Friday, January 29, 2016

Five on Friday

I am joining in with the lovely Amy for Five on Friday. Not five photos this week for me but rather five good things from my week.

Five Good Things

My library and the books I have borrowed. The required travel guides, some fiction and a memoir or two. I can't afford to buy all of the books I read so I'm glad I have a good library.

Rain. Around 50mm of precipitation this week and the grass is lovely and green and the garden has been nicely watered.

A Chinese New Year card made by my artistic friend Mia. Mia is very clever and I have to say she has the neatest handwriting I have ever seen. I like my card but monkeys still scare me.
Tomatoes. They are aplenty right now and at their peak of quality. Yum!
My sewing machine. I actually spent some time using it. I've been inspired to do some making by Dawn O'Porter's television program This Old Thing.
Not a good thing this week, follower issues with Blogger again.
Hope you can pop over and visit Amy and some of the other participants or maybe join in too.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Sewing and soup weather.

A lovely wet and misty day today. I do love this kind of weather because it is a novelty and not the norm. Outside jobs get done quick smart and then onto some sewing. I am one of those who doesn't feel quite right sitting down to stitch when there is some work I could or should be doing. I need to let go of that notion or at the least loosen its grip on me.

So today I've pottered about. Prepping my Send a Little Love Swap hosted by Tracy. Sewing this and that in readiness for tomorrow's post so it can wing its way all the way to Pat.

Just a sneaky peep at some of the fabric I have used. Doesn't give anything away at all so Pat is still in the dark until her package arrives. I love this Aussie fabric but this is the last of it in my stash.

 Lunch was a big bowl of soup (I think dinner will be too). I bought some sweet potatoes because they were on special $2/kg (which is special for here) and because I love them. I make this soup all the time and truth be told most of my pureed soups are made in much the same manner as this one. Onion, garlic sweated in olive oil, add the desired vegetables and cover with water. Add a little stock powder too or use liquid stock if you prefer.

I've had stock on my shopping list for a week now and I keep forgetting to buy it. Never mind, a little bit of Vegemite has been doing the trick each  time I've needed it.

The actual recipe for this Sweet Potato and Red Lentil Soup can be found way back here in 2010. Wow, that's a while ago. Even the lentil shirkers in my house love this soup. It's easy  and I like that because sometimes no matter how much you like cooking, a quick and healthy meal is what you prefer.


Slow, slow internet

I'm dealing with slow internet and Blogger issues with picture loading. The joys of living in the middle of nowhere and relying on a slow old satellite connection. Funny what I consider slow these days when it is only a few years since I was muddling along with dial up.

I am on the cheapest internet plan I can be and still have internet. So maybe that is a trade off for the frugal attitude, sometimes things take a little bit longer. That's ok. Slow living, it's the thing these days right?

I'll take it as a sign, telling me to get offline and get busy. I do apologise for not commenting this week while I sort this issue out.


Saturday, January 23, 2016

A bit of order

I do like things in their place but I have been guilty of just shoving bits and pieces of fabric I had been using in a bag to put away properly later. Well today later finally came.  I tipped the bag out and sorted it and pressed the fabric and stacked it and put it away. I also added to the stack by going through a couple of other fabric boxes. I still have a suitcase full of fabric which needs sorting but I've had enough for today. Thank you!

By a quilter's standard, I do not have a huge stash of fabric but believe me, it is more than enough. I feel guilty that it languishes in the cupboard when it should be used. I signed up for The Splendid Sampler (along with thousands of others) and I intend to sew from the fabric I have. I think a lot of people are using this stitch-along as a stash buster.

I'm glad to say I also discarded a few items to the donation pile. Some embroidered squares and a felt piece with biblical scenes on it. I was given these items because people just tend to give me stuff but it's time they moved on.

I also unearthed these blocks from swaps I was in quite some time ago. I just can't get motivated by them. When I look at them here I do like the log cabin blocks but perhaps not enough to make more blocks for an actual quilt. I'll think of something one day.

Now I have to cook. It's humid and I don't want to be in the kitchen but I am on a budget. Iceland is expensive I have discovered so every cent saved is welcome. Vegetarian shepherd's pie tonight. As I am vegetarian and a shepherd I guess every pie I make is just that. In reality, I am just emptying the crisper and putting mashed potato on top.


