Monday, 21 July 2014

Simple Living Sunday 35

Gee Monday's roll around so quickly don't they? We went over our usage for the internet this weekend so were unable to use it - when they slow the satellite speed down it is non existent. It has still been a weird week of weather with frosts and two days of gale force winds - my greenhouse ended up in the gully and I had a lot of cleaning up to do around the yard.

Another pest problem...something has been eating this pumpkin. I would guess at possums or bandicoots.

So, I have now moved them upstairs to keep an eye on them. I cover them each night due to frost and dew, and am hoping they will ripen soon so I can store them downstairs, away from hungry critters.

I opened up the frost-bitten corn to give to the chooks and it did not form very well...only half a cob. Better luck with that next time.

Another loss is the cape gooseberry. This is a shot of an unripened berry...they go yellow when ripe.

But the frost has attacked it and the berries did not drop so I never got to see what they taste like.

The cauliflower is coming back and getting leafy again now that the caterpillars are under control.

This spark of colour is from a bougainvillea forgotten in a pot underneath the gum trees.

My husband loves nothing better than lighting a fire, so he did a lot of burning off with the long grass from the pumpkin patch.

This is my new toy - my birthday present from money given to me by my dad and sister. It is a 5 in 1 multicooker which has a pressure cook and slow cook function.

I made this beef stew in 30 mins using the pressure cooker so I can see huge benefits in terms of time.

You can also brown the meat in the pan, which saves on dishes too. The other functions are steaming and soup making so I can see I will get adventurous during my holidays next week.

I have even prepped another meal for the week. I have boiled the sausages to remove fat and taken the skins off. I will pop this in the pressure cooker with some water when I get home from work...easy, peasy dinner.

What did you get up to this weekend?

Monday, 14 July 2014

Simple Living Sunday 34

Well, it's all about pumpkins at the moment. I had to pull up my vines due to the frost...twenty eight pumpkins were in my patch! So, together with the ones I picked before Christmas and over the last few weeks, my yield was about 35 pumpkins. This is my first time growing them and I would not expect such a huge result every time...they just kept going with the extended summer we had here. Pumpkin recipes anyone?

I have them on the back porch on the moment on a metal rack drying in the sun. I will turn them over in a couple of days. Some are only small (about a kilo) but most are 3 kilos or so. They should all ripen nicely with our lovely warm winter days.

I had a wander around the garden yesterday, checking out what was frost affected, and what was not...a good exercise for planting next year. I was hoping to yield before the usual frosty month of August...but mother nature changed my plans.

This calendula is one of the few flowers in my garden at the moment.

The passionfruit are just starting to ripen although I won't have as many as last year.

This kale in the gumtree garden is not as large as the ones growing in the lemon tree garden, and it handles the frost well.

The beans did not like it.

But the celery and lettuce were not affected.

Nor were the beetroot.

I was hoping to get tomatoes from this fellow before any such luck.

I will plant corn earlier in the season next year.

The mystery leafy greens growing on my lawn are still thriving.

And a heavy dose of dipel, plus the frosts, seem to have kept the caterpillars at bay. I have quite a few broccoli heads growing...and they don't mind the frost.

My favourite red russian kale was also unaffected.

I have several huge piles of pumpkin vines for my compost heap. It was alot of fun pulling them up.

I am now able to get to the other side of the lime tree...and am still astounded by the abundance. I have been picking them for five months now...and they are still going :)

I have been using the slow cooker heaps lately. This is a potato and kale soup I made for my lunches this week....

...and a yummy lasagne for dinner last night.

We didn't do much over the school holidays as I was working but we did manage to get out for a game of ten pin bowling on Saturday.

We had a lot of laughs...and I managed to beat the boys, much to their disgust haha.

I hope you had a lovely weekend at your place. What would you do with so many pumpkins?

What did you get up to?

Tuesday, 8 July 2014

$21 Challenge - Week two

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Well, I am happy to say that we survived the first week of the $21 challenge. Usually you would only do this for one week but I have so much excess stuff to use up that I have decided on a second pocket a little more cash for the boys to spend on clothes.

Week One Recap

The biggest hit of the week was the home made pizza. The bread flour from my 'bonus box' that had just expired was perfect for the base, together with the bbq sauce bottles that were almost empty. I just added a chicken fillet which I fried in the pan and sliced, some kale, ham, cheese, bacon and pineapple. I had a slice for breakfast and lunch the next day.

I could not figure out the wall socket timer so my crock pot honey and lemon chicken was cooked in the pan and served with mash. The boys ate leftover sausage casserole.

