Invasion of the Choko

Hi All,

It’s 3.13am Thursday morning and I have decided to tap away here for a little bit because I am waiting for my RSS Feed Reader to load. After it reached 525 posts and my eye started to twitch involuntarily I decided to head off for a bit and distract myself. Steve and I are juggling studies and dog walking with our annual winter wind-down. I have almost knitted a pair of gauntlets. I live in the knitting world between day and night. I spend a few short moments of my time knitting furiously before I start to fall asleep and have to lay my needles down and go to bed. Usually I am pretty tired by this point and have to make sure that my half asleep brain remembers to put the knitting back into my knitting bag and hide it in the spare room. There are always a pair of eyes watching me when I knit. I must admit, the pair of eyes has learned not to jump on me and steal my wool while I am knitting. I figure the pair of eyes turning 3 this year might be part of it but it is a small victory and something to be celebrated. When I was untangling the wool that I got from my daughter earlier in the week (and no Bethany, you STILL can’t have it back! 😉 ) he trotted past the tangled heap on the table and did a classic double take. He trotted back in a most interested way and after I told him “NO” he trotted off to a safe distance away (obviously my “NO” has a personal space…) and proceeded to watch me like a hawk for any signs that my defences were down and he could launch in to take possession of the delicious tangle of fun on the kitchen table. Alas…my defences didn’t drop and he didn’t even get to sniff the wool.

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As soon as Earl realised that I had picked up my camera to take a picture of him completely upside down with his legs in the air, both he and Bezial decided to turn away…party poopers!

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Steve thinks I am not going to use this photo and the next one. Earl is looking decidedly demented in this shot 😉

Earl isn’t like other dogs. Earl is as close to a wild dog as you are going to get without adopting a wolf. Up until now we have often felt like we are walking a tightrope with him because he just did what he wanted to do and we didn’t know how to deal with it. There were times when we first bought Earl when I would look into his eyes and see “alien”. He just felt completely and utterly foreign to me. Not a dog, sort of a bunch of muscles from mars. After numerous attempts to try to train him he seemed untrainable. It would be easy to think that Earl was stupid. He doesn’t listen, he eats the furniture and even after the humans go spare he still does what he wants. Nothing worked and unlike Bezial, he didn’t learn from his mistakes, he just kept making them.  He obviously thinks he rules the roost but something has happened to Earl over the last 6 months. He has decided that he loves us. He even loves his fat old sofa buddy Bezial. In allowing himself to love us he has also allowed himself to start fitting in to the hierarchy here. He is starting to listen to commands. “NO” is something he understands now. I don’t ever think he didn’t understand “NO” I just think he chose not to worry about it. Now he wants to please us and get cuddles and have us say “Good Dog!” and pat him. Earl is an attention hog. He loves nothing more than being loved and it’s lucky that Bezial could care less about cuddles because Earl is always there to lap up any attention that anyone wants to give him.

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I think this is priceless…all 3 of my boys looking completely and utterly doo-lally! SHHH! Stop laughing…Steve will hear you! 😉

Now the following image isn’t going to make an OUNCE of sense to anyone outside of Australia and of a “certain age” but here it is anyway…doesn’t Milo bear a canny resemblance to Steve in this image?! 😉

Milo with guitar

If Steve EVER finds this post it could be enough reason for a divorce! 😉

Where I said earlier that it would be easy to think that Earl was stupid I meant that he never seemed to learn anything. We spent 6 months trying to teach him the benefits of shaking hands. He eventually learned it and if you pull out a treat bag that little front paw is straight up in the air. Earl is the least “stupid” dog I know. What Earl is, is his own dog. He might have a feral edge a mile wide but that edge is completely tempered with how a dog should act. The problem is that Steve and I aren’t dogs and Bezial doesn’t think that he is one either and Earl is trying to teach us the ways of the pack. Obviously he is top dog in his pack order but after 3 years he is starting to see that there are benefits in allowing the pink hairless ones to think that they are the boss. There are some quality games to be had when you drop the toy that you are holding. Dropping prey is foreign to a dog. Why would you drop your hard won fluffy squirrel for another dog?! Earl recently showed me how clever he was. He often brings a toy in to the computer in the afternoon and presses it gently onto the knee of whoever is using the computer at the time. It’s his way of saying “a game would be nice around about now, you obviously need to check off that seat before you start to resemble Bezial…” it is also the precursor to his long and convoluted series of stages that he goes through before his meal. He brought the toy to me and pressed it onto my knee looking up at me with enormous doe eyes. Earl is VERY good at doe eyes. Nature gave him Chinese eyes but he has learned to open them wide and can melt hearts with those eyes. I think it’s the fact that you don’t expect that adoration and innocence from that body.

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Admittedly this doesn’t look tasty. It looks like something that might once have been tasty but that has passed through the digestive tract of the enjoyer and is on it’s way to the sewer. It is, however, delicious! This is date paste that has had a good slug of Jack Daniel’s, a splosh of Hazelnut liqueur, a glug of Stones Green Ginger Wine and a gargle in some delicious maple syrup (all with the complete acceptance of my daughters who owned all of these ingredients 😉 ). It tastes like scrumptious smooth fruit mince and I am going to make some coconut vegan vanilla ice-cream and swirl some of this gorgeousness through it.

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This is a choko that has broken it’s banks and that is growing. I am happy for it to grow, in fact, I am ecstatic! Jean of the wonderful blog “allotment adventures” has been waxing lyrically about choko’s for a while now and has reignited my memories of these humble tasteless vegetables. I have eaten them boiled and this is what turned me off them BUT I have also enjoyed them immensely without even knowing that they were in what I ate. They are carriers of flavour, sort of the green vegetable equivalent of tofu (except nothing like it 😉 ). They work well in jams, marmalade and eke out the prize tasty ingredients by being content to stay in the background while the prized fruit shines. Love them or loath them, Serendipity Farm is about to have a choko vine :). Those strange looking things underneath the choko used to be red Jerusalem artichokes. For some reason once I put them into this bowl and they all deflated! The white stuff is not mould but is flour (Steve is a messy cook 😉 )

Earl and I have a special bond. Apparently he sees me as his property. He knows that as “property” I have my disadvantages. One of them is that I go ballistic at a moment’s notice. To own property like me you need to be dedicated. I am like owning an old degrading WW2 bomb, I am unstable and I am dangerous. I might look barnacled and benign but beneath my pock-marked surface I am ticking and Earl knows it. I would like to think that he has decided that I am his mistress. That I rule the roost here and that I am to be listened to but I fear I am barking up the wrong tree and Earl has just decided to let me do what I want to do so long as I keep scratching him in the right places, cuddling him and telling him he is a good boy and I let him sleep at my feet on the bed. There is a whole lot more to Earl’s love than that. I am doing him an injustice there. When Earl loves, he adores. If he was a human he WOULD be a Viking. He would be all man muscular and handsome and when he fell in love it would be that amazing real deal. There would be roses and feet being swept off and forever and lots and lots of fluffy squirrel donations but he isn’t a man, he is a dog and that makes him a little more manageable. He is satisfied with his lot aside from a constant need to be the cream that rises to the top. He knows that Bezial was here first and that Bezial has a part of Steve’s heart that he will never be able to fill. I give Earl that love that he craves and as the only “bitch” in the family I qualify for his undivided attention and Earl IS learning to fit in now. I wouldn’t trust Earl with anything other than a human but with a human I would trust him implicitly. Earl is the sort of dog that you could send your 10 year old child off with and KNOW that nothing was going to happen to them. He instinctively knows how he is supposed to act. There are no fears in Earl (aside from squirty water bottles and a strange terror of noises that come out of mobile phones that send him running) and I know that if any of us, Bezial included, were ever to be attacked he would fight for us to the death. I know that like I know the morning will come. I love Earl and my early fear of his animalistic alien-ness has mellowed to acceptance and real love. We have an understanding now that runs much deeper than the here and now and Earl and I navigate through our day’s one fluffy squirrel at a time.

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Lastly…you tell ME how you pronounce that without the library lady jumping over her desk and washing your mouth out with soap! 😉

Sorry about the bad photo but it was raining and a bit dark today so the flash kept going off. Here’s todays library haul. James Wong is a legend and the other 2 books are some recipe books that I have been interested in messing about with. The black book has some most interesting recipes in it “crack pie” and “cereal milk ice cream” are only 2 of the choices but I am having fun going through the yellow book that has recipes for making your own ramen…now who wouldn’t want to know how to make good quality ramen!

It’s windy and rainy and thundery and lightning and absolutely LOVELY! It’s great to have a bit of foul weather for once and to know that it really is winter. The weather worldwide seems to have become somewhat confused. Steve and I have been so grateful that we bought Brunhilda when we did. She is certainly paying for herself now with endless hot water, free cooking and house warming. We have been cracking through our media course and are learning heaps about Adobe Flash and have recently been animating household objects. Steve animated his coffee cup and I animated a set of 3 Babushka dolls that I picked up somewhere. Lots of fun and another feather in our caps should we ever need to look like Indian Chiefs. I am lusting after getting out into our new veggie garden. I need to source some hay but at the moment we are starting to prep ourselves for the impending visit of friends and family for my rapidly approaching “big” birthday. There is snow on Mount Wellington Kymmy! We can go up together and make a snowman. I want to post a picture of Kym and I making a snowman and throwing snowballs at each other (not sure how I am going to take a photo of us BOTH throwing snowballs but hey, leave it with me! 😉 ). My sister Pinky is coming over as is the son-and-heir and his Texan sweetie Kelsey so there will be quite a few more than usual hovering around Serendipity Farm.

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Here’s my gauntlets so far. It’s just about time to swap over to that brown wool so I am going to have to bite the bullet and cast off!

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These are my daughter Bethany’s. I forgot to take them off when I borrowed them the other day and only remembered halfway home so Steve will be taking them back on shopping day. I wonder if anyone out there would know where I could find a pattern (and the knitting ability) to make a pair of these? I LOVE them!

Steve headed off and took a few motion blur images of Glad’s little waterfall that runs through her property. She was out raking leaves (not bad for 91) and said “Knock yourselves out!” when we asked her if she minded us taking photos. She recently burned the junction where the waterfall meets the outflow pipe (into the Tamar River) to remove all of the oak leaves that were clogging it and its lucky that she did because this recent rain has caused the stream to flow wonderfully and it would have backed up into her garden if it was full of leaves. The roosters are crowing in unison under the deck. I wouldn’t care so much if they weren’t situated directly underneath me. They are big roosters and those large lungs are apparently there to increase the noise. We just discovered that one of the smaller “hens” is a rooster. It is going to be a most beautiful rooster because it is a cross between Big Yin (a standard golden Wyandotte rooster) and one of Effel Dookarks offspring (She was a blue Wyandotte) and it has a lovely grey tail. We might even keep him and see what he looks like. The other 2 are living on borrowed time. We were recently given the bones from a piglet purchased from a local producer by our friends. They were ostensibly for the dogs but Earl is “funny” about bones and when he saw how many bones were on offer he started to strut around and we decided to stop a problem (with Bezial) before it occurred. He got a couple of bones (that he promptly ran off to hide with his nose) and the rest went into a stockpot with lots of water while I was away. If I had been here, I would have done something with them but Steve just let them simmer till they reduced down to about ¼ of their original weight and the next day they had turned to jelly. The dogs didn’t want to even contemplate eating it. They are VERY fussy for big dogs. The feral cats got it all and enjoyed every single jelly filled mouthful. I think Steve just made instant canned cat food…”Jelly meat anyone?” 😉

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Here’s the back of them. Note the cute mitt conversion kit that…

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Flips over when you need your fingers to be warm

I am just finishing off todays post whilst waiting for my RSS Feed Reader to download todays haul. I have dumped a few peripheral blogs that I no longer read and am tailoring my blog feeds to what I am now interested in. My interests tend to evolve on a regular basis but revolve predominately around vegan food and recipe blogs and baking sites along with some gardening and environmental sites. Most of the blogs that I follow post infrequently which is amazingly lucky for me because I have so many of them. I have almost managed to get back to a maintenance level where I empty my feeds every day. It takes me about a week of intensive shuffling to do it after a weekend away. I am going to have a LOT of feeds after my week with Kym but there is an option called “The Panic Button” that you can press that eliminates all posts older than a specified date (you choose) so I might just have to get ruthless on them or die trying to eliminate them. My choko is sprouting nicely, my gauntlets are almost finished and now I found a tutorial reminding me how to cast off, I should be able to finish them soon :o). That should tell you how long it has been since I last knitted! We are enjoying using rainwater in our kettle to make our daily beverages now. I also use it to make my kefir. I have been batching up my excess non-dairy kefir and freezing it in ice-cube trays ready for warmer times when I can get back to drinking green smoothies for breakfast without sustaining frost bite of the lip.

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These are my lovely rainbow wool socks that my son bought for me one mothers day a few years ago. Earl “redecorated” them :(. I am in the process of pulling what is left of them apart, re-joining the hand dyed wool together and then I might just attempt to recreate a pair of those lovely hooded mitts. I know that they will probably be HUGE and I won’t be able to do or feel anything with them but as they are chunky wool, at least I won’t have cold hands!

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The biscuit barrel is starting to get low…time to bake some more! That’s my non-dairy kefir doing its thang next to the bickies

I just found an excellent blog site (that I promptly added to my feed 😉 ) all about making and using worm wicked water beds. An excellent resource and here is the website for anyone interested in this wonderfully water-wise way of vegetable gardening…

http://www.jas49580.blogspot.com.au/

And here’s another great blog with free PDF’s about soil mycology and how to build and use water wicking veggie garden beds. You can now get an idea why I never manage to get entirely through my RSS Feed Reader…I keep finding new and amazingly useful sites! 😉

http://www.wickingbed.com/

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This is one of Steve’s sponge cakes. He just tossed this one together for a friends birthday tomorrow. He will be taking orders when he recovers from the effort 😉

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I KNEW this choko had designs on taking over Serendipity Farm! This image was taken this afternoon…the image at the beginning of the post was taken about 2 hours earlier…it is growing exponentially! By Wednesday we will all be trapped inside and it will be demanding to be fed…actually…look at the end of it. it bears an uncanny resemblance to “Audrey” from The Little Shop of Horrors!

It would seem that I have fallen prey to the dreaded lurgy folks. Not bad, but definitely making me feel tender and sniffy. How lucky am I that I can settle down next to Brunhilda and fall asleep over my knitting or a book. Steve is off hunting Aurora Australis somewhere in Deviot. Apparently there are sun spots at the moment and that means a greater than average chance (60% if you care) of seeing the Aurora Australis from the Southern states of Australia. As Tassie is about as far south as Australia gets (apart from our vested interests in Antarctica…) we have a good viewpoint. Steve has plans for taking some time-lapse photography tomorrow involving the river and some yachts. This wind brings the yachters out en masse. I think I might be just about to call this post done and dusted folks. Today has been “smooth”. Not bad to be smooth when you are sick, just coasting along and nothing major…just “smooth”. Tomorrow will hopefully be just as smooth and won’t have me crusty and with a handkerchief permanently welded to my nasal area. Wish me luck and see you on Wednesday :o)

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At least if the choko manages to eat me, it will get its just deserts! 😉

Bezial kissed a cow and he liked it…

Hi All,

I’m back! I learned a couple of things from my trip to my daughters. When you live inland in a cold climate it gets cold. You can put a lead on a dog but you CAN’T make it walk. Parrots like aniseed “people” sunflower seeds and rats are a whole lot cleverer than I thought. I also learned that Vista was an operating system from hades and we are getting our Vista infested laptop exorsised as soon as we can raise the funds. Aside from gorging itself on as many Windows updates as it could (and we haven’t ever used it online so you can only BEGIN to imagine the gustatory spread that it felt the need to guzzle…sigh…) it took 20 seconds to open a new blank word document, 5 minutes to load a Pinterest board and it kept crashing and telling me that Internet Explorer was using WAY too much memory when it wasn’t. Time to get reformatted and be done with it. What I am trying to tell you is that I got bugger all done in town :o(. I hardly even dipped my toes into the massive tidal flow that is my Pinterest board problem and I didn’t even open my RSS Feed Reader (if a word document takes 20 seconds I could only IMAGINE how long it would take it to load my RSS Feed Reader!). I was forced to twiddle my thumbs and knit. Not bad because in between gnashing my teeth at the laptop refusing to do anything but update itself I managed to almost knit a pair of gauntlets out of that wool that our friend Roxy had spun herself. I haven’t knitted in years and was a bit worried that I wouldn’t remember how but I had obviously done a fair bit of it before I ceased because it came back to me like riding a bike…all natural like. I was smug in my ability to knit myself a pair of gauntlets as I even remembered how to rib! I got to the end of the first gauntlet and suddenly realised that I had NO idea how to cast off!  I am most pathetically going to have to check how to do it online…sigh…

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Earl sniffed out the culprit who was sitting and staying shtum on this clutch of prospective feral cat fodder earlier this week. He got a reward of some raw eggs to reinforce his egg hunting (well…to be honest…chook hunting) abilities. Now if we can just get him to do our studies…

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Check out this glass of my non-dairy kefir. It’s thick like kefir even though the original soymilk (organic and homemade) I made it out of was thin and watery. It is bubbly, fizzy and tastes a lot like yoghurt. I add extra date puree to the mix so that it has something to keep snarfling in the tundra of the fridge and it seems to love it. I have been freezing it to add to smoothie futures and drink it by the glassful. No idea if it is doing me any good but I now have a great probiotic live substitute for dairy yoghurt that doesn’t involve me having to choke down that insipid sweet mush that they sell as “yoghurt” in Australian shops. “Score!” 🙂

I am letting the P.C. download my massive RSS Feed Reader quotient for the weekend. All I can do is hope that all of you are outside making daisy chains and having gorgeous picnics in some green lush wooded areas to bother with such trivialities as posting blog posts and that most of the Northern hemisphere is joining you. Note that I am studiously avoiding checking the feed by pretending that I absolutely positively HAVE to make a start on this blog post for Wednesday ;). I had a lot of time to just “think” while I was house-sitting over the weekend. I didn’t bother using the remotes even though the girls gave me lessons before they headed out. I just didn’t feel like watching anything and as I go to bed so early there wasn’t much point. I took some music in with me on a memory stick and after downloading it to my daughters desktop P.C. (they don’t use it online) I looped it and played it in the background all day. I wrestled with the laptop and spent a lot of time thinking and patting and playing with the dog. It’s amazing how your mind will fill in the blanks if you allow it to :o). My rapidly (galloping) approaching 50th birthday has its sights on my thoughts and even though I might have wanted to completely forgedaboudit and deal with it in good stead, other people think it’s an important enough milestone to celebrate so celebrate narf7 will do!

