Sunday, December 27, 2015
That week between Christmas and New Year when not much is going on at all. I suppose if you hit the sales there is plenty to do. I really enjoy this time of year, it's perfect for staying at home doing nothing or doing plenty. This week I'll be doing a bit of both. I really want to do some serious de-cluttering and pottering about. Organise my notebooks and plans for next year and we have the rather daunting task of packing for an overseas trip for one of us. Twelve moths living in another country sounded so exciting and wonderful back in May and now it still sounds exciting but scary too. I'm going to miss my girl that's for sure. In reality I will probably leave most of my chores until after January 1st and spend the limbo time hanging out with my girls.
I have a new camera. I am not loving it a bit. After some carelessness a couple of weeks ago when I knocked my old camera off the desk, it just simply would not work. The new camera is a newer model of the kind I had before but it just isn't living up to the standards of the old camera. For one thing, the colours are not right, not true. Perhaps I need to read the instructions. I'll persevere and experiment and hope for the best. As long as I can capture moments and memories that's the important thing, I have delusions of being a photographer.
Hope you are enjoying the limbo period.
Tuesday, December 22, 2015
This year I joined Amy's Christmas card swap. I joined up at almost the last minute and I'm happy that I did because as I've said before I didn't join any crafting swaps so I was missing the fun that comes with swapping. My partner was Debbie and she sent me a very pretty card. I do like those sweet little red-breasted birds. I also like the snowy scenes that are on a lot of cards from the northern hemisphere.
I don't think Christmas cards are as popular as they once were but I love exchanging them. They may be just a yearly catch-up with old friends or a little bit of joy to a new friend. Next year I think they will be even less popular, postage costs are set to increase here in Australia. This is not good news to someone like me who has many penpals and likes to send happy mail every day. And yes, I do think about the environmental impact of sending cards and letters and do my best in offsetting the costs.
I hope my letterbox stays busy. Have you exchanged cards this year?
Monday, December 21, 2015
We had a Christmassy weekend, shopping in town on Saturday including a visit and photo with Santa and on a whim a trip to the beach on Sunday. Since we have a birthday in our household on Christmas day, we have our festive meal before the 25th and I earmarked yesterday for that. Instead of cooking and cleaning up, I suggested a trip to the beach and it went down very well. No cleaning up except for the towels and swimsuits that need washing. I feel very wise today especially after a deep sleep last night. We left home at 5am and arrived back at 7:30pm and packed plenty into the day so everyone was exhausted.
The wind was quite fierce at the coast and the humidity there always surprises me. I am used to high temperatures but a dry heat, not the humidity. I would love to spend more time at the beach, I love swimming in the ocean, lazing about on the sand or going for a long walk. I suppose it is the fact that when I am at the beach, I don't have chores to do or lack of rain to worry about for a while. Just relax.
Lack of rain is something that is playing on my mind and the minds of plenty of others right now. Our water tanks are quite low and we really need some rain. No, we need a lot of rain and conditions in my parts aren't anywhere near as drastic as elsewhere. I can't begin to imagine how depressing and overwhelming the drought is in the places where there really has been no reprieve for years. So if I can have anything I want for a gift this year, it will be rain. Something that money can't buy and impossible to conjure or create. I'm an optimistic realist though so I hope for good conditions but make plans for them not happening.
Now I have to figure out how blogger dropped so many blogs off my reading list and readers list. I'm not optimistic on this front.
Tuesday, December 15, 2015
I do like the festive season. I don't like the commercialism and busyness but the festive season isn't all about that. For me it's about time with my nearest and dearest doing things we enjoy together. No big parties, just sticking close to home. A birthday thrown into the mix also makes the celebrations interesting.
Our Christmas tree is an artificial one. I can't bring myself to cut down a living tree. Some years I buy a tree/ plant to decorate with the handmade ornaments people have given me and then plant that out in the garden after Christmas. That's a bonus of having a big garden. Not this year, it is too dry and too hot and who knows when there will be significant rain. I would like it to be today thank you.
On to the decorations. This is my newest. A nice little felt Christmas tree from Kimberley. Very sweet. Thanks Kimberley.
