Monday, February 28, 2011

My Turn

It stands to reason that if there is a sick child in the house, mum could get sick too. I usually miss out on the colds that the kids have but not this time. I have it good and proper. I started feeling a bit off with a sore throat on Saturday during cricket and no matter what postitive thinking I used, it has stuck around. It is just a cold though so I'm hopeful that by tomorrow I will be fine.

I did have big plans. I really felt like doing some sewing. For some reason, I want to make some garments rather than the usual quilty type of things. It might have something to do with the lovely dresses that Rebecca makes that I saw in Frankie magazine. I also have a few gifts I would like to make too. But...they will all have to wait because today I don't even feel like looking at fabric.

I just received a bundle of yellow fat quarters from an online group (I won the February fat quarter lottery) and even their sunny colours aren't inspiring me today. I guess I just need a rest. So rest is what I will do. At least until the kids arrive home on the bus.


Friday, February 25, 2011

Sick Day Activities

Hope has been home from school for two days feeling a bit poorly. Nothing serious, just a typical malady for her age, sniffles, sore throat and just to round out the illness, a bout of vomiting in the car. Tim has the car at work today so I am hoping that it comes home smelling sweeter than it did last night. Yesterday she was very quiet and not her usual self but today she is definitely on the mend. She has taken advantage of the absence of Grace and spent some time in Grace's room on the keyboard.
She has even had enough energy to do a chore for me today. I picked the dried Ying Yang beans but was yet to take the beans out of the pod. It is a perfect job for little hands and the only payment she asked was to take a couple of beans.

Ying Yang Beans
Who could resist. They are quite lovely to look at and weren't bad producers either. The Ying Yang beans are bush beans and don't require staking or a trellis. I have plenty of seeds for next season and maybe enough to give away a few or swap.
I'm taking advantage of having to stay close to home and sorting out my fabric box and then starting a bit of sewing. Now that Hope is feeling better, I can really enjoy it.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Seeing Red

The garden is full of ripe red tomatoes right now so I can be forgiven for seeing red. They are ripening well with the heat we have been having and a couple of kilograms come in every day or so. More than enough. It is at this time of the summer each year that I always question my thinking in spring when I platned out so many bushes. Rest assured though, I will do the same next spring and face a glut in February and March.

The tomatoes are in all shapes and sizes and if there are too many, they are always appreciated in the poultry pens. It hasn't come to that yet. I'm not sick of making pickles, tomato sauce or chutney yet.

As a change though, I have been making tomato soup. I only make it in the summer when we have our own tomatoes and it is delicious. It tastes just as good from the freezer too and can give you that little taste of summer in the midst of winter.

Summer Tomato Soup

1 tablespoon olive oil
1kg tomatoes, peeled and chopped
1 onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 carrot, chopped
1 handful of basil leaves
500mL stock
quarter cup of cream
Heat olive oil in a large pot. Add onion, garlic, carrot, tomatoes and basil and gently fry for a few minutes until the onions soften. Add the stock to the pot and simmer for about 20 minutes. Remove from heat and puree with a stab blender or in a food processor. Stir through the cream and reheat but do not boil.

This soup is adaptable and quite forgiving. If you like things a little heat, some chopped chilli is nice and coriander works well too. I'm about to make another pot now. It can simmer away while I do abit of outside work in the lovely cool change we are having.
P.S. I just spent quite a while peeling the skins from a kilo of small tomatoes and I can offer the advice that it is best to use large ones. Not so fiddly. Worth the effort still even with cherry size.

Friday, February 18, 2011

All is good

I know some people have wondered why I haven't blogged for a week or so but there really isn't any reason behind it. I have been online a few times but just didn't get around to writing. It has also been a bit busy getting back into school routines. This week we have also had two swimming carnivals (which were both on at the same time) and a prefect's induction function. Not a lot of time to fit in the essential let alone any little extras. Things should settle back down now.Puss helped me out with the folding this morning. She is such a lovely cat and in an effort to show me she is still a kitten at 4 years of age, she bit me when I tried to pat her.

I really liked the look of this caterpillar on the grape vine. I know it is a picture of its bottom end but it is just so cute. It is a very hungry caterpillar though and has made a real meal of the grape. So far I have left him there but not for long.
It wasn't all bad news when we came home from the coast. The rice had developed seed heads so it looks like the experiment is working and we will have some homegrown rice this year. I don't think it will be enough for a huge meal but it will taste great knowing we grew it ourself.
With not a lot of free time of late, I haven't sewn or done any sort of craft. I have been inspired though. Anita put a link on Facebook for Khris' bag pattern and as I was given a charm pack at Christmas time, I can't resist making this bag. The chores are done for the day, so I'm going to get started.

Friday, February 11, 2011

I thought that the next post that would be here would be one about sun, sand and frivolity after we had a weekend sojourn to the coast before summer is over. However, as is often the case, life has other ideas. We did have a nice weekend at the beach but a bit of a shock when we came home.

Our livestock are very important to us. Our farm is not large and there is just the right balance of numbers that animals can be considered livestock and not pets. That doesn't stop some of them from elevating to the role of favourite. My favourite sheep, Georgina, died while we were away. Why wouldn't Georgina be my favourite, she always came when I whistled and there was never a need for a dog because she followed me and the other sheep followed her. . I spoke to her on Thursday evening (yes, I speak to them and sometimes I think they understand) and all was well but by the time we came home, she was gone. It was sad and I think that is why I haven't had much of an urge to write or even turn the computer on really. Living on a farm where we are responsible for the taking of animals lives for our own consumption doesn't give one immunity from the feelings associated with loss.

I do know for certain that her life was luxurious for a sheep. At 8 years of age, she still had a full mouth of teeth and her only sign of aging was the little bit of white on her muzzle and I can't recall her ever having any ailments in all her years. Old age, what more can you ask for?

I will be back tomorrow or the next day with happier things.


Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Beekeeping- Starting Out

We really are only novice beekeepers having only started out with one hive in 2009 and then another hive last year. So although I don't think I'm qualified to give advice about beekeeping per se, I do know about researching, reading, thinking and dreaming of having hives and honey of our own. Ramsey asked a couple of questions about beekeeping and the shops where you can buy equipment. The first step is the dreaming of having your own bees, and doing a lot of reading and researching. We have found The Bee Book: Beekeeping in Australia to be fairly informative and helpful. It is especially good that it is Australian so has information relating to our conditions and the pests and problems which are prevalent here. The cost of around $55 is a little steep but it is available at many libraries to read before buying (that's what we did anyway).
After the reading and the decision is made, there are probably many suppliers of beekeeping equipment. To date we have purchased from Penders at Cardiff near Newcastle and Bindaree at Murrambateman near Canberra. I think it would be best to phone these companies rather than email as I have had difficulty getting emails back from both of them. It isn't cheap to set up a hive from scratch and once a new hive is purchased, the hardest part of the process is procuring bees. Fortunately for us we made contact with a local apiarist and sourced bees through him. I think it is pretty much the best way to go.

In New South Wales, all hives must be registered and there is some useful information available through Industry and Investment NSW. Courses are available from various providers which can give a good idea of safe handling of bees and hives.
We had been interested in beekeeping for some time and finally made the decision to start up. The honey was the main drawcard for us to become apiarists but the bonus of having hives full of pollinators for the garden and orchard is fantastic.
The rewards are very sweet and they really aren't too much work if you are keen.