And now we are three…

Hi All,

Technically we are 4…but if you add our peripheral family in we are 9 but the title refers to this…

nowwearethreeBecause yesterday Earl turned 3.

Here is a photo of the original toys that the stories were based on…

Original and real Pooh bear and friends

Eeyore and Bezial are very much one and the same critter and Earl has “Tigger” written all over him but maybe this Tigger is not as representative as this one…

thylacine

That’s an image of the very last Thylacine (Tasmanian Tiger) in captivity. Earl and this “Tigger” are more closely related methinks 😉

DSCF5350Because he is a “Big Boy” now, Earl got to drive the car for his birthday. He was checking the rear view mirror here…

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Remember the old Batman series on the television when the villains were on screen everything went sideways…Here is our own resident Serendipity Farm villain with one of the 25 balloons that he had the BEST time bursting.

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I emerged from my OH&S repressed state like Heimlich from A Bugs Life…I felt like a “Beeoodiful butterfly” and headed out the door to go flitting from flower to flower but was met by this…overgrown weeds EVERYWHERE!

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Get a gander at that grass!

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So being the tenacious narf7 that I am I headed down the driveway to rid it of its weedy extremities

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When I say “weedy extremities” I mean “Extreme weeds”. Here you see a gorgeous forest of Scotch thistles and forget-me-nots waving in the breeze

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Here one minute…gone the next…

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Everything was going swimmingly until I tackled this scotch thistle and it ate my whipper snipper line

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Back to the shed to get more…I found plenty of it BUT I couldn’t work out how to get the whipper snipper head off so that was it for the day…but then I headed off and did a lot of pruning, mulch shovelling…

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and general tidying up until lunch time and after lunch the boys and I headed up to the veggie garden to fill in the holes left by pulling out the walkway partitions that were previously installed and I spent 3 hours shovelling horse poo into the wheelbarrow and driving it to the garden beds to fill them…

DSCF5391At least SOME of us were working hard…

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Ducky still sitting on her clutch of chook eggs

DSCF5384Earl hunting lizards…Earl nil, lizards 1

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Earl hunting watering cans…Earl 1, watering can reduced to rubble 😦

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Got to make sure that the boys don’t go thirsty…all of that lizard hunting and laying around tires a body out you know

DSCF5380Scarlet runners from last year have decided to grow again!

DSCF5406Sorry Pinky…those lovely pristine gardening gloves that I dare say you imagined me pottering around like Margot Ledbetter out of the Good Life in her rose garden with got a sterling workout yesterday.

DSCF5416The rest of the images in this post are of this mornings walk with Earl. I figured that you might all be interested in a narf7 perambulation. Here you see the newly shorn driveway and the newly 3 Earl eagerly forging ahead…note the taut lead…

DSCF5423The first sniff for the day…

DSCF5424The first pee for the day, and we haven’t even gotten out of the driveway yet. It’s going to be a long 5km

DSCF5446For all my New Zealand readers “we have them too!” A lovely tree fern growing on a steep incline on a hairpin bend. Probably the only reason why no-one has pinched it 😉

DSCF5455The only thing holding this section of bank together are this trees roots. You can see a good cross section of what our soil is like here…can you imagine trying to dig this?!!!

DSCF5458“You KNOW you want to give me a treat now…”

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“Cheers!”

DSCF5555Standing over the road from the Auld Kirk Church looking at the Batman Bridge where we are heading

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Walking across the Batman Bridge

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Looking back at the Auld Kirk Church and that red and white “thing” is the lighthouse where we took that picture of the Batman (are you dizzy yet? 😉 )

DSCF5480Some of the incredibly water wise plants that are growing sans water in the park on the other side of the Batman. This is a hebe and hebes will grow just about anywhere and are very drought tolerant. Apparently it is “Earl’s” park…just so’s you know…

DSCF5482Another incredibly water wise plant, an Escallonia. These will grow from a cutting stuck into the ground and produce lovely honey scented flowers that bees adore

DSCF5486This is a Cistus x purpureus and originally comes from the Middle East. There is a white variety called Cistus ladanifer that is equally as hardy

DSCF5494No idea what this is aside from it having squared stems so it is most probably in the laminaceae family but it’s pretty, the leaves turn a lovely grey colour as they age and it gets HUGE. I am going to take hard wood cuttings of all of these shrubs and get them growing on Serendipity Farm. A wise gardener takes good note of what is growing well around them because that’s what will grow well in your garden too. These plants don’t get watered ever and so they are perfect for Serendipity Farm and most of them are pretty as well so its a win-win situation

DSCF5513Council chopped down all of the old HUGE Pinus radiata that were in this area of the park. I know that a few branches blew down in the strong winds but this makes me sad.

