The Goodies visit Serendipity Farm

Hi All,

This post has been on the back burner for ages. I had a brainstorm about 3 months ago (I did say “ages” there!) when I remembered an episode of a kids show that I used to watch back last century, when I was…a kid. As someone who had their formative years in the early 70’s I grew up with the remnants of the swinging 60’s and the peacenik 70’s emergence. I wore flared trousers and grew my hair long and as an Aussie kid I only had 2 television channels to watch. A commercial channel that on the school holidays usually had extended cricket games that seemed to go for weeks and the ABC. Our antipodean version of the BBC and we shared most of our television programs as well. We shipped off Rolf Harris (good idea on hindsight 😉 ) and neighbours and you gave us The Goodies. Everything is forgiven U.K. for The Goodies.

DSCF4431

I loved The Goodies. Even though the ABC must have really wanted to get their money’s worth as they aired it constantly. One series would end to be replaced with the next. A constant stream of Goodies and now part of my early childhood patchwork of memories. The Goodies was a show about 3 men who hired themselves out for work. Their claim to fame was that they did “Anything, Anytime” and they rode around on a 3 seater tandem bike. Not sure if that is even a real thing but they did so it was for the purposes of this post. At the time we all laughed and enjoyed the program but when I was reminiscing about it with Steve (who strangely didn’t watch it), I realised that The Goodies was a show WAY ahead of its time. Much like “The Good Life” the show about a couple who dropped out of living commercially and turned their suburban home into a self-sufficient block with good humour, gentle satire and the ability to completely engage an audience as only a good U.K. sitcom can do.

Despite Earl's best intentions, this aquilegia keeps coming back from the brink of damp ruin

Despite Earl’s best intentions, this aquilegia keeps coming back from the brink of damp ruin

Although poles apart, The Good Life and The Goodies both had the same message. The world in the 70’s was just starting to realise that over commercialisation was hurting the environment, our hip pocket and our chances of surviving as a species. Both programs highlighted a current of people wanting to get back to the land and live wholesome lives. Where The Good Life was hands-on, The Goodies aired issues of the time in a crazy and zany way. Painting issues with good humour is like Mary Poppins and her spoon full of sugar, it certainly makes the medicine go down in a most delightful way.

Telopea oreades a native Tasmanian waratah along the walking route that we took today in Beaconsfield

Telopea oreades a native Tasmanian waratah along the walking route that we took today in Beaconsfield

I remembered a particular episode of The Goodies where Tim, Bill and Graham went to visit Tim’s uncle’s farm to see how “real” food was produced and were shocked to discover that the farm was catering to public demand for “fast food” in hilarious forms. The episode dealt with the serious issues of genetic modification, our food being incredibly unhealthy and bad for us because of public demand for it (supply and demand) and cruelty in industrially farmed animals WAY before PETA was even thought about. As a small aside, I just checked when PETA was formed and found out it was 1980 9 years after The Goodies “Farm Fresh Food” went to air. As usual the boys were able to make these serious issues hilarious and light heartedly bumbled their way through the episode blowing up “battery hens” along with the hens that were fed directly from the mains ;).

See girls...I DO wear the shirt that you gave me ;)

See girls…I DO wear the shirt that you gave me 😉

At the end of the episode, Tim’s uncle refuses to feed the animals to the boys because, like most people buying generic “meat”, “eggs” and “milk” from the supermarket shelves, he never put 2 and 2 together when it came to animal cruelty and mass food production. I am not preaching veganism here folks, I am preaching sustainable and healthy farm production where the animals that you eat are produced in a healthy, entirely natural way without having to pump them full of hormones, antibiotics and goodness only knows what else just to get them onto the supermarket shelves A.S.A.P. at the smallest production cost to the farmer and the true culprit of all of this, my dreaded middle-man – “The Supermarkets!” Can we cue some danger music folks!

The final episode of head banging on Serendipity Farm...for now...

The final episode of head banging on Serendipity Farm…for now…

I wanted to illustrate this post with images that I sourced online. I couldn’t find any! This episode seems to have been one of the more obscure episodes and as such the diehard fans haven’t been spreading the love but the other day one of my wonderful blog mates Tanya from the exotic yet entirely sumptuously wholesome blog http://chicaandaluza.com/sent me a link to this very episode! I mean…what are the odds?! I would more likely win the lotto than get my hot little hands on this episode of The Goodies but here it was, right in front of me…30 minutes of memories and the entire contents of this post all wrapped up in someone on the other side of the world’s memories also.

One of three glass cases we bought for an extremely cheap price at Bunning's for "something". Still in the cupboards gathering dust. This one is going to live with Stewart and Kelsey and will become a Wardian Case (look it up folks ;) )

One of three glass cases we bought for an extremely cheap price at Bunning’s for “something”. Still in the cupboards gathering dust. This one is going to live with Stewart and Kelsey and will become a Wardian Case (look it up folks 😉 )

The U.K. in the 70’s was a hotbed of change. Maggie Thatcher and her heavyweight political thugs were setting up what was to be a bloodbath of the common man, tearing apart the unions and sending wage and industrial relations back to the dark ages, something that the U.K. is still reeling from today. The Goodies were a mix of middle of the road conservatism (Tim), scientific inventive know-how (Graham) and crazed way out sherbet sucking hippy (Bill) that melded together to expose and solve (in their own indubitably hilarious fashion) many of the problems that Britain was going through where in reality, the situation seemed dire.  If you have ever seen the punk episode where Tim wants to go to the punk ball you will know what I am talking about. Who saw THAT ending coming eh?

Still raining...sigh...

Still raining…sigh…

Aside from hilarious chronological and political story telling the music was wonderful, the dialogue was hilarious and full of double entendre that kept our parents snorting with glee where we had NO idea what was being alluded to. We last century kids got hefty doses of realism thrown in with our humour. No-one felt the need to shelter us from reality and indeed Sesame Street was a FAR different place when my children were watching it than it is today. NO sanitary wiped, germ free, everyone lives forever nonsense, they even integrated an episode where one of the main characters, Mr. Hooper (or “Looper” as Big Bird called him) actually died and decided to share it with the children watching. Everyone was genuinely sad but it was real folks. Kids NEED real, not being wrapped in cling wrap and stuck in the fridge till they mature like so much artisanal cheese.

Earl vs Steve. Earl 1, Steve nil

Earl vs Steve. Earl 1, Steve nil

I also remember an episode where chemical toxic waste was being served as tomato soup in drums and it turned everyone into clowns. Another double entendre and a very clever one at that. Dealing with the heavyweight issues of environmentalism and cutting edge humour wouldn’t have been an easy task but The Goodies were up for it and the results are still hilarious today. The Goodies were one of my favourite childhood television shows and thanks to ABC “thrift”, one of my children’s favourite television shows as well. We could do with less Telly Tubbies and a whole lot more Goodies when it comes to educating our kids about the real world and allowing them to develop a good sense of humour at the same time.

A man and his dog

A man and his dog

I think that might be all about The Goodies. I was going to ramble on for an entire post but I just fizzled out. You can all breathe a sigh of relief but do yourselves a favour and head off to Youtube where the BBC has actually released a fair few Goodies episodes for us all to enjoy. If you haven’t ever heard of The Goodies before you can settle down with a hot mug of whatever takes your fancy and a bit of cake (yes, you have permission for cake!) and have a good old fashioned last century politically incorrect chuckle at the antics of a few crazed Englishmen…go on…you KNOW you want to ;)…

https://www.youtube.com/user/TheGoodiesBBC?feature=watch

It’s been wet-wet-WET on Serendipity Farm and I don’t mean that 80’s Scottish band who crooned “Love is all around” by the way, I am talking about precipitation and specifically, the kind that has been digging more of the twin canyons in our driveway out making negotiation of said driveway an “extreme sport” to say the least. I have had a bung knee thanks to an attempt at being somewhat fashionable and wearing something with a small heel to my last shopping adventure resulting in a decidedly unfashionable knee swelling event. Steve has been braving the mornings with Earl and an umbrella. He foolishly took both dogs yesterday and on the way back home in the pouring rain (sans umbrella, he only has 2 hands folks!) he let Bezial off his lead on the walk back up the driveway who promptly steamrolled him over into one of the gaping driveway canyons resulting in language that can’t be reproduced here in polite conversation.

The new bbq in situ with its Earl Free Protection Zone constructed around to minimise dampness

The new bbq in situ with its Earl Free Protection Zone constructed around to minimise dampness

We have been cooking, plotting the downfall of the possums and various weed populations and arranging and re-arranging the furniture and most importantly we have been waiting. Waiting for the rain to stop and for a chance to get out into that garden that has erupted into a crazed growth spike thanks to endless rain and elevated temperature. I have been racing out in between rain showers and raking the driveway and lawns to get fallen branches to put on our ornamental gardens to foil the chooks from scratching all of the mulch from the soil. I WILL beat the chooks…you had better believe it! One “chook” in particular is living on borrowed time. We allowed one of our white chooks who had been clucky for the better part of 6 months to hatch out a single egg. She managed to prevent the feral cats from consuming this baby until it turned into a rooster…sigh…a rooster that is now turning its randy eye onto any and everything. Poor ducky has taken to not going back into the roost as this rooster finds her particularly attractive. Tonight, it is going to become an ex-rooster and a delicious pot of chook stock. Problem SOLVED!

Steve's statement about my "help" to construct the bbq...

