Narf7 loves bread

Hi All,

It’s 3.41am on a Sunday and I just made myself some chocolate pudding. I think I need to clarify something here…the intention wasn’t to deliver myself a bowl of breakfast but a drink. I opened the fridge up this morning and took out my non-dairy milk to make myself my first cup of tea. I opened the cap and took a sniff (a wise thing to do when you make your own milks with a much shorter shelf life) and realised that my non-dairy milk was starting to head for the dark side…not in a serious way, but in enough of a “way” to make my tea curdle. Tea is my early morning institution, it’s like some folk consider their bacon and eggs…their morning toast, their newspaper…it is sacred to me and to have it curdle on me wasn’t an option. I would save my first cup of tea till later in the day when I could make a LOT of noise using my Vitamix.

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Another lovely autumn sunrise on Serendipity Farm. You can see how chilly it is these days but isn’t it pretty?

What to do with my slightly sour scented almond and oat milk that remained? Turn it into a nice big mug of hot carob! I had a container of carob that was interlaced with a bit of raw cacao that the lady in the health food shop had managed to fandangle me into buying (never shop on an empty stomach folks!) and I figured I would just apply the cocoa techniques to the carob/cacao mix. Easy peasy! I tipped 2 tbsp. of carob/cacao mix into my smallest saucepan and I crushed it to a fine powder. I then added an equal amount of the non-dairy milk and I whisked the mix till it was smooth (who likes lumpy cocoa?!) and slowly added the rest of the non-dairy milk and a few scoops of whole date paste (my sweetener of choice) until the mix was nice and smooth and put it on top of the newly ignited Brunhilda and stirred. After about 5 minutes of stirring (Brunhilda stays slowly slumbering overnight ready to wake up at a moment’s notice) I had a pot of brown unctuousness ready to pour into a large mug and enjoy.

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Steve attempting to teach Earl to “stay”…doing good Earl…doing good!

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Bezial “pointing” to a wasp

I was smug! I managed to use up something that wasn’t all that good for much and turned it into a win! That was till I started to pour it into my mug and realised that when you use “almond and OAT” milk to make a drink, and you put it on the stove you end up with chocolate porridge. Don’t get me wrong folks…I am NOT going to waste it! I have a silky smooth form of breakfast oats that I never would have tried before that tastes pretty good but a morning “cuppa” it is not. Oh well…looks like Sunday is going to be an interesting day today! I look forward to exploring its eccentricities but for now I had best get me a spoon and eat my “cocoa”…

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We were getting tired of the possums using this bench to climb up, eat our plants, knock them over and steal the wren and cuckoo shrikes cheese while we slept so we rearranged the area. So far so good…there was still cheese on the window sill this morning!

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Earl teaching me a very valuable lesson…”when we go out…make sure to remember to use the head halter or you aren’t going to be able to walk with Earl and you are going to have to ski down the driveway”…consider this little black duck taught! 😉 In this shot, Earl’s lead is wrapped around the tree in the background so that I didn’t have to suffer the ignominy of being dragged down our steep driveway upside down to Steve’s feet at the bottom of the driveway…I don’t think I would have EVER lived that down! 😉 (and he had his new camera with him so you can bet he would have “documented it for posterity” 😉 )

My “cocoa” was such a success that I have started adding it to my regular breakfast line-up. I throw a handful of rolled oats, a few whole almonds (might get round to soaking them someday but for now they are just out of the freezer in their dry state) and a scoop or two of carob mixed with some raw cacao into my Vitamix and process them for a minute till they are like a fine flour. After that, I put them into a saucepan along with a couple of scoops of homemade date paste and start adding water slowly mixing to ensure I don’t have any lumps. After simmering and constantly stirring on the stove I end up with chocolate pudding porridge that appeals to the need for speed, nutrition hunting, comfort food seeking part of me and satisfies all three with great aplomb.

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Maples starting to really colour up and these brachychitons that were almost dead last year appear to be getting a new lease on life after we cleared out the weeds and debris underneath them

The title of today’s post is most fitting because bread was one of my soul foods back in the day. I could eat a whole loaf of fresh white bread slathered with butter, toasted and slathered with butter, made into toasted sandwiches slathered with butter…you get my drift ;). Today I don’t eat bread. I haven’t eaten bread since January when I started using green smoothies to mainline my nutrients and I haven’t ever felt better. Narf7 might love bread but I fear she can’t eat that fluffy white nutritionally defunct version of it anymore. So what can I eat? I can eat homemade good quality whole-wheat or multigrain bread and that’s where Audrey comes into the picture

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A shot of the terrible state of our driveway. It’s VERY lucky that we own a 4 x 4 because I dare say we would have to park at the bottom of the driveway and walk up if we had anything less!

I got Audrey from Jess of Rabid Little Hippy blogging fame. I have faithfully maintained Audrey, even though of late, she has only been out of the fridge for her 4 day feeding events (that seem to have stretched to weekly feeding events without much protest on her behalf). She has been incredibly faithful in her efforts and whenever I am ready to bake, she wakes up and rises (literally 😉 ) to the occasion. I have a mission. I have been stalking a most wonderful conglomerate of amazing bakers who get together to share the amazing bread that they have been baking called Yeast spotting. If you would like to check it out for yourself and are at all interested in the yeasty path of righteous baking, here’s a linky…

http://www.wildyeastblog.com/2013/05/05/yeastspotting-5-5-13/

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Steve took this “shroom’s eye view” shot of the Auld Kirk Church yesterday…just thought you might like to see it from a shroom’s point of view 😉

Each one of those 3 classifications of bread links will open up a plethora of passionate bread makers who are willing to share their magnificent creations with us all. I fell instantly in love with this blog and have been following a few of the bakers that regularly post. Ian, of the wonderful blog Mookie loves Bread, bakes some of the most amazing bread that I have ever seen. Aside from the amazing bread he loves cats and he finds the time to give his amazing bread the most fantabulous names. Who couldn’t love a blog like that? I have been ruminating about wanting to start baking “real bread” for a while now. I decided that as Brunhilda is going to be pretty much on the go 24/7 for our coming 6 – 7 months of Ice age (CHEERS LINNIE! 😉 ) that I may as well use this opportunity of constantly “on” ovens to learn to bake really good loaves of bread. I have been commenting on Ian’s blog for a while now as I drool over the endless line of gorgeousness that he produces on a regular basis and he has kindly offered to assist me with my baking processes should I run into any problems…who am I kidding! I am GOING to run into problems! 😉 Why start with the basic stuff? If you are narf7, you have a built in perfection valve and Ian appears to have that very same perfection valve because his recipes leave no room for omissions. A great place to start for a beginner and so I have decided to throw myself in at the deep end and attempt to make Ian’s amazing “Kamut-Turkey Whole Wheat Spelt Tomato Sour Dough Bread” as my very first proper loaf of bread. Here’s the link if you would like to check it out…

http://mookielovesbread.wordpress.com/2013/04/03/kamut-turkey-whole-wheat-spelt-tomato-sour-dough-bread/

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“Is it for me? is it? Please? Pretty Please?…”

I started preparing this loaf of bread 2 days ago. As someone who isn’t naturally patient (I can hear my children laughing out loud there 😉 ), this 3 day process to churn out a loaf of bread, certainly doesn’t come naturally to me. I think next year I am going to take up the word “patience” and run with it (or maybe “walk slowly with it” is more to the point 😉 ) but for now, good old impatient narf7 is going to have to muster up the serenity to go slow. I have the mashed potato ready for this recipe. I am raring to go and I can’t wait to see if I can bake anything like the gorgeous loaf that Ian made in this tutorial. I am prepared for disaster but my optimistic side says “go for it narf7!” so I am :o). Wish me luck folks. Today…I bake!

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Steve’s new paramour and accoutrements 😉

While I was rabidly hoarding recipes from the Yeast spotting site I came across another amazing blog. Zita, from Baking Badly does anything BUT bake badly. This young guy is a most amazing baker and his site is a study in list making, perfection and appealed to my inner experimental baker and my inner list maker at the very same time. How could you resist bread called “Pregels” a cross between pretzels and bagels…and not only does he show us how to make them, he perfects his recipe over 3 posts! Here’s the first pregel recipe should you want to drool all over your computer screen…

http://bakingbadly.com/2013/03/31/spiced-sourdough-pregels-pretzels-bagels/

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Steve’s “Old School” cameras and his new baby

The next 2 posts after this one are both about the pregel perfection process although if I could turn out pregels as amazing looking as Zita’s very first batch I would be entirely satisfied and would be baking them for the entire neighbourhood all puffed up with baking pride ;). After initially thinking that Zita was a girl and commenting as such, he forgave me my stupidity and has decided to help me through my sourdough stumbling’s anyway. Cheers Zita, you are a truly kind blogger to be sharing your amazing talent with us all. I think my next sourdough journey is going to be a nice big batch of pregels :o)

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Steve’s speed camera. He plans on raising some valuable (elusive) funds on Serendipity Farm by accepting bribe money from upset speedsters 😉

I am a camera widow. Since we started our new course Steve has been making rumblings about cameras. He is a camera buff from WAY back and it would seem our little Fuji S5700 wasn’t giving up the goods enough for Stevie-Boy. We recently got given a pittance by the government in a vain attempt to encourage us to vote for our current prime minister. Note the distinct lack of capital letters for such an esteemed position. I did that on purpose…sigh…I don’t even want to THINK about voting in 3 elections over the coming year and will probably be registering my very first ever donkey vote in my voting history because there just isn’t any candidate worthy of my vote :o(. The dribble of bribe money did, however, allow us to start a small side saving venture that we have been adding to each fortnight. Steve has been avidly studying camera review websites in an effort to isolate the very best entry level SLR camera possible for our purposes and last week stumbled over an amazing deal from Harvey Normans. I am not going to promote this shop here in my post or blog aside from this singular mention. Gerry Harvey is a racists, a bigot, and a consumerist money monger who I would rather drown than promote BUT his online shop managed to make Steve “SQUEE” last week and our carefully hoarded camera savings were able to get us a new Canon EoS 1100D a lot quicker than we thought that they would.

