Life, death and the endless progression of OH&S in between…

Hi All

There has to be a degree of irony in me, hunched over…floppy spined, myopically peering at my monitor with terrible lighting and trying to show the world how enlightened I am about office OH&S…does ANYBODY listen to or care about this stuff?!!! Come to think of it, does anyone ever stop eating peanut butter because some rake thin anorexic plastic “expert” in the health field tells them to? If we were ever vaguely inclined to follow “expert” advice we would have dangled on our parents every word…we would have learned to “fly right and steer straight” immediately as we were told and we would have made something of ourselves rather than arriving at 50, dazed and confused with only “windswept and interesting” as our chief saleable asset.

 DSCF4601

The young rooster on the right of this image died this week. He was never a “normal” rooster and spent his days sitting in this coop with his sisters keeping them company. He wasn’t prone to leaping on hens or crowing. He was gentle, beautiful and like so many of his Byron reading compatriots, he died too soon. R.I.P Little Boy Blue. In saying that, there are chicks hatching out all over the place on Serendipity Farm. The same day that Little Boy Blue died, another hen emerged triumphant and bedazzled with fluffy chicks…the poultry cycle of life goes on…

DSCF4009

When all else fails eat fruit!

That brings me to today’s post… I have managed to tear myself away from OH&S for a whole blissful day. It doesn’t even bother me that it’s grey, dreary and raining outside because I didn’t have to try to wrap my poor addled brain around another “Act”; “Award” or “Industry Standard” when it couldn’t comprehend the first Act, let alone the last that I tried to stuff into the one remaining brain cell that appears to be on the ball. Today I got to sit here and type out interesting and sustainable hints, tips and anecdotes about how to live better with less. Steve and I have almost finished our websites that we have to create from scratch for our final assessment. Mine is called “Sustainability on a Shoestring” and despite it being entirely fictional, not available to the naked eye (apart from our lecturers …) and just something that we had to knock up at the last minute I have developed a motherly sort of fondness for it and am driving Steve nuts by my need to make it look good and function well. “No-one can see it!” is his mantra…”I can see it” is mine 😉

DSCF4283

This shower door is about to be changed to a clear glass door that doesn’t get stuck when you are trying to open it with shampoo in your eyes because you forgot to get the bottle of conditioner that is over on the window ledge…Steve was given the shower door by a friends mum who is renovating and who didn’t need it. I doubt she realises how happy she has made me with her generous gift. Now I can open the door blinded by shampoo and not worry about having to call Steve to free me when the door sticks when I am halfway out of it…

DSCF5282

My container of bread ties (still haven’t worked out what to do with them but I will!) and some of the bottle tops I am collecting on my early morning walks with Earl. If anyone out there drinks anything other than Boag’s beer and would like to send me a few bottle tops please feel free to let me know 😉

DSCF5307

What happens when you discover some “fresh” pineapple that you juiced, put in a bowl in the fridge and promptly forgot about that when you rediscovered it and gave it a sniff (as you do) and realised that it was halfway to being pineapple vodka and you cleverly decide to pour it into the top of a bottle of second fermented Kombucha erupts like Krakatoa …”VESUVIUS”…that’s what happens

I have just finished off the last of the text for the various side panels, spry tabs etc. that we are required to show our lecturer to satisfy this unit. We are using Dreamweaver to create our sites making it a much easier process than having to write the HTML ourselves but I am still clueless about what most of it does but can see it has great possibilities. The best bit is that we got to buy the Student version of the Adobe suite at a significant discount because students = poor (damned RIGHT they do!) and educational institutions don’t want to force us into becoming shoplifters in order to satisfy their requirements. Lucky really because I suck at pinching things, unless they are cuttings when I am able to abrogate my guilt long enough to snip off a stray tendril and call it urban guerrilla gardening 😉

DSCF5255

“I know what will make all of this study better…a litre bottle of homemade Kombucha…”

