Thursday, December 16, 2010

ARRGH! eggs....

I woke from a lovely dream about harvesting carrots and redesigning the vegie garden to find my two year old had been busy. He was standing in the middle of the kitchen falling over and screaming in the mess he had just created 13 eggs and a litre of milk ALL over the floor. Dry weet-bix crumbled onto the table and more milk on them I have never seen so much chaos. For future reference it is extremely difficult to clean up that much egg especially before coffee. Master Two can climb, move chairs and undo any latch now and he is out of control with big brother happy to watch but not let us know what is happening as he think he can avoid blame that way (he has another think coming!). I know it is "the age" and that "boys will be boys" but I find it hard to believe that other people's children behave like this too? Is there really this much chaos and stress in other households with small boys residing within? If so why do we have children- I am beginning to think I should have had more hens and perhaps a small pig instead... does anyone want to swap?
What makes it harder is they are so cute and it is difficult to stay mad with them but I have no idea how to alter this behaviour... is Super Nanny at a loose end now?

Monday, December 13, 2010

A year of Blog

I just popped into Kezz's blog to find that she had just passed the one year anniversary of her blog and have found that I have done the same but I am not as diligent as posting so often but I hope that my little group of followers enjoys reading the posts I do- I love reading your posts too- it feels good knowing there are other like minded folk all over the world and we dont have to be selling things to one another or have a hidden agenda, just sharing and enjoying reading!
Thanks for helping me keep sane-ish!
XX
J

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Living Free..!

I have closed my Facebook account (well deactivated- they are hoping that you will return and will resort to emotional blackmail to try to ensure this.. Robyn will miss you...Danielle will miss you.. etc). This has been a great relief to me as I feel it is one step too far in the degeneration of human communication. (Whoops being a bit militant here- I am hormonal so you shall have to forgive and  maybe also give me cake and icecream) ok maybe not that bad but I don't like the cynical targeted marketing on the side. The insular selfish quality makes me uneasy-for some reason- I should love that side of things! But at least in rabbiting on in a blog or discussing on a forum I am forced to be creative rather than just tick a box- here is my personality I "like" the following things. It seems to reduce us all to the level of 14 year olds raving about the latest Ke$ha song(oh no don't get me started) and consenting to further bombardment of advertising for things we don't really want or need. I don't like the fact that none of our info is really secure, it sort of gives me the feeling that I am owned by Facebook. And lastly 2 million new users sign up every week and it made me feel too conformist "Baa I joined Facebook, Baa, I got an iPhone, Baa I am wearing what is in fashion and bought far too many owl ornaments" (Ok some of the owls are cute but you go onto Etsy and type Owl into the search I dare you- were are suffering from Owl saturation here soon we will reach Peak Owl! That was a pun you see on Peak oil which is bad- even though is sounds good). So no Facebook for me. If you would like to read another rant against Facebook I recommend reading this by Tom Hodgkinson whose works I have been reading lately and does raise some interesting points in his books- although he is rather more enamoured with smoking, alcohol and ukuleles than I am.
We are slightly at the mercy of seasonal income having our own business but I don't think we could go back to full time work for someone else- not in the same soul crushing working for the Government way we used to, we are too addicted to the flexible lifestyle we have. I wouldn't give up that much of my time for meaningless work for any money- it is not fulfilling and not enriching and your life can just slip away before you know it. money spent on trinkets and alcohol etc to try to make up for the fact your life is being sold pointlessly. well that's one perspective anyway.
Working full time in an unfulfilling pointless endeavour whether it be call centre or Public Service can be so draining that you find your creativity stifled and your motivation sapped so you find yourself too tired to cook good food, too apathetic to enjoy your garden and experiment and create. well that's what we have found anyway- I suppose it must suit some people or it just wouldn't be the done thing!
If it sounds like you have the same empty feeling from working full time at an unfulfilling job I thoroughly; recommend reading Tom Hodgkinson books, they really touched a nerve with me!

In the mean time I have been harvesting some volunteer potatoes, eating purple podded peas, experimenting with kefir, finding doors people have thrown away (the right size for our house with lovely brass and ceramic hooks as well!) making random Christmas things (a stocking and a choir of angels made out of gumnuts- crude but I hope endearing!) not being able to control our "spirited" "interactive" children (read between the euphemisms there) and being thankful for my life.

we had a great riverside picnic for our Sir talks A lots fourth birthday with a cake made out of what was on hand- a surplus of eggs and a pint of low fat cream (can't be whipped) which was on special- this turned out to be a chocolate pavlova topped with vanilla bean creme patissiere. Absolutely wonderful and I will make it again!



Thursday, December 2, 2010

Summer(ish) Rain free things and welcome volunteers.

November has been unexpectedly busy with the business thriving and all kinds of chaos with childcare because we refuse to have our children attend a centre which has a policy forbidding communication with children other than your own beyond saying hello and threatens parents with instant banning of the whole family if this is not complied with and then finding the right centre only to have the places whisked away for other children who, due to Government policy  have the right to take places from any one in any centre they choose. the fact that we run our own business and will have to close at the busiest time of the year so we can look after the boys full time which will leave us up to our eyeballs in debt and unable to provide for our own children is apparently of no consequence.
All this chaos and thriving business (which might be doing much less well soon if we don't get this childcare sorted) and dance performances at the middle eastern dance festival and refinancing all our mortgages and business debts with another bank has meant that all my good intentions for Na No Wri Mo have fallen by the wayside(well not all of them I have written about 3000 words) but I am pleased I have done some as I do need all the practice I can get. I notice that since I have been on FAcebook my writing has seemed harder because it is just so easy to update my status or post a link rather lazily instead of writing a proper blog entry (shame Jess, shame)
We are getting wonderful growing weather here and all sorts of volunteer vegetables are popping their heads up, potatoes are everywhere, pumpkins(I suppose- they are definitely curcubits of some description)and what would seem to be a block of popping corn are all happily growing themselves. The weeds are enjoying the alternating hot dry days and cooler drizzly ones. Some more volunteers in the garlic are these poppies which although thriving do look rather like they might be pharmaceutical grade opium poppies. We are not sure but a farmer friend thinks they might be- this week they will open and then we can identify them for sure. I suppose that some previous tenant might have been trying his hand at growing some for recreational purposes(apparently the opium is lifethreateningly strong in the wrong hands- don't try it at home) and when I have moved some soil for my tyre garden the seeds have been jostled into life again...they look rather magnificent! (actually I vagued out writing this and returned a couple of days later the poppies have bloomed and are not opium ones but are gorgeous!). We are eating a bit out of our garden but because I developed a rather irrational fear of having a glut of anything we are more snacking on broad beans and peas than living off them. Ah well next year I know PLANT MORE PEAS!
A local body works(panel shop) is closing and we went to see if they had any car parts we needed and found their dumpster was full of treasures. After asking permission we now have the most splendid gate (for the soon to be constructed chicken run) and the neatest clothes airer which we needed as ours is rubbish.
Freecycle has been great for me too, I have got rid of lots of stuff and have dollhouses for my boys for Christmas( I have seen them playing happily and calmly with doll's houses for ages at day care so I want to bring some of that into our house) and water and milk kefir grains. 

