Creating an urban homestead and news about life.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008


I have a google account for work, so have had to start a new blog as I couldn't . Please come over to it and visit, and leave a note. I love those.

Sorry for the change, hope to see you there.

Love Hannah

Friday, August 1, 2008

Crochet apprentice

This is my gorgeous friend, Molly. We were both at my mum's recently watching a movie with my Brother and his Girlfriend and I was crocheting. Molly was so interested that Mum got her a hook and some wool and I started to teach her. Then a week or two ago she told me she had bought wool and hooks for herself, and we went through it again, she had remembered most of what I taught her.

I find it interesting how no-one I teach crochet does it exactly the same, it's kind of like how we all hold our pens and write differently. Molly wanted to make a beret type had, and you can see it here the following day, almost finished. (I think she stayed up late working on it.)
I love teaching people new things, and the best way to attract pupils is by them seeing you doing it. I take my crocheting and knitting, and other projects too numerous to mention to meetings, to movies at friends houses, when I travel and when I go somewhere for dinner. Why waste time when you can make something at the same time.

Go Molly!

Visitors from afar

Recently I had some visitors. My host parents from America (spent 7 months there when I was 16 with Rotary) came to stay for a few days. I picked them up from the airport in Sydney and we drove back to Nowra via the coast road. This is a spectacular road which goes along the coast between Sydney and Wollongong through the Royal National Park. It travels through coastal clifftop scrub, old growth forests and past beautiful beaches. I have done a hike through this national park, but never driven the distance. One of the highlights, which has been a feature of a few recent car advertisements is the coast bridge. The road was closed for a number of years except to residents as it was too unstable in parts and was falling into the sea, and they replaced it with a road that is a bridge out over the sea around some of the steepest parts.

The time with Mom and Dad K was great, we went to the local animal park. It's so much better than I remember. Previously there was a daily koala talk (about 15 mins) and then you could walk around and look at the other animals, pat the kangaroos and feed them, but look at everything else. They have changed ownership and have 5 or 6 talks a day. We didn't get through everything. We went to the koala talk, the monkey feeding, the croc show and the reptile show and the dingo show. And the guys doing the talks are great. One is my friend but I'm not actually being biased, I think all the kids were entralled. Think steve irwin, but skinny with dark hair and you have trent. Thanks for a great day.

On the sunday we went to a show at our new entertainment centre, a couple who have starred in lots of Australian musicals performing numbers from most of the famous musicals. It was great. At night we had a trivia night at the church to raise money for a Chinese orphanage. Our church is into doing things the whole hog, and so the church was kitted out with bamboo, giant kites and more. Each individual table dresses up and decorates as well. We had a table of Pandas in a cage, ninjas, geishas (you don't need to tell me they're Japanese) My bible study group decided to go as a dragon. We made it all out of recycled materials, and it turned out great.

Joey is under the head, Trent (from the animal park) and his wife Sheree are behind. Lots of fun.

I will catch up more soon, and need new batteries for the camera to take some updates of my garden... coming soon.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Independance Days Challenge Update

Planted: My apple trees and a Mulberry tree. It's one of my favourite fruits and the tree I bought is already covered in fruit. Can't wait for it to ripen in spring. Maybe I'll get two rounds of fruit.

Harvest something: My cousins harvested all the remaining oranges on one of the trees, and I have been harvesting eggs from my new chickens!!!

Preserve something: Nothing again. It's just the wrong time of year. If I can get a box of cheap tomatoes (end of season) I might do some pasta sauce this weekend.

Store Something: Polenta.

Manage Reserves: Thinking I will buy some extras of staples, as the truckie's strike looks like it is going ahead.

Prepped: Put a deposit down on a self pollinating almond. I'll pick it up after it comes into leaf, so I know it's healthy. The nursery said they prefer to do this. If it doesn't look good they'll give me another. Also bought some asparagus crowns which I hope to plant later this week. Collecting Newspapers for laying under the pebbles in front courtyard, that needs to be finished this weekend as well and the remainder of green manure sown.

Worked on Local Food Systems: Went to Organic food co-op meeting. Went to TEAR fund conference this weekend. Looking at starting a group for Christians in my area who are interested in environmental issues and social justice with a couple I used to work with in Sydney and have moved to my area.

Reduced Waste: Reducing other people's waste. Handing out icecream containers for scraps left right and centre. The chooks love it and the leftovers go to the worms and the compost. The garden will love it too!

Cooked something new: Roast vegetable salad. I'll do it again soon and take photos! It was delicious.

Learned a new skill: Drilling holes in metal, clipping chicken wings

Tuesday, July 22, 2008


My girls have come. I have named them Milly, Molly and Mandy and can't tell them apart yet. They are Barnevelders and came from my good friends Eric and Clarissa from Permaculture Sydney West. They brought them to the grafting workshop at Harmony Farm, which I completely forgot to take photos of. (oops) One of them even laid an egg en route. My grandpa has given me some banding tags, so I think I'll have to resort to that until I know them better.

