Thursday, 30 July 2015

Independence Days Challenge: Week Eight and Nine

'The love of gardening is a seed that once sown never dies, but grows and grows to an enduring and ever-increasing source of happiness.'
Gertrude Jekyll, Wood and Garden (1899)

I need to cover two weeks here as I dropped the ball a bit last week with illness in the house. Colds and coherent thought do not go together for me!

More cold weather so not much being done. So rather than do 'the list' this week, I will just go a quick update and some links that I found while I was sick and it was cold and wet outside. I can tell you, I am itching for spring - I so want to get out there and plant! But I know I must refrain or I will just end of losing the potatoes to frost and everything else will just be too cold.

I have been doing some planting though. I put in five more of those wonderfully hardy daisy bushes. They are great for filling in spaces and providing heaps of cheerful blooms. I think they will make great fillers in bouquets. I also planted some Johnny Jump Ups, some lily bulbs, some kangaroo paws and am waiting on the arrival of some bare-rooted roses and other plants.

But mainly it is just weeding, weeding and more weeding! I am so pleased with the progress though. As I sit and type this, I can see almost NO WEEDS out the window! Yay!

Here are some links I found this week:

15 Garden Crafts For Kids

Definitely making some of these!

Homemade Fly Trap - not a problem at the moment, but they will back before we know it!


15 Benefits of a Herb Spiral in Your Garden


DIY Plant Markers - I especially like the twigs, so simple.


101 Canning Recipes for Food Storage - a great collection of recipes and tips from Mom With A Prep, including meat, meals in a jar and much more.

Have a great week - more weeding on the cards for me! I suppose it is never over!

Thankful Thursday

Today I am especially thankful for one very important piece of news. My dad's home from hospital ten days earlier than they expected and his white blood cell count is already nearly back to normal. Thank you, Lord. He lost most of his hair which he is a bit self-conscious of, but that is such a minor worry. His specialist had him on three visits a week, but has cut that down to only one a week as he is improving so quickly.

My prayers are with anyone who is suffering from ill health or supporting a family member or friend who is ill. And I am very thankful for the good health that I and my family enjoy. We forget just what a blessing it is to be healthy and to have happy, healthy children. 

Wednesday, 29 July 2015

Yarn Along

Joining Ginny today for Yarn Along.

Our community wool festival is in full swing. I want to post a million photos as I am blown away by all the woolly talent in our community. But I will restrain myself!

Last weekend I spent a day sewing on knitted parking meter cosies and crocheted tree collars. 

Glasses cosy for the optometrist!

The laneways have been decorated by local schools.

The Community House and the Mens Shed made this amazing fruit and veggie cart to display near the community garden.

I think I know who to ask to make a farmgate stand for me!

And I delivered my daffodil teapot this morning for the opening of the tea cosy exhibition.
There are some amazing creations!

And all the cafe's tables have woolly flowers!



The whole cafe looks fabulous!

The Girl on Fire shawl is coming along nicely - up to 308 stitches per row now, so it takes a while to get through a row!

My reading this week has been The Wedding Group by Elizabeth Taylor. I love Elizabeth Taylor and I am glad that her books have been republished in this lovely format. 
As it says in the introduction, there is no 'crashing melodrama' here. The book is a slow and steady recital of the eccentricities and suffering of everyday human life. 

'A long emptiness before her, and all the days the same.'
Sounds depressing, I agree. But let's face it, most of our days are the same - it is what we do with them that counts. We can give it to that monotony and fall into melancholy, or we can embrace our days and make of them something special, even in just the tiniest way.
Please read Elizabeth Taylor - truly wonderful in such a subtle way.

And is it too super nerdy to say I am REALLY looking forward to The Great Australian Spelling Bee coming to TV? Probably, but I don't mind! I am already spelling all the words on the ads. Someone else please tell me they love spelling as well - I can't be the only one!

This is a T-shirt from They have a whole category for Scrabble T-shirts. Cool!
Oh, and as a self-confessed word nerd and grammar fanatic, it is driving me crazy that one of the teachers at the boys' school has posted a sign outside the classroom saying 'Have you bought your reading book in?' 
Is it just me or would that drive you nuts too?! It is like I am drawn to it - every time I walk past it, I have a mental dilemma. Should I say something or just ignore it?! Would it bother you too?

Have a lovely week  - I will be doing some more woolly exploring to see what the other towns have dreamed up!

Thursday, 23 July 2015

Thankful Thursday

What I am thankful for this week:

  • Feeling well again! It is terrible how a cold can throw you out. I was just keeping up with the basics - cooking, cleaning, looking after children - and letting all my extras - blogging, the garden, knitting - fall by the wayside. My energy is back though and it is all systems go!

And the rest of my thankful list this week is a list of 'firsts'.
  • First jonquils. I have some in my kitchen windowsill vase. I love the smell, hubby doesn't. But they are just too pretty - and there is not much else flowering!

  • First blossom. Just an ornamental prunus, and that is not only the first but the only blossom on the tree. But it reminds me of how beautiful the apple trees will be when they blossom. So much to look forward with spring on the way.