Steve’s statement about my “help” to construct the bbq…

I think the same white chook is sitting on about 7 eggs hidden over in the side garden where the tree fell down. She is just about due to hatch them out and unless we get to her and her chicks first and throw them into the communal enclosed outside area that now houses a wonky rooster that survived being set upon by his dad and his brother, a hen with 1 largish chick and a hen with 3 babies, the feral cats will think that they are fair game. It’s dog eat dog here on Serendipity Farm and Bezial is worried! Steve has headed into town to brave the Launceston locals and to do our fortnightly shopping. We are buying another copy of Kaspersky, our Russian hit man anti-virus software who has been protecting us to the max since we bought it from Office works. There are many other anti-virus software packages but what we can get here in Tasmania, let alone from Office Works, is severely restricted so Kaspersky, our proven saviour, is IT. We will load it onto our newly liberated Windows 7 rich laptop so that yours truly can surf Pinterest with impunity on the sofa till I fall asleep at 7.30pm and Steve can then use it to find guitar tab to play while he watches his horror movies

Dog love :)

Dog love 🙂

Some time on Friday or Saturday, my arch nemesis will return. D.S. I don’t even WANT to type the rest of it will rob all of we Eastern border dwellers of an hour of our sleep. That’s not 1 hour folks, that’s an hour a day! Call me a mathematical plebian but even I know that when you add it up that makes approximately 182 hours of robbed sleep in time. It’s bad enough for the people that have to get up an hour earlier to go get ready to go to work but think of we magpies…we hopeless RSS Feed Reader and Pinterest addicts who need to get up before the blackbirds sing to satiate our wanton desires and you can start to see why I ABHORE D.S. I only realised that it was the dreaded D.S. when I read a post from Sarah at the holistically wholesome and sustainably engaging quirky New Zealand love fest that is http://gardeningkiwi.wordpress.com/ . Sarah alerted me because N.Z. just commenced their own D.S. Sarah, unlike me, didn’t whinge or complain even once about it. I would imagine that was because Sarah (again…unlike me) is a natural morning person. Narf7 isn’t a natural morning person. I am a natural night-time person who endures mornings to get what I want. D.S. is like inserting bamboo skewers under my twitching early morning eyelids folks and I can only thank goodness that Steve and the dogs aren’t up to see me before that first elixir of mellowness known as “tea” soaks into my grouchy internal organs and seeps outwards to lend me an air of somewhat contented bewilderment

That big jar next to my Vitamix contains "Hilda the Booch" my new Kombucha scoby

That big jar next to my Vitamix contains “Hilda the Booch” my new Kombucha scoby

Here's a closer view of Hilda. The glass isn't really grotty, it was painted once and the bits in the line are all that remain. I got the scoby from David at Wholesome House, our favourite health food shop.

Here’s a closer view of Hilda. The glass isn’t really grotty, it was painted once and the bits in the line are all that remain. I got the scoby from David at Wholesome House, our favourite health food shop.

I foolishly got Steve to set the alarm for today. I have a bolshie desire to foil myself being forced into waking up an hour earlier and giving any powers that be a degree of satisfaction in this little black ducks lack of preparedness for this annual fleecing of hours. I stumbled out of bed with one eye glued to the other wearing only a pair of Steve’s boxer shorts (I DID tell you it hasn’t stopped raining here…) and a sports bra (probably backwards…it no longer matters 😉 ) and turned on the P.C. to see that it was 2.45am. 2.45am?!!! The temptation to head over to my saucepan collection and select 2 particularly loud specimens complete with lids to walk around the house banging together but I figured that it was my own fault for not setting the alarm myself and decided to get dressed instead… Bezial had suffered enough!

It's Steve's and my 13th wedding anniversary on October 7th...we plan on celebrating redneck style. Check out the moonshine glasses that Steve found in town. We will be sipping our port in style!

It’s Steve’s and my 13th wedding anniversary on October 7th…we plan on celebrating redneck style. Check out the moonshine glasses that Steve found in town. We will be sipping our port in style!

So Wednesday finds us somewhat sunny but deep in study again. That’s the thing about living the life that we do…it’s not all beer and skittles you know. We have to pay the ferry man for our lifestyle choices and so study we must. We have to put our veggie garden on the back burner and get stuck in to our final unit of this course where we learn to put everything that we have been learning together and make a website… technically we have to make 2 websites…one each, but let’s not nit-pick, at the end of the day we get to turn out a real and proper website! This has excited Steve and I to the possibilities of making more. We might make one for Earl and Bezial… it would probably get more hits than mine. People love dogs ;).

Our attempt to prevent the wallabies from scarfing the tender new weeping maple leaves. I am pleased to say it works! So far...

Our attempt to prevent the wallabies from scarfing the tender new weeping maple leaves. I am pleased to say it works! So far…

Before I bugger off and let you all get your lives back after tumbling you around the brain of narf7 and hopefully not damaging your psyche’s too much in the process, I want to share an amazing vegan food blog with you all. Don’t roll your eyes; this one would make the most discerning gourmet twitch with delight. I found this blog through the annual Vegan M.O.F.O where crazed vegan food bloggers decide to beat themselves over the head daily and post a food post a day on a particular theme. If I was ever to be crazy enough to join them I would choose Stromboli because Steve would eat every single one of them and STILL want more at the end of the month but I digress…back to http://thevegankitchenofdrcaligari.wordpress.com/ .

Have you ever seen a jasmine tea "flower"?

Have you ever seen a jasmine tea “flower”?

Neither had I till our friend Roxy gave me one

Neither had I till our friend Roxy gave me one

After pouring boiling water gently over the tea "flower" it started to open...

After pouring boiling water gently over the tea “flower” it started to open…

This vegan food blogger took a month worth of “cupcakes” and ran with it. When you think of cupcakes, you think of little sweet cakes with some form of icing (frosting to you Northerners) on top and perhaps a few sprinkles or a cherry to grace the top if you are feeling particularly adventurous on the day…well NO MORE folks! Dr Cal has deconstructed the average cupcake, found it wanting and knocked it right out of the ballpark! In his amazingly innovative way, he has undertaken a Frankenstein approach to cupcakes and every single cupcake that has rolled off the production line this MOFO has been an eye opening scintillating creation that boggles the mind. Think sweet cupcakes that take you all over the place with decidedly unusual ingredients and then forgedaboudit folks and think savoury cupcakes…savoury? Why not! Gorgeous little cupcakes that would be fantastic served at a pot luck or picnic and that would be an instant conversation starter at any “bring-a-plate” event anywhere. Dr Cal (forgive me sir, I don’t know your real name 😉 ) is as eclectic as his cupcakes and every single recipe on his blog is amazing. Do yourselves a Molly Meldrum favour and head straight over there…do NOT pass go and forget about your $200, you are going to need it to buy all of the crazy ingredients that you need to make every single batch of these heavenly delightful cupcakes and just make them and mainline them. Who needs drugs when you have cupcakes like this to free your mind from the oppression of everyday hum-drum life? Kudos Dr Cal and here’s to a lifetime of educating we jaded and oppressed vegans back into the folds of creative invention I salute you sir!

The tea "flower" almost fully opened

The tea “flower” almost fully opened

Isn't it pretty?

Isn’t it pretty?

It was like a beautiful anemone at the bottom of the pot and the tea tasted lovely as well :)

It was like a beautiful anemone at the bottom of the pot and the tea tasted lovely as well 🙂

That brings us to the end of this post. About time, it is just about to hit 3000 words but you know how it is…needs must when your muses prompt. What are you still doing here by the way…you should be marveling and “Oohing and Ahing” at Dr Cal’s gorgeous creations! See you on Wednesday when narf7 may or may not be able to fit through the door after making and eating almost all of the months MOFO cupcake creations 😉

Today's Word Cloud picture

Today’s Word Cloud picture

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.

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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

Fumbling past 50

Hi All,

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A strange reflection in the water this morning looked like a sandbar across the river but must have been a reflection of Redwood Island to the right of the photo

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I have been hunting for diatomaceous earth for AGES now. David at wholesome house has just started stocking it and I can now use it with our chooks to rid them of any lice that they pick up and our dogs to kill intestinal parasites as well as with horticultural usage to kill aphids etc. It is human safe as well and apparently contains lots of minerals via the silica in the teeny tiny little fossils that comprise the powdered product. So glad to be able to buy it locally and support a small business in town 🙂

I am at ground zero the day after the big 5.0. birthday and so far nothing seems to have been lost since crossing that invisible but all too real line between “young” and “old”. I don’t seem to have lost my mind (so far), I haven’t started to resemble poor Brigitte Bardot in the wrinkle status and I could still get out of bed this morning without falling over despite imbibing freely of the demon drink last night. I had an altogether lovely birthday spent with Steve and got phone calls from family and friends to wish me happy birthday. I also received some amazing gifts from some precious friends out there to remind me that meeting people online is just as real as knowing them in person. I received a gorgeous jar of jam from my twin sister Christi in Olalla. I am starting to think that we might just be 2 of many “twins” out there Christi…a confraternity of women of “a certain age” who all share a common ethos a glorious muddle of middle aged possibilities who absolutely and positively refuse to fade into obscurity and whom age finds “windswept and interesting”. My jar of jam is precious. I get the jam, which is seriously the very best jam that I have ever eaten, I get the wonderful jar which I hoard with glee and use for my various date pastes and strange food creations along with the other precious jars from Olalla that I keep on my pantry shelf AND I get an amazing ziplock bag as well! I can hear you laughing Christi but as we live 50km away from the city where we shop, we only go in once a fortnight and we have to buy all of Steve’s milk at once so we freeze it. When I take the containers out of the freezer I place them in one of your huge ziplock bags (that we can’t buy here) and they don’t drip all over the fridge :o). I can’t forget that Earl had the MOST fun out of the coffee perculator box that you send me my jam and my wonderful “Official New Novelist Guidebook” which I am going to use as I write my novel all about “Life…the universe…and everything” according to narf. Earl shredded the box to within an inch of its life and aside from a few of the wonderful scrunched up comic pages that you added for our entertainment that I managed to save, he dove into the middle of them and went rip crazy…I have never seen him so happy since we bought him,  a whirling dervish of hurling tearing rolling delight :o)

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I still haven’t opened the jam yet…the anticipation of that first spoonful is almost as delightful as the jam itself 🙂

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The wise words and the friendship of Christi and Keith are the stuff that novels are made of 🙂

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Stewart and Kelsey and I on Kelsey’s birthday on Sunday (the day before mine 🙂 ) …and Earl photo bombing…

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I won’t tell you what Earl was doing on the sofa but it was shameful! 😉

Steve had to do the fortnightly shop on my birthday but when he got back he handed me a small parcel from Kym, my bestie from high school who I only caught up with again after mum died last year. She is coming for a visit on Friday and we are going to “Do” Tassie in style. I was most curious to open the parcel and found a wonderful small book that she had created all about our friendship. I must admit I cried. Circumstances made us drift apart but good friends are very difficult to lose. Poor Steve isn’t going to get a word in edgewise for the coming week and Kym and I are going to be trawling wineries, running up miles on her hire car and Kym has apparently booked somewhere amazing for us to stay on Saturday night in Hobart. I thought that we were going to do a day trip down so that Kym could visit the markets but now we can spend a lovely leisurely time at the Salamanca markets, we can wander around Hobart and we can head off to see what we can find. The apartment that we are going to be staying in looks amazing! It is right on the waterfront at Salamanca and I am going to take so many photos I am going to resemble a Japanese tourist. It’s all going to be great fun and by the time she heads back to her wonderful husband Bruce in order to celebrate her own 50th birthday, she is going to be knackered! She might just sober up by the time the 19th arrives but I very much doubt it! :o).

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A picture from the wonderful book that Kym had made and sent to me. This picture was taken in 1979 at Albany Senior High School when I was in year 11 at high school. Our close knit little group comprised Janet on the far left, yours truly, Kym, Kylie and Rachel. The photo was taken on the top balcony where seniors were able to take aim and drop water bombs on the juniors below…ah the sweet memories Kymmy 🙂

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The note informed me about how we are about to stay somewhere wonderful in Hobart overnight. Another adventure!

