Do ye ken John Peel…

Hi Folks

It is Friday and most of what I found in our back yard today was grass…very tall, going to seed grass. It would be easy to start complaining about the obvious workload coming up when faced with a sea of waving grass (friendly but feral…) and knowing that a stint on the whipper snipper perhaps for a couple of days is going to be warranted. For now I am managing to whistle my way past the long grass and look in the other direction. As soon as I get lost in that waving sea I will wave Betsy (my whipper snipper) around and will valiantly tackle it.

DSCF6630

Not quite the back yard but you could probably make a halfway decent lawn out of these carrots 😉

DSCF6628

I have never been able to grow nasturtiums before and here is one of my 2 nasturtium plants. They, like everything else in the veggie garden, are growing like crazy. They keep moisture in the soil through acting like a ground cover and they attract bees that pollinate the veggies. They also take up a LOT of room 😉

DSCF6624

just a tiny proportion of our happy spuds. Looks like we at least have a good crop of leaves. Whether or not we get tubers to taste is an entirely different kettle of fish

I have had a most busy weekend that I am only just recovering from. I headed off to my daughters home in Launceston as we were heading down to Hobart on a Korean grocery shopping venture. My daughters are very adventurous cooks and will tackle pretty much anything, usually with excellent results. Their current cuisine of interest is Korean and when we were last in Hobart we discovered an excellent Korean grocery store and decided that as soon as funds would allow, we would head back down and plunder said grocery shop…on the weekend we plundered!

DSCF6702

We noticed this wall of old gravestones that were removed when they developed the site from a church to the park and accompanying court house but it is good to see that they decided to recycle them in a wall of remembrance.

DSCF6704

My girls pretending to be interested in the wall when really they are just avoiding me taking their photo 😉

I headed off to my daughters on Friday afternoon in order to take the son-and-heir and his sweetie Kelsey to the airport to catch a flight to Melbourne in order to catch a longer flight to America. They will be there for 2 weeks frolicking in the snow and generally reassuring Kelsey’s folks and relatives that she is still alive and kicking and enjoying her life. I drove them to Hungry Jacks where as we were collecting their meal the both suddenly realised that they had forgotten to bring Kelsey’s driving license and we had to return home. We made it to the airport with lots of time to spare and according to Facebook they are both happily frolicking in the snow

DSCF6705

You know its a hot day in Hobart when you can see the top of Mt Wellington and it isn’t covered in clouds. This photo was taken in Sandy Bay near where the Korean grocery shop that we visited was

DSCF6685

I figured that Joanna wouldn’t want this photo of some crazy hippy woman desecrating the monument of John Woodcock Graves so decided to share it with you. If anyone knows who this CRAZY woman is, please telephone your nearest police station 😉

I returned home and we headed out to buy takeaway Chinese and Korean food for Chinese New Year (Friday Night). We walked Qi, the girls little brindle staffy around at the same time and when we got home we enjoyed a most delicious meal. I had tofu in a delicious sauce with vegetables along with vegetarian spring rolls and the girls had all kinds of interesting things involving crab claws and prawns and Korean kimchi pancakes and mandu (Korean dumplings) and we called it a night pretty early in order for us to get up the next morning bright and early to head to Hobart.

DSCF6706

Back in Launceston on the way to Target to pick up Steve’s latest paramour and I spotted this. What a waste of a delicious red Kombi van!! 😉

DSCF6709

Madeline sporting the latest Pyo JiHoon (aka P.O.) band member hair colour from the Korean band “Block B”

PO

And here is the original P.O. for comparison…not bad Madeline…you might need a BUCKET of hair gel to manage that quiff!

We spent the day initially hunting for Bellerive in Hobart and after finding the markets we didn’t manage to find the perennial leeks that I was after however a lady selling herbs at the market did tell me that I should head to Island Herbs website and fire off a missive to “Lindy” who had sold her perennial leeks in the past. She ships in Tasmania so for once…I might just get what I am after! We then headed off to the park next to the Salamanca markets called St David’s Park where we hunted down the monument to John Woodcock Graves. Why on EARTH did we do that? Because Joanna of the splendiferous baking blog “Zeb Bakes” (LINK LINK LINK) asked me if I would head down with a copy of a book of delightful Cockermouth poets (of which John Woodcock Graves is apparently “one”) that she and her father collated and take a picture of the book on the monument for her dad. How could I refuse? 🙂

DSCF6710

This is the main street of Launceston at 8.30am on a Sunday morning. Aside from this obviously sporty couple and their baby there was pretty much no-one around!

DSCF6733

This Dragon Boat was on display at Tsing Wah in order to drum up some new recruits for the club.

DSCF6735

I would ONLY volunteer if I got to sit in this venerable seat and whack that venerable drum but alas…that position has been filled 😦

DSCF6737

It would appear that the Dragon Boat club have inadvertently decided to make Trogdor the Burninator their club mascot… check out that big beefy arm coming out of his back…

DSCF6747

Another drum and another chance for narf7 to make some serious noise but alas…this drum belonged to the Chinese New Year Dragon and he was keeping a good eye on it…

DSCF6723

Yeah…I don’t think I will attempt to bang the drum with Mr Dragon watching me THIS closely…

After taking a large amount of photos that Joanna can sift through at her leisure (and critique … if she can work out which side is up and which is down that is 😉 ) we zoomed off to Sandy Bay where we found the Korean grocery store and where my daughters proceeded to make a bored looking Korean man a most happy and smiley Korean man by spending a lot of money. The day was getting very hot when we finally finished lugging boxes back to the car and we headed off for a Baskin and Robbins store that Madeline had found online. After finding the shop inside a large arcade we discovered that they only stocked the most boring of flavours and turned to head out the door when the girls spotted a bubble tea stand. After they both ordered a bubble tea they noticed that the stand was selling something called Ice cream balls. They were small spheres of various flavours of icecream and you could pick and mix the flavours if you liked. The girls both bought a serving each and pronounced them delicious

DSCF6728

Here we have “The man that whacked the gong”. Apparently a most esteemed position and he had obviously heard about my desire to make as much noise as I possibly could because he kept a tight hold on those gong sticks the whole time I was taking his photo…

DSCF6729

2 more members of the New Year brigade. This time they were both beefy enough to not have to worry about narf7 pinching their musical equipment. The man on the right beat the drum and the man on the left was the nether regions of Mr Dragoon. Not much fun when you have to be the rear end AND support another smaller but much wirier Chinese man who is wearing a heavy head.

We then decided to head back to Launceston and after an uneventful trip (aside from me forgetting to tie up my hair and arriving back home with the equivalent of punk teased hair on the right hand side and having to brush out the knots whilst protesting LOUDLY…) we made it back to the girls place and enjoyed a delicious Korean curry for our evening meal to which the girls added some delicious leftovers from their takeaway the night before. I didn’t have any delicious leftovers because I believe in storing my leftovers inside me ;).

DSCF6755

Here they are taking the Dragons drum out to the front of the shop where the beginning of the ceremony was about to start when I realised that Neil from The Young One’s had photo bombed my image! The girls pronounced him “a cross between you and Steve” but I recon he looks more like my little brother 😉

DSCF6772

Mr Dragon practicing looking fierce before he headed out to do his thang

Madeline and I headed out early on Sunday to go shopping. Steve and I figured that as I was in the city anyway, I may as well save us a trip and do the shopping while I was there. We were going to the Tsing Wah New Year’s celebrations at 12 lunchtime so we had to get a wriggle on as we had a lot of shopping to do. As we were heading out the door Steve rang to tell me that Target was doing a special deal on PlayStation 3’s and as all of the children and his mum had put in money towards him buying one for his birthday Madeline and I said that we would head in to Target and take a look. When we got to the city we managed to park right in the city centre and walk a short distance to Target. It was 8am but the city was deserted. Part of the special was the inclusion of a free game and there was a list of titles to choose from. Obviously the good titles were all gone but Steve had already assumed that they would be and said to get whatever we could and he would buy the games that he wanted from EB Games. We could only find titles that no-one wanted but Madeline, being the very clever cookie that she is, said that people sometimes hide copies of games that they want behind less desirable copies in the hope that the good copy will be there when they come back to buy it. It worked to our advantage as I found a reasonable game that Steve was more than happy to get as part of his package deal.

