Ho ho ho and a sack full of quinces

Hi All,

 

Did you know that there are only 203 days until Christmas? Just thought that you might like to know that. The past week has seen us throw ourselves into more studies here on Serendipity Farm. We are attempting the world study land speed record and are attempting to get our work into our lecturer as soon as she funnels it into Google Drive. The studies have been interesting and dare I say “fun?” Yes…I dare! We are familiarising ourselves with InDesign, a most useful program, which is the industry standard for creating e-pub books, brochures, posters etc. It feels completely familiar to us as last year we used Adobe Flash, Photoshop and Dreamweaver for our previous course in Media and InDesign takes little bits from all of these programs and is also very similar to Word. For once, when I opened up a new program I wasn’t completely out of my depth which is always good for me. My initial reaction to most new programs that when opened appear to have been created by alien technology, is to head straight under the bed where I suddenly realise how long it’s been since I swept under the bed…

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Stevie-boy told me that we have a tool/function in Google + that allows us to turn a humble little (rat and possum chewed) pile of pumpkins into this…

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Looks like something for Halloween doesn’t it? And he used it to turn an image he took yesterday into this…

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He calls it “Urban Degradation”. It was urban, and degraded, so technically he was absolutely spot on 🙂 We discovered this little old jetty on a walk that we took the dogs on to reduce their excitement at being allowed to come to the city (Steve wasn’t so easily able to get MY excitement out at being able to come to the city…that took a mop bucket, a new mop and 2 rugs to quell 😉 )

InDesign is functional, relatively easy to use and eminently practical and it isn’t often that I can see a lot of promise in a program but InDesign is one such exception to the rule. Last week we created a poster and a CD cover and yesterday we were asked to reproduce a poster from early last Century. Our lecturer had hinted about an interesting page on a site called “What the Font” whereby if you have a selection of text converted into an image, you can upload the image to this page and it will give you it’s best guess at the typeface used in the image. We uploaded a portion of the poster (What the Font deals with a maximum of 100 characters at a time) and found out that the font used in the poster wasn’t a free font and so the Sherlock and Watson hats went on. In this case Stevie-boy was Sherlock and went hunting. What we needed was a font that had a lot of character varieties (bold, italic etc. ) so that we could attempt to reproduce the various kinds of characters that the poster used and in the end we were pretty proud of what we managed to produce.

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This is my brain with a list of what I am expecting to do today. I am under NO misapprehensions that my list will still be pretty much untouched by the end of the day but at least I will have crossed a few items off it. Those bits of grubby crumpled paper on the left hand side are notes that I scribble down when I am on my morning drag with Earl. It is amazing how many ideas pop into my head when my little legs are perambulating faster than they were designed to perambulate and if you can see the writing you will realise that narf scrawling on the trot takes me right back to grade 1 in the writing stakes 😉

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More “to do’s” including test our soil, a paint swatch used for a recent design assignment that hasn’t made it back into storage, the latest free newsletter from Beaconsfield House and a pot of pink bluebell bulbs dug up when creating the enclosed veggie garden (should probably plant them out but whatchagonnadoeh? 😉 )

The most important thing that I am taking from this exercise is don’t be afraid to fiddle around with these programs. I tend to just do what is asked of me when I start using a new program but Stevie-boy just launches himself in off the deep end and asks not what I can do for my program, but what my program can do for ME. He has a very different idea about how to use technology and usually he can be found up to his armpits in it pretty much as soon as he opens it up for the first time. I went out to lunch with a couple of local ladies on Sunday and while we were out Stevie-boy had discovered all kinds of things about InDesign and when I got back he was able to show me some amazing features and functions that we wouldn’t have known anything about unless he had said “I wonder what would happen if I did this…” I am not adventurous with technology. It is all about doing what I ask of it but Steve is another kettle of extremely jumpy and bright fish when technology enters the ballpark and can’t rest until he fandangles his way around it and gains a good understanding of what this baby will do

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Cold, damp, frosty logs…

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Hot toasty logs!

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Hot toasty logs now cooled down enough to feed to Brunhilda who LOVES her new tasty treats

Aside from hurling ourselves into mastering InDesign we have been trotting around in between showers, walking the dogs, chopping lots of wood, stashing most of that wood in Brunhilda’s ovens whereby she creates her own favourite snack, “hot toasty wood”…yummO! When removed from the ovens the now tinderbox dry wood does smell amazing and we feel like clever clogs for thinking of the idea. I have been cooking lots of delicious comfort food and Brunhilda has been bubbling away vats of minced meat with all kinds of delicious herbs, spices and thickened with beurre manie, a one to one mix of softened butter and plain flour, and topped with cheesy potato scones, resulting in Stevie-boys favourite meal of the moment, “Mince Cobbler”.  I had never cooked this before but according to Steve it’s one of his favourite comfort foods so I set about trying to recreate it from his sketchy memories and what I could find online. He seems very happy with the results so another “tick” on the comfort food happy stakes to narf7