DSCF5267

And another one…

I spend a lot of my life in the dark. It’s my choice, getting up at 3am seals the deal but if I want to get some quality “me” time to study, to read the blogs that I follow and to research the things that I am interested in I have to find an alternative to daylight hours where we tend to be studying or working in the garden. I now love getting up early and am firing on all cylinders by the time I wake Steve with a coffee at 7am after indulging my brain to the max with a wealth of fantastic possibilities that I have just waded through for the last 4 hours. Fennec foxes have enormous ears and narf7 has small ears…fennec foxes manage to navigate their way around in the dark with ease and agility where narf7 has bruises on her legs and hip where she bumbles hopelessly into furniture and walls…coincidence? I think not!

DSCF5268

“What say we have another one?” I reckon I am starting to feel a bit like Keith Richards in that photo about now…

DSCF5272

I am stuck inside the house when outside it looks like this…

One interesting thing that I have noticed about the dark is that you can see your brain sending messages to your eyes. Seriously…if you are sitting in the pitch dark and close your eyes you can see little chains of light where your brain is communicating with your eyes…in my case it is saying “watch out she is just about to bump into another table!” but as my eyes are officially closed (or I can’t see the synapses…) it’s too late…”OUCH!” I can, however, manage to find the correct place to spray the air freshener in the toilet in complete darkness…maybe there is a chance for future employment opportunities for my amazing newfound skill?

DSCF5274

And this…

DSCF5273

and this!

Earl is almost 3 and is just starting to “get it”. I must be a late bloomer because here I am at 50 and I still haven’t “got it”. One of life’s mysteries is that we only start to make sense of all of these lessons that life throws at us on a regular basis when we are past the point of impetuous youthdom and it leaves you wondering “surely it would have been so much better to have learned these lessons BEFORE all of those stupid mistakes we made?” I am left to believe that maybe we need to have made lots of stupid mistakes to “get” the life lessons in the first place…my head is starting to hurt with that conundrum so I might just leave it there for now folks as I have to keep a few functioning brain cells in reserve in order to complete our studies before next Thursday when the last of our units is due in.

DSCF5276

Some of us are enjoying the lovely weather

DSCF5279

Note the lack of a care in the world and the amazing growth in that garden bed under the deck that we only planted out in April this year

I have been busy fermenting potions in between doing the hard yards with study and am learning how versatile cultures can be. My last batch of kombucha was flavoured with ginger and rosewater and turned out to be really delicious. It takes the mother SCOBY 7 days to culture a batch of black tea with sugar in it. I choose to double ferment the mix by adding a litre of juice to the results and fermenting it for another couple of days before putting it in the fridge. The results are fizzy and delicious and with summer promising to be long and hot I think a large quantity of kombucha in the fridge will be a definite asset. I have also been using my non-dairy kefir that I now make with homemade sesame milk (rather than the organic homemade soymilk that I used to make it with) to culture the sesame pulp left behind after making the milk. I use the resulting fermented  mix to make hummus that I ferment for a day at room temperature. One very interesting thing about fermenting hummus is that it rises up alarmingly in its bowl a bit like sourdough starter does. I guess that means that the culture really likes beans. Whatever it means the results are really delicious and I am enjoying seeing what else I can ferment

DSCF5283

Fermented sesame seed pulp and some leftover cooked dried chickpeas and borlotti beans that I have been using from the freezer

DSCF5287

The hummus before it decided to rise up out of the bowl and threaten to take over Serendipity Farm unless I took it to Cuba

I have been having porridge in the morning made from finely ground buckwheat flour and sunflower seeds that I add a bit of date paste to and cook. I then top it with sesame milk with a bit more date paste in it and a dash of rosewater. Now that the weather has started to warm up I might be able to start drinking my green smoothies again but if today is anything to go by, winter hasn’t quite given up yet. By next Thursday our course will officially be over. Steve and I are working as hard as we can to knock these final units on the head but they can’t be finished soon enough in our minds. We are really going to enjoy the free time that we get in between this course and the start of our next course and  hopefully we will get lots of time out in the garden in the coming month to make up for all of the time that we have spent chained to the PC.

