Ch-ch-ch-ch-Changes…

Hi All

Or as Mr Bowie may well have sung if it was at ALL easy to rhyme…”ex-ex-ex-ex-experiments”… which comes off sounding somewhat like “Com-pu-pu-pu-(add 10 more pu’s here…by the way I know  that there are 10 more “pu’s” because I counted them 😉 )-computer game” by the NZ band with the dubious name of “Mi-sex”. I say dubious because from what I have managed to glean from dealings with some of my New Zealand blogging confraternity, they are pretty cluey when it comes to spelling so my guess is that the members of the band Mi-Sex are just Aussies that swam the wrong way across the channel as everyone knows that Australian males could care less about spelling. Consider it a fair swap for Crowded House (and by the way, cheers for the pavlova and the lamingtons, they were delicious! 😉 ) . If you would like to count the amount of “pu’s” yourself or you are interested in seeing how computers used to look last century (before anyone was allowed to touch one or own one themselves) or if you are at all, even vaguely, interested in 1979 New Zealand rock feel free to watch the song here…

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-m8IOD-wk9g

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This tree has been a dead tree standing for a while now. It was quite close to our house so a friend came over and gave Steve a hand to chop it down on the weekend. It’s completely dead and most deliciously fire ready. Perfect for this coming season of feet up around Brunhilda and tussling for the chairs either side of her before the dogs become permanently welded to them for the next 6 months

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Doesn’t look all that impressive but it’s over a cubic metre of uber dry firewood that we didn’t have to lug from the back block or pay for so “WOOT!” 🙂

I have been having a few “LEARN YOUR LIFE LESSONS NARF” moments here of late. I would like to share some of them with you for the sake of posterity…

  1. When you reduce your feral cat population significantly and are feeling self-righteous about what excellent neighbours and hail-fellow-well-met sterling examples of society you are, you may notice that suddenly your pumpkins are all scoffed by bush rats and the quolls move in and start snarfing your chooks…just sayin’
  2. When you set out to create a lush green oasis in the middle of a parched and arid landscape, every insect from this side of the Pecos is going to invade Poland
  3. When you focus on “lush and green” rather than any sort of thought process that might arrive at an increase in garden produce you get lush and green and not a whole lot to eat
  4. When you fall prey to the ideals of Permaculture and imagine your garden full of delightful helpful chickens who scratch delicately and eat all your pests you probably deserve to end up with no eggs and sixty quintillion baby chicks turning you every slowly more insane with their incessant cheeps
  5. If something tastes good, and you eat a lot of it, it makes you fat. If something doesn’t taste good and you eat a lot of it, it makes you fat
  6. When you give strawberries not enough water they refuse to fruit. When you give strawberries too much water you end up with mushy tasteless fruit…

I hope they can be of some assistance to those of you contemplating the delights of living in the arid wasteland formerly known as “Northern Tasmania” now, most accurately, an extension campus of the Gobi desert

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Here’s some firewood that we prepared earlier. You can tell that we prepared it earlier because a) it is stacked, b) it is dry and c) nature appears to be attempting to take it back…most notably that bollocking blackberry!

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Another one that nature prepared earlier. As you can see, this tree fell over our fence from Glad’s property next door. We cut up the wood that was blocking the driveway but the rest is going to be dealt with soon…not sure when soon actually is. Not even sure if it can be quantified. “Soon” on Serendipity Farm is like “Manana” to a Spaniard 😉

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Here’s another stack of logs that we cut from the tree that fell over Glad’s fence. You can see the pile of debris next to it and I have plans for any debris that we generate from now on. Soon I am going to start a concerted hedge building effort involving striking as many hawthorn cuttings as I can and interplanting them on hugels formed of hacked up debris along the boundary fences on Serendipity Farm. Our neighbours are going to LOVE us but you know what? Bollocks to them. This is for nature, for Permaculture and to redress the loss of topsoil washed down our steep slopes in winter

Today’s post was brought to you by the letter “H”. In particular, the word “Honesty” I read Pauline’s revealing and excellent post about her life and how facing up to the problems and behaviours that were blocking her from her full potential and taking a first step on the road to recovery initially physically, but closely followed by mentally and I dare say spiritually as well led her to become the vibrant, vital and most awesome person that she is today. When you are healthy you see things differently. Life has extra colours, there is hope around every corner and you can’t help but get out of bed feeling like today is going to have some interesting possibilities come what may and you are perfectly able to deal with them. In the spirit of this post I got to thinking about my own journey and the blockages that prevent me from living my life more fully and one of my worst habits kept making itself obvious again and again and again…

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Not a blockage per-se but this little fellow loves to live in our drainpipes and comes out to bumble around on the lawn where he hunts for insects

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One good habit that I cultivated was eating breakfast. Here you see narf7’s breakfast. A large mug of tea (2 teabags) and a bowl of buckwheat porridge with chopped apple, date paste and sesame milk.