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The ultimate in multi-tasking for someone who can only do one thing at a time…here you see the production line for hot toasty logs from cold frosty logs on the floor through to hot toasty logs that spent all night in the cooler oven being moved to that pile to the right. Earl and Bezial are being warmed (and thus sedated) and there are various items of clothing draped around various items of furniture in order to allow them to dry. On top of Brunhilda we have a pot with some minced beef and olive oil and an onion cooking nicely in order to do something with it as I only needed half of it and couldn’t re-freeze it so in order to be a clever clogs I cooked it up and will freeze the results ready for the start of a quick meal some day in the future. This is about as multi-tasked up as a narf can get before terror sets in

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“STEEEEVE I THINK BEZIAL IS BROKEN…AGAIN…!”

After my lunch with ladies on Sunday I dropped off some of my small stash of Jerusalem artichokes to one of the ladies that I had lunched with on one of our early morning walks. She and her husband are interested in growing them on their property and one thing about the humble Jerusalem artichoke is that it loves to grow! I could care less about it’s reputation of taking over. It’s food…it grows easily…it is drought tolerant…is good. That’s my motto when it comes to edible produce wanting to take over the planet (unless it is blackberries…that’s another kettle of thorns!) I also gave Jan a few to try (eating) so my stash is a bit dented now but I am going to plant out the rest and might even leave a note in the persons mailbox where I fandangled the couple of tubers (where they had escaped the garden and were growing on the verge) to see if I can’t buy a few more tubers off them. Having 4 acres allows us the luxury of being able to set areas aside to things that can take over. We already have boneseed, blackberries, spear thistles, periwinkle and the nefarious forget-me-nots running amok so why not add something useful to the manic plant population that we can actually eat and that has a pretty stalk full of sunflowers when it decides to announce itself to the bees?

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“Hello little quince tree!” (That I was entirely too lazy to get close to and photographed from the comfort of the deck…)

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A sack full of quince futures…some of them are about to be reduced down to pink perfection with some dates and some pumpkin but most of them are earmarked for quince wine

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Well what do we have here? It would appear that some sort of “Quince pest” has invaded my nice big sack of ripe quinces!

I have managed to save 1 artichoke from extinction via chooks and wallabies/kangaroos and noticed that another one down in the garden has started to sprout back. I noticed that the other day and forgot to throw a few tyres over it so it might just be extinct again but today I will head down and if it is still alive I will toss a couple of tyres over it to protect it from its natural enemies. There is another one that may or may not have survived (they are tough little plants) in the side garden and I will check that one out for signs of life and will tyre it up as well. I am slowly learning that function sometimes has to be employed over form on Serendipity Farm. My natural desire to cringe away from the delightful form of the ubiquitous black tyre, has given way to a grudging admiration for its free nature and its ability to withstand wallaby, possum and chook onslaughts. It is my new-found best bud in the garden and as we are hermits and very few people make it through our front gate I feel the luxury of being able to ugly up our garden a bit in order to gain a bit of ground against the natives and the ever destructive chooks

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Apples that will be added to the cooking vats on top of Brunhilda

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Potato onions that will NOT be added to the cooking vats on top of Brunhilda (in this present incarnation anyway…) and that I have to get into the ground STAT!

Frank smiled at me the other morning. That means he is pleased with us again. I like to cultivate a good relationship with our neighbours. We might be penniless student hippy FREAKS but we are always amenable to getting along with our neighbours. It is sometimes hard when we have umpty-eleventy roosters all going off at 3am but now that we have dealt with them it’s like banging your head on a brick wall…when you stop, it is MARVELOUS what the culling of a few errant roosters can do for your neighbourly relationships. Talking about neighbourly relationships…I need to get my derrière down and rake the leaves from under the massive big oak tree that borders our property and Glad’s next door before she outsources the job to her gardener. Oak leaves make a fantastic leaf mould and if I can liberate them from her side over to my side of the fence and can get them mounded up and a bit of chook netting over the top to ensure that they don’t relocate into the Tamar River come the first puff of wind, I WIN. Now I just have to find the time, the energy and the motivation to get out there and rake…rake…RAKE for the queen

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Looks like this small Jap/Kent pumpkin was a bit too alluring for some wayfaring possum

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Here we have double pest action. The middle (older) damage is caused by bush rats and the big chomps are fat brush-tailed possums who will eat just about anything that stands still long enough

