My addiction to Pinterest made me forget to title my post! I need an intervention!!!

Hi All,

Does anyone out there know where my day just went? I think I saw it hurtling through the time space continuum around about lunch time but it seems to have taken a wrong turn on its straight through trip to Albuquerque and gotten lost. I find myself at 4.56am stressing about how little time I have left in yesterday…sigh…Why are we so busy? Well firstly, as a new convert to Pinterestism I have needs you know! I must be allowed to pin at least seventy-sixty-two new pages to my own page before I can surface and be functional in my day. I have also discovered http://www.tastespotting.com/ and   http://foodgawker.com/ as backups to Pinterest should my interest ever wane (we addicts like to have stashes of our addiction scattered around in hidden places…) and I most shamefully have to admit that I just noticed a pin that Steve accidentally pinned to our favourites bar that I needed to remove and put in its correct box (anus…thy name is narf7 😉 ) and I have been off Pinteresting when I should have been here typing to you my dear constant readers! Are you shocked? I am suitably ashamed but I can’t promise that if my eye doesn’t spy another incorrectly pinned linkie in our favourites bar (not that I am scanning it as I type this folks…Surely I wouldn’t do that…) that I am going to be carried away by the deliciousness of it all and the freeness and the fact that it doesn’t cram my PC full of my need to collect…

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These first two images were taken on a particularly foggy morning just on sunrise. I didn’t use any kind of filter or special effects and what you see is what I saw through the lens. I wanted to show you just how different a space of 10 minutes can render a landscape…This shot was taken at 7.10

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And this amazing shot was taken 10 minutes later. We certainly live in a wonderful place 🙂

Sure I might lose it all if some super power realises that the true power in the world lies not in its monetary value but in its social media and grabs hold of the reigns and rides that cloud (that technology seems hell bent to stuff itself onto) like Monkey from Monkey Magic, then all of this “free stuff” and this “convenience of the cloud” and this “don’t have to pay as much for your software” is going to come back to bite us all BIGTIME isn’t it folks? All of the “read it online on your e-reader” and “store it in the cloud” and “no C.D. required, just a “small” monthly fee” and “buy your movies from us and we will deliver them to you at the click of a button” etc. is going to suddenly show us that we have been right royally gipped! We no longer own much of anything. You know that wonderful moment where you slip that C.D. that you paid a heinous amount of money for into the P.C. and wait a decade till it loads up some program that allows you to make monkeys fly out of your Aunt Matilda’s hat? (I would be talking about Photoshop here folks…)Well the next Adobe download will be entirely online folks. CS6 will be the very last C.D. download you get. Why? Because aside from saving the Adobe empire a squillion-billion dollars in having to produce C.D.’s (which they will say they are being “Green” in doing…can anyone say G.R.E.E.N.W.A.S.H. with me slowly?) and have them sit on shelves in physical shops and paying all of those workers to produce and sell them (so how many thousands of jobs are going to be lost here folks?), the most important thing about clouds is that no-one can copy them. No-one can illegally download them and no-one can “steal” what Adobe thrashed out of its poor intellects who are chained up in some basement somewhere being fed RedBull to keep them awake and producing new software till they die of a diabetic coma and are rapidly replaced with another one… and once they get everything that they produce stuffed into a fort Knox of a cloud somewhere they will be able to charge you whatever they like to access their products because you won’t be able to get them “on sale” or “illegally” or any other way than via the fluffy cloud of corporate greed.

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This shot was taken slightly later on but Steve has admittedly mucked about a little bit with this shot in Photoshop but not very much (he misted up the sides to make you focus on the middle ground of the shot). How different they all look! I would like to experiment one day and set up the cameras on tripods and just take images every 10 minutes for the whole day! Even a time rich penniless student hippy gets bored sometimes folks 😉

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A gratuitous bickie shot…here you see custard creams, duskies and the dusky with the white cream is a “Minstrel” 😉