The girls are Barnevelders which is a Dutch breed which lays lovely brown eggs (supposed to be around 180 a year). One of them is double laced, the other two only single lacing, and they are gorgeous. They are not as tame as my last hens, but Frankie, the Isa Brown was hand reared so very tame. I'll work on them as the greens dwindle down taking food in and feeding them. They will come up to me if I stay in the coop for a while, but won't let me touch them much.

Chickens are a great (I think essential) part of a green home. They will pick over any meat and dairy scraps which are not compostible, and will convert kitchen scraps and garden waste into compost much quicker than my compost bin can. (although I still use a compost bin as well.) They process old and rotting fruit and produce wonderful fertiliser and eggs which are great to eat. I also use them as a chicken tractor, to clear a specific area after harvesting, and before planting the next crop.

The photo below is the chicken yard last Friday. I fixed it by putting the star picket at the right of the photo in the ground next to the broken side and then wiring the broken paling to the picket. It worked really well, Also made a loop to hold the gate shut. Very proud of my fixing. (Even my next door neighbour and his builder dad approved) He came over last night to ask if I had chooks, because two of them were in his yard. His cat wasn't sure what to make of them.

Note: In my experience cats are fine with chooks. The cats are generally not willing to risk being pecked and maintain a safe distance. Cats can actually be beneficial, I have heard of people installing a cattery around the chook yard to prevent dogs/foxes etc getting in. The chooks had flown into low tree braches to sleep (I think they only flew over the fence later in the afternoon to nest) and he picked them up and threw them back over. They were happily grazing this morning.

Today I bought anti chicken flying equipment. Basically a Trailer net. You can see the shelter and roost at the back (the chook yard continues around the side of the garage, it would really be wasted space otherwise) I think the chooks are getting onto the roof of the shelter and then going over the fence, so the trailer net will be attached to the gutter of the garage and the top of the fence to prevent them flying over the fence. Hopefully no more flying chickens

Monday, July 21, 2008

Independance Days update - for two weeks.

Planted: Green Manure, where the lawn used to be. Photos tomorrow maybe? Brocolli and silverbeet seedlings. Jerusalem artichokes, along back fence. May plant another batch somewhere else as I am finding it quite a dry spot.

Harvest something: Cherry tomatoes. It's the middle of winter, but in cleaning up the chook pen I found a bowlful of red cherry toms, going into salad tonight. I will also harvest some lettuce, coriander and parsley for the salad.

Preserve something: Nothing

Store Something: Chook feed!

Manage Reserves: Kitchen now sorted, and is much easier to access. I have a small amount of benchspace.

Prepped: Picked up chickens from a friend rather than the layer pullets. They are Barnevelders and are very pretty. Should lay every one to two days and I have 3 so that's more than enought for me and some to give away/barter. Had a day off Friday and fixed up chicken yard. The gate was broken. Made a temporary nesting box until I can get an old mower catcher. these are great for nesting boxes as they are dark and dry and have a handle on the top to pick them up with.

Worked on Local Food Systems: Went to a working bee day at Harmony Farm on the southern highlands. I think I'll try and go at least once a season. They have lots of fruit trees and I can learn a lot from them.

Reduced Waste: I got chickens. Now I can give them meat and dairy scraps instead of throwing out!

Cooked something new: Didn't cook anything new for me, but did cook with my two year old friend. She wore her special apron and helped me pour pre-prepared ingredients in and to mix and put everything into the container - result. Delicious apple crumble. However she didn't eat hardly any of it. I did though and so did her mum and dad. Cooking with kids is lots of fun, but you do need to pick the recipe and be prepared.

Learned a new skill: Grafting. At Harmony Farm yesterday we had a grafting workshop and I grafted 5 different apple varieties and am now praying for them to take. They say their apples graft the best so I started with them and maybe will try pears or something stonefruit next time.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Surprise Visitors

Last Tuesday I had a call from an old friend from the church I worked for in Sydney.
He and his wife and daughter were in town and wanted to catch up. Unfortunately Jo couldn't make lunch, but Adrian and Ella did. It was my first time meeting Ella, and she is adorable

I think she is eyeing off my food in this photo. Thanks for the visit guys, it was the best surprise.

Once upon a moon

Hey diddle diddle
The cat and the fiddle
The cow tried to jump over the moon
but instead hit a star
fell back to earth quite hard
landing in a tree at Docklands

Friday, July 11, 2008


Guess where I went tonight!!!
Yep, you guessed it, guys and dolls. At the princess theatre in Melbourne. It was a great night. The cast was brilliant, lisa mcclune, marina prior, gary mcdonald, magda zobanski (so spelt that wrong) and Kenny (Don't remember his name, but he did the movie. Loved the music, the sets, the dancing. WOW.
I'm in Melbourne for a work conference, but had some time off this afternoon and also got to pop over to the Art Gallery. That was brilliant as well. I could have spent a day there and not seen it all, some amazing artworks.
Tomorrow is the last day of the conference and then I am going to stay with friends who live on the outskirts of Melbourne till Tuesday when I return to Nowra.
Catch you later...

