Monday, 1 December 2014

Monthly Nine - November 2014

November can't be over!  It can't!!  This was to be my year of The Organised Christmas!  Somehow, because I had decided a couple months ago on the presents I wanted to make for people, it was a fait accompli in my mind.  Hmmm.  I'd better move faster.  I certainly know how I'll be spending my December!

I'm looking forward to hearing what you've been up to during November.  If you're new to this link up you'll find the details here.  Please join in with us and share your achievements under the nine slow living categories created by Christine from Slow Living Essentials.


I find I go through stages where I choose my meals depending on the food available to buy ethically and then stages where I look to our place first.  Then there are the stages where I'm not organised so I do the best I can from the supermarket aisles.  The old organic pasta sauce is a fall back in this house.

Anyway, November was a reasonable month for providing from our own place.  We've snacked on lots of peas straight from the pod.  We've had spinach to cook with, and lots of home made cheese.  We enjoyed eating quiches.  The peas are a great thing for trips.  We pick them and throw them straight into a bag.  Then we enjoy snacking on their sweetness as we travel.  The kids love being allowed to throw the pods out of the car window in the rural areas.

We've also eaten a lot of cheese and lettuce and egg and lettuce sandwiches.  I have so much yummy lettuce in the garden and also eggs in abundance.  Though I do believe the children may have removed the lettuce from their sandwiches while I wasn't looking!


I was lucky enough to get some elderflowers and made my first ever batch of cordial.  I was surprised at how delicious it is and I'm trying to get a cutting going now so that I can make this yummy drink every year.


I'm astounded by the amount of washing we create!  No matter how often I wash clothes, there are always more at the bottom of the basket.  I'm nagging encouraging the kids to wear the same pyjamas for a few nights before selecting a new pair.  I haven't decided yet how many nights I can stretch it out before it's unacceptably gross!  I'm also thinking I should cull some of their clothes so they don't  have as many to collect around the place.  Buddy in particular is a bit of a show pony and will wear more than one outfit in a day if I'm not watching.  He'll decide he wants to change his look from 'farmer' to 'footballer' and hang his farmer shirt on a chair or the end of his bed to wear the next day.  Then he forgets and get a new shirt out instead.  I would really like to reduce the amount of water we use.
My lovely mother helping with Buddy

I enjoyed a day of soap making with a friend.  It was wonderful!  Our children enjoyed each other's company and kept out of our way while we played in the kitchen.  We managed to make five batches which translated to about sixty bars of soap.  We tried adding food colouring for the first time.  I usually just leave my soaps fairly plain.  The colouring worked beautifully and I've decided to stop making the same old, same old and start experimenting a little more.  It's fun!!

The garden is having it's best year yet.  The spring garden always grows nice and green but this year I have finally learnt some basics and everything is growing quickly.  I had not been using enough compost over the years I have been gardening.  Somehow I missed the point.  Possibly that was due to my frugal nature and inclination to stretch everything out.  Anyway, I now heap the compost on and my friend told me about potash.  I guess I've read all this stuff before but didn't realise the importance.  This particular friend has an amazing veggie garden and grows enough to preserve for leaner times of year so I figured listening to her methods would be a very good idea!  My tomatoes are looking so healthy and large.  They are covered in flowers and I'm regularly checking to see if any have set.  Hopefully it won't be long now!
 I've really squashed my veggies in to make the best use of water.  I love the result.  It's a delightful hodge podge of lettuce, dill, peas, carrots (yes, you heard right - I've finally had some carrot success), zucchini, rocket etc.


Everything in this category is a big secret at this time of year!  I've been on the sewing machine, I've had the crochet hook out and we're hoping to get crafty with paper today.

I found a fifty cent copy of Lord of the Flies at the op shop so I re-read it.  Such a well written but disturbing book!  Possibly because we all know people with these personalities.   I suppose some people really do have a very dark side when you look at historical events during war time.  The up side is, the people in my life are people I really like and admire!

I also discovered some welcome and some not so welcome wildlife visiting in the garden.  I would much rather the snakes hung out in the bush outside our garden.


I'm really glad that Christine dreamt up this category!  It's one of the most important, in my mind.  Though some months I find this a hard catergory to fill, it's the process of doing things for each other that gives life meaning.  It connects people and improves our lives.  Loneliness is something I can only imagine at this point in my life thankfully, but I'm sure it must be awful for people who don't have connections.  This month I was able to make soap with a friend as mentioned above, I was linked in to a manure collection through the same friend, I was able to donate goats milk for a cheese making workshop and I cooked a meal for a friend who needed a hand.  I've enjoyed being mentored in my gardening by another friend who really wants to see me succeed.  Aren't I a lucky person!!


I attended a fiftieth birthday where I walked around most of the night with a silly smile on my face.  (Nothing to do with the delicious cocktails, of course)  I felt ridiculously gooey about my friends and even their friends that I was meeting for the first time.  Everyone was so real and open and my children and husband had as much fun as I did.  How wonderful to have down times in our crazily busy life to reflect on the fun and friendship in our world.
I would love to hear about your month!  Please join us for the Monthly Nine.

