Thursday, December 6, 2012

So much big stuff, brain full arggh!

I notice my blogs are full the mundane (cake, children etc) but I feel it is more relatable than a lot of the things happening in my life right now. Here's a snapshot:
We are sub-dividing the property next door and...
Someone is buying it from us which is complicated! and....
We are refinancing everything(third time in seven years- it's a big ordeal) it is taking aaaaages grrrr and...
We are purchasing an ex icecream factory in th big smoke and when we have it all settled will be moving and expanding the business to two locations and...
Yesterday I received a call asking if I could supply a flash sports car to a relatively well known Australian TV sex symbol for use in the show.(That was slightly surreal really)
We bought a this amazing 1967 Daimler V8 to be the family car( it doesn't exactly go right now but I am confident it will at some stage...).

Lovely we think she is (randomly speaking like Yoda I am ...ergh ).
I guess this isn't what is happening in a lot of people's lives (...maybe people have weirder stuff happening?) but it goes a small way to explaining why Christmas isn't foremost on my mind...
I would love to hear from anyone about the crazy stuff you are dealing with now!

 P.S on hold to Centrelink with the baby pooping whilst feeding in my arms right now.. I lead such a glamorous life!

Saturday, December 1, 2012

The Bum Wiping Cake and Other Tales

A mentioned in my last post our four year old is a character. He came running to me full sob- tears plopping off his red face- yesterday because the cat had eaten his salmon sandwich whilst he had left the sandwich to see what the noise was- he thought it was Zombies. Lesson learned, take your sandwich with you when you check for Zombies.
I found out the other day he has been calling one of the carers at day care fat so I apologised on his behalf and found he has also been congratulating her for wearing her not insubstantial breasts "Oh good, you're wearing your boobies today!".
I have also mentioned that one of his current little quirks was a failure to attend to his hygiene as he should. Yes I am talking bum wiping. He didn't. I think it may have started because his arms were too short to reach but then it started getting stupid. No details (I don't want to be a poo blogger...)but needless to say something had to be done so I asked him what to do. His answer was swift and decisive. He wanted a cake. Actually it's his standard answer for most things and not always appropriate but I saw a chance for some blatant food bribery here  a reward system for appropriate behaviour. Anyone who thinks that food shouldn't be used as a reward doesn't live with my family but is welcome to take over proceedings to show me a better way, they can also clean my house whilst they perfectly parent the children. Anyway, enough of my defensive rant, back to the cake. It was decided that yea verily, every day he wiped his backside would be recorded by putting a chick pea in a baby food jar and once there were ten he could have a cake. It took two and a half weeks but we are there! He was so excited to make a marble cake with me using the Thermomix he was shaking with excitement like a little Chihuahua (I did mention he really likes cake right) It looks a bit odd, I can't ever seem to get the marbling right.

 So feast your eyes on the Great Bum Wiping Cake and some Iced tea in an old seventies Tang bottle  a vintage jug and I will try to forget the name whilst I eat it!

P.S. I couldn't hack the dairy free thing, I also got hideous Gastroenteritis three days in and the baby wasn't any less or more windy either way so I thought "sod this" and ate some cheese.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Reluctant Earth Mama

Today I found myself in the kitchen whipping up a dairy free milk substitute (here's the recipe from Quirky Jo) whilst breast feeding the baby who is in her sling. Very Earth Mama. I didn't sign on for this though. It looks like I am the latest victim of dairy intolerance. Did you know that intolerances often pop up post partum? I did not. I am not pleased. It may be something to do with the immune system recalibrating after being suppressed during gestation. 
This is grim news for me. I was so delighted I could now eat the gorgeous local soft cheeses I had been denying myself whilst pregnant.Baby is windy when I do and I really don't feel good either. Maybe after two weeks there will be no difference and I will go back on the dairy but in the mean time I am eliminating it. I already know I can't deal with most soy. So making my own substitutes is where it is at. 

Breastfeeding the baby who hates to be away from (reluctant Earth) Mama was something that had to be done to get some peace whilst I faffed in the kitchen. Kitchen faffing is extremely hard to do successfully with screaming children about. 
Cute right? hmmmmm

My four year old is a free spirit at the moment, if by free spirit you mean he doesn't like to wear knickers, wipe his bum, have his shoes on the right feet and touches everything he sees even if it is on the ground and disgusting. Especially if it is on the ground and disgusting. Most notable today was the rotting remains of a rat. Funnily enough I carry a little bottle of germ warfare handrub and some wet wipes everywhere now. I may have to start with a full hazmat suit!

Ah the umm joys (?) of parenthood or something.....

Friday, November 16, 2012

Review: e-Book Kris Emery- Freelance Your Heart Out

I thought that this would be a good e-book to review for people who read my blog as it is aimed at entrepeneurial types, those who like to save money, make do and I think a few readers are aspirational writers/freelancers as I am myself . Well, let's be frank about me- I am a bit a of a dreamer who hasn't made a real go at it...yet. Kris Emery has though and she is freelancing through transcribing editing and writing which make use of her existing skills and qualifications. Although my writing dreams have not yet been realised I have started my own business and after 4 years am still running it so I know a little of the hard work involved in being your own boss!

