Monday, December 30, 2013

Prodigal returns...albeit briefly!

Whoops- a 3 month hiatus from blogging crept up unexpectedly! Real life has been happening-with all it's ups and downs...we have welcomed two new grandchildren: Thomas on October 31st ( 2nd son for our middle child & her husband) and then on December 16th Peyton arrived ( 4th child & 1st daughter for our eldest & his fiancée). We now have 5 grandsons and 2 grand daughters to love!

We have bid goodbye to a friend and have our elderly ( 95.5yr old) grandmother transitioned into fulltime care. We have celebrated birthdays & milestones with family & friends.Swings and roundabouts, such as life always brings.

From our family to yours...we hope that your festive season has been all you could wish for and that the New Year brings a full and productive life to you all. XXX

Thomas Scott-all 9lb 14oz of him!

Peyton Rose-weighing in at a healthy 8lb 6oz at 38 weeks gestation. :)

Sunday, September 22, 2013


Just quickly popping in with an update.

* Today we divided our back section ( 40m x 13m) into 3 yards using star pickets and stock wire. We have two meat lambs coming tomorrow and we will use the 3 yard system and allow them to strip graze one section before moving into the next and so on.

* I've planted a Lapin Cherry tree, a peacharine, 8 white carpet roses and some variegated grasses. Plus sown carrots, radishes, beetroot and some more lettuce.

* My employment has been insanely busy-but I'm off to a professional conference in New Zealand next week and will go over a couple of days earlier for a few days sightseeing first.

Back soon. :

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Home harvests..

With busy times at the moment, it is heartwarming to walk out to the vegie garden at the end of the day and harvest items for that night's dinner.

Sunday's harvest:broccoli, small cauliflower, young cabbage, snowpeas and eggs.

This mornings forage: Cauliflower,4 eggs, kale, asparagus & one shallot

Budget dinner when two of the grandsons were here on Friday night consisted of beef & vege casserole topped with herby cheese dumplings.....grandson #2 went home and told his Dad that I fed them ducklings!

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Simple soup....

Our weather here is having one last wintery fling and as such casseroles & soups are appreciated. This is one of the easiest and cheapest soups to make-especially for those out there who are a bit unsure of which vegetables to toss together.
Simple soup.
1 packet of soup vegetables ( $2 at my local supermarket)
1 400g tin diced/crushed tomatoes ( 80c)
2 litre Chicken stock ( home made or made with stock cube/powder)
*Chop vegies into large chunks-peeling the onion, swede and parsnip first. Peeling the potato and carrots is optional.
* Toss into a pot and add the tin of tomatoes
* Rinse the tomato tin with chicken stock and add to pot.
* Pour the rest of the stock into the pot and simmer until vegies are tender.
* If you want a more liquid soup add more stock or water.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Sun & strawberries......

Welcome aboard to the new followers-I'm always so surprised  pleased when people see something here that appeals to them.

As alluded to in my last post, we have moved our strawberry beds-we have had two 1.2m x 1.2m raised beds along the southern boundary of our vegie garden (plus 1 other bed used last year for onions) and decided to move them & better utilise the space.

All three beds have been moved to the eastern side of the vegie garden and the middle bed has the Cambridge Rival variety, whereas the two outside bed will have the Aroma variety ( we have enough runners from one of the old beds to now create the new one as well).

The space that has been freed up will allow us to put in a 5th water tank plus a 3m x 3m garden the future when we can afford to!

We are coming to the end of our 3rd year of living here and we have worked out the best way of using our acre of land. Many of the plans will wait until we have either the time or money required to bring them to fruition...but that just means we will appreciate it even more when it happens!

We will add a compacted gravel path around the beds

Committee of Management keen to destroy transplanted strawberries assist.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Spring sprung...

Yesterday was an absolutely gorgeous first day of sky, green grass and a warm breeze.

Although it was Father's Day here, His Lordship & I spent the afternoon in the backyard-mowing, trimming, moving strawberry beds and cleaning out the chicken coop.

I don't think that I've ever shared the interior of our hen's home-they spend the day outside free ranging in the orchard- with access to the coop via a ramp. The layer pellets, water & nesting areas are inside.

