Monday, 30 April 2012

Is There Such a Thing as Too Many Limes?

Yesterday we had a busy day including a trip to the neighbours to harvest some citrus.

The previous owners had planted a mandarin, an orange and a lime about 10 years ago and had had their chicken run built around them.  Well at ten years old and well fertilised these trees were going gang busters.

Our current neighbours wanted to lift the canopy of each of the trees and were happy for us to come and pick all the fruit off the pruning instead of it going to waste.

So what should I do with 22 kgs of Limes?
I will be making some lime cordial, some Indian lime pickle and some sweet treats.... lime meringue pie, citrus tart, lime spice syrup cake this list goes on.
But if you have any ideas/recipes please let me know.
Yes that is a laundry basket overflowing with limes.
There is also 5kg of mandarins and 11 kg of oranges but these will be a little easier to manage.

I have promised my neighbour some home made goodies in payment for all the fruit and he is happy with that  but I am pretty sure I got the better end of the deal.

Thursday, 26 April 2012

The Harvest and a Home Made Feast

Yesterday I did my usual walk around the garden to seething if there was anything to harvest.
There was the usual cherry tomato's and the beans are still producing a few each day.  There was a couple of button squash, a couple of mini white cucumbers, a capsicum and some basil.  But most exciting of all there were 2 figs and 2 raspberries.  I know that 2 raspberries are not that exciting but I had 2 last week too and they only got planted back at the start of January and the fig has not been in for a year yet either.  There are more figs yet to ripen and now I just have to be patient.  Hubby also informed me that he is not that taken with figs so lucky me I can have them all.
Any thoughts on what I should do with them?  They are ripening a couple at a time.

Because it it a rare treat that Hubby and I get to spend an entire day just pottering about together I decided that   I would make us a nice lunch to have enjoyed with a bottle of red wine Turkish bread, and some dips, basil pesto, hommous, guacamole.  Then we had olives, my bread and butter pickles, olive oil and dukkah  a bit of cheese and a pesto, tomato and salami pizza.

It was a lovely long lunch shared late in the day after a few hours pottering in the garden. 

Wednesday, 25 April 2012


Today is ANZAC (Australian and New Zealand Army Corp) day here in Australia and New Zealand.
Today we remember all the the young men and women who so bravely fought so that we could have the freedoms we enjoy today.
Thank you to all those who paid the ultimate price for us.

Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Home Made Liquid Soap

We use this soap as hand wash in both the bathroom and kitchen at our place and it is very cheap to make.  The first time I made it it ended up very goopy and stringy and it would not break off from the bottle after you pumped it so there was long strands of soap being stretched between your hand and the pump bottle.  I think it was because I added too much glycerine. I have since adjusted the recipe and I am much happier with the result.
The glycerine can usually be found in the supermarket near the medicinal things, in my local it is next to the Tea Tree Oil.  You can also sometimes find it near the cake decorating items as it is used to make royal icing pliable.  I am not sure it there is any difference but the one I use says "can be used and an emollient to soften roughened skin, chapped hands or sore lips".
I make this in 1 litre amounts because there is only the 2 of us, and even then it lasts for ages.  You will need a stick blender, food processor or some other method of breaking the mix into a liquid.

Liquid Soap

1/2 cup of Lux or grated soap flakes
1 tsp Glycerine
1 litre of water

Into a saucepan place soap flakes and glycerine.  Add your water and heat on the stove on a low - medium heat.  Stir occasionally until all the soap has dissolved.

Once it has all dissolved and you have the clear soapy mix in the pan you remove it from the heat and leave to cool.  At this stage you could add some essential oil for fragrance if you wanted.
It will cool and solidify into a thick jelly like substance that now need to be blended to form the liquid soap.
Once you have blended it into a more liquid state you can pour into your pump bottles and you are ready to go.
I store mine in plastic water bottles one under the bathroom sink and one under the kitchen sink.
I do find that with very grubby hands you may need to use more than 1 lot of soap but it is so cheap that even doing that you still come out miles ahead of the shop brought liquid soap.