Am I sounding bolshie? “Moi?” Well guess what folks; it’s happening all around us. Books stores are going out of business because so many of us have been green washed into thinking that our lazy desire to read e-books online while we multitask and work, and stuffing things into online cloud sharing and freeing up our P.C. for …for…can anyone tell me what we are freeing up our P.C. for?! Games are all downloaded and played online now. Pretty soon you won’t “own” anything folks. It will all be online and we will all be at the mercy of our internet connection should we want to take advantage of our games, our software, our everything. How long till we don’t need physical money and it is only accessed through some cloud somewhere? Isn’t anyone else out there alarmed by this like I am? It’s sneaky and insidious and its happening all over the place and we all seem totally content to be led by the nose and give up all of our physical privileges…well not THIS little black duck! No e-readers and online PlayStation games for me! I can lose my food porn in an instant because I have books with glorious food porn in them that Pinterest has lured me away from…but “Come the revolution” I still HAVE them. That’s the thing…what do we actually “have” if we stuff it all into a cloud? Where is our money going? Are we going to truly turn into that virtual society that we are told is so progressive and wonderful?

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While I am ranting I won’t distract you too much…I want you to think about the rant NOT the photos ;). Here are some ground covers that I planted in a vain attempt to cover the ground and keep some of the moisture in. Hopefully they will spread in spring and will do just that.

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No idea what this little groundcover is but I bought it for $2 from the plant stand at the end of the road and it seems to love it here.

Maybe my bolshiness comes from being a penniless student hippy who knows the value of every dollar that slithers through her fingers. Maybe because I am almost officially “old” and I know the value of frugality and have seen it in my parents and grandparents. Maybe I just have the time to see how insidious this whole “Cloud” thing really is? Who knows, all I know is that I am incredibly suspicious of ANYTHING that has to be delivered and meted out by a third party…one of those vulturous “Middle Men” who really have no worth at all to anyone but who seem to be the makers of the most profit. Adobe are middle men. They create a market to sell what someone else dreamed up and they most certainly don’t want ANYONE else cashing in on their parade. Microsoft, Apple, you name it folks, these big companies not only want ALL the profits (and anything else they can get into the deal) but they want to sew up the internet for profit. No more free downloads, everything will be filtered through clouds and “small monthly payments” that amount to MASSIVE profits for these behemoth businesses that are hell bent on owning all intellectual property and making more money than I could hope to count for the rest of my life.

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Now you are all clucking and tutting and right royally pissed about how the big corporations are all ripping us off willy-nilly (as you SHOULD be!) you can have some more interesting images. This is Steve…this is Steve in his new Russian fluffy hat…why he felt the need to put these sunglasses on beats me. You would have to ask Steve and Steve is an enigma.

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Here you can see the ear flaps have been pinned up! “Magic”! That means that this hat is perfect for all of Steve (the enigma’s) winter needs. Steve has 9 earrings and cold weather chills gold and your ears at the same time (I know, I have 7 earrings)…you really do need a hat that will cover them when you are out walking the dogs or you might get chilblains on more than just your knuckles, toes and fingers…but when you are inside and your ears are safe…what’s a man to do? Pin up the ear flaps that’s what folks! How exciting is this blog? I am SURE you are riveted to your seats… 😉

That’s my 1150 word rant so far folks…now I can get to what narf7 and the-long-suffering-Stevie-boy have been up to since Tuesday. Our crazy American hippy friend wants us to drink rainwater. He also wants us to put bicarbonate soda in said rain water but that AINT gonna happen sir! He had a spare 600 litre rainwater tank complete with an inline water filter that he had laying around and asked us if we would like an extended loan of it till we could afford one of our own. We jumped at the chance! Steve has been up on the roof clearing out gutters, installing gutter guard, cutting holes in the gutter to accommodate a new plastic downpipe leading directly to the tank and watching him is exhausting! Today he will be heading out to take possession of a couple of trailer loads of spent horse bedding full of horse manure and perfect to add to the suite of organisms that we hope to populate our new enclosed veggie garden in. We will need an incredible amount of “soil” in this garden and are fully intending on taking advantage of any free offers of leaves, grass clippings, chopped up branches etc. to minimise the cost of having to build these gardens.