DSCF5299

The view out of my kitchen window this morning. Note the Grey Cuckoo Thrush sitting on the deck rail waiting for her early morning cheese cubes to be put out on the window ledge and note also how grey and rainy it is because I am not chained to the PC being forced to study OH&S until my brain melts…Murphy is a bollocks!

DSCF5300

Its still grey out there but at least the grey cuckoo shrike has her cheese and I have a cup of tea and suddenly, after a few sips… all is right with the world again 🙂

Christmas is getting very close. I know it is because all of the advertisement’s on the television keep telling me it is. Is anyone else incredibly jaded by the mass push towards commercialisation this year? It started back in October and suddenly we are lighting Christmas trees mid-November and come mid-December we will be implored to buy next year’s Easter Eggs… what should be a time for people to get together with their families and friends to see out the old year and be thankful for our lot has been hijacked by the need for massive pre-Christmas profits. The spirit and the message of Christmas were born of humble circumstances and I think the still quiet message is slowly being drowned by all of the Christmas sales. Has anyone else worked out what they are going to do for Christmas this year? Neither have we! We were going to have a very quiet Christmas like we did last year but now Stewart and Kelsey are here we might all get together at my daughter’s home on Christmas morning and have Christmas breakfast together…or we might not…whatever we do it will be in the spirit of Christmas and nothing to do with how much we spent on food, drink and presents. Steve’s one stipulation is a bottle of brandy so that he can make the brandy and chocolate milk that he remembers from a long ago holiday spent falling over in Greece. Sounds like a plan Stevie-boy! 😉

DSCF4170

A little Cassia fistula growing amongst the forget-me-nots. Cassia pods are used in Indian Ayurvedic medicine so this little guy is welcome on Serendipity Farm

DSCF5294

From one gorgeous thing to another…These marvellous track pants were inherited from my daughter Madeline who was about to throw them away because they were torn on the bottom. I decided to cut them (mainly to stop me falling over the frayed bits) and what you can’t see here is that one side is at least 10cm longer than the other even though I SWEAR I measured them! I mention this so that all of you wonderfully crafty folk out there realise that some of us are not as gifted in the crafty stakes as you are…but we are doing you a HUGE service by suffering the slings of craftless arrows that rain down on us whenever we pick up needles, hooks, material or dare to sit down at a sewing machine…we bow before your creative genius but some of you were born for craft greatness, some (like me) just have to satisfy ourselves with being born fashionistas…The jumper is warm. Narf7 cares not for fashion folks and its darned lucky that she doesn’t because if I EVER went out wearing this ensemble, I would be committed. The black socks that I am wearing in this picture were stolen from Steve’s side of the wardrobe by “moi” and were subsequently eaten by Earl when they were abandoned (foolishly) on one of my outdoor forays. Socks are not safe on Serendipity Farm…they are an endangered species

I think I might love you all and leave you there for today. I fear I am probably not at my best after a week of brain numbing rehashing of boring statistics. Normal service will be resumed as soon as possible on Serendipity Farm but for now, this pays the bills so rehash we must! See you all next Wednesday when I will probably be giddy with happiness thanks to it being the final day before we are set free from our shackles of oppression…can you tell I’m a bit over this? ;). Have a great week folks and enjoy what you are doing wherever you are doing it 🙂

