The saga of the factotum and the printer

Hi All,

Steve and I have finally started our online course in web design! We headed over to check out what we had to do and ended up signing up for a new WordPress blog each (part of the course requirements) and doing the equivalent of an online introduction. Reading the other participants intro’s was a bit like waving at the other inmates from your cell when the other inmates are from a different planet to you and you hope to goodness that you never have to come out of your cell and mingle any day soon… Did anyone see “School of Rock”? I did…lots of times. I love “School of Rock” and if those of you who did watch School of Rock cast your mind back to the part where Ned Schneebly (don’t ask me to spell that correctly, it AIN’T gonna happen folks! 😉 ) first comes up against “Summer”…the class “Factotum”. We have our own Summer. She has not only done everything on the list that we are supposed to do, but she has completed the first assessment (only an hour after it was posted) that is due next Monday. We also have an anti-social member of the class whose only threat, as outlined in his S.W.A.T. was that he didn’t want to invade Russia in the winter. This person bears a distinct similarity to my daughters in his view of the world and our class in general and if I didn’t know better, I would say that one of them has decided to crash the class. After reading the credentials of the remainder of the class, my natural instinct is to run screaming but if you ignore the other class members (not too hard to do when you are studying from home) the course content is very interesting. If you play your cards right, you might get lucky and get to see some of our work 😉


An early morning picking for my daughters in the city


Earl bagses the eggplant…


Steve’s tea last night…homemade sourdough bruschetta liberally slathered with garlic butter and with home grown tomatoes, some bought avocados, spring onions and chilli topping. It was DELICIOUS (apparently) and the sourdough had a gorgeous crunchy crust :). Audry is now part of our Serendipity Farm family forever 🙂 (just don’t turn orange Audrey…orange is the blue screen of death for sourdough starters! 😉 )


Free white nectarines from Roxie and blackberries from the hedgerows on our walk with the dogs this morning. The seeds will be planted and the tomatoes were also from Roxie. The tomatoes behind the fruit are the beginning of our tomato harvest and are left over from last nights bruschetta feast


Aren’t these blackberries in the height of ripeness (and heady sweetness) gorgeous? I froze the tray with the chopped white nectarines and these blackberries to use in my breakfast green smoothies

Jessie a.k.a. “Rabid” of  sent me instructions for how to knit a dishcloth out of cotton. She made me a lovely black one from some organic cotton that she had and I had mentioned that I had some bright yellow (almost mustard to be honest) cotton that I had picked up from the Beaconsfield op-shop a while ago and thus began our discourse regarding knitting and its foibles. I must admit at this stage, I am NO knitter. I can knit a scarf…bits of a jumper (no cuffs, no collar and DEFINITELY no cable!) and generic squares and after perusing the pattern I decided to hide my knitting needles and go back into my comfort zone and crochet a dishcloth. The progress is slow because I have to work between the hours where Earl is active (approximately 7am to 6pm) and nightfall (at the moment about 9pm). Earl is unpredictable and can suddenly launch into action when an interesting mustard yellow ball rolls past his nose where it just dislodged itself from my knee and aside from being unpredictable, he is quick. He is a master of the grab and run attack because if you grab and “stay” whatever interesting thing you have appropriated tends to get taken off you so running is your best bet. At least you get to chew whatever it is a bit before your humans (arms waving and yelling) catch you and retrieve said item. I have crocheted half of a dishcloth and Earl has been eyeballing me out of the corner of his eyes as I crochet…he is waiting for me to drop off to sleep (highly likely) and he will be on my cotton like a tick on a dog!


I had to race out with the camera last night because the sky was the weirdest colour! I didn’t think I would catch the weird lighting but I sort of did.