My oldest is this little plastic snowflake sent to me back in the 1980s by my penpal, Nena all the way from what was known then as Yugoslavia. I love it. It reminds me of her. That's the very reason why the ornaments given to me by friends are so lovely, they have a story and they make me think of the giver and they are special. Very special to me.
Another oldie, a cross stitched snowman made by my sister. I'm sure I won't be seeing any real snowmen this Christmas so I will use this picture for my snowman image for the Winter Photo Scavenger Hunt.
Cards are slowly coming in this year. Surprisingly, my letterbox has been quite quiet the past few weeks with only a couple of letters and I am all caught up with letter-writing too. Hooray!
Sunday, December 13, 2015
|Random flower picture|
Apricots, apricots and more apricots. 20 or so kilograms of them and all ready at once. How fortunate I am to have such abundance and be spoilt with too many fruit.
I picked them to stop the birds from getting them all. The trouble with birds is that they never eat a whole piece of fruit, they just take a taste of each one and leave the rest behind. I did leave some on the tree for the birds and bats and whatever else might like to enjoy them. I'm not a lover of apricots but I do like them in jam, relish, chutney and so on. Today I have a pot of apricot Worcestershire sauce style sauce on the simmer. I can't say it smells lovely like a pot of jam or even chutney does, just smells very vinegary. I'll make the jam later, it's delicious- apricots, sugar a little lemon juice and not much more.
This week I've been busy with garden and farming activities. Blood donation last Wednesday, Christmas shopping -which isn't proving very fruitful- and generally just enjoying being home again living My life. How has this year sped by in such a flash? These last few weeks are going to pass too quickly for me before the big changes that will occur here in 2016.
I really wanted to have handmade gifts for my family and friends this year but I have been slack. I haven't had the inclination to make things for most of the year. I just keep stitching my cross stitch and knitting a row or two of a dishcloth. It's enough.
Photos on the other hand, I'm always taking those so... I am joining in with Eileen and Joy's Winter Photo Scavenger Hunt. Of course it is not winter here so I may have to be a little creative with some of the prompts or resort to using the alternatives. A scavenger hunt is always fun so why not?
Pots to stir.
Tuesday, December 8, 2015
I posted a photo of the vista from my back veranda just over two weeks ago and here it is today dry and brown and hot. The grass in the backyard is still green but I don't think that will last long either. I never water lawns. Never! There does seem to be a little unsettled feeling outdoors today so maybe a storm will blow in and give everything a good soaking. We can only hope.
I didn't join in any swaps this Christmas. My heart wasn't in it and that's a big obstacle to overcome. I am enjoying cruising around other blogs and seeing all of the delightful ornaments and gifts on display. I'm certain I'll be back swapping next year, it's fun.
I may not have swaps to unwrap but I have received a parcel from the lovely Kimberley. We are penpals as well as blog buddies and just simply friends. I have put the parcel up high out of my reach and the cat's so it should be safe until Christmas Day. I'm still writing Christmas cards so I am behind with all things festive including any necessary shopping. I've had a very disorganised 2015 generally speaking so I'm making being organised a priority for 2016.
Can you see the tiny little spider on the flower? I thought he was so clever and sweet when I found him this morning.
It's hard getting back into routine after being away from home but I'm getting there. I think I got used to living the high life, eating out each night and cafes every morning. Now it's back to being my own chef and barista.
Monday, December 7, 2015
We had another trip to Sydney and Wollongong last week. Work related for some of us and just fun for everyone else. I love visiting Sydney and so do the girls. There is always something to do and the busyness is nice for something different. And boy was Sydney busy.
This time we had perfect weather for all of the walking we did. At least 10km each day if my pedometer is to be believed (my feet believe it). I love walking and hiking and beach walking is great.
A highlight this trip was visiting the Wollongong Botanic Garden. They are lovely. Well maintained, nice paths and loads of interesting plants to look at.
Now I'm happy to say I am back at home. The garden was heat stressed, zucchini were threatening to take over and the pets were not impressed with having to stay at the boarding kennel. All is forgiven now of course, gardens and pets don't hold a grudge especially if they receive a little pampering.
Now top of my list is preparing for the festive season and avoiding the heat.
