Thursday, 28 January 2016

It has been a busy week of preserving here J. 

I took the hard way to preserve the tomatoes and made paste instead of my usual pasta sauce.



It was all going great until I popped into the shops and the edges burnt…still there was plenty to save and I do hope it has the intense tomato flavour I am looking for – will let you know.

Then there was the cucumber overload – turned into pickles.  First time I have ever made them, so I used this recipe:

I do like the thought of eating these in a week or so when they are ready.  And I liked going down to our local health store and buying all organic spices – I figured if I was going to preserve our organically grown cucumbers, I might as well do the right thing.

I also crushed this weeks’ dried egg shells for our girls.

And we had fun opening the gate so the chooks can explore their new run – first across the line are Midnight and Sunset J but it didn’t take the others long to follow.  They especially seem to love sitting under that wattle on the left.

Our beautiful rooster starting crowing this week too - quietly is how he does it – which could well be all he does as the Brahmas are known for being quiet chookens.  Let’s hope so or decisions will have to be made…and we all love Rosey Roger!

And yesterday, I made ricotta – my very first cheese J.

It was very easy and tastes yum!  Will be trying mascarpone next, then feta (the one I really want to make!).  And like all good cheese makers, I need to find a use for all that whey…

Monday, 18 January 2016

A few random photos of our recent days:

Our Italian helper cooked us pizza!  YUM.  We have never made or had ‘pizza blanca’ but that zucchini and yellow cherry tomatoes was absolutely delish.

I wasn’t entirely impressed at our youngest leaving her teddies outside – but she stacked them cutely in the wash basket – so that kinda made up for it ;-)

Trick question now – what don’t you see in this photo?

Answer – this huge pile of leaves!  And since it is raining today (yes summer rain, water our plants and fill our tank some, summer rain J), this will be on its way to composting down J.  But major bonus of course is that it is a major step in bushfire fuel reduction under our Marris.

The other major progress, with helpers, has been the chook run extension with cemented poles and buried scrap tiles and tin for foxy prevention.  The girls will be loving this when it is finished very soon J.  Michael is hoping to get the strainer wires on today, then it will be time to get the meshing on.

And our best fun was yesterday’s Sausage Dogs South West Bushfire Fundraiser.  There is no doubting the hilarity of 16 snaggy dogs running loose (in a fenced park of course).   Pepper was in doggy play heaven with friends to run with, and run with and run with!  She was a bit of a natural leader in the cheekiness stakes - and she won the ‘Running of the Weiners’ race too J.


Sunday, 10 January 2016

Look what we came home too:

Well, actually our freezer was full – of unintentionally defrosted food L.  Apparently, I knocked the plug just enough out of the socket to turn it off as I removed my mobile phone charger …mobile phone charger now relocated!!

Super clean freezer now!!

Wednesday, 6 January 2016

On the 12th day of Christmas, I present “Our ‘green’ Christmas”.

This year, I tried to green up our Christmas celebration.  I had been reading zero-waste and clutter-free blogs and ideas and I wanted to incorporate that as much as possible.

So here’s what it looked like:

Santa left these great stocking fillers – bamboo toothbrushes; character bandaids; chocolate; one ‘fun thing’; a punnet of favourite berries J.

Gifts - Made the Christmas meals the real celebration (opted out of the Christmas crackers) and reminded the children that gifts are to honour the baby Jesus, not to create excess and pollution.

  • Whogivesacrap toilet paper (yes, one roll for everyone!!);
  • at least one recycled gift per person (Le Crueset milk pan (from me to hubby), party dress, books, Dachshund bookends (hubby bought for me J), storage shelves in the shape of a London telephone box; toys for the puppy);
  • everything wrapped in newspaper and prettied up with lots of ribbon from my collections (saved for re-use of course);
  • gift bags all recycled from previously and saved again of course
  • re-used our special, perpetual “with love from your family” gift tags (I made these last year J)

  • Santa left his gift for our family covered in a blanket – clever man!  It was a slide for the cubby fort being built.
  • emailed family and said they are welcome to not buy this year if they hadn’t already – and that if they preferred to gift the children some cash we would use it to visit a local fun park for a day (this email was appreciated as it takes pressure off us all);
  • Some green gifts the children received included: stainless steel lunch box; eco-friendly skipping rope (recycled plastic handles and cotton rope); wool socks; seed growing kits.

