A week in pictures…

Hi All,

I have a post ready for today but at the last minute, when I was hunting through the images that we have accumulated over the past week I decided that I might tell the story of the week that was in pictures. They say that a change is as good as a holiday and with Steve’s guest post last week you have had a fortnight off ;). Are you ready to wander through Serendipity Farm? Here we go…


Having never made homemade thick syrup before I had no idea how to go about making some but never one to back down from a challenge I forged ahead…without a recipe…and without most of the ingredients that you would be inclined to use to make a heavy syrup. It consists of raw sugar and floral green tea reduced. I had a vague recollection about having to test a drop on a saucer of cold water but wasn’t entirely sure what consistency it had to reach. I realised that it wasn’t going to be a thick syrup and had jumped straight to green tea toffee but to be honest, Β It’s amazing it managed to get to this stage but after pouring it onto a teflex sheet to set hard…it didn’t. I ended up with a bendy semi-set toffee…what to do?


Refusing to give up on my vague recollections as fact, I remembered how you can turn semi-set toffee into “taffy” by pulling it. I buttered up my hands and got stuck in to pulling it. Despite liberally buttering my hands this stuff stuck. It didn’t turn to taffy, it didn’t do anything aside from stick to anything that it touched. It is languishing in the fridge in a bowl thinking about it’s actions. I figure we will melt it over homemade ice-cream…and in the words of Jason Nesmith of Galaxy Quest fame “never give in, never surrender!”


You see before you another selection of half-assed food preservation. The yellow jars are lemon curd/butter. The dark jars are citrus marmalade that was also made with raw sugar and the lighter jars are 6 jars of date and apple paste. I didn’t want to waste some apples that were a bit floury, a huge stash of lemons and Steve just wanted marmalade so what’s a girl to do? These 10 jars of preserves are 8 more than I have made in my 50 years prior to this. This preserving lark is eminently satisfactory πŸ™‚


What happens when your husband is thinking about something else while he is putting the kettle on to boil πŸ˜‰


Time for tea…


Homemade Asian stuffed buns (for Steve) and the top level of the steamer holds a rich chocolate steamed sponge that he had with homemade custard for dessert


The buns and stir fried veggie accompaniment but I forgot to take any pictures of the dessert


“A real sunbeam!”


It pays to keep your eyes open when you are perambulating around your local neighbourhood. Steve and I found this beauty floating just over the road from our driveway…how convenient! A pity I had to wade outΒ  in the freezing cold water to get it but them’s the breaks and this baby has been earmarked for water storage inside our new veggie garden πŸ™‚


Decanting the results of a week of Kombucha fermentation mixed with a litre of juice into bottles for secondary fermentation. I am mixing glasses of delicious Kombucha and non-dairy kefir and the results are delicious. Even Steve is drinking the Kombucha because it is really tasty and eminently customisable. My next batch is going to be fermented with some fresh ginger and apple juice.


Another tea. That pile of riced red potatoes covers a good old fashioned shepard’s pie with some grated cheese on top. Steve proclaimed it “delicious”


One of multitudes of babies hatching out all over the place


I have been throwing harvested perennial seeds all over the place in the side garden and finally some of them are starting to grow… those osteospermum daisies days are numbered though!


We still haven’t finished cutting up the tree that fell into the side garden thanks to the incessant rain but the sun is finally starting to win out and even though the side garden is full of tree, it’s looking quite pretty at the moment


More tree and more garden


Still more tree but the other end of the garden


At least you can see we have at least been TRYING to cut up that tree πŸ˜‰


Cutting foraged steel poles to be sunk into the ground and concreted in to stabilise the netting over the top of our huge fully enclosed veggie garden


Drilling holes


Holes are needed to string wire through to prevent mass invasion from above by possums


Another tree that fell needed to be cut so that we could get our wheelbarrows full of concrete through to the veggie garden


You can see how damp the weather has been by looking at that sky. We were racing against the clock to hammer the poles in and then concrete them in before the rains came


In the foreground you can see the roots of the tree that fell down and the proximity to the new veggie garden along with the exposed old veggie gardens that have been completely predated by chooks since we uncovered them


But not before I harvested all of the spinach!