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Beggars can’t be choosers when they get to 6pm on the day of their post and realise that they forgot to take lots of pictures for their dear constant readers… these are raw potatoes. They turned into some delicious cooked potatoes but Steve ate them before I was able to take a photo

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Here are some raw sausage rolls. You remember those potatoes? Same result…snarfled before I could snap.

While I was away one of our friends who live locally decided to test out his tractor and head up to Serendipity Farm and pull down that pesky tree that has been dangling in another tree precariously. So long as we don’t walk underneath it, it doesn’t appear to hold any sort of danger to us but if we manage to get it down we can cut it up for firewood. Guy turned up with his tractor and after Steve hooked a strong rope around the trunk of the semi-fallen tree Guy set forth in his tractor to pull the tree down…except…the tree had other ideas about that. The tractor lurched forwards and shot a spark plug straight into the air causing both Steve and Guy to hit the deck and the tractor to stop working. After spending the rest of the afternoon “tinkering” (as men do when they really don’t know what they are looking at but feel the need to at least look like they do) they had to admit defeat. We now have a large tractor as garden art up next to our defoliated liquidambar tree. Earl has claimed it by urinating on it at least twice and Bezial has detected possum activity in the immediate vicinity. Hopefully it gets sorted out soon and doesn’t become a permanent fixture on Serendipity Farm but at least it is in an unobtrusive place for now. We are assured that when the sparkplug gets mended it will go like gangbusters but for now it is showing its age and having a nap under a blanket.

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I probably should have warned the more sensitive of you (you are still reading this blog?) that I was going to show you a photo of one of the fork/hooks that Steve added to this sliver of Tasmanian Blackwood. Please be reassured that Steve hasn’t felt the need to revisit his punk past and he would like it to be known by all and sundry that this is NOT a rude fork…it is a “Peace fork”.

As a person who doesn’t naturally gravitate towards food early in the morning I have been struggling with “breakfast” as a concept. I know that it is important to eat breakfast. I know that it starts your metabolism and your day off right. I know that BUT that doesn’t make it any easier for me to eat it. I started off with the grainy porridge types of cereals but they made me feel lethargic and heavy for most of the day till they wore off. I dare say they were sustaining me but I would rather be springy and active than in need of a nap at 10am. My daughters gave me a really good idea when they shared some “Juk” with me when I stayed with them recently. Juk is the Korean version of Congee, a thin gruel made from rice. Ostensibly it’s eaten for breakfast and by the elderly and the sick and tends to be seen as comfort food. I see it as the perfect thing to eat for breakfast, especially the pumpkin variety. I have my eyes on a variety that involves black sesame seed but for now am happy with the pumpkin kind. I throw in black beans to fortify the mix and although it might be somewhat unconventional, it’s filling, tasty and it hits the spot and allows me to keep going through my day without feeling like I am weighed down. Now I just need to work out how to throw lunch into the mix and I am set!

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Yeah…I know…”YUM!” ;). Seriously though, this is delicious. I forgot to put the rice in and just ended up with pumpkin and beans cooked with date syrup and water and it was absolutely delicious.

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This is a 2 litre wine bottle. It smacks of the desperation I find myself in that I should stoop to using this image in my post. I am going to try to segue it by saying that Steve used this in his recent animation but he shelved that animation because it was too hard…(maybe I should have used the coffee cup that he eventually used?)…just know that we did, indeed, drink this entire bottle of wine and it wasn’t bad!

I may or may not be still addicted to Pinterest (spoken like a true addict). You know how people who are addicted to porn magazines tell you that they are reading them for the articles? Well I am learning a whole lot from pins that I have pinned to my boards. Just this morning I found this most interesting blog post about how to make your own recycled newspaper yarn. I love the idea of taking something that you either throw into the recycle bin or use to line a garden bed (or start the fire) and make something you can actually crochet or knit or weave with. The end results are quite beautiful…just call them a study in greyscale. Check out the tutorial here…

http://greenupgrader.com/2138/handspun-recycled-newspaper-yarn/

I don’t think I will be making an all-weather hat any day soon but there are some very interesting practical indoor uses for something made from recycled newspaper yarn, think baskets and bags. I found a tutorial on how to cast off! I can now finish off my first gauntlet and get going on the second one. I also managed to untangle an almighty mess of wool that my youngest daughter had stuffed into a supermarket bag and stashed in her wardrobe. She had no use for it and I asked her if I could have it. It’s that fluffy/fuzzy stuff that is a bugger to knit but I am going to practice making granny squares out of it. You can never have enough bags, shoes or granny squares girls! I really enjoyed picking up a pair of knitting needles again after a long hiatus.

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This is the wool that I inherited from my daughter…supposed to be round the other way I know…the daughter should inherit from the mum BUT she didn’t want it any more and I did so lets just call it a role reversal of fortune. I had to untangle the entire mess. You can see I managed to get 1 ball untangled before taking this image

Aside from being assured by my daughters that I was just showing my age, I am getting a great deal of satisfaction out of making something functional. I have some dark sage green wool (khaki?) that I am going to make Steve a pair of long gauntlets out of to walk the dog with. It’s cold in the mornings and that’s the best time to walk the dogs. We rug up well but fingerless gloves don’t come down far enough to keep the breeze off your wrists. I got the great idea from those lovely mitts that Sarah from thinkingcowgirl sent to me a while ago. I have been tumbling them around in my mind to see if I couldn’t customise them to make them slightly more robust. I didn’t want to wear the mitts that Sarah sent me outdoors as “dirt” lives outdoors. It lurks…it waits and it usually adheres itself to Earl whenever he races out the dog door. It is insidious stuff, dirt… no matter how much I sweep or wipe things over it comes back to do the dusty equivalent of a Mexican Wave to me every time I reveal my Italian soul and start waving my arms around all over the place. What’s a girl to do when she is surrounded by male counterparts who could care less about dirt and its nefarious ways? I have to get canny and surreptitiously pretend not to be sweeping but when you have 2 dogs that lie right in front of the broom (they have obviously made some kind of deal with the dust) it’s difficult to say the least.

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Here I was most pathetically trying to gain your sympathy with the size of the pile of wool that I needed to untangle and how matted it was…did I succeed? I didn’t think so…

Steve has been dabbling in time-lapse photography and had some fun the other day taking some long exposure images of stars. We recently became aware (thanks to one of our fellow students in our course that we have been chatting online with) that Tassie is being bathed in the gorgeousness of the Aurora Australis most nights. We live on the wrong side of the hill to see it but I am sure I saw it out of the corner of my eye when I was waiting to pick up my daughters on Sunday night. The sky was too red for a winter’s day and after checking a Facebook page that we were directed to that hosts lots of photos of the spectacular I realised that my right eye might just have seen something that the rest of me hasn’t. Steve also did a bit of light painting with his torch down in the graveyard. I can only hope that Frank and Adrian weren’t standing on their deck at the time to see him waving his torch all over the place in the graveyard and aiming at headstones. Grave robbing isn’t viewed with the same understanding these days as it once was! 😉

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Yeah…a few balls done here and only a small pile of temper tantrum wool that was too knotted to be allowed to fraternise with the rest. This wool might be a pain to knit but good luck spotting the joins…swings and roundabouts folks! 😉

When we were walking this morning we walked past a heard of young steer (male cows castrated and raised for beef) that immediately took an interest in Bezial. It might have been because he was small and black like they are, it might have been because he was on a lead but it’s more likely because every few metres he was stopping to eat grass. Both of our dogs love to eat grass and if we were to allow them cart blanch in the mornings we would be out for hours while they munched their way through most of the road verge in Sidmouth. We aren’t that patient and Steve was in the process of dragging Bezial away from a particularly green and lush patch of grass when they were both approached by a most determined young steer on the other side of the fence. He put his head down and stared at Bezial who completely ignored him. Earl jumped up in the air, did a mid-air pirouette and had to be taken to the other side of the road in disgrace (the story of Earls life) but the steer kept staring at Bezial and so Steve decided to allow Bezial to meet the steer. I just need to point out here that where Earl is completely untrustworthy when it comes to any form of animal aside from human beings, Bezial is the most trustworthy hound on earth. He accompanies me to the hen house in the mornings and watches excitedly as I feed them. He follows Pingu and sniffs her nether regions with glee because she is “his”. They bonded when she lived in Steve’s music room as a small chick who had only just escaped death and she is the only chook who isn’t afraid of him. He walks through the throng of feral cats and completely ignores them. The only time he chases a chook is when I urge him to run over and stop one of the feral roosters having his wicked way with one of Yins girls and Bezial obliges by pelting over and scaring it off while the hen ruffles her feathers indignantly.

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My natural desire to organise things has been outed :(. After untangling the balls from each other I lined them up before untangling the balls from themselves. Talk about double handling! 😉

Bezial can be trusted…Earl can’t. To anyone who has watched the U.K. television program “Black Books” it is the same situation as when Bernard and Manny were left in control of Bernard’s friends wine cellar and drank the very expensive bottle of wine that he was going to give to the Pope. You don’t make the mistake of forgetting which dog you allow out the gate without a collar and lead on… you only make that mistake once. The steer seemed to really want to get close to check Bezial out and by this time, Bezial was interested in the big black fuzzy thing directly in front of him. They both had a really good sniff of each other and then the steer licked Bezial’s muzzle and Bezial licked the steer back. I wish we had a camera because it was a really excellent photo…”American Staffordshire Terrier kisses cow” He might never live it down. He has been telling Earl that he was just tenderising it but Earl doesn’t believe him for a moment! We all know that Bezial is a cow lover now 😉

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Woo-hoo! I did it!!! 🙂 Now I have some fluffy/fuzzy wool to use for “something” in the future. By the way Bethany “no you CAN’T have it back now!” 😉

I have a nice mug of mint and ginger tea sitting in front of me. I have a huge pot of homemade Soup Dragon (Steve) made soup on Brunhilda bubbling away and tonight it contains lots of barley. I have the beginnings of a cold slithering around in my bones and 2 enormous bags of oranges that are my way of hedging my bets. Steve and I have been beavering away at our studies and have managed to create 2 passable animations that hopefully have our lecturer patting us on the head and saying “good students” and tomorrow we animate windmills…well…we “attempt” to animate windmills. If you live anywhere in the Southern Hemisphere you are most probably going to be able to hear us yelling tomorrow. Just ignore us; we stop after a while, like the roosters ;). Have a great rest of your week folks. Here in Tassie it’s finally raining! Now that it is, it’s grey and wet and muddy and I suddenly remember why people get S.A.D. in winter. Enjoy your sunshine you Northerners and cheers for finally sending the rain our way :o)

Short but full of flavour

Hi All,

Thanks to Queen Elizabeth 2nd I stayed at my daughter’s house for an additional day which means that I am behind the 8 ball with my posts. Steve did a sterling job on Saturday’s post but now the baton has been passed back to narf7 who has been studying all day and who isn’t cram packed full of words. Let’s see what narf7 can pull out of the recesses of her mind to amuse and entertain you…I headed off to my daughters on Friday morning. We had walked the dogs and were talking to a friend on the way who mentioned that it was the queen’s birthday holiday on Monday which ensured that I had to stay another day because most of the shops that I needed to frequent were shut on public holidays…bollocks! I did have a great time at my daughters house and we had a lovely Korean takeaway and created some delicious food. I attempted to capture as many of the meals as I could but by the time we got around to eating we were starving so a couple of them slid down our throats before I could remember to snap. I would like to point out that I think that the queen is a bit greedy to be honest. I was chatting to “quarteracrelifestyle” this morning and she mentioned that the queen had actually had her birthday in New Zealand last week…I get the feeling that she is mooching for extra gifts and as she is officially the world’s richest woman I think that is a bit cheeky.

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This is Qi. She is our daughters Staffordshire terrier and lives with them in town. This photo was taken just before we left her at home to head out and pick up Korean take-away for our evening meal…Qi decided to pick up take-away of her own and rifled through my things till she found a bag of dog treats that was supposed to last her all weekend…they didn’t 😉

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Some of my daughters indoor chilli’s and spring onions that seem to be growing just fine by the well lit windows

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Breakfast on Saturday. Note the Chinese red dates and I discovered that “Aztec Berries” that are quite expensive dried fruit are actually Chinese Gooseberries that grow like topsy here on Serendipity Farm…kudos to the entrepreneur who managed to con someone into marketing them for him 😉

We didn’t get around to making waffles like I was planning to make because by the time I was able to get my youngest daughter out of bed it was closer to lunch time than breakfast. To her credit, she did have to adapt to my early rising habit although I did limit my emergence from my room till after the sun rose which I think was pretty big of me ;). The enormous Liquidambar tree in the front garden of the girl’s home has decided that it doesn’t want to be deciduous anymore. It has been taking longer and longer to lose its leaves and this year they seem to be firmly welded to its branches. Our poor sorry possum chewed specimen lost its leaves weeks ago but the girl’s tree is going strong. I remember our horticultural lecturer telling us that we must have been living in a microclimate. I think we must have been living in an alternate universe sometimes…strange things happen wherever we Pimbletts settle in a district. Glad next door has told us that we can have free reign over the leaves that have fallen from 2 of her enormous oak trees and we just have to find a spare day to head over there with our trusty trailer to rake and collect them. This will be our third year collecting leaves from next door…I am starting to feel quite nostalgic :o). Along with the enormous pile of horse dung and the remainder of the stall hay that we collected prior to now we have a good start on being able to fill our new veggie gardens with more than just chopped up branches.

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On Saturday night we had a chilli night. My contribution was to make guacamole

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My serve before the girls added beef mince to their portions

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My daughters have a most eclectic range of staple foods in their house. Here is the Asian quotient of their fridge…

We are almost ready to start putting the netting up around the perimeter of our fully enclosed garden. We had forgotten to get any strong rope to contain the netting and had to wait till I shopped to pick some up but now we are armed with more rope than we could possibly envisage needing so the next phase of our garden is just about to eventuate. I have decided to dismantle our existing veggie gardens and start using the material that they are built of to start forming garden beds around the netting as soon as we get the netting mounted on the poles we set into concrete a few weeks ago. Why pfaff around with limbo dancing my way into our existing gardens when I can rebuild them (like Steve Austin, the 6 million dollar man) stronger and better. We have enough netting to cover the gardens and protect them from the possums because the wallabies will be officially out of the equation once we get the fences up. I bought a chocko (cheers Jean for reminding me that they are useful food sources :o) ) when I was grocery shopping and plan on getting it to sprout and planting it out against the new fence. I also picked up some red coloured Jerusalem Artichokes that I was assured by the grocer were “just like the white ones, you know how some spuds are red and some are white? Same here…” That was enough to get me to buy a bag of them to plant out alongside their white counterparts…no racism here on Serendipity Farm!

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Steve took a photo of the small tins of loose leaf Chinese tea that the girls gave me

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And here is an artistic shot of the tins…

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The red coloured Jerusalem artichokes that will soon be under the ground ready to sprout for spring when the time is right

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Doesn’t this happy looking choko look like it is hovering over our bamboo countertop! I don’t know how it happened but lets just be happy that most choko’s are content to remain grounded 😉

Our rainwater tank is full to the brim! Steve checked the other day and discovered that there are actually benefits to rain aside from watering the garden. We have been drinking our tea and coffee made with rainwater and it does taste different. My daughters gave me some small tins of Chinese tea leaves along with a large friand pan, some Matcha green tea powder and a lovely reversible blanket to wrap around myself when I am up early before Brunhilda heats the kitchen up in the morning. I have to find myself a recipe for vegan friand’s. There is bound to be some clever clogs out there who has found a way to replace the 5 – 6 egg whites with some vegan equivalent, I just have to hunt them down. I am going to make some vegan green tea ice-cream with some of the Matcha powder and I made a cup of the Chinese loose leaf tea this morning. Thankyou girls, I most certainly appreciate my gifts to the max :o).

