I’m just doing the do…how about you?

Hi All

September appears to be a month of change on Serendipity Farm. Last week we found out that the son-and-heir was moving down to Tasmania with his Texan sweetie Kelsey and suddenly all of the piles and boxes of debris and memories that we had left languishing in the unit at the rear of our daughter’s home in the city needed to be removed, revisited and revised. The 3 “R’s” of the apocalypse folks and it has seen us moving a lot of things around in the process and getting rid of lots of “stuff” that we simply don’t have the space for and will never need.  We inherited a lot of cut glass that had lived in a glass cabinet in the spare room until last week when we decided that we would offer Stewart and Kelsey the queen sized bed it contained and would swap it for our old bed that Steve made for me about 10 years ago. Steve and I headed into town and cleared out a lot of boxes and bags of “stuff” and brought them home with us and at that point we merely thought it would be a case of “open a cupboard and stuff them in”…

Steve's "emo" respray on a little bedside set of draws

Steve’s “emo” respray on a little bedside set of draws

Still trying to make the internet his minion...

Still trying to make the internet his minion…

Nope…it wasn’t. We ended up going through the boxes of old papers, bits-and-bobs and “stuff” and have spent the better part of a week working out whether or not we want it, will need it, or have anywhere to actually put it. Most of the old papers had been kept by my father and just need to be burned so methinks a baked potato bonfire complete with roasted marshmallows is in our immediate future, however there were lots of nick-knacks etc. that hold no sentimental value to us (or anyone else still alive) so what do we do with them? They aren’t technically “worth” anything and aside from sticking them back into the glass cabinet that we liberated what should we do with them? So we found ourselves in a bit of a quandary and what made it worse was that we had our OWN “stuff” that we had been hoarding and carting around from pillar to post to deal with as well so as you can imagine, we have had piles of rubbish all over the place and Earl has been seen at regular intervals sneaking away with various articles in his beak

Cheap and plentiful, apples are my morning mainstay these days

Cheap and plentiful, apples are my morning mainstay these days

We found this teeny "faeries" egg in amongst the other eggs in a hidden nest

We found this teeny “faeries” egg in amongst the other eggs in a hidden nest

We erected the 4 poster bed that Steve made for us back when we lived in W.A. in the small middle bedroom and were amazed at how tiny the room now looks. We have decided to put our interior design skills to work and paint the whole bed white to minimise its impact. It’s a sort of stained jarrah at the moment which makes it look huge and oppressive. Aside from being a hulking great thing, nothing that was in the bedroom before fits there now so we had to take a look at the furniture in the room and move it “elsewhere”. In the process we ended up moving bedroom furniture, furniture from the lounge room (twice), things moved back and forwards and in the end we found a happy medium that took us all day Sunday to accomplish. We still have that pile of cut glass so if anyone knows what we should do with it, feel free to let us know

A most pathetic attempt to add character to a Stromboli...note to self... don't use spaghetti in the oven

A most pathetic attempt to add character to a Stromboli…note to self… don’t use spaghetti in the oven

How much more character could I want?! ;)

How much more character could I want?! 😉

Chicken, mushroom braised onion and red capsicum pie in homemade butter shortcrust

Chicken, mushroom braised onion and red capsicum pie in homemade butter shortcrust

Steve decided to tidy up his music room and go hunting for a camera charger that he needed and took all day to find it and when he did, it was in one of the boxes that he first looked in. You know those moments where you are BURSTING to say something but think better of it because of the sake of world peace? Well I had a moment like that. If I am being honest, I had about 10 moments like that all in a row and aside from having to stifle the urge to bang my head on the computer desk in front of me I am completely unable to get it through Steve’s head that if you insist on “man checks” you are going to spend a LONG time looking for anything. Couple that with a chaotic organisational system that involves “putting things away” but in no particular order or place and you can only imagine what it is like here sometimes when “something” needs to be found…sigh…

The grapes are alive!

The grapes are alive!

So are the avocado's and the hazelnuts...stick some seeds in the ground folks...whatchagottalose?

So are the avocado’s and the hazelnuts…stick some seeds in the ground folks…whatchagottalose?

The weather has been typically spring weather of late. Lots of drizzly rain and I certainly am not going to be the first one to complain about it. I want it to rain for as long as it can because the alternative is hard baked clay and blow-away silt to contend with and the longer it stays wet…the longer it stays in place and is easy to dig. The trees that we planted out are all still alive so that’s a bonus and we have decided to take a day and pull all of our potted plants out and go through them and sort them into a pile of keepers that we can justify keeping and that we actually have an area put aside to plant them out into and a pile to give away to someone. Steve wants to put them on gumtree as “free trees pick up only” and while I am all for giving them away, after our last attempt to give things away via gumtree I am not so sure that I want to engage with the natives who usually want you to drive 200km and deliver…sigh…Anyone with any good ideas about what we can do with the wealth of free trees that are going to come out of our ruthless cull please, again, let us know.

Remember that tree that wouldn't fall down?

Remember that tree that wouldn’t fall down?

It fell down

It fell down

It’s Wednesday again! How come 2013 has flown away so fast? Suddenly we are on the cusp of both hotter weather and Christmas and I am prepared for neither. I woke up at 2.30am to a loud clap of thunder and we had a small electrical storm with pelting rain that has passed now. SO glad I didn’t end up doing the washing like I was lamenting yesterday evening ;). Steve and I are starting our final course unit and have been working on a list of questions to prepare us for entering the world of Web Publishing and “Dreamweaver”. We had a problem with a link that we needed to access to complete the questions and after sending off a missive to our lecturer we decided to head off to the Beaconsfield tip and take some old bed bases that someone might get some use out of complete with headboards. I like the Beaconsfield tip, it has a really great tip shop and depending on the day that you visit, you get great bargains. The weekend lady is a tough nut. She wants profit at all costs. The weekday lady is a friend and you get your bargains extra cheap. After poring through old books and other peoples discarded treasures I ended up finding a very large baking tray that fits perfectly on Brunhilda’s over-large shelves, a complete walk through book of a game that my daughter owns and loves, a small sturdy round Huon pine cutting board, a book on recipes and crafts for fetes with lots of great cake and toffee recipes and under a heap of old books we found a book on how to use Dreamweaver! BONUS! It’s an older version but most programs don’t change all that much so we at least have something to use if we get really stuck and we can start working through how to use this complex program over the holidays

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It might be older but at 20c I figure it is worth it’s age in gold

What we have to do to prevent theft by stealth chook on Serendipity Farm.

What we have to do to prevent theft by stealth chook on Serendipity Farm.

Have you ever thought of developing your own website? I know that I watch how much of my WordPress blog I have used up so far and am mindful of keeping my image size low so that I don’t run out of space too fast. I have been blogging about Serendipity Farm for over 2 years now and have used up 42% of my space. For the first year I blogged daily so I don’t think I am doing too bad but the time is coming when I am going to have to pay up or ship out. The course that Steve and I are currently doing was a sort of “gap year” thing. I let Steve pick a course to do because we can’t go to university until Steve becomes an Aussie citizen (and takes the dreaded citizenship test…). Well… technically we CAN go to university but Steve would have to pay up front, something that we just can’t find a way to do so until he gets his act together and learns the inside scoop on what our past Prime Ministers ate for breakfast and what size their underpants were (in chronological order…) we have been learning about Web Design.

Now that leaves are coming back things are starting to look pretty again

Now that leaves are coming back things are starting to look pretty again

I am going to be the very proud owner of a flowering May Apple this year! "WOOT!" :)

I am going to be the very proud owner of a flowering May Apple this year! “WOOT!” 🙂

Aren't these Ceanothus beautiful? Steve pruned them well last year and they are happy

Aren’t these Ceanothus beautiful? Steve pruned them well last year and they are happy

The course might have been a gap year thing but it has opened up a wealth of possibilities to us. We have learned that with a bit of effort and a desire to learn how to get our hands a bit dirty in the world of simple code etc. we could start our own website and this blog could gain a much greater degree of security than it currently has. The more we look at it, the more interesting it becomes and with Steve the wonder techy behind us (more stubborn refusal to give in than technological genius really 😉 ) and the son-and-heir who is also technologically minded I figure we could bumble our way through the stages required to design and bring and new website to life. Whenever I see a blog that I follow mentioning “moving to a new site” I start to twitch. It usually means that we are just about to be inundated with advertisements’ and posts full of product placement. I am not blogging for fame or fortune folks. I am blogging to release the pressure of my muse’s constant undercurrent hum of “sound” so you can be assured that when we do move, it will be to nice clean unadvertised premises with a decided middle aged hippy flavour.

One of our inherited orchids in a mass of blooms

One of our inherited orchids in a mass of blooms

I thought I had killed this lovely red azalea but they are as tough as old boots. Plant them, they are incredibly hard to kill!

I thought I had killed this lovely red azalea but they are as tough as old boots. Plant them, they are incredibly hard to kill!