DSCF6774

A very energetic (and tall!) Dragon practicing his moves

DSCF6786

Here he is just about to head into the front door of the shop. As you can see, Mr Gong still has a firm hold on his gong sticks…

DSCF6792

Mr Dragon doing a good job of terrorising small children as he ran up and down the aisles of the well stocked shelves of Tsing Wah

DSCF6801

Dragon motion blur! 😉

We managed to get back with 15 minutes to spare and as Bethany was ready we just had to head out the door. It was hot and humid and we parked and walked to Tsing Wah where there was a reasonable sized crowd waiting to see the Dragon usher in prosperity to Anthony’s shop. The celebrations attracted some interesting characters. There were several girls dressed in ornate Japanese costumes. I asked 2 of them if I could photograph them and include them in today’s post. They both agreed and I took both of their names but can’t for the life of me find the piece of paper that I wrote them down on! If you are actually reading this post girls, could you please comment with your names and I will amend the post accordingly 🙂

DSCF6742

This immaculately dressed girl told me that her entire outfit had come from Japan and that the ensemble was called Sweet (I think… remember, I lost my bit of paper!) Lolita. She looked amazing and check out those shoes! I would like to amend this to add that this gorgeous girl’s name is Emi and if you want to check out her Tumblr page you can find it here… http://imcherrysparkle.tumblr.com/

DSCF6746

This pretty princess had glorious green contact lenses, a most delightful outfit and was picture perfect. She had a single name like “Cher” or “Pink” but neither of those and a whole lot more Japanese. If you are reading this post girls, please drop me a note with your names in the comments box. These outfits were absolutely delightful and completely perfect for this event. Kudos on your efforts 🙂 Again, I now know that this lovely girl’s name is Kiyu and here is her delicious ode to Japanese clothing http://kiyu-yuki.tumblr.com/

After checking out a dragon boat and eating some steamed taro buns and delicious dumplings we watched the dragon do his thing and afterwards I did a bit of Chinese shopping of my own. I love Anthony’s shop but if I was to send Steve in on shopping day I wouldn’t know what to tell him to buy. I like to pick things up, turn them around, check them out and ruminate about what I could make with them but Steve is a “bung it in the trolley and race to the finish line” kind of guy and you just can’t expect someone like that to give 2 hoots about ingredients. He is more concerned with the final results 😉

DSCF6844

Not steamed taro buns or dumplings but I DID buy these dried shiitake mushrooms and dried lily mushrooms from Anthony at Tsing Wah. I have used the dried shiitakes a lot in the past. They are a good cheap way to add mushroomy goodness into your Asian meals without having to rely on fresh mushrooms. The lily mushrooms were entirely new. They are purported to be good for your brain and very nutritious (according to the packet) but the only thing that Steve and I think they would be good for is tying up your boat to the jetty. I have never tasted tastier rope! Got to say I did eat them, but it took me a long time to chew my way through them. I have NO idea how Chinese people prepare these shrooms to eat them but following the packet instructions aint gonna cut the mustard this time…

DSCF6847

Sometimes picking Asian grocery items from a shelf is like throwing caution to the wind. I could ascertain that these were noodles. That they were very thin noodles. I could also ascertain that the manufacturer had a somewhat rude last name. Anyone with a delicate disposition PLEASE don’t look too closely at this package (you did didn’t you…sigh…well go and have a little lay down till you recover alright?). Aside from that I wasn’t entirely sure what these noodles were made of or how I was supposed to use them. I love a good food adventure! As usual, anything vaguely strange I test out on Steve first. I decided to make him a chilli, garlic, ginger and lime chicken stir fry with lots of vegetables, the soaked dried shiitake mushrooms and the lily mushrooms and lots of fresh veggies as he hasn’t been eating many veggies of late. I cooked the noodles (that didn’t look to be made from wheat) and when I tossed them into the pot of boiling water as instructed, I noticed flavour sachets in the bottom! It would appear that these “noodles” were actually an unusual form of ramen. Steve pronounced his tea “Delish!” and rightly so too! I had hand picked out all of the lily mushrooms before I served it to him myself! 😉

The tarmac was shimmering by the time we emerged from Tsing Wah and we headed off to check out EB Games for Steve as he had mentioned that they had some good game titles second hand. I like that EB Games offers second hand titles for sale. Aside from being cheaper, you can pay a little extra to make sure that if the game has any unforeseen problems, they will refund your money. We picked up 5 car racing games and now Steve is in car racing hog heaven. After dropping the girls home and picking up my groceries that I had stashed in Stewart and Kelsey’s flat and picking up some frosty cold beer to top off Steve’s PlayStation gifting event, I headed home to be welcomed by 3 happy boys all wagging their tails 🙂

DSCF6823

This is nothing to do with Chinese New Year. I don’t even know what it is, but I thought that it was pretty. I bet Pauline thinks so as well…so if 2 of us think it is funky/pretty it IS! 🙂

DSCF6820

What is this? This, my dear constant readers, is a Nissan “Cube”. My daughters most desired car of all cars and it was parked right out the front of Tsing Wah as we were heading off to check out EB Games…that tells me that someone who went to the Chinese New Year celebrations arrived in this stately jalopy.

DSCF6825

The only one not grumbling about how hot and sweaty they were was this clever Australian Raven (aka crow) who had decided to take up residence on top of the fountain in Princes Square. He certainly looks as cool as the proverbial cucumber doesn’t he?

It has taken me 3 days to catch up with my RSS Feed Reader and thankfully the weather has cooled down a bit so that we get a little respite before the next heatwave wafts in with a vengeance. Earl got to walk with Mika, a large and most attractive Rottweiler from down the road this morning and aside from a bit of eyebrow twitching and the odd bit of drooling he was a real gentleman. I got back from our walk and after watering the plants and the veggie garden I headed down into the garden in front of the house and deadheaded all of the pink valerian that was looking mostly dead and chopped it up into small pieces with my secateurs as mulch. We don’t believe in wasting things here and if something has done us a favour and grown exponentially and we can’t eat it or use it for anything else, it gets chopped up and turned into free mulch

DSCF6833

I found this Serendipity Farm version of Heimlich from “A Bug’s Life” ootching along the deck

DSCF6828

Forget Dragon motion blur…Heimlich made that Dragon look like he was standing still! Check out the lime green motion blur on this fellow!

DSCF6840

Earl learning the hard way that happiness doesn’t come from the bottom of an empty bottle…

Ok, I think it might be time to mosey on off and finish my book. I haven’t been as keen to log on and Pin and research over the last few days as I usually am. I think my brain just wants a bit of a rest from the net for the rest of the week so that I can reformat and get back next Wednesday bright, chipper and raring to tap. I hope you all have a wonderful week and that whether the weather is hot or cold, you find a comfortable place to spend your days until I next get to sit and chat with you 🙂

One Fran went to mow…

Hi Folks,

I can feel it starting…it feels like a small itch in my brain. A tiny little irritation that I know is going to grow a little every day until I am consumed by its scratchiness and am forced to itch. I have felt this before on many occasions. It’s the herald of a new beginning…the start of something new and the tiny flicker of a flame that I know is going to be a raging bushfire furnace by the end of summer. I have become…a “Gardener”. A small tendril of green twined around my soul while I was out watering my new veggie garden. I felt it start to unravel and a little leaf came into existence. I think it’s a beanstalk. Narf7 doesn’t do anything by half and neither do beanstalks. Addiction comes hard and fast and soon I will be waxing lyrical about potatoes and moon planting and gumboots and powdery mildew but at the moment it’s just a small twinge where my addiction valve appears to have developed a little leak… the garden is trickling out and it wants me to do its bidding

DSCF5683

Can you feel it pulling me in? That honeysuckle is rampant!

DSCF5674

Grass mowed and left to mulch the “lawn” as the weather gets hotter

DSCF5679

Steve’s Strelitzia (Bird of Paradise) just about to flower for the first time

DSCF5655

Amongst all of these weeds there are raspberries!

DSCF5356

My haul for the walk included these 4 little loquat japonica trees

DSCF5539

They might be considered weeds here in Tasmania but I love dog roses 🙂

DSCF5360

The key to Steve’s heart 😉

I don’t mind being a garden slave. It’s something that pays you back. I have been a slave for lesser things and this makes a refreshing change.  However there is the delightful pastime of “pottering” and there is “solid hard work” and I am afraid that Serendipity Farm requires less of the first and a whole lot more of the latter. We just had a couple of days of real summer. The sun was shining, the sky was blue, the plants decided to make hay while the sun shone and so did I. We officially finished our course on Thursday last week and on Friday I headed over to my daughters to stay overnight in order to get a nice early start on a trip to Hobart. I love how my daughters have inherited my adventurous spirit when it comes to cooking and food. They are wonderful cooks and they use some very interesting ingredients. Whatever you get is always delicious and you probably won’t get the same thing twice.

DSCF5345

The Deviot Heritage apple and pear enclosure where I shamelessly pilfer seed and cutting material. That large “stalk” on the right hand side is angelica and I discovered that it was just about to seed…

DSCF5317

That’s not rolled oats in my bag folks, that’s angelica seed!

DSCF5342

Another view of the enclosed garden. This is where I got the idea to build our own fully enclosed garden and ours is bigger than this one 🙂

DSCF5323

One of the lovely gardens that we pass on our Deviot walks with the boys…

DSCF5328

And another one…

DSCF5326

And another one

We got up early on Saturday and headed off to Hobart so that the girls could do their Christmas shopping. We had a great time on the drive down and the girls had thoughtfully provided me with homemade iced coffee made with agave nectar as they know that I don’t have sugar. It certainly kept me awake for the drive. We arrived nice and early to get a car park at the Salamanca Markets and spent 2 hours wandering around testing delicious products. I had a scrumptious vegan pie for breakfast and then just before we headed off I had a vegan burrito which was delicious also. Hobart seems to be a much more cosmopolitan city than Launceston. The place that we stayed was amazing value and very central to where we wanted to be in Sandy Bay. The Korean restaurant that the girls had picked out for us to have our evening meal at was right at the front of it and we were surrounded by Japanese, Vietnamese and Chinese restaurants and there was even a German bakery for dessert. We walked around a bit to check out the shops and found a small Korean shop that the girls got very excited about and a new trip has been planned for early next year in order to go on a Korean food shopping spree.