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One of Steve’s first photo’s taken with his new camera…note the tree in the background that STILL hasn’t fallen down!

The new baby arrived on our doorstep yesterday. Delivered by a courier, not a stalk, and the poor man stood there bewildered whilst Steve signed his bit of paper and the dogs gave him a magnificent rendition of the Halleluiah chorus from above on the deck all in barks.  After the poor man drove his van back down our approximation of a driveway (runnels included for free) Steve raced inside and fondled the large box that the camera came in. I could see that faraway look that men get when they get a new toy and knew instantly that Steve had left the building. I dare say he won’t be back for the next week. He disappeared outside with his new baby as soon as the battery charged and even read an online manual (the real one had writing that was too small…glasses time methinks Stevie-Boy!) so that should tell all of my female dear constant readers how serious this new love really is and he even found out where the “Q” button was…I have NO idea why he would think I could care less where the “Q” button was but it was apparently a small triumph…

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Steve’s new camera adds a whole new dimension to our exploration of photography. We haven’t got the foggiest idea about how to use it but you can be sure that Steve is on the case as I type this. By the end of the month it will be putty in his hands 😉

Watching a 48 year old man springing off into the vestigial jungle of Serendipity Farm with a large camera around his neck is like waving goodbye to your last child as they head out of the house…FREEDOM! I know that I can do whatever I like for the next week…Steve won’t care. He will pretend to care; he will mutter vaguely positive things whenever I ask him about anything but he is gone…away with the camera pixies in photographic heaven for the duration of time that it takes to absorb this new toy in its entirety. That might take some time folks. This one does all different kinds of things. It beeps and takes 4 or more photos a second (you get to choose) and will perform sequences of actions seamlessly and can be programmed. This camera is his new best mate and he was holding it tenderly on the sofa last night. I headed off to bed and I swear he was talking to it…should I be alarmed? Nope. I know he will be back when the novelty wears off 😉

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The new camera took this photo of our fairy grotto in these alarming colours today. Steve didn’t fiddle with it, it was on automatic and who knows why it decided to add these vibrant greens to what is actually somewhat dull at the moment. Who cares…doesn’t it look pretty? We are enjoying pretending that we actually live in Ireland 😉

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This is the actual colouring on Serendipity Farm at the moment. That large brush pile in the background is just that…a large brush pile waiting for a Guy. The collection of wood in the foreground on the right hand side is some of my driftwood that I have found just opposite this area on the riverbank

So in the throes of baking, kefiring, making various non-dairy milks and working through our latest tangled mass of studies I might love you and leave you there folks. I have so much to do today that I am sacrilegiously thinking of only half reading my RSS Feed Reader today and just blasting straight into the “Doing” bit of my day early…” sacre bleu!” I haven’t even filled my allotted 2800 words! This Saturday I will be posting my entry into The Virtual Vegan Potluck. Hopefully you all stick around to see what culinary creation narf7 has decided to enter into the fray and my own little personal twist. Saturday is also the day of the enormous progressive garage sale and Steve and I will be off and hunting nice and early. We will take the dogs and will walk them at Paper beach. Steve will be tenderly clutching his new baby and I will have old faithful, now officially “mine” so expect a LOT of pictures of the event. I will post about it next Wednesday and you will be able to tell the photos that Steve took…not by the quality, but more by his desire to use as many of the inbuilt features in a single photo as possible. Pfft…Aquarius’s and their artistic liens! 😉 See you on Saturday folks or if you choose to bypass the Veganese, see you Wednesday, hopefully loaded up with bargains and a wonderful pictorial trail of our adventure :o)

It rained on our parade…

Hi All,

Buggery bollocks the net’s gone down. My apologies to anyone sensitive reading this post but I have intentionally limited my angst to that initial sentence so it’s hopefully all uphill from here. It’s 4.46am and I have just written an entire post, I have resized 15 images for last Wednesdays post and am starting on today’s post last Wednesday. I like to make the most of my time but this is ridiculous! Last Wednesday I was typing Saturday’s post about Peak Oil. Who knows what has happened in the last week? I am guessing that Steve and I have done “something” regarding our proposed large fully enclosed vegetable garden. I am hoping that we did or this post is going to be an epitaph to our laziness or to how much rain Tasmania can spawn in a single week. I am going to turn our modem back on now after an hours rest. If it decides that it is going to play ball and connect us to the net this is going to be a very short paragraph and I will be off surfing the ether for recipes, processes and my addiction to knowledge. If it doesn’t…you might have to suffer a post spawned by the frustrations of a knowledge addict.

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This is what happens when you get up at 3am and forget that you didn’t put a screw cap on the container with your homemade non-dairy milk…sigh…

We are seeing a lot more grey herons hanging around the shoreline at the moment. It must be nesting season

We are seeing a lot more grey herons hanging around the shoreline at the moment. It must be nesting season

Sigh…the net is incommunicado and narf7 has been relegated to typing. Brunhilda has been sparking away since I got up at 3am this morning. We both slid back into our morning processes with consummate ease and now that I get up so freakin’ early, she barely has time to settle down into slumber before I am prodding her with the poker and asking her to boil my kettle for another day. “Chicken” and “Stock” are both loudly progressing themselves even closer to the dinner table as I sit here typing and my second kettle of the day is just about to boil. I am going to sit it on the edge of the cooktop where it can gently tick away. My grandmother taught me to put a smooth well boiled pebble into my kettle so that you know when it is about to boil (and so you can catch it before it starts to scream at the top of its lungs…a good thing when the rest of the household is fast asleep and entirely uninterested in how many cups of tea you want to cram into your early morning sessions…) and it’s a little tip that keeps grandma around in a small way. I think of her when that little stone starts to tap and as it keeps the beat slowly throughout my day.

A little bit later on and the sun is just starting to come up on a gorgeous chilly autumn morning

A little bit later on and the sun is just starting to come up on a gorgeous chilly autumn morning

Our neighbourhood has suddenly started showing off

Our neighbourhood has suddenly started showing off

Last Tuesday we visited our friend in the witness protection. She gave me carrot; broccoli, cabbage and cauliflower seeds and she also gave me some seeds that look like round emerald green pearlescent cake sprinkles. She has no idea what they are…”I” have no idea what they are. I have my suspicions that they ARE cake sprinkles but I am going to try them in a pot and see what grows. She also gave me some seed from a plant she purchased at the nursery where she works. It’s called a “Rocoto Tree Chilli” and promises to be a perennial tree that produces chilli’s that grows in temperate climates in full sun in a wide range of soil types. Its botanical name is “Capsicum pubescens” and apparently the fruit it produces is hot. Aside from the usability of the fruit, the plant is apparently hardy and there are stories about a man “living down south” who has one 8 metres high and 2 metres wide…I get the feeling that this plant is something akin to our own Cape Gooseberry that lives happily on Serendipity Farm and I figure it might self-seed all over the place but I have NO problem with an edible condiment that wants to keep on keeping on with very little input…some might offer up the word “weed” but we don’t call things weeds here on Serendipity Farm (not since we learned that constant weeding is NOT something that we wish to do for the rest of our lives) and choose to see as many benefits in our fast growing botanical cell mates as we can.

The solitary artichoke that didn't get munched to the ground by the wallabies with cat for size comparison

The solitary artichoke that didn’t get munched to the ground by the wallabies with cat for size comparison

I love this little house and it's for sale folks! Anyone want to move to Sidmouth and be narf7's neighbour?

I love this little house and it’s for sale folks! Anyone want to move to Sidmouth and be narf7’s neighbour?

Our friend in the witness protection and I huddled over Peppino shrubs and her exponentially increasing Tree Chilli plant and her cuttings that she took recently and we gravitated to her veggie garden and over to her unprotected garden where the neighbours cows and bull decided to crush half of her hard work in planting out conifers over the last year…curiously, they only crushed the half that were growing…the half that the possums and wallabies and rabbits decided weren’t palatable enough to predate and strip and so her garden is suffering a bit at the moment but her garden is like our friend…resilient, stubborn and optimistic and we are going back yesterday (remembering I am typing this last Wednesday and am projecting into the future…) to take lots of cuttings of hardy pentstemon’s, tree chillies, peppinos, and collect a tray of young leeks that she grew for us. We will be giving her chives and PDF’s and a barrel of biscuits that won’t even go halfway to repaying her kindness or the load of wood that she told Steve to get while we are visiting.

Steve insists that these are "my fishnets"...who thinks he would make a good Frankenfurter?

Steve insists that these are “my fishnets”…who thinks he would make a good Frankenfurter?