I love how going out to lunch can forge relationships and community in one fell swoop. I am not usually very good at multitasking and didn’t realise that by sharing lunch, a mug of coffee and a chat that community started to meld. I dropped off some Jerusalem artichokes to Kim’s house and yesterday her husband Gordon dropped off a HUGE 10kg sack of ripe quinces and a lovely quince tree in a large pot! I have been lusting after a quince tree for ages as aside from producing food, the native animals tend to shy away from them, they are hardy, they don’t mind drought and are from the Mediterranean which coincidentally, Northern Tasmania tends to resemble in climate in summer. Quinces, persimmons, olives etc. do magnificently here and now I have my very own little quince tree and I am going to plan where to plant it out today. I want it to have the best chance at survival and will ensure that it is planted somewhere I can water it for the coming season. Once it gets a foothold it should be right after that. I have loquat trees that need planting out this season as well as nut trees that should be planted out into the ground and now I just need to work out a sturdy way to protect them all from the natives…a never ending problem here on Serendipity Farm whereby they are both hungry and tenacious, a trick combination to defend against

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This silverbeet just keeps on growing, and reproducing, and growing some more and I just got given some babies to put into my veggie garden. Here’s hoping that the possums can keep their thieving little teeth off them

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Meet “Woosh woosh the first”. This is the oldest and most forward of the feral cats that we have left on the property. He looks very much like his dad “Pink” who occasionally comes back to Serendipity Farm for something to eat. As you can see he isn’t inclined to eat chooks (although that might not have been a clever thing to cultivate looking at our current overpopulation…) and tends to just sit and watch me. The cats are all called “Woosh woosh” (1, 2 and 3) because I feed them early in the morning and didn’t want to be calling out loudly “HERE KITTY KITTY!” and so just mutter “woosh woosh” under my breath and they come running

The fungi is growing thick and fast around the district. I really do love fungi :). People tend to use wood mulch around here and as it breaks down it feeds a plethora of fungi that are always eager to take advantage of some free grub. On a recent walk around Deviot I saw the most magnificent specimen of Amanita that was about the size of a large dinner plate, resplendent in it’s brilliant post box red coat with gorgeous creamy white spots apparently living off the roots of a large conifer. As a horticulturalist I can’t help but get excited about the relationships that plants form and how important those relationships are for our soil and the health of our planet. Fungi aren’t just the mushrooms/toadstools that we see in autumn, that’s just their fruit. Under the ground they form a tangled mass of mycelium that spread unseen and that feed off dead plant material. Fungi are the plant equivalent of crows…they pick off the dead stuff and breaking it down to feed off it. We need fungi as part of our natural ecological systems and whenever I see a toadstool or a mushroom I am happy knowing that there is a whole mass of enterprise going on under my feet in order to keep the soil happy

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To think that Bezial used to be the one wrecking all of the cardboard tubes and shoes and plastic bottles…I guess you have to pass the baton some day Bezial but it looks like you might not be quite ready to hand over that torch…Note the new jute mats. They probably won’t stay this clean for long but we have plans to dye them when they get filthy (most likely by tomorrow)

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Proof that the chooks are planning a coup…they have been massing at the top of the steps for quite some time now (judging by the number of deposits that they have been leaving). I reckon Big Yin (at the bottom of the steps) and Garden Chook (on the landing) are a delegation…they haven’t made their demands known yet but give it time…

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I never thought that I would be the kind of person that would get completely and utterly enthusiastic about a mop bucket and a mop made from recycled fibres but I am. There…I said it…”I LOVE TO MOP”…sigh…

Remember that sack of quinces? Well I have a problem. My problem is that Stevie-boy doesn’t like the flavour of quinces. He has been known to be a fussy lad (part of the reason his mum threw a HUGE party when he moved over here to Australia…) and I have had to fandangle (my word of the week incidentally, that’s why it has featured in this post so many times 😉 ) my way around the dance floor in catering to his food “intolerance’s”. No rhubarb! No meat with bones…no suspicious new ingredients…no mashed potatoes with butter (yes…I KNOW…the man is mad…) and now, no quinces… so what is a girl with a 10kg sack of quinces to do eh? Well there is always something that Stevie-boy is going to take to with gusto that can be produced from just about anything with the addition of sugar, yeast and water that I am going to attempt with most of these delectable heavenly scented babies…wine. Quince wine, here I come!

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Excuse the delightful yellow tint to this image and just pretend that I Instagrammed it OK? (We both know better but whatchagonnadoeh?) Jan gave me this lovely little book relevant to our local growing conditions and surprisingly packed full of all kinds of pertinent information about our local climate. Cheers Jan, I will keep growing and sharing our veggies 🙂

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I forgot to share a mince and onions shot with you! How could I be so remiss? I know that you all hang on my every word and that the lack of a close-up mince shot may have damaged some of you to the core so hopefully this late addition will allow you some closure on the matter

Today I create food mania. I have a stack of pumpkins sitting on a folding table on the deck that I stopped the large bush rats munching on, but the possums now think I have set them a personal gustatory table and when we got back from our early morning shopping trip to check out the new Bunnings store (hardware heaven for all of you northerners who don’t know the Aussie delight of Bunnings…) situated in the centre of Launceston Steve headed out to get some wood out of the wheelbarrow load on the deck to load up Brunhilda and said “er…are these new munches on your pumpkin?” I headed out and immediately noticed that the “bites” were indeed fresh! We have been growling at Earl for the last few days as he has been racing out in the middle of the night barking. We figured he was woofing at cats, his very favourite of all pass-times (aside from plucking roosters but we won’t talk about that…) but it turns out he was protecting my pumpkin stash against foreign invaders! I need to process them and quickly before the possums eat what the rats didn’t manage to eat! I have my pride and need to get SOMETHING from this years veggie garden that I can stuck in a jar, roast and make into soup for the freezer.