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This is an Azalea. This Azalea is one of many that are all out in flower at the moment on Serendipity Farm

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Here’s another one with a bee 🙂

We have to cut up another huge length of ex-fish-farm netting and remove all of the nylon rope from it. That usually takes us about a day with both of us working on it. We also need to unload that trailer load of gorgeous dry wood that Steve collected last Sunday and store it. Our amazing friend Jenny just phoned and asked us how our veggie garden is going and aside from offering to come and help us put the nets up around the perimeter of the garden (now surrounded by firmly concreted in poles) and told us that we can get another load of wood from her 50 acre property…”I love you Jen!”. Wood is something that we just can’t afford at the moment. It’s not cheap folks and as our chief source of heating our home, our hot water and cooking our food right through the cold winter months we most gratefully take advantage of any and all offers of free wood. Our friend Guy has told us we can get more wood from his mum’s property (Cheers Kaye…we love you too!) so hopefully that will get us through this winter and we have more time to plan for our next winter.

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These Azaleas were some of several bushes that we hacked back to stumps and “killed”. Apparently Azaleas are a whole lot hardier than one might think folks! We treated these shrubs horrifically and the only reason that they are growing back today is that we were too lazy to attempt to dig out the stumps and were going to just let them rot and pull them out when they did! It just goes to show you that nature is incredibly tenacious when she wants to be.

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This little Nandina domestica ‘nana’ (dwarf sacred bamboo) is putting on a magnificent show at the moment. It thrives in terrible soil in full sun and I would recommend these nandina’s along with their full sized brethren (the green leaves next to this one) for anyone wanting a very hardy plant.

We have 2 trees (one that fell down and is still entangled in a tree) that are dead in our side garden and another 2 that are on the way to dead. They are both eucalyptus obliqua and these eucalypts might have been Tassie endemics when Tasmania was a far wetter and colder place than it is today but call it global warming or call it what you like, conditions have changed and no longer favour Eucalyptus obliqua and favour the more hardy endemic Eucalyptus viminalis. We have lots of fungus ridden obliquas all in stages of decline and all LARGE trees. We have enough viminalis that we are not going to suddenly look like the grasslands of the Serengeti when the obliquas all die, but we need to do something about the dying trees because they are all close to the house. The tree that fell reminded us of our precarious existence and how expensive it would be to have to mend our roof. Guy is going to bring his tractor around and help us remove these trees. Once we fell them they can be cut up for next year’s firewood as well so there will be SOME benefit to my poor squished garden…

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More Azaleas and a stack of potted orchids that we have yet to figure out where they are going to live on a more permanent basis

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This is the inline water filter that is now on our loaner rainwater tank. We have had a tiny bit of rain but not enough to fill our tank, let alone reach the mark where we can actually turn on the tap and get “water” but hopefully some-day soon we will be drinking tea and coffee made with delicious filtered rainwater courtesy of our crazy old Californian hippy mate Michael 🙂

We spent yesterday with a new addiction. As part of our course, we are learning to use Adobe Flash. I never much thought about Flash as anything but something to make spam with and to flash up “CASINO!” in pop-ups but apparently it’s actually a worthwhile program and you can do all sorts of things with it. Steve and I finished our coursework for this terms unit early so aside from the hard slog we have been doing all week, we have had time to have a peek at what we are going to be attempting next term. So far this course has been incredible fun. We have learned an enormous amount about photography, design, and media and how to so “stuff” that we just never thought about before. It was always “someone else” did it, but now…”we” do it :o). It is very liberating to know how to do things yourself and Steve and I have noticed that our lecturer takes about a week into the new term before he launches a pretty severe workload of assessments onto us all. We like to know a bit about what we are studying and so we have a bit of time over the next 2 weeks to familiarise ourselves with Flash and its intricacies.

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It’s funny how 6 trailer loads of horse manure can be reduced to a flat and exponentially decreasing pile by a small but most determined band of beaked and feathered Somalian pirates isn’t it?