I have been having more than my fair share of moments lately where I am lucid AND aware and my synapses are all firing in a similar direction and thought has been the order of the day. I have decided to challenge my longstanding habits on a daily basis. Why would I do something as inherently foolish as that? Because I realised that if we stick with what is safe and what we know we never learn anything and we never move forward. I have been reading a lot of blog posts lately where people have soldiered on against the odds and have come out the other side older, wiser and with a greater understanding and appreciation for their lot than they went into this exchange with. I want to ensure that I am not clinging tenaciously to old habits that might just be inhibiting me in my day to day life. Here’s a few of them that might be on the chopping block in the immediate future

  1. I always want things done my way.
  2. I get stressed when things aren’t done my way
  3. I sulk when things aren’t done my way
  4. I protest vehemently and loudly (and often into the night) when things aren’t done my way
  5. When ANYTHING negative eventuates (I will be waiting for years for just such a gleeful occasion) with anyone else’s interpretation of how things should be done I rise, like the Phoenix in gleeful schadenfreude

Now in looking at this list you might not immediately be able to pick out any common denominators. I am a reasonably well balanced woman who has managed to make it to 50 without going to jail for strangling anyone but I am starting to get the picture that I might just be a teensy little bit of a control freak.

Control freak

noun

informal

noun: control freak; plural noun: control freaks

a person who feels an obsessive need to exercise control over themselves and others and to take command of any situation.

Oh Dear 😦

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“Thank the Lord…we aren’t going to starve today!” Our amazing harvest for Monday… 😉

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Dates soaking in boiling water to make them soft to whizz up in my vitamix blender to make date paste and we actually grew this celery! Never tried to grow it before. It always smacked of “too hard” and so this year it got planted. Delicious stuff and I cut the bases off leaving about an inch so that they can regrow

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Mr Zuke is too cool for school but maybe not too cool to turn into 2 pans of zucchini brownies…

I have a lot of other habits that might need a bit of a tweak but this habit arose like the phoenix apparently in order to prevent me from needing to hyperventilate into a paper bag at least 100 times a day. People who are control freaks are afraid of being out of control. Knowing myself reasonably well (after having to live with “me” as an erratic flatmate inside my head who I might just be going to kick out if she doesn’t stop Pinning on Pinterest and get outside and do a bit of yard work in the immediate future!) I think that this might be a reasonable assumption to make. Throw me a curve ball and I start to twitch. I am not good at change and freely admit that anything out of the ordinary is viewed with suspicion first until it has proven to be anything other than nefarious where I may, or may not frolic in delight when proven wrong. Here’s a website for anyone else who thinks that they might be a control freak or be dealing with one.

http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/emotional-freedom/201010/how-deal-control-freak

I am sure that Steve would be most happy to have me attempt to deal with my incessant need to have my way because that would open the door and allow HIM to have his way all of the time. Steve and I are both control freaks but I am the more dominant (dominatrix?!) one and so I tend to manipulate things a little more than I should. I can’t stop Steve from turning into Napoléon but I CAN stop myself from limiting my enjoyment of life’s day to day experiences and for that, it will be worth unleashing Attila the Steve on society

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This is what kefir grains look like when you feed them non-dairy milk exclusively. Mine revel in homemade sesame milk mixed liberally with homemade date paste. Here you see my little hard working grains sitting in some finished, cultured kefir

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I lift them out of the finished kefir and plonk them straight into some nice new sesame milk/date paste mix ready for them to get cracking with turning it into finished kefir

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This heinous and most unusual looking jellyfish creates cracking caffeine rich probiotic kombucha. The outside of this large container might leave a bit to be desired but the inside is pure deliciousness

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One of the most interesting things about kombucha (booch) SCOBY’s is that they swell to fill the space that they are allotted. My container is square with ridges and so my booch SCOBY is square with ridges :). Here you can see her basking in some of her finished booch ready to be dunked into her next vat of cool sweet tea to feed for another 10 days before narf liberates her and places her reverently into some more…slave? “Moi?!”

Nature has conspired to assist me in my desire to relinquish my need for control. She has thwarted my ways most successfully of late and through gritted teeth I am “grateful”. Where I desired a fecund oasis of productive garden I have had to tackle a sagging enclosure roof that has allowed the possums to bounce their way to snapping off my sunflower heads and chomping the tallest tomatoes off at the stalk. I have discovered that you actually need to be proactive when it comes to potatoes and mound “something” up around their stalks because otherwise you get a lot of green and not a lot of “edible”.  When you think you have a handle on something horticultural because you spent the best part of 4 years studying horticulture and you really should know what you are doing you don’t. There are SO many life lessons that have been tapping me on the head with the duelling wooden spoons of nature and life that I think I might stop there. I am of the firm belief that life hands you life lessons for a reason. I am also of the firm belief that you keep getting those life lessons revisit you like the ghost of Christmas past, if you steadfastly refuse to acknowledge them and deal with them.

