Monday, February 29, 2016

This morning

Not all farm work is work. Take beekeeping for instance, it is work but really quite enjoyable. I'm not sure how I would feel about being a professional beekeeper with hundreds or thousands of hives to deal with but three is a nice sum. We use pine needles in our bee smoker and we needed to replenish our supply so a nice drive into the pine forest and 5 minutes of gathering and the job is done until next time. That's no work at all is it? But necessary nonetheless.

 I love this place. It is somewhere I know so well and has been a part of my life since I was very small. It changes all the time but remains the same as well. On the weekends I think it can be noisy and not as serene because  there are certain spots favoured by motorbike riders but during the work week it is absolutely lovely. The wind makes a special sound as it blows through the pines. It's eerie but I really like it. When it snows this is a truly magical place and when it is hot at home it is always just a little bit cooler here. I don't visit nearly enough and it is only a kilometre or two away from home.

Not only pine trees but the ferns are lovely too. A little on the dry side at the moment but a decent shower and they will be as lush as ever.

A bit of black berry picking too for us this morning. Lots of ripe and unripe berries on the bushes but we only picked enough for a batch of muffins. I'll have to pick some for jam another day.

And of course it's not all pristine and beautiful. Rubbish thrown out of cars all over the place. We picked up a bucketful and there was still plenty about. Why do people litter like this? I truly just do not understand it. Beer bottles mostly and in second place, empty bottles of sport's drinks. Makes me cross. 

Even with the litterbugs causing a blip, it was a really nice adventure.


Friday, February 26, 2016

Five on Friday

I'm writing my Five on Friday post on a very hot Friday afternoon. I'm so happy to link up with Amy and cruise around to all of the other participants especially those blogging about chilly weather in the northern hemisphere.
This week I'd like to share some pictures I took this week. It has been a hot and dry week at the end of a hot and dry summer and although I don't want to wish time away, I am ready for the hot weather to make way for the cooler seasons. It is unpleasant here and the town closest to us is going to go onto heavy water restrictions this week. In our house we are always on self-imposed water restrictions, we only have the rainwater in our tanks that we collect from our roof. It's precious stuff.
It is so much worse in places further west from us. So no complaining. Well not much.
The temperature on my veranda yesterday afternoon. My intention when I took this picture was to show Grace how lucky she is to be shivering away in frosty Suffolk, UK this week. This afternoon the car temperature display said it was 43degC and it felt every bit of that. Yes, Grace is glad.
Really these pictures don't show how brown and dry it is but I'll share them anyway. Everything is crunchy underfoot and unless you have irrigation, there is no way anything will sprout at the moment. Even bean seeds in my vegetable garden are struggling to poke their heads through the soil and they have enough water. Only just enough.

It is so very bright when it is hot like this. No clouds, just blue sky and sunshine.

Ok, this is a bad picture of a dried up dam. I drive past this dam every time I go to town so I see it dry up in a kind of time lapse fashion. It's only a shallow dam so it will fill quick enough when it does rain. Let's hope that will be any day now.

My fruit trees are sad and sorry. The citrus in particular are suffering. They have been watered but they are turning up their leaves and dropping fruit still. A good downpour is what they need. It's what everyone needs actually.

In the colder climates, seasonal affective disorder happens when it is dark and cold but I think it is just as real in the heat of summer here. It really does put a damper on your spirits. I haven't felt like doing much all week. Sandwiches for dinner, no baking and only a couple of letters leaving my desk and no sewing or craft whatsoever.

Good news is that our son is coming up for a visit tomorrow. He's a busy lad . Studying and working so we get to see him not nearly enough. I know I'm a big fan of snail mail but thank goodness for the power of the internet for keeping in touch.

Thanks for visiting. And thank you Amy for hosting.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Why I Blog?

I did just write a long-winded post all about this very topic but didn't press publish. I blog because I like to write, I like to read and most of all I like the connections I have made. Does help with remembering what was happening when too.

Bye for now,

PS. I saved the other words so I can send them to you if you really want to read them.

