Anzac Day lest I forgot

Hi All,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

http://thinkingcowgirl.wordpress.com/

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Ben Folds King of the hipsters…

Hi All,

I think that this is the LONGEST post I have ever expected anyone to read in the history of this blog. Anyone not of a strong disposition can be excused from reading it in its entirety…the rest of you, suck it up and at least have a go…you never know what treasures it might yield 😉

First up I am going to share the best, most tasty recipe for chilli with you. It has the bonus of being incredibly easy and it freezes amazingly well. This is Steve’s “Secret” recipe and so I guess it is the bonus for all of you dear constant readers who have stuck with trying to read these gargantuan posts ;). Here you go…thank me later and remember that Steve is “The Magic Man” 😉

Steve’s Secret Recipe Chilli Con Carne

2 tbsp. olive oil

2 chopped onions

2 cloves crushed garlic (Steve uses about 5)

500g lean minced beef

250ml red wine (you get to drink the rest apparently)

2 x 400g cans crushed/chopped tomatoes. We use homemade pasta sauce and I will give you the recipe for the pasta sauce after this chilli recipe

3 tbsp. tomato puree (we don’t use this)

3 – 4 tsps. dried chilli flakes but you can use more or less to taste

1 tsps. ground cumin (Steve uses about 3 tbsp. fresh ground)

1 tsps. ground coriander (ditto to the cumin, about 3 tbsp. fresh ground…try it, it rocks!)

1 stick cinnamon

A good shake of Worcestershire sauce

1 beef stock cube (OXO here in Australia but use what you have wherever you are)

Salt and fresh ground black pepper

1 x 400g can of drained red kidney beans

1 x 400g can baked beans (this is where Steve differs from the original recipe which calls for only 2 cans of kidney beans and no baked beans because the baked beans add a lot of body and taste)

Sour cream, sliced avocado and fresh coriander (if you like it) to top the chilli when you serve it

Heat the oil in a large, heavy based saucepan and fry the onion and garlic until softened. Increase the heat and add the mince, cooking quickly until browned and breaking down any chunks of meat with a wooden spoon. Pour in the red wine and boil for 2 – 3 minutes. While waiting, pour a glass for yourself. Stir in the tinned tomatoes (or equivalent pasta sauce…see below), tomato puree (if using), chilli flakes, cumin, ground coriander, cinnamon, and Worcestershire sauce and crumble in the stock cube. Pour in the drained kidney beans and undrained baked beans with their sauce into the mix and then Season well with salt and pepper. Bring to a simmer, cover with a lid and cook over a gentle heat for about 50 minutes to 1 hour, stirring occasionally until the mix is rich and thickened. Add the fresh coriander if using and cook for a further 10 minutes, uncovered, before removing from the heat, adding any extra seasoning if needed. This is ideal served with lime wedges and rice, crusty bread or chips (French fried) or jacket potatoes and cheese, guacamole, sour cream and a big green salad or turned into the best nachos ever.  It might sound humble but give it a try, it’s delicious :o)

Note: if you find your tomatoes were a bit runny and your sauce isn’t as thick and rich as it should be (it should be like gravy in consistency) you can add some beurre manie which is just equal quantities of softened butter mixed with plain flour (all purpose) till combined and lump free. If you need to thicken a sauce, just add chunks of this mix into the sauce and stir vigorously with a wooden spoon till blended into the hot sauce. Keep adding till the sauce has thickened to a consistency that you like.

My homemade pasta sauce involves the following: –

1 x 400g crushed or chopped tomatoes or the equivalent fresh tomatoes chopped up

1 tbsp. olive oil

About 3 cloves crushed garlic

1 finely chopped onion

Yellow American style mustard

Tomato sauce (ketchup)

Bbq sauce (bottled)

Veggie seasoned salt (Masell in Australia but use vegeta or what you have elsewhere)

1 tsp. dried mixed herbs or 1 tbsp. fresh chopped herbs

We use a tsp. of dried chilli flakes but we like things hot 😉

Cook the onion in the olive oil and when transparent add the garlic and once the garlic softens add a good squirt of mustard, tomato sauce (ketchup) and bbq sauce. Add the herbs and seasoned salt chilli flakes (if using) and stir together over heat till combined. Once combined nicely pour in the tinned tomatoes gently and simmer till thick and unctuous. Give this a go, it’s delicious. I add mushrooms; capsicum, eggplant etc. as they become seasonally available (add them with the onion at the beginning of cooking). This yields a top class most tasty tomato pasta sauce that is miles apart from a can of tinned tomatoes. Try it and let me know if you like it :o)