DSCF5519To give you a bit of scale to see how big the trunk was on this smaller one

DSCF5523Guess which narf7 will be taking the trailer back for a few of these gorgeous big pine chunks to make into features in her new veggie garden. Council is just burning them and I feel like that is sacrilege…so does Earl. Here he is contemplating just how much urine he is going to have to produce to make sure that EVERYONE knows that they are all his

DSCF5563We finally arrived back home and decided to take a final shot of Serendipity Farm peeking out from behind the Auld Kirk Church…all of this before 8.30am “bring on the rest of the day!” 😉

I hope you don’t mind me giving you another image intensive post. I had a very busy day today with an unexpected drive by “dropping in” from a friend who decided that we were going to plant out a vegetable garden there and then…the garden is now FULL of veggies and I will have to share photos in my next post as for now I am absolutely knackered! See you next week when I should hopefully have some good photos of how the garden is progressing. I have plans to fill tyres with soil and plant out pumpkins to grow all over the place in the top part of the veggie garden that we won’t be developing till next year (no time this year) to cover the soil and keep the moisture in. I will also be planting out lots of sprouting spuds that I just found in my cupboard and that my friend brought with her and will be wheelbarrowing a couple of cubic metres of home grown black gold compost to make a large compost heap at the top of the garden. It’s all hands on deck…it’s summer on Sunday! See you in Summer/Winter 🙂

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

Hi All

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

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

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When all else fails eat fruit!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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And another one…

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

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

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

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

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And this…

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and this!

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

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Some of us are enjoying the lovely weather

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Goodies visit Serendipity Farm

Hi All,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Still raining...sigh...

Still raining…sigh…

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

Earl vs Steve. Earl 1, Steve nil

Earl vs Steve. Earl 1, Steve nil

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

A man and his dog

A man and his dog

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dog love :)

Dog love 🙂

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Have you ever seen a jasmine tea "flower"?

Have you ever seen a jasmine tea “flower”?

Neither had I till our friend Roxy gave me one

Neither had I till our friend Roxy gave me one

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

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

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

The tea "flower" almost fully opened

The tea “flower” almost fully opened

Isn't it pretty?

Isn’t it pretty?

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

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

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

Today's Word Cloud picture

Today’s Word Cloud picture

How to make a Roly-poly tiger Stromboli…

Hi All,

Its Monday morning and Steve has just headed off for his foray into the bright lights, city limits of inner Launceston (and surrounds) for another fortnightly shopping trip. Living out in the official “sticks” means that we need to limit our shopping trips and plan a whole lot more carefully than we used to. We have learned how to make all sorts of things that we might otherwise have had to head palm and do without and in the process we have certainly learned the value of life lessons. “Fool me once!” is my hue and cry folks and when we run out of bread or milk, we know how to make our own or we have a handy-dandy substitute (or something in a can or carton that lasts) to fill the need. There are certain things that a body needs that have nothing to do with frugality, planning and forethought. They are everything to do with impromptu spontaneity and are what gives life its tinges of colour, flavour and wonder. In saying that, I now know how to make one of those little life moments that give lasting pleasure for at least 3 days till Steve and the dogs have eaten it all…Behold…the Roly-Poly Tiger Stromboli! A sweet homage to those still warm apple and cinnamon scrolls that could be purchased in the city before the commuters flooded the shops and eaten steaming out of a paper bag on an inner city jaunt with Bezial…life was different then but we can still have our little pleasures, all be they homemade and from a repurposed paper bag…

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What’s this I see here? A small box for Bezial?!

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A small sack of dog biscuits labelled “small dog”?

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Obviously not for Earl, look at the size of that head!

I even have a bowl of vanilla and chocolate icing (frosting for those Northerly persuasion dear constant readers who aren’t out doing yoga or jogging in some gorgeous green forest…) that could have been smeared gloriously over the top of the sweet heady flavour-rich yeasted pastry that we created on Saturday but alas, gilding the lily belongs firmly to Steve and Ms’ Maggie Beer, narf7 has a bit too much of that stolid Germanic simplicity inside her that demands she takes things back to their bare basics and revel in their simplicity so the Roly-Poly tiger Stromboli remains lightly dusted with homemade cinnamon sugar (heavy on the cinnamon) and alluringly always at the ready. This is a time where Steve and I managed to work together to create something magnificent. Magnificent AND positively brimming with possibilities. Neapolitan roasted strawberry Stromboli anyone? How about chocolate and peanut butter Stromboli with a jam and cinnamon centre…Peaches and cream Stromboli with a caramel vanilla crust or even a savoury version with spinach, beetroot and carrot strips or blotches…a never ending stream of happy Stromboli futures rolling off the narf7 press and a very happy Steve (and dogs) to enjoy them. I figure you would all like the recipe and so without any further ado, here are all of the images that we took to accompany the recipe so hopefully, between the text and the images you can all find someplace to call Stromboli home.

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We have our suspicions of just who send this nefarious parcel…we think it might be Qi!

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AND there is a pointed clue in this obvious jibe about Bezial’s girth. Either way, Earl ate them. Bezial wouldn’t be caught dead eating anything for a small fat dog!