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More multi-tasking. This shelf is actually a bread proofer that Stevie-boy made to prove bread and as somewhere to keep my cultures alive over winter. It never really gets that cold inside now that Brunhilda is on the case so I just put the calzone dough up here to prove and as you can see the dogs meat is thawing in a tin and the rest of the space is used up as baking tray and bread tin storage. Those triangles were a free giveaway to go with Brunhilda (how very generous 😉 ) and are used to even out the heat distribution in pots on the stove but I rarely remember to use them

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When you can’t go out, you go up. This is our version of a pot rack and Steve built it for me in order to keep some of my pots handy. As you can see there are quite a few pots “handy” 😉

We picked up some jute mats from K-Mart yesterday. My old red rug that we bought second hand from a garage sale when we lived in the city and that I loved to bits was one of the first casualties of “Earl” when he moved in with us back in 2011. He was a most voracious and excited pup and pretty much anything was fair game for his wandering mandibles. I noticed these rugs the other day when my eldest daughter Madeline and I were hunting for some form of fold away mattress as their cousin is coming to stay with them for a few days and they needed something comfortable for her to sleep on other than the couch that has seen better days. Madeline ended up buying one of those inflatable flocked single bed mattresses that will do the trick nicely. Her cousin Sabrina is stringy and tenacious, a gene that appears on the odd occasion in our familial melting pot but as a rule our family represents their Germanic heritage (in my children’s case, doubled with Danish heritage) and are “solid” (cheers nature…) My brother is of the stringy persuasion as well but as Sabrina is wiry and tenacious, a blow up flocked mattress should do her nicely. I really like the new mats that we bought and especially liked the $29 price tag. This way, if Earl decides that he is going to snack on one, we can afford to replace it. I must admit the first thing that Bezial did when we laid the mats was to sit down, stick his legs in the air and scoot his bottom along the surface so I guess that’s his way of saying “welcome to the fray rug!” 😉

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Large containers of sesame seeds and dates to be used today to create all kinds of things ranging from homemade date and sesame milk for my kefir’s gustatory delight through to tahini, date and pumpkin butter and combined with some homemade coconut butter, to make delicious healthy fudge. It might be labour intensive to cook like this but I get the satisfaction of knowing that I can do it myself as well as knowing exactly what goes into the ingredients that I am using.

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Meet “Bob”. He is a hawk. He is apparently fond of a chicken dinner and by the look of him he hasn’t been short on the odd chook meal in the past. He attempted to get himself another chicken dinner but one of their mums took offense at his close scrutiny of her (now largish) baby and  jumped up in the air and pecked him mid flight. He was somewhat unnerved at this display of chook aggression in something that elsewhere just accepts their fate…not here on Serendipity Farm. Things are different here for some reason. The time space continuum isn’t the same as it is everywhere else and if there is going to be a time travel wormhole open up somewhere you can just about BET it will be here. Not that I would be eager to see it…just it would be likely to be here is all I am saying. Mr hawk had to make do with whatever else he could find to snarf on this occasion as a most angry mother hen who is jumping around maniacally and clucking to the high heavens is enough to make a smallish hawk thing twice about swooping again…

Well another post has just spilled from my brain and hopefully you have gotten something out of it. I sometimes wonder at the mental disposition of my readers. I have a mental image of you as stoic, “never give in, never surrender!” type people who refuse to give up on something once you have found it. I am VERY glad that you keep on coming back here to read and comment on our crazy life because it would get a bit lonely around here without your little voices of reason in the wilderness. I love this community of like-mindedness around the globe that we are fostering here folks. I love that we can share and uplift and teach each other. I love the openness and the honesty that blogging can bring. I guess what I am trying to say is that I really do appreciate you all. I appreciate your candid responses, your enthusiasm and your honesty. Keep it coming folks, I need the motivation! See you next Wednesday…wish me luck with the raking, but I fear that I may have put it in the list with ironing and sweeping under the bed…

 

 

 

 

Short but full of flavour

Hi All,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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My serve before the girls added beef mince to their portions

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

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

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

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And here is an artistic shot of the tins…

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

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

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

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Some more of my daughters pantry cupboards…

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

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The noodle cupboard…

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And this cupboard contains various “stuff”

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

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

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

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

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My daughters added egg and raw fish to their bowls

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

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

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

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

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

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

My addiction to Pinterest made me forget to title my post! I need an intervention!!!