This was taken a few moments later and you can see a rainbow over the river…Steve has pinpointed where it was pointing as that is his leprachaun pot of fish 😉


A nice thick layer of free mulch has made the garden under the deck a MUCH happier place to reside for our poor long suffering parched plants


One of the large enclosed compost heaps that I planted potatoes in and a single sweet potato that is growing! The white patch is a species of fungus known as a “dogs vomit” fungus…it is harmless but as you can imagine, it isn’t all that aesthetically pleasing 😉


Another one of the large enclosed compost heaps full of pumpkins and a few potatoes that the slugs haven’t managed to scarf (yet)

I have been inundated with kefir. I have at least a litre of it in the fridge and am scratching my head how to use it. I have decided to bake a chocolate sourdough cake with kefir and a large tray bake spice cake with kefir to replace the milk. I am also going to make the kefired equivalent of labneh so that I can make small balls of extra thick kefired labneh and preserve them in herbed olive oil with chillies. Our jalapeno chillies are doing amazingly well and it looks like we might have a bumper crop of them this year along with the small fingerling eggplants. I am so glad that we decided to go with the smaller eggplants to make sure that they had the best chance of ripening fully before the cold season sets in. The excess kefir grains (that are growing exponentially on plain old “ordinary milk” Jessie 😉 ) are going to be given to customers who would like some at our local health food shop. I believe in sharing excesses and David can pass them on to interested customers. I have also offered him the same deal with excess sourdough if he gets customers asking about it. I am starting to get into the flow of feeding and working with my small batch of homely cultures. Now I need to find a kombucha Scoby and some water kefir grains and after that the sky is the limit! I will be spending a lot of time reading my fermentation books this winter and learning all about just what I can, and can’t culture here on Serendipity Farm.


Not sure if we can use this photos but I liked it. Nice and clean and isn’t that sky a gorgeous colour?


This old ramshackle building is right in the middle of the city. It has stood, unthreatened, for years and is situated between a boutique pub and our local Centrelink office. Considered an eyesore for years, developers have just obtained permission to remove it. I just wanted to remember it in a photo and I quite liked how this one turned out


These buildings all belong to Boag’s brewery (including the grain silo’s in the background) and are part of the inner city industrial area. I love how they have restored the older buildings and made this a really attractive part of the city

I noticed some unusual small black pods on the side of a tiger lily in the side garden. It has ceased flowering a long time ago and has seed pods on top of it. I know that they form bulbs that spread under the ground but on closer inspection, the little pod-like thingo’s had small leaves growing out of them…I headed inside to check out my good friend “Google” and discovered that these pods are called bulbils and not all lilies produce them. Tiger lilies are well known for producing them and they are another form of plant division. Each little black bulbil is an entire new little lily. After a while, the bulbils will form leaves (as mine are currently doing) and will eventually form roots and will push themselves off the stem of the spent lily flower and will drop onto the ground where they will take root and start growing. After 3 years they will start flowering and you have a plethora of new lilies for free to either plant out or give to your friends. Aren’t plants the bomb? :o). I will need to collect all of the little wandering bulbils to pot them up so that I can find them in spring when they start growing again but for now I will let them cling tenaciously to their mum for as long as they see fit. I also discovered that lilies are extremely hardy belying their delicate appearance. Many plants that we might think are tender or delicate are actually incredibly hardy and I am in the process of compiling a list of incredibly hardy plants for Serendipity Farm. A friend from down the road (Boof’s owner) gave me a bag of fragrant ripe white nectarines and tomatoes today as we walked past her house when we were walking the dogs this morning. She also gave me a bag of curly leafed parsley seed to plant out. We swap all sorts of things and have a really good bartering system going. Roxy is a very resilient lady and knows a whole lot about growing vegetables, keeping goat’s etc. and how to do just about everything herself. I love sharing knowledge and “stuff” with her because it is a win-win situation for us all. We are just about to give her one of our feral roosters as she doesn’t have a rooster and is tired of having to ask for fertile eggs from friends. This way she will have all of the fertile eggs that she likes to put under her clucky chooks and can have lots of hens to sell her excess eggs from the roadside. The value of community and individual knowledge when combined with others is priceless…the resilience of a community is only as strong as the individual members that group together to share. I love forging community here in Sidmouth :o)


My gorgeous chooky potmits that are WAY too nice to use with Brunhilda 🙂


These are cuttings of Tagetes lucida, Mexican marigold or Texas tarragon were sourced from a local plant and are apparently easy to grow so I am letting them get legs in this mug of water.