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Here you see what is left of our tomato and capsicum beds since we opened up the garden to the chooks and possums. Curiously, the chooks are the only ones taking advantage of this windfall…it would seem that I am not the only Bolshie one living on Serendipity Farm and that vegetables and their foliage taste SO much better when you steal them with impunity…

In the past week we have taught ourselves to “Tween”. We can take an image (or in our case a badly drawn stick figure) and we can make it move across the page. We got bored of making images and text move around the page and so we messed about and made them do pirouettes etc. It still wasn’t all that enthralling and so we peeked a bit ahead and discovered rotoscope. Does anyone else but me remember that Swedish band a-ha and their truly original video for their song “Take on me”? The technique used to produce that video is called Rotoscoping. What it takes is a video and someone with too much time on their hands who is willing to take individual frames of said video and hand draw over the top of the frames with a brush tool for frame, after frame, after frame…you get the picture (literally 😉 ). Steve and I are both working on a video that we borrowed from YouTube. Mine is an episode of that wonderful children’s show with the little plasticine man “Morph”. I have drawn over 100 frames and have managed to get through the title phase! I have 2400 to go…why the heck would I do that? Because the end results are amazing, that’s why folks! If you haven’t seen the song I was taking about, here is a YouTube link. Please note, the advertisement at the front is urging you to join the Australian armed forces…it’s up to you if you choose to take advantage of this wonderful career offer…I, myself, have chosen to opt out 😉

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=djV11Xbc914

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The chickens don’t seem all that keen on chilli leaves and have left the chilli plants relatively intact. I will be pulling them out soon but for now they are still producing flowers and tiny baby chilli’s!

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See that brown hay scattered all over the ground? That is a direct result of Somalian pirate activity. They aren’t even scared of Bezial any more! The only one that they are afraid of is Earl…he is something akin to The Dread Pirate Roberts and isn’t looking to step down ANY day soon! Even the feral cats ignore Bezial now…he wants to be known now as “The Ghost Who Walks…” The Phantom Dog 😉

Steve has decided to take a video that we shot of Earl on his birthday and Rotoscope it. Earl was given a whole bag of inflated balloons to explode and the resulting video is a great one to rotoscope because of both the highly expressive and animated Earl, and the inflated balloons that are there one minute and gone the next. My Pinterest addiction has run to putting a Pinterest bar on the blog. Under each post now you can click to add the post to your Pinterest account or just blatantly steal any of the images you like. Feel free…I discovered that people have been doing it for months! It’s strangely both flattering and creepy to find images of yourself, your dogs and your garden produce someplace where you didn’t put them but if you blog and you put those images out there you have to be willing to have someone else take a shine to them and pinch them. I know I do, so why would anyone else out there be any different? Pinch with impunity folks, just don’t try to sell anything using them, you might be disappointed by the sales results at the end of the month 😉

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The last of the liquidambar leaves just before they tumbled from the wonderful grey stems and rendered Serendipity Farm officially on winter time. At least the possums won’t bother with it till spring now!

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You would be forgiven for thinking that this was something terrifying out of The Moth-man prophesy but it isn’t. It’s WORSE! This…is a brush tailed possum. Scourge of narf7 and gardeners everywhere and prime target for Earl’s nocturnal angst…(his days are filled with rage against the feral machine). This one had a lucky escape the other night after running up the deck with Earl close on his tail…Do those eyes looks scared? NO! He was screaming his anger at Earl from a safe distance and doing the possum equivalent of what the French taunters were doing in the Holy Grail…

I have forged on and baked my not inconsiderable weights worth of custard cream biscuits and Duskies, a peculiar New Zealand chocolate version of them that are apparently quite delicious…I sandwiched the custard creams with vanilla buttercream and the Duskies with a rich chocolate buttercream and because we are not racist on Serendipity Farm I sandwiched some of the extra Duskies with vanilla buttercream and called them “Minstrels”. I know they are delicious because Steve told me so and the biscuit barrel is officially stuffed to the back gills. I have been experimenting with my morning green smoothies and aside from using my non-dairy kefir; I have started adding cooked beans to my smoothies. I can get pretty experimental when needs must and I wanted to make sure I was getting plenty of fibre, protein and nutrients and adding beans gives more body, a creamy texture and if you freeze the cooked beans (I cook mine from dry) they double as a great thickener for your smoothie. I also add ice cubes and my smoothies take me right through the day. Angela at Canned Time made some gorgeous vegan chocolate chip scones with a vanilla glaze by sheer accident the other day. Angela used beans in her scone recipe and I have to tell you that they certainly give a lot of moisture, body and texture to a recipe. Here’s Angela’s wonderful recipe if you would like to try it…

http://canned-time.com/chocolate-chip-scones-with-vanilla-cream-glaze/

Angela is my go-to girl for crazy out of the ballpark vegan recipes and she is incredibly prolific and inventive. This is the cutting edge of recipe development and I love to hover around the creative people who think like this and put their thought into action “What if I took a can of coconut cream, a can of cannellini beans and some date paste, pureed them together and made ice-cream out of them?” Not sure, but you can bet Angela has at least attempted something pretty close to it at one time or other ;).