Hi All,

Does anyone out there know where my day just went? I think I saw it hurtling through the time space continuum around about lunch time but it seems to have taken a wrong turn on its straight through trip to Albuquerque and gotten lost. I find myself at 4.56am stressing about how little time I have left in yesterday…sigh…Why are we so busy? Well firstly, as a new convert to Pinterestism I have needs you know! I must be allowed to pin at least seventy-sixty-two new pages to my own page before I can surface and be functional in my day. I have also discovered http://www.tastespotting.com/ and   http://foodgawker.com/ as backups to Pinterest should my interest ever wane (we addicts like to have stashes of our addiction scattered around in hidden places…) and I most shamefully have to admit that I just noticed a pin that Steve accidentally pinned to our favourites bar that I needed to remove and put in its correct box (anus…thy name is narf7 😉 ) and I have been off Pinteresting when I should have been here typing to you my dear constant readers! Are you shocked? I am suitably ashamed but I can’t promise that if my eye doesn’t spy another incorrectly pinned linkie in our favourites bar (not that I am scanning it as I type this folks…Surely I wouldn’t do that…) that I am going to be carried away by the deliciousness of it all and the freeness and the fact that it doesn’t cram my PC full of my need to collect…

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These first two images were taken on a particularly foggy morning just on sunrise. I didn’t use any kind of filter or special effects and what you see is what I saw through the lens. I wanted to show you just how different a space of 10 minutes can render a landscape…This shot was taken at 7.10

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And this amazing shot was taken 10 minutes later. We certainly live in a wonderful place 🙂

Sure I might lose it all if some super power realises that the true power in the world lies not in its monetary value but in its social media and grabs hold of the reigns and rides that cloud (that technology seems hell bent to stuff itself onto) like Monkey from Monkey Magic, then all of this “free stuff” and this “convenience of the cloud” and this “don’t have to pay as much for your software” is going to come back to bite us all BIGTIME isn’t it folks? All of the “read it online on your e-reader” and “store it in the cloud” and “no C.D. required, just a “small” monthly fee” and “buy your movies from us and we will deliver them to you at the click of a button” etc. is going to suddenly show us that we have been right royally gipped! We no longer own much of anything. You know that wonderful moment where you slip that C.D. that you paid a heinous amount of money for into the P.C. and wait a decade till it loads up some program that allows you to make monkeys fly out of your Aunt Matilda’s hat? (I would be talking about Photoshop here folks…)Well the next Adobe download will be entirely online folks. CS6 will be the very last C.D. download you get. Why? Because aside from saving the Adobe empire a squillion-billion dollars in having to produce C.D.’s (which they will say they are being “Green” in doing…can anyone say G.R.E.E.N.W.A.S.H. with me slowly?) and have them sit on shelves in physical shops and paying all of those workers to produce and sell them (so how many thousands of jobs are going to be lost here folks?), the most important thing about clouds is that no-one can copy them. No-one can illegally download them and no-one can “steal” what Adobe thrashed out of its poor intellects who are chained up in some basement somewhere being fed RedBull to keep them awake and producing new software till they die of a diabetic coma and are rapidly replaced with another one… and once they get everything that they produce stuffed into a fort Knox of a cloud somewhere they will be able to charge you whatever they like to access their products because you won’t be able to get them “on sale” or “illegally” or any other way than via the fluffy cloud of corporate greed.

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This shot was taken slightly later on but Steve has admittedly mucked about a little bit with this shot in Photoshop but not very much (he misted up the sides to make you focus on the middle ground of the shot). How different they all look! I would like to experiment one day and set up the cameras on tripods and just take images every 10 minutes for the whole day! Even a time rich penniless student hippy gets bored sometimes folks 😉

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A gratuitous bickie shot…here you see custard creams, duskies and the dusky with the white cream is a “Minstrel” 😉

Am I sounding bolshie? “Moi?” Well guess what folks; it’s happening all around us. Books stores are going out of business because so many of us have been green washed into thinking that our lazy desire to read e-books online while we multitask and work, and stuffing things into online cloud sharing and freeing up our P.C. for …for…can anyone tell me what we are freeing up our P.C. for?! Games are all downloaded and played online now. Pretty soon you won’t “own” anything folks. It will all be online and we will all be at the mercy of our internet connection should we want to take advantage of our games, our software, our everything. How long till we don’t need physical money and it is only accessed through some cloud somewhere? Isn’t anyone else out there alarmed by this like I am? It’s sneaky and insidious and its happening all over the place and we all seem totally content to be led by the nose and give up all of our physical privileges…well not THIS little black duck! No e-readers and online PlayStation games for me! I can lose my food porn in an instant because I have books with glorious food porn in them that Pinterest has lured me away from…but “Come the revolution” I still HAVE them. That’s the thing…what do we actually “have” if we stuff it all into a cloud? Where is our money going? Are we going to truly turn into that virtual society that we are told is so progressive and wonderful?