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This box contains par of the solution to the problems that we have on Serendipity Farm. I discovered these day lily tubers languishing in a ditch on one of our walks…they have brothers…and sisters…and aunties…and uncles…and about a squillion cousins and I can collect a few surreptitiously each time I decide to ambulate up this road and soon I will be able to populate Serendipity Farm with Day Lilies out the wazoo!

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Here they are having a nice relaxing spa and catching up on all the gossip with their kin

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What my poor kitchen looks like at any given time. There is always something being soaked, or dried or cooling (those 2 bowls of buckwheat porridge) or ground (I have 2 mortar and pestles), or washed, or thrown (“EARL!”) and its just lucky that I designed an UBER simple kitchen in order to keep clutter to the minimum (note…I am NOT showing you a picture of my kitchen table 😉 )

It turns out that we have been tackling Serendipity Farm all wrong.  We have been trying to force our ideas and ideals on the land rather than spending time observing it. Our gung-ho attitude has seen us grow and plant out things that are completely unsuitable for our property and its climactic conditions and it’s time to relinquish control and watch nature at work. Over the coming autumnal period and the ensuing winter, I am going to go back to basics with how we are going to deal with our property and what our outcomes are. Serendipity Farm has a lot of problems but it also has a lot going for it and it’s up to us to work WITH nature to effect positive change rather than try to keep banging our heads on the brick wall that refusing to admit defeat when it comes to our own wants and desires has become. There are some compromises to be made and they aren’t going to be pretty. They might see me having to rethink some of my ideas and ideals and renegotiating exactly what I want for our property. Permaculture is the only answer but each situation is different and I can’t try to apply principles that work elsewhere to here…back to the drawing board…observe, note, THEN plan once we are armed with what we need to move forwards.

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Our new lecturer (who is a darling by the way and who I adore already 🙂 ) told me to take pictures of all sorts of things, to get creative and to find design all over the place. I fear I may be stuck on our “50 pumpkins” task from our course last year. This year we get to design “50 bananas”…I am NOT going to tell you what Steve said…

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Another random shot of my kitchen. This time I have 4 bottles ready for the sesame milk and date paste mix (sesame milk is already in that big bowl and the date paste is in the vitamix blender), the celery was waiting to be chopped along with those carrots for last nights most delicious soup (I have been taking lessons from The Soup Dragon and am now the apprentice Soup Dragon 🙂 ) . I had a delicious moment the other day when for some reason I decided to try and stick one of my spatulas to my magnetic strip…NO idea why I tried it but I found out that it is, indeed, metallic on the inside! That means I can stick my kefir spatula up with the knives away from my other “regular” spatula (also magnetic) so that it doesn’t get cross contaminated and I start culturing my cakes and more to the point, my sesame milk for everyday use

We signed up and paid for our course yesterday. We are now about to commence study in a field that is SO far off centre to what we are used to that my right eye is twitching as I type this. We dabbled with design last year but within strict parameters. This year we are given a lot more creative freedom and as a quintessential planner, releasing the muses is tantamount to sending in the hounds. I think I hide behind my lists. I think that under all of this collective of knowledge that I have been collating and stashing away is a little narf7 who is frankly terrified of being of little worth and who has assumed a hermitty crab shell of great control in order to assuage that fear and reassure myself that I am, indeed, “relevant”

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The son and heir purchased this vacuum sealer for me as a gift WAY back when we lived in Western Australia. It has taken me all of this time to use one box of bags…I am hoping that they still sell them!

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These are dehydrated kefir grains. The yellowish ones were purely fed on cows milk and the darker ones were fed dually on cows milk and non dairy milk with date paste added. The powder around the outside is just dried milk powder. Apparently it keeps them happy while they are in stasis in the fridge. When I fed my kefir on 2 days of non-dairy milk and 1 day of cows milk they grew considerably and I dried them as they produced new babies and the container became too full of them. Here you can see the results of all of that drying

Anyhoo…back to Mr Bowie and his ch-ch-ch-ch-changes and how they pertain to narf7 and Serendipity Farm as a whole. Well I have actively decided to change those habits that are supporting my need to be a control freak. I am going to recognise them for the fear mongers that they are and I am going to learn my life lessons as fast as I can because I am impatient and SUCK at waiting. Whilst working through what makes narf7 tic (not a spelling mistake…) I am going to see if I can’t initiate a few good habits to replace the bad ones. I am considering having a go at Pilates. I hear it’s like yoga with an eye patch…if so…”ARRGHH! Narf7 be ready for that kind of mellow jaunt across the high seas of life”. I am also going to read more, listen to good music more and explore my creative side without having to create “perfect” examples of anything and allowing myself to fail abysmally in the process. All life lessons…all good.

