Who do you think you are?

Hi Folks

After some recent email conversations with the most delightful Pauline from “The Contented Crafter” where narf7 did her VERY best to alienate and enrage a potential dear friend by likening her to the most (in my eyes) gorgeous Kate Bush much to her chagrin, I started to think about who we think we are vs. who we “actually” are. I got to thinking that we should all take a good look in the mirror and then head over to get someone without a vested interest in their safety, to explain what they see when they look at us. I know that I see someone completely different to the person that everyone else sees because those photos are all LIES! I don’t look like that! Same goes for the voice but that’s another story…

DSCF6359

Kym, Bruce and Stevie-boy looking decidedly feral in his Hong Kong Phooey shirt but note the altogether happy face…”beer makes EVERYTHING good!”

DSCF6360

The same Kym and Bruce but sans Stevie-boy and a narf7 appears to have attached herself to one side of them. No beer though, straight kombucha for this little black narfy duck 🙂

I told Pauline that I had been prancing around the kitchen singing The Police hit song “Roxanne” at the top of my lungs and she expressed a degree of concern for my neighbours that is entirely unwarranted (if you know Frank, you would know what I mean 😉 ) however it did get me to thinking about my obviously incredible singing voice as experienced from inside the middle aged husk of narf7 vs. my “actual” singing voice as experienced by the rest of the world.

82e4501696b12a572bdce29ec746a5e4

Talking about Pauline, she makes wonderfully artistic mixed media art. This isn’t one of hers but it is similar to her fantastic works of art and I just really loved this saying :). Says it all really

DSCF6363

I have been an entirely spoiled narf7 this week. I received 2 boxes of the most gorgeous dark chocolate covered marzipan from a wonderful fellow blogger in the U.K. who pens the delightful Zeb Bakes. Cheers for the deliciousness Joanna, it didn’t last long but while it did, it most certainly did the trick! 😉

DSCF6371

Bev from The wonderfully enlightening, sustainable and altogether Permaculture soaked blog Foodnstuff sent me this wonderful tome (see girls…I SPELLED IT RIGHT THIS TIME but I am no WAY going back to amend it in back posts 😉 ) it is cram packed to the back gills with wonderful and most sustainable hints, tips and recipes and like most things from New Zealand, it is pragmatic and straight to the point…”No bullshut” here folks!

DSCF6395

And I also received a most unique and wonderfully practical gift from Jess at Rabidlittlehippy who sent me 12 beautifully sewn (not a seam out of place…how does she do that?!!!) produce bags so that I won’t have to put my veggies into plastic bags from now on. I will be able to use these wonderful bags and do my little bit to reduce plastic waste :). I am thinking that I might do some potato printing on the front of them (knowing lazy narf…I will just cut the potato in half and dab it into some ink and make smiley faces on the bags but whatchagonnadoeh? 😉 ) and when anyone asks me where I got them, I am going to direct them to Jess’s site. You had best get that Etsy stall going Jess as the customers are going to be lining up… 🙂

I had to make a voice recording of myself for last year’s course. I had to do this because my lecturer is a sadist who wanted to torture me. I had to listen to myself and hear someone who I didn’t recognise and who made me cringe. Did I really sound like that? I thought I had a rich cultured voice but it turns out I have a decided Aussie twang, I sound like Denise Scott with hay fever and if that’s how I sound when I talk…what on EARTH is my singing voice like?!!! Have I been torturing everyone for too many years than I wish to admit? Was my ex-husband actually right?!!!

DSCF6373

“A vat of carob and buckwheat smoothie and thou (Mr Terry Pratchett) sitting beside me in the wilderness (on the couch)” is pretty much all I need to make narf7 a blissed out little hippy 🙂

DSCF6378

An early morning image of what an 8 litre jar of buckwheat looks like…and eggs…

DSCF6459

What looks to be an uneasy truce between my kombucha on the left and my non-dairy (sesame milk and date paste) kefir on the right…

DSCF6462

One of the (many) benefits of having 2 daughters who are not only excellent cooks, but who like to experiment with Asian cuisines and unusual recipes and ingredients is that the shop owners of the places that they frequent and spend vast amounts of cash in, tend to be most grateful for their patronage…SO grateful in fact, that they give them 2 calendars for the New Year. One for them and one for their mum :). “Cheers Anthony!” If you are ever in downtown Launceston Tasmania and feel in need of some Aloe juice, or you want some Korean bean paste or some fermented beanshoots, you could do a whole lot worse than heading off to Tsing Wah and spending a few of your tourist dollars to support this excellent business 🙂

DSCF6467

This is my new brain. I got tired of relying on the old one to have it let me down again and again and again. I also got tired of trying to sort through all of the scraps of paper with hurried and fervent little notes from my inside self to my outside self scribbled down in unreadable handwriting so I decided “enough was ENOUGH!” and here is my new brain. Contained within shall be neat and most tidy lists of things to do, the order in which I want them done and copious quantities of dates, numbers and other most interesting and important things that I want to keep track of…or…most probably…I will still keep scrawling notes in the dark and leaving them strewn around because that’s what I am used to 😉

Who is that middle aged greying long haired golem impersonator gambolling about waving her liver spots at the camera and attempting to be sued by Denise Scott for impersonating her voice very badly? Is that me? IS THAT ME??!!! If so, why is Steve still here?! What DOES he see in me?! Why on EARTH hasn’t he fled screaming never to darken the gateposts of Serendipity Farm again? I have no idea folks. I get the feeling that we should all be anonymously and secretly videotaped going about our daily business. We should then be sat down and made to watch the results. The puddle of expired ego that results should be scooped up into a pretty bottle and stashed on a shelf at eye level where we can be reminded that sometimes we just aint who we think we are…but for the most part I am…I sing like an angel “ROXANNE!”, I look like a tanned and happy Valkyrie and my voice is strong but pleasant and in NO way contains any form of Aussie drawl…I said IN NO WAY! And we shall speak no more of this alarming and most enlightening of thoughts because my ego is sploshing sadly at me from the shelf next to the phone…sigh…

50 no way

I found this when I was trying to find an image of my daughter Madeline’s mug to share with you…altogether more appropriate for me!

Lol

Then I found this…and quickly became enamoured of it…

I know everything

Anyone who knows me (and many people who don’t) would say that this was the absolutely ideal mug for me 😉

Lol2

I LOVE this mug…no pressure! 😉

Oh YEAH

This one is even better! Entirely up to me what “shit” I want to get “done”  and in what order

Where was this mug when I needed it

Oh WHERE was this mug when my kids were refusing to eat their dinner! 😉 That’s enough pilfering humorous mugs for today. I am probably on Amazon’s most wanted list for flogging images (shhhhh!…you never saw it here!)

Its Tuesday suddenly. Where did the rest of the week go? Oh yes THAT’S right…it melted! I am feeling a little melancholy today for some reason and so I have decided to immerse myself in good music and sing my way out of it. I listened to the best of The Killers first and that did the trick. Now I am onto U2 and Mr Bono and I are strangely in tune…in sequence, because I was cutting up the dogs meat and was suddenly struck by a need to pee…I am only ever desperately struck by a need to pee when I am up to my armpits in something nefarious and Mr Bono started to sing “She moves in mysterious ways” and I was, indeed, moving in mysterious ways. Sort of shuffling and hopping like those African Bantu tribes men just before they do that big hop. I wasn’t quite game enough to attempt the big hop and was having enough trouble with the shuffle bit but I had just been reading Wendy who pens Quarter Acre Lifestyle  from over the water’s (New Zealand) post about how the universe rises up to meet you if you are prepared to meet it half way and it made me smile that Mr Bono and I should meet each other half way in order to attempt to make my dear constant readers have a bit of a chuckle on hump day. “Your job here is DONE Mr Bono”…you can go back to your castle or wherever it is that you live with the Dali Lama and Mother Teresa’s ashes content that you were of use today…

DSCF6465

My latest Mr Pratchett novel that I am devouring and savouring slowly because it’s the last one (in my possession) in the Discworld series. I am waiting on the latest novel to be printed in paperback so that I can add it to my collection and savour it at my leisure 🙂

DSCF6456

Proof that I am a shameless hoarder…

DSCF6457

More proof…

DSCF6453

Now you can’t blame me for wanting to hoard that fossil! Nothing like outing yourself for the blogging world to see (but it won’t stop me hoarding 😉 )

DSCF6383

Talking about hoarding…pantry 1…

DSCF6385

Pantry 2…

DSCF6381

And a VERY tidy pantry 3 complete with Earl the wonder dog photobombing the shot 😉

My eldest daughter Madeline turned 26 today. That means that I am the mother of a 26 year old woman. Not only that, but I am also the mother of a 24 year old in April and most shockingly, a 32 year old in that same month. How can that be? Surely I am only 30 myself?! Madeline has a mug that says that “It took me 50 years to look this good” (don’t ask). The sad thing is that in my case it is true! I have been holing up inside ostensibly to reduce my RSS Feed Reader that ate Paris while Kym and Bruce were here visiting but in all honesty I am frankly terrified of what the garden has metastasised into out there. The long wet winter and the sudden onset of heat seems to have awoken the Kraken (blackberry) in a most alarming way and what should be tendrils are giant squid sized branches reaching out to grab the unsuspecting (read narf7 on her way out to the washing line). Anything thicker than my wrist is to be feared and we are just about to transcend that goal. I am doing my best to eat the blackberries young to prevent them from spreading but they have awoken to my plans and have decided to triple fortify themselves AND give the chooks somewhere amazingly impenetrable to lay the few eggs that they feel like laying in between hatching out huge clutches of chicks…I am starting to panic about how focussed and virulent everything that isn’t human has become on Serendipity Farm…

DSCF6402

The ubiquitous garden (triffid) shots that you, my dear constant readers, have come to expect each week…

DSCF6403

As you can see, the garden has taken over the area and is doing whatever it damned well pleases and who am I to argue?

DSCF6407

This photo was an attempt to show you the compost heap experimental garden without actually having to haul my lazy carcass over to the far corner of the garden…did it work? 😉

DSCF6440

Part of the reason why Serendipity Farm is full of asparagus with more growing every year. Most of the existing asparagi (is that the plural?!) are covered in these little red fruits that apparently taste good to birds because they get ingested and the seeds “dumped” all over the place and I, for one, am absolutely delighted! I can’t vouch for Frank but I reckon that’s another tick against my name in his “most despised” list 😉

DSCF6412

Jerusalem artichokes going mental. I will be transplanting them in a better (more protected) area where they will be allowed to spread to their hearts content with no complaints from me!

DSCF6445

Steve’s shed looking suspiciously tidy for once…oh wait a minute…that’s because “I CLEANED IT!” sigh…

“Oh I LOVE this song!” Every time I hear Mr Bono sing “One” it makes me melt…it bleeds deep into me and Mr Bono and I are “one” :). Does that happen to anyone else out there? When you read, watch an amazingly good movie, listen and sing amazing songs do they become part of you? I often find myself dancing around the kitchen twirling like a narfy dervish to the songs that I listen to and infusing like a fine aged cold pressed coffee. MAN I love music :). I was told a story regularly by my Grandmother and my mother about how when my Uncle Wally brought home the Beatles single “Aint She Sweet” that I raced out of the room that I was otherwise occupied in and suddenly started to dance like crazy. I obviously amused them because they recanted that story well into my adulthood. The thing is, I DO love music. It isn’t just “music” it really does become part of me and I can lose myself in it for hours. I can bliss out and completely change my mood if I am feeling grumpy or twitchy (both to be avoided) and I could just listen to music all day and all night if Stevie-boy wasn’t partial to watching crap T.V. and complaining about how loud the music is and how he can’t hear the loggers cutting down the trees or the Mountain men hunting “bars” (yes…I deliberately spelt that wrong…that is how they say it!) over the top of my exemplary singing (he would say “screeching” but what would he know eh?!)

DSCF6411

Prospective olives…

DSCF6408

Prospective Myrtus communis berries…

DSCF6400

Prospective figs

January seems to have lifted up her skirts and is in full pelt to get out of 2014. February is going to be a bit grouchy about having to take over so soon methinks. I am SURE January fudged it a bit and is going AWOL too soon. February will hardly have finished his cup of coffee before he will have to put on his bowler hat and come to the party…it’s just NOT cricket January! Steve turns 49 on Monday and has decided that he and The Mumbly Cumumbus are going to meld this year and so gifts are to be of the fishy persuasion. I don’t mind. Steve has the best fun out pootling around on the water and I am all for him having the best fun in life 🙂 I feel for my daughters who are going to be ferried around the local fishing shop as Steve takes the lead pointing at lures, shiny things, red beads, squidgy little plastic prawns that stink to high heaven and goodness only knows what else in order to amass his “present” from them. It is always an adventure to trail behind Steve. That’s why I will be staying put and “watching the dogs at home” 😉

DSCF6431

3/4’s of Serendipity Farm is covered in agapanthus flowers at the moment

DSCF6427

This is a salvia…it is blue…it is tall…it is pretty…it comes back every year after dying down over winter…if you want to know any more about it you had best Google it because narf7 isn’t going to deprive you of precious time researching (and she can’t be bothered to go look up the name 😉 )

DSCF6425

Another gratuitous flower shot, this time Nigella damascena, one of my imports

DSCF6413

This is the only gazania on Serendipity Farm. Most probably because I love them 😉

DSCF6416

Crocosmia and Feverfew ensuring that the soil doesn’t turn into dust and blow away

DSCF6419

Buddleia davidii or butterfly bush

DSCF6417

Buddleia globosa, a yellow ball shaped version and as you can see, favourite fodder for bees 🙂

DSCF6390

A narfs eye view taken from the newly painted bench where I parked my derierre to read the other day

DSCF6389

Same bench, but a slight swivel of the wrist to the right…

DSCF6386

And lastly, the view behind the bench (and yes…those ARE Christmas lights in the window…thankyou for noticing 😉 )

I have just been outside wandering around aimlessly taking photos for this post so I guess that means that it is “all over red rover” and “finito” and “Arividerci Roma” for another Wednesday. It’s drop dead gorgeous day today on Serendipity Farm. The sky is blue, the trees are (still) green, there is a lovely cool breeze blowing and what a difference to last week! I am revelling in just being alive today and feeling incredibly grateful and thankful for my lot :). Have a fantastic week and see you next week when I will probably be covered in scratches from head to toe because I fully and most DEFINITELY intend on tackling those blackberries…”NO PRISONERS!” 😉

About the best thing a bike could be used for

Finally, I would like it known that this is the absolutely, positively BEST use for a racing bike yet! 😉

Forget the Ides of March, we have the Daffodils of September

Hi All

“Daffodils are like ideas, they spring up in the middle of waste land and they give you hope for future possibilities”

That quote is a narf7 original. It sprung out of the ether in my overstuffed brain one day when I was walking Earl and noticed a pile of rubble in the native bushland on the side of the road with a daffodil flowering profusely in the middle. Life is a bit like builders rubble sometimes. We make our “buildings” and we might not always build them strong. Many times they fall down and we are left with our own piles of “builders rubble” that need to be sifted through to salvage what we can from the experience and to start again but there is always a daffodil in every pile of rubble, we just have to sift through and find it.