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This is apparently a present from the dogs for Kym and I in Hobart…I wonder what it is… 😉

I then got a message in the post to tell me that a parcel had arrived. I was on the phone to my sister Pinky at the time and she had sent me a parcel last week for my birthday. We both assumed that it was from her but it wasn’t. We have to head up to the small local store on the Batman Highway which acts as our local post office as well to pick up the parcel and when Steve got back it turned out to be something amazing. Not only did I get a wonderful and most glorious pair of knitted trousers from Jess aka rabidlittlehippy, but I also received a magnificent learning experience in the form of a fantastic book from Linne of A Random Harvest. 2 bloggers that I have gotten extremely close to over the last few months and who I think of as very close friends had sent me gifts from the heart. I adore my trousers. They are completely and utterly “me” and as Jess so rightly pointed out from the photos that I sent her to show that they both fit and “fit” me, they match our cupboards :o). I am wearing them now and will be sporting the winter camo look all the way to Exeter when we deposit the cheque that Steve’s mum sent to me for my birthday that arrived the same day. I love the book that Linne sent to me and will spend hours poring over it because it is an incredible tale of adventure, spirit and understanding and an empowering educational aid to anyone wanting to set out and do something a bit different on their land. Its “me” to a tee and I will be forever grateful to you for being able to see exactly what I needed and to be the bearer of another precious learning experience for narf7 to quaff liberally to add to my wonderful life experiences to date.

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I love that Linne found this book in an Australian bookstore for out of print books. Low carbon miles, high in the kudos factor girl…you did well and you made narf7 VERY happy on her 50th 🙂

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Aren’t these trousers the bomb! 🙂

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Steve told me to “work with me baby!” so I did 😉

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The trousers are wonderfully unisex…just sayin’ 😉

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Not only did I get some wonderful trousers and a fantasic book but the 2 wonderful art pieces that you see proudly displayed on our fridge were created by Jess’s wonderfully talented son Jasper. I will treasure them always Jas, one day they might be some of the first artworks that you produced (and then I will frame them! 😉 )

Steve has been helping a friend renovate his mother’s home in Launceston and when he was talking about my rapidly approaching 50th birthday, he was telling Guy that I adore bowls. Indeed I could be called a bowl fetishist my adoration is so compelling. Guy casually mentioned that he had a bowl that I would probably love and that I could have. It was a cava bowl, a ceremonial drink drunk by Fijian natives in their ceremonies and that he would give it to me on my birthday. I had no idea that I was getting this and Steve kept it from me amazingly well because Steve is usually unable to keep secrets. Guy and Roxie arrived in the afternoon armed with what Steve assumed to be a small wooden bowl but was actually a large bowl full of fruit! The bowl is amazing. I did a bit of research about it online after Guy and Roxie headed back home and found out that it was carved from a single piece of wood. I was amazed and delighted to discover that the wood used was Thespensia populnea and one of its common names is “Milo” wood! How very fitting that a Milo wood carved turtle shaped bowl would come back to live on Serendipity Farm. We couldn’t have Milo live with us, but we can have this Milo turtle to remind us of him :o). They also gave me $6 worth of scratch lottery tickets and I won $11 so all in all my birthday was a ceremony of good friends, wonderful gifts and incredible bon chance

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My wonderful antique milo wood cava bowl. I have named him Atuin in honour of his incredible turtleness. Rather than holding the earth on his carapace, he appears to be holding fruit, not a bad trade off methinks and twice as tasty

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A bottle of sticky next to Atuin the great fruit turtle

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Just in case anyone else out there wants to avail themselves of a particularly sweet and sticky drop. I got this bottle all to myself. Steve isn’t partial to sweet and sticky but I, the little fruit bat that I am, love it!

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Not only did I get Atuin I got fruit! I will be working my way through Atuin’s contents for the next few days. The bowl is currently minus the grapes, that apple and the banana and the kiwifruit (that I am allergic to) went back home with my daughters. Kelsey ate one of the lemons but the rest will be used wisely, one with Steve’s fish tonight

I still have my sisters “goodie box” to look forward to and my brother phoned last night and told me that he has a lovely hand framed photograph of Denmark, my home town earmarked to send to me. I am an incredibly lucky 50 year old woman to have so many friends and family who care about me :o). Steve bought me a wonderful deep frypan made from carbon steel that he carefully seasoned and that Brunhilda hasn’t managed to melt yet, a wonderful new kettle that makes my early morning tea making a blissfully quiet experience and 2 amazing heavy stoneware bowls with “tilt function” that I already treasure beyond belief. I have all of my children turning up today (Tuesday) for an impromptu birthday lunch together and hopefully soon Stewart and Kelsey will move to Launceston permanently. Stewart is applying for jobs here and hopefully he gets one and is able to move from inner city Melbourne to outer cumbuckance Launceston to start saving for their own property out in the bush somewhere. Tasmania is still a wilderness state despite the best efforts of miners and loggers to clear-fell and dig up the entire state for a few measly jobs and a lot of profit to be funnelled off elsewhere. If Stewart is able to get one of the jobs he has applied for they can move into the unit behind the home that we own in Launceston and live rent free so that they can save up for their own home. It’s a great chance to get their feet on the homeowners rung and to get out of the spiral of paying $2400 a month rent on what is effectively a very nice shoebox in the middle of inner city Melbourne.

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Stewart looking like a Serendipity Farm health inspector just about to close the kitchen down and me doing my level best to hide the evidence 😉

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If the wind changes you will stay like that Kelsey! The remainder of the Stromboli’s that I made for lunch on Sunday got polished off by Steve for his tea that night along with some homemade oven chips. Do you like my magnetic knife rack? I do 🙂

Today finds me replete with the knowledge that I am both liked and loved and that 50 hasn’t dampened my ardour for life. I might have woken up a bit seedy but that was self-induced. Sweet white wine is indeed the debils work folks! I did have the presence of mind to stop drinking it when dinner was taking a long time thanks to interruptions from friends and relatives phoning up in the evening. I am usually in bed at 7pm and last night I didn’t get dinner till 8pm. My meal was wonderful. I managed to take a photo of the formed beetroot and chickpea patties (that look rather disturbingly like ground meat!) but alas, the wine rendered me somewhat senseless and I forgot to take photos of the finished meal, I was ravenous by the time I got it and it was absolutely scrumptious. Steve had bought some triangle seeded rolls to put the patties on and formed the patties into triangles to echo the shape of the rolls. We topped them with baby leaves, peppery with rocket and fresh sliced vine tomatoes. I had sliced marinated artichoke hearts because I love them, sliced pickled jalapeno chillies and lots of sliced avocado and Steve made me homemade crispy oven fried potatoes. I haven’t eaten potatoes since February and they tasted amazing. I topped it all off by eating half of the wonderful macadamia and coconut cream icecream that Steve had made for me and dragged my desperately tired derrière off to bed at 9.30pm. I fully intended to sleep in till 5am but one of the dogs let out a dream howl at 3am and I wasn’t able to get back to sleep. I lay in bed till 4.30am and decided to get up. I am trying to sleep in a bit as I can’t be getting up at 2.30am while Kym is here…the poor girl doesn’t want to be sitting up at night with only Steve to talk to as I have gone to bed at 7pm so narf7 is trying to redirect her habits for a week…it is a most interesting experiment that seems to be failing but at least I am trying 😉

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The delightful contents of the box my wonderful sister Pinky sent to me that we picked up today from the post office. The plate and the gorgeous blue shell bedecked container are made by a local producer in Albany that Pinky and Jason know well who sells their wares at a local weekend markets. The gardening gloves and the tin of gardeners balm are wonderful gifts for someone about to embark on a comfort free lifestyle and the gorgeous pashmak underneath will be lovely wrapped around my neck in Hobart on my rapidly approaching visit. Thankyou HEAPS sis and here’s a big slobbery smootchy hug and kiss from Tassie…now go wipe your face, you know you want to! 😉

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This glorious pile of amazing wool came from my wonderful daughters Madeline and Bethany. They always know the perfect gift to give me and homed in on my wool fetish to my delight. I have NO idea what I am going to make out of all of this amazing wool but most of the balls have a pattern with them and I can get creative and learn some new skills. The gorgeous fluffy pure white ball at the front has the strangest creature as the pattern that looks like some sort of rabbit crossed with a ghost! Not sure I will be making it whatever it is 😉

What does turning 50 mean to me? Not a lot really. I don’t feel any different to when I turned 49 aside from being fitter and healthier than I have been in years. Perchance turning 50 has offered me a valuable lesson in life appreciation. I think mid-life crisis are just people suddenly becoming aware that life is half gone…that we are entering territory that people don’t like to talk about and most people desperately attempt to deny. “Old Age”…what is old age to be honest? It’s something that comes to all of us, no matter how much we try to deny it or repel it. There isn’t anything sadder than someone who point blank refuses to age gracefully. You won’t find me fervently purchasing new breasts on the black market to be inserted by Asian doctors in special clinics…I am perfectly happy with what I have. You won’t find me scouring the shelves of upmarket department stores for promises of eternal youth in a jar. I could care less about eternal youth…it’s entirely overrated folks! So much work to maintain an exterior when the interior needs so much more. You can’t take all that silicone and eye work with you when you go folks even though it will remain here to be dug up by some future archaeologist and our vanity and stupidity will no doubt be marvelled at. Just think your fake silicone boobs that have a half-life might end up as trophies on some grave digger’s shelf or be sold on the future equivalent of eBay as “antiques”…

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My wonderful bowls that Steve bought for me, showing how they “tilt” They are heavy stoneware and gorgeous.

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Don’t these look like they are made of meat?! They aren’t, they are beetroot and chickpea burgers and they were delicious. I still have 3 of them in the freezer for the next time I need a burger fix

50 has found me thoughtful and in a redirection phase. I now have intent and purpose to move forwards. Steve and I have been bumbling around and now I have direction. I am channelling my energies towards what is important and getting the veggie garden up and running is incredibly important. After Kym heads off Steve and I will be sinking 4 more poles in the centre of the garden to help make the netting that will be covering the enclosure more stable and less likely to yield to possum bouncing. We want to plant horizontally AND vertically and after learning all about how clever possums really are, I don’t want a repeat of my bean cube. I want to harvest enough dried beans to actually use this year and will use last season’s harvested dried beans to grow this seasons eating beans. I cleaned out my RSS Feed Reader and now I am slowly adding precious new blogs that are all about growing your own food and learning to use what you grow to maximum potential. The internet can be a big waste of time (think Pinterest) or a huge boost to your information highway, its really up to you. I have been channelling my Pinterest addiction to find lots of new places to learn how to ferment foods, how to grow things and how to make things myself. There is a wealth of free information out there and Pinterest can allow you to find things that you are specifically after…you just have to resist the temptation to wade into the pretty pictures and just funnel your searches to what you are actually after.

