Creating an urban homestead and news about life.

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.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Unpacking and Planting

See the sold sticker. I had to leave it up to take the photo. Now I can't take it down because I hurt my hand, more on that later.

Spent most of this weekend moving house. It was great weather (Thanks God) and had help from wonderful family and friends who I couldn't do without, especially mum, brother and his girlfriend and deb :)

Above is my kitchen, however it won't look that way for too much longer. I have ordered a fridge to fit that space. Should arrive early next week. Also I am going to repaint as that colour scheme doesn't really fit the rest of the house. I am thinking Paprika kind of colour for the doors and white for walls, Unsure about possibly adding some light orangy yellow for the wooden features, corner shelf just visible on the left and the window frames. Suggestions????

The paint is so thick I think it will be a bit of work to get it off. Perhaps scraping rather than sanding? The other thing I am thinking about is replacing the kitchen sink and it's unit as it is really quite old and decrepit, and the drawers are too small and not on runners. Brother's girlfriend works at a kitchens place so might talk to him about it. Cost will be a factor, the bank balance needs to stay healthy at the same time, and there's a mortgage to pay now :) Maybe I'll just repaint and wait and see.

Below is the sunroom, which needs new curtains or ideally blinds but is lovely and warm, but lots of ventilation for summer. Shade will eventually be provided by my almond tree which is on order for winter (Growing challenge). Thanks to my sisters boyfriend for use of his ute pictured in the background, and my work colleague for hers (not in picture)

Well, I couldn't handle moving in and not planting anything, so I went down to the nursery and bought a small punnet of lettuce seedlings which I planted in a pot out the back, so I can pick some food soon. There are a few cherry tomatoes left as well from previous tenants planting, and some oranges ripening on the trees.

Thats all for today....

Happy Gardening


Thursday, May 8, 2008

Moving house and a new challenge

First of all, I am moving house this weekend. My house settles tomorrow and I am going to pick up the keys in the afternoon and start moving. Organising services to be connected today and a colleague is lending me her ute to help move. I am on the phone connecting electricity and gas and organising friends and relatives to provide their brawn and muscles to help with the move.

I did a final inspection this afternoon to check on the property and all seems in order. The only thing I need to do when I move in is get some electrical work done and paint the kitchen.

Got to head off now, but the other thing is that I have joined the harvest keeper challenge on Path to Freedom. The aim is to preserve the food we are growing. More soon.