The dogs have gone mad...they appear to be begging for cauliflower! "NO It's MINE!"

The dogs have gone mad…they appear to be begging for cauliflower! “NO It’s MINE!”

White men might not be able to jump but 50 year old white girls can certainly head-bang with the best of them

White men might not be able to jump but 50 year old white girls can certainly head-bang with the best of them

Earl is VERY impressed with my ability to rock

Earl is VERY impressed with my ability to rock

The son-and-heir just managed to pull an almost extinct rabbit out of a hat and find a job in Tasmania. Not only did he find a job, but his new office was so eager to have him join their crew that they created a position for him with extras to the job that was being offered. It’s always nice to feel appreciated and now Stewart can move to Tasmania with his Texan sweetie Kelsey, who has become a firm part of our family, and start to negotiate his way around the “real world”. Living in inner city Melbourne is like living in a bubble. You are surrounded by commerce and an artificial bustling reality that has very little to do with the real world. Moving to Tasmania will allow them both to relax a bit and to stretch out their minds to other pursuits. Both of them want to explore the beautiful scenery here in Tasmania and as they are moving into the unit behind the house where my daughters live in the city, they won’t have to pay rent and will be able to pay off outstanding bills and start saving towards their future life together

I asked my brother in W.A. to send me some stone worn smooth by the Southern Ocean from where I came from.

I asked my brother in W.A. to send me some stone worn smooth by the Southern Ocean from where I came from.

He walks for miles on deserted beaches taking photographs and sent me these 4 beauties earmarked as the heralds of my kettle boiling

He walks for miles on deserted beaches taking photographs and sent me these 4 beauties earmarked as the heralds of my kettle boiling

Hmmm Might need to dust the kettle! Pebbles in situ ready to tap-dance their way into Serendipity Farm history

Hmmm Might need to dust the kettle! Pebbles in situ ready to tap-dance their way into Serendipity Farm history

We were given a very similar chance when my father extended his offer to allow us to live in the house that my daughters live in. At the time we were working and studying and paying rent in Western Australia. I love Western Australia. It’s where I was born and where I grew up and it forged what makes me “me” but I also love Tasmania. I am ever the adaptable narf when I can see the benefits of a long haul move. Stewart and Kelsey will be able to split the annual bills that come with living in a house with his sisters which will leave them both a lot better off. Sometimes life changes the gameplay and you find yourself riding an entirely different bus…you think that you are headed in one direction and next minute you are looking out the passenger window and you are in Albuquerque and it’s time to get off. Your experience lies in how you deal with your bus ride and what you do with your new surroundings when you get there.

The spare bedroom is the only room with old carpet still in it

The spare bedroom is the only room with old carpet still in it

Steve and I both decided that we would remove the carpet in a recent burst of Spring cleaning. We removed the bed and  Earl realised that he could see outside

Steve and I both decided that we would remove the carpet in a recent burst of Spring cleaning. We removed the bed and Earl realised that he could see outside

I am affecting change...Bezial HATES change...Earl is wrapped up inside change...

I am affecting change…Bezial HATES change…Earl is wrapped up inside change…

A job well done and now the bedroom floor looks like the rest of the house :)

A job well done and now the bedroom floor looks like the rest of the house 🙂

Stewart and Kelsey have been given a chance to change their lives and mould them how they see fit. Not everyone gets that chance in life. Some people are stuck in lives and jobs that they see going nowhere and that they feel have no value. It’s hard to see other people making a break for the sun when you are stuck under a rain cloud but you just never know where that rain cloud is going to take you. You might just be marking time until your ship comes in. How you mark time is going to shape your personality and how you deal with what eventuates in your life. I am very philosophical here today aren’t I? I guess you get milestones in your life and although this isn’t my personal milestone, it might be a significant moment in Stewart and Kelsey’s life path. It looks like “Thanksgiving” might become part of our new family traditions…we wouldn’t want Kelsey to feel out of the loop but I am NOT eating sweet potatoes and marshmallows girl…THAT is a step too far for this little black narf 😉

Earl and a little friend... or is it?!!! This was an image that Steve found online. Doesn't this look a whole lot like Earl!

Earl and a little friend… or is it?!!! This was an image that Steve found online. Doesn’t this look a whole lot like Earl!

This week has seen us planting trees like crazy. Actually it’s been a fortnight of tree planting and now we have come to the point where we have no idea where to plant the remaining trees that we want to get into the ground. We have so many trees and not enough Serendipity Farm to do them justice. As horticulturalists we know how big these trees grow and how much space they are going to need to be happy and we can’t simply cram them all into the ground close to each other and claim ignorance at a later date. We owe these trees more than that. Most of them we grew from seed that we collected, some from other countries, sourced from the stashes of friends, new acquaintance’s, adventitious “over the fence” seed collection and gardeners that we chatted with over the gate who are incredibly generous with information and cuttings most of the time. As a penniless student hippy I have learned how to be very savvy when it comes to collecting plant material and when I want something for the garden, it’s not hard to get it and most of the time it’s free.

"If...I...Just...stretch...a...tiny...bit...more..."

“If…I…Just…stretch…a…tiny…bit…more…”

I have been communicating with Jess from the wonderful sustainable blog “rabidlittlehippy”. She is putting into practice everything that I want to do here. She tends to be a lot more active than I am and gets stuck in where I procrastinate a little too much methinks. You are more likely to find me pinning on Pinterest than out in the garden hacking blackberries but Steve and I are moving out of winter mode and back into the garden. Jess has been telling me about various plants that I want to institute on Serendipity Farm and never thought that I could get here and we are cooking up how to get hold of Yacon, an amazing root crop from the Andes that promises to be a natural sweetener that should do well here. It’s all an experiment really and who knows what is going to grow happily here. We have a rough idea of what the seasons are going to deliver to us now that we have been living here for almost 3 years (in December).

Rincewind in human form...

Rincewind in human form…

The tree that was dangling like the sword of Damocles in the side garden and that had us using extreme gardening techniques whenever we had to mow underneath it has been felled. I didn’t even hear it fall! Apparently the crash made the dogs jump and Steve and our friends Guy and Lee pulled it down with a thick rope and Lees Toyota Landcruiser (note Toyota…if you notice this advertisement in my obviously influential blog please feel free to send me a box of Landcruisers. I will be sure to share them with friends and family and praise your products worth to anyone who will listen 😉 ). Aside from squashing a poor shrub that had already been split down the middle by fat chickens perching on its lower branches, the side garden suffered miraculously little damage and now I can start using the area to plant out smaller shrubs and perennials that I wasn’t willing to risk being squished like grapes till that tree fell.

"ExCUSE me...I am Pinteresting here!"

“ExCUSE me…I am Pinteresting here!”

The recent planting endeavours has shown us that there are way too many trees being held captive in small pots that really should be given away to people who will appreciate them. It’s hard. Not because we don’t want to give them away, but because we grew these trees from seed. We nurtured them while we learned and those trees signify our horticultural passion and a stage in our lives where a lot of doors opened up for us and changed our direction. Moving to Serendipity Farm back in December 2010 allowed us to have space to grow but it also showed us that our city plans weren’t going to be all that compatible with our actual country reality. There are a lot of obstacles that appeared in the way and it’s our job to find a way to jump those hurdles and see those daffodils that are growing up, most determinedly, through our early piles of builder’s rubble. When you are 50 and there are 4 acres of determined weeds and invasive exotics waving in the breeze at you taunting you from the deck it’s sometimes hard to know where to start but Steve and I have plans…

Doesn't this look pretty? Well the camera tells fibs folks! It never ceases to amaze me how pretty photos of Serendipity Farm look and how rangy and terrifying reality actually is!

Doesn’t this look pretty? Well the camera tells fibs folks! It never ceases to amaze me how pretty photos of Serendipity Farm look and how rangy and terrifying reality actually is!

I SWEAR I removed all of the garlic from this area last year. I actually dug around in the soil and pulled everything I could find out! It would appear I didn't. The little mulberry tree above the garlic probably benefits from it's protective pest resistance

I SWEAR I removed all of the garlic from this area last year. I actually dug around in the soil and pulled everything I could find out! It would appear I didn’t. The little mulberry tree above the garlic probably benefits from it’s protective pest resistance

There is a stand of tall spindly Melaleuca alternifolia at the bottom of our property. It denotes an area that gets swampy in winter. Melaleuca alternifolia are also known as Tea Trees. Their leaves contain an essential oil that is known world-wide as a natural antiseptic and as such, they are a valuable resource however the Melaleuca alternifolia on Serendipity Farm are a dime a dozen and those in the tea tree garden area are predominately spindly and falling over due to over-competition and a distinct lack of light. We haven’t touched them aside from the odd thinning out event to generate a few poles to use as makeshift fencing but the other day I was looking at them and thought “why don’t we cut them down and use the area to plant out our nut trees?” Why not indeed? There is about half an acre of land being occupied by tea trees and aside from keeping a band of them (thinning out the spindly ones and letting the healthier trees reach their full potential), why not avail ourselves of some of that land to our advantage? Nut trees are a perennial food source. They keep on keeping on and like fruit trees; they offer you a source of long term food. In our family, nuts feature more than just snacks and additions to baked goods. I am vegan and make my own nut milk to use in my tea every day. They can be ground and used in many different ways and as Tasmania is perfect for growing hazelnuts, walnuts and chestnuts, why not put this half an acre of land to better use?

Green and purple asparagus! Cheers to Bev for reminding me that it is asparagus season :)

Green and purple asparagus! Cheers to Bev for reminding me that it is asparagus season 🙂

There are always compromises to be made. Serendipity Farm is bookmarked to be a food forest. To do this, we have to weigh up what we do and don’t want to remove from the garden and how we are going to mix native and exotic species to get the best of all worlds. We are playing horticultural alchemy here folks and throwing climate change and instability of world markets into the equation and suddenly a food forest is a lot more important than a few spindly Melaleuca alternifolia that are reaching the end of the line. I think, as custodians of the land, it’s up to us to make the most of it. We need to be aware of the natural cycles that are currently operating on Serendipity Farm and make sure that we don’t dent them too significantly. We need to find ways to get what “we” want, whilst maintaining equilibrium or in Serendipity Farm’s case, achieving equilibrium would be a good start.

(what's she showing us this wonky pile of debris for?)

(what’s she showing us this wonky pile of debris for?)

"BUGGER!"... three more chicks on Serendipity Farm...sigh...

“BUGGER!”… three more chicks on Serendipity Farm…sigh…

This is entirely off topic folks. When Stewart was here visiting on Sunday after having a job interview the day before he was checking something on our computer and accidently closed one of the windows that he had open that he wanted more information from . Did you know that if you do that, you can call that window back by pressing the “Control”, “Alt” and “T” buttons? Neither did I! How many times have you accidentally closed a window and had to go through the process of searching all over again or having to sift through your computers history for the day to see if you can’t narrow it down…well NO MORE FOLKS! Now, thanks to second hand info from my genius son, you can just press Control, Alt and “T” and your page will miraculously come back. This only works for the last page that you closed…if you open another page or do anything in between closing your page and using this shortcut you are on your own, but it’s great to at least know that you can catch your mistake after the event.

I had to share this with you all as this is the cleanest you are EVER going to see Steve's shed. Don't let him fib and tell you that he is tidy...he is chaos on legs!

I had to share this with you all as this is the cleanest you are EVER going to see Steve’s shed. Don’t let him fib and tell you that he is tidy…he is chaos on legs!

It’s been a whirlwind of a few weeks. I have so many photos and not enough posts to share them in! Last weeks excited bread post took over from the norm and the images are starting to back up and fall off the factory conveyor belt. I met Jo who blogs at “All the Blue Day” yesterday in our shared health food shop of choice. Poor Jo was under siege as I was distracted with the HUGE shopping day ahead of me (that started at 6.30am and  didn’t end till I got home at 3.30pm) and my adult daughters were hell bent on out consuming each other to the max…”how much is that imported Canadian maple syrup with the maple leaf shaped bottle?”…I can only thank my lucky stars that as Bethany, my youngest daughter reminded me “it’s our money and you don’t have to pay for it!” ;). Seriously though, it was lovely to meet Jo over the dates and mixed nuts and to furtively exchange lemons for dehydrated kefir grains and a dozen free range eggs…I am hoping the lovely lady behind the counter ignored us and poor Jo might not recover from our bombardment of her sensibilities but meeting a fellow blogger was a lovely experience and perhaps we can have that “cuppa” one day and really meet each other on a level, un-twitching, playing field :o)

A local thrift shop was having a winter clothing clearance and I picked up lots of clothes for $2 an item. This shot is for my daughters..."I am Robbie Rotten!" ;)

A local thrift shop was having a winter clothing clearance and I picked up lots of clothes for $2 an item. This shot is for my daughters…”I am Robbie Rotten!” 😉

I went back to the op shop a few days later and everything was going out for 50c an item! Here you see Narf7 modelling a $1 Spring outfit

I went back to the op shop a few days later and everything was going out for 50c an item! Here you see Narf7 modelling a $1 Spring outfit

Why not have some fun when you are cleaning up the detritus of ex stuffed toys...wearing another 50c jumper and rocking to Pearl Jam's "Evenflow"

Why not have some fun when you are cleaning up the detritus of ex stuffed toys…wearing another 50c jumper and rocking to Pearl Jam’s “Evenflow”

That’s the end of the line folks. It’s 5.14am on Tuesday and I have a few things to fix up before my lecturer is going to let me pass my assessment. I am learning that “criticism” isn’t always personal and that I tend to take criticism to heart rather than see it as a tool to educate me. I have been offered a chance to grow…I am choosing to take it. We need to head into town and clear out all of the boxes of past life (ours and dad’s) detritus from the unit so that Stewart and Kelsey can move in and make this small space their own. It’s a chance to clear out old papers and items that are no longer used. Let’s face it…if it has been in a unit out the back of a house in town for almost 3 years, methinks it isn’t crucial to our survival on Serendipity Farm ;). We also need to deliver the queen-sized bed that is in the spare room to the unit and swap it for the high rise bed that Steve made for me back when we lived in Western Australia. I LOVE that bed and it was our bed for many years before we moved here. Steve is going to cut the legs down a bit because aside from it being VERY high, the people that might want to visit and stay (read Kym and Bruce who are visiting in January…) may not want to have to use a step ladder to get into bed. Time to clear things out…regroup and march on…just like the daffodils do year in and year out, and hopefully we manage to flower beautifully in the process. See you all next week folks when I have a LOT of photos to share with you and no doubt life will tumble us around in some kind of interesting way to your reading advantage ;).