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Some more of my daughters pantry cupboards…

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And this one is a bit messier than the others but still laden with interesting ingredients

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The noodle cupboard…

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And this cupboard contains various “stuff”

Steve and I noticed something when we were out checking what we had to do with the veggie garden today. A pane of glass had been broken on the roof of the glasshouse…on further inspection we were able to deduce (just like Sherlock and Watson…bags I being Sherlock!) that something rotund had either fallen off a branch from the sheoak tree that towers over the glasshouse or attempted to negotiate a landing on the roof that went terribly wrong. We know this because exhibit A was the inside of the glasshouse where just about every single potted plant that remains inside was upturned. We figured out that one of our erstwhile possums had made an error in judgement and had found itself trapped inside the greenhouse with no way out aside from the way it came in. We also noticed that there were large shards of very sharp glass pointing inwards reminiscent of one of those fly traps where they can’t crawl out once they venture inside…we have NO idea how this possum managed to get out without cutting itself and there isn’t any blood visible so we have a mystery on our hands (and Steve had to use one of our chook food bags and some silicone and some logs to ensure that nothing else ventures into the glasshouse). Somewhere on Serendipity Farm there is a possum with a bad headache…

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There are a lot of unusual condiments and herbs and spices ready to be used to add interest to everyday meals

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The large blocks of milk chocolate to the right of this image are Belgian chocolate that gets grated into warm milk for “real hot chocolate”. It certainly is fun to cook at my daughters home 🙂

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My evening meal on my last night there consisting of Seasoned sushi rice topped with ingredients of your choice also known as “Chirashizushi”. My bowl contained rice, finely sliced carrot, daikon radish and cucumber, shiitake mushrooms, enoki mushrooms, half an avocado, pickled ginger, toasted black and white sesame seeds and nori squares. It was delicious!

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My daughters added egg and raw fish to their bowls

The days are getting decidedly shorter on Serendipity Farm. It’s dark by 5.30 and it’s still dark at 7am when Steve wakes up. They are also getting a lot chillier and Brunhilda hasn’t had a break since the beginning of May when we broke her out of her somnolence and press-ganged her back into service. We have finally learned how to feed her and are no longer wasting wood and ending up with a house that feels like Florida in a heatwave in the middle of winter. Steve got an infrared filter in the mail today. He has been hunting for interesting camera equipment online and so far has managed to pick up a good quality table-top tripod, a timer that Steve can use to take long exposure images with his camera with and that allows him to manipulate shutter speed and remove camera shake completely. After that he ordered an adaptor ring that will allow him to use his old Nikon lenses with his new Canon camera. He also ordered the infra-red filter he received today and a set of U.V. polarising filters and 3 variations of neutral density filters. Buying them online saved him a fortune. You have to wonder why we Aussies have to pay so much for what the rest of the world seems to get for a lot less. We have been most pleasantly surprised to find that buying from Hong Kong hasn’t been an issue. The infra-red filter took a week to get here as did items ordered from the U.K. and the U.S.A. The postage from Hong Kong was also free so we just need to see if his filters get here along with the adaptor ring (both ordered from the same company) for a clean sweep of happy online purchases. Even if they didn’t turn up, they cost so little we were willing to take the gamble.

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Thanks to Lizzy having her birthday on Monday Steve ran out of bread to give the chooks for their morning treat so he whipped them up a delicious looking damper

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Look how fluffy and light the crumb is…more like scones than damper!

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This is a peculiar predilection of the Londoner…this is “Pie, Mash and Liquor”. Pies, mashed potato, peas and a liberal splattering of white sauce containing parsley was just what the doctor ordered for Steve apparently

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Apparently this is what men who are forced to feed themselves eat for tea on a Saturday night…homemade oven wedges and fried rice 😉

Time is fleeting folks and although this might be a shorter post than usual, I can justify it because most of my dear constant readers are from the summery north and have more interesting outdoor activities to undertake than reading blog posts about some southerners winter activities. To my Southern readers, you can count yourselves lucky this time that narf7 has managed to contain herself and keep her post to a comfortable 1 cup of tea/coffee length this time. Have a great rest of your week everyone. I will be attempting to wade through my RSS Feed Reader blogs but thanks to it being summer in the north, I didn’t have over 1000 like I would usually have and it would seem like summer has rendered you all externally restless and thank goodness for that or narf7 would still be here next week trying to climb the equivalent of Mt Everest of blog posts ;).  I returned to lots of new followers on my Pinterest boards so that should tell you what a busy little beaver I was in my week of addiction. I have settled down to a steady hum that encompasses both blogging and Pinterest in a less manic way. I can’t promise that I won’t get addicted to Tastespotting and FoodGawker in the coming weeks but at least I know that my addictions are as fleeting as this post and everything should be back to normal within a week. See you all on Saturday when hopefully we will have this external netting fence up, some of the garden borders created and filled (and hopefully planted out) and I will have had time to do a post a bit of justice.

Forget the fast lane…we live Life on the fringes

Hi All,

I am living a curious life at the moment. Getting up at 2am most days puts me into a strange bracket of insomniacs and shift workers but I am here by choice. I get 5 hours to myself in the quiet of the early morning and my mind works amazingly well at this time of day. The downside is that I am going to bed at 7.30pm. I do, however, sleep the sleep of the dead now and good luck trying to wake me before 2am unless you are a large dog trying to navigate the tangle of bodies in our bed and you have an amazing ability to hone in on my stomach each and every time…I get to listen to entire albums via YouTube…several of them each morning and I get to clear out my 100+ posts by 6am and get time to stoke Brunhilda, get the kettle boiling, twiddle my thumbs in glorious, luxurious blissful solitude and contemplate the day ahead.

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This discoloured badly gestetnered piece of paper from 43 years ago contains my one claim to scholastic fame. I…along with my cousin Helen, in grade 2 got top of the class for some reason or other. Probably turning up every day, but Steve found this on FB from my old school and I am wielding it aloft like my own personal little Excalibur to prove that back in 1970 I sure knew how to rock a classroom!

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This little Rhododendron was almost dead last year when we pulled all of the blackberries out of it and freed it up. It is rewarding us by flowering all over the place 🙂 “You are welcome little Rhodo :)”

Saturday is a busy one now. I recently decided to make Saturday “cleaning day” and while I was organising, I thought…let’s make it baking day as well. I will make my vat of soup de jour on Saturdays and then I get Sunday as a bonus free day, a real “weekend” day where I can choose what I want to do. The weather is getting colder here in Tasmania although the days are lovely with blue skies and a crisp urgency about them that makes you throw yourself into whatever it is that you are doing outside in the first place. My own personal urgency involves wanting to get our food forest initiated and that involves a lot of background planning. How big do they grow? How much room do they need? Do you need 2 of them for fruit/nut set? Do they prefer the company of specific other plants? How to create guilds…prevent the natives from scarfing them whole…keep the moisture in the soil around them…make them somewhat self-sufficient over the long hot summer…lots and lots of planning to ensure that these little babies get the best chance to grow, fruit and keep on doing so for years to come.

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This is how you make narf7 happy…you let her take cuttings from your prize chilli tree, your peppino’s and your pineapple sage :). “Cheers Jen…and sorry I didn’t have today’s post ready at 7.30am when you texted… ;)”

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Here’s some parsley plants and lots of leeks that Jenny gave us to plant in our veggie garden. “Cheers Jen they love Serendipity Farm :)”

Autumn also makes me want to cook more. Brunhilda is on most of the time and so her basking warmth is available whenever I want to cook whatever I want. What a luxury! I can simmer beans on her cooktop for hours on end and can dry things out in her warming ovens. I can use the proofing shelf that Steve built over her to warm and to ferment and to raise bread. Autumn is a reminder to get used to living indoors more. There are also lots of apples and pears everywhere in Tasmania at the moment. We have a large orchard up the road from us and I buy 4kg bags of apples for $4 and apples and pears are now my fruit of choice. Fresh ripe pears are heavenly and I have visions of almond based tart pastry layered with rich custard and layered with toffee pears… I could care less about cooking in summer but autumn reignites that passion inside me and curiously, we in the South and our Northern based friends tend to be eating similar food…crossover food I call it. Soon they will be eating and posting about salads and ice-cream and I will be thinking soups, stews, and casseroles and will only be thinking of ice-cream as something to adorn something delicious, sweet and hot from the oven.

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Earl distracting me by trying to eat the duster while Bezial helps himself to the treat that I was using to get them to behave for this shot…sigh…

I am thinking of picketing the local electricity providers office in Launceston. I don’t usually do anything like this unless I am well miffed. I am well miffed. Today I woke up and rolled over and took a peek under my hot water bottle cover. Not something most people would do early in the morning but my hot water bottle cover doesn’t contain a hot water bottle, rather it sits over our overly bright alarm clock L.E.D. display and should one want to see what time it is, one surreptitiously lifts the corner to take a peek and as I am the only “one” who cares less what time it is when it is dark it was “me” doing the surreptitious lifting this morning. After blearily ascertaining that it was indeed 3.30am I turned off the alarm (set for 4am, wouldn’t want to sleep in…) and grabbed my clothes that I set out ready to be clutched in the dark and headed out to where Brunhilda was waiting for me to reignite her smouldering embers.

Steve took this gorgeous shot. Autumn is the bomb in Deviot :)

Steve took this gorgeous shot. Autumn is the bomb in Deviot 🙂

I got out to the kitchen and turned on the middle light. We have so many lights in the kitchen/living room area that we could have a disco should one of us decide to turn them all on and off at varying intervals and the other one gyrate maniacally. A bit of a sad disco to be sure but “whatchagonnadoeh?” When there are only 2 of you, you do what you do! After turning on the light I looked at the clock and couldn’t believe my eyes when I read “1.30am”…”1.30am? NO!”…I then checked the mobile phone and sure enough it was 1.30am! Mobile phones apparently don’t like where kitchen clocks are prone to it and bedroom alarm clocks are positively pathological about bending the truth! What happened?! What happened was a cold spell that resulted in hail storms yesterday, a government hell bent on propping up its arm of the electricity company that it holds a major shareholding interest in by pushing electric methods of heating your home, cooking your food etc. as “clean and green” and everyone deciding to use their reverse cycle air conditioners and heat pumps at once in Launceston with little regard to those of us out in the country who end up copping the brown outs that result from a spike in power use…sigh…

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Another lovely shot taken whilst walking the dogs today in Deviot

Next time I am in Launceston I am going to be picketing the office. I will have a suitably vague placard (my motto is “make them work for it!”) saying something like “I Don’t Like Brown” or “Aurora hates Narf7” and will most probably be carted off for not applying for a permit to protest or because Aurora twitches whenever anyone stands outside their “clean green energy” office for more than 5 minutes because people might question why there is someone protesting and Tasmanian’s love to stand in queues…they are used to bad service. That’s how these companies have gotten away with substandard service for all of these years…the natives have been bred to just “accept”…well not THIS little black duck! “Placards for all and brown-outs for none!” Would YOU vote for me? There isn’t anyone else to choose from! I might even get into office in the coming elections purely because I was the only candidate that no-one had ever heard of! 😉 Might be onto a winner there! At least 4 years in office with a pollies salary doing sweet bugger all would get us a heck of a lot paid for on Serendipity Farm…heck…we could have a wind farm with what those lazy buggers earn! 😉

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This is what happens when you tell a dog to go straight to his master…sigh…

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A selection of cos lettuce, other lettuce and silver beet that Jenny gave us along with the Parsley, leeks and cuttings. Get picking out those tiles girl! 🙂

So here narf7 sits at 3.43. She has been up since 1.30. Has had her first cup of tea and is already contemplating her second and will soon be contemplating her navel as she is just about to run out of RSS Feed Reads to read and Bezial assumed her warm spot in the bed back at 1.30 when she stupidly chose to believe the bedroom alarm (FOOL ME ONCE!) and he took the chance to warm his hide 3 hours earlier than usual…sigh…oh well…let’s see what I can think up here…I am ever resourceful and “bored” isn’t a word that you are EVER going to hear come out of this narfs mouth. I have a copy of “Enjoy – new veg” by Nadine Abensur that I took out of the library recently. An amazing tome of gorgeous vegetarian Middle Eastern cookery and something that I am taking brief moments of my day to type out over the next 3 weeks. I might get to type out a few more recipes. I might stick on the headphones and watch a few “The Actor’s Studio” episodes from some of the greats. I watched Robert De Niro and Al Pacino’s sterling efforts the other day and am thinking about Robert Downy Jr. Anyone else think that he is gorgeousness personified?

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A goat that we saw on our walk today. This one’s for Christi 🙂

What else could I do? I could bake some biscuits. Not the “biscuits” that you Americans call our scones but the biscuits that you Americans call “cookies”. I completely forgot to make any for our friend Jennies partner Glen. I want to thank him for allowing Steve to get a load of wood from their 50 acre property out in the sticks. The pile of steel on the property has his name on it but he seems to want to leave it where it is (too late Glen, we moved it! 😉 ). I will be setting up Jennie’s phone to receive regular updates from Serendipity Farm in the near future. She can lay in bed at 1.30 as the consummate insomniac that she is and can commiserate with me for my brown out rude awakenings. What else can I do? Well I can have breakfast…I can go hunting online for solutions to the world and Serendipity Farms problems…I can read a book…I can put some more wood on Brunhilda and stand in front of her and bask in the luxury that is our simple life here on Serendipity Farm and I can just enjoy being me right here right now :o)

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Here I am feeding another goat some forbidden grass…this goat was chained to a tyre…good idea for Earl…where do we get tractor tyres? 😉

Here’s something to force a page break on this post. Even though this is Vimeo, and I would rather eat my own foot than wait for it to load, here I am both linking to a short animated video AND nibbling my extremities…I think I need to share this with you all…it’s wonderful :o)…

http://vimeo.com/65107797

And THAT is why I own a dog :o). His name is Bezial…they haven’t been brave enough to make an animation about Earl yet…aside from borrowing “Earl” from Rocko’s Modern Life as a close approximation (I would be the “Mrs Bighead” in that equation 😉 ) I can’t think of another dog that would do him justice! Refreshed after that little break? If not…you should actually “watch” it…it really is good, short, animated, has a message AND a very catchy little song that runs through it in Italian so you can pretend that you are one of the hipsters while you watch it…

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This is a HUGE Granny Smith apple that was inside the Heritage Apple and Pear orchard in Deviot. The fruit is free to anyone who would like it…this one was delicious 😉

That’s better :o) wouldn’t it be great if life came with little interludes like that at regular intervals? You could just wait out whatever calamitous thing was happening in your life at any given time, whatever was weighing heavy and pendulous on your thought processes because you would know that at precisely an hour and 45 minutes into the calamity, a nice little interlude would come along and break up the stress and give you a breather from the situation and from yourself. There are plenty of little interludes folks, you just have to go hunt for them and take advantage of them and actually look outside yourself occasionally and “notice” them. Most of them are short, simple and to the point and will do you almost as much good as a good laugh will :o)

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Before any of you say ANYTHING rude…this is a lovely little first of autumn mushroom that I fell in love with today 🙂

I just had another double take moment whilst perusing and saving recipes from my (now) 392 RSS Feed Read blogs… to be fair, they aren’t all food blogs but about 75% of them are and I actually have blogs that I can’t even read sent to me. I like to challenge my mind and I head off to Google Translate for a wonderful recipe and a good laugh. I saw the latest offering from “Cake time”, a wonderful Polish food blog that I follow and immediately wanted to know what the orange sweet curd like layer was that was sandwiching together some lovely looking sponge. I headed over to my old mate “Google” and whacked in the unfathomable recipe (no…I haven’t yet gotten around to grasping the basic premise of the Polish vernacular. That’s next on my list…) to be utterly surprised by this… Here is the name of the cake…

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You got that folks? Here is the translation…

“Pooh Cake”…hmm…appetising? Did I just find out what that “orange” layer REALLY WAS! I read further (one eye between my index and middle finger with my face covered just in case…) to find that the blog author was talking about “Pooh” in respect to “Mr Winnie The” himself! A greater sigh of relief at 5.12am I doubt you are going to hear folks! Feel free to head over to Cake Time and marvel at that gorgeous orange layer to your heart’s content…knock yourselves out! Hey…what the heck…why don’t you whack the recipe into Google Translate if you have a few minutes to spare, you might end up with a great recipe and a good laugh to boot. You don’t get those opportunities every day folks 😉

http://caketime.blox.pl/2013/05/Ciasto-kubusiowe.html

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I decided to take a photo of the outside of the Apple and Pear orchard. This is what gave us our idea to fully enclose our veggie garden. Our garden will be bigger than this.

I am back listening to early morning music again. It’s either that, or “Chicken” and “Stock” will have me outside barefoot in the moonlight cashing in my vegan ticket whilst tearing their heads off with my bare vegan hands…yes folks…music is vegan diazepam. Today I am listening to Ben Folds latest gorgeous offering. “Gorgeous” might not be the right word…quirky, manic, and poignant and simply “right”…if you can get hold of “The sound of the life of the mind” do yourselves a favour and grab a pair of headphones…let the rooster’s crow, who cares! You won’t hear them 😉 he is one of those incredibly talented people whose sum is SO much more than its separated components. I dare say there are 4 ex-wives out there that would LOVE to separate Ben Folds into his relevant components but for now he is still whole and producing the most incredibly heartfelt and honest lyrics I have heard in ages.