Jerusalem artichokes that I found growing on the side of the road and rehomed on Serendipity Farm and a wild lettuce that just decided to keep them company


Steve was gifted an old empty beer keg not so long ago and aside from vague (and vain) aspirations of turning it into a still (HA!) he had to rethink his gifted keg and thought that he might make it into a rustic coffee table. After realising that we don’t need a coffee table he rethought again (all of that thinking πŸ˜‰ ) and came up with turning it into a stool for his music room. Here you see the remnants of the old leather jacket that I used to cover a stool a few months ago being used again to cover a section of plywood that Steve cut into a circle. The old pillow gave us the padding material and with some rudimentary tools we turned this pile of “stuff” into this


A padded leather covered keg topper for a musicians derrière


“Can I have it?”


Sorry…No, but you CAN pretend you are D.J. Earl…will that make it better?


He’s all soul πŸ˜‰

Lastly, here’s a nice composite picture that Steve made using some new software that he recently got called “Snapseed”. It’s much easier to use than Photoshop and great fun to boot. The flower is in the side garden and if you look VERY carefully on the left hand side you can STILL see that tree ;). All in all a good way to say “seeyalateralligator” for today and wish you all a great week ahead…


38 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. brymnsons
    Oct 23, 2013 @ 17:45:16

    I love the stool guys. Very creative πŸ™‚ Some nice shots of the garden too


  2. LyndaD
    Oct 23, 2013 @ 18:10:27

    Wading out into cold freezing water to get a drum. I am full of admiration Narf. This veggie garden of yours is going to be worth the waiting and the work. Possum free grub. I also had a stick time of it on Sunday. I tried to do some facial waxing and didnt realise i had the wrong wax. I had a similar situation of it not setting but sticking to everything. I ended up scraping it off my chin, lip, brow (oh the shame of it) with an icecream stick and then using oil to break it down. When wiping my face the towel got stuck and i ended up doing exactly what i set out to do. What is normally a 5 min job became a 30 minute horror story (hubby walked in as well and all i could do was lift the towel in front of me and scream – dont look!!!!) Lesson learned – when you ask for a type of wax, dont rely on them to give you the right stuff. Laugh away……


    • narf77
      Oct 23, 2013 @ 18:40:53

      No laughing here…I am just going to cultivate a lovely dwarven beard and be done with it! ;). I know a recipe for “sugaring” but if it is anything like that toffee (that is STILL in the fridge behind the milk πŸ˜‰ ) it will fail terribly, won’t remove the hair and will stick like superglue…you SURE you didn’t get that out of my fridge? πŸ˜‰


  3. Jo
    Oct 23, 2013 @ 18:17:12

    I love to stand in the pantry and gloat over preserves. Such a wonderful Little House on the Prairie feeling – we WILL get through the winter!


  4. gardeningkiwi
    Oct 23, 2013 @ 20:40:23

    Hi Fran. great to see progress being made in the veggie garden. Sometimes you can’t wait for the weather to come right and you just have to work around it. Your day in the sun will come! Cheers Sarah : o )


    • narf77
      Oct 24, 2013 @ 03:33:39

      We have given up on a whole day in the sun and just dart around in between showers like mice in a potting shed ;). At least something is getting done and today we will spend the day dodging rain and putting up the rest of the netting. It is getting very exciting because I can feel this all coming together. I have been amassing lots of garden amendments and we will be heading off to get a couple of trailer loads of seaweed and bags of mushroom compost along with me snipping up all of the branches of those trees to use as the base for the garden beds in the near future. We are also in the process of a bit of a redesign to include more space (in between our wood shed and glasshouse) that can be used as part of the garden. I am going to plant herbs and raspberries in this area. It is hard to believe that soon I will be able to garden whilst standing up! πŸ™‚


  5. Elizabeth Mars
    Oct 23, 2013 @ 21:32:31

    I’m feeling exhausted just looking at all the work you seem to being doing. I’m might go and rest after reading your post.


    • narf77
      Oct 24, 2013 @ 03:34:17

      It’s always like that when you read someone elses posts but most of the time we have been holed up inside studying, cooking, eating and dodging rain showers πŸ˜‰


  6. triciatierney
    Oct 23, 2013 @ 23:45:12

    As we settle into chillier temps and fires at night, it’s inspiring to see Spring across the world. Love these photo rambles.


    • narf77
      Oct 24, 2013 @ 03:35:01

      We had the same thing with your Northern spring/summer as we waded our way through our winter. I guess its a reciprocal deal πŸ˜‰


  7. thinkingcowgirl
    Oct 24, 2013 @ 00:40:05

    We are twins with the reclaimed water butts πŸ™‚ I have one EXACTLY the same…salvaged from a skip in London a while back.

    Aaagh my little alarm hairs are rising looking at Steve using a chainsaw sans protection…Bob used to be a tree surgeon before he got ill ….the stories he used to tell, well, they weren’t pretty!

