Crafty sans cash

Hi All

These next 4 posts are going to be produced in the past tense. Mum arrives today and the odds of me spending time here tapping away are slim to none. I want to have posts for every day including Christmas day. I don’t really care if no one reads them, that’s not the point. Perhaps someone out there might just find Serendipity Farm online on Christmas day and will get a little Christmas cheer from we insignificant specks in Tasmania. I have been hunting out how to make things out of old incandescent light bulbs. I saw Harvey of Tassie Farmer blogging fame has been messing about making terrariums and remembered reading all sorts of ways to use them on one of my favourite sites Instructables. I found a site with some lovely pictures of Steampunk projects using copper wire and light bulbs. I found instructions for how to retrofit some amazing scientific looking diodes into an old light bulb. There were also instructions for fitting L.E.D. lights back into decorated incandescent light bulbs after the middles had been removed and the process by which you do this. Again, I am floored by how many people out there are willing to share their amazing ideas and creative projects with anyone who wants to see. I found a really lovely hanging garden made up of various tiny terrariums of all sorts of plants all inside old incandescent globes and am going to have to attempt to make something similar. Creating things is my passion and despite having a ‘failed crafts’ cupboard to show that all of my good intentions tend to result in discarded half-finished projects, I am an eternal optimist who has never learned to quit and lay down…I just keep on filling up that cupboard and when it gets full, I will start another one! I am currently collecting all sorts of bottles. I like getting coloured ones, but interesting (especially foreign) clear ones are ok as well. I am collecting them to make a bottle wall as a feature somewhere. I love Antonio Gaudi’s work and would love to emulate some of his ideas in our garden especially his amazing use of mosaic work. I love blue and white pottery and collect bits that I find laying around. I don’t think that I could just smash a plate or cup if it was perfectly alright but a broken one might just find its way into one of my future creations.

http://www.crookedbrains.net/2009/12/interesting_11.html

Check out this site and marvel at just what some of these amazingly creative people have made out of the humble old incandescent light bulb…

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Antoni_Gaud%C3%AD

I know its wikipedia but unless the information is techy or in some way worth manipulating, most of these posts are made by people passionately interested in their subject and you can do a lot worse than starting at wikipedia for what you are looking for and using it as a guide post to other more staid sources of information. This post is particularly informative and I urge you all to check out Antonio Gaudi’s amazing architectural wonders. This man has a creative genius and tried to meld nature into architecture with some fantastic results. Along with M.C. Echer, this man is one of my artistic heros.

Steve is going through the built in wardrobes in his music room where we shoved lots of ‘stuff’ when we moved in last year. It was hard enough to face the amount of work getting the inside of the house habitable without having to deal with all of the collective junk that I had amassed as well as my hoarding dad so into the cupboards it went! I have all sorts of bottles for my wall project and I am going to have to find somewhere to store them as they are starting to take up more than an inconsequential amount of space and Steve is starting to grumble. I am cooking him 2 sundried tomato and camembert medallions for tea tonight along with crunchy mini roast potatoes, vegetables and gravy. I figure I owe him some rent for all of those bottles… Now that there are only 2 of us here on Serendipity Farm and only 1 of us that eats meat, we have started focussing on better quality cuts of meat rather than trying to eke out cheaper meat to feed a family. It has taken us a year to work that out and we bought our first “Gourmet Pack” from Nigel’s on Tamar the other day. It contained 10 of Nigel’s gold award winning feta and pumpkin beef burgers, 5 chicken schnitzels, 2 chicken Kiev, 2 of the aforementioned medallions half a kilo of Nigel’s gourmet sausages (your choice) and 2 chicken parcels in puff pastry. Not bad for $45 and plenty to keep Steve amused for a few weeks. We often have vegetarian meals and Steve actually went vegetarian for a few months of his own volition. I personally think it was to save money, but he appreciated several vegetarian options especially our home-made veggie burgers that taste delicious and good old fashioned Glamorgan sausages which he wistfully mentions occasionally (usually when we are out of bread). We experiment a lot more out here than we did in town because our daughters were not very adventurous at the time. They now create all sorts of interesting meals but obviously, at the time, they were not overly fussed with some of what we created. I think an over exuberant Steve and his penchant for curries might have turned them off a little and a trip to the U.K. where dining out for 5 for 6 weeks became an exercise in budgeting and the ubiquitous U.K. chip became standard fare, and now both of my daughters wince at the sight of them… but now we can mess about and create whatever we want to eat and wander around internationally wherever our fancies lead us. We are especially fond of Indian food, thanks to their creative vegetarian recipes. We also like Mexican food…who doesn’t! I remember going to the Fremantle Markets way back in my wispy ether filled past (I am taking you back here…like in Scrooged except you don’t get whacked with a toaster by a fairy…)…there was a caravan converted into a food stall and as I wandered around collecting our weekly vegetables from the well-stocked market my ex husband Robert and I shared a massive burrito filled with refried beans, the tastiest Mexican mince and lots and LOTS of melted cheese. I dare say I would be less than impressed with that offering now, but back then it was the most exotic thing that I had ever tasted.  Back when I was a child, broccoli was a new vegetable in Australia and I am going to stop talking about “back when I…” right now because I can hear my children snickering…

Here are some of those “nothing to do with this post but paragraph separating” photos for you to enjoy.

