The New Costa and the U.K. Beet

Hi All,

Isn’t Christmas getting close?! I must admit we are a bit up in the air at the moment because my brother is supposed to be coming over Christmas with a friend but hasn’t told us when and as quintessential planners it is driving us nuts! We are in the process of relocating our chooks into their new enclosure and tomorrow they will all be inside the fence rather than outside looking in. It isn’t going to be easy for them and no doubt we will have some escapees that are going to have one of their wings clipped but today I took advantage of knowing that one of the feral chooks that remains (we gave 4 away recently) was clucky and her exact location so after putting up with a serious hen talking to I picked her up and deposited her in the new enclosure. I figure if anyone can find a chink in its armour it’s a clucky feral chook with a nest that she wants to return to. We are tidying up our woodshed and getting it ready for next year’s wood futures. After tomorrow I can start mulching the garden with the certainty that it isn’t going to be dug up directly behind me as I work. I have a love/hate relationship with the chooks and they are the most stubborn creatures under the sun! If they want to dig a hole halfway to China and spread dust halfway to Oklahoma they will! They only stopped digging the other day when they hit a buried dog bone and decided that it was time to start a new hole. After a year of learning to quash my frustration as they chooks defoliated, ate, dug up, scratched around and generally defiled my poor long suffering plants I find it hard to believe that pretty soon I may just be able to plant something will stay in the ground! Steve is whipper snipping the honeysuckle out the back that keeps trying to take over the world. So many dictators on Serendipity Farm! I wish that one of them would take the front running Napoleonic seat so that we could at least focus our efforts on a single enemy.


Some gratuitous “flower” shots to remind everyone in the North that it IS summer somewhere in the world 😉


A lovely Callistemon at our back gate in full  bloom relishing its newly cleared out status


One of millions of Erigeron karvinskianus (Seaside Daisies) that call Serendipity Farm home


A Stylidium gramminifolium (Trigger plant) in full flower taken on one of our early morning walks with the dogs

We have noticed a bird flying around that looked like a swallow and it landed on the deck the other day and Steve got a good look at it. He raced inside to tell me that it had a blue beak…time to Google that little sucker! In the process of identifying our new feathered friend which turned out to be a Dusky Woodswallow (Artamus cyanopterus) I found a fantastic Tasmanian blog about Tasmanian birds compiled by Alan Fletcher, a local man with a penchant for taking breathtaking photos of our endemic birdlife. It was very simple to identify our new friend using Alan’s wonderful site and after sending him an email to ask him for permission to use a photo from his site he graciously allowed us to do so and in return I urge you to head to Alan’s beautiful site to see just how special our native birds are. You can find a link to Alans blog and from there to his photo gallery above his photo. I loved his blog so much I subscribed to it :o)


Dusky Woodswallow (Artamus cyanopterus)


Physalis peruviana (Ground Cherry or Chinese Gooseberry) with the lesser spotted “Earl” underneath


Aeonium arboreum Zwartkop recovering from duck attack nicely


A little cactus enjoying it’s sunny spot


And this explains why Melaleuca linariifolia is commonly known as “Snow in Summer”…not sure what these little beetles are but they also love roses and banging themselves senseless on our windows at night

I am slowly working my way through my rss blog reader and have been finding some incredible posts. People are so generous with their information! I was looking for a way to make home-made banners of substance and style and found this shining beacon of a site that I now subscribe to…

Disclaimer: Do NOT go to this blog if you are likely to collapse into a sobbing wreck of a human being when faced with gorgeousness beyond belief, creative majesty to only wonder at and a severe dearth of anything…ANYTHING resembling we mere mortals normal lives. I go to this blog to see how the other half lives…it’s beautiful, it’s incredibly organised, its Pinterest ready and it’s my secret lusting station but don’t say that I didn’t warn you! Halfway down into this perfect post and I find that this lady reads! She is planning on tackling some novels for the second time and says…”They sit full of promise on my bedside table, and the anticipation of losing myself in them again is half the pleasure” Oh what a lucky woman! I have to hide my books in the spare room out of sight, out of mind where Earl can’t render them “snow” along with the rest of the couch cushions that live (quaking in fear) in our bedroom wardrobe and the overwhelming luxury of a stack of amazingly anticipated literature right at my fingertips let alone on my bedside table will remain a wistful fantasy until Earl loses his desire to chew, or his teeth…if I am being honest (and it’s STILL my year of living honestly…) even if I WAS able to run my hands over a stack of soul food…I would leap into the realms of my imagination and would manage a paragraph or two before I woke up with a crick in my neck and a most carefully and gently shredded copy of my latest paramour laid reverently and soggily in my outstretch hands an undetermined amount of time later…no more than I deserve!