Today would have been my mum's birthday. I started this blog so that she could see what we were up to over here so I owe her for where this space has taken me. Thank you mum...we miss you

Today would have been my mum’s birthday. I started this blog so that she could see what we were up to over here so I owe her for where this space has taken me. Thank you mum…we miss you

Today's word cloud

Today’s word cloud

Narf7 bakes bread and loses a leg

Hi All,

Today we are going to take a little bit of an aside from my usual blog post format. Firstly, I didn’t lose a leg…I was just borrowing a quote from “Father Ted”. I have been communicating with a lovely lady in the U.K. called Joanne who hosts the wonderful blog “Zeb Bakes”. I found Joanne’s blog through a compilation bread blog site called http://www.wildyeastblog.com/category/yeastspotting/ that is one of the most incredible places to find just about any “bread” you could possibly want. Joanne posts some of her wonderful homemade breads to this site and that’s how I met her…through some of my exuberant comments to her blog.

http://zebbakes.com/2013/08/10/date-syrup-kefir-bread/

And here’s a follow up post for anyone wanting to try the recipe but who wanted to only bake a single loaf…Joanne is such a thorough and caring person when it comes to her blog followers…

http://zebbakes.com/2013/09/08/post-script-date-kefir-loaves/

This kefir raised bread couldn’t have come at a better time. I pulled Audrey, my sourdough starter, out of the fridge to feed her and discovered that she had decided to commit suicide. Rather than a yeasty scented mass of dough, she had gone belly up and was exhibiting a scent wholly unbecoming of a sourdough starter. R.I.P. Audrey, I did you wrong. I also found out that starters aren’t meant to be kept in fridges for extended periods of time and you are supposed to feed them regularly…that would be more than once a month…sigh…”BAD NARF7!”…I am a murderer! I tipped the squalid remains into the compost bucket where her now green and fuzzy remains will add a new suite of organisms to the resulting compost. I was just getting my head around the thought that I was going to have to make a new sourdough starter when along came Joanne with “The Recipe”…

I had asked Joanne about “Date syrup” a product that she had discussed in a post because I had never heard of it. I make date paste to use instead of refined sugar and after talking to Joanne a bit we started discussing kefir etc. Joanne posted the following post about using kefir to raise bread rather than using sourdough starter or a commercial dried/fresh yeast. I got VERY excited about this idea because I make kefir regularly using homemade organic soymilk sweetened with homemade date paste. I found that my kefir grains (sent to me by one “Rabid Little Hippy” who gets a HUGE hug across The Tasman for being so babelicious and such a generous blogger) adore the sugar in the date paste and I can tweak the fermentation of the kefir by the amount of date paste I choose to add. I have also experimented using other sweeteners and can’t see why using something like coconut sugar or rice syrup wouldn’t give you a similar result. Bread can also be baked with water kefir so I decided that I was going to give it the old college try and attempt to bake a loaf or two…

Joanne is an amazing blogger. Not only did she give us this wonderful recipe to tinker with, she actually wants us to get stuck in and inject our own take on the recipe. She tried making a gluten free variety but it didn’t work and asked if I would have a go at making a non-dairy version for people who either choose not to have dairy or simply can’t…there are a lot of us out there. I have linked to Joanne’s Post so that you can all go to her wonderful site and see it in person…she even gives you a PDF download of the recipe! Sorry guys, I am not quite up to that yet but give me a few years and you never know…at the moment, the best I can do is take Joanne’s recipe and add myself to it. I have bolded Joanne’s instructions in ”parenthesis” so that you know when I am quoting her wise words…the stupid words are entirely of my own design so please don’t judge Joanne for them, I take full responsibility ;). I am going to post my images here in a slideshow format. They start at the point where I had mixed the preferment ingredients together and end with the final bread. The last few images are of the bread the following day just before Steve made heavenly smelling toast with it…all in all this bread is wonderful and it won’t be the last time narf7 bakes it.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Narf7 Bakes Date Paste Non-Dairy Kefir Bread

(This is where Joanne had put “Started” and had given the time she assembled the preferment) Started – err…no idea really but it was before lunch time and after breakfast so that narrows it down a bit for all of you bread detectives out there ;). The room temperature was reasonably cool here in Tasmania but we do have Brunhilda, our large wood fired oven slowly ticking over all day and so I would imagine the room temperature would have been around 20C.

Make a preferment with: –

  • 150g room temperature water. I used rain water
  • 200g fresh kefir which I make with homemade organic soy milk to which I add homemade date paste (I soak a packet of dried dates in boiling water to cover and once the dates are soft, I puree them to a smooth paste in a blender. To 1 ½ litres of homemade soymilk I add 300g of homemade date paste and this is the basic food for my kefir grains to feed on). Note, you can use mature water kefir in this recipe as well. Not sure how it goes but Joanne mentioned that another blogger that she knows of has made bread with it so it is possible. Mine was “milk” kefir though so don’t quote me on it 😉
  • 250g strong (bread) flour. I used regular strong white bread flour from a local Tasmanian flour mill
  • 50g extra date paste

“Mix these well together and leave in a covered bowl for approximately 18 hours in a warm room (20 – 22 C)  at which point it should be bubbling and thick and looking ready to go.” Note – I put the mix on a proofing rack over Brunhilda to make sure it bubbled enough but prior to putting it on the proofing rack it was bubbling albeit a bit slowly so I would imagine it would just take a little bit longer at a colder room temperature. Kefir keeps fermenting even when stored in the fridge and I have to open the lid of the container of fermented kefir that I keep in the fridge to make sure the lid doesn’t blow off.

Ingredients for the final dough:-

  • All of the preferment (as above)
  • 850g bread flour. I used the same white strong bread flour as I used in the preferment
  • 282g  water (again, rainwater)
  • 20g salt (I used sea salt)
  • 30g melted butter
  1. Using a Kenwood Mixer I put the starter in first, added the water and then the flours and mixed for about three minutes on the lowest speed. I did this too but my mixer isn’t a Kenwood and it started to list sideways somewhat alarmingly midway through the process so I decided to hand mix the dough from that point on.
  2. Leave to develop in the bowl for 20 minutes. I covered the bowl with cling wrap for the duration.
  3. Sprinkle the salt over the dough and trickle the melted butter in while the mixer is going and continue mixing till the dough comes away from the sides of the bowl. Again, my mixer had a bit of a hard time with this dough and after allowing it to dance across the counter for a bit, I liberated the dough and hand kneaded it for a short while to make sure the butter and salt were evenly distributed.
  4. You may need to adjust the dough with more water if your flour is very absorbent. Mine wasn’t and the proportions above were just fine.
  5. 5.       (If you mix by hand then go with a more traditional order of ingredients, i.e. mix the water and starter together and add these into your bowl of flour.)
  6. I will let Joanne talk you through the next bit because I had never done this before…”I took the dough out once it was reasonably developed and put it into a big bowl, covered with a tea towel, and left it for about three hours. During this time I folded it in the bowl twice, as much to see how the fermentation was progressing as anything. Folding in the bowl is simply picking up the dough from one side and pulling it out and over the main bulk of the dough, like light kneading except you don’t put it on a board. You can put it on a board. There are no rules here!” I followed Joanne’s instructions to a “T” and figured that I would fold the dough once an hour and each time I folded the dough back onto itself, it had risen double, and I took this as a very good sign!
  7. Again, Joanne is the real bread baker here so once again I will let her talk you through this next bit…”Once it was showing good signs of activity and had increased in size by roughly a half. I weighed it into two equal portions.  Then I split those two portions in the ratio 85:15 using the % function on my scales. If you don’t have one of those, it would be about 135g for the small ball to 765g for the main ball.
  8. 8.       With the first portion I made a boule which I divided into four quartiles with a thin dowel rod and made a smaller boule with the small ball and put that in the middle.
  9. 9.       With the second portion I made a pointy ended baton and then a plait with the remaining ball which I placed along the top of the dough – because the dough had such a long second prove this didn’t come out quite as I had hoped but I like the effect that it gives anyway. A good way to create a nice looking effect on a loaf if you are finding slashing difficult.
  10. I put both loaves on baking paper on trays and tucked them inside clean bin liners to prove.” You can tell that Joanne is a real baker, I attempted to put my bread on a baking tray but realised that I had no way of stopping it for sticking to the bin liner so ended up putting it into 2 bread tins rather than have to fall on the ground twitching when the top of the bread stuck to the bin liner and deflated alarmingly (“FOOL ME ONCE BREAD DOUGH!”…)
  11. Second proof time was about three hours. Be patient, these are just as slow as a more traditional sourdough to rise. I need to point out here that my bread took less time to proof. For some reason it rose fast and it rose incredibly well. Just as good as any regular yeasted bread that I have made in the past. Proofing it on the bread rack over Brunhilda may have had something to do with it but who knows…I was just happy that all of the steps were going like clockwork and I wasn’t going to stick a spoke in any wheels just to ask questions 😉
  12. 12.   Egg-wash the crust with a mixture of egg yolk and kefir whey and sprinkled a few sesame seeds on top for interest.
  13. 13.   Here’s what Joanne said…”Bake in a preheated oven (with steam) either on the trays or slide them off onto a baking stone or kiln shelf which is what I use rather than a stone.” I just put the bread tins into the oven…no steam, no smoke, no whistles, no bells just a hot oven.
  14. “Starting at 220 ºC for the first twenty minutes and then dropping back by stages to 190 ºC for the last ten minutes of the bake.  About 40 – 45 minutes in all.” We had been stoking the fire to make it get hotter and inevitably the oven that we had the bread in kept getting hotter and we had to put the bread into one of the cooler ovens (I have 4 ovens to choose from in various stages of “hot”, how spoiled am I?) but the damage was already done and the bread top was a little “over-caramelised” but not beyond saving in the photo-shoot (and that’s all that really matters right food bloggers? 😉 )
  15. “Leave to cool on a rack as normal once you are satisfied the loaf is cooked; a nice hollow sound when you thump it is a good sign.” Being a natural fuss-budget I wasn’t entirely satisfied that it was cooked and tossed the loaves back into the oven for 5 minutes upside down once I took them out of the bread tin. It was probably overkill in hind sight but I wanted my bread to be a success…I had a lot riding on this.
  16. Wait till the bread is cool before cutting it.

Or if you are Steve and I, you will cut it when it is hot, soak it liberally in butter and Steve will eat 4 slices just before his tea and will feed a further 2 slices dripping in butter to the slavering hounds waiting below…we are ALL class here on Serendipity Farm. I am sure that most of you will have the diplomacy and willpower to wait until the bread is merely lukewarm before descending on it like wolves but whatchagonnado? My excuse is that I wanted to take photos of the crumb…it’s MY excuse and I am sticking with it! ;). The bread was amazing…the bread rose beautifully with no added yeast aside from the kefir whatsoever…the bread was almost textbook wonderful to bake and I couldn’t believe that I was able to replicate this amazingness being that the baking conditions were almost certainly directly inverse to those that Joanne’s dairy kefir were subject to. Let me clarify it a little bit further…

  1. Joanne is a wonderful bread baker and I am a bread plebeian
  2. Joanne used dairy kefir and I used something strange that I keep making because I SWEAR it is alcoholic (“HIC!”)
  3. Joanne is at the tail end of summer and Narf7 is on the tail end of winter
  4. Joanne created a wonderful recipe that anyone can follow and that a bread idiot couldn’t stuff up (I know they can’t, because I didn’t 😉 ) and I am waffling in excited stanza’s that are probably confusing any poor wayfaring baker from the ether beyond belief
  5. Joanne gave you a PDF…I am not even going to PRETEND to know how to do that so my regulars can just do one of two things “forgedaboudit” or “head over to Joanne’s blog and get yourself that delightful PDF and revel in its amazingness like I did when I downloaded it”
  6. Joanne cared enough about her blog followers to do a follow up post that clarified any issues in the first post and that gave interested people a choice whether or not to bake 2 loaves (the original recipe) or reduce the recipe down to 1. I won’t be offering you the same courtesy folks. It isn’t because I don’t love you all, it’s because why would I try to tweak perfection? Just head over to Zeb Bakes and check it out there.

Joanne, as a well-known bunch of geriatric Aussie rockers with a Scottish lead singer would sing loudly and proudly, “for those about to rock…we SALUTE YOU!”. You both “rock” and deserve my “salutations”. Please consider this most pathetic husk of a blog post that isn’t even worthy to crawl on its belly next to your post, a humble experiment designed to be for the greater good. Your recipe is great…mine was good. From this point on I can refine this bread. I can tweak it and mess about with it and I can include bread in my diet once more and for this, I owe you so much more than a bit of experimentation. Thank you for sharing this recipe and for allowing us free reign to tinker with it…consider it non-dairy tinkered and I offer the torch up to braver bloggers than I am to run with the Gluten Free recipe because that is a step too far for one Narf7 to take folks!