Monday, July 7, 2008

Sassafras hike and a bonfire

The other weekend I had a friend from Sydney come down and stay.
It was good to catch up with what's been going on there with friends and the Permaculture group I was involved with.

On the Friday evening we went to a Taize worship service I had heard of. It was lovely to meet with others from all different denominations and backgrounds. It's amazing how small the world is, meeting people from very different generations to me, with many mutual friends. It was a lovely reflective service, with a shared simple meal for the hour beforehand.

On Saturday Kristjan and I went out to Morton National Park for a day walk. We took the Braidwood Road from Nowra and entered the park via Sassafras. There is no sign there, just a gate, and you drive through some private property before reaching the entrance to the park. About 500m in to the walk there was a lovely campground with amenities and a covered picnic table. Most of the walk was just along firetrail shaded in some parts, like this shot at the beginning of the walk (photo was taken at the end of the day as the sun was setting) and lots out in the open, but relatively flat. Found lots of nectal filled grevillias that beat any boiled sweets or honey for flavour. Sticky sweet, and straight out of the flower.

This is the view we reached after about 1 hours walking. The landscape is much harsher than the ones I often see in photos of european blogs. Maybe not harsher, but different. It is quite dry but within it there are many microclimates, for example, we explored a little over the edge of the cliff line, in a gully where we could scramble down. Immediately you are in a temperate rainforest. This is something I love about my country and getting out into the bush. We walked to a point where a small trail went off the main one, and walked to a nice lookout to eat lunch and then return. It definately got my curiosity and I am planning to return there and do the entire walk, probably will be at least two days, but thats part of the fun.

That evening one of my colleagues was having a barbeque at her property and had invited staff and families to attend. There were two large bonfires, sparklers and lots of food. A great evening. One of my colleagues is the mother of a girl I went to school with and she was down visiting for the weekend while her husband was working down the coast so it was great to catch up with her as well.

The photo at the bottom is of Hayley's master marshmallow toasting skills. The hood is to protect her face and the marshmallow isn't toasted until the marshmallow and the stick are alight. My method is somewhat different, but it was entertaining.

Independance Days Challenge

Wow, I didn't realise I hadn't posted since last weekend. I have my camera at work today so I will try and download some photos and do another post. It's been a busy week or two.

Planted: Planted out seedlings of rocket I had started, and a herb, if I remember rightly it's thyme

Harvest something: Oranges

Preserve something: Nothing

Store Something: Trying to lower the amount stored to a manageable amount - nothing new this week

Manage Reserves: Trying to only use meat out of the freezer, to create space to store leftover meals. Slowly getting there as most of it's meat and I only eat meat every two or three days.

Prepped: Dug all the Agapanthus out. Now need to remove azaleas. Started breaking up the soil slightly where the lawn was removed and planting green manure. Have hurt my back so this is not happening as fast as I would like. Hoping to do some tomorrow morning...after I take my ibuprofen :) Found contact for layer pullets. Need to order, they will be ready to pick up in a couple of weeks, 12 week old pullets, will be ready to lay come spring.

Worked on Local Food Systems: Hmm, spotted local front garden with a huge lillipilli (native berry) tree. Feeling a harvest coming on.

Reduced Waste: Organised a compost system at work for my colleagues to use. Also given my mum a compost bin, and organised a hook for back neighbours to put a bucket with scraps on as well.

Cooked something new: Kangaroo roast. I have eaten this at friend's houses but first time I cooked it myself. I think I slightly undercooked it, but it was delicious.

Learned a new skill: Not sure if I did this. I taught a friend to Crochet though. That counts I'm sure. I had started teaching her before, but now she has bought her own hook and wool and we worked out for her to make a beret like hat. She's picking it up well.

Monday, June 30, 2008

independance days update

Planted: More lemon grass, native mint and marjoram. Brocolli seeds, Jerusalem Artichokes. Transplanted my first batch of lettuce from a pot where they were not growing well to the garden. Banana sucker.

Harvest something: Coriander for a soup

Preserve something: Nothing

Store Something: Hmm, this one's hard as I'm trying to get through what I already have.

Manage Reserves: Have gone through almost all my food supplies and only kept 1-2 of anything in the kitchen cupboards, moving the rest to the stockpile. My kitchen is returning to some sense of order.

Prepped: Have been digging out agapanthus from where I am going to plant my espaliered fruit trees. Went to a friends who has horses and picked up three large feed bags of horse manure.

Worked on Local Food Systems: Friend with horses also gave me some of her chooks eggs. Made contact with local cafe who have bought a block of land for a community garden and beginning to liase with them around setting up a local food forum. Whilst digging up agapanthus plants I also pulled out some buffalo grass runners. Went to list agapanthus on freecycle and as an afterthought added the buffalo grass. I had a quick response not for the aggies, but for the grass. Soon worked out the person I was talking to is a local permie I had been trying to contact, and she brought some guys around today to remove my entire front lawn. In return I will go and have a tour of her garden and get some cuttings!! She is also keen to set up a food and growing network to share excess and plantstock.

