Spring has sprung down the Morlock mines

It’s that time again…the time when I need to produce a blog post out of my magicians hat without letting on that I am not a very good magician and there is more lint in my hat (and dog hair and fire ash…) than I would like to let on thanks to weeks on end of studying and twitching and feeling the heady pull of spring but not being able to do all that much about it. Stevie-boy aka Slavemaster General is doing an amazing job of keeping me sitting here focussed on the “task at hand” but I would rather be fishing…or wandering in the garden, or potting things up…or…anything really… just not welded here to the PC…

 

Wouldn't it be lovely to just head out in the Mumbley Cumumbus today Stevie-boy? No? Sigh...

Wouldn’t it be lovely to just head out in the Mumbley Cumumbus today Stevie-boy? No? Sigh…

It looks like we might just have sorted Sanctuary (for the near future anyway) as there is an upturned (and most tempting and alluring) bucket of compost that has been doing its level best to attract possums en masse but that is still in a mounded shape and still full of unnibbled pumpkin seeds as I type this. That shows great promise for veggie gardening futures for Serendipity Farm this year.  I am starting to amass planty goodness from all over the place. I was potting up some pepino cuttings that somehow found their way to Serendipity Farm from a wonderful donor elsewhere in Australia (as much as I am going to say about that aside from THANK YOU my wonderful donor who shall remain anonymous as I want to keep these channels alive and well and under the radar 😉 ). If you don’t know what a pepino is, heres a bit of blurb about them…

http://www.growyourown.info/page145a.html

Chocolate eclairs, part of Stevie-boys Father's Day Indian feast with eclairs

Chocolate eclairs, part of Stevie-boys Father’s Day Indian feast with eclairs

I have a desire to grow all kinds of things on Serendipity Farm. I want to hurl any and everything that will grow in our conditions into the mix. I have a small quince tree in a pot that our local permie guru Gordon gave me a while back that is budding up and demanding to be planted out and I have just the place to plant it picked out. Quinces and figs and olives and various other Mediterranean plants do well here as we have a very similar climate and our native animals are not partial to the way that plants that have gone through natural selection in order to survive tough conditions taste so they tend to get left well alone. I call that a WIN situation and will be planting them out as soon as I can get my hot little hands on them. Mulberries are another tree that do extremely well in our local conditions (long dry summers) and I am going to get a couple of extra trees to plant. If it grows, if they don’t touch it, it is welcome here on Serendipity Farm

This image isn't mine. I just saw it and thought that this would be a wonderful use of an old lamp and a cheese grater to keep them out of landfill

This image isn’t mine. I just saw it and thought that this would be a wonderful use of an old lamp and a cheese grater to keep them out of landfill

More cheese graters used as light fixtures... lubbly jubbly :)

More cheese graters used as light fixtures… lubbly jubbly 🙂

I have learned that growing what you want is not necessarily the best option if you want to stay sane and happy. Learning to grow with your local conditions includes having to deal with your local native animals at the same time. I don’t mind sharing but I do mind wanton destruction and it’s just about time for the possums to set up shop in our poor fruit trees for another year. Possums are fat, quick to anger and very furry…I think I am becoming a possum by default to be honest as I age but that, my dears, is another story! For now I am content to find a way to live with these overtly cute looking but inwardly heinous little critters whereby we both get what we want. I am hoping that possum dung is good for the soil because there is so very much of it around the place here! It looks like we might have an army of them coming out at night and just wandering over everything. I saw some possum deposits on our bedroom window sill the other day…they are spying on me while I sleep!

I LOVE this idea! I have been hoarding large coffee cans for just this sort of reason. Guess which narf is going to give this a go...

I LOVE this idea! I have been hoarding large coffee cans for just this sort of reason. Guess which narf is going to give this a go…

 

Or this! Why on earth would you throw cans out if you could use them to make something like this?

Or this! Why on earth would you throw cans out if you could use them to make something like this?

You all know that I put small cubes of tasty cheese out for the local grey shrike thrushes but it has been disappearing rapidly of late and much faster than usual. I was wondering if the sparrows had built up in numbers because they are quite partial to a bit of tasty cheese but aside from a little male sparrow that accompanies the grey shrike thrush up to the deck on a regular basis who is most tenacious as the shrike thrush is three times his size and prone to pecking him on the head if he dives into the cheese futures first, there aren’t any more sparrows than usual on our kitchen window ledge so a mystery was afoot!