Roly-Poly Tiger Stromboli

Note: make the filling first because you want it to be cold when you have to spread it onto the dough and if your filling is at all runny you can drain it off here (like narf7 had to) to ensure your bread isn’t too wet

Aside from the toffee apple ingredients and the dough ingredients you need 1 cup of finely chopped dried dates (or you could use sultanas, currants, mixed dried fruit, chopped dried figs or raisins whatever you like really) and some cinnamon sugar if you want to sprinkle it on top of your Stromboli. It’s really about what YOU like here, we are creating magic folks, magic to YOUR tastes so go nuts with your own flavour potentials and make sure that they appeal to you :o)

For the toffee apple filling: –

2kg Granny Smith apples

125g butter…yes BUTTER folks. It’s delicious, it’s all natural, it’s tasty as all get out and one Stromboli worth of butter is going to pay you back SO much more in sensory delight than an austere 125g of oil or margarine could ever give you. Your choice, but its butter all round on Serendipity Farm. Even the dogs won’t eat margarine here!

1 ½ tsp powdered cinnamon (I use Dutch because that’s all we can get here)

1 tsp powdered dried ginger

½ tsp powdered mixed spice (you can leave this out if you like)

The zest of an orange

½ cup caster sugar (or honey, or golden syrup or agave or Lithuanian guava syrup or whatever sweetener you choose to use, this is all about sensory pleasure folks, the choice is up to you!)

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Approximately 2kg of Granny Smith apples sourced from the orchard down the road

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Peeled, cored and sliced and adorned with the purest gold of some butter. Go on folks, butter IS better. If you are vegan you can use some coconut oil or some vegan butter (there are lots of recipes online just do a search)

Peel your apples and core them and then slice them. Throw them all into a stockpot and add the butter and cook them gently until the apples are just tender. Add the spices, the zest and the sweetener and allow the apples to simmer till the sugar has melted or has at least heated up. Cook until the mix gets nice and thick and if you are worried about overcooking your apple, just remove the apple with a slotted spoon and reduce your syrup down till it is nice and thick and unctuous. Stir the thickened syrup back over the apples and combine. Leave till cool before using.

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Dried dates. These little babies play a big part in narf7’s life. I use them for all kinds of things and am just about to attempt to make some date sugar. I will post about it when I do (unless I forget the dates in the oven and burn the living daylights out of them where you won’t hear about it and I won’t ever talk about it again! 😉 )

Now for the dough: –

2 sachets of active dried yeast, about 8g each

2 tsp. sugar

2 cups divided (1 in each bowl) of plain (all-purpose) flour. I used strong bread flour

The zest of an orange and ½ cup orange juice

3 tbsp. cocoa

½ cup milk (any kind)

¾ cup caster sugar divided (put ½ in each bowl)

½ tsp. salt for each bowl (1 tsp. total)

2 tbsp. olive oil or melted butter (your choice) divided (1 tbsp. in each bowl)

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The 2 separate medium sized bowls with sifted flour and respective ingredients

First get 2 small bowls (with approximately a cup holding capacity) and put a sachet of yeast (or 8g measured) into each bowl. Add the orange juice and 1 tsp. sugar to one bowl and the milk and the last tsp. of sugar to the second bowl. Cover with cling wrap and place in a warm place to allow the yeast to activate. You can tell the yeast is activated when it starts to fluff up. If it doesn’t fluff up after about 15 minutes in a warm place you might need to get some new yeast…go to the shops…buy some new yeast…drive home…do it all over again…now divide the flour (1 cup in each bowl) into 2 medium sized mixing bowls and add the orange zest to the first bowl and sift in the cocoa to the second bowl. Add ½ tsp. salt to each bowl and when the yeast has proofed, add the orange juice yeast mix to the bowl with the orange zesty flour and the milk yeasted mix to the cocoa floury bowl. So far so good! Now you add 1 tbsp. of olive oil or melted butter to each bowl and you start to mix it all together. I use a pastry scraper for this. I have 2 pastry scrapers so technically I use 2. I am ambidextrous with pastry scrapers but I am a one trick pony and that’s about as far as my ambidextrosity goes. If you need to work on one bowl at a time feel free to just cover the other bowl with cling wrap and come back to it once you have mixed and kneaded the dough in the other bowl. Squish it folks, knead it, relieve stress and think about how delicious this creation that you are making will be with a nice hot cup of coffee/tea to reward you at the end of your hours and hours of labour. The dough is quite sticky and you can add a little more flour but don’t add too much. This is rich dough and it needs a degree of elasticity and “stick”. Grease the sides of the bowl (that are usually clean of dough thanks to that tbsp. of oil/butter that you added…BOO-ya!) and using your hands, rub a little olive oil or soft butter onto the top of the dough. Don’t ask me why I do this, I just do. It’s a little narf7 quirk and you can feel free to skip that step. I guess I learned the hard way about dough sticking to cling wrap. This dough won’t get to the top of the bowl (unless you ignored me about the “medium mixing bowl” thing and then you probably deserve to be scraping dough from cling wrap…let’s just consider it a life lesson all for you and be done with it 😉 ). Plonk that gorgeous elastic shiny rich dough back into that MEDIUM SIZED mixing bowl, cover it with cling wrap and place it someplace nice and warm for as long as it takes for the dough to double. I have Brunhilda. I have a bread proofing rack that some wonderful man made for me…It takes about 15 minutes for this step on Serendipity Farm but it could take anywhere up to an hour or so for anyone not so fortunate.