Steve has been a bit lax with his bachelor food posts of late and after his spaghetti in frankfurter’s effort has been conspicuous by his lack of effort. He decided to share another recipe with you in the bachelor range, this time he got June, Honey Boo-boo’s mum’s recipe for “Sketti”…

http://www.foxnews.com/recipe/honey-boo-boos-sketti-3

Honey boo-boo must have “made it” because she just got taken off on South park…

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

Now we can get down to the nitty gritty of the actual post…Ben Folds …King of the Hipsters…the rise of the über cool nerdy geek and the celebration of all things retro, the legitimisation of the awkward generation, the intelligencia gets cool and suddenly we get bands like (give examples) and veganism is hip and cool and the 60’s are the ONLY place to buy your kitchen furniture. The rise of the hipster brought about the cultural desire for all things handmade, unique, the embracing of old school principals and Etsy (no spellcheck…I  don’t mean “Betsy” 😉 ) owes its beginning and sudden meteoric rise on hipsters. Ben Folds was a hipster before anyone knew what a hipster was. I am listening to his latest album and he sounds like a cross between Elvis Costello and Blur…how is that for cross Atlantic hipsterism? I have a penchant for singers who can write amazing lyrics AND give them a voice like Ben Folds. His anthems to the forgotten were just what 75% of the school population needed to hear and he came at just the right time. When Ben Folds gave a massive subculture a voice it was an awesome thing to see the results. I belong to that subculture and so do all 3 of my children. It was the right time for them to be able to embrace their inner geekiness and progress on to knowing that they are, indeed, the superior race and they got their legitimisation through people like Ben Folds. How amazing that the hipsters of today are the children of yesterdays oppressed! Everyone wants to be edgy and wear 60’s clothes and have sideburns and retro moustaches (obviously guys 😉 ) and shave their sideburns and get tats (every good hipster chick has a multitude of meaningful tats). Where are we going with fashion folks? All I know is that we can find a niche in amongst these upwardly mobile non child bearing thinkers and that some of their ethos is actually worth embracing. Cheers Ben Folds…you deserve your kudos and your fame and you probably deserve a marriage that actually works BUT if that happened would your muse desert you? 😉

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We have gone from 30C heat where regular basking upside down on the deck is the norm to this…

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Hiding behind the screen door within close proximity to Brunhilda’s wafting blissful heat

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“Excuse me…would you MIND not opening that door please…there are dogs basking here!”

The only problem with the hipsters is that they are indulging themselves out of existence. They prefer owning a dog to having children and their need to spend both incomes on retro is still “spending” per-se. The movement is shifting sideways into the new rise of the homesteader and the hipsters desire to get their little plot of earth is starting to make rumbles in the country that can only benefit from the windfall of people immigrating from cities and repopulating the small towns…it’s obviously a natural progression and part of humanities need for equilibrium…spreading out to where you can move and think and just “be” and where you can put your mark on a tree and can feel the earth between your fingers. The selfishness is going to have to go hipsters and maybe your country born kids will rebel against being dressed up like small “Mad men” and will revert to feral hippies… wouldn’t that be something? Hey, the 70’s is back man…FLARES ARE BACK MAN! Ferals living amongst what’s left of the trees, getting their hands dirty and their feet dirty and learning how to listen to the earth and respond accordingly…perhaps it’s more than humanities survival that is being reflected in our current trends…perhaps the earth is channelling us…perhaps it’s a survival mechanism from somewhere deeper than any of us know because people are being called…drawn to the earth. Thanks hipsters, you are a good blended first generation to give homesteading legitimacy and by giving it a new voice and popularity you are showing people that it is possible for life after peak oil and that old lesson about how everything has good and bad points is being learned and shared all over the world through social media. That can only be a good thing :o)…by the way, wouldn’t Ben Folds make a perfect counterfoil for the spinster daughter in that amazingly iconic painting “American Gothic”? 😉

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Cheers for this photo Wikipedia 🙂

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/American_Gothic

‘All sorrows are less with bread’ – Miguel de Cervantes.