Reduced Waste: Gave away plants rather than disposed of them. Composted.

Cooked something new: I cooked a sweet potato soup I made once many years ago when first living in a share house. It was very popular but I lost the recipe and found it on a blog last week. It was delicious. I had leftovers for lunch today. Next time I want to make it with my own dried beans rather than the tinned variety.

Learned a new skill: How to get rid of a lawn. Give it away and let them dig it up.... lol

Friday, June 27, 2008

Winter Solstice and Housewarming Party

Friends around the fire. I got this brazier off the side of the road and it's lovely, works best with small branches which I often pick up when walking home from work. Australian gum trees have a habit of their branches dying on the tree and then falling down in the wind. This means that just about anything that falls out of one of them is good for burning.
Please ignore Deb's bare legs and feet, and instead look at my socks, long pants, scarf and jumper. It was cold, but the fire kept me toasty warm.

My Brother was chef Extraordinaire. He did want an apron though, and this is now the BBQ apron, it's plasticcy, so you can wipe it down.

Friends, Debs and Mera around the fire

Me and my little sis Jonina

There were people inside as well, Michael and Erika my old housemates laughing at Deb's crocodile antics with the tongs.

Figured a party with a fire was a great way to pass the shortest day of the year, now I'm looking forward to the days getting longer, and the food my garden is starting to produce!!!

Thursday, June 26, 2008

The Kitchen Fusspot

The Kitchen Fusspot

They are, in the kitchen at least, late developers. Often genteel, effete, with alittle too much time on their hands. Meals emerge from their kitchens with a sense of expectation, each ingredient having been painstakingly sourced, every direction in the cookery book followed to the letter, and inevitable late. The meal has something of the theatrical production about it, albeit amateur dramatics, as if it has all been so, so much trouble. Which of course it has. And don't we know it.
The kitchen fusspot prepares dinner - a charming though slightly too creamy soup, meat with a syrupy, over-reduced sauce, a dessert as elaborate as an ascot hat and probably just as indigestible - while his guests get more and more hungary, not to say a little pissed.
The kitchen, once tidy enough to appear in the pages of World of Interiors, now resembles a bombsite of stacked roasting tins, saute pans and sieves.
Fusspot is almost always male. He only cooks once a month, if that, and needs endless encouragement and ego massage. The production starts several days before, with working out what to cook with the aid of a pile of cookery books of the celebrity chef variety, and a shopping list, often taken to bed. There may be a tasting of the wines to be served, many of which have come from his own cellar. The menu will be changed every day, each dish chosen for it's ability to follow its predecessor perfectly, to match the wines, to show the cook at his most competent.
The directions will have been analysed in a way the poor cookery writer never dreamed of, each line dissected and filleted and the given a jolly good roasting.

from "Eating for England" by Nigel Slater.
As I read this passage over breakfast it reminded me of some meals that have been cooked for me. I'm sure some of you will relate.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Independance days challenge

Planted: Lemon grass (from local markets) Comfrey, from my friend Sue and Frilly Endive (seeds from friend Roberta)

Harvest something: Nothing this week

Preserve something: Ditto

Store Something: Coles have weekly bulk buy specials here lately. I bought 5 tins of tomatoes ten individual serves of tuna and 12 tins of coconut cream, all of which I use quite a bit through this and got them all for more or less half price.

Manage Reserves: Have made one of the cupboards in my laundy my stockpile and am going through the kitchen cupboards to keep only 1-2 of each item there and any multiples will go in the stock pile so I can manage my food better.

Prepped: I had some friends come stay on the weekend, we spent sunday morning pruning and then I spent the afternoon mulching after they left. I think in future I will keep all the long branches to use as stakes and pea trellises, but only thought of that after I had had fun turning them into woodchips.

Worked on Local Food Systems: Volunteered at our local organic food co-op at the markets. We were out of most of our bulk produce as the co-op had a stall at world environment day and obviously did a brisk trade. There were the usual free range eggs and fruit and veges from local growers but the local sourdough bakery messed up our order and lots of shoppers were disappointed.

Reduced Waste: Mulching prunings (I think I won't do the rose prunings though as I have too many thorn incidents as it is. They will have to go off property. I want to try and do a compost tea with the weeds I pulled out. I won't put grass runners into the compost, but if they decompose in water first and create liquid fertilizer I think they may actually die.

Cooked something new: Trying to think. I don't think I really cooked much this week at all. Oh, I made rissoles, and I don't think I've ever done that without my mother standing beside me telling me what to put in.

Learned a new skill: Pruning roses!! Never had them growing up, so that was definately a new skill. Somewhat painful as they were severly overgrown and I couldn't find my gloves.

Friday, June 20, 2008

A dinner party, and my trip to work...on foot.

