Sunday, June 30, 2013

Back to reality

Well, it was a wet few days away and now it's back to reality and with one extra at home too. Tom is home from university after the end of this semester. I've been told by those who know him to put him to work around the place. Hasn't happened so far. 
Sheoak in the rain
 We managed to squeeze in a few walks in between showers but not as many as we had planned. I do enjoy walking in the rain  sometimes but this was very heavy rain and wouldn't have been pleasant at all. Still where we stayed is not too far from home and those walks we wanted to do can easily be done on a day trip or two.

One place we did visit was the Washpools at Towarri National Park. It's a lovely spot even in the rain and we have earmarked it as a picnic spot for the spring/ summer. Perfect for my girls who always seem to find a way of ending up in the water when it is close by.

 I always love to visit places with nice gardens and our accommodation didn't disappoint. Obviously winter isn't the time for this garden to shine. The jonquils were already in flower though which was really nice.

And there was a very pretty pink rose in bloom too. Nice to see when my roses are very much dormant for the winter.

What else did we do? Lunches and dinners out. A Yoga workout courtesy of my Bob Harper DVD, some op shopping (I bought a 'new' basket which I love), a visit to a cheese factory/café (yum), a bit of knitting (me not Tim), reading and we watched a few episodes of Mrs Brown's Boys too. The time went quickly.

I think my arms are too short to take selfies.

Too quickly in fact just like the last 20 years.

Anyway, it is back to my real life now. No more swanning about in cafes and restaurants for a while. And with Tom home, I think I have to bake every day because as soon as something is out of the oven, he whoofs it down.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Tomorrow is our big day. What I like best about our anniversary, is that it is a celebration that we truly share. I mean my birthday is mine and Tim's is his and Christmas is for everybody but this is OURS. To make things easier (or maybe more difficult) we put a spending limit of $50 on gifts for each other and I haven't even snooped once. I really hope Tim likes the gaudy garden gnome I included in his gifts. If he doesn't then I do anyway.

So for the next couple of days we will be away from home bushwalking (most likely in the rain) and relaxing and dining out and doing a bit of treasure hunting too. Then again we may just do nothing much at all though I doubt that.

And for anyone interested, tomorrow is exactly six months until Christmas. Time does fly.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

A glimpse of my Sunday

Apparently Sunday dawned early today. The tiny rooster decided the extra bright moon was worthy of a crow at 1:43am. I'm not sure how everyone else in the house sleeps through these things but I would like to know their secrets. 

The cows have learnt that there are good things when they hear me whistle. And they do come running and yes, it is a little intimidating at first.

 The sheep aren't forgotten either. They wouldn't allow that. This is Fay and she doesn't bother herself eating with the rest of the flock, she just picks through the choice Lucerne in the wheelbarrow. Obviously being a friendly sheep has its benefits.

 I found this metal rocking chair on the roadside during a council collection. It was rusty but still sound. Once it was painted, all it needed was some cushions to make sitting and rocking comfortable.

 I used some patchwork squares that I found in a local op shop to make a set of cushions. I made the backs of the cushions with some vintage tea towels from my Nan's collection and put some older pillows inside. The patchwork squares were mostly sewn together when I brought them home and they do have a certain 70s vibe about them so they suit the rather retro rocker just fine.

And what to do when you've just made cushions for a rocking chair? Sit in it of course. I spent a little time there reading Hugh's Three Good Things on a plate. I have all of the other HFW cook books but wasn't sure about this one so I borrowed it from the library and it actually is rather good. I might just have to put in a request for my birthday. Tonight for soup night we are having a simple soup from this book, a tomato and pearl barley soup. We'll be eating alfresco by the light of some candles, a little fire and the super moon (unless we get too cold).

Thanks for having a peek at a little part of my Sunday.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Busy, busy

This was my view on Monday morning. Bright and early at Hope's athletics carnival. The fog took the best part of the morning to lift and afterwards it was a chilly day to say the least. I was glad that I started and finished the scarf I was making because it really made a difference. I haven't owned a scarf since I was in primary school and now I know what I have been missing all of these years. It was a good day despite the cold conditions and I managed to get a half a dishcloth knitted and a few more stitches completed on a stitchery I am working on (all in between watching the events of course).

We had a pancake breakfast at school yesterday which meant another early trip to town and then some grocery shopping.

I also have an anniversary present to procure for Tim for next week. I'm leaving it very much to the last minute because I just can't think what to give him. As each year passes, it gets harder to think of  something to give. We have all we need  and he isn't really one for gifts that aren't practical. Me on the other hand, anything handmade and pretty suits me just fine (edible gifts are always welcome too).

On the home/ farm front, the cold weather means lots of wood collecting, extra hearty feeding for the poultry, supplementary feeding of the cattle and sheep on the really cold days and not much to do in the garden but wander and ponder.