We discussed my fear of Earl and Bezial bowling over my high school bestie Kym who is going to visit from Western Australia for a week to celebrate us both mutually hitting the grand old age of 50. We even considered sending our friends partner off to stay with Steve and the dogs for a week and pretending that our friends house was ours just so that we could circumvent the badly behaved larger dog problem in the first place but hopefully Kym is made of sterner stuff and can understand that our 2 dogs might be badly behaved…they might have as much training as our chooks do and they might pay attention to us about as much as my children do BUT after about an hour they will settle down and ignore you like they did with my mum when she visited. If you AREN’T made of sterner stuff and you don’t think you can handle an hour of dog slobber and jumping Kymmy we might have to go back to plan A! 😉

1 roll of fish netting off to be cut up for our garden

1 roll of fish netting off to be cut up for our garden

After we headed into town we took some photos to illustrate the HDR function in Photoshop. What is the HDR function in Photoshop? Beats me folks, but it involves setting up a tripod, taking a “normal”, an “underexposed” and an “overexposed” photo all of the very same thing, all without moving the camera in the least and using the HDR function in Photoshop to blend the photos to arrive at something that looks like a black and white or sepia photo that has been hand coloured. I think I showed you some of them last Wednesday… (See how I cleverly pretended that I am actually here rather than back there typing this out last Wednesday? 😉 ) and they remind me of Victorian hand coloured photographs that my nana used to have in frames. I quite like them and the dogs behaved while Steve took the photos and I held them both. Their combined weight now exceeds mine quite significantly and should they have suddenly become aware of the presence of a cat per-se, I think Steve might have been able to take some entirely hilarious photos that he could have sold to the local newspaper. Thank goodness the feline population of Launceston decided not to make an appearance.

"I SWEAR I can smell fish!"

“I SWEAR I can smell fish!”

After we took our photos we picked up another bottle of hot sauce (my latest addiction) and headed home where Steve spent the afternoon manufacturing a new dog door for the back door and devising a way to make it unavailable to nefarious enterers when we are not here. Just a small aside folks…if anyone IS considering waiting till we head out and attempting to crawl in through the dog door I think I owe it to you to admit that we often leave our dogs behind when we head out. They like being warm and laying on the floor in front of Brunhilda and Earl loves to run at top speed out the dog door. Should anyone be foolish enough to want to crawl through a large dog door that hasn’t been secured at the back…they might ask themselves “why haven’t the home owners secured this dog door and why am I able to enter this establishment via said dog door so easily?” they might be able to get this thought out before Earl crashes headlong into them at 100+kph and they get to meet both Earl AND Bezial…I just thought I would give you a sporting chance 😉

Free steel poles to be concreted into the ground as part of the new veggie garden

Free steel poles to be concreted into the ground as part of the new veggie garden

It’s now 5.35am last Wednesday. “Chicken” and “Stock” are getting nearer to meeting their maker and I am starting to think about what I can do for the next hour and a half before I wake Steve up and we start our day. We have big plans for today (for “today” insert “last Wednesday”) and will be cutting sheoaks down, collecting large steel poles from a friend’s house, digging holes and humping stones from one place to another to be used in building the keyhole gardens and spiral gardens that are going to be created inside this large fully enclosed garden. Our friend in the witness protection is giving me lots of raspberry canes to grow. She is also giving me a “Youngberry”. Not too sure what a “Youngberry” is but it has very large berries on it and everything in the whole wide world wants to eat it because it is so delicious so I figure I might tack myself onto the end of that tasting conga line and graciously accepted her offer of a sucker. She is also giving me lots of perennial plants that have grown in her lawn over the long hot summer that we just had and that just elevated themselves into “must have!” status on Serendipity Farm. If they didn’t get eaten on our friend’s property, they are magic and are plants to be treasured at all costs. Sometimes you have to outthink your enemy. If we want a garden full of flowers we have to plant things that “the enemy” can’t stand. “Fool me once!”

Steve's maples still have a few leaves left by the possums to start putting on a lovely show

Steve’s maples still have a few leaves left by the possums to start putting on a lovely show

Steve and I are going to attempt to cut our way through about a kilometre of ex fish farm netting today. We have to circumnavigate our 175m2 fully enclosed veggie gardens with something that seals and dolphins can’t bite through. We figure if aquatic mammals can’t beak their way into it, possums and wallabies have NO chance! The weather has been perfect here lately. It’s lovely and cool and bracing outside but the sun is shining and the skies are blue and it’s easy, and a pleasure, to work for hours out of doors. We have even been having the odd rain shower but rain in Tassie works on Tassie time. It rains at night and on the weekends and rarely before 10am (when most native Tasmanian’s like to get out and about as a rule ;)) so we can have the dogs walked before it starts drizzling for the day.

On fire under the deck

On fire under the deck

It’s very exciting to be underway on the veggie garden…exciting and daunting. I now have to figure out how to fill these garden beds cheaply. We are going to use hugelkultur principals by using up the branch wood and sticks that we cut from the trees that we had to remove from the new garden area (after chopping them up to facilitate faster breaking down) as the basis for our garden beds. It worked really well in our other garden beds as most of them have chopped up chunks of wood in the base before we topped them with the wonderful black gold locally produced compost as our growing media of choice. Hay and straw are readily available, I just have to source reasonably priced versions of the two and now that autumn is definitely up and running, there will be lots and lots of autumn leaves to take advantage of. Lucky I LOVE to rake and collect them :o).

Franks 37 tonne behemoth in the river in front of our properties

Franks 37 tonne behemoth in the river in front of our properties

The next few weeks are going to be filled up with the logistics of building the veggie garden and planting out our food forest. I am just about to use Google Earth to map our first paddock to find out the area that we have to use for our initial food forest. After I do that, I can plot it into AutoCAD and can use it to start really planning where our trees and shrubs are going to be planted. Being a penniless student hippy is certainly teaching me more about patience than life up to now. When you are forced to wait for what you want and need there are life lessons contained in every step. Nature and a moth eaten sock under the bed don’t care if you have a temper tantrum because you don’t have what you want or need…they just ignore you thrashing on the floor and it’s quite humbling to arrive at the other side of a good “whinge” to realise that life doesn’t revolve around “YOU” like you thought it did 😉

Franks boat and the Batman Bridge in the background

Franks boat and the Batman Bridge in the background

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Sigh…like vegan narf7 is going to eat muscles and oysters!

I guess that might be all for today folks. I know I have been thrashing your eyeballs with large posts lately and don’t want to alienate my dear constant readers. I love you all for staying with Serendipity Farm even when it becomes a 2 cup of tea matter to read a post. I hope the new, smaller paragraph; format is helping somewhat with the reading. Have a great “rest of the week” and see you on the weekend where hopefully some progress has been made on our netting cutting and we might be ready to start digging holes. We have to see our friend Jenny (SO liberating to not have to type “Friend in the witness protection” now 😉 ) soon to get a load of firewood and some cuttings including; pineapple sage, Chilli tree (Capsicum pubescens), Peppino (Solanum muricatum), a new mint that I don’t have and some Young berry which I found out is a strain created by crossing the Austin-Mayes dewberry with a blackberry and raspberry hybrid known as the Phenomenal, and it has since been given the botanical name Rubus cecaesius.

3 narfs on a sofa. One of our media tasks

3 narfs on a sofa. One of our media tasks

"Excuse me...could you see your way clear to showing me how to make this thing work?"

“Excuse me…could you see your way clear to showing me how to make this thing work?”

In return I will be baking some batches of home-made biscuits and will be giving Jenny a large clump of chives. Jenny was a class mate when Steve and I studied certificates 2 and 3 in horticulture on campus in Launceston. We became great friends and share a love of plants that all 3 of us didn’t realise we had until we started our courses. We support each other whenever the possums and wallabies eat away at our inspiration and our hope and set each other back on track and ignite our horticultural passion over a cup of tea and a good chat. See you Saturday folks :o)

It’s Leonhard Euler’s birthday today!

Hi All,

I can hear you asking “who is Leonhard Euler?” Is he narf7’s neighbour? No, my dear constant readers, Leonhard Euler is someone that was born hundreds of years ago…back in 1707 on the 15th of April. He was one of our founding fathers of mathematics and was Swiss (it figures). Why do I care that Mr Leonhard Euler was born today? Well to be honest I don’t. Google told me to go and check it out. It put a most interesting header on its home page today that when I clicked on an atom in the middle of the design, it spun. That’s how you lead lemmings to their deaths folks…you let them spin an atom and suddenly they are up to their armpits in mathematics and equations and formulae and they are drowning in the stuff! As I now know, life is half science and half maths. The scientists and mathematicians told me so. I like to live on the fringes of both disciplines in the “dead zone” when neither venture and where both fear to tread. I live in the part where I do little experiments to see just how insane I can make scientists and mathematicians whilst still maintaining my ethical position. Mr Leonhard Euler kindly left behind his likeness in portraits. He must have liked his likeness a LOT because there are a lot of them on the right hand side of my Google search page and most of them look like David Spade with a strange tic. Maybe the Swiss revered people that look like thin mean weasels? Perchance I am seeing a 300+ year old “Botticelli” moment right here where skinny weasel men were found to be the height of gorgeousness itself? I guess maths and science generated a degree of awe back then that could have linked itself to the sexy train? It’s easier to believe when you take a look at the other scientists and mathematicians that Google wants you to spend WAY too much of your precious time left on earth checking out. People like Joseph Louis Lagrange (who bears a strange resemblance to Mr Bean), Carl Friedrich Gauss (that looks like Spike Milligan at the height of his manic depression…) and Pierre de Fermat (a florid and most obvious proponent of the “comb over” who may have even invented this wonderful saving grace of the older man). Then you get to the scientists that “look like Steve”. Curiously there are several of them! I once envisioned Rincewind of Discworld fame as having a very strong resemblance to Steve but then I saw portraits painted of Isaac Newton and realised that Steve has been here before. I just saw another scientist/mathematician (who would know Google…you thoughtlessly expect me to click on that portrait to spend MORE of my precious life moments finding out? You are sadly mistaken!) called Gottfried Wilhelm von Leibniz (funny how you don’t want to correct THOSE names Spell check! 😉 ) that also bears a striking resemblance to Steve (and Isaac Newton at the same time)…I might have to ask Steve why he looks like these esteemed most learned gentlemen but why he could care less about science, mathematics and the general pursuit of research in any way shape or form…could it be another case of life trying to balance itself out? The enormous void of vacuous thought left in a permanent vacuum since these 2 esteemed learned gents passed away in a flash of blinding human inspiration has finally been allowed to reach equilibrium in one man born 300 years later…good on you Steve…you ARE doing your bit for science and mathematics after all! 😉