Well, two weekends ago I went to canberra to pick up furniture from some relatives. Last weekend, I had my first dinner party. It was a lovely night of delicious food and great company. Robi and Adam on the right brought a lasagne, salad and garlic bread, Tracey and Jill on the left brought dessert (cheesecake and apple pie) and Lynda brought drinks. I provided an entree of a Tom yum soup, with fish and dried mushrooms and rice noodles.

All these guys are people I know quite well from my church, but none of them really knew each other before the night. I quite enjoy introducing people and building community. Invite them, chuck them in a room together and watch new friendships grow. Whether anyone decides to catch up again apart from at another dinner party I hold, I love the fact that when they meet again they will no longer be strangers.

Also, I thought I would share my walk to work with you. This is only possible because of the direct decision I made to buy a home close to town. I am now located in a place where I literally would never need to drive a car again. At the moment I am still driving, although only to places I can't walk to. My church is a 7 minute drive away which is not realistic to do late at night. Should petrol become un realistically expensive I will either have to carpool more with others (I am already trying to do this where possible) or consider moving churches, which is not an option I really want to consider as I love my church. The other option is riding my bike, which I have bought and used now. Anyhow, also withing walking distance are all the local shops, the town's main bus station, from which I can get to the train station, the beach, and most capital cities in Australia. I can also walk to my mother's home, and numerous friends, hospital and doctors etc.

These hibiscus bushes are my first stop. They were overgrown and completely covering the path until someone who will remain nameless and is not me took to them after an evening shift (about 1am) with a pair of branch loppers. This has made the path accessible and the bushes a profusion of flowers.

The bushes are next to a doctor's surgery which has the most beautiful cottage garden, including a pathway of lavender bushes. These are always full of flowers and smell divine when the sun is out. I am planning to take some cuttings soon.

This is our central town park. Within the park is the local guide hall where I did Brownies and Guides from age 7 to 15. This park was definately part of my childhood. It has some lovely rose gardens and more recently camellia gardens which add to to park. A regret for me is that council decided to remove the waterlillies which used to cover the surface of the water. Now the ponds are much dirtier and much less attractive, and I worry about the nutrients which flow into it I believe as storm water. I have often thought of secreting a couple of plants in at night. Any one have any that need dividing???

One thing I love in our town is that local artists were commissioned to paint all the electricity boxes. There are some brilliant ones and this one is by no means my favourite, it's just the one I pass on the way to work. One has a circus theme, another cows. If I remember, I'll try and photograph some more if anyone would like to see them. It definately improves the streetscape.

This photo is one of the last parts of my walk, and probably the most depressing at the moment, a constant reminder of the rising cost of living, but also as I walk past it an encouragement that everytime I walk I am not only saving the environment, but also my hip pocket. It definately motivates me to think of ways to not need to use the car, like shopping at the hardware store in town rather than Bunnings, like riding the bike to my friends house, which is harder and takes more time, but leaves me fitter and the planet healthier.

What does the rising price of petrol challenge you to do??? I'd love to hear some of your creative ideas, and focus on what we can do to change. There's lots of fears and concerns but lets help each other find the answers.


ps. Rhonda at Down to Earth just pointed out an interview that screened last night in Australia with Richard Heinburg, oil expert. You can read the transcript here

Monday, June 16, 2008

Independance Days Challenge

Sue at Dog's Little Acre has been posting about her independance days challenge each week I think, and I thought I would try and do it too as it sets out different tasks and if I have to list it out, I'm more likely to get it done.

Here goes for last week:

Planted: lettuce, 2 varieties, turnips, kohl rabi, parsnip (although I am unsure whether this is still viable) christmas lima bean, sweet pea, nasturtium. Oh and garlic (found 4 heads on sale for 50 cents as they were sprouting. can't hurt to chuck them in and see if they grow.)

Harvest something: Parsley

Preserve something: Lemon Curd

Store Something: Rice. I am eating a bit at the moment as part of a challenge with Tear fund australia.

Manage Reserves: Have found all stored food from when I lived in Sydney I think and am trying to manage using it all up so I can start preserving fresh produce.

Prepped: Bought reclaimed steel spikes for holding up retaining wall and star pickets from council tips buy back centre. Picked up old logs from family's old house to use as retaining wall for new garden. Just need to drill holes through them and get them in now.

Worked on Local Food Systems: None, but will be this coming weekend.

Reduced Waste: Composting non shiny paper in the compost. Using old coffee cups (paper) as seedling pots. Mulching with dried out lawn clippings.

Cooked something new: Lemon Curd, see above. Tom Yum Soup. with fish and dried mushrooms (entree for Sat night dinner party)

Learned a new skill: Can't think of anything for this week.

Lemon Curd (Mmm)

This photo from here (I forgot to take a photo last night)

I made lemon curd yesterday and though I would post the recipe

2 lemons zest and juice
2 eggs
1/2 cup sugar
2 teaspoons butter

basically whisk constantly while bringing to the boil, (you don’t want eggy bits cooking on their own) and then lightly boil for 5 mins and pour into clean warm bottles. This amount makes one bottle but you can just multiply the recipe to make more. It was very easy and quick to make, only about 15 mins work all up at a maximum.

