How to find grace in a really bad day

Hi All


This is spud Murphy (aka “Crazy”Murphy) My daughters bought him for me but he has been highly customised ;)

Don’t worry dear constant readers. Narf7 isn’t at the bottom of the well (yet…). I have been thinking about what life hands you and realised that I have been incredibly lucky. Yes, I have been subject to a few minor inconveniences. I was born into a family that struggled with poverty and was raised as a welfare child. I was a teenage mum and suffered from depression. I got divorced, I spent days wondering who I was, why I was here and where the heck I was going (still wondering about that one) but I consider them to be mild in the scheme of things. I have never  had anything really bad happen to me. The superstitious bones in my neck hairs just “pinged” then “don’t even TALK about bad things like that…the eye of Sauron will swivel in your direction!” Seriously though, I may have had to learn about death up close and personal through my parents reasonably early demise but I have never had my heart torn out of me. I have never had to lose a partner, a child. I have never had to undergo medical treatment for something terminal or stand helpless on the side as someone who I would die for is helpless in the throes of something terrible. I have been incredibly lucky to hit 50 and not have to undergo anything like that.


Earl watching Steve take his wood futures away


I forgot to use these next few photos last week so I will share them with you now. This is what you do when you have shoes that have been sitting on the window sill for the better part of 6 months (if you are wise…)


Make SURE that you leave a good distance between yourself and the spiders that are clinging tenaciously to the inside top of the shoe

But here’s the tricky part…the odds are starting to swing over to the dark side. One day I will lose something more precious to me than myself. One day I am going to have to face something that will drag me backwards through an emotional rollercoaster that I am not going to have any control over. It’s inevitable but how I react to this situation is all down to me. I have been reading Ruby Wax’s amazing book “Sane New World”. The woman is literally a genius. She got in to Oxford on her own merit. She completed a university course and came out the other side just as funny but with some serious meaty understanding about the brain and the science that makes us tick. She learned, in particular, about a concept called “Mindfulness”. I can’t wax (pun FULLY intended ;) ) lyrical about that at the moment because I just hit page 138 where she is introducing us to the concept. As someone who has spent most of her life twitching and demanding that the status quo remain “just so” I am eager to explore this mindful concept. I would love to know why my brain yells “RUN!” and “ACT TERRIFIED!” at any given time. I would love to know how to motivate myself to step out into places where I would never even sniff around. At 50, I would like to conquer that small negative voice inside me that in no uncertain terms states “you are not good enough…why bother?”. Enter Ms. Wax and her mindfulness…


Be sure to pay attention to the duster at all times because it’s mortal enemy might be lurking in the wings to take advantage of your lack of attention…


And it might not want to let go…AND it might say “possession is 9/10ths of the law!”

We can hedge our bets with a lot of things. When my mother died reasonably young of a massive heart attack she followed her own father who died at 61 (10 years older than I turn this year) of the very same thing. It would seem heart attacks and obesity run in my family and I decided that if I was going to die (see…still in denial…) that I would at least have a bit of a choice about how it was going to go down…I lost a fair bit of weight. Shock can do that to you. My family also suffered from arthritis. I suffered from arthritis. Not any more I don’t. You CAN change a lot of things about the way that you live in order to give yourself a better quality of life. I am hoping to avoid the big “C” by choosing to not indulge my aberrant desires to eat entire loaves of fluffy white bread dripping in butter. I am hedging my bets by reducing tomato consumption and limiting potatoes in my diet  to keep arthritis at bay but when it’s your time to have an absolutely terrible really bad day/week/month/year it’s your time.


The lumberjacks helpers


The lumberjack himself :)

What can we do to stop ourselves breaking in half and spilling our emotional innards all over the place? How can we stop life from burying us in a landslide of depression and fear? We can choose to find grace in the situation that we have been given, that’s how. I don’t know how to do this. I am hoping that “mindfulness” might be a good place to start. When something terrible happens to someone that I would take a bullet for (you know who you are :) ) I don’t want to be a blubbering wreck making things more difficult. I want to be able to help, to share, to give and most importantly to empathise completely. If it’s me, I don’t want to fall apart or spend what is left of my time in a heap on the ground in sackcloth pouring ashes into my hair. Life is already too short for that, I want to go out with a fanfare of narfish acceptance and understanding if not entirely satisfied with the timing


Eco shower…


One of the blues brothers

Why am I even talking about this? Why on EARTH has narf7 gone all serious and not funny and even scary? Because life isn’t all funny and benign and easy. Because life deals you cards that you just might not be able to pass along to the next player. Because sometimes life just isn’t fair and you really need to find a way to deal with something that you get handed and because the ubiquitous “Shit Happens” and most of the time we aren’t ready for it. I learned the value of honesty in my “Year of living honestly” and this book that I am reading is completely and utterly honest. Hilariously so in places but interspersed with the most cutting and honest dialogue and it has caused me to think long and hard about finding a better way to deal with stress and bad days. My current way of hiding, ignoring, facing, getting angry and yelling at whatever is happening doesn’t seem to be working all that well. I think I might need a shovelful of Ms Wax’s “Mindfulness” in order to redirect my habitual responses to really bad things (again, not that I have HAD any really bad things, just crossing my t’s and dotting my I’s in advance)


My latest reads from the library. A most interesting mix



To balance out Ms Wax I have Tartine Book No 3 out of the library. I have been flicking through buckwheat thins and strange ferments and foments as I flick between mindfulness and strange gustatory explorations. I also have the book Zero Waste Home but to be honest it isn’t doing much for me. The writer is wealthy and has the luxury of being able to implement all kinds of sustainable measures immediately to change the way that she and her family consume. The regular folk (that would be 99.9% of the world) don’t have that luxury and can only read about these measures with a degree of envy, “who cares” or wonderment that someone could spend so very much on trying to simplify things. I am all for simplification and minimising waste. I would just like to know how to do it on a shoestring budget rather than be told “just install solar panels, grey water systems, shop ONLY at the farmers market and invest your savings (savings? What are they?!) in “green” options… err sure lady, whatever you say…


The beginning of this years hot cross buns


After adding the fruit

I realise that I got completely off the subject of bad days there. I figured that I had been confrontational enough about where my mind has been tap-dancing for the last few days. My mind is a curious thing. It can be focussing on death and dying and the next moment it is dragging me over to take a look at a picture of a snail or forcing me to listen to a starling warbling its little heart out in a tree just off from the deck. I never know where it is going to go next. At the moment it is saying “why are you tapping on those keys when your buckwheat porridge with apple and dates is going cold?” I think I might listen to it and head off to finish my breakfast. Sometimes those voices are useful ;)


All yeasted and crossed up and ready to go


Baked fresh from the oven. Note how HUGE they are. I was supposed to split the batch into 16 small pieces but they looked too titchy when I did so I just formed them into 8 and the recipe knew what it was doing. These buns ended up very large. Oh well, all the more to cram in the toaster! ;)

Porridge downed, a cup of tea downed and a phone call to my youngest daughter Bethany in honour of her 24th birthday (I just added “Methuselah” to my list of middle names) also complete. Don’t you just love the power of social media where you can start a post and a year later can pick it back up seamlessly where you left off? Admittedly it isn’t a year later but just the same, social media feeds our need for instantaneous everything. Right here, right now without the boring mundane stuff in between. Which brings me back to reality. I forgot to put some images taken last week in my previous post. I will be sharing them with you here today. Nothing too challenging, just photos of the reality that is Serendipity Farm at the moment. Steve is still down at the front gate chain sawing for all he is worth and I am still here tapping away. Hardly seems fair but there is a pile of logs just below the deck with my name on it so I can’t get too smug.