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

Processes and possibilities

Hi All,

It’s Tuesday and we are heading into Launceston for the day. We decided to go today because we received a “power outage” forecast in the mailbox for today promising us a day without power so we decided to kill 2 birds with one stone and go in to pay off our Polytechnic fees for the year and sign up for our course. Since I last posted we have been beavering away in the garden and bumbling around Serendipity Farm in general. Steve has been out fishing and caught a few that he felt sorry for and put back and he went to town to help a friends mum remove a pile of debris that came from an old carpet warehouse that was in the upstairs building of an inner city shop that she purchased and is going to renovate the top part as her home and have a shop underneath. The warehouse contained lots of long steel poles that go in the middle of display rolls of carpet and Steve’s friend told him that he could have as many as he liked. Steve had the brilliant idea that they could be used when we make our enormous edifice to human ingenuity of a vegetable garden and a morning helping a friend has given us another cornerstone to our ethos :o). I learned from Jessie/Rabid that I had to feed Audrey (soon to be renamed) directly before I put her into the fridge for her sourdough hiatus so that she could languish in style whilst feeding on her bounty. I had fed her, but about 8 hours earlier so I pulled her out of the fridge and fed her up and she rose up beautifully…is there nothing that this lovely and most gracious lady can’t do? Rabid shared about how she and Bertha (Audrey’s mum) are harnessed together and work as a team. I am still learning all about the team work and am having to do a lot more forward planning because you can’t just grab a jar of dried yeast from the cupboard and “bake”. You have to nurture the sourdough back to a happy state after feeding it and you have to plan your prospective baking event in advance because just about everything that involves cooking with sourdough takes more time. I am a processes girl and love the new routines but am still learning my timing. Last night Steve was running a diagnostic on the computer that took a LONG time and I didn’t get access to my sourdough information until 9.30pm. I was tired and crabby and poor Audrey needed feeding, dividing and putting back to bed in the fridge. I managed to grump my way through making the pizza dough for Steve’s tea tonight and what seemed like an ENORMOUS quantity of bread dough for baking later on today when we get back in and ended up with a kitchen full of flour, a bad temper, a twitching husband and poor Audrey being subject to being harnessed to a cranky cow rather than a willing helper. Once I learn the processes I love to refine and hone…I am always carving and grooming my processes and making them run like a well-oiled machine and someday, hopefully soon, this new baking friend and I will share some amazing adventures :o)

DSCF9463

This is what we feed our chooks and it is fortified with calcium (in the form of shellgrit) and has lots of grains and seeds. They seem to like it and when we discovered the 3 newly hatched chicks the other day we turned this into…

DSCF9465

This with the aid of my trusty Vitamix high speed blender.

DSCF9469

Here’s 1 of the babies, the rest are underneath “Blondie” our silver laced Wyandotte hen

DSCF9461

Steve made another thin spoon out of golden sassafrass…the metal teaspoon is for size comparison…Steve isn’t quite up to forging his own steel just yet 😉

DSCF9478

What’s left of my most comfortable early morning slippers…If you are reading this Stewart (oh dearest son of mine kissy kissy)…you know what to get your dear old Mam for this mother’s day! (Cheers Earl…sigh…)

We are still going through troubled times with the dogs refusing their food on days when it isn’t straight meat. Bezial is the worst culprit. We know that dogs need more than just meat for their health. They aren’t straight carnivores like cat’s are and need fibre and vegetables etc. for their internal health. Bezial and Earl are both good representatives of what is known as a very strong willed dog breed and Bezial is up there with the most stubborn of dogs. He has been refusing to eat for 2 days now and Earl has just been skimming the meaty lure off the top of his fibrous ingredients. They have a bone stash outside that Bezial has been living off and he even ate a few of the despised dog biscuits last night whilst looking at me piteously as if to say “you are starving me woman!” I can’t back down on this issue because it is what is best for the 2 of them but ignoring those pathetic eyes is very hard! Bezial is chief manipulator and attempts to get Earl to join him on his hunger strikes but Earl’s hunger is more important than Bezials need to be the boss and get his way and Earl has yielded to the foodie lure much to Bezials disgust so he is standing stolid on his high moral ground and I can hear his stomach creaking…good luck with that Bezial! If my children couldn’t make me give in to their foodie whims, you have NO chance! 😉

DSCF9528

Mum and baby kookaburra having a drink and a bath in some of the water baths that we keep topped up with fresh water. We have had a lot of babies born on Serendipity Farm including baby cuckoo shrikes, baby black cockatoo’s, baby butcher birds and baby kookaburras.

