What you need to know

Pickling onions, understanding puppies, and making stylish masks

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Kylee Azarnikow is a busy woman. She has a teenage son, four-year-old twins, and a dog called Jenga.

Managing their Moonee Ponds household, coping with the demands of remote schooling, plus all the added pressures of the lockdown period means Kylee is giving a lot of herself to others.

When she read about Moonee Valley Council’s Acts of Kindness program, Kylee recognised an opportunity to “do something just for myself.

“At the moment it’s all about the kids, and these online classes were a chance to learn new things for free,” Kylee said.

The Acts of Kindness Project offers a dozen free workshops that anyone in our community can attend. Participants are urged to pass on the kindness by sharing what they’ve learned with others.

Kylee has not just participated in the courses but has taken action, trying out what she’s learned and sharing it with family and friends.

For example, after attending Pickling Fun, Kylee pickled two kilograms of onions. “When I was a kid my Dad used to make them. I’ve tried pickling onions over the years but never managed to replicate that great flavour.

“Finally, after the tips in this course, I’ve made pickled onions that taste exactly like when I was a kid. My husband loves them.”

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The Secret Language of Dogs course provided new insights into the behaviour and body language of the family’s beloved moodle (maltese/poodle) Jenga.

“We are long-time dog owners, but she is not used to having the twins around so much, so I could chat with them about things I’d learned and what her body language might be telling us.”

After attending CBF (Cooking Beautiful Food) Kylee has made a conscious effort to find recipes that use already-purchased ingredients, rather than wasting food then buying more.

The Make Your Own Mask workshop led her to make a mask that her teenage son feels good wearing.

“While I had the sewing machine out the twins were at me to decorate the house, so we cut fabric triangles and made bunting for the front fence to cheer people up as they walked past,” Kylee said.

“For me, Acts of Kindness has been fabulous.

“Being able to learn things from other people in the community, connecting with people locally even if you don’t know them in real life, that engagement with others is wonderful.

“I’ve shared the pickling recipe with an old friend who lives elsewhere, and that connection has been good too, passing on what I’ve learned.”

Further details on Acts of Kindness workshops and how to get involved here.