Let’s pause for a breath there. It’s been AGES since I typed a paragraph that long and you are probably gasping for air…take a deep breath because here we go again!…

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Nice risen shiny dough and chopped dates ready to be sprinkled onto the final rectangle of Stromboli dough

Once your dough has doubled and is nice and shiny and glossy remove it from its warm haven and deflate it however you see fit. I just use my fist to lightly depress it, I am an optimist, I don’t like depressing things so I am gentle. After you “lightly depress the dough” you can use the mass of dough to clean the sides of the bowl easily. Less mess to wash up and more dough for your Stromboli. Now comes the maths and physics. You didn’t think that you were going to get out of this just making a recipe did you?! Narf7 needs you all to learn about the magic alchemy of doughy mathematics and here’s your first lesson. Form each dough lump into a rough rectangle and cut it into 3 equal portions. You don’t have to go all weighing on it or anything quite so Germanic (unless you absolutely positively HAVE to…) but try to get them as close to equal as you can by eye. Once you have 6 (3 of each) chunks of dough, roll them into sausages that are about 30cm long and try to make the sausages an even thickness across all down their length. Once you have assembled your 6 sausages it’s time for the fun (no more maths, you can open your eyes now and take your fingers out of your ears and you can stop yelling “I CAN’T HEAR YOU…I CAN’T HEAR YOU” loudly…).

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Cooked apples cooling down ready to be used when they are needed

Take a dough sausage. It doesn’t matter which colour you use, just take 1. I will wait here while you work out which one you want to choose…take a section of baking (parchment) paper approximately 500mm (50cm or ½ metre) long and place your chosen sausage to the left hand side of the baking paper (leaving a bit of a margin. Now place a sausage of the opposite colour about 5cm to the right of the first sausage. Keep going, alternating colours and leaving a roughly 5cm gap between the sausages till you have exhausted your sausage pile and all 6 sausages are placed nice and neatly on your chunk of baking paper. Don’t be terrified by this step, narf7 to the rescue! I knew that some of you might be almost to fainting stage by now so I took a shot (I took about 10, I am not the world’s best photographer and I don’t have the world’s best camera and I really REALLY wanted at least one shot to come out…) of this step to diffuse the fear and the rage…

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Rolled out sausages laid side to side in a rough approximation of a rectangle

There now, that wasn’t so hard was it? Now you have done the hard work. This dough is lovely and stretchy and greasy and unctuous and you could use it to make little rabbits and goldfish and frogs out of if you wanted to but for now we are making Stromboli folks so let’s get back to what you do next with it. You need to end up with a rectangle of dough that sticks together and allows you to encase a flotilla of spice scented caramel toffee apples inside it with minimal leakage. I didn’t just tell you that the dough was easy to work for nothing folks! I had worked this out when making normal Stromboli and tucked it away for future experimentation…consider this the future and here we are messing about with the ability for this dough to stretch and adhere to things easily. Squish your sausages out evenly and carefully so that they start to come together. Try to keep the lines somewhat even but even if you do end up squishing your dough a bit skewwhiff, you can just call it a camouflage Stromboli and be done with it.

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What’s this? THIS isn’t a Roly-Poly Tiger Stromboli?! It most certainly isn’t folks. I am posting these 2 photos as a sort of mental interlude, a chance for you to go to the toilet and have a quick break and to prove that I made this savoury Stromboli at the same time as the Roly-Poly Tiger Stromboli.

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Here you see the topping for the savoury Stromboli (minus the grated cheese and the parmesan). Are you ready to face the Roly-Poly Tiger Stromboli again? If so…carry on…

Now make sure that all of the places where the dough is touching its different coloured brethren are stuck together. Take a few moments to ensure that they are by using your fingers and pressing the dough stripes together down their length. You need this rectangle of dough to stay together because you are going to have to roll it up once the filling is on it and a few extra moments taken here are going to stop you breaking down and sobbing because you’re filling is oozing out of the cracks that you rushed ahead and ignored. Sorry to be all negative there but I am married to king of the rushers and I dare say there are more of you out there in the world that need a little reminding to take things slowly and carefully sometimes…sometimes the turtle wins you know!

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Note it’s not perfect and if narf7 can do it…so can you! This dough is easy to stick together so you shouldn’t have many problems with the different dough’s coming apart.

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This is how you roll the Stromboli using the baking paper to guide it. Its very similar to the technique for rolling sushi so if you haven’t ever made sushi before…you now know how 🙂 Thank me later with a mouthful of sushi heaven.