Monday, 23 April 2012

Stiff Competition at the Show

Well another year of the local show has come and gone.
I spent a day working as a show steward setting up all the handcrafts.  There were lots of crochet, knitting and sewing entries as well as quilts, toys, and hand made cards.
It was really interesting to hear what the judges were looking for in each entry and I took away a lot of pointers for any future entries, I might even help out in a different area next year (produce, flowers, or cookery)so I can hear what the judges are looking for in each section.  The ladies doing the judging were from the CWA and the few things that I can pass on to anyone else who might be entering something for CWA judging are:
Make sure there are no loose threads on any sewing,
If you are crocheting an edge on something make sure all your corners are the same,
Make sure you stick to any size limits specified,
And the more work involved the more points you get.
I am not sure that I would be in with any sort of a chance based on what I saw.  I am only a novice sewer and have only just learnt to crochet, so if I start now I might be ready for next years show.
A very cute entry in the "made from recycled materials"
On the day of the show my first port of call was the poultry exhibits.
I love the colour of this bantam she was very cute with very fluffy feet.
This rooster had the most striking colours and the pattern even affected his legs where he had both black and yellow scales.
 There were some lovely fluffy Cochin chickens.
And check out these strapping lads.They had such long legs and I am sure would not have looked out of place strutting down the catwalk, or is that the chicken walk?
And what of my entries?
Second for both my Bread and Butter Pickles and Cherry Chutney, third for my Eggs, sadly I missed out on placing with my other entries but there was a lot of competition and that is not really why I entered.  It is all about getting into the spirit of the event and having a go.  Every year I enter a few more things and I am already thinking about next year.
Do you enter in your local show?  What do you enter?

Thursday, 19 April 2012

The Winter Veggie Garden

This year I am determined to have more than just silverbeet and broccoli to show for my winter veg.  I know in reality there was a bit more going on than that last year, but that is how it felt at the time.  
So this year I have been much more organised and have not only got some plants in the ground already I have another round with some new additions ready to pot on in the shade house.
I use the following method for growing from seed and it seems to work well for me.

Fill a polystyrene box with good quality seed raising mix and sow a row of each type of seed into it.
By using the polystyrene box I don't have to worry about my seeds drying out which I found I had a big issue with when I was trying to used home made news paper pots.
Because I am trying to plant a couple of rounds of each plant I try and plant out just a few seeds (about 6 - 8) of each plant at a time so that I don't get a complete glut of one thing all at once and none for the rest of the season.  I vary from this with things like fennel where I plant a few more because I know that we can eat a number of fennel bulbs in one meal where as we are unlikely to eat a number of cabbage heads or cauliflower heads in one meal. 
I also plant out a few more if I want to preserve some of them because then it is better to have them already at once and this year I have planted out an extra row of silverbeet so that I have plenty to give to the chooks over winter.
Once they have germinated and have their first set of leaves I use my mini trowel (also known as an old teaspoon) to gently dig them out of the seed raising mix and pot them on into bigger pots. 

One thing that I thing you should always do is wash your plastic pots between uses to prevent any disease or bacteria building up.  I wash mine in the laundry tub then leave them out to dry before reusing them.  Some plants like tomato's need to 1 plant into each pot but others like rocket, leeks and herbs can have a number of plants in each pot because they do not mind being planted out a bit closer or being disturbed a bit.

Once they are all potted on into bigger pots I leave these in the shade house (which is not very shady at the end where my potting bench is) to grow a bit bigger and develop a better root structure before planting them out into the garden.
Then they go into the garden and are mulched.  As you can see from the photos I was working my way in from the ends.  The rocket is already ready to start being harvested as it gets very hot if let go and is then only good for the chooks, not that they mind.
I have also gotten my garlic planted which last year did not happen till May so I am hoping for a better result this year with a longer period of cool nights.  I really love Garlic as a crop.  If you put a bit of effort into preparing the soil and get them planted in time then they are really very much a plant and leave crop.  They grow over a 6 month period and other than a liquid feed every now and then I do nothing to mine till they are ready to harvest.
Last year I forgot to count how many cloves I planted so this year I counted them, even the tiny ones which I have been told will grow a garlic bulb, just a very small one.  I'm ok with that.

So this year I have replanted from my own garlic grown last year:
Australian White - 32 Cloves
Australian Cream - 37 Cloves
Oriental Purple - 30 Cloves
I got them into the ground on Easter Monday and some of them have already sent up shoots.
So what methods do you employ for spreading out your harvest?
Do you have a favourite cool season crop?

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

The Show - Defending My Title

Well it is that time again.  Show Time.

Last year I posted about being a complete novice at the local show and then about my results where I proclaimed to be "Queen of the Show Pavilion".

This year I have entered a few more categories because I was a bit more organised, not a lot but a bit.
This year I am entering some craft (scrapbooking and card making), some preserves (Cherry Chutney and Bread and Butter pickles), some eggs (where I got a first prize last year) and perhaps some Garlic.
Last year I had great success with my Rosella's winning first and second, but this year my first planting drowned in all the rain so the ones I replanted are not big enough yet to produce fruit.