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Finally, with permission from Christi one of my most dear constant readers and a true friend in Olalla Washington (see her wonderful blog here… http://farmlet.wordpress.com/) I am going to share some of her very talented husband “The B.O’s” wonderful drawings. Earl heard a possum earlier in the week. He raced outside and I was treated from my vista on the couch to a vision of a brush-tailed possum streaking down the deck with a most determined Am staff rapidly gaining ground on him. The possum made it to scream and steal another day but I mentioned in my last post that I might like to ask The B.O. to draw the debacle to preserve it in posterity. He did! What an amazing man :). Here is Earl, a most wonderful rendition especially the little pink nose. Earl looks like he just dispatched something…most fitting!

Hoochi Coo narf7 and the great possum chace of old Serendipity Farm

Now I am SURE I told The B.O. via Christi that this was a scene of Earl chasing a possum and me sitting on the couch watching…I think we might have had a case of Chinese Whispers go on and sure enough…Earl IS chasing (and making good ground on) that possum BUT I appear to be attempting to sell my wares in an Amsterdam hookers window! Now I don’t know what Christi has told you about me B.O. but it’s not true! I may have lost a little weight lately but a “Hoochie Coochie Woman” I am not! ;). If we ever get so poor that we have to sell someone’s body you can bet it will be Steve out in Princes Square strutting his stuff and not THIS little black duck! (We would make more money 😉 )

Our new fully enclosed veggie garden is one step closer to reality with Steve and I hauling a massive roll of ex fish farm netting down from where we store it to under the deck. That’s the first stage in us cutting the net ready for installation. We do things in stages here and as it rained all night we are very glad that we did it yesterday. That stuff weighs a tonne when it is wet! We will be walking the dogs in Deviot today in a vain attempt to get some quality photos to share with you here AND satisfy the dogs desire to pee on other dog’s pee that they didn’t pee on yesterday. Steve and I will be fighting for the computer as my Pinterest addiction knows no bounds and his desire to rotoscope Earl is equally as intense. I planted out a whole bag of Jerusalem artichokes someplace where I don’t care if they go nuts so watch this space to see narf7 go nuts at some time in the future ;). This weekend promises to be a tangle of energetic and mental activity on Serendipity Farm and it’s great to be back outside after almost a full term of beavering away in front of our computer screens. At least this term we will have a head start on what we need to know. See you Wednesday folks and enjoy your weekends to the max :o)

Come and visit Serendipity Farm for The Virtual Vegan Potluck tomorrow…

Hi All,

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Click this link to take you to the full list of participants. I am SO excited to be taking part in this event 🙂

This is a teeny tiny little post just to test my scheduler is working correctly. I am very excited to be posting in a worldwide event tomorrow and would love for you all to come and take a look. I promise there are at least 800 words less than I usually type and LOTS more pictures and a wonderful and most tasty recipe to boot. This post has taken a whole lot of work and I really do appreciate those amazing food bloggers out there that do this every single day. I would go banana’s! Here’s a gratuitous shot of vegetable head for you all to enjoy…I am using it as a lure for prospective blog followers tomorrow ;). Have a great Friday guys and enjoy yourselves to the MAX this weekend.

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narf7 the great Stromboli maestro of old Sidmouth town 🙂

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Hows this for a vegan recipe folks? And we grew most of the ingredients and made everything ourselves 🙂

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)

Wednesday wanderings and last posts

Hi All,

There are three rules for writing a novel. Unfortunately, no one knows what they are.