Many how to books don't tell you how to, they more give you vague and nebulous ideas about how to. Kris Emery pulls no punches and lets the reader know how she does what she does through 25 lessons she has learned about freelancing. Some of the lessons have been learned the hard way and Kris tells us where she went wrong so we aren't doomed to repeat them! There are some great specific tips and pointers that would be really useful for those wanting to work as a freelancer as well.

I think we all tend to romanticise working for ourselves, but in truth it's hard work and it can be harder than you imagine. Kris Emery delivers a cold hard dose of conversational reality packaged in an easy to read e-format. If you are thinking of striking it out on your own do read this e-book and take on board the advice Kris has- if you don't like the advice it is worth considering if freelancing is right for you right now.
I found this a valuable book packed with great advice (especially lesson #25)

Kris Emery Freelance Your Heart Out can be found at and you can follow her on Twitter @kxecomms.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Garden Envy and Irrelevant Baby Photo.

Here is a picture of my baby laughing , not directly relevant.
So Spring is in full swing, we have a couple of tomato plants in (heirloom varieties of course!) and the broccoli is bravely producing sweet sprouts eagerly eaten as soon as they are picked. I don't know what purple sprouting tastes like cooked! The rocket (arugula, roquette, whatever) has bolted but I find the leaves are still tasty and the flowers and seed pods can add interest to salads and stir fries too but over all I miss my garden at this time of year. 

The tenant from our old cottage has been up to ask me about caring for the hazelnuts and apricots and telling of the sunflowers and pumpkins he is planting and I feel a pang of envy. I am not a green thumb, I am a messy and chaotic gardener and can't even grow a proper radish but it seemed to lift my mood to get amongst the soil and randomly garden. Courtyard gardening with one small bed and some pots doesn't have the same feel, the margin for error is smaller than my lack of attention to detail allows and although I am growing some fine herbs I wish I had the space to try artichokes and I wish I could focus enough to grow some decent greens.

Considering the abundance of reasonably priced and excellent quality local produce around here it is a First World problem really. If I had time I would join a community garden but really I just want my own patch of dirt to muck about in and have the kids getting filthier than they manage in this concrete compound we have here (actually you would be surprised how filthy they can get!). 

Until I have this again I will continue to sprout (Oh I love sprouting but now use an automatic sprouter!) and grow herbs and enjoy and be grateful for the great natural food I can buy locally.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Life is full of big things and little details...

A week ago my grandfather died. I should have known it was coming, he was 92 and had suffered from confusion falls, lymphoma, broken bones etc over the last few years. He lived a full life and had many admirers, he was a heavy weight in the philosophical world and had many honorary degrees, a companion of the Order of Australia medal, tributes in the form of essay collections and lectures. He had two children from his first marriage and resulting clever grandchildren (I am not amongst them by the way- he was my unofficially-adopted-Grandfather but the only person who was Grandpa to me!) a long and devoted second marriage, a huge social network- it would have been hard to fit more into his life but it doesn't make any difference  the loss of someone dear who has always been around is still a horrible thing at least for a little while. It amazes me that Grandparents nearly always choose the time when a new baby enters the family to leave us.
I can't make it too the mainland for the funeral, logistics are not my strong point at present but I have sent a tribute to be read out by one of the Grandsons in my stead. It was surprisingly hard to write and I couldn't write anything else until it was done. But I guess it was a process I had to go through and it has helped me deal with things.

In other news...
I won a two year subscription to Nurture parenting magazine in a competition. I also won a pair of merino wool socks and some chocolates in another. This pleases me.
The purple sprouting broccoli is purple and sprouting. A vegetable I can actually grow!
The peas look like they have been in a concentration camp so not so great but the cat has taken to pooping it the bed they are in with fierce determination for some reason....
The sun shines sometime but it rains sometimes.(That's life isn't it?)
Our baby is beautiful and we took her to a babywearing meet for International Babywearing week on Thursday, our 5 (nearly 6!) year old won't stop talking and our four year old is like a cross between a particularly feral Tasmanian Devil and a cheeky imp.
I have so many pregnancy things to list on ebay but just can't seem to get motivated...
I suppose I will get there!

Friday, September 21, 2012

Keeping it at a Dull Roar

I have to try to balance things carefully at the moment, they are really going well enough but at the back of my mind is a lurking awareness that it could all fall in a screaming heap what with the newborn, recovery from pregnancy and birth, two boisterous sons, a business to keep going, rental properties to try to rent and manage, blogging, trying to stay healthy and unstressed oh and a predisposition towards  anxiety and depression.
It's a challenge but it is going OK so far. Multitasking is the bomb right now. Breastfeeding and blogging, breastfeeding and meditating, breastfeeding and paying bills, breastfeeding and sleeping. Bubby goes in a sling which allows a bit of batch baking (biscotti, fruit bread, gingerbread). walking to the markets gets me exercise (for health and mental wellbeing), keeps the boys entertained and bubby soothed and the shopping done. Housework has always been minimal but I have found that many tasks only take 5 minutes and you can fudge some (sweeping the carpet under dining table when I do the kitchen floor anyone?). So far I haven't done more than 15 minutes at a time but Yoga is very important for my stress management and strength. I have found that the boys like to eat vegetables in front of the TV whilst I am making dinner, this suits me, if their appetite is spoiled it is spoiled by vegetables and makes me feel like I am trying to keep them as healthy as possible. They like to snack on frozen corn kernels and carrots as a rule and even ask for them if I don't hand them over but cherry tomatoes, cucumber and red capsicum go down well as well. 
I am tired now but honestly our little girl is pretty good at sleeping for a tiny girl so I am not complaining!