brushed with a strawberry jam glaze. Not very traditional but all I actually had in the house so strawberry jam hot cross buns it is! The only thing about using strawberry jam is that it sets the toaster on fire…just sayin’…


This years Arbutus unedo fruits foraged at the Beaconsfield library. I am going to plant a lot of them to see if they grow this year because this particular shrub produces very big and very tasty fruit. Always a good idea to save the seed from the best you can find

I am SO glad that I had this blog post up my sleeve. Steve decided to upgrade our PC to Window’s 8 and then 8.1 to rectify problems that occured with programs like Adobe and it has taken the better part of 2 whole days to do it!!! I just got back from taking the dogs for a visit to my children’s house in the city so that Steve could mask up and spray paint Brunhilda with her debut paint. It’s getting colder here and it is just about time to give her a waltz around the kitchen for the first time this year and we wanted to ensure that she was all painted up and ready to go. I am going to finish up here folks as otherwise I won’t get this post posted today. I am sufficiently knackered after flying out behind Earl on a city walk whilst Bezial was a perfect gentleman with my son. See you all next week when I might just have gotten used to this crazy thing called “Window’s 8″enough to hurl my way around another blog post :)



Why I LOVE being an Australian :)

47 Ways To Tell That You’re Australian. #12 Is So Accurate It Hurts.


1. You believe that stubbies can be either drunk or worn.

2. You think it’s normal to have a leader called Julia.

3. You’ve made a bong out of your garden hose rather than use it for something illegal such as watering the garden.

4. You believe it is appropriate to put a rubber in your son’s pencil case when he first attends school.

5. You’re liable to burst out laughing whenever you hear of Americans “rooting” for something.

6. You understand that the phrase ‘a group of women wearing black thongs”s refers to footwear and may be less alluring than it sounds.

7. You pronounce Melbourne as ‘Mel-bn’.

8. You pronounce Penrith as ‘Pen-riff’.

9. You believe the ‘l’ in the word ‘Australia’ is optional.

10. You can translate: ‘Dazza and Shazza played Acca Dacca on the way to Maccas.’

11. You believe it makes perfect sense for a nation to decorate its highways with large fibreglass bananas, prawns and sheep.

12. You call your best friend ‘a total bastard’ but someone you really, truly despise is just ‘a bit of a bastard’.

13. You think ‘Woolloomooloo’ is a perfectly reasonable name for a place.

14. You’re secretly proud of our killer wildlife.

15. You believe it makes sense for a country to have a $1 coin that’s twice as big as its $2 coin.

16. You understand that ‘Wagga Wagga’ can be abbreviated to ‘Wagga’ but ‘Woy Woy’ can’t be called ‘Woy’.

17. You believe that cooked-down axle grease makes a good breakfast spread. You’ve also squeezed it through Vitawheats to make little Vegemite worms.

18. You believe all famous Kiwis are actually Australian, until they stuff up, at which point they again become Kiwis.

19. Hamburger with Beetroot? Of course!

20. You know that certain words must, by law, be shouted out during any rendition of The Angels song ‘Am I Ever Gonna See Your Face Again’.

21. You believe that the confectionery known as the Wagon Wheel has become smaller with every passing year.

22. You wear ugg boots outside the house.

23. You believe that every important discovery in the world was made by an Australian but then sold off to the Yanks for a pittance.

24. You believe that the more you shorten someones name the more you like them.

25. Whatever your linguistic skills, you find yourself able to order takeaway fluently in every Asian language.

26. You understand that ‘excuse me’ can sound rude, while ‘scuse me’ is always polite.

27. You know what it’s like to swallow a fly, on occasion via your nose.

28. You know it’s not summer until the steering wheel is too hot to handle and a seat belt buckle becomes a pretty good branding iron.

29. Your biggest family argument over the summer concerned the rules for beach cricket.

30. You shake your head in horror when companies try to market what they call ‘Anzac cookies’.

31. You still think of Kylie as ‘that girl off Neighbours’.

32. You believe the phrase ‘smart casual’ refers to a pair of black tracky-daks, suitably laundered.

33. You understand that all train timetables are works of fiction.

34. When working on a bar, you understand male customers will feel the need to offer an excuse whenever they order low-alcohol beer.

35. You know how to abbreviate every word, all of which usually end in O: arvo, combo, garbo, kero, lezzo, metho, milko, muso, rego, servo, smoko, speedo, righto etc.

36. You know that there is a universal place called “woop woop” located in the middle of nowhere…no matter where you actually are.

37. You know that none of us actually drink Fosters beer, because it tastes like shit. But we let the world think we do. Because we can.

38. You have some time in your life slept with Aeroguard on in the summer. Maybe even as perfume.

39. You’ve only ever used the words – tops, ripper, sick, mad, rad, sweet to mean ‘good.’

40. And then you place ‘bloody’ in front of it when you REALLY mean it.

41. You know that the barbeque is a political arena; the person holding the tongs is always the boss and usually a man. And the women make the salad.

42. You say ‘no worries’ quite often, whether you realise it or not.

43. You’ve drank your tea/coffee/Milo through a Tim Tam.

44. You own a Bond’s chesty. In several different colours.

45. You’ve ordered a steak the size of your head and only paid $5 at your local RSL.

46. You know that roo meat tastes pretty good, but not as good as barra. Or a meat pie.

47. You know that some people pronounce Australia like “Strayla” and that’s ok.

Taken directly and most unashamedly from this post

“Aussie, Aussie, Aussie, OY, OY, OY!” ;)

First start with what you see…


Hi All


Here we all are again assembled and accounted for. I have nestled a few more blogs into my RSS Feed Reader on my never ending journey towards morphing my online reading habits into my real life interests of this moment in time. I am reading Ruby Wax’s book “Sane New World”. I read her autobiography and when a book can take you from deep soul searching to squirting your mouthful of booch (I am also attempting to drink my way through 12 litres of kombucha in my fridge as we need the space!) over the rug as you half choke on something hilarious it’s well worth a read in my opinion. I like to multi-task. Sane New World is an amazing survival story. Ruby has had several mental breakdowns and suffers from depression. Rather than take her meds like a good little Jewish girl she has decided to find out just what makes the brain tick and despite the humour that keeps this book ticking along nicely (still more booch to clean up off the wall…) blends seamlessly into this amazing woman’s search that took her from lying on a psychiatrists couch (while he ate a corned beef and mustard sandwich behind her and mumbled “Hmmm?”) to enrolling in Oxford university to study the science of the brain in order to tame her own. What a woman! And to think I just thought that she was funny…

The world is domed Michael Leunig

OH how I love Mr Michael Leunig. I hope he translates to the wider world as he is one of our Aussie gems that is well worth sharing. I hope that he isn’t in a mind to sue me for sharing his images with the wider community. I hope that should he ever stumble across humble little broke Serendipity Farm that he will take pity on the poor mindless adoring fool that pinched his image without permission but who couldn’t help herself because no-one out there says it like Mr Leunig :)

It’s now Wednesday and I am racing against time to pull a blog post out of the air. The air is decidedly cooler here today and if Bezial wasn’t sprawled upside down on the deck I would actually shut the sliding door. I love this crisp cool air because it lets you think clearly. I am thinking that I need to get my crochet hook into some wool soon and get started on the slipper boots that The Snail of Happiness  shared with me recently. I have plenty of wool, now I just need to find the time. Isn’t it always the case that when you have sufficient of one part of the equation, you don’t have enough of the other?