Other green Christmas choices:

  • our Christmas tree of course was a real one that we will put through the mulcher – bonus compost!
  • We made another Christmas tree from a stack of books – Agatha Christie collection that was gifted to our eldest J. 

  • I did buy some second-hand decorations from the Vinnies – I especially love our ‘new’ wreaths – one is gold cardboard with gold paper holly and the other someone’s home-made from grapevine J.
  • Made sure we all had a supply of library books to keep us occupied and planned an afternoon walk and a lovely trip to the beach on Boxing Day.

And all years from now on will be more of the same J.

The Christmas cards I mailed out were hand-made by me.  (Dang, looks like I didn’t even get a photo of them – must get someone to send me a photo!).  Must incorporate some recycled element next year but at least nothing new was purchased.

And lastly, my Secret Santa gift for a work colleague even incorporated some recycling – all decorations from my stash J.

Tuesday, 5 January 2016

Christmas Dinosaur:

We had fun eating our annual gingerbread ‘house’.  Our tradition is to do a different type of dwelling each year and this year was a birdhouse, courtesy of the biggest girl and all.  It sure was yum – and fun!!

Monday, 4 January 2016

On Christmas morning, we had a “Christmas miracle” – visits from gorgeous blue wrens, a Willy wag tail and Red-Brested Robins.

So special.

It felt to me like they were a gift sent to us from Heaven.

Sunday, 3 January 2016

A ‘catch-up’ post.

Our December was busy and we tried to fit in plenty of fun too – picking out our Christmas tree was a highlight.  We love buying it from the Lion’s Club, a great group to support – and didn’t it look wonderful?


And it sported a special, new decoration – Pepper’s First Christmas – bought for us by the biggest girl J:

We spent a few days away at a little old shack on the Murray River.  We *loved* relaxing on the jetty and watching the world go by by catching up on some reading – definitely one of my favourite things!

We made a trip back to the boys’ scout group for our younger one to receive his Silver Boomerang J.  And we made a trip back to a ‘pick-your-own’ raspberry farm on our last day – seriously yum!!!

Then the day after we got back home, we picked up our new chookens J.  Our friend in town had hatched 7 Bantam Faverelles and we chose 3 – two hens and a wee rooster.  Then as we were leaving, our friend mentioned that they were maybe looking for a new home for “Miss Clucky” as she didn’t really fit in with their flock – so we brought her home too.  She is a Bantam Plymoth Rock and has gone from being bottom of the pecking order there, to top chook here!  As she is fully mature and already laying, we thought this would be the case, even though our chooks, being standard size, are already bigger than her.  

We did what we could to get them used to each other to ease the transition and after a week, we let them roam together for an hour before bedtime, then the next day did the same thing but let them roost the night together and they are not too bad now.  She is still picking on the rest a bit and they are very wary of her, so we hope she will settle more when our girls are mature in a month or so.  The babies (the Bantam Faverelles) we also introduced the same way, but we keep them in their own sleeping cage.   Yesterday, the littlest one, Sunflower, had some pecks on her head, so we also kept them separate yesterday and today – poor little mites do get picked by 5 of the others, “Miss Clucky” and “Fred” seem to tolerate them well.

Saturday, 2 January 2016

What a difference a day makes!!

Yesterday I was all [insert word for whatever is the bah humbug New Year equivalent] – it was the same old, same old here…but today is much better!

So, as I do, let’s examine what has changed and made it better:

  • Read back on some family letters and realised/acknowledged that I am missing some important people in my life – but I get to see many of them again soon J
  • Went for a fantastic walk this morning, met a couple of neighbours along the way so we had nice chats and then cooked myself a scrummy breakfast – real coffee (of course), fried tomatoes (I picked them yesterday J), poached egg from our new ‘layer’ “Miss Clucky” (she’s a talker – more info to follow) and a slice of wholemeal sourdough, toasted J.
  • Spent some time in the garden J - dug potatoes, watered seeds, composted J.
  • Found some bargains at the Vinnies as we dropped No.1 son off for his usual volunteer morning.
  • Spent a couple of lovely hours on the beach with the little kids and the puppy and they all played so nicely with lots of other doggies J.
  • Home just now for another yum coffee and yummy lunch J.
  • Sitting now with worn-out puppy on my lap while I am typing this up J.
 So, a good day and I like that a lot!!!

This helped too – read it and see if it resonates with you xx.