I love bulbs :)

I love bulbs 🙂

Steve picked up our new bbq the other day and it has been languishing inside its massive cardboard box in the shed ever since. It’s not because we don’t want to tear open the box and assemble it. Steve and I both have that gene that wants to assemble, I think it is called the Scalextric, Airfix or Lego gene and requires you to mindlessly put things together…if glue is a part of the equation, all the better! It’s like knitting in front of the television…a semi-conscious pastime that feeds something inside you and leaves you replete. The problem that we also have is that Steve has a “hurry UP!” gene and I have a “Slow and steady wins the race” (and doesn’t arrive at the finish line with a hand full of nuts and bolts that probably, really, SHOULD be on that assembled item…sigh…) gene and the two genes are incompatible. You know how like poles on magnets repel? So do Steve’s and my working genes.  It’s not just the fact that assembling a simple bbq is going to probably result in our own revisitation of the battle of Britain…we have an added problem in the form of Earl.

45 balloons and an oxygen starved narf7 makes for happy dogs on Bezial's birthday

45 balloons and an oxygen starved narf7 makes for happy dogs on Bezial’s birthday

Bezial and one of his birthday stash of toys. This one sings and so Bezial decided to let it live...for now...

Bezial and one of his birthday stash of toys. This one sings and so Bezial decided to let it live…for now…

How could a huge hulking lunk like this be so cute?

How could a huge hulking lunk like this be so cute?

Earl has a BIG problem with anything setting foot on his deck. He is fine with Steve, Bezial and me but anything else is an invader and needs to be repelled. He spends his days in an endless cycle of snoring upside down on the couch, begging for walks and parading around the perimeter of the fence that keeps Earl inside (much to the world’s relief) and the invaders out. Earl has more than his fair share of foreign invaders including feral cats and possums that invade in the night to steal the cheese that we put on our kitchen window ledge for the birds in the day, the birds that come for the cheese are included on the invader list apparently…butterflies, ants, wasps, bees ANYTHING that dares to come onto Earls deck is fair game for his displeasure…included in the process of “repelling all boarders”, is the process of making sure that the invaders KNOW without a shadow of a doubt that this is “Earl’s turf”. To do that, Earl needs to spend an inordinate amount of time peeing on anything that he feels is especially “his”.

The large arty pot prior to Earl's stamp of ownership

The large arty pot prior to Earl’s stamp of ownership

Soaked almonds that need skinning. I don't buy milk, I make it.

Soaked almonds that need skinning. I don’t buy milk, I make it.

It might take a while but the results are infinitely superior to what I can get from the shop

It might take a while but the results are infinitely superior to what I can get from the shop

We brought home a large unusual arty pot that we inherited when dad died and that has been languishing in the unit out the back of our daughter’s home in the city since we moved to Serendipity Farm almost 3 years ago. It’s most unusual, most impractical and highly visible and when we decided to place it on the deck because we had NO idea where to put it otherwise, Earl immediately homed in on it and put his tag on it. Steve noted this and headed out with a kettle of boiling water to de-mark the afflicted item and was bemused to note as he was coming back in with the empty kettle…Earl casually strolling up to the pot and re-marking it! We can only imagine the joy that Earl is going to feel when we are talking to each other again after the assembly of the bbq and we haul this shiny black behemoth of a “possession” onto the deck for summer gustatory delights and in the name of keeping the house cool in the coming hot months. I can only begin to imagine how many water bowls are going to be emptied through Earl onto our new bbq and that’s why it is still in its box and awaiting the Pimblett version of W.W.3 to rise like the phoenix from the shreds of cardboard and become the mainstay of our summer (albeit urine tinted) cooking space.

Here's what happened to narf7's veggie garden over winter...

Here’s what happened to narf7’s veggie garden over winter…

It went completely and utterly feral! Those sow thistles have stems as thick as my wrist

It went completely and utterly feral! Those sow thistles have stems as thick as my wrist

Spinach and mushrooms, both serendipitous harvests

Spinach and mushrooms, both serendipitous harvests

Its 4.39am and I am just about to pat this post on the head and send it off to the blogging version of “the printers”. I know it’s a bit less entertaining than usual and indeed, so am I. It’s the cusp of the damp and cooler weather and unlike most Northerners who are already starting to sulk about the impending rain and cold, I am sad to see our cooler, wetter weather go. I really don’t like hot weather. I am not a fan of sweat or sleepless nights bathed in the stuff. I don’t like trying to walk grumpy hot dogs on hot days or mosquitoes or the smell of the river when the oysters dry up (ECH!). I love spring and its possibilities but the long hot dry months of summer leave me restless and twitchy. I am a Northerner living in a Southerners body. I also have a vegetable garden that is NOWHERE near ready for planting out with new summer veggies. I headed up (most bravely) yesterday and waded through the mud to see that the spinach that has been the mainstay of the garden for the past year has finally decided to go to seed and is now up to my chest. I am not short. I cut some for tonight’s evening meal whilst trying to simultaneously shield my eyes from the sow thistles doing their damnedest to get into the Guinness World Book of Records for having the thickest stems.

Clivea flowers

Clivea flowers

Clivea seeds from last season's flowers

Clivea seeds from last season’s flowers

Enormous Camellia flowers

Enormous Camellia flowers

Headily fragrant Daphne odora flowers

Headily fragrant Daphne odora flowers

It’s time to haul ass and get out of winter “inside” mode and back into summer “outside” mode and I am scared. Steve and I have 2 weeks of holidays coming up and we will be outside pouring concrete, setting the final poles into the ground for our big outside enclosed veggie garden. I have plans to make a garden bed out of the various coloured wine bottles that we have been storing in the small shed that I was going to make a bottle wall out of but that I am now going to turn into a lovely raised garden (thanks to Pinterest for the idea 😉 ). The rest of the garden beds will be assembled from existing enormous wooden beams that are in situ inside the perimeter (thank goodness!) and lots and lots and lots and lots of rocks. We can spare the odd rock. Serendipity Farm is predominately made up of rocks ;). Well that’s all for today folks. Narf7 is entering “doing” territory and that’s my least explored territory of all. I am great at planning…implementing isn’t my forte but as this is my “year of doing” I had best get my act together and at least “DO” something! ;). See you next week when I should technically have some photos of lots of hard work and misery loves company so feel free to get out into your own gardens so that we will meet next Wednesday as the confraternity of hobbling, tired, scratched and maimed gardeners ;).

If Steve ever suggests that you "just pop down to the gate for a little walk with the dogs it's SUCH a lovely day..." best you pretend you didn't hear ;)

If Steve ever suggests that you “just pop down to the gate for a little walk with the dogs it’s SUCH a lovely day…” best you pretend you didn’t hear 😉

Today's word cloud image. Steve got mentioned head and shoulders above everything else so he got to sit stage left ;)

Today’s word cloud image. Steve got mentioned head and shoulders above everything else so he got to sit stage left 😉

Using every bit of the metaphorical cow

Hi All,

Firstly, has anyone else out there noticed an increase in blog followers lately? Aside from the blog followers, are any of you experiencing a lot more spam making it through the spam filters for WordPress? Well I have been and so I went hunting to see what I could find. The reason I went hunting was that I am naturally nosey and I decided to see who my “new followers” actually were. It turns out that 6 of the last 10 blog followers are not actually bloggers. Several of them are blogs that show me how to make money out of blogging and the rest are either suspended blog accounts or remain unused. It turns out that this problem, as it IS a problem, has been surfacing on many blogs lately. It would seem spammers have worked out a new way to make revenue out of blogs and are exploiting a loophole where WordPress doesn’t allow bloggers to choose who follows them. A simple choice, like we get with comments, would solve the problem but apparently WordPress is loath to implement this change for some reason. At the moment all we can do is report these spam/faux blogs to WordPress. Here is a bit more information about the problem…

http://onecoolsitebloggingtips.com/2013/04/09/wordpress-com-follower-management/

From the site above I found a link where I headed over to a forum post specifically to do with spam followers…

http://en.forums.wordpress.com/topic/preventing-spammers-from-being-notified-of-new-posts/page/4?replies=83

If you have suddenly become incredibly popular in the last few months you may have picked up some spam hitchhikers but at the moment we just have to grin and bear them. The only option available to us is to report them to WordPress but as I said, WordPress is in mass denial mode and seem to want to divert the problem rather than deal with it. Let’s just hope that these faux followers are merely a nuisance rather than a problem waiting in the wings that WordPress simply can’t deal with.