Now you have a nice stripy, camouflaged (or even blotchy…whatchagonnado?) rectangle of dough ready for your nice cold apple filling. If you forgot to cook your apples first just get some jam, some sultanas, some peanut butter, some lemon curd, SOMETHING to spread over the rectangle or even just cinnamon sugar. There are NO losers here folks! If you DID remember to make the apple mix first, now is the time to get it ready to spread. Sprinkle the dates over the rectangle leaving a 5cm minimum border all around the outside of the rectangle. Now evenly distribute your apples (possibly drained if like narf7 you ended up with slightly runny caramel) over the top of the dates and when you have them spread over it’s time to start rolling up your Stromboli. Starting the wide end of your rectangle of baking paper (parchment) directly in front of you, pick up the edges with both hands and start to coax the stripy rectangle (I am being positive here folks…I am assuming you managed to make stripes…) away from you and towards the far side of the baking paper (parchment). I even took a photo (well Steve did…note how much better the photo is 😉 ) to show you how so don’t panic, just look at the photo :o)

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Take note Christi, I have been very careful to try not to wash the label off this jar. I use it for cinnamon sugar which is going to be used to sprinkle the top of the Roly-Poly Tiger Stromboli

Now you have rolled up your Stromboli you need to squeeze the wide side together. The trick is to tuck in the filling and make sure you have plenty of dough left without filling on to stick the roll to. As I said before, this dough is very forgiving and will give you a fair bit of leeway and stretch but in saying that, it will tear if you stretch it too far. You can always take a bit of dough from the side bits as you always end up with a portion of unfilled “end” on either side…a handy observation…just in case. Now, once you have the side tucked in, you need to tuck in the ends. Hopefully you’re Stromboli somewhat resembles this delightful stripy slug here…

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What a cute little stripy slug 🙂

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The same cute little stripy slug after being baked and sprinkled with cinnamon sugar

If it doesn’t and it is causing you grief, try pulling it round into a circle…you can pretend you made a Swedish tea bread…no-one else will know…none of us are going to tell…”ARE WE!” Now you get to sprinkle over that optional cinnamon sugar. Feel free to omit it if you like. Carry your stripy slug (on its baking paper and on a baking tray of course!) over to your 180C oven and place reverently inside and bake approximately 20 – 45 minutes (depending on your oven) till risen and lightly browned and headily perfumed. Remove with equal reverence from the oven and leave on the tray to cool. Slice and eat…eat with coffee or tea, eat with cream or ice-cream, and eat with both hands, with friends and family or alone (where you could technically just start at one end and be done with it folks!). Enjoy what you just created because the world can be going to hell in a hand basket out there but you just made a Roly-Poly Tiger Stromboli of happiness and possibility and that…THAT is an accomplishment! A little triumph amongst the angst and anguish and something for you to be proud of today. It certainly made me a happy little narf7 camper and Steve is still beaming as he cuts slice after delicious slice. A note to all lily gilders out there…this would be delicious slathered in a rich vanilla or chocolate icing, ganache or even a nice thin glaze. Do with it what you will, I gift it to the world :o)

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Lets cut this baby and see what we just made…

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How yummy does this look? 🙂

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Steve cut himself a nice big slice to test for you all…don’t thank him, he had to force himself…

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And this is what you should end up with…a nice slab of delicious chocolate orange sweet Stromboli. You can add the thickened cream if you like or slather it with the spread of your choice (I bet this would be delicious with avocado…). You can top it with icing or you can leave it plain. It’s your baby now…go and deliver it into your waiting hands 🙂

hobos

Have you ever heard of “BoHo” style? Steve and I have decided to start our own trend…we are touting the “HoBo” look here…just in case any of you are fashion conscious, this look will be big in Italy this year. Here we are just about to set out in the frigid mini-Antarctica that has been Sidmouth Tasmania of late. No rain… just frost and cold and Brunhilda doing a sterling job to keep us toasty warm inside but the truth of the matter is that we have to go outside at least once a day to walk these 2. Without a walk, that red and white one will eat the furniture. I like the furniture. We walk him

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Just to prove to you that yes, we DO actually go out dressed like this and no, I don’t keep my cupboards in pristine condition and Bezial is a robot and Earl can actually “sit” on the rare occasion when he feels like it. What are you all doing still looking at we hobos? You should be off rattling pots and pans and starting your very own Stromboli of great happiness 🙂

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).

Cher stampedes my early morning brain

Hi All,

I am starting to get the feeling that Earl is one of those dogs that is prone to falling prey to his instincts. Earl likes to taste things. He likes to sample…savour…chew (especially chew) and masticate just about anything that he lays his eyes on. He has settled down a lot lately and we have been getting somewhat complacent about the damage that used to occur on a daily basis. Steve headed in to the lounge room today to vacuum the floor. He plugged in the vacuum cleaner and got most of the way through vacuuming when the vacuum cleaner stopped. He assumed it had pulled out of the wall because the lead doesn’t reach all of the way into the lounge room. He turned back to plug it in again…and noticed the smoke coming out of the cord…THE CORD!!! Sigh…Earl…(the little darling) had been allowed into the middle (spare) room where Mr Vacuum Cleaner (his arch nemesis) lived about 3 months ago and in the tiny space of time that it took for him to wander into the room and be ushered out, he had nibbled the vacuum cleaner cord. Dyson vacuum cleaners are NOT cheap Earl…sigh… In saying that…I wouldn’t swap Earl for anything. He is starting to turn into a really great dog and one day, much like his big black well behaved kennel mate Bezial, he will earn our complete trust. Bezial is allowed outside the gate on his own amongst the chickens…the feral cats etc. He is completely trustworthy and lies down in the sun whenever he is allowed outside. Earl is on high alert for ANYTHING that he can hunt. Bezial used to be like this and we often found dead (curiously unmarked) baby blackbirds on the back step when we lived in town. We know it was Bezial because we watched him lay on the back step and suddenly launch himself onto an unsuspecting sparrow and catch it. We chased him around the back yard with his squeaky toy and if we weren’t so concerned to get the sparrow off him we would have been laughing because the very much unhurt sparrow was watching our efforts with his head out from between Bezials tightly clenched canine teeth. We eventually managed to catch him and release the unharmed sparrow from him where it promptly took off soggy on foot underneath a large gas bottle to hide and elude further capture. Bezial was quick, he was accurate and he was worse than Earl because he KNEW what he was doing was naughty!