DSCF5607

Cue one delicious Korean meal

DSCF5610

Followed by a nice brisk uphill walk to wear it off

DSCF5626

Bethany reliving her childhood

DSCF5623

And me having a second one 😉

We got up early the next morning and packed our things and headed out to hunt for the elusive breakfast. We parked at one end of the city and realised that we would have to hang around as the meter didn’t start till 9 and we were early. We noticed a sea of blue tents that heralded an outdoor farmers market and we headed in to be told that “we can’t officially sell anything to you until 9”…sigh…9 is apparently the magic Hobart number. I had noticed some perennial leeks and an Egyptian walking onion for sale that I needed…yes…I NEEDED! So after checking out an indoor (sad) market we headed back to the outdoor market and I got my perennial vegetables. Madeline wanted some Tatsoi and Mizuna to try in her garden so I bought her some. Now I need to get my hands on some potato onions but I have to wait till late December before they become available again. At least the supplier is in Tasmania so that means I won’t have to jump through hoops to get them.

DSCF5630

Gotta love anyone who has a Trogdor the Burninator sticker…I am dead jel!

DSCF5635

I loved this little mustard yellow leather couch that was in our room

DSCF5639

The rest of the room was excellent as well, 2 huge queen sized beds and a large bathroom with a bath

DSCF5595

The view just outside our door

DSCF5603

Under one of the walkways in the undercover open air area outside the rooms

DSCF5605

The “roof”, a large canvas circus tent type arrangement that covered the entire area

We drove back home slowly and after depositing the girls at home and taking the son-and-heir out to buy a plastic jerry can to fill with fuel in order to mow his lawn I drove back home ready to be jumped on and I wasn’t disappointed. Dogs certainly know how to show you that they missed you :). For the rest of this week I have been mowing. The title of this post is somewhat accurate because I mowed some of the meadow which made it even more obvious that I am going to have to get out there and mow/whipper snip  the rest of it in order to skip around the outside of getting a fine. We have started watering our potted plants again and I have been eating strawberries from my pots as I head out nice and early to walk Earl. It’s almost cherry season and cherries herald Christmas in Australia. It looks like it is going to be a really good cherry season this year as we even have cherries on our poor old specimen…the possums ate the leaves but not the cherries (so far…). We will be starting work on extending the dogs enclosure soon which will give them a much bigger area to run around and play in. Earl will be able to spread his territory around a bit and hopefully won’t rust the deck poles any more in the process

DSCF5647

The next day we headed into the city to have breakfast. You can see Mt Wellington in the background

DSCF5583

Delicious wood fired pizza at the Salamanca Market

DSCF5579

A ragtime band of buskers called “Mangus” playing for the crowds at the markets

DSCF5645

A lovely atrium idea linking 2 businesses

DSCF5649

The outdoor markets where I got my Egyptian walking onion and perennial leek

I would have liked to have started sinking the poles for the enclosure a bit earlier but time is against us this year and we will have to do the best that we can. The chooks have gotten cleverer and I have NO idea where they are laying most of their eggs. One chook has been laying on a hay bale in the shed so I know where to get her egg and her underlings that all lay in the same nest so I get a couple of eggs a day and we have a LOT of chooks…so many we have had to start buying more chook food in order to keep them happy. We noticed another hen down in the teatree garden with a small flock of chicks. I also noticed a larger chicken in the outside enclosure that I have NO idea where it came from. We shuffle chooks and babies into this area in order to give them a chance against the feral cats that spend their days waiting to catch chickens. For some reason they stay clear of the outside compound (maybe the rooster is fierce!) so we figure if we can herd them into this compound, they have a better chance than most to stay alive and so far we have been right. There are 7 babies of varying ages inside this compound with their mums.  I just went on a very hopeful egg hunt of the outside part of the chook run and noticed this chick that hadn’t been there before. Maybe I have just missed it in passing as it has a rather striking camouflage look about it. It is mostly brown like a Wyandotte but has white and black markings on it as well. Whatever it is it’s a clever little critter to find its way into the safe part of Serendipity Farm. I know it doesn’t belong to anyone inside the compound because it is the lowest on the pecking order but it is determined and it’s pretty and I applaud its spirit for being able to recognise where the chances of survival are the best. I had best watch this chook, most of them are lacking in velociraptor ancestors? 😉

DSCF5641

Bethany is an insomniac and stays awake for ages but Madeline and I were absolutely knackered…the only way that we could see for her to stay up reading and for us to get some sleep was to get clever with pillows…

DSCF5643

My pillow had obviously been stolen by this point 😉

DSCF5578

On the way down to Hobart some bright spark had amended this sign 😉

My daughters have come up with what they believe to be the answer to the conundrum of Christmas. Now that Stewart and Kelsey live here in Launceston we are all together for Christmas but in saying that, we are all quintessential hermits who like our own space. Getting together just because we are told to get together breeds resentment especially when people have their own ideas about how Christmas should go (read the girls EXTRAVAGANZA and our simple…) so I got Madeline to throw some ideas around with Bethany and they have decided that we should all start a new Christmas tradition of getting together the day before Christmas for our communal celebration. Technically most of Europe starts their celebrations the day before Christmas and in central and eastern Europe (in particular Russia, Poland, Ukraine and Lithuania have a traditional meatless 12 dish Christmas Eve Supper before opening gifts. I won’t mention the “meatless” part but the opening gifts are going to be part of it. At least I will be standing in solidarity with my Russian brothers and sisters and won’t be eating any meat ;).

DSCF5564

Looks like we have a hairy visitor…

DSCF5319

The birds are hatching out babies all over the place

DSCF5673

The Jerusalem artichokes that I shoved in here last year are apparently alive and well and growing exponentially

DSCF5670

One of many pumpkins coming up from compost dumped on top of the spent horse manure

DSCF5667

These peas were planted last Wednesday…

DSCF5664

So were these carrots…Jenny doesn’t do anything by halves, there are 1000 carrot seeds and 10 rows of peas

DSCF5658

Just about to start transplanting these and their brothers and sisters into the ground inside the enclosure along with red currants. The wild raspberries are going crazy this year and all have tiny fruit developing. I will try to see if I can get a few photos to share with you all before the birds scoff them all. Much like wild strawberries, these tiny little wild raspberries have the most intense exquisite flavour, the birds are clever sods!

I like the idea of sharing a communal meal the day before…everyone bringing something that they have made to the table and a dessert each…sort of an Aussie thanksgiving for us all being together and then on Christmas day we get to celebrate however the heck we want to. Even Steve is happy about this new tradition so the girls are on to a winner there. Sorry about talking about Christmas but you are all going to have to face it soon…it’s coming for another year and it’s like a steam train this time. At least all of you Northerners get a “proper” Christmas, we Aussies are wandering around in our t-shirts wondering how little we can wear to Christmas lunch before we offend one of the neighbours and they call the police! The weather will be hot, most of us will eat a HUGE hot meal and will roll off to the beach to watch the kids play cricket…Aussie Christmas is NOTHING like a Northern Christmas.  Before you know it we will be up to our armpits in 2014. I hope you all get a handle on your Christmas preparations and that it goes incredibly smoothly and wonderfully this year. By the way…don’t look now, but it’s snowing on Serendipity Farm! I noticed it earlier…must be something to do with global warming… ;). See you all next week 🙂

Of Loss and Learning

Hi All,

If it hadn’t been for Saturday, today’s post would have amounted to about a sentence and the word “Rotoscoping”. Our latest assessment has us glued to the computer for hours at a time hand drawing over the top of individual video cells. 200 cells to be precise in order to yield 10 seconds (precisely!) of swf file that will give you a tiny window into insanity. Steve has been helping a friend renovate his mother’s house and that means that non-technological narf7 has been left in charge of the technology. A dark day indeed! On the positive side, I have learned a great deal from my solo career, the most important lesson being that of “never EVER let Steve go!” He might leave his clothes scattered all over the bedroom floor…he might drop bits of log on the pathway between the wheelbarrow and the wood basket…he might “half do” just about EVERYTHING but he is a genius when it comes to technology and I, most certainly, am NOT. I spent an entire day twiddling my thumbs because I attempted to open up a video in Adobe Media Encoder and managed somehow to click a button that changed the look of the program so I could no longer follow the video instructions given to us by our lecturer. Helplessness to the max and no amount of temper tantrums would open that little black secret box! I had to wait till Steve got in, tired and filthy from peeling wallpaper, to find that all I had to do was click a single button and that the video that was tantalisingly close to me was just “there” again.