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I used my vacuum sealer to bag up 2 selections of my dehydrated kefir to send to Pauline (The Contented Crafter) and Tanya (Chica Andaluza) so these little babies are winging their merry way to New Zealand and to Spain respectively. I am not sure if either of them will make it through customs let alone get dunked into fresh milk at the other end but at least we are trying girls 🙂

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A close up of their little vacuum sealed bodies…still in stasis but one step closer to their goal of Serendipity Farm kefir grains taking over the world! (Oops…did I say that out loud? The masters will be angry! )

It looks like we have arrived at the end of this post. Sorry about the philosophy 101. I actually typed up an entirely different post earlier in the week that I decided to discard because it was too philosophical but it would appear that my muses are insisting on philosophy this week and you are stuck with my erstwhile attempts to find my navel where I don’t actually have one. I may, or may not have a chakra but navel…nada. It was removed in a past surgery so I guess that leaves me to attempt to find my third eye without going cross-eyed in the mirror.  Hopefully normal service will have resumed next week but I think part of this introspection is partly to do with the change of seasons. My brain is INSISTING on changing the seasons with the calendar month this year. I get the picture that nature will again insist otherwise…”nature is a control freak” 😉

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Serendipity Farm is all tied up with string

Hi All,

I overran my last blog post and I am still full of words so I am bleeding them into Saturdays post and its still Monday morning! After a delicious relaxing few luxurious hours of winding my way through other people’s blog posts and pinching their wonderful shiny results like the quintessential magpie that I am, I decided to vacuum the lounge room. Bernard and Manny, our two Javanese Finches, live in a luxury high rise condo that we bought for them last year to allow them to be as free as two movie loving television addicted small birds can be. They can fly around…they can swim in their drinking water (and often do) as well as fly over with their wet little feathers and roll in their seed to make small flying seed covered morsels to torment Earl. In the process of their day to day eating marathons these two little birds that would weigh all of about 70g each managed to dislodge an incredible amount of spent and unspent seed all over the carpet that spreads everywhere. I am able to ignore it for only so long and every Saturday I vacuum it up. I forgot to vacuum it on Saturday and so decided to do it today. Vacuuming isn’t an easy thing to do on Serendipity Farm. I tend not to vacuum much and rarely pull out the vacuum cleaner unless it’s my regular Saturday seed cleaning event or someone is coming to visit and our dust bunnies are almost up to our armpits. I tend to use our good stiff broom to sweep up the detritus that hovers around the house attempting to drown us in dog hair and carpet fluff and dump it into the compost bucket to be removed when filled with vegetable scraps and carpet detritus. It’s a cycle that repeats itself and is becoming something that I don’t mind doing. I get exercise from the sweeping and I do it throughout the day so it could be considered “regular exercise” on the surveys that I occasionally get paid to do online. It’s amazing how you can manipulate “the man” and his survey companies 😉

“What HAVE we here eh?”…

“That would be prime dog steaks!”

Take some of that prime dog steak and slice it thin and then dehydrate it for a few hours on “Jerky” setting in your you-beaut 9 tray dehydrator that you rarely use

5kg of dog steak turns into a large container of dog treats that make our boys happy and we know exactly what’s in them

Aside from not wanting to spend money for electricity to vacuum, we have a resident vacuum cleaner hater. Earl considers Mr Vacuum Cleaner to be his arch nemesis. For anyone not in the know… a nemesis is your enemy…an arch nemesis is a mortal enemy. Earl HATES Mr Vacuum Cleaner and tries to kill him on any occasion that he sets foot in Earl’s peripheral vision. Too many times we have had to extract Earl’s determined jaws from the end of Mr Vacuum Cleaner and the head is permanently covered in dog bites. If you take off the head bit and attempt to suck in corners with the hose it drives him even wilder! Steve is over re-bending the hose back into a circular hose shape able to fit the head back onto it rather than the oval shape that Earl would have it. Again. We could lift Earl off the ground with the determination that he puts into his hatred for Mr Vacuum cleaner much to the bemusement of Bezial who hovers around waiting for a game of “suck me- suck you” accompanied by the odd bark or two just so that the vacuum cleaner knows who is the boss. I think it knows who the boss is as it bears the scars of its tangles with Earl. Earl bit the plug off the cord (don’t say HE doesn’t know how to kill something!), Earl ate one of the hose fittings…Earl is dogged in his determination to eliminate Mr Vacuum Cleaner from Serendipity Farm and so vacuuming is an event to be planned and not something that you want to undertake spontaneously like I did this morning. You need 2 people to vacuum. One to vacuum and the other one to distract Earl from scratching the varnish off the doors that you have to shut when you vacuum. Have you ever seen videos of guard dogs slavering in mortal rage at something? Well that’s what Earl does to the space under the door when you shut it and stop him from dealing with his mortal enemy. I swear the resulting spit could be marketed to the U.S. military as some kind of biological weapon it contains that much venom! I was clever. I shut all of the doors while Earl was out lazing about in the sun on the deck. I snuck Mr Vacuum Cleaner from his hidey hole in the middle spare room to the lounge room and still Earl basked…I plugged it in and I started vacuuming and totally ignored Earls barking and scratching at the door and Bezial even got to feel superior as I let him in the side door while Earl was doing his best to scratch his way into the lounge room under the door and Bezial lay on the floor watching me vacuum clean until I finished where this very clever dog got up, walked over to the side door and in no uncertain terms asked me to let him out. I curiously let him out and packed away the vacuum cleaner, let Earl in whilst carrying Mr Vacuum Cleaner into the middle room again as Earl hunted for his nemesis (he could care less about Mr Vacuum Cleaner in his latent non-sucking form) and then looked out of the side door at Bezial facing the river and promptly forgot that he had heard Bezial in the lounge with me and rather than making Bezial pay for his cheeky ignoring that Earl is the supreme ruling dog, he headed out and gave Bezial a quick slobber on his nose and they both set off hunting for the enemy. I will NEVER underestimate Bezials cleverness again! That dog can think! Earl…you are a clever boy but your impulsiveness leaves you open to stupidity!

