A Day of Quiet Bliss – Day 29 NaBloPoMo 2015

It was very overcast and quite humid in Hobart most of today. Although I was supposed to go to an event nearby, I decided to stay home and potter around the garden. The girls were very pleased because this meant lots of extra treats for them and they rewarded me with eggs as usual. Boudica Bunny is also eating enormous amounts at the moment and all the babies are out and starting to get the hang of this eating solid food caper.

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I potted up more basil, chillies and Green Shiso (Perilla fruitescans var. crispa), a wonderful Japanese annual herb, which I primarily use in stir fries and salads. I’ve grown it in the past but never had such a fabulous strike rate as I did with this year’s seed supply. It’s looking wonderful and already has that unmistakable flavour and aroma. I find it likes a rich potting mix and lots of warmth for quick growth, similar to basil.

And then there was the completion of half the “corner of shame”. This is a classic before and after situation.

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Before

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After

Admittedly, we’re only half way there but that’s a lot further than we were a few weeks ago!

After removing the worst of the perennial weeds, I put some dolomite limestone over the area and covered it with several layers of cardboard.  Then we laid some cotton mats, donated by family members, that were old and worn and heading for the rubbish tip. (I think half our garden is recycled!)

A thick layer of coarse sand went over that and it was topped with some well composted native bark mulch, which I’ve found considerably less acidic than pine bark mulch. We did the same thing behind the chicken house and I’ve planted two Australian Tea-Trees (Leptospermum sp.) there to provide some extra wind protection for the ladies who lay.

The weeds will grow back – but not as quickly or as vigorously as they have in the past. I want to plant a couple of English Lavender here in the next few days and I’m planning to put netting or shade cloth above the fence to give a little more height for growing climbers in tubs and privacy both for and from our neighbours. Next spring, this is the likely spot for my beehive, angled in towards the garden.

I also finished the garlic crop, which has been curing inside the last two weeks. It’s now cleaned up, the tails have been clipped and it’s in three plaits, hanging off the laundry/kitchen door. It’s quite a decent amount this season, considering I’ve used and given away at least half a dozen or so heads already – and there’s more in the ground that needs pulling!

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Tomorrow is back to music work and teaching, the beginning of my birthday week, first day of my next university semester and the last day of NaBloPoMo – and I’m picking up my birthday present to myself tomorrow too 😀

 

 

Assignments, Goodbye and Hello – Day 26 NaBloPoMo 2015

Hurrah! I submitted my last assignment for my current university unit this afternoon 😀

I nearly always find this part of units rather bittersweet – I’m a step closer to a Bachelor of Communication but I have to say goodbye to some wonderful people I’ve been studying with. Part of the deal with online study are the discussion boards, which act like a virtual tutorial group, and often these are assessed. In this unit, (Creative Writing, Forms and Structures) I’ve had the pleasure of exercising my brain cells with some really lovely people, and I will miss them.

On the other hand, next week I start a new unit, (Writing the Short Story) and I’ll be saying hello to a new group of people to discuss and share work with for the next 13 weeks. This unit will take me up to March next year, which is the start of Study Period One of the academic year. I decided on my units for 2016 a while ago and enrolled in them today – the last of my second year subjects.

I also realised this afternoon that I’ve been studying online continuously now for two years. It’s quite an achievement for me to stay that motivated and engaged, particularly without any campus interaction, but I’m interested in the work and the teaching through Griffith has been excellent. I’m majoring in Creative Writing and Screen Studies, two subjects close to my heart, but I wish there were more screen units – I really loved them with a passion!

And this is my 100th post on this blog – I’m astonished! As I’m coming to the end of the NaBloPoMo challenge and starting a new unit, I’ll be pulling back from blogging a little. My goal from December 1st is to post once a week rather than every day.

Meanwhile, I’m taking the evening off and chilling out – I’ve got a few days solid gardening to do before Study Period Four starts!

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Sleepy baby

More Small Joys – Day 24 NaBloPoMo 2015

I’ve had a great day – bustling and busy – but great nonetheless. This morning I fed and watered the hungry hoards and said hello to the baby bunnies, who are all growing at a phenomenal rate! Their eyes are open and they are getting quite inquisitive about the world.

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I picked raspberries (a daily job now) and I’m hoping to have enough to make a spectacular birthday cake for myself next week 🙂 When I went to give Boudica her daily raspberry leaf treat, I discovered someone had come out to see mummy and see what she eats ❤

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There were six eggs from six chickens this morning, so after watering the greenhouse, I pickled another dozen eggs using the recipe I shared  here recently and started another loaf of sourdough bread. This weather Wee Beastie is very active and needs more attention (and feeding!)