 

Isn't this mailbox a hoot? :)

Isn’t this mailbox a hoot? 🙂

I kept watching the window sill as I walked past. As I have been chained to the PC I tend to be in the kitchen a lot making cups of tea (anything but sitting staring at that screen!) and I just so happened to look out the other day when one of the grey shrike thrushes was collecting some cheese cubes and noticed that the shrike thrush had big eyes…”Oh shrike thrush what big eyes you have? All the better to see you my dear…” now even I, with my limited ornithological abilities, know that grey shrike thrushes are not overly endowed with large eyes. I have seen enough of them collecting up bundles of cubed cheese to take back to their nests to know a bit about them by default. We share a common space albeit on other sides of the window and this “shrike” was a wolf in sheep’s clothing! I had a closer look at the obviously antsy shrike and noticed that it was a little bit more brown than grey…she was watching me closely while she crammed a very large bundle of cheese cubes into every angle of her beak and then she flew off…hmmm…another kind of shrike perchance? But then the mystery was solved by her partner who flew up and started collecting cheese cubes as well. He was as black as the ace of spades with beady little eyes that I would recognise anywhere and he looked at me through the glass as if to say “Don’t make any sudden moves missus or the dog gets it!” Blackbirds!

Stevie-boy on his day off playing his guitar

Stevie-boy on his day off playing his guitar

One of the photos that Steve took for me today to use in my final assessment in Prepress

One of the photos that Steve took for me today to use in my final assessment in Prepress

They had obviously been watching the grey shrike thrushes most carefully. We have a few pairs of blackbirds on the property and I quite like them. There aren’t any cleverer birds in this neck of the woods if you ask me. They watch…they learn…they take advantage of what they just learned and that tells me that there is more than rudimentary brain activity going on inside those small skulls and I admire that. The first time I noticed Ms Blackbird she had a crust of dirt on her beak which is what made me look closer at her in the first place. Grey shrike thrushes are arboreal and rarely go to ground. They are insectivores and tend to peel bark from trees and eat tree dwelling grubs. The do a great job of clearing out the house spiders from between the bricks as well but never poke their beaks in the soil so this made me pay attention…Ms blackbird appears to have found a much easier option to rootling around in the vain hope of finding a worm with one eye constantly watching for cat attack at any moment…Ms blackbird is now living the high life with Mr blackbird and all because she wondered “what if I headed up there and took a bit of a look…”

We have to use all of our own artwork in our final assessment in Prepress and that means recreating whatever we need. I created this today...

We have to use all of our own artwork in our final assessment in Prepress and that means recreating whatever we need. I created this today…

See animals get it…they get that you have to put an effort in to get anything that is worthwhile. I get it as well but in the back of my cerebral cortex…the bit that gives me dreams and that warns me when I am about to do something stupid (my cerebral cortex works overtime…) and that holds past memories and those ancient life lessons that humanity appears to be forgetting en masse these days but that we kept getting reminded of by hair rising up on the back of our necks by our dear unforgetting cerebral cortex…I “get” that all of this study is good for me…I “get” that it is good for my brain, keeping it active learning new things…I “get” that this is much better for me than working for the dole at a local thrift shop sorting through clothes BUT that doesn’t make the front bit of my brain, the impulsive bit that wants to head to Pinterest and eat cake in my undies and socks at ALL appeased. Another reason why I have admiration for those blackbirds is that they are taking a short cut…they learned and they took advantage and they made their lives easier in the process. Kudos big eyes…you shall go to the cheese ball 🙂

Earl was most happy with the tasty mud and the deliciously fecund odour coming from duckies old boat. This is going to be used to make a water wicked strawberry bed inside Sanctuary in the near future

Earl was most happy with the tasty mud and the deliciously fecund odour coming from duckies old boat. This is going to be used to make a water wicked strawberry bed inside Sanctuary in the near future

So I have 2 x 8 page booklets to produce today…all of the artwork for said booklets, a few lessons in how to tart up a drop cap to narf7 standards (that means downloading ornate Art Nouveau and Art Deco fonts, twizzling around with metal gradients in Illustrator and trying my hardest to create gold out of purest Adobe), I then need to create a logo (but I have a good idea for that one) and try to cobble it all nonchalantly together to make it look like I could care less (apparently how designers do things) about the end results and that everything flowed easily and languidly from my truly talented fingertips…”Au Contraire my dear, it just flows from me like purest champagne…” that’s not the only thing that just flows from me 😉 Seriously folks, there is a lot of hard slog that goes on behind the scenes. Much like anything else that is worth it, you need to put in the hard yards to get to look that casual and on the fly…sometimes the simplest logo has taken some poor sap a month down the Morlock tunnel gulags turning from a healthy shade of human pink into a sort of insipid luminous pasty white with eyes that are no longer able to look at the light in order to casually drop onto someone’s letterhead only to be screwed up by the recipient as “MORE JUNK MAIL!”…sigh… plebeians!