This long suffering philodendron had been almost on the brink of extinction for years before we inherited him and decided to release him out into the wild. He had bright yellow leaves and only had 1 leaf and now he is happy in his new environment


A nice new stem on a lovely orchid that we inherited that dad only watered with beer. He said that the beer made it flower and maybe he was right because it hasn’t flowered this year on its new regime of water…might be time to reintroduce that vitamin B quotient to make it happy 🙂


Look what the wallabies did to my Loquat japonica’s :(. They had been growing completely untouched for months and suddenly the wallabies decided to eat all of their leaves. They are incredibly hardy small trees and will grow more leaves but the wallabies are skating on very VERY thin ice! It just goes to show that you can’t take it for granted that ANYTHING is safe on Serendipity Farm


This little fig tree has some figs on this year. We grew it from a cutting and this year it just might keep those figs to full term 🙂

We had to go to Launceston this morning because as we were reading up about our course and our very first assignment we realised that we were going to need printer ink and our printer was out of ink. We had already walked the dogs and I had already watered the veggie garden and released the baying hens so we hurled the eager dogs into the car and set off for an adventure to buy printer ink. We checked out what we needed to accomplish for our second assignment (technically “Assignment 3” but it’s the second one that we have to hand in…already they are trying to trick us! Not WE wily black ducks! 😉 ) and realised that we needed photos of billboards, advertising signs and road signs and we threw the camera into my bag so that we could take as many artistic shots as we could. We hadn’t read up on what we actually needed but we took all kinds of photos so hopefully we can use some of them for our assignment. We then headed off to pick up some printer ink, only to find that the shop that sold us the printer had just superseded it and were no longer stocking the ink! They recommended K-Mart but Steve knows that K-Mart don’t sell the ink either so we looked at each other and decided to buy a new printer. We managed to buy a printer with ink for less than we were going to have to pay for the ink alone on our old all-in-one printer. I can’t believe that this sort of equipment is so “throw-away” these days! How can they justify selling something if they are not going to stock the peripherals for any length of time? We have 2 of the printers that we can’t get ink for…one was ours and one we inherited from my dad when he died…what to do with them? I am NOT going to throw them into landfill and am going to be spending some ingenious time finding ways to use them rather than disposing of them. Perhaps I need to cram them full of cacti and succulents and sell them at the market? ;). We got back to discover that my bestie, Kymmy from Norseman Western Australia had sent me 2 absolutely gorgeous pot holders that she had quilted. What a doll! Kymmy, you are so talented! I am refusing to use them till you get here and we can cook up a storm on Brunhilda because they are too pretty to use and get grotty :o). I might even have to frame them and put them on the wall as I can’t bear the thought of Brunhilda and her messy ways turning them into sad representations of the lovely things that they are today :o). Your gooseberry seed is drying nicely and will be ready to send to you soon…bartering is SO sweet :o)… oh, and Bev from has offered to send me some leaf AND seed amaranth! I love you guys! Along with Jessie and a plethora of people I have yet to meet and barter/swap with in various seed swap meets etc. this bartering thing is absolutely ripe with mutual possibilities :o).


Bulbils! Note the leaves growing out of the bulbils…each one of these dark coloured “pods” has the propensity to become a new lily


A native hibiscus (Alyogyne huegelii) flower on a crown lifted tree that is much happier since we started giving it a helping hand


Finally I get a cornflower! The wallabies have been snipping the tops off them as they protrude from the top of the ex-fish farm netting but this one escaped to flower 🙂


This Aquilegia vulgaris (Grannies bonnet) grew right next to the back door…note the dandelion…I would have normally removed it but now that I know how amazing they are (and how much Bernard and Manny our Java Finches LOVE them) I leave them to carry on regardless 🙂

I think that might be all for tonight folks…I have to race out waving my arms around now to find you some photos to decorate this post and I will be starting with the bulbil’s so that you can see what I am talking about. Tomorrow we will be juggling with the new course and tap-dancing on unfamiliar territory all over again. I can’t count the amount of times that we have gone back to kindergarten with new areas of study and it’s all in the processes…my favourite place of all! :o)

16 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Joanne
    Feb 21, 2013 @ 00:45:12

    A class on web design sounds awesome (and super useful!)…even better that it’s online so that you don’t have to actually interact with any of these people in real life 😛