 I have stocked up on layer pellets for the hens which were on special and now it costs us about $1.55 a week to feed our chickens and in return we get 14 eggs which seems like great deal to me! I keep reading about keeping your own chickens not being economical but so far ours are very cheap to keep. I have bought a 50 meter roll of wire mesh so we can have a little free range enclosure for them but apart from this extra mesh and the couple of dollars a week for layer pellets the girls have only cost $35(for three hens and  $20 of chicken wire) which much cheaper than paying close to $5 for free range eggs at the supermarket (which i didn't do- I always bought tiny free range eggs from the fruit shop -24 for $4 but they were nearly as small as bantam eggs!).
 I have discovered that the children love dipping things ( I had already discovered the magic of making things in patty form) so they are going to have a lot of dips for summer- hummus and other legume based dips are easy and tasty and healthy so I am happy with this revelation!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Brief bloglet

Just a little blogging today- time is at a premium here at the moment-not least because I have been practising in my two dance classes for performances this Saturday night, I am trying to write a 50,000 word novel (trying being the operative word.) I seem to have a lurgy of some kind and the business is a mixture of small problems and thriving well. I have been making my own ciabatta which needs work but is delicious and also my own doughnuts.YUM...
 Have a look at this site for easy Ciabatta and check the homemade doughnuts I made! Fried in olive oil and surprisingly non greasy and light ( I tried a cake based recipe but they were nasty and greasy and stodgy- go the yeast based ones!) the recipe for these ones can be found here. The garden is growing well but so are the weeds and it is a battle to keep up. Random potatoes have sprung up in many places and pumpkin plants have started to appear. We also seem to be growing corn where the chicken ark was, the result of my darling little boys pouring the jar of kernels on the none to clean floor and consequently the chickens benefitted. It will be interesting to see if it grows!
I am have been planting and had a birthday and not had an existential crisis but I will see if I can cover anything that still seems interesting at later date!

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Thankful for the Sanctuary of my Home!

It seems an eternity since I blogged but I suppose it hasn't been really.
 It has been a frantic and not very enjoyable two weeks but rather than relive the stressful minutiae of very jolly thing going horrendously wrong (oh and throw in a week long bout of dreadful gastro which made me miss a paid dancing gig:() I will focus on the enjoyable parts of life.

The garden is growing well, the hazels and apples are well in leaf so I am really sure they are proper trees now, one apple is even blossoming, rather unwisely I feel, as it is really nowt more than a stick. The second lot of peas are growing well but I did give them some compost today as they look a bit pale and acerbic to me... so far we have silver beet, spinach, broad beans, carrots mixed with radishes, beetroot, red ribbed dandelion, chamomile, calendula, little gem lettuce, sunflowers, violas, chives and probably something else but I can't think what all growing away in the garden. 
 The compost heap is a great steaming pile which for once is a good thing! It is full of worms and I am bandicooting spadefuls out of the side of the pallet bin for my plants....as long as I keep turning it I have every faith it will all be good soon. Out there front I am winning a battle against the evils of "lords and ladies" which have spread everywhere and I am reclaiming my land, I have rescued some root bound boronia shrubs with gorgeous hot pink flowers from  the discount table at the local hardware shop and bought a spanky grevillia which has a very ordinary person name (Robyn something...). Using some recycled bricks I made a little platform in between and have bought a birdbath from the auctions as well as a real treat for us, a deco kitchen table and chairs and a kitchen dresser pantry with lead lighting. We are delighted as they really add character to our kitchen as well as helping me with storage (the dresser has a pantry and a built in bread box) and the Formica table is easier to clean than the cheap stained pine table we had before so with shrubs and new (old really actually quite old) furniture and a birdbath I am feeling that the place is less of a squalid hole than before...next I am working on the bathroom which is really dismal but really the whole thing needs to be rebuilt and I am just not going to do that. Maybe a new loo seat, a shower curtain and paint the dodgy bath surround.
 I have discovered the joy of making my own fruit buns which (with a little bread maker help) and they are better than but nearly indistinguishable from bakery buns. My little man insisted I make them but he didn't like the sugar glaze I made and so the next lot has none. The bread maker gets such a good workout, today I have made fruit buns and multi grain rolls, the bread is much nicer than the cheap stuff at the supermarket. I have made naan, pizza, savoury scrolls- I am yet to master pita or focaccia but I hope to soon. I gave up entirely on sourdough, it was way too much work and I really prefer a plain yeasted "rustic" style bread like a ciabatta rather than a sourdough anyway.
Speaking of giving up we sent the ducklings to a wildlife carer as two suddenly died for no discernible reason (which apparently they do frequently) so we wanted to give the remaining two a fighting chance by sending them away.
The chickens however are earning their keep and although they are still a bit pecky they look much better than they did when they arrived. They are keeping us in huge golden yoked eggs and I am ever so grateful!
I really enjoy reading everyone else's blogs as they help keep me grounded and inspired even when everything in "real " (i.e. the world outside my house) is going wrong. Keep on keeping on everyone!