My favourite was the salmon patties which used up the open bag of panko breadcrumbs and was served with fresh salad from my garden. I was surprised that the boys liked them too so I will definitely include this on my budget-week menu in the future.

This was my total shop for the week...just over $15. Mainly drinks for the kids and milk. The cream was for potato bake last night, and the boys like cheese on everything! The pineapple was $2 from the local service station....the best pineapples ever. husband did bring home some meat but I put most of it in the freezer to use after the challenge so I can still stick to my original menu plan.

This is just a selection of items in the bonus box which I would like to use up this week. So, here is my menu this week!


Roast lamb and vegies in the slow cooker. I had never done a roast in it before and it was very tender. I do prefer roast vegies in the oven though! I used some of the cranberry sauce as a glaze to try and get rid of it and it was very tasty.


Corned Beef and Potato Bake. This was gobbled up before I could take a photo.


Pasta bolognese using up the open packet of penne pasta


Chicken tacos to use up the taco shells which although opened are still fresh


Shepherds Pie using the packet mix which is about to expire


Chicken (breast) pesto pasta using the brown spaghetti and open jar of pesto


Slow-cooked chicken curry using the curry paste, and the indian vegie packet thingy I have never been game to open. I will use a pack of chicken pieces I have in the freezer.

It feels a little weird going to the fridge and being able to see what is in there, but it's a feeling I can get used to. We had too much stuff hiding and wasting...despite my resolve to live more simply and utilise everything... which I thought I was good at. So, I would thoroughly recommend a clearing out every now and then, and it's actually fun making compromises and devising recipes without buying extra ingredients. I made some home-made yoghurt yesterday which will be used in a few dishes and only cost $1.50, and I plan to make lemon cordial tonight to stretch out the drinks (and use up the lemons)'s these habits that will help keep the dollars in my pockets, and healthy food on the table.

So, what's for dinner at your place tonight?

Sunday, 6 July 2014

Simple Living Sunday 33

As I typed the heading for this week's Simple Living Sunday it amazed me that I am up to number 33. I don't think I have missed a week, so that is 33 weekly updates recorded for all eternity...and I have managed to scrounge something for my basket every one of those weeks I think. Now that's a big start to my goal of being partially self-sufficient and wonderful to look back on week after week. It reminds me of how much I have achieved in under a year...and inspires me to keep looking forward.

That inspiration was very much needed this week after several challenges in the garden. First was a week of frosts which the pumpkin vine did not like very much. I have left the pumpkins on there for now as they are still firm and not frost-affected, but I will probably cut them all during the week...

...because it looks pretty unsightly, and I will finally be able to get in and get rid of that long grass. We have just kept mowing around the pumpkins for the past six months, and I have been so lucky to have grown so many for so no complaining haha. Wonder how many I will find?

I managed to save my young fruit trees by staking, and covering with sheets. Every afternoon after work I cover them up, and remove the sheets before I go to work. Seems to be working so far. The sheets above are frozen solid and you can see the frost on the mulch. Last year we did not get a frost and the years before we always got them later in the season, around August. With the long summer we have just had, it is so hard to predict what the next seasons will bring.

Another weather extreme...this was the fog clearing at 9.30am yesterday...just beautiful.

The girls had a nice wander out of their chook pen yesterday. I was hoping they would eat the caterpillars off my cabbages, but they liked the cabbage leaves better.

They spent the afternoon in the lemon tree garden...and now also have a taste for kale. I have pulled up most of the pest-infested cabbage and fed it to the chooks, so it's not a total waste. I do have a few pest-free broccoli so here's hoping. With the frosts and the pests, I will have to think of better winter garden strategies for next year.

This is my fruit vinegar after two weeks of fermentation. I removed the surface layer of white mould...

...drained the fruit scraps...

...and reserved the liquid into a jar covered with cheesecloth. Apparently this will ferment for another six weeks into vinegar. Looks a little bit cloudy so will see how it goes.

I made another batch of natural yoghurt today.

And brewed some more tea to make kombucha. I drink it every day, along with my kefir and I find it is amazing for my tummy problems.

Yesterday I made my first ever cake in the crockpot. As part of the $21 challenge I am using up old items in my pantry, so this cake was a combination of a packet buttercake with home made jaboticaba jam mixed in. I did not use a tin, just lined the base of the slow cooker with baking paper and let it cook on high for two hours with a tea towel under the lid to stop moisture dripping...the verdict? The cake was amazingly moist and the boys polished it off in one it's a winner. Will make one from scratch next weekend.

So, that's my weekend in a nutshell. What have you been up to?

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