The sun pops out periodically and that makes things easier and lets be frank the odd Pizza doesn't go astray either.
I wonder what thrifty tips you could give me to make my life easier for now?

Sunday, September 16, 2012

And Then This Happened...

So I notice I haven't blogged in two weeks, frankly my insomnia and hormones were working against me so I had no inspiration or motivation to blog.
Then this happened:

She's finally here! Anissa was born 40 weeks +4 days and 6lb 8oz I am glad she stayed in for a bit longer as she is a small baby.
Astonishingly everything went according to plan, we were due to go to a spontaneous party at 2pm last Sunday at the house of our friends who kindly offered to look after the rest of the brood during delivery. Of course I woke with contractions so the boys were dropped off 5 hours early and by 2pm Anissa had enjoyed nearly two hours earth-side. It was a two hour labour with no medical intervention and all went according to my birth "plan" with her being born into water. I only stayed the night because I thought I would get rest but the hospital is so rabid about successful breastfeeding you are supposed to log every feed with the midwives so they can check the quality of attachment and give the feed a score using a rating system. Really. Then call them again when the feed is finished to log the duration. I found this stressful.
So home I went and she sleeps in a "My little bed" co-sleeper and likes to be carried (with and without a sling) but only wakes for one dead of the night feed. The other feeds are at our bedtime and our wake time!
We are all smitten.
Welcome baby!

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Spring and Activity

So Spring has sprung and the GORGEOUS weather won't stop being all sunshiney and even though I am massively pregnant and cranky and shouty I have made a commitment to do something for myself and get moving as inspired by Kate (again!) at Kate Says Stuff.
I have committed 360 minutes of exercise in September (hey I am being realistic, still pregnant here and when new baby comes I don't see my energy levels being that great either!) and have already had a big walk today of 60 minutes (I actually only meant to do 30 minutes but the car I walked in to pickup wasn't ready!) so just 300 to go...
I wonder if anyone else has been bitten by the Beautiful Spring bug- it doesn't make me want to clean but it does make me want to plant tomatoes even though there will be more frosts so I must wait until October...


Wednesday, August 29, 2012

So Many Reasons to Smile

I have been a bit of a whinger of late. I have felt very sorry for myself but really I haven't got the right. (No- no gratuitous mummy guilt- bear with me!) So I am joining in with Kate Says Stuff with Thankful Thursday.
Thankful Thursday
 Obviously anyone reading this has a lot to smile about compared to some of the (much smilier!) people in third world countries. what with having Internet access and all which assumes you also have shelter, can read and have access to clean water and easily accessible food. But really I have much more to smile about than my basic needs being met.
Today it is sunny which is beautiful and I intend to toddle about gratuitously in said sunshine shortly. Yesterday it was dismal and raining and I spent the afternoon wracked with pain in the hospital not having a baby, she was in the wrong position apparently but the good news is she is strong and hale and hearty and not in any distress and I am healthy too. I have beautiful funny, clever healthy strong children (who have started behaving like lemurs- did you know lemurs are VERY noisy?) that ask for vegetable and love reading books and doing physical activity (they also like having baths however I am less sold on them bathing when I see the state of the bathroom afterwards!). My husband is my best friend and is just wonderful- I get to spend each and every day with him as we run a business together. I can blog when I want in the quiet times.
Our CD player started working again so I can listen to all my old Cd's and dance which helps position baby and makes me feel good (Woo!)!
Here is a daffodil the boys planted:

All in all a lovely Spring is nearly upon us and we are about to welcome another strong beautiful child to the family. We are all healthy and well and resilient enough to take what life throws at us. There's a lot to smile about!

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Wayward Solicitors and Vexing Babies

Here's my hot tip for today. Google your service providers before you pay them a retainer. Sometimes you might find something interesting. Like an article about your solicitor on a national news site. One where it details his alleged use of a Lesbian porn website called "Hot young girls with suntanned skin going at it" (hmm catchy) and the fact that he narrowly escaped being disciplined by the law society on a technicality and has been swearing in court and throwing documents about and that judges have variously referred to him as "incompetent" and blatantly stated that he has no credibility amongst other gems. This wasn't on a user reviewed website where anyone can write anything, but a newspaper with quotes from actual judges and magistrates. Hmm, no wonder we hadn't had much progress on our cases... One of our previous solicitors was being investigated because she took funds from a trust fund for some post baby plastic surgery and to buy a new boat. We just don't have much luck with solicitors!

Keeping things to a Dull Roar at our house at the moment involves lots of finger food in front of the TV for dinner as I keep having prolonged bouts of non productive contractions (Hello pre-labour! Aren't you just the thing?) and keep trying to plan for bubby's arrival which seems like it is never coming- I am not overdue yet- just worn out from so many nights and days of pains. I know labour will probably be fast but my last labour was 1.5 hours and I didn't need so much warm-up!
It's raining now so no walking. I think I will give myself a break and go fill the house with convenience foods (hopefully keep the costs down and the convenience and actual food up!) so the family has something eat if I ever go in to hospital or for the evening when I am huffing my way through more painful non-productive contractions.
 At least finding out about the solicitor has given me a much needed belly laugh for the day!