My son came over and hung out, he’s in the process of moving out of his old place and in with a friend who lives just up the road from here. I think he was just sick of sorting out the junk from the stuff he wants to keep and needed some chill out time. So we kicked back, drank lots of tea and watched cooking shows on television. We’ve agreed to have a birthday dinner at home for me next week – Roast Pork with all the trimmings, maybe some new potatoes from the garden – which will be perfect!

I’m gradually getting my head around this final assignment, which is due Friday afternoon. I’ve opted to write three poems for plus a 500 word exegesis. Although I’m a professional songwriter (and prolific blogger) I don’t have much experience with poetry and it’s a form I find quite fascinating. Interestingly, I’ve found the easiest way to start is take and idea and just write. Stream of consciousness seems to be the key way into it for me. Then I edit and arrange the words on the page so they make sense to me – and hopefully my tutor! So my poems are largely about the strange weather we get in Tasmania, the changing seasons, growing things, musicians and music.

The sourdough went in the oven late this afternoon and, as a light dinner I took fresh sourdough slices, slabs of Pork Brawn I made on Sunday and crumbled over feta cheese I made a few weeks ago. We put the slices under a hot grill for about 10 minutes – until the feta started to melt – and it was so delicious! The sharp saltiness of the feta worked so well with the rich, meaty Brawn on the fresh sourdough.

I was also reminded by HeWhoMustNotBeListenedTo that everything on our plates was made by me. It was a very satisfying moment……

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So, tomorrow will be even busier – sand and pine bark chips are arriving for a project in the back end of the garden. I’ll have pics to show you all tomorrow night 😀

The Joy of Little Things – Day 23 NaBloPoMo 2015

Today’s post will be very brief, I’m in the midst of writing an exegesis for a uni assignment.

I know it’s just a little thing but it gave me a tremendous amount of joy. Today I went to Oak to have lunch with my friends before doing a music session with them. I took a salad, as I often do, but today absolutely everything in was grown, made or raised by me – I knew where it all came from 🙂

Eggs from my feathered beauties, sprouts I grew in the kitchen, plus rocket, spinach, basil and kale from the garden. Even the cheese was a feta made a few weeks ago with real milk. And it was all delicious ❤

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Garlic Time – Day 14 NaBloPoMo

I’ve spent the afternoon in the garden, listening to Stephen Fry reading Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, avoiding listening to the news. Reports of the attacks in Paris came through this morning here in Australia and I’ve found it incredibly distressing. I love that city dearly and have been thinking of friends who live in France (all safe fortunately) and what they must be going through.

I pricked out seedlings into grow tubes, said hello to my ever-growing flock of worms and fed them scraps, planted out vegetables and generally lost myself in Quidditch, Polyjuice Potion and Harry, Ron and Hermione’s escapades.

As an avid reader, I think audio books are brilliant, particularly for works I’ve already read. But as a writer, I’m convinced anything worth reading should be read out loud. I even read essay drafts for university aloud and it’s surprising what I can learn from the exercise. Perhaps it’s the musician coming out in me, but I hear flow and tempo problems far more easily than I see them on the page.

For my gardening time, I have a wonderful little bluetooth speaker I picked up cheaply that connects easily to my smartphone. I usually put them both on an upturned pot and chill out while I work.

My baby speaker with Kunyani/Mt Wellington in the background

My baby speaker with Kunyani/Mt Wellington in the background

Late in the day, I decided to have a look at the main garlic bed. We’ve had quite a bit of rain the last few days and I noticed a few of the giants had toppled. It’s one of those plants where harvesting is crucial for long term storage and rain at this stage can mean mouldy heads. I adore garlic and I’ve been building up our stocks over the last few years, to the point where I might have enough for more than six months this time!

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The start of this years’ garlic crop!

Note the pencil – these babies are huge! And this isn’t elephant garlic, but a particularly pungent local variety I’ve been growing for the last five years or so. The laundry smells amazing tonight, by the way!

I’ll be pulling the rest tomorrow and once they’re cured for a few days, I’ll be trimming the roots off and plaiting them for hanging in the kitchen 😀

Do you grow garlic? If so, how do you store it? Please leave a comment below. 

A Lazy/Busy Day – Day 12 NaBloPoMo 2015

Well, I’ve managed to do not very much today apart from write, and (so far) I’m pretty okay with it.