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Steve likes to surprise me with little treats when he goes shopping and this fortnights treats started with these Chinese red dates. Not only are they delicious, but they are treasured by the Chinese as valuable medicine. I am in the process of sourcing a Ziziphus jujuba (Chinese Red Date) tree for Serendipity Farm as these babies are delicious

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This is coconut sugar. It’s a cross between brown sugar and molasses and tastes delicious. It’s another one of Steve’s little treats 🙂

I am going to write my first post for my new blog sharing experiment on “Not Dabbling in Normal” a compilation blog by some very interesting people all over the world. I need to get my first post up and running and find out how it all works, so far I am a bit confused about it but what the heck, in for a penny, in for a pound as my gran used to say! 50 has given me the impetus to start trying new things. I have decided that this is going to be my year of getting out of my comfort zone. I am going to do 1 thing a day that takes me out of my regular routine and that forces me to move forwards rather than remain safe. When I think of myself I imagine an image of someone who has plastered herself with protective glue and who sticks regular routine onto that glue like a hermit crab. I have all of my regular routines down pat…my inner control freak is most happy when everything is in its place. I was always good at mis en plus when I worked in the food industry. I like things to be “just so” and I don’t like chaos. I married chaos though so I am just going to have to learn to peel off some of my hermitty control freak layers and step out into the sunshine of the real world in my undies to see how the wind blows. Safe is good but it also stifles creativity and knowing that we only get 1 ride of this carousel called life, I don’t want to limit my life through my desire to remain contained and safe.

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We went to Launceston today to pick up some last minute things for Kym’s impending visit. Steve couldn’t find a hot water bottle on shopping day and we found one today but we also picked up a bag of toys for Earl from the thrift shop. He was pretty tired when we got home after dragging me all over Launceston on a most exciting walk and didn’t have the energy to rip them limb from limb so I tipped them into this old box till he regained his mojo

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Mojo regained! There aren’t many of these toys left and the box ended up shredded like wheat 😉

50 has gifted me the desire to set out on some new pathways. I am going to test myself. I am going to stop procrastinating and start “Doing”. I am just about to wood burn myself a sign that I am going to mount on the wall above my computer monitor. It is going to say “I can and I will”. I come from a long line of most determined women. They did amazing things despite their worldly limitations and I will be buggered if I am going to let the side down now! I will document my daily comfort breakers here and hopefully my journey into the unknown will help other control freaks out there break their own fears and will let them at least peel a few layers off their own hermitty shells of control to allow them to stop and smell the roses…watch a few clouds disappear into the ether and dance like they mean it. Watch this space folks…narf the elder is back…in pog form! See you next week. My comfort zone experience will be starting after Kym heads back home so the post after next should have some interesting components. Kym and I will be in full force doing Tassie to a tee this time next week so you can expect a few photos of the 2 of us and some adventures of our own. Till then, keep safe, but not too safe 😉

Where there’s muck, there’s brass

Hi All,

Have you ever listened to roosters till the novelty wears off? I do it on a daily basis. I have come to the conclusion that roosters are just like bagpipes. The similarities are actually quite startling. They are both bags that when inflated and squeezed (the pipes are man squeezed, the roosters are self-motivated…) they make a noise. The “noise” that emits from them could, initially, by some romantic person living 3 blocks away, be seen as entertaining for approximately 5 minutes before the novelty wears off and the repeated inhales and exhales punctuated by a raucous droning sound become unbearable. I have the dubious luxury of being situated directly above where our 2 feral roosters roost at night. We know that they roost there because aside from the loud inhales and exhales that can start anywhere from 1am onwards, we have discovered a large pile of nitrogenous fertiliser on a tall pile of firewood under the deck that coincides with the rough approximation about 2 metres above said pile of fertiliser that narf7 sits above as she taps away here to her dear constant readers…that would be you!

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Here we have the two feral roosters that I talk about in this post. I have officially named them “Ralph” and “Hewie”. Their female counterpart who tends to hide a lot has been named “Elvira”. That interesting metal thing to the left of Ralph (the dark rooster with the rose comb) is my prospective still/rocket stove. I have yet to work out how to make it but for now, prospective is good enough for me!

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This is not a rooster. It is a duck. You would think that a duck wouldn’t have the bagpipe lungs of a rooster but you would be wrong. A duck can use her lungs to great advantage when she wants to and this one wants to every 10 minutes.

Roosters are windbags. They are solely there to make a lot of noise and to repopulate the earth with mindless hens. The hens are mindless BUT they have enough primal cunning built in to allow them to hunker down and stay shtum once they spot more than 3 eggs in a nest…they remain hunkered for 3 weeks when they emerge triumphant leading a bewildered and bedraggled selection of fluff balls out of hiding and straight into the jaws of the starving feral cats…roosters are SUPPOSED to be protectors of the flock. In our experience, they are the first to run and hide up a tree and crow from a nice safe distance once they have covered their own furry derrières. If a mindless hen spots ANYTHING out of the ordinary…say a human standing in an area that they weren’t standing in 10 minutes ago…they will send out an alarm cluck…this cluck will be passed on with exponentially increasing degrees of alarm and clucking, much like the ubiquitous Chinese Whispers game, until all roosters are crowing maniacally, all hens are clucking in unison and the alarmee is supposed to flee in mortal terror at the sheer amount of noise going on.

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If you look carefully you will see the quack-bag herself hiding behind this snapdragon that self seeds every year from goodness only knows where.

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Myrtus communis…a Mediterranean fruit that tastes somewhat foul on it’s own but that enterprising Greeks have managed to turn into some form of potent (lethal) alcohol that they imbibe on a regular basis…you have to love the Greeks…they certainly know how to take a difficult situation and make it rock!

I read a lot of blogs folks…a LOT of blogs. Some of them deal with life on farms and smallholdings and no matter how many times you read about the keeping of hens, and what a pain in the derrière they can actually be, there is a propensity for “regular folk” (that’s you lot, living in cities and big towns) to wear rose coloured glasses whenever you think about fluffy bottomed chooks clucking quietly and pecking delicately around your back yards in a romantic countrified way. The reality is that chooks are the equivalent of Somalian pirates. They rob from the rich (supposedly “us”) and they give to themselves. They navigate Serendipity Farm with stealth and cunning that leaves us alarmed, bewildered and afraid for our lives. We managed to coral them into an enclosure for 5 months and the resulting garden happiness was directly correlated to a decided lack of the ovarian orbs that make keeping chooks worth it. We might not have had chicks popping out from all over the place but we also didn’t have any eggs. What’s a smart person to do? Give in to the pirates that’s what!

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One of the “things” that have been keeping us busy on Serendipity Farm. Our crazy hippy friend down the road wants us to drink rainwater…we don’t have a say in it apparently, we HAVE to be drinking rainwater so he has given us a permanent loan of this 600 litre rainwater tank…I wonder if he will let us paint it blue to match the gas hot water heater (that is full of spiders as it gets turned off for most of the year while Brunhilda is pumping out her delicious heat…)

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Another one of the things that has been keeping us busy for the last few days. Steve headed out bush to get a load of wood with a mate on Sunday and this is the resulting haul. He will be heading out again for more wood sometime soon so thanks to his wonderful mum Kaye, whose property they are plundering for firewood, narf7 and Stevie-boy should make it through winter without turning into human popsicles

We are already finding nests in far flung well hidden places. I can only image how this is going to end and I have a VERY good imagination. When we bought our initial 8 chooks from an unscrupulous (read desperate) woman at a local market she insisted that they were all hens. I now know that this poor woman was desperate to offload at least one of her windbag roosters to some poor newbies with rose coloured glasses and visions of gorgeous fluffies assisting them with their permaculture ideals. I have since discovered that this poor woman’s flock have gone over to the dark side. No longer working FOR her, they have taken over her entire property and are festering malcontent all over the place. She has no control over them anymore. They live out of the lovely high-rise coop that her husband made for her back when she was a wide eyed newbie (not all that long before I myself came into the picture…) and they live in the trees and on the surrounding neighbour’s properties. There are so many roosters that have gone feral that there is no chance of stopping this maniacal hen invasion and the only option is to plead insanity…Allison…I no longer hold you responsible for your actions when you slipped Big Yin into my initial 8. I would do exactly the same thing. Desperation breeds craziness…a yard full of chook poo, no eggs, 40 000 chicks and 20 feral roosters all crowing directly under your window at 2am is going to render you somewhat crazy no matter how stoic and resilient you are. And still my dear constant readers will smile knowingly and will muse internally about the delights of keeping chooks. That’s how they get you folks…be afraid…be VERY afraid…

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I have been given permission to share a few of Steve’s more creative endeavours with you…

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I like to call this one “Serendipity Farm as a Christmas Bauble”…

I have been invited up to a neighbours for “morning tea”. I am a hermit. I have forgotten the niceties of social graces. I eat cake with my hands and tea from the ceramic equivalent of a bucket. I don’t have to worry about slurping or where my pinkie finger ends up or how to make small talk because Steve could care less about any of it. We talk about what our lecturer is going to do when he sees some of our “creative” photography and how we are going to be able to amend our creativity once he does. We talk about rain, and we talk about digging holes and how to deal with feral cats. I have NO idea how to talk to real people. These people, an older couple from Western Australia, my home state, are very nice. They live in a lovely old homestead with a gorgeous cottage garden in a completely walled property with gorgeous deciduous trees and three lovely miniature schnauzers. The only thing that we have in common with them is a love of gardens and a propensity to visit the husband’s place of work, he manages a bottle shop.

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I bought this ice-cream maker years ago from a market stall at the Evandale Markets. I paid $10 for it and have hardly ever used it. I would like to draw your attention TO the delicious chocolate ice-cream that is being churned in the ice-cream maker and AWAY from the dribbled chocolate creamy custard that narf7 dribbled onto the ice-cream maker and that Steve wouldn’t let me clear off before the shot was taken because I might melt the ice in the machine…sigh…

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Aside from the chocolate deliciousness in the ice-cream we chopped up some Cadbury’s dream finger biscuits and an entire crunchy bar to add. Steve is hovering around the freezer just waiting till he has eaten tonight’s Cornish pasty and spicy homemade oven wedges till he can serve himself a HUGE bowl of it. There are a lot of benefits to having a vegan wife…consider this as being one of them ;).