Here's a picture my dear husband took of me last night because he seems to love taking pictures of me when I am heavily pregnant and having contraction pain- I am getting quite a collection being on my third pregnancy. I am not sure what he likes about them but this one captures the whole feel of the moment I must say.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Living in Limbo...

It's a funny point in my life right now I am in the dreaded waiting place, do you know the Dr Seuss story Oh the places You'll Go? If you don't you must read it- it is wonderful and it mentions the waiting place:
... a most useless place.
The Waiting Place...

...for people just waiting.
Waiting for a train to go
or a bus to come, or a plane to go
or the mail to come, or the rain to go
or the phone to ring, or the snow to snow
or the waiting around for a Yes or No
or waiting for their hair to grow.
Everyone is just waiting.

Waiting for the fish to bite
or waiting for the wind to fly a kite
or waiting around for Friday night
or waiting, perhaps, for their Uncle Jake
or a pot to boil, or a Better Break
or a string of pearls, or a pair of pants
or a wig with curls, or Another Chance.
Everyone is just waiting.

And that's a bit how I am at present. With two weeks to go until baby's estimated due date and nigh on six weeks of pre-labour symptoms behind me I am just waiting, interpreting every little niggle as a sign of impending labour, packing and repacking my hospital bags and being generally grouchy and teary.

 The garden is in the awkward waiting place too. Stuck between Winter and Spring in the hungry gap the daffodils aren't blooming yet, the Purple sprouting broccoli is coming along but it takes as long to grow as a baby does to gestate (it really does!) The weather is bravely Sunny in enthusiastic spurts and the early Spring blossom is about to get our hopes up but the hills are snow-capped and it is still cold.
We have big developments in the pipeline and after many months of grindingly slow progress with paperwork and accountants we should be getting some definitive answers we can use to make some big decisions with but until later this week we are still just waiting...
We are an impatient pro-active family and being stuck in  limbo, in the Waiting Place is quite torturous!

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Hospital vs Home Birth, musings from me.

I am heavily pregnant and I am (doing this for a third time), an informed consumer when it comes to birth. Hopefully. There is a lot of talk back and forth at present about the safety of homebirth and why you should or shouldn't have one and I have some strong feelings about this. I feel that every woman (and her partner who will be parenting with her) should be giving informed consent when it comes to her care during pregnancy and the delivery of her child. This means that she knows why she is taking tests, not just having them because they are routine and if the baby is delivered via c-section of induced mother-to-be knows exactly why this is happening and what the risks are on both side of the coin. Informed consent does away with judging c-section deliveries and all the other bizarre "mummy-judging" that is sometimes displayed by the loud unfortunate minority and then paraded around by those who disagree as an example of being a "Nazi". Informed consent gives control back to the parents and opens the door for informed birth choices. 
Scare mongering tactics seen by those opposed to hospital or home births have no power or place when parents to be are armed with information and supported in making informed decisions.
In Australia there has been a lot of debate about homebirth safety and personally I think they are safe and definitely the right choice for some people. I am not one of them. Why? It is not because of any perceived risk but our hospitals are well equipped with active birth policies, birth balls and pools, rooming in, breast-feeding support policies and Midwives who respect birth preferences and I have no great affinity with the peace of my home. It is messy and noisy and hard to get a moment's peace here sometimes and quite frankly neither of us want to deal with the logistics and mess associated with home births. The hospital can do that for us, they are well set up for meeting my requirements, and they will feed me and make sure I rest for at least two hours everyday. I won't be having a managed third stage, I will be having delayed cord clamping and immediate skin to skin with baby (hospital policy anyway!) and a variety of my other "non-standard" preferences have been looked over and given the nod, so I am confident they will be respected. I am choosing a hospital birth as I believe it is the best choice for me as an informed consumer and I hope one day that every woman can birth with the confidence she has made the right choices based on being informed. Information is empowering and it is my wish that feeling empowered features in every delivery.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Why Christmas in July?

It doesn't sound very thrifty or very "Dull Roar Philosophy" to suddenly add another Christmas to the calender, I mean Christmas is expensive and takes a lot of effort right? Isn't it just a commercially driven holiday? It can be, that's for sure but it is also a lovely time to come together as a family and our little men are impressed by very simple things so Christmas doesn't have to be over the top to be appreciated. A conscious effort has been made on our part to not spoil them so they still enjoy the wonder of the little things in life- not always successful as they have very gourmet tastes (hot smoked salmon and aged organic cheddar anyone?) but it does make celebrations easy to pull together.

So a creatively acquired little Christmas tree (it was growing in a ditch on the roadside) quickly decorated, Christmas crackers bought in March for $4, some fresh market vegetables scrubbed and roasted, mini Yorkshire puddings, a roaring fire and a couple of cheap toys (magnetic sketch pad and a tea set for teddy bears) and a very jolly night was had by all.
Christmas is not only the busiest time of year for our business (and I mean BUSY!) and Christmas is generally hot and dry here in Australia- hardly conducive to celebrating a Classic Christmas!
Christmas in July was a resounding success and much easier than a December Christmas (hardly any commercial pressure either) so it is going to be a family tradition from now on!