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One of the best things about autumn is the plethora of gorgeous fungi that spring up overnight and disappear just as fast…narf7 is a fungi nut and doesn’t care who knows it! 🙂

If you are game here’s a great song I particularly love from the reformed Ben Fold’s 5 album… “Draw a Crowd” please note there are parts of this song that might offend some of you (but I doubt it 😉 ) be warned folks! 😉

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7rBy_ZoJl5M

Is it just me or does Conan Obrien look like Gumby?! I listened twice and now am being knocked sideways by the incredible voice of Ellie Goulding an amazingly ethereal singer from the U.K. Check out “Hanging on” from her sterling album “Halcyon”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QLbRpObZFGQ

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When we have treats we have amazingly well behaved dogs…as soon as the treats are guzzled, they are back to ignoring us, pulling like tractors and dragging us down the road

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The blackmailing hens won 😦 There are 9 eggs here. This was 9 weeks worth of eggs for 5 months till we conceded and started to let them out to wreak havoc on our garden again…now we get this many eggs in 2 days. I guess them’s the breaks folks! Chickens 1 narf7 nil 😦

Amazing isn’t she? Reminds me of an elven Sarah McLachlan. Music transcends so many things and I am a real believer that what you put into yourself, is what you become. Listen to wonderful lyrics, immerse your inner “you” with beautiful, poignant, real, heartfelt music, eat gorgeous things and balance them out with food for your body and soul. Don’t put anything inside you, by choice, that you wouldn’t give to your children and remember, when life is busy sucking, which it tends to do at least once on a daily basis for most people, these little moments of pure pleasure, of complete satisfaction and of comforting soul uplifting are what is going to get you through those abject moments of irritation and pain. Life is constantly trying to balance itself out…to reach its own nirvana…nature does it in cycles and we are part of that cycle whether we think we have made it to the top of the heap or not and if we listen to the small beautiful moments, if we seek out and fill our minds and our bodies and our souls and our spirits with amazement and happiness and pure unadultered pleasure we are balancing our lives and giving ourselves inner strength. See what spills out of me after a few stanzas of Ellie Goulding? 😉 Here are a few pictures I had handed to me in an early morning post this morning. I love this blog AND it’s an Aussie blog! Ever felt like packing everything up and buggering off? ;)…

http://frommoontomoon.blogspot.com.au/2013/05/rolling-homes-handmade-houses-on-wheels.html

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“WOO-HOO!” Guess where we will be next Saturday! We have a race with our neighbours around the circuit and try to best them every year. So far its 1 all… its up to Serendipity Farm to pull off a blinder of a bargain this year…wish us luck!

See you on Wednesday folks. Next Saturday it’s my entry for The Virtual Vegan Potluck so if you open your post and think “we aren’t in Kansas anymore Toto!” you would be right! But it’s only for 1 post guys…humour me 😉

It’s Leonhard Euler’s birthday today!

Hi All,

I can hear you asking “who is Leonhard Euler?” Is he narf7’s neighbour? No, my dear constant readers, Leonhard Euler is someone that was born hundreds of years ago…back in 1707 on the 15th of April. He was one of our founding fathers of mathematics and was Swiss (it figures). Why do I care that Mr Leonhard Euler was born today? Well to be honest I don’t. Google told me to go and check it out. It put a most interesting header on its home page today that when I clicked on an atom in the middle of the design, it spun. That’s how you lead lemmings to their deaths folks…you let them spin an atom and suddenly they are up to their armpits in mathematics and equations and formulae and they are drowning in the stuff! As I now know, life is half science and half maths. The scientists and mathematicians told me so. I like to live on the fringes of both disciplines in the “dead zone” when neither venture and where both fear to tread. I live in the part where I do little experiments to see just how insane I can make scientists and mathematicians whilst still maintaining my ethical position. Mr Leonhard Euler kindly left behind his likeness in portraits. He must have liked his likeness a LOT because there are a lot of them on the right hand side of my Google search page and most of them look like David Spade with a strange tic. Maybe the Swiss revered people that look like thin mean weasels? Perchance I am seeing a 300+ year old “Botticelli” moment right here where skinny weasel men were found to be the height of gorgeousness itself? I guess maths and science generated a degree of awe back then that could have linked itself to the sexy train? It’s easier to believe when you take a look at the other scientists and mathematicians that Google wants you to spend WAY too much of your precious time left on earth checking out. People like Joseph Louis Lagrange (who bears a strange resemblance to Mr Bean), Carl Friedrich Gauss (that looks like Spike Milligan at the height of his manic depression…) and Pierre de Fermat (a florid and most obvious proponent of the “comb over” who may have even invented this wonderful saving grace of the older man). Then you get to the scientists that “look like Steve”. Curiously there are several of them! I once envisioned Rincewind of Discworld fame as having a very strong resemblance to Steve but then I saw portraits painted of Isaac Newton and realised that Steve has been here before. I just saw another scientist/mathematician (who would know Google…you thoughtlessly expect me to click on that portrait to spend MORE of my precious life moments finding out? You are sadly mistaken!) called Gottfried Wilhelm von Leibniz (funny how you don’t want to correct THOSE names Spell check! 😉 ) that also bears a striking resemblance to Steve (and Isaac Newton at the same time)…I might have to ask Steve why he looks like these esteemed most learned gentlemen but why he could care less about science, mathematics and the general pursuit of research in any way shape or form…could it be another case of life trying to balance itself out? The enormous void of vacuous thought left in a permanent vacuum since these 2 esteemed learned gents passed away in a flash of blinding human inspiration has finally been allowed to reach equilibrium in one man born 300 years later…good on you Steve…you ARE doing your bit for science and mathematics after all! 😉

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Here is Bezial doing his very best to steal a ball of wool, run, and get away with it before I catch up with him…this is what you could call an “evidence” shot. Bezial swears black and blue that Earl is the most reprobated dog that was ever born…methinks history might be tapping at the window of that claim Bezial 😉

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One of Steve’s conquests from yesterdays Targa Tasmania photo opportunities. He was trying to take motion shots…not bad but I think Bezial was going faster in the previous photo 😉

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That’s more like it! Not a bad “motion” picture Steve 🙂

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That green hotel in the main street apparently does $5 pub meals on a Saturday night, 2 bottles of vodka for $30 or $1 pots of beer on the first and last Friday of the month…just sayin’ in case any of you find yourself in downtown Beaconsfield one night with $40 in your pocket…just a warning, you most probably won’t remember what you did the next day 😉

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This is the upmarket pub just over the road from the green pub. The meals are MUCH more expensive here…you can buy hot chocolate and expensive pastries and the clientele is MUCH more refined but $40 isn’t going to buy you much here…hot foot it over to the green pub and you can go home with some money in your pocket after most probably having a great deal more fun in the process 😉

Well that was your educational part of the post folks…it’s all downhill from here so hold onto your rollercoaster sea for a rapid descent into madness and scientific/mathematic deprivation. What has narf7 been up to since we last chatted eh? Well we submitted our assessments to our lecturer. It’s so much easier to push a button and hand in your work. You don’t have to see the expectant eyes of your lecturer and know that you dashed his hopes of ever making senior faculty member when he flicks through your work. As far as we can tell, our course, only going since late February, has seen a rate of attrition that is somewhat alarming. We keep seeing “new students” arriving and the online community that our lecturer steadfastly and quite frankly unrealistically expects we students who have never met and who are competing with each other to forge hasn’t quite gotten off the ground yet. We all seem to be circling each other in cyberspace trying to get a feel for the competition. We know that 2 media lecturers from Queensland are taking this course. Why? Who would know! We also know that all students are supposed to create a blog space so that our work can be posted and seen by our fellow classmates. There are apparently 20 people taking our course and only 6 of us have blogs. It IS good to see other students work. You think your own work is sad until you are able to measure it up and see that we are all sad together. It unites and gives allegiance to your endeavours and your unseen class when you can see that their work is at least as pathetic as your own. Most of our class have had a fair bit to do with digital art. Some are obviously artists and most of them are very comfortable with the platform. Steve and I are less familiar with digital art, although Steve has messed about with Photoshop a lot and is a whole lot more familiar with it than I am. I am really enjoying this course which I didn’t expect. Putting a bit of faith in Steve’s ability to choose a bridging course that would allow me to keep some of my hair this year was curiously a wise thing to do! My OCD tendencies to guide him to an area where I felt more at home (say brain surgery…) were cram packed down (with great difficulty I might add) because I might be OCD…I might be a “strong woman” (you can read that how you will 😉 ), I might have some very VERY strong opinions about things but I know that my way is only half of this journey that we are walking together. When I say “walking”…a fair bit of our journey has been running in the opposite direction of each other to be honest. We spend a lot of time tussling over things…trying to get our own way and being very childish but when we are able to work together on those rare occasions when someone forces us to behave, we are always amazed at the results and how they are SO much better than the sum of us :o).  This course is bringing out our creative sides and aside from showing me that being out of your comfort zone can, indeed, be a good thing, it is teaching me that I really don’t always know best. I am like a fish out of water here and Steve is the maestro genius and I am actually enjoying allowing him to take the rudder of the boat. “Keep steering Stevey boy…the first rock you hit I will be RIGHT HERE!” 😉

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Remember those soaking soybeans from my last post? Here is the reason why they were soaking. This is my handy dandy über schmick soy milk maker. I have had it for years and it has lived in a dusty fugue up in the cupboard until I decided that I may as well use it and have been making some very interesting non dairy milks in it of late

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After soaking the soybeans overnight I skin them. Then I put the beans into the filter container

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After heating, grinding, magic, alchemy and a little bit of fairy dust the milk ends up in the stainless steel container and the okara, or soybean lees remain in the filter container

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Here’s the home made hot soymilk after I added some date paste to sweeten it slightly and half a teaspoon of Himalayan rock salt to balance the flavour out

I have been up for an hour and haven’t even looked at my RSS Feed Reader. I finally managed to clean it out on Saturday. Saturday was my son Stewarts 31st birthday. Just typing that probably made him wince in his sleep. I would imagine he had plans of world domination by the time he was 31. I know he wanted to be at least PART robotic by now. He inherited his mother’s OCD need to have everything “just so” but takes it to extremes that my OCD brain can only marvel at. Do any of you have your entire financial life planned out for the next 5 years? I am talking about EVERYTHING here folks… no? Well you can sit back and admire my son’s resolve. The funny thing about resolve is that there is always…ALWAYS something that comes along and stuffs it up. It’s like life, the universe and everything is just waiting to have a bit of fun at your expense. You plan to be married by 30…in the next 10 years you are going to have 2.5 kids (the way Monsanto is going, we can pretty much be guaranteed of that .5) and to be well on the way to owning our own homes, being financially secure and with a decent portfolio of stocks and shares to see us through to a rich and enviable old age. Does that sound like your life? Mine neither! I think what we humans want, and what we are supposed to be living like is so far apart that there is room in the middle to drive a comet through. How did we get so far away from our ideals? There isn’t anything wrong with ideals folks, it’s just when we choose to think that they are the ONLY way to arrive at the Pearly Gates having lived a rich and satisfying life that we hit problems and brick walls. Most of the depression that the pharmaceutical companies are milking for all they are worth is spawned of a completely unrealistic sense of entitlement that we are led to believe is “the norm”. If I remember right…”Norm” was Dame Edna’s husband with the enlarged prostate…he was also that little guy from the 70’s with the terry towelling hat on in the “Slip, Slop, Slap” commercials… do we REALLY want to be Norm?! I know I don’t! I am as prone to idealistic regrets as anyone. I spent a good proportion of my early adolescence up our backyard tree watching the neighbours and being completely envious of their lifestyle. I thought I was the ONLY one who was suffering by not being “normal”…I wrote dark poems and read dark books and spent too much time ruminating about how everything was so “UNFAIR”… If I had been motivated I could have been the figurehead of the soon to emerge Gothic revival but I didn’t have enough motivation to be anything really. I think a lot of people my age had this kind of drifting feeling back then. We had NO idea what we were going to do, where the world was going, how we were going to get anywhere and most of us are still drifting and goodness only knows what we did mentally to the children that we brought into the world to drift along with us. I would imagine that is why we are seeing a revival of homesteading. Of learning the ways of the natural world and of pragmatic fundamentalism…nature regaining equilibrium and trying to pull in the reigns. The older I get, the more I can see how it really does all work together. I guess that’s the benefit of age? You get to see it for yourself. You get to stick your finger into the wounds and you get to be able to say to yourself “yup…it’s dead”. Nothing like a healthy dose of observation over time to give you as much perspective and incentive you need to attempt to redress your own personal stuff ups and try to do what you can to share your newfound wisdom with your kids. The problem is, by the time nature gets around to teaching you all of this wisdom, your kids don’t want to listen to you any more…they are too busy “living” and your wisdom isn’t part of their ethos. I think that life, the universe and everything has a very VERY good sense of humour don’t you? 😉

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This is the contents of a bag of dried dates

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This is a bag of dried dates on their way to becoming date paste, my new sweetener of choice. Once I make the date paste I then add the soaking liquid (sweet in it’s own right) back into the Vitamix goblet and process the goblet clean whilst making “date syrup”…no waste here folks! 🙂

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Kid Creoles babies that seem quite happy to spend half of their time up to their eyeballs in date sweetened soymilk and even the equivalent of pureed chickpea porridge. Sounds gross BUT it tastes really good! I am enjoying experimenting with homemade non-dairy kefir equivalents

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From a conglomeration of tiny little kefir brains to this uncured walnut that also looks like a brain. The curious thing is that both kefir and walnuts are actually good FOR your brain…nature is more than colour coded 😉

Steve is off to do the fortnightly shopping today. I get to wend my way around the web should I choose to. I have a sourdough carrot cake to bake today and when Steve gets back with my organic chickpeas, my 2 bags of Aussie almonds and a few obscure articles (for Serendipity Farm they are obscure…at least till we can grow them ourselves 😉 ) like a jar of kalamata olives (we have 2 kalamata olive trees…), an avocado (we have 7 avocado trees to be planted out…), a rough approximation of ½ cup of raw cashew pieces (“err on slightly more Steve…DON’T BE TIGHT…I need them for tomorrow…), 500g of raw sesame seeds, a large red capsicum, a packet of dried mixed herbs, a lemon and some Himalayan pink mineral salt. Why the strange foodstuffs? Because narf7 is going to create folks…narf7 is going to work her alchemistic magic on these, and lots of other foodstuffs to create something magnificent for her coming debut in “The Virtual Vegan Potluck”. Remember that OCD that I mentioned earlier? Well it is coming out en mass and it insists that I do a “good job”…forget “good job” who are we kidding? It is screaming at me to “KNOCK THEIR SOCKS OFF!”…sigh…almost 50 and I STILL can’t make that voice go away! Here’s the deal folks, I plan on making something that combines my vegan foodie predilections (good word that one…it might just be my word for the week 😉 ) with our ideals. I want to use as much of our own produce in the form of home grown tomatoes, eggplants, walnuts etc. combined with things that we have made with our home grown produce, dried mushrooms, dried herbs, sundried tomatoes etc. to show how we are trying to produce as much of the food that we eat as we can. I want to show the processes involved and the true cost of the food that we eat. No “Tofutti cream cheese” or “Daiya” vegan cheeze for this little black duck…this recipe is going to show its creation from go to whoa and all stages in between. By the end of the recipe I want to give people an overview of what permaculture can do for you and how to harness yourself to nature to arrive someplace that you both want to be. It’s one heck of a challenge and with my little Fujifilm point and click, I am going to try to take anyone curious enough to click on my link (or to be following the linkies through to the end) on a little journey of creation. At worse they might learn something before hurrying off to the next recipe. At best they might get a bit of a tour through the real price (monetarily AND physically) of the food that ends up on their plates. Either way, my narfy job will be done! Hopefully you will all want to come along for the journey with me to see just how OCD narf7 can be and how twitchy my perfection valve gets when I am honing my current point of interest ;). I just learned something. Daiya non-dairy cheeze has an Aussie website where you can go and sign a petition to get Daiya cheezes into our supermarkets! There are obviously more vegans in Australia than I initially thought ;).