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Here is Bezial doing his very best to steal a ball of wool, run, and get away with it before I catch up with him…this is what you could call an “evidence” shot. Bezial swears black and blue that Earl is the most reprobated dog that was ever born…methinks history might be tapping at the window of that claim Bezial 😉

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One of Steve’s conquests from yesterdays Targa Tasmania photo opportunities. He was trying to take motion shots…not bad but I think Bezial was going faster in the previous photo 😉

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That’s more like it! Not a bad “motion” picture Steve 🙂

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That green hotel in the main street apparently does $5 pub meals on a Saturday night, 2 bottles of vodka for $30 or $1 pots of beer on the first and last Friday of the month…just sayin’ in case any of you find yourself in downtown Beaconsfield one night with $40 in your pocket…just a warning, you most probably won’t remember what you did the next day 😉

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This is the upmarket pub just over the road from the green pub. The meals are MUCH more expensive here…you can buy hot chocolate and expensive pastries and the clientele is MUCH more refined but $40 isn’t going to buy you much here…hot foot it over to the green pub and you can go home with some money in your pocket after most probably having a great deal more fun in the process 😉

Well that was your educational part of the post folks…it’s all downhill from here so hold onto your rollercoaster sea for a rapid descent into madness and scientific/mathematic deprivation. What has narf7 been up to since we last chatted eh? Well we submitted our assessments to our lecturer. It’s so much easier to push a button and hand in your work. You don’t have to see the expectant eyes of your lecturer and know that you dashed his hopes of ever making senior faculty member when he flicks through your work. As far as we can tell, our course, only going since late February, has seen a rate of attrition that is somewhat alarming. We keep seeing “new students” arriving and the online community that our lecturer steadfastly and quite frankly unrealistically expects we students who have never met and who are competing with each other to forge hasn’t quite gotten off the ground yet. We all seem to be circling each other in cyberspace trying to get a feel for the competition. We know that 2 media lecturers from Queensland are taking this course. Why? Who would know! We also know that all students are supposed to create a blog space so that our work can be posted and seen by our fellow classmates. There are apparently 20 people taking our course and only 6 of us have blogs. It IS good to see other students work. You think your own work is sad until you are able to measure it up and see that we are all sad together. It unites and gives allegiance to your endeavours and your unseen class when you can see that their work is at least as pathetic as your own. Most of our class have had a fair bit to do with digital art. Some are obviously artists and most of them are very comfortable with the platform. Steve and I are less familiar with digital art, although Steve has messed about with Photoshop a lot and is a whole lot more familiar with it than I am. I am really enjoying this course which I didn’t expect. Putting a bit of faith in Steve’s ability to choose a bridging course that would allow me to keep some of my hair this year was curiously a wise thing to do! My OCD tendencies to guide him to an area where I felt more at home (say brain surgery…) were cram packed down (with great difficulty I might add) because I might be OCD…I might be a “strong woman” (you can read that how you will 😉 ), I might have some very VERY strong opinions about things but I know that my way is only half of this journey that we are walking together. When I say “walking”…a fair bit of our journey has been running in the opposite direction of each other to be honest. We spend a lot of time tussling over things…trying to get our own way and being very childish but when we are able to work together on those rare occasions when someone forces us to behave, we are always amazed at the results and how they are SO much better than the sum of us :o).  This course is bringing out our creative sides and aside from showing me that being out of your comfort zone can, indeed, be a good thing, it is teaching me that I really don’t always know best. I am like a fish out of water here and Steve is the maestro genius and I am actually enjoying allowing him to take the rudder of the boat. “Keep steering Stevey boy…the first rock you hit I will be RIGHT HERE!” 😉

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Remember those soaking soybeans from my last post? Here is the reason why they were soaking. This is my handy dandy über schmick soy milk maker. I have had it for years and it has lived in a dusty fugue up in the cupboard until I decided that I may as well use it and have been making some very interesting non dairy milks in it of late

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After soaking the soybeans overnight I skin them. Then I put the beans into the filter container

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After heating, grinding, magic, alchemy and a little bit of fairy dust the milk ends up in the stainless steel container and the okara, or soybean lees remain in the filter container

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Here’s the home made hot soymilk after I added some date paste to sweeten it slightly and half a teaspoon of Himalayan rock salt to balance the flavour out

I have been up for an hour and haven’t even looked at my RSS Feed Reader. I finally managed to clean it out on Saturday. Saturday was my son Stewarts 31st birthday. Just typing that probably made him wince in his sleep. I would imagine he had plans of world domination by the time he was 31. I know he wanted to be at least PART robotic by now. He inherited his mother’s OCD need to have everything “just so” but takes it to extremes that my OCD brain can only marvel at. Do any of you have your entire financial life planned out for the next 5 years? I am talking about EVERYTHING here folks… no? Well you can sit back and admire my son’s resolve. The funny thing about resolve is that there is always…ALWAYS something that comes along and stuffs it up. It’s like life, the universe and everything is just waiting to have a bit of fun at your expense. You plan to be married by 30…in the next 10 years you are going to have 2.5 kids (the way Monsanto is going, we can pretty much be guaranteed of that .5) and to be well on the way to owning our own homes, being financially secure and with a decent portfolio of stocks and shares to see us through to a rich and enviable old age. Does that sound like your life? Mine neither! I think what we humans want, and what we are supposed to be living like is so far apart that there is room in the middle to drive a comet through. How did we get so far away from our ideals? There isn’t anything wrong with ideals folks, it’s just when we choose to think that they are the ONLY way to arrive at the Pearly Gates having lived a rich and satisfying life that we hit problems and brick walls. Most of the depression that the pharmaceutical companies are milking for all they are worth is spawned of a completely unrealistic sense of entitlement that we are led to believe is “the norm”. If I remember right…”Norm” was Dame Edna’s husband with the enlarged prostate…he was also that little guy from the 70’s with the terry towelling hat on in the “Slip, Slop, Slap” commercials… do we REALLY want to be Norm?! I know I don’t! I am as prone to idealistic regrets as anyone. I spent a good proportion of my early adolescence up our backyard tree watching the neighbours and being completely envious of their lifestyle. I thought I was the ONLY one who was suffering by not being “normal”…I wrote dark poems and read dark books and spent too much time ruminating about how everything was so “UNFAIR”… If I had been motivated I could have been the figurehead of the soon to emerge Gothic revival but I didn’t have enough motivation to be anything really. I think a lot of people my age had this kind of drifting feeling back then. We had NO idea what we were going to do, where the world was going, how we were going to get anywhere and most of us are still drifting and goodness only knows what we did mentally to the children that we brought into the world to drift along with us. I would imagine that is why we are seeing a revival of homesteading. Of learning the ways of the natural world and of pragmatic fundamentalism…nature regaining equilibrium and trying to pull in the reigns. The older I get, the more I can see how it really does all work together. I guess that’s the benefit of age? You get to see it for yourself. You get to stick your finger into the wounds and you get to be able to say to yourself “yup…it’s dead”. Nothing like a healthy dose of observation over time to give you as much perspective and incentive you need to attempt to redress your own personal stuff ups and try to do what you can to share your newfound wisdom with your kids. The problem is, by the time nature gets around to teaching you all of this wisdom, your kids don’t want to listen to you any more…they are too busy “living” and your wisdom isn’t part of their ethos. I think that life, the universe and everything has a very VERY good sense of humour don’t you? 😉

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This is the contents of a bag of dried dates

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This is a bag of dried dates on their way to becoming date paste, my new sweetener of choice. Once I make the date paste I then add the soaking liquid (sweet in it’s own right) back into the Vitamix goblet and process the goblet clean whilst making “date syrup”…no waste here folks! 🙂

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Kid Creoles babies that seem quite happy to spend half of their time up to their eyeballs in date sweetened soymilk and even the equivalent of pureed chickpea porridge. Sounds gross BUT it tastes really good! I am enjoying experimenting with homemade non-dairy kefir equivalents

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From a conglomeration of tiny little kefir brains to this uncured walnut that also looks like a brain. The curious thing is that both kefir and walnuts are actually good FOR your brain…nature is more than colour coded 😉