The crackers were interesting. they were "premium" which apparently means the paper is upgraded to cardboard which doesn't tear (not so great with small children with tiny hands people!!!) and the novelties were an odd bunch...notably a bulldog clip and a pencil sharpener (useful and much loved by strange son #1) and this thing:

I don't know either. If you can tell me what it is I will post it to you!

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Sunshine and Muffins

The sun was out today and we found ourselves basking and busy in it, the leggy pea seedlings were plopped outside to try to "harden the f**k up" (hmm I don't think that's right- I think that's Chopper from the Ronnie Johns Half Hour- strong language warning) but I am scared to plant them out yet as I think the frost will kill them when she reappears. Every year in late July early August we think that Spring is arriving and every year the return of the cold takes us by surprise!
I am however surprised to find that the Moroccan mint, oregano, Lemon balm and French Tarragon seem to be growing back after a period of dormancy. I rather thought they were simply dead but I am as delighted as a new parent when her baby poos well to see tiny sprigs of green growth. Daffodil, freesia and garlic are starting to cautiously poke their heads above ground. I have been sitting in the sun with my two boys getting them to crack hazelnuts as we were all out of almonds and needed biscotti (apparently in this house you can need biscotti like you need air, water and sleep). Very cheering activity. Almost as cheering as the resultant chocolate and hazelnut biscotti. 
I have found some very old shriveled up but originally lovely passion-fruits and rather optimistically I am trying to sprout the seed with the hopes of a growing vine or two over the pergola (yes we got rid of the wisteria which isn't edible but is very messy and grows too fast) and having a bountiful harvest. Considering to date I have managed to kill two (or is it three?) grafted passion-fruit I think this is a pipe dream but there is no harm in trying.
I have also made raspberry muffins. for lunch boxes (because you know you can't have nuts, chocolate or smearable eggs and things have to look healthy or the children can't eat them and mine won't eat fish or rice salad or pasta salad or sushi, scrolls or scones (unless they are hot) and the teacher can't get the lid off the hot food bowl I was sending so we can't use that any more ARRRRGH!!! the rules- if they want so many rules why don't they supply the sodding lunches!!!)
My raspberry muffin recipe.


  • 2 cups plain flour(300g)
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 3/4 cup rapadura (about 170g)
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup milk
  • 50g butter, melted
  • 1 cup frozen raspberries

Doing it

1. Preheat oven to 190 C. grease muffin pan- you know a normal 12 muffin one. I like my professional aluminium one best. you could use paper cases if you were organised enough to have some. In a large bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder and sugar. Actually if you have a Thermomix just whizz it all up for 10 seconds at speed 8. I don't know if you can sift rapadura as I use the Thermomix as I am lazy

2. In another bowl, melt butter in microwave until, well you know; melted,whisk together egg, milk and butter. Add liquid mixture to dry ingredients along with the raspberries. Mix until just combined. If using the Thermomix dump all the wet stuff in and put it on interval setting on reverse for 15 seconds.

3. Use one of those icecream scoops with the little trigger on the side to scoop even amounts into muffin tray (you know the ones- they are useless for icecream but actually great for cupcakes and muffins) bake for about 20 mins , when they are springy to touch they are cooked.

Now try not to eat them all when they are warm and actually put some in the lunch boxes.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Why Can I Grow New People but not Radishes?

So it is time for me to confess something that has come into sharp relief for me and I feel I need to get off my chest. I can't grow radishes. I keep trying, year after year, different soils, different varieties different times of year but they either never fill out or bolt immediately. given that radishes are supposed to be the ultimate starter absolute beginner vegetable it is really undermining my confidence as an urban homesteader. Worse still the damn jolly little rubicund orbs are my number one pregnancy craving and I must have them so I can be seen at the local farmer's market rain, hail or shine buying bunches of cherry belles and french breakfasts (I only like red roundish ones by the way) and stuffing them into my face on the drive home. Really.

 Last night I was watching River Cottage with the boys (who take it very seriously and hang on HFWs every word) and watching him positively gloat about how he had timed his poly tunnel radishes perfectly so they were finishing cropping just as the outdoor ones were ready for harvest with great armfuls of French breakfasts he crows about the crunchiness and how he thinks they will taste with fresh goats cheese. Smug bastard. WELL I AM VERY JOLLY HAPPY FOR YOU HUGH!!! NOT ALL OF US CAN GROW THE DAMN THINGS.
So there we have it. I am nearly constantly tormented by my lack of growing prowess at the moment and the lack of radishes plays sorely on my mind (mushrooms are another craving and "easy" vegetable I can never smegging get going). By the way, pregnancy progresses well, just a few more weeks and we will have a new member of the family, I am good at's radishes I have the problem with!

Friday, June 22, 2012

Winter Solstice and Baking

Just past the Solstice we sit in the depths of Winter, today was subzero overnight and sparkly with sunshine during the day. What does one do in the cold? Well this one bakes.

