Sunday, 29 December 2013

Simple Living Sunday 10

The bounty every week is getting less as we are well and truly in the hottest part of the year. The temperature here reached 40 degrees today which is unbearable with our humidity. Thankfully we are just now watching a storm roll in. Hopefully it will bring rain and not hail, although the strong winds could do some damage.

I erected the shade cloth over my rockmelons and squash. It's a little primitive but does the job.

Another Lebanese squash is finally growing. There are so many like the withered one above it. Lack of bees and male flowers have not helped with production.

I picked this large Zucchini today. Thinking a nice mustard pickle tomorrow in my new jars is on the cards.

The poor rockmelons have really suffered with the heat. I have watered, fertilised, covered, topped up the mulch, pinched out leaves...and still they are not growing. It's a waiting game.

Another Patty Pan favourite.

The new cucumbers I planted a few weeks ago in semi shade are growing a little curly.

I planted out my herbs into the garden. Rosemary, Thyme and Parsley...

And herb Robert who was growing too big for his pot. I hope he thrives here.

We are fortunate to have Mothar Mountain Rockpools a few kms up the road. A swim was just what we needed today.

The rockpools stretch right up the mountain but the water is low at the moment.

I made my first batch of preserves. Nectarine, Kiwi Fruit and Mango. They have just come out of the Vacola so the lighter fruit needs time to settle. Will do a post on the Vacola this week.

I couldn't resist sharing this photo of our cat Puddy. She disappears when the other two dogs come to visit and she just popped in through the window last I gave her a welcome feed.

Hope you have had a lovely weekend with your family...and that it hasn't been as hot as here.

Saturday, 28 December 2013

Christmas Wrap-Up

There is such a big build up to Christmas, that when it is all over, you can see the kids coming down from their high, but we have settled into an easy pace here at the farm. I have hardly seen the boys without their iphones in their hands, catching up with their friends and playing games. Paul has been busy chrome plating with Cole, mosaic-ing with Georgie and today is tye-dying with can imagine the state of my house, but it is all so much fun and good to do some interactive things with the kids.

The boys and I have been chilling out watching Revolution and Lauren has been spending most of the time with her new boyfriend, Luke. I cook large meals (most times there are nine of us here) late in the day when the house gets a little cooler, and I have got back into the habit of making bread...and avoiding the shops.

My hampers turned out well , although I ran out of time to cook everything I wanted to ... and it has been way too hot to use the oven. So next year, I will start a little earlier with the baked goods. The family loved them, especially the preserves and chutneys sourced with ingredients from our farm. You can't beat that.

Paul was really thoughtful and bought me a Fowlers Vacola which I am really keen to try. It is basically a large water bath and the beauty is that the temperature is relatively controlled. I can now preserve fruits and pickled vegetables. It comes with special jars (which are very expensive and well sought after secondhand) but I have done research and can use others. I will report back on my results.

He also bought me a box of these jars with screw on lids. When you make a jam or relish you make sure the jar and the filling are hot and then tip upside down for fifteen minutes. When you turn it back the right way a vacuum is created and the lid pops in, just like a commercial jar. This probably works for all jars but is something I never knew until I read the instructions. I am making a list of yummy things to make and ingredients to shop for at the markets tomorrow.

Green Living Australia

I always love how one thing leads to another. I have been saving my glass jars for the past six months and now have large collection, but with preserving it is important to use new lids. I had no idea that you could buy lids for supermarket jars...until I read someone mention it. A few Google searches later and I discovered my ultimate online shop -  Green Living Australia. I had a gift of $100 from my dad for Christmas so I lashed out and bought something which will help me do something I have had my heart set on for a while:

Hard Cheese Kit - Green Living Australia

I bought a Hard Cheese Kit! Sounds weird huh? But I get everything I need (except for the milk) to make twenty kilos of cheese including:

Large Curd Cottage Cheese
Farmhouse Cheddar
Monterey Jack

Lauren's boss makes her own cheeses. including camembert, so I will be able to get some pointers from her. Apparently this kit suits beginners who have never made cheese before. I have always wanted to make cheddar as we use 1-2 kilos per week with hungry teenage boys. I can probably source the ingredients individually but a kit to start with will do me just fine...including the instructions. Green Living Australia also have amazing tutorials...yoghurt is next on my list.