Steve is off to do the fortnightly shopping today. I get to wend my way around the web should I choose to. I have a sourdough carrot cake to bake today and when Steve gets back with my organic chickpeas, my 2 bags of Aussie almonds and a few obscure articles (for Serendipity Farm they are obscure…at least till we can grow them ourselves 😉 ) like a jar of kalamata olives (we have 2 kalamata olive trees…), an avocado (we have 7 avocado trees to be planted out…), a rough approximation of ½ cup of raw cashew pieces (“err on slightly more Steve…DON’T BE TIGHT…I need them for tomorrow…), 500g of raw sesame seeds, a large red capsicum, a packet of dried mixed herbs, a lemon and some Himalayan pink mineral salt. Why the strange foodstuffs? Because narf7 is going to create folks…narf7 is going to work her alchemistic magic on these, and lots of other foodstuffs to create something magnificent for her coming debut in “The Virtual Vegan Potluck”. Remember that OCD that I mentioned earlier? Well it is coming out en mass and it insists that I do a “good job”…forget “good job” who are we kidding? It is screaming at me to “KNOCK THEIR SOCKS OFF!”…sigh…almost 50 and I STILL can’t make that voice go away! Here’s the deal folks, I plan on making something that combines my vegan foodie predilections (good word that one…it might just be my word for the week 😉 ) with our ideals. I want to use as much of our own produce in the form of home grown tomatoes, eggplants, walnuts etc. combined with things that we have made with our home grown produce, dried mushrooms, dried herbs, sundried tomatoes etc. to show how we are trying to produce as much of the food that we eat as we can. I want to show the processes involved and the true cost of the food that we eat. No “Tofutti cream cheese” or “Daiya” vegan cheeze for this little black duck…this recipe is going to show its creation from go to whoa and all stages in between. By the end of the recipe I want to give people an overview of what permaculture can do for you and how to harness yourself to nature to arrive someplace that you both want to be. It’s one heck of a challenge and with my little Fujifilm point and click, I am going to try to take anyone curious enough to click on my link (or to be following the linkies through to the end) on a little journey of creation. At worse they might learn something before hurrying off to the next recipe. At best they might get a bit of a tour through the real price (monetarily AND physically) of the food that ends up on their plates. Either way, my narfy job will be done! Hopefully you will all want to come along for the journey with me to see just how OCD narf7 can be and how twitchy my perfection valve gets when I am honing my current point of interest ;). I just learned something. Daiya non-dairy cheeze has an Aussie website where you can go and sign a petition to get Daiya cheezes into our supermarkets! There are obviously more vegans in Australia than I initially thought ;).

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The chickens on day release from their prison and “Pig” one of the feral cat’s extremely interested in the proceedings…right up to the time when he found out that my old girls know how to deal with cats! Lets put it this way…Pig will think twice before he eyeballs a hen again 😉

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Something else that you can make with dates…the recipe for this one is on page 178 of the 15th edition of the C.W.A. cookbook (circa 1954). Don’t have it? Sorry ladies, it is worth more than my life to print it out here…those C.W.A. women are positively fatal when riled up! 😉

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I HAVE been busy! This is one of 8 eccles cakes that I made for Steve the other day. No dates here but lots of fruit macerated in sugar with spices and a bit of butter all wrapped up like the pentagon in some puff pastry…the pentagon bit was entirely unintentional you can be assured, it stemmed from a complete lack of ability to make a circle 😉

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This is some “Gouda Uncheeze” that I made as part of the recipe that I am making for The Vegan Virtual Potluck this year in May. It looks like cheese, it grates like cheese and even though it doesn’t taste exactly like cheese, my Omni husband said “you can tell your blog readers that I LOVE cheese but I can’t stop eating this stuff!” that is kudos indeed folks! 😉

I have created my masterpiece! Can you see the lightning and hear the crazed sound of my assistant Stevgor as I harness the lightning to bring my creation to life? Well it wasn’t THAT impressive but I managed to create the ingredients that I needed, create my recipe from scratch and feed some of it to Steve (remembering how VERY fussy he is) and none of it came back out to decorate the walls and he actually said “that’s very tasty…apart from the olives…”. I forgot that Steve doesn’t like kalamata olives BUT he was caught nibbling the ends off my piece of grated homemade “cheeze” and said “you can use that in the recipe…your husband the cheese lover couldn’t stop eating this stuff”. There you go…my own endorsement!  We got our feedback back from our lecturer about our assessment and it was incredibly positive and full of “sandwich” praise. Our lecturer is a sandwich man. He likes to give you something positive…hit you in the solar plexus with a swift bit of criticism and suddenly back to a nice soft pillowy bit of super-white bread to cover up the negative and leave you feeling all fluffy.  We got a whole lot of bread and hardly any filling this time which made us both incredibly pleased. Not a lot to fix up which is also great and everything we need to fix is minor and cosmetic. Now we move into some serious Photoshop with the next unit. Steve headed off and took some great motion shots at Targa Tasmania. Our property backs onto a bit of a wild corner on a steep hill so the cars tend to be ramping up a bit of speed by the time they get to where my dear gnome like husband was perched with his trusty point and click, a whole new world of manual settings and a couple of tutorials about “how to take motion shots” under his belt. The whole road was sealed off and although there were lots of people standing at the junction of Auld Kirk Road (2 of them slept in their cars overnight…we know…when we walked the dogs we saw them there 😉 ) Steve had a completely uninterrupted and pesky human free view thanks to the back paddock and the rest of our neighbours being elderly and not caring two hoots about fast cars. We can use some of his shots for our Photoshop unit and are already working on our first part of it. It promises to be very interesting and I am surprised about how excited I am to be learning about digital photography. We are actually thinking of upgrading our point and click Fujifilm to the latest model. I get to keep Betsy, my old faithful (who tends to take more macro shots than anything else these days 😉 ) and Steve can have the new one. We just got paid some sort of unexpected one off government payment (election year…can anyone say “bribe”? 😉 ) that amounted to just over $150 between us so that seems like a worthy  cause for that windfall.

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“Well looky what I found in the pantry…”

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“How the HECK am I supposed to get into this thing!”

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Brunhilda wanted to get in on the photographic action…here she is doing what she does best nice and early in the morning 🙂

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Steve won this jam recently for correctly identifying what flick weed was with my twin in Olalla Christi of http://farmlet.wordpress.com/ fame. Christi is making a little pot of her absolutely AMAZING jam for every single one of the exponentially increasing guests at her beautiful daughters wedding. Christi, you deserve a medal! Not only does she deserve a medal but she deserves a hug…she just made Steve’s day :). Look what arrived in the mail today. A gorgeous jar of 4 berry jam that Steve is going to devour slowly and with great lip smacking on his morning toast till he scrapes the last sliver from the jar. Then he has plans for the jar as well…I naturally thought that I would be a winner as well because I would get the jar but NO! The jar is “my own personal trendy hipster jar that I can drink moonshine out of when I make moonshine”…how could you argue with that reasoning? ;).

It’s 3.52am… I have 14 hours till post time…we have a quarter tank of petrol in the Daihatsu, no cigarettes, it’s dark and my sunglasses are within reach…time to hustle folks! See you Saturday for another round of “let’s learn to tango with narf7” on Serendipity Farm :o)

Ben Folds King of the hipsters…

Hi All,

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

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

Steve’s Secret Recipe Chilli Con Carne

2 tbsp. olive oil

2 chopped onions

2 cloves crushed garlic (Steve uses about 5)

500g lean minced beef

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

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

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

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

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

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

1 stick cinnamon

A good shake of Worcestershire sauce

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

Salt and fresh ground black pepper

1 x 400g can of drained red kidney beans

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

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

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

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

My homemade pasta sauce involves the following: –

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

1 tbsp. olive oil

About 3 cloves crushed garlic

1 finely chopped onion

Yellow American style mustard

Tomato sauce (ketchup)

Bbq sauce (bottled)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Grant_Wood_-_American_Gothic_-_Google_Art_Project

Cheers for this photo Wikipedia 🙂

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Mis en Place of life

Hi All,

This is post number 3 that I have up my sleeve…what a luxury! I have been guilty of only having about a quarter of a post ready to post on the day that I am due to post it. Not only that, but I have also been guilty of realising that the day got away from me and that I have 1 hour to post…as a natural processes person I take great delight in the deliciousness of order and progression and I try to do as many things as I can to smooth the way through our days. I love prep. I love to get things ready and sort things out and am a maestro of mis en place when it comes to recipes. I learned it the hard way and getting everything that you need ready before you start something is a wise lesson to learn. Another wise lesson is to clean up your previous mess before you start a new task. My grandmother always pushed “Clean up as you go along” as her mantra. It stuck. I hate a great pile of dishes to do after I cook so as I cook I wash dishes and wipe them at the same time. At the end of the process there may be some dinner dishes to do but not many. I hate waking up to dishes, or a messy kitchen. It’s a new day after all and a new day deserves a clean start. I know that some of my processes annoy Steve. I can only imagine what his flat in the U.K. looked like but I have a good idea ;). Steve lived on his own and was able to drag a doona out to the couch whilst watching television. He could leave his guitar and amp in the lounge room where it would remain (un-chewed by Earl) until he felt like playing it next. He could dump his clothes on the floor until he ran out of them and could head down to the Laundromat just around the corner to throw a load of washing into the machine and the pace of his life was completely centred on his own processes. We have been together for 14 years now (16 if you count the 2 years we spent in an extremely long distance online relationship) and he still doesn’t get why he can’t just throw his clothes on the floor by the bed when he wants to sleep…”it’s not like I am dropping them in the lounge is it?”…but for once, Earl is coming to my rescue. Earl has started to invade Steve’s deftly dropped clothing…I have an early morning disclaimer here…I did NOT train Earl to demolish any of Steve’s carelessly dumped items…he learned how to do it all by himself! ;). Earl has started pulling things out of Steve’s pockets. Steve really only has himself to blame because he leaves bags of dog treats in his pockets and Earl is always ready to find food. Earl is also ready to extract anything else out of pockets that have been carelessly left at Earl’s beak level and he is VERY good at it. Steve wakes up to find chewed up sweet wrappers (minus the sweets 😉 ), dog poo bags that have been deftly rendered useless (Earl has a problem with us picking up his deposits…he deposited them for a reason and is annoyed and somewhat disgusted that we pick them up after he carefully places them at the topmost point of grass clumps and bushes and low walls…) and obviously the dog treats disappear (that goes without saying) and Steve has a habit of cramming his pockets with all sorts of bits and pieces and Earl has now taken to bypassing sticking his nose into Steve’s pockets and just chews right through till he gets what he wants to amuse him. You can’t blame Earl, you have to look squarely at the person dumping their clothes on the floor and you REALLY have to wonder why this person is STILL DOING IT AFTER EARL ATE HIS PANTS!…stubborn willfulness won’t put the ass back in your pants Steve 😉