This is a little native pepperberry shrub that was grown by a fellow classmate at Polytechnic. That interesting pot that it is currently residing in, is a special pot designed to root prune the plant inside it. The pot is almost lego and clips together and when this little shrub is repotted it will be duly returned to the Polytechnic where it rightfully belongs. The principal is that the pot has little holes all over it and when the plant roots attempt to grow out of the pot they are air pruned. I forgot to put this photo into my earlier post when I mentioned the pepperberry so here it is.

This photo is to show you some of the gnarly tree growth we have on the property. I am loathe to remove these unusual bendy trees. I would imagine they were simply looking for a bit of sunlight as this area borders on the teatree forest at the front of the property. Just visible on the lower right hand side is a lovely specimen of Quercus phellos, or Willow oak because of its willow like leaves. We have another specimen of this lovely tree that we bought and that is still in its pot ready to be planted out. Not too sure if we will plant it on the property because we already have this one and it gets a thrashing from the possums making it something that might not be a good choice to plant as a young specimen that doesn’t bear fruit and is simply ornamental. Everything that we plant on the property is going to have at least 2 uses in our edible forest garden and Quercus phellos is well and truly represented already. Anyone want one?

Steve whipper snipped and mowed the lawn around this area and made it tidy for mums visit. As you can see, it’s quite aesthetically pleasing when it’s maintained. We are aiming at introducing many fruiting species onto the property as well as a good representation of nut trees and other useful trees, shrubs, vines and ground covers. This area is adjacent to the house and as such will house my Chilean cold climate shrub collection that we can protect from possum predation until they get big enough to fend them off. It’s a matter of sorting through what is here and leaving what we want and weeding out everything else that doesn’t work. We are keeping a Cornus capitata and a large specimen of Arbutus unedo that produce edible fruit for the native wildlife. We are also keeping all of the endocarps and native currants but many of the purely ornamental plants that are struggling to survive here will be slowly weeded out and replaced with hardier stock. We also have lilypillies growing alongside the pathway that produce an edible fruit for both wildlife and us.

Steve is working on making an amazing oil burner using scientific stands, clamps and beakers. We saw one in the last Donna Hay magazine (again NOT FOOD!) for an exorbitant amount of money and we decided that it was one of the coolest things that we had seen in a long time and we are going to replicate it for a lot less and with a lot more panache than the version in the magazine. Again the internet triumphs…we can research, source and purchase everything that we need online from various different countries. The current exchange rate is a whole lot more pertinent when you are dealing with money transfers and debit cards have certainly made shopping online a much safer experience. I was hunting around on eBay last night looking for ‘interesting things’. I ended up looking at gemstone bracelets for some reason (probably boredom) and noted 2 things about eBay that twizzled my Grinch valve. The first was a seller from Hong Kong who had slipped into my “Australia only” search. They had listed their site as “Hong Kong, Australia”. Now I might not be a geographical genius, but even I know that Hong Kong is a fair distance from Australia…the second thing that I noticed was that I found the very same bracelet on 2 sites. I checked it out…I enlarged the photos…I made sure that they were totally identical because I couldn’t believe the price difference. They were both being offered by Australian sellers (this time) one in Sydney, and the other in Adelaide. The Sydney seller had a price tag of $269 reduced from $299. The Adelaide seller had a price tag of $49. How can sellers do this? I couldn’t complain appropriately anywhere on eBay and gave up hunting in disgust. EBay is a useful tool to purchase but too many shysters are plying their substandard wares that they bought at the local thrift shop for ridiculous prices. I think I will stick with garage sales and local markets for my treasure hunts.

http://www.lostateminor.com/2011/10/25/crazy-oil-burner-by-page-thirty-three/

Here’s that essential oil burner that fired Steve up to go hunting on eBay for parts to make it. If anyone is interested, it costs $170 or you can make a very similar thing for about $40 yourself.

This is a bag of fertiliser. “How very interesting” I can hear you yawning into your hands you know! This fertiliser has been formulated for our local soil conditions in conjunction with Steve Solomon who wrote the book “Gardening South of Australia” about growing food in Tasmania. This man is no lightweight gardener and he has spent his life working with soils, formulating seed and growing plants that will grow best in our endemic area. If you are interested in him, check him out here but be warned, he is up there in the scientific data and you have to wade through a fair bit of science before you find the ordinary stuff. This fertiliser, bought from a nursery in Exeter, promises us a good crop of vegetables in our local area and thats all I need to know :o)

http://www.soilandhealth.org/index.html

It’s been a very crafty post today. I watched Kirsty and Phil’s Home Made Christmas last night and went hunting for how to make soap at home (easy), how to decorate mini Christmas cakes (lovely) and various other crafts and recipes that they had on the show. Phil made his wife the most amazing silk screened scarf that was the most amazing royal purple yet as sheer as a spider web and twice as ethereal. I dare say his wife was actually pretty impressed with that offering. I got to thinking about how “home-made” doesn’t need to mean “tacky and unprofessional. Home-made can also be special, creative and from the heart. I love getting home-made things especially when they are well made and thoughtfully chosen. You can stop panicking now kids, “Home-made” is NOT my theme for this Christmas but who knows, next Christmas might be my foray into unusual crafty gifts so be prepared to smile stoically and say “what a lovely err…thing mum”. See you all tomorrow :o)

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