Monday, September 27, 2010

Spring Growth and Sudden Ducklings

 Spring weather is keeping us on our toes and as I have been typing it has swung from being a beautiful sunny day to raining heavily and icy, there have been blustery blasts as well. The garden has been growing well, the first spring growth has begun in earnest for the new hazels and apples which is very exciting for us as we were ever so slightly worried that we had bought sticks or that we would kill them before they grew. The old apricot tree is flowering and now in leaf and I hope the wild winds haven't blown too many blossoms off because the old fashioned fruit it produces is so very flavoursome. The boys and I are out mulching, weeding and planting as often as we can and my little helpers are getting the hang quickly, in fact Sir Talks a lot begs me to plant with him "Mummy, can we pweeeease plant some seeds...I weeely want to!". In the face of such cute begging I have acceded to his requests we have planted many seeds, more peas(the last ones died) beetroot, red ribbed dandelion, German Chamomile, radishes, red cored carrots, sunflowers, calendula, nasturtiums, basil, feverfew and some chilis. we are also trying the deep stem cutting technique we saw on Gardening Australia last Saturday to grow some lavender and Rosemary. We are also trying to grow some old potatoes in a tyre which I have been plonking the soiled straw(actually sugar cane mulch) from the hen house. We are getting right experimental this spring... It all sounds very impressive but the garden is still scruffy and not overly productive!
 The chickens are doing well, the boys love collecting snails and feeding them to the chickens who love them and give us giant tasty eggs.They love the scraps and the weeds too so it is a good arrangement for everyone.
I have started to trim down the number of toys the boys have, they both can spend hours with snails and sticks and kicking a sod of grass around but toys don't keep them entertained for nearly as long, some of the toys don't capture their imagination either so Freecycle is doing well out of me at the moment as many toys have been given their marching orders. It was entertaining to have the boys cull their own toys but unfortunately the initial pile contained a much loved train and four of my childhood teddy bears so we needed to offer some guidance with what is the right kind of toy to give away- one that you don't play with and is actually yours!
Yesterday our little family expanded again with us finding four baby shelducks wandering about the suburbs with nary an adult in sight. When we saw them for the second time we decided that we should collect them for their own safety as cats roam Launceston constantly so now we have four baby ducks. They imprint very quickly and think we are their parents now and they love to wander about inside (once our long suffering but bloodthirsty cat is locked in his favourite cupboard).

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Can Coffee Change lives?

I have been the fortunate recipient of a share hamper of Goodies from Cadbury Bar of Plenty and Republica Fair trade Coffee. The chocolate is fine, I prefer mine darker and the Bar of Plenty theme doesn't seem to add much to it being not particularly more interesting than a standard bar but the coffee, oh goodness me!
It is from Republica Coffee in Sydney and we are drinking the organic and fair trade Timor. Not only is the coffee delicious but I have noticed some other effects which were totally unexpected. I normally get a wee bit jittery from coffee, increased heart rate, sometimes a "plum stone" feeling in my throat and it can spark off my anxiety and for these reasons I don't drink it that often but four days into having a cup daily and this Coffee doesn't affect me in the same way. On the contrary I just feel healthy and efficient, happy and determined, I have also cut down on my tea as I don't feel like I need as much and my appetite has lessened so I am not scarfing biccies and chocolate as much because I am just not craving it. I haven't done any research on this but I wonder if it is because it is organic? I wouldn't normally attribute great effects to produce being organic, I would just prefer that they were because to me it make sense to farm organically but  my darling husband and I are having the same experience with the wonderful Republica coffee. we also had the same experiences with our cheap and nasty coffee which is why we rarely had it, loved the taste (but the new coffee tastes so much better!) but didn't like the effects.
We will be buying the Republica all the time now, Husband of mine is now scared of running out and is already devoted to his stove top espresso with low fat milk! Luckily the local supermarkets stock it...
And of course one can feel happy that one is supporting fair trade and organic whilst feeling so much better. 
Can coffee change lives? Oddly enough I can affirm that it is changing our lives and I hope that the coffee workers are enjoying the benefits too!
Has anyone else had this experience with something unexpected, does eating or drinking organic make a huge difference to you? Has anyone else had this quality coffee epiphany? I would love to hear from any one who has anything to say on this!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

25 things post!

As inspired by  Mumma Troll and Kezz here are 25 things about me you may not know...

1. I have never met my father and would have no idea how to track him down if I wanted to.

2. I eat just enough (ethically sourced) fish and seafood to not be considered a vegetarian

3. I used to suffer badly from panic attacks, migraines and severe anxiety. I don't so much anymore which I think is to do with my husband and lifestyle.

4. I used to have the ability to sink enough alcohol to sink a football team I just don't do it anymore, I have a light beer every few months, just enough it would seem to prevent me from calling myself teetotal!

5. I have enrolled in University three times with nothing to show for it.

7. Somewhere in me is a writer waiting to get out but I don't know what to do with her!

8. I love sprouts and sprouting seeds I have two sprouter, one jar type and one triple layered, I found each of them at charity shops.

9. I am yet to find a vegetable I don't like eating.

10. I am messy, I have always been messy and trying not to be is a real struggle for me.

11. I feel very passionately about the plight of the hardworking poor in India and other third world countries but not much sympathy for the poor in Australia, most of whom live lives that 3rd world poor could only dream of, all paid for by welfare handouts!

12. I spent my childhood living in books and daydreaming.

 13. I spent my adolescence reading, daydreaming and acting- I wanted to be an actor until I was 19.

14. I was 26, married and a mother before I passed my driving test. 

15. I now own a car hire company which I started with my husband!

16.I was terrible at maths as a child and even worse at managing money when I first started working, I think I am better now...

17. I think showering really frequently is a waste of resources and time and probably causes premature aging!

18. I have hyper mobile joints which means I am lovely and bendy for Yoga but also can turn and sprain an ankle easily.

20. I gave birth without drugs both times, not because I was passionate about it, I gave birth within 10 minutes of arriving at the birth centre for my second son- there was no time for pain relief (or the birth pool unfortunately!).

21. I love chocolate, shoes, the colour pink and think Johnny Depp is gorgeous (yes I am female and breathing!).

22. My nails break easily and as much as I would love to maintain glamorous red nails I normally have grubby little paws with dirt under the nails.

23. I adore the island state of Tasmania where I now live but don't particularly care about the mainland any more than any other country.

24. I am not actually related to many of my relatives, they are mostly friend of family and step grandmothers... the only people I share blood with I don't really talk to.

25. I am not a fatalist and do believe that we control my own destiny... however my husband is definitely my soul mate and I do get the feeling that some things are or are not meant to be...

So there you go.. that was harder than I thought it would be, I though that talking about myself would be easy!
I would love to read your 25 things as well!

Monday, September 6, 2010

Frugal Fun!