Here’s the dog himself. Do you see why poor Mr Vacuum Cleaner didn’t stand a chance?

We took Qi for a walk in town…she had a great time and posed nicely for me only once. For the rest of the walk she was too busy to pose and this is the only shot of her standing still

I was once told by our horticulture lecturer that Serendipity Farm must have its own little microclimate because we were able to grow things here that couldn’t be grown in most other places in Tasmania…curiously we had the same little microclimate factor when we lived in town…I am starting to suspect that the combination of Steve and I as a whole create our own microclimate and perhaps even our own little micro world! Nothing that we live with for any amount of time or that chooses to live with us ever manages to act or react in any sort of logical way. Our chickens are the masters of the farm (after Earl that is…he is the Grand High Master of the lodge and they had best not forget it!) and hold supreme pecking order in their complex little society of hens. When most other people are lamenting the dearth of eggs…our chickens have just started to lay copious quantities of eggs…most of the way through autumn and almost into winter and (fingers crossed) show no sign of stopping any day soon. Last night, Steve, who shuts the hens in at night and checks the 2 nests (that we know about) that we pepper with 2 eggs each day to ensure that the hens don’t think that we are onto their hiding spots, discovered one of our newly laying white hens has decided to go clucky…CLUCKY…right on winter! We just had our Silver Laced Wyandotte hen hatch out 3 babies and a Golden Laced Wyandotte hen go clucky on no eggs at all. They ended up sharing the parenting of the 3 babies of which all 3 babies got eaten by feral cats…2 mothers and 3 babies and they STILL couldn’t manage to look after them. Wyandotte hens are big girls and tiny little Houdini the feral chook mum was able to hatch out 2 clutches of 5 and then 7 babies and all 12 are still alive thanks to her tenacious ability to attack ANYTHING that threatened her babies. It just goes to show that you can’t judge a hen by its size or breed. Effel doocark is a terrible mum…she is a Blue Laced Wyandotte…are we starting to get a picture in our minds about the parenting habits of Wyandotte hens? All in all, any sane…normal chicken is off the lay and prepared to sit on a perch contemplating her chicken alternative to a navel all winter. Not ours…they appear to have other plans. Perhaps world domination? Who would know…whatever they are planning they had best remember who brings home the sacks of seed that feed them

Here are some of those chickens skulking around as we had just chopped some firewood and they were allowed to hunt through it to find all of the insects. We had just tidied up the area and apart from being a grey day with more rain on the way at least the yard looks tidy now

Doesn’t this look like I was messing about with black and white photography? That would be crediting me with some sort of photographic comprehension. This is the result of attempting to share with you just how foggy it gets around here with the fog rolling up the river early (like it is here) and back down the river later on

Again…this looks pretty shmick…”what a clever photographer…” nah…sheer fluke. Black and white bleeds into a bright blue sky all painted by God and sweet nothing to do with me!

I started the fire this morning on my own. There is something primal and ancient about starting your own fire. It harkens back to when a fire meant the difference between survival and death and lighting my own little fire this morning kindled (yeh I know…I am HILARIOUS ;o) something inside me that rewarded me with much more than the act of fire lighting. I don’t think it ignited (I am on a roll here…) any latent pyromaniac tendencies in me, but I feel more satisfaction than the simple fire starting act should give me. I am not going to take off all of my clothes and do a celebration dance around the kitchen because aside from requiring more effort than I am willing to put in at this time of day, Bezial has to cope with my irrational outbursts and crazy antics on a daily basis…he is just making it through to the end of the day somewhat sane. He spends his days with one eye open watching for any elevation in my naturally semi manic state from which he is ready to spring into action and race over to sooth my inner savage beast (the actual quote is “breast” but that would just be weird folks so I am going with the bastardised version for the sake of the flow…). Bezial is a very clever dog…he now knows that to stop Earl from careening around the lounge room in a state of mental bliss after his evening meal all he has to do is bring him a toy to stop him bouncing from one lounge chair to the other. It works…he soothed the savage (in this case) beast and he tries to do the very same thing with me. I don’t know whether I am flattered by his attention or slightly disturbed that my dog thinks I need soothing on a regular basis and lumps me in with Earl in the “CRAZY” basket but it’s nice to know that someone is willing to mellow me out when I am raging. He doesn’t deserve me prancing about in the nude first thing in the morning though. I don’t think his fragile dog psyche could take that much fear and we might be up for paying for a good dog psychologist.