DSCF9530

Mum on watch while her baby splashes about in the bird bath

DSCF9510

An oak sapling takes 10 years to produce its first acorn…I think this might well be Serendipity Farms very first acorn! It grew on an oak tree that grew from mulched oak leaves taken from the front of the property

DSCF9511

There isn’t much flowering on Serendipity Farm at the moment…everything is on heat watch and is just marking time till we get some rain but this little nigella proves that if you pick the right plant for your situation, you can still have colour in an arid place

I have been following a lot of blogs that share how to do all kinds of things for yourself from foraging from weeds through to building your own wind turbines. I am up for the weeds but not quite ready for the turbine yet! I knew that you can make kefir with coconut milk and so decided to make my own coconut milk from dried coconut in the pantry. I found a good recipe, I whizzed up the soaked coconut with its soaking water and strained it all through a clean cotton pillow case (gotta get me a nut bag…). I took the remaining pulp out to the food dehydrator to make coconut flour and smugly placed Kid Creole (my kefir grains…newly named from the 80’s band “Kid Creole and the Coconut’s”…) into about a cup full of my coconut milk. My coconut milk separated into cream on top and whey underneath and I didn’t care…my kefir grains sat there…and sat there… and sat there…and nothing happened. I got a bit concerned when the next day the milk was still watery and the kefir grains hadn’t set the milk and I decided to take mercy on Kid Creole and clean him off and put him into a glass of regular milk where he is fermenting to his heart’s content. I blame Rabid and her organic milk…she has spoiled Kid for anything other than pure dairy! ;). When we were in town on Tuesday we headed to the fruit and veggie shop and I found 8 mangoes for $4. I thought that was a pretty good deal and bought them along with half a rockmelon for $1.50 and when I got home I cut them up and froze them for my morning green smoothies. I also found passionfruit with lovely wrinkled skins that were fragrant and promising so I bought 2 and when we got home I sieved the pulp and juice from the seeds and poured it into Steve’s home-made orange and lemon cordial that I made the other day. It was already delicious but the addition of 2 passionfruit made it heavenly and after I picked some of our fragrant ripe ex-tip strawberries and pureed them up with about 500ml of the orange and passionfruit cordial the results both smelled and tasted amazing. Homemade isn’t second best folks…it’s the bomb!

DSCF9513

Passionfruit seed from 2 passionfruit drying out on a coffee filter ready for me to have a go at growing them from seed

DSCF9512

Same goes for rockmelon 🙂

DSCF9514

Here we have a plethora of seed etc. all waiting it’s day in potting mix. The bags are full of fermenting fruit. I am doing experiments and am trying to echo nature to get the best germination rates. I figure that plums and fleshy fruited plants would drop their seed and it would either go through an animal or would ferment on the floor and so I am prefermenting the fruit in it’s parental juices to see if it doesn’t grow better. Might work…might not. Thats the beauty of experimentation and if it grows “Good oh!” if it doesn’t “Them’s the breaks” and I will put it into the compost bin 😉

DSCF9476

Coconut milk on the left and coconut pulp on the right. The pulp is now dehydrated and in a jar in the pantry waiting to be used in recipes. I might even start fermenting the pulp before I dehydrate it for better digestion…so many experiments…so little time in the day! 😉

DSCF9495

Those large leaves are my turmeric that finally started to grow. I bought organic turmeric from a local health food shop and it loves the conditions in the glasshouse, which is lucky, because that is where it is going to have to live if it wants to survive on Serendipity Farm! 😉

DSCF9496

The last of the turmeric taking its time…pay NO attention to the Oxalis…I don’t! 😉

DSCF9497

A pot full of Oxalis and Discorea elephantipes developing their basal cordex amazingly well…nice and corky and round, my favourite kind 🙂