Here’s a Youtube link to hear just how HIDEOUS my voice is. If this goes viral I am going to need therapy! I hand drew all of the artwork in this video. The art is the star, the voice is something to be endured 😦

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q_ZzTvgHijE&feature=share

Adobe Flash is fun folks. I love it. There are so many possibilities to be creative but we have hit a section of Flash where fun ceases and hard graft takes over. It’s called Rotoscoping and it has just consumed the last 3 days of our lives. Rotoscoping is where some poor schmuck (that would be we humble middle aged penniless student hippies) has to sit for hours on end individually hand drawing over the top of video still cells. To add to the tension, because Steve has been AWOL he had to work all weekend on his Rotoscoping assessment. We had to first take a short video (maximum 10 seconds) with audio and convert it into a format whereby we could insert it into Adobe Flash. After that we have to render it rotoscoped, then reinsert the audio file and erase the original video cells so that what we are left with is our hand drawn animation with sound. We also have to add a background but that is incidental to the hard work. The notes said that it was a 12 hour task. The notes lied. Steve spent the best part of 36 hours straight Rotoscoping his video and because we only have 1 computer with Adobe on it, I had to wait my turn. I sent a missive off to our lecturer informing him that my rotoscoped video is going to have to wait and why. Here’s hoping he understands and it’s kind of too bad if he doesn’t really 😉

DSCF3248

Steve took this shot with my trusty camera right before it ran out of batteries. It didn’t help that he accidentally shot a video before this but this is just to show you how cold it was out where he was collecting wood this morning. The limbs in the foreground were actually frozen!

DSCF3247

This is on the same property after it warmed up a bit. The grass is frosty and the weather is frigid but when the sun shines you just can’t feel sorry for yourself in Winter 🙂

I would like to make it officially known that I am OVER VIRUSES! Our free AVG appears to have given up the ghost and no longer upgrades. I guess you get what you pay for and they are starting to give you less and less in order to try to force you to buy their service. Steve clicked on a camera information site the other day and got 3 Trojans that took half a day to get rid of. I was eating my breakfast and decided to check out the news for the day and I got 2 Trojans from a decision to read about the new royal baby. AVG has officially worn out Its welcome in our home and I hereby give notice to the hackers, the spammers, the complete and utter gits who feel the need to invade other people’s personal information and generally make the internet a pain in the derrière to navigate that we are trotting off tomorrow to get Kaspersky to lay some smack down on their bottoms! “Bring it on you nasty little reprobates…we will be ready for you!” Just a quick note, we now HAVE Kaspersky locked and loaded onto our trusty PC steed and I have to say, it actually makes our PC run faster! “Bring it on invaders…we have brought in the big guns!”

DSCF3090

A shameless photo of Earl indulging in the demon liquor! I am sorry to say he LOVES IT…

DSCF3249

He might be hung over but he is MOST interested in this interesting package that I received this morning…I am not going to open it till my birthday. Thankyou from the bottom of my little black ducky heart Christi and Keith. If it is what I think it is, I am going to treasure every single spoonful down to the last. I will run my finger around the jar when it has been completely spent of its hallowed contents and I will treasure the jar along with it’s fellow countrymen. I could almost amass a tiny army of them and I love each and every one :). Hugs and love from your twin in Sidmouth and I can’t wait till my birthday breakfast…guess what I am going to have on toast? 🙂

On a sadder note, Pingu is no longer with us :o(. Pingu was Steve’s little hen that he rescued from certain death when he found her almost lifeless as an abandoned chick in the outside chook compound. He used a hairdryer to warm her and then raised her in his music room. She was never entirely normal after that and Earl tried to dispatch her 3 times. She was always living on borrowed time and spent her days scurrying out of the way of the other hens and wandering around near the back gate trying to work out how to get back inside where the warm light was and the free grain. She met a most sad and ironic death at the hands of someone who has been dead for 3 years and therein lies a tale…

DSCF3225

Steve doing his level best to look like Sid Vicious whilst tempting Earl with his favourite fruit “eggs”. Note the view that I have out my window. It’s not hard to get Steve to do the dishes 😉

DSCF3226

Earl will do tricks for eggs. Bezial is sitting nicely in the hope that good behaviour is going to get HIM an egg and Steve is attempting to be a teapot apparently…”Love that hair babe! Who needs hair gel when you can have wallpaper paste instead? ;)”

3 years ago my father died. My father was a conundrum of a man. He was bolshie to the core and proud of it. He was erasable, he was ornery, he was just about every kind of irritating and frustrating at times but his worst quality was his abrogation of responsibility. Dad knew he had cancer when he purchased a young vital Curly haired retriever that he named Milo. He knew that he wasn’t going to last till Milo passed away and just assumed that Steve and I would take Milo on when he died. He told us that we were going to inherit Milo and as the child of a bolshie man, I felt the need to put my foot down and make it known that if we wanted a dog, it was going to be OUR choice of dog and not dad’s! Bezial was purchased, in part, to stem the tide of “Milo”. Dad, being dad, spent his days alternating between indulging Milo and yelling at him. Milo, being the bone headed mutt that he was had NO idea what was expected of him and so ended up confused, neurotic and more than a little irritating. When dad died some “friends” who owed dad a lot of money came out of the woodwork and said that they would take Milo. We thought that it was because they thought it was a way to pay him back for the money that they owed him but we have since found out otherwise.

DSCF3196

Some of the ingredients chosen to make vegan Bibimbap a Korean dish that I LOVE.

DSCF3191

I home dried those large regular mushrooms from the stash that I got ages ago in our mushroom compost. The other mushrooms are cloud ear fungus. They add a delicious crunch and some nutrition to any dish that you add them to

Dad was in the habit of “promising” people things…dropping little hints about how wealthy he was and how he would “see you right” and this resulted in him picking up vultures like ticks. He had a “girlfriend” who evaporated like so much smoke after he died but who was armament (before he died) that he absolutely positively HAD to marry her because she adored the ground that he walked on… he also had some fair weather friends who stuck like glue to the honeypot and who were loath to give up their free source of money. Unfortunately for Milo, the people that took him were the worst of the bunch. We think they thought that dad was going to leave money in his will to take care of Milo. He was locked in an outside garage for 3 years and only let out on very rare occasions. Every time he was let out he would return here and Steve would put a leash on him and take him back. The woman who took him never seemed to have a problem with that until exactly 3 years to the day after dad died and Milo started making repeat appearances on the property within days of each other. Steve took him back and the woman screamed at Steve to “Get off my property!” and “He only goes to your place because you feed him!” and other such crazy talk. Steve was gobsmacked to say the least because every other time she just took Milo back. It would seem that they have suddenly realised that there isn’t any money in Milo. They have also apparently stopped feeding him. He is rake thin and starving. He has been up to our property 7 times in the last month and after Steve’s screaming match with the woman I have been taking him back. I got screamed at too but I told her that I didn’t want to fight with her, dropped Milo off and just walked away from her mid tirade.

DSCF3197

The reconstituted cloud ear fungus along with a plate with tofu, thin sliced veggies, reconstituted regular mushrooms and some bamboo shoots in chilli oil and some fermented tofu. Just a note folks…take it VERY easy if you ever decide to walk on the wild side and try fermented tofu. It’s a most definite “acquired taste”. I think it might be a cold day in hell before I eat it again!

DSCF3203

My daughters have sauces that they purchased from a local Asian supermarket for their bibimbap but I didn’t have any so decided to wing it. I did have gochujang, the Korean chilli sauce that adds delicious spicy piquancy to everything that you use it with and so added ginger, garlic etc. to make my own. Here’s a link to a good recipe for Bibimbap sauce if you would like to make your own…

http://www.food.com/recipe/kochujang-sauce-190227

The last time that I took him back she threatened to call the police on me if I came near her property. Hard to bring “her dog” back when I can’t go near her property and it became more and more obvious that she was attempting to get us to take over responsibility for Milo…to deal with a problem that she no longer wanted. Milo is a lovely dog. He is pure bred, he is handsome, he is now incredibly well behaved and he walks amazingly well on a leash. He would make some family a stunning pet. I walked home from my last altercation with “the fishwife” and called the police myself. The advised me not to take Milo back and to call the ranger. We associated “ranger” with pounds and dogs being put to sleep and we didn’t want to go down that road so we tried to take Milo back as close to her house as we could get without being seen and release him. It didn’t work. Why would he want to go back to being locked in a shed with no food? On Saturday at lunchtime we were working inside when Earl went ballistic. We know Earl’s “Milo alarm” sound and Steve sighed…

DSCF3229

This is a metre long home made sausage. It is also part of my kitchen but the sausage is the star. That tiny little “thing” next to the metre long sausage is Steve’s idea of a bit of fun. He filled the remaining sausage casing with water and kept leaving it around where I would find it…nothing like an adolescents sense of humour to keep the spark in your relationship 😉

DSCF3234

The sausage rolled up in the style of boerwors sausage…note Steve’s “rubber Johnny”…sigh…

We had also been advised over the telephone, by a lawyer to not take Milo back and to see if he would go back himself. We waited, hostage, inside with our dogs for 3 hours while Milo roamed around the property eating old dead wallaby bones out the back and sniffing all over the place. We felt frustrated and upset by the whole situation and suddenly Earl started to bark at the back door and Steve headed over to see what the commotion was all about. The last we saw of Pingu was Milo carrying her off in his mouth down a pathway on the property :o(. We raced outside but he was gone and by the pile of feathers outside she was dead. He had apparently taken another hen as well because there was another pile of feathers in another area so I looked at Steve and said “That’s IT!”. It takes a fair bit to get me really angry folks. I dabble in minor explosions but when my ire is truly up I make Vesuvius look tame. Steve knows better than to say anything and just grabbed his jacket and followed me out the door. We were most of the way up the road (on foot) when our friend’s partner drove up behind us and after we had explained what happened, decided to drive us up to deal with the fishwife. For a while she refused to come out of her house, then she saw our friend and decided that as we had witnesses she wouldn’t go down her usual screaming track and instead headed back inside her house and slammed the door…it was ON!