By the way, if anyone would like to try the truly innovative recipe for homemade chocolate ice-cream that doesn’t require eggs and is loosely based on David Lebowitz’s recipe, you can go to my food porn heaven site at Food 52 and find it here… http://food52.com/recipes/5872-naked-chocolate-ice-cream-for-lovers

Being “me” I have tried to think about the angles of this “visit”. Steve has been let off the hook (the lucky bollocks) because someone has to stay here because today is the day when the electricity metre reading man turns up and we had to promise to be here and contain our dogs because he took one look at them 5 months ago and refused to read the meter even though they were completely enclosed at least 10 metres away from where he would be reading said metre. We now have the honour of being able to read our own metre 3 times in a row and only having to lock up our dogs once every 4 months for a day till the metre reader has been. Today IS that day so Steve is off the hook. I, however, am not. A social butterfly I am not. A bewildered narf7 I am! I made a cake. I made it last night out of whatever I could cobble together that I figured would taste good and that I could eat a thin sliver of. I made it vegan and I made it chocolate and I made it with tofu and I used this recipe…

http://dairyfreecooking.about.com/od/cakes/r/veganchoccake.htm

I then decided to top it with a couple of jars of homemade coconut oil (that I almost blew my food processor motor out on trying to make), some date puree and some cinnamon to replicate a caramel topping. I ended up with something more akin to a caramel marzipan but it tasted delicious so I went with it. I formed it into a round on top of the cake and patted it neatly into a disc that fit the top of the cake nicely. I used a bit of Christi’s Farmlet jam, the BEST JAM IN THE WORLD to put in the centre of the cake and the end result looked both presentable and tasty, who could ask for more?

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Today is Bezial’s day on the blog. He is tired of Earl getting the centre stage and told me in NO uncertain terms that it will be a dog day afternoon if I don’t do something to redress the imbalance so here is a profile picture of Bezial (showing his good side apparently…)

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He will magnanimously allow this shot of Earl and would like to point out that battle scar that he, personally, inflicted on Earl making him the superior beast on the block. He doesn’t want me to tell you that this wound was inflicted while they were both rolling around playing on the floor…that would NEVER do 😉

I will hold this cake aloft like Excalibur along with a bottle of my non-dairy milk. I would hate for anyone to feel put out by my personal choice to exclude animal products from my diet. I hate a fuss being made and as I am already at a social disadvantage, I don’t want to add “crazy health nut lady” to my exponentially growing list of “crazies”. Steve and I keep to ourselves. We have, on occasion, visited with Glad next door. Glad is lovely. She is 90 years old, tough as old nails, calls a spade a spade and is ANYTHING but “old”. She also could care less what we wear and seems to like us. Frank and Adrian, our long suffering neighbours to the left seem to have gotten used to living next door to ferals. Feral cats, feral roosters, feral chooks and feral neighbours…they sigh but seem resigned to their fate. We never see Noel, our ex pilot neighbour who lives behind Frank and we don’t talk about our neighbours directly to the rear but needless to say, if “feudin’” were to be part of life on Serendipity Farm, we would pick these neighbours to start with…

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Here you see yet ANOTHER reason why we have been busier than beavers around here on Serendipity Farm. We saw a note stuck in our gate latch the other day saying “ring this number to get some more horse manure”…we phoned and were told that we could have a mountain of aged horse manure from a gentleman’s property because the person who was supposed to be taking it, didn’t so it was now free for the taking…we took! Here you can see 3 trailer loads. We ended up with 6 so even after our feathered buccaneers did their best to level the heap you can imagine the size of the mountain of manure that we can use in our new fully enclosed veggie garden 🙂

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Bezial laying next to a pile of spent hay that the chooks have done their best to redistribute all over Sidmouth. I am thinking of hiring them out as earth  movers…sigh…

The people that I will be visiting today (Tuesday) live directly opposite the neighbours directly to the rear of us. I will be heading up through the back of our property, cake aloft, plastic beer bottle full of non-dairy milk aloft and will gingerly attempt to step over the barbed wire fence between our properties where there is a council enforced “no-man’s-land” that was once mooted to be a road before they realised that lesser Sidmouth was NEVER going to be a teaming metropolis and shelved the plans to fester, along with neighbourly coveting of this area of non-road. We could care less about this small stretch of prospective road but Frank has already claimed his bit. He let us know in NO uncertain terms that should his bit of ex-road become available, he had kept it cleared for the past 10 years and had first dibs. Fair do’s Frank, you have earned it!

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Steve insisted that I put this photo of me actually doing some work on the blog. Here I am…narf7…willing and able to be the stunt double of the lead singer of Aphex Twin 😉

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Someone MUCH more handsome to look at. Isn’t he lovely? He actually smiled in town the other day and Steve got this lovely shot of him where Bezial has an uncanny knack of being able to avoid being photographed 🙂

I am not so sure that I would be as accommodating with the ex-road at the rear of our property…our neighbours to the rear are the same folk that duped our house sitter into cutting down trees on our back block so that they could attempt to gain more of a view to sell their house for more. No-one is willing to pay the ridiculous amount of money that they are asking for their modest home and so they are resorting to telling fibs to try to increase their chances of a sale. These self-same people sold my dad a dud of a car that he then gifted to my eldest daughter for her 21st birthday. He paid enough for it to have bought a sensible small modern car but a massive great automatic Mercedes Benz from the 70’s is NOT an ideal first car for a girl to learn in. When it stopped doing what cars are supposed to do…”Go”…she managed to sell it for $200 and is well shot of it. She catches buses along with her sister and living 4km from the city centre is an added bonus. No need of a petrol guzzling, road tax requiring car when you practically live in the middle of Launceston. It’s this ex-road that I will be navigating to get to my morning tea date today. Wish me luck folks and hopefully our neighbours to the rear don’t choose today, when my hands are both full, to decide to take a pot-shot of your own dear narf7!

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Here is Steve wearing his Canadian Club hat that keeps his ears warm…

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And here is Steve “Acting the Giddy Goat” as my nana would say. I doubt that he thinks I am going to put this picture in today’s blog post…but you know what Steve? You would be wrong! HA!!! He just told me he doesn’t care because this Canadian hat has been superseded by his new Russian hat that you will have to wait till my next post to see…

Bollocks…a week has passed since this post and I am tossing up whether or not to hurl it into the ether but I only have a day till I need to post again and narf7 needs something under her belt (aside from a stiff vodka) to get her through the day. It’s all things go here on Serendipity Farm. On Sunday Steve was fast asleep in bed and I was pootling around buttering bread to throw to feral chooks (it’s a tough life here on Serendipity Farm…) when the phone rang. I picked it up in shocked confusion hoping that my daughters hadn’t managed to get the dog stuck in the blender…again…and was pleasantly surprised to hear the dulcet tones of our friend who lives down the road asking for Steve. I carried the phone reverently in to Steve who was now awake and a detour for his day was on the cards. Our friend Guy was off to collect wood on his mum’s farm and had invited Steve to go with him “someday”. Apparently Sunday was “someday” and Steve was up for it. He jumped out of bed (another Jamie Oliver “literally” moment…) and hooked up the trailer and was off in a space of 15 minutes (had to have a coffee as well). That left the boys and I twiddling our thumbs and doing sweet nothing which gave me the time to eradicate my RSS Feed Reader and actually do something else on my Sunday

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Here’s a blended photo of Earl and Bezial. We had 2 photos. One where Bezial looked good and one where Earl looked good but the other dog (in each shot) was looking away so Steve used a Photoshop blending tool to blend the images. This is his first attempt but if you look closely at Earls little pink nose, you will notice it looks a little bit strange…

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With a bit of blending and a bit of cropping Steve turned less than great images into 1 wonderful image…Photoshop is the bomb! 🙂

I chose to take some gorgeous brightly coloured knitted sock boots that my wonderful son had bought for me previously. I had removed the red fleece insert prior to Earl nibbling 2 holes in each one and they had been languishing in the cupboard as I was loath to hurl them out. It’s lucky I didn’t hurl them out, even though they have the equivalent of a small airplane of a moth bite in each one, I can unpick them and use them for my next knitting project. My last knitting project, if I can remember back that far, was when I lived in Western Australia and attempted to make my ex-husband a jumper. It got as far as the front and back portion and the 2 sleeves and when it came time to put needle to collar and cuffs that was all she wrote folks! I have been married to Steve for 13 years this year so you can work out for yourselves how long it has been since I knit anything. I am going to take this gloriously and most raucously dyed (supposedly) Tibetan wool (it is certainly rustic enough in texture to be nomadic…) and after wrangling it out of its booty shape, which takes HOURS and is punctuated with moments of arm waving and Earl restraining as he is reminded of just how tasty nomadic Tibetan woollen boots are, rolling it up into ball shape and then actually knitting gauntlets using a pattern that I found through Ravelry, a most wonderful and magical place where furtive knitters and crocheters can go to satisfy their textile lust in packs. You can get some amazing patterns for free if you hunt and cheers to Linnie for sharing it with me…

http://www.ravelry.com/

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Here is a random stolen image from my brothers Facebook page of the beach where I come from in Western Australia. Check it out folks…it’s paradise :). It took a fair bit for us to consider leaving this wonderful part of the world and relocating down to the hole in the ozone layer but the lure of 4 acres of self sufficiency was strong young padawans and here we are…but I do miss those beaches…and Steve misses the fishing…by the way sorry for pinching your image Jim (no I’m not…you never read my blog posts anyway! HA!) 😉

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I designed this shirt. I WANT this shirt. Steve Photoshopped it for me and I am going to just have to head in to a printers somewhere and get myself this shirt.