Saturday, November 28, 2015
With the hot weather I have been spending the middle of the day writing cards and letters. I have a backlog to catch up on so it's good to have an excuse to sit and write. A migraine (perhaps brought on by my messy writing area) on Thursday didn't help me any but that's history now. I have to say though that I'm letting my mail art slip for the time being and it's plain envelopes all round. If I have your address, keep an eye on your mailbox.
I've been planning another short trip too and preparing the garden for the summer. Mulch, mulch and more mulch. It's working so far.
Today I picked the first zucchinis and a cherry tomato (hard to share a cherry tomato). The last of the older spring onions and a large carrot that needs to become a part of a carrot cake. I didn't pick any flowers, I just enjoyed them in situ.
Helichrysum which surprisingly I have never grown before. This variety is native to Australia and hardy and completely sweet. Why did I grow them this year? Well, I became a tragic fan of The Big Allotment Challenge via Youtube and the contestants grew them so I did too. I'm glad I have them, they are really cute little flowers so far.
There are different dahlias opening up each day. Note to myself, I need to move some out of the vegetable garden next year. They take up so much room. The vegetable garden dahlias far outshine those in other areas of the garden because it is the area that receives all the attention and pampering. Maybe I shouldn't move them at all. ;-)
Have a great weekend
Wednesday, November 25, 2015
Monday, November 23, 2015
Hive inspections this week and there is plenty of honey. This afternoon's job is honey extraction. That's a sticky job and lots of handle cranking. I like to extract each hive's honey separately to see if there are any differences. My hive, the pink one, usually has a darker honey with a stronger taste. I'm not a honey lover but it is my favourite honey. Of course.
Our recent foray into mead making looks like a success. The mead taster (not teetotaller me) says it's good but needs some aging. Well it's a way to use any honey we don't consume or sell and I like an experiment.
I'm not surprised that the honey supers are full. There are a lot of flowers and quite a choice for the bees at the moment. There are some eucalypts in flower (the type I have no idea but wish I did), vegetables and ornamentals. Good for the plants and good for the bees.
The first sunflower is open. A volunteer from last year's plants and most welcome.
Lovely little purple flowers on the Purple King bean. They are really nice beans to grow and eat. My only complaint would be that the beans turn green when cooked and don't keep their lovely purple vibrancy.
Saturday, November 21, 2015
I think this might be the last of the green views for a while. This heat wave that we are having is drying everything out and the paddocks all around are starting to brown off. Closer to town is much worse than here. Forty degree heat makes me yearn for cooler climes or at the very least a day at the beach.
Watering is a daily task now. I'm not complaining, I have the water to spare on a vegetable garden... for now. Picked a basket of strawberries for jam and sowed some corn seeds today. Yesterday I went to the garden centre for more tomato stakes and in a surprising move, I walked out without even looking at any plants. I think anything planted right now would struggle to settle in with the heat.
While it is super hot during the day I've been writing letters and cards and today I squeezed in an episode of Wartime Farm. I borrowed the DVDs from the library and they are well worth a look if you are a history buff who likes a bit of gardening and farming like myself. Tough times for sure and makes you look at any wasteful habits you might have. Time is the commodity I am most wasteful with and I hope I can do better and spend my time wisely. I did multitask while I was watching the DVD.
Right, things to do.
Thursday, November 19, 2015
It may be the time of the year but probably not because there always seems to be a lot to do. I am busy at home and away from home as well. It's a very common tale, I hear it all the time.
I have actually been feeling a bit stressed about some of the things that have to be done or worse should have already been done. Yesterday I lifted a big weight off my shoulders by just sitting down and doing the online work I needed to do. So I'm breathing easier today and I'm all set for a bit of pampering and preening before going out tonight.
Gardens are growing well and I'm glad to say that I am on top of the maintenance in the vegetable garden at least. Planting every day. Weeding every day. Just a little bit every day works best for me.
Some of the Flanders poppies are still looking good but I collected seed yesterday and pulled out quite a lot of them. I need the space for edible things. The soil where the poppies were needs some attention too so today I'll spread some compost and water it all deeply. Oh I wish I had more compost, I just can't make enough.
Now I do need to get going. Mail to get organised, work to do, ducks who are telling me it's breakfast time and so on.