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The chickens on day release from their prison and “Pig” one of the feral cat’s extremely interested in the proceedings…right up to the time when he found out that my old girls know how to deal with cats! Lets put it this way…Pig will think twice before he eyeballs a hen again 😉

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Something else that you can make with dates…the recipe for this one is on page 178 of the 15th edition of the C.W.A. cookbook (circa 1954). Don’t have it? Sorry ladies, it is worth more than my life to print it out here…those C.W.A. women are positively fatal when riled up! 😉

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I HAVE been busy! This is one of 8 eccles cakes that I made for Steve the other day. No dates here but lots of fruit macerated in sugar with spices and a bit of butter all wrapped up like the pentagon in some puff pastry…the pentagon bit was entirely unintentional you can be assured, it stemmed from a complete lack of ability to make a circle 😉

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This is some “Gouda Uncheeze” that I made as part of the recipe that I am making for The Vegan Virtual Potluck this year in May. It looks like cheese, it grates like cheese and even though it doesn’t taste exactly like cheese, my Omni husband said “you can tell your blog readers that I LOVE cheese but I can’t stop eating this stuff!” that is kudos indeed folks! 😉

I have created my masterpiece! Can you see the lightning and hear the crazed sound of my assistant Stevgor as I harness the lightning to bring my creation to life? Well it wasn’t THAT impressive but I managed to create the ingredients that I needed, create my recipe from scratch and feed some of it to Steve (remembering how VERY fussy he is) and none of it came back out to decorate the walls and he actually said “that’s very tasty…apart from the olives…”. I forgot that Steve doesn’t like kalamata olives BUT he was caught nibbling the ends off my piece of grated homemade “cheeze” and said “you can use that in the recipe…your husband the cheese lover couldn’t stop eating this stuff”. There you go…my own endorsement!  We got our feedback back from our lecturer about our assessment and it was incredibly positive and full of “sandwich” praise. Our lecturer is a sandwich man. He likes to give you something positive…hit you in the solar plexus with a swift bit of criticism and suddenly back to a nice soft pillowy bit of super-white bread to cover up the negative and leave you feeling all fluffy.  We got a whole lot of bread and hardly any filling this time which made us both incredibly pleased. Not a lot to fix up which is also great and everything we need to fix is minor and cosmetic. Now we move into some serious Photoshop with the next unit. Steve headed off and took some great motion shots at Targa Tasmania. Our property backs onto a bit of a wild corner on a steep hill so the cars tend to be ramping up a bit of speed by the time they get to where my dear gnome like husband was perched with his trusty point and click, a whole new world of manual settings and a couple of tutorials about “how to take motion shots” under his belt. The whole road was sealed off and although there were lots of people standing at the junction of Auld Kirk Road (2 of them slept in their cars overnight…we know…when we walked the dogs we saw them there 😉 ) Steve had a completely uninterrupted and pesky human free view thanks to the back paddock and the rest of our neighbours being elderly and not caring two hoots about fast cars. We can use some of his shots for our Photoshop unit and are already working on our first part of it. It promises to be very interesting and I am surprised about how excited I am to be learning about digital photography. We are actually thinking of upgrading our point and click Fujifilm to the latest model. I get to keep Betsy, my old faithful (who tends to take more macro shots than anything else these days 😉 ) and Steve can have the new one. We just got paid some sort of unexpected one off government payment (election year…can anyone say “bribe”? 😉 ) that amounted to just over $150 between us so that seems like a worthy  cause for that windfall.

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“Well looky what I found in the pantry…”

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“How the HECK am I supposed to get into this thing!”

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Brunhilda wanted to get in on the photographic action…here she is doing what she does best nice and early in the morning 🙂

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Steve won this jam recently for correctly identifying what flick weed was with my twin in Olalla Christi of http://farmlet.wordpress.com/ fame. Christi is making a little pot of her absolutely AMAZING jam for every single one of the exponentially increasing guests at her beautiful daughters wedding. Christi, you deserve a medal! Not only does she deserve a medal but she deserves a hug…she just made Steve’s day :). Look what arrived in the mail today. A gorgeous jar of 4 berry jam that Steve is going to devour slowly and with great lip smacking on his morning toast till he scrapes the last sliver from the jar. Then he has plans for the jar as well…I naturally thought that I would be a winner as well because I would get the jar but NO! The jar is “my own personal trendy hipster jar that I can drink moonshine out of when I make moonshine”…how could you argue with that reasoning? ;).

It’s 3.52am… I have 14 hours till post time…we have a quarter tank of petrol in the Daihatsu, no cigarettes, it’s dark and my sunglasses are within reach…time to hustle folks! See you Saturday for another round of “let’s learn to tango with narf7” on Serendipity Farm :o)

The Mis en Place of life

Hi All,

This is post number 3 that I have up my sleeve…what a luxury! I have been guilty of only having about a quarter of a post ready to post on the day that I am due to post it. Not only that, but I have also been guilty of realising that the day got away from me and that I have 1 hour to post…as a natural processes person I take great delight in the deliciousness of order and progression and I try to do as many things as I can to smooth the way through our days. I love prep. I love to get things ready and sort things out and am a maestro of mis en place when it comes to recipes. I learned it the hard way and getting everything that you need ready before you start something is a wise lesson to learn. Another wise lesson is to clean up your previous mess before you start a new task. My grandmother always pushed “Clean up as you go along” as her mantra. It stuck. I hate a great pile of dishes to do after I cook so as I cook I wash dishes and wipe them at the same time. At the end of the process there may be some dinner dishes to do but not many. I hate waking up to dishes, or a messy kitchen. It’s a new day after all and a new day deserves a clean start. I know that some of my processes annoy Steve. I can only imagine what his flat in the U.K. looked like but I have a good idea ;). Steve lived on his own and was able to drag a doona out to the couch whilst watching television. He could leave his guitar and amp in the lounge room where it would remain (un-chewed by Earl) until he felt like playing it next. He could dump his clothes on the floor until he ran out of them and could head down to the Laundromat just around the corner to throw a load of washing into the machine and the pace of his life was completely centred on his own processes. We have been together for 14 years now (16 if you count the 2 years we spent in an extremely long distance online relationship) and he still doesn’t get why he can’t just throw his clothes on the floor by the bed when he wants to sleep…”it’s not like I am dropping them in the lounge is it?”…but for once, Earl is coming to my rescue. Earl has started to invade Steve’s deftly dropped clothing…I have an early morning disclaimer here…I did NOT train Earl to demolish any of Steve’s carelessly dumped items…he learned how to do it all by himself! ;). Earl has started pulling things out of Steve’s pockets. Steve really only has himself to blame because he leaves bags of dog treats in his pockets and Earl is always ready to find food. Earl is also ready to extract anything else out of pockets that have been carelessly left at Earl’s beak level and he is VERY good at it. Steve wakes up to find chewed up sweet wrappers (minus the sweets 😉 ), dog poo bags that have been deftly rendered useless (Earl has a problem with us picking up his deposits…he deposited them for a reason and is annoyed and somewhat disgusted that we pick them up after he carefully places them at the topmost point of grass clumps and bushes and low walls…) and obviously the dog treats disappear (that goes without saying) and Steve has a habit of cramming his pockets with all sorts of bits and pieces and Earl has now taken to bypassing sticking his nose into Steve’s pockets and just chews right through till he gets what he wants to amuse him. You can’t blame Earl, you have to look squarely at the person dumping their clothes on the floor and you REALLY have to wonder why this person is STILL DOING IT AFTER EARL ATE HIS PANTS!…stubborn willfulness won’t put the ass back in your pants Steve 😉

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I LOVE having a post up my sleeve 🙂 Here is a photo up my sleeve to match the post up my sleeve. We think that this is some kind of funky ferry but whatever float-a-ma-jig it is, it’s most certainly interesting

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We took the dogs to the dog park today. We took a tennis ball and a rope ring and all the good intentions in the world. Earl tried to slip under the gate and run away and Bezial stood still for 15 minutes sniffing the same blade of grass for the entire time…After we got disgusted with them (the YOUTH OF TODAY!) we got back in the car and noticed this pretty picture so the effort wasn’t entirely wasted on our plebian dogs! 😉

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Check out the olde worlde last century chalk folks! I am getting school memories just looking at it 😉

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May as well stick with the boaty theme of this first set of photos and post a pic of the tug that zooms up and down the river. I say “zooms”, it actually “Chugs” very VERY loudly

Ok, fingers crossed…I am just about to turn the modem back on after a 20 minute hiatus. If it is stuffed we are going to have to head into town soon and get another one because our studies demand that we have an online connection. I will let it do its thing (blinky blinky green lights blinky blinky and a bit more blinking) for a while and will then test and see if I have the net back. This could change our plans for the day and we might have to take an emergency trip into the city to buy a new modem. I hope not, we are saving at the moment. We want to get ahead with our bills and save some money for emergencies and for when bills that are unexpected come in. Penniless student hippies live pretty close to the breadline…in fact; most of us live UNDER the breadline. We are not complaining, we choose this life and are prepared to bypass all sorts of wants and desires in order to keep living the way that we live BUT “The Man” demands a pound of flesh on a regular basis and we don’t have much choice but to pay at the moment. That means “money” and even though we don’t receive a lot of money as students (we get even less than people bumming around doing nothing on the dole) we are still able to save up and we found a plan that if we stick to it, we should arrive at the other end of it with a significant amount of savings for a “rainy day”. Like most other things in life I have a “better safe than sorry”. For a girl who rebelled against her grandmothers “tyrannical rule” on a constant basis, I think I am starting to turn into her! Those early lessons keep coming back “better safe than sorry”, “clean up as you go along”, “don’t put your shoes on the table or you will never be able…” (“Able” to what gran? I had 3 kids after loading up the table with shoes and your method of birth control SUCKS! 😉 )…all sorts of little wisdoms that annoyed the heck out of me when I was forced to comply but that keep coming back to me now as solid proof that my grandmother was a wise and wonderful soul. I didn’t appreciate you enough gran, you really knew your stuff! I think I might be like her…It has only taken me almost 50 years to admit that and she died last century (makes it sound like a lifetime ago doesn’t it? 😉 ). Time to test that connection… (Fingers crossed… 😉 ….

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Here’s the nectarine tree at my daughters house in town AFTER I spent 2 hours removing blackberries from it’s protective circle

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Here is the pile of blackberries removed and on a tarpaulin so that the rotten things don’t invade Poland and start growing from pieces. “Fool me ONCE!” 🙂

Well it looks like it’s either the modem has died or Google has decided to deposit one of Earls mighty dumps on my head for daring to use a tag in last night’s post called “Better than Google Reader” ;). Either way it’s just you and me this morning and those 300+ blog posts are just going to have to wait. I made a wonderful sourdough carrot cake last night. I have made it 2 times now and both times it was amazing. The funny thing about it is that the recipe states that the cake is “nothing special, just a wholesome cake to eat with a cup of tea”… I have never made a carrot cake (before this) that worked. My carrot cakes were always too moist and gluggy and the texture was wrong. This cake has consistently given excellent results and has Steve actually asking me to make it. I threw some ground ginger into the mix along with lots of cinnamon last night and Steve tasted it and pronounced it wonderful (even though he doesn’t like ginger and has NO idea it is in there 😉 ). I love experimenting with recipes and this one is a completely different recipe to the sourdough chocolate cake recipe that I have been baking. In last night’s version I cut the oil back to ½ cup and upped the amount of kefir (not actually called for in the recipe) and added 2 tsp of organic vanilla extract to the mix. I think the trick is in grating the carrots very finely and squeezing them out to get a dry pulp to add to the mix. Whatever the processes, the end results are stellar and my new go-to snacking cake for Steve to have with a coffee. The dogs love it as well and actually beg for it. I took my desire to offload the enormous quantity of mature kefir that I have been amassing of late to a new level. I used a cup and a half (I still have over 2 litres to use up) of very thick mature kefir (it looked like very thick sour cream or Greek yoghurt) in Steve’s quiche last night. I was prepared for a backlash because Steve is VERY suspicious of new things in his favourite recipes but he said that he couldn’t taste anything different and kefir has just elevated itself into a usable commodity on Serendipity Farm…”YIPEE!” I can now add it to all sorts of things with impunity :o). That means that if I want to make a creamy potato bake with bacon, capsicum, caramelised onions, garlic and cheese, I can opt out of paying for sour cream and can use copious quantities of kefir in its place. My little grains work overtime to produce this unctuous thick rich probiotic stuffed product and I owe it to them to use it in abundance. Unlike Jess (Rabid from www.rabidlittlehippy.wordpress.com ) I don’t have 3 kefir loving mouths to consume my kefir as soon as the grains produce it and I have to think how I am going to use it. With Steve’s newfound acceptance I can use it with impunity and might even make some kefir icecream after I toss the icecream base into the freezer overnight. The amazing thing about kefir is that it doesn’t go off. It contains in excess of 60 different probiotics and seems to be able to ward off any other invaders so long as I keep it in the fridge it is fine. My stockpile is going to disappear rapidly now that I know I can use it and Steve won’t reject the results with suspicion.

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We decided to open up the computer desk to get maximum space today and ended up making room for a large pine box that we can store things in as well as dealing with the cables that were snaking out all over the place behind the P.C. and making a haven for dust. Much better 🙂

I think I need 10 points and maybe a factotum gold star for not hyperventilating about my inability to use the net today. My early mornings are actually tied up in online use and this morning I am sitting here in the dark tapping blog posts to my dear constant readers rather than expunge my readers exponentially increasing backlog of posts (just typing that made me think I need a paper bag!). I guess Steve is going to have to use his techy skills when he gets up. My instinct is to give it a whack but I will curb that instinct because technology and “bashing” tend to result in dollar signs ;). We have been working a bit ahead of our course because we finished and handed in all of our work early (can anyone say “big fat factotums!” 😉 ) and rather than sit here twiddling our thumbs we are working through our next unit. I know we aren’t meant to be doing this till next term and that we have an assessment that we have to complete on this Design unit but we haven’t been given it yet and so we will continue to work through our next unit on Photoshop. We are enjoying it immensely and are learning a lot about digital manipulation of images. Yesterday Steve was able to help my brother sort out a problem using what we have learned so far. My brother is going to attempt to sell some of his lovely photos at the local markets where he lives on the weekend. He has been paying a premium to print out A0 poster sized prints at the printers but couldn’t work out how to get more than 1 panorama on an A0 sheet and was only using ¼ of the sheet in the process. Steve sorted it out for him yesterday and now he can get 4 panoramas on an A0 sheet and is saving himself $90 a sheet. It’s great to be able to put what you are learning into practical use and help people at the same time.

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Looks like it’s gutter cleaning time again… 😦

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“Hmmm How did you get up that ladder eh?”

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“It certainly looks like a lot of fun…”

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“Ok, I recon I could handle it…”

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He didn’t manage to climb the ladder but Steve did along with his trusty muck bucket and blow-a-ma-jig

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Isn’t it funny how last year this was disgusting to me and this year I see it as a precious resource? It’s all a matter of how you look at things :). Notice that black “thing” (that’s about all it could still be called…) on the right hand side of the bucket? It is one of a pair of “black things” that Steve fished out of the gutter and then was able to identify as some of his socks that he obviously put up on the gutter in order to prevent Earl from predating them…the problem with that very clever idea sir, is that you forgot about them and they got blown into the gutter where they have been mouldering for the best part of 8 months 😉 Needless to say they now reside in the bin! That bucket was a “found thing” that we discovered on our walk discarded amongst the bushes today. It’s an old oil bucket that blew over from the Exeter Show recently and that Steve eagerly took receipt of and will be stowing in the Mumbly Cumumbus as his new bailing/fish bucket

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Apparently the roof is Steve’s domain and this mess blown down onto the deck is mine…funny how no-one talked about this “Domain” stuff prior to Steve heading up the ladder with his blow-a-ma-jig eh 😉

When we were at our graduation ceremony last week, we had a chat to Meg, the team leader of another course who was helping out on the night to take registrations and direct graduates in the right direction when they arrived at the ceremony. Meg is a wonderful generous person who works with disabled and indigenous people to teach them how to create horticultural spaces. She specialises in environmental science and is perfect for the job. She is eminently qualified and her caring nature makes her ideal for helping people to use what they have to facilitate positive changes in their lives and make the most of their situation. Meg loves Steve and I and we love her right back. I think Meg has romantic goggles on and thinks that it would be wonderful to work with your partner and study/learn together. That might be the case if you weren’t exact opposites and had NO idea how the other person can even function with brain/thought processes like that! Steve and I are slowly learning to adapt to each other’s processes but they are as foreign and alien to each other as to be bordering on crazy and as we both think that we are right in our own processes, it can sometimes be a difficult process in itself to unite and learn anything together. We have learned to break down the task into what Steve does best and what I do best. I research best…I type best…I am good at problem solving and Steve is technical and stubbornly keeps going till he works it out. Together we are formidable in both the French meaning of the word AND the English version ;). If we can’t get the net back today we are going to have to find a solution for this problem. Hopefully it is just the network and isn’t anything to do with our connection per-se but it’s been a long time since we had to phone up Dodo and try to wade through those Indian accents to get to someone who isn’t in automatic damage control and who insists that the problem doesn’t lie with them…let’s just hope that the problem can bypass the need to phone Dodo. I feel a headache brewing if it can’t…

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The meat and onions and garlic cooking for Steve’s “BEST EVER” chilli recipe just before the red wine goes in…

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Some of the other ingredients and the recipe. This chilli is truly unctuous and gorgeous and we haven’t met anyone who doesn’t like it yet. We used to make this in HUGE vats when we volunteered at the local Salvation Army kitchen to help feed the homeless. Steve’s chilli is still talked about long after we stopped working there (and they have probably forgotten who we are but that chilli speaks for itself 🙂 ). We will make you some when you come Kymmy 🙂

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Not the greatest photo but this chilli bubbles away to an unctuous thick delicious flavoursome pot of heaven and served with some steamed rice and some oven wedges (home made of course) it will be Steve’s happiness tonight 🙂

It is 6.10am and I have managed to write 3 posts all bordering on the gargantuan this morning. I could keep typing posts but I fear they would be obsolete before I posted them! So I am not too sure what I am going to do now with the next hour before I wake Steve with a cup of coffee and wait 30 minutes while he wakes up slowly before I dump the problem with the net on him. I have lots of things that I can do today that don’t involve the net. We have the lizard piles of wood to collect up (and maybe a lizard rescue might be on the cards) and deposit under the deck and out of the weather (should “the weather” ever decide to come that is 😉 ), I have plans to use as much of my kefir in cooking today as I can. I need my fridge back! Kefir and sourdough starters don’t mix well. I only found out the other day that kefir makes a perfectly good starter all by itself! I didn’t realise that kefir has lots of yeast and that it can be used to raise a loaf of bread and might test it out one day. I know that when I add it to sourdough cakes in place of milk, the cakes always rise well and have an excellent flavour so perhaps I can take advantage of this in some of my recipes. I want to get hold of some water kefir grains in the near future and will be converting half of Kid Creole’s coconuts into true coconut milk loving babies. If they die I will just keep trying to convert more as Kid produces them. He seems content to repopulate the earth with his progeny at the moment so that isn’t an issue. I have been researching and it is entirely possible to convert kefir milk grains to coconut milk grains or soymilk grains… it just takes persistence and a slow progression. I make my own coconut milk (out of coconuts…what a coincidence! 😉 ) and as such, I end up with coconut water as part of the equation. I would like to use it productively to make water kefir and so I might have to send a quick missive with accompanying moola off to Dom in South Australia to avail myself of some of his amazing water kefir grains. I want to experiment with various juices (including the über sweet carrot juice I squeeze from the carrots that I use to make Steve’s sourdough carrot cake staple) and fermenting them.