You can see the sawhorse roosts, galvanised bin for pellet storage and feeders (all of which are raised on bricks). The floor is a concrete slab; which we cover with some form of straw and then regularly replace ( with the manure rich old straw going on the garden)

Wilma wondering why I'm standing there with the door open!

There is one nesting box built as part of the shed-shown here being entered by a headless chicken!

Looking back towards the door & ramp-we have used an old plastic dog kennel as a nesting box..the lid lifts up for easy access to the eggs.

The Committee of Management waiting for me to vacate!


The old manure laden straw is placed on one of the fallow garden beds.


Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Cash for clutter....

There are a few items around here that are no longer being put to good use-the trampoline is a case in point. Although not yet 3 years old, the safety net & pads had basically dissolved in  the weather! We had bought it for the grandkids to play on when they are here-but the reality is that when they visit we tend to be in the garden or around the corner at the playground when weather permits outside activities. 
His Lordship was all for throwing it out-but the frame, springs & mat were still in good I did something that I have never done before and listed it for sale on a local online buy/sell Facebook page. I sold it the same day (yesterday) and the couple came & collected it today-it's going to a house full of is sure to get a good workout! :)
I've also now listed my desk as it's no longer used and is sitting in the garage gathering dust. I used to do a lot more work at home and since I've stopped doing so and started using my laptop more the desk has become redundant.
It's this one here (bought at Harvey Norman a while back-this photo is from their site) and although it is gorgeous I'm happy to now sell it and use the money to buy more plants for the garden!

How about you? Have you ever made money from a cull of unused or unwanted items?

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Tuesday's tip.... has been a *little* while since my last post hasn't it? Welcome aboard to the new followers. :) It's been very cold & wet here for the past few days-so not much happening outside other than collecting eggs & picking salad greens! The snow peas have just started to form and I have had the first asparagus spear ( which was eaten raw before I made it back to the house..).

I've had the all clear from the surgeon and have returned to work & also some activity. His Lordship & I are also changing some of our eating habits-aiming at a much cleaner and vegetable/salad based diet. We both love meat but will be scaling back our portion sizes!

One of the tips I have for anyone out there looking for a quick way to cook lean meat/chicken is to use a sandwich's handy for more than quesadillas & toasties!

Make sure kebab ingredients are similar in size for even cooking
Lower the lid and cook until ready.
Shoo household wildlife away.
Actually human I am bored with your culinary efforts-bring me my meat!
Last night's dinner- lamb loin chops with grilled tomato, cauliflower mash & home grown green salad with a yoghurt & sweet chilli dressing.

Anyone else have other uses for household appliances?

Friday, August 2, 2013

Planting-how much?

When you are growing your own vegetables-how much do you need? The answer will always be will depend on factors such as whether you are aiming to supply your entire vegetable needs, or to just supplement your purchases with freshly picked salad ingredients.

I was wandering the web when I stumbled upon this very handy chart:

Asparagus: about 10-15 plants per person
Beans (Bush): about 15 plants per person
Beans (Pole): 2-4 poles of beans per person (each pole with the four strongest seedlings growing)
Beets: about 36 plants per person.
Broccoli: 3-5 plants per person
Cabbage: 2-3 plants per person
Cantaloupe: figure on about 4 fruits per plant (estimate how much your family would eat)
Carrots: about 100 seeds per person (1/4 oz would be plenty for a family of six)
Cauliflower: 2-3 plants per person
Collards: about 5 plants per person
Corn: start out with 1/2 lb. seeds for the family and adjust as needed
Cucumbers: 3-6 plants per family
Eggplant: 3-6 plants per family
Lettuce: 4-5 plants per person
Okra: 3-4 plants per person
Onions: 12-15 plants per person
Parsnips: 12-15 plants per person
Peas: about 120 plants per person
Peppers: 3-5 plants per person
Spinach: about 15 plants per person
Squash (including Zucchini): about 10 per family
Sweet Potatoes: about 75 plants per family
Tomatoes: about 20 plants per family
Turnips: about 1/4 lb (200grams or so) seeds per family
Watermelon: about 1/2 oz.(10 or 20gr) seeds per family

By using the annual recommendations above and spreading your planting across the appropriate season, you should be able to calculate what you need to plant.

I found it over at New Life On a Homestead-so make sure you pop over and check out the whole blog. :)

Monday, July 29, 2013

Pictures, Progress and Planning...........


A few random photos from around the place this morning....