Here endeth the post…that’s it, that’s all folks…you can all go home now and revel in the fact that you can make bread WITHOUT ADDING SOURDOUGH OR COMMERCIAL YEAST. Yup…my job here…is DONE! :o)…except for today’s word cloud that is…here it is folks in all it’s bready goodness for you to enjoy…

Nondairy kefir bread blog post

The great sushi carousel of life…

Hi All,

I come up with some wonderful ideas while I am walking Earl. I don’t know whether it’s the wonderful early morning fresh air or the constant jerking around, back and forth, sometimes being dragged, sometimes dragging, all the time on edge and ready for action that jogs my brain around enough to get it back on track and actively thinking again but thoughts randomly appear and usually nothing to do with what Steve and I might be talking about at the time. I was talking about studying and suddenly the thought that life was like an ethereal sushi carousel came to me. We sit down at the bar and we watch little plates of experience pass us by. We eyeball them suspiciously (the older we get the more suspicious we get 😉 ) and we tentatively pick up plates we deem “suitable” and leave those plates that tend to be something we are suspicious or afraid of. Most of us are fine with the Californian roll. Nothing to worry about there folks! The salmon and avocado? “Don’t mind if I do!” How about a nice inside out sushi roll? “Yup, reachin’ over for that one RIGHT now…” but then you get something indistinguishable…something plain out “weird”. “What the heck is that?!” It has fish eggs or something bright orange and glow-in-the-darky and flaky brown bits on it…not sure but if I don’t grab that plate, it is going to head straight past me in a most determined sped up sushi carousel sort of way and it might not come around another time…someone else might snap up that weird creation and I might never get to taste it… then you have to factor in the cost at the end of your meal. We all arrive at the end one day folks and what we have ingested in our own little personal sushi bar of life is going to dictate how we pay at the end. I guess walking Earl does have its benefits. If it can jog my mind into crazy analogies at least these early morning wrangling events that have me completely knackered at the end are worth a few paragraphs of blog fodder 😉

DSCF1714

This is NOT sushi…this is Bezial, shamelessly luxuriating in the warm spot that I just left to go to the loo at 2.30am…no point trying to wake him up now as he is OBVIOUSLY fast asleep…sigh…looks like an early morning for narf7! 😉

DSCF1710

Bezial in his rightful place in the bed…if you look a bit closer you will see the accusatory eyes that are telling me “turn off that bloody light don’t you know its 2.30am!”…sigh…

That was a long paragraph…sorry about that folks. I am learning to break up my words so that you don’t need to come up for air in the middle but that paragraph needed to be kept together for posterity. An artist can’t be destroying her creation now! ;). Not sure when I am going to post this post. I have The Virtual Vegan Potluck post this Saturday…then next Wednesday I have a post all about the progressive garage sale that also occurs on Saturday. Luckily I already have my VVP post done and dusted (well I will by the day 😉 ) and all of the tinker-doohickie stuff that we had to learn to put linky buttons to link my post to the post before me, and after me in the list of more than 150 blogs that are taking part was a major blogging lesson. It turns out it’s very easy to put a linky to a picture to take you somewhere else in a blog. It’s also easy to schedule your post to post itself! You learn something every day. Tonight’s post is already done and so this poor post most probably won’t see the light of day till the Saturday after next!

DSCF1976

I would get you to cast your minds back to the episode of “Black Adder” where Black Adder is trying to teach Baldrick to count…I quote “What do you get when you have 2 beans, and you add 2 more beans?”…and Baldrick answers “A small casserole”. Behold…a small casserole.

DSCF1978

I was amazed to get this amount of dried beans from the small bean cube of vegetation that the possums couldn’t reach with their questing extended little hairy arms. I have enough to grow lots of beans next Spring and to share with friends.

I guess them’s the breaks when you have a sushi carousel moment of clarity that you want to share. Whenever you get this post I hope you will think about occasionally taking a little bit of a risk with your “sushi”. This is a single carousel line folks…we only get one chance to sample that sushi and the older we get; the more cautious we tend to be. Life has handed us sea urchin roe before and we are MOST wary of putting that disgusting stuff in our mouths again and so we tend to look harder, taste slower and get ready to spit in a moment’s notice. In the process we often lose that chance to sample truly magnificent things because we let our fear of that disgusting sea urchin (yes…I HAVE tried it :o( ) ruin our future gustatory enjoyment of life. Taste it slowly, savour it and if necessary spit it out, but at least give it a go :o) (apart from the sea urchin roe…you have my permission to let that one glide right on past 😉 )

DSCF1974

Steve took me a few shots of The Gorge, a heritage area very close to Launceston. As you can see the deciduous trees are in full colour. Gorgeous isn’t it? Why aren’t I taking these shots? Because right in front of the car is a sign saying “No Dogs”…sigh…I waited with Earl and Bezial in the car while Steve knocked himself out taking photos 😉

DSCF1973

Another glorious shot of The Gorge

I love sharing the love. I consider myself to be a collector of life’s detritus and someone who was born to pass things on. Generosity comes naturally to me and I have a sneaking suspicion that is solely because we didn’t have a lot of money when I was a child and so living comfortably without it is where I feel most secure. Would you like a book? Take one from the bookshelf, I probably haven’t read it for ages…how about something from the garden? Let’s get the secateurs and go hunt. I have so many potted plants out there I could probably populate your front garden and we STILL wouldn’t notice the plants I gave you missing. I am not the only one who realised the value of sharing the love. On Thursday, Steve and I headed down the driveway (who am I kidding…Steve skidded down behind an overexcited Earl and Bezial ran circles around them delighting in his free state and I trundled down picking Easter lily seeds and tossing them into areas of the garden where I want Easter lilies in the future…) for our daily walk with the dogs. Nothing unusual there but Steve checked the mail box on a whim. I don’t know what he is waiting for…HE doesn’t know what he is waiting for but he always has to check the mailbox whenever we go past it 😉

DSCF1759Incidentally, this isn’t a small casserole…it’s a large quiche made with eggs that our hens have now remembered how to lay after a 5 month hiatus…funny how a few weeks out foraging in the garden can jog your egg laying parts isn’t it girls? 😉

DSCF1721

The suspense is palpable…

Today his checking was rewarded. A small and most discrete parcel rested on the rusty bottom of our mailbox. An address in the U.K. showed that it came from my blog pal Thinking Cowgirl and after we got back from our walk (drag) I tucked the parcel under my jacket (it was raining) and wondered at what she had sent to me. The weather has turned decidedly feral here in Tassie. Don’t get me wrong, I love it! It’s cold and we had 3 solid days rain this week which made my soul smile. Forget superficial rain love, this runs deep and primal and ancient inside me and echoes the dusty sighs of those trees outside that were clinging tenaciously to the tiny bit of moisture that they could suck from deep down in the soil. Dry was an understatement for the horrific season we just had. “Arid” is a more appropriate word. I knew that we would get a very tough winter after that summer. It seemed somewhat inevitable and as we head into the last month of autumn we are getting temperatures less than 10C. Only last month we were hitting 28C. It’s a bit of a culture shock and I have the chilblains to prove it!

DSCF1832

Hens in their “Happy Place”…invading the garden en masse

DSCF1729

My kind of card 🙂

What was in my parcel you (nosy buggers) say? I got inside and lay the parcel down on the kitchen table with reverence. I headed off to let out the chooks (hell hath no fury (or lack of eggs) like 8 furious chooks that have to wait inside their pen to be let out!) and sweep the mats (something I have to do on a regular basis or they end up hairier than Earl…) and put the kettle onto Brunhilda after feeding her up with her woody rations and then I sat down to ponder the parcel. It was very light and came in a wonderful recycled paper bag. I carefully opened it to find a card and beautifully wrapped tissue paper gift inside…I opened my card first and instantly fell in love with the message. “The Biscuit of Loveliness” Underneath, a hand drawn illustration of said biscuit in all of its comeliness radiating out its gorgeousness and a simple prayer underneath…

A Prayer

Shine down upon us with your

Golden RADIANCE.

Make us glow and sparkle

Like HAPPY children in the

Glorious dance of LIFE

DSCF1972

The Gorge is beautiful at this time of year…you might almost think that we were in Canada

DSCF1971

Lovely moss covered rocks.

Amen sister! You nailed it Sarah :o). There is NOTHING more satisfying than a simple well-cooked crunchy homemade biscuit of loveliness to accompany your beverage of choice (I no longer have a choice, if I don’t drink tea I cease to exist…) and the simple ritual of imbibing that biscuit is the secret to happiness…it’s all in the small stuff folks! That’s where happiness lives…it resides in those humble oat biscuits that your mum made you and sent you as rations because otherwise she just KNOWS you are going to starve…that cup of tea that you knock together when you have just come in out of the cold that tastes like the pure distilled elixir of heaven and that manages to warm body, soul and spirit all in one…those simple little moments of gold that we are being taught to ignore for the sake of someone else’s profit margin and new Mercedes are the real reason that we are here. That biscuit of loveliness might just save someone’s life, might just be the reason that someone gives it another day here on this glorious battered planet revolving around the sun.

DSCF1970

The steps leading up to the car park at The Gorge

DSCF1967

Some of these shots are going to make it into Steve’s final assessment

So what did Sarah send me? Aside from some seriously gorgeous tissue paper that I most carefully folded and saved for “later”, she sent me a horticulturalists winter happiness folks! Sarah is a fellow horticulturalist. In fact, if we are being honest here, Sarah is a REAL horticulturalist. Steve and I might have thrown ourselves in at the deep end and might have collected more seed and grown more seedlings than a small African nation since we started studying horticulture but Sarah has worked in the industry. Sarah speaks from years of experience and Sarah knows what a horticulturalist needs in life. Copious quantities of beverage of your choice. Great bickies to carry you through your day. Throw bags and bags of them into the car all you aspiring horticulturalists because when you are out there bums up in someone else’s garden, in the wilderness 100km away from the nearest shops, that thermos and a bag of out of code biscuits that you find under the seat are going to be all the food that you get out here! Forget sandwiches and picnics on the lawn, that’s for people without horse manure under their nails…a biscuit is calorie dense, satisfying, quick to eat and you can throw half of it back into the bag and leave it for another year and it will STILL be good! Perfect food for an horticulturalist…

DSCF1968

You can’t have enough shots of that beautiful staircase…(well maybe you can but Steve took them for you all so you can just sit back and enjoy them 😉 )

DSCF1959

Isn’t this little old rotunda pretty? It’s about 150 years old and still looks beautiful today.

Sarah has been bums up creating someone else’s dream more times than she might care to remember. When you are at the coal face of creativity where it meets active participation and fundamental action you learn quick smart what really matters in horticulture. You don’t need all of the whizz bang “stuff” that they try to sell you when you start. Bypass all of that expensive bampf and do yourself a favour. Spend up big on the best pair of secateurs you can find. Get some decent steel cap boots that you can wear comfortably and after wearing them in, you can’t feel them anymore…extensions of your feet is what you need folks with the added benefit of saving your toes when you are exhausted after 9 hours digging trenches and forget that your foot isn’t part of the ground… some sturdy clothes that are going to take the punishment you are about to inflict on them. Forget those gorgeous Laura Ashley printed “frocks” that you see in gardening magazines, head down to your nearest workman’s store and pick up whatever you like from the colour range, blue or khaki…them’s your choices folks!

DSCF1943

I couldn’t resist sharing this little family of common house sparrows with you. I hadn’t ever seen a sparrow living in Western Australia because they are actively destroyed should any of them be discovered anywhere near the border. We also didn’t have starlings or blackbirds or bumble bees but here in Tassie we have all of them. These little guys seem to think that no-one can see them and perhaps no-one can…maybe it takes someone who delights in them to be able to take the time out of their busy day to enjoy them enough to see them 🙂

DSCF1841

Inner city Launceston…a very pretty city indeed and this sort of view goes a long way towards making me less homesick for Western Australia 🙂

After that you can throw in a few gardening tools but don’t go fancy, you just need something to reliably dig, something smaller to weed and if you are feeling particularly adventurous, something to hoe with. The K.I.S.S. principle is most important here because horticulturalists are like Gypsies, they are transient folk. Mohammad has to move with the mountain on a constant journey from place to place, garden to garden, compost heap to green waste site at the local council (although clever horticulturalists make use of other people’s green waste to their own profit 😉 ) a constant cycle of moving back and forth that starts with dragging your tired derrière out of bed and ends with dropping it right back into bed to sleep the sleep of the dead and awake again to another round. Horticulture isn’t an easy career choice folks but it is rewarding.

DSCF1734

“BEHOLD the mitts of eternal happiness!” 🙂

DSCF1753

Gloves that are shamelessly never taken off pointing at the biscuit of loveliness now ensconced over my monitor so that I can remind myself to glow and sparkle on a regular basis 🙂

Back to that parcel you say? I had to fill you in on the reality of horticulture before the precious nature of what Sarah had sent to me, a gift from someone who recognised my passion from her own echoed passion deep within her. Once plants get hold of you they don’t let go. You can take an hiatus from them…they will allow you that, but like fungus, their underground network has infested you, you belong to THEM now and there is absolutely nothing you can do about it. You signed an ancient primal waver when you started to dig the soil and you planted that first plant. They count you as ally and you count them as master. Sarah has been “on hold” of late…dabbling…but reading between the lines the fungus is restless…it has been tweaking at her peripherals and Sarah has been gardening again folks…for other people. Sarah knows what horticulturalists really need. She “knows”. Sarah sent me a pair of hand knitted fingerless, but more importantly “thumbless” gloves. I put them on instantly and knew that I wouldn’t be taking them off much for the rest of our cold season. From one horticulturalist to another…our fundamental slavetude unites us…the plants might call us but we are still able to communicate with the outside world (for now) and my gratitude is deeper than those plant roots :o).