Friday, January 22, 2016

Five on Friday (+1)

It's Five on Friday again. How did that come around so quickly? Could be that time moves at a faster rate towards the end of the school holidays. Well it seems to when you don't want your only school student to go back to school.
I'm joining in again this week with Amy and all of the other lovely bloggers who take part. Please pop over and check the links.

My theme for this week is all about pen and ink, letters, writing, journaling. That kind of thing. My kind of thing.

Outgoing mail
Some outgoing mail for this week. I popped all of this in the post box yesterday. A few postcards for my Goodreads exchange, long letters to regular penpals, photos for Grace and even some competition entries.  I get a lot of joy from writing letters and cards or just sending out random little pieces of kindness. Now if I could improve my mail art that would be wonderful. A competition win would be rather nice too.
Incoming mail

Incoming mail. Sadly today my letterbox only contained boring mail- council rates, a survey and some other boring item. More often than not it has a letter or two and that is something to be very happy about.

Letter-writing list
February is the Month of Letters and also InCoWriMo. Both are great forums for people keen on letter-writing or even someone wanting to start out. Some people take it all very seriously but for me, writing letters is all about kindness, fun and making friends. I've made a number of friends via Month of Letters and we correspond regularly. There are other members who I just catch up once a year during February. No pressure, just fun and friendliness.
The picture above is my list of who I will be writing to next month (on the right) and who I need to write to this week (left). Only 15 names on the right-hand side list so far and I want 29, one for each day of the month. I'm sure I can fill it. 
I love my list book thanks Kimberley.
One of my journals. Does anyone else have the Wreck this Journal by Keri Smith? I'm struggling with it. I have the worst attitude for a journal that goes against the grain. I want it to be just so but the aim of the journal is to not be a perfectionist, just let go and 'wreck' it. Some outside the box thinking is definitely in order.

If I ever do anything in the journal worthy of showing either good or bad, I'll post a picture . Maybe!

5 +1

I'm including two pictures for the price of one here. My other random journal. Bits and pieces of random writing, art, not art, lists and ephemera. Tea bag packets from the tea bags sent to me from near and far. Raw sugar sachets. I got started with this zany idea because last year a penpal sent me one. I had no idea there were so many different styles out there. The sugar is all the same though. I also had no idea I was such a consumer of tea and coffee when out and about so it's a good reminder to think about it. And perhaps stop.

Thanks Amy for hosting.



A festival to go to. Streets closed to traffic to make way for musicians, street performers and artists of all sorts. I think the locals are divided in their opinion of the Country Music Festival but the visitors all seem to love it. If you like the heat and country music, good and bad, then I can recommend the festival. Be warned though, it is busy.

The local park is quiet and a little oasis away form the hustle and bustle. Nice shady trees and green grass to sit on. Only the distant strains of music can be heard. Unless there is a concert on the temporary stage in the park and then it is a crazy place.

First thing in the morning and early evening are the best times for avoiding the hot sun. It hots up around 11am and doesn't stop until late. The action that is. The sun sets around 8pm. The weather has been quite humid which is not the norm for this dry part of the country. Humid but no rain.

The festival always makes for an interesting day.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

In the garden now

Spring onion seeds

The spring onions I let go had seeds ready for sowing so sow I did. I haven't been planting much lately. It has been too hot and dry but even the smallest shower gives a gardener hope and something has to go in the ground. I also planted some more beans- Climbing Princess- and some rocket. The self-sown versions are all powering on so I hope the cultivated ones can too.

Hungarian Black chilli

Chillies are flowering and most of the plants have some fruit to pick. Not the jalapenos, they are behind. This variety of chilli, Hungarian Black, is like a Russian roulette chilli. Some are hot some are not, just have to take your chances. Well that is how it manifests in my garden anyway. A bit of fun in the kitchen. I always think that when the conditions are harsh, the chillies are hotter so I do sometimes neglect the chillies a little just to turn up the heat.

? Spider lily ?

I have this mystery flower too. My parents gave me the bulb which they got from my aunt and it is anyone's guess where she got it from. I think it is a spider lily of some sort. I forgot I planted it until it flowered. It's quite pretty and I hope it continues to thrive. I'll leave it alone, it's enjoyed that treatment thus far.