Water kefir & citrus cleaner brewing on the bench

Our first crop from this Meyer lemon tree

Sir Bebe le Pew keeping an eye on the Bringer of the Bucket

Roxie-our 3 year old Isa Brown


I feel warm just looking at this pile
We have been having rainy periods interspersed with sunshine-perfect for the garden! In here you will see 3 varieties of cabbage, kale, pak choy, rocket, mixed lettuce and peas. In the background you can just see the broad bean plants.
Vegie garden coming along nicely

Another view
The rear of our home faces North East-which is fantastic for passive solar principles in the Southern Hemisphere ( the opposite applies for those readers in the Northern Hemisphere!) and is why we chose this block & this house plan.
From day 1 a timber pergola has been planned for the area outside my husband's study window-it is a large window and the winter sun that streams through helps warm the living room which is just behind the study.
The concrete pad has been in position for nearly two years now...and we have finally saved up enough to buy the timber! I'm hoping to have it up by Spring...and will be growing a grape vine over the top.
As the grape vine is deciduous it will shade the study window during the warmer months and give us a lovely area to sit and enjoy our BBQ's; then in the winter the sun will be able to do it's job of helping warm our house....and of course fingers crossed we will have grapes to eat as well!
The concrete pad waiting for the pergola to provide summer shade 7 winter sun...has been here for two years.

Showing the site of the planned pergola in respect to the house. The covered are you can see in the background will eventually be enclosed as a year round family room-it comes straight off our kitchen dining area.

No idea why blogger has turned this plan! The red lines are where the beams will be-a grape vine will be grown over the top of the structure.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Heart in my hands.....

This is not the post I had intended today-it has come about from a discussion held over at the Down To Earth Forum.

One of the members there asked...."will you hold out one of your down to earth hands...?" and I wrote this in response:

Oh yes...I know those hands...chipped nails, scarred skin and all. The same hands that have grubbed in the soil, kneaded bread ,wiped tears and stroked little heads.

Those hands tell the story of your life and I always smile when I see another set like mine. Those hands are seldom empty and always available to take those of another in need.

My mother has hands like mine-and each day I'm proud to see more and more of her in myself.

These photos are of my left hand ( I'm right handed and taking a photo was a *little* tricky!).... I don't wear my wedding or engagement rings-haven't done since 2004 when I started training in the ocean for an English Channel Relay swim ( I was terrified of losing them). I don't need obvious accoutrements to know that I am married and committed to that marriage............and hasn't the choice to not wear my rings caused quite some conversations over the years!

 These hands have scars and sunspots-the veins are becoming obvious as my skin begins to thin with age. They are the hands of a proudly middle-aged woman...because hello people 45 IS middle aged!

I have some arthritis in a couple of fingers-the same ones which were broken and dislocated playing sport ( I gave up netball two years ago due to my neck issues)...unusually my hands & nails are clean-because at this point I'm still not able to a few weeks there will soil under my nails again!

What story do your hands tell about you?

Monday, July 22, 2013

Piece of pie....

I'm not the type of person who copes well with being housebound....actually, being housebound is OK-it's being housebound on restricted activity that sucks!I am NOT sulking around at all. 

I've been wandering the yard, assessing and planning-yet not able to turn a single sod. Patience Dee, patience!

I am able to cook though-and after a slowcooker beef and vegetable casserole the other night had enough leftovers to put together a family sized pie-which should do His Lordship & I for two or three meals ( depends on how much he scoffs at each sitting!). Plus I made enough pastry for another pie-which can stay in the fridge for a few days. :)

Fats rubbed into flour

Dough ball-notice the largish smears of fat.

Dough ball divided into 4 and placed in fridge

Rolling out the base-see the fats?

Rolling onto the dish

Ease into dish to fit

Fill with COLD filling

Roll out another disk, top pie and crimp edges together. Pierce top with fork a few times to allow steam to escape

Finished pie with flaky, crisp pastry.

Pastry recipe:

4 cups Plain (all-purpose) flour
1 cup lard (cold)

3/4 cup butter (cold)
2 teaspoons salt
1 tablespoon vinegar
1 egg
1/2 cup very cold water

Add flour, butter, lard,  and salt to a large bowl.