DSCF3239

Steve cutting the casing from the end of the boerwors style sausage that he is just about to cook for his tea

DSCF3240

After skewering the sausage to ensure it didn’t manage to get out of the oven it ended up being very tasty. We will be experimenting with making different kinds of sausages from now on. They are much cheaper and better quality than regular supermarket or butchers sausages and you can customise them however you like. This variety had Asian flavouring with chilli and mixed herbs and Steve gave them his (fussy) tick of approval 🙂

We headed back home where we detained Milo in our shed. We then called the police and were amazed when they sent someone around! He headed off to the fishwife’s home but strangely and most curiously, there wasn’t anyone in (although we had been there not 10 minutes before 😉 ). He then told us that we were within our rights to contain Milo and that he would phone up the on call ranger to come and get him. Steve and I looked at each other but by now it was too far gone for us to stop Milo being taken to the pound. We know that this is EXACTLY what the fishwife wants. She wants to not only be abrogated of responsibility for Milo, but to make it “our fault” that he gets put down. She didn’t factor in the ranger being an animal lover. We got a call from the ranger at 4pm. He told us that he would pick Milo up the next morning and that we could feed him and keep him in our shed. Steve headed out with a big bowl of dog biscuits that our dogs won’t eat (too fussy) and Milo scoffed them down in 10 seconds flat. It was very sad to see and we don’t blame the poor dog for killing our chooks…he was starving.

DSCF3208

My new kettle. The old one was threatening a melt down and this one has a very thick base and a whistle that is more melodic than manic. I LOVE IT 🙂

We talked to the ranger and filled him in on the situation and the next morning he turned up at 9am at the bottom of the drive to pick him up. Steve and I were waiting with Milo on a lead. He kept looking up at us and licking Steve’s hand. We felt awful. When the ranger arrived he told us that as Milo was micro chipped to dad (the fishwife was stupid enough to get his rego changed but too lazy to fill out forms to have the microchip changed into her name) that officially he didn’t have to contact the fishwife and could go to plan B. He said that after 5 days in the pound that Milo would be sent to the RSPCA for rehousing. That made Steve and I VERY happy. It’s what should have happened 3 years ago but for the greed and avarice of a false friend. To ensure that the fishwife didn’t reclaim Milo (which she is apparently entitled to do) he is going to wave a series of prospective fines at her for allowing her dog to roam unlicensed that should eventuate in her signing Milo over to the ranger rather than torturing the poor dog more than he has already had to endure. We refused our right to complain about Milo killing Pingu and another hen. If we had, he would have been put into a different category. As far as we are concerned, he did it because he was starving and who knows what we would do if put in the same situation?

DSCF1506

I just found this picture that I took of some gochujang, the paste that I use to make Bibimbap sauce. Just thought you might like to see it so that if you want to give this dish a go for yourself you can

DSCF1509

Another Korean paste made from miso and flavoured with garlic, spring onions and sesame seeds. It is really delicious and adds a lot of flavour to healthy Korean dishes

The ranger drove off with Milo and is going to keep us informed of the situation. It turns out that not only is the ranger a very nice, animal loving man, but he comes from Devon in the U.K., his father was from Liverpool (Steve’s home-town) and he lived in Western Australia (MY hometown) for many years. We had a lot in common and that certainly helped to grease the wheels for looking out for Milo’s welfare. I can’t believe that someone would be able to disregard the life of something in order to get money. I know it happens. It happens every day. My father inherited a lot of money from his partner when she died and he managed to fritter a most of it away on fair weather friends and a series of useless causes. It was his right to do whatever he wanted with his wealth but it did nothing towards making his life happy. His money ended up being a milestone around his neck because he didn’t realise that money is a means to an end, not something to be held in high esteem and used to affect power over other people. It always ends up turning around and biting you. It’s easy to say that from a penniless student hippy point of view. We don’t have money and so it is easy to negate its importance. When money buys you fishwife you would be better off without it folks! The huge irony is that despite Earl getting hold of Pingu 3 times and plucking her within an inch of her life, she always managed to get away. It took dad’s dog from the past to take her out. She was officially unscared of dogs thanks to Bezial roaming free with me in the mornings and not bothering the chooks. She would peck at seed and he would sniff her. The last time I saw Pingu she was trotting along next to Milo at the side of Steve’s shed, oblivious to her fate. I hope it was quick :o(. I found some feathers on the pathway down to the front gate. I brought them back with me and put them into my feather stash that I have on the deck. Pingu finally made it posthumously back into the fold.

DSCF1614

A tray of homemade potato wedges…potatoes go hand in hand with winter…note the “sampled” spud over to the left 😉

DSCF1761

Bezial pretending to be fast asleep so I will leave him alone. Winter is a great time for dogs to laze around on rocker recliner chairs next to the fire…it’s a dogs life here folks!

That’s about all I have to share with you today folks. As I mentioned, aside from Saturday, it was a manic week spent scratching out cells on videos and scratching my head trying to work with technology that is more bolshie than I am. Have a great week and see you next week where I might share the 10 second video that Steve took 3 solid days to make.

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.

DSCF2363

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 😉

DSCF2388

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

DSCF2362

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.

DSCF2378

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

DSCF2384

My serve before the girls added beef mince to their portions

DSCF2390

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!

IMG_2205 copy

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

IMG_2204 copy

And here is an artistic shot of the tins…

IMG_2209 copy

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

IMG_2211 copy

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).

DSCF2397

Some more of my daughters pantry cupboards…

DSCF2398

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

DSCF2404

The noodle cupboard…

DSCF2409

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…

DSCF2417

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

DSCF2410

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 🙂

DSCF2437

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!

DSCF2449

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.

IMG_2191 copy

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

IMG_2195 copy

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

IMG_2212

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

IMG_2200 copy

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.

Hava nagila!

Hi All,

Aside from being a most catchy song that I have NO idea what the words are and would no doubt make a fistful of Jewish people collapse hysterically laughing on the floor should I EVER be stupid enough to attempt to sing my erstwhile version in their close proximity, the name Hava Nagila means “Let us rejoice”! I have SO much to rejoice that I often feel guilty for having the odd whinge about how rocky our soil is and how many weeds we have here on Serendipity Farm. I just got back from a visit to my daughter’s home in Launceston. I had a really great time with them both and we spent a large proportion of the time that we had together cooking. My daughters are amazing cooks. Neither of them has ever studied technique or worked in the industry but they are very adventurous and tend to pair some very interesting ingredients that I would never think could possibly work together but incredibly…they do! The first night we had chilli. I had vegan chilli made with some ingredients that I had brought along with me (oh ye of little faith! 😉 ) and it was delicious. I think there is still a bowl of it in the girl’s fridge and I am sure that they will find something creative to do with it. On night 2 we had an amazing feast. The girls have recently become enamoured with all things Korean and had purchased some Korean cookbooks and some mixed cookbooks with Korean recipes in them. We decided to have a go at some of the recipes and ended up spending a marathon 5 hours preparing and cooking 12 dishes that were all amazing and that teamed up to make an amazing feast. We made cucumber salads, spinach side dishes, 3 different kinds of “pancakes” ranging from a very normal pancake type batter topped with spring onions (which we couldn’t buy at the local shop and had to sub the next best thing…leek…so from hereon in, wherever I specify “spring onion” you will have to insert “leek” 😉 ) and chillies through to a very inventive recipe using dried split green peas (which we couldn’t find in their local small supermarket on the day we wanted them but found the day after…go figure!) and rice cooked together then pureed and combined with various finely sliced vegetables and cooked like pancakes. The girls eat meat and so made some rice balls filled with smoked salmon and avocado which are technically not Korean and were based on a Japanese recipe BUT they were amazing and I had oyster mushrooms, pickled ginger and avocado in mine. They also had some marinated Korean chicken drumsticks and a pork dish that I can’t quite remember what it was but it looked good. We ended this marathon degustatory event with some simple but incredibly delicious yeasted pancakes that looked more like doughnuts without holes and that were stuffed with crushed palm sugar, roasted peanuts and cinnamon and that were amazing.

12120005

Steve says that this truck is a transformer…the only thing that I can see it transforming is an empty space into a space full of wood chips…

12120008

Another “Steve” shot…apparently this is ANOTHER transformer…I think we are being overrun by them!