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While I am ranting I won’t distract you too much…I want you to think about the rant NOT the photos ;). Here are some ground covers that I planted in a vain attempt to cover the ground and keep some of the moisture in. Hopefully they will spread in spring and will do just that.

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No idea what this little groundcover is but I bought it for $2 from the plant stand at the end of the road and it seems to love it here.

Maybe my bolshiness comes from being a penniless student hippy who knows the value of every dollar that slithers through her fingers. Maybe because I am almost officially “old” and I know the value of frugality and have seen it in my parents and grandparents. Maybe I just have the time to see how insidious this whole “Cloud” thing really is? Who knows, all I know is that I am incredibly suspicious of ANYTHING that has to be delivered and meted out by a third party…one of those vulturous “Middle Men” who really have no worth at all to anyone but who seem to be the makers of the most profit. Adobe are middle men. They create a market to sell what someone else dreamed up and they most certainly don’t want ANYONE else cashing in on their parade. Microsoft, Apple, you name it folks, these big companies not only want ALL the profits (and anything else they can get into the deal) but they want to sew up the internet for profit. No more free downloads, everything will be filtered through clouds and “small monthly payments” that amount to MASSIVE profits for these behemoth businesses that are hell bent on owning all intellectual property and making more money than I could hope to count for the rest of my life.

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Now you are all clucking and tutting and right royally pissed about how the big corporations are all ripping us off willy-nilly (as you SHOULD be!) you can have some more interesting images. This is Steve…this is Steve in his new Russian fluffy hat…why he felt the need to put these sunglasses on beats me. You would have to ask Steve and Steve is an enigma.

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Here you can see the ear flaps have been pinned up! “Magic”! That means that this hat is perfect for all of Steve (the enigma’s) winter needs. Steve has 9 earrings and cold weather chills gold and your ears at the same time (I know, I have 7 earrings)…you really do need a hat that will cover them when you are out walking the dogs or you might get chilblains on more than just your knuckles, toes and fingers…but when you are inside and your ears are safe…what’s a man to do? Pin up the ear flaps that’s what folks! How exciting is this blog? I am SURE you are riveted to your seats… 😉

That’s my 1150 word rant so far folks…now I can get to what narf7 and the-long-suffering-Stevie-boy have been up to since Tuesday. Our crazy American hippy friend wants us to drink rainwater. He also wants us to put bicarbonate soda in said rain water but that AINT gonna happen sir! He had a spare 600 litre rainwater tank complete with an inline water filter that he had laying around and asked us if we would like an extended loan of it till we could afford one of our own. We jumped at the chance! Steve has been up on the roof clearing out gutters, installing gutter guard, cutting holes in the gutter to accommodate a new plastic downpipe leading directly to the tank and watching him is exhausting! Today he will be heading out to take possession of a couple of trailer loads of spent horse bedding full of horse manure and perfect to add to the suite of organisms that we hope to populate our new enclosed veggie garden in. We will need an incredible amount of “soil” in this garden and are fully intending on taking advantage of any free offers of leaves, grass clippings, chopped up branches etc. to minimise the cost of having to build these gardens.

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This is an Azalea. This Azalea is one of many that are all out in flower at the moment on Serendipity Farm

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Here’s another one with a bee 🙂

We have to cut up another huge length of ex-fish-farm netting and remove all of the nylon rope from it. That usually takes us about a day with both of us working on it. We also need to unload that trailer load of gorgeous dry wood that Steve collected last Sunday and store it. Our amazing friend Jenny just phoned and asked us how our veggie garden is going and aside from offering to come and help us put the nets up around the perimeter of the garden (now surrounded by firmly concreted in poles) and told us that we can get another load of wood from her 50 acre property…”I love you Jen!”. Wood is something that we just can’t afford at the moment. It’s not cheap folks and as our chief source of heating our home, our hot water and cooking our food right through the cold winter months we most gratefully take advantage of any and all offers of free wood. Our friend Guy has told us we can get more wood from his mum’s property (Cheers Kaye…we love you too!) so hopefully that will get us through this winter and we have more time to plan for our next winter.

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These Azaleas were some of several bushes that we hacked back to stumps and “killed”. Apparently Azaleas are a whole lot hardier than one might think folks! We treated these shrubs horrifically and the only reason that they are growing back today is that we were too lazy to attempt to dig out the stumps and were going to just let them rot and pull them out when they did! It just goes to show you that nature is incredibly tenacious when she wants to be.

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This little Nandina domestica ‘nana’ (dwarf sacred bamboo) is putting on a magnificent show at the moment. It thrives in terrible soil in full sun and I would recommend these nandina’s along with their full sized brethren (the green leaves next to this one) for anyone wanting a very hardy plant.

