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


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.