DSCF9498

One of my cardamom plants that seems to be loving the conditions in the glasshouse. I might get Steve to make me a big raised planter box that we can plant the turmeric and the cardamom in as a more permenant fixture in the glasshouse

Before we headed into Launceston to sign up and pay for our new course at Polytechnic yesterday, I took out the sourdough pizza dough that I had mixed up the night before from the fridge where it had been sitting in stasis. I left it on the counter because the recipe called for it to ferment 8 hours so I figured that it would be ready to turn into pizza when we got home. I eyeballed it when we got home and gave it a suspicious sniff and it smelled lovely and had risen to double its size.  We had more than enough for a large pizza tray and so I rolled some very thin and put it on another tray along with some thinly rolled out dough with some cheese pressed into it. We baked it in the bbq while we were topping Steve’s pizza and when we were ready to put the pizza in the oven Steve got to taste the results. He was more than happy with the flavour and how crunchy the thin dough was and the cheesy twisty thing’s tasted great as well…I was starting to get excited by now because the sourdough was actually rising, rolling and behaving like real bread dough! Steve pulled his pizza out of the oven after 15 minutes and ate the entire thing and pronounced it “delicious”. We have a large bowl of sourdough bread in the fridge rising slowly and tomorrow we will bake 2 loaves. If the loaves turn out, I am going to pronounce this sourdough experiment completely and utterly successful and will start baking in earnest (or Brunhilda…whichever one comes first 😉 ). I checked Audrey and found that she had escaped her container and was spilling down the side so rehoused her in a larger taller container to allow her to slowly grow and eat her organic rye flour at her leisure. It is going to take me a little while getting used to having to plan so far ahead when baking but I love processes and so am enjoying the learning experience and the possibilities that sourdough baking bring to Serendipity Farm.

DSCF9482

Isn’t this baby gorgeous?! I had to take a photo of it and share it with you 🙂

DSCF9500

The possums have been restless…sigh…note the complete lack of leafy greens on the top of this bean cube? They don’t eat the bean pods so I guess I shouldn’t complain too much…mutter…mutter…

DSCF9502

Eggplant futures!

DSCF9492

Mulch futures soon to be seen to migrate about a metre to the left…

DSCF9493

The last of the mulch futures…not sure where this is going but if we don’t need it in the front garden it can go into the stockpile ready for using in our new enormous enclosed vegetable garden…I love saying that “ENORMOUS ENCLOSED VEGETABLE GARDEN”! I am going to yell it tonight at the top of my lungs when I go outside at about 10pm before I head off to bed and I can hear the possums fighting over my bean bed… sigh…

I was thinking about processes while I was making my coconut milk (which I am going to have to think of something to do with now that Kid Creole has refused to work with it 😉 ) and how we can choose to pick up something ready made from the supermarket OR we can choose to have a go at making it ourselves. When you buy a product from the shelves it has “cost effectiveness” embedded into its ethos. The product is there because someone wants to make a profit out of it and you can rest assured that its flavour profile has been compromised in order to give it an extended shelf life and keep the cost down. When you make things yourself you might have to factor in the cost of making the item (electricity, personal effort etc.) BUT you get so much more out of the process. You get to learn the process of how to actually make the item, you get various items through the process, i.e. When I made Steve his homemade cordial I got orange skins to preserve and some for the compost, I got passionfruit shells for the compost and I got passionfruit seed that I am going to attempt to grow. When I bought rockmelon to put into my green smoothies I got the shells to put into my compost and the seed to attempt to grow as well as the frozen rockmelon pulp to add amazing flavour to my drink…we can customise what we make to our own personal tastes…too much sugar? Add some lemon juice…not enough sugar, add some more. It might take more time to make something yourself than it takes to grab something from the supermarket but there is an amazing depth of satisfaction to be gained from making your own and cutting out that insidious middle man who thrives on the profits of others. You can also take advantage of what is in season and preserve it for later and again, the satisfaction of shoring up your supplies for another time and giving yourself a degree of food security is immeasurable. There is another benefit to doing things yourself…in my case it results in my efforts to collect and save fruit seeds makes the kitchen smell AMAZING! :o)