We have started making our own drinking chocolate mix and we get this bowl full for the same price as that container. I think we win!

A pumpkin spice bundt soaking up a whole lot of Mayan spice drizzle consisting of brown sugar, water, nutmeg, cinnamon and chilli powder. No pictures of the final cake with chocolate glaze because it curiously all disappeared! 😉

A small leaved azalea that has just decided to flower

The outdoor cliveas putting on a lovely show

The things we do! I have just been sitting here for the best part of an hour to try to identify a lovely small tree that we have in our garden. I knew that it was an Australian native but then had to go hunting for a key somewhere to try to identify it. This small tree was on the chopping block last year but I just liked it and decided to crown lift it and tidy it up a bit and leave it. It is rewarding my clemency by flowering magnificently this year and it has put on quite a bit of growth. I just found out (fanfares here folks…fanfares for the common man!) that it is a Nematolepis squamea or a Satinwood. It has a lovely shape and is massed with small white flowers at the moment. I love it when I manage to find something that I am trying to identify. I can be most stubborn at times but the stubborn comes with a bad temper and a large vocabulary of words that should NOT be spoken in pleasant company so after an hour of researching I tend to be a bit of a coiled spring. I remembered to look this plant up today because we were out in the garden effecting change. The type of change that makes the possums unhappy but the native birds and us VERY happy. We put a temporary fence around Steve’s weeping maples because despite their best and most vigorous efforts to grow exponentially, the equally determined possums are harvesting them nightly for their tender leaves and making Steve’s vocabulary bluer than mine (and that is saying something!). Despite it looking and feeling like it is about to snow outside, we decided to stop the decimation of the maples and bollocks to the rain/snow/hail whatever nature wants to throw at us. Within 5 minutes of erecting the barrier the native birds bombarded the water baths inside because they suddenly realised that the cats couldn’t creep up on them either! We might even make a small (more attractive) permanent fence around the maples if it makes everyone who matters happy. The chooks won’t be happy either but as creatures that have far too much free reign on Serendipity Farm that’s just TOO BAD and they can get used to not being able to rootle around the base of Steve’s maples.

The lengths that maple lovers will go to to protect their precious babies.

Satinwood flowers

Nematolepis squamea in full flower and something that I am very glad I spared last year when it was half this size and spindly

Acer palmatum “Atropurpureum” planted out last week and obviously happy to be in the ground

A large Eucalyptus viminalis absolutely covered in Pandora pandorana, a native climber, looking magnificent

I have noticed that the blogs that I am following on my rss feed reader are starting to become more active. There is a direct correlation between the northern hemisphere cooling down and blog activity. Not only are they becoming more active, but they are also posting more delicious recipes. After getting up at 5am (tomorrow 6am…go figure daylight savings!) this morning to read today’s posts I couldn’t help but become tantalised by all of the wonderful recipes for pumpkins, apples, pizzas, calzones and all things cooler and autumn. Now just to stop my northern readers in their tracks BEFORE I get corrected…we call it autumn here. We like the name. It suits Australia because unless you live down here in Tasmania or somewhere high up in a mountain, most of our plant species are most definitely lacking in the “fall” of their leaves. We don’t have a lot of native deciduous trees, in fact, here in Tasmania, one of the coldest states; we only have 1 native deciduous tree Nothofagus gunii. You can keep your abject theft of English classic recipes (renamed most confusingly to annoy us) and in return, you will let us call autumn autumn ok? Cheers :o). Back to the blogs. I found some amazing recipes this morning and at 5.30am when the sun is just starting to rise and you are wide open to sleepy suggestion an rss feed reader full of recipes tends to send your mind in specific directions. I want to bake. I want to crank Brunhilda up and bake. She has been having a bit of a hiatus of late and was just getting used to napping all day when it’s gone cold again and we are calling her back into the fray. Steve is going to have sausage rolls tonight. I wanted to make calzone’s but Steve is a man who likes what he likes and sometimes my ideas for his degustatory delight are not HIS ideas for something that will titillate his tastebuds. I am an adventurous cook. If I had my way we would live like bohemian’s eating all sorts of weird and wonderful things and sitting around talking late into the night about all things intellectual. Steve could care less about bohemians and intellectuals and so I have to harbour my latent bohemian urges indefinitely.

