Monday, June 27, 2011

Monday in the garden

There has been little harvesting this week so I am not posting a Harvest Monday post. I did however get to spend a lot of today outside tending to odd jobs that have needed to be done for a little while.

I did a general tidy up in the vegetable garden. It is looking a tad bare but I can assure you that there are good things growing. Peas, snow peas, garlic galore, rocket, dill and lots more too. Gardening in Australia is definitely no hardship. Growing all year round and today with a bit of work and glorious sunshine, I even managed to dress down to short sleeves. The winter garden is so much easier to maintain, even the weeds are kinder. Chickweed is rampant but it is so much easier to control than the kikuyu which dogs me in the warmer months.

It really was a lovely winter day today. The girls are on school holidays so we have had a nice day together. Grace has made us a lovely chocolate cake with cream cheese frosting which is rich and toothsome. She loves baking and does her own cleaning up too. I'm so glad that I let all of my children help in the kitchen from when they were tiny so they have learnt to cook without any hardship. I will admit there were times that I would have preferred to do the baking without helping hands. I'm wiser now though, those little helping hands grow too quickly.


Sunday, June 26, 2011

A Great Weekend

Hopefully tomorrow my blogging will return to its usual genre. Domesticity- gardening, cooking and general life around the farm. Today however is all about us. Tim and I have been married 18 years today and life is very sweet. There are ofcourse hiccups that happen along the way but I love him more and more every day. As a special treat, he is home from work today and we have exchanged a few gifts. He knows the way to my heart, a few new lavender plants and roses. Some chocolate too. I surprised him with a very unromantic gift of a package of yeast. Our next project will be to use the yeast to make mead from the excess honey.

Saturday was a lovely day too. A day at the Hunter Valley Gardens. Grace was participating in the school choir competition. This was my first trip to the gardens and they are just lovely. Something nice about garden visits is that they are such a dynamic place to visit and although the structure is long term, there are changes all the time and my next visit there won't be the same as this one. The choirs that performed were well worth the admission cost on their own without the added bonus of the lovely surrounds. Oh how I would like to be able to sing so sweetly.

Now I am off to put the finishing touches to our anniversary dinner. We are having a Christmas in June style dinner. I know that it is popular (in Australia anyway) to have Christmas in July but after 18 years of celebrating an anniversary on 26th June, I finally did the calculations and worked out it is 6 months until Christmas today. We are having a roast with all the trimmings and then a night by the fire.


Thursday, June 23, 2011

A New Ram

A new ram is what should be in this trailer cage.But alas, it is empty.

We drove down to Scone to inspect some young rams as we are retiring our big boy, Crinkles. Thankfully it is a pleasant drive made all the more sweeter by going with Tim because we did not see any that were satisfactory. Too many negative features which would not improve our flock.

Not to be disheartened though, I am emailing other potential suppliers today and tomorrow and hopefully we can bring a ram with not only good looks but a good disposition home to Sunny Corner Farm very soon. The ewes are waiting.


Sunday, June 19, 2011

Not gardening, stitching

Usually when I'm not gardening, reading, cooking, driving, working outside or doing housework, I can be found enjoying some sort of craft activity. It really is the only 'girly' type of thing I do. I like most types of craft although I have never been moved towards paper crafts. I had a couple of cross stitches which were finished and needed framing so they are both home from the framers and on the wall.

This one turned out better than I anticipated. The camera and computer don't do justice to the gold thread and accents but it is very pretty and is hanging in the lounge room.

This one although it is in my favourite colourway of blue and white, I'm not completely happy with the frame. I think it needs more contrast and in this picture at least looks a bit like a television screen. Oh well, I'll leave it for a while and then decide if I will change it.

I am running out of spaces on the wall to hang things so perhaps it is time to stop or maybe move to that country mansion with more walls to fill. As Grace gave me the cross stitch kit at the top, I though it would be a nice idea to write a little note on the back. In fact, I am going to do that with all of them as maybe someday, someone might be interested to know and I might not be here to tell.

Now is the time for gardening (weeding) not stitching so that is where Iam heading.


