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Friday, December 28, 2012

Loving Limbo

I always love the time in between Christmas and the New Year. It is kind of like some strange limbo time when there isn't a lot of work to do, life is very relaxed, no one expects extravagant meals, we don't have to go anywhere and the Boxing Day cricket test is on. Well the cricket didn't pan out to much but I still like this week a lot. It is also a time when I reflect a bit and also think about the year to come.
 
 
Johnson grass in the rose garden
 I tend to keep the gardening side of things pleasurable during this week but the recent rain has really got the johnson grass growing in the mulch in the rose garden. So this morning I set about removing it. It really is a terrible nuisance and can cause toxicity in livestock and harbour pests and diseases for crop growers. It's rhizomes make it quite difficult to eradicate and as we don't use herbicides, removal by hand is the only option we have for this weed. Anyway, happily I removed what I could see and will keep on top of what springs up from the rhizomes which are hidden underground.

 I also 'installed' a bird bath. I had an old light shade which looked to me ideal for a bird bath but no base. An old kettle and a metal base and it's in situ waiting for the birds to need a drink. The bath itself is made of a toughened glass but I still didn't want it too high off the ground just in case of a fall.

 This however is more like my idea of gardening in limbo. Finding eggplants ready to eat (not this one but there are a few others ready). I'm thinking a red curry tonight with eggplant and zucchini. Yum.

Although the weather is quite overcast ( and might I say lovely) today, the bees are busy, busy. They haven't been too active in the vegetable patch of late due to the kurrajong, eucalypts and apple box which have been in flower but the zucchini were receiving their treatment this morning. And I am glad.

 I was quite surprised yesterday when we went to town to buy Hope a new goldfish for the tank she received as a birthday gift that it was business as usual everywhere. I thought it was the weekend when it was really Thursday.

Hope you are enjoying this time too.
Tracy

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Christmas 2012

Title edited to add another year back to my life. Why did I think it was Christmas 2013 already??

Misty Christmas morning

With the hot and dry weather we have been having Christmas day might have been a bit uncomfortable but instead it dawned cool and wet. A very pleasant 23 degrees C and more rain during the day and evening. A sunny, dry Christmas is very much over-rated in my books.

Nanny, Pop and the grandchildren.

 Instead of staying at home and this year, we headed up to my parents' home and spent part of the day with them and my sister's family. Here are the grandparents and their grandchildren that were there on the day. We will get to see some of the others in a few days. When we arrived home in the afternoon, it was birthday celebrations for Hope. It was such a tiring day though that she requested a raincheck on her birthday cake which we will have in a day or two. I think I am a little tired because although I am an adult (I am not grown up), I still struggle to get to sleep on Christmas eve. It is all just a bit too exciting.


I partcipated in Chookyblue's swap again this year. It is amazing the number of parcels to-ing and fro-ing between stitching bloggers around the globe and the generosity is inspiring too. Thanks Chooky for organising such a wonderful swap.

Ulla from Sweden sent me a lovely bag and pot holder as my main gift. I think I will have to hit the town for a coffee just to show my new bag off. It was struggle to not sneak a peak in the wrapping before the 25th but I did the right thing and followed the rules.

This was the very sweet Santa ornament that Ulla sent me. I'm so glad I was allowed to open this before Christmas so I could enjoy him on my tree all month.

Now I am going to have a quick look around my favourite blogs and then an early night.
Tracy

Thursday, December 20, 2012

A different kind of post

I think I gab on a little too much about gardening, cooking and farm animals sometimes so today I will post something a bit different. I had to do some shopping yesterday and as I was in town, I headed to one of the town's Vinnie's stores. I went on the right day, it was $1 day and everything was $1 or less. I think I ended up with 10 items for $5 and I was really happy with my purchases.
 

 A coffee pot which Tim found and rightly thought it was just the thing for me. The little green vase is very cute and is made by Brody. I can't bring myself to tamper with it so I won't be drilling holes in it to plant some cacti or succulents but I might put a pot in there instead. Cacti and succulents can have a modern look but planted the right way and they have a real retro feel which would suit this vase totally. (That was borderline gardening so I will stop there).