The beautifully coloured new growth on a small pieris on the side of the driveway

A banksia that was on its last legs last year before we cleared around it and pruned it

One of the wilderness Camellia trees down in the jungle garden portion of Serendipity Farm

A native cyclamen (Cyclamen repandum) growing down in the wild part of Serendipity Farm

Steve is off taking me some pictures of “stuff” for the blog tonight. I dare say said “stuff” is going to be dark. It hasn’t rained today but it has been cold and dark and threatening and a great day to hang about inside. Steve read the last bit of my post while I was in the loo and decided that he would check out what a calzone actually was. To his amazement, it was something that he thought that he might actually like and so I am now charged with making him calzones for tea tonight. That means that I have to stop typing and head off to make some calzone dough.

http://www.taste.com.au/recipes/399/calzones

Thank GOODNESS that Brunhilda is on because dough proves so much better on the proving rack situated above Brunhilda’s beatific warm wafting heat layers and so calzones started at 3pm are something that fits within the realms of possibility rather than vain hope. I need to head off down the deck stairs to harvest some of our mushrooms and remove some frozen sopressa that has been sitting in cryogenic isolation since the son and heir and Kelsey’s visit along with some frozen bacon. Add some Italian mixed herbs, some grated cheese, some onion and garlic and some left over salad leaves and I think we have a meal in the making!  Steve has requested wedges with his meal so I will rustle up some Carlingford potatoes to grace his plate in large chunky well-seasoned splendour.  There isn’t much difference between having fussy kids and a fussy husband…they both need coaxing and a degree of creative bargaining to get them to try new things 😉

Some of the plants that we planted out recently looking as pleased as punch with their new situation

The first three hatchlings of the spring on Serendipity Farm

Mummy feral showing her 3 babies where to hide whenever the terrible humans make an appearance

Pear futures

Tomorrow is our anniversary. It is also Steve’s mum’s birthday. It’s entirely coincidental that our anniversary is on Pat’s birthday but Happy Birthday Pat! Thank you for being Steve’s mum :o). Without you, this whole crazy adventure wouldn’t have happened. I hope you have a fantastic birthday and that you know that we are thinking of you from the other side of the world. Everything about Steve and I is unconventional. We met online, we were able to maintain a long distance relationship for 2 long years and if you looked for the opposite of textbook marriage you would find us. We eloped quietly and with purpose after a year of living together to make certain that this was what we both wanted. After we married (in the church behind the house that we were living in at the time) we headed off to do battle with the immigration department but it was more of a “hand over some cash and wait a bit till we get around to your case…” than anything stressful. Steve and I had done our homework. We made sure of every scenario before we applied for Steve’s residency and bypassed a whole lot of problems that other people trying to do the same thing were encountering. Two years after Steve applied for residency in Australia (almost to the day) he got a letter saying “Cheers for the money, you can stay”. We didn’t have any dramas, any problems or any hassles. We were some of the very lucky ones and I suggest that anyone trying to duplicate our success, looks into every single eventuality with discipline and determination and covers their bases at all times. It worked for us! Steve has been here 13 years now and its anniversary number 12. They suggest that your 12th anniversary should be linen or silk. It’s quite a long time on the wedding stakes so you could be going one of two ways…silk for a well-honed and well kindled relationship or linen for your shroud! I choose silky linen as nothing is perfect in this life. There might be moments when I would cheerfully throttle him but I dare say he has had to stifle his natural instincts to euthanise me more than once and so I am going to call it even. A clean slate and a springboard into the next 12 years.

This atmospheric shot shows what todays weather was like taken when Steve was upside down taking photos of the cherry blossom futures

Steve’s calzone and crispy homemade potato wedges…Steve approves! 🙂

Skeeter pee futures!

This beautiful Zelkova serata is my bet on tonights possum degustation event to spite us for preventing mass guzzling on Steve’s weeping maples…sigh…

We are going to have a delicious Asian feast for our anniversary meal. We will need to take a drive to Exeter for some more booze because we had fun working our way through our anniversary booze and the cupboard is sadly bare. I might even make a delicious vegan cake that was nestled in my rss feed reader this morning. It looks heavenly and no-one would complain about having an enormous slice of it placed reverently before them on a special occasion. It’s one of those transcendental moments when vegan shmegan “I want that cake!” I love finding vegan recipes that make Omni’s squeal with delight. This is one of those moments. Savour it my vegan friends, it won’t happen often!