This is what my precious babies looked like prior to Steve forgetting to shut the shed door…sigh…

This summer has seen Steve helping a friends mum move into her house and has seen narf7 home alone. Much like Macaulay Calkin, narf7 home alone is not a good thing. For one I am slightly stir crazy and for two I can’t do a whole lot without Stevie-boy when it comes to the great outdoors. Our summer was long and dry and the garden suffered tremendously but now that the temperature has cooled down somewhat we are on the case and are knocking out some of the chores that need to be accomplished before winter hits home. We NEED that water tank up and collecting rain ASAP and we need the trailer that it is now residing in to collect leaf mould from the bottom of the property horse manure from a farm down the road and seaweed from a beach for the garden. I need to pull out all of the summer crops and make way for the winter crops including garlic and potato onions that are champing at the bit to be in the ground


Here are the large “Christmas decorations” that herald the entry into Serendipity Farm. They are kind of a statement and a warning at the same time “Your not in Kansas any more Dorothy…”


This is the delicious and most splendiferous load of wood that killed the moth eaten sock under the bed. We gave it a decent burial and then it was right back to working out how on EARTH we are going to transport all of these logs back to the house from the front of the property…looks like Stevie-boys Easter weekend might be all booked methinks…

Steve and I have been a little overwhelmed by the scope of the job at hand. It would seem that if you leave something for long enough it thinks it owns the place and takes possession. The blackberries and spear thistles are a point in case. They are everywhere…again…we had a few pressing inside jobs to do and once we had cleared out the spare room (isn’t it funny how they seem to magnetically attract “stuff”?) and Steve’s music room (another “stuff” gatherer) and we liberated the wood box from its big black house spider inhabitants and several pairs of my shoes from their big black house spider inhabitants (“Eek!”) we started to feel a bit better about it all. I think it’s the starting that is the hardest bit. It’s not hard to keep going, just start

Lumberjack Stevie-boy

I couldn’t resist sharing this “Lumberjack” image with you all and if you have 10 seconds to spare here’s the song itself…Steve and I? I will leave you to make up your own minds on that one ;)


Another gratuitous woody shot with our resident parkour expert Bezial taking full advantage of this delicious and delightful pile

Steve will be helping his friends mum fill and plant out an amazing series of large water wicked garden beds that he designed for use on her rooftop garden. He has been taking images of the process so that I can share a blog post with you all once the job is complete. So far the beds have been made and the plumbing installed. It isn’t like ordinary wicked garden beds where you have an overflow that bleeds out onto the soil below because there ISN’T any soil below and so a complex drainage system was cooked up between Steve and the plumber and an effective “fix” for this problem was achieved. It’s quite an exciting idea and very water wise. I will keep you informed about it as it starts to come together


Getting the wood box ready for a steady stream of wood that will grace it’s hallowed circumference over the next 6 or so months. Note Steve has a trusty helper and is wearing a belt. The belt is because he obliterated his top button on his trousers thanks to (in his own words folks) “too much beer and too many potatoes”


The helper extracts his payment…

Steve has a saying now “First start with what you see”. Apparently it was something from one of the Hannibal Lector movies. I am not entirely sure whether to be alarmed or not by his thought pool but have decided to go along with this idea anyway as I am not exactly brimming over with idea’s myself. I have decided to have my eyes surgically removed. Steve is on a jag. He has decided that we are going to clean up/fix up what we can see surrounding our house. Steve can apparently see a whole LOT surrounding our house! Without eyes I will see relatively little…it’s an idea born of desperation and the knowledge that Steve on a cleaning jag is a terrifying creature.


“Yes? Can I help you?”
DSCF7700“I didn’t think so…zzzzzz”

I have started reading “Zero Waste Home” a most interesting concept. I love the idea of minimising our waste out the wazoo. I love it so much I follow blogs about it. I trawl the web to find interesting ideas for how to reduce and remove packaging. I love it so much it makes me smile whenever I find another way to do something myself that doesn’t involve packaging or anything that needs to be thrown out in any form. The book highlights the divide between the haves and have nots however. It is very hard to get someone who has very little money to stop using coupons to save money and to stop accepting those little free shampoos and conditioners at hotels. The reason being that a lack of money tends to foster a need to hoard. I often wrestle my inner desire to snaffle up the little shampoos (and I usually lose). It is much easier in a country like Australia where you just don’t have coupons. I watched a few television programs about people who clip coupons for a living and couldn’t believe how complex it was…it was like undertaking brain surgery or teaching an astro physics class except the brains were cauliflowers and you bought 75 of them in order to get them for free. I still can’t get my head around it but then it doesn’t matter if I do or don’t because we don’t have coupon’s to clip


Bezial balancing precariously on his sofa that Earl redecorated by eating half of the other sofa cushion. Bezial doesn’t like Earls design. He does however like the nice red dog cotton filled dog blanket that I picked up from the thrift shop on my last visit.


Sticky the stick insect who is refusing to yield his pots to the greater good

I think it is within everyones realm to be able to reduce their impact on the environment. Even baking the odd loaf of bread and choosing to buy a paper bag of lentils from the health food shop rather than throw a plastic bag of them into your trolley at the supermarket. The family in the book apparently only produce a “quart” (4 litres to us metricamacated folk) of refuse a year and that’s all recycling. The family downsized, got rid of their lawn, only buy things in containers that they provide, buy their meat from the butchers in mason jars (I can only begin to wonder what “Nige” would do if I headed in to his shop and said “can you fill this with sausages please…” ;) ) but kudos to them, they decided to minimise their consumption and waste down as low as they could go. It’s possible. So is living for 5 years without having a shower but at the end of that time you might not want to have anything to do with the triumphant creature that emerged. I think it’s all about balance. I buy my flour and potatoes in bulk in 10kg brown paper bags. I reuse those bags as recycling bags until they are in tatters and then I snip them up and add them to the compost bin.


We get boats chugging up and down the river as it is the only way to get to Launceston by water

We buy 14 loaves of white supermarket bread a fortnight. Not for ourselves but to feed to our chooks. We are in the process of working out what to do with all of those chooks because they are costing us $163 a month to feed and that is only seed. If you add the $14 a fortnight for the bread and $3 a fortnight for the butter it’s a grand total of $197 a month for boobity boo chickens (NO idea how many we have but I recently counted 43 little baby chicks along…) and only 1 of them is laying eggs at the moment. She does her best but our grand total of eggs at the end of the fortnight tends to be around the dozen mark (if we are lucky) so that means that we are paying $98.50c per dozen. Now it doesn’t take me too long to work out that this amount might be a tad high and I don’t even eat eggs! Something has to give. If we reduce the chook population we reduce the price of the food as well. We only need about 8 chooks to do what we want around here and the rest are superfluous. I am considering offering our excess to the local Permaculture group. We have some very pretty chooks and I know that they will appreciate them. I will keep you posted. What I was trying to illustrate was that sometimes mindless habits take on lives of their own and you end up paying a HUGE amount for something that you are pouring a lot of work into for very little return.