I think I bought out the entire shop of Christmas cards. I couldn't resist. There are some vintage ones, some charity cards (which are also vintage) and also the pen and ink cards drawn by a year 8 student (or so the card says). I'm all set for cards for next Christmas (no end of the world thinking for me obviously). Too many brackets... sorry.

We had 6mm of rain last night which was so welcome and an overcas and humid day has followed today. And although the 80% humidity is not the best, the 26degrees C is compensation enough.
Tracy

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Dried fruit, orange and banana loaf.

I'm really trying very hard to keep a cool attitude while we melt away in this heatwave. Our solar hot water system has a temperature display which was telling me that the  water in tubes on the roof  is 139 deg C. Now that is just too hot. The temperature in the tank is regulated with hot water to keep it at a safe heat.
 
Salads and sandwiches have been high on the menu the past few days. No one wants to sit down to anything heavy and we are eating a little later in the evening when the sun has dipped over the hill to our west. If I bake, I have been doing so in the morning. Today it was a loaf style cake which is just right with an afternoon cup of herbal tea which oddly enough is cooling. This is much lighter than Christmas style fruit cakes and the inclusion of cranberries gives it a bit of zing too.
 
Dried fruit, orange and banana loaf
 
 
Dried fruit, orange and banana loaf
 
Ingredients
1/3 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup dried fruit
1/4 cup dried cranberries
2 cups self raising flour
1 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
1/3 cup orange juice
2 ripe bananas
 
Method
Grease and line a 14 x 21 cm loaf tin.
Pre-heat oven to 180 deg C
Cream butter and sugar together  with an electric mixer until light and fluffly.
Beat in eggs, bananas and juice.
Stir in dried fruit.
Stir in flour until combined.
Spread into prepared loaf tin and bake for 50-60 minutes. My oven which is slow, takes the hour but I would recommend checking it after the 50 minute mark.
Allow to cool slightly and then remove from tin.
Enjoy warm or allow to cool. My dad would spread butter on a cake like this but it isn't necessary, just a little bit of decadence.

I had a disaster in the kitchen today. My 20 year old electric hand mixer has decided it is time to go where old mixers go (in the bin). It is a cheapy KMart  model that my mum gave me years ago, a Kitchen Maid which if you say it quickly enough sounds kind of impressive, like a Kitchen Aide. It has served me well and I know that for the $20 price tag I won't get anything near as good in today's market. Never mind, wooden spoons and wire whisks are good enough for the time being but I will not be making any meringues without electric beaters. I think I will put my $30 that my mother in law gave me for Christmas towards a new mixer.

Tracy



Monday, December 17, 2012

 
Blogging hasn't felt like the right thing to do these past few days. I have been staying close to home and keeping my young ones near. 
 
 

This afternoon we had quite a smoky view. There is a fire somewhere nearby (which I think is under control) and the smoke setled in the valley. Pretty in a strange and eerie kind of way.

The first time I let globe artichokes get to this stage was accidental. We didn't harvest them in time and they became full blown blooms. Now, I always leave a few on the bush just for their beauty. The garden for me isn't just about nourishing the body, but nourishing the spirit too.

I hope all of my blogging friends are safe and well and happy.
tracy

Friday, December 14, 2012

Post 393

Title creativity has escaped me so "Post 393" it is today. That does mean 400 is close by and I will definitely be generous when I get to that milestone so stay tuned and I will think up a little something to giveaway to celebrate.
 
I have all of my swap ornaments hanging quite nicely on this years living Christmas tree. It is only a little tree but it is nice and full and once Christmas is over for this year, it will beplanted in the Christmas garden in the backyard. The Christmas garden is the place I have reserved for trees and plants that have served as our Christmas tree. It doesn't need to be a pine or traditional at all, just somewhere nice to hang a few special decorations.

Yesterday I posted my finishing post on the Yates site for their   yates Growing Challenge. It is supposed to be a picture of the garden ready. My garden is never ready or finished. It is always a work in progress. Sometimes with more work in progress than others. At the moment it is in a good growth phase. With not a lot of variety in the harvest department but a lot of promise for good things soon. The corn and tomatoes are growing really well and even though there looks like there are quite a few empty spots, that is good. It means that I have made enough room to plant some more beans, zucchini and corn.