I can see that some of the things on my holiday list will not get attended to...oh well, holidays are to be enjoyed and plans can always be changed.

I hope you have had a wonderful Christmas at your place. I would love to hear about it.

Have you ever made cheese before or used a Vacola?

Tuesday, 24 December 2013

Simple Living Sunday 9

I know it's not Sunday but I thought I would still call my post Simple Living Sunday so that I can find it later. I enjoy looking at the photos of how my garden has progressed in just a few months. The amount of produce I am harvesting is reducing now, due to the heat, so when I get a cool spell (yeah right) I will start preparing gardens for planting in late February. Some long term forecasters are predicting a wet Jan-March with talk of floods in late March. Here's hoping they are wrong.

This patty pan squash has been my favourite so far. It has a lovely flavour, is juicy and the skin is not too tough to eat. There are heaps of little ones left on the plant so I will keep pollinating and see what happens.

Our cousin Colleen volunteered at the Victory Church Christmas food giveaway. Truckloads of donated produce was distributed to the people of Gympie. She was given some of the leftovers and passed them onto us. Wow,  so much food for free. With six teenagers staying here over Christmas, the donation was gratefully accepted.

In one of the bags were these melon. I have never seen them before and the closest I could find on Google was the Santa Claus Melon grown in Spain. Seems fitting. These are beautiful! A little like honeydew but much sweeter and with more of a pear sort of texture. If you spot any around I would strongly recommend buying them.

I need to find a place to plant my Herb Robert. He is really starting to spread out now.

The Brahmi is also going well. Think I might put this in a hanging pot on the verandah for easy access. I have been putting this in smoothies and it really does help with keeping my brain alert.

I found another watermelon hiding in the grass. That's two now.

Another golden squash that is in the basket. You can see the heat affected leaves. I have bought some shadecloth to construct a shelter for them.

As expected the Broccoli got sunburnt. I will look forward to growing some in the cooler months.

It's true what they say about beans - neglect them and they will thrive. 

The peanut plant is just hanging in there. My neighbour has been growing peanuts successfully by just planting raw peanuts. She said that because they are a legume they don't like too much organic matter so I will remember that when I plant more.

I haven't had much success with carrots and they are so cheap to buy so if we get a few it would be a bonus but not high on my list of production.

The simple beauty of a single rose bud.

Finally getting a few ripe lemons.

And the limes are not far away. They take a while to get going after a flood.

The pumpkin vine is half way across the lawn...and not a single pumpkin.

Extra layers of mulch to keep the moisture in the soil.

A start to the Xmas present wrapping. Not environmentally friendly but I did use some paper I had left over from last Xmas.

I made the spiced nuts for my Christmas hamper...

...and they taste amazing.

The link to the recipe is in my Simple Living Christmas post. Well, I hope all your Christmas plans are coming together. I will be back later with an update on my hampers. Lots of baking today now that the presents are well and truly sorted.

Friday, 20 December 2013

Thank You Kindred Spirits

I drove home from work today, my eyes barely open, my mind distracted and probably still sitting at my desk. I felt guilty, neglectful of my blog, yet lacking the brainpower to physically devise something worthwhile writing about. I felt like an all day sucker, those hard balls we'd buy from the vending machines as kids, turning the gold handle and holding our hands underneath to catch it. Just one ball that you would suck the life out of all day, until it was colourless, soft and ready to chew. Yep that sums up me right now!

Image Credit

Don't get me wrong, I love my job. My boss is my second dad and I love working with him. But when it gets too busy it gets stressy. If I make a single mistake I could be the cause of someone not moving into their home before Xmas...thank goodness I have not made one yet. But just the thought of it, and the process of doing everything right, has really sucked out my mojo this week...yeah baby.