    • narf77
      Feb 21, 2013 @ 05:52:36

      Lucky I don’t (and lucky that they won’t be reading MY blog! 😉 ) because I am totally and utterly intimidated by their credentials! Aside from factotum and the boy that sounds like my own intelligent but slightly side left bolshie adult children the rest of the class all have lots of qualifications in the industry…which makes me wonder why they are starting at the basics of a web design course? Cheers Joanne…you just made me feel 100% better 🙂


  2. Kym
    Feb 21, 2013 @ 11:43:02

    As always Fran, you and Steve will ace this course, don’t feel intimidated. Real life experience will always win out. I will have to make some really ugly pot mitts for you to use :). Lovely photos, I can’t wait to see them “in the flesh” x


    • narf77
      Feb 21, 2013 @ 15:10:14

      I need some pug ugly sort of smudged and black pot mitts so that I can use them ;). We just submitted our first assignment and I DO feel intimidated :(. Oh well… I guess it is just starting now and everything is new. Not good for a control freak like me!


  3. Littlesundog
    Feb 21, 2013 @ 12:57:57

    Stunning photos… well, except maybe that dog vomit fungus!! LOL I got tickled about the wallabies nipping off your cornflowers! My flowers, roses, vegetables, and berries suffered being nibbled by Daisy deer over the last year. I have had to fence in the main garden plants but the berry shrubs and fruit trees will just have to grow taller where the fruits are out of her reach!


    • narf77
      Feb 21, 2013 @ 15:12:40

      We have ground scoffers (wallabies and rabbits) and tree dwelling scoffers with opposable thumbs (possums) and between them they can eat EVERYTHING! We have to fully enclose things that they are partial to, and sometimes, something that they haven’t been bothering with for years suddenly comes on their radars and it disappears…there is no logic with the way that they think and so you just have to cover everything 😦


  4. christiok
    Feb 21, 2013 @ 14:03:44

    I love how you call that gorgeous bruschetta meal “tea”. This is one of those cultural things that makes me smile every time. 🙂 I’m not sure if you mean lunch or dinner. What time does Steve eat this tea? The photos of the sky over the Tamar River are breathtaking. And Roxy sounds like the perfect neighbor. I LOVE BOOF. And I sympathize heavily with the throw-away ethos of computers…ug. Sorry you had to get a new printer. I order my ink on-line. Kymmy’s potholders are quite lovely, I agree. I bet the two of you will have the best visit! Steve’s creativity, the sheer number of exquisite spoons he has made, impresses and inspires both of us here on the other side of globe, as do your words and descriptions and ideas. Your web design class won’t know what hit them.


    • narf77
      Feb 21, 2013 @ 15:18:43

      I might have to “hit” the web design class to be honest :(. It’s a whole new ballpark and just ask the B.O. what he would do if he was thrown into the deep end of something he doesn’t know…that’s about what I am doing :(. I guess I will just have to research it out the wazoo! ;). Kym is coming over for my 50th in August this year…I can’t believe I (and she) am turning 50 this year! Half a century of whatever it is that I have been doing has gone so very fast! No doubt we will get up to no good. Kym and I were best friends when we attended high school and only found each other again a few years ago. It’s lovely to see how we have changed and yet stayed the same in the passage of time. “Tea” is Dinner. U.K. dinner :). It must have been good because Steve is somewhat fussy and he scarfed it down ASAP…the only complaint that he had was about how crunchy the crust was and I reminded him that there were people out there who would KILL for a crunchy crusted loaf ;). I am off to slink under my chair as we have to submit another web design assessment to our lecturer tomorrow and I hate critisism. I know that the only way to learn is to fail/make mistakes but when you have made your cornerstone a twitching morass of insecurity, it’s a difficult build to make a skyscraper to say the least! 😉


  5. Deb
    Feb 21, 2013 @ 16:21:22

    The printer issue is the bain of my life. When I do invest a small fortune on another cartridge of toner, then the dies in the backside.


  6. thinkingcowgirl
    Feb 22, 2013 @ 03:14:01

    All that wonderful produce Fran well done!! I could sink my teeth into that bruschetta right now. The light over the river is stunning, I can really sense how that must have looked and felt, like super three dimensional.