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On one side we have Steves oven wedges marinating in olive oil, chilli, pepper and salt and ready to go onto the bbq after the dessert on the other side is cooked

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This is the way that I cook apples now. I prefer it to using water or juice. I thinly slice the apples and fry them gently in butter, cinnamon, mixed spice and a tsp of organic vanilla extract till they are tender and then I add 1/2 cup of sugar (you could use rapadura or coconut sugar or honey or whatever you like here) and after a few minutes cooking in the resulting syrup I remove the apples and reduce the syrup to a thick caramel that I then pour over the apples. The results are superb and so far removed from apples stewed in water they could hardly be considered the same thing. I call them my “toffee apples” and use them as a base for my crumbles and for tonights dessert which will be covered in a light vanilla sponge and served with custard. Steve has earned his chilli and dessert tonight with his antics on the roof 🙂

I have been stretching out my posts in order to ignore having to deal with the fact that the modem is not working properly. It might be something to do with the weather (although I am bordering on my mother’s steadfast desire to cling to superstition there! Whoa neddy! 😉 ) but my guess is that our network is down and that an unmarked white van will turn up at the little wooden box up the road that is ostensibly Telstra’s and that Dodo has to share with them and will do a bit of fiddling around and hopefully the problem will be solved. I dare say you will know if we get back online by the presence or absence of posts ;). I am going to leave it there for today folks. It’s now 6.21am and the rubbish truck just took our rubbish and soon the recycling truck will be rumbling past to collect our recycling as well. It is still dark but I can spend the next 30 minutes getting ahead of my processes thus allowing us to launch into our day a bit earlier than we normally would. I hope you all have a wonderful day and weekend ahead of you and that you are able to spend some quality time doing what you truly love to do. See you all on Saturday  :o)

hello easter

Hi All,

This is a special Easter post because firstly, I forgot it was Easter and secondly, I figured I shouldn’t post a spare post, even though I am not actually here to post it (don’t ask…I am magic ok?). This will be a bit smaller than my usual posts and will be more linky than usual. Here’s what I have been up to over the last few days…

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this is bun before the baking

I decided to bypass making hot cross buns this year as they stale a LOT quicker than regular hot cross buns and so I made a hot cross loaf using the following recipe…

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add sugar and cinamon

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Roll and fold time

DSCF0225Look a cherry , thats for the easter man (steve)

DSCF0238Time to bake well

http://thelittleloaf.wordpress.com/2013/03/25/healthier-wholemeal-hot-cross-loaf/

DSCF0260Emmmm

I made mine using regular strong white bread flour and I used a packet of mixed fruit with 2 cherries in it. I don’t know which mingy sod deals out the glace cherries in these packets of exorbitantly priced fruit but I recon it would actually be cheaper to bypass the cherries, especially if your man (like mine) doesn’t even like them! Anyone asking why he would buy me a packet of fruit with cherries in it to make “him” hot cross buns/loaf for Easter when he doesn’t actually like cherries needs to know that Steve shops at warp speed and rarely looks at what he is buying. So long as it’s roughly the shape of what is on the list, it’s in the trolley. I figure the 2 cherries are to be given a new significance and it’s sort of like “hunt the plastic baby” in a king cake…you find the cherry you win! I guess your prize is the cherry ;).

I baked a couple of loaves of regular bread on the same day because I looked in the freezer and realised that we weren’t going to make it till Tuesday when I get back from my daughters. The good thing about knowing how to do things yourself is that you don’t have to buy a loaf from the small petrol station cum deli that charges $10 a loaf and you can smugly pass them by without having to hock your children to satisfy your need for some quick carbs. I have been running around like a chook with my head cut off feeding kefir and storing it in the fridge and feeding Audrey to store her in the fridge for while I am away, effectively slowing the feeding frenzy down to the occasionally snack and rendering both of them strange bedfellows with the appetites of supermodels for the weekend.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe pirates are bak again

We got tired of our whiteboard because it decided that it didn’t want to release what we had written on it anymore. Rather than hurl it over the deck (my initial thought…) we decided to try out an idea that I had read about recently in one of the blogs that I follow. She linked the process back to the originator and I am pleased to share the link with you here…

http://www.marthastewart.com/271574/custom-color-chalkboard-paint

DSCF0277Pretty cool eh

DSCF0256it worked despite fran writing on it just before it was really dry lol

Ok Martha…can I have my sponsorship money now? No? Sigh… Steve mixed up a half batch ( ½ cup dark blue acrylic paint and 1 tbs sieved tile grout) to do a test on a piece of metal in the shed before we launched into painting our whiteboard (fool us once…) and after a rough coating and a nights drying time it was time to test it out…however we realised that we were deficient in chalk… we had none! We headed out to walk the dogs and saw Roxy, our friend down the road and asked her if she had a spare piece of chalk. Roxy has grandkids that come to visit and is the obvious choice to ask about chalk and all things kiddy crafty. She had 2 boxes of chalk and was generous enough to give us one of them. We got the chalk home and had a look at the box and noticed that it was old. We looked up the chalk online and discovered that it was manufactured by the “Cosmic” company back last century. A more fitting chunk of writing material for our upcycle of our defunct whiteboard I can’t think of. We got home and Steve tested out his tester board in the shed and it worked! After masking up the whiteboard he gave it 2 coats of paint and as Brunhilda was on for the afternoon, baking our loaves she kindly dried the white/blackboard in quick speedy time and we tested the board and it works better than regular chalkboard paint does! BONUS! If you have children, or a kitchen wall that bores you, or a back of a door that could be used for writing notes or amusing children or kids that LOVE to draw on walls (I had one of those…) or a husband who got VERY excited about being able to mask up and paint an entire wall of his music room in a blackboard union jack, have a go…the results were amazingly high quality and you can use any colour paint you like, so long as it is acrylic.

DSCF0264emmm i love shepards pies

DSCF0274emmmmmmmmmmmm  even better shot want some 😉

It’s Good Friday and as Steve is “sort of” a Catholic we are having veggie burgers for tea tonight. He was too lazy to head out in the Mumbly Cumumbus to catch any fish so its veggies for him ;). He had a most unctuous shepherd’s pie last night and I have been making lasagnes and calzone etc. for him to just be able to pull things out of the fridge/freezer for meals over the weekend. He has to water my veggies, walk the dogs (both of them with a combined weight of 75kg) himself, post my post and add photos, guard the house against burglars and alien invasion and all of the things that men do when they are left alone at home (basically weld his derrière to the television and have marathon horror movie watching fests all weekend 😉 ). I can’t tease him too badly because Steve and I have a new television love. I can’t tease ANYONE anymore because this love is base and degrading and we can’t help it, we are addicted… we love “Honey Boo-boo”. It’s official. We love her, her redneck family, and we love their crazy coupon clipping, pageant attending, crazy world. I think we might need to be committed after a few more episodes but for now we are loving Honey Boo-boo and her crazy antics…”work it girlfriend!” ;).

fpwIts a line from a pink floyd song people ,,, i made this for fran

We have been going deep into Photoshop and love where it is taking us. For our assessment we need to create a poster using a logo that we are designing. This morning we found tutorials on Youtube that showed us how to make faces into text and how to make psychedelic rock posters from the 70’s!!! You can’t show a penniless aging hippy something like that and not expect her to break something in a feeble attempt to do a cartwheel! Steve also found a fantastic site where you can download all different kinds of free brushes and patterns etc. And I can see where I am going to be spending the free portion of my week of holidays over Easter. Photoshop and the price of high class cameras coming down have given we mainstream plebeians the ability to mess about with photography where once only the professionals could go. This follows the trend of people becoming their own landscape gardeners, their own restaurant chefs and their own artisan craftsmen. Obviously there are now biafran near starving representatives of these specialised industries nailing boards over their once prosperous shop windows but what do we care? The lowly masses can do it all! But can we do it well? That remains to be seen! I read about how allotments were being snapped up years in advance by hipsters hell bent on doing their thang all natural like and being able to wax lyrical to their friends about how green and hip and cool they were…but apparently they didn’t factor in the workload that you have to negotiate when growing your own vegetables and as they can’t vault over it and get someone else to do it (Green wash time!) they are leaving in droves and abandoning their allotments. About time I say! Get back to your 2 jobs in the city with your dog/cat children and your desire to be young forever…leave the gardens for people who are willing to put in the effort and by the way “skinny leg jeans are passé!” there…I said it! “Flares are coming back!”… I said that too! Man I am on a roll! ;). Ok, that’s enough words folks. I have 3 loads of washing to do, a pile of veggie burgers to rustle up, some form of clothing to toss into a bag along with some shoe like things to keep my feet safe, I need to run around gesticulating some more and making strange noises that will alarm the dogs and I need to sink down into a chair with my hand on my forehead sighing deeply…all of this will be completely ignored by my dear other half who has seen my travelling histrionics so many times he no longer worries that I am about to hyperventilate myself off the sofa. Have a great Easter period folks and keep safe. Stay away from rabid hoe wielding hipsters running in the opposite direction of their allotment and if you are clever you will follow them in your car because those hoes will be thrown down in disgust and they ONLY buy good quality second-hand things from Etsy so you are likely to score something great ;). See you Wednesday when I may, or may not be significantly greyer than I am now 😉

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAHoney Boo Boo style water slide in sidmouth

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAFattys on the pot again …

DSCF0278Almost the last of summers harvests

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAwhy not .

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAour local tug boat

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAA flock of cockys sitting on the wires

Ok folks sorry i didnt say much about the posts but this is steve and i suck at the typing lol fran says see you soon and have a great easter .. bye for now

Earl is my Muse….

Hi All,

Our 4 years of horticulture have just flown past. In 4 years we have managed to pack in Certificates 2 and 3 in horticulture and a Diploma of horticulture with a soon to be Diploma of Landscape Design following suit. It’s amazing how much information can be crammed into your head before it bursts. I still haven’t reached bursting point but I sometimes thing I am getting close. You NEVER stop learning when it comes to gardening and nature. All of these (usually self-proclaimed) garden equivalents to Gordon Ramsey who easily impressed gardeners aspire to be are merely skating on the surface and tend to be more marketing tools than true information highways. I tend to head over to the alternative side whenever I want to find out truly useful information but am as prone to envy as anyone when it comes to a really spanky garden. Steve and I are not natural gardeners. I shared Nat’s little piece of heaven with you all on Saturday and our garden will NEVER be like hers. We are too lazy and our sentiments and aspirations lie elsewhere (predominately in the gastronomical arena of edible plants). Whenever I drop in to Nat’s house I can spot something desirable in one of its stages of envy inducement glory. I gave up long ago with my aspirations to a gorgeous cottage garden cram packed with glorious perennials BUT I can use some of the principals of cottage gardens to help us get what we want on Serendipity Farm. Cottage gardens are mass planted. Cottage gardens have tiers and levels and borders…cottage gardens mass all different kinds of flowers together and in so doing they promote natural pest control and the massing minimises the weeds. There are many incredibly self-sufficient perennials that truly deserve a place here… I just have to sift them out of the hard work basket and work out where I can put them (most likely the side garden) so that they are close to the house so I won’t forget about them. The Catalpa bignonioides (try saying that with a cold 😉 ) or Indian Bean Tree that we bought 2 years ago from our fellow horticultural lefty mate Andrew at Red Dragon Nursery that has been only barely hanging on to life in its too small pot and its regular water stressed environment got planted out a few months back and is leafing up now. We planted it on the fenceline between our place and Glads as one day it’s going to be a gorgeous tree and it can get full sun where it is. Just a quick aside, I just checked how to spell “bignonioides” and found out that the leaves secrete extrafloral nectar as well as regular nectar in the flower in an effort to attract pollinators. What a clever plant! We have decided that we are going to plant a row of Brachychitons down the fenceline from the top of the property down to our woodshed. I can only imagine some future visitor to Serendipity Farm marvelling at the eclectic mass/tangle of plants and wondering at the minds that decided to use the eclectic selections of plants that we are choosing and what was in our minds to do so.

We took the boys to Paper Beach on a lovely cool still day and Steve took some lovely photo’s with his phone

I love the round stones on the riverbank and covet them beyond belief. It’s just lucky that I am aware of how unsustainable it is to pinch river stones or I might bring a rucksack with me every time that we visit this lovely beach

So we are plant rebels! Who cares! Someone has to be :o). Most Brachychiton species have edible seed. They thrive in dry conditions and you won’t get much drier than our back block. They were grown in Tasmania and some of the seed was collected in Tasmania so it is from established stock that has acclimatised itself to our conditions, in other words, it has provenance. Something with provenance has been grown in local conditions and is more than happy to survive and flourish. They are the perfect plants to grow in your garden or on your property because they have a proven track record. I like to check out peoples gardens in the local area. I am naturally nosy but that isn’t why I wrangle Earl in from his rabbit hunts and his sniff fests to crane over someone’s fence to attempt to see what they have thriving in their garden. I do it because if it’s happy on my neighbours property there is a good chance that it may be happy on ours.

River grass contrasting with the pure still river in the background and the 2 black swans made this a nice photo

I really liked this persons fence. The gates appear to be hand made

This photo is to give you some idea of how massive this oak tree was. The house is underneath it and is totally swamped by this enormous specimen. We couldn’t even fit it all in the shot as we would have had to back up into the river to get it all

I want to trade this wonderful man for our stupid prime minister. He is living a sustainable life by choice not postulating about it and doing deals with China behind her back to sell us and keep our economy afloat on the books. Check out this inspirational article about the President of Uraguay. This is one politician that I would actually invite into my home to share a meal. Bravo Jose Mujica you might be “The world’s poorest President” but you are one of the richest in human spirit :o).

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-20243493

It’s a pity Jose isn’t the president of the United States of America isn’t it? Imagine how easy it would be to change over to sustainable ways of doing things with someone who lives it every day as his creed in the top seat? Oh well…we live in hope :0).

I am SO envious of this little segment of wasteland between a house and a shed that we spotted in Exeter today. Obviously the home owner used this area to throw their green waste that obviously consisted of a proportion of potato. Isn’t it both amazing and ironic how well vegetable grow when you could care less about them? 😉

If a boat wants to head down the river into Launceston we get to see it heading past Serendipity Farm. This little tug boat is off to be serviced in Launceston. We also get to see the Astralobe, the boat that goes to Antarctica, when it comes in to be serviced. Life on the river is never boring 🙂

I just got another example of how life can give you a belly laugh when you least expect it. “Aubergine”…for 1, we don’t use that word here in Australia. We call them eggplants…but I was trying to find a really delicious looking recipe that I saw on an episode of “Andy Bates Street Feasts” last night. The recipe was for a vegan burger that started by cooking all sorts of curried things in a large pot and then adding coconut cream and THEN adding polenta to soak up all of the liquid and the resulting burgers were shaped and fried and looked scrumptious. They then kicked it up a notch by using Khobz flatbreads instead of burger buns, adding all sorts of delicious chutneys and salads and folding them up into a nice neat envelope shape that was open at the top and eating them. My kind of grub! Anyway…I was hunting for the recipe and after finding it, I copied and pasted it into a word doc and as usual Word took offence to some of the spelling. It usually takes offence to Americanisations where the words have been changed but this time it wanted me to change “aubergine”. Fair enough…I don’t use the word aubergine so lets just change it to eggplant and be done with it. I clicked on Words suggestion and it wanted me to change aubergine to aborigine! That might not have been such a terrible swap apart from the context of the recipe that wanted me to take said aubergine/aborigine and peel and dice it! I had to laugh…I guess you had to be there 😉

It may not be the most beautiful of gates but I love my new rustic garden gate :). It has given me the ability to head out to the vegetable garden whenever I like and it has given Earl the newfound joy of being able to lay in wait and terrorise passing chooks

This photo is looking back towards the new gate. The star pickets and white bird netting contain the first of the little figs that we planted out. He will soon be joined by his 3 siblings because he has responded so well to his new home.