DSCF1735

Frozen hands holding a mug (bucket) of tea immediately after returning from a sub zero dog walk and finding these most welcome fingerless mitts in the mail 🙂

DSCF1833

Chickens thinking about invading the vegetable garden while I am watching them but biding their time till I am out of sight…

Sarah, you are a true friend :o) I will wear these amazing gloves until they fall apart. I have plans to knit more. I suck at knitting but these gloves are so amazing I can’t be without them in our cold season for the rest of my life. I will perfect my ribbing simply so that my newfound best wrist friends will always be close at hand like those biscuits in the car…several rolled up pairs will be stashed in the glove box, the boot, in various voluminous winter coat pockets and in Steve’s tool kit to be found out in the forest when I realise that it is -5C and I forgot to bring a pair. I will knit Steve pairs of them…My knitting will improve exponentially simply because I can’t be without these mitts EVER. I will probably learn to cable now. I will learn how to weave ends in because I am going to NEED to do these babies in rainbow colours. It all started from one horticulturalist to another who recognised on some fundamental level that a need had to be met…the plants whispered it to Sarah…Sarah listened…the plants have spoken. And I have a gorgeous pair of mitts that I adore with a passion that is at once both enormous and pathetic in its glory…I am in love and that’s all that I need to say apart from “Thankyou Sarah from the bottom of my heart…for my biscuit that now lives over my P.C. monitor and for my long suffering wrists that now reside in ambient comfort…you are a true friend and you have my eternal horticultural gratitude :o)”

DSCF1799

This Cordyline australis makes this sunset on Serendipity Farm look somewhat tropical. One might even be forgiven for thinking we were someplace warm…can you see where the possums have been scratching away at the bark on this poor specimen?

DSCF1795

And a final shot of sunset on Serendipity…a lovely cold evening with the promise of many more to come…just how narf7 loves it! 😉

Steve and I have been studying for a week. We have been honing our Photoshop skills to satisfy said studies and are really learning about how to manipulate images. I never thought I would enjoy this course anywhere near as much as I am but it is certainly taking a lot of our time. Today is the first day that it hasn’t rained and we have a weekend of sunshine…frigid sunshine to get stuck into digging our holes and concreting in our poles to get our new fully enclosed garden started. And thus it begins folks…like mice we scurry from studies to garden and back again…we were in Launceston for the entire day yesterday taking photos for our final Photoshop assessment. Our next adventure in our course is going to take us both into foreign territory involving parts of the Adobe CS6 suite that we have never heard of, let alone used. It’s going to be an interesting journey indeed! But for now we are busy beyond belief and so I am going to have to hug you and leave you all there folks. Have a fantastic week till we meet again for our L.A. meeting (Life Anonymous…) and confess our sins for another day :o) Don’t forget to take that plate of squidgy lumpy grey sushi by the way… you might not eat it today, but it might just be the seasoning that makes your life bearable tomorrow…

Anzac Day lest I forgot

Hi All,

How odd?! I find myself sitting here at 3.13pm on a Sunday with no dogs noses demanding anything (they have already had their tea…), Steve is tucked up watching something actually worth watching on the television and I cooked him a delicious chicken curry from scratch last night so he wants the second half of it for his tea tonight so all I have to cook tonight is a bit of steamed rice to accompany it. I made 24 Anzac biscuits today…I like to think of them as “Résistance Biscuits”…never one to be mainstream if I have a choice folks, I am aligning them with the French Resistance because “Resistance is futile” when it comes to not eating them. Today’s batch deviated from the recipe that I found on the Aussie recipe website “Taste”…here’s how it started out…

http://www.taste.com.au/recipes/21104/anzac+biscuits

DSCF0964

The first batch of biscuits was a teensy bit über crunchy and so I baked the second batch a little less. The tartlet case was baked only till it was set because I didn’t want it to be too hard to cut when Steve was eating it later in the day

Nice and easy…a good recipe to send to the troops by savvy and canny Aussie housewives who didn’t want their menfolk to have to eat soggy or mouldy treats. The secret is the golden syrup that sets them nice and crispy and crunchy and as I had decided to make “biscuits” today Steve said “what about making Anzac’s? After all…it IS just about Anzac Day isn’t it?”…Bugger…the Pom remembered and I didn’t…my patriotic father would be spinning in his grave! My family has a very strong tradition with Anzac Day in many different ways and so Anzac biscuits (as penance along with a bit of self-flagellation in the privacy of the shed, Frank has suffered enough! 😉 ) were my saving grace. I also forgot my sisters 48th birthday yesterday. “SORRY PINKY!” I made you a nice card in Photoshop and you can consider some of that shed flagellation penance as yours ok? 😉

DSCF0965

A close up of the leftover Anzac biscuit dough pressed into a small individual tart pan and baked

Of COURSE my Anzac biscuits were not the same as the recipe. Nothing to do with pretention mind you, I could care less about elevating my recipes by cramming them full of super foods and strange overpriced ingredients. I would rather source something locally that would do the trick thank you! The reason for the swapsies was that this little black duck had run out of golden syrup :o(…I had also run out of coconut…now coconut and golden syrup MAKE Anzac biscuits so what was I going to do to save the day? First I remembered a pot of strange Chinese malty stuff that resembles almost set toffee in my pantry. I bought it back when I lived in Western Australia on one of our jaunts from the south up to Perth the capital city and our favourite place to go hunting for interesting ethnic ingredients. I bought it…I opened it…I looked at it…I tasted it…I forgodaboudit. It wasn’t that there was anything predominately “wrong” with it; it was just bland and stiff, sort of like über thick glucose on steroids. I figured that it would approximate the desired effect of golden syrup and after wrestling an approximation of 2 tbs of it out of the tub I forced the lid back on and hid it at the back of the pantry where it will probably stay till the next time I need golden syrup.

DSCF0974

The finished desert full of sticky toffee apple pieces cooked in a vanilla butter toffee sauce. Steve said it was lovely. The only thing missing was a great big dollop of thick whipped cream 😉

Coconut was harder…I then remembered that I HAD coconut flour! I had made homemade coconut milk and had dehydrated the resulting pulp and had jars of the stuff languishing on my pantry shelves! I tossed a cupful of it into the mix and crossed my fingers that the recipe would work. I mixed the bicarb soda and water and was assured that I had to remove the melted butter and pseudo golden syrup from the heat as it would fizz up majestically once the bicarb was added… I was expecting Vesuvius and removed the small saucepan away to the sink where I dumped the bicarb and water mix into the pan and cringed…nothing happened. Not even a pathetic “bloop”… I mixed everything together and then rolled the sticky mass into tablespoon sized balls and squished them down onto a baking paper (fool me once!) lined baking tray and after the prescribed time in the oven they emerged brown, über crisp and a complete success!

DSCF0954

This was the dog door prior to today. As you can see it had developed a curious coating of “filth” over the top of that wonderful silver colour that Steve found in the shed. Note the fluffy bathrobe…apparently “Earlvis has left the building” 😉

DSCF1009

Behold…the new dog door! Steve made it bigger so that Bezial doesn’t have to do the limbo when exiting and we don’t have to keep getting up to open up the sliding door at night time when he thinks he senses a possum invading his personal space

Steve was most pleased. Steve is a grazer and likes to open the fridge and cut a bit off “something” to walk around with in his hand…he likes to open a lid and extract another “something”, he loves nothing more than 1 ½ cheese sandwiches at odd times of the day smothered in the latest condiment of his choice wrestled from the fridge. Cold butter is the bane of this man’s life ;). The ability to walk past the newly instated biscuit barrel, do a double take and walk back…followed by a furtive lid lifting and extraction moment will give him endless pleasure. I have promised to ensure that the newly instated biscuit barrel remains half full at all times. I am on a baking jag and that won’t be hard. I found a recipe for chocolate sourdough biscuits (that would be “cookies” to you Northern folk) that I want to try so I might just fill up the biscuit barrel tomorrow and whenever I notice the level falling below half I can bake another batch of biscuits to ensure the barrels “never-ending” status.

DSCF1012

Here’s the new dog door in situ. Note the “Not A Barn” sign…you saw it? Steve doesn’t …sigh…

DSCF1013

Bezial showing his willingness to exit the dog door (at least in the daytime when it’s not all that cold outside…)

I have been threatening to adopt a Biafran…to go doorknocking to deliver baskets of goodies that I want to bake. I want to get stuck into perfecting a really good loaf of sourdough so that I can regularly turn out something both presentable AND delicious. Not a whole lot to ask is it? I think it’s time to get into the neighbours good books and start dropping off fresh baked loaves of bread and home baked treats. I love to experiment and as Steve so succinctly put it the other day “I can only eat so much, I am only 1 man!” When my recipe wanderlust sets in it’s hard to get it to stop. The freezer is full to the brim of lasagne, chilli, pasties, calzone and lots of individually portioned soup (my food of choice for my evening meal) and can’t handle anything more. This happens to me occasionally. I think the cold weather brings out a primal need to nest and my baking up a storm seems to be linked to that desire.

DSCF0957

Here’s a cute shot of Earl for all of his multiple fans around the globe…

DSCF0958

And here’s Earl thinking “I’m SURE celebrities get something for all of this posing!”

Did you notice that I have started splitting my posts up into MUCH smaller paragraphs? You can thank the wonderful wordstress “Thinking Cowgirl” for that. She reminded me that I am actually typing for an audience here and not just to vent my muses. She has a wonderful blog that you can check out here…

http://thinkingcowgirl.wordpress.com/

Her latest post on Baroness Thatcher’s demise really got me thinking. We got most of Ms Thatcher’s thrashed and broken union leaders who came out to the Antipodes to lick their wounds. No matter what you thought about the woman, she certainly knew how to scare people! This cowgirl knows how to write…her style captivated me from the very first post that I read and I wouldn’t miss a post now. I like to hoard them, like Mr 23 Thorn’s posts, and savour them over a nice big mug of tea when I haven’t got anything else to detract from the wonderful flavours that these wordy alchemists are able to infuse their posts with.

DSCF0998

We went to Launceston yesterday after visiting our friend in the witness protection and took a few photos for our course while we were there. This beautiful old Acer vitifolium caught my eye and I decided to share it with you

DSCF1002

I love Boston Ivy/Parthenocissus tricuspidata (or Virginia Creeper as mum used to call it). It’s a very useful plant for covering up unattractive areas and it turns the most glorious colours in autumn each year.

Words are beautiful folks. If you can weave them into something that can reach out and grab the attention of a complete stranger and carry them halfway around the world and enlighten them with your common condition you have something special at your fingertips. You ALL owe her a huge “thank you Thinking Cowgirl” because now you don’t have to stick a piece of chewing gum onto your monitor if you get interrupted when reading a Serendipity Farm blog post ;). Now if I can only learn to harness my muses for good who knows what I could do? Just thinking…it might be best to let sleeping dogs lie! 😉

DSCF1005

An interesting number plate that we noticed on our walk with the boys in town. This one is from my home state of Western Australia (3886.8km or 2415.14555 miles away from Launceston for those of you who aren’t sure of the translation). We were curious to see this obvious “work vehicle” parked in a leafy suburb in Launceston Tasmania… when the driver gets home do you think he will have some “splainin’ to do?” 😉

I am going to backtrack to where I told you that I made 24 Anzac biscuits and add “and I had some mix left over”. I could have made another 4 biscuits but I decided to get creative. I filled a small individual round flan tin with the mix and pressed it into the tin. I then baked the mix but not to crunchy brownness because I didn’t want Steve to chip his teeth on what was “supposed” to be a dessert treat! I then cooked some of my traditional “toffee apple apples” by peeling and slicing them and tossing them gently in butter and spices (in this case cinnamon, mixed spice and a pinch of ground ginger) and cooking them until tender and then adding about ¼ of a cup of sugar. I did this to make a sort of sticky toffee sauce that you could replicate with rapadura or coconut sugar or even honey if you wanted. After removing the caramelised mix from the heat and cooling a little I added some vanilla and then heaped the mix into the flan tin. I then made some vanilla custard and Steve got dessert, a rare but most welcome event

DSCF0961

Bezial just demanded to get in on the “cute” action as well…he says he is every bit as cute as Earl but without the chicken plucking capabilities

Well we made it through Monday and we collected some wood. We also made a plan to tidy up the driveway (at least the bits you can see) and haul off the brushwood that is littering the area to burn or to stockpile somewhere less visible. Half of what makes a “lovely garden” is what you see; it’s a pity that most “lovely gardens” are so maintenance intensive folks! The best thing for the garden, a “natural” garden, is to let everything stay where it drops. Let the wood lay there, the leaves, let the chooks scratch and dig and let the fungus grow. Your garden will look like utter shite BUT it will be a happy garden :o). Is there a happy medium? Apparently there is. I have seen them. Gorgeous green gardens full of fecundity and health…permaculture paradises that make Serendipity Farm look like something that slithered directly from the surface of Mars. Do I know how to turn Serendipity Farm into something approximating these gorgeous vistas? Nope. I have all of that horticultural “stuff” crammed inside my head…so does Steve…but we found ourselves wanting to take the easy way out and just “BURN THE LOT” when it came to brushwood and fallen branches and Steve did the WORST cut with his chainsaw on a poor tree resulting in a massive branch bark tear…time to send that Chainsaw license back methinks Steve!

DSCF1003

We live in a very pretty state (I DO feel sorry for that poor woman lugging her groceries up that steep pathway though 😉 )

What is it about “stuff” that you have crammed in your head that makes it SO difficult to get it to translate out into the real world? What do these magic green fingered permaculturalists have that we don’t? Is it because we are lazy middle aged sloths? Most probably. I dare say the vim, vigour and verve of some of these idealistic creative people would make me tired just to be in their presence. I am a bit like Garfield…I occasionally have to curl up and fall asleep in a sunbeam. These people put in dawn to dusk hours and the results speak for themselves. Steve and I wander around our “garden” hand in hand in hope that the fear that rises whenever we venture from inside the house will somehow abate if there are two of us sharing it… it doesn’t. Everywhere we turn there is something else to do and sometimes it is as much as we can do to just go outside!

DSCF1006

Most of the older houses in Launceston have these lovely old balconies and stained glass windows. I love the eclectic mix of styles that has evolved over the years and am not sad that we moved to this pretty part of the state 🙂

I have vision…I have all kinds of PDF’s and word documents and friends online who can give me ideas and help and hope but that all amounts to sweet bugger all if we don’t take all of that wonderful “stuff” and use it…”DO” it. We look at each other sometimes like we are both thinking “paper, rock, scissors…YOU DO IT!” but it needs both of us to work together and I can’t help thinking that there is some kind of life lesson here. We are at least planning the work and I guess that is a start but Steve and I take dragging our feet to a new level. I guess we just have to keep our eyes on the big picture and not the nitty-gritty stuff that we have to do to get there. The initial start-up capital in a permaculture garden and food forest is the work that you have to do to observe, to plan, to implement and to work out how you are going to do what you want to do with your property. Part of the problem is that we have to do what we can with a very small budget. One could almost say a minuscule budget. What the hell, “No budget at all folks!” This results in a lot of frustration and a lot of invention. In the process we learn a lot and you can’t really ask for more than that…aside from a ready-made permaculture garden and food forest I guess 😉

park1

This is a HDR rendered image. Please don’t ask me what that means. The net was down this morning and I couldn’t find out so you might have to do a bit of detective work yourself on this one. All I know is that you end up with something a whole lot brighter than the original 3 photos that you use to compile the shot, you have to take a normal an underexposed and an overexposed photo using a tripod so that you don’t get any movement and then Photoshop does its magic on them and turns them into this.