We have 2 trees (one that fell down and is still entangled in a tree) that are dead in our side garden and another 2 that are on the way to dead. They are both eucalyptus obliqua and these eucalypts might have been Tassie endemics when Tasmania was a far wetter and colder place than it is today but call it global warming or call it what you like, conditions have changed and no longer favour Eucalyptus obliqua and favour the more hardy endemic Eucalyptus viminalis. We have lots of fungus ridden obliquas all in stages of decline and all LARGE trees. We have enough viminalis that we are not going to suddenly look like the grasslands of the Serengeti when the obliquas all die, but we need to do something about the dying trees because they are all close to the house. The tree that fell reminded us of our precarious existence and how expensive it would be to have to mend our roof. Guy is going to bring his tractor around and help us remove these trees. Once we fell them they can be cut up for next year’s firewood as well so there will be SOME benefit to my poor squished garden…

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More Azaleas and a stack of potted orchids that we have yet to figure out where they are going to live on a more permanent basis

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This is the inline water filter that is now on our loaner rainwater tank. We have had a tiny bit of rain but not enough to fill our tank, let alone reach the mark where we can actually turn on the tap and get “water” but hopefully some-day soon we will be drinking tea and coffee made with delicious filtered rainwater courtesy of our crazy old Californian hippy mate Michael 🙂

We spent yesterday with a new addiction. As part of our course, we are learning to use Adobe Flash. I never much thought about Flash as anything but something to make spam with and to flash up “CASINO!” in pop-ups but apparently it’s actually a worthwhile program and you can do all sorts of things with it. Steve and I finished our coursework for this terms unit early so aside from the hard slog we have been doing all week, we have had time to have a peek at what we are going to be attempting next term. So far this course has been incredible fun. We have learned an enormous amount about photography, design, and media and how to so “stuff” that we just never thought about before. It was always “someone else” did it, but now…”we” do it :o). It is very liberating to know how to do things yourself and Steve and I have noticed that our lecturer takes about a week into the new term before he launches a pretty severe workload of assessments onto us all. We like to know a bit about what we are studying and so we have a bit of time over the next 2 weeks to familiarise ourselves with Flash and its intricacies.

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It’s funny how 6 trailer loads of horse manure can be reduced to a flat and exponentially decreasing pile by a small but most determined band of beaked and feathered Somalian pirates isn’t it?

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Here you see what is left of our tomato and capsicum beds since we opened up the garden to the chooks and possums. Curiously, the chooks are the only ones taking advantage of this windfall…it would seem that I am not the only Bolshie one living on Serendipity Farm and that vegetables and their foliage taste SO much better when you steal them with impunity…

In the past week we have taught ourselves to “Tween”. We can take an image (or in our case a badly drawn stick figure) and we can make it move across the page. We got bored of making images and text move around the page and so we messed about and made them do pirouettes etc. It still wasn’t all that enthralling and so we peeked a bit ahead and discovered rotoscope. Does anyone else but me remember that Swedish band a-ha and their truly original video for their song “Take on me”? The technique used to produce that video is called Rotoscoping. What it takes is a video and someone with too much time on their hands who is willing to take individual frames of said video and hand draw over the top of the frames with a brush tool for frame, after frame, after frame…you get the picture (literally 😉 ). Steve and I are both working on a video that we borrowed from YouTube. Mine is an episode of that wonderful children’s show with the little plasticine man “Morph”. I have drawn over 100 frames and have managed to get through the title phase! I have 2400 to go…why the heck would I do that? Because the end results are amazing, that’s why folks! If you haven’t seen the song I was taking about, here is a YouTube link. Please note, the advertisement at the front is urging you to join the Australian armed forces…it’s up to you if you choose to take advantage of this wonderful career offer…I, myself, have chosen to opt out 😉

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=djV11Xbc914

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The chickens don’t seem all that keen on chilli leaves and have left the chilli plants relatively intact. I will be pulling them out soon but for now they are still producing flowers and tiny baby chilli’s!

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See that brown hay scattered all over the ground? That is a direct result of Somalian pirate activity. They aren’t even scared of Bezial any more! The only one that they are afraid of is Earl…he is something akin to The Dread Pirate Roberts and isn’t looking to step down ANY day soon! Even the feral cats ignore Bezial now…he wants to be known now as “The Ghost Who Walks…” The Phantom Dog 😉

Steve has decided to take a video that we shot of Earl on his birthday and Rotoscope it. Earl was given a whole bag of inflated balloons to explode and the resulting video is a great one to rotoscope because of both the highly expressive and animated Earl, and the inflated balloons that are there one minute and gone the next. My Pinterest addiction has run to putting a Pinterest bar on the blog. Under each post now you can click to add the post to your Pinterest account or just blatantly steal any of the images you like. Feel free…I discovered that people have been doing it for months! It’s strangely both flattering and creepy to find images of yourself, your dogs and your garden produce someplace where you didn’t put them but if you blog and you put those images out there you have to be willing to have someone else take a shine to them and pinch them. I know I do, so why would anyone else out there be any different? Pinch with impunity folks, just don’t try to sell anything using them, you might be disappointed by the sales results at the end of the month 😉

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The last of the liquidambar leaves just before they tumbled from the wonderful grey stems and rendered Serendipity Farm officially on winter time. At least the possums won’t bother with it till spring now!