 Today I have brought forth an unreasonable offering of biscotti, pumpkin pie(from a mish mash of recipes I have read ) bread from the famous 5 minutes a day recipes( I like this friendly  post about it from the Italian Dish) and sticky apple and gingerbread loaf but I didn't have any crystallized ginger and I left out the pecans (because nuts are in league with Satan these days and can't go to school).I have given up on sourdough again.. it is not very "dull roar" and needs a lot of care, I like the ease of mixing the dough in a lidded bucket and keeping in the fridge for when I need it a la the 5 minutes a day recipes. It makes fantastic Pizza dough too so is a Godsend and is actually easier a lot of the time than using online pizza ordering websites (why do I find it so hard?)! All this baking today has kept me busy, especially with two small boys "helping" me enthusiastically. 
I mustn't complain though, I am keeping them busy whilst my dearly beloved juggles moving cars from service shop to service shop, dismantles two for parts, rebuilds another and paints the outside of a house (whilst the sun shines briefly on these short Winter days) and he just realised he needs to cut more firewood...oh dear I wish I could help him more but the limitations of my growing belly are rather apparent. I am attempting to stay fit and strong doing Yoga, both at Pregnancy yoga classes, from DVD's and home practice and I am enjoying the benefits. I was going to try to tell you I am not having cravings but I just ate a whole bunch of radishes as I typed this so that would appear to be a great walloping lie!
I hope my nesting kicks in soon... the house could really do with a clean!

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Back to Sourdough....I can't stay away!

So I seem to be a sucker for punishment. I had no real success with sourdough bread but I am finding my own too bland at the moment and the price of good sourdough leaves me breathless so I have been scouring the underbelly of the internet to find more about sourdough success. There is a whole world of information and passion out there just focusing on naturally leavened breads! I saw one heated debate where a forum poster stated that another poster's wife was the devil incarnate... somehow this was relevant to different styles of sourdough starter!
A very good resource is The Fresh Loaf and one from just around the corner from me from Oatlands Tasmania we have The Sourdough Companion . I have also been relying heavily on this River Cottage recipe.
I think I am getting there. First I discovered I was just being lazy and not feeding my starter enough. Here is my starter:
I cook the excess up as a big pancake for the chickens:

I made a sponge according to the river Cottage Recipe: 

 Then I sort of freaked out because my dough was too dry and I added more starter. 

This loaf was more successful than my previous attempt I have blogged about a couple of years ago but the bread was very dense and too sour still.
It looks good though....
I have another sponge with a better fed starter going as I type... fingers crossed..I really must try to stick to the directions more!

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Food shopping old School

So my Blogging has been slack. All the usual excuses, had a busy Easter period with the business, moving the fence to subdivide the property, being pregnant, having nothing to blog, had to take out a restraining order on a streetfighting Glaswegian prostitute with underworld connections- you know the usual....And also , I will admit now- I am two timing. yes I am writing another blog- just a little weekly one on a parenting website to help people live better for less money, hopefully. I would guess that for most readers of this blog that my advice on the other is super basic stuff!
Gardening has been challenging....I think it looks worse than this today
So gardening has been umm challenging... due to dismantling half the yard and losing some to the subdivision but to my delight (and the rest of the family) we now have a proper farmers market in town so the lack of garden has been offset by the abundance of amazing local produce I can get like purple carrots, curly kale, goats cheese, heirloom tomatoes and the last of the best strawberries I have tasted.
Most of this food is so tasty in it's own right it doesn't need much preparation (hot smoked salmon on sourdough or haloumi and rocket anyone?) and you can talk to the farmers and producers themselves about how best to use it.
heirloom tomatoes, sourdough bread, hot smoked baby salmon etc etc !
 This is what shopping used to be and to be frank it is wonderful, we are trying new foods and everything is fresh and local so hardly a food mile to be attributed!
Every week I am buying a "treat" like local extra virgin olive oil, croissants, salmon rilletes or chevre...a woman like me could grow poor but happy at this market. It has replaced my normal vegetable shopping so we eat much more seasonally too!
The boys love the atmosphere and there are lots of young families queuing for strawberries and potatoes and milling about feeding babies, drinking coffee, sampling delights, shopping has become a pleasure rather than a chore!
So really anyone who likes fresh gorgeous food needs to come on down to Tasmania and eat this wonderful stuff!
Approving children!

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Seasons... turning....