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I LOVE having a post up my sleeve 🙂 Here is a photo up my sleeve to match the post up my sleeve. We think that this is some kind of funky ferry but whatever float-a-ma-jig it is, it’s most certainly interesting

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We took the dogs to the dog park today. We took a tennis ball and a rope ring and all the good intentions in the world. Earl tried to slip under the gate and run away and Bezial stood still for 15 minutes sniffing the same blade of grass for the entire time…After we got disgusted with them (the YOUTH OF TODAY!) we got back in the car and noticed this pretty picture so the effort wasn’t entirely wasted on our plebian dogs! 😉

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Check out the olde worlde last century chalk folks! I am getting school memories just looking at it 😉

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May as well stick with the boaty theme of this first set of photos and post a pic of the tug that zooms up and down the river. I say “zooms”, it actually “Chugs” very VERY loudly

Ok, fingers crossed…I am just about to turn the modem back on after a 20 minute hiatus. If it is stuffed we are going to have to head into town soon and get another one because our studies demand that we have an online connection. I will let it do its thing (blinky blinky green lights blinky blinky and a bit more blinking) for a while and will then test and see if I have the net back. This could change our plans for the day and we might have to take an emergency trip into the city to buy a new modem. I hope not, we are saving at the moment. We want to get ahead with our bills and save some money for emergencies and for when bills that are unexpected come in. Penniless student hippies live pretty close to the breadline…in fact; most of us live UNDER the breadline. We are not complaining, we choose this life and are prepared to bypass all sorts of wants and desires in order to keep living the way that we live BUT “The Man” demands a pound of flesh on a regular basis and we don’t have much choice but to pay at the moment. That means “money” and even though we don’t receive a lot of money as students (we get even less than people bumming around doing nothing on the dole) we are still able to save up and we found a plan that if we stick to it, we should arrive at the other end of it with a significant amount of savings for a “rainy day”. Like most other things in life I have a “better safe than sorry”. For a girl who rebelled against her grandmothers “tyrannical rule” on a constant basis, I think I am starting to turn into her! Those early lessons keep coming back “better safe than sorry”, “clean up as you go along”, “don’t put your shoes on the table or you will never be able…” (“Able” to what gran? I had 3 kids after loading up the table with shoes and your method of birth control SUCKS! 😉 )…all sorts of little wisdoms that annoyed the heck out of me when I was forced to comply but that keep coming back to me now as solid proof that my grandmother was a wise and wonderful soul. I didn’t appreciate you enough gran, you really knew your stuff! I think I might be like her…It has only taken me almost 50 years to admit that and she died last century (makes it sound like a lifetime ago doesn’t it? 😉 ). Time to test that connection… (Fingers crossed… 😉 ….

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Here’s the nectarine tree at my daughters house in town AFTER I spent 2 hours removing blackberries from it’s protective circle

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Here is the pile of blackberries removed and on a tarpaulin so that the rotten things don’t invade Poland and start growing from pieces. “Fool me ONCE!” 🙂

Well it looks like it’s either the modem has died or Google has decided to deposit one of Earls mighty dumps on my head for daring to use a tag in last night’s post called “Better than Google Reader” ;). Either way it’s just you and me this morning and those 300+ blog posts are just going to have to wait. I made a wonderful sourdough carrot cake last night. I have made it 2 times now and both times it was amazing. The funny thing about it is that the recipe states that the cake is “nothing special, just a wholesome cake to eat with a cup of tea”… I have never made a carrot cake (before this) that worked. My carrot cakes were always too moist and gluggy and the texture was wrong. This cake has consistently given excellent results and has Steve actually asking me to make it. I threw some ground ginger into the mix along with lots of cinnamon last night and Steve tasted it and pronounced it wonderful (even though he doesn’t like ginger and has NO idea it is in there 😉 ). I love experimenting with recipes and this one is a completely different recipe to the sourdough chocolate cake recipe that I have been baking. In last night’s version I cut the oil back to ½ cup and upped the amount of kefir (not actually called for in the recipe) and added 2 tsp of organic vanilla extract to the mix. I think the trick is in grating the carrots very finely and squeezing them out to get a dry pulp to add to the mix. Whatever the processes, the end results are stellar and my new go-to snacking cake for Steve to have with a coffee. The dogs love it as well and actually beg for it. I took my desire to offload the enormous quantity of mature kefir that I have been amassing of late to a new level. I used a cup and a half (I still have over 2 litres to use up) of very thick mature kefir (it looked like very thick sour cream or Greek yoghurt) in Steve’s quiche last night. I was prepared for a backlash because Steve is VERY suspicious of new things in his favourite recipes but he said that he couldn’t taste anything different and kefir has just elevated itself into a usable commodity on Serendipity Farm…”YIPEE!” I can now add it to all sorts of things with impunity :o). That means that if I want to make a creamy potato bake with bacon, capsicum, caramelised onions, garlic and cheese, I can opt out of paying for sour cream and can use copious quantities of kefir in its place. My little grains work overtime to produce this unctuous thick rich probiotic stuffed product and I owe it to them to use it in abundance. Unlike Jess (Rabid from www.rabidlittlehippy.wordpress.com ) I don’t have 3 kefir loving mouths to consume my kefir as soon as the grains produce it and I have to think how I am going to use it. With Steve’s newfound acceptance I can use it with impunity and might even make some kefir icecream after I toss the icecream base into the freezer overnight. The amazing thing about kefir is that it doesn’t go off. It contains in excess of 60 different probiotics and seems to be able to ward off any other invaders so long as I keep it in the fridge it is fine. My stockpile is going to disappear rapidly now that I know I can use it and Steve won’t reject the results with suspicion.

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We decided to open up the computer desk to get maximum space today and ended up making room for a large pine box that we can store things in as well as dealing with the cables that were snaking out all over the place behind the P.C. and making a haven for dust. Much better 🙂

I think I need 10 points and maybe a factotum gold star for not hyperventilating about my inability to use the net today. My early mornings are actually tied up in online use and this morning I am sitting here in the dark tapping blog posts to my dear constant readers rather than expunge my readers exponentially increasing backlog of posts (just typing that made me think I need a paper bag!). I guess Steve is going to have to use his techy skills when he gets up. My instinct is to give it a whack but I will curb that instinct because technology and “bashing” tend to result in dollar signs ;). We have been working a bit ahead of our course because we finished and handed in all of our work early (can anyone say “big fat factotums!” 😉 ) and rather than sit here twiddling our thumbs we are working through our next unit. I know we aren’t meant to be doing this till next term and that we have an assessment that we have to complete on this Design unit but we haven’t been given it yet and so we will continue to work through our next unit on Photoshop. We are enjoying it immensely and are learning a lot about digital manipulation of images. Yesterday Steve was able to help my brother sort out a problem using what we have learned so far. My brother is going to attempt to sell some of his lovely photos at the local markets where he lives on the weekend. He has been paying a premium to print out A0 poster sized prints at the printers but couldn’t work out how to get more than 1 panorama on an A0 sheet and was only using ¼ of the sheet in the process. Steve sorted it out for him yesterday and now he can get 4 panoramas on an A0 sheet and is saving himself $90 a sheet. It’s great to be able to put what you are learning into practical use and help people at the same time.

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Looks like it’s gutter cleaning time again… 😦

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“Hmmm How did you get up that ladder eh?”

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“It certainly looks like a lot of fun…”

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“Ok, I recon I could handle it…”

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He didn’t manage to climb the ladder but Steve did along with his trusty muck bucket and blow-a-ma-jig

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Isn’t it funny how last year this was disgusting to me and this year I see it as a precious resource? It’s all a matter of how you look at things :). Notice that black “thing” (that’s about all it could still be called…) on the right hand side of the bucket? It is one of a pair of “black things” that Steve fished out of the gutter and then was able to identify as some of his socks that he obviously put up on the gutter in order to prevent Earl from predating them…the problem with that very clever idea sir, is that you forgot about them and they got blown into the gutter where they have been mouldering for the best part of 8 months 😉 Needless to say they now reside in the bin! That bucket was a “found thing” that we discovered on our walk discarded amongst the bushes today. It’s an old oil bucket that blew over from the Exeter Show recently and that Steve eagerly took receipt of and will be stowing in the Mumbly Cumumbus as his new bailing/fish bucket

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Apparently the roof is Steve’s domain and this mess blown down onto the deck is mine…funny how no-one talked about this “Domain” stuff prior to Steve heading up the ladder with his blow-a-ma-jig eh 😉

When we were at our graduation ceremony last week, we had a chat to Meg, the team leader of another course who was helping out on the night to take registrations and direct graduates in the right direction when they arrived at the ceremony. Meg is a wonderful generous person who works with disabled and indigenous people to teach them how to create horticultural spaces. She specialises in environmental science and is perfect for the job. She is eminently qualified and her caring nature makes her ideal for helping people to use what they have to facilitate positive changes in their lives and make the most of their situation. Meg loves Steve and I and we love her right back. I think Meg has romantic goggles on and thinks that it would be wonderful to work with your partner and study/learn together. That might be the case if you weren’t exact opposites and had NO idea how the other person can even function with brain/thought processes like that! Steve and I are slowly learning to adapt to each other’s processes but they are as foreign and alien to each other as to be bordering on crazy and as we both think that we are right in our own processes, it can sometimes be a difficult process in itself to unite and learn anything together. We have learned to break down the task into what Steve does best and what I do best. I research best…I type best…I am good at problem solving and Steve is technical and stubbornly keeps going till he works it out. Together we are formidable in both the French meaning of the word AND the English version ;). If we can’t get the net back today we are going to have to find a solution for this problem. Hopefully it is just the network and isn’t anything to do with our connection per-se but it’s been a long time since we had to phone up Dodo and try to wade through those Indian accents to get to someone who isn’t in automatic damage control and who insists that the problem doesn’t lie with them…let’s just hope that the problem can bypass the need to phone Dodo. I feel a headache brewing if it can’t…