“So Steve is going to head into town to go shopping and leave me here eh? Well I might just have to show him my displeasure…”


“I will just steal this piece of driftwood in order to exact my revenge…”

I just took a break to make some homemade pasties for Steve’s dinner tonight. I try to cook as much as I can from scratch because that’s a good way to reduce packaging and get better quality food cheaper. I added some cheese to the pastry that we buy in big blocks. I am wondering if anyone local knows where to buy cheese unwrapped. I know that you used to be able to buy it from the supermarkets but I don’t do the shopping and I doubt that Steve would stand still enough (especially if there was a line) to ask the deli person about it. I am going to have to wait until I go in myself. I have a large bag full of plastic bags etc. that I need to get turned into plarn. I don’t know what I will do with the plarn but I am leaning towards making crocheted shopping bags out of it. I have 3 large crochet hooks and only really needed the smallest for my latest project but it was more economical to buy 3 than it was to buy a single crochet hook. If anyone can explain that to me I will be grateful as I can’t for the life of me work out why it costs more for a single plain crochet hook than it does for 3 metal pastel ones. I keep meaning to start making them and then suddenly the time disappears somewhere and I can’t crochet or read or lay on the floor on my back twiddling my thumbs like Pooh bear any more.


AND he didn’t clean it up! ;)


We took the dogs down to have a look at the enormous wood pile and Earl is more interested in the fact that the gate is open and he might get a walk

I am sure that I am not the only one who hits 3pm running as a steady crescendo of “creation” occurs. By 6.30 when dinner is all served and is being munched contentedly I am starting to feel pretty tired after my long day and it is the norm to find me fast asleep on the couch by 7.30 which is a shame because the only television program that I actually like, Master chef U.K. is on then and I usually miss the end because I have to drag my sorry tired derrière off to bed. The other day I took possession of a wonderful red cast iron casserole dish with a lid as well as a cast iron frypan from Jan who I walk with in the morning. She most generously gifted me the pair as she had just purchased some new cookware that she was happier with and I was the lucky recipient of these lovely cooking implements. The casserole dish is wide and not too deep and will be perfect for cooking in Brunhilda when she is up and running again. It seems like all things point towards this being a winter where narf7 gets cooking bigtime. I have to animate El Camino my lovely white sourdough starter that the wonderful Chica Andaluza  sent to me and I am also going to experiment with my homemade kefir as a leavener. I have some very interesting experiments on the cards involving breads made with vegetables, cakes made from strange and interesting ingredients and all kinds of vegan experiments courtesy of all of the recipes that I have been collecting via the blogs that I have been following avidly and Pinterest where I won’t admit to how many boards or pins I have needless to say its “a lot”.


The lovely cast iron casserole dish and cast iron frypan that Jan gave us and 6 cauliflowers. Don’t ask. That’s what happens when you are vegan and eat by the season and cauliflowers are $1 each and when you get them home you realise that there is no room in the fridge…sigh… the apples in the cava fruit bowl are strange and wondrous. I haven’t ever eaten them before and they are an interesting meaty textured apple with very little juice but they are sweet at the same time. Not quite cooking apple but not really something that you would wax lyrical about so I am grating them into my breakfast buckwheat porridge and for that purpose they are just “perfick” :)

Well I think that might be all for today folks. I can’t seem to just “stop” at 600 words like blog posts are supposed to settle at. I don’t know who thought up this magic quotient but they didn’t have 5000 muses all babbling for airtime in their brain like I do and I would like to keep my sanity for at least another week. Have a great week folks and here’s to sunshine for you northern lot and blissful rain for us southerners :)



Do you think Mr Leunig would mind if I shared another most worthy example of why I love this man to bits? I hope not…oh well, “In for a penny, in for a pound!” as my old gran would have said! ;)















Jade Pearls and Alien Eyeballs

Jade Pearls and Alien Eyeballs a book about unusual edible plants and the people that grow them by Emma Cooper

If I was ever going to review a book it would have to have a name like this…

What is it that turns normal everyday people into mad plant fanciers? You know the kind…they know every botanical name for everything that they grow and their eyes glow like zealots whenever anyone asks them about their passion. Up until 2009 I was completely oblivious to the world of plant passion. I could have cared less about cuttings and propagation and grafting and was like most people, completely unaware of the underground movement of horticulture that surrounds and engulfs us in minutiae and grandiose heights that are outside our sphere of thought.


Student horticulturalists at the Melbourne International Flower and Garden Show

2 junior horticulturist’s mad with passion about all things “plant” at the Melbourne International Flower and Garden Show in 2009

In 2009 Steve and I decided to study horticulture for a year and a half, predominately in order to take a bit of a break and try to work out what we were going to do with ourselves when we moved to Tasmania. Within 3 weeks of commencing the course we were hooked like salmon on brightly coloured flies and within 6 months we had attended our first international plant show in Melbourne AND started collecting strange and unusual plants in earnest. We now “get it” we are pawns of our botanical overlords. There is no hope for us now but you might just be able to save yourselves if you choose not to read the following review…


Passionate plant lover at the Tasmanian Botanical Gardens

A very VERY sick narf7 who with her equally sick husband Steve had just driven a couple of kids to Hobart who needed a lift and who despite feeling like death warmed up couldn’t resist stopping at the Botanical Gardens…

Too late, I warned you! You now belong to the plants :)


Emma Cooper author horticulturalist and ethnobotanist UK

Emma Cooper eccentric fellow student of horticulture, ethnobotanist, author extraordinaire and fellow plant slave.

When Emma decided to write a book I immediately jumped at the chance to review it. I hadn’t even read the book but I just knew it would be something to tuck into the gap between my ears where the wild things are. Emma has a stellar but completely quirky and highly addictive blog called most benignly “Emma the Gardener” but it is anything but benign. This girl is plant possessed and she glows with the ephemeral light of one who has set out on a personal horticultural adventure and discovered that there be dragons… Emma talks about Sir Joseph Banks and surely he is as close to a six degrees of separation character as is possible in the horticultural world. We all have our own Joseph Banks stories. I hugged an enormous conifer given to the then Governor of Tasmania as a tiny seed by his friend Mr Joseph Banks when I had the privilege of working on the property that is now privately owned and often wondered how many of the mature trees that surrounded me were gifted as tiny seeds by the venerable Mr Banks.

Large conifer in Longford Tasmania rumoured to have been gifted to the property owner by Joseph Banks

Student horticulturist standing next to a conifer the seed of which is rumoured to have been gifted to the property owner by Joseph banks


Tree hugging horticultural hippy

Student horticulturist overtaken by love of this magnificent tree and showing it her appreciation

Gardening books tend to fall into two camps, large coffee table volumes of unattainable images or dry pithy tomes that the average person on the street would need degrees in both horticulture and science to even start to fathom out. For the purposes of this review we are going to have to reclassify Emma’s book because it fits neither genre and needs a class of its own.


Stapelia hirsuta

Stapelia hirsuta a most beautiful but incredible “aromatic” (stinky) plant that proves our slavetude to our plant overlords because it rules our glasshouse

From the outset we are led through an interesting history of the whys and wherefores of plant collecting as well as a growing awareness of the environmental impact/toll that intensive agriculture has taken on the planet. Emma’s book has a decided lean towards the care and preservation of plants using natural methods which makes this book all the more impressive and important in my opinion. She shares the stories of plant collectors all over the world. Some well-known, others simple gardeners, who have many and varied reasons for importing and growing unusual edibles from being homesick for flavours in a new country and a desire to live more self-sufficiently through to growing them simply because they can. These stories take the form of interviews and the reader feels like they are participating in the conversation.