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Five on Friday

I ran out of Friday here in Australia (it's a few hours into Saturday) but it is still Friday afternoon in the UK and that is where Amy is so hey, Five on Friday (on Saturday) it is. I'm extra to be joining Amy and the other bloggers who are posting this week as it is a special first anniversary Five on Friday (there's a giveaway too if you are interested in those kinds of things).

My five this week are five new to me websites I've visited during the week.

This my favourite. The blog for the garden at Prieure d'Orsan. I looked them up after catching a short snippet of Monty Don's program about the spectacular garden there. Oh how I want to visit that garden (and restaurant) and moreover make use of some of their ideas in my own garden.

Not my favourite but a good way to get lost and go off on a reading odyssey, Quackwatch.

Ummm. I have tinnitus so I spent a couple of minutes here reading whilst listening to the ever-present buzz in my left ear.

Let's be Vegan. I used one of the recipes as inspiration for Thursday's dinner- a cauliflower stir fry with a sticky orange sauce. Yum! Not a bad place if you are interested in finding some different recipes to try.

And lastly, I visited the blog page of my penpal, Cathy.

Thank you Amy for hosting Five on Friday and for just being such a sweet person.

Bye for now,

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Send a Little Love Swap

Have you visited Tracy's blog, Mad About Bags? It is really lovely and she makes wonderful things. Very inspiring. I signed up for Tracy's Send a Little Love swap earlier in the year and now parcels have travelled where they have to go and arrived safely. Yay! The swap guidelines were- something red, something heart themed and something sweet but five things all up. I actually think I may have forgotten the red in my parcel. Sorry Pat, I guess the orange dishcloth will have to be a near approximation to red.

I was partnered with Pat and I am so glad to have made a new friend in Pat. We have had some lovely emails and her blog is a joy too. Pat must have read my blog thoroughly because she really did send a parcel which was just right.

I wonder sometimes if I show myself in a true sense here so maybe I do. Or maybe Pat is good at reading between the lines.

A lovely card and package. Funnily enough, I put a heart on the outside of Pat's parcel too.

 Something sweet, the chocolate. I will admit right here and now that the packet in the above picture is empty. But it's ok, I shared.

Look at that apron. It is so cute.

Some heart shaped buttons, very cute sewing charms and a Mini Minor car charm (so cute) and preserve labels. Just right for me. Thank you Pat.

On the apron is an embroidered panel. Pat says she stitched it last year but had no idea what to do with it and then I came along. I love cats and bees so it is just perfect. And the stitching is beautiful. I feel very special.

Oh and beyond my wildest dreams.  A puffin postcard. These little sweeties have pride of place on my pinboard right now. I can't thank you enough Pat for taking the time to get to know me and for the gift as well.

I don't know what it is like in anyone else's home but in mine, happy mail and swaps are something everyone likes to look at, open, share no matter who they are addressed to.

Thank you Pat for your tremendous and thoughtful gift and thank you Tracy for organising the swap.

Bye for now,

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Organics and such


I like the notion of shopping only at the organic market. Good for the body of course as long as you steer  clear of the chocolate aisle, the chip aisle and all of the other snack foods. Just because it is organic doesn't mean it is going to be good for you. Not good for the purse either.

A new organic market and café opened recently in town. I did go to the grand opening last week and it was BUSY that day which is good for the business. The hype has passed now and it was just the right level of busy for me yesterday. That is, not busy at all. A quiet café to  enjoy a really nice extra hot cappuccino in and then a leisurely shop afterwards. Before a visit to the naturopath.

I have been feeling fatigued of late so I thought maybe some natural kind of intervention might be best. I think I went to the quackiest quack in town. In hindsight I can see I didn't research enough to get the best experience. At least she said I am in excellent health according to her experienced fingers that can listen to all of my pulses while she chats away. I knew I was in for an interesting time when she complimented me on my bag and asked if I make them to sell. This almost as soon as I sat down. Perhaps the intention was to put me at ease but really I want my health professionals to be just that, not tell me random stories and definitely not be surprised by my husband being vegetarian. A male vegetarian, what a shock, really?. I'm not going back. Not even for the free of charge next visit. I don't think it is worth it.

I would like to say though that I have entertained and still do entertain the idea of studying a Bachelor of Health Science (just downloading the course guide now and emailing for information) so I am not opposed to complementary medicine and therapies. I really like the idea of it actually. Ultimately though I am a scientist and a sceptic so things have to add up and do good not harm. Yesterday's experience did not add up but no harm done either thankfully.