A Psaltoda moerens (Red Eye Cicada) newly emerged from it’s juvenile skin sitting on a large buddleia leaf outside our bedroom window


You can see why they are commonly known as Red Eyes. After a few days their exoskeletons turn a very dark greeny black and they head off to join the clicking throng of their brethren in the trees

In another blog post I found this…

“The philosopher Diogenes was eating bread and lentils for supper. He was seen by the philosopher Aristippus, who lived comfortably by flattering the king. Said Aristippus, “If you would learn to be subservient to the king you would not have to live on lentils.” Said Diogenes, “Learn to live on lentils and you will not have to be subservient to the king.”

― Anthony de Mello

I really like this reflection on an interaction from a bygone era…it fits with my ethos of learning to live frugally, simply and in so doing, empowering our lives and allowing others to do the same. It delivers a fundamental message about which ferryman you want to pay and how you want to live in the process. I choose the lentils even though I am not overly fond of them because in choosing lentils I choose a degree of freedom and internal satisfaction that feeds my soul. I can align myself with the rest of the world and I don’t have to feel guilty about my choices in life but most importantly, I am able to learn how to effect a positive change in my own lifetime and feel like I am really living my life. That is something to aim for folks!


We are still harvesting mushrooms from our veggie gardens courtesy of the mushroom compost mulch


Check out the beets we grew! Steve made these into some pickled beetroot U.K. style (all vinegar and spice and no sugar) to grace our Christmas table next week


Bezial giving our home grown spinach his own special “seal of approval”! (I hope you washed that before we made gnocci with it last night Steve!)


My own personal vegetable gnome I found in the veggie patch :o) He thinks that he has a chance at beating Costa Georgiadis to the top spot on Gardening Australia…good luck babe…you might be cute but that beard needs a bit more “OOMPH!” before you become a serious contender 😉

Well today is walnut day folks! We will identify your possible ownership of Steve’s handmade Blackwood spoon and associate your hopes and dreams with a numbered walnut. We are going to attempt to video Earl selecting his chosen nut and one of us (the bravest…) removing it from Earl’s gaping maw in an effort to identify the number that he has chosen (he can have it back then!). This is your last chance to enter the draw to anyone out there who would like to enter. There are no conditions, anyone from any country can apply and the winner will receive a lovely handmade spoon in the mail some-time after Christmas. Today’s post is going to be a shorter post again because I have spinach gnocchi to make for Steve’s tea tonight. We are combining our desire to use leftovers (homemade bolognaise sauce) with vegetables from our garden (spinach) and make the most of our food dollars. Steve is enjoying all sorts of different food and hasn’t complained about anything that he has been served so the vegetable garden must be delivering quality veg. I noticed a plethora of little snow peas on their vines when I was watering today and will pick some when I am up collecting the spinach for the gnocchi today and I might just redirect the cucumbers from their determined efforts to scale the zucchini’s to the poles that we installed specifically for them to grow up. The tomatoes are covered in flowers but will definitely not be on our Christmas table but on the bright side, we will be able to grace our table with our very own home grown lettuce and salad leaves which makes it all the more special this year. It is a very interesting experiment and very rewarding to grow veggies. I recommend it to anyone. We have even started a new compost heap up near the veggie gardens in anticipation of needing a whole lot more compost in the future. I have plans for making strawberry beds and broad bean beds and have been contemplating sourcing some Jerusalem artichokes to set loose on Serendipity Farm behind the new chook pen. Before anyone tells me how exponential they go, I already know and I love it! :o). Who wouldn’t love sunflowers in spring followed by delicious knobbly roots in the summer…and who cares about the resulting sunchoke gas…we are descending into feral heaven on Serendipity Farm and we love it! :o). Another post down on Serendipity Farm in the middle of summer in the pouring rain. We just keep on saying “it’s good for the garden”…and you know what? It is! :0)…See you Saturday and good luck to everyone who has entered the spoon draw…


Here are your walnuts folks! Check your nut against your number below and note there are still more walnuts…sad…lonely…unmarked walnuts that could be graced with your own personal number…

Spoon Draw
1. Rabid little hippy
2. Spencer
3. Little sundog
4. Kym
5. Christi
7. Bev from Foodnstuff
8. Pinkus
9. Jean
11.8 acre farm
12.Chica Andaluza
14. Thinking Cowgirl

In the (highly likely) event that Earl picks more than one walnut his actions  will immediately force a redraw…lets just hope that Earl doesn’t think that this is enormous fun or this draw might go down as the longest prize giveaway draw in history! 😉 and are you feeling lonely there Pinkus? That’s because you don’t have a blog! 😉