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“Sorry? You want me to look dignified? Not today, I am too comfortable”

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A very large boat heading out to sea via the Tamar River

Now I can get back to the title of the post after sharing that with you. I think that everyone needs to know that the spammers are trying to get in the back door so to speak before heading side left into metaphorical cows et. Al. We all need to be more aware of food waste and we vegans can’t be smug in that arena. We might not end up with lots of grisly and gristly entrails dripping with gore when we choose to make our evening meal but we do end up with a whole lot of skins, pips and “other” that needs to be dealt with. We can compost our bits or we can often use some of them to feed domesticated animals (Earl and Bezial would like it to be known that they are NO-ONES domesticated animals and therefore point blank refuse to entertain the idea of eating our veggie and fruit scraps) but what about those skins that worms fear to taste like citrus skins and onion and garlic skins? What do we do with them? I am as guilty as the next person of surreptitiously tossing them into the rubbish bin salving my conscience with “they will biodegrade before I do!” but if everyone throws their peelings into the bin that’s a whole lot of waste on top of the waste that is more difficult to get rid of. What’s a conscientious environmentally aware person to do?

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After paring the white pith away from the zest they had to be covered with cold water and brought up to the boil

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Draining the peel after one of it’s simmering sessions

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After the final simmer in fresh water the peel is added back into the pan along with sugar and water

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Here the peel has taken on a translucent look and the syrup is thick. After checking that the syrup had reached 230F (the recipe was in “F”) I removed the pot from the heat and allowed it all to cool down for 30 minutes. The end results are a delicious way to preserve all of the harvest and minimise waste.

Well, let’s think of a clever way to reuse those problem peels. You can use pips and skin of citrus in marmalade. Save them in the freezer till you need them. You can also turn citrus skins into zest for all kinds of cooking purposes that you can freeze until needed or you can glace or candy the zest for cakes and decorations or just dipping into chocolate or sugar and eating. Here are a couple of links for anyone looking to have a go at minimising their own personal waste in the citrus area…

http://veena-cakesbakes.blogspot.com.au/2011/09/preserved-orange-peel.html

http://kitchenpreserve.com/candied-orange-peel/

http://daysontheclaise.blogspot.com.au/2012/01/preserved-orange-peel.html

http://scraplunchproject.blogspot.com.au/2013/04/preserved-orange-peel.html

The same principals can be used for all citrus zest, just make sure to get as much of the white pithy bit from the zest as you can because it makes the final product bitter. I am peeling some orange skins at the moment and just found out a small tip by good chance. I froze a lot of orange skins in a bag in the freezer and was adding them to the bag as I ate my oranges. The frozen (now thawed) orange skins are much easier to get the zest from than fresh orange peels so if you want to make a lot of preserved orange peel, it might take the edge off all of that pith removal. This next tip is specifically for lemon rinds and results in zest powder and the link after that is a spin on preserved lemons, using the preserved orange rinds to make a savoury ingredient. No waste, useable and desirable edibles and less landfill a win-win situation

http://chocolateandzucchini.com/archives/2010/06/roasted_lemon_zest_powder.php

http://scraplunchproject.blogspot.com.au/2013/04/preserved-orange-peel.html

The onion skins make a wonderful natural dye for egg shells and natural spun wool and combined with alum and other mordants you can get some pretty amazing colours out of the humble onion skin. See some of these links for some really useful information and sites…

http://pioneerthinking.com/crafts/natural-dyes

http://craftykatiegates.blogspot.com.au/

http://waysofthewhorl.wordpress.com/2011/04/06/natural-dyeing-take-2-onion-skins/

Anyone wanting to keep their own goats or sheep might want to head to that first blog where there is an extensive list of colours linked to particular plants. The second blog is now defunct but still there for us all to check out and this clever little cookie has managed to use some interesting things to dye skeins of wool including the humble black bean!

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My lovely new friand/financier pan courtesy of my wonderful daughters

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err…”Oops!” I always forget how powerful the vitamix is and this is what happened to my soaked skun almonds, they went straight from nut to paste!

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After sieving the paste through a fine mesh sieve to remove all of the lumps I decided to soldier on and hope for the best that almond paste would suffice for almond meal

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There’s quite a lot of butter in friand but what’s a slab of butter when something is delicious eh? 😉

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The end result, lovely rich, dense little cakes that taste wonderful

I have just been doing a bit of nosing around on a website that I previously pilfered a few tutorials and articles from but haven’t had time to revisit for a while. Jess, a.k.a. “Rabid” from http://rabidlittlehippy.wordpress.com/ and LyndaD from http://middleagedreflections.blogspot.com.au  reminded me what a valuable source of information this site actually is. I was trawling around and discovered this amazing woman. She built a log cabin on a waitress’s wages all on her own and then after losing it to a fire just after it was completed, she and her partner did it all over again! What an inspiration of a woman! Check out her story here and marvel at how this woman was able to overcome the odds and never EVER try to beat her willpower to succeed, methinks it must be diamond skinned!

http://www.dorothyainsworth.com/welcome.html that’s a lot of linkies in one post and I promise no more.

It’s now 4.24pm and suddenly it’s almost time to post this post and I have been phaffing around all day trying to animate teapots and kettles but realising that I am certainly NOT the I.T. Specialist in this family. The clucky who was sitting on eggs has hatched out 4 babies and despite being completely surrounded by feral cats as soon as they realised that there were 4 tasty little fluffy squeakies she still had 4 fluffy little babies. It would seem that her mother’s (Effel Doocark) uselessness with hatching out babies hasn’t passed down to this angry mother of a chook and she is ready to take ALL of the feral cats on at once! She attacked every single one that came close to her and is now sitting in the middle of a pile of grain that I tossed out for her on top of her fluffies and maybe…just maybe she might manage to keep all 4 babies but I am not investing myself in baby chicks anymore. The odds are against them folks and narf7 has no way to make those odds any better short of trapping all of the feral cats, driving them over the Batman bridge and hurling them out into the park on the other side along with the feral crazy man who emerges from his caravan to greet his day with a solid round of yelling each morning. Steve, the dogs and I get serenaded by his dulcet tones. Maybe he would like some cats to keep him company? At least he would have something to yell about then! 😉

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This is Steve’s latest batch of homemade ice cream. It’s rich vanilla bean ice cream with homemade creamy English fudge pieces

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The ice cream packed into a container and heading for the freezer

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My choko now looking like some sort of exotic mantis giving a speech

I have decided to take up knitting for relaxation. I don’t know how that is going to work out to be honest because whenever I get a knot the relaxation quotient of knitting is probably going to get a reworking but the other day I decided to head off and find a sound wav of a kettle boiling. A simple little sound wav that I could put into my next animation. The very first site that I clicked on was infected with a Trojan and instantly, so were we :o(. Steve was out so narfy, the technophobic luddite had to think her way out of the fact that AVG appears to be on the blink and not updating properly and was only managing to “contain” the virus and every 5 minutes I would get a pop-up warning telling me that I had 3 viruses all vying for my attention. After ascertaining that an AVG scan just wasn’t going to cut the mustard and realising that I had NO idea where Malware Bytes was situation on our computer any more (after the last virus went through the start menu got erased)… and as I was downloading Microsofts answer to Armageddon I suddenly realised that we had been contracting a lot of viruses lately, all from websites. AVG SHOULD be catching these viruses before they have a chance to invade Poland but apparently the free version no longer does a very good job. It would appear that “free” is something that WordPress and most internet security services no longer want to host.

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A tray of sausage rolls for Another one of Steve’s evening meals

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Finished and ready for mass consumption

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I had some milk kefir hanging about in the fridge and as neither Steve nor I use it I decided to put it to good use and make a cake. The cake recipe was for a buttermilk spice cake. The end result was incredibly moist and smelled wonderful. Being a spice cake this should mature nicely as well. I even made the icing sugar myself (from regular granulated sugar) in my vitamix.

It took 15 minutes to download the most excellent Microsoft malwares tool (from here should anyone out there find themselves up to their armpits in viruses with no-where to go…)…

http://www.microsoft.com/en-au/security/pc-security/malware-removal.aspx

After choosing “full scan” I was told that it was going to take over 2 hours…there went my morning of study! I spent the next 2 hours clicking “heal” on AVG every 5 minutes and knitting up a storm while I watched the monitor for those 5 minute pop-ups courtesy of Mr Virus and his host of minions, most persistent little buggers they are, so knitting was my only real option. I actually had fun! Once the malware removal tool had managed to find the 23 infected files and deal with them the PC was back to perfick and Mr Virus is going to have to wait till stupid narf7 plays Russian roulette again with wav sites…on second thoughts, I reckon I am going to record the sounds myself as then I am guaranteed virus free. It looks like we are going to have to pay for virus protection for the very first time. A sad but sorry indictment of the “free” software that is lagging behind and is going out of date faster than the viruses are replicating (lightning speed). As irritating as having a virus (or 23) was, there is a real danger that there are many people out there simply unaware that by clicking on a website you can become infected.