DSCF9506

More pumpkin futures…another experiment. This is inside one of the compost heaps and aside from a few manky potatoes that get regularly stripped of leaves by either possums reaching in, wallabies waiting for the potatoes to (stupidly) poke out or slugs just slithering about at their leisure picking the tastiest bits to chew…they don’t like pumpkin leaves but they DO love the young fruit :(. Again, I see it as another way to learn how to be clever…I figure by the time I am laid 6 ft under I will be the cleverest woman in Sidmouth! 😉

DSCF9348

The chives are so happy they are flowering…wallabies LOVE the allium family, the chives close cousins, the garlic, have all had their tops munched down by the wallabies that parade around the outside of the veggie garden at night looking for anything poking out

The more you pare back from your life the more beautiful the simple things you retain become. I am enjoying my early morning wake-up cup of tea SO much more now that it is my only cup of tea. It tastes amazing and I fully appreciate it accompanying me as I read my rss feed reader blogs. I always have my eyes open for opportunities to collect plan material on our early morning walks with the dogs and have a large pile of all different kinds of seeds collected locally from perennials, trees and shrubs that are doing particularly well in our area. I collected some seed from a shrub at the Polytechnic where we signed up that appears to be a type of hawthorn with large panicles of white flowers and very large red fruit. It has enormous thorns and was growing in a very arid part of the garden all of which make it an excellent choice for growing on Serendipity Farm. Thorny plants are great habitat for small birds as are shrubs that are tall enough to make it difficult for predators to climb. Fruit and flowers are a bonus for bees and food for birds and it appears to be hardy enough to grow in very dry conditions making it ideal for our area. I phoned up the West Tamar Council and asked them about a large pile of wood chips that I have been eyeing off for about 9 months now. The parks and wildlife resources manager phoned me back and told me that if the pile had been there that long without being used that they obviously didn’t want it and that I was welcome to it! Steve and I spent 1 ¾ incredibly well spent hour’s today collecting 4 trailer loads of free mulch. It is rotting down nicely and is a good combination of leaves and bark and was nice and damp which shows how good it is at retaining moisture because we haven’t had a lot of rain for the whole summer. We left some around the base of a large liquidambar so that it wouldn’t be compromised by our removal of its windfall mulch and I am going to spend most of tomorrow shovelling it all over the garden under the deck and along the driveway to cover the exposed and parched soil.

DSCF9354

The tomato jungle…all the fruit is contained in this jungle…I am going to have to be narf7 the explorer and go hunting in here one day soon (or try to con Steve into doing it for me 😉 )

DSCF9344

My spinach beds, plundered on a daily basis for my morning green smoothie habit but it seems to have made them stronger and they haven’t wanted to go to seed so far…maybe pinching leaves all of the time is a good thing for a plant? The little beetroot haven’t amounted to much (they were the teeny ones left over when we harvested the bigger ones) but I figure I can eat the leaves if they don’t form roots so they have earned their place in the garden…note the numpty who’s shadow is included in this shot 😉

DSCF9340

Our corn bed with rocket going mental/to seed. I am allowing the rocket and lettuces to go to seed now so that I can collect seed for next years crops 🙂

I had best stop waxing lyrical and head off to sort out some photos to accompany this post. No Bev… it aint short! ;). I just have to hope that my enthusiasm for life is infectious and that my happiness in the simple processes bleeds through to you my dear constant readers and gives you your own simple enthusiasm for your own lives…at the end of the day…what more can we really hope for? See you on Saturday when I may, or may not have made some lovely yellow dishcloths with the pattern that Rabid sent to me…more like I have knitted a few rows…Earl has pounced on my most interesting moving yarn and either grabbed it and run, rendering the square suddenly puckered and decidedly unsquarelike or snicker snacked off the wool and run off with the ball…either of these 2 eventualities are highly likely! 😉