DSCF7150

Right behind a new estate in Exeter are the remains of an old abandoned orchard. Steve, Bezial, Earl and I went exploring today and found all different kinds of apples, pears and even a nectarine tree out in the open and just waiting to be scrumped by possums and wayfaring Sidmouth Scrumpers

DSCF7155

By the look on his face, this scrumper has had enough of wandering around old abandoned orchards and wants to return to the civilisation afforded by 2 streets back to the main street 😉

On night 3 we could have been forgiven for having something very simple but not us! We went the way of the home made pizza. The girls used a cookbook that mum had given us last year full of homemade pizza recipes and as I have had more experience cooking with yeast, I made the dough. We made 3 batches of dough because we made a pizza for Steve (because he had obviously been a bit jealous of our cooking exploits over the weekend) and one for the girl’s dog Qi who has an adventurous palate for a dog and who gets very interesting meals. The girls made an almost “regular” type of pizza topped with chicken, a spicy hot salami, pine nuts and “other things” that I didn’t really notice as I was busy slathering tomato paste on pizza bases and ensuring that the cheese flow kept going. They also made an interesting combination of prawns, chicken, various other things (again…applied while I was otherwise occupied so I would only be speculating about exactly what went on) and coconut. I don’t think that Beth was enamoured of this pizza but Madeline seemed to like it. Qi got a meaty pizza and Steve got his favourite things (hot salami, chicken, onion, capsicum, chilli, mushroom and vintage cheese) and he has stashed it in the freezer for a delicious quick meal for the coming week when we have to finish off the chook pen and are too knackered to cook (smart man! 😉 ). I typed out lots of recipes from the cookbooks that the girls purchased and they gave me a couple of CD’s by a Korean band called Winterplay that do some really good covers of popular songs and I will be listening to them whilst trying to wade my way through my 1000+ rss feed reader blog posts that struck terror into even my seasoned mass blog reading heart when I got up this morning. If you would like to hear them and check out just how good this band is you can hear them covering “Don’t know why” a Norah Jones hit and can see why I really like them

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OVhzK01Jmq4

That’s my bit for spreading the love people…I would have NEVER heard of this wonderful band if it hadn’t been for my adventurous daughters and their adventurous palates…it’s time spent like the weekend that I just had that reinforce the value of family and of simple time spent together. No matter how ragged or crumpled your family is, it’s the closest thing to “you” that you have. Spend time with your children…spend time with your parents…heal those wounds (if there are any to heal) and get back together with the people that really do matter the most, your own flesh and blood and the people that will tell you the truth (sometimes with great gusto 😉 ). I love you girls and can’t begin to thank you for that wonderful weekend…even Bella Lugosi in Chandu the Magician, a 1932 movie that we watched to fill the Bella free zone that Beth needs to quench on a regular basis. We even watched Lilo and Stitch which I really hadn’t watched before and that I enjoyed disproportionately to what I thought that I would. I especially love this drawing that was on the fridge and that we have used as a family in joke for years without me even having watched the reference for this joke…

http://tinypic.com/view.php?pic=2vmiiw4&s=5

In a word, I did all sorts of things that I don’t usually do. I adjusted to Madeline’s stringent washing up rollcall and exactly how to put it back where it goes…I slept with Qi and learned how to contort my middle aged body into the human equivalent of a pretzel to accommodate her desire to spread out over as much of the bed as she could possibly take up and I adjusted my getting up time to fit in with the girls going to bed time. Who would have known…a change really IS as good as a holiday :o)

DSCF7159

Stage 1 of banksia flower development…

DSCF7160

Stage 2…

DSCF7161

and finally stage 3

DSCF7165

If you can avert your eyes from the insect nuptuals going on towards the top of this shot (I can’t pinpoint it exactly for you because I am averting my eyes!), this is a bottlebrush flower

Peter Cundall, Mr organic garden show ABC television presenter himself and who lives not too far away from Serendipity Farm told us that this was going to be a bit of a stinker this summer in Tasmania. Stinker as in heat…not as in smell. I tend to agree with him because things run in cycles and they tend to be 4 yearly in Tasmania. We have mild years and hot years and this just so happens to coincide with our first year in Tasmania where our first full summer was a real eye opener because we thought that we were going to be cold and we discovered just how hot it can be here and our first winter was so cold we got chilblains and didn’t even know what they were.  We are more aware of the seasons here now and know it is going to be hot when we start seeing the cicada husks stuck to the
grass. This year we can hear them getting the band tuned nice and early and by the time mid-summer gets here they will have coordinated themselves into a wall of united stomach rasping. We won’t see them for at least 4 more years because their life cycle takes that long for them to reach adulthood and emerge from under the ground. At least the native birdlife get a “Hava nagila” moment of their own with plenty of free clicking protein for all!

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

DSCF7168

Aside from me looking like I am doing some sort of a sailors hornpipe dance you can begin to get an idea of how lucky we were to get not 1 roll, but 2 of these rolls of ex-fish farm netting. There are about 50 more of them up for grabs and we will be putting our hands up for as many rolls as they would like to let us have. We have also removed that blue rope and are storing it in Steve’s shed for posterity…(I think “posterity” is like “hoarding” 😉 ).

DSCF7169

Looking back the other way towards the house. We will get 4 x 2.5 metre x 20 metre lengths of this netting that should be enough to enclose our wayfaring chooks and keep them from digging halfway to China in their endeavours to have dustbaths all over Serendipity Farm

DSCF7173

One of the Brachychitons that we liberated from anarchy and chaos earlier in the year that hadn’t flowered in years and that is absolutely covered in flowers this year. Now all we have to do is pull all of that dead dodder from around it’s leaves and it might stand a chance of surviving for a few years more

DSCF7208

A cicada husk…one of many (it’s going to be a noisy Christmas this year on Serendipity Farm!)

DSCF7211

A close-up of garnet particles used to sandblast the Batman Bridge before it gets repainted

DSCF7214

Christmas wreath (and all sorts of other project) futures!

DSCF7218

Harvested willow…the rest is up to me!

It’s suddenly Wednesday and after heading over to Exeter to send Steve’s mum a calendar and pick up some library books and giving the dogs a good walk in the process we spent the day productively by measuring one of the large rolls of ex-fish farm netting that we got a little while ago. We were told that it was 20 metres long by 10 metres wide and after measuring it we think it’s probably a good estimate. We should have enough in a single roll to complete our chook shed reno and the other roll can be used to fully enclose our vegetable garden. We have been promised more of this precious commodity in the near future and we are going to get creative with it and use it to protect our small possum weary orchard and other areas that we don’t want the possums to invade. We cut a 2.5 metre wide strip from the first roll using the knives that we bought for grafting. We haven’t grafted much with them but we have at least used them for something! In the process we liberated 20 metres of strong thick nylon rope and tomorrow we will liberate 20 metres more. No idea what we are going to do with all of the rope but you can never have enough rope out in the country ;). After we finished cutting the rope from the netting we folded the netting up and set it aside…part 1 of the chook shed. By the time we finish we will have 4 x 20 metre long segments that we are going to attach to poles that we have already installed where we want to re-educate our chooks into who is the boss around here. It was getting pretty warm under the hole in the ozone layer that is our bright blue sky here in Tasmania so we headed off to put some stakes into the veggie garden to hold our rapidly growing tomatoes and prevent them from lying against the bird netting and being nibbled by waiting varmints. I guess the varmints are pruning the wayfaring branches for us but for now, they have been trussed up and the varmints are going to have to wait. I took a few photos of how our vegetables are going and it’s amazing to see how quickly vegetables will grow when you give them enough sunshine, food and water. The only thing that grows faster is the weeds :o(

We headed over to the East side of the Batman Bridge where there is a free camping ground and a large willow tree just waiting for clever locals to harvest to collect some willow canes to make our Christmas Wreath from. I had a bit of an altercation with a local redneck who had been racially abusing some Chinese tourists but nothing that Earl and I couldn’t handle ;). I heard on the news today that 52% of Tasmanian year 8 students are not able to meet the benchmark for mathematics. That joins our dubious honour of having 1 in 2 native born Tasmanians who can’t read or write adequately. Education needs to be pushed hard in this state. I guess it has worked to our politician’s advantage, up until now, to have an uneducated and unquestioning public who leave politics to the “experts” but now that the forest industry is on the verge of total collapse it is rapidly becoming obvious that most Tasmanians are ill equipped to do anything other than cut down trees with chainsaws and a subclass of bored, unemployed rednecks is going to be a significant problem for tomorrows politicians and the heinously understaffed police force that was cut to the bone recently in a vain attempt to reign in the budget deficit. I sometimes feel like banging my head on the wall when I (stupidly) watch the local news. I am not a particularly politically motivated person but blind Freddy could see just how inept and self-serving our politicians are and the really REALLY scary thing is that there isn’t any viable alternative for us to vote for. It’s equally as scary how quickly I can turn rabid whenever I consider our endemic politicians so I might just stop RIGHT THERE for today :o)

DSCF7182

Some Serendipity Farm “Yellow Nugget” cherry tomatoes

DSCF7188

One bed staked…

DSCF7189

and the other…

DSCF7184

Can anyone “splain” to me why this tomato plant seems hell bent on only growing horizontally? Nick (our ex-long suffering lecturer) took a most entrepreneurial view of our crazy tomato predicament and said “save the seed…make sure it stays true to type and only grows horizontally and then sell it for vertical and hanging baskets…make a fortune!”…cheers Nick, but I think you have us confused for entrepreneurs rather than lazy bums…(our subterfuge worked! 😉 )

We are still getting used to having time on our hands to do things other than study. It has been lovely to get stuck into working around the house and we have even started using the calendar that comes with using Google as our home page to keep us moving in the right direction. I picked up Dawn French’s first fiction work today from the library and am going to give it a whirl around the dance floor and see how she twirls. I also picked up the cold climate permaculture book about Hepburn Springs by David Holmgren because I now have time to read it from cover to cover like it deserves. Helen, the library lady, had put a book aside about making your own beauty products for me. She sometimes sees a book that she thinks that I might like and puts it on the shelf along with my ordered books. Cheers Helen, I like the look of some of the recipes inside and goodness only knows I can do with a slather or two of natural unguents if they will lend me an air of respectability once in a while ;). We have a full week of sorting out the chook house and then finding homes for 20+ hens. If anyone wants some prime year old egg laying (if you can find them 😉 ) hens, let me know. I had entertained giving them the chop and filling our freezer but entertaining and doing are 2 very different things. Roosters can be rationalised but hens in their prime cannot. After we make the chook coop we will be hurling ourselves headlong into all sorts of projects that we isolated from our Tuesday meeting where we had a bit of a confab about what direction we wanted to go in (preferably forwards) and how setting a few goals might actually cause us to follow through on a few of our plans.