Anyway. I know I am fatigued and I will have my iron levels tested soon to check on that. In the interim, I will take care of myself and do the right things for a healthy body. Eat well, exercise and get enough sleep and do some more things just for fun. Starting with making my first block for the Splendid Sampler. That's something good to do when it is just too hot outside, sew. Letters to reply to too which is really nice and a great way to connect. Today is Wednesday so that is one of my two yoga days each week.


Sunday, February 14, 2016

Sunday, time to catch up

I've been flitting about here at home and out sometimes too and as a result, I've been slack on updating here. I really should update here so I can at least remember what I did from one week to the next. It's so easy for things to slip your mind.
Cards from Linda

This week I received a very sweet card from Linda. Two cards actually an art card with some Damflask ducks and a postcard with an historical print of the Post office at Low Bradfield. Cute and quaint and just altogether a lovely surprise in my letter box. I hope I can find just the right thing to send back to Linda. Thank you so very much Linda.

Prepping the smoker

 No Valentine's Day celebrations here. It isn't our thing for no reason in particular. Actually it might be because it wasn't much of a big day back when we were growing up. It's popular now though.

What we have done though is inspect one hive.

My pink hive

My hive. The pink one. Not enough capped honey to extract again just yet but it won't be long. Sometimes the bees can be a bit angry when you open the hives in particular when you are robbing them of honey which does stand to reason. Today however was really pleasant. A few bumps to the bee veil but nothing too aggressive. All is well. It was nice to get out of the bee suit too, it's a hot one out there. 35degreesC by 10am.

And for reasons unbeknownst to me, I felt like making pies today. Yes, in the heat. The feeling has passed thank goodness and we have three pies for whenever. Leek and mushroom pie, Lentil pie and a beef and vegetable pie. I didn't think I would cook with meat again but the one of us who is low in iron prefers the idea of eating meat to taking supplements (though he has to take those too). It is homegrown meat so I'm glad it is being eaten even if I won't have any.

Thanks for visiting.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Wilty and sowing for winter

wilted tomatillo plant

 We have been having the kind of hot sunny days that makes things wilt. Including me it would seem. I felt rather exhausted yesterday and I am a stubborn type so I just can't have that. Much better today even if the tomatillo plants don't agree. I'll use my mind over matter theory to keep me busy until either my energy returns or I succumb completely. I'm healthy, just tired.

Now that school is back and well and truly settled, the work day has more of a routine. I'm back to a gardening schedule to keep on top of things. And as long as I get the outside jobs done before the heat sets in all is good and the afternoons are mine.

This week I've been concentrating on mulching and I must remember to buy some more straw. And although it is hot and dry and really the last thing on my mind is lovely winter vegetables it is time to get a start on sowing seeds of broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts and the like. Hard to imagine really but I'll do that this week. Hopefully I can have some success with the sprouts this time, I never get a good crop off those. It is cold enough for them here but then it gets hot quickly and they just bolt.


The heat loving plants are having the best time in the garden. Okra which I grow but I have found I am not a fan of. I might grow it in the flower garden next year, to free up space but still have some just for interest.

Baby/ popcorn

 I planted these miniature corns/ popcorn only a few weeks ago and they are thriving. I've grown popcorn before but not this variety. It was a packet of free seeds from the local library and I'm happy with them thus far.

Tigerella tomato

Tomatoes are at their peak. My favourite this summer is the Tigerella. Well it was my favourite yesterday. A nice medium sized tomato and quite pretty.
Dragons are definitely heat lovers. I planted them in amongst the vegetables this year. I don't know if it helps in any companion planting way but it adds a pop of colour when it is sometimes lacking. Along with sweetpeas, snapdragons are up the top of my favourite flower list. They remind me of the 1970s and I liked the 1970s.
Well, there we go, my tea break is over. Almost. Just enough time to leave a few comments and then get back to the to-do list.