Friday, 28 November 2014

A productive spring

This spring has seemed more springy than most!  We always enjoy the garden at this time of year but,  armed with good gardening advice from a friend, I'm currently enjoying my most successful and abundant garden yet!  I have so much lettuce that I'm feeding it to the chooks as well as their regular fare of scraps and mash. They love it!!
We've also been enjoying success with our poultry.   We've had lots of broody girls and have quickly popped eggs under the snugly, feathery bottoms.  It has paid off with lots of cuteness happening in the orchard!  We have two more hens sitting and they should be hatching babies this week.

Hahahaha!  The above photos are terrible but I had to risk life and limb to take them.  I wasn't getting any closer.  Mum and Dad geese are SCARY!!!
I love it when things go right around here.  Soon we will produce even more eggs, have some home grown poultry to enjoy eating and hopefully soon I can start preserving food to enjoy in the cooler months next year.

I also had some unexpected visitors this week.  Rosie popped over without letting me know. 
 It was sooo nice to see my cheeky little granddaughter!  And Rosie and I had a great time and even spent a girly night watching DVDs and eating cheese and chocolate!

How are things at your place and how does your garden grow?!

Wednesday, 26 November 2014

Slow living in October take two

My sincere apologies, particularly to Ecogrrl.  I've been whining all month about my computer issues as I've battled away on the iPad.  Yet I still haven't sorted it out.

I was delighted to successfully create a linky list for the Monthly Nine and a few people linked through and I was chuffed to have managed it.  However, today I discovered that Ecogrrl left a comment to let me know she was unable to link.  That was ages ago and I've only just realised.

You can find Ecogrrl and her October news here.

I'm concerned there may be others who attempted to link and were unable.  If so, I'm sorry.

And in case the existing links have issues they are -

And of course, Ecogrrl

I'm struggling a bit lately to keep up the daily juggle, which is why I have still not fixed the computer. No excuses, just an explanation.  Not everything gets done, just the things at the top of the list and obviously blogging wasn't up there recently!  I'll try to lift my game.  Do you feel like you're always trying to keep too many balls in the air too?

Sunday, 23 November 2014

On my plate

Hi there, I hope you're doing something lovely with this beautiful, if somewhat hot, weekend.  I have a thousand things I could be doing but I'm lying in the hammock, under a tree, writing a post.  I've been sewing Christmas presents this afternoon and Belle has been working alongside me.

I'm loving this time of year.  I'm trying to fly through my household chores early, leaving the day free to teach the kids and then spend some time in the garden.  I'm trying to get out into it at least once a day.    That way, I can identify any problems early and I'm also aware of the food available for eating.
The little round garden is jam packed with veggies.  I've chosen to cram it all in because our biggest issue here is water.  I want to grow as much as possible in the smallest possible space so that I only need to keep one area of ground moist.  It's working quite well except I keep wanting to plant more seedlings so the 'one area' I need to keep moist has expanded to include two other small beds!  Oopsy!
In the round bed I have tomatoes that are looking very promising, eggplant, capsicum, some holey silver beet (haven't found the culprit yet), spinach, peas, leeks, carrots, dill, coriander, lettuce, nasturtiums, viola, beetroot and kohl rabi.  Of those vegetables we are harvesting lettuce, peas, a couple of carrots, spinach and the viola and nasturtiums.

I have been loving looking around the garden and planning our meals around our produce.  Yesterday I had eggs from the chook shed, goat's cheese in the fridge (thanks girls) and spinach in the garden.   Well the obvious choice was a spinach and goat's cheese quiche with a garden salad of lettuce, peas and edible flowers.  Yu-uum!! 
Now THIS is what I aspire to!  A healthy, delicious meal using ingredients from here, our place, creating next to no emissions caused by food transport, improving the soil due to us adding carbon to the soil in the form of compost during the gardening process.  What's not to love?!!

Of course, there were other ingredients, such as salt and pepper, that were bought in, but all in all, a much better way to provide food. I would be happy if I produced a meal this sustainable once a week, ecstatic if I managed it two or three times a week, and completely, absolutely smug beside myself with happiness if I could do it all the time!

Is this your aspiration too?

Monday, 17 November 2014

My day

Another day draws to a close and I'm so glad to pick up my iPad and sit to write.  Please excuse the quality of my photos but I'm still plugging away without the computer. I suppose I should have fixed it by now but life is busy and I haven't co-ordinated a time with my computer guy (who works out of hours).

Today was much like any other. Busy but productive and enjoyable. I hung out washing and folded yesterday's load. Today saw us pick up a trailer load of manure, grabbing a couple of grocery items on the way, and helping Belle with her maths book exercises while we travelled.