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The meat and onions and garlic cooking for Steve’s “BEST EVER” chilli recipe just before the red wine goes in…

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Some of the other ingredients and the recipe. This chilli is truly unctuous and gorgeous and we haven’t met anyone who doesn’t like it yet. We used to make this in HUGE vats when we volunteered at the local Salvation Army kitchen to help feed the homeless. Steve’s chilli is still talked about long after we stopped working there (and they have probably forgotten who we are but that chilli speaks for itself 🙂 ). We will make you some when you come Kymmy 🙂

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Not the greatest photo but this chilli bubbles away to an unctuous thick delicious flavoursome pot of heaven and served with some steamed rice and some oven wedges (home made of course) it will be Steve’s happiness tonight 🙂

It is 6.10am and I have managed to write 3 posts all bordering on the gargantuan this morning. I could keep typing posts but I fear they would be obsolete before I posted them! So I am not too sure what I am going to do now with the next hour before I wake Steve with a cup of coffee and wait 30 minutes while he wakes up slowly before I dump the problem with the net on him. I have lots of things that I can do today that don’t involve the net. We have the lizard piles of wood to collect up (and maybe a lizard rescue might be on the cards) and deposit under the deck and out of the weather (should “the weather” ever decide to come that is 😉 ), I have plans to use as much of my kefir in cooking today as I can. I need my fridge back! Kefir and sourdough starters don’t mix well. I only found out the other day that kefir makes a perfectly good starter all by itself! I didn’t realise that kefir has lots of yeast and that it can be used to raise a loaf of bread and might test it out one day. I know that when I add it to sourdough cakes in place of milk, the cakes always rise well and have an excellent flavour so perhaps I can take advantage of this in some of my recipes. I want to get hold of some water kefir grains in the near future and will be converting half of Kid Creole’s coconuts into true coconut milk loving babies. If they die I will just keep trying to convert more as Kid produces them. He seems content to repopulate the earth with his progeny at the moment so that isn’t an issue. I have been researching and it is entirely possible to convert kefir milk grains to coconut milk grains or soymilk grains… it just takes persistence and a slow progression. I make my own coconut milk (out of coconuts…what a coincidence! 😉 ) and as such, I end up with coconut water as part of the equation. I would like to use it productively to make water kefir and so I might have to send a quick missive with accompanying moola off to Dom in South Australia to avail myself of some of his amazing water kefir grains. I want to experiment with various juices (including the über sweet carrot juice I squeeze from the carrots that I use to make Steve’s sourdough carrot cake staple) and fermenting them.

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On one side we have Steves oven wedges marinating in olive oil, chilli, pepper and salt and ready to go onto the bbq after the dessert on the other side is cooked

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This is the way that I cook apples now. I prefer it to using water or juice. I thinly slice the apples and fry them gently in butter, cinnamon, mixed spice and a tsp of organic vanilla extract till they are tender and then I add 1/2 cup of sugar (you could use rapadura or coconut sugar or honey or whatever you like here) and after a few minutes cooking in the resulting syrup I remove the apples and reduce the syrup to a thick caramel that I then pour over the apples. The results are superb and so far removed from apples stewed in water they could hardly be considered the same thing. I call them my “toffee apples” and use them as a base for my crumbles and for tonights dessert which will be covered in a light vanilla sponge and served with custard. Steve has earned his chilli and dessert tonight with his antics on the roof 🙂

I have been stretching out my posts in order to ignore having to deal with the fact that the modem is not working properly. It might be something to do with the weather (although I am bordering on my mother’s steadfast desire to cling to superstition there! Whoa neddy! 😉 ) but my guess is that our network is down and that an unmarked white van will turn up at the little wooden box up the road that is ostensibly Telstra’s and that Dodo has to share with them and will do a bit of fiddling around and hopefully the problem will be solved. I dare say you will know if we get back online by the presence or absence of posts ;). I am going to leave it there for today folks. It’s now 6.21am and the rubbish truck just took our rubbish and soon the recycling truck will be rumbling past to collect our recycling as well. It is still dark but I can spend the next 30 minutes getting ahead of my processes thus allowing us to launch into our day a bit earlier than we normally would. I hope you all have a wonderful day and weekend ahead of you and that you are able to spend some quality time doing what you truly love to do. See you all on Saturday  :o)

When more isn’t the answer

Hi All,

Writing is a struggle against silence.

Carlos Fuentes

Isn’t that lovely? I hasten to add that I hardly need to worry about the silence because whenever I get 2 minutes to myself the silence suddenly disappears into a frolicking dog, a husband who needs a hand with something or I fall asleep…hardly time to worry myself about silence but let’s just start tapping away to make sure that it doesn’t invade our psyche and do some sort of Freudian damage. I wasn’t sure what I was going to type today. We have been pretty full on with our studies this week and it is somewhat difficult to get back into the study habit when you have been luxuriating in all the free time in the world and being able to do whatever you want with said time. The course isn’t difficult but it is making us think a lot and is pulling us into a more creative frame of mind which suits both of us just fine. We learn something every day and Steve is picking up a copy of the student version of Adobe C.S.6 on Monday when he heads in to do the shopping so that we can launch ourselves into Photoshop 6. My wonderful kind younger brother bought himself a new camera not so long ago and gave us the perfectly good camera that he already had. This works out wonderfully because we really need a camera each for this course and now we are able to head off in different directions and take lots of photos for the course requirement. Steve is really interested in using Photoshop etc. and there are some very interesting programs in this package for writers as well. At least we are gaining a lot of information that is helping me, especially, to learn more about technology.

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The camera that my brother gave us. If you are reading “Cheers Jim! :)”

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On wednesday Serendipity Farm was dripping wet…today it’s sunny again

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The vacancy rate might not be anything to write home about but at least 1 wasp lived here over the summer season 🙂

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Serendipity Farms view of the Tamar River this afternoon

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A panorama taken with the new camera…not bad! 🙂

I pulled up the older corn and stripped the few cobs of corn from it. It wasn’t a huge success but at least we got some corn. The tomatoes, on the other hand, are going great guns. I just picked another large basin full of them and there are plenty still on the bushes. I picked lots of eggplants and I am tossing up what to do with them. I will give some of the tomatoes and eggplants to my daughters along with some zucchini and their creative minds can come up with something that they would like to do with them. No doubt it will be something Korean and delicious. Our chickens are still on strike and I am getting tired of “no eggs” as their mantra. I know that they are moulting but surely someone could lay an egg?! We are giving 6 away on Monday to minimise the flock a bit and we are also giving away some of Kid Creole’s coconuts (excess kefir grains) and I am feeding up Audrey to donate some of her to our local health food shop. David and Lee are lovely people who are very knowledgeable about health and when I asked them if they would like some excess kefir spotted an opportunity. I dare say they will be able to share it with customers who would like some. I love the way that generosity flows around. You pass something on to someone else, and they share with someone else and pretty soon everyone is sharing. I saw a really great idea on one of the blogs that I follow the other day. It was about a new system at the library where if you hold a library card you can take a packet of saved seeds to grow in your garden. Once you grow your seed and bring back seed to swap you can swap it for another packet of seed. I love the idea of using a library for more than just books. Libraries are hubs of knowledge for the common man. You don’t need the internet to take out a book and as your library card is free, the knowledge is also free…how precious is that? :o). I have been formulating my seed swap network along with designing a web page for the course we are doing. Steve is working on his spoon website to sell wooden spoons and I figured I may as well start where I meant to finish up and so will be working on designing and planning how to go about swapping seed in Tasmania. Firstly I need to get a network of people who are interested in saving and swapping seed and I might have to pick the lady who blogs at http://ediblethings.net/ mind regarding her seedy pen pal swaps and see what kind of swaps can be made. It’s an entirely exciting proposition and one that would develop a network of like-minded people and a virtual seed bank of possibilities for many others.

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Apparently my kitchen is part of the arch nemisis of Batman confraturnity  but even though I was on a considerable lean, you can see some of the harvest from this morning along with Kid Creole and his erstwhile coconuts awaiting their morning bath in fresh milk

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We seem to have a decidedly orange theme going on in the last 2 photos. I keep throwing found road things into that brass hanging pot and the blue thing on the top is my latest find. We discovered it on one of our daily walks and it’s the brass nozzle of a spray painting unit.