I have been out and about the past two days with an appointment for Grace at the podiatrist and a presentation day for Tom for his work he did at school in 2011. But now it is home for a while with lots of good to be done. Though I may venture out to the local Christmas Carols on Sunday evening. I want to plant some more radish, carrots, silverbeet... the list is too long. That's my idea of fun times.

 
I really couldn't resist snapping this picture of the Borlotti beans. They are like a jewel and although I really would like to use them right now in  a salad, I am resisting (I'll admit I may snack on a few when I'm gardening) and letting them dry for use in soups and salads in the winter. Delayed gratification, it's a good thing.
 
 
Gadrening so far has been more of a struggle than ever before because of necessary water restrictions. After our tanks ran dry a while ago, I have been quite hesitant to use the wet stuff but I am. I need my garden for more than just sustinence.
 
Tracy

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

12/12/12

Where was I on 12/12/12? Well at about 12:12pm, I was in the garden. Mulching and watering and weeding too.
 

Grace took this rather disastrous picture of me amongst the asparagus fronds. It's all hat and asparagus.

Tracy

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Monday, December 10, 2012

Firsts

Wapsipinicon peach tomato
 The frist tomato of the season and it isn't even red. The climate here is a little tricky. In winter we have the cold temperatures of the mountains and in summer we have the dry heat (except when it's mixed up and we have humidity). It means that summer crops don't get going until later than the more temperate areas. This is my tomato growing on the verandah. The actual garden crops will still be a while before we have any fruits.
 First dahlia flower of this summer. It is from tubers I didn't lift from the ground over winter. I am quite the lazy gardener really and usually leave them in situ but this year I decided to move them about a bit. Of course being the lazy gardener I was tardy in replanting so the other plants are way behind.

First blueberries for the summer. I like them but they  aren't my favourite fruit. They do however make a delicious snack when you are out and about. Like all of the berries I grow, not many make it to the kitchen.

It is also the first week of the school vacation for the summer. Tom has finished his work placement and we have been enjoying days which are more carefree and not governed by clocks and calendars. 'Tis good. I'm enjoying those quiet times in the morning when it is just me awake and the world is mine for a little while.

Christmas plans are being made. There is to be a party for the special toys on the 21st, shopping tomorrow and only a couple of events away from home.
Tracy

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Mail


 
I always like receiving mail (if anyone wants a penpal, I'm your girl) and yesterday the best kind arrived, a parcel just for me. I partcipated in Christina's ornament swap and my first ornament arrived from Jen. The package contained the cutest knitted mitten ornaments and some lovely vintage bits and bobs. Now I think that this is Jen's blog but I could be wrong but if I am, that's ok because I like this new to me blog just fine.
 
 
Knitted mitten ornament
 
 
My mailbox was busy again today, it is that time of year I guess. This year I took part in a Christmas card exchange and this was the first of my four cards to arrive. All the way from the UK.
 

 I was quite excited because although everyone else in the house has an advent calendar, I have never had one. The girls have three each, one homemade, one with the little chocolates in it and one cardboard sticker one. Tom has two (19 isn't too old apparently), a Star Wars LEGO one and a homemade chocolate one and Tim has one which I made with envelopes holding little chocolates and a note for an activity for each day. Tim's is the best, it has things like back massages, facials and other pampering goodness (no wonder he likes this time of year).  So now I have my very own advent card and I have opened up 5 windows on the most gorgeous houses, I just want to step right into the card. It really doesn't take much to make my heart sing.

Not much to look at here but I am committing to making presents for my nearest and dearest family members. They do read this blog from time to time so I can't give too much away or the all important surprise when they unwrap will be missing. But with a bit of stitching, painting and even some drill wielding, they should look like gifts in next to no time. Fiona is talking about handmade Christmas gifts every Wednesday so I am linking up there today. I have much to do for my handmade gifts so I best get cracking before school finishes up for the year.

I hope your letter box is filled with good things today too.
Tracy

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

A storm swept through town yesterday. There was a quite a bit of damaged caused and I was stuck in the car while it was buffeted by wind and the odd piece of hail. I'm not scared of much but the feeling that the car might just take off is a little disconcerting to say the least.
 
 
 Due to low visibility things were at a stand still for about half an hour and then it left as quickly as it came.

 Today is a completely different picture. The storm blew the extreme heat away and left behind a glorious sunny day with just a hint of a breeze.