Yacon - Smallanthus sonchifolius

Yacon (Smallanthus sonchifolius) that we imported from the Australian mainland and decided to grow in our vegetable garden just because we could (isn’t that how this all starts?!)

Each story comes complete with a list of recommended books, gardens, hints and tips for sourcing unusual edibles making it both interesting and useful for those new to plant collecting. My personal favourite amongst the collectors is Owen Smith, who may have an oversubscribed surname but whose sense of humour and obvious eccentric passion for perennial edibles echoes my own and whose blog “Radix” is both educational and entertaining at the same time. After the series of interviews Emma produces an extensive list of edibles with an interesting explanation about how to cultivate and use each one. I love how Emma weaves each tale with a juicy selection of blogs, websites, books and links that take the reader much further than a single book could go. You just know that a book is going to be well-thumbed (or scrolled) when you are eagerly writing down the names of plants and collectors to find out more about after you have finished reading. Emma’s book has me very excited about adding some of the more unusual plants mentioned to the long list of Serendipitous edibles that I want to plant here.


Garden pea grown for Northern Tasmanian conditions

Pea purchased from the little Exeter nursery and bred for our local conditions. Note how healthy it is and I can vouch for how delicious it was

And so we have scratched below that surface dirt and found purest green. It’s like knowing that secret handshake and being allowed into the inner sanctum of plant passion to start to talk the talk with a fellow plant lover and collector. An example of this passion is a small local nursery that acts as the money-making 9 to 5 for the true passion of the owner which is to develop and grow unusual edibles that will grow best in our climate and conditions. Once you delve into the realms of unusual edibles there may be no turning back and the warmth and generosity of plant collectors is part of what makes this pastime so addictive.


Wordle image of the words contained within the book Jade Pearls and Alien Eyeballs

Wordle image created from the words in Jade Pearls and Alien Eyeballs

I would just like to thank Emma for allowing me to review her wonderful book. She gave me a draft copy for this review but I would have paid to have the chance to read it anyway. It is brim full of interesting and useful information. The only negative that I can see is that it deals predominately with Northern collectors and suppliers and as such, the extensive list of seed savers, seed banks and plant specialists mentioned may not be accessible to us Southern gardeners who have been bitten by the unusual edible bug. In saying that, many of the plants listed in the book were familiar to me and as soon as I click “publish” I am off to do some research to find sources for those that aren’t.


Wordle image created for this blog post consisting of the words that form the post

Wordle of this post

The e-book will be available from Smashwords where anyone interested in purchasing a copy can read a preview prior to purchase for the princely sum of $2.99 USD. Less than a mediocre cup of coffee folks!


Study sucked all of my time

Hi All


Well another Wednesday just appeared out of the ethereal fog of study and I just realised that I haven’t chiselled a blog post out of the possibilities between my ears. It’s 5.22am and I am on the mental prowl for some choice narf7 tid-bits for you all to marvel at and wonder what you did prior to learning but you know what? My head is full of bampf! Last week it was OH&S where we were able to use a bit of what we did last year (but not much) to satisfy the requirements but this week it is hard slog and nose to the grindstone and all of those painful things that require you to spend hours online trying to remember how to type in a useful query that will garner you the best results. As of this moment in time I SUCK at useful queries even though we learned about them only a few weeks ago


We had to go hunting for an image stored on a hard drive the other day and we found a few images of Bezial back when he was numero uno dog all on his own. This is Bezial in town when he was a year old


Bezial in his favourite position on the back of the sofa in a sunbeam :)

I have been wandering lonely as a cloud in the early mornings that have just been padded out by an hour thanks to daylight savings going back to the hole that it crawls out of in October every year and my brain being crammed full of study thoughts…a walk with Earl is a dangerous thing when you are fully conscious of where you are stepping and what you are being dragged into but when you are preoccupied and thinking about other things you don’t notice the rabbit warrens or the rocks or the fact that you have suddenly veered off the beaten track and are being dragged backwards through woodlands of sheoak’s that really REALLY want to eat your hair. Earl is very good at sniffing out those kinds of woods


Bezial casting his vote on just how delicious Madeline’s amazing white chocolate vegan mud cake (for her sisters birthday) was… I think he gave it 9 out of 10. It would have been 10 out of 10 if it was about 10cm closer to the edge of the counter…


My experiment in kefir and buckwheat, a wonderful study in how to make prize hooch without doing much at all. The layer on top of this amalgamated mass is pure alcohol. Not entirely sure what I am going to do with this but for now, it’s a fun experiment. Might toss it out for the possums to fight over…now THAT would be fun! ;)


Instead of dealing on a daily basis with my RSS Feed Reader (that now contains 123 unread posts …”EEK”!) I am spending my early mornings wading through research so that Steve and I can formulate what I have found into some semblance of notes in order to answer the questions we have been asked. Most of our classmates are lamenting this part of the course but they don’t realise that we have the lament x 2 and then boosted on steroids because we have to come up with twice the examples that they do and twice the research because there are two of us. Thems the breaks I guess but sometimes it feels like I have cotton wool between my ears and I spend my days in a kind of fuggish haze. Today we have an online class where we have to share what we have found out about the questions that we have to answer. Forgive me for being a little cynical but if I have just spent the best part of 24 hours of my life slaving away researching and compiling I am somewhat loath to share all of my information. I am not being mingy or mean, I am just wondering why we have to share this information prior to it being submitted whereby other class members who may have been watching dvd’s, listening to music with their feet up, playing video games etc. for the first part of the week can sit around their PC with a pen and paper and take notes on everyone else’s hard slog and then hand those answers in… there is collaboration and there is blatant lazily riding home on someone else’s coat tails. I will leave you to make up your own minds about that


The app that Steve downloaded for his Nokia the other day (Pic Sketch Free) can do some pretty impressive things


Taken this morning when I was attempting to wake Steve up…Earl was NOT amused by the flash

Enough about the studies! My life seems to be taken over by them and I have planted out babies that are actually starting to sprout! Tiny little brassicas that are waving at the sunlight and making me happy. I have most cleverly labelled most of them but I have a tray of “Misc. and boobity boo” that are all mixed in together. I like a mixed bag. There is something good about getting what you are given and something tells me that because I didn’t carefully label each row and I have NO idea what is going to come up in this tray that this tray is going to grow the best ;)


Can anyone explain to me how these “cactus thing-a-ma-hoozits” are surviving on nothing but air? We dug them up when we were building the veggie enclosure last year!


The ubiquitous “Pie, mash and liquor”

I have also been attempting to reduce the amount of tinny packetty things that Steve likes to call “food”. Being from the U.K. he is predisposed to eating things out of tins and packets. Fresh fruit and veggies are much more expensive over there and when we visited in 2006 we practically lived on cheap frozen foods from large frozen food chains where you can buy a 10kg bag of chips (French fries) for 2 pounds. Well you could back then! We ate frozen burgers and pies and cakes and roast potatoes and Yorkshire puddings and when we were out and about sightseeing we ate pub lunches where you had “buy 1 meal, get 1 free”. There were 5 of us so we paid for 3 meals, not bad but it left my daughters with a complete disdain for “chips” of any kind. I, on the other hand could eat chips for every single meal and NEVER grow tired of that but then I am a freak of nature ;).