In addition to being an entrant this year I have been asked to be a show steward.  This basically beans that I will be checking off entrants as they drop off their goods and following the judges around writing out place cards then keeping track of the winners so prizes can be allocated.

This year we have Colin Campbell from Gardening Australia coming to hold a talk on gardening which sadly I will miss due to work commitments

Even though our community is small the show is a great day out as there are plenty of people to catch up with who you don't see all the time and lots of exhibits to admire, my favourites are the chickens and the craft.

Do you go to a local show?
What are your favourite exhibits?

Thursday, 12 April 2012

A Rooster Update and a New Question

Well it has been just over a week since we first noticed that Big Red our rooster seemed to be not quite himself. Since then we have been away for a few days so we were hoping he did not take a turn for the worse.

Before going away we gave all the chickens a worming mash and checked Big Red over for lice.  Big Red did not seem to have any lice but we dusted him anyway.  Now while we were dusting him which is not easy as he does not like to be handled, I noticed that he has red lumpy bits around his rear end.  They did not seem to be sores but more like what his comb is made of.  Does anyone know what that could be?

I can't catch him on my own so I don't have a photo and I have searched the net but cannot find anything that looks the same.

Ideas anyone?

Wednesday, 11 April 2012

Trashy Magazines - On My Soapbox

This post comes with the following warning:

Should you not wish to be subjected to a fully flung rant that may or may not contain bad language you should close your browser page now.  The following thoughts are mine and mine alone and I do not claim to have investigated them so do not read them as fact.

Over the Easter weekend we had friends and family come to stay and at the end of the weekend I was left a trashy woman's magazine by a friend who is possibly reading this so first of all let me made a few comments.
I respect each and every persons right to read what they want, and if trashy mags are your thing no worries.  I do not expect that everyone else out their shares my taste in reading material so who am I to judge.  These are my thoughts on the matter and mine alone.

Not being one who buys magazines about anything other than gardening, food, home and lifestyle, my flick through the pages of the TM (Trashy Magazine) left me with the urge to shake some one.

Number one I have no idea who most of these people are.  But apparently some are too fat, some are too thin, some one is dating some one after being friends for a long time (oh no how shocking, surely you can't be friends first - can you hear my sarcasm).
There are tears, tantrums and finger pointing, and that is from the adults.  Then there are the kids who also have to put up with having crap written about them and getting dragged into the media.  And yes I mean absolute rubbish.
Take this story for example.  It comes with a picture of Cindy Crawford carrying a brown paper bag and her daughter Kaia carrying what appears to be a foil food container both dressed casually.  The story goes on to say how Cindy is jealous of her daughter "although Cindy is proud of her daughter she admits to feeling a bit envious of her youthful good looks.  She still looks great but  it must be hard for knowing that her best years are behind her and her daughters are yet to come".
Are you freaking kidding me!!!!  Who makes up this Sh*t.

Then there is an article about how LeAnn Rimes has not only run off with the husband, but is now wearing the same perfume that the ex-wife wears.  What the???
Is this really considered news?  Is this type of sh*t really selling magazines?  What a waste of money and resources to produce a magazine that is not worth using a loo paper.

Not only are these magazines full to overflowing with made up garbage about people who are famous for being famous, but they are also responsible for feeding the readers a load of rubbish about what they should look like, what they should wear and the possessions they should aspire to owning.  They make money by making the mundane out to be something worth reading about, not to mention most of it is lies.  "Brad and Ange Splitting Up!"  Brad and Ange Getting Married"  "Brad Moving Out" Ange Pregnant Again".  Give me a break.

And my biggest gripe is that all of this is made out to be some kind worthy news like it rates a mention.  Surely if we must have stories about celebrities we can find something positive to write about.  There must be good news stories out there where people are making positive choices where they lead by example and inspire others to do the same.  Would this not leave us all feeling better about ourselves because we had positive celebrity role models?  Let's spread that message instead.
As it stands any positive feeling that we garner from these magazines is because we are relishing in how terrible their lives are, the problems that they have, how badly they have messed up and thank goodness too because it now we feel better about our selves.
A bit sad really.

If you are still with me here, thanks for putting up with me, if not well I understand.  But what I would like to say is this.  We all have the choice as adults to choose what magazines we read and we are mature enough to see things for what they are, but if you have children just think about the type of role models you are setting out on display on the coffee table.

Monday, 9 April 2012

An Easter Week at a Glance

Hubby and I had a very enjoyable Easter break and took some much needed time out.
We were able to get away with our dog Jessie for a few days to spend time at a friends place.  We spent the days catching up, riding our bikes and chilling out.
Feet up admiring the view...
 Time spent reading Rhonda's book...
 Lots of puppy wrestling....
Then we have a break...
 Then there is more wrestling....
 The teeth are all show....
 Then we need a nap.....