Failure and how to learn from it

Hi All

I have taken to eating breakfast lately. The benefits of which were proved to me the other day when after a mornings repast of porridge and dates, my energy far outweighed Steve’s when we were working in the garden. In saying that…sometimes I get it wrong. I prefer savoury flavours to sweet things. It’s just part of my genetic makeup and I guess it’s nature’s way of telling me that there is more to life than sweetness and light. Today I decided to make a different breakfast. I am a HUGE fan of the Korean breakfast habit of congee. Congee is rice…boiled until it ceases to resemble rice and starts to resemble clag glue with little bits of “interesting” things added. Forget al dente all you aspiring gourmands out there…mush is something that the Korean’s and I both take delight in. I tend to have a problem with waiting for anything and food is no exception. Making congee takes time. I wanted instant gratification so turned to my standby grain of choice, rolled oats…I added a handful of some sort of fruit and nut mix in a jar that I have most probably had possession of for more years than I would care to be reminded of at this moment in time, a good shake of nutritional yeast and after pouring on some boiling water and allowing it all to steep till the oats had soaked up the water… I realised that I wanted a bit of a sweet taste in there after all…that’s when things went a bit wrong. I hunted in the fridge and cupboards for something to approximate the dates that I had run out of yesterday…”hmmmm what to choose…” and ended up putting my hand on a jar of French Chestnut cream. “Yummo…that’ll do ME” I said in my best Billy Connolly approximation of a Scottish accent…well…to say that it wasn’t successful may be something of an understatement. I ate it…because I hate to waste food. This brings me back to the title of today’s post and failure or “The big ‘F’”.



Fred is naked

Fred flintstone lost his cloths in a earl accident


I hate to fail. I hate the act of having to admit that I made a mistake or did something wrong. I would rather not try at all than make a mistake and this is where I have lost out. Failure isn’t something to be ashamed of; it’s the ONLY way that we learn. No-one ever learned anything from constantly succeeding. Think of Thomas Edison and how many times he tried to invent the light bulb and you will start to see that persistent faith in the face of abject failure is something to be applauded AND delighted in. So my breakfast tasted decidedly left wing today? So I probably gave my intestinal tract something to think about (and complain loudly about) for the rest of today. I learned that chestnut cream is predominately lemon flavoured and that it doesn’t go with nutritional yeast…point taken… lesson learned and let’s move on knowing a little bit more than we did before I failed. No-one likes to admit to having failed but again, aside from us (hopefully) learning something from our failed attempt at whatever we were doing, if we are honest enough and generous enough to share those results, we can help other people from making that same mistake that we just did. Old wives tales are full of lessons that were obviously learned by taking a chance and making a mistake. If we stay in our comfort zones we are less likely to make mistakes and fail, but we are also denying ourselves a chance to shine and do something worthwhile for ourselves and everyone else. Here’s to the persistence of inventors, scientists, doctors, physicist’s and humanitarians who didn’t listen to people saying that something couldn’t be done but who simply asked “why not?” and went about seeing for themselves. I am not one of those people who can be content with something because “that’s the way it is!” I like to understand the principals and the processes that are involved. I figure that I learn more that way and it becomes more pertinent to my understanding if I am aware of it all. I dare say that makes me a terrible student. I am constantly questioning everything and never take anything at face value if I can help it which makes me take a whole lot longer to learn something than if I just accepted it and moved on. Imagine having to teach me the principals of physics and trigonometry when theorem are just “accepted” and you can see how difficult that task would be!



A very nice pic of a Hakea. yeah i know we are not talking about hakeas but the shot is nice lol