DSCF7191

The rocket, lettuce, perpetual spinach, capsicum and chilli bed

DSCF7192

Not too sure what you do with perpetual spinach but at least we have one! 😉

DSCF7198

Aren’t lettuces pretty?

DSCF7193

Can you see the adventitious little tomato plant that grew from last years compost placed reverently in this garden bed? We think that it is one of Wendy’s lovely heritage tomatoes and it has a sibling in the next bed going great guns. I will let you know what they turn out like…by the way there is an aphid on the tomato…it won’t last long because the veggie gardens are seething with little lizards that seem to be doing a sterling job on cleaning up the tiny grasshoppers that have been attracted to the veggie garden like moths to a light. A fine example of integrated pest management at it’s finest 🙂

It’s time to think about posting this post now and after I do, I will head up to the veggie garden and will pick some mushrooms, some lettuce, some rocket and some spinach to make Steve a side salad to go with his evening meal. Living close to the ground is about as rewarding as it gets and I am going to have to get pretty close to the ground to harvest that lettuce! See you all on Saturday when we may just have that chook yard sorted out and I might just have some photos to share with you of some stunned looking enclosed chooks and Yin with his beak through the netting protesting his newfound confinement…Tasmania is a penal colony of old sir…get used to it! 😉

By the way…anyone who would like to have a chance to win Steve’s hand made spoon has 10 days to let us know. At the moment there are only 10 people in the draw and Earl thinks that they are pretty good odds. We have a lot more walnuts than “10” so please feel free to enter the spoon draw…only 10% of you want to win? Think of Steve’s pride! 😉

The Day that the Underpants Gnomes invaded Sidmouth

Hi All,

The nefarious Underpants Gnomes wallowing in a pile of pilfered underpants

I think that the underpants gnomes have invaded Serendipity Farm. There I said it! If you are not aware of the underpants gnomes (and that’s EXACTLY what they want you to be…) here’s a bit of background information about what they do…

We don’t just have ordinary underpants gnomes here (is ANYTHING normal on Serendipity Farm?!), we have the kind that sabotages your underpants to ensure that you are effectively nobbled. How do I know this? Because my underpants have suddenly all sprung their elastic and spend their time avoiding the task that they were designed to perform and avoiding my ample hips and choosing to attempt to cover my knees. Some of them are now a collection of holes being held together by a bit of cloth. I have 2 options at this point…I can start wearing Steve’s boxers OR I can use some of the bits of string in the back of the cupboard that I used to wear in a past life that were perpetually heading on an expedition to find my appendix that are waiting in solitary confinement to be used to tie up the tomatoes this summer. Neither solution appeals to me so I am going to have to bite the bullet and go underpants shopping because underpants and socks are NOT something that I will buy from a thrift shop. At least I am in the “normal” underpants range now and can have a bit of a choice other than enormous cotton nana knickers that go up to my armpits. I just want some serviceable underpants that stay up (preferably). I don’t need Hello Kitty represented on my nether regions and am more than happy to wear plain undies.  Does this say anything about me? I hope so!

Working on our model that we have FINALLY finished! You can see me measuring the place that we have to drill holes to nail in 1/5th scale nails that are TEENY!

Photo’s being taken of us having to use a punch to enable us to hammer (yes…that small silver thing is a hammer!) in the miniscule nails that we needed to use to achieve a true 1/5th scale. (Note to self…best get that bleach out pretty soon…)

The finished pergola…”Noice”! Seeing as this was a 1/5th scale model and it took us 6 weeks to complete (3 fortnightly visits)…if anyone wants us to build a full scale pergola it should take us approximately 3 years to complete…but it will be FANTASTIC! 😉

I discovered today, while Steve and I were looking for which saints were born on our birthdays (As you do…Steve has several and I have NONE!)…that there have been some semi famous people born on the day that I came into the world. The most famous of which was Neil Armstrong who professed to walk on the moon but many people would deny that. It’s all downhill after that…here’s the list…

  1. Neil Armstrong
  2. Marcia from the Brady Bunch
  3. The guy who wrote Hulk Hogan’s theme tune
  4. Pete Burns from Dead or Alive (we share a birthday AND???!!!)
  5. Evil Jared Hasselhoff from the band The Bloodhound Gang (Google it…apparently the roof is on fire…)
  6. Funkmaster Flex…

And last, but by no means least, someone who has 184 years to go till he is born…

Kevin Thomas Riley from Tarsus IV (Star Trek)

Now wasn’t that a good way to waste some of the time that I have left here on earth? I don’t THINK so! I shared this with you to show you that normal people are NOT born on the day that I was born… something happens in the time space continuum on this day every year to ensure that normality isn’t going to be an issue. (Pete Burns…REALLY?!!!). One of my dearest constant readers is also having her birthday soon. Kym has been one of my closest friends and was my best friend in high school. She shared her passion of Linda Ronstadt and John Denver with me and I shared my participation in drama class with her. We drifted away when we both headed to our capital city and headed off into different directions but met again not so long ago and now we have started back where we left off. Have a fantastic birthday Kymmy

This must be quite an old fashioned greeny/butter yellow grevillea because it was planted more than 20 years ago on Serendipity Farm. It must also be a very hardy grevillea because it has survived a total lack of water aside from natural rainfall along with a tree falling across it…not bad you tough little Aussie battler you and despite me not liking Australian natives much…this one gets to stay right where it is for as long as it wants to stay here.

As sad and slippy and ruinous as the gardens look at the moment there are little touches of colour and small waftings of heady scent drifting about in random corners of Serendipity Farm. This little patch of jonquils has decided to grow in the middle of the small second lawned area surrounded by overgrown hedges and the untamed heart of the garden. It’s hopeful little plants like this that keep me hurling myself into what is rapidly descending into a silty mire of mangled looking plants.

I am in love with kimchi. I made some the other day and placed it reverently on my bread proofing rack above Brunhilda and with the addition of miso and heat the fermentation process was speedier than usual and resulted in a nice quick kimchi with amazing flavour. I had some with rice tonight for my tea and I feel suitably chuffed with myself to add another skill to my bow. As you all know I LOVE being able to make things for myself and aside from my kimchi having quite a strong smell (it has a LOT of garlic in it…) I have a large jar of it in the fridge ready to consume at my every whim. Apparently a great way to speed up the process the next time I want to make it is to add a little of the old kimchi to the new batch (much like I added the miso knowing that it is cultured also). When looking for recipes to utilise my newfound kimchi wealth I found a recipe for Korean plain rice cakes that are actually little tubes of cooked rice flour that are used somewhat like noodles with kimchi. I have an interesting machine in the top of my pantry that was purchased years ago on one of my health kicks to make cold pressed juice. I call the machine “Little Pig” and to date it has made 1 batch of fruit mince, 1 batch of vegetarian sausages and about 1/16th of a glass of carrot juice and about 2 Supermarket bags worth of pulp in the process. This machine would be amazing for making these rice cakes. My daughters are way ahead of me with Korean food. They have been frequenting a little Korean grocery shop in Mowbray and are well versed in the delights of Korean food. I have limited myself to Korean red chilli paste and their amazing miso pastes that are delicious and I use like stock pastes. It’s about time I headed back and perused this amazing shop again. I have learned not to bother much with trying to work out what is contained inside these packages with Korean writing only and to head to the counter and show the Korean gentleman who shakes his head or smiles and nods as he knows that I am a vegetarian and don’t eat meat. He doesn’t understand much English and I don’t understand much Korean but we seem to have a good system going and I will continue to shop at this man’s shop because of the amazing array of products that pique my interest.

This protea is one of the shrubs that has survived on Serendipity Farm that seems to constantly flower throughout the year. Even the spent flowers are somewhat attractive, which is lucky because they are in NO hurry to evacuate their position on the shrub any day soon. They make lovely cut flowers if you are that way inclined but I would rather that they spent their days on their parent shrub feeling the sun and the rain on their upturned petals.