Steve's entry into the "abstract architecture" section of his photography group this week

Steve’s entry into the “abstract architecture” section of his photography group this week

Yeah I “get it”…but…BUT…spring is calling! That cerebral cortex that keeps me from wetting my bed at night (several times over if you must know…) also has some kind of primordial sap rising in my veins that must be appeased. I was up to my armpits in compost and horse manure and oak leaves and straw yesterday making a sexy mix for my four new baby pepino’s. I don’t like getting my hands too dirty but I was actually enjoying squidging everything together…the sap was rising! Soon I will be twitching about planting out trees…albeit small ones…I will be thinking, no DREAMING about haybales and hugelkulture and permaculture will start invading my every thought. I won’t be able to concentrate on my drop caps because I will see that lovely leafy font and my mind will start to drift. It’s like the call of the wild in reverse. I don’t want to head off and go feral (well…any more feral than I already am…), I don’t want to wear coon skin hats and float down the river on one of my precious 2 palettes that I am keeping for a compost heap…no not THIS little black duck…I just…want…to …get… out…in…the …sodding…garden…for…a…BIT! That’s all I need…just a bit of garden therapy to go with all of this drop capping and sentence indenting and border creating and text wrapping.

Naughty narf and Stevie-boy went sniffing around the abandoned Beaconsfield mines on the weekend

Naughty narf and Stevie-boy went sniffing around the abandoned Beaconsfield mines on the weekend

This used to be used to grind up gold bearing ore

This used to be used to grind up gold bearing ore

The landscape is littered with massive great holes dating back to the 1800's so it is best to stick to the roads

The landscape is littered with massive great holes dating back to the 1800’s so it is best to stick to the roads

Unless you want to fall down a bottomless pit that is!

Unless you want to fall down a bottomless pit that is!

I just want to feel part of “outside” not firmly and strategically reinstated on this chair for the day. The sun might shine today. It didn’t yesterday and I wasn’t so keen to get out in the rain. A perfect day for studying but it was Stevie-boys day on the PC yesterday…I bet the sun will shine today. The sun loves schadenfreude. I often catch it peeking in at me, laughing and sucking on its trousers at me when I am filling the kettle near the kitchen window, watching the birds carry away cheese for their future. Another day down the Morlock mines BUT…”I get it!” another day closer to that garden! I am going to head off now in order to get a bit closer to my day in the sun that I will no doubt be complaining about soon enough but for now it is a blissful cerebral cortex memory that needs to be appeased. Wish me luck folks…I am going in!

One of Stevie-boys lovely abstract photos of some of the old machinery we found

One of Stevie-boys lovely abstract photos of some of the old machinery we found

If you look closely you can see the big boots of the narf 7...I am playing at being Amish (or was that just that all of my jeans were in the wash? ;) )

If you look closely you can see the big boots of the narf 7…I am playing at being Amish (or was that just that all of my jeans were in the wash? 😉 )

Isn't this wattle lovely? You don't often get to see wattles that are able to grow to their full height. This one is in full flower.

Isn’t this wattle lovely? You don’t often get to see wattles that are able to grow to their full height. This one is in full flower.

 

Narfs triple bottom line

Hi All,

 

It’s 5.12am on a Friday. I should be up to my armpits in RSS Feed Reads, being furtively read whilst I tap out comments on a notepad blank page whilst contemplating how to answer those people who have kindly decided to maintain email communication with me even after finding out who I “really” am (I KNOW…amazing eh?) but I am not doing any of those things because yesterday we had the internet and telephone equivalent of The Weaselman visit Serendipity Farm. Mr Windy (for want of a better word) decided to wreak a bit of old school destruction on Serendipity Farm and trees fell over our phone line tearing it out of the pole which meant that we had no house phone. Curiously, for a while, we did have the internet! We had it right up to 4am this morning when it decided to fizzle out and die so after sitting blinking for a while I decided to think of something productive to do that didn’t involve the internet

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We headed into the city the other day and the whole city of Launceston was misty. Very cold, and misty. Steve took this photo of a spiders web

 

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Something else that we saw in the city, LOVE these little Croc men

Aren't the doors of our city Commonewealth bank lovely? Almost as lovely as this passing guard dog ;)