    Reading about your course has reminded me to do a little search of my own for some things to learn this year. Good luck with the web design, it sounds great. I keep looking at the ‘Computer Training’ centre in our local town, but by the time I get home I’ve forgotten!…middle age menopausal moment alert 😉


    • narf77
      Feb 22, 2013 @ 03:25:03

      This august I turn 50…middle age menopausal moment of shock! I now have to reclassify what “old” means. Suddenly 90 is the new black ;). They were just the harvested veg going to my adult daughters (can’t have them getting ricketts on MY watch! 😉 ), we have tomatoes threatening to take over Sidmouth if I don’t contort myself into strange and weird shapes and crawl sideways and upside down (at the same time) into the inpenetrable fortress that is our veggie garden. When red becomes the predominate colour in your tomato bed you know its time to harvest. I might have to do a post on that piece of incredible wisdom! I was forced into computer training by my dear computer literate husband who is entirely comfortable with all forms of technology and who dragged me kicking and screaming through the intricacies of AutoCad. He must be good because we both managed to produce several complex garden designs using the nefarious program and I am completely mathematically challeneged (and my adult son only just managed to show me how to retain my 9 times table…”It’s easy mum! You just start with “9” (DUH) then the next number is 1 and 8 (added together makes 9) and then after that you increase the first number by 1 and decrease the last number by 1 and so on till you get to 10 times and I figure that’s about as far as you are EVER going to need it!”…sigh… “I was 3 days in labour with you, you sarcastic creature!” Web design is Steve’s little foible because he has to become an Australian citizen before he can take advantage of our student loan system (otherwise we would have to pay in advance in full ) before we can head off and study Landscape Architecture at our local university. This year is where he learns the intricicies of web design so that he can start a website for his wooden spoons etc. I am just tagging along for the ride but noted that they do have a creative writing section in the course that might salve my savage breast a little when we get to it ;). By the way… you know how dogs need to be inside when they are out and outside when they are in? I have discovered that manopausal women are in a constant state of temperature flux…I spend my days putting on and removing my jumper ;). I can do it without thinking now… a new skill! You CAN teach an old dog new tricks 😉


  7. Chica Andaluza
    Feb 22, 2013 @ 05:41:59

    Web design, lilies, sourdough, kefir…life is so not dull in your part of the world! Wish I could send your pal some of our roosters, we have several very handsome ones and once they’ve worked out the pecking order they rub along ok but we always seem to get more than we need! Glad Audrey is doing so well, I really need to give this sourdough business a go.


    • narf77
      Feb 22, 2013 @ 05:52:47

      SO GOOD when it works! (Sourdough I mean 😉 ). The sourdough that I was sent is amazing. Audrey hasn’t let us down yet and today I bake an enormous tray of chocolate sourdough cake and an equally enormous tray of sourdough spice cake using some of my thick kefir. I will post about them if they turn out alright and if they don’t…the chooks will LOVE them! 😉 even I can’t stuff the will of a good sourdough up and that is saying something 😉


  8. lyndellmaree
    Feb 25, 2013 @ 20:20:49

    Have you not seen my post on knitted dish cloths? Super easy to knit, honestly 🙂 and Im off to check out your friend’s cloths.


    • narf77
      Feb 26, 2013 @ 03:33:32

      Knitting and I are strange bedfellows. I tend to make strange and unusual articles that rarely resemble either the desired result or the pattern. I think I have a tension problem and my grandmother used to give up in disgust at the way I hold my needles ;). She also used to chastise me with how I crochet up until she discovered the German long needled way of crocheting and she said “you crochet like the Germans!”…there you go…ancient heritage runs strong! ;). I loved the dishcloth that Jess made for me and after about 10 tries to cast on and trying to stop Earl (the Amstaff) from slobbering all over my work while I tried to protect it and ending up with snipped sodden ends of cotton abruptly halting my efforts I decided to work within the medium that I am comfortable, crochet :). I am going to head off and look at your back posts to see that knitting pattern and will give it another go (Doggy daycare anyone?! 😉 ). I follow Cindies site because she is so very generous with her patterns and shares willingly. I love the ethos of sharing and how much further our knowledge goes when we give it willingly. It’s like smiles…who knows where generosity stops? If at all :). Hope you like her site, I do and she is in my Rss Feed Reader along with you, and Jean and all sorts of interesting and wonderful blogs that have me getting up earlier and earlier every morning to read them. You wouldn’t believe that I was a serious night person not too long ago 😉


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