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As you can see I have some knitting in prime position next to the P.C. (and yes Sarah, that IS one of your glorious U.K. meadow shots blatantly pilfered and used as my desktop 😉 )

Well that’s Wednesday done and dusted folks. It’s getting later and I have to liberate Steve’s tea from the oven. Tonight he is having marinated tofu and oven baked Chinese rice. We had 3 blocks of tofu that need to be used up and so tonight is the night. Lucky Steve likes it really ;). See you next Wednesday folks. Steve is going to have a look at working out how to format the animations so that I can share them with you along with a few photos. Take note, this post is 800 words less than your usual doorstop and narf7 is honing her craft ;). Till Wednesday, Ciao :o)

Here are my last 3 animations. You will have to click on the links below because WordPress won’t allow imbedded content. Make sure to turn your speakers on because the last animation has sound.

http://s1101.photobucket.com/user/bezial27/media/BabooshkabeforeEase_zps58a0c4c6.mp4.html

http://s1101.photobucket.com/user/bezial27/media/FranWindmillTask_zpsdb06ed8d.mp4.html

http://s1101.photobucket.com/user/bezial27/media/typeanim_zps2bd9c39b.mp4.html

When soybean met date…”I want what they are having!”

Hi All,

I have been making my own homemade soymilk for a few weeks now as an alternative to the carton stuff that I had been using. Soymilk is a dirty word these days and aside from my early morning cuppa I don’t use it. I had been drinking the Coles brand for a few weeks (Steve does the shopping and it’s only $1 a carton 😉 ) till something made me take a look at the carton more closely and I realised that the magic words “Non G.M.” were most suspiciously missing on my carton! That’s often more telling folks and this little black duck isn’t going to be drinking soymilk made somewhere else using genetically modified mutagenistic materials! No sir! So what’s a girl to do? I didn’t want to start buying the more expensive cartons because 1. They are more expensive (duh!) and 2. I can make it myself…and 3. I actually own an incredibly underused soy milk making machine that I can and should be using. 3 strikes and I am out! I asked Steve to pick me up some organic Aussie soybeans from David, our local Health Food shop maestro and my new cycle began. I say “cycle” because I never really understood the true cost of my early morning splash of soy milk before. When you make it, you suddenly realise that it’s not instant folks! I soak my beans overnight. They really do need to be soaked for at least 12 hours to loosen the skins…why care if the skins are loosened? That’s another 1; 2 folks…1. Because the skins clog up the machine, make the milk über frothy and very hard to clean and 2 (most importantly) if you skin the beans (yes…hand skin…) the resulting soymilk is actually drinkable…even tasty! As with everything that I do, I like to refine the processes. If you are going to keep doing something, it has to fit in with your ethos and your life and thus the refinement process began…

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2 homemade Cornish pasties with butter shortcrust and homemade oven wedges

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Any of you craft mamma’s out there want to give me ANY idea how I could make something like these?!!!

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The closest I got to actually documenting the soymilk making process today. Sloth overtook me and I spent the day researching all kinds of fermented goodies recipes…I have to skin all of these babies before I can turn them into soymilk so you can see the process in Wednesdays email 🙂

Soak the soybeans overnight (first REMEMBER to soak the soybeans overnight…black tea tastes hideous!)…next skin the beans. Find a way to make skinning the beans enjoyable as it’s going to take you the better part of a hour to do it and you will resemble Rumplestiltskin with a hump by the time you have finished if you stupidly decide to do it at the kitchen sink… I choose to sit on the deck dangling my feet alternating looking at the view, dropping the soybean skins to the ground below where the feral kittens toss them about and the feral chooks eat the beans that I accidentally throw over the edge (whilst tossing the skins into my newly popped pile…sigh…). I usually end up with Steve and the dogs as my companions and when I finish I head inside to the awaiting machine…toss the skun beans into the basket of the machine (obviously I am going to have to take some photos of it now…note to self…”TAKE SOME PHOTOS!”), wrangle it all together (like every other electrical machine that I own it has a personality and not a good one :o( ) and plug it in, press the start button and wait for it to do it’s “thang”. After it beeps at you an inordinately long amount head back from the furthest reaches of Serendipity Farm where you OBVIOUSLY have to be and start the next part of the equation…making it taste good. As I mentioned, if you remove the skins you are most of the way to getting something approximating shop bought carton milk. Unlike shop bought carton milk, homemade soymilk hasn’t got all the fillers, the oil, the sugar and the thickeners etc. that shop bought milk has. You get to customise it out the wazoo and that’s what makes this little black duck’s heart sing! I don’t use sugar any more. I gave it up back in January when I started my green smoothie challenge (another moment when I was just going along for the ride and ended up predominately changing my life…) and I have no intentions of starting it again just to make soymilk palatable.

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I got this sturdy cast iron fire set at the local tip shop for $1. All it needs is a bit of rust removal and rust protector and it will be as good as new… does ANYONE know what those weird extending tongs are?! You usually get a fire poker with these sort of sets but I had to have these because of that extendable set of pinchers 😉

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This wonderful cast iron pan cost me $1 at the Exeter tip shop as well. It was a bit rusty but here it is after Steve, the maestro rust remover and pan seasoner has worked his magic on it. I LOVE tip shop bargains ;). As you can see by the silicone oven mitt, this pan is smoking baby!

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I have a newfound desire to start cooking recipes from some of these wonderful books…watch this space…

Cow’s milk naturally tastes somewhat sweet and as someone who needs her early morning mug (bucket) of tea, not wants folks…NEEDS…to function through her day, I wanted to approximate the mouth feel and level of sweetness that cow’s milk delivers. I decided to use my newfound sweetener of choice. I made up some date paste. I make it in my Vitamix and use some of the date soaking water to process the mix. When I finish scraping out the resulting smooth paste, I throw in the rest of the soaking water (sweet in its own right) and whizz up the dregs of the paste to make date syrup that I use in my morning smoothies…no waste here on Serendipity Farm! I add 3 heaped tablespoons of date paste to the hot soymilk and half a teaspoon of fine crushed (in my mortar and pestle) sea salt and voila…I have a really tasty soymilk minus the gums, thickeners and weird sugar approximations. I love it, and Kid Creole’s babies apparently love it to! I used some to attempt to make soymilk kefir. I thought it was a complete flop as I tasted it while I was separating the grains from the resulting mass (couldn’t technically call it “kefir” 😉 ) and at best it could have been considered thin, lumpy soy vinegar but I underestimated the power of the date, and the kefir (that I poured into a 2 litre container after 2 days of making it and promptly “forgodaboudit”) kept doing its “thang”…I noticed it in the fridge door and thought “best taste it before I throw it out”…and it had transformed! It was fizzy, lightly sweet, clean tasting and sort of alcoholic! I put this down to the inclusion of the dates as apparently you can culture kefir twice. Once in its milk and then with added fruit. I am well on my way to making something that I can use neat in my morning green smoothies to give added probiotics and to take out the frowned on soy molecules and make them acceptable (fermented). “WOOT!” Another job done and dusted…”NEXT!” 😉

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The “ingredients” for a homemade chalk board…some leftover acrylic paint…some leftover tile grout, a paintbrush and something to paint

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Everything that I just said above…but closer! 😉

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The recipe calls for half a cup of paint…Steve calls for autonomy of his processes and the right to remain free to choose how much paint he is going to use and just “bungs” some into a glass…sigh…

Why all of a sudden has Serendipity Farm been littered with posts and pictures about food? The weather is starting to turn the thermostat down and we are having blissful low 20C days and cooler mornings and nights. As a newfound convert to early mornings I am starting to have to wear jumpers again and I love it! With the newfound arrival of autumn, it seems my desire to cook has ramped up. It’s like bulbs sprouting in the spring, bring on colder weather and my cooking genes ignite. As most of you know, I am a vegan. I have been vegan for about 17 years now and I follow a lot of amazing vegan blogs. I consider these wonderfully innovative people to be like rock stars and last year I discovered an event that handed me a whole lot more amazingness to cram into my RSS Feed Reader called “The Virtual Vegan Potluck”. I had never heard of a “Blog Hop” before. It is where a group of people get together and decide to post on a similar theme and link to each other. There are lots of small blog hops online that range from once a week to a few times a year and The Virtual Vegan Potluck is a biannual event (cheers for clearing that up for me Google or I may just have inadvertently made it once every 2 years in my ignorance 😉 ). It sees some of the most amazing vegan food bloggers coming together to create a monumental homage to vegan food gorgeousness. All kinds of people post recipes because the only stipulation to join in on the blog hop is to post a completely vegan recipe. There are vegetarians and Omni’s (that’s you “normal” omnivorous people shortened to make you as cute as we vegans 😉 ) that post and this year I have bowed to pressure and will be joining in myself. It’s a complete departure from normalcy here and for one post I will be part of a united chain of vegan deliciousness that will circumnavigate the globe. Whether you are interested in animal welfare, or just some delicious meat, egg and dairy free grub it’s a great place to check out what vegan food is all about. There are fringe groups that are Gluten Free, Paleo vegan’s and all kinds of strange skewed varieties of vegan but we all unite to agree to disagree to create this incredible ladder of food hope and you are all invited to check out the amazing array when I take part in May. For one day, Serendipity Farm posting will be hijacked and there will be a link to the post before me, and the post after me that if you choose to take a little trot around the world, you might just find some incredible new recipes to tantalise your tastebuds and add something new to your repertoire. Even if you just want the odd vegan recipe in case your crazy sister comes to town (hint hint Pinky 😉 ), you will find something here because everyone pulls all the stops out and delivers their very best. Last year one of the stellar crowd delivered the most amazing vegan cheeze en croute that you could imagine including recipes for the unctuous “cheeze”. All free, all just a linky click away. I have plans this year. As you all know I am OCD when it comes to just about everything and when I channel it, hopefully it can be used for the good of all mankind ;). My entry will be in the Main course section and will showcase our home grown produce and just how frugal deliciousness can be. I hope that you will all head off in random directions and salve your curiosity and discover that vegan is the new mainstream black :o). You never know what deliciousness you will find…