We have decided that we don’t care if we are not the best gardeners in the world at the moment (note I refuse to ever rule that possibility out! 😉 ) but if we get stuck in and keep moving in the garden a gradual change for the better is somewhat inevitable. Today we lugged a pile of garden debris to the Exeter tip. Much like the trip to the Beaconsfield tip the other day, this one was coupled with picking up a bottle of stout at the local bottle shop to make some chicken, mushroom and stout pies, a well-deserved walk for the dogs and an adventitious dropping in event at the library. I didn’t actually have to pick anything up and I am currently reading a book by an American authoress (Willa Cather) called “My Antonia”. It’s a novel along the lines of the Laura Ingalls Wilder book “Little House on the Prairie” and is incredibly well written. It’s another book on my Mary Anne Schaffer book list and another Author to add to my secondary list to read more of their work. I also have “Tuesday’s with Morrie” to re-read and no doubt spend some time desecrating a box of tissues in the process. What is it that makes me want to read books that I KNOW are going to make me end up baring my soul? I guess I have masochistic tendencies. This tip trip was most fortuitous because we headed straight to the tip and dumped our green waste with the rain clouds getting closer and the threat of an imminent downpour more of a prospect than we initially thought. As I was helping Steve pull the tarp out of the trailer in one fell swoop (we are getting good at this green waste dumping…) I noticed the unmistakable leafage of a strawberry plant on the ground next to my foot… I followed it back along its merry little green runner and discovered a large pile of strawberries that had been dumped in a tangle. There must have been at least 100 strawberry plants and never one to look a gift strawberry in the mouth I proceeded to load them back into the trailer. After asking permission from the tip man of course! Steve then noticed a big pile of phormium’s…the old fashioned larger flaxy type with some striking maroon foliage and striped foliage…dumped as well. The tip man waved his (rain free) arm magnanimously from his little tin hut and yelled out “go for it mate!” so I have again been forced to tackle my prior plant snobbiness regarding flax and anything “architectural” as these babies are going to look GREAT next to the front gate. After hunting around a bit more I found a few carex grasses  and a low lavender plant that were all subsequently tossed into the trailer and aside from my “city duds” being somewhat less clean than they were when I started loading dumped vegetation into the back of the trailer my horticultural (and frugal) happiness knew no bounds.


Flax Futures

We parked the car at the library and I headed in while Steve waited outside with the dogs. I couldn’t believe how many good books they had on the teeny tiny little shelves in what must be the smallest library in the Southern Hemisphere…I ended up taking out 12 of them! Steve has dutifully toed the line by getting a library card in his name when he would rather dance naked through a pub full of belligerent bikers than read a book. He did this because he loves me…he loves me and he realises that when I am eyeball deep in library books I have no time or inclination to wrestle the television remote control out of his hands and demand he stop watching his alligator catching pawn-shop shows so that I can watch something “educational”. With a trailer loaded up with free plants and 12 new fantastic library books I feel somewhat akin to someone who has had a win in the lottery. I feel positively rich! We walked the dogs, keeping just ahead of the roiling black rainclouds that were threatening to become incontinent in our near vicinity and on the way back to the car Steve started to feel his pockets in a curiously agitated way…”where are the keys?”(Steve) …”eh?” (me)…”when I gave you the keys to lock up the car when you were putting your library books into the car… what did you do with them?”…”hmmmm…resplendent with library books…rich in plant futures…thinking about taking photos…I guess I just left the keys on my seat and left  the car unlocked?” I most certainly did! We hurried back to the spot where we had left our unprotected car and found that living in a small country area has its benefits as the keys were right there, the car was still unlocked and nothing had been taken. I have already told Steve that I SUCK at multitasking and asking me to lock the car after I had processed several things in a row was most probably not going to result in me actually doing what I was asked…oh well…just like me expecting Steve to be patient and wait for me to “get ready” to go to town…me remembering to do things is most probably not going to happen on a regular basis so we should both just get used to it!


Emmmmm Thai curry pie And Chips

We picked up the stout for the chicken, mushroom and stout pies and a bottle of beer to accompany said pies and drove home in the pouring rain. I have to say that there is NOTHING like coming back to a nice warm house with an inviting warm fire to warm your hands and behind on when it is cold and wet. I am just about to get stuck into checking out those 12 most promising of library books before I make some shortcrust pastry for those pies. I went against EVERY single bone in my body and took out a couple of cookbooks by Matthew Evens, that (wanky) food critic who stole Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s ethos and transferred it to Tasmania to make a quick buck. I have a grudge against him to be honest as Hugh is my hero, but after flicking through his winter cookbook I have to admit to actually drooling over some of the hearty soul food included amongst the full page frosty photos of Tasmania’s freezing south. I took out Delia’s “Frugal Food”…several books about chooks… an “Earth Garden” book about using water in your gardens, a cookbook of recipes that famous chef’s apparently make when they are at home with their feet up and the equivalent of chef comfort food I would imagine…a no dig garden book… an American Test Kitchen book for “simple food” that I will probably only get a couple of recipes out of but “simple” appeals to me…A delightfully mumsy book called “From Mother to Daughter” exploring recipes, hints and tips that caring mothers should pass on to their daughters…my daughters actually read my blog posts now so here you are girls… mums hints and tips for you…


Left overs are good

  1. Don’t take any wooden nickel’s
  2. If it seems too good to be true…it probably is
  3. Make hay while the sun shines
  4. Never look a gift horse in the mouth
  5. Your mother is most probably not someone that you should attempt to gain familial traditional information from unless you want old sayings which she is stuffed full of!