After our mini break away we had friends and family come and stay at our place.  So what do a bunch of 30 some thing's get up to with a few free days?

There was freestyle Scrabble...
 Many games of Majong...
 Then there was....
 Things got pretty serious....
 But you could always rely on a bit of bubbly to lighten the mood.

Wednesday, 4 April 2012

Rooster Dilemas

Our rooster Big Red seems to be well not quite himself lately.
Most of our chickens are going through their annual moult so I am wonder if that has something to do with it.  When it comes to moulting some chickens loose almost all their feathers at once and some loose them gradually.  Big read looses his gradually and the only reason you know he is moulting is that he looses his big fancy tail feathers (I am sure there is a name for these).
Anyway back to Big Red.

So for the last few days he has spent a lot of time "sleeping"  well I think that is what he is doing.  You can walk right up to him and he doesn't even wake up.

Sometimes he is sitting down.
Sometimes he is standing.

There does not appear to be any symptoms he just seems sleepy.
His comb was looking a little pale too.
In addition to his sleepiness he is also not calling his girls like he normally does.

Maybe he is just taking some time for himself away from all the squawking women in his life?

I will keep an eye on him and see how he goes, but let me know if you have any thoughts on the matter.

Tuesday, 3 April 2012

Slow Living 2012 - March

Linking up with Christine for month 3 in this reflective challange looking back at all that has been achieved in the past month.
Now  how the heck did we get to April 3 already and I am only just posting this.  Apparently I have been busy enough to not have this ready to go on April 1 so lets see what I got up to in March.

Nourish - Well this is an easy one as there has been a lot of action (of the cooking variety) in the kitchen this month.  I have been working on my sourdough skills, baking banana cakes to try and use up the growing collection of bananas in the freezer.  There have been muffins and chocolate beetroot cake, veggie dips for snacking and plenty of other things in between.
Prepare - I have had my Fowler's preserving Unit out again and made a whole lot of stewed apples.  I also made up some more chicken stock which is now frozen in 500ml blocks in the freezer.  And although they have not been prepared yet I picked a few kilos of our strawberry guavas in anticipation of making some guava jelly and have these waiting in the freezer.

Reduce - Mmmmmm difficult, surely there is something...well I did move (get hubby to move) the old concrete laundry tub that was out in the paddock (it may have been used as a water trough for animals at one time) up to the house so I can grow my mint in it instead of sending it to the dump.

Green - We have continued to use our own home made laundry liquid and the other day Hubby admitted to me that he was pretty sceptical about it's effectiveness before he started using it, especially when it came to his work clothes which come home soaked in sweat then covered with layers of dirt, grease, petrol, sawdust and tree sap (he is an arborist).  Now he is a complete convert.   We are also getting rid of all chemical cleaners in the house and using baking soda and vinegar.
Grow - There has been quite a lot going on in the garden with seeds planted and cuttings propagated.   I could also call this category "Dying" as there has been a bit of that going on too with all the wet weather we have had.  But that is all part of gardening now isn't it.
Does growing a chicken count?
Create - Well there has been my usual paper craft and I had a giveaway in March and gave away some cards to African Aussie.

Enhance - March saw the realisation of a community event I had been planning.  The event was very successful and just the other day I received a letter from our Mayor (who I invited to open the event, which he did) and the council CEO congratulating me and my team on a very successful day.  It was really nice to be recognised as a lot of hard work went into making it happen.

Discover - I have been reading a lot of great books in the last month including books on organic gardening, self reliance and upskilling for the future.  There have also been some great blogs that I have stumbled across and interesting we sites visited.  A couple I want to post about later so that I give them there due so I won't list them all here.

Enjoy - I have had some very special moments with friends and family this month and have also been blessed to welcome my new niece Lucy into the family.  This month also saw a change in season and where I live this provides us with fantastic weather moving forward and is my favourite time of the year Autumn.

I am looking forward to seeing what everyone else has been up to as well.

Monday, 2 April 2012

Look at me Carbon Free

Over the weekend I got a new toy.  Isn't she lovely!

I have been looking at getting a bike for ages and I knew exactly what I wanted.

Must haves included a big bottom seat for comfortable rides, high upright handles so I can ride without leaning forward, a few gears to get me around the rural area where I live, a basket on the front and carry all on the back in case I get fit game enough to ride to town, and of course a pretty colour is important too (I got a mint green).