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Measure out your grout…1 tbsp. for 1/2 cup of paint…can anyone tell me why it’s alright to measure grout, but not paint? 😉

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Grout into paint…

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Mix the grout into the paint

My little sister Pinky (Catherine to you 😉 ) has started a new blog. She has just gone part time working as a Laboratory vampire (I will let her explain) and has time to twiddle her thumbs and contemplate her navel now so being the wonderful big sister that I am, I decided to introduce her to the world of blogging. I know that she will end up as addicted as I am to this amazing platform of communication and after feeling her way around the blogosphere, she will find her niche and will slot in nicely. If you would like to check out her blog it’s here…

https://cathyandchucky.wordpress.com

Love you Pinky! :o). It’s been raining steadily here for most of the early morning. Steve is NOT going to be happy! We had plans to collect wood today and I think our sporadic sky precipitation might have just put the kybosh on his plans. I can’t say that I mind. I have always got a backup plan and todays backup plan is lighting Brunhilda, baking some decent sourdough carrot cake (using up some of that milk kefir) and reading a good book. Steve will just have to twitch in the lounge room and watch some of his “stories” ;). A wet and extremely happy Earl just burst through the dog door, flipped himself upside down onto the kitchen rug, ootched along on his back in ecstasy  and is now trotting around in the dark lounge room at 5.41am expecting me to join him in his tomfoolery…”TOO EARLY EARL!”…sigh…the story of my, and his, life ;). Yesterday the dogs got bones from Nigel, our friendly butcher. They got enormous meaty delicious bones and as top dog (in his own private universe) Earl has decided that it is HIS job to patrol the bones. He must get up at regular intervals and stalk around ensuring that nothing has touched his bones. A difficult task when there are lots of feral cats, possums and butcherbirds all concertedly trying to steal them. It’s a tough job but Earl is up for it!

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Steve decided to mask the frame after a “discussion” about what happens when artisan craftsmen “bodge” things and their wives find interesting ways to take revenge…

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Just paint the amended paint onto the surface. It doesn’t need any preparation but if you are using something shiny and metal it might be an idea to lightly sandpaper the surface. Cover the paint glass with some cling wrap to keep it damp in between coats. Note, this coating will dry quite quickly.

Steve donated his shed white board that he never uses to be our new pantry door chalkboard. This time I took some before and after shots to share with you so that you can see how easy it is to make your own chalk paint and save yourself a HUGE amount of money. We didn’t have to pay anything for our chalkboard paint as we have lots of leftover tins of paint. Think about how good you are, recycling paint and grout that you might otherwise have had to toss into landfill? Think about how you don’t need to find scraps of paper to scribble down “must buy turnips” or “must remember to brush hair” or “must eat more fibre”…you mean you DON’T scribble down things like that? If you DO plan your scattered life in a series of mounting scraps of paper (must get myself a spike…the wind is a biotch!), a homemade chalkboard will give you a degree of autonomy that is amazingly satisfying. You can make it any colour you like. You can use any kind of grout you like to make a smooth as silk finish or a nice rough finish that will hold chalk nicely. You can even make your own chalk! I know you can, I researched it :o). I found recipes using plaster of Paris that work amazingly well. I also found a recipe for how to make your own crayons but they are probably not the best medium for writing on chalkboards kiddies! Think of the trees that I am saving! No more scraps of paper telling me to “drink more water”…I can write it on the chalkboard and erase the dust as and when I please. I feel positively cleansed folks! Consider this pictorial tutorial our gift to you trees…aside from trying to plant as many of you as we can in a single given location (NOT IN OUR LIFETIME! 😉 ), we are singlehandedly going to get everyone to stop using paper! Ok, so that might be a bit of a pipe dream, but if every one of us used a little bit less paper we might be able to preserve some of those amazing old forest trees that have been strutting their green stuff for hundreds of years and wouldn’t that be an amazing thing? You can all call me the Narfy Lorax now in unison :o)

Here’s a linky for how to make some chalk (plain or coloured) to go with your chalkboard if you want to make one :o)

http://www.ehow.com/how_6867981_do-chalkboard-chalk-household-ingredients_.html

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After the first coat it will look a bit blotchy but there is enough paint left for a second coat which will render the surface nice and evenly coated

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The painted board in situ on the pantry door where we can now write items we need to put on our shopping list whenever we think of them. Steve is being used to show you how big this board is

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This is one happy camper…Brunhilda has been on for 2 days straight now and this little black dog is about as happy as a pig in muck :). This is his own personal couch right next to the blissful wafting warmth of our wood fired 4 oven stove (Brunhilda) and Earl has a recliner chair on the other side. They both spent most of the day upside down sleeping…whoever first used the term “It’s a dogs life” certainly knew what they were talking about 😉

I tried some of my homemade soymilk kefir in my breakfast smoothie yesterday and it was so delicious, I had to immediately put some more beans on to soak. I am going to look into making kefir with other milks, specifically the cheaper ones like sesame, sunflower and perhaps grain milks like oat. If you are going to use something on a regular basis you need to make sure it’s going to pay you back in kind and won’t deliver too many negative results. The jury is still out on soymilk. I just found some good recipes for combining oats and a few almonds to make satisfyingly delicious non-dairy “milk” that should be cheap enough for me to use regularly without the hype of soymilk. Now all I have to do is see if Kid Creole’s coconuts feel the same way about it as they do soymilk. I think the secret is to use dried fruit to get a secondary ferment (to all of you crazed fermenters out there that this means ANYTHING to 😉 ). Kefir, correctly cultured, ends up slightly alcoholic. I made soymilk booze! Forget sake folks, this stuff can be drunk for breakfast?! I am in! I will let you know how my experimentation with oaty, almondy goodness goes and if Kid Creole’s coconuts have anything positive to say about the equation. I will be experimenting with different fruit pastes as well. I adore dried figs. Let’s see if Kid Creole’s coconuts do too. I will be experimenting with making home-made beer soon. I will be buying the barley, soaking, sprouting and dehydrating it myself. I will also buy local hops fresh from this year’s harvest source to add to the brew. I want to see if I can make it myself and I want to cultivate “barm”. Barm is a frothy mix of bacteria and yeast that forms on the top of brewing mash (or Wort as it is commonly called). The barm is the lively stuff that converts the sugars and starches into booze… the magic little tiny union of alchemists that deliver us into table dancing maniacs and that hand us our regret on a headachy platter the next morning. I recently read that this barm is also what brewers used to sell to bakers to bake their bread…how interesting? My little twitchy researching brain started twitching rhythmically when it got onto the scent of an interesting new hunt…I headed off and discovered that you can, indeed, make the European version of a sourdough starter using barm and that it was, indeed, the precursor to todays dried yeast! Guess who will be brewing more than just beer in the near future :o). I also have plans for home brewed, fermented ginger beer from a ginger beer plant (hopefully Pinky still has mum’s recipe…) and home brewed naturally fermented root beer for my daughters who LOVE the turpentine taste of Sarsaparilla. If this little black duck can make it herself, saving HEAPS in the process, damning “the man” and customising the flavours and nutrients to her own desires then its BONUS time in the deal-o-drome (if you don’t watch “Deal or No Deal” that isn’t going to make any sense to you 😉 ). Time to make like a tree and leaf folks. Have a great weekend and enjoy whatever you have planned to the max. If it doesn’t work out…always have a plan B and that’s the sage advice that you are getting for free from the Narfy Lorax today ;). See you on Wednesday when goodness ONLY knows what craziness we have gotten up to in the name of frugal penniless student hippidom! :o)

Damn the man!