Can you guess there are at least 2 of us that are VERY keen to get out of the front gate?


It has been a grey old drizzly day today but I won’t be complaining about the weather for at least a couple of months yet…

Steve is from Northern England and as such he has his regional preferences when it comes to food. They eat a meal called “Pie, mash and liquor” which he likes to make healthier by adding frozen peas into the mix (SO proud of you babe ;) ). It comprises a couple of pies from a packet, some mashed potatoes (would have been “Smash” a proprietary brand of dehydrated potato flakes in the U.K.) and a packet of purest green masquerading as “parsley sauce”. Much like having a good old U.K. fry up occasionally, he is prone to wanting this sort of thing on enough of a regular basis for me to want to tinker with it a bit and render it “safe”. I can’t completely change everything at once. That would be MADNESS! So I have sneaked in good mashed potato first. He didn’t mind that. He likes that. Next thing was the pies. I can make a good homemade meat pie but at the moment I doubt that I am going to liberate Steve from his shop bought pies any day soon so it’s back to the drawing board and that leaves us with the “liquor” quotient. When I mentioned to Steve that I was going to have a go at making “liquor” for his meal I got those eyes…you know “those eyes”. The eyes that tell you “O…K… you are going to expect me to actually eat this?” Those eyes…


We took a slightly (higher) route for our walk this morning going up a steep hill which eventuated in this magnificent view.


This was taken on Steve’s phone at the same time as my image on my little old Fuji.

So I cooked and mashed the spuds, Steve cooked the pies on the bbq (a maestro on the bbq with a shop bought pie…) and I set about making a good roux which I then turned into a delicious white sauce and added lots of fresh chopped parsley from the garden. I checked online and compiled a list of flavour requirements for “liquor” and ended up using a recipe from BBC Food, a more sterling U.K. food endorsement you couldn’t get unless it was from Delia Smith herself! They suggested adding a little white wine vinegar to the sauce to get that peculiar “liquor” quotient so I added a touch and after serving it up to Mr suspicious and having him prod it a bit and then give it a tiny taste he pronounced it “delicious!” Good-O it looks like another packet can be relegated into the “do not buy” basket :) 1 for narf7 and nil to the ubiquitous “liquor” middle man!


Taken on the way home. This image shows an approximation of where our property is. That big oak tree behind that interesting (and still working) light house is just on the other side of our fence. You can see how close the river is to our driveway


Another shot of Glad’s front “garden” and that overgrown mass of trees is our place :)


Glad’s place was the old church manse (ministers home) and is MUCH neater and tidier than our place even though Glad is 92 this year and we are not :(

I recently bought some wool in order to make a pair of slipper boots. A wonderful fellow blogger who goes under the delightful moniker of “The Snail of Happiness” made me a very happy narf7 camper by sharing this free pattern. Head on over and grovel a bit and she might share it with you too. Her site is well worth visiting and she is a dead set U.K. legend when it comes to promoting hand crafts, permaculture and living sustainably. I am now following The Snail of Happiness. Thank goodness snails are slow buggers because her blog starts with a “T” and as Pauline will tell you, it can take me a while to get to “T” in my RSS Feed Read especially when I am otherwise occupied ;). Anyhoo, I have the wool. I have 3 new nice shiny pastel coloured crochet hooks in big…Bigger…and BIGGEST! Goodness only knows what I am going to crochet with the biggest one but the packet of 3 was cheaper than buying a single hook so far be it from me to snaffle a bargain when I saw one, 3 I bought. I haven’t had time to put hook to magic circle yet (let alone learn how to make a magic circle in the first place) and there are a few abbreviations I am going to have to Google as my crochet tends to be of the simple and long lasting (unless Earl finds it first) kind whereby I sit…I pick up my wool and hook and I watch television and crochet. Repeat this exponentially and that’s what crochet is to me. I rarely finish anything, it is a lovely repetitive action that soothes my inner savage beast (I have a narf7 “Earl” living inside me ;) ) and allows me to just mindlessly create something whilst preventing me becoming a statistic on a government health list


I bought this little pot of chocolate mint for $2 from Di’s little plant stall at the top of the hill because I finally have somewhere to plant it that the wallabies can’t scarf it in! Also because I deserved SOMETHING for walking up that hill!

Autumn has brought blessed relief from the heat but in saying that, it has also brought dogs to bed. Dogs that were content to lounge around on the cool wooden floor are now feeling that early morning coolness and are migrating to those nice warm lumps of meat in their feather and down doona that you can snuggle up to and freeload from their radiant heat. I don’t mind sharing the bed aside for 2 component’s of the bed sharing arrangement (when I say “arrangement” I mean all one way!)

  1. Earl jumping on and off and on and off and on and off the bed all night in order to check various noises, to patrol his territory (there be cats!) and to urinate on a regular basis on the stoic aquilegia that is still growing at the back door despite getting “watered” at least 10 times a day by Earl. I am now a heavy sleeper so the getting off the bed doesn’t bother me, the problem comes when Earl gets back ON the bed and has to jump on my stomach every single time! I might be a heavy sleeper but I challenge even the heaviest sleeper to not wake up when a 33kg American Staffordshire terrier has performed a jump worthy of the Olympic trampoline team fair and square in the middle of your solar plexus
  2. Earl radiates his own heat. He is like a little hot water bottle and when you are snug as a bug in a rug in your feathery down doona you have enough heat. Once Earl starts cuddling up you start to think that you are radiating more heat than a coal fire furnace and you need to remove the doona from your person…problem is, once you do that you get cold again so for the rest of the night, while your canine “friend” is snuggled up to you, you are intermittently getting hot, hurling the doona off your person and then, getting cold and pulling it back on you again…all…night…long!

Bezial doesn’t snuggle up to you, Bezial doesn’t radiate heat, and Bezial isn’t the dog that insists on sleeping on our bed, sigh…


I think “someone” stole a squash!


And ran away with it…dropping it on his way around the corner…

Well looky here! I managed to make it to just on 2000 words through sheer complaining! There has to be an award out there someplace for bloggers who are able to complain their way through an entire blog post?! Steve is still fast asleep, so are the dogs, so are the birds for that matter. There might be some possums outside with stomach aches from attempting to eat the diabetes inducing date and chocolate blondies that I made the other day that the bbq decided to turn into rocks and despite Steve’s best (kindest) efforts to consume remained stoically tough and inedible to the end and that I may or may not have tossed over the balcony in a fit of pique (there was 250g of butter in those blondies!) to the chooks below who couldn’t even manage to peck their way into them. Pretty soon my day is going to begin. I haven’t read a single post in my RSS Feed Reader but I did finish off the last of my own learning tasks which frees Steve up to do his while I am off walking Earl this morning. He can then upload all of our work to the various places that we have to upload it to (another bugbear…why do we have to upload all of our work to 3 different places?!) where I employ the sanity instilling mode of “ours not to reason why, outs but to do or die!” when it comes to comprehending why we are required to do anything that I don’t comprehend as logical or essential.


“You want the squash? Come and get it!”