 The plants always perk up after rain and things are green on our farm although many other farms close by have very little feed and the pastures have browned off. That could possibly be because of our position or just because of different practices.

 The ducklings which hatched a couple of weeks ago are growing very quickly which is what ducklings do. Try as i might, I can not get them to look at the camera. They will soon lose their cuteness so I really want a nice picture of them. So listen up ducks.

 Now I have my big eater home and the weather is cooperating, there has been action on the baking front. Chocolate freckle biscuits,
 date and maple loaf,
apple custard tea cakes and not pictured, chocolate mint slice and meringues too. Consumed in moderation and with a lot of activity, they don't do too much damage to the waistline. I also don't have a sweet tooth so I'm safe.
Tracy

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Keeping Cool

Thanks for all the warm wishes to keep cool (?). As we are low on water, we haven't been able to have our evaporative cooler on so the only chance today was a trip to the swimming pool. I did a little grocery shopping in air conditioned comfort while Tim and the girls had a swim. Tom stayed at home and sweltered but that was his choice. It has cooled down a little now that the sun is behind the hills to our west so I have squeezed in a trip to the vegetable garden before a later than usual dinner.
 
 I was given some old plastic Christmas bells which had seen better days but they are good on the garden gate. Well I like them anyway.

 The zucchini Ronde de nice are coming along nicely. The other zucchini plants I have in are just starting to produce properly so these little ones will be in full swing when the older ones are waning.
 The hot weather has been good for the pumpkins. They are putting on a lot of growth just as long as I keep the water up to them.

 I checked back and I hadn't posted any pictures of our newest babies. The chickens hatched by mother turkey (the ones the snake tried to make a meal of). They aren't turkeys. They are in fact bantam chickens but she doesn't know and doesn't care for that matter.

And just because I loaded this picture on the computer today (I'm posting Christmas pictures on my Facebook page) I thought I would share it here too. It is from Christmas 1997 when Grace was just 2 months old . Time surely does fly by.
Tracy

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Home again... and it is HOT.

I really am the worst traveller. I like the idea of going away and seeing other places but then when I'm away, I long to be home. Fickle through and through. Anyway, I am home again. We travelled back on Friday in the 40 plus degreeC heat and thought it was very hot but today was hotter. The indoor animals (humans included) spent the hot part of today doing very little which is probably the wisest choice. It is the livestock which can suffer the most in extreme weather. I have heard of animals perishing in very hot weather and poultry can be quite susceptible but ours seem to be ok. They are housed  in  a shady are with plenty of ventilation and are quite free to roam during the day to find their own ideal spot to cool down.
 
 While we were away, we celebrated Tom's birthday. We had dinner out at an Indian restaurant with a few of his friends from university. I didn't travel down on the train with a birthday cake but Tom's friend Karmen made him these super cute cupcakes. Very wise of him to have a friend who like to bake I think.

 I had a day in between arriving and driving home so another trip to the city and the Botanic Gardens was on the to-do list. I took Tim with me this time and we enjoyed pancakes for breakfast and strolling without the pressures of a to-do list.
 Other gardens off so much inspiration on a small and large scale. I like to get ideas for individual plants I would like to grow and sometimes even ideas for major proects which would suit our garden.
A water feature is a tempting idea right now but that could just be because of the heat.

 
I did a little birthday shopping in Sydney too. I have two Christmas day birthdays to shop for and in my quest for gifts that are supportive of smaller businesses, I didn't have to look very far. My lovely friend, Melissa, who I went to school with right from kindergarten to Year 12 has a small business selling handmade skirts and other goodies. Not only did I get to support an ethical business but I got to catch up with a friend who I haven't seen in too long a time.
 
I should also mention that Tom has drawn the winner of the giveaway and the lucky recipient is....
 
 
Tracy

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Thanks to my blog

 I often usually have my camera on hand no matter what I am doing. I take it in my handbag just in case there is something that is photo worthy whether it is good, bad or just amusing. The beauty of digital photography, no wasted film or even printing of those ridiculous shots that were never meant to be. I take the camera when I am out and about on the farm and click away to my hearts content then edit and delete when I get home.


Today I was enjoying the bean flowers and thought why not take a picture. At a glane, they are  understated but up close they are quite pretty. And I thought, yeah why not take a bean flower picture for the blog. I'm glad I did because...