A small azalea that was, prior to a manic stint of vicious weeding, covered in blackberries and overgrown by ivy geraniums appears to be quite happy with its newfound ability to wave in the breeze

It’s now Saturday and I am sitting here wondering why anyone would pay for a weather service that doesn’t actually accurately predict the weather? A lot of taxpayer money goes to funding weather bureau’s and if you want an accurate idea of what the weather is going to be…in my opinion, it’s probably a good idea to stick your head out of the window. The weather report (last night) said “frosty mornings and 0C over night with fine weather for the next 3 – 4 days”…”All RIGHTY then!” says I and heads to the washing machine this morning before we set our on our walk with the dogs. 2 loads of washing later and all hung up nice and neatly on the line waiting for the sunshine and immediately after I put the last load of washing on to wash I headed out to try and get a little bit of early spring happening on Serendipity Farm for your voyeuristic enjoyment and what did I spy meandering down the river in a slow sprinkling deluge? RAIN! Not enough to totally saturate my washing but enough to set itself in, stop me from mucking out the chicken yard like I intended and too much to give me time race back and get the washing off the line…IF I paid tax I would be sorely tempted to contact the weather department and ask them for my money back! I raced my bale of hay into Steve’s shed in a wheelbarrow and could at least take some comfort that it remains snug and dry and ready to spread into the chook run after I remove the last nitrogen sodden tenant from its position under the perches. Yin is starting to spread out into some of the lower and upper regions of Serendipity Farm in search of human proof nesting sites. We found a nice little hen shaped nest tunnelled into a wild patch of Erigeron glaucus (seaside daisy) and upon closer inspection discovered a tell-tale white feather. Good try Yin…we are onto this one! I didn’t realise that seaside daisy’s other name was seaside fleabane? Perhaps that is why our dogs haven’t ever had a single flea since we moved here? Not that Bezial has EVER had a flea but if someone was going to pick up a nefarious hopper it would be Earl and he hasn’t ever had them either.

This little clump of Helleborus x hybridus (Winter Rose) has grown back most stubbornly amongst a pile of sticks that were left behind after a session in the garden. The same is happening all over Serendipity Farm as bulbs start to send their leaves up to the light and are having to detour around piles of debris and other things that weren’t there when they died back last year. I have to give them points for their persistence

Here’s a close up of these hardy little stayers that keep on coming back for more punishment

This lovely perennial goes by the name of “Stinking Hellebore”…I can’t for the life of me work out why because as far as my nose goes…and it’s a very well honed nose…it has no scent at all. Its one of the most hardy plants that I have seen around the property and will grow in places that look about as close to “Desert” as Tasmania can produce. I can only imagine that it likes the cold as otherwise it would run rampant everywhere it is so hardy.

Aside from being hardy and having striking leaves, Helleborus foetidus has very interesting flowers and is well worth growing in your garden if you want to ensure a year round supply of these attractive flowers

The tall tree-like Buddleia that I talked about wanting to identify in a past post is covered in flowers. I still don’t know what species it is but at least I can share a couple of photos with you. It has the most intense perfume somewhat like a Daphne odora but more citrusy. The wattle birds and other nectar feeders are all over it fighting for its fragrant elixir and I also discovered a Lonicera fragrantissima (lovely shrub honeysuckle) that has the most amazing scent growing in one of the lower gardens. I took some photos to share with you but mainly to remind myself that this sodden mass of broken twigs, mangled undergrowth and hacked vegetation has some promise for the future. I guess the saying “You have to break a few eggs to make an omelette” is there to remind me that it’s got to get worse before it gets better. The tiny little camellia that had been languishing underneath a pile of blackberries and a long dead tree that had fallen into the middle of it has finally flowered. I tried to take cuttings from this tiny little camellia when I was staying here a long time ago when dad was alive. I felt so sorry for this poor little plant that was surely on its last legs and it is certainly repaying me for its liberation from blackberry hell with its ongoing survival and it’s lovely flowers. We walked the dogs along the highway today for a bit of a change and headed down a side road and found a stall selling apples and Beurre Bosc pears. The pears were on special and after we got back to the car we headed back and picked up 2kg for $2. I love Beurre Bosc pears and these are particularly fragrant and taste like honey. I think I might make some pear muffins so that Steve can enjoy the flavour as he doesn’t generally eat fruit unless it is heavily disguised as “cake”. He doesn’t mind strawberries, however, which is just as well because almost every single tip rescued strawberry plant has grown. I was very surprised at how the tiny little budded bits have taken off but I must have found them at exactly the right time and now they are happily putting all of their energy into growing. I noticed that the 2 small pots of Australian native dendrobium orchids have both got flower spikes on this year. One of them, dad claimed to have climbed up a rock on an island in New South Wales and removed and transported to Tasmania. He said that it had a small blue flower so I will take some photos if it manages to produce a flower. The other one could be anything and was picked up from a small nursery in the states north for $2.

This Buddleia is situated in the middle of the untamed part of the lower garden. I know that it isn’t a regular Davidii and would love to know what it actually is. I think it might be an alternifolia. Let me know if you know what it is as it will definately make me a happy camper

Aside from being most happy to grow and flower in this tangled bit of wasteland in the middle of the garden this species is HUGE for a shrub. You can see the tops of the Eucalyptus in the background that should give you an idea that this is more tree than shrub

These little Bergenia’s are situated all over Serendipity Farm and a hardier little flowering ground cover would be difficult to find. The leaves are like cabbages and until I knew their botanical name I called them “The Cabbage Plant”…how horticultural eh? 🙂

A most hardy specimen of an unusual bush honeysuckle (Lonicera fragrantissima) that has a most delicious scent reminiscent of Daphne odora and well worth getting hold of for your garden

One of the small camellia’s that are starting to emerge in various parts of the garden all around Serendipity Farm

The little camellia that I had previously tried to take cuttings from that appears to be not only alive, but happy now that it has been liberated from its weedy prison

The little camellia in the previous photo has a lovely weeping habit and is certainly rewarding us with lots of flowers. 2 other small standard weeping camellias that I found under a large conifer are just about to start flowering and it will be interesting to see what their flowers are like.

I have been hunting out some recipes in which to use the kimchi that I made last week. Steve is NOT a fan of the product or the delightful garlicky scent that has started to emanate from the fridge whenever he heads there but I love it. I discovered that Sandor Ellix Katz, the author of the book that I found the recipe for my kimchi has 2 other books and have added all 3 books to my birthday list. The first of his books is more mainstream and talks about harnessing cultures to use in making bread, cheese, beer and wine. The second is the “Wild Fermentation” book that I have from the library and this one delves slightly more into the world of weird fermentation. His latest book called “The Art of Fermentation” heads all over the place and doesn’t actually give recipes but more guidelines to using ferments to create and experiment with. I think that where you live can often have a direct impact on how successful your ferments are. If you live in San Francisco, you can pretty much guarantee that you are going to grow yourself a hearty and most delicious sourdough starter whereas you may not have all of the luck in the world in Antarctica. Sometimes you have to find a source of your desired culturing agent like kefir grains or a kombucha Scoby (mother) but occasionally you can just rely on the wild yeasts and bacteria that are just floating around adventitiously waiting to predate your unsuspecting foodstuff if you give them the right conditions.  One problem with using cultures to change raw foodstuffs into fermented goodies is that they tend to get very happy with their new environmental conditions and start to breed their numbers up. You only need a certain amount of sourdough, kombucha and kefir (for example) and once you get more you either give it to someone else who wants it or you throw it away. I hate wasting things and Sandor has given those of us frugal magpies out here an out. He has shown how to turn Scoby mothers (kombucha) into the equivalent of glace fruit! What an interesting idea? Not only do you not have to drop your faithful servant into the toilet and give them a nautical funeral whilst feeling as guilty as heck as you flush, BUT you are able to repurpose it into something that is not only good for you, but that you can add into cakes. The end result looks a whole lot like glace mango and apparently tastes like lemony apple pie. You can’t go wrong with that! When I get my books I will be concocting all sorts of interesting ferments. I want to make some beer from wort and make good use of cheap fruit and vegetables in the coming productive seasons and turn them into all sorts of fermented goodies and wine.

It’s 2.30pm and Bezial is barking furiously at me to make his dinner. The day that you get your dinner at 2.30 is the day that I become a mindless dog zombie servant and that day isn’t approaching any time soon meladdy! The trouble with having dogs that are used to living the high life is that they tend to keep pushing their boundaries. Earl has a problem staying in the back seat of the car and can be relied upon to inch his way slowly further and further into the front in his excitement to plank like a hood ornament on the bonnet of the car…Bezial has a similar mentality when it comes to food and will push his luck if he thinks that he can. Steve is constantly subject to seal eyes whenever he starts to eat anything. They tend to leave me alone as parsnip soup and steamed veggies don’t seem to have the same appeal as cheese sandwiches and chicken pies so vegetarians have SOMETHING going for them ;). I just finished hanging up my washing on the washing line and the rain has started again. I don’t really mind as I know that my washing will smell lovely when it does eventually dry. I haven’t played Zelda for 2 days (I sound like a recovering alcoholic!) now and am planning on going on a Zelda bender later on tonight (yup…game-aholic alright 😉 ). Steve has been messing about with his new phone and has discovered that aside from taking a halfway decent photograph, it can do some funky things whilst taking said halfway decent photograph. I will leave you to enjoy the rest of your weekend (some of you have more of it left than the rest of us…) with a few of Steve’s experimentations with his phone…

It would seem that an American African woman has stolen our dogs! A photo of yours truly in negative…not too sure…I might actually prefer myself in negative…

The entrance way to the Alanvale Polytechnic Block G (Horticulture) taken in “Solarise” mode

A similar photo taken in the same area using “negative” showing that even mobile phones can take a pretty interesting photo…at least it kept Steve from dying of boredom in the 5 minutes that it took our lecturer to get to our early morning lecture.