Today's jobs. First thing a cup of tea and then we will be gathering the sheep to see how they are. I'm hoping our ride-on mower will be ready to be picked up from the menders because the 'lawn' is ready for it. Mulching, I have a nice bug bale of straw to spread. And best of all, doing whatever fine work I like because my reading glasses are excellent.


Sunday, January 17, 2016

Fences to mend

That is literally fences to mend, not the metaphorical kind. The gusty wind we have been having and in fact are still having has dropped a few tree limbs and of course they fall on the fences. Thankfully there have been no escapees.

The cattle are best at finding even a small breach in a fence and especially a boundary fence. They would wander far and wide given half the chance and most likely end up in the garden. The sheep are much better behaved. Though they do like a vegetable garden visit now and then. If they ever get out, they let me know and always try to come home. They wait at the gate and baa. Clever not silly that's what I think.

It's Tim's birthday today and he working today. At his real, paid job that is so we won't do any fencing until tomorrow morning. Only one fence needs the wire mending. The rest just need the branches sawn up and removed or just lifted off. I can do that but in all honesty, I am a tad frightened by the chainsaw. So I'll leave it until tomorrow. Who  knows, there might be more future firewood by then anyway.

Town tomorrow too and Tuesday I get my first pair of reading glasses. I am growing up... not.

Friday, January 15, 2016

Five on Friday- surprise

This is the very first time I have participated in Amy's Five on Friday and I'm very happy to do so. My five pictures are five surprise pictures I have found on my camera recently. Pleasant surprises. I don't know who took all of them but I can guess.

 1. Puss in the bathroom sink. My guess would be that Grace took this picture. She is forever informing of cat antics and thinks all the mischief Puss gets up to is worth recording for posterity.

2. Bud on the Echinacea. I know Grace took this one because Bud belongs to her and just in case you can't tell, Bud is not a real bird but Schleich do make quite realistic models.

 3. Another picture courtesy of Grace. Torchy dressed to impress. It's fun and games a lot of the time here obviously.

4. Photo by Tim. Puss again, playing hide and seek in the lavender. She is a sweet cat with a lovely temperament. I need to remind myself of that when she releases her inner kitten in the wee hours of the morning and runs about the house.

5. Photo taken by Mal, my four year old nephew who thought my real camera was great. He's used to taking pictures with phones so the novelty of the camera was great. I think he did quite well. A nice memory of a day spent with some of my favourite people.

Thanks Amy for hosting.

Cool change

What a difference a day can make. Yesterday we had a high of 39.8 degrees C and currently it is 15degrees C with gusty winds and squally rain. Trust me, this drop in temperature is very welcome as is the rain.

It's lovely to not be hot and bothered even if it doesn't last too long. Tea drinking weather... yay! Actually tea is quite nice in hot weather too... yay!

Sue asked recently if I would share my tomato sauce recipe and of course I will. It was one of my hundreds of posts that had been 'un-published'. I just spent a few moments re-publishing so here it is. Easy Tomato Sauce my way. It's easy, just put everything in the pot and let it simmer.

Hope you are having a great day,

Thursday, January 14, 2016

2016 focus

Ok. I have always tried to run our household frugally. We squirrel away money in the bank and live below our means, always saving for something. More often than not I don't know what the something we are saving for is, maybe just a rainy day. This year however the focus of my frugal energies will be on our trip away later in the year. I want to have most everything paid for before we leave home. I'm working on it. It's fun trying to find places to stay that are nice and budget friendly ( I might change my mind about that).
By the creek

Everyone's frugal/ simple living style is different. For some it is living 'on the cheap' and all about the bottom dollar which is great but not my style. I don't measure everything by its monetary value so I won't always take the cheapest option. Having a big garden (which does cost a lot in time and energy) helps me keep the grocery bill down and is probably the healthiest way to eat which in turn has cost benefits. Our entertainment needs are fairly simple. On occasion we'll eat out or have a cuppa in a cafĂ© but usually we are happy to make a pot of tea at home, borrow books from the library and read, do some craft or even just sit by the creek for an hour or so and let the world pass by. A walk is really nice too. My expensive habit is letter-writing which as far as habits go isn't so bad and it makes me very happy and that outweighs the small cost of a stamp any day.