    The garden looks lovely.


    • narf77
      Oct 24, 2013 @ 03:38:51

      Steve knew at least one of you would pick up on the lack of safety gear but he wishes to point out that his thumb was in the right position ;). You didn’t pick up on the lack of a guard on the cutting blade when he was cutting the poles so Bob obviously didn’t work in the building industry ;). Seriously though, at least we have our chainsaw licenses which is a step up from the local natives that head out into the bush to collect firewood with an esky full of bear and cut trees down to get wood. We have a tree that is on the decline right next to the house that we are going to have to get an arborist in to cut down for us as it’s about 60ft tall and when it goes it is going to take the roof. I wish a 50 000 litre water tank would just wash up on the shore some days but I am very grateful for my blue barrel :). Did yours have oysters growing on one side of it? Ours does πŸ˜‰


  8. christiglover
    Oct 24, 2013 @ 03:07:26

    I love all the photos, but my favorite is Beziel in the sunray. I can just feel it. πŸ™‚ And my next favorite it the baby chick. I am ready for some babies. Serendipity Farm is so fertile!!! Kudos to you both on all the hard work of chainsawing and digging and garden building. It looks like everything is bursting with new life there. Did you seal those jars of preserves, Fran? How did you do it?


    • narf77
      Oct 24, 2013 @ 03:41:31

      I did seal them Christi by boiling the jars till they were sterilised and using pop top lids (that come on the jars). I am not going to store them long term, I just didn’t have any room in the fridge for more “stuff” so by ladling the contents into the hot jars while the mix was hot the pop top lids self seal again and I get a couple of months storage on shelves. Bezial loved that very first sunbeam. As you can see, he didn’t bother getting completely out the door and just lay there looking extremely happy but also uncomfortable. A reminder that life wasn’t meant to be easy and you take your pleasures where you find them methinks πŸ˜‰


      • christiglover
        Oct 24, 2013 @ 04:02:00

        Oooo, interesting. I didn’t know those pop lids would/could reseal…even for a short-term seal. I have so many of those jars. I tried to freeze soup in them and the glass just cracks. Online, some say you can freeze glass jars if they have no “shoulders,” you allow lots of headspace, and you don’t put the lids on until after they freeze. No go here. They always crack.

        Life wasn’t meant to be easy. That’s true, girl. And I appreciate the reminder. πŸ™‚ Hugs to you and Steve.

      • narf77
        Oct 24, 2013 @ 04:59:22

        Lots of people preserve in those pop top jars over here with no problems so you should give it the old experimental “go” and see how it goes. At the very least you won’t have so much recycling to deal with πŸ˜‰

  9. quarteracrelifestyle
    Oct 24, 2013 @ 04:54:53

    Great photos Fran and you look very busy…busy! Your meals are so much more creative than mine, I struggle to get meals on my blog because they are inevitably thrown together combinations of meat and veg πŸ™‚ I also use pop up lid jars for some preserves, they do fine for alot of stuff especially if you know it’s not going to store long anyway.
    DJ Earl looks so cute lol


  10. teawithhazel
    Oct 24, 2013 @ 07:15:12

    it’s so exciting to see your enclosed vegetable garden taking shape..what a huge amount of work though..what did you do with all of that spinach?


    • narf77
      Oct 24, 2013 @ 16:36:17

      If the truth be known it is still out in the wheelbarrow Jane :(. I will throw it to the chooks and they can make quick work of my shame…


  11. cathyandchucky
    Oct 24, 2013 @ 11:04:20

    Love it Fronkiii! Wish I could come give you a hand in the garden. The gyprock guy John came yesterday and again today to gyprock the spare room. Sabrina and Ryan will be arriving this arvo and it won’t be finished but will still look a thousand percent better than it did. I’ve managed to hang fruit fly baits from every fruit tree bar the dwarf nectarines. I think I’ll have to just sit a bait jar in their pots. Wretched fruit flies are hanging about already 😦


    • narf77
      Oct 24, 2013 @ 16:41:43

      Put vegemite in jars…pee in jars…put jars EVERYWHERE and confuse the little buggers out of their tiny fruit loving minds! We have large “fruit flies” with lots of fur that are very conspicuous by their absence at the moment but we are under no misapprehensions that the little buggers will be back soon to strip the leaves and hoover up the unripe fruit with their nasty pointy little fruit loving teeth :(…sigh… I guess at least we know that our fruit is “gone”, you think that you have some but it is just a maggoty faΓ§ade. Nature can be a biotch can’t she?