W. Somerset Maugham

I get a little chuckle sometimes when I get the little witticism that WordPress gives me, most graciously, whenever I post a post. I shared it with you last post and this one made me smile so I am going to share it with you again. Do you Blogspotters get that? If not…time to rise up against Google’s oppression! Sorry…my bolshie self-overpowered my well behaved beginning of post self and snuck out there for a moment…please disregard that last sentence ;).  It’s Sunday and I found myself up and typing at 2.30am. It would seem that misery LOVES Company and Bezial is taking his own degree of schadenfreude from his personal refusal to eat his tea last night (for whatever reason… Bezial is a complex conundrum at the best of times and at the worst of times he is a neurotic bundle of self-appointed restraint processes…) to avail me of an early rising time so that I can listen to him drinking water after being forced to eat DOG BISCUITS to prevent himself from starving to death…and expecting me to shepherd him back to my side of the bed…to my nice warm pillow where he will rest his head until approximately 6.30 where he will get out of bed and lay staring at me until I go to the cupboard and retrieve some form of treat to fill his nagging stomach… dogs are children for life people…CHILDREN FOR LIFE!

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Our current “children” after an impromptu walk and swim at Swan Point yesterday

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A hound and his rock

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Not to be outdone, Earl on HIS rock

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Bezial walking on water…”You WIN Bezial” 😉

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How we get our “children” to listen to us and do what we want

Sometimes we find ourselves in the midst of something or somewhere we really don’t want to be. It might be right off the beaten track and all we can see is the moment and how stuck we are BUT sometimes we need to be dragged away from our comfort zone so that we can find something new. I guess what I am trying to say in my usual convoluted word paths are that every cloud has a silver lining and that where you are at the moment might just be the pathway needed to get you to someplace better. This experience that you are going through right now might be important for some prospective future happiness and we just don’t know it now. I am in the process of trying to not sweat the small stuff and learn to find “something” positive in every situation. It makes me cringe to type that because murphy’s law dictates that someone who is cocky enough to type something like that is going to take a tumble post haste and have to ruminate on the true meaning of their words but there comes a time when you have to start honing your behaviour and your responses to what life hands you so that you can get the best out of every situation. What’s the point sitting in a pile of ashes and lamenting your lot when you could rise up like the phoenix and make something beautiful out of what life has handed you? There is our true strength of character…the ability to keep getting up and facing what we are gifted and making the most out of it. That all came from me finding a recipe that wasn’t particularly what I was interested in this morning but that had links at the bottom of it to some really great recipes. If I hadn’t clicked on this recipe, thinking that it was worthwhile (it wasn’t…) I wouldn’t have found the other recipes. We have to step out in faith that we are going to make it, that we are going to make a difference to our lives and knowing that in being brave enough to face what life hands us and deal with it, that we are going to live a more honest and productive and “real” life in the process.

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A Serendipity Sunset moment

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The pretty pebble beach at Swan Point

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The only shot of about 70 that I took that has something even VAGUELY looking like the wasps that live in this hole in the photo. They were exiting in a steady stream totally ignoring me with the camera perched up close and personal to their exit hole. The wasps and I are mano-a-mano 😉

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A lovely Pinus radiata right on the edge of the pebble beach

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A closeup of the pines root system showing how they grow right into the river

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This little section of beach reminds me of Victorian England for some reason

Now that the philosophy is out of the way I can talk about a few more processes that take you from A to B. It’s just on 6am on Monday morning. Once a fortnight Steve joins me on my early morning wake-up session not quite at 4am but I deliver a cup of strong coffee (his last till 11am when he gets back home) just before 6am and he gets up, puts the shopping list on his phone and heads out the door armed with veggies for our daughters in the city, the ubiquitous gas bottle that needs filling over summer and anything else that needs to be done on the day to take advantage of the $40 of fuel used to do this trip. Today Steve has a doozy of a “doing” day. Last night we had to head into the chook run to catch as many young chooks as we could. We are giving some to the woman that we buy our dog meat from as her husband’s hens are getting a bit long in the tooth and are no longer producing eggs. I had NO idea if we were choosing roosters or hens because it’s dark by the time that we are able to go into the run or all of the chooks would turn into a seething mass of squawking flapping chaotic feathers and we would stress them out unduly so after dark we sneak quietly into the coop armed with Steve’s trusty L.E.D. torch and try to work out what we want to catch and what we don’t. Steve went first to check where the younger chooks (ascertained by their size) were roosting on the perches and came back armed with one of them…BONUS! Only 4 – 5 to go! Next I headed in and grabbed 2 from a perch that Steve had directed me to with his torch. We got out to the shed where we had a larger cage with hay in it to hold them overnight until we could put them into boxes for their trip to the city. When we got to the shed we realised that one of the chooks we had nabbed was Pingu!!! So back to the shed she went protesting all the way and was put back onto a perch and we spent the next 15 minutes trying to find young chooks whilst not retrieving older hens. We managed to get 5 and I have the strong feeling that at least 3 of them are roosters but I am NOT feeling guilty about it anymore because the rendezvous that Steve set up with our dog food lady that she was supposed to turn up to resulted in him waiting around for her to turn up and it being a non-event. He had to drop the boxed chooks off at our daughter’s house and they have to stay in boxes till 9am till he can take them to her shop and drop them off. He is NOT a happy camper to say the least! When someone puts a LOT of effort into giving you chooks for free, you at least bother to turn up to get them!!!