Mix flour, butter & lard with a pastry cutter until it looks nice and crumbly. In a small bowl, whisk together the vinegar, egg, and water. Add to the flour mixture, stirring in till well-moistened. Knead lightly to mix in all the flour then shape it into a great, big, wonderful ball of pastry dough. (Don’t overhandle.)

Divide evenly into 4 pieces, flatten slightly ( makes the disk easy to roll) and place covered in fridge until ready to use.

Fill as above and cook in preheated 170c oven for 45-60mins.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Alive & thriving..

...sort of.

My surgery took twice as long as expected but was successful in the end-phew!

My recovery is going well and I left hospital yesterday and endured the 3.5 hour drive home. I get weary easily at the moment and am on restricted movement for another 5 weeks..... boredom central awaits! :)

Tuesday, July 2, 2013


This time next week I will be heading to Melbourne for spinal surgery-so I'm aiming to have myself as organised as possible! I have no idea when I will be able to blog again....

To prepare for the 6 or so weeks that I will be out of action, I've managed to complete a few jobs thus far; such as:

* Roses pruned ( I am NOT trusting my non-gardening husband with that!)

* Animal food bought & stored

* House thoroughly cleaned ( I am NOT trusting my non-cleaning husband with that...this way he can do just the basics!)

* Hair cut...because I most definitely am NOT trusting my non-hairdresser husband to care for my previously below shoulder length hair! Maybe I should have contacted the ex Prime Minister and enquired whether she could spare Tim for a few weeks? Oh well...the short wash & wear style I'm now sporting will do for a couple of months.

I have been gifted some Water Kefir grains from a friend-and tonight we sampled our first " brew"...His Lordship approved! It was reminiscent of a cider...mmmm.

Last Saturday night I served up a couple of curries- Chicken & Spinach Balti and a Red Lentil & Potato Curry. Now these delicious dinners have provided a few meals since ( sorry...too busy scoffing to think about photos!) and tonight I used the last of the Red Lentil & Potato to make 8 "burgers"-we had 4 of them for dinner.
His Lordship's Open "Burger" ( yes..that is bought sauce on the top-don't judge me...he has a bad back at the moment,so is being indulged somewhat!):
My version-no toast or egg, but with some homemade chutney:
Red Lentil & Potato " Burgers" Recipe:
4 cups leftover Red Lentil & Potato curry
1.5 cups rolled oats
1/2-1 cup wholemeal breadcrumbs ( I used sourdough)
1 egg.
Mix all together by hand-adding enough breadcrumbs to be able to form a moistened patty.
Form patties, place on plate and put in fridge to rest ( uncovered) until ready to cook.
Preheat pan, lightly oil and cook each patty for approx. 3 minutes each side or until brown.
The resident superintendent was somewhat underwhelmed......

Friday, June 28, 2013

Staking my claim...

Rightio- I have no idea why this script isn't working properly...but basically it's me claiming this blog as mine on Bloglovin!

<a href="">Follow my blog with Bloglovin</a>

To make sure you don't "lose" me on Monday when Google Reader ceases to on the Follow me on Bloglovin button over there -> on the right! :)

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Wholemeal chocolate cake with coffee frosting....

For your viewing pleasure..... you're welcome!

Even the "help" wanted some......

Wholemeal chocolate cake with coffee frosting
2 cups plain wholemeal flour
2 tablespoons baking powder
4 tablespoons cocoa powder
2 cups sugar
3 eggs
250g very soft butter
1cup milk ( or buttermilk, sour cream, yoghurt etc)
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
1tablespoon strong instant coffee dissolved in 1 tablespoon hot water

125g very soft butter
1 tablespoon strong instant coffee dissolved in 1 tablespoon hot water
1 1/2 to 2 cups icing sugar.

Cake Method:
Preheat oven to 180c ( fan forced) .Grease and line 2 18cm cake tins.
Place all cake ingredients in bowl and mix for 5minutes until well blended.
Divide equally between tins and then place in oven.
Cook 35-40 minutes until a skewer inserted in the centre of cake comes out clean. Cool in tins 5 mins then turn out & cool completely.

Frosting method:

Beat softened butter with coffee-add icing sugar until a consistency of whipped cream is achieved. Spread half over one cake, place other on top then use remainder to spread over top.

Cut a slice and taste test.......wouldn't want to be giving anyone else a slice if the cake was below par now-would we? :)
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