So, that's where you come in. I threw my bags down, disappointed that my hubby who is on holidays did not cook dinner, and, let's be honest, pissed off, that the boys had used every dish in the house and not even unpacked the dishwasher! I went to the fridge, grabbed a cold glass of champagne from a bottle I had hidden behind the lettuce, and decided well, stuff your dinner, I am gonna log on and check my blog - which I have neglected since Tuesday IBOT (and was kind of thinking that I was no good at it anyway because my confidence is down). I am so glad that I chose that moment to ponder life in front of an LED screen. Why? Because Cheryl  pointed out that we are kindred spirits!

Kindred Spirit

Kindred Spirits are two people that make a special connection by sharing a bond that has joined them by the means of an experience that has drawn them together on a higher level of consciousness. This connection can be from the same experience at the same time or two separate experiences similar in nature. Cheryl and I often comment on similar experiences, and seem to like the same I am on the same journey she was a while ago...and I love that insight and connection I have for someone I have never met.

That's when I realised what blogging is all about. I started this journey because I wanted to help people who had been flooded, to offer knowledge and advice,,,and counselling of sorts. But what I have realised is that what I get back from the people I have met means so much to is equally, and if not more so, important that the message I am trying to share. I have met so many kindred spirits, like Cheryl...and here are just a few of them:

Going Grey and Slightly Green

Nanna Chel, who I connected with straight away. She took a novice blogger under her wing, showed her the ropes, and has a beautiful blog herself.  The things I am trying to achieve, and the experiences I am going through, she has already done, or wants to try as well. Nanna Chel, you are like an aunt or mother, a soft soul, whom I know would be a great friend should we ever meet.

Renee from Mummy Wife Me who writes so eloquently and comments so insightfully that I feel I know her. I admire her gracefulness and gentleness with her children. She takes me back to when my kids were little.

Essentially Jess

Jess, from Essentially Jess who surprises me with her quirky way of thinking, and so many times I can relate to that on so many levels. Sometimes I just need to see the world from your point of view, and embrace life from a different angle. I relate to the deep level of your thoughts and the process that gets you from there to the pages of your blog. 

Have A Laugh On Me

Emily, from Have a Laugh On Me, who makes me smile, but who is also so very down to earth and just about brought me to tears with her comments today, wishing my family a Merry Christmas, embracing my tradition of croissants, and offering the xx after her comments. I can so imagine us getting very tipsy with a bottle of champagne one day....albeit balancing the glasses on our keyboards.

With Some Grace

Grace from With Some Grace, with her cheeky twin boys, the look in their eyes so similar to my own twin boys. I so relate to her experiences with them, and know what she has to look forward too....OMG Grace I feel for you...just jokes, well, maybe :)

Bake Play Smile

Lucy from Bake Play Smile, who I met so early on and who has supported my blog...and tempted me with so many beautiful that white Rocky Road...bad woman. You are my evil (in a good way) kindred spirit :)

One Mother Hen

Alicia from One Mother Hen...definitely a kindred spirit through our gardening and her encouragement in the early stages on my blog... your help was amazing and invaluable. Without you I would not still be doing this.

There are so many more wonderful souls I have met as I approach my three month anniversary ( I will have to do a follow up post!), my initiation into the world of blogging...and I know now that if I ever feel down, I just need to reach out and someone will be there...real or not, to offer some sort of comfort or advice to a complete (or maybe not so complete) stranger such as me.

Or....I can wait for my husband to come home and share his Christmas shopping hoard:

A string of Pink Flamingo lights for our niece who thinks of that?

Merry Christmas!

Oh...and kindred spirits I used the photos from your blogs so if you would prefer me to remove them just let me know. It just made more sense to show your faces/covers rather than just a link but I don't know what the etiquette is here :) Still a newbie.

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