 I found some beans. The first for this season. So thanks to my blog, we will be having beans tonight (not enough for a feast but the first taste is always the best). If I didn't get up close to that bean flower, I wouldn't have found the beans amongst the foliage. So I am one happy gardener and cook (Hope won't be as happy).


See, I really do take the camera everywhere. Even when feeding sheep though they don't really need to be fed, they just like it.

This afternoon I am packing and preparing for a train trip to Sydney. It is Tom's birthday tomorrow so I am heading down to be with him for the evening at least and he can even draw the giveaway (though I would really love to give everyone something). I'm going to catch up with a friend from school, do some sightseeing in my old hometown and then bring my boy home for the holidays. Good times ahead. I'm making some shortbreads for the trip and packing some hand stitching. 6 hours  on a train is a long time so I hope to get at least a little bit done.

Tracy

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Catch Up and don't forget the giveaway

 
A bit of a busy week to-ing and fro-ing. I managed to do some  Christmas shopping on Thursday and donate blood as well. Then it has been farm work which was made a little less pleasant by the heat. We have had temperatures in the high 30 deg C and have been told to expect the low 40s by the end of this week. I'm not looking forward to that. Although I like to embrace the seasons as they come, I really don't like excess heat and if it is coupled with humidity then it is not for me.
 

Heads down enjoying their hay
 This week we marked the lambs. That is tail docking and castration of males which aren't suitable for breeding. Our lambs are ear tagged when they are younger to enable us to keep track of their pedigree which is important when dealing with registered pure bred animals. It really isn't a pleasant task for farmer or animal but necessary for longterm animal welfare. Sheep with tails are prone to flystrike which can be deadly quite quickly. I know in some cooler climates where flies aren't the problem that they are in Australia, sheep can keep their tails but not here. Anyway, we carry out the procedure quickly and with care and with the animals' best interests at heart.

 We had a red bellied black snake make a visit on Thursday afternoon. I had  been over to the turkey house to visit mother turkey and her new chicks and all was well. Forty-five minutes later there was much ado in the house. Our male turkey, the other female and mother were flapping and carrying on a treat. I initially thought they were attacking the newly hatched chicks (although they have never done anything like that before) but no, the three were teaming up against the above snake. I know they are defensive but I had no idea that they would fight off a snake in defense of their young. The good news is that no birds were harmed though the snake didn't fair as well.

After a lot of craft and sewing being done recently, I haven't even toched any fabric until tonight. My mother gave me a bag of squares which came through the op shop she volunteers at. They are gaudy and bright, 1970s looking and not my style but they apparently belonged to someone who cared about them so I'm not letting them go to waste. I do need a bit of inspiration working with bright fabrics and there is plenty to be found here. I hope to have this little project finished by Tuesday night because come Wednesday, I am heading off on a big train trip to Sydney for Tom's birthday and also to bring him back home next weekend. I lose my sewing zone then because he will want his room all to himself I'm sure.

Don't forget the giveaway. It is only small but good things come in small packages. Right?
Tracy

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Giving

Bhut jolokia

My newest plant arrived in yesterday's mail. It is a Bhut jolokia chilli which is apparently the world's hottest. I can assure I will not be testing the claim, I will leave it up to the resident chilli fanciers. My tolerance for spicy things has waned in the last two years for some unknown reason but I will probably have a little try and regret it after. I'd be interested to hear if anyone has tried this chilli and how it rates heatwise.

 I love getting mail (bills excluded) and our letter box has been very active of late. Secret parcels coming in and now I have a few to post away.


All of my remaining swap parcels are being posted tomorrow and I hope they will be well received at their destinations. I enjoyed getting to know my swap partners by reading their blogs but it does feel a little creepy strange looking in on their lives without even saying hello because everything is top secret.

I'm making a day of being in town tomorrow and doing some Christmas and birthday shopping and also donating blood. And while I'm in the giving mood, I would like to offer a set of  my felt ornaments as a giveaway.

 
I will leave the giveaway open until next Wednesday, 28th November and then draw a name. Just leave a comment to be in the running. Like Sunny Corner Farm on Facebook for an extra chance too.
 
Tracy

Monday, November 19, 2012

Ducklings



Tracy