My sentiments exactly! I am now following a wonderful blog that has shot right up my blog reading list of wonderful ways to spend my early morning hours with my first cup of tea. This beautiful quote comes from her blog. It resonates with me because it’s something that we all need to remember. Miguel de Cervantes was talking about the solidity and comfort that a full belly can bring you and sometimes when we are lusting after something way out of our reach we really need to be looking closer to home to see what we already have and realising that life is about appreciation of what we already have and learning to live the best life that we can with our lot. We are all primed as children to toe the line when it comes to heading down the highway of life. We are pointed in the direction of active consumerism from a very young age (can anyone say “McDonald’s? 😉 ) And powerful media moguls make a huge amount of money messing with our minds and dangling delicious unreachable carrots in front of us to direct us in the way that they want us to go. I am not talking new cars and expensive whiskey here folks, I am talking fundamental life goals where we start out thinking that we are failures if we haven’t managed to buy a house, have 2.5 kids and own 2 S.U.V’s and a subscription to a country club by the time we are 30. We are herded into thinking that we are simply not good enough, not worth it, if we don’t keep following that carrot on a stick. A clever donkey knows after a little early carrot chasing that this isn’t going to work…that following that carrot on a stick isn’t going to get a tasty treat but a lifetime of frustration and a clever donkey just stops. I am starting to see that most people are not clever donkeys. We know that we are on a highway to discontent but we keep on trying to buy our way into happiness…a new car…15 pairs of shoes…a kitchen aid (will it make your cake taste better? Probably not but MAN it is pretty! 😉 ) And we keep cramming our homes with “stuff” in a vain endeavour to sooth our minds…minds that are screaming out “STOP!” We no longer realise that happiness is found in our own back yard…that we are the instigators of our own happiness. We are so far removed from our gut instincts and our intuitive minds that we allow “someone else” to guide us through our life goals, our important decisions and that “someone else” doesn’t have our best interests at heart.

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Not quite “bread” but definitely the Asian alternative…this baking tray of slightly undercooked rice has been specially prepared for tomorrows fried rice

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Seasoned with salt, pepper and chilli flakes it gets put uncovered into the fridge where it dries out a bit more, then into Brunhilda’s warning oven to dry out and heat a bit before Steve turns it into this…

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Delicious fried rice. The homemade spring rolls next to it have been lightly brushed with olive oil and will be baked in the oven till brown and crisp to accompany some of this rice for Steve’s tea. Steve is the only one that eats the fried rice and spring rolls so the remaining 4 servings of each are put into the freezer ready for quick nutritious and tasty meals if we get in late or end up working too long on our studies. He also has 4 Cornish pasties made last night in the freezer for more meals. We love making extra so that we don’t have to cook all of the time 🙂

It’s time that we all stopped and actually thought about where we are headed. Our parents were baby boomers and were the only generation where life kept getting “easier”…from the 1940’s on the media took over directing our desires and we let it. It was just easier. They took advantage of our need to be part of the flock but slightly above the masses and we have been competing for superiority ever since through the acquisition of “stuff”. A new bike, camera, S.U.V. isn’t going to make you feel better. What will make you feel better is learning who you are, being honest about yourself and your situation and taking a good hard look at how you can make the best of what you are and where you are in life. Stop trying to use consumerism as a band aid. It doesn’t work. You are going to end up aged 70 with 16 facelifts, fake boobs (think Jane Fonda and Madonna…) and a pathetic need to be “YOUNG!” at all costs because you are absolutely terrified of what is happening to you…you can’t buy your way out of aging…so far, no scientist has managed to make us live forever (God help us if they ever do…) and no amount of fast cars, holidays to Bermuda or gold dangly chains are going to defy age. Even the hipsters aren’t immune…they are the generation of the “forever young” to the max…40 year olds with skateboards and pierced noses and tattoos who won’t commit to “relationships” because they are WAY too young to settle down… we are now getting so far removed from the real world that there is a backlash of people stopping and saying “what is going ON here!” It can only be good. When you stop and actually think about where you are, you can take that elusive carrot out of the equation and you can start to see your own life in perspective. What you have been given is a chance…a precious chance to learn, to grow, to communicate and to understand. You have been given your own personal vessel to experience this world and the most precious gift of choice. If you get nothing else in your life, you can choose what your reactions are going to be and that is what makes we humans so incredibly lucky, our ability to choose our own pathway.