Aren’t the doors of our city Commonewealth bank lovely? Almost as lovely as this passing guard dog 😉

 

I would like to inform you that I have just worked out that I am officially seriously addicted to the internet. My whole life revolves around it. I didn’t realise how addicted I had become until we couldn’t access it yesterday and I was adrift. No email communication, not Facebook, no ability to research! Steve phoned up our lecturer and told her about the situation after a 45 minute ride over a cliff with an Indian lady who although assured by Stevie-boy that our phone line was indeed down and in hiding underneath a selection of Serendipity Farms finest greenery, insisted that he run through a series of “tests” that took the better part of 30 minutes to complete before she would even contemplate going any further. Next time we fib Stevie-boy, we pretend to do what she asks for and say “Nope, still doesn’t work” while standing still and doing bugger all…funny how we were supposed to get the opportunity to complete a survey on the phone about our “experience” with this most angst inspiring of ladies but she hung up on an obviously frustrated and twitchy Steve prior to putting him through to the “survey department”…bad luck ma’am, they sent us the survey in an email. Just before the net shuffled off, I saw it sitting there waiting for us when we finally get the net back on.

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Someone wasn’t all that impressed with the mist and the cold…

 

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We spotted this door in the mall in the city with a dog handle…maybe this is Earl’s inner city bachelor pad?

 

Talking about that…I have NO idea when that is going to happen because Ms Indian lady was more engaged in telling us how much we were going to have to pay the technician for a “false callout” than she was in giving us any kind of firm idea when said technician was going to bother to turn up. Wafting’s of “weeks” and “we will need to keep testing the line” were mumbled but nothing firm so goodness only knows how long we will be sans phone and sans net. It looks like we are going to have to reacquaint ourselves with the Beaconsfield online centre for the foreseeable future and that is how this blog post is going to get posted next week unless a miracle happens and a technician turns up in that time

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Earl is like one of those big hairy spiders…they look HUGE when they are stretched out on the wall but when they curl up they are tiny. Earl is all head and here is is doing his best to look small on Bezial’s couch

 

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Another lovely Grey day on Serendipity Farm but at least we didn’t end up with half of our house blown away in the recent wild storms like some poor people did

 

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“Someone”  decided to scratch up the covers that we have put over the sofa to protect it and when we heard him scratching away we headed into the lounge room and found “this”…it wasn’t moving but we figured out what had caused the problem…

 

So what is a narf to do while she is forcibly ejected from her chief source of contact with the outside world? Aside from going mad, I have decided to throw myself wholeheartedly into getting Sanctuary, my fully enclosed vegetable garden, up and running on all cylinders for our coming growing season. I have plans for a large bay of straw bales full of manure and compost etc. that is going to house my pumpkin community this year. I have plans for Stevie-boy to relocate a tap that is currently residing on the fence not too far away from Sanctuary down “to” Sanctuary where it will be easier to access water and I have plans to haul an enormous mountain of horse manure and oak leaves back up to Sanctuary to start forming gardens around the perimeter of the enclosure. I have mature blueberry bushes that need pruning and planting. I have grape vines that need planting. I have all kinds of trees that need planting but they will need a bit more thought as they will have to go outside Sanctuary and when anything is outside a protective zone, it is a sitting duck when it comes to possums and wallabies and anything else that feels like a snack.

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The son-and-heirs partner Kelsey turned 23 the day before my birthday and I wanted to make her a cake. Not easy because Kelsey is from Texas and as anyone who is anyone knows, everything is bigger and better in Texas. Here are two of the three cakes that I made

 

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A chocolate cake, a vanilla cake and a red velvet cake sandwiched together with jam and cream…

 

 

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The finished cake

 

 

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Kelsey’s quails

 

 

I seem to have allowed my addiction to the internet to have taken me away from the real world for quite some time now and this forced hiatus might just be the impetus I need to get me back into the real world and establishing some new habits involving the garden, exercise, planning, and the execution of those plans which tends to be my weak point. I am taking a lot of heart from the relentless efforts of Jessie of rabidlittlehippy fame. Although she had NO idea of what she was doing initially she has started to turn her half acre of urban normalcy into a permaculture paradise that might just go a long way to feeding her family over the coming year. I had aspirations of doing the same but somehow my addiction to the internet got in the way…no more. I don’t plan on sitting here twiddling my thumbs in angsty frustration until Dodo (yes…Dodo…I am not holding out any high hopes…) get around to sending out a technician to sort out our line. It’s time for narf7 to get proactive on her own derriere!