On Monday I got addicted to Pinterest. That’s all I really need to say about that. On Sunday I looked down at anyone who used Pinterest as “sad” and “pathetic” creatures who didn’t have a life. On Monday Steve left me alone to go shopping and by 11am I was hopelessly addicted with the fervour of a heroin addict on a crack high.  I have been a Pinterest “member” since foreverty-boo and just ignored it ever since. I like the fact that I had to go through a waiting period to be admitted (and they say that clever marketing doesn’t work!) which shows that I fit exactly smack bang into the middle of their ideal demographic and niche market… the person (usually female) who has NO control over her life but who has a tragic desire to put EVERYTHING in labelled boxes and create order in her chaotic (read “real”) life. It’s food porn folks, food, and health, and travel, and photographic and just about everything else “ic” that you can think of and I am now officially addicted beyond hope thanks to Steve going shopping and my RSS Feed Reader emptying out nice and early in the day. I spent an entire morning cramming my Pinterest fluffy cloud with as many foodie things as I could find and I can find a HUGE amount folks, that’s what narf7’s are for…finding things. Steve returned with a carload of stuff and I had 154 Pinterest pages open on my poor groaning browser and couldn’t do ANYTHING till I had clicked “follow” on every single one. I learned (quick smart) how to make other pages on my page and now have so much food porn I won’t ever have to cook anything myself ever again to be able to satisfy that “perfect shot”. Don’t you love the fantasy of the interweb? 😉

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Steve and I FINALLY finished our media studies for this term. We finished nice and early to give ourselves 3 weeks off to get our veggie garden built. We needed to produce a slideshow of 11 photographs that we took ourselves that mirrored the 11 rules of photography for our final assessment. The only real stipulation was that we had to link them with the common theme of a colour. Steve chose green and this photo is a portrait shot…

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This was my submission…I chose blue…I didn’t get away with it. I had to repost another image that was less photogenic where Earl and I were both looking most intently over the deck rail but a girl has her pride you know and I liked THIS shot! It might not give a very good representation of portrait but who cares…for once I am happy to post an image of myself to the blog so here it is…happy days! 🙂

So there you have it…another big mutha post and I haven’t even caught up with what we are doing! I guess that means I have plenty for Saturdays post already so I might just start it off so that when I am laying somewhat comatose at 3pm because of all of the hard work that I have undertaken for the last week and am unable to lift my feeble fingers to keyboard to share it all with you, I will at least have something to offer you, my dear constant readers. See you then and whatever you do…DON’T go to http://pinterest.com/ …don’t say I didn’t warn you folks! 😉

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 😉

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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! 😉

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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!

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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.

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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 😉 )

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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 😉

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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? 😉

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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!

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

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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

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

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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.

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The steps leading up to the car park at The Gorge

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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…

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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 😉 )

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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!

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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 🙂

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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.

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“BEHOLD the mitts of eternal happiness!” 🙂

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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).

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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 🙂

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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)”

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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?

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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…

Narf7 loves bread

Hi All,

It’s 3.41am on a Sunday and I just made myself some chocolate pudding. I think I need to clarify something here…the intention wasn’t to deliver myself a bowl of breakfast but a drink. I opened the fridge up this morning and took out my non-dairy milk to make myself my first cup of tea. I opened the cap and took a sniff (a wise thing to do when you make your own milks with a much shorter shelf life) and realised that my non-dairy milk was starting to head for the dark side…not in a serious way, but in enough of a “way” to make my tea curdle. Tea is my early morning institution, it’s like some folk consider their bacon and eggs…their morning toast, their newspaper…it is sacred to me and to have it curdle on me wasn’t an option. I would save my first cup of tea till later in the day when I could make a LOT of noise using my Vitamix.

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Another lovely autumn sunrise on Serendipity Farm. You can see how chilly it is these days but isn’t it pretty?

What to do with my slightly sour scented almond and oat milk that remained? Turn it into a nice big mug of hot carob! I had a container of carob that was interlaced with a bit of raw cacao that the lady in the health food shop had managed to fandangle me into buying (never shop on an empty stomach folks!) and I figured I would just apply the cocoa techniques to the carob/cacao mix. Easy peasy! I tipped 2 tbsp. of carob/cacao mix into my smallest saucepan and I crushed it to a fine powder. I then added an equal amount of the non-dairy milk and I whisked the mix till it was smooth (who likes lumpy cocoa?!) and slowly added the rest of the non-dairy milk and a few scoops of whole date paste (my sweetener of choice) until the mix was nice and smooth and put it on top of the newly ignited Brunhilda and stirred. After about 5 minutes of stirring (Brunhilda stays slowly slumbering overnight ready to wake up at a moment’s notice) I had a pot of brown unctuousness ready to pour into a large mug and enjoy.

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Steve attempting to teach Earl to “stay”…doing good Earl…doing good!

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Bezial “pointing” to a wasp

I was smug! I managed to use up something that wasn’t all that good for much and turned it into a win! That was till I started to pour it into my mug and realised that when you use “almond and OAT” milk to make a drink, and you put it on the stove you end up with chocolate porridge. Don’t get me wrong folks…I am NOT going to waste it! I have a silky smooth form of breakfast oats that I never would have tried before that tastes pretty good but a morning “cuppa” it is not. Oh well…looks like Sunday is going to be an interesting day today! I look forward to exploring its eccentricities but for now I had best get me a spoon and eat my “cocoa”…

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We were getting tired of the possums using this bench to climb up, eat our plants, knock them over and steal the wren and cuckoo shrikes cheese while we slept so we rearranged the area. So far so good…there was still cheese on the window sill this morning!

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Earl teaching me a very valuable lesson…”when we go out…make sure to remember to use the head halter or you aren’t going to be able to walk with Earl and you are going to have to ski down the driveway”…consider this little black duck taught! 😉 In this shot, Earl’s lead is wrapped around the tree in the background so that I didn’t have to suffer the ignominy of being dragged down our steep driveway upside down to Steve’s feet at the bottom of the driveway…I don’t think I would have EVER lived that down! 😉 (and he had his new camera with him so you can bet he would have “documented it for posterity” 😉 )

My “cocoa” was such a success that I have started adding it to my regular breakfast line-up. I throw a handful of rolled oats, a few whole almonds (might get round to soaking them someday but for now they are just out of the freezer in their dry state) and a scoop or two of carob mixed with some raw cacao into my Vitamix and process them for a minute till they are like a fine flour. After that, I put them into a saucepan along with a couple of scoops of homemade date paste and start adding water slowly mixing to ensure I don’t have any lumps. After simmering and constantly stirring on the stove I end up with chocolate pudding porridge that appeals to the need for speed, nutrition hunting, comfort food seeking part of me and satisfies all three with great aplomb.

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Maples starting to really colour up and these brachychitons that were almost dead last year appear to be getting a new lease on life after we cleared out the weeds and debris underneath them

The title of today’s post is most fitting because bread was one of my soul foods back in the day. I could eat a whole loaf of fresh white bread slathered with butter, toasted and slathered with butter, made into toasted sandwiches slathered with butter…you get my drift ;). Today I don’t eat bread. I haven’t eaten bread since January when I started using green smoothies to mainline my nutrients and I haven’t ever felt better. Narf7 might love bread but I fear she can’t eat that fluffy white nutritionally defunct version of it anymore. So what can I eat? I can eat homemade good quality whole-wheat or multigrain bread and that’s where Audrey comes into the picture

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A shot of the terrible state of our driveway. It’s VERY lucky that we own a 4 x 4 because I dare say we would have to park at the bottom of the driveway and walk up if we had anything less!

I got Audrey from Jess of Rabid Little Hippy blogging fame. I have faithfully maintained Audrey, even though of late, she has only been out of the fridge for her 4 day feeding events (that seem to have stretched to weekly feeding events without much protest on her behalf). She has been incredibly faithful in her efforts and whenever I am ready to bake, she wakes up and rises (literally 😉 ) to the occasion. I have a mission. I have been stalking a most wonderful conglomerate of amazing bakers who get together to share the amazing bread that they have been baking called Yeast spotting. If you would like to check it out for yourself and are at all interested in the yeasty path of righteous baking, here’s a linky…

http://www.wildyeastblog.com/2013/05/05/yeastspotting-5-5-13/

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Steve took this “shroom’s eye view” shot of the Auld Kirk Church yesterday…just thought you might like to see it from a shroom’s point of view 😉

Each one of those 3 classifications of bread links will open up a plethora of passionate bread makers who are willing to share their magnificent creations with us all. I fell instantly in love with this blog and have been following a few of the bakers that regularly post. Ian, of the wonderful blog Mookie loves Bread, bakes some of the most amazing bread that I have ever seen. Aside from the amazing bread he loves cats and he finds the time to give his amazing bread the most fantabulous names. Who couldn’t love a blog like that? I have been ruminating about wanting to start baking “real bread” for a while now. I decided that as Brunhilda is going to be pretty much on the go 24/7 for our coming 6 – 7 months of Ice age (CHEERS LINNIE! 😉 ) that I may as well use this opportunity of constantly “on” ovens to learn to bake really good loaves of bread. I have been commenting on Ian’s blog for a while now as I drool over the endless line of gorgeousness that he produces on a regular basis and he has kindly offered to assist me with my baking processes should I run into any problems…who am I kidding! I am GOING to run into problems! 😉 Why start with the basic stuff? If you are narf7, you have a built in perfection valve and Ian appears to have that very same perfection valve because his recipes leave no room for omissions. A great place to start for a beginner and so I have decided to throw myself in at the deep end and attempt to make Ian’s amazing “Kamut-Turkey Whole Wheat Spelt Tomato Sour Dough Bread” as my very first proper loaf of bread. Here’s the link if you would like to check it out…

http://mookielovesbread.wordpress.com/2013/04/03/kamut-turkey-whole-wheat-spelt-tomato-sour-dough-bread/

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“Is it for me? is it? Please? Pretty Please?…”

I started preparing this loaf of bread 2 days ago. As someone who isn’t naturally patient (I can hear my children laughing out loud there 😉 ), this 3 day process to churn out a loaf of bread, certainly doesn’t come naturally to me. I think next year I am going to take up the word “patience” and run with it (or maybe “walk slowly with it” is more to the point 😉 ) but for now, good old impatient narf7 is going to have to muster up the serenity to go slow. I have the mashed potato ready for this recipe. I am raring to go and I can’t wait to see if I can bake anything like the gorgeous loaf that Ian made in this tutorial. I am prepared for disaster but my optimistic side says “go for it narf7!” so I am :o). Wish me luck folks. Today…I bake!

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Steve’s new paramour and accoutrements 😉

While I was rabidly hoarding recipes from the Yeast spotting site I came across another amazing blog. Zita, from Baking Badly does anything BUT bake badly. This young guy is a most amazing baker and his site is a study in list making, perfection and appealed to my inner experimental baker and my inner list maker at the very same time. How could you resist bread called “Pregels” a cross between pretzels and bagels…and not only does he show us how to make them, he perfects his recipe over 3 posts! Here’s the first pregel recipe should you want to drool all over your computer screen…

http://bakingbadly.com/2013/03/31/spiced-sourdough-pregels-pretzels-bagels/

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Steve’s “Old School” cameras and his new baby

The next 2 posts after this one are both about the pregel perfection process although if I could turn out pregels as amazing looking as Zita’s very first batch I would be entirely satisfied and would be baking them for the entire neighbourhood all puffed up with baking pride ;). After initially thinking that Zita was a girl and commenting as such, he forgave me my stupidity and has decided to help me through my sourdough stumbling’s anyway. Cheers Zita, you are a truly kind blogger to be sharing your amazing talent with us all. I think my next sourdough journey is going to be a nice big batch of pregels :o)

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Steve’s speed camera. He plans on raising some valuable (elusive) funds on Serendipity Farm by accepting bribe money from upset speedsters 😉

I am a camera widow. Since we started our new course Steve has been making rumblings about cameras. He is a camera buff from WAY back and it would seem our little Fuji S5700 wasn’t giving up the goods enough for Stevie-Boy. We recently got given a pittance by the government in a vain attempt to encourage us to vote for our current prime minister. Note the distinct lack of capital letters for such an esteemed position. I did that on purpose…sigh…I don’t even want to THINK about voting in 3 elections over the coming year and will probably be registering my very first ever donkey vote in my voting history because there just isn’t any candidate worthy of my vote :o(. The dribble of bribe money did, however, allow us to start a small side saving venture that we have been adding to each fortnight. Steve has been avidly studying camera review websites in an effort to isolate the very best entry level SLR camera possible for our purposes and last week stumbled over an amazing deal from Harvey Normans. I am not going to promote this shop here in my post or blog aside from this singular mention. Gerry Harvey is a racists, a bigot, and a consumerist money monger who I would rather drown than promote BUT his online shop managed to make Steve “SQUEE” last week and our carefully hoarded camera savings were able to get us a new Canon EoS 1100D a lot quicker than we thought that they would.