http://www.maplespice.com/2010/03/double-chocolate-mousse-layer-cake.html

I am creeping up to meeting my regular post size and might just nip it in the bud for today. It’s after 3 and I should be getting that calzone dough made. It takes time to be a creative genius and I need to meditate a little to reach Nirvana before I attempt the perfect calzone. Tonight I am going to read. I will sit, basking in Brunhilda’s warmth after shoving Bezial to one side of his couch and ignoring the “evils” that he will be radiating at me. No doubt I will be fast asleep when you read this post, nodding off to la-la land to sleep perchance to dream but my dream will be peppered more with foreboding terror than kittens and bunnies because I am reading Gillian Flynn’s first book. I read her last one and am sampling the beginning of her career…let’s see if she has grown any? I also have Water for Chocolate and might even curtail my horror/suspense for a day and read this slim volume that approximates a chick flick in paper form. Wish us luck with our possum defences. We are certainly going to need it and I hope that you all have a wonderful next few days till we settle down to share some time together once again :o)

Just before I go I am going to start adding what I am listening to when I post my posts. I am blatantly stealing the idea from Green Giraffe who is an Aussie vegan food blogger that I admire immensely. I am sure that she won’t mind me pinching her idea as my soundtracks are NEVER going to be as retro and funky as hers 😉

Today I was listening to The Best of Bowie and rocking with Steve to some old school androgenous rock…one rock to rule them all! (As I post I must admit I am listening to Back in Black ;))

All things are GO on Serendipity Farm!

Hi All

I think that we are going to have to get Stewart and Kelsey to threaten to come over to Tasmania from Melbourne more often as we have done more this week than we have for 6 months! Admittedly, in our defence, it WAS winter, but we have been dragging our collective feet for a little while now about taking tentative baby steps back into hard slog in the garden. It’s not that we don’t want to…it’s not that we don’t like the results…it’s the ever-present memory of just how much hard slog there actually still is to even get the garden to a state where we can start to begin to think about planting our potted plants out and actually buying and propagating things again to put into it. I got excited the other day and actually thought about buying some annuals to spread around the garden beds visible from the house but after noting a hardy Hebe’s complete disappearance by what I can only assume was a mass chook dust orgy, I thought again. It’s wise to save your moth eaten sock under the bed for when it counts and fluffy short lived annuals are NOT a wise bet around here.  We have painted and coordinated the door, meter box and the seldom used gas hot water system and today, after we got back from stocking up on suitable “grub” for the Prodigal son and Kelsey’s visit (which we now think is on Sunday night rather than Saturday as always the parents are the LAST to know!) Steve whipped out a can of green outdoor emulsion and painted the rust crumbly mailbox. It might be sagging on its pole (“Stand up soldier!) a bit, but at least it looks the business now and may just pass muster till the poor mail lady tries to drop a letter into it and it slides slowly and dejectedly down its pole to half-mast like an aging pole dancer past her prime.

“Ok Herman…you stay in your bag and you THINK ABOUT WHAT YOU DIDN’T DO!”…sigh…

Anyone else ever started to remove cobwebs and suddenly drowned in them! See that teeny little spider on the roof? Thats responsible for this uber spiders web!

Our haul of eggs and mushrooms. Not too shabby 😉

Steve’s new enterprise “4Q”…

Our vigorous activities have left us tired, satisfied and very happy. It’s amazing how much we can achieve when we have a deadline! I read somewhere the other day to forget motivation as it’s a fleeting concept but that discipline is the only way to achieve what you want. Discipline, meaning doing things when you really don’t want to…keeping something going till it grabs hold of you and becomes habit like my new “No Diet” lifestyle. I found my knees the other day people. I have been afflicted with excess adipose tissue for most of my life and while we were driving home I looked down and saw actual, real, human lady type knees! For a minute there I didn’t think that they were mine, but considering there was only Steve, Bezial, Earl and I in the car and I am the only one vaguely womanly I had to concede that this No Diet way of living really does work! It’s funny that it’s taken me so long to work out that if you want something you have to work for it. I have been bucking the system for quite some time waiting for miracles to fall from the sky and for my fairy Godmother to wave her magic wand and I would wake up in Angelina Jolie’s body Living in the South of France and with the key to a rather large (even for Switzerland…) Swiss bank account at my beck and call but it never happened. I was jipped! My fairy Godmother is a lazy so-an-so who seems more intent on granting everyone else’s wishes to get around to my humble wants and so I have decided to bypass her and go it alone. Find happiness all by myself! I started with dealing with the things that I really don’t like about myself and the things that I want to change. The “No Diet” weight loss is going along swimmingly but the “Stop being a bad tempered old stoat” seems to be taking a bit longer in coming to fruition. I guess it’s persistence over procrastination every time and like many years ago when I used to cycle 40km a day and purposefully chose the biggest hills to climb…it’s a case of looking down at that white line and just carrying on until you are suddenly over that ridge. Consider the lesson noted and ticked off the life list.