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I just went hunting for some pictures to put into this post and found this one taken from a warm spot just in front of Brunhilda…this is our idea of the perfect kitchen…no clutter (the fridge is in the cupboard in the hallway) and plenty of room to “live” in this space. That’s the great thing about doing renovations yourself, you can do whatever you like 🙂

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Another photo taken last year but not used in the blog yet. Taken last autumn of the Acer palmatum maple tree on the deck stairs

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This sort of scene is just around the corner on Serendipity Farm and I can’t wait! I LOVE fungi and have plans to study mycology at university in the future if only to be able to eat whatever fungi I damned well please without Steve telling me that “You are going to kill yourself and leave orphan dogs…” sigh… 😉

I would normally be sitting here reading my RSS Feed Reader at 4.44am BUT my modem has decided to pitch a fit and as a technical luddite, the only thing I know to do with modems taking tantrums is turn them off and then back on…so far my wonderful trick isn’t working…curious that I slag off Google and overnight my modem goes into the foetal position! Coincidence? We shall see! 😉 It does give me time to type out another blog post. That’s what I mean about seeing the opportunities in situations. Sometimes the situation is pretty dire and it’s difficult to see anything other than the immediacy of what is happening but that’s where we can really get the most out of this lateral thinking and we can start to try to formulate “other” ways to look at the situation. We don’t have to be a reactive creature, that’s the beautiful thing. We can be proactive about taking what life hands to us and we can use it to make our lives better…the net goes down? Forgedaboudit…type some blog posts, think about what you are going to do today, get that crochet out while Earl is still in the land of nod and maybe you won’t have those “tension problems” that you usually do when trying to crochet a row. I found some gorgeous jar holders yesterday. I know that mason jars are now de rigour in the U.S. and people carry them everywhere and hipsters are toting them to their hipster coffee shops to get refills of their hemp milk soy lattes. Me, I think they are jars! I think that jars are for preserving and saving things for the future. I have even seen hillbilly wedding mugs made of Mason jars and I think that you northerners can keep that trend and I will just keep my jars for when I need them. These lovely jar totes were amazing…the creator (Etsy, OBVIOUSLY folks, would any self-respecting hipster go anywhere else? 😉 ) had somehow felted the finished product and the bright colours got me excited more than the functionality of the item (see…this little black duck is as prone to wanton consumerist desires as the next person…) the difference is that I didn’t want to race out and spend money on them, I wanted to make some myself. Apparently I REALLY pissed Google off because not only can’t I get the modem to work, but now Microsoft can’t diagnose what is actually wrong with my connection! Can anyone say “BANNED” 😉 Bring it on Google; this little black duck has nothing to lose! 😉

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My daughters gave me this unctuous and most gorgeous chestnut cream a while ago. It had an amazing flavour and I have since found recipes for how to make it online. Come chestnut season I will be making my own but for now, I have lingering memories about just how good this was 🙂 Cheers girls 🙂

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I wouldn’t be smiling if I was you sunshine…

We just got a few spots of rain…we were told that we would have 100% chance of rain today and I guess, technically, that was right. Steve lugged the large heap of wood and put it under the deck yesterday so most of it should be nice and dry. He left a few barrow loads for the lizards who had just had the equivalent of Armageddon visited on them to hide in while they acclimatised to their new situation and then escaped. Feral cats love lizards and we love them too so we wanted to give them the best chance to survive their situation. I think that we also need to connect and learn the precious lessons from our grandparents and other elders. Far from being the reminders that we are all going to die and being shoved as fast as possible into homes to moulder away, we should be prizing their knowledge and cataloguing it for future generations who are going to have to remember the past to give them the best chance in the future. I just turned my modem off and am going to give it 30 minutes rest. I guess it has been busy of late and might need a nap (but only a SHORT one modem!) I have a couple of blogs that I want to reference here for you all to visit and I can’t access their U.R.L’s till the net works again. I get to put my money where my mouth is this morning. I know that I have almost 300 blog posts to read because before the network slowed down to an abject crawl, my RSS Feed reader shared that bit of information with me. I know that those blog posts are not going to stop and hopefully we get use of the net back today because 300 can swell to 500 in a very short time. While I was last away at my daughters it swelled to over 1000 posts and that takes some wading through believe me! I juggle precariously on the precipice of 500+ blogs and I guess sometimes I am going to have to burn the candle at both ends to ensure I get the best out of them.

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Some of my seed haul for today. The dry seed pods at the front have an incredible strong “fruity” smell and come from some sort of herb. The red berries come from some Crataegus phaenopyrum (Washington Hawthorn’s) that we discovered on our walk and have been collecting as they ripened. Hopefully we can get some to grow this year for planting on Serendipity Farm and that walnut was the only uneaten nut in a stash noticed under a shrub where there was a severe dearth of walnut trees…no idea how it got there but it is a very unusual long thin nut so we are going to try to stratify it and grow it over winter for our walnut futures.