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Apparently this is where Thomas the Tank Engine resides in the day time…

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A closeup of the Batman Bridge in the distance from Swan Point

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I love the way that the conifers grow right into the river

Next on Steve’s long and winding list is heading to our daughters home. He put the chooks in the shed where Qi, the girl’s little staffy dog, will be MOST interested in the blucking contents of those boxes.  After spending ages rolling around on the floor in the unit out the back of our daughters home with Qi, Steve went through a few stored old boxes and found where he had stashed the tripod to his camera ages ago and some large containers of Spirulina, some protein powder and some other useful products that we may as well use as leave sitting in the unit. Madeline picked him some pears while he fossicked around and he delivered the eggplants, tomatoes a couple of corn cobs, some cucumbers and a few zucchini to them. After that he had to head off to Polytechnic over the other side of the river (Launceston sits at the mouth of the Tamar River) and get some student I.D. (photo library card) to prove that he is, indeed, studying so that we can get our student copy of Adobe CS6. He also needs to print out some A3 pages from our course so that we can draw 50 Pumpkins (badly) for task number 7. We are up to task 14 at the moment and have studiously avoided the pumpkin drawing efforts but as the due date is racing towards us we figure we had best bit the bullet (almost literally!) and get scrawling. We also have 3 pages of instructions for David, the owner of our local health food shop for how to look after and use Kefir and Sourdough Starter. I gave him lots of links so that he shouldn’t have any problems with it. Jessie from http://rabidlittlehippy.wordpress.com/ most generously swapped some real sourdough starter and milk kefir grains with me a while ago and both of them are doing extremely well. Audrey produced a sterling child to send off to David and Kid Creole waved a fond goodbye to most of his coconuts in the same transaction. Next I will be getting some water kefir and I even found a recipe for kombucha SCOBY manufacture by using only purchased kombucha. I am going to have to see if any of our local health food shops sell it. I don’t think David does and here in conservative Launceston where people who eat only vegetables are seen as mutants from outside space, it might be best not to advertise that said “mutant” is trying to breed colonies of strange growing fungi and bacterial relationships… you never know where something like that could end!

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The mist on the water was really pretty this morning

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There is something very romantic about mist on the water and yachts

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I am ONLY allowed to use this photo if I call it “Reflections on rock 1” apparently…

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closely followed by “Reflections on Rock 2″…(sigh…)

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Now that Steve has given up his Yoko Ono phase in photography for today here is another pretty shot taken while we were walking the dogs