Here’s a few photos from Steve’s new mobile phone. I am starting to think I might toss the camera into the river and use the phone! It makes our view looks stunning!

Isn’t this lovely? Steve took it walking along the river when we were walking the dogs one morning (again, with his phone…)

This is a really lovely shot. The sun has just come up, we are walking along the side of the river and it just goes to show what a beautiful place we live in. Its like the sky is bleeding into the river…again…a phone shot

I keep fighting against my natural inner geek. I don’t know why I am fighting so hard apart from the fact that I am married to a naturally cool man. He plays lead guitar…he used to be a guitar teacher… when I first laid eyes on him he looked like Justin and Dan Hawkins’s from the band “The Darkness”  big brother. He was a punk in the U.K. in the 80’s. He loves Jimi Hendrix, Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd and followed cutting edge musical genres as natural progression in his musical development. I feel like a super nerd sometimes when we go to youtube and check out our “old favourites”. He is watching David Bowie and The Pogues and I am pretending that I was in a coma through the late 70’s and early 80’s because ABBA and The Bay City Rollers were about as uncool as you could get. I guess it really is true when they say that complete opposites attract because that’s exactly what Steve and I are…exactly opposite. We have birthdays 6 months apart…we come from opposite sides of the world, we have temperament’s on complete opposites of the spectrum and we often find ourselves with no-one to back us up when trying to explain what it is that is going on inside our heads. We are like Felix Unger (me) and Oscar Madison (Steve) in “The Odd Couple” and despite everything going against us, it works. Why did I mention this? Because I am cursed with having one of the songs in the first stanza of songs played on the clock radio by our local FM radio station in the morning becoming wedged inside my skull and repeated on an eternal loop for the rest of the day…sometimes for the rest of the week if it was a particularly annoying song. Today I had a choice. I could have gone with Rod Stewart’s “Young Turks”. Not particularly “my thing” but not a bad song…not uncool…definitely my period of music (I was young once you know…this little interjection is for the benefit of my daughters who now read these posts and can be summarily ignored by anyone else). Then we had “Sultan’s of Swing”. I know which song is going to be stuck in Steve’s head all day…if songs do indeed get stuck in his head that is. His dad was a major fan of Dire Straits. His dad also played lead guitar… in a band…in the 1950’s…in pubs and clubs and his dad was a friend (wait for it…this is a big one) of Ringo Starr of the Beatles fame! Steve comes from musical royalty and it appears it has bled through to the present day. So we had “Young Turks”…we had “Sultan’s of Swing” and 1 other song… I am cursed to spend my day yodelling at the top of my lungs (because that is how you sing it…) “Jessie James” by Cher. Yes…I rest my case…I am a TOTAL NERD GEEK and I have the children to prove it. All of my latent nerdiness bled into my highly intelligent children and revealed itself as a most obvious truth and you know what? I am coming to appreciate my natural lien towards the nerd side. It’s now cool to be a geek (or Hip to be a Square…Mr Huey Lewis and the News was years ahead of his time) and I can “come out” blazing (or in flames)…”just like Jessie James”…sigh…

This is a Fly Agaric mushroom. It is the quintessential toadstool that fairies choose to sit on. For once I am glad that Steve won’t let me eat the mushrooms that I find! This one lets you turn blue and see God

I love that weeds can find just about anywhere to settle down to grow. This little fellow has chosen a very lofty position of power. Who knows? Perhaps he will grow up one day and “Rab-o-bank”! (Oh come ON you lot…do NONE of you have a sense of humour? 😉

This is the Polytechnic in Launceston. Steve and I attended this Polytechnic where we studied business and small business. Its a really lovely old building and my youngest daughter went to Launceston College for year 12 just over the road

Its two and a half months since I started my “No Diet” approach to getting healthier. I haven’t felt deprived; I haven’t yielded to temptation because I haven’t felt tempted. I eat when I am hungry and the only “rule” if there is one, is that I just don’t eat anything that isn’t nutritious any more. I eat as much as I want to eat and although I am losing weight slower than on a strict diet, I am losing weight consistently and without any effort at all. I think I have found the answer to my lifelong weight problem. I fully expected to lose very little weight. I wasn’t aiming for weight loss, I was aiming to make myself healthier and to hopefully minimise the damage that being overweight for most of my life has done to my joints. I walk with Steve and the dogs for a minimum of 4km a day and no longer shirk a bit of hard work. In the 2 ½ months that I started eating this way I have lost 11kg. Not bad for not even trying and if I was following one of my old strict diet plans I would have fallen off the wagon by now, tempted beyond belief and feeling completely resentful and weak. Stop dieting people, it doesn’t work.  I used to have very little energy but now have more than enough to help Steve around the property and spent the day today helping him drop dead trees, cut them up and lug them into the trailer, and then out of the trailer and into the wood shed. It’s a vicious circle being on a diet. I should know…I think I have been on just about all of them. I once fasted for 21 days and have subjected myself to some pretty crazy schemes in the search for eternal thinness. I don’t care if I don’t reach my “ideal weight” I would like to know who it is that decides what someone’s ideal weight should be. I get the feeling that they are being paid by the diet industry to make it incredibly difficult to attain and I could care less about the dieting industry now. I am going to plod along doing what I am doing now. I am going to see if my body reaches a place where it is happy to move around easily and settles in to stay at that point. Life is too short to spend your life fantasising about food and I plan on spending what I have left of it living. I will keep you posted with my experiment on minimising the waist in my life (ha-HA :o).