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The seed pod of the strongly scented aniseed herb that I collected today

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This is the uber spiky pod of  Echinacea angustifolia (cone flower/Echinacea) with seeds in situ. I want lots of Echinacea on Serendipity Farm because it is hardy, incredibly useful and it loves dry conditions. Perfect for us 🙂

I recently discovered a blog http://truebeautyalways.com/2013/03/17/earthen-vessels/  that is amazingly well written. I love the way that the blogger is able to communicate ideas and the fact that she looks a bit like my niece Tahlia is an added bonus :o). The post that the link will take you to is a wonderful post about taking her children to the river in the heat and a wonderful story about how to tell the truth whilst avoiding a disaster if the truth got out, an old Quaker story. I love the way that this girl tells stories and weaves her words together to play with your mind and recreate beautiful scenes in your head. I guess my mix of blogs revolve around the interesting in all facets of life. I am not interested in mainstream unless it has something special and most of the blogs that I follow are beautiful examples of “special” in the nicest possible way :o). Here’s another one that I just started following…

http://www.lovelygreens.com/2013/03/tree-planting-at-childrens-centre-farm.html

This is community ethos and vision and a wonderful post about how small communities can really make a difference to future generations and with a bit of effort and vision can really give us a chance to do the right thing for the earth. It’s not us that are going to bear the brunt of the last century of wanton disregard for the earth, it’s our children and their children who are going to have to attempt to live with the legacy of the baby boomers and we can at least attempt to do something to halt the road to ruin that was initiated in the name of “progress”.

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If you click on this screen shot you can see it clearer. That white area is the lumber yard where Steve worked for a year. It was his second ever job after lasting a week at a local butchers. The green triangle off to the right of the lumber yard is a spruce plantation and Steve used to garner himself Christmas trees from this farm gratis…he often worried about the seat of his pants coming into contact with the cold hard steel of the farmers shotgun but when you are 21 and a hard cool punk, what’s a guy to do eh? 😉

I know that today’s post is really a couple of weeks ago post but it would be an unsustainable thing to dump a perfectly good post that was just hanging about waiting to see the light of day inside your collective heads. I have been up since 3am having a ball whittling away at my 500 blog posts that just seem to be growing exponentially but that are much more manageable now. I found 3 more scrumptious blogs to stuff in there in the wake of the old spent blogs that I discarded recently. We walked the dogs in Deviot and I invaded the small heritage apple and pear enclosure to raid the seed pods of the Echinacea that have just given up the ghost for the winter, something that smells like amazing aniseed but that appears to be somewhat salvia like in a pod and something else that has pods that smell like fruit! No idea what the second 2 pods are but my seed saving just increased our prospective springtime bonus of free greenery and gave Serendipity Farm another nudge up the “get it for free” ladder. Steve and I studied the covered top of the enclosure today (the original source of our planning for our new fully enclosed veggie patch) and have decided to go with purchasing some extra heavy duty bird netting and running rope or wire along the poles that we are going to install in the ground to form a nice tight possum proof roof that won’t sag and that will be easy to install. We got home and I collected some brushwood kindling sticks whilst holding my nose to avoid the stench of the large kangaroo that most THOUGHTFULLY chose to croak it not 20ft away from our back door :o(. Maybe it’s the culprit that has been harvesting my potato leaves and rhubarb leaves and it finally realised that “they are poisonous!” and nature took its toll. Whatever the reason, the cruel irony is that now that the days are colder, the blowflies that I HATE with a passion have disappeared and the one time that I need them to do their disgusting thing, they let me down! Sigh… no idea how long we are going to have to hold our noses as we walk to the car but the dogs LOVE it. To them, the back yard smells like Chanel No. 5 (ech!).  We then spent the morning hunting through Steve’s old stomping grounds in the U.K. and I can show you where he once worked for about 10 seconds in a lumber yard and the woods adjacent to the yard were where he got his Christmas trees from. I am going to spend the rest of the day minimising the RSS Feed Reader, stoking Brunhilda and baking up a storm and staying warm and happy inside for the rest of the weekend.

spoonsA quick pic of Steve’s draft poster for his Media assessment

frans

And this one’s mine…as you can see we have VERY different taste 😉 The logo on the extreme right in my poster is just representative of where my logo will go when I finalise my choice of logo’s. Anyone out there with any street cred in poster design feel free to let us know what you think and be gentle folks, we are babes in the woods with Photoshop at the moment 😉

See you all on Wednesday and this is for all of you Northerners…Nick Drake and Northern Sky…just perfect to welcome spring :o)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S3jCFeCtSjk

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/

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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