And So It Goes – Day 30 NaBloPoMo 2016

Today is the last day of the blog challenge for 2016. I think this is the third year I’ve been involved with NaBloPoMo and this one’s probably been the easiest in many ways.

Life has been no less busy, in truth I’ve probably been more stressed than I have in years but after three years of NaBloPoMo and three years of constant writing for university under my belt, I tend to make time in my day to make these blog posts happen.

I’ve got back into the habit of writing!

And perhaps more to the point, I’ve got into the habit of seeing and doing things that I want to write about and share here. Today was a very good case in point – as soon as I saw this in the yard I wanted to write about it!

I had to say goodbye to my apricot tree a while back (my favourite fruit). Sadly, it had brown rot and I really couldn’t save it. In anticipation, I planted another two years ago. It’s doing really well and I decided to let it bear a couple of fruit this year so I could at least have a taste of apricot goodness. Unfortunately, we had some high winds and I found the few fruit I’d let stay had fallen 😦

And then, this morning while I was weeding around the tree, I found this!!!!

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It is quite big and won’t be ripe for at least another month, possibly six weeks, it might not even make it – who can tell? But it’s the only one on this little tree and I’m unbelievably thrilled.

Meanwhile, the rabbits and chickens are incredibly indignant. We’ve had workmen in to remove English Ivy from the backyard. The rabbits were upset that we had to move their hutches near the chickens and the chickens were indignant that the rabbits were there at all. And then there’s been all the noise and power tools upsetting everyone’s calm – it’s been bedlam! Hopefully, it will all be finished tomorrow and we can get back to the usual run-of-the-mill bedlam that passes for normality in my place 😀

I might take a break from blogging for a few days – I have baking to do tomorrow and my birthday to celebrate on Friday – but there’s things afoot that I’ll want to write about coming up.

So thank you for reading, and take care dear friends wherever you may be on this beautiful little planet. I’ll see you soon ❤

A Blast From the Past – Day 29 NaBloPoMo 2016

Well, things still haven’t calmed down after yesterday’s post about Callum! Thank you so much to everyone for your lovely comments on Facebook – it means a lot to both of us 😀

Today has been almost as busy and very satisfying!

I went back to my Doctor for test results and yes, the diagnosis was correct and the drugs have dragged me back to blessed normality. I don’t have to take another blood test for 3 months – huzzah!

In the post today I received books I ordered online. One is a present for a friend, one is my text book for my new unit, Writing Poetry and the other was a book I grew up with and learned many basic cooking skills from.

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The Green and Gold was quite an institution where I grew up in rural South Australia. My grandmother had a first or second edition from the 1920’s, my mother had one from the 1940’s and I was given one in the 1970’s. My copy was sadly destroyed some years ago and I bought this on a whim from good old eBay.

I’m fairly certain this is a 1960’s printing as the oven temperatures are all in Fahrenheit and the advertisements are all from that era.

As I flicked through the recipes this afternoon, I could hear both my mother and grandmother instructing me in my first adventures in making cakes and biscuits around the kitchen table all those years ago ❤ I must be getting nostalgic in my old age!

Speaking of which, it’s my birthday week! I’m having a morning tea at work on Friday and promised The Superstars cake in return for them entertaining me. I think I might have to bake something from this for them 😀

And finally, when I was watering this morning I found some treasure! I don’t know that I’ll have enough for a Raspberry Upside Down Cake as I did for my birthday last year, but it’s a good start to the season.

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Take care and see you all tomorrow for the last post for NaBloPoMo 2016!

Rock Star Man – Day 28 NaBloPoMo 2016

Today I had one of those days.

Really, it was only a moment – but it was so good. It was one of those things that make everything worthwhile, renews my love for the wonderful people I work with and reaffirms my faith in my teaching practice.

I had a session with my friend Callum out at Oak this morning and I decided to introduce him to a guitar slide. What happened was just sublime.

You might remember that I coached Callum through his debut performance back in August and since then, we’ve continued to work, improving and exploring his music. It was a light bulb moment for both of us and we managed to film it – and Callum has given me permission to put it out here to share with you all. Huge thanks to Chris Rule for help with this today.

Here’s “Rock Star Man” ❤

 

A (Mostly) Sunny Sunday – Day 27 2016

After the brooding gloominess of yesterday, today was mostly sunny and warm – so back to the garden I went!

As I’ve complained in lots of posts, all the rain has meant a bumper crop of weeds this spring and it was getting a bit out of hand. So I dragged out the brushcutter a few days ago and got it running today (with a little coaxing). In my experience, small engines don’t fare so well if they’re locked up in a shed too long and I generally only use this once or twice a year, so it’s no wonder I need to take it in for servicing now!

