgical-procedures/abdominoplasty/

Is this because women feel as if every part of their body is perfect? I want to know… Do you feel confident in your own body? I know I don’t… but – I’m starting too. I’m the smallest I have ever been in my life but I’m still not happy… Is this because I have visible impairment? but then I think of it… Unless you really look, you wouldn’t notice. That’s the bit I need to remember.

I have recently stopped looking for validation before trying to do something. It used to be my biggest insecurity since my accident. I’m back in the game BITCHES!!! I’ve been doing more soul searching in the last six months than I ever have before and I feel A-mazing! I love exercising because it helps me clear my head and be able to focus and it’s got me growing a nice ass!

I guess when it comes down to it we all want to be what our version of perfect looks like, don’t we???

Image result for confident meme

So before my accident, I would say I was and I wasn’t confident, I was still very young living in a very judgemental town, don’t get me wrong… I love Ingham. I think I love Ingham more than ever now because I’m learning what you can and can’t say around the place and to whom your saying it.

“If you don’t have anything nice to say, say nothing.” – Mr Mina

I was speaking to a 60 year old woman and we were discussing this topic and I asked her how she felt about her body and she said she felt comfortable once she lost 20kg. It’s an issue amongst females of all ages.

Regardless if your male or female every human being in this god world struggles with their self confidence. It’s just a characteristic that god gave each of us. The best thing I have come across in this life to be as much at peace with myself as I can is by surrounding myself with supportive, positive people. With two baby (um I don’t know if they are human or dinosaur because that’s how both communicate – most of the time) i’m going to say people… It’s harder to plan get togethers and catch ups but you have those ones who won’t be going anywhere and when your ready it’s all good.

Be your own sunshine and you will be fine!

Aquo Xx

When the budgets tighter then a fish’s bum hole…

Posted by Amy Aquilini

I was never really given a choice, my fatigue leaves me unable to work an 8 hour day. I thought there is no way I’m just going to sit all day and do nothing, so I decided to have kids. We always knew either way, that we would both have to do our part to survive on one wage.

In today’s economy, living off on wage is hard. Scratch that, it’s fucking hard with a capital F! I can’t remember the last time I bought myself anything! – wait, yes I do, three weeks ago I had to buy a new pair of sandshoes while I was walking because mine fell apart mid-walk – that was definitely not in the budget and I’m still feeling it three weeks later, things are VERY tight. I’ve considered putting both boys in daycare and work but there’s a shortage of home daycares in Ingham. My husband reassures me that we will be ok but because of the way I grew up (with money), I’m scared. If anything happens I want to be able to support my boys, in any case. If it was just me I wouldn’t care but they’re my babies! I want the best for them.

These days, my shopping activity is considerably different to what it has been in the past. I’ve embraced the art of budgeting. Any purchases that don’t involve food or other necessities are carefully considered – and usually pushed as far back as possible.

There is always a way of being able to reduce your bills so that you have a bigger bank balance. It’s all about changing your habbits to create a better life for you and your family.

Things like taking a water bottle from home when your going on a trip rather than buying drinks from the servo (service station) etc. Make lunch at home rather than buying lunch – Say you spend $15 a day on lunch, if you made lunch at home it would save you $65 a week! If you have a credit card, don’t carry it on your person at all times, leave it at home so that you either use cash, or you go without. Set a limit for birthday, Easter, Christmas presents or make homemade gifts.

When I need to go shopping, I do a few hours of planning beforehand so I’m able to save as much money as I possibly can. I understand this is far from possible for some, but it really does save you money. A shop that I’ve planned will come to somewhere around $120.00 where as a shop I haven’t planned for can cost anywhere in excess of $200.00.

When I say I plan a shop I don’t just mean groceries, I mean the works! So for anything I need in the kitchen I order from Kitchen Warehouse. There products are always exactly what I ordered and they have some awesome discounts – at the time of writing this they had 40% off rrp as well as if you spend $200.00 get $50.00 off your purchase. BUT – you need to be careful with any deals that say if you spend so much you will get so much off. You need to work out exactly how much you will save.

With two babies, it’s hard to go buy a birthday present. I love Ebay! I can sit on the couch and shop from the comfort of my home and the bonus is if you learn how to use Ebay to your advantage it can be a wonderful tool to hide up your sleeve!

Here we come to my favourite, if I won the lotto i’d still buy everything and anything from Kmart! There is honestly nothing better than losing yourself in the mist of….yeah sex is pretty good, but sometimes, for a mum of 2 boys under 2 Kmart is so much better! You know the old saying? My wife hates snakes, but if Kmart sold snakes, we’d probably have a few.

Don’t get caught out thinking you are actually saving money at places like Prices Plus, Solly’s, The Reject Shop etc. Sometimes your brain will tell you your saving money because it’s a cheap shop but I went in for fabric softener, it was the same brand that I get from woolworths, Solly’s had the item listed for $5.00 and Woolworths had the exact same product listed for $2.25 so just be aware that some items are definitely cheaper at these shops whereas others are not.

Here are some tips to really squeeze out every cent you can:-

Track your expenditure. Use a diary or if you have a smartphone find an app that best suits you that can do this for you.

Use tax returns to pay off debt such as credit cards and minimise the interest you have to pay.