We are off to our friend in the witness protections home today for a visit. We hermitage dwellers very rarely deal with humankind. Aside from blogging and sharing online, I probably go to town once in a blue moon…make that every second blue moon but today we visit and we talk garden and we reinvigorate ourselves and our friend back into all things horticulture. It’s a kind of tribal thing. You start to lose perspective and purpose and one or other of us pulls in the reigns. This time our friend wants to start making some spiral gardens. She is a victim of Tassie’s treacherous native animals as much as we are but add rabbits and bush rats into the equation and even her unmitigated optimism is starting to flag. She no sooner plants things than they get eaten. She has been growing hardy pentstemons on her property for years. NOTHING touches them folks. They must be poison on a stick for these creatures because they will scarf potato and rhubarb leaves with glee and live to tell the tale. She bought a lovely white pentstemon and low and behold, it got scarfed! It gets hard to keep yourself buoyed when you read other people saying “just plant LOTS of things” and you know that if you do that, you are going to have lots of sticks in the ground :o(. Everything has to be fenced off or protected in some way or it gets inhaled and digested by something out there.

old church

This looks a whole lot like photos that were hand painted in the early part of the 20th century.

Today we regroup…if only to revive our flagging spirits and pass on some info on keyhole gardens, spiral gardens and other permaculture processes to take our mind off our dry dead stick gardens. After a couple of cups of tea anything is possible! I might take a bit of my latest sourdough carrot cake with chocolate icing for her and we can plot our plans of our own little world’s domination. “We are the top of the food chain damnit! We DEMAND you stop eating our plants!”… Yeah… that’ll work! ;). After we visit our friend we will head into Launceston. We will drop off some eggplants and dehydrated bananas for our daughters. Dehydrated bananas are THE BOMB people. They look like something that Earl just deposited high in a shrub (he is weird with where he will “deposit”…) but taste like heaven. After Steve picks up some thick dowel from the shed in town, we will head to the city and will take some photos of “stuff” for our course. I will hold (read get dragged around the park Willy-nilly by…) the boys while Steve sets up the tripod and camera. After that we head off to Bunning’s (hardware heaven to you Northerner’s…) to pick up some plywood to make a better dog door. Bezial is having problems going through our limbo inducing door and we are tired of getting up and opening up the sliding doors onto the deck for him to go out and join Earl in his nightly forays into possum heckling.

townhouse

This last HDR shot really shows you the dramatic look you can get when you use this technique. It looks more painted than real and I really quite like how it looks. What do you think?

I have been promised the lure of a few thrift shop hunts if I hold the dogs in the park (you can read me SO well Stevey boy! 😉 ) and after we tussle our way around the city with two very boisterous country dogs hell bent on peeing on every single lamppost, phone booth, sign, traffic light and anything else that stands still long enough to be considered as a perfect place to scribble “Earl woz ere’” in pee… we will allow them to drag us back to the car and will head home. I have 2 mature coconuts to crack and deal with. Not sure what I am going to do with them but Steve bought them for me on shopping day and I will probably make some coconut kefir out of them. I want to try souring some cream with kefir for making Steve nachos. I am drinking my second fermented date sweetened alcoholic non-dairy milk kefir daily now. It’s great stuff! Who’d-a thunk that chickpeas could be milked let along turned into kefir? The curious thing is that rather than curling up their little brainiac like curds and croaking in the weird things I am trying to culture them in, Kid Creole’s coconuts are thriving and breeding exponentially! What have I done! I am starting to feel like Frankenstein with his monsters…how far can a vegan go before she is entering territory too strange for even we crazy plant based fools?!

DSCF4022

(Bugger…I just ran out of photos for this post…do you think they will notice I am using an old photo? Did I mention that a possum ate all of the foliage off that lovely begonia? Do they know that I gave that leather chair to the girls? Can they see a slightly more rotund me taking a photo of herself accidentally in the kitchen window? Nah… I think I got away with it 😉 )

It’s just hit 6am. Time to wrap this post up for the press tomorrow. Are they easier to read divided up into smaller paragraphs? I hope so ;). I am only here because my RSS Feed Reader threw a tantrum and decided not to work from 5am onwards so I am taking advantage of my spare time and value adding it. See you all on Saturday folks…hopefully you spring living folk in the North can post something other than salads and smoothies for us poor autumn dwelling folk here in the South ;). See you then :o)

m-sketti_ketchup_butter_1-3-460x690

http://www.notquitenigella.com/2012/11/02/sketti-with-buttered-ketchup/

I am driving this image like I stole it alright? I didn’t have time to make a batch of sketti and butter BUT this wonderful lady did! Not only did she make this fine upstanding recipe but she wrote a post about it AND she is a food snob! Go check out her wonderful post (not that I did but hey…I owe her SOMETHING for the lend of her photo!) and marvel at how delicious 2 meals for $4 can look…Steve…you have a foodie future 😉 now I just need to find Honey Boo-boo’s mum June’s email address and beg forgiveness for pinching her families secret recipe…

Just a very quick post script here…Steve wants to add something to the post. He was watching Curtis Stone who shamelessly went to the U.S. and traded on his “Aussieness” to get himself a television show and is now back in Australia flogging Coles supermarket and his “feed your family for under $10 a meal” deal. Steve says that anyone out there who needs to fill up on less than $3 to feed the family should use his “Skettie” recipe that he borrowed from Honey Boo-boo’s mum June a few posts ago. He also says that the first “Skettie” meal would cost you $3. The second one you would only have to pay $1 for the packet of pasta as you would still have half a bottle of tomato sauce and half a container of margarine left. That’s 2 meals for $4 Curtis…Steve says “BEAT THAT!” 😉 Just a note to Woolworths…Steve is waiting for your call…

“I’m not dead…I’m just busy!”

Hi All,

I feel like copying and pasting that sentence into several emails to friends and family and using it as my Facebook epitaph. I have decided not to use Facebook any more. It sucks time and energy out of you and it is totally addictive. I don’t want to waste valuable time sitting on my bum indoors when I could be outside in the sunshine (albeit the cold sunshine) facilitating change on Serendipity Farm along with my dear long suffering husband who might be dragging his feet, but he is still coming along for the ride. We have enormous gardens to build. Yesterday, when I was picking the last of the tomatoes and some ripe red chillies for The Virtual Vegan Potluck entry that is now all done and dusted and ready for posting in early May, Steve was planning aloud. That was difficult because Earl was on the end of a lead, Bezial was frolicking free and was up for a game with his harnessed kennel mate and when 2 American Staffies want to play, it’s not so much fun to be the man on the end of the rope! He was planning (while he was being pulled from pillar to post, spun around in circles and was anchoring himself to the nearest sheoak tree…) our plan of attack.

DSCF0952

This is Gok…prior to his recent cooking television series I had nothing but derision for this man-Gumby hybrid. I would see adverts for his television show about making naked women feel good about themselves and would cringe…one of those “empowering the people” shows that was really all about self denial and delusion but then I had nothing to do one evening and decided to watch television and was too lazy to get up when Gok’s Chinese cooking show came on. Truth be told my interest was piqued and I am now a complete convert of Gumby-Gok. I love the man. He has elevated himself into the stratosphere and I totally “get” why hundreds of women would strip for him and parade themselves naked around on television…Gok is the new Nigel Slater and he is the hipster king of U.K. cookery that this wonderful book was sent to me by the wonderful Tanya from http://chicaandaluza.wordpress.com/ a wonderful blog that I have been following for quite a while now. Tanya and I share an ethos, a sense of humour and a deep love for frugality and for living our lives to the fullest and Tanya decided that she wanted to send me a copy of Gok’s Chinese cookbook and I am absolutely rapt :). There are so many recipes that I want to make but the very first one is going to be congee. After that there is an amazing Chinese rice wrapped in dried lotus roots and after that the sky is the limit! I love you Gumby-Gok and I love  Tanya and Toli’s generosity as well 🙂

Steve is the heavy duty practical side of the equation…I am the numbers “man”. Together we figure it out and we put it into play and we usually end up with what we were after. It’s a great result when we work together… the only problem is that we work in such different ways that most of the time we spend trying to figure out what the HECK the other person is doing at any given time. Steve has plans…”those trees there are in the way…they will have to come out (read Steve wants some firewood for next year)… and after that we will put some poles in (read dig holes, concrete poles into the ground where only days before there was a perfectly good tree that we could have used for the same purposes…sigh…) and we can stretch that netting tight between them and after that…” I wasn’t listening by then…I was bums up doing callisthenics in an attempt to try to source some tomatoes from the jungle that used to be a tomato bed. “Next year we stake!” I say loudly and Steve looks at me in a somewhat alarmed way…obviously I must have interjected at some crucial point that most certainly DIDN’T require staking!

DSCF0944

I took this book out of the library recently on a whim…looks like I am going to be exercising my brain for the foreseeable future…

DSCF0368

Here is the button box that I recently gave my friend Kym. We swapped that lovely doily book for buttons…a great swap! We both get something that we want for something that we don’t want…the best of frugality mixed with barter 🙂

Steve says the magic words “after this garden, we will take out those trees over there and will make another one…” and THAT is part of why I love you still you smelly footed, stubborn mule of a man… you feed me what I want and I WANT more gardens :o). I have big plans for the first paddock on Serendipity Farm. Most of it is going to be a fully enclosed series of walk in, walk out vegetable gardens. I want to be able to grow chickpeas, amaranth, chia and quinoa along with buckwheat and various other hardy grains and lots of dried beans. Protein and calories are the order of the day. I am even going to have a go at growing peanuts after Sarah from http://gardeningkiwi.wordpress.com/ fame (and she IS famous folks…she has written a book :o) ) said that she bought a packet off her supermarket shelf (the ones in shells) and is growing them! She said “I like to experiment”…so do I Sarah…so do I! So peanuts are on the cards.

DSCF0432

This is the front cover of a wonderful crochet doily book that my friend Kym from Western Australia sent me recently. I finally found where I hid these photos! Linne wanted to see the cover so here it is…

DSCF0433

And here is one of the lovely doilies inside that I am going to attempt to tackle in the near future

I was going to have a go at growing Brazil nuts but found out that they won’t fruit/nut anywhere other than Brazil because they need a specific and most endemic little pollinator before they will produce the nuts…but the tree looks lovely and I might just grow one…”because I can!” I dare say no-one else in Tassie has a Brazil nut tree growing in their garden and narf7 is bolshie enough to give it the old college try. I have grown mangoes, avocados, walnuts, hazelnuts, figs, carob trees and copious quantities of chestnut trees (easy peasy to grow folks, I just fished a forgotten bag of chestnuts out of the fridge and threw them into some moist coir peat in a plastic bag in a covered esky and almost all of them grew!) and love to grow something for free. It feeds the frugality in me and gives me a sense of purpose to produce things.

DSCF0922

These pumpkin vines are WAY too late in the season to survive the coming winter and were harbouring some small mango saplings that had grown in the compost, so I decided to sacrifice the pumpkins to save the mangoes

DSCF0938

This is what the compost heap looks like today and the sad withered greenery was once pumpkins…next season I am going to have amazing pumpkins that no native animal is going to have a chance to sniff let alone get close enough to taste!

I might have to have a stall somewhere to offload all of the excess food producing plants, however, because even though we have 4 acres, 20 walnut trees and 15 chestnut trees might just be a few too many for that kind of acreage if we want to have a hope in heck of planting anything else ;). That’s part of the problem. If we were rank amateurs we could head out with our heads full of hope and just “plant” but we aren’t…we are fully fledged, dyed in the wool, fully away horticulturalists and we KNOW how far apart we should space things, we KNOW how big they grow, we KNOW about forest plantings and pH and depth of planting and we just KNOW which makes it all the harder to plant out our wonderful free little babies. I might just go doorknocking in the neighbourhood and see if our long suffering neighbours would like some “excuse me…we live just down the road…you might have heard our dogs barking…here…have a tree for your suffering…” ;).

DSCF0930

There might not be many but these potatoes were found when we were digging up the mangoes from the compost bin…SCORE!

DSCF0941

The 2 mangoes in their overwintering palace, the glass house. Lets just hope they survive the winter

I need to self-flagellate…I missed Leonardo Da Vinci’s 561st birthday on April 15th! I also missed that crap mini-series that someone (trying to make a fast buck out of jumping on the bandwagon to link famous long dead (read “can’t sue me anymore”…) people with crappy vampire series…) made about him recently but unlike my sheer unmitigated glee at escaping that utter pile of dog excrement, I am a little bit sad that I missed giving this amazing man the kudos that he deserved. Some people deserve über kudos and Leonardo is one such man…let’s all give him a minute’s silence, heck, let’s give him 2! for being one über cool dude WAY back then that was likely to get you lynched, tarred and feathered or just plain tortured and dispatched. It just goes to show that the brain will out, no matter what is standing in the way (or how much armour or pointy weaponry they are carrying at the time…). I offer you the quintessential anthem to kudos that you deserve sir…ringing down through the ages you ARE remembered…you live on in so many people’s minds and as ACDC would sing, loudly and repeatedly…”for those about to rock…WE SALUTE YOU!”. We most certainly do Mr Da Vinci. :o)

DSCF0934

We didn’t think that these poor long suffering potted babies would survive the long, hot dry summer that we had, let alone live to give us any kind of winter display but here they are looking beautiful and begging us to plant them out this autumn…”I hear you babies…I HEAR YOU” 🙂

DSCF0935

We grew most of these small trees from seed. We aren’t too sure what we are going to do with them all but we might just find someone starting out anew and give them an unexpected bonus of some gorgeous trees 🙂

It’s just turned 3.29am Saturday 20th. Bezial turfed me out of bed because it’s COLD out here and he heard me telling Earl to stop shoving ;). I don’t mind, all the more time for me to tap away here and tie up online ends before my brain turns itself off early this evening. I am now the mother of a 23 year old youngest child. My daughter Bethany had her birthday yesterday and was celebrating with her sister Madeline (25) by having lunch at a new local Korean BBQ house. I hope they had a great time and I know that Bethany’s birthday cake will have been MOST interesting because they were using some purple bubble tea as the basis. They like to experiment with cooking and tend to only use recipes as a basis for their imaginative recipes and 9 times out of 10 they are successful. I tend not to be as inventive as they are but I am reasonably inventive and like to mess about with cultures and letting the cultures metabolise ingredients partially to see what happens to the end result.