Hi All,

I DID IT! It might have taken me 6 months but I DID IT! I damned the man. 6 months ago to the day, I barely blearily woke up assured that Daylight Savings wasn’t going to make me its biotch ever again. No longer would I stagger from my bed in October in a rough approximation of jetlagged for the next fortnight till I got used to having a precious hour of my day removed surgically by the nefarious powers that be, I would wake up an hour earlier AND I would hit Daylight Savings running…but then my ever inquisitive questing mind realised that this would be a pattern that would repeat itself and that I would just slide back into absorbing that extra hour come the end of Daylight Savings in April… how was I going to prevent this happening. You have to go back into the ether 6 months ago to see how very different my life was then…you have to imagine that wibbley wobbly cutaway scene that they are able to recreate on telly but that I seem to be having difficulty reproducing here in my post so it’s up to you guys to wibble and wobble ok? Righto, back to the story folks! 6 months ago I was a night person. I stayed up regularly till 1am reading, watching television and generally inhabiting the night. My mornings were a study in grouchiness and Steve was always up before me proffering my first (bucket) mug of tea with shaky hands and the scene was set with Steve, fully dressed and raring to go, both dogs twitching with anticipatory excitement at their prospective walk and me, stubbornly clinging to the bedclothes and my teacup in a vain effort to stay in bed…I grumbled…I complained, I muttered my way into my mornings with my ears pinned back in warning to ANYONE foolish enough to talk to me or even look in my approximate direction. I was a morning harpy folks! A full month before Daylight Savings was going to hit us I decided to get up slightly earlier to adapt to the full hour that Daylight Savings was going to steal from me. I started with setting the alarm clock 15 minutes earlier each week and by the time Daylight Savings hit, I was ready for it and it didn’t render me apoplectic and staggering like every year prior. Not THIS little black duck! I was bright eyed and bushy tailed and when I realised that there might just be a problem at the other end of Daylight Savings I just decided that if I could adapt to 6am…why the heck couldn’t I adapt to 5am? Now for me, this was tantamount to crazy land. I hadn’t seen 5am aside from the start of long trips and 5am wasn’t a time, it was a beginning…

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“Err…excuse me…someone appears to have forgotten to leave the gate open, do you think you could do me a favour and just open it up?…please?…pretty please?…”

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“I KNOW you aren’t going to leave me alone till you take a photo so just take it and bugger off!”

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Steve’s collection of twang (note the inclusion of a banjo so that we can blend in with the local’s if we ever need to 😉 )

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The invaders are coming to deliver a telephone mast to the other side of the river…”GET THE TIN FOIL STEVE!” 😉

After adjusting my brain to 5am and realising that there were so many possibilities with waking up at this ungodly hour, I started to wake up even earlier. In 6 months I have gone from a night person who shunned mornings to a very early morning person who went to bed at 7pm last night. Once you set yourself on the pathway to changing your habits you never know how much it is going to change your life. In the past 6 months I have managed to totally change my days and nights (although I don’t really know what happens at night anymore because I am fast asleep!). I went from having a degree of insomnia where I would lay awake worrying about the state of the world to being unable to prevent sleep and having no problems staying asleep. I went from someone who hated walking the dogs and exercise in general to someone who is out the front of the walk and eager to carry on. I went from bordering on obese to “ideal weight” with very little effort and you know what? I think it all came from that initial desire to damn the man and make a tiny positive change in my days. There is a Bupa health fund ad where people see their future healthier and fitter selves and that’s what I am doing today. If it wasn’t for my bolshie desire to bugger up Daylight Savings and remove its tentacle hold on my life, I wouldn’t be the vibrantly buzzing healthy specimen of early morning happiness and possibilities that I am today. One tiny little stubborn desire has entirely changed my ethos and my way of life.  I wonder what other tiny little changes could predominately effect our lifestyles? If something as simple as waking up 15 minutes earlier in my day could deliver this sort of massive change, what else could I start with by just putting my feet on a new pathway?

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Talking about a new pathway…this is a Stromboli. A Stromboli is Steve’s latest favourite food. This one consists of some homemade pizza dough (with the inclusion of mixed herbs, chilli flakes and home grown, dehydrated and powdered tomato) and cabanossi sausage made by Nige our local butcher at “Nigel’s on Tamar” (do I get some free meat Nige? 😉 ), bacon, home grown sliced last of the season tomatoes, thin sliced local grown onions and a mix of grated parmesan and cheddar.

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Once you top the Stromboli, you need to roll it reasonably tightly

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Next you need to cut the Stromboli midway through with a serrated bread knife

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Put your Stromboli, along with the baking parchment you SO cleverly rolled it up on to prevent having to do washing up onto a baking sheet

I got a request for sharing a recipe for those baked spring rolls that I shared a photo of in the comments section of my last post so here is my recipe. Steve and I customised it to be healthier than regular deep fried spring rolls because Steve isn’t a fan of anything deep fried (I, on the other hand, LOVE deep fried anything and that, my dear constant readers, is why I had trouble fitting through doors in a past life 😉 ) and although baked spring rolls need to be served up and eaten pretty much straight away to maintain their crunch, you can be smug and satisfied that you get pretty much the same taste with a whole lot less fat and a lot more nutrition…

Homemade baked spring rolls

1 packet of spring roll wrappers (usually 20 in a pack). We get ours from Coles as they are the only reasonably priced option in Tasmania but feel free to get yours anywhere you want to

A large quarter of a cabbage finely shredded

6 large carrots grated (the longest part of this equation)

1 egg (I don’t eat these spring rolls anymore and the egg binds the filling and reduces any liquid that would make the rolls soggy)

2 packets of MI Goreng (ramen) noodles along with their seasoning packs OR if you are being über healthy, sub veggie stock powder (Massell is the BEST and is Aussie made :o) ) cook the noodles according to the packet, drain them and chop them finely with scissors and reserve the seasoning packs to add to the main mix or you could just add some dried Chinese noodles of your choice. We used to add rice vermicelli and that worked amazing well so it really is up to you :o)

You can add finely chopped capsicum, mung bean sprouts, finely chopped cooked mushroom (to remove excess moisture) and just about any other vegetable or Chinese add (we have previously used soaked dried wood ear fungus and white fungus to great advantage) in that you like at this point but we usually just use cabbage and carrot and the results are yummy

We add some form of protein. Steve likes finely diced chicken cooked with some chilli flakes and I used to have firm tofu but you can add diced up cooked omelette, bacon, any finely diced lightly fried meat, prawns, anything really and you only need about a cup of finely diced protein in total for 20 large spring rolls

Then comes the seasonings. I use lots of oyster sauce (for Steve), Thai chilli sauce, yellow American style mustard, a squirt of toasted sesame oil, lots of crushed garlic (about 7 cloves) and an equal quantity of crushed fresh or jarred ginger, a couple of squirts of Worcestershire Sauce and we add a couple of teaspoons of dried chilli flakes but we love hot food so I would suggest a little sprinkle if you aren’t sure as you already have chilli in the sauce (depending on how hot it
is). Steve likes pepper added and I used more of the Massell veggie stock powder (sub whatever stock powder you fancy to your heart’s content) and feel free to add any other favourite condiment to your batch that takes your fancy. It’s all about customising to your own personal tastes here…that’s what makes these delicious and what makes “homemade” the best.

Mix the entire mass together with clean hands. It’s therapeutic to be up to your elbows in Chinese food. Once you have an even distribution of sauce through the shredded/grated veggies you can start making the rolls. Open your packet of spring roll wrappers and keep a clean tea-towel over the packet to keep them from drying out as you work. I am pretty quick at rolling up a batch of 20 but I have had a lot of practice over the years. Here’s a great tutorial to show you how to roll them up…

http://www.steamykitchen.com/22276-chinese-spring-rolls-with-chicken-recipe.html

She also talks about draining off the liquid to prevent soggy spring rolls. Liquid is an antagonist to a spring roll and keeping the filling reasonably dry is especially important with baked spring rolls. This tutorial makes small spring rolls…yours are going to be big spring rolls but the rolling method is the same and feel free to go ahead and deep fry them if you fancy. The process is the same BUT we like to brush ours with olive or rice bran oil and bake them till they are crisp and golden brown. Either way you end up with something full of flavour, absolutely addictive and you don’t have to pay by the roll. Very economical and much tastier than what you can buy from the supermarket or most food vendors. Give it a go, if you like Asian food (who doesn’t?!) you are going to love these :o)

YUM just found another pictorial tutorial with a completely delicious looking recipe for more spring rolls. Remember, it’s all about customising them to your own personal taste and when you are eating a plate piled high with your own personal favourite flavours you can smugly damn the man all over again!

http://shesimmers.com/2011/06/fried-spring-rolls-po-pia-tod-html

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This is what the cooked Stromboli should look like. I didn’t include a photo of Steve as he was drooling too much to be anywhere near presentable enough for a photo 😉

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Cut crosswise into chunklets just like you would with a Swiss roll and eat…eat a lot…eat too much of it and there will STILL be enough left over to satisfy your appetite the night after with some home baked homemade oven wedges 🙂

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I forgot I had this casserole dish…I picked it up for $2 from a local thrift shop because it didn’t have a lid. How many times do I need a lid? Not many! This is a shepherds pie topped with a mountain of riced cooked potato. Ricing the spuds keep them separate and make a lovely crisp topping.