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Friday Sewing- catch up

First Friday of each month is Friday Night with Friends. Cheryll hosts a linkup for stitchers and crafters around the world to get together virtually for some fun. I am lucky it is a virtual meet up because I am  hopeless when it comes to staying up much past 8:30pm so I try to get an early start and still go to bed 'on time'. It usually means I don't get much done but all those little bits of sewing here and there one day add up to be a finished product and I enjoy the process just as much as the end result anyway.

 This month I decided to finally cut into the puffin fabric I received as a Christmas gift. I love puffins! I only had a fat quarter so I wasn't sure how to make the best use of it. A bag, a zipper pouch? I decided on a cover for my journal. I'll take it with me when I go over to Iceland and the UK . And yes, I am hoping to see real puffins when I'm over there.

And, I still have enough of the fabric left over for a small zippered pouch.

 Usually I make journal covers out of a print that has some sort of large feature I can pick out to quilt but this one, I just quilted around each little puffin. Now they are kind of puffy which I like.

As I went to bed on time and didn't start sewing early, I only got an hour or so in of cutting and stitching and procrastinating and chatting so I didn't finish my journal cover. Well how could I, I am undecided about which binding fabric to use. Won't take many minutes to finish though so that's good.
I'm really glad I joined in again this month. Sometimes you need that little bit of motivation to stop and sit and stitch just for fun. Thank you so much Cheryll. Now it's time to check out what all of the other Friends got up to on Friday night.


Friday, February 5, 2016

Five on Friday

Thank you to Amy for hosting Five on Friday.
This week my post is all about my sweet cat, Puss. She turns 9 today so a special post with pictures of her and not too many words. Of all of the cats that have owned me, she has the sweetest temperament and is the most loving and the most talkative. She's a sweetheart.
As a kitten
Helping with craft
Saying hello
Most likely telling me she is hungry.

Happy birthday Puss.

Bye for now

Five on Friday

A favourite picture of Puss.

Five on Friday thanks to the lovely Amy.

This week I want to talk about my cats. Five little random things about cats in my life.

Today is Puss' birthday and she is 9 years old. Just like with my children, I can't believe she is the age she is. Surely she was just a kitten yesterday. I talk to her and she answers though I have no clue what she is saying.

My first cat was named Mussy. I was five when my grandfather gave her to me. I remember holding her all the way home but that can't be true, it is a 500km journey. I think she might have been a stray kitten he found somewhere but I didn't care where she came from, I loved her. I do remember quite vividly that she died after being run over by our next door neighbour.

I didn't have a cat for 10 years before Puss because the death of my other cat, Sooty, was too upsetting. I'm glad we have Puss. I love her so very much.

Cats who have been a part of my life:
  • Mussy Muss
  • Socksy
  • Mittens
  • Toto
  • Fluffy
  • Penny
  • Sooty
  • Puss
I don't think there will be anymore.


Friday Night with Friends

Friday Night with Friends. It's on tonight and I'm joining in. I'll be stitching along here at home with Hope and also with my online friends. Lots of fun. I think we will have a fakeaway dinner tonight to  add to the atmosphere of a fun night with friends.

Thanks to Cheryll for organising the get together.

I'l be back later today for Five on Friday and tomorrow with what I got up to for Friday Night with Friends.

Monday, February 1, 2016

Frugal February

Random picture of the backyard.

February is a big spend month in my house. Car insurance, registration, school fees and council rates on top of the regular expenses. I have budgeted for these things but having them all occur in the one month makes me want to be extra careful spending-wise this month. I'm also saving vigorously for a holiday which gives me even more impetus. I can't think of a single way to bring in a few more bucks  so I just have to make the money I have work harder for me.

It's a good thing to look hard at where the money goes and find any leaks in the system. You know, those little things that can add up without you even realising. Cups of coffee, takeaways, magazines and probably lots of other little spends that are not coming to mind right now.

This month I'm:
  •  tracking my spending and making sure I don't squander a cent.
  • making budget conscious meals all month (sometimes I do splurge on ingredients)
  • taking my library books back on time to avoid fines (I am hopeless)
  • limiting expenses to necessities (except for my luxury item)
  • making best use of the garden produce
  • selling honey
  • selling beeswax
A little bit of pocket money for my stamps is my luxury this month and that expense to me is worth far more than the face value of the stamp.