I got this off a blog (can’t remember who sorry) and thought I would make it as I had homegrown lemons from my grandpa to use up and free range eggs in the fridge and the markets are on this weekend so I will be getting more! The smaller butter method will keep in the fridge for a few weeks and and they said if you want to keep it longer replace the 2 teaspoons butter with 2 table spoons of butter and it will keep up to 12 months unopened and then the same.

Can’t confirm the storing ability, but can confirm the yumminess. Great use for eggs and lemons. A friend and I had some on banana bread yesterday and it was delicious.

There will be more posted tomorrow with developments at my long as I can get a photo taken in the morning. You have to guess what of!


Thursday, June 12, 2008


June long weekend is a special weekend in Canberra. It is the only weekend of the year you are legally allowed to let off fireworks. This year was the most restrictive ever, with fireworks only going on sale Friday morning and only to be used between 5 and 9pm saturday and sunday of the long weekend. It's a Public holiday in honour of the queen's birthday, although it isn't actually the Queen's birthday, please don't ask me to explain that one.

My grandparents had some furniture they were giving me and my friends were doing fireworks so I thought I'd combine the two trips into one. It actually turned out to be a very productive trip. Firstly because my aunt and uncle had a bunch of furniture they gave me as well, photos will come soon after it's all set up. All told I was given a three peice lounge setting, a coffee table, a dining table, five chairs (to match three I already had and make 8 in total, a rug for the garage, a heater, some blankets, some books and some home grown fruit. There's more I have to pick up another time.

It was also productive in that I was able to catch up with lots of people who are important to me and spend time with them. I drove the back route 4WD through Nerriga (unsealed road after the rain = lots of fun, but I only did it unloaded and came back via the sealed road) and visited a friend who is building a low impact house there. I had lunch with my Grandma and we went shopping. I stayed the night with aunt and uncle and spent some good time with them. I went to church with a friend from Sydney who has moved to Canberra and caught up and encouraged each other. I spent time with my Grandparents on the other side. I caught up with three of my cousins and with a bunch of friends. And then on the way home stopped in on old friends from high school youth group days.

This is Xavier, my surrogate nephew, he loves this jumper and it's right next to the kitchen, keeps him amused while mum is busy cooking.

Me with my gorgeous cousins. We had the couch outside in the driveway to watch the fireworks.

My cousins playing with sparklers. I love special effects. We had goes at writing our names but the shutter didn't stay open long enough.

The boys setting up the fireworks. We all took turns lighting them, even my young cousins (with close supervision.

All in all it was a wonderful weekend, Now I just need to recover!!!

Friday, June 6, 2008

Around the house

This is the delicious cauliflower soup I made this week.
Cauliflower, potatoes and onion (and I added two turnips) chopped up and put in the pot.
Add a tablespoon of oil and 1/4 cup of water, heat until bubbling then cover and cook on medium for ten minutes. Veges should be steamed and softened, but should not be dry.

Add tblsp grated ginger, crushed clove of garlic, 3tsp turmeric, tsp ground coriander, tsp cumin seeds s+p and cook stirring on med-high for two minutes (this is the point at which the photo was taken. The veges all got more yellow still. Then add 1Litre vege stock and simmer 20mins. Puree before eating.

This got praise from all my siblings, my brothers girlfriend and friends. (and I thought it was pretty good too.

The other night I made Risotto and there was some left over so I made some risotto balls. Just got some mozzarella and put a small piece in the middle of a chunk of risotto and molded it much like a meatball, then rolled them in breadcrumbs.

I think traditionally they would be deepfried but instead I sprayed them in light oil and baked them while a cake was in the oven. Delicious fresh and reheated. Great way to use leftovers.

In the growing challenge I have some sprouts emerging from my seed trays. Broad beens lettuce, and peas of some kind (I can't remember if they are snow or ordinary.) I also planted some more and mostly things I haven't grown before: pidgeon peas, chicory, thyme, dill, warigal greens. Can't wait for them to come up. I do need to get some silverbeet in too, as it's so good in winter.

I'll also explain my potting cups. These are the cups you get coffee in, and I get all my coworkers to rinse their cups out and keep them for me, I then rip the bottoms out and fill with potting mix and seedraising mix. They do need to be in a sealed container such as an ice cream container or plastic tray to keep the soil in but by the time they are planted out the roots generally are holding all the soil together.

Because they are waxed they do not wick the moisture away from the plants like the newspaper pots can sometimes do, and when they are planted out they provide a small barrier to protect tender young seedlings from the slug attacks that used to decimate my plants. they then gradually breakdown and add to the organic matter in the garden.

Now I have to wait for the ground to dry out a little, (it's been raining since the weekend) so I can prepare some more garden beds to plant out all these plants.

Also on the weekend I went out to our local tip which has a buy back centre and found a perfactly good electric mulcher. I have been thinking about getting one of these for a long time, but the cost was prohibitive. This was only $15 and was thrown out a branch was jammed. The tip manager just dislodged the branch and hey presto as new mulcher.