There’s a big easterly rain front over Tasmania and there’ll be little gardening action until Saturday afternoon. Usually, I’m the kind of person who has a checklist of things that I want to achieve every day, even if they’re ongoing tasks like music rehearsal, feeding “Wee Beastie” my sourdough plant, or tending to the animals. Writing tends to be shunted aside for when there’s time, especially at the moment, which is the busiest season in the garden.

Instead today, I’ve been writing poetry pieces for a university assignment and scoping out my 500 word exegesis. The concept of an exegesis is interesting, it’s a lot like writing liner notes for a recording or an introduction to a book but digs a little deeper into what informed the creation of the piece. In fact, many writers have used introductions as a type of exegesis, and they make fascinating reading for students of writing like me.

I recently read Neil Gaiman’s Trigger Warning, his latest collection of short fiction and I was really inspired by the introduction. Apart from the generalities, he offers a few notes about each story and it was really very instructive.

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Meanwhile, I imagine the water tanks are full again *happy dancing* so I’m going to find my raincoat and head down the yard soon to collect eggs, pick salad for tonight’s dinner, do the evening feed and check for any new mushrooms. I buy bags of supposedly spent compost and usually get quite a lot out of them this time of year – and today’s humid, wet weather is perfect. Hopefully, there’ll be mushrooms on toast tomorrow 😀

Mushrooms from the garden - note the pencil for size!

Mushrooms from the garden

What’s your favourite way to spend a rainy day? Leave a comment – I love to hear from you!

The Joy of Passions – Day 11 NaBloPoMo 2015

I consider myself a very lucky woman.

I’m surrounded by loving friends and family; I have ready access to good, clean food; I’m studying things that move and inspire me and I get paid to do things I love.

This was driven home yesterday when He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Listened-To made his first ever Lemon Meringue Pie. I made the pie crust and stepped him through the process of separating eggs (something he’d never done before), making the curd, getting the meringue the right consistency and so on. He is a very accomplished cook but hasn’t much experience with baking. We used a recipe from and old CWA (Country Women’s Association) cookbook and reduced the sugar to suit our tastes. It was good for me as I realised that as bullet proof as the CWA recipes are, there’s a lot of assumed knowledge in them about technique.

The lemons came from my friend Sara, so we knew they were clean and chemical free and it was another way to deal with the ongoing egg glut. It was a very fun afternoon, with my son turning up halfway through to make everyone cups of tea, poke fun and offer suggestions. We had a great time 😀

The result was delicious, though we’ll reduce the sugar even further next time.

Smiley Meringue

Smiley Meringue

Healthy new Eggplant growth

Healthy new Eggplant growth

This morning I had a brainwave in the garden about my uni assignment – that I confess I haven’t fully written up yet but I’ll get there! And there were two delightful surprises that any gardener will recognise and understand.

Firstly, a well established finger eggplant in the greenhouse I thought was beyond hope has started shooting again. I grew three from seed about four years ago and because of the unpredictable weather we can get in southern Tasmania, I kept them in the greenhouse. All three overwintered quite well the first year but I lost two this last, very hard winter. At least there’s one left to gather seed from at the end of summer.

Secondly, and to my absolute delight, I discovered a punnet of very healthy asparagus seedlings at the back of a tray. Asparagus is probably my favourite vegetable, but I really can’t come at the shop bought article. It’s one of those things I only ever want to eat fresh from my own garden. It’s a slow process growing from seed, the viability is usually best in the first year and it takes 2-3 years to get plants to maturity. Then, you have asparagus for years!

I’ll be pricking these out into home made grow tubes in a couple of weeks and putting into a permanent bed in

Delicate Asparagus seedlings

Delicate Asparagus seedlings

December. The bed will be very heavily dug over and filled with as much old chicken poo and rabbit straw as I can lay my hands on. At the moment it’s full of potatoes that are in full flower and due to be dug in the next few weeks. Potatoes grow very well here and have been my “go to” crop for reclaiming lawn areas ever since I moved in but they do strip the soil of nutrients and asparagus are notoriously hungry feeders!

I’m incredibly grateful for all the good things in my life, it’s something that tends to get overlooked in the fast pace of the modern world. There never seems to be enough hours to do it all! Meanwhile, I’m hoping to get some more uni work done, some music rehearsal and just an hour or two of gardening later…….. 😉

What are you passionate about? Let me know in the comments – I love to hear from you all! 

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