Isn’t Launceston pretty? This road leads out of town. It leads to the West Tamar Highway and we used to live 3km from this spot on this road. I sometimes miss being able to duck into the City at any given time. I liked being able to walk the dogs in the city centre early on a Sunday morning when no-one was up and the only sound came from the street sweeper that we used to wave to. At least I appreciate it whenever I walk in town now and the dogs LOVE it 🙂

We spent the day logging and lugging yesterday and while we were hauling some kindling to add to the wood in our trailer for our girls in town we decided that rather than Steve take the wood in next Monday on his regular shopping day event, we might just be a bit adventurous and head in today (Tuesday) with the load, walk the dogs in town and spend half a day in the big smoke. I was reminiscing on Sunday about how we took for granted the ability to just head into town to do all sorts of things before we moved out here. I guess I am feeling a bit stir crazy at the moment. Part of it is because I have run out of wool and have thus eliminated one of my stress relief crafts and the book that I am reading at the moment is less than satisfying. It’s “Ok”… but apart from dealing with turning a barren wasteland into a productive vibrant organic farm it feels like another planet away from what we are doing here. Being an American book, the forests, the land, the entire ecosystem is completely different and the feeling of united horticulturalists leading the way appears to have left me dragging behind and feeling somewhat dissatisfied…oh well…NEXT BOOK PLEASE. I have ordered 3 more from the Mary Anne Schaffer bucket list of books. I would have to say that I have enjoyed immensely about half of the books that I have read so far. The other half has been mostly enjoyable but are not my particular sort of book that delights my soul. I am reading my way through them all (the ones that I can get from the library that is…2 have not been able to be obtained) as a sort of homage to doing things properly. So many times the voice of my grandmother peels back the layers of my psyche with her forthright comments…”start out as you mean to finish off”…”clean up as you go along”…”do it properly the first time and you won’t have to do it again”… cheers gran. I identify with my grandmother who was YEARS ahead of her time. After my mother’s death we discovered all sorts of things about my grandmother by proxy and it was quite interesting to see just where our family came from and what sort of ethos they held sacred. My grandmother was a pioneer. She left a family of women after her parents divorced (unheard of back then) and headed out to forge a new life for herself in Australia from her Northern England home town. She was brave, strong and taught her daughters and granddaughters that women were naturally strong and that men had to be looked after. Not too sure if that ethos rings true today gran, the world has changed a bit, but the combination of our genes coupled with the strong German genes inherited from our father have indeed resulted in strong women. I inherited a strong face. I inherited a strong personality and a strong desire to affect equality from somewhere. I spend most of my days trying to soften myself because it’s very hard for a man to be married happily to a strong woman. Sorry Steve…forgive me for occasionally taking over…I was taught to do so and it runs like molasses through  my veins and it’s just as hard to stop once it gets flowing. My grandma taught me tenacity…to never give in…never give up…I have passed on my need for perfection that I inherited from her, her inventive spirit, her lateral problem solving skills and for that I thank you gran. You and I didn’t always see eye to eye… when you raise them strong you are making a rod for your own back…but you live on in my heart, my mind and my actions and whenever I am utterly pissing Steve off by saying “don’t do that job by halves…may as well do it properly the first time” it’s actually you that he is pissed off with ;o)

Well looky here…Urban agriculture! Apparently someone is growing City Millet…I wonder how long this is going to last when the blackbirds and sparrows realise that there is a veritable feast right on their inner city doorsteps!

We just got a text message to tell us that we are rich! We won 750 000 pounds! How very fortuitous on the day that we are going to town…all we have to do is give them our bank details…our names… our address…a deposit to get the money put into our bank account…why let’s set about doing this forthwith Steve!…sigh…will these people EVER give up trying to scam us? I can’t count the amount of times someone from an obviously foreign country has told us “you have a virus on your computer” and attempted to get us to turn over control of our PC to their “windows service” department. Steve actually strung one of them along for about 30 minutes till he told them to shove it in no uncertain terms once. They are vermin…right up there with most lawyers and patent and copyright trolls. They just didn’t get a fish today…no doubt they will be trying harder in the future although I dare say they will change the bait…Well look at that! If I have any followers left on this blog (cheers WordPress… you appear to have eliminated most of my followers along with your latest update and your stupid comments coming thick and fast from anyone other than my followers) I hope you have a really great day and week ahead. I know it’s getting tough right through the world. I read that cafes and restaurants are going broke all over the U.S.A. whilst McDonalds is flourishing…a sign of the times? We just have to learn to think laterally…think smarter people…don’t see things negatively, the baby boomer generation screwed us up just see this lot as challenges that our generation were born to solve. Or…you can stay in bed for the day with a cup of tea and a good book and “FORGEDABOUDIT”…your choice 😉

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