Hope you have enjoyed seeing some of the flowers that are delighting me in the garden right now.
Thursday, November 12, 2015
Fresh out of the garden today. Carrots. An heirloom mix which will go in tonight's dinner of honey roasted carrot risotto. I usually make a roasted pumpkin risotto but all of last summer's pumpkins are gone. So carrots it is. Actually risotto kind of lends itself all kinds of flavours as long as you stick to the basic formula of rice, white wine and stock.
That's what came out of the ground today along with some underwhelming garlics. Into the ground went:
- 5 Amish Paste tomatoes
- 6 Diggers Mix tomatoes
- 2 Black Bounty eggplants
- 2 purple globe artichokes
- 3 tomatillo plants
- 12 sweet basil plants to keep the tomatoes company
Wednesday, November 11, 2015
I missed cooking while I was away. The closest I came to meal preparation was peeling my bananas at breakfast time and making a cup of tea in the motel. This week though it's back in my own kitchen and relishing my time cooking. Baking, jam making and regular meals.
We did have some lovely meals while on holiday. Highlights were Lentil as Anything in Newtown, Mother Chu's on Pitt Street in Sydney and Au Lac Royal Vegetarian Cuisine in Wollongong. I stocked up on tea from T2 . The girls and I walked and walked and for more time than we would have liked, we walked in the rain.
My meal plan starts on a Monday but I've been too busy to post until now.
What's cooking this week:
- Dhal and Vegetable curry (use soy sauce instead of fish sauce for vegetarian option)
- Zucchini burgers
- Potato and leek soup
- Pasta with either a tomato based sauce or broccoli and garlic.
- Eggs (we have so many)
When I say gardening, today I really mean tidying, weeding and hopefully planting (if I have time). Actually that is probably what gardening means all the time. It's nice and sunny outside today but not too hot so it was lovely working this morning. I also have 80 or so lavenders to deadhead which I am not so keen on doing.
|Principe Borghese tomato|
I was surprised at how many tomatoes there are already. Of course they are all green and the potential for things to go awry before they are ready to eat is high but it's still nice to know they are there. And let myself daydream a little about how delicious they will be.
While I was away we had 45mm of rain here at home (I'm sure there was more in Sydney and Wollongong because I had to walk in it). That helped keep everything lush but it did cause the strawberries some grief. There must be a few kilograms to pick today but there are just as many or more that have rotted because I wasn't here to pick them when ready. That is really disappointing. I don't like waste.
The pink peony poppies which I received as a freebie from The Diggers Club were magnificent but I didn't take a picture. The seed heads are quite spectacular in their bizarre way too. I'll definitely be saving seeds from these to spread about the gardens.
The bees are crazy for the asparagus. Bright orange pollen bags and buzzing around in a blissful state. There must something special in asparagus pollen. I hope the baby bees like it.
Planting to do. I really don't want to count how many plants there are that NEED to be planted. At least 60 tomato plants. So I won't count them, I'll just plant them.
And just because today is Remembrance Day and I have Flanders poppies aplenty. I can spare a few packets of seeds that I have saved too if anyone is interested. Only within Australia and not to Tasmania or WA of course.
Monday, November 9, 2015
I've been away hence the lack of posts. To Sydney and Wollongong and back to my overgrown garden. well I did say I wanted a food forest.
Like with all trips away, there seems to be lots of catching up to do at home so I might still be missing for a day or two while I get things sorted.
It's good to be home.
Wednesday, October 28, 2015
|Today' random picture: Last year's ewe lambs off to their new home|
Well, well, another week speeds by. We've had a birthday celebration, end of school life for one of us and general day-to-day goings on. Today I am taking a day off just to let my mind catch up and do pretty much nothing. I'm enjoying reading blogs I haven't had time to peruse for a while.
I am so glad I've been menu planning. When things are busy or hectic, the menu plan makes life just that little bit easier. No need to think about what to cook for the main meal of the day. That's what I like about menu planning the most. Having said that, my menu plan for the coming week will be up in the air. I'm going away for a week (yay, I get to see some of my people) and I'm not sure what if any cooking facilities will be available. I do like to eat out so that's ok with me for a holiday. I'm hoping for some delicious vegetarian offerings because my town really is a haven for carnivores with vegetarians left with little to choose from. I do live in prime cattle and sheep growing country so that's to be expected.