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Earl inspecting the workmanship in Steve’s gumboots…

 

 

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Some of my new bowl haul that I got for my birthday. I LOVE bowls 🙂

 

Steve headed off into the wilderness the other night to pick this up from a lady who had advertised it on Gumtree. A great bargain and it is currently filtering our tank water for us :)

Steve headed off into the wilderness the other night to pick this up from a lady who had advertised it on Gumtree. A great bargain and it is currently filtering our tank water for us 🙂

So what’s first old girl…well there are all of those poor long suffering potted babies languishing (most of them upside down after the gales yesterday) in the side garden that need dealing with. I NEED to give them away. I can’t feel guilty if I give them away. Time for some serious culling and if I want to keep it, I HAVE TO PLANT IT OUT. That’s a really good incentive to give most of them away because planting anything out on Serendipity Farm is hard work so if you are a local, you know me, you are likely to open your door some day in the future to a box full of potted plants courtesy of narf7. Be warned!

We wanted to thank Jan's brother Peter for walking with Bezial when Steve can't at the moment and so we bought him some chocolate and chips and made him this card

We wanted to thank Jan’s brother Peter for walking with Bezial when Steve can’t at the moment and so we bought him some chocolate and chips and made him this card

Earl multi-tasking, basking in a sunbeam whilst keeping those freeloading grey thrush shrikes away from the cheese

Earl multi-tasking, basking in a sunbeam whilst keeping those freeloading grey thrush shrikes away from the cheese

An early morning shot of Earl at the bottom of the driveway and ready to go on his walk as soon as the flash wears off and he can see again ;)

An early morning shot of Earl at the bottom of the driveway and ready to go on his walk as soon as the flash wears off and he can see again 😉

The Earl, in it's natural habitat...

The Earl, in it’s natural habitat…

Stevie-boy has been home all week and most happily home too. We have knocked a couple of units out of the ballpark over the past week and even though the material that we are working with could bore an accountant to tears (and we all know that accountants LOVE boring statistics 😉 ) we are soldiering on through acres of stats and (were) researching our brains out and wading through government departments in order to try to find out what we are required to find for our assignments but sometimes it is like finding a needle in a haystack to be honest and as Stevie-boy and I study in completely different ways, this kind of frustrating slow pace isn’t conducive to peace on Serendipity Farm. I will give you an example of how we differ in our approaches…

Narf7: – “Ok, so what do we need for this task? Read the Word doc, read the supporting blurb, go to the websites that we have to go to in order to complete the task, read them, list down the bits that we need in a blank notepad and make sure that we have answered the question appropriately, and in triplicate…”

Stevie-boy: – “Have a brief glance at the question. Deem it not important to read the whole question and race off to the website where you also have a brief glance at the website and start answering the question with a few brief words so that you can get back out to your shed where the REAL action is taking place”…

Are you starting to get the picture that we are like chalk and cheese when it comes to studies? Now that we no longer have the “research” abilities that we had yesterday we are picking out the bits of assignments that we can do without research and they are few and far between. It would seem that we might be going to have to head to the online centre to study and in the process; we might have to learn to study together in a more “friendly” way lest we get ejected from the online centre forcibly and told “NEVER COME BACK!” Now this is going to be a challenge!

Birthday food time!

Birthday food time!

 

First, I got these slipper socks from a wonderful friend who also sent me some gorgeous handmade soaps and here I am attempting to desensitise Earl to their presence...

First, I got these slipper socks from a wonderful friend who also sent me some gorgeous handmade soaps and here I am attempting to desensitise Earl to their presence…

"Lets make vegan orange poppyseed bundt cake!"

“Lets make vegan orange poppyseed bundt cake!”

So today is the day after my 51st birthday. I don’t feel any older or wiser but I certainly am regretting eating so much of the gorgeous beer battered tempura veggies that we made for dinner last night or maybe it’s the combination of beer batter and vegan orange poppy seed drizzle cake accompanied by homemade vegan Brazil nut ice cream with peanut butter cookie dough chunks and when you are not used to eating anything that isn’t steamed or raw you end up with a bit of a food hangover. I will wear it because my birthday meal was delicious. The vegan orange poppy seed cake was something that we are going to make again and again. It was really delicious, didn’t use eggs or butter and was very light and moist thanks to an orange drizzle that was spooned over the top of the cake while it was still warm. Here’s the recipe if anyone would like to have a go of it…

http://holycowvegan.net/2011/12/lemon-poppy-seed-bundt-cake-with-lemon.html

Please note, I substituted orange for lemon as I am not a great lemon fan and the orange swap involved just substituting orange juice and zest for the lemon juice and zest

An action shot of Stevie-boy who is too masculine to bother with using a stand mixer to cream ingredients

An action shot of Stevie-boy who is too masculine to bother with using a stand mixer to cream ingredients

Here is what happens when you are too masculine to use a stand mixer to mix in flour (sigh...)