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I am still getting zucchini’s and a trickle of tomatoes and these are the very first of our ripened jalapeno chillies along with “something” curious that tends to invade most of my photos these days 😉

I am sitting here quietly on Tuesday morning tapping away with “eau de rotting kangaroo carcass” wafting through the air. The decomposing large roo that is about 20ft from the back door is starting to attract more than flies and crows and its wonderful aroma is starting to permeate more than it’s immediate proximity. The native wildlife has done it pretty tough this year and after a couple of bumper seasons, the bushfires that removed a lot of their grazing territory and the long, hot, extremely dry summer that we just had has resulted in a lot of animal deaths. Tasmania is the Aussie home of road kill, thanks to its cooler conditions and larger proportion of vegetation. The animals have been forced to eat pretty much anything this year and my guess is that our kangaroo friend up the back is the culprit who has been eating all of the potato leaves and rhubarb leaves and his toxin tolerance just hit zero. Steve had to take an impromptu trip into town because when we got back from walking the dogs our daughters phoned up to tell us that the hot water tap in the kitchen decided to turn itself on permanently last night and they had to turn the water off at the mains (at least they now KNOW where the mains is 😉 ). Steve was expecting a major job but $15 for a tap and a few extras and about the same amount of minute’s worth of work resulted in job done and happy campers all round. Steve thought that his midday adventures pootling around in the Mumbly Cumumbus were going to be extinguished but now they are back on the cards. I just finished my wireframe drawing of my poster, the final part of my assessment that needs to be submitted on Monday and have the rest of the week to put in a concerted effort to reduce my RSS Feed Reader and to plan our veggie garden that we will be starting on quite soon. I am hoping to convince Steve that our small orchard could do with enclosing fully at the same time so that we can prune the poor long suffering possum playgrounds and perhaps get some fruit next year.

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Proof…Irrefutable PROOF that Flares ARE coming back man!

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And the foolishness continues…Just in case anyone wanted to know what colour our kitchen was 😉

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This is a Schacht Inkle Loom. I bought it for $5 from the year before last’s HUGE progressive garage sale that spans 15km along the Tamar River and is our favourite event on the yearly calendar. I have NO idea how to use it so any clever clogs out there who know about weaving (you KNOW who you are 😉 ) can tell me whether it is something I should/could be bothering with or whether I should just let Earl eat it like he has been trying to do for a year and a half

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The Mumbly Cumumbus just in from Steve’s latest “pootling” event on the river. He actually caught 2 flathead (fish) and the dogs got both of them… well Bezial got both of them as Earl was suspicious of Steve’s intentions and wasn’t going to eat the fish in case it negated us giving him large quantities of steak. Bezial would live on fresh fish if he could 🙂

I am starting to get excited about the prospects of being able to garden with impunity. To be able to plant things that nothing can get (aside from the insects but their predatory grubby friends can deal with them). In preparation for the garden I have been thinking about where to find lots of bulk to fill the prospective garden beds for free or at least as cheaply as possible. My idea is to use keyhole gardens (cheers YBert 😉 ) coupled with a lot of vertical action to gain the maximum amount of growing space. I found some Jerusalem artichokes growing on the road verge this morning and managed to procure a couple of them to plant out in one of my compost bins till I can sort out a corner of Serendipity Farm for them to live happily in and spread to their hearts content. I have visions of both Jerusalem and globe artichokes growing all over the place and if winter ever comes I have visions of spending long wet hours cuddled up near Brunhilda with the laptop, an excel spread sheet (Jess already beat me to it 😉 ) and my permaculture and food forest spidey senses tingling with the research possibilities. I love a good researching event and finding the right perennials, shrubs and trees to deliver food for our series of endemic conditions on Serendipity Farm is a wonderful challenge that I am up for. Permaculture gives us that option. It gives us a new way of looking at our problems and allows us to use our problems to form solutions. What might initially seem like a bit pain in the derrière can be twirled around till it’s good points are facing frontwards. Rocks in the ground? Dig them up and use them to make raised garden beds…Dry conditions causing you growing problems? Store water any way that you can through winter and use it on your gardens when the dry weather hits and use clever gardening tricks like mass planting, mulching, trickle irrigation, choosing food crops and plants that grow in arid conditions and you can bypass a lot of problems. There is ALWAYS  a solution…it’s just up to us to look for the answer and sometimes what you are trying to solve might not be the real problem. My Jerusalem artichokes come with a “you will NEVER be rid of them!” warning. I don’t want to be rid of them. I want food that will grow itself without too much effort. I want to be able to have food all over Serendipity Farm eventually, not just zone 1, but everywhere. I have a vision of fecundity and production and an eventual harmony/equilibrium of cycles on Serendipity Farm that fills me with a sense of hope and happiness. It’s often how you choose to look at things that gives you answers and I like to turn things around a whole lot and look at the bits that other people tend to shun…I’m a bit strange like that 😉

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Another lovely day on the river

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Steve’s aquatic companions

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The Deviot Yacht Club from the river. You can see the deciduous trees starting to colour up nicely

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Some of the houses in Deviot that span the riverbank

Well I am back to normal. I am just about to finish this post off as somewhat less than a novella but definitely more than a quick read over a 5 minute tea break. I hope that all of my dear constant readers are beavering away in their respective changeling seasons between the wet and the dry and vice versa. Spring and autumn are definitely bridging seasons and whatever you are trying to achieve this year, I hope that you get it at least started before the heat of summer or the cold and wet of winter sets in for the long haul. Have a great rest of your week and see you on the weekend, rested and ready to rumble :o)

The saga of the factotum and the printer

Hi All,

Steve and I have finally started our online course in web design! We headed over to check out what we had to do and ended up signing up for a new WordPress blog each (part of the course requirements) and doing the equivalent of an online introduction. Reading the other participants intro’s was a bit like waving at the other inmates from your cell when the other inmates are from a different planet to you and you hope to goodness that you never have to come out of your cell and mingle any day soon… Did anyone see “School of Rock”? I did…lots of times. I love “School of Rock” and if those of you who did watch School of Rock cast your mind back to the part where Ned Schneebly (don’t ask me to spell that correctly, it AIN’T gonna happen folks! 😉 ) first comes up against “Summer”…the class “Factotum”. We have our own Summer. She has not only done everything on the list that we are supposed to do, but she has completed the first assessment (only an hour after it was posted) that is due next Monday. We also have an anti-social member of the class whose only threat, as outlined in his S.W.A.T. was that he didn’t want to invade Russia in the winter. This person bears a distinct similarity to my daughters in his view of the world and our class in general and if I didn’t know better, I would say that one of them has decided to crash the class. After reading the credentials of the remainder of the class, my natural instinct is to run screaming but if you ignore the other class members (not too hard to do when you are studying from home) the course content is very interesting. If you play your cards right, you might get lucky and get to see some of our work 😉

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An early morning picking for my daughters in the city

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Earl bagses the eggplant…

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Steve’s tea last night…homemade sourdough bruschetta liberally slathered with garlic butter and with home grown tomatoes, some bought avocados, spring onions and chilli topping. It was DELICIOUS (apparently) and the sourdough had a gorgeous crunchy crust :). Audry is now part of our Serendipity Farm family forever 🙂 (just don’t turn orange Audrey…orange is the blue screen of death for sourdough starters! 😉 )

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Free white nectarines from Roxie and blackberries from the hedgerows on our walk with the dogs this morning. The seeds will be planted and the tomatoes were also from Roxie. The tomatoes behind the fruit are the beginning of our tomato harvest and are left over from last nights bruschetta feast

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Aren’t these blackberries in the height of ripeness (and heady sweetness) gorgeous? I froze the tray with the chopped white nectarines and these blackberries to use in my breakfast green smoothies

Jessie a.k.a. “Rabid” of http://rabidlittlehippy.wordpress.com/  sent me instructions for how to knit a dishcloth out of cotton. She made me a lovely black one from some organic cotton that she had and I had mentioned that I had some bright yellow (almost mustard to be honest) cotton that I had picked up from the Beaconsfield op-shop a while ago and thus began our discourse regarding knitting and its foibles. I must admit at this stage, I am NO knitter. I can knit a scarf…bits of a jumper (no cuffs, no collar and DEFINITELY no cable!) and generic squares and after perusing the pattern I decided to hide my knitting needles and go back into my comfort zone and crochet a dishcloth. The progress is slow because I have to work between the hours where Earl is active (approximately 7am to 6pm) and nightfall (at the moment about 9pm). Earl is unpredictable and can suddenly launch into action when an interesting mustard yellow ball rolls past his nose where it just dislodged itself from my knee and aside from being unpredictable, he is quick. He is a master of the grab and run attack because if you grab and “stay” whatever interesting thing you have appropriated tends to get taken off you so running is your best bet. At least you get to chew whatever it is a bit before your humans (arms waving and yelling) catch you and retrieve said item. I have crocheted half of a dishcloth and Earl has been eyeballing me out of the corner of his eyes as I crochet…he is waiting for me to drop off to sleep (highly likely) and he will be on my cotton like a tick on a dog!