I love to watch the Seasons change and I think that Summer into Autumn, particularly in Tasmania is my favourite. The Earth around us seems to sigh and slip into Autumnal colours and cooler weather and our family starts to come alive as the fierce bite leaves the sun. I am looking forward to an end to daylight savings, our boisterous boys bounce off the walls until the sun goes down regardless of the time and during Summer heat and light there is no chance of getting them to sleep early so Autumn heralds a golden age of going to sleep at the right time (praise be to deity of choice!).
We have installed a solid, fierce little woodheater in preparation for Winter (but being impatient we want o be using it now!) as we have lots of old hardwood not good for much except burning lurking behind our giant sheds. The heater and flue cost $75, the wood is free and we had to buy a sort of hat thing to seal it in the roof (it was installed by the ever handy husband) so hopefully we won't have such ginormous (yes I know- not really a word!) electricity bills as the old 1970's storage/fan heaters we had in situ last Winter were less than satisfactory, the air has a nasty quality to it with electric heating, the house doesn't warm well, it costs a bomb and lets face it- we love the ambiance of the fire (and burning stuff, I love burning stuff!).
Our boys have gone retro and discovered cassette tapes. This was by necessity, they had started having music in their bedroom (a tacky cd of children's music) at bedtime which kept them from rampaging as much until the Lincoln Imp (I'm three!) tried to find out which parts of the stereo were compatible with carrots. It turns out the CD player wasn't. It tries valiantly to work sometimes but never lasts we have had to start using the cassette player which, as it turns out seems to be more compatible with carrots. We had no audio cassettes so a few trips to the charity shops have loaded us with some already much loved tapes. I let Sir Chats A lot ( this name is hopefully temporary as he is five and I am hoping that the chatting is a phase....) choose the tapes and he doesn't seem to like Toy Story or the Lion King but adores Wind in the Willows (he keeps calling people Old Chap a la Mr Toad!), a Beethoven string quartet tape and oddly a tape designed to teach the times tables. As the tapes only cost twenty or fifty cents each and they can both operate the cassette player I let them go for their lives!
We have Jalepeno chilies ripening which are beautiful but I don't know what to do with them now! The boys chose the plant and we are going to have to research the recipe possibilties together ! I also have to figure out what to do with parnsips, Florence fennel and curly kale from our huge vegie box this week... I think Kale chips will be made, I hope they are as nice as I imagine them to be!
We are in fair and festival mode in Tasmania, yesterday we went to a Victorian Fair at a National Trust property and next week it is a colonial fair at another Heritage property, so lovely in this Autumn sun...

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Productive times...

I have been feeling like I am being lazy and not making the most of things but when I take stock of what has been happening over the last couple of months I haven't been doing as badly as I thought I had. there has been foraging and growing and cooking and all sorts...
I have been picking blackberries and made jam and apple and blackberry crumble topped pie.
Foraged some elderberries and made elderberry cordial. I would post a recipe but it is a bit from here and a bit from there and no firm recipe. I did use honey and cloves as I wanted it to be a wee bit medicinal and hopefully ward off winter coughs and sniffles

I have started ordering seasonal local veg boxes again and due to having two large cauliflowers I have now tried my hand at making piccalilli. I am supposed to wait 5 weeks before eating ...5 weeks? Oh dear, patience is not my strong point at all. My recipe is based a bit on the hairy bikers and a bit on the River Cottage recipe, if it is good I shall claim it is my own and if it is terrible I shall blame Hugh Fearnley-Whittingsall! Having the boxes is a great fun challenge, finding ways to use such lovely produce and have as little as possible go to waste. there are lots of leafy greens as well in this one.
The garden (being a courtyard really) has courgettes, chillis, volunteer pumpkins (seemingly ubiquitous and follow me around to every house I move too!) little tomatoes and we found some baby carrots today (gobbled very fast by two small boys!) as well as all our usual herbs. 
Today we planted purple sprouting broccoli (hopefully not too late) radishes (I think it is too hot but master 5 reaaaally wanted some) and some beetroot having rejuvenated the soil with some blood and bone, chicken manure and cow manure.
I am now attempting to rest a while as it is over 30 degrees C again. Oh and I must go check on the solar dehydrator  I have made from a silver lined insulated bag and see how the pears and apples are doing now.
OK, so writing it all down makes me feel better, throw in making a few loaves of bread, several kilos of yoghurt, some blogging on a major parenting site, eldest starting school (now that has mucked up my schedules!) and expecting baby number three in September ( I think the nausea is subsiding now) whilst still running the business things have been reasonably productive (and reproductive!) in their modest pootling along sort of way, sometimes taking stock of your life can be very beneficial!


I have received an award from Sara:

And I am beyond stoked (or for those of a less Antipodean persuasion- I am delighted) and happily bestow the award on some fellow bloggers:

1.Veggiegobbler: Honest refreshing etc . This woman gets busy(in the garden and kitchen!), grows and blogs 'nuff said.

2. Cast Iron Balcony :Feminist Blogging far out of my league this one is by Helen who I am proud to say is sort of my Aunt by a complicated arrangement involving second marriages and unofficial adoptions but very dear to my heart.

3. Dave Hamilton's Blog at Selfsufficientish Another blogger far beyond my humble attempts but I would like to award this one to Dave to let him know that his lovely blog is much appreciated and read and not just by people who want to put links to their Russian Bride websites!

Thursday, February 9, 2012

"Grow Your food for Free , Well almost" By Dave Hamilton: review

I have been lucky enough to be offered an opportunity to review copy of "Grow Your food for Free , Well almost- great money Saving Ideas for your Garden" By Dave Hamilton. Those not familiar with Dave's work need to acquaint yourself forthwith. I first encountered him through his website Selfsufficient-ish which has lots of interesting articles and the most practical, down to earth good humoured, no nonsense bunch of people I have ever encountered using the forum. I have learned an awful lot from the forum and glean much inspiration from it and I am a big fan of Dave's previous book "the Self Sufficient-ish Bible" which he wrote with his brother Andy (also of the fame). It sits snugly next to my copy of Alys Fowler's Thrifty Gardener and I like to think they take tea together when I am sleeping...back to Dave's book!  The title pretty much lays it out there as to what it is all about- it is a guide to saving money whilst growing your own food!