It’s suddenly time to post my hump day post and we have been flat out fixing up things in our designs. It would seem that we raised the bar in our designs and our dear esteemed lecturer Nick has raised his expectations right along with them…sigh…oh well…I guess we were back to the drawing board on a few things! We have just finished off the work and hopefully Nick will be happy with what we have changed and added and our next meeting might be our penultimate meeting. I plan on making a celebratory cake…maybe a nice orange and almond flourless cake with an orange glaze? Who knows…maybe a coffee and chocolate spongecake…whatever we make it usually goes down well for morning tea. I have really enjoyed studying the way that Steve and I have been studying over the last few years. Studying online gives you the freedom to work at your own pace and so long as you are disciplined, it’s the best way to study. There have been times that we kept going long into the night to finish something off and there have been times that we haven’t laid eyes on a book for months. Flexible delivery is the best of all worlds. It doesn’t use precious physical resources in a classroom situation and it allows people to work at their own pace and effectively receive 1 on 1 tutelage. Steve and I attend our meetings together and poor Nick has to juggle us both but I think that it really works well because we have different strengths and weaknesses and we are able to work well together once we know what is expected of us. Nick has always expected our very best and we have always strived to give it to him…plus 10% 😉

Earl in his element. As you can see, this is the part of the loungeroom that we have given up on and have allowed Earl to systematically disassemble whatever he finds in his mouth at any given time. He is munching on one of Steve’s t-shirts that he stole this morning…sometimes Earl’s games start a little bit too early for us and racing about the house after Earl with an “I am the Stig” t-shirt in his mouth is too hard for us at 7.30am

A man and his buddha

Earl has been helping me to write this post. He wants it known that he is my muse. This morning he was trying to sing something to me and I am obviously pretty stupid because I didn’t get it. I can see him staring at me sometimes as if I am brain dead. I know that I am not very good at my doganese but I have come to it fairly late in life and can’t be expected to learn new tricks all that fast. Earl spends most of his days trying to get one or the other of us to let him out of the gate…preferably unleashed but if he MUST he will wear a collar. Due to his penchance for attempting to ethnically cleanse Serendipity Farm of all domesticated and wildlife, his days unleashed have been few and far between and usually as a result of some bloody idiot forgetting to shut one of the gates before releasing the hounds after their walk. Earl is part alien part feral and part ADHD dog. He spends his life actively pursuing life on the other side of the fence and apparently I am the weakest link in the chain and as such his telekinetic powers of persuasion should be able to get me to do his bidding. As a muse Earl sucks. The “music” that comes from within is manic. The creative thoughts are terrifying and the literature pure horror. When Earl gets bored he eats things. His latest trick is to sneak into the spare/middle room when I am stupid enough to go in without shutting the door behind me (which is all the time…) and pinching walnuts out of a large container of them that I didn’t get around to stratifying this year. Once he gets the walnut it’s game on until one of us gets bored and then its a quick “crunch” and the walnut falls neatly in half suddenly becoming a very boring game and something to be shunned. I get to pick up the slobbery bits and deposit the walnut into the compost bin. Good try Earl…today isn’t your lucky day…I am wearing my tinfoil hat! Alien BEGONE!

A newly thin Fatty after recently giving birth…sigh…we now really REALLY have to deal with the exponentially exploding cat population on Serendipity Farm

This is Steve’s favourite little female feral that he has called “little pig”…don’t ask me why but she is very tame and may just end up being caught, sterilised at the vets and become part of life here on Serendipity Farm 🙂

I don’t usually type my post straight into the wordpress arena. I might actually save it before I hit “publish” because wordpress has a habit of losing entire sentences of prose and rendering the author hair free and rabid. I have cooked Steve some interesting curried pasties with home made curry paste, mashed potato, onion and cheese to be wrapped in puff pastry later on. I have been on a roll this week with making tasty meals and hopefully this one will fit the bill tonight. We finished off our studies at 4pm and after racing about to feed the seal eyed dogs (who want their evening meal at 3pm promptly and BOLLOCKS to daylight savings…) and sorting out what has to be done at the end of the day I find myself running short of time. Its that springtime thing again combined with it being the end of the year very soon. I am slowly getting used to waking up at 5am aside from my brains attempt to sabotage me into sleeping in by having me in deep dream sleep mode right when the alarm goes off. I have learned that precisely as the alarm goes off the automatic radio track has the “good” song on. If I lay in bed too long I end up with the “bad” song…good song = creedence…bad song = katie Perry…The first song that I hear in the morning usually stays with me all day and I have learned to quickly get up in the throws of the good song and turn off the radio before the bad song starts playing and sticks in my head to torture me for the rest of the day. I guess the universe is telling me that old adage “early to bed and early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise”…it might make a “man” all of those things but it makes me “sleepy, dopey and grumpy” and as all of you know, that’s just on half of the 7 dwarves! Talk about a weird way to start the day! Ok, you get off lightly in the posting stakes again. If Nick gives us the OK it will be back to having the time to actually contemplate our navels whilst choosing what to do with our days rather than study…Study… STUDY as our sole option. See you Saturday when we may have started our big chook run thanks to Steve picking up some ex fish farm netting with a promise of more to come. Once those ninja chooks are behind bars where they belong we can mulch the poor long scratched and suffering garden and cover it up to minimise water loss. Once that happens we can install some irrigation to keep everything (mostly us) happy and we can then start to do a few more pressing things around Serendipity Farm. Have a great rest of the week and remember…it’s just on a month till Christmas (just thought you might like to know 😉

Add a liberal dash of humour to life and let the flavour energise your outlook

Hi All,

Have any of you wandered far away from home on the search for a good recipe? I am not talking physical miles here folks…I am talking ether miles…a long hard slog to find a rare and precious gem of a recipe that will serve as a holy grail in your degustory repertoire. I am at all times a magpie. I have beady little eyes that seek out precious shiny things in all aspects of my life and recipe hunting isn’t immune to my scavenger hunts. I head all over the place hunting for these shiny little tasty morsels and usually I find what I am looking for. I found a recipe for Korean rice cake noodles…I found a recipe for how to make home-made healthy margarine…if it’s out there I will find it BUT…the downside is that it usually comes wrapped in someone else’s language that doesn’t quite compute with my own. What’s a girl to do but head on over to Google Translate, copy and paste and spend some quality time falling off my chair laughing at the translation. I found a fantastic recipe for butter cookies via another website via another site via a link that showed a wonderful picture of a pig bun. Yes folks… I ended up finding a recipe for butter cookies written in Spanish after seeing a picture on a non-food blog for little pigs made out of bread. This brings me to humour, and where we put it in our lives. I would equate humour to being the salt in life’s recipe. Without it, life is just a pale representation of what it could be. Pepper might be passion but my mind isn’t made up on that one yet…maybe chilli for passion? Perhaps I could write a translation for human emotions using spices and herbs! I have always prized a good sense of humour over all else. I figure it can get you through some really tough times. It can also get you into trouble but you just have to learn where and when to burst out laughing …that and the ability to stifle yourself in both job, and police interviews 😉

We recently headed into town for a lecture with our illustrious leader and after our lecture we dropped off what was left of our hosta’s to live at their new “forever home” (until the snails and slugs find them here that is!) at Nat’s. I got Steve to take some photos with his phone because Nat’s garden is gorgeous. I want to lay down amongst all of the beauty and just absorb it like mushrooms absorb horse manure…deep into my soul. This garden has been created by a TRUE natural landscape designer. Nat just has “It”…I, sadly, don’t. The photos in today’s post are garden porn…enjoy my friends…enjoy 🙂

Everywhere you look in Nat’s amazing garden there is something special. It doesn’t hurt that you have the old quarter of Launceston as your view…

Even a gratuitous clothes line shot can’t take away from Nat’s gorgeous garden

I must admit to being drawn to a good sense of humour like a moth to a flame. My rss feed reader is stuffed equally well with amazing food blogs and well written blogs tempered with humour and insight into our common condition…life. I think we all take ourselves too seriously. So we have a wrinkle! Who really cares…the only ones making money out of them are the plastic surgeons and mirror salesmen. Who wants to decompose in a coffin with only their botoxed foreheads and silicone implants remaining for some poor future archaeologist to discover and wonder “WHY?!” Now I am laughing! I just made myself laugh…I had best put myself in my rss feed reader ;). You see? It’s easy to not take yourself seriously. It puts a bit of a barrier between you and the rest of the world. To give yourself a little space and permission to be yourself. Life wasn’t meant to be easy but it was also meant to be bearable. Humour gives us the edge to counteract many of the little irritations that life brings and tempers our days. I love nothing more than immersing myself in some well-honed comedy programs on television like Black Books…Futurama…My Name is Earl… there are some really amazing and funny shows out there…how about Third rock from the sun? Hilarious! We Aussies haven’t contributed much in the way of hilarious television comedy BUT we tend to live our lives in a humorous manner so perhaps we don’t need to manufacture it wholesale. The very best humour…the crème de la crème comes from working class front line communities. It comes from places where life is close to the edge and where people meld together in rows of terraced communion and are forced to wake up together, to empty their bins together and to live side by side no matter how much they don’t get along…comedy was born of salving the seething mass of variety that humanity breeds and giving us a way to all laugh together…healing the gaps and making us whole again. When you stop taking yourself so seriously you are allowing yourself to see someone else’s point of view and you are giving yourself permission to just be “you”.

Every available space has been loving stuffed with something gorgeous. This garden is only 4 years old (barely) and as Nat said the other day “It’s just starting to look how I saw it when I planted everything”

Isn’t this clematis growing on an archway with a gorgeous Pierre de Ronsard rose absolutely beautiful?

This beautiful Sambucus nigra “purpurea” (black elderberry) is just starting to flower and the wonderful dark purple complements the Cercis canadensis or forest pansy and on the left of this shot you can just about see a wonderful Robinia pseudoacacia ‘Lace Lady”. Nat most certainly knows how to use beautiful, special plants in a reasonably small space

It’s Thursday and in between the sun shining and then clouds zooming over and threatening to rain Serendipity Farm is basking in the spring weather and everything is blooming. Steve and I have been working incredibly hard on our final design plans to ensure that everything is as perfect as we can get it. We have the gift of a lecturer who expects our best and we have the ability to realise that this is indeed something precious. Nick is one of those true teachers who actually love learning and knowledge. The acquisition of knowledge is probably one of my most base desires and I spend a lot of time trying to learn things to salve my way along my chosen life path. We are going to miss Nick and that incredibly high benchmark that kept moving to accommodate our new found skills. I, especially, truly appreciate where your expectations took us Nick and although you will most probably never read this, I am indebted to you for your dedication and your desire to teach. You gave me the confidence and the sheer pig headed will to succeed where I would usually have thrown in the towel and I have learned to never give in when something becomes hard work and THAT is a precious thing to learn. We have both completed online forms where we had to support our applications to study graphic design and printing next year…I HATE blowing my own trumpet. It goes against every single tall poppy slaying oath that an Aussie born in the 60’s was subject to by their parents…”Don’t get up yourself” was our parents creed and any early attempts to elevate yourself above your common brethren was dealt a squashing blow and you returned to the fold both chastened and knowing that no matter how “special” you were…you were part of a familial machine and that machine wasn’t going to work if you decided that you were too special to take your place and do your bit. As such, I had to gild the lily and wax lyrical and point out how amazing both Steve and I were and at the end of it I felt much like I would imagine a prostitute feels after her first mark…a fair bit dirty and feeling like something was not right in the state of Denmark. Hopefully the artistic temperament’s that decided that we nameless faceless applicants should fight it out using our literary and physical accomplishments will appreciate a few diplomas and a desire to use their services as a springboard to better graphics in our concept plans and a springboard to university. We can only hope that they believed my pained and plaintive outpourings and that they don’t see through to the squirming middle aged hippy below who just wanted to tell them to shove it!

A better shot of that wonderful tree pansy complemented by the lime green of the Cotinus behind it and the darker purple of the succulents in pots

Another Robinia pseudoacacia ‘Lace Lady” and a maple with some more lovely things massed in the foreground.

Isn’t this border wonderful? Nat is a natural with roses. Every single rose in her garden is spectacular and complemented by salvias and all sorts of other perennials that set of the roses to a “T”

Histrionics aside…we really both want to do this course. We have decided that it’s “one in…all in” and if only one of us gets in, we will both pass. We have other ideas for how to pass a year…who knows…we might even have to fall on the “Work for the Dole” that so terrifies Steve as a brief hiatus until we can reunite ourselves with higher education…we might even throw ourselves into the job market for a year and see if we can’t “mow ya lawn guvnna…” it all remains to be seen and all we are assured of as I type this is that we have about 8 weeks off where we are going to make hay, compost, vegetables, eggs, propagate seeds, take cuttings, graft while the sun shines and enjoy all of the processes along the way. We have reached a point where we can start to really make some changes here now and we are going to have to sit down and use some of our newfound landscape design skills coupled with some hard grafted permaculture material online to change the sustainability contours of Serendipity Farm. We are on a hill…the top of the hill is very dry…the bottom of the hill…not so dry. We have the knowledge and the will to apply the knowledge needed to be resourceful about doing what we need to do to improve our land and give it back a sense of identity other than the sad Madge, Dame Edna’s bridesmaid, which she has become.

This garden is true eye candy that is backed up with a solid background in hard slog gardening. It’s a real tribute to Nat as a gardener and she was married in this garden…

Isn’t Nat’s house lovely? Note the colour scheme repeated throughout the garden. Nat is a big fan of blues, purples and dark reds and uses the palette to the max. I am in awe of Nats design skills 🙂

I just noticed that this photo is pretty similar to another one but whatchagonna do eh? It’s magnificent!

It never ceases to amaze me how many answers and ways to do things there are out there when money is conspicuous by its absence. There are so many ways to get what you need if you really want it and forging a sense of generosity within your community is a good start. As I type this I am eating my breakfast. I only mention this because I am attempting to meld health with satisfaction and have ended up with a very strange brew indeed! I started with rolled oats…I added a teaspoon of dried ginger…I then added some chopped almonds and some chopped dried dates…no problem there…I poured over boiling water and allowed it to steep BUT then I added a teaspoon of turmeric powder. It’s supposed to be amazing stuff and no doubt it is but when you add it to my first set of ingredients you get a really strange tasting result. I think I might just stick to putting turmeric in my savoury dishes, especially dhal, because it tastes best there. I have curried oatmeal at the moment and I am not sure how I like it. That doesn’t mean I won’t eat it…just I won’t enjoy it ;). I found some more amazing food blogs this morning. I subscribe to the amazing “Vivian Pang Kitchen” blog and with amazing recipes like this I feel like I won recipe lotto whenever she posts…

http://vivianpangkitchen.blogspot.com.au/2012/10/vanilla-steamed-bunsmantou-straight.html

I have found all sorts of amazing Chinese recipe blogs out there and using Google Translate to give me both a hilarious interlude AND some amazing recipes I am a much richer person for subscribing to this blog. The only problem is that I keep stuffing more and more wonderful food blogs into my rss feed reader. I had only just flensed the dross from it when I padded it right back out again. I guess I am a blog glutton (this curry porridge is growing on me…still metaphorically but you never know!). I have a recipe for making curry puffs with interesting home-made spiral flaky dough that I am going to trial tonight for Steve’s tea. I also have some great steamed bun recipes with all kinds of flour. I love messing about with the road less travelled and I might not be dabbling in gluten free or paleo but I like to find out how to use different flours like rice, potato, tapioca and chickpea to give interesting flavour and variations to my recipes. You never know when you are going to have to change what you use and if you already have a wide variety of alternatives you are less likely to come unstuck.

I really like this photo…I think I might sell it to a garden magazine…or use it to run paying tours to Nat’s garden when she is at work 😉

There are some truly special plants in this part of the garden

More of that gorgeous view and Nat’s gorgeous garden

I am waiting till Steve gets back to plant out a punnet of bicolour sweet corn. It’s apparently a fast growing quick cobbing variety which is lucky because we are behind the 8 ball on this season. I read “Sarah the Gardener’s” blog and feel a compelling need to expand and grow more. Perhaps it is my natural competitive streak and a little dash of over the Tasman rivalry but I get this desire to compete whenever I read Sarah’s wonderful posts. You can check her out here if you would like to see how a real home gardener does it…

http://gardeningkiwi.wordpress.com/2012/11/14/there-are-only-16-days-left-in-spring/

Sarah has been some of my inspiration for cobbling together veggie gardens and is one of those amazing “propagate your own” people that I so aspire to be. Next year I want to be able to grow our own seeds for our own vegetables and keep saving seed and growing it year after year. Sarah gives me hope that despite the local wildlife having degustory desires firmly aimed at mass consumption of our hard work, there IS a light at the end of the vegetable slavery tunnel and it does taste incredibly good. I want to go a whole lot further than vegetables though. I want edible fruit, nut and “other” trees, shrubs, vines, ground covers etc. all over Serendipity Farm. When we got here I realised that I should be careful about what I wished for because indeed…Serendipity Farm was totally covered in edibles…blackberries and banana passionfruit prevailed so I am glad that at least SOME of the edible species are under control!