Don’t say I don’t give you quality information girls! I couldn’t resist a book of food porn and sugar laden prospective thigh inflators in the Delicious magazine series called “More Please!”… I would tend to agree with that title because every single recipe looked like something that would generate a double helping request. Last but by no means least I picked up a book called “Salvage Style” that promises me that my garden and house will become a marvellous stylish delight thanks to some tenacious skip diving, tip hunting and a few nails and a bit of wood glue. Some of the projects (45 in all) actually do look like something that I would covet in someone else’s garden so perhaps we can put our winter rained in days to good use after all… I will keep you posted on that.

Reading other people’s blogs is both increasing my knowledge base and enriching my life. I recently discovered a really good blog called “Poor Richard’s Almanac” at the following site

And have just learned a whole lot more about Benjamin Franklin and some serious frugal homesteading and perspicacious gardening hints and tips in the process. Cheers to Silence Dogwood, Our friend Ben, Richard Saunders, OFB and not forgetting Silence’s black German shepherd Shiloh for enlightening, entertaining and delighting me in the process. I love waking up and checking out my rss feed reader to see who has posted and what they are up to. It’s great to meet and read about people who are challenging mainstream ideals and who are doing their own thing to their (and my) great satisfaction. Frugal hints and tips…little moments where we share what we know and someone on the other side of the world can learn from your failures or your successes. We can cheer each other on where otherwise we might be too scared or jaded to make a serious attempt. I noticed that Google has dragged us a step closer to taking away our ability to save information in our own homes by opening up their Google Cloud (pay) storage and printing “services”. You hunt down the information and Google (for Google read “middle men”…) will charge you to print out that information or store it in their vaults…hmmmm…how much longer will it be until Microsoft and Apple decide to stop making computers with hard drives…”store it all online folks…EVERYTHING…if you want to print anything out you are going to have to pay”… suddenly our free internet will become Google, Apple and Microsoft’s multi-million dollar profit maker and there won’t be any more “free internet” so that is why I am scouring the net for relevant precious little gems of knowledge and information to save us from future payments. No doubt there will always be an underground currency of information running parallel to mainstream pay/profit making corporations but this smacks of a massive great collusion and there is absolutely NOTHING that we can do about it. It’s as inevitable as night and day and we are all going to be railroaded into filling their coffers. We can’t afford to stash our lives online because we are leaving ourselves open to losing control of our freedom of choice and that is something that we should all be fighting for.


A peacefull morning on the river

I find myself typing out recipes from books…my latest marathon typing stint is in the form of a quirky book celebrating cornbread called “The Cornbread Gospels” by a most curiously named author “Crescent Dragonwagon”…methinks that this dear lady may have changed her name because if I reached the age of consent with a moniker like that I would be both suing my parents AND changing it by deed poll the second that I turned 16! It might interest those American’s reading this post that the rest of the world are almost exclusively unaware of your adoration and desire to turn cornmeal into a cross between a vegetable dish and a form of bread. I took this book out of the library because I am vegetarian and the book contains a very clever egg substitute using various types of vegetable starch that another vegetarian made me aware of. As someone who likes to make her own basic ingredients as far as practicably possible, being able to make my own home-made egg substitute that worked well is somewhat akin to me finding the Holy Grail. I tracked the book down at the library and after flicking through the book I realised that there was a whole world of “spoonbread” out there waiting for me to test. I am working my way through the pages and typing out those recipes that call to me. Another thing that most of the rest of the world don’t share with our fellow Americans is a distinct sweet tooth. I will be cutting down (indeed probably omitting) most of the sugar in most of these cornbread recipes. I tasted Hershey’s chocolate once and couldn’t believe how sweet it was! No wonder dentists drive around in Mercedes and live in Beverly Hills in the U.S.A! This brings me back to failures…I have spent a fortune on cookbooks in the past that promise me a close approximation of “normal” cakes etc. using vegan ingredients. I spent quite a few years as a vegan and am only not vegan now because I can’t stand milk free tea (and life without tea is no life at all…) and since I gave up soymilk because soy is not the answer to eternal life that they would have us believe, I was stuck with

  1. Give up tea…NOT AN OPTION!
  2. Give up soymilk and drink my tea black NOT AN OPTION!
  3. Go back to drinking tea with milk :o)

So being the stickler that I am, I can no longer consider myself a vegan despite my tea tipple being the only non-vegan inclusion in my diet. I guess that’s another fail Fran…oh well…life is full of failures… at 48 it is probably time that I got used to failure isn’t it? See you all soon and don’t take any wooden nickels guys… join the sceptics society like I did 😉

ok Frans away and i have control of the pictures to use here 😉