I know some of you out there will appreciate the odd sentence that follows.
I am enjoying being flat broke. 
It really it is a wake up call as it is easy to slip into complacency and not appreciate money for what it is. We have found that once our needs are met the only  desire we have for the stuff is to try to help others (unfortunately our pie in the sky dreams for this are very large scale so we will need much money for them!).
 We have sold our little car which was excess to our needs and have managed to scrape together some big ticket items which have sold on eBay (a convertible roof hardtop, a Mazda engine and gear box) as well as my old maternity gear which are doing quite well. We collected scrap metal and we got a princely $47 for it, which paid for $20 of chicken wire and $15 for three hens rescued from the poultry farm nearby.(more on hens later) The remainder has gone on chocolate, cream and strawberries for the Little Man's second birthday today. I found everything he needed at charity shops, a toy wombat, a solid tonka digger, a hard hat and a Thomas the Tank engine doona cover all in excellent condition, this combined with a $2 bottle of bubble mix has given him a lovely stash of toys he is very impressed with and totalled $11.20. I always make my own cards and I had the whole lot set on the coffee table for him to find in the morning I didn't use any wrapping, he is too tiny to find excitement in the removal of wrapping and the mess and waste have turned me against it!
Last weekend we went to Hobart to have a look at some properties again but I made sure we didn't spend any unnecessary money. I packed a thermos of coffee (real stove top stuff, not instant) as I find that tea just isn't very good from a thermos, some popcorn, left over latkes cakes from the night before, carrot sticks, coffee and walnut muffins, boiled eggs, stawberries and blueberries,  water for the boys to drink. This went into our giant picnic basket and after our tour of real estate we went to the Royal Tasmanian Botanical gardens and had a lovely picnic. There was a curious duck who made the mistake of coming to see the Littlest man and was promptly and joyfully chased and we had a great explore of the organic Veggie patch as seen on Gardening Australia and Sir Talks  A Lot asked what every single plant in the veggie patch was... every single one!
Yesterday was the Littlest man's 2nd birthday so we went to Cataract gorge for yet another picnic (they are big in our house.. or rather out of our house) which was quite flooded due to the wild heavy rains of Saturday. We had popcorn and cream puffs and chocolate cake and went for a trek which in retrospect was a bad idea with two sleepy toddlers who made our lives difficult but hey! all a learning experience. Cataract Gorge is just amazing and we are blown away every time we visit which is why we were so determined to have a walk around despite the foolishness in hindsight (muddy tantrumming toddlers anyone?).
Over the last week we have finished our chicken coop from recycled and salvaged pallets and roof iron and we are very delighted to have our rather moth eaten looking chickens in situ. unfortunately it has been raining so the coop is in the shed but we hope to move it into the sunshine today- once those dastardly sheep have left (they have eaten all our grass and keep knocking over the gate so it is back to the farm for them.. today!) Our hens are brown hi lines and they have already given us four eggs!the eggs are much much bigger than the tiny free range ones we normally buy- I think one of our eggs is worth two shop bought ones!
All said and done we are having more fun than ever since our economy drive started in earnest!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Belt Tightening

 There was a Federal Election on the Weekend. There was no clear winner, I think this was because both the choices were bad. If I was our Prime Minister I wouldn't have called an election until I had proven myself and the memory of her removing her predecessor had faded but there we go, she did, and now it looks like she will be amongst our shortest serving Prime Ministers (Not as short as Harold Holt...). Tasmania had a similar result in it's election. Politics. eeeerrrrrrrgh. I don't trust anyone who wants to be a politician to run the country. A well, things are just the same here as they were before the election!
We are Thrifty, Frugal folk here at Apple Isle Cottage even out littlies love to find things that "might be useful". My exuberant two year old found a surf brand hat yesterday when we were walking back from the markets, I quickly checked that it wasn't dirty and he ran around with it on his head joyfully yelling "HAAAAAT". That hat is now at home but I am not sure what we will do with it yet. None of us really wear surf brand beanies but it might be good to put a rescued animal in or make a tea cosy. There can be many good findings around here when there has been an event at the stadium across the road. I may be a bit too much of a hoarder though, I have many plastic tomato sauce bottles which I saved and washed after some large event.. still not sure what I am going to do with them but they look so useful, like the aluminium freezer trays I found in a car we bought at auction (I also found some lovely red nail polish in that car!). Speaking of auctions I bought a box lot of cookware at our local auctions the other day and goodness did  I get some value. For the price of a stock pot I got all this.
 There wasn't much dross either, all good quality gear and now  I will be baking like mad. Things I never knew I needed such as I am glad I have two kitchens I need it to store all my cookware!
We have "Issues with Money" at present, the rates were all due, childcare had to be paid, a hot water cylinder blew etc etc. All the mundanities of life accumulated at once and we are "Belt Tightening" phase here. It has been a month since the last major supermarket shop and we have kept our cupboards well stocked with all the staples required for a healthy tasty diet and I will try to stay away from the supermarket for a week or so. This means I need to cook more but today I used my biscuit press to make around 100 biscuits, I have made a batch of muesli, My new muffin tins have help me produce 12 coffee and walnut muffins and 12 blueberry ones (very good basic recipe), bread maker whipped me up a batch of dough to make pizza scrolls and is now busy on some wholemeal bread. That should keep the wolf from the door for a wee while. 
It seems like last week I was all spendy- boots and books and all sorts but things change rapidly!
 I have transferred some of my points earned from surveys into pay pal vouchers, now I can have a wee eBay indulgence if I must so I don't feel deprived (Thrift is my lifestyle choice but I can get a bit spoilt and huffy when I must be thrifty!).
 Just before I finish this post can I just say having fostered sheep for the last few weeks I can see why people eat them, seriously- they are incapable of bonding, make lots of mess and are very rough- no perceivable personality. In fact they are making me want to eat  (lamb)meat again- I would give up on my vegetarian tendencies just to eat lamb these days!. And get some chickens who are lovely and give eggs! Sorry if this sound heartless  I normally am a very touchy feely save the small fluffy creatures type but these sheep are so terribly stupid!