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You would be forgiven for thinking that this was something terrifying out of The Moth-man prophesy but it isn’t. It’s WORSE! This…is a brush tailed possum. Scourge of narf7 and gardeners everywhere and prime target for Earl’s nocturnal angst…(his days are filled with rage against the feral machine). This one had a lucky escape the other night after running up the deck with Earl close on his tail…Do those eyes looks scared? NO! He was screaming his anger at Earl from a safe distance and doing the possum equivalent of what the French taunters were doing in the Holy Grail…

I have forged on and baked my not inconsiderable weights worth of custard cream biscuits and Duskies, a peculiar New Zealand chocolate version of them that are apparently quite delicious…I sandwiched the custard creams with vanilla buttercream and the Duskies with a rich chocolate buttercream and because we are not racist on Serendipity Farm I sandwiched some of the extra Duskies with vanilla buttercream and called them “Minstrels”. I know they are delicious because Steve told me so and the biscuit barrel is officially stuffed to the back gills. I have been experimenting with my morning green smoothies and aside from using my non-dairy kefir; I have started adding cooked beans to my smoothies. I can get pretty experimental when needs must and I wanted to make sure I was getting plenty of fibre, protein and nutrients and adding beans gives more body, a creamy texture and if you freeze the cooked beans (I cook mine from dry) they double as a great thickener for your smoothie. I also add ice cubes and my smoothies take me right through the day. Angela at Canned Time made some gorgeous vegan chocolate chip scones with a vanilla glaze by sheer accident the other day. Angela used beans in her scone recipe and I have to tell you that they certainly give a lot of moisture, body and texture to a recipe. Here’s Angela’s wonderful recipe if you would like to try it…

http://canned-time.com/chocolate-chip-scones-with-vanilla-cream-glaze/

Angela is my go-to girl for crazy out of the ballpark vegan recipes and she is incredibly prolific and inventive. This is the cutting edge of recipe development and I love to hover around the creative people who think like this and put their thought into action “What if I took a can of coconut cream, a can of cannellini beans and some date paste, pureed them together and made ice-cream out of them?” Not sure, but you can bet Angela has at least attempted something pretty close to it at one time or other ;).

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Finally, with permission from Christi one of my most dear constant readers and a true friend in Olalla Washington (see her wonderful blog here… http://farmlet.wordpress.com/) I am going to share some of her very talented husband “The B.O’s” wonderful drawings. Earl heard a possum earlier in the week. He raced outside and I was treated from my vista on the couch to a vision of a brush-tailed possum streaking down the deck with a most determined Am staff rapidly gaining ground on him. The possum made it to scream and steal another day but I mentioned in my last post that I might like to ask The B.O. to draw the debacle to preserve it in posterity. He did! What an amazing man :). Here is Earl, a most wonderful rendition especially the little pink nose. Earl looks like he just dispatched something…most fitting!

Hoochi Coo narf7 and the great possum chace of old Serendipity Farm

Now I am SURE I told The B.O. via Christi that this was a scene of Earl chasing a possum and me sitting on the couch watching…I think we might have had a case of Chinese Whispers go on and sure enough…Earl IS chasing (and making good ground on) that possum BUT I appear to be attempting to sell my wares in an Amsterdam hookers window! Now I don’t know what Christi has told you about me B.O. but it’s not true! I may have lost a little weight lately but a “Hoochie Coochie Woman” I am not! ;). If we ever get so poor that we have to sell someone’s body you can bet it will be Steve out in Princes Square strutting his stuff and not THIS little black duck! (We would make more money 😉 )

Our new fully enclosed veggie garden is one step closer to reality with Steve and I hauling a massive roll of ex fish farm netting down from where we store it to under the deck. That’s the first stage in us cutting the net ready for installation. We do things in stages here and as it rained all night we are very glad that we did it yesterday. That stuff weighs a tonne when it is wet! We will be walking the dogs in Deviot today in a vain attempt to get some quality photos to share with you here AND satisfy the dogs desire to pee on other dog’s pee that they didn’t pee on yesterday. Steve and I will be fighting for the computer as my Pinterest addiction knows no bounds and his desire to rotoscope Earl is equally as intense. I planted out a whole bag of Jerusalem artichokes someplace where I don’t care if they go nuts so watch this space to see narf7 go nuts at some time in the future ;). This weekend promises to be a tangle of energetic and mental activity on Serendipity Farm and it’s great to be back outside after almost a full term of beavering away in front of our computer screens. At least this term we will have a head start on what we need to know. See you Wednesday folks and enjoy your weekends to the max :o)