Here is what happens when you are too masculine to use a stand mixer to mix in flour (sigh…)

 

One hot and most glorious smelling vegan orange poppyseed bundt cake fresh out of the oven

One hot and most glorious smelling vegan orange poppyseed bundt cake fresh out of the oven

 

And here it is after it has had orange drizzle ladled over the top... " Bellisimo!" :)

And here it is after it has had orange drizzle ladled over the top… ” Bellisimo!” 🙂

I am going to head off now folks. Most of this email was prepared earlier due to the threat of us losing the net for the rest of the day as we are getting a visit from a Telstra lines man who needs to hook us up a new junction box after last week’s storms pulled our wires down. Turns out, in the process, that he discovered that “someone” (DAD!) had done their own rudimentary wire fix by twisting two wires together and duct taping them together…sounds like something that dad would have done to me! They need to be properly housed in a junction box so I am going to finish up here now and get this scheduled to post as otherwise I might lose the net and not be able to post today. Have a great week everyone. I haven’t had time to read my RSS Feed Reader properly for the last week or so because we have been working hard on relentless studies but hopefully, everything will be back to normal (or something approximating normal) on Serendipity Farm in a week or so.

 

 

Vegan peanut butter cookie dough mix chilled in the freezer and ready to cut up to add to vegan Brazil nut ice cream

Vegan peanut butter cookie dough mix chilled in the freezer and ready to cut up to add to vegan Brazil nut ice cream

The ingredients for making Japanese wakame (seaweed) salad

The ingredients for making Japanese wakame (seaweed) salad

It might look like something from the black lagoon, but wakame seaweed is delicious and makes a really wonderful addition to any Japanese meal

It might look like something from the black lagoon, but wakame seaweed is delicious and makes a really wonderful addition to any Japanese meal

Wakame salad (sans toasted sesame seeds) and pickled carrot salad. Both of these were needed to cut the HUGE amount of battered gorgeousness that we consumed with gusto :)

Wakame salad (sans toasted sesame seeds) and pickled carrot salad. Both of these were needed to cut the HUGE amount of battered gorgeousness that we consumed with gusto 🙂

Stage 1 of the production line to make tempura, bear battered veggies for a most happy narf's Japanese birthday feast :)

Stage 1 of the production line to make tempura, bear battered veggies for a most happy narf’s Japanese birthday feast 🙂

 

 

Steve's Japanese beef in the frypan and one of the trays of delicious beer battered happiness

Steve’s Japanese beef in the frypan and one of the trays of delicious beer battered happiness

A mix of battered sweet potato, whole spring onions (NOT chook feet ;) ) broccoli florets and mushrooms

A mix of battered sweet potato, whole spring onions (NOT chook feet 😉 ) broccoli florets and mushrooms

The salads and more mushrooms...you can NEVER have enough battered mushrooms according to Stevie-boy ;)

The salads and more mushrooms…you can NEVER have enough battered mushrooms according to Stevie-boy 😉

Au contraire…

 

Hi All

 

I have been doing that thing where you use your brain a lot for things other than the objects of your interest and desire…(what’s that called again?) “Study”. Cramming swathes of information into your head. Some of which sticks because it is directly related to what you are interested in (like making e-books) or is hovering around the peripherals of what you are interested in (like forming community with like-minded people) but aside from that, anything external to where my brain wants to be sitting at any given time spills out of my ears and into the ether most probably never to be seen (or retrieved) again

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The lengths that I go to in order to maintain my artistic integrity…here you see one of my kitchen knives that I was using in order to replicate a knife in one of my assessment tasks. The pile of pencil shavings was thanks to me having to draw things over…and over…and over again and these sheets of paper are my draft drawings prior to the finished result. We had to use the letters of our names to represent a profession or a theme.