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I had to race out with the camera last night because the sky was the weirdest colour! I didn’t think I would catch the weird lighting but I sort of did.

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This was taken a few moments later and you can see a rainbow over the river…Steve has pinpointed where it was pointing as that is his leprachaun pot of fish 😉

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A nice thick layer of free mulch has made the garden under the deck a MUCH happier place to reside for our poor long suffering parched plants

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One of the large enclosed compost heaps that I planted potatoes in and a single sweet potato that is growing! The white patch is a species of fungus known as a “dogs vomit” fungus…it is harmless but as you can imagine, it isn’t all that aesthetically pleasing 😉

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Another one of the large enclosed compost heaps full of pumpkins and a few potatoes that the slugs haven’t managed to scarf (yet)

I have been inundated with kefir. I have at least a litre of it in the fridge and am scratching my head how to use it. I have decided to bake a chocolate sourdough cake with kefir and a large tray bake spice cake with kefir to replace the milk. I am also going to make the kefired equivalent of labneh so that I can make small balls of extra thick kefired labneh and preserve them in herbed olive oil with chillies. Our jalapeno chillies are doing amazingly well and it looks like we might have a bumper crop of them this year along with the small fingerling eggplants. I am so glad that we decided to go with the smaller eggplants to make sure that they had the best chance of ripening fully before the cold season sets in. The excess kefir grains (that are growing exponentially on plain old “ordinary milk” Jessie 😉 ) are going to be given to customers who would like some at our local health food shop. I believe in sharing excesses and David can pass them on to interested customers. I have also offered him the same deal with excess sourdough if he gets customers asking about it. I am starting to get into the flow of feeding and working with my small batch of homely cultures. Now I need to find a kombucha Scoby and some water kefir grains and after that the sky is the limit! I will be spending a lot of time reading my fermentation books this winter and learning all about just what I can, and can’t culture here on Serendipity Farm.

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Not sure if we can use this photos but I liked it. Nice and clean and isn’t that sky a gorgeous colour?

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This old ramshackle building is right in the middle of the city. It has stood, unthreatened, for years and is situated between a boutique pub and our local Centrelink office. Considered an eyesore for years, developers have just obtained permission to remove it. I just wanted to remember it in a photo and I quite liked how this one turned out

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These buildings all belong to Boag’s brewery (including the grain silo’s in the background) and are part of the inner city industrial area. I love how they have restored the older buildings and made this a really attractive part of the city

I noticed some unusual small black pods on the side of a tiger lily in the side garden. It has ceased flowering a long time ago and has seed pods on top of it. I know that they form bulbs that spread under the ground but on closer inspection, the little pod-like thingo’s had small leaves growing out of them…I headed inside to check out my good friend “Google” and discovered that these pods are called bulbils and not all lilies produce them. Tiger lilies are well known for producing them and they are another form of plant division. Each little black bulbil is an entire new little lily. After a while, the bulbils will form leaves (as mine are currently doing) and will eventually form roots and will push themselves off the stem of the spent lily flower and will drop onto the ground where they will take root and start growing. After 3 years they will start flowering and you have a plethora of new lilies for free to either plant out or give to your friends. Aren’t plants the bomb? :o). I will need to collect all of the little wandering bulbils to pot them up so that I can find them in spring when they start growing again but for now I will let them cling tenaciously to their mum for as long as they see fit. I also discovered that lilies are extremely hardy belying their delicate appearance. Many plants that we might think are tender or delicate are actually incredibly hardy and I am in the process of compiling a list of incredibly hardy plants for Serendipity Farm. A friend from down the road (Boof’s owner) gave me a bag of fragrant ripe white nectarines and tomatoes today as we walked past her house when we were walking the dogs this morning. She also gave me a bag of curly leafed parsley seed to plant out. We swap all sorts of things and have a really good bartering system going. Roxy is a very resilient lady and knows a whole lot about growing vegetables, keeping goat’s etc. and how to do just about everything herself. I love sharing knowledge and “stuff” with her because it is a win-win situation for us all. We are just about to give her one of our feral roosters as she doesn’t have a rooster and is tired of having to ask for fertile eggs from friends. This way she will have all of the fertile eggs that she likes to put under her clucky chooks and can have lots of hens to sell her excess eggs from the roadside. The value of community and individual knowledge when combined with others is priceless…the resilience of a community is only as strong as the individual members that group together to share. I love forging community here in Sidmouth :o)

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My gorgeous chooky potmits that are WAY too nice to use with Brunhilda 🙂

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These are cuttings of Tagetes lucida, Mexican marigold or Texas tarragon were sourced from a local plant and are apparently easy to grow so I am letting them get legs in this mug of water.

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This long suffering philodendron had been almost on the brink of extinction for years before we inherited him and decided to release him out into the wild. He had bright yellow leaves and only had 1 leaf and now he is happy in his new environment

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A nice new stem on a lovely orchid that we inherited that dad only watered with beer. He said that the beer made it flower and maybe he was right because it hasn’t flowered this year on its new regime of water…might be time to reintroduce that vitamin B quotient to make it happy 🙂

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Look what the wallabies did to my Loquat japonica’s :(. They had been growing completely untouched for months and suddenly the wallabies decided to eat all of their leaves. They are incredibly hardy small trees and will grow more leaves but the wallabies are skating on very VERY thin ice! It just goes to show that you can’t take it for granted that ANYTHING is safe on Serendipity Farm

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This little fig tree has some figs on this year. We grew it from a cutting and this year it just might keep those figs to full term 🙂

We had to go to Launceston this morning because as we were reading up about our course and our very first assignment we realised that we were going to need printer ink and our printer was out of ink. We had already walked the dogs and I had already watered the veggie garden and released the baying hens so we hurled the eager dogs into the car and set off for an adventure to buy printer ink. We checked out what we needed to accomplish for our second assignment (technically “Assignment 3” but it’s the second one that we have to hand in…already they are trying to trick us! Not WE wily black ducks! 😉 ) and realised that we needed photos of billboards, advertising signs and road signs and we threw the camera into my bag so that we could take as many artistic shots as we could. We hadn’t read up on what we actually needed but we took all kinds of photos so hopefully we can use some of them for our assignment. We then headed off to pick up some printer ink, only to find that the shop that sold us the printer had just superseded it and were no longer stocking the ink! They recommended K-Mart but Steve knows that K-Mart don’t sell the ink either so we looked at each other and decided to buy a new printer. We managed to buy a printer with ink for less than we were going to have to pay for the ink alone on our old all-in-one printer. I can’t believe that this sort of equipment is so “throw-away” these days! How can they justify selling something if they are not going to stock the peripherals for any length of time? We have 2 of the printers that we can’t get ink for…one was ours and one we inherited from my dad when he died…what to do with them? I am NOT going to throw them into landfill and am going to be spending some ingenious time finding ways to use them rather than disposing of them. Perhaps I need to cram them full of cacti and succulents and sell them at the market? ;). We got back to discover that my bestie, Kymmy from Norseman Western Australia had sent me 2 absolutely gorgeous pot holders that she had quilted. What a doll! Kymmy, you are so talented! I am refusing to use them till you get here and we can cook up a storm on Brunhilda because they are too pretty to use and get grotty :o). I might even have to frame them and put them on the wall as I can’t bear the thought of Brunhilda and her messy ways turning them into sad representations of the lovely things that they are today :o). Your gooseberry seed is drying nicely and will be ready to send to you soon…bartering is SO sweet :o)… oh, and Bev from http://foodnstuff.wordpress.com/ has offered to send me some leaf AND seed amaranth! I love you guys! Along with Jessie and a plethora of people I have yet to meet and barter/swap with in various seed swap meets etc. this bartering thing is absolutely ripe with mutual possibilities :o).

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Bulbils! Note the leaves growing out of the bulbils…each one of these dark coloured “pods” has the propensity to become a new lily

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A native hibiscus (Alyogyne huegelii) flower on a crown lifted tree that is much happier since we started giving it a helping hand

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Finally I get a cornflower! The wallabies have been snipping the tops off them as they protrude from the top of the ex-fish farm netting but this one escaped to flower 🙂

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This Aquilegia vulgaris (Grannies bonnet) grew right next to the back door…note the dandelion…I would have normally removed it but now that I know how amazing they are (and how much Bernard and Manny our Java Finches LOVE them) I leave them to carry on regardless 🙂

I think that might be all for tonight folks…I have to race out waving my arms around now to find you some photos to decorate this post and I will be starting with the bulbil’s so that you can see what I am talking about. Tomorrow we will be juggling with the new course and tap-dancing on unfamiliar territory all over again. I can’t count the amount of times that we have gone back to kindergarten with new areas of study and it’s all in the processes…my favourite place of all! :o)