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One of Steve’s first photo’s taken with his new camera…note the tree in the background that STILL hasn’t fallen down!

The new baby arrived on our doorstep yesterday. Delivered by a courier, not a stalk, and the poor man stood there bewildered whilst Steve signed his bit of paper and the dogs gave him a magnificent rendition of the Halleluiah chorus from above on the deck all in barks.  After the poor man drove his van back down our approximation of a driveway (runnels included for free) Steve raced inside and fondled the large box that the camera came in. I could see that faraway look that men get when they get a new toy and knew instantly that Steve had left the building. I dare say he won’t be back for the next week. He disappeared outside with his new baby as soon as the battery charged and even read an online manual (the real one had writing that was too small…glasses time methinks Stevie-Boy!) so that should tell all of my female dear constant readers how serious this new love really is and he even found out where the “Q” button was…I have NO idea why he would think I could care less where the “Q” button was but it was apparently a small triumph…

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Steve’s new camera adds a whole new dimension to our exploration of photography. We haven’t got the foggiest idea about how to use it but you can be sure that Steve is on the case as I type this. By the end of the month it will be putty in his hands 😉

Watching a 48 year old man springing off into the vestigial jungle of Serendipity Farm with a large camera around his neck is like waving goodbye to your last child as they head out of the house…FREEDOM! I know that I can do whatever I like for the next week…Steve won’t care. He will pretend to care; he will mutter vaguely positive things whenever I ask him about anything but he is gone…away with the camera pixies in photographic heaven for the duration of time that it takes to absorb this new toy in its entirety. That might take some time folks. This one does all different kinds of things. It beeps and takes 4 or more photos a second (you get to choose) and will perform sequences of actions seamlessly and can be programmed. This camera is his new best mate and he was holding it tenderly on the sofa last night. I headed off to bed and I swear he was talking to it…should I be alarmed? Nope. I know he will be back when the novelty wears off 😉

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The new camera took this photo of our fairy grotto in these alarming colours today. Steve didn’t fiddle with it, it was on automatic and who knows why it decided to add these vibrant greens to what is actually somewhat dull at the moment. Who cares…doesn’t it look pretty? We are enjoying pretending that we actually live in Ireland 😉

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This is the actual colouring on Serendipity Farm at the moment. That large brush pile in the background is just that…a large brush pile waiting for a Guy. The collection of wood in the foreground on the right hand side is some of my driftwood that I have found just opposite this area on the riverbank

So in the throes of baking, kefiring, making various non-dairy milks and working through our latest tangled mass of studies I might love you and leave you there folks. I have so much to do today that I am sacrilegiously thinking of only half reading my RSS Feed Reader today and just blasting straight into the “Doing” bit of my day early…” sacre bleu!” I haven’t even filled my allotted 2800 words! This Saturday I will be posting my entry into The Virtual Vegan Potluck. Hopefully you all stick around to see what culinary creation narf7 has decided to enter into the fray and my own little personal twist. Saturday is also the day of the enormous progressive garage sale and Steve and I will be off and hunting nice and early. We will take the dogs and will walk them at Paper beach. Steve will be tenderly clutching his new baby and I will have old faithful, now officially “mine” so expect a LOT of pictures of the event. I will post about it next Wednesday and you will be able to tell the photos that Steve took…not by the quality, but more by his desire to use as many of the inbuilt features in a single photo as possible. Pfft…Aquarius’s and their artistic liens! 😉 See you on Saturday folks or if you choose to bypass the Veganese, see you Wednesday, hopefully loaded up with bargains and a wonderful pictorial trail of our adventure :o)

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

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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? 😉

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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.

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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!

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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” 😉

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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.

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

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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.

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

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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.

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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

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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! 😉

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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

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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!

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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!

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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 😉

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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.

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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.

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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?!

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(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)

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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.

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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!

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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…

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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.

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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…

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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.

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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

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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…” ;).

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

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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)

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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” 🙂

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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.

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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 🙂

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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.

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

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

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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…

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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 😉

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

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

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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!

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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).

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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!

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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 😉

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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)

When soybean met date…”I want what they are having!”

Hi All,

I have been making my own homemade soymilk for a few weeks now as an alternative to the carton stuff that I had been using. Soymilk is a dirty word these days and aside from my early morning cuppa I don’t use it. I had been drinking the Coles brand for a few weeks (Steve does the shopping and it’s only $1 a carton 😉 ) till something made me take a look at the carton more closely and I realised that the magic words “Non G.M.” were most suspiciously missing on my carton! That’s often more telling folks and this little black duck isn’t going to be drinking soymilk made somewhere else using genetically modified mutagenistic materials! No sir! So what’s a girl to do? I didn’t want to start buying the more expensive cartons because 1. They are more expensive (duh!) and 2. I can make it myself…and 3. I actually own an incredibly underused soy milk making machine that I can and should be using. 3 strikes and I am out! I asked Steve to pick me up some organic Aussie soybeans from David, our local Health Food shop maestro and my new cycle began. I say “cycle” because I never really understood the true cost of my early morning splash of soy milk before. When you make it, you suddenly realise that it’s not instant folks! I soak my beans overnight. They really do need to be soaked for at least 12 hours to loosen the skins…why care if the skins are loosened? That’s another 1; 2 folks…1. Because the skins clog up the machine, make the milk über frothy and very hard to clean and 2 (most importantly) if you skin the beans (yes…hand skin…) the resulting soymilk is actually drinkable…even tasty! As with everything that I do, I like to refine the processes. If you are going to keep doing something, it has to fit in with your ethos and your life and thus the refinement process began…

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2 homemade Cornish pasties with butter shortcrust and homemade oven wedges

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Any of you craft mamma’s out there want to give me ANY idea how I could make something like these?!!!

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The closest I got to actually documenting the soymilk making process today. Sloth overtook me and I spent the day researching all kinds of fermented goodies recipes…I have to skin all of these babies before I can turn them into soymilk so you can see the process in Wednesdays email 🙂

Soak the soybeans overnight (first REMEMBER to soak the soybeans overnight…black tea tastes hideous!)…next skin the beans. Find a way to make skinning the beans enjoyable as it’s going to take you the better part of a hour to do it and you will resemble Rumplestiltskin with a hump by the time you have finished if you stupidly decide to do it at the kitchen sink… I choose to sit on the deck dangling my feet alternating looking at the view, dropping the soybean skins to the ground below where the feral kittens toss them about and the feral chooks eat the beans that I accidentally throw over the edge (whilst tossing the skins into my newly popped pile…sigh…). I usually end up with Steve and the dogs as my companions and when I finish I head inside to the awaiting machine…toss the skun beans into the basket of the machine (obviously I am going to have to take some photos of it now…note to self…”TAKE SOME PHOTOS!”), wrangle it all together (like every other electrical machine that I own it has a personality and not a good one :o( ) and plug it in, press the start button and wait for it to do it’s “thang”. After it beeps at you an inordinately long amount head back from the furthest reaches of Serendipity Farm where you OBVIOUSLY have to be and start the next part of the equation…making it taste good. As I mentioned, if you remove the skins you are most of the way to getting something approximating shop bought carton milk. Unlike shop bought carton milk, homemade soymilk hasn’t got all the fillers, the oil, the sugar and the thickeners etc. that shop bought milk has. You get to customise it out the wazoo and that’s what makes this little black duck’s heart sing! I don’t use sugar any more. I gave it up back in January when I started my green smoothie challenge (another moment when I was just going along for the ride and ended up predominately changing my life…) and I have no intentions of starting it again just to make soymilk palatable.

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I got this sturdy cast iron fire set at the local tip shop for $1. All it needs is a bit of rust removal and rust protector and it will be as good as new… does ANYONE know what those weird extending tongs are?! You usually get a fire poker with these sort of sets but I had to have these because of that extendable set of pinchers 😉

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This wonderful cast iron pan cost me $1 at the Exeter tip shop as well. It was a bit rusty but here it is after Steve, the maestro rust remover and pan seasoner has worked his magic on it. I LOVE tip shop bargains ;). As you can see by the silicone oven mitt, this pan is smoking baby!

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I have a newfound desire to start cooking recipes from some of these wonderful books…watch this space…

Cow’s milk naturally tastes somewhat sweet and as someone who needs her early morning mug (bucket) of tea, not wants folks…NEEDS…to function through her day, I wanted to approximate the mouth feel and level of sweetness that cow’s milk delivers. I decided to use my newfound sweetener of choice. I made up some date paste. I make it in my Vitamix and use some of the date soaking water to process the mix. When I finish scraping out the resulting smooth paste, I throw in the rest of the soaking water (sweet in its own right) and whizz up the dregs of the paste to make date syrup that I use in my morning smoothies…no waste here on Serendipity Farm! I add 3 heaped tablespoons of date paste to the hot soymilk and half a teaspoon of fine crushed (in my mortar and pestle) sea salt and voila…I have a really tasty soymilk minus the gums, thickeners and weird sugar approximations. I love it, and Kid Creole’s babies apparently love it to! I used some to attempt to make soymilk kefir. I thought it was a complete flop as I tasted it while I was separating the grains from the resulting mass (couldn’t technically call it “kefir” 😉 ) and at best it could have been considered thin, lumpy soy vinegar but I underestimated the power of the date, and the kefir (that I poured into a 2 litre container after 2 days of making it and promptly “forgodaboudit”) kept doing its “thang”…I noticed it in the fridge door and thought “best taste it before I throw it out”…and it had transformed! It was fizzy, lightly sweet, clean tasting and sort of alcoholic! I put this down to the inclusion of the dates as apparently you can culture kefir twice. Once in its milk and then with added fruit. I am well on my way to making something that I can use neat in my morning green smoothies to give added probiotics and to take out the frowned on soy molecules and make them acceptable (fermented). “WOOT!” Another job done and dusted…”NEXT!” 😉