DSCF8546

I COMPLETELY forgot to post this heart for valentine’s day! We noticed it when we were walking the dogs AGES ago in Launceston at the university campus…I heart trees 🙂

DSCF8653

This is a leaf hopper…usually leaf hoppers = BAD but this one is in someone else’s garden so he gets to be admired for his beauty and left to nibble another day 😉

I am going to be making more kimchi this weekend. I have a precious cup of kimchi left from my last batch that is going to culture my new batch. Steve rust treated and sprayed my new fire set black that I got for $1 from the tip shop and remembered a fire poker that we had inherited so that got the black spray treatment as well. The handle doesn’t exactly match the set we picked up but who cares? It pokes the fire and that’s fine by me! The best thing about that $1 fire set is that it is solid cast iron and was built to last. I don’t know why someone threw it out in the first place but I have noticed that garage sales are rich playgrounds for savvy people here in Tasmania. The average Tasmanian doesn’t like to get out into the world until around about 10am. We used to head off to the Evandale markets (when we lived in the city) nice and early at 8.30 and we would be finished and on our way home before the long lines of Tassie traffic were passing us in the other direction.

DSCF8690

This is the shop at Wychwood…isn’t it lovely?

DSCF8812

This is the family home at Wychwood but I couldn’t resist sharing this lovely trough of succulents with you all 🙂

DSCF8820

Just around the corner from that lovely trough of succulents is this lovely brick oven. I have a pile of used bricks in town with an oven just like this’s name on it…

DSCF8972

These are the sort of rocks that you find on the beaches around Tasmania. Beautiful weather worn, smoothed by the ocean rocks. It’s hard to leave them on the beach!

Steve shops at 7am in the supermarkets because there are only a few older people there at that time of day…he is usually finished shopping by about 10am and we only shop once a fortnight so these shopping forays take all different kinds of shops into account. We plan this once a fortnight shop meticulously and Steve has his plans of attack. Sometimes the plans of attack involve grabbing things off shelves without looking at them and then finding out when you get home that someone had decided to dump a more expensive product for a cheaper one on sale and Steve just so happened to have grabbed the more expensive product in his hast to be “OUTTA THERE” but that is happening more infrequently now that he is starting to realise that it just isn’t worth handing your tea addicted wife (since she was 2) a packet of über expensive teabags that don’t deliver that rich tannin flavour!  It takes me almost a whole day to do what Steve does in a couple of hours and even then I forget things and come home with heaps of other things that weren’t on the list. I did the shopping the last time that I stayed at my daughters. I did a GREAT job…I was very proud of myself for my efforts BUT (that year of living honestly has forced me to tell the truth 😉 ) I did have the entire weekend to chip away at the shopping list and stretched out the actual shopping over the 3 days that I was away. Some people are built for speed and Steve is one such person :o). Now he just has to allow the concept of “accuracy” to filter into his mindset 😉

DSCF8913

Who would like one of these gorgeous little birdhouses in their garden?

DSCF8914

I took a side view because I am going to have a go at making something approximating this birdhouse…wish me luck!

DSCF8825

I LERVE this chair folks…it is official. We have driftwood from the sea that washes down the river and onto the pebbly riverbank right in front of Serendipity Farm…we have Teatree saplings on the property that need thinning out that would be perfect to make something like this and we have lots of misshapen woody bits lying around from past thinning out ventures. This chair has my name all over it!

Remember how I was complaining about how hot it was in February and March? It WAS hot…it was dry…it was HORRIBLE and now it is cold…it went from 30+C temperatures down to 5C in a matter of weeks. My recent weight loss efforts have handed me energy to spare. It shielded me from our long hot summer and I certainly didn’t miss my extra layer of fat in summer. Everything has good and bad points right? That includes weight loss! Yeh, I might be able to power up our steep driveway in a wave of determination…yeh my knees might be happier than they have been in years…yeh I might almost have broken out into a run with Earl the other day and I might be able to keep up with Steve when we are walking the dogs and yeh I might be able to fit into clothes that I haven’t fitted into for years BUT then the frigid Antarctic autumn descends and suddenly my obsolete layer of fat has taken on a nostalgic quality in my mind…like a nice round nana (cheers for that analogy Jess 😉 ) that gives you a cuddle and a couple of her chockie bickies (that’s chocolate cookies to you Northerners) out of the biscuit barrel when you visit her and you KNOW that the roast dinner she is going to dish you up that night will have more than enough delicious roast potatoes AND there is desert!

DSCF0946

This is an avocado…it appears to be trying to sneak away because it is MORE than aware of it’s fate. Tonight…this avocado will be made into sushi. “Fear me avocado!” 😉

My 25 extra kilos cuddled me in winter. They wrapped themselves around me and insulated me from the worst of the cold and I KNOW WHY SEALS HAVE BLUBBER! I might be able to zip around the place like Speedy Gonzales on steroids…I might be constantly marvelling at how loose cloth feels on my legs and how I have so much energy now but I fear winter. I really do FEAR winter. I am sitting here wearing 2 jumpers, a pair of leg warmers (YES leg warmers 😉 ), my warm slippers and I am STILL cold. Is this what you “normal” people feel in winter? I am going to have to scratch a chalky little note on our shopping list…my chalky little note is going to read “dear Steve…could you please pick me up 14 hot water bottles from K-Mart this shopping…I KNOW 14 seems a little extreme but humour me… I am going to strap them to my body for winter…I am going to knit myself a full set of long john’s (brightly coloured with flares…CMON’! Would you expect any less of me?! 😉 with little flaps where the hot water bottle necks are situated…I am going to sew myself into the long john’s (cheers for that analogy Linnie 😉 ) and I am going to spend winter in my improvised suit of warmth to take the place of my fat. I can just do a few cartwheels to empty them each morning, shiver for a little while as I fill them all and sink into happy hot fugishness through my days. I don’t suggest anyone visits me over winter (bad luck Kymmy, you already booked!) as my new suit might start to reek a bit BUT them’s the breaks folks and you do what you have to do to keep yourself warm and sane 😉

DSCF0920Some of the fire utensils from the $1 tip shop bargain that I got recently. The poker and broom are still in the shed awaiting second coats but already it looks a whole lot better than $1 in my books 🙂

Bezial just got up. He who tossed me out of bed at 2.30 is lying in front of Brunhilda at 3.57am demanding that I poke her and get her going. I am starting to wonder just who is the boss around here… Apparently Bezial already knows! 😉 Bezial has been waiting for this…he and I share a winter tradition of getting up together and me waking Brunhilda up from her overnight slumber so that he can lay in front of her for the rest of the day. Bezial just decided that she wasn’t warming up quickly enough and has gone back to the comfort and warmth of being tucked under my feather doona next to Earl and Steve…sigh…that leaves Brunhilda and I to do the work of warming up the kitchen together…she is crackling into life as I tap this here and its WONDERFUL! :o).

DSCF0778

Still harvesting things from our veggie garden and the spinach is showing no signs of going to seed or giving up the ghost any day soon which is great because I pick it every day 🙂

Last year I got up a whole lot later than I do now…Steve tamps the fire down before he goes to bed at 11 and I will be waking her up again at 3…she seems pleased with the new routine…she  and I have lots of possibilities as the colder weather progresses. I can now add a few new routines of my own into the equation. Now that I am up 3 – 4 hours earlier than the rest of the household why not use some of this time with Brunhilda’s early morning warmth to good avail? Time to start factoring in the warmth of the bread proofer that Steve made for me, essentially a shelf a metre above Brunhilda with a metal mesh allowing the wafting heat to rise through and slowly warm whatever I choose to place up there…I could prove bread up there overnight. A nice slow proofing so that the next day I can get Brunhilda cranking and an hour later I could bake bread…fresh baked bread before the sun comes up? Now THAT is an interesting premise!

12060059

A gratuitous bum shot…I still can’t get over where it went! I have lost more weight since this photo but you are looking at the part of me that was the most significant to say the least…now I know it was there to keep me warm in winter!

Steve recently received a gorgeous jar of Christi from Olalla’s jam. He allowed me a tiny taste but I know that this jam is precious to him. It’s a matter of supply and demand. No matter how much jam he demands, there is a very limited supply. Christi is one of the most generous and wonderful people that I know but it costs a FORTUNE to send things between Australia and the U.S. My daughters send a 4kg (that’s over 8lb) package to my son in a neighbouring state for his recent 31st birthday and it only cost them $17 to do so. I would have to SELL said 31 year old son to pay for the costs if I wanted to send the same parcel to Olalla…that should give you an idea about how expensive it is (AND he is a practicing accountant who won’t get out of bed for under $200/hour so factor that into the equation!). I am just going to have to try to get Christi’s jammy goodness recipes out of her. In the name of transcontinental happiness she just might grace me with the recipe to make Steve happy over his morning toast but the problem is that aside from not being able to get some of the more exotic ingredients, Christi has her own alchemy when it comes to jam. I have NEVER tasted better jam folks. This girl could jar it up and sell it, it is THAT good. I bow to her jammy genius and can only hope that my homemade spadle could do justice to one of her recipes. I have a couple of kilos of blackberries in the freezer…I have a homemade spadle that could stir for the queen and I have a 20 litre stainless steel pressure cooker base that doubles as an “Ace” jam pot…now all I need is that fairy dust that makes “jam”…something that Steve wants to dip his spoon into and eat from the jar 😉

12070005

Who could resist these 2…butter wouldn’t melt in their mouths now would it? 😉

Another tome? “Et Tu Brute?!”…sigh…I guess some of you are still reading my posts and maybe I might be able to coax some strangers from the ether (via unusual tags 😉 ) to stray onto Serendipity Farm and spend the time it takes to get through a BIG mug of tea to read them. I told someone today that my blog is my way of allowing my muses to vent. I guess you, my dear constant readers, are starting to realise just how many muses this poor husk of humanity endures! Brunhilda has managed to heat a kettle of water from cold to just on the point of boiling in under 2 minutes…not bad old girl! She is in fine form and just the crackling is making me feel warmer. Apparently the roosters under the deck are feeling the love as well because they just started to crow…sigh…have a fantastic weekend folks…remember you only get 1 life and this is IT. Do something that makes you feel alive this weekend…bugger it…do something that makes you “SQUEE!” with delight :o). Have the best damned time that you can this weekend and when you have to trudge back to work they are going to wonder what that little smile of contentment is that  is hanging off the side of your mouth…don’t tell them, it’s all yours. See you Wednesday :o)

The amazing adventures of Frances Fennel Pants and Co.

Hi All,

I don’t think I own a pair of pants that don’t smell of some form of strong vegetation. The reason behind the olfactory enhancement of my derrière pockets is because whenever we walk the dogs (and that would be a daily event) I tend to find some seed pod or other to shove into my back pocket along with the various rocks, bits of shiny river tumbled glass and old pottery shards that I collect on our travels. My latest foray into the world of hardy bee and butterfly forage plants is fennel (Foeniculum vulgare). I have been collecting seed as it ripens along with Queen Anne’s lace and I am looking for a source of Jerusalem artichokes, canna lilies and day lilies to add to my extreme hardy Zone 4 collection. I want plants that will survive anything that comes, that are hardy, tough, waterwise, can stand a drenching and that will attract beneficials to Serendipity Farm and have a degree of edibility about them. The only one from the list I wouldn’t eat anything from is Queen Anne’s Lace but I dare say that it has some form of medicinal qualities (I just haven’t had time to look it up yet). We got an envelope of Angelica Sylvester ‘Purpurea’ from Karen at Wychwood (to see some of this amazing garden check here… http://wychwoodtasmania.com/?page_id=4 ) yesterday to share with our friend in the witness protection. We are going to grow and plant out elderberries (Sambucus Canadensis) and various other fast growing extremely hardy plants (including the loquats that the wallabies sampled to within an inch of their lives recently). I learned a lesson about gardening over the course of the summer. I let one set of garden beds go nuts. The tomatoes did whatever they liked, fell over, lay on the ground, covered EVERYTHING and I let the chook wheat grow on the hay that I spread over the garden. It’s like a jungle in that side of the garden but a very productive one that requires half as much water as the carefully tended sparser series of veggie gardens on the other side. Mass planting really does work! I have some serious hunting to do over the next few months for hay bales, hardy edible groundcovers, vines, perennials, annuals and shrubs. We have some serious tree planting ahead of us including sweet chestnuts, walnuts, hazelnuts, figs, avocados, Brachychitons and now a small mango that has grown in our new compost heap from a seed that I tossed in wondering if it might grow. It’s amazing what will grow if you give it a chance.