We both thought that this stone looked like an old fashioned milestone so decided to give it a job…

We have lots of little Muscari botryoides sprouting up all over the place on Serendipity Farm. I love their vibrant colour and their tenacity. You are going to need it if you live here little guy!

This is the top of our driveway

We might be living in a temperate climate but we will darned well have at least 1 palm tree!

Steve picked up a heap of guitar leads and paraphernalia when we were in town today. It had been stored in the unit out the back of the girl’s house while we were renovating out here and was promptly forgotten. He is messing about in his music room and I get the odd flashback to the 70’s with some incredibly loud Led Zeppelin and Hendrix and then sudden silence perpetuated with clicks, buzzes and strange tapping. I don’t know what he is doing in there but it involves a large unfolded map of words that he keeps muttering about whenever he emerges from his music room and saying things about one of his amplifiers. I find it best to not ask. It’s better that way. I have my own form of musical history but mine tends to be unplugged and involves a degree of lip pursing and blowing the contents of my lungs into a set of glorified pipe fittings. Steve’s musical liens are cooler. He used to be a guitar teacher and has been known to rock the suburbs in a most funky way. His walls are laden with drums, banjo’s and slide guitars and he is hunting for a violin and a lute if anyone has one going cheap. It’s a cornucopia of class and it suits him to a tee. A man needs his shed and Steve has both a shed AND a music room to retire to whenever I get too much to handle (and that is a daily event!). After he emerges from his music room the television is suddenly too quiet and needs to be turned up and he can’t quite hear what I am ranting about…a win-win situation all round! ;).

“Alas…poor Yoric…I knew him well Horatio…”…well that’s a fib because I never knew this little fellow. The feral cats dispatched him before he could grow and cause us to have fits. I guess there are some good things about feral cats!

Anyone would get the feeling that we get a bit of wind here on Serendipity Farm!

From the garden in front of the house

Steve caught these 2 naughty black cockatoo’s stripping the bark from this dead eucalyptus

It’s now Saturday and we are informed that Stewart and Kelsey will be coming tomorrow. It sounds like they have all had fun down in Hobart but I am not quite sure that Hobart is ready for all three of my children to be reunited in one place with the addition of Kelsey. Go get em kids! I am juggling typing the rest of this post, making potato salad, roasted sweet potato salad (both white and orange), marinated mushroom salad, marinating olives (black and green) with some of our home dried, home grown flavourful tomatoes and herbs to go with tomorrow night’s meal. We walked the dogs in Exeter this morning, picked up some more cream to allow us to double the size of the black forest spongecake that we are making for desert (photos in Wednesdays post) and we got home to stock up on wood for Brunhilda as she has a busy day ahead of her. We have baked 2 sponge cakes and everything is on track for tomorrows towering construction that we still need to make the Morello cherry filling and whip vats of cream and grate chocolate. We might even make some chocolate leaves.  Steve zoomed around and took some photos for you before the sun set and hopefully we can pull everything together and tie it with a pretty bow tomorrow. Steve made one of his 4Q forks and is now wailing away with Eric Clapton in his music room. Just to make it clear…Mr Clapton is not physically present but I bet he wishes he was! We have been listening to some amazing music all day. We started with Pink Floyd “The Wall”…then we progressed to David Bowie “Hunky Dory” closely followed by “The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust” (NO spell checker…I do NOT want to change “Ziggy” to “Piggy”! I doubt that Mr Bowie would have had a hit with “Piggy Stardust”!) And now Eric Clapton. What more could you want? A lovely sunny day…your washing gets dried on the line, the dogs are behaving and even Earl isn’t trying (too hard) to eat the sponge cakes cooling on the table.

Looking back to the house from the second (now tidy) garden

An old tree stump that we decided to repurpose for bird baths. This is Steve’s maple garden now and one day it will be a mass of different coloured grafted maples

Our bug house finally up and ready for it’s new inhabitants

Firewood futures and our other small bug house ready for whatever fancies moving in.

I have a nice grainy mustard to do in my potato salad, my coleslaw has an Asian lien with chopped roasted cashews and I am hoping that my avocados ripen before tomorrow. In fact I stuffed their brown paper bag full of ripe bananas in the hope that all that ethanol should force some sort of ripening action. We are going to have a bonfire tomorrow night and Stewart and Kelsey are bringing marshmallows, chocolate and cookies to make smores (glad to see that you don’t know what “smores” are spellcheck…at least you have a teeny bit of Australian in you!). We unearthed some ancient old wire forks on the property that I decided to keep and they can use those should they ever get close enough to the flames to manage to do anything other than singe their arm hairs, eyebrows and instantly burn their marshmallows. I just burst out laughing because spellcheck wanted me to change “arm hairs” to “arm chairs”! I am getting my money’s worth out of spellcheck today! Well my dear constant readers, I think that in this lull before the food induced storm that is rapidly approaching I might just bid you adieu. Have a wonderful weekend wherever you are and see you on Wednesday :o)