Sunday, August 15, 2010

There is Nothing as Cunning as a Sheep

This weekend started strangely enough with me rescuing a sheep which was pinned under a Mazda Mx5 windscreen. Both were quite undamaged. by some happy twist of fate the lamb was in the convex part of the shield and must have also cushioned it's landing so both are doing well. Good. Right then. Lambs are starting to graze on anything they can find and sucking down many bottles of milk. Also Baaaaing an awful lot which lead to us calculating how long it would be until they could go back to the farm and what sort of useful decorative pet we would be trying next. We decided that enough was enough we would have to start on a Chicken coop device. I have no idea when we get some chickens but my dearly beloved seems to think that one just collects them from emergency stopping lanes about the place. There are many beautiful Chickens wandering about the lay-overs of small towns in Tasmania, always with a rooster. I guess this a side effect of being a fox free island (there are sightings of Foxes and people whipping themselves into a frenzy over scats but no-one has yet found alive fox despite millions of state funding being poured into locating foxes.. but that is another story.). Ah yes, chickens. we have started a chicken coop using reclaimed used pallets and will be using scrap colourbond roofing for the shelter. So far so much fun but we didn't make much headway today due to the rain and the kidlets.
So we went for a journey to Burnie where we were most astonished to end up in Crusty's bakery (by virtue of finding a loyalty card with a free coffee for the taking on the ground and searching for the place to redeem it) and we had a treat where we all had a wee cakie thing. So one apple turnover, a giant real cream puff, a marshmallow cone, a jelly slice and two mugs of coffee cost us $9.70!!!! unheard of! I wouldn't have expected much change from $20 even with the free coffee. 
And it was good too! (!) Burnie is lovely. Set right on the waters of the Bass Strait, Burnie has had a troubled past as one of the most polluted places but when the paper mill closed and the pigment factory stopped it's dangerous business the town was forced to diversify and has recovered to be a really picturesque place (albeit with a rather industrial feel.)Great Views!
I am experimenting with sourdough at the moment and I wouldn't say I have been successful yet but here is a photo of my first ever sourdough loaf.
My paragraphs seem a bit disjointed today and I don't know whether this is because I am very tired of because I have just discovered facebook and been spending too much time exchanging snippets of information with friends I haven't seen for over a decade. All of whom seem to be rabid Greens supporters for the upcoming election. I can't wait for the election to be over! Speaking of greens (I was, loosely) I must sing the praises of the small patch of chickweed growing next to the back door. I harvest some nearly every day , chop it finely and pop it in something I am cooking. I used chickweed and garlic tops on a pizza the other day and use it as a parsley substitute in my garlic and oil pasta dishes. The boys are quite content to eat it too so chickweed gets my dull roar stamp of approval, it is convenient, fresh, free, healthy and the children will eat things with it in. My next Dull Roar stamp of approval goes to making things into patties and frying them. It doesn' matter if they are fritters or latkes or pakora, my eldest boy will gobble down any kind of patty/fritter device no matter what the contents. He at so many red cabbage, pumpkin, onion and spinach pakora the other day his tummy was tight as a drum. He likes to dip in a sort of raita I make with yoghurt, mint garlic tops and sometimes chickweed (!). Actually dipping is very popular with the littlest man too but he only eats the thing in which he is dipping, not the dipper so I have to get a collection of healthy things in which to dip (rather than just tomato sauce). It makes me unreasonably happy that my children will eat what I cook them!

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Chilblains Ahoy!

Winter will be coming to a close but it has been taking it's toll. A lack of sunshine and the cold restricting activities seems to have given me a touch of SAD which I am fighting vehemently now I have realised that my Eeyore like view of the world was a symptom and not a reality. It is something to be aware of next winter as I recall having a particularly bad time of it last year. I am applying the principles from The Depression Cure: The 6-Step Program to Beat Depression without Drugs which include regular exercise, daily sunlight exposure, fish oil supplements, regular sleep and social connectedness and, meaningful activity being aware of destructive thought patterns. So far so good and my headaches are much less as well. It is sign of the way the much talked of "society" is heading that the above are considered a "cure" a "prescription" instead of part of everyday life. By rights we should all have these things already incorporated in our life but these days you really have to make the effort. 
 I have built a new little garden just for this years peas as they were all root bound but I was going to have to fence off the garden they were going in due to little sheep people being about but I have recovered a piece of land in a forgotten corner and my Little Sir Talks A Lot helped me a lot with turning it into a proper garden. After forking over the ground we pulled out bits of bricks and detritus lay some cardboard from the sheeps pen on top( I use opened out cardboard boxes in areas of high sheep traffic, then compost it or use it for mulch as it is errrmmm pre-seasoned), a few handfuls of pelletised chicken manure and a layer of rotted grass clippings, then a layer of sugar cane mulch. I planted the poor cramped peas in pockets of compost and coco peat. they have a dubious structure to climb made of sticks and string. The peas are purple podded and have grown beautifully so far so I am expecting great things from them! I am also pleased to have used what was about the place instead of having to buy new chicken wire to keep sheep out.
 Working with my little man was great and he was genuinely helpful. Finally my persistence (You will help and we will both like it even though I am shrieking "no no no no get off the seedlings arrrghhh! not over there!" and you are thinking "this isn't fun at all, where's my Thomas the tank engine?" because it is wholesome and productive and good for you dammit!) has paid off. Lugging things about and digging and creating in the out doors makes me feel so much better about life but it is murder on my chilblains.
My poor knuckles are swollen and itchy with chilblains and it is so hard to keep them out of water and extremes of temperatures. It is also hard to wear gloves because I can't type or garden wearing warm gloves and my gardening ones don't really help with the cold!Well that is my whinge for now.
 I am being very indulgent lately- apparently it can be very good as part of dealing with depression- treating yourself to things (probably not my old way of doing it which was a litre of Cafe Grande ice cream and a family block of dairy milk though) so I have bought the books I wrote about last time and I am waiting for them and a pair of new boots La Canadienne Women's Tahra Leather Boot,Black,6 M ooooh they are lovely. My boots were all cracking around the soles and wouldn't polish up any more and were all baggy and saggy ergh. My darling husband tells me it is good for the soul to buy new shoes. No, you can't have him, he is mine!

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Progress

Winter is still in full swing but my fruit and nut trees arrived from Woodbridge fruit Trees. 10 hazel suckers, a Cox's Orange Pippin, a Pomme De Neige and a Beauty of Bath Apple tree have now found there homes in our backyard. The Hazels have been planted as a hedge along a boundary fence, probably a bit close together but I want to ensure a hedgey result ASAP as I am ever so impatient and I justify this to myself by saying it is for pollination. Two of the apples are going to be espalliered and the third is planted in a corner and I will weight the branches to form a weeping shape for easy harvesting. This is the plan now, I have absolutely no experience with trees but I do have high hopes. The Hazels look ready to burst into life. I have mulched them with aged grass clippings (to help with the acidity) and sugar cane mulch. The apple trees I have just mulched with the sugar cane. I have been buying mulch, gardening gloves etc with gift vouchers I earn from surveys which is a nice way to pay for my hobby!
The peas are ready to plant out really but the bed I am planning in is in with the sheep so I either need to modify my plan or build a wee fence as the sheep have been starting to ruminate which means they are nibbling on everything.
Baby Hazels
Oatlands windmill
We had a fact finding mission to Hobart as we are looking to expanding the business down there and the Southern Midlands are so dry with terrible tree die back. there are many gorgeous little towns and villages along the way and I amused myself taking random photos on the way.
I have been having alot of fun with reading and I have a long list of books on hold at the library but two I am reading at present are just wonderful.
 The Thrift Book by India Knight is an accessible book making being thrifty, ethical and treading lightly seem appealing to those of us who don't wish to wear all natural hemp, secret hippies waiting to break out whilst remaining well groomed, foodies who don't wish to waste their money and those who like India and myself just weren't very financially literate and living on credit cards regardless of income. It isn't a book for students living on the bones of their bum but I was charmed and intrigued by many of her suggestions and I will be buying my own copy. I have since read some reviews on Amazon and I think people are unreasonably harsh and missing the point of the book. It is a light book glamorising saving money and the planet for those who are not naturally inclined and might prefer to spend their credit cards on cupcakes and corsages but are finding their lives rather empty and difficult as a result. Her writing style is frank and conversational and I thoroughly enjoyed it.
I am buried in Thrifty Gardening by Alys Fowler which is a gorgeous book similar in aesthetic to the Self Sufficientish Bible by Andy and Dave Hamilton, lovely pictures and great ideas for growing a garden for very little money using reclaimed and re purposed bits and bobs and how to make it a pleasing place to be....I will be buying this one too. I do love books about being canny and saving money..I have a bit of an addiction which is draining my pocket BUT I would swear and declare that I have saved the purchase price of each and every one by following the tips contained within. I also try to borrow from the library first and that way I know if I really can't live without the book rather than just being sucked in by the pretty pictures. If I am reticent to return it at the end of the fortnight (or month if I have renewed) I know I will be getting a good value and much loved book I will turn to time and time again.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

And then there were Sheep.