I promptly went home, got a cord to fit and mulched some weedy trees. I believe they are a native legume so I will use thema s mulch and in the compost. I also picked up some cheap concrete reinforcing wire. One of the sheets I have set over the broad beans and will support them as they grow. I simply folded it into an a frame shape and the wire was cut off with spikes that I pushed into the ground.

You can see the broad beans have grown a lot since the last post You can also see my sexy gumboot (there are two) that I got in new zealand. There is another sheet of wire I will use to grow the snow peas on and then I'll have to go back for more.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Day at the abbey

I spent Friday night and Saturday at the abbey at Jamberoo. This was the abbey that featured in the recent tv show however, I have been visiting here since I was in high school. I am not catholic, but I am contemplative in my spiritual journey as a christian and have found it a blessing to visit and spend time with the nuns here.

This weekend was a Taize retreat day. I went up the night before as I like to visit the abbey and spend time in the grounds and in quiet, and love the early service at 4:30am. It's really special to wake before the world does and walk under the stars to the chapel which is lit only by candles and gather with others to pray for the day.

The retreat day was also great, joining in song and prayer and having sessions run by one of the nuns and the chaplain who is a carmelite priest. The theme for the day was silence, about making space to listen, to engage with the world. So often the noise of the world can drown us out, and we need to still ourselves. That may be simply turning off the TV, lighting a candle, or just engaging with those around you. I am inspired to practice silence more.

Actually one interesting thing was that I didn't feel as much of a difference going there as I normally do. It usually feels so different to be still and quiet. However I think not having a TV has allowed me to be a bit quieter and listen to those around me, listen to God, listen to myself...

The drive there is lovely, along the coast of south eastern Australia. I was going to post a photo but it didn't load up. Have a lovely night all.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Rock Climbing and Rock Shifting

Had a wonderful weekend. The Princess Warriers (adventurous part of the women's ministry at church) went rock climbing at Wollongong on the Saturday.

This is my good friend Mera climbing one of the walls...
And my other friend Debs belaying her (her job is to make sure Mera doesn't fall) I splurged on a pair of sherpa rock climbing shoes which were on sale from $140 to $60 in my size. (I had been borrowing another friends but hers were actually a size too small)

We had to stop at the Berry Donut Van. These are the best donuts in the known world. They only make them to order, and they really are good.

See the fatty goodness :)

So to make up for the cholesterol, I not only climbed rocks, but shifted them. I need to put in a retaining wall to build my next vege garden, and there were some bricks at our old house I was going to use, but then I saw the rocks which were meant to be garden edges years ago sitting in a huge pile in the garden and decided to use them. After loading about a third into my little barina hatchback, I had to unload a few as the exhaust was nearly dragging on the ground.

It took three loads to move them all, and they are bordering my driveway at the moment, I'm unsure as to whether to build the wall with or without concrete. While I was at the old house I also found some self seeded parsley and coriander and transplanted a few to my new house, and the parsley has already been trimmed to go in last nights dinner.

I am still going to bring the bricks, planning on paving a small courtyard area at the front of the house, building a firepit at the back and also using them to pave some paths. Picked up a load this morning before work, but a few more trips to go. It is using petrol, but as I am not paying for them and am recycling old bricks I think it's worth it, and it's only a three minute drive.

On the hot water front, I am getting a solar hot water system. I had some plumbers come around to do quotes and one has given me a set price for solar which is less than instant gas to buy and install with the local rebates (Renewable Energy Certificates, Federal and State.) Bonus also being my hot water is heated primarily from the sun's energy. They will install an electric booster for when there is not the solar power to heat the water which will work by only heating half the tank. They also came yesterday and took out the old tank and installed a temporary tank that will stay until the solar system is in. They are my new best friends!!! I had a long soak in the bath last night in celebration of there being hot water.

Lastly, my roses are still blooming a week away from winter. I pruned all the dead branches out and they are growing more flower buds. I'll have to wait longer to give them a hard prune. They are lovely greeting me each day as I walk home.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Water feature? inside my house

The joys of owning a new old house. Now for me but old. Structurally it's very sound but somethings are past their useby date. The paint in the kitchen for one. The hot water system for another. While I was planning to replace this in the next year, I wasn't planning on doing it in the first two weeks. However, I woke up to a water feature in the hous, As there is a drain next to the system the damage is very limited, but I couldn't turn the tap off to the system and had to turn the mains tap off. So no toilet at the moment. Going home to try a shifter on it, and the plumber is coming around for a quote first thing in the morning, and if I haven't turned it off by then he will do it for me.

I am going to replace it with an instantaneous gas system. It's environmentally cleaner, and will use much less energy as I only heat the water I need, not storing large amounts ad infinitum.

On the gardening front, I planted my onion sets this morning, behind the broad beans (hoping they companion okay. After I planted them out I realised the mains was turned off so I used my saved washing up water. Then thought they would die without more, so I went and met my neighbour Dan, who seems like a nice neighbour to have (and he has a mandarin tree that's overflowing.) Street community here we come!!! He said he tried to visit another day and say hi when he saw the car there, but I wasn't home. That's the wonderful thing about living in town. I don't have to drive the car most of the time.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Gardening and Food - What more could you want!