For the rest of this week we will have:
- Poached eggs and toast. Welsh rarebit for the egg shirkers.
- Cauliflower soup
- Vegetable biryani and onion bhajis
This past week I've also had some extra special snail mail. Belated birthday gifts from overseas which were not expected and made even more delightful because of the surprise element. Had a catch up with my parents. Done the chores as always and driven more than I like, as always. And today instead of sweltering in hot weather here too soon, I'm in a jacket to keep warm. Hmmm.
Monday, October 19, 2015
|foxgloves and lavender|
I'm glad to say I don't have to do much thinking for this weeks menu. There is a birthday coming up in the household in a week or so and the birthday girl gets to choose the menu this week. Hooray!
I haven't been online much this week. Well I have been online, and probably more than I should but I haven't written anything here. It's a balancing act.
|Flanders poppies in the vegetable garden|
Lots of jobs getting done in the real world so that's good. Netting fruit trees. The birds have already had more apricots than I would like and I don't even really like apricots that much. Watering is daily for some young seedlings that haven't established themselves yet. Of course the self-sown seedlings power on and don't care too much about whether I tend them or not.
|Broad beans- tonight's dinner|
This week's menu:
chickentofu (my favourite way to eat tofu)
- Mushroom and leek pie
- Fried rice
- Beetroot tart
- Asparagus and broadbean on sourdough (with goat's cheese)
Salads or other vegetables on the side too. Depends what says 'pick me' in the garden or 'buy me' in the greengrocers.
Sunday, October 11, 2015
I'm a little weary today. I've had a nap but I think good, proper sleep might be the answer. Anyway, I am joining River with her Sunday Selections. Posting some photos I have taken that thus far I haven't found a place for on the blog.
My photos are of my Flanders poppies in various stages of development. I will admit here that someone might look at my poppies in the vegetable garden and think they are weeds because they in true poppy style, pop up here, there and everywhere. I will mow around them and the best specimens this year are growing amongst the onions or maybe it is vice versa.
Of course the flower is the pinnacle of poppy desirability. So lovely and delicate looking which belies its hardiness and ability to survive (and spread).
The unopened flower head. Well it is kind of weird and a little rude looking (maybe that is just me). I prefer to call it interesting and bizarre.
Finally the seed pod. They look so alien-like. This one is fresh and the seed pod hasn't dried out yet. I hope I remember to pick some before the seeds spread naturally because I would like to sow them in a few different spots next season. If that fails then will just replant any self-sown plants. They do very well that way too. A greenthumb is not a prerequisite for growing poppies.
Thanks for visiting.
Friday, October 9, 2015
Already it is Friday. I would slow the clock down if I could. It has been a nice week though. Spent mostly at home working and not working. I have my scholar at home studying for those all important final HSC exams. I'm glad she has time for a cup of tea on the porch with me in between studying.
|Herb garden this morning|
The weather has been hot and dry with a day of gusty southerly winds which dropped the temperatures into the teens during the day. I don't mind a reprieve from the mid-30s degC but I really can do without the wind. It is destructive and will hasten the drying out of the grass and pastures. Today it's back to stinging sun and heat.
I'll tell you what does like the heat we have been having. The lavenders and consequently the bees. I also had a close encounter with a brown snake in the vegetable garden this morning and he/she seemed to be enjoying the hot weather too. I've shuffled the chores around now and mowing is at the top of the list. If there is a snake about, I want to be able to see it. This mornings one slithered away and hasn't been sighted since.
The harsh pruning I gave the roses last year has really seemed to have done them well. They are lush and have some promising looking buds. A couple of varieties are flowering already- Fragrant Cloud, Grace Darling and Knockout. I'd recommend Fragrant cloud, it's big and showy and has an amazing scent. Just how a rose should smell.
I am also making progress on my large cross stitch. I've challenged myself to stitch 100 stitches a day. It sounds like nothing and doesn't look like much progress but it is all I can squeeze into my day at the moment. I have no idea how long it will take to finish but it's not going to be soon. I'll try to remember to post some progress along the way. If I don't it most likely means I have put it aside again. That's me.