My girls have their last day of school tomorrow for three weeks so it's fun times ahead.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Bits and Pieces

It is bitterly cold here today and we had a day of rain yesterday. Thunder and lightning and 43mm of good soaking rain. One tank is overflowing and the other two must be close. Enough rain is always good news.

 I had a special request from one of my nephews on Saturday for three more chicks. That makes six that he has so hopefully that's enough for now. Though I do understand completely that there is no such thing as too many chickens.

The cold weather isn't slowing the laying hens down. Usually for me the only time they 'go off the lay' is around moulting time. The bantams however are sporadic in their laying and it's a fun day when there are tiny eggs to collect.

And slowly there are some more flowers to brighten up the garden. The violets are bursting with colour around the place.

The cold weather and early nightfall are lovely. Last night we were finished up with everything that must be done before bed by 6pm and so a it was a couple of hours by the fire stitching, listening to music and just hanging around  all doing our own thing but together. Tonight I'm thinking of starting on this scarf. I have some yarn which should be ok for the job and it looks fairly straightforward. And maybe I might start wearing scarfs if I actually make one and own one.


Friday, June 7, 2013

Raspberry and chocolate loaf

It's winter and not a raspberry in sight here but raspberries we had to have. Grace had a project for school which involved some food styling. She decided to make meringue nests with cream and raspberries. To say they were not the sweetest raspberries I had ever eaten would be an understatement. And at $7.99 for a 125gram punnet which equates to almost $64/kilo I was tempted to tell her to use lolly raspberries. Frozen just weren't going to satisfy either apparently. Anyway that's my gripe and I am over it now. But I was determined not to let a single one of those sour little berries go to waste.
So onto a recipe where a little tartness doesn't matter so much. Raspberry and chocolate loaf. 

I should have waited for a day which is more conducive to photography so I apologise for the poor pictures but fresh raspberries wait for no one.

Raspberry and Chocolate Loaf
2 cups plain flour
1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1 cup sugar
90grams butter, softened
2 eggs
1 banana, mashed (I keep a stash of frozen bananas just for this kind of thing)
1/4 cup yoghurt
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup dark chocolate chips/chunks
1/2 cup white chocolate chunks
125 grams raspberries, halved (minus a few for school projects is ok)
Preheat oven to 180 degC. Grease and line a loaf tin.
Mix the flour and soda together in a mixing bowl.
In a separate bowl cream together the sugar and butter until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, vanilla, banana and yoghurt and beat until combined.
Stir the wet mixture into the dry mixture until just combined then stir through the chocolate.
Fold in the raspberries gently.
Pour the mixture into the baking tin and bake for approximately one hour until a skewer comes out clean. In my oven it takes one hour but it is probably a good idea to start checking at the 50 minute mark.
Allow to cool for 10 minutes then remove from the tin and allow to cool on a wire rack.

I don't actually bother letting it cool completely before having a slice. It is delicious while still warm. And blueberries would be nice instead of raspberries too. Or just make it as a chocolate laced banana bread.

That's my recipe for the day. Frugal but not cheap. What is cheap this long weekend in Australia at least is the free access to  Ancestry. com's British records. That's what will keep me occupied on this cold damp afternoon.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Time is flying

Time is flying by this week. Already it is Wednesday and five days into June. Five cold days into June. The first of the month must have triggered something because winter it definitely is. I do love seeing those wintery scenes from the northern hemisphere with things covered in snow and looking very pretty but when all is said and done, I think I am happy with the fact that at anytime of the year, I can be growing something for us to enjoy on our plates.

In the vegetable garden things are growing and although I can't hear them, I know the plants breathed a happy sigh after the 51mm of rain we had over the weekend. It was really glorious rain. The kind which soaks in and does no end of good.

There are still a few summer garden remnants down there like capsicum and chillies but I think they won't last too much longer.

The cabbage moth grubs are doing a bit of damage. This lot have been taken care of and the chickens were quite happy about that. But I do think I will be using Dipel or the like to keep on top of them now. Crushed eggs shells don't seem to work as a deterrent for me and I don't have netting that would cover these beds. At the moment I am just picking them off by hand and passing them on to those who appreciate them more than me. I don't mind sharing some of my crop with the bugs and other wildlife but not all of it.

California poppy

What I am finding lacking in the garden right now is flowers. Whether it is just a slow time in general or that I have just been lax in my plantings and not put anything in that would be pretty now. There are a couple of lavenders which have flowers, some pansies and the California poppy above hasn't stopped showing off for months but other than these few, it is a pretty bland colour palette out there. I think I might use my pocket money this week buying a few  pretty flowering things to pop around the place.

I'm off now to attempt to sort out a bit of an issue with a beehive but more on that later.