After that we have to sit down and compile a watered down list of answers to the questions that we have been asked. A sort of chef’s shared version where you just KNOW they left out the most important ingredient of their prized recipe…that sort of share ;) we then have to take part in the online discussion which will involve Steve and I hopping the computer chair and making each other cups of tea (me) and coffee (Steve) and attempting to look like we are vaguely interested (which neither of us are). We then get the afternoon to work on our assessment tasks for this unit and we should be able to knock them out by late afternoon and then we can start on our negative space/white space unit to hand in for Monday. I don’t know how people who work are able to accomplish the amount of work needed for these courses but most of the people in the course with us work full time. SO glad we are penniless student hippies and can give this course everything that we have got…just not entirely sure I WANT to give it everything I have ;)


“Oops! When I said “come and get it” I didn’t mean NOW! better pick it back up again and run for my life!”


“My squash slid off the deck at about 60kph and landed on the ground…I almost “squashed” the chooks!” sigh…Earl and his thieving ways! ;)

Have a great week folks. I made it to just on 2500 words. Aren’t you glad? I might just give you one of those Wordles of today’s post that I shared a while back. I think they are pretty and it’s one less photo that I have to attempt to take on my walk with Earl the terrible this morning ;)

Wordle 4

Doughnut forsake me oh my darlings…


Hi All


Yeah I completely deserve to be forsook for that one! I was perusing Pinterest (as you do) and found myself wondering about why things “trend”. I put that in inverted commas for a reason. Trending is trendy folks. Everyone wants to jump on the bandwagon where the hipsters and their plugs and checked shirts and mutton chops and tats are hanging out. Everyone wants a taste of the latest greatest before it becomes so much “meh” and everyone wants to bask in that bliss that is “new” and “unusual” (more inverted commas…) and apparently trending is the way to do it. I could care less about trending. I am the LEAST trendy creature on this earth. I don’t have mutton chops or tats or even plugs (apart from one particularly annoying pop type one in our bathroom vanity that is driving me NUTS! But I digress…) and I certainly prefer to stay on the side of tried and true in order to make the most of what we have.


I have been flat out studying lately and due to a severe dearth of photographic opportunities I find myself on a Wednesday with buggery bollocks all images to share with you. I got this wonderful Leunig artwork in a Facebook feed and would like to share it with you. I love how Mr Leunig views the world

I can, however, see the complete value in a community of people test driving a recipe…honing it, twisting it, customising it out the wazoo and allowing everyone to have a taste. As someone with a somewhat limited food palette (completely by choice, not by any allergies etc.) I fully appreciate the efforts of the trending hipsters to find new and interesting ways to elevate humble natural foods and make them interesting and inventive in the process. The only problem with this process is that what was once humble AND cheap becomes trendy and somewhat more expensive. This is wonderful for the producers but not so good for penniless student hippies. I find myself on the cusp of having to trend my own humble ingredients in order to create delicious, wholesome and nutritious meals and snacks etc. and most ironically find myself back at the coalface of “trending” in order to pilfer their techniques and ideas to apply them to my own fandangling…OH the ignominy!


Steve must have taken this sometime last week when he was messing about with his phone camera. A completely unadultered “honest” shot of me and my (messy) home environment. Unstaged and unposed (and not too bad or you wouldn’t be seeing it here today ;) )

I am sitting here at 6.22am eating a bowl of hot vegetable soup and contemplating my day ahead. I am alive and vibrant at this time of day. I have been up since misc.-and-boobity-boo (about tree fiddy) which has allowed me to wander around the blogosphere seeking and finding amazing recipes, answers to questions and generally immersing myself in the world that I choose to inhabit. I get this amazing quality time almost completely to myself. Occasionally I get the odd tippity tap of Earls little pointy toes as he heads in to give me a scotch on the way out the back door to do his rounds. When he returns he gives me a beak (nose press) to remind me to walk with him back to bed and cover him up with a nice soft blanket as it is now cold…Bezial usually trots off to bed at this time as well from his lofty position on the couch in the lounge room leaving me here on my own with time on my hands. I read, I think, I Pin, I think some more. My early morning world is cram packed full of possibilities where 7pm finds me peering myopically with a head crammed full of the day and ready for bed


Steve downloaded a photo filter app called PicSketch Free today and messed about with a couple of photos that he had taken on his phone recently. Here’s how the river in front of our house turned out…


And here is a middle aged woman ferrying a protesting clucky chook back to the coop in order to save her from quoll consumption (ungrateful creature pecked “her”! ;) ) It renders your photos into hand sketched lookalikes.

It’s almost time to reignite Brunhilda. I can’t wait! I can almost hear her gentle crackling and the smell of the small eucalyptus twigs as I feed them slowly to wake her up after her long sleep overnight. She slumbers in embers and as soon as the door is open again I can see her interest…”sticks? For moi? Why I don’t mind if I do!” and it is back to crackling and providing latent heat for all of our wintery needs. I will be reanimating Chica’s white sourdough starter once it becomes apparent that winter is truly upon us. The little brassica seeds that my Aunt Tilly sent to me are going to be planted into some good quality seed raising mix later on today. I am off to visit a friend bearing Brachychitons and care. Her little dog Tilly was put to sleep yesterday and she is broken. I don’t even want to contemplate that eventuality for our 2 beautiful boys but I know it is there…hovering around in the background and one day it will be an issue. For now I can offer trees and comfort to my grieving friend


My friend gave me some of her beetroots knowing that I LOVE beetroot


I also eat the leaves of the beetroot as they taste like Swiss Chard/Silverbeet

It’s raining! Of COURSE it is raining…what a dolt I am. I left the enormous woolly blankets from the dogs chairs on the line overnight…why on earth wouldn’t it rain? ;) It would appear that Mother Nature is as bolshie as I am and twice as reprobated. You apparently just have to use reverse psychology on her “NO I DON’T WANT IT TO RAIN”! (Hear that Mother Nature…you fell for it! ;) ). I am also heading into Launceston to do the fortnightly shopping today so again, pretty much odds on that it was going to rain. I don’t mind, less lunatics on the road for me to worry about as they all stay at home in their snow boots with their heat pumps on 11 ;). I like shopping because I get to look at things that I don’t usually see. Steve races around “shopping” like a bull in a china shop. He looks at the list (sometimes) and hurls things into the trolley. Several times he has picked up the wrong ingredient like last fortnights prune incident (that he will NEVER live down ;) ) where he threw 8 bags of prunes into the trolley rather than the 8 bags of dates that were on the list. He blames people putting things in the wrong place. I blame a complete lack of attention ;)

paper beach

Not a bad panorama taken from Steve’s new phone camera


Real harvest! Spuds galore :)

I am going to wander around looking at shops that Steve could care less about. I probably won’t even buy anything from them. I just want to look and see what is available etc. I like the process of window shopping but only in shops that I am interested in. Forget clothes and shoes I am a food window shopper and a kitchen equipment window shopper. Only last Saturday we were wandering the streets of Launceston with the dogs towing us behind them like little Mack trucks when I spotted Jamie Oliver’s latest creation, an extra wide pasta maker. I am in need of a new pasta maker after I made it “GRONK!” once too often and it decided to permanently pop a cog. I don’t use them for making pasta much but do like the possibilities of being able to make my own soba noodles from buckwheat and lasagne noodles with home grown veggies to colour and flavour the pasta. With mother’s day coming up soon I may just have found my communal kids gift for mum :)


I LOVE this image. It was another Facebook share. I love how they are androgynous with age and love that has stood the test of time and are reduced down to the true beauty and power that age can bring to a couple who have weathered many storms together :) Plus I also note that Steve may one day have breasts as saggy as mine…I live for that day sir! ;)


It is important to rain just enough to wet the blankets but not nearly enough for the vegetable garden so I have to water…that’s the fun of 101 pissing off penniless student hippies apparently. Even better if you can imbue some of those possums with superhuman brain stems and they are able to work a rubric’s cube with one hand whilst invading my own personal Poland with the other. I am WATCHING you Mother Nature…you are on notice!