I was out in the front yard foraging for chickweed, wild rocket and  nasturtiums for my lunchtime salad when my neighbour, having greeted me on her way out asked incredulously "Do you have a sheep now?"
I had to admit that yes in fact we now had two sheep- she had heard a "Baa" when she was bring in some wood for her fire and said to me "I thought it must be you guys". So there we have it. Our neighbour thinks of us first when she hears the bleat of a sheep in the inner city suburb. We are officially the "people most likely to have sheep in our backyard" and fair enough too, we do now. Two orphaned lambs, twin brothers whose mother died before they were even cleaned up. Orphaned lambs are a steep learning curve and I had forgotten how much work they are but given the other option for them was being left alone in a paddock we thought it was better to have them with us. Our boys love them in the way that toddlers do- vigorously, but they are learning to feed them bottles and even the youngest is having a go, after berating the lambs for drinking "my milk!". we plan to keep them until they are weaned or our farmer friend finds a ewe who has lost her lamb to match them up with but unfortunately being bred for no other purpose and being boys it would seem they will be going for meat eventually. We consoles ourselves with the fact that they wouldn't even be alive had we not taken them in and surely some good life is better than none at all?
We have had some sunny weather (which is fading into overcast as I type) but the warmth of the sun is most rejuvenating and cheering. We have had a cold winter- last year it was wet wet wet but not as cold. This it would seem, is a genuine Tasmanian Winter complete with nasty chilblains for me. the chilblain's were so bad I actually spent good money (shock! Horror!) on socks and gloves but I am delighted, especially with the socks which are from Cold Comfort In Tasmania, 100% wool and knitted on an antique sock machine.  and if you want wool socks this is the place to get them.
The garden is quiet and disheartening but I am trying to keep up the effort. I have some Early Cropping Massey Pea seedlings (only 7 as the rest rotted) and 11 purple podded pea seedlings started. Today we worked the bed (we being two small boys; "I halp!" says Master almost two whose talking is coming along great guns, and two sheep).
If anyone has a sure fire way to keep the cat out of my veggie bed so he stops leaving smelly "surprises" I would be most interested to hear what it is, wire over the bed didn't help, I put old brambles on the bed, I have planted rue near it...proprietary products are very expensive so I would want to be sure it would work. Damn Cat! The spinach and carrots are suffering greatly at his hand (well not hand exactly) at present.
I am branching out and doing "Bollywood Style" dancing this term which is fun. The little ones love the music and we dance around in their bedroom with them imitating my dancing which is very endearing and almost makes up for all the mess and stress they produce!
We were in the Hardware shop yesterday and I notice lots of "spring" gardening products on display. I think it is a little optimistic at this stage as well still have an official 5 weeks left of winter but I guess all the gardeners are waiting, hoping that soon the planet will warm and bloom and we can get some plants into the soil again!

Sunday, June 20, 2010

And now a return to our usual programming...

Well there have been many little tasks happening here.. since we have started taking the Creche's food scraps our compost has come along great guns. We pop the scraps on everyday and then a layer of aged grass clippings or fallen leaves. On Saturday I add our weeks worth of scraps from our kitchen bucket and then turn as best I can- the heap is now a happy steaming pile even in sub zero temperatures! Hurrah! 
My children are so exhausting at the moment I am finding it so draining it is hard to stay perky when they refuse to sleep during the day, filthy up their clothes as soon as they are put on, get into anything messy/dangerous/important that they can get their hands on as soon as my back is turned, talk, sing shout and fight constantly and demand food then spread it on anything they can reach all the rest of the time....everything becomes a big palaver with my boys! *sigh* I am so grateful we have a quality day care centre where the children are happy, it buys us some time to do things like run our business and oh I don't know.. spend some time as a couple! It is almost definitely an age related thing... please let them grow out of it!
We have some Jonquils popping their heads out amongst the general chaos of the garden- shows what I know- I thought they came along in Spring but we are only a few weeks into Winter. They are cheering to see especially with the happy looking Calendula flowers. Borage plants are charging ahead, I love their old fashioned blue flowers they ease my melancholy- well they are supposed to anyway...I have started planting annuals which I like and letting them go to seed so I end up with a kind of perpetual garden. I collect the seeds and fling them around places I would like more flowers and it might just work. The Calendula in the photo is a result of this approach. Very Dull Roar Philosophy...
Gardening is so humbling because I can do a lot of research and ask questions on lovely helpful forums but there is a gap in the knowledge which can only be closed by gardening myself in my garden, It will take years of trial and error, weaving new knowledge in when the old no longer works. I am very new to gardening and thankful that I don't have to support my family on the food I grow as there is so much for me to experience and learn before I can count myself as a Proper Gardener.
The ground is so cold and my little plants are just sitting and waiting, not growing. I wonder if they would like some more compost or mulch or if they will just sit until the weather warms up a bit.
I have planted some peas and have them in a plastic blanket bag and in a foil lined cardboard box to reflect the light and hopefully stop them becoming leggy. I have started a mushroom kit and am trying to encourage the mold growth by keeping the polystyrene box in an insulated bag and spraying with warm water...hopefully I will report success but it is bloomin' cold here! The mushroom kit is being kept inside so that should make a difference.
I have been quite obsessed with trying to bulk buy and avoid the supermarkets lately. Haven't been for a week and a half but I have been buying enormous quantities at the Cash and Carry- 25kg of sugar, 2.5kg cheddar cheese, 2kg mozzarella for the freezer etc 10kg of Tasmanian plain flour for $8.50. The local fruit shop has been doing 10kg of local Atlantic potatoes for $6.95 and $5.50 for 10kg of local onions so that will be keeping our costs nicely down as well as eating locally. 
Hope you are all going well in your quests of life!





Saturday, June 19, 2010

Presumption of Innocence. In Support of Andy Muirhead.