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Here’s what I came up with (if I have ANY Drag queens reading this post please don’t spam me! 😉 )

Have you noticed that? Have you noticed how if you are interested in something you can spend hours poring over books, searching the net and wandering around with a book in your hands while you furtively attempt to stir the air at the side of a simmering pot? I think that the secret to being a really good teacher/lecturer, is first of all learning to read your students (after all, “students” per-se are a motley crew at best and at worst can be the stuff that nightmares can only aspire to being) and then finding what it is that they are interested in and pitching your lessons in that direction. I realise that classroom situations can’t give teachers the ability to tailor lessons to individual students but if you find a student who just isn’t getting it…who (like Steve) is asleep on their desk…who keeps interrupting your class by acting “the giddy goat” (LOVE that saying nana 🙂 ) then it’s time to pull out the old “personalise and pique their interest” bullet…load it into your teaching gun and “FIRE!”

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Ugg boots! Well…not really “Ugg” boots as they cost a small fortune and would probably sue me for even thinking about using their name, but cheap imports that are keeping my feet almost as warm for the princely sum of $8. Coupled with some thermal socks and narf7 is ready to tackle winter feet first!

DSCF7549The sum total of tomatoes produced in my garden this year that are red. I have about seventy quintillion green ones…note the hairy strawberry (they hit puberty early on Serendipity Farm. This one is so old he has a comb over…) 

I have been noticing meme’s on Facebook (back there…sort of…as our classmates set up a FB page and we check into it on a daily basis) that echo a similar theme. The theme revolves around how happiness is elusive. How we can’t expect to be “happy” all of the time and how we need to embrace the “sad”. Whilst understanding fully that the only way that “happy” tastes like ice cream and feels like a massage after going 10 rounds with Mike Tyson is to balance it out and to contrast it with the knowledge and personal experience of sadness but to say that you can’t taste happiness most of the time…Au contraire, I beg to differ. I think that happiness is a state of mind. It isn’t something that is elusive or to be sought after, it’s right here inside us. It’s that pure crystal clear moment when we realise that were we are, what we have, how we live right here…right NOW is “right” for us and we learn to feel a primal contentment in those moments. That is happiness. Well it is to narf7 Anyhoo…

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Steve’s secret walnut stash in a car park in the city. No-one collects the nuts and as you can see they are being squished by cars

DSCF7558Narf7’s not so secret stash/box of collected walnuts from the city car park 🙂 

So here I am, haggard but happy with the crisp fresh cold (only just remembering what “cold” actually is…) mornings that we have been having lately and my thoughts are with autumn plantings and winter baking. I have been cultivating a roaringly gorgeous online friendship with the spunky Joanna from Zebbakes  and the much closer Celia from Fig jam and lime cordial Throw in some spectacular Cityhippyfarmgirl action and narf7 is going to go to the sourdough ball this year. None of it will be at all possible without a starter however and my new hero is Tanya of Chica Andaluza  fame who has sent me some dehydrated starter from her own prized batch. Spanish starter on Serendipity Farm. Sounds like some kind of cookbook to me! I can only hope that our customs officials are as kind as the Spanish ones were and let the sourdough through. The Spanish version passed Serendipity Farm kefir grains to Tanya without batting an eyelid (maybe they were having a Manana moment? 😉 ). Fingers crossed that the tenacious starter arrives on the doorstep and this winter turns my humble and simple little kitchen into a bread baking alchemists dream, full of possibilities and potions. I just crammed “Tartine 3” into my library cart. Why start of easy is my way of thinking. Throw yourself in at the deep (experimental) end and tread water for a bit till something sticks (probably all of those unctuous cultures riding to the other side on the top of my drowning cranium 😉 )

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We headed into the city in order to swap 8 bags of prunes for 8 bags of dates. Steve picked up the prunes on his last whirlwind shopping trip and as I am NOT a fan of “prune syrup” we returned them and swapped them for dates. While we were there we took the opportunity to walk the dogs around the city and take a couple of photos. This is another one of those lovely traffic signal boxes. I love how bright and vibrant this one is 🙂

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This is a great idea. Filtered water that you can drink from a fountain or use to fill up your water bottle in an attempt to reduce the use of bottled water. The dogs were certainly appreciative of this on what was probably one of our last warm days for the year

As the weather cools down I start to rev up. I want to hear and smell Brunhilda as she crackles back into life. I went to sleep last night with the sound of persistent rain on the roof. It was absolutely and most primally delicious. My breakfast buckwheat porridge is now “right” and I have taken to wearing ugg slippers all over again. Enter the game. Narf7 1, Earl nil (for now…) The dogs are starting to need a blanky at night-time now. We keep lecturing them about how lucky they are. How some dogs have to live outside and eat tinned dog food (shock HORROR!) and wouldn’t know what a bed even looked like, let alone got to spend most of their days languishing in luxury on top of one. Couches, fridges, leftovers, begging for hot pasty ends, bacon rinds, caches of shoes…all completely foreign to the average shmo dog but do you think they pay attention? Nope…you can almost sense Bezial looking for “more” and Earls eyes slithering around looking for unattended foot coverings as you prosthelise

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Steve ate most of these last night and said that they were delicious. Even the green possum sucked ones didn’t go to waste. They got tucked into the compost bin to hopefully grow at their leisure over the winter

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I knew that European paper wasps had 2 phases, a sugar phase where they predate any and everything sugary and later in the breeding season they have a meat phase where they go for anything vaguely meaty but I never realised that they also had a cheese phase…here is the evidence!