Here’s another Facebook share. This lady (we are told) is 92 years “young” and if I was to do what she is doing with her foot there I would need assistance to extricate me from that position let alone get INTO that position in the first place. Kudos ma’am. You are a true inspiration :)

I decided to crack most of the walnuts that I showed you last post and store the kernels in the freezer so that I could use them as and when I saw fit. I like the idea of stored food. I read a lot of blog posts about preserving the harvest. I would be knocking myself out too preserving the harvest if we actually “had” much of a harvest but thank goodness this year was predominately an experiment with seedlings gifted to me by my friend Jenny, as otherwise I might be heartbroken about the results. On the good side of the equation, I have potatoes! I doubt that I will fill a 10kg bag but I got beautiful round sweet tasting potatoes and Steve hoovered the first of them down the other night and pronounced them “delicious” along with a few carrots. I hoovered down my meagre beetroot harvest along with some that my friend gave me when I visited her recently and am enjoying the leaves, steamed, as well. Getting “something” from the garden is better than getting nothing in my books and if all that I got this year was a sterling education in what NOT to do, then that is a season well spent


Not a very good photo but some of the walnuts that we have been picking from our own tree on the left with a size comparison to some of the walnuts that we have been picking from the tree in town on the right. As you can see our tree delivers monsters!


Hazelnuts and walnuts from last season that I decided to either stratify (the biggest) or crack and freeze (everything else)


The hazelnutty results. I feel some homemade healthy nutella coming on!

I will be stratifying some hazelnuts and walnuts again this year. Jenny gave me a great idea to use up some of the alarmingly HUGE collection of wine and beer bottles that has settled in our small shed. Aside from shaming us every time we add a chook feed bag of them to our collection I have had to reconsider what I am going to do with them because it just isn’t feasible to dig them into the soil and use them as garden edging (cheers rocks…) I was talking “recycling” with a manic look in my eyes when she said “you know how you are talking about using tyres to stop the wallabies and possums from eating your fruit/nut/perennial veggies? Why not create something out of bottles?” She even mentioned a form of bottle gabion that got me excited…bottle gabions? We have rocks and bottles galore here. I am less inclined to disinter the rocks from their current subsoil home than I am to empty out the small shed (and “shed” the guilt…) and use that mighty stashy monument to alcoholism for a good purpose.


Check out this impressive stand of Jerusalem artichokes. These people obviously don’t have wallabies devouring their pumpkins and artichokes like we have


They obviously DO, however, have a possum problem ;). Isn’t this an awesome veggie garden? I would have dug over the soil inside to make the most of this space but the people who constructed this veggie garden are (by the look of their house and this enclosure) quite wealthy and can afford to use minimal space. Kudos on their inventiveness :)

How to go about getting what I want from those bottles? Well how about I create panels of bottles using cheap chicken wire? I could create rectangular gabions that I anchored in place using a wooden frame created with treated pine and after planting out our “edibles” (just about anything that WE plant is apparently edible to the natives…) they could be set up like alcoholic Lego around the outside of the planting. The results would be both aesthetically pleasing (where tyres were going to make me twitch), difficult for the wallabies to reach over to graze and would allow us to anchor hoops of cheap black piping and put more chicken wire over the frame to protect the plants from possum predation. Another score for permaculture and a perfect reuse for those bottles. I will keep you posted on our progress. Well we got 2 bottles to stick together using liquid nails so next step is to see if we can get 49 of them to stick together to form a cohesive rectangle that can be used as one side of a bottle fortress around my poor long suffering plants.


This is my “apple” calendar. I don’t use an apple mac but I do eat apples. I stick the stickers on my desk calendar and can at least kid myself that I am eating healthily ;)

I am MOST excited to be reviewing Emma Cooper from Emma the Gardener’s wonderful blog. Emma is an ethnobotanist, a writer and a podcaster and specialises in the history behind the food that we eat, specifically the food that we grow. She most generously allowed me to read a copy of her book “The Jade Pearls and Alien Eyeballs” which is a delightful and most eclectic mix of unusual edibles grown by an even more eccentric bunch of “gardeners” for want of a better word. Emma’s book is wonderful and I will be writing a review for it and publishing a blog post about it on Thursday April 10th. I hope that you can all find the time to read the review and hopefully through narf eyes, get a bit of insight into just what makes some of these incredible adventurous keepers of the vegetative matter tick.


The plumber and his sidekick finding out why our bathroom sink drained so slowly. It would appear that someone (who shall remain anonymous) has very long hair and the combination of bad design for the combined plug and sink mechanism and this long hair may have had something to do with the problem. (I am leaning towards the bad sink design personally… ;) )

I find myself being gently nudged by the powers that be more and more towards gardening these days. I once immersed myself in recipes and now find my passion running to the production of the main ingredients for those recipes. A natural progression methinks but still a most interesting state of being for someone who has spent so very long on documenting entire hard-drives worth of recipes for posterity. I love that gardening blogs are starting to pop up and that my radar is firmly tuned to “dirt”. I tend to steer towards permaculture blogs but there are so many other wonderful gardening blogs and websites out there and all wanting to share everything from the basics to the most difficult techniques and premises and the best bit is that as gardeners, most of them offer this information for free. There are books…there are tours…there are products for sale but under the sales pitch there is also a most impressive array of free information just waiting to be plundered. I feel a new hard-drive may just be in order…”STEEEEEVE!” ;)


Look what that sugar fairy has been up to. Not content with eating Steve’s chocolate éclairs, she has started on his wine and if I am not mistaken (by that cap) his beer! It MUST be the sugar fairy because I found all of these items in the lounge room just scattered around Steve’s chair and he KNOWS how much it makes me cranky so it obviously wasn’t Steve…


The desperate act of a dog who hasn’t had his walk yet thanks to steady rain and who has sunk SO low as to shake one of his humans hands in a sad attempt to get them to get off their chairs and walk him in the rain. Earl is over Winter already and it hasn’t even begun!

Hokay folks, I think I have driven your minds and ridden them like sea biscuit enough today. I will hand them back to you now and you can all rest assured that they have had their quotient of exercise for today. Feel free to watch some mindless TV or listen to commercial radio or read a fluffy romance novel and not challenge them with anything too strenuous because narf7, your brains personal trainer, has taken them around the block a few times and put them through their routines. Don’t forget that next week I will be posting a regular blog post on Wednesday AND a review post for Emma’s delightful book on Thursday. I know that life is hectic and that it’s hard to find the time these days to read 1 of my long-winded posts let alone 2 in a row but I would really appreciate it if you could take the time to check in on Thursday and I promise to keep it short, but ever so sweet. See you then :)










Goodbye, so long and thanks for all the fish

Hi All,


It is with a heavy heart that I have decided that I am going to stop posting on The Road to Serendipity. Steve and I have been very busy with our studies and life in the real world has completely taken over and I can’t give this wonderful space the time that it deserves. I have loved being part of your lives and adore every single one of you…I wish you all an amazing and most fantastic life




By the way…if you believe this…I have a lovely bridge to sell you… April fools ;)

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