Also on the weekend I had a friend over for dinner. My second guest. And my fridge arrived, so of course we had to go and buy ice-cream. :)

I cooked a baked caseroley thing. Sliced up one onion, two potatoes, two carrots and a parsnip and added lots of cherry tomatoes from the garden, a cup of vege stock and then put four marinated kangaroo steaks on top and put them in the oven. Cooked for around and hour on a medium heat, delicious. I think Kangaroo is my favourite meat at the moment. In Australia it is really the meat that makes sense in being environmentally friendly. They don't compact the soil like cattle and sheep, they eat native grasses (keeping them trimmed preventing bushfires) and they don't require as much water or care. I also think that the quality of meat we get is much better and cheaper than the quality of beef and lamb we get in supermarkets. And I got these reduced to clear so half price the normal price.

For dessert we made up some chocolate muffin mix, but I read the recipe wrong and we put too much water in and worried they would be puddingy we made them in some coffee cups I had.....


This morning I planted some more, after wrestling with a huge IVY plant growing THROUGH my fence from next door. It's so rampant I think I'll have to speak to them/weed kill it or it's going to damage the fence. I then dug the weeds out of the back garden and planted two rows of Broad Bean seedlings (not yet from seed I know, but something new) I also have a punnet of red onions that I'll plant out tomorrow.

I thought I'd show a photo of my Kaffir Lime tree now...

I watered in the broad bean seedlings by hand (watering can was a Christmas Present from Mum a few years ago. My siblings thought it was a strange gift, but it's been wonderful. Also fished out a rectangular basin from the garage I use for paper making to put in the sink for washing up so I can recycle the water onto the garden and it fits perfectly!!!

And lastly another photo of Choc muffin coffee cups, and my friend Deb, because they were so yummy, especially with Creme Brulee ice cream...

Monday, May 19, 2008

The Growing Challenge - Kaffir Lime

I had a great weekend, my first in the new house, and took the advantage of mostly good weather to do some gardening. I have not put any beds in yet, so am limited in what I can do, but I went to the nursery to buy seed raising mix and came back with a Kaffir Lime tree. These are lovely trees and well suited to being in a pot, so that's where mine is at least for the moment. Later on it may go into the ground. There were a couple of large pots left when I moved into the house so I cleaned one out and potted it up into that, with my compost!!!! (The first lot I have ever successfully produced.) It was watered and left to grow.

The good thing with Kaffir Limes is that you don't have to wait for them to fruit to use them. Many Thai and asian dishes call for finely sliced Kaffir Lime leaves. They are predominately used for their leaves and zest, as they do not have much juice, but the juice can be used again. They are easy to recognise because of their double leaves and are usually grafted onto some reliable rootstock. I was careful to pick the one with the strongest looking graft and lots of bunching branches rather than a straggly looking one.
When looking for a photo for this post (as I forgot to take one) I found out that they are useful in green cleaning as well...
"Kaffir lime shampoo leaves the hair squeaky clean and invigorates the scalp. It is believed to freshen one's mental outlook and ward off evil spirits. Kaffir lime has also been used for ages as a natural bleach to remove tough stains. When I was growing up, mother did the wash entirely by hand, and nothing worked better on stubborn stains than a few drops of kaffir lime juice, mixed with a sprinkling of detergent. Not only does it clean effectively, it is inexpensive, natural and sweet-smelling. For rural villagers, a single kaffir lime tree supplies enough limes to keep the whole house and family clean.
In folk medicine, the juice of kaffir lime is said to promote gum health and is recommended for use in brushing teeth and gums. The essential oils in the fruit are incorporated into various ointments, and the rind is an ingredient in medical tonics believed to be good for the blood. Like lemon grass and galanga, the rind is also known to have beneficial properties for the digestive system."
(From this website)

Friday, May 16, 2008

Kitchen Colours

So, I really don't like the colour of my kitchen. Not that they are terrible colours, they just don't really fit with the rest of the house. In the middle picture of the previous post you can see the walls are discoloured and the cupboards are a bright blue. The dining room which is just off the kitchen is a gentle dark pine green colour with a very matte finish, and the blue just clashes.

So I want to paint it. I was originally thinking Paprika type red, like the feature wall in this computer generated image, with a sort of yellow background. I then remembered I had some vintage Laura Ashley Wallpaper from a garage sale that was used in kitchen renovation and they bought one roll too many. I grabbed it and found that it matches the paprika colour perfectly, however rather than yellow, it has a light olive green as the contrast. Much like the wall on the left of the picture below.

I'm thinking about keeping the walls beige/white and then painting the timber trim and cupboards olive green and the cupboard doors paprika, and the space between the cupboard and the benchtop on the right of the photo putting the wallpaper.
Please let me know what you think, other ideas etc???
Ps, i have to go, my fridge is being delivered.