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I was testing out the new camera…Bernard and Manny our Java finches say “Hi” 🙂

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Still a bit orange but that’s mostly to do with the Western Red Cedar cladding. This photo was to show you how happy the yellow banksia rose is now that I have tipped a heady mass of mulch over its previously parched roots…it wants to repay me by taking over the house. Join the queue rose, Earl is first in line…

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I have just snuck this shot in as Steve found it and said “This is genius food!” He is going to buy some frankfurters and spaghetti on Monday in the shopping and is going to reproduce this amazing food. He also said “No kid would be able to resist these!”…obviously not… 😉

It’s the second day of autumn but you wouldn’t know it here in Tasmania. We have the promise of 27C today, 27C tomorrow and 30C on Monday. I am starting to wonder if summer is going to be the new black! I still have a big heap of mulch that I might start wheelbarrowing around to the side garden to try to give it a bit of relief from the long dry season that we have just had. I heard on the weather report that we have broken all of the records for temperature and for dryness in Australia this year and that’s not something to be proud of. They were saying that if you are 27 years or younger, you have no idea of what Australia’s “average” temperature for summer is because for the last 27 years we have exceeded it. I am not a fear monger and I am not in the business of trying to scare people but this long extended dry season is starting to make me twitch. I know that we aren’t the only people sick of summer. I read blogs about the flip side and how people can’t wait for summer. If I could bag it up and send it off to you I would folks! Most Australians would love to deliver a big bag of summer right to your doorstep for a bit of rain and a few days indoors near the fire. I am trying to work out what we are going to plant for winter crops this year. I haven’t ever grown a winter crop before and it’s a complete unknown quantity to me. I have been shamelessly pilfering information from wonderful gardeners like Sarah from the wonderful blog http://gardeningkiwi.wordpress.com/ because New Zealand is just a hop-step and jump from us here in Tassie and so what she is doing, I can surreptitiously pinch and do here. Sorry Sarah, remember that they DO say that copying is the sincerest form of flattery ;). There are some amazing gardening blogs out there and one of my favourites is http://www.sgaonline.org.au/ and I certainly get heaps of ideas from this blog but I like the personal touch of checking out what other people are doing just like me. I can learn so much from these more experienced gardeners and even though they might be on the other side of the world I also follow Margaret at http://awaytogarden.com/ that has a fantastic blog with amazing information. Her back posts are the stuff that this penniless hippies dreams are made of and she shares her knowledge so readily. Her friend Gayla is also amazing and has a fantastic blog called http://www.yougrowgirl.com/about/ all of these gardeners are our kind of gardeners…real people with real problems and solutions for what happens from day to day in their gardens. We might not have some of the pests and diseases that they have and they might not have some of the imported weeds that we suffer with but the online gardening community is an incredibly vibrant place to be and in sharing what we learn, we are giving someone else the chance to get down and dirty and fall totally and utterly in love with this big wide beautiful world. Getting your hands dirty is tantamount to a serious sensual awakening folks…you can’t help but gain something from the experience :o)

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Flower number 1. I found this nice little geranium, that has the added benefit of being scented, on one of our walks and took a piece to grow. Geraniums are incredibly hardy, waterwise and very easy to grow for those of you who aren’t gardeners and I plan on sourcing lots of lovely specimens for Serendipity Farm

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This pretty Rudbeckia hirta (Black-eyed Susan) is thriving in Steve’s shed. It is too hot to plant it out yet and once it cools down a bit and we get some rain I will be planting it somewhere in the side garden

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The Mondarda that I bought when I went to Wychwood has finally flowered. It too lives in the shed for now, but will be planted out in the side garden as well.

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I had just watered our potted plants and noticed this most interesting effect on a small Stachys byzantina (Lamb’s Ears) in a pot. I liked how the hairy leaves had held onto the water droplets

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My small potted fig tree has produced tiny figlets for the last 2 years but they dropped and nothing eventuated. This year it has 2 large figs… maybe I will get to try one? It all depends on whether the possums learn to fly… 😉

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One of the Nerine bowdenii that are flowering like crazy in the front garden and are making a lovely splash of autumn promise

It is getting hard to find nice pictures to share with you all. The garden has had enough of summer and we don’t have to worry about pulling weeds or mowing lawns in 2013 because they are all officially deceased. Brown is the new green in our neck of the woods and Tasmania is wet compared to most of the rest of Australia. Where I come from in Western Australia the vegetation is brown for most of the year as millennia of low rainfall has taught it not to trust dark clouds. You would be surprised just what grows in arid areas though and Western Australia has some of the most beautiful plants and wildflowers in all of Australia. I have one little bit of hope that at least nature thinks that it is autumn. The nerines are all flowering. It’s hard to believe that anything would have the will to flower when the soil it is growing in is little more than transient dust but flower they are and most beautifully as well. I have a cunning plan. I am going to formulate a list of very hardy arid waterwise plants (preferably perennials and shrubs) that I am going to source next spring to plant on Serendipity Farm. I am tired of planting things that need extra care when what we need are hardy plants that are just happy to be in the ground. No more mollycoddling plants and anything that doesn’t like living here won’t be getting any preferential treatment any more. We have been amazed at being able to grow plants like cardamom and turmeric and even if we have to resort to doing something like this…

http://permaculturenews.org/2010/01/11/free-hot-water-from-compost-wheelie-bin/

to keep our glasshouse warmer in winter and grow happy tropical rhizomes we will. Isn’t that a good idea by the way? The West Tamar council are trialling giving ratepayers a compost bin each to see if it doesn’t cut down green waste. At the moment the scheme is only available to the residents of Gravelly Beach but hopefully it will expand and we will all get one. Ratepayers can choose to use it as a compost bin or to put all of their green waste into it and wheel it out once a month to the curb to be collected by a council truck that will haul it off to be composted en masse.  I think it’s a great idea and if we do get one, I will make a hot water glasshouse heater with ours :o)

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We went to Deviot to walk the boys today and Steve liked the look of this shot…I like the look of it as well 🙂

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An Echinacea angustifolia growing inside the heritage apple and pear covered garden at Deviot. I am waiting for the seed to dry and will shake a few into a paper bag for Serendipity Farm

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The toilet block at the back of the Deviot Hall. I like these donated white tiles that were painted by the local children and their parents and that now grace the loo.

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Just to show you how dry our soil is here at the moment. This large crack was spotted on our walk this morning

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A ricketty jetty leading out into the river.

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Looks like Italy doesn’t it?

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Its been a really good blackberry season this year so far. I am doing my best to collect as many as I can to use my alchemy and turn into blackberry wine

It certainly took me a long time to get around to talking about the title of the post today didn’t it? Anyone who has been reading my blog for more than a few posts knows that I have been attempting to get healthier since my mum died last year in January. I took a long hard look at my relationship with food and decided that my 40 year love/hate relationship with food was officially OVER. I stopped dieting because you would think that if something was going to work it would have done so in the previous 40 years so I figured that dieting wasn’t working for me (or anyone for that matter) and started to eat healthy food, to exercise daily and to start coming to grips with severing the link between my emotions and my mouth. I weighed in at 90kg when I headed over for mum’s funeral. Not lightweight by anyone’s ideals and I had a lot of problems with my knees and was starting to think that I might actually need surgery on them in the near future. Since mum died I have lost 23kg. I now weigh 67kg, which might not be light by some people’s reckoning but that, is the lightest that I have been since I was 12 years old. I no longer have pain in my knees and although my left knee is stiff, it isn’t sore. When I gave up dieting I gave up so much more than an unhealthy relationship with food. I gave up the need to legitimise myself through food and my excuses for why I wasn’t a capable person. After just over a year, food is just that…”Food”. I no longer think about it every waking hour and that is possibly one of the most liberating things that has ever happened to me. I love to walk now and actually volunteer to walk Earl when Bezial has a sore leg. I have heaps of energy and have discovered that getting up early gives me some precious “Me” time every single day. I think there comes a time when we all have to question our bad habits and see if they are worth our support. My emotional need to overeat was holding me back from living. I can do what I need to do now. The only problem that I have is when Steve wants me to hold both dogs’ leads when he wants to take a photograph because now, their combined weight exceeds mine :o). The best thing of all is that I haven’t felt like I have been deprived of anything whilst I have been steadily losing weight. I plateaued at 76kg for about 4 months but then started having green smoothies for breakfast and suddenly I started to lose weight all over again. I don’t eat any less, I just eat what my body needs me to eat and I make sure to include healthy fats because despite what modern society might preach, we NEED fat folks. Fat is incredibly important for metabolism and for our ability to absorb certain vitamins. If you want nice skin, you need to eat the right kind of fats. I no longer have to starve myself, I no longer have to count calories, I no longer have to weigh myself morning and night and I certainly don’t have to strip down to my undies to try to eke out the best result. I am left lighter in body but more importantly, in mind, spirit and soul. I have been given a second chance while I still have time to enjoy it and I will make sure not to abuse this privilege

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This poor Stewartia pseudocamellia was on its last legs in the ground but we dug it up, repotted it and left it to soak in this container of water and look at it now! Plants are very resiliant things 🙂

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Some of the grape vine cuttings that struck…all of them will be planted out around the circumference of our large fully enclosed veggie patch

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These potted plants don’t get hit so hard by the direct sun because they are on the South side of Steve’s shed but they are still showing signs of being completely OVER summer

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The sole artichoke plant that survived. I think its simply because it is right near the deck in a semi enclosed area and the wallabies are too scared to get too close to the deck because the silent marauder lives on the deck (One of Earl’s pseudonyms…)

I am going to head off now and spend the rest of today hunting for recipes for ways to use up kefir. Kid Creole and all of his coconutty babies have been going nuts and producing a steady stream of yoghurt like kefir that I don’t consume and that Steve is wary of. I include it in Steve’s favourite sourdough chocolate cake now but 1 cup once a week isn’t going to empty my fridge of kefir and as self-appointed “house researcher” it is my duty to find useful and tasty ways to use it up. Wish me luck folks or we might drown in the stuff! See you all on Wednesday and make sure to take a moment out of your day to be grateful for everything in your life, It is a most rewarding practice and apparently, according to scientific research, it makes you a happier person and who wouldn’t love to be a little bit happier for free? :o)