  12. Chica Andaluza
    Oct 25, 2013 @ 08:21:42

    Ooh I really enjoyed sharing your week with you, I felt like I was there and am still laughing at the toffee incident. Yes, I picked up on Steve and the chainsaw, but as I am so used to seeing Big Man breaking all the Health & Safety rules and am sick to death of yelling at him, I moved swiftly on πŸ™‚ I love the way the dogs chase the sun around the house and always find the best spot to sit in – what clever pups! Well done on the preserves too…busy, busy.


    • narf77
      Oct 25, 2013 @ 18:02:18

      And I even managed to reacquaint myself with my old bestie “reading”…currently reading Pattie Smith’s biography amazingly well written, can’t put it down :). Making preserves and reading at the same time (hope the library don’t mind the odd toffee mark on pages πŸ˜‰ )


  13. Angela @ Canned Time
    Oct 25, 2013 @ 11:24:14

    Good gracious you’re a busy girl Fran. Makes me tired just looking at all you guys are doing now that its warmer. We have a water barrel just like your new blue baby. The bitch is changing out the water each year. When they’re inside, you can’t just give it a shove to tip the monster over….Love to the dogs πŸ™‚


    • narf77
      Oct 25, 2013 @ 18:08:56

      I hear you…I had to lug that barrel out of the river and it was full of water. I had to hold it upside down to drain out some of the water before I could heft it over some rocks and get it out but my desire to own said barrel overran my desire to remain warm, dry and for me not to use my muscles πŸ˜‰


  14. Littlesundog
    Oct 26, 2013 @ 05:22:28

    I have two smaller gardens… nothing in comparison to what you have on Serendipity Farm! I love the photos… I feel like I’m “there”, joining in the fun. I see myself being led around by Earl on daily walks!


    • narf77
      Oct 26, 2013 @ 05:32:19

      “Led Around” isn’t quite Earl’s style on the walking fronts. When I walk him on my own he is quite well behaved but when we walk as a “pack” he is driven! Imagine walking 5km with the canine equivalent of a mack truck dragging you backwards, forwards, side to side and around and that’s what it’s like to walk Earl. I guess he keeps me fit ;). I haven’t got any veggies planted at all at the moment as we had to open my veggie gardens to the marauders and maraud they did :(. Oh well, as soon as the garden is fully enclosed (early next week) we can start planting out. I am cutting nets today for the top of the garden after doing our best to turn it into a circus tent structure with ropes all over the place to carry the weight. If a possum can get in to this I will give him Earl’s dinner!


  15. Hannah (BitterSweet)
    Oct 27, 2013 @ 12:10:23

    You’re a lady after my own heart with that “never surrender” attitude you take with your toffee… I’ve been known to go through crazy lengths to salvage my own experiments gone wrong, as I’m sure you already know. πŸ˜‰ Attempting to pull it into taffy is a brilliant one that would have never occurred to me though! Who cares if it was successful or not- That effort deserves serious kudos. When all else fails, I tend to make most everything into ice cream. If it can be blended, melted, or otherwise liquified, just add non-dairy milk, toss it in the ice cream churn, and voila, problem solved. πŸ˜‰


    • narf77
      Oct 27, 2013 @ 15:54:56

      I will try that! Cheers Hannah. It tastes delicious (very sticky, but delicious) as we reduced some lovely floral green tea to make the “flavour” quotient of the equation it was just the sugar part that didn’t want to play with us and we ended up with a sort of very thick syrup that could be used as cement. I kept it in the fridge so that we could think of what to do with it…it would taste delicious as ice cream…I am going to give it a go! Coconut cream and floral green tea lets see how it turns out. Cheers for the great idea πŸ™‚


  16. Linne
    Oct 30, 2013 @ 00:33:36

    Inspiring and entertaining as always! You two accomplish so much! I’d love to respond to every bit, but was waked at 4:30, so have been catching up while hoping to get sleepy again. 7:30 now, so will try for another hour ir so of sleep.

    Love your garden, especially.


    • narf77
      Oct 30, 2013 @ 03:27:45

      Our garden looks so lovely in photos. When you are standing in the middle of it and you can actually see the nefarious chook scratchings where there is more mulch on the driveway than the poor (now squished) plants, the leaves and debris all over the “lawn” and the various fallen tree debris, chook poo, overgrown lawn and potaroo holes dug all through the back lawn making walking out there after dark a MOST treacherous thing, you would wonder where that image came from ;).


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