After getting the printing done at the Polytechnic library where we only JUST found out that your first $5 worth of printing is free… (After 4 years of Polytechnic you would think that SOMEONE would have told us that by now?!!!) Steve will head back into Mowbray to do some veggie shopping because finally some of the shops he wants to shop in are opening. He has already picked up the 2 x 18kg sacks of free range chook food at the stock feed place on the way to our daughters home and done most of the shopping at Woolworths in Legana but he likes to check out Coles as well and Mowbray has the best Coles shop in Launceston and is conveniently right next to David’s shop and our grocers store. Steve then has to head back to our daughters on the other side of the river to pick up the poor long suffering chooks in boxes to take to Suzie’s and drop them off. He is going to make sure that they are not going to be left in her car till after work or he is going to bring them back home! She is going to guarantee him that she will take them straight home or he won’t leave them. After picking up our $80 dog steak order for the fortnight Steve will head over to Bunning’s about 15 minutes away from Suzie’s shop and pick up 2 gas bottles and anything else on the list that is “hardware” based and by that stage he should be well and truly ready to come home. He will drive back the West Tamar way and will drop off my library books that are due back today whilst picking up at least 1 book that has been languishing there for ages waiting for both us to go to Exeter and the library to be open (not easy when it’s only open Monday, Wednesday and Friday and last Wednesday it was closed for a horserace!) I sometimes don’t “get” Tasmanian mentality but that might be a good thing ;). Steve will get back home laden with “stuff” that will need to be put into fridges, onto pantry shelves and batched up and frozen and whether he is tired or not it all has to be done pretty much immediately and all whilst fending off excited dogs who miss him like crazy when he goes. Do you wonder why I don’t volunteer to do the shopping? ;). Seriously though, Steve loves the cut and thrust of a crazy shopping day. He lived in cities all of his life and he just doesn’t process the bampf like I do. I get UBER stressed out when hurled into a day spent handing over the readies and driving back and forth all over the city in ever decreasing circles of frustration so it’s VERY lucky that he doesn’t mind doing it. We can’t afford the bail money if I am let loose on an unsuspecting Launceston all on my own 😉

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Bezial furtively hunting for fish and the mist has almost cleared

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It’s hard to feel anything other than blessed when you get to walk someplace like this any day you like 🙂

I am researching vegan cheeses yet again. I am now able to add a few extras into my new eating habits and the odd bit of something reminiscent of cheese would be a “tick” on my part. I found a great site called http://www.veganwiz.com/ on my early morning travels and have been trawling their cheezy back posts and found something called “Vegrino”…not wanting to miss out on something that looked frankly amazing, I headed off to Google the recipe after being unable to find it on the site. There were plenty of references to it with variations but not the original recipe. I ended up finding a recipe for it on the Italian sister site to Veganwiz “Veganblog.it” http://www.veganblog.it/ and have added this to my rss feed reader as well because nothing stops me from a good recipe! Google translate has given me a means to an end when it comes to seeing something scrumptious and being hampered by a lack of comprehension (on my part) for the language being used to explain it. After spending 30 minutes translating various explanations for what Vegrino was (and initially having to find the site through Pinterest…) I managed to find a translatable and understandable (not always the same thing! 😉 ) recipe to follow. From what I can see it is the vegan equivalent of labna and is a soft mild soy yoghurt cheeze. Was it worth an hour of my time to find it? I don’t know to be honest but you can be sure that when I try it, you will be the first to know :o). I have taken to rinsing things out in the sink and taking the rinse water out and tipping it over the deck rail into the garden below. I don’t know why it took me so long to think of this idea but finally I found a way to stop feeling guilty about running water down our sink. Steve has an idea for how to irrigate the garden with our grey water from the sink and when he sorts it out I will share it with you. I will be checking Bev’s ideas from Foodnstuff as she is ingenious when it comes to irrigating using waste water and run-off water. I also have an idea to turn the pantry in the kitchen into a little nook for me along the lines of this beauty…

Lovely book nook from a cupboard

I don’t know who owns this photo but please don’t sue me! I am giving you acres of kudos for this amazing cosy nook and aside from shamelessly stealing your idea the kudos is ALL yours!

Now I am off to finish off my Rss Feed reader for the day then I will be hunting out an interesting font that I like. I need to do an exercise using the font of my choice to construct a typeface box of glory. Steve has finished his…Steve is a girly swat. I haven’t finished mine. I am a procrastinating sloth. Now that I have said it, there is nothing for it but to head off and hunt! Shopping I suck at, hunting is where I excel so long as it stays in the mental realm :o). Ok you lot, we have spent enough time writing and reading this post of randomness. Hopefully your minds are now cram packed with interesting facts and wonder and you are eager to head off into your day/night and make the best of the fantastic information that I just gave you… OR you could just go and watch telly and “forgedaboudit”… see you on Saturday guys, enjoy your telly watching 😉