The focus for our farm this year is to just continue as we have been going this past year. We don't eat meat and we no longer sell any animals for meat. Actually I think we are at the point now where we won't be selling anymore animals at all. So I would say we are not really farming at all anymore. We just have our 'pets'. They all have names, they have the run of the paddocks and are the most ungrateful, pampered cattle, sheep, ducks and chickens around. Our vegetable and fruit growing though is ramped up though because that is what we do eat. The animals do have a purpose, they provide me with fertiliser for the garden and they are just a joy. We do still sell honey but as always that is just our excess, we aren't big time producers. I am happy with three hives and don't think more is better (Tim would always have more hives). If perchance we ever revert to eating meat, I think we will only eat homegrown but I can't see it happening. I like vegetarianism.

Craft-wise I want to focus on finishing projects that have been on my to-do list for a while. I don't want to buy more fabrics and supplies unless I really need to. I don't need to, I have enough. I am going to participate in a swap or two this year and already have one swap to package up and send. Swaps are fun as long as you don't overcommit.

In the kitchen I want to make sure waste is kept to a minimum and prepare most meals from scratch. I enjoy cooking but sometimes it does get boring being the one who always cooks and makes the decisions about what to eat. I'll make sure I delegate sometimes even though delegating is not something I am good at.

As I've said before I am de-cluttering too. So far it has been mostly little bits and pieces but it all adds up. And I hope that a clutter-free or at the least a less cluttered home looks better and is more peaceful in some way. It would be nice to make a dollar or two from some of our unwanted stuff but thus far I haven't found anything that I think anyone would pay for.

I like keeping fit so in 2016 I will continue with my exercise program. Workout dvds, yoga, jogging and bike riding. My flexibility needs improving so that is something to focus on this year.

My newest focus, is journaling. I have an art diary and another journal for writing and just being creative and I want to put some effort into those. It's fun and free.

Well, this post has rambled and I think I will stop for now or I could write all day.


Tuesday, January 12, 2016

It's hot and horrible

I have to have a quick grumble about the heat (not that there is any point), it got to me yesterday. I spent the morning at the travel agents which addled my brain  and then walked around town in the sun. I don't like hot weather. Ok, grumble over. It's not so sunny today which makes the heat more tolerable and I can bear my own company again.
veg patch

Garden has had some tlc now and it looks better already. Paths are mown and hopefully by the end of the day I can say the 'lawns' have been mown too. I even planted some seeds - spring onions, rocket, climbing princess beans and parsnip- from saved seeds. I like freebies, well almost freebies in this case. Just have to keep the water up to everything which during summer is the hardest part of gardening here. I love gardening so it's not a chore at all to spend time outside in my special space.

What else has been happening the past few days? Not much really. It's holiday mode here so we pretty much don't have a schedule to follow and our days are our own. Too hot for craft, too hot for baking. Too hot for tomato sauce making but I have a batch simmering on the stove regardless.

 I think I am still working my head and heart around not having Grace here too. But I have my trip booked in so I will see her in under six months. Hooray. I can't quite believe that I will be travelling so far from home and on a plane too.


Saturday, January 9, 2016

Friday Night with Friends

Well once again, I didn't get a lot of craft done during Friday Night with Friends. I am just terrible at staying up past 9pm and once dinner etc is all sorted that doesn't leave much time for actual crafting. I think next month I will make an early start so I have some real progress to show. I'm always in awe of the achievements of my fellow FNwF crafters. They are clever gals.

Well mostly I tidied up my messy yarn collection. It was a mish-mash of bits and pieces that people have given me. I am grateful for the gift of the yarn but I am being realistic and I know that most of it will just languish here so, the excess is bagged up ready for the charity shop or the local charity-blanket knitting group. Where I hope it will be put to good use. Two baskets of tangled and disorganised yarn are now neat and tidy and cut back to one basket. So that's more to put on the decluttering list too.

 I unearthed a bag of black, grey and white granny squares too. They are from a swap from a few years ago and I am unsure whether I even like them or not. I'll think about it. I suppose at the very least they could be joined up and donated to someone who might be in need of a warm blanket.

They don't look too bad all set out and maybe with some more grey and some borders. I'll see. I just really don't like having all of these items lurking in the cupboard, it is such a waste of resources and effort. I don't like waste and I'm feeling like all those WIPs that might never be completed are just that. Better to pass them on to someone else who will love them or at the very least use them.