DSCF1890

I have shamefully resorted to posting photo’s from my archives in order to give you enough to look at today. We have been flat out studying, making sourdough carrot cakes and baking quiche and the time got away from us. This is a homemade Thai green curry chicken pie, one of 4 that Steve enjoyed over the course of a couple of days

DSCF1613

Another shameless photo from the archives, this time of potato wedges that went with one of those delicious Thai green curry chicken pies

Its 6.02am and I am listening to the ethereal sounds of Miles Davis playing the trumpet and doing my own little social experiment on myself. Steve has been doing a social experiment on Facebook but sometimes I really don’t know where my dear husbands mind goes…I just let it go, it’s his to direct and some of the weird and wonderful posters he is posting boggle the mind…who knows what they say (most of them are in Russian) but it makes him happy to be making his statement (whatever that is…) so go for it I say :o). This little personal experimentation of my own involves me, good music and my days. I am attempting to see if it really is true that what you put into yourself forms you. I am hoping that this gorgeous soul uplifting music is going to give me back a degree of mellowness without the need to partake of the pharmacy of the multitudes. I figure I am overdue a script for “mellowness” and aside from learning how to meditate which strikes me as altogether a bit of an adventure laterally that I just don’t fancy at this moment in time, where multitasking as I tap away here posting, or finding recipes or information seems completely within the boundaries of my current thought processes…no stepping outside my comfort zone to toss Miles Davis Sketches of Spain into my brain, mainlining those castanets as we speak… I am exploring the difference that adding good music (obviously a completely subjective thing to explore and everyone has a different idea of what is “good”…) to my life in early morning doses. Yesterday I floated down the road behind Earl after spending a very pleasant morning listening to 3 CD’s and today I took my cue from a post found inside another post on a blog I don’t even follow (well I do now!) that recommended someone called Chet Baker and I had a bit of a listen and after a bit I decided to switch to Miles Davis…glad I did :o)… (Are those castanets or crickets Miles? Miles the maestro perfectionist may just be able to mesmerise crickets to do his bidding! 😉 ) Life is all about little experiments (well mine is) where conscious efforts blend with subconscious to give added meaning and precious nuance to where I am here and now “today”. It’s so easy to get lost in processes and not really experience the moment (like dogs apparently do according to our Dorg Wheesperer Caesar Milan…) and I am LOVING this moment. I have never actually listened to Miles Davis…I KNOW! Where have I been for 49 years?

DSCF1578

This is the last of the poached photos from the annuls of my saved photos for today. I always have a few spare shots up my sleeve and they languish in folders till I forget to take enough photos and you end up with them. I think this meal is about 6 months old and consists of home grown rooster ground up into chicken patties served with Asian style coconut curry rice and veggies. It was quick, tasty (according to Steve) and made the most of last years roosters 🙂

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

This was taken on St Patrick’s Day of one of my breakfast smoothies. I figured it was particularly fitting to have a green smoothie on St. Patricks Day 😉

I had to switch RSS feed readers yesterday. I know…my early morning life revolves around my rss feed read so obviously I was a bit twitchy to say the least when Google decided to notify me via a small box in the middle of the page saying “We are taking away your early mornings…forget about suing us because we are SO AMAZINGLY HUGE that you are merely nothing in our eyes. So long and thanks for nothing you freeloading hippy…” well, maybe in not so many words but it struck panic into my comfortable early morning routine and as soon as Steve was awake I requested an instant transition over to someplace safe, equally as good and most importantly “Free”… Steve on the case is soothing. Steve on the case is happiness and Steve got on the case and found me a new and most amazing RSS feed reader that does it all with whistles and bells in a MUCH better way than Google did and even better…it simultaneously syncs with Google reader to poach all of my feeds so I don’t have to worry about July 1st arriving and losing all of my 498 blogs that I follow…how delicious it feels to stick it to Google? Not that they care…just another faceless penniless plebeian hippy off their existential books that they don’t have to drag around their profit mongering megalith of a corporation (does anyone get the feeling that I am a bit “pissed” at Google?) anymore… I love my new feed reader already and this is amazing considering I took a year to write my first blog post because I twitched whenever I thought about the technicalities of using a blog. This sucker does it all…no more opening up other pages or trying to scroll down in blogs, it’s the bomb and it’s MUCH BETTER THAN GOOGLE READER! I might even tag it as such…”Better than Google Reader” let’s see how much traffic from hyped up angry hippies I get for THIS post eh? When a corporation gets so big that it doesn’t have to care about projecting a positive image of itself anymore and it can do whatever it likes whenever it likes without considering its users it becomes a very scary corporation… you just elevated yourself to the level of Monsanto Google…

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I shared with you a while ago about the Chinese owned orchard that they have abandoned to its fate and that was prior to this year a well watered orchard. It got no water this year and I would estimate 80% of the trees are dead. This is what they look like…

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Do these cherry trees look alive to you? Me neither…what a waste. Our government should demand that foreign owned interests are able to maintain the arable farming land that they purchase prior to the sale. This is a prime example of greedy foreign interests taking everything that they could from the land and then discarding it when it required work. The trees haven’t been pruned since they took over, the grass hasn’t been mowed and the tiny skeleton crew of Chinese people shipped in to harvest and sell the fruit were completely overwhelmed by the task at hand.

Anyone out there ever made coconut jam? I just found a recipe for it and am going to make it as an alternative to regular sugar. I am going to make some date paste today because I have been using dates in my green morning smoothies and they deliver a subtle hint of caramel sweetness and I figure that a paste would be easy to shleck into the VitaMix goblet rather than cutting the dates up finely so that I don’t have to whizz everything around for so long that it melts my ice. I am thinking about what I am going to substitute for my morning green smoothie in winter. I might keep it going but I doubt I will be adding ice! Maybe congee? I love Korean food and might go hunting for some delicious vegan preparations. This winter is going to be so different to last winter. I have my early morning habits and Brunhilda and I will be able to wake up together and start our days long before the sun rises. I also have my newfound dedication to music…currently Kenny Burrell and the longest version of “Summertime” I have ever heard but am delighting in every single note :o)…every addict indulges themselves by jumping fully clothed into the fount of their new found addiction so you are going to have to indulge me for a little while here till the novelty wears off (if it ever, indeed, does! 😉 ).

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Guy is trying to cut a hook from this poor Southern Right Gull’s foot. It got caught in a fishing net and was noticed by a local and Steve and Guy went to the rescue in The Mumbly Cumumbus…

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I don’t think the gull liked Guy hanging it upside down…check out the next shot…

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Take a close look at where the birds beak is now and guess what he did to Guy just after this shot was taken 😉

Steve is off rescuing pelicans. The other day we were walking the dogs and talking about Peak Oil and how a friend seems to be getting a bit swallowed up by it all. Steve said “No problems…we will just keep the chooks for the odd bit of meat and for eggs, feed them on veggie scraps and let them free range around the place, you can grow veggies and fruit and nuts and I can go out fishing on the high seas in the Mumbly Cumumbus and it will be like pirates stealing the tea from the English” (that last bit was because I was lamenting that I would have to start drinking dandelion root tea and we BOTH know what Earl does to our stash of dandelions…). That got us talking about pirates and Steve was immediately identified with “The Dread Pirate Roberts”…but he didn’t really suit that moniker so then we thought of Inigo Montoya from the Princess Bride, but he wasn’t really that either and we arrived at “Pirate Steve” from the movie Dodgeball… after that we decided that Earl was most definitely “Yellowbeard”…a mad lunatic that can’t be stopped…a perfect vision of Earl and then Bezial ended up as Captain Pugwash (“NO” spellchecker, I DON’T want to change that to “Captain Pigwash”!!! ) because he gets seasick on boats and would rather stay on shore. I cleverly dodged being included in this pirate invasion and chose to stay home and cook the tea because every pirate needs to come home to a nice warm meal (and preferably some grog to go with it). The Mumbly Cumumbus has had to be employed by Steve, Roxy and Guy (our friends down the road) to rescue a trapped pelican from a net. Steve cleverly remembered to take protective clothing and gloves (fool him once!) and hopefully they will be able to release the trapped bird. He has taken his camera with him so that you might be able to share in his adventure. There aren’t many pelicans in our neck of the woods and hopefully this pelican will be able to resume its lifecycle out on the Tamar River without too much damage or trauma. It wasn’t a pelican, it was a Southern Right Gull and after its rescue the rescuers got together over some good German beer and debriefed ;).

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

This is the name of a cafe in Beaconsfield and we thought that you might get a chuckle out of it for St Patricks Day (albeit in the past now 😉 ). I think it is called “Pot of Gold” because it costs you an arm and a leg to shop there 😉

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Some very tame young cows and steers that decided to come over and investigate what Steve was doing today on our walk with the dogs. Take a look at that paddock and be sure to let go of winter over there you Northerners…we obviously need it here!

IT RAINED…I don’t  know whether to race about singing or just sit here stunned but it actually “rained”. The garden looks stunned. It looks flat, deflated, brown and stunned but underneath it all I can hear autumn stirring and it is GOOD! I have been thinking about how we interact with people when we blog. I did a survey once (as a bolshie bird I tend to do surveys to ensure that the social imbalances are redressed ;)) asking me about a specific blogger and what my impressions of her were. I think that when your dear constant readers start to number more than the hairs on your head you have achieved rock star status in the blog world and you get your own fan club of supporters that mass together to attempt to get you elected as President whether you want it or not. The difference between rock stars and bloggers is that the rock stars get the dosh to balance out the adoration, bloggers usually don’t. A free book and the odd surreptitious package of canned goods wouldn’t be anywhere near enough for me to lose my anonymity and with my 133 blog followers (most of them sleepers 😉 ) I feel confident that I am never going to be hustled into the white house any day soon but I do feel a distinct responsibility to you all. I feel the need to post when sometimes I might not be post worthy…I feel the need to ensure you have something nice to look at (and sometimes something not-so-nice to balance it out 😉 ) in each post and I try to channel my muses into playing the same tune in order to get something approximating “readable” to you twice a week. As a penniless student hippy I don’t “work for the man”…the man probably wouldn’t want me anymore which suits me just fine but I have my processes and blogging is now firmly one of these processes. Whenever someone new comes to join our merry eclectic (mental) little throng here on Serendipity Farm I feel like I am welcoming someone into our book club (mental asylum) or our little knitting group or our baking circle. It’s a privilege to connect with other people and to allow them to mould themselves into our circle and  Queen of everything that I see, touch and can possibly begin to imagine here on Serendipity Farm I feel like I should at least show you around a bit and give you a cup of tea (you can have a good cup but not too sure if I can find a matching saucer at the moment…it is probably covered in drying tomato seeds, cherry plum stones or something fermenting as an experiment…) and a homemade biscuit. If you seem a little shell shocked after exploring around a bit I will give you another cup of tea (still with the mismatched saucer but you are looking a bit confused and probably won’t notice…) and I might even try to revive you with one of the chocolate biscuits from the top shelf…I love how each reader and commenter has their own place here in the blog. We all share this experience because we all “make” this space. If no-one comes, it is like that tree in the forest and when it falls no-one cares. Here in this tiny patch of ether in the Southern Hemisphere we all matter, no matter how humble we are because my dear constant readers and I are not like “other people”, we have time to share if it means we are going to hear a good story. We can find the energy to appreciate your efforts, we can applaud your talents and we can laugh and cry with you when something twangs the strings of your life. Like Stephen King once said “We all float down here” and in this little sewer we are united in our endeavours :o)

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

This was taken just in front of the gate down on the river bank

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

An early morning shot of Bonnie Beach just before the dogs started complaining because we were taking too long to get going on our walk

It’s just about time to start the day for Steve and the boys and I have been up and functioning (at least on some rudimentary level) since 3.30am. I just finished the tidy up from my mornings online degustation menu and noticed that I had 2 spam in my Hotmail account…1 from the ubiquitous “Big Willy”, a regular visitor to my spambox and the other from “Daily Bible Verse” another spam contender from way back…I find it humorous that Big Willy and Daily Bible Verse are the only occupants of my spambox and wonder if they converse while they are languishing in perdition waiting for me to shoot them straight into the ether and wouldn’t it be fun to be a fly on that spammy little wall listening to THAT conversation! 😉 I am still imbibing heady gusts of long forgotten C.D’s and loving every moment of it. It’s cold this morning and it rained yesterday and I am starting to have hope that there really might be an autumn this year and we won’t just bypass it and go headlong into the throws of winter. You northerners (you KNOW who you are!) are hogging your winter. I read about how you are protesting about how much you can’t wait for summer but I recon its only lip service, you aren’t sharing and we need it. We NEED it folks…our summer has just about sapped everything green and vibrant and alive from our hearts, minds and souls and we need a rest of it all. We need to sit and commune and talk and share hot chocolate and wander in a garden that might be asleep but at least shows some signs of being alive rather than the flat defeated brown shards of curling leaves and sad looking half dead flowers that greet us on anything other than a run to the car. We choose to look up at the clouds as we walk down the driveway which should probably result in us falling flat on our derrières but somewhere up there the powers that be kind of like us and we have been spared the ignominy of falling down our own driveway on a regular basis.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

A closeup of a series of houses on our walk at Bonnie Beach that don’t have fences…they all coexist together and share a large common back yard. The do this because they all got together when they initially built the houses and decided that fencing would obstruct the glorious view that they have of the river and decided to do without 🙂

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I love this shot of the boys…Earl looks like he has just heard the funniest joke and Bezial actually allowed us to take a photo for once. That’s a pretty rare thing to get both boys smiling and focussed at once 🙂

Well it looks like another post just hit mammoth proportions…how do you “regular” bloggers manage to find an earlier “stop” point?! My muses would have me up at night if I didn’t share the contents of my day’s digestive tract ;). Have a great week this week folks. No matter how mundane it might appear, there are always little interesting things in your week and there is beauty everywhere, we just have to be sure to see and feel it. I think the real world has us aiming too high…focussing on a point too far away and constantly yearning (or is that “constant craving” K.D. Laing? 😉 ) for something just out of reach when really, it’s right here quietly waiting for you to notice it. I recently read a post on The Naturephile, one of the wonderful blogs that I follow. Finn (what a wonderful name, wish I had thought of this one when I was naming my son :o) ) was talking about how he was watching a murmuration of starlings dancing with a sparrowhawk while he was sitting at a red light. How many of us grab the mobile phone and start to text, grab a lippy and re-apply, start thinking about what’s for dinner and completely miss what nature is sharing with us? We get too focussed on ourselves and our goals and our days and we miss out on living outside ourselves and in companionship with the world and I get the very strong feeling that is how we managed to disassociate ourselves from reality enough to do what we have done to the earth. Go watch some gorgeous rare Red Kite’s swooping into someone’s back yard to grab some croissants (lucky they didn’t say where they throw these croissants or my U.K. doppelgänger might just have been around a bit earlier to raid the pile! 😉 )…

http://thenaturephile.com/

See you on Saturday folks…bright as buttons and hopefully more aware of what is going on outside you rather than focussing too much on your inner machinations. You never know where that kind of anti-societal behaviour is going to take you 😉 …

Previous Older Entries