I wrote up a basic weekly calendar for Buddy who is always asking me if his dad will be home today. I thought he might process the pattern of the week more easily if he can see it in front of him and cross off the days as he goes. Sure enough, he loves it! After his dad came home from work, he proudly showed him the calendar and explained which days we are home and which days we go out. I circled the weekend days so he will see at a glance when Dad will be home.
I milked goats, fed animals and chooks, watered some plants and dreamt of making Christmas presents.  As for the kitchen, dinner's eaten, sparkling elderflower sits in a tea towel covered bucket while, under another tea towel, elderflowers and lemon rind steep waiting to be made into cordial. I was lucky to have a friend invite me to cut some of her flowers yesterday.

I've read books with the kids, printed out work sheets and made some flash cards. I've been the recipient of some beautiful drawings of myself in the garden and handed out coloured paper for Belle to make Christmas decorations.

I managed to wash every sheet, doona cover and pillow case in the house and get them back onto the beds, bringing with them the scent of sunshine! I do believe it's a first for me. Normally I tend to do a couple of beds at a time.  I can't wait to go to bed tonight and I'll be wearing my favourite comfy nightie just to complete the cosy experience.
I've prepared the items I'll need to take with me tomorrow. I'm going to a friend's to make soap so I'm steeping some chamomile and I've packed my moulds and ingredients. We'll continue to our swimming lessons straight from her house.
Soon I'll put the dishwasher on and start a load of washing to hang out tomorrow.

There was so much else I wanted to achieve today that didn't get done. I wanted to sort my room and make Christmas pressies and bread.  Still, I feel great!  Today was a day like many others, they are my days lived my way and they are good!

Thursday, 6 November 2014

Dinner for two - garlic prawns

The kids were at Mum and Dad's last night so I jumped at the chance to eat something non-kiddy!  I hardly ever eat prawns these days (or any seafood) because humans are over consuming to the point that our seafood is threatened. However I couldn't resist making a meal that Hubby and I love and which combines all the ingredients that our children wouldn't touch with a ten foot barge pole; seafood, chilli and enough garlic to kill a vampire!  Yuuumm!  It was lovely to share a nice meal together.  And it's such a quick meal to cook!  Recipe below.
I love it when I have space from the kids.  Because I spend all my time with the kids, it's a treat to have quiet time.  When here, they keep my brain overfilled all day and once they are in bed and I get 'me' time, my brain is kinda numb.  It's only when they're not here that I find myself reflecting on how we are doing as a family, our daily routines, changes I'd like to make etc.

So once I've finished chatting to you, I'm going to throw myself into my remaining kid free time with oomph!!  A little bit of reorganising our living space, a touch of gardening and some serious planning complete with lots of lists and time tabling!

But I need to ask a burning question.  How do you wash your rice?  It disturbs me to throw out good water.  Years back, I used to just rinse rice in a strainer under the running tap until the water ran clear.   All that lovely water going straight down the drain!  These days I put the rice into a container with a little water, swoosh vigorously, strain into a fine mesh strainer over the sink and repeat.  I only do it three or four times and the water is still cloudy but I figure I've wasted enough water at this point so proceed to cook it.  Do you have a better method?
Now for that recipe...

Garlic Prawns

500 grams of peeled raw prawns
300ml cream
4 garlic cloves, crushed
1/2 teaspoon chilli paste
1 tablespoon cornflour mixed with one tablespoon water

Pat prawns dry with a clean tea towel. Combine cream, garlic and chilli in a saucepan, bring to boil. Remove from heat and thicken with cornflour mix.  Heat a frying pan to hot.  Add a knob of butter and some olive oil, stir fry prans until just changed colour.  Pour sauce over and heat through.  Serve on boiled or steamed rice.

And there you have it.  A ridicoulsly unhealthy but yummy meal that a responsible parent wouldn't serve to her children!  I find this meal makes enough to serve the two of us with enough left for me to sneak into the fridge for my lunch the next day.  Hubby's at work so what he doesn't know won't hurt him.  :-)

Monday, 3 November 2014

Ups and downs

The computer's busted; it's time to host the monthly link up that I so love and I can't attempt it on the iPad! There was a brown snake slithering around in the veggie garden today. It was the second time I've seen him in a couple of weeks so I don't think he's just passing through! The cat ran passed before with a rabbit hanging out of her mouth and we ran out of castor sugar and EGGS! Lucky we had a couple of duck eggs in the fridge because Pumpkin was making a chocolate cake. And then I saw the sheep! See the electric fence? Well he should be on the other side of it with the horse. Time to move them to new grass.
And on the up side.... today Pumpkin cooked a great cake, I made some food to share at a fun cup day event with friends tomorrow, I sowed some corn seeds this morning, the kids had fun making pasta necklaces and Hubby has the day off tomorrow!
You wouldn't want to map out your day too clearly, would you! You just never know what's coming your way on any given day, even the mundane I'm-staying-home-to-bake days.....