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The “ingredients” for a homemade chalk board…some leftover acrylic paint…some leftover tile grout, a paintbrush and something to paint

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Everything that I just said above…but closer! 😉

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The recipe calls for half a cup of paint…Steve calls for autonomy of his processes and the right to remain free to choose how much paint he is going to use and just “bungs” some into a glass…sigh…

Why all of a sudden has Serendipity Farm been littered with posts and pictures about food? The weather is starting to turn the thermostat down and we are having blissful low 20C days and cooler mornings and nights. As a newfound convert to early mornings I am starting to have to wear jumpers again and I love it! With the newfound arrival of autumn, it seems my desire to cook has ramped up. It’s like bulbs sprouting in the spring, bring on colder weather and my cooking genes ignite. As most of you know, I am a vegan. I have been vegan for about 17 years now and I follow a lot of amazing vegan blogs. I consider these wonderfully innovative people to be like rock stars and last year I discovered an event that handed me a whole lot more amazingness to cram into my RSS Feed Reader called “The Virtual Vegan Potluck”. I had never heard of a “Blog Hop” before. It is where a group of people get together and decide to post on a similar theme and link to each other. There are lots of small blog hops online that range from once a week to a few times a year and The Virtual Vegan Potluck is a biannual event (cheers for clearing that up for me Google or I may just have inadvertently made it once every 2 years in my ignorance 😉 ). It sees some of the most amazing vegan food bloggers coming together to create a monumental homage to vegan food gorgeousness. All kinds of people post recipes because the only stipulation to join in on the blog hop is to post a completely vegan recipe. There are vegetarians and Omni’s (that’s you “normal” omnivorous people shortened to make you as cute as we vegans 😉 ) that post and this year I have bowed to pressure and will be joining in myself. It’s a complete departure from normalcy here and for one post I will be part of a united chain of vegan deliciousness that will circumnavigate the globe. Whether you are interested in animal welfare, or just some delicious meat, egg and dairy free grub it’s a great place to check out what vegan food is all about. There are fringe groups that are Gluten Free, Paleo vegan’s and all kinds of strange skewed varieties of vegan but we all unite to agree to disagree to create this incredible ladder of food hope and you are all invited to check out the amazing array when I take part in May. For one day, Serendipity Farm posting will be hijacked and there will be a link to the post before me, and the post after me that if you choose to take a little trot around the world, you might just find some incredible new recipes to tantalise your tastebuds and add something new to your repertoire. Even if you just want the odd vegan recipe in case your crazy sister comes to town (hint hint Pinky 😉 ), you will find something here because everyone pulls all the stops out and delivers their very best. Last year one of the stellar crowd delivered the most amazing vegan cheeze en croute that you could imagine including recipes for the unctuous “cheeze”. All free, all just a linky click away. I have plans this year. As you all know I am OCD when it comes to just about everything and when I channel it, hopefully it can be used for the good of all mankind ;). My entry will be in the Main course section and will showcase our home grown produce and just how frugal deliciousness can be. I hope that you will all head off in random directions and salve your curiosity and discover that vegan is the new mainstream black :o). You never know what deliciousness you will find…

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Measure out your grout…1 tbsp. for 1/2 cup of paint…can anyone tell me why it’s alright to measure grout, but not paint? 😉

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Grout into paint…

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Mix the grout into the paint

My little sister Pinky (Catherine to you 😉 ) has started a new blog. She has just gone part time working as a Laboratory vampire (I will let her explain) and has time to twiddle her thumbs and contemplate her navel now so being the wonderful big sister that I am, I decided to introduce her to the world of blogging. I know that she will end up as addicted as I am to this amazing platform of communication and after feeling her way around the blogosphere, she will find her niche and will slot in nicely. If you would like to check out her blog it’s here…

https://cathyandchucky.wordpress.com

Love you Pinky! :o). It’s been raining steadily here for most of the early morning. Steve is NOT going to be happy! We had plans to collect wood today and I think our sporadic sky precipitation might have just put the kybosh on his plans. I can’t say that I mind. I have always got a backup plan and todays backup plan is lighting Brunhilda, baking some decent sourdough carrot cake (using up some of that milk kefir) and reading a good book. Steve will just have to twitch in the lounge room and watch some of his “stories” ;). A wet and extremely happy Earl just burst through the dog door, flipped himself upside down onto the kitchen rug, ootched along on his back in ecstasy  and is now trotting around in the dark lounge room at 5.41am expecting me to join him in his tomfoolery…”TOO EARLY EARL!”…sigh…the story of my, and his, life ;). Yesterday the dogs got bones from Nigel, our friendly butcher. They got enormous meaty delicious bones and as top dog (in his own private universe) Earl has decided that it is HIS job to patrol the bones. He must get up at regular intervals and stalk around ensuring that nothing has touched his bones. A difficult task when there are lots of feral cats, possums and butcherbirds all concertedly trying to steal them. It’s a tough job but Earl is up for it!

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Steve decided to mask the frame after a “discussion” about what happens when artisan craftsmen “bodge” things and their wives find interesting ways to take revenge…

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Just paint the amended paint onto the surface. It doesn’t need any preparation but if you are using something shiny and metal it might be an idea to lightly sandpaper the surface. Cover the paint glass with some cling wrap to keep it damp in between coats. Note, this coating will dry quite quickly.

Steve donated his shed white board that he never uses to be our new pantry door chalkboard. This time I took some before and after shots to share with you so that you can see how easy it is to make your own chalk paint and save yourself a HUGE amount of money. We didn’t have to pay anything for our chalkboard paint as we have lots of leftover tins of paint. Think about how good you are, recycling paint and grout that you might otherwise have had to toss into landfill? Think about how you don’t need to find scraps of paper to scribble down “must buy turnips” or “must remember to brush hair” or “must eat more fibre”…you mean you DON’T scribble down things like that? If you DO plan your scattered life in a series of mounting scraps of paper (must get myself a spike…the wind is a biotch!), a homemade chalkboard will give you a degree of autonomy that is amazingly satisfying. You can make it any colour you like. You can use any kind of grout you like to make a smooth as silk finish or a nice rough finish that will hold chalk nicely. You can even make your own chalk! I know you can, I researched it :o). I found recipes using plaster of Paris that work amazingly well. I also found a recipe for how to make your own crayons but they are probably not the best medium for writing on chalkboards kiddies! Think of the trees that I am saving! No more scraps of paper telling me to “drink more water”…I can write it on the chalkboard and erase the dust as and when I please. I feel positively cleansed folks! Consider this pictorial tutorial our gift to you trees…aside from trying to plant as many of you as we can in a single given location (NOT IN OUR LIFETIME! 😉 ), we are singlehandedly going to get everyone to stop using paper! Ok, so that might be a bit of a pipe dream, but if every one of us used a little bit less paper we might be able to preserve some of those amazing old forest trees that have been strutting their green stuff for hundreds of years and wouldn’t that be an amazing thing? You can all call me the Narfy Lorax now in unison :o)

Here’s a linky for how to make some chalk (plain or coloured) to go with your chalkboard if you want to make one :o)

http://www.ehow.com/how_6867981_do-chalkboard-chalk-household-ingredients_.html

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After the first coat it will look a bit blotchy but there is enough paint left for a second coat which will render the surface nice and evenly coated

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The painted board in situ on the pantry door where we can now write items we need to put on our shopping list whenever we think of them. Steve is being used to show you how big this board is

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This is one happy camper…Brunhilda has been on for 2 days straight now and this little black dog is about as happy as a pig in muck :). This is his own personal couch right next to the blissful wafting warmth of our wood fired 4 oven stove (Brunhilda) and Earl has a recliner chair on the other side. They both spent most of the day upside down sleeping…whoever first used the term “It’s a dogs life” certainly knew what they were talking about 😉

I tried some of my homemade soymilk kefir in my breakfast smoothie yesterday and it was so delicious, I had to immediately put some more beans on to soak. I am going to look into making kefir with other milks, specifically the cheaper ones like sesame, sunflower and perhaps grain milks like oat. If you are going to use something on a regular basis you need to make sure it’s going to pay you back in kind and won’t deliver too many negative results. The jury is still out on soymilk. I just found some good recipes for combining oats and a few almonds to make satisfyingly delicious non-dairy “milk” that should be cheap enough for me to use regularly without the hype of soymilk. Now all I have to do is see if Kid Creole’s coconuts feel the same way about it as they do soymilk. I think the secret is to use dried fruit to get a secondary ferment (to all of you crazed fermenters out there that this means ANYTHING to 😉 ). Kefir, correctly cultured, ends up slightly alcoholic. I made soymilk booze! Forget sake folks, this stuff can be drunk for breakfast?! I am in! I will let you know how my experimentation with oaty, almondy goodness goes and if Kid Creole’s coconuts have anything positive to say about the equation. I will be experimenting with different fruit pastes as well. I adore dried figs. Let’s see if Kid Creole’s coconuts do too. I will be experimenting with making home-made beer soon. I will be buying the barley, soaking, sprouting and dehydrating it myself. I will also buy local hops fresh from this year’s harvest source to add to the brew. I want to see if I can make it myself and I want to cultivate “barm”. Barm is a frothy mix of bacteria and yeast that forms on the top of brewing mash (or Wort as it is commonly called). The barm is the lively stuff that converts the sugars and starches into booze… the magic little tiny union of alchemists that deliver us into table dancing maniacs and that hand us our regret on a headachy platter the next morning. I recently read that this barm is also what brewers used to sell to bakers to bake their bread…how interesting? My little twitchy researching brain started twitching rhythmically when it got onto the scent of an interesting new hunt…I headed off and discovered that you can, indeed, make the European version of a sourdough starter using barm and that it was, indeed, the precursor to todays dried yeast! Guess who will be brewing more than just beer in the near future :o). I also have plans for home brewed, fermented ginger beer from a ginger beer plant (hopefully Pinky still has mum’s recipe…) and home brewed naturally fermented root beer for my daughters who LOVE the turpentine taste of Sarsaparilla. If this little black duck can make it herself, saving HEAPS in the process, damning “the man” and customising the flavours and nutrients to her own desires then its BONUS time in the deal-o-drome (if you don’t watch “Deal or No Deal” that isn’t going to make any sense to you 😉 ). Time to make like a tree and leaf folks. Have a great weekend and enjoy whatever you have planned to the max. If it doesn’t work out…always have a plan B and that’s the sage advice that you are getting for free from the Narfy Lorax today ;). See you on Wednesday when goodness ONLY knows what craziness we have gotten up to in the name of frugal penniless student hippidom! :o)

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