Make your own cleaning products, vinegar and eucalyptus are great household cleaners.

Cook and freeze your own biscuits, slices and cakes. Not only is it cheaper – it tastes way better!

Never shop hungry, this prevents impulse buying.

Switch to generic brands. They are often made from the same ingredients in the same factory, with a different label.

Buy in bulk and save. Cook larger portions and freeze for later.

Try cheaper nappy brands or if that doesn’t work for you (like me), find sites like the House of Nappies and buy in bulk when their on sale.

Make homemade baby food. Buying two jars a day can cost in excess of $1000 per year.

Put all your $2 coins into a coin tin or a 2 litre empty coke bottle and use the money as a school holiday fund or save for a family holiday – use your imagination.

Shop at clearance centres and factory outlets. Also don’t forget discount stores like The Reject Shop and Dimmies – they often have discount dishwasher tablets and spaghetti sauces at cheaper prices than the supermarket – But as discussed above, BE CAREFUL.

Plan to shop during sale periods. Most supermarkets have a ‘8 Week Sale Cycle’ – so buy the more expensive products like bottled coffee during the sale period, and try and make it last until the next cycle – if you can!

Swap to energy efficient globes and water saving showerheads.

Consider purchasing second-hand white goods or display models which come with a discount if you need to purchase white goods. Also consider getting rid of old whitegoods, often they are energy in-efficient – so they cost you more in electricity than they would to replace (over the course of a year). Ditch the old chest freezer and grab a new upright instead!

Wash in cold water and dry clothes on the clothes line rather than in the dryer.

Wash your own car – let the kids help, it can be fun – This is an extremely hard task when you have a car wash 500m up the road!

During the School Holidays – consider a ‘Staycation’ rather than a holiday. Sleep in your own bed every night, but still go out and do something fun during the day! Also jump on your towns events page on facebook, usually there will be activities you didn’t even know about happening.

Join a local playgroup (or host your own!) – a fun and inexpensive way to entertain your toddler. Also check out what programs you local library has for the little ones – they often have a free baby and toddler activity group during the week.

Establish a babysitting circle and trade services with trusted friends.

Organise a toy exchange. Swap toys your children no longer use.

Barter with friends and family e.g. a basket of ironing for some home cooking.

Save on Christmas wrap, use brown paper and dress with ribbon or let the kids decorate it. Also make homemade christmas gifts, jump on pinterest for inspiration and set a spend limit. Secret Santa is a good option for large families.

– easier said than done right?

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Every once in a while, I look back on my carefree (and budget-free) days of spending, and you know what? I don’t miss it. All I have to show for it is a closet full of shoes that have barely been worn. It’s not as if I never buy anything for myself anymore; I just give it more thought, and I end up appreciating it more.

So now I want to know – what tips and tricks for saving money do you have to share? I’d love to hear them!

Aquo Xx

Self care will save you $$$…

Posted by Amy Aquilini

Here’s a crazy thought – making time for self care in your routine will save you money, not in the short term – but in the long term. Putting off self care will cost you more for the simple fact that something small that is wrong with your body may turn into something big down the track – meaning you will have to fork out hard earned cash for treatment for something that could have been prevented by spending now to save later. Example – While you put off that skin check appointment, that slow growing superficial spreading melanoma that you have had since your younger days, decides to turn nasty. Something that could have been prevented by not putting the appointment off.

Some simple ways to become frugal when it comes to money include:-

Getting enough rest -Not just at night time, but on your days off as well. Especially in your younger days, there is NO need to apologize for not jam packing your time off work for functions or recreational activities. Watch the following video, it is crawling with ways that sleep helps you prevent any of the ailments shown:

Meal planning and budgeted shopping – If you meal plan before you go shopping there’s more chance you won’t pick up all the extra things you don’t really need as you are strolling along up and down all the aisles.

Exercise – Exercising regularly does more than just make you look good, it helps you look after your health, money, etc. It may save you from having to spend lots of money paying a shrink or having an operation for a knee replacement because you let yourself become obese. I’m not talking about joining a gym, I’m talking about old school get moving outside, go for a walk, a run, use that home gym you haven’t touched in five years. The secret is to find the motivation within yourself.

Having set goals – Making plans now for the future means that you have direction and will stress less as you know what you have to do to achieve said goal/s. In this world, people can’t focus properly living in complete chaos. This means they are less productive than what they possibly could be. Set your goals, create a plan and work towards them – Every. Single. Day.  Even if it’s just a small step. Keeping them visible at all times, being consistent and tracking your progress will help you stay focused on your goals!

Living within your means – I make spending the least amount of money an achievement rather than the other way around. This comes into all components of self care because everything costs money – in some shape or form. The following video is about how you can reduce your stress over money:

body care – Having a regular skin care routine, exercise routine, hair care routine are all good habits to get into to possibly save money down the track on cosmetic surgery because you are unhappy with your appearance.

You should never be spending outside of your means. Taking care of yourself should be a priority. To live a life of full worth means to live abundantly in all aspects of your life – mentally, physically, spiritually and financially. You must value your worth and make time for yourself. Your best life is just around the corner and you don’t have to spend a hell of a lot of money to get it.

Aquo Xx

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