There is a danger when releasing a book such as "Grow Your Food for Free" that a lot of the subject matter will be a rehash of previous work and although there are similarities in the layout and illustrative style as well as subject matter there is a definite "Dave-ishness" which shines through, the book is written in a conversational, personable style and Dave's personality is present in all of his splendid ideas which manage successfully to avoid cloning the "Bible". Charming illustrations by Ellie Mains, many showing useful practical things such as how to dismantle pallets and how to build insect hotels as well as being lovely decorations, are a good foil for the photographs and build on the friendly manner throughout the book .

When reading gardening books written by Northern hemisphere authors there is often a confusement (my own word, it seems like everyone has their own words these days) in my head as I try to switch it all around in my brain for us Australians and then just go onto Selfsufficientish forum and ask someone to figure it out for me. I didn't feel at all confused by "Grow your Food for Free..." as the advice is set out in seasons and I find it directly applicable to our Tasmanian seasons (it might not be so useful for those in far North Queensland or NT but what do you expect living all the way up there with no proper seasons?). Here in Tasmania we have many of the same wild food and weeds about the place as in the UK so I found much wisdom regarding the use of weeds and foraging which I plan to put into action very shortly if I can get past all our ripe blackberries!

Making paths, ponds, cloches and raised beds are all covered and very clear, foraging, working with the plot you have, recycling, what not to use in the garden and just about everything you might find helpful is covered, the book is not full of fluffy fillers but good quality practical advice without being at all dry.

The physical feel of the book is good too, whilst the Selfsufficient-ish Bible is a weighty (if somewhat floppy- I have the paperback) tome, a copy of "Grow Your Food for Free.." can be easily carted around with you and is easy to flick through time and time again (and it is printed on recycled paper using vegetable inks).

 All in all anyone who is interested in a self sufficient lifestyle in an urban setting and wants to grow food for minimal cost and enjoys being creative (which I know is all of my readers and anyone whose blog I read also!) would do well to have a copy of this lovely and useful book on their shelf, the tips contained within would more than offset the purchase price!

"Grow your Food for Free, Well Almost" is printed by Greenbooks UK (on recycled paper using vegetable inks) available through many good book shops in Australia.

Monday, January 30, 2012

How to garden in this weather?

It seems that extreme weather has become the norm now and having had a week or two of extremely hot dry weather I am sitting here with cold wind whistling about and panicking slightly about not having made preparations for Autumn as it feels so Autumnal...right now.
The courgettes are flowering and tomatoes valiantly trying to ripen (the wisteria growing above them is very vigorous and despite my constant cutting light is limited). I am back to making yoghurt and bread and my own pizzas (whilst this weather stays cool enough for the oven to be on!) as well as nut butters, tahini and blackberry jam (free, foraged from about the neighbourhood) in the beloved Thermomix. I made the vegan cheese mentioned in the last post, I didn't have flavourless coconut oil so I used the normal organic stuff. It set and looked sort of cheesy but I couldn't face it, it made me feel ill to think about eating it, I am not meant to be vegan it seems as I have this reaction to a lot of "subsitute foods"and it looks like our little man is fine with small amounts of cheese so after all that fuss the chickens got it! Oh dear, but they did love it!
I have been lucky enough recive a review copy of Dave Hamilton's book "Grow Your Food for Free, well almost" and I am enjoying it immensely so look forward to a run down on it soon, it is just the sort of book that those interested in the Dull Roar Philosophy would love!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Almost human...

Christmas and New Years is chaos for everyone I know but I feel we manage to make it that bit more chaotic than other people. Not with our outrageous purchases or cooking or familial discord but through having our own business to run full throttle when there are public holidays all over the place, everyone else is relaxing, we can't get any services done and the children have no daycare! Christmas is our busiest time of year and after a very quiet year it came as a shock! Our boys seem to have finally decided to work in with us a bit (and finding that the younger one has been suffering with lactose intolerance has helped his behaviour a bit- not quite as cranky!) on occasion and we do love spending time together but with such a flurry of activity  I forget how to do normal things like think of what to have for dinner, or put a loaf of bread in the bread maker, ditto the yoghurt...(we have been eating out a lot...Pizza anyone?) but I am every so smugly pleased to report that the boys have been asking for my homemade food because it apparently very yummy (or Master five is trying to get something from me...). 
The challenge of late for me has been the boys attending a new day care for the holidays, just for two weeks. The centre is nut free and egg free and combined with Little L's newly found lactose intolerance and Master J's self taught rampant vegetarianism I have been forced to get my thinking cap on for nut free, egg free, dairy free, meat free meals. Lots of internet trawling and I have found some new vegan recipes to try, I have nearly assembled enough ingredients to make this Vegan "cheese" -have a look at this blog, it is incredibly cute! I will report back once made...I have also been hitting the Thermomix hard, dairy free smoothies, banana icecream (just frozen bananas whizzed up to make a creamy substance), homemade soyamilk (very soybeany!) and a concoction I made with seeds, coconut butter, dates, cocoa, rapadura and  quinoa flakes made a rich fudgy stuff without wheat, eggs, dairy, nuts, refined sugar (makes one wonder if it had anything at all in it!).
Soon I will start feeling like a person again and will definitely report back when that happens!