Bernard Black Bunny was not impressed at all! And even after I’d finished an hour he still wouldn’t come near me for a pat, let along a cuddle! On the other hand, my doe rabbits, Bella and Boudica, stretched out and snoozed like it was all perfectly normal. The chickens kept their distance but were watching me from the safety of their coup, waiting for food as always.

Along the back of the chicken coup and the south facing fence, it’s mostly too shady for vegetables, so I’ve planted some aromatic plants that like the conditions and attract bees and native birds. In particular, I’ve got quite a few Australian native mint bushes (Prostanthera sp) which are long time favourites of mine.

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As you can see from the shape of the flowers, these little beauties are certainly in the global mint family (Lamiaceae), which makes them cousins of thyme, sage and rosemary. This is Prostanthera “Poorinda David” a common cultivar, which flowers profusely in spring. The aroma of the crushed leaves of most species is far more subtle and complex than the more commonly grown culinary mint, and I like them far better. As a backdrop, I’ve planted another lamiaceae plant, Balm of Gilead (Cedronella canariensis), another old favourite of mine, that grows to 2.5 m and will sprawl every which way if left to its own devices. I cut it back today and will do it again in autumn. The heady scent is like a blend of camphor and eucalyptus, and it blends surprisingly well with the subtle notes of the Australian mint bushes. Consequently, it’s a lovely spot to walk through, from the rabbits to go and see the chickens. 🙂

Behind the chicken hutch I planted a couple of quite low-growing Australina native tea trees last autumn, a Grampians Tea Tree (Leptospermum turbinatum) and a cultivar Leptospermum “Riot”. 

I first saw L. turbinatum many years ago when bushwalking in the Grampians in Victoria and it’s a delightful spreading shrub, with shiny, deep green leaves and classic tea tree flowers.

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On the other hand, L. “Riot” is a mass of vibrant, cerise pink flowers that cover the plant and are incredibly attractive for me as well as bees, other desirable insects and native birds!

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I’m thrilled these two have taken so well to this otherwise difficult spot. And I love anything that helps the bees ❤

Meanwhile, I’m having an early night. It’s been a long and energetic day and I start a new unit for university, Writing Poetry as well as work at Oak tomorrow. Also, it’s the start of my birthday week – I figure when you get to my age, you can fully expect to celebrate it for a week rather than just a day 😀

Take care and I’ll see you tomorrow!

Saturday Musing – Day 26 NaBloPoMo

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kunanyi/Mt Wellington late this afternoon

It was a strange day, but typical of Hobart in the spring.

Chilly westerly wind, and dark clouds off kunanyi/Mt Wellington, making Hobart look very gothic. One moment rain. Then sunshine and a reminder that summer is officially less than a week away.

My mood was equally odd and quite gloomy, I felt decidedly unsettled.

After running around chasing my tail most of the day I settled to doing some more to the shopping bag I started yesterday. I find repetitive tasks like this calming. Amazed, I realised I’ve nearly finished it!

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I got to the end of the netting section and discovered that I wasn’t going to have enough of the main colour to finish, so found a skein of  cream for the top band and handles. I’m very pleased with it but the real test will be when I take it to the shops and fill it with groceries!

Finally, when I went to the evening feed tonight, I decided to pick a few sprigs of lavender from my newish Munstead. I’ve got two bushes, both less than a year old, one in the ground and one in a tub, and they’re doing very well. Lavender is a wonderful herb, I love the scent and using it in sachets as well as desserts. I recall my mother used to keep a fresh sprig in her pocket to take out and sniff occasionally when she had a headache or was feeling out of sorts. She always said it cleared her head.

But tonight, I just wanted to enjoy having a little pot of it in the kitchen, to smell, enjoy and clear my mind  ❤

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The Joy of Making – Day 25 NaBloPoMo

Super quick post today, as I’m about to go out for dinner and board games at my friend Karen’s place 😀

First of all, happy Thanksgiving to all my US friends. In countries like Australia and the US, we have much to be grateful for but I (like so many people outside of the US) are deeply concerned about the new regime that will come into power in the new year. I only hope that in four year’s time we will still have as much to be grateful for!

As the holiday season is only a month away, I’m making presents!

A couple of years ago, I got sick of washing my dishes with cloths that are really just softened plastic. So I started making my own knitted cotton ones from new and salvaged thread.