  • First bottle of aftershave for Legoman. He turns eleven this year and was so thrilled when dad gave him this aftershave (but of course pretended not to be!)

  • First finished knitting project for Whirlwind. It was going to be a scarf but I think he needed a quicker end result to keep him motivated so I suggested making it into a cowl. He has been wearing it in the garden ever since!

Thank you, Lord, for all your blessings.

Monday, 20 July 2015

Laying Low!

A horrible cold has overtaken our household, so we are laying low for a while. Spending time in front of the fire and keeping warm!

Hoping this comes true soon!

It was a really frosty morning this morning - there was ice on the sheep. So definitely a day to stay warm inside. 

Hopefully my head will be working again in a few days and I can catch up on some posts!

Thursday, 16 July 2015

Independence Days Challenge: Week Seven

'As long as you use your stores and use them wisely, you don't have to have enough to last you forever. The truth is that is the present system stops working, a new system will arise. We had shoes and food before peak oil and climate change, and people will make and grow them afterwards. But there will be a transitional period where there might not be enough food for sale, and where no one may be making shoes or distributing them, or where you can't afford either. And while we may have to get used to living without some of these things, it doesn't hurt anyone to make that a gradual transition, not a rapid one.'
Independence Days by Sharon Astyk pg 72

This is where I am heading with my food storage and preparation plans. I feel it is worthwhile to store food, but not to rely on this entirely. It is more important to be planning alternative ways of providing the goods we need. 

For this week:
I finally finished the narrow path!

 It has really made that huge bed much more useful as previously I had to step on the bed to work.

The strawberries I planted two weeks ago all have leaves, although I am hoping they make it through this cold snap we are having.

1. Plant something

Once again, more flowers! I am waiting for the cold to pass before sowing any seeds, even under cover. I don't have any heating for propagating.
A trip to the hardware yielded some more plants from the markdown table - I just cannot go past this table!
2 Easter daisies for $2 each and 3 punnets of calendula for $1 each.

You can see the leaves of the calendulas look a bit ratty but after only a week in the garden they have little flower buds.

2. Harvest something

Yay for the chickens! In the past week, they laid 67 eggs!! I have been giving some away, but hopefully will get back into selling them soon, when production stabilises. Even more hopefully, I will hatch some more chicks this year as I didn't do any at all last year - and I missed their gorgeous fluffiness and cheeping.

Still loads of lemons as well.

Also harvested some lavender to dry and to use to make lavender vinegar for cleaning.

3. Preserve something

I made a batch of roasted tomato sauce for the freezer - see here for recipe. Yield was five zip lock bags with 3 cups in each. 

Does making vanilla essence count?! My order of vanilla beans arrived, to be popped in a bottle of vodka to steep.

4. Minimise waste

As a follow up to two weeks ago, the chickens are LOVING the compost system. Just outside their pen door, I have started a pile just for them to scratch in. As our paddocks are overrun with nettles, I started with a big layer of them. Then weeds from the garden, some rotted down sawdust, some fallen leaves and some rotted down pea straw from last year. Then keep on layering. To encourage them to use it, I sprinkled some grain on it for the first few days. But now they go straight to the pile when I let them out for the day. I just have to keep adding to the pile every day or two.
I'll get some photos of them when the rain stops!

It is Plastic Free July at the moment as well, so working hard to eliminate those single use plastic items.

5. Want Not
I have been slowly adding to my stores. I have devised a master shopping list of items that I will buy, some every week, some once a month. This will slowly build up my stores again without adding too much extra to the weekly shop. 

6. Cook something new

I tried this Chicken Cacciatore recipe, using the roasted tomato sauce in place of the bottled pasta sauce. It was yum - and everyone in the family said so! It is quite rare to have every single person agree on a dish, so they will probably get fed this until they are sick of it!

7. Manage your reserves

So that all those eggs wouldn't go to waste, I had to freeze some. I have also juiced some of the lemons to freeze the juice and also the zest. There is only so much lemon curd the family wants to eat!

8. Work on local food systems

I have found two produce swaps that happen locally. Well, when I say 'locally', I mean they are both about 70 kms drive or so - that is local! I am really hoping to start one here - I have heard that there is definite interest, so this is in the back of my mind for spring/summer.

So, still not a huge amount happening here. It will all start to speed up soon and then I will be wishing for it to slow down again so I can keep up!

Some links for this week:

How To Grow Herbs Fast For (Almost) Free - all about taking cuttings

Grow Ginger From Grocery Store Ginger

Food Storage Calculator - super simple calculator. Just enter the number of family members and the number of months you want to prepare for and voila! This is a great starting point for you to fiddle with to suit your own needs.

Thankful Thursday

This week I am thankful for:

  • All the glorious rain we have been getting. The water tanks are overflowing.

  • My good health - and that I am able to work hard without worrying about injuries or ill health.

  • Our firewood stack - we have had quite a cold spell and the wood heater has been working overtime. 

Thank you, Heavenly Father, for all the blessings You bestow on my family and myself. Thank you for all You provide for us and the strength that You give me each day. Thank you for the plans You have for my life. I will rest in Your care, knowing that all You have planned is for my good.