 This Blog is different from my usual but soon I shall return with fascinating updates regarding compost and homemade muesli. Please bear with me as it is something I feel strongly about.
Friday before last I tuned into ABC 1 for my regular fix of Collectors. I have done for years- we both love it. Watching this show has got us through two pregnancies, interstate moves, starting a business, we watched it together on honeymoon. We have entire new collections started simply because we saw something that caught our eye on the show. It has cult status and is unique Australian television. People from all over the country are united whether they collect antique bottles or novelty erasers or things they find on the ground. It is a great unifier and wonderful family show.
Except when it isn't on, and the website has been taken down and all reference to the show is removed KGB style. And why? Because the host Andy Muirhead has been charged with one count of accessing child pornography using a carriage service(ie: the 'net). Not convicted, mind, but charged and will have his day in court in August. What ever happened to the presumption of innocence? The ABC has been quick to convict this poor man and remove all traces of his career with ABC TV and Radio before he has even been on trial...I didn't see the ABC news piece but evidently they even showed his house on TV for goodness sake! Behaving the way ABC has should be a criminal offence as the mud they have thrown at Andy is the kind that rarely washes off. No-one but the police and Andy have any idea what has actually occurred in the one count of accessing child pornography but there is something I do know, these days a fully developed 17 yearold can post photos obscene of him/herself and if you happen to look at it and not report it that is you accessing child porn. If Miley Cyrus gets out of the car with no knickers on and paparazzi publish a shot that is child porn but you can wander into any department store and buy high heeled boots, padded bras and mini skirts for your three year old and wander down the street with her looking like a cheap hooker  and that is fine. Unless you take a photo of it. Then it is child porn. In fact any photo of a child with no clothes on would appear to be pornography these days. I have several photos of my babies in the bath- I wonder if that is porn these days?
When we were renovating a rental property my husband found a porn collection in the roof space including a magazine which had models who all looked like they were prepubescent but claimed to all be 18. These "women" looked like little girls, no hips, undeveloped breasts, no pubic hair and yet they were arranged in hard core positions and talking about how much they liked doing a variety of Xrated activities with much older men, often calling them daddies. But that's OK, apparently as soon as you turn 18 your decision making abilities are much more superior to those when you are 17 and you can now choose to portray yourself as a 12 year old. As long as you are not one. But if you are a 15 year old who looks 25 and do the same a crime has been committed. Am I the only one who sees that no matter the age of the model, if she looks 12 then it is promoting pedophilia? Until matters such as allowing tarty adult style clothes for toddlers to 12 yearolds and allowing 18 yearolds looking 12 to participate in the sex industry I believe that the Child pornography laws in this country are a Joke.
Andy- I have no idea what you may or may not have done but rest assured in this house we still embrace a presumption of innocence. 
Shame, ABC management, Shame, you have shown yourselves to be grubby little people with no more regard for human rights than the worst Communist dictators. Last month I won a magazine subscription because of my entry on Why I love the ABC (Collectors was amongst the reasons). Unfortunately I wouldn't be entering if the same competition was held this month. My love of the ABC has gone decidedly cold. You have failed Andy Muirhead and you have failed Collectors fans.
You can read more here and here.

Monday, May 31, 2010

Dull Roar Beauty

Like all my approaches in life my 'beauty routine' is mainly aimed at not looking too scruffy without actually making much effort, spending much money or creating much waste.
I have been trimming my own hair for a few years now but not been doing a great job, luckily the length was always enough to distract people from the poor trim job. That was until last night- I tried these instructions for a "U-shaped trim" and took about 5 inches off my length. I am delighted with the results and the length (just below my bra back) makes my hair much more manageable than the straggly bottom length hair I had before.
Emboldened by this experiment I had been searching for a better hair removal technique for those hairs I didn't want so long ie legs and other places. I have been using "disposable razors" and used about four a year but if they are any good they tend to have strange gimmicks (lavender scented handles?) and much packaging. I seem to have been searching for hair removal techniques for most of my adult life! I have just finished "sugaring my legs" which was really just like waxing, i used an old popsicle stick as a spatula and paper bags which had held food from the bulk food shop instead of calico strips. I also made the sugar gel myself. It worked well and so I tried the traditional method of sugaring without the strips which definitely requires some refinement on my part. You can read about sugaring here .
I needed to "release some tension" after a particularly maddening day with noisy disobedient children so have been happily smashing up concrete preparing for the arrival of my hazelnut suckers and digging the ground to prepare for the apple trees. I appear to have stumbled onto the old loo pit (the loo used to be in the shed along with the laundry many years ago) and found over 40 beer bottles and other delights- most complete!
Our creche director has put up a little display on being "green" at "bubby school" as we call it and she was explaining to us that they were green in many ways but much of the food scraps had to be thrown out due to the wormery not consuming as much as was thrown out and we stepped in to save the day! I am delighted to be getting a big container of food scraps to add to our compost until we complete our planned chicken ark. It wasn't going to be worth our while having chooks as we get free range eggs very cheaply but if we have the creche food scraps the amount we would spend on pellets would be much less! Hurrah! In the mean time our compost heap is growing with food scraps, leaves and grass clippings and the birds around here are looking very content! A mutually beneficial arrangement for all!

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Dull Roar Tea time: Pop a Woolly Hat on the Teapot and Reclaim the Cupcake!

I think I am going a bit potty bonkers...possibly thanks to small children who seem to believe it is their role in life to make noise and throw things at every available opportunity or perhaps the accountant who forgot to put over $67,000 worth of deductions in our tax (no wonder we had a tax bill!). Or perhaps it's the cold.
We has our first frost last night and by crikey is it cold here! I have ordered some bare rooted apple trees and hazelnut suckers for winter and I am having a great time trying to plan the garden now!
The aphids and white fly are reaching critical point so I am trying to learn about making more habitats in my garden to bring in friendly predators, the darling Husband is very keen on buying a box of ladybirds but we are unsure if the onset of winter is the best time...
The youngest son is most vexing at present and insists on removing his trousers and running around with fat little mottled thighs going blue in the chill!
I had a lovely day today with the boys at the local park which is a magnificent Victorian anachronism with fountains and a monkey display and big beautiful trees. We had vacated the house so hard working husband could work on some auto electrics( stereo dontcha know) without the shrieks of battling babies upsetting the soldering. Once we left the park I had a hankering for some lunch and happened on a Sushi train restaurant which I had never seen before. In what can only be described as a moment of madness I decided the boys might think it was fun.  They did BUT I would only recommend trying to sit on unstable bar stools and eat tiny Japanese food with chopsticks with a three year old on one side and a 20 month old on the other (both very... Ahem .. vigorous) if you are feeling particularly resilient yourself. As they say- that which doesn't kill you can only make you stronger (I do think I could feel myself having a minor cardiac event at one point though).
We had to buy a new teapot the other day as the very daggy glass one we had was developing some alarming cracks, with the cold weather setting in we thought it prudent to get a teapot which would not be so volatile with expansion and contraction of temperature changes. The new teapot is ceramic and once the chill set in we found we had to return to warming the pot and we really needed a tea cosy. I found on e*ay they cost upwards of $12.95 no matter how hideous which I was outraged by! I used to wear one I found in the costume room at college. It was great because the piggy tails would stick out the spout and handle holes and my head stayed warm in the cold theatre. on relating this story to the darling the husband he pointed out what should have been obvious- buy a woolly hat for the teapot; so I set off to the op-shop and picked one up that matches the teapot very smartly and was $2. Lovely tea now! 
I have been baking today (oven helps keep the house a little warmer!) and made cupcakes. Real cupcakes. Not these generic sickly fluffy paps of nothing topped with luridly pastel greasy butter cream but a solid little open crumb chocolate butter cake with an honest chocolate glace icing. Sort of like the Inspector Frost of cupcakes (OK... I am actually watching A Touch of Frost at the moment but I swear the cakes and he are very similar although he is not chocolate.. told you I was going mad). No wonder some people hate cupcakes now- the "Sex and the City" American style that is so "popular" at the moment is truly awful. I am most alarmed by American food in general actually- it seems that so much of it is not actually made of food at all! Please tell me I am not the only one to suffer from this brand of food racism!