The only bit of this garden that doesn’t have anything in it is under the clothes line and Nat had just been working in this space removing some enormous herbs that had gone feral

This small collection of conifers are all very special conifers and a source of great envy with both Steve and I…hey Nat…we might have time to do whatever we want whenever we want…we might have HEAPS of land to plant anything we want and we might be living the life of student hippies BUT you have the most GORGEOUS home and garden. I think we can call it even 🙂

Steve just made a whirlwind return and has unloaded the pile of grass clippings that we got from Glad’s place the other day and will be loading up our little trailer with as many bolts of ex fish farm rope as he can fit. They have lots of it and just put it out into a paddock for anyone to take. We have first dibs and a good free source of good quality ex fish farm netting is top of our priorities at the moment so he has raced back out to ensure that we don’t miss out. He has been sharing a cup of tea with an elderly German gentleman called albert who makes his own everything and who, along with his elderly wife are entirely resilient. Albert, up until this year, made all of his own wine. He had put in a series of grape vines and this year he decided that it was all too much for him. We all volunteered to pick his grapes for him but he isn’t willing to pay for the fertiliser that he says he needs to keep them going so he is going to pull them out. Methinks it’s an opportunity to gain some productive plants if he wants us to tow them for him. In return we can help him if he needs anything in the future…the building and forging of communities only happens when people are willing to share the love and the work around. We met a young couple with a young family last year when we attended one of the Tamar NRM’s seed collecting days. At the time we were not interested in the native seed that we collected and gave it back to Tamar NRM to propagate for field work. We met Tod and Shelley who are building their own home not too far away from Serendipity Farm and who are completely smitten with permaculture, homesteading and sustainability. I loved their ethos but we haven’t kept in touch. We wave to Todd as he drives past and he does the same with us but methinks it’s time to get back in touch again and add another community bow to our communal strings. I want to delve into the Deviot community basket as well. The community over there is resilient and self-sufficient and most determined. It’s hardly surprising that they are go-getters with most of the population comprising doctors, lawyers, architects and artists and I would like to put out my feelers whilst working with them to find ways to extend that sense of community and communal commitment to our own little local borough to see if we can’t get a few things going around here. Why can’t we have a community garden? Why not a farmers market? How about using the Rowella hall to get some homesteading or sustainability meetings of like-minded people going. Let’s reinstate the Country Women’s Association and the injection of community and family spirit that comes with it. It would seem like everyone is too busy to put anything into their community and we have the Madge communities that we deserve. I get the feeling that if we were able to get a few passionate people together and head off with purpose to various local government authorities we may just be able to get our community back.

A while ago I took the time to complete a submission towards allowing hemp seed to be considered as a viable and legal crop in Tasmania. I got an email saying that my submission had been accepted and the other day I got an update on the proposal and they are actually looking into it and it looks favourable that someday soon we will join the rest of the world in being able to take advantage of this crop that will give us an amazing food source full of omega 3’s and 6’s. As a vegan I would LOVE to take advantage of this amazingly healthy food on a regular basis. In the U.S. you can buy hemp seed milk like you can buy soymilk here and it would be fantastic to be able to produce my own hemp seed milk. It would also be a boost to farmers because this is one of those crops with a large demand and very little supply in Australia. It’s good to know that when you take the time to put an effort in, sometimes you DO get rewarded :o). I will keep you in the loop about hemp and one day we may be able to grow our own on Serendipity Farm :o)

Oops! I got so excited about hemp I almost overshot the mark and hit 3000 words! I had better stop there so I don’t. Have a great weekend and see you all back here same time, same place on Wednesday :o).

Adapting, endurance and a healthy dose of optimism

Hi All,

It’s only somewhat late in the human cycle of natural selection that we have turned into creatures removed from our own survival. As I wade through my rss feed reader and read many of the sustainable blogs that have been placed there for posterity I realise that many of them have resorted to doom saying to get their point across. I have to say that whenever I start reading something where the first line tells me that I may as well stay in bed today because the world is stuffed I tend to stop reading. I am not sticking my head in the sand. I am a very pragmatic person and tend to deal up front with anything that negatively rears its ugly head up on Serendipity Farm BUT when you read these fear filled posts full of doom and gloom the natural response is to stay in bed, pull up the covers and hope that it all just goes away. What the heck can WE do about anything these days? I have stopped worrying about global warming, peak oil and various other horrifying inevitabilities and have started living a proactive life centred on living sustainably and simply. I stopped thinking about things and started doing things. I decided to give up worrying about doomsday and follow Bon Jovie’s creed and Live while I am alive and sleep when I am dead. It’s our right to vote in the change makers. It’s our right, privilege and requirement to give a damn about our world and our communities and it’s our damned well right to be able to live with a degree of positive optimism rather than entrenched depressing negativity! I WON’T be staying in bed today because I read a blog that made me think that nothing that I do makes any difference…I WON’T be taking medication today because the whole world thing just made me feel so impotent that my limbs feel like I am working my way through pea soup just to get off my chair…nope…no-one is going to tell THIS little black duck that she can’t make a difference at least to her own little back yard. If more little black ducks stopped looking at the big picture and started to work on their own back yards there wouldn’t BE a problem. Humanity started this debacle and humanity can halt it. We might be going down the drain but at least we can sink swimming! No-one is EVER going to be able to say that I didn’t try.

This is the view 100metres down the road from the front gate on Serendipity Farm. If you look REALLY carefully (or are clever enough to click on this photo and make it bigger…) you might just be able to see the cheeky seaplane that skated underneath the Batman bridge (yes… it’s called “Batman” 😉 ). Steve LOVES the cheeky seaplane and envies his loopy ducking and diving ways. Steve has a bit of phobia about going out onto the river in the aluminium dinghy that dad left him. He worries that the outboard motor might not start and he will be left to fend for himself against the monster tides that occur twice a day and that come out of no-where forming large whirlpools out in the river. He envies the seaplane its ability to rise, like the phoenix, out of dangers way. No Steve…you are NOT getting a seaplane! 😉

Again…another gorgeous morning at Devils Elbow on the Tamar River and Steve still has seaplane envy as that cheeky seaplan pilot just skated under the bridge AND has started his ascent in this photo…click on it if you want to have even a vague chance of seeing the seaplane but if you are like most of us and are pretending not to need glasses…just look at the pretty view 🙂

This blog is never going to panic the masses (not that many of the masses come here often 😉 ) with doom saying. I want both my life and this blog to read like a positive series of self-help posts designed to get you all to think about your life, your place where you are at and how you can make your life happier, healthier and wiser. Not much to ask really…just think about things and see where you fit in the world and do what you can to make it a better place. Give someone a smile. It costs you nothing and even if it isn’t returned, it sent out a beacon of hope for a fleeting moment. You never know where your kindness will go. Communities are not born, they are forged. Hardship and endurance bring out the best in us. When the chips are down and all that…we have to stop focussing on fear and start acting like we CAN do something. The world is more resilient than humanity is. Long after we are gone it will be slowly moving ahead and striving to achieve equilibrium. It’s up to us to be reasonable human beings. I won’t say “good” because I know that I am not “good”. I try…but my natural questing mind, sense of outrageous indignation, bad temper and natural cynicism won’t let me be mindlessly “good”. It pays to ask questions folks…that’s how you keep your worldly goods ;). What I mean is that we all have a duty to each other. Without community, we humans can’t function. We need each other and the peculiar talents that each one of us was born with to forge these amazing relationships that can change the world. So we have screwed it over a bit too much of late…that doesn’t mean that we can’t reverse some of the damage and limit the fall out. Let’s all be positive here! Nothing much ever came out of being negative aside from massive profits to the pharmaceutical companies. We all have a place in this. No matter how big or small we are we are here for a reason and whatever that reason we should take delight in our part. Sure society might be heading for a meltdown…sure we might have to rely on smaller communities more than our enormous overblown infrastructures that have us so far removed from our base needs that our kids think that milk comes from cartons and that money grows on trees. One day we might need to discuss that credit also grows on trees…at least it does here in Tasmania! 😉

Last year I belittled the council workers who “ruined” a series of mop top robinias only to see them bounce back splendidly over the summer to form enormous lollypop canopies much to my chagrin. I muttered appologies under my breath all summer long but not THIS year…don’t say this little black duck doesn’t learn her lessons 😉

WOOT! We are rich!

One of the discarded iris rhizomes that one of the volunteers at the National Rose Gardens didn’t want any more and gave to us. Cheers mate! This one is lovely 🙂

This lovely Yucca was once dead…well obviously not completely dead…just mostly dead. It was languishing inside in a pot and had given up the ghost. Steve had killed a Yucca once before when he was living in the U.K. and so he refused to give up on it. Giving it the garden equivalent of mouth to mouth he planted it out into the garden to at least let it die free and it suddenly decided that it had something to live for and took off. We overwinter it in the glasshouse and its time for it to move back outside. We are thinking that we might plant it out somewhere sheltered this year. Might plant that Monstera out as well. What the heck…lets pretend Serendipity Farm is tropical! 😉

On Serendipity Farm we have a chance to do our bit for the world. We are trying to affect our own little biosphere of hope. Both Steve and I are happier, healthier and hippier than we have ever been. Living simply and close to the ground has opened up a world of possibilities for us. Far from feeling poor (although we are so far below minimum wage that it is laughable…) we feel positively rich in our abilities to do so many things for ourselves that we have a buffer zone of hope. Spring time operates on a different timeframe to the rest of the seasons. Everything goes faster. Steve and I have just spent a few days working on our Sustainable Landscape final designs to hand in next week to our lecturer and suddenly it’s time to post this post…it’s time to cook the Chinese feast that I have been promising Steve since the beansprouts I tossed in with our planting beans in the automatic sprouter went viral and I still have a whole lot of work to do tonight in my job specification. I wonder if the rest of the world thinks that we Aussies are so laid back because while the northern hemisphere is all ramped up on Spring fever we are actually settling in for hibernation. When you are all toasty and warm and rugged up in holiday mode for Christmas we have to hack a chunk out of our most productive time to make way for Christmas in the heat. We will be up to our armpits in food and dishes this Christmas. We talked to the lady who is organising the local free Christmas meal event and she said that they are expecting a lot more people than usual thanks to the state of the economy in Tasmania. They are predicting over 100 people for this tiny little backwater town and so every extra set of hands are going to be welcome. The boys will have to stay here and defend the fortress (and the Christmas grub) from marauding onslaught’s…good luck marauders…the only thing that the boys like less than burglars is burglars trying to make off with their special Christmas grub!

This rose reminds me of mum. It’s what she called a Bourbon rose and it has the most delectable scent. Whatever it is, it’s a survivor and every year it gets hammered by the possums and wallabies and springs back to life to flower on in spring. I love your tenacity little rose… just like mum 🙂

Minty stick legs all covered in roots! Soon to make their way outside into the garden to render me speechless at how exponential they go viral on my unsuspecting garden 😉

A tiny sprinkle of mung beans becomes this monstrous pile of sprouts if you give them the right conditions folks!

A little fig that we grew from cuttings taken from a tree that no longer exists. At least it lives on in this little hardy fellow who will soon be planted out with his brethren on Serendipity Farm

I am trotting back and forth between the keyboard and the chopping board…the keyboard now smells of garlic and celery and I am hoping that nothing nefarious has travelled to the chopping board. I am making Steve some steamed dumplings to go with his fried rice and stir-fried vege’s tonight. He also gets Chinese style omelette sliced up with his meal and I decided to try some of the black wood-ear fungus that we bought a while back. I love cloud-ear fungus but as the black fungus takes so long to soak and I tend to lose track of the day at the best of times…tea time arrives and the fungus is still in its packet…not today it isn’t! Today I got it out early, I soaked it for AGES and its waving at me like seaweed in the Baltic sea…sorry…I just waved back…Steve has a glass of his experimental skeeter pee that he added extra sugar to before he bottled it. It has completely changed and has a character like champagne! No lemon flavour at all…no sourness…just a myriad of bubbles and a definite champagne taste. I think we just invented Serendipity Farm Dom Perignon. I have been mincing chicken and mushrooms and adding various sauces for Steve’s steamed dumplings. I have yet to form them but that’s the quick part. I then pop them into the steamer for a bit to accompany the rest of his meal. We used to make “feasts” on a regular basis but since we moved out here and became a much smaller unit of humanity, we tend not to cook so much. I think it’s time to bring back feast day.

This has got to be the worlds most dwarf Ballerina apple in history! It stands at about 20cm tall and was grafted onto a low root stock as an experiment. As you can see it has flowered copiously this year! Should even 1 fruit set, we are going to have to put some ballast on the bottom of this sturdy little trouper or it will tip over with the slightest breeze!

As you can see…our tomatoes might be in prison but they are thriving!

Some of the 22 walnut futures that we grew from seed that we collected earlier this year. I LOVE food futures! 🙂

You don’t have to look very hard at all to see the adventitious oak tree that grew from oak leaf mulch under this Rhododendron. They seem to be quite happily living together at the moment so we are letting them share this space

Steve has been sent out to take photos to save me some time. We discovered that one of the feral cats got a bit clever today and decided to take a sniff at the boy’s meat that was defrosting. The bag was torn open and a large chunk of meat was missing! The dogs are NOT happy and Earl headed out to give the remaining ferals who were not taking advantage of the free grub fest a good barking to. As the weather warms up the mornings are lighter and brighter when we walk the dogs. It’s lovely to get out there and smell the fresh salty air and hear the crisp crunch of the gravel underfoot as we perambulate with purpose. Pretty soon when our studies are finished for the year we will have plenty of time to do whatever we want and take nice leisurely strolls but at the moment we are like field mice, scurrying back to our holes and trying to accomplish everything that we need to do to satisfy our lecturer. Sometimes AutoCAD decides that it doesn’t want to do what we want it to do and gives us little heart attacks in a box with statements like “Fatal error”…when you have been working on a design for 2 days solid and AutoCAD refuses to process your simple request and gives you a fatal error it tends to make you twitch a bit. We got over the hurdles and should be able to deliver what we said that we could deliver to Nick when we next see him. It’s Earl’s birthday on November 26th. He will be 2 years old. Bezial still doesn’t adore him to the max but he is learning to put up with him and Earl, to his credit, is starting to behave a lot better and actually think before he acts. It’s hard to believe that we have had Earl almost 2 years! I remember him as a gangly pup with enormous eyes and now we have a large heifer with Chinese eyes. I get the feeling that one of the people that we used to regularly meet up with on our dog walking forays out into the real world has decided that her pup was too much for her. No-one has seen her walking Tilly and we think that she may have found her a new home. I was thinking about this as I walked Earl myself the other day. Steve was working on his AutoCAD drawings and I couldn’t use the computer so I volunteered to walk Earl and headed up the hill towards Tilly’s home. If I had bought Earl and lived alone, I don’t think that I could have kept him either. He is a handful of a dog and despite being the most loving little man; he is like a tank on steroids when he gets hyped up. Steve was the only one that could manage him when he was younger and he only did that through sheer brute force. Earl is a different dog now. He walks well, he looks to us for cues and he can be walked past other dogs by simply using a treat to distract him. It makes me wonder how much we miss out on because we give up because it’s too hard. Earl WAS too hard folks! He was the kind of dog that your mother warns you about…a bandit…a thief…a soccer hooligan and a bully to boot BUT he changed into a wonderfully loyal dog who adores us. I am trying to say that we shouldn’t give up on things/people/dogs because they are hard. Often the most precious things come from a hard slog or a period of persistence against the odds. I love Earl. I wouldn’t have the life I have now without him. He is my boofy little mate and he snuggles up to me at night and gives me seal eyes if I try to stay on the computer when it’s time to head in to watch television. He takes
treats gently, he trots like a thoroughbred and he loves us unconditionally. It certainly makes me think about taking the road less travelled.

This is a native Tasmanian Richea dracophylla commonly known as a Dragon leaf Richea. It grows into a most impressive looking tall shrub and as you can see, it pushes its last years leaves out to form a flower spike underneath. We planted this little fellow out rather than see him hit summer for another time and he loves it where we planted him and is massed with flowers

This little baby is a Fagus sylvatica pendula “Aureum”. We paid an INCREDIBLE amount of money for this tiny little yellow leaved small tree but we love him and he got planted out underneath the deck steps where he has leafed up and is enjoying his nice shady position. Anything with yellow or white leaves tends to get sunburn very easily and if we learned nothing more from our horticultural studies, it was to take note of where you are going to plant things that you had to hock your children for!

Some of our bean futures (in this case Borlotti’s) taking up space on Steve’s Triton workstation. He is too busy studying to have fun messing about with anything in his shed so he doesn’t mind too much. When they get big enough to transplant they will be moved to the bean bed that we made last week

One of the very few remaining cacti on Serendipity Farm. Ducky seems to be giving this one a wide berth…cant for the life of me work out why? 😉

Ok, you get a slightly smaller post today because I am skating on thin ice regarding the Chinese feast…Steve is hungry and my stomach is protesting and I figure you won’t mind a smaller post thanks to springtime savings. Have a wonderful rest of your weekend and if something difficult presents itself…don’t take the easy way out…just try it for once and see if you don’t gain something precious in the process :o)

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