Friday, June 17, 2011

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Lime and Poppy Seed Cake

On Friday,the last dry day we had, I spent a bit of time in the yard. Our driveway area is a mish-mash of plants, with the orchard on one side and native shrubs and the odd agapanthus on the other. Individually the plants look good but the bigger picture is not as pretty. I would really like to make this area more attractive not just to people but to our bees and the local (welcome)wildlife too. The cooler weather makes for more planning and structural work rather than the busyness of the warmer months. So now is a great time to be thinking about what to do and how to do it which thankfully can mostly be done in the warmth inside.

While I was in the orchard, I noticed that I failed to notice some limes when I picked them a while ago. They are now limes trying to look like lemons. They still taste like limes and gave me some inspiration to bake a Lime and Poppy Seed Cake. My version is an easy to bake cake which is just as nice as a cafe offering but without the cafe price tag. It can also be a lemon or orange poppy seed cake depending on what is on hand.

Lime and Poppy Seed Cake


1.5 cups self-raising flour

3/4 cup white sugar

2 eggs plus an extra yolk

185 grams softened butter

1/2 cup milk

finely grated zest of 1 lime

40 grams poppy seeds


Preheat oven to 180 deg C. Grease and line a 20cm round cake tin.

Combine all ingredients in a mixing bowl and beat with an electric mixer until the mixture is well combined and thick.

Pour mixture into baking tin and smooth the top.

Bake for 50 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean.

Leave in the tin for a few minutes and then cool on a wire cake rack.

I usually ice the top of the cake but have served it with a citrusy syrup before too. To make the icing. Combine 1 cup of icing sugar, a teaspoon of butter and enough juice form the fruit used for the cake to make a spreadable icing. The cake keeps for a few days but doesn't last too long here.


Thursday, June 9, 2011

East West, Home is Best

Tim and I have just spent a lovely weekend away at Blair Athol in Inverell, NSW. Three days away from home and I was more than ready to return with renewed energy and motivation. After running around busily of late, it was nice to take some time to have nothing to do but I am a homebody at heart and I'm very glad to be back.The house was lovely and Inverell is a nice country town with many things to see and do.

I did have a little bit of Bunya envy. The Bunya pines at Blair Athol are over 100 years old and are huge whilst my little slow growing specimen is only a metre high and I will not live to see it in its glory. Kim from Blair Athol generously gave me three bunya cones to bring home so now I will at least have some nuts to experiment with.
A holiday for me always involves looking around at plants and gardens. We visited Saumarez Homestead at Armidale too and had a lovely tour of the gardens and farm buildings. I might not ever be able to afford to live in a country mansion but I can at least have a garden of equal quality.

My favourite parts of the garden were the picking garden and Mary's garden. I loved the terracotta pots on the stakes, it was just like home. The very simple looking frames made from branches is something I will try with my dahlias next year just like the volunteer gardeners have done here.

Since coming home, I have been baking and cooking and just essentially enjoying living my regular life. If it is warmer tomorrow, I might even get to garden.


Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Welcome Winter

Winter is truly one of my favourite times of the year. Along with spring, summer and autumn. I love the cool weather, the chance to slow down a little outdoors and also the time to enjoy indoor activities a little more too. It is also special to me because my wedding anniversary is in winter.

Today the weather is a little crisp. A cool breeze but lovely sun. Today is also the first day I have been out to the garden for almost a week. The rain coupled with a rather demanding schedule has meant no time. Thankfully it wasn't summer because the garden is a little more demanding then and would not have tolerated such neglect.

Tonight it is just two ofs us at home. The girls and Tim are in town for the last performance of the school musical (hoorah). It was good and Grace has developed musically by playing in an orchestra for a stage show. I think I have just developed dark circles under my eyes trying to keep up.

Tom and I will be having a nice dinner and an early night. Silverbeet is on the menu along with potatoes and pumpkin.

I will save some of these young turnips which need thinning out a bit for a snack tomorrow. I think they are delicious raw but not everyone here agrees. Actually no one here agrees.

This is one of the young rams which we will be selling later in the year. He is lovely if a little bedraggled because of the rain.

It is nice to be able to have the time to blog again and moreover to visit blogs again. A week or so away seems like a long time.