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Smashed Pinky and a Nigella Crush.

Well having a business takes up so much time but I am pleased that this week things have been a wee bit quiet, it has allowed me to regroup and for us to re-evaluate the direction the business is going in, things are going to be getting pretty exciting again with high hopes and hard work ahead but we think it will pay dividends.
I smashed my pinky finger in the car door and much to my slighty queasy astonishment the nail has cracked across to the bed and looks like a nasty bruised zombie finger now. Quite fascinating but extremely painful and I am wondering how it will heal. The nail shouldn't pop off because the crack has allowed the blood that would normally build up and make the nail black to drain out slowly. I haven't posted a picture in the interest of keeping my band of followers.. it is quite hideous really! The blood kept flowing but didn't stop me from being part of a belly dancing performance at a 50th Wedding Anniversary party last night- I am getting $15 for it- I wonder if I can claim my costumes as a business expense?
The finger has made gardening a bit tricky but we have made a valiant effort planting beetroot today, I don't know if it will grow well but Sir Talks Alot wanted to plant some beetroot so there we go!
 We walked to a hardware shop today and I had an exciting time with two curious toddlers, the younger one causing semi deliberate chaos and the older being a wee bit clumsy which had the same result of knocking over various cyclamen on display for mother's day. The boys love the water features at the Garden centre and Sir Talks Alot is very interested in all things gardening and cooking now, choosing bananas and broccoli at the fruit shop and following me around the garden about 1 foot behind at all times. He understands about composting and improving the soil but unfortunately his little brother will not stay off the newly turned soil and both of them regularly fall over into the garden beds for no apparent reason- it is not deliberate but a bit exasperating anyway!
We have been doing a lot of walking lately, the littlest man in the pram with a scoot board attached to the back for Sir talks Alot and we are finding it easy to walk about and have some family time which is really cutting down on non essential car use and getting us some good old fresh air and exercise!
I think Sir Talks A lot has developed a bit of a crush on Nigella Lawson- he has previously told me that "Nigella is a weally nice lady" and that she is such a busy lady (this is said in a very admiring tone- I think he rates busyness very highly) Today he tells me that I don't need to listen to Nigella talking, after all the show is on for him- it is his special show...he was requesting to watch Nigella last night instead of In the Night Garden last night but the thing that has tipped me off is the fact that he claims Nigella loves him and told him so.. apparently when she was making Peaches Melba she said his name and told him she loved him! I don't know if this is the result of recurrent congestion in his ears or maybe Nigella is his imaginary friend... (a much better influence than that crooked Billy Bond, a wolf who comes down our chimney and then steals our telly, only to sell it back to us at the Royal Oak Pub...that wolf is a bad influence on our boys). I haven't the heart to tell him that maybe he is mistaken about being the object of Nigella's affections!






Saturday, April 24, 2010

Confused Weather

I was entertained by last nights news telling me the sea off Swansea was going to be confused today. I don't know about the East coast but I was utterly baffled by today with howling windys and torrents of icy rain interspersed with bright clear blue skies!
We managed to fit in a very busy day of work for the business and a walk in the afternoon, even planting the garlic out with Sir Talks Alot- they are going to have two tyre beds- last year they had only a styrofoam box and were planted on Winter Solstice which resulted in lovely but rather small bulbs- I am hoping that the larger space and earlier planting will yield bigger bulbs. I was so proud of how quickly my little man learned about planting garlic- it only took us a couple of minutes working together! He marched back in and told his daddy very proudly "Pwant the garwic pointy end up wike this Daddy!"
I have been embracing the cooling weather and home grown pumpkins with much cooking. 
Pumpkin and date loaf is popular with Master Me Too whilst the glorious husband and Sir Talks Alot seem to be addicted to home made crackers. The first batch  needed work, I will make them thinner and cut them with a scone cutter next time but the key to making them "crackeresque" is beating the dough with a rolling pin which is fun.
Tonight I had a hankering for some comfort food so made a vegetarian "shepherds pie" not really very shepherd-ish though without any lamb. It was great and surprisingly hit the spot tasting better than the original in my humble opinion!
Vegetarian "Shepherds Pie"
1 cup brown lentils- pressure cook in two cups of water for half an hour. put aside.
about 300g of pumpkin and same of potato(my pumpkin was a bit underripe and therefore starchy- I would err on the side of more potato)- cut into 1inch chunks(peel the pumpkin)and cook for about 15 mins in microwave until soft enough to mash. Mash with one tablespoon of butter.
return pressure cooker to  high heat with some olive oil and add:
half and onion (chopped)
1carrot (medium dice) and fry for about 5 minutes then add
1 small garlic clove (bashed but not minced)
half a teaspoon curry powder- fry for about two minutes (lots of stirring too) then add
1can tomatoes 
lentils from above,
I also found about quarter of a can of baked beans in the fridge and in they went too!
half a teaspoon of mixed hebs
half a teaspoon of stock powder
a few drops of soy sauce
cook over medium heat until nicely thickened and reduced.
pop into lovely dish and top with pumpkin and potato mash and a little grated cheese, if you have a good fierce grill brown off the top or just bake it at 200c for 20 mins.
Very well received by the small loud people who I live with (including the cat)

I haven't included a picture as brown stew like foods photgraph so badly!