So that is the extent of my crafting for Friday Night with Friends. If you want to see some real crafting then please visit some of the other ladies who took part last night. I'm a shirker this month.

Thanks Cheryll for hosting.


Friday, January 8, 2016

De-cluttering, crafting and so on.

It's Friday Night with Friends tonight. New Year's Day is obviously not the best time to gather together for crafting so this month we are all joining in on the second Friday of the month. Fun no matter which day. It's not too late to join in, just click over to Cheryll's blog and sign up. I'm not sure what I will do tonight. Perhaps something for Tracy's swap or even just some stitches on my long-term cross stitch project. I'm hoping my housemates join in too. Hope has already been making polymer clay creations today so who knows what she will create.
I de-cluttered quite a number of items today. All from the bathroom cupboard. Bottles and jars which needed to go. My girls are given these things and then never get around to using them and they do have a shelf life so out they have gone. 15 items added to the list.
I'm also getting serious about the trip we will be taking later in the year. The UK and Iceland are on the itinerary and I'd be happy to hear from anyone with suggestions for places to visit or stay. Or even places to avoid. I have my pinterest board which I am always adding to which really doesn't make decisions any easier. It all looks so lovely and I want to see it all. I don't think I will want to come home actually.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Rain... hooray!

Rain is very welcome here  at any time but especially the rain we have had this week. It has been dry and tanks were getting low , paddocks are thirsty still and well... I am a fan of misty, inclement weather. Today is is my kind of day, cool and wet and my beautiful sister is visiting later.

My kitchen garden is really looking rather dismal in this photo I took on Monday. Struggling is how I would describe it at the moment. A bit of neglect coupled with hot and dry conditions and that is the result. I have been giving it some TLC this week and I'm hoping it responds and repays me. I do love my time outdoors but in all honesty, before Grace left, she was wanting to spend all my time doing things with her and I was happy to do that. Very happy.

Actually, my garden repays me for my work whether it is a little or a lot. I gathered this lot and we had a lovely dinner plus extra vegetables for the next day. Plenty of tomatoes to pick still and strawberries (which to my palate are too sweet). Apples and plums are ready now too so we can meet our daily fruit and veg requirements from home as long as a lack of variety doesn't bother us.

On the to-do list today is more garden work, hanging out with my family, and who knows what else. I'll play it by ear. Some more de-cluttering if I get time too. I'm going to let go of at least 366 items this year( I hope) and I'm keeping a tally. 12 out of 366 so far, A stack of 9 books and some unwanted clothing items.


Sunday, January 3, 2016

Hello 2016

Already three days into the New Year so I am a bit late to say hello for 2016 but I've been away and I have been more than a little bit teary-eyed so that is my excuse. This year I will really keep my blog updated, I have to. My globe-trotting daughter can peek in here from time-to-time and see this side of what is happening at home.

I will tell you, I did cry at the airport. I thought I wouldn't, I hadn't been sooky at all until the afternoon she was leaving. It was all about the business of packing and organising which I have to say is a big task, so much red tape. Hope and I cried, Tim was stoic as always and Grace was surprisingly calm. She'd already done her weeping.

So, 2016, what is in store? I hope to have plenty of adventures and do things I haven't done before. Stick to my mantra of having an interesting day every day even if I have to search for something to make it interesting. I'm going to re-publish the posts which I have privatised because my friends want to read those. I'm going to be posting about my garden, home, cooking , animals, saving money, craft and life in general. So here goes.

After dropping Grace at the airport and a night of unsettled sleep, we decided a trip to The Grounds in Alexandria would be a nice way to start our 'gap year'. It's a really nice space and on a quiet day (if they actually have one) I would really love it. The gardens are great as were the pastries. Coffee was a little ordinary but I'll admit, I am more a tea drinker. Worth a visit.

Of course I'm still sorting out the settings and such on my camera and the colours are still looking washed out. It's on my list of things to sort. It is a long list.

What a great way to house an atm. I didn't use it though. Although I was having a frivolous morning indulging in the cafe culture, I still want to keep a tight rein on my purse strings this year. Tracking spending and just in general trying not to spend too much at all.

Now, we are home. Only one child and I can already hear a difference in the household. Gardens to work on, cleaning and tidying to do and plenty to keep me busy.

Happy New Year