I’m particularly fond of purple and I paired this purchased 3 ply with a fine white cotton I found at the local Tip Shop to make a fairly chunky cloth that can be put through the washing machine and reused until it starts to fray. Then it can go in the compost and become worm food!

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The pattern couldn’t be simpler. My mother taught me this when I was very little. Every row is plain (there’s no purl rows) and I use whatever size needles take my fancy:

Row 1: Cast on 2 stitches.

Row 2: Knit 1, bring the yarn forward and k 1. (Bringing the yarn forward or to the front of the work means you makes a stitch when the yarn loops over the needle to knit the next stitch).

Row 3: Knit 2 bring yarn forward and k 1.

Row 4: Knit 2 bring yarn forward and k to end.

Continue in this manner, increasing 1 stitch every row until you have a decent sized triangle of cloth – about 50 rows is good for an 8 ply cotton. The selvedge will have an eyelet effect from bringing the yarn forward for that one stitch at the beginning of every row. This eyelet is continued with the reducing rows too.

Reducing Rows:

Knit 1, knit 2 together, bring yarn forward, knit 2 together and knit to the end of the row.

Continue in this fashion (reducing a stitch) until you get down to the last 2 stitches. Knit them together and make some chain at the end to make a loop to hang off a tap or hook in the kitchen.

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Too easy! I can make one in a night – if I don’t get distracted with other things!

Today I bought 2 balls of vibrant red 3 ply cotton to pair with the rest of the white cotton. I’m going to make four or five of these in red and white for a friend who’s just refurbished her kitchen and bought some rather dashing red chairs. I know she’ll appreciate something handmade ❤

And I splurged and got a couple of balls of 8 ply cotton to make a shopping bag. This pattern came via a friend of mine who’s always on the look out for new and interesting ways to use yarn and fabric.

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This crocheted cotton bag is a present for me! If it turns out well, I might make a couple more for friends. When I was kid, we had old fashioned netting string bags that my father showed me how to make with twine. I’m really tempted to get a netting needle and go for it!

Anyway, must dash! See you all tomorrow ❤

Volunteers and Patience – Day 22 NaBloPoMo

Hi everyone,

I spent a lovely day out in the yard today – no uni work to do. Woo hoo! So I had a chance to actually pay attention to a few things.

Like the worm farms. I’ve got two of them I bought a few years ago for converting all the kitchen waste that my chickens can’t have, (tea leaves, coffee grounds, potato peelings and so on) into lovely rich compost. I haven’t really taken a lot of notice of them since I emptied the bottom trays some months ago and put the compost out for the potato beds and wicking barrel fruit trees.

Well, imagine my surprise when I looked closely at the plants coming up in the gap between the trays today.

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In the picture above are mostly Roma bush tomatoes that I dried back in autumn, and after saving what I thought was the best of the seed, put in the rest in the compost bucket. Note a tiny potato plant in the right half of the photo – that has come up from a peeling! I’m planning to pot the strongest tomatoes up and let them do their thing. I’ve found Roma is a great variety for growing in tubs.

Volunteers are actually really common in my garden beds. At the moment, I’m picking from several Golden and Ruby Silverbeet (Rainbow Chard) and Curly Endives that have popped up in quite unlikely places and every autumn I have Corn Salad (Valerianella locusta) and of course, there’s the potatoes.

It’s really hard to find all the potatoes at harvest time and it only takes one to see a new plant sneak up in the middle of whatever’s in the bed next. Usually, I pull these out as they are like weeds – unwanted interlopers! On the other hand, in spring, I always find new plants of the perennial Wild Rocket (Diplotaxis tenuifolia) that has made a home in front of the asparagus bed that I like to transplant or put in pots.

This is the asparagus I grew from seed last spring and planted out in autumn. Despite needing a thorough weeding, it’s doing really well – much better than first year crowns should – but I did spent quite a few months preparing the bed with copious amounts of sheep manure, seaweed and spent straw from the rabbit hutches. Also, I haven’t seen any berries yet (which identifies female plants) but with the slow start we had to spring, they might not appear until next month. The biggest stem was about pencil thickness so I might take a stem or two next spring but I won’t start cropping properly for another couple of years.

Most of the food I grow is fast to produce and crop – gone in a season. Apart from the fruit trees, asparagus is the only really long term food project I have, but I know it will be worth it. After weeding, I’ll be piling more manure and seaweed over it – and wait.

Patience is a virtue 😀

Speaking of which, this young fellow has no patience! This is Bernard Black charging in to eat ALL the food this morning, giving me the “get out of my way woman!” look on the way ❤

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