We have plans in the immediate future to create a dog nook next to Brunhilda. Sort of one of those Bohemian floor setups for dogs so that they can take advantage of pillows and warmth and Brunhilda and overnight heat regulation. “Some dogs live outside in kennels you know you two!”… (Eyes just swivelled alarmingly reminiscent of my children’s eyes swivelling when I was telling them that there were starving children in Ethiopia…) and we have plans for all sorts of crafty adventures but we need to knuckle down and get some of these immediate studies out of the way. Sarah, our wonderful lecturer, has been very sporting about it all and has given us all of our work up front. I love you Sarah. You are a true friend! She knows how a student brains works because she IS a student. She is studying at university as she teaches and so that need to satisfy in the bare minimum is part and parcel of her world. You can reason with a fellow student and Sarah is eminently reasonable. This course is a world apart from last year. Last year I could feel our lecturer losing his sense of humour as the year progressed and our fellow students dropped like bored flies. The moment something a bit difficult arose they were like rats leaving a sinking ship but this year’s motley crew are all interesting, fantastically talented and most importantly focussed on taking part and completing this course. They all seem to have their eyes firmly on the finish line which makes this a much more exciting direction to be facing. Rather than working alone, we have lots of brains to bounce off and that makes it a much more entertaining environment to learn in

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A man and his machine against the mighty intestinal fortitude of a cross fibred wattle tree

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A man and his dogs

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A man who appears to be threatening me but who assures me is “Mr Log Splitter Extraordinaire”…

Ms TeddyTottie of “Teddy and Tottie” blogging fame posted a link to this excellent commercial to highlight ceasing battery hen/egg farming by some of our most noted comedians. I would like to share it with you all as well. I realise that some of you already follow this blog so feel free to skip the ad.

http://www.animalsaustralia.org/no-way-to-treat-a-lady

 

I find myself at 3.13pm on Wednesday and just remembered that I have to post a blog post…EEK! I have been studying all day and finding more holes where the possums have been weaselling into our veggie garden (SWINES!) that I promptly mended (narf7 1 possums about 7000 😦 ) and helping Steve to split some logs using a log splitter that we borrowed from a friend. All in all I am going to have to put this blog post to bed and hope that it isn’t too half cut and that the first bit was good enough to carry this last (most pathetic) effort home ;). I need to thank Tanya (Chica Andaluza) and Jessie (rabidlittlehippy) for sending me Spanish sourdough starter “Ole!” and for dealing with my aging Aunt Tilly who keeps sending me seeds. Jess has been a pillar of the community and has bent over backwards to attempt to educate Aunt Tilly but she appears to be almost as bolshie as I am. Cheers for your help anyway Jess.  You can both be sure that I am going to have a wonderful time messing around in the realms of sourdough possibilities and back propagating where I am happiest . I luv’s ya both 🙂

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Not only did Tanya/Chica send me some of her precious dehydrated sourdough starter for me to have a go at making true Spanish sourdough on Serendipity Farm, but she sent me a packet of lovely wildflower seeds to sprinkle around the place. I am wholeheartedly in agreement with the cover of the lovely card that she sent…I will just swap the (undrinkable) gin for vodka and after a few of those lemony moments I will completely “forgedaboudit!” 😉  Now I have to think up a sufficiently sexy Spanish name for my new starter…

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Dear Aunt Tilly…she keeps sending me seeds and I keep telling her “No Aunt Tilly!” but what are you going to do when your Aunty just wants to share? 😉 Cheers Jess for attempting to talk some sense into Aunt Tilly. For your kindness to Aunt Tilly I am sending you something special 🙂

Ok folks, sorry to love you and leave you but sometimes the small terrier that is life gets hold of your ratty little carcass and gives you a hefty shake which results in a bit of a brain rattle and a whole lot of having to get your bearings back. I should have them back and be a LOT more organised by next week but I can’t promise anything ;). I hope you all have a happy and most productive week. See you all next Wednesday 🙂