Sunday, April 28, 2013


This week, pictured on the river with the man who loves them best. Their dad, PK; my partner and best friend; love of my life.

Stella: always reverts to happiness when mucking about with her dad

Ruby: Pinching PK's hat and sharing a laugh.

A portrait of my children, once a week, every week, in 2013."

Joining in with Jodi, at Che and Fidel

Thursday, April 25, 2013

three from one

I have been reading a few food-based blogs lately. Well, not necessarily food-based; more food-concerned, or just food-orientated. A lot of topics are covered and discussed; such as whole foods, seasonal foods, reducing waste, re-using and recycling; simplifying..
And I realised.. I am a great pretender. 
In some regards. That is; I try to cook food I enjoy. I try and use stuff from my garden.  I feed leftovers to my guinea pigs (not as efficient as the chooks we used to have, but ok), I support local business and growers by buying from produce shops and local fruit and veg shops. I talk to the owners about where their produce comes from. I buy free range chicken and eggs and I try and buy organic where affordable and possible.
But I am not very good at making basics.
Such as stock. I have never made my own stock. This is slightly embarrassing to admit. I have made jam, but it was a long time ago. I used to make bread when we were on Bruny, but I haven't done so since I got back. I make my own pizza bases, but I should be making my own pasta, too.
(I do, and have made my own pesto frequently.) 
As I read Kate, and Rohan, amongst others, I am inspired by how hard these people work, and how important it is that they do what they do. I want to be able to inspire my children to live simple, meaningful, educated, independent and happy lives of creation and effort-based reward.
Where to start?
Well, back to the stock.
Tonight's meal was a simple roast chicken (free range). I stuffed it with tarragon from the garden, Australian garlic and lemon. It got roasted Stephanie Alexander style. We ate it with a potato gratin, homemade (not my own potatoes, but I'm planting some soon) and a green salad.
The leftover chicken meat was shredded and put aside for chicken pies. 
Instead of throwing the bones in the bin, I've put them aside for tomorrow. I'm going to make my first ever chicken stock. And then I'm going to use it as a base for pumpkin soup. The pumpkin is a from my friend, who has a farm at Imbil. My eldest is not keen on pumpkin, but she loves pumpkin soup. Go figure..
The leftover salad went into the guinea pig box.
So, there was nothing to go in the rubbish bin tonight. Amazing.
And I will have my three meals from one chook.

Tarragon. I don't think it's the French variety specified by Stephanie, but it's aromatic, flavoursome and so pretty when in flower. In fact, it's the last plant standing in this veggie bed I just turned over. I just couldn't bear to dig it out. It survived the wild weird weather of this summer just gone, and I think it deserves to stay.

There are all kinds of small changes I can make. We can consume less. We can consume better. We can enjoy growing and using and sharing the bounty from our garden. We can understand where our waste goes, and what happens to it, and what effect this has on our environment.
We all have to start somewhere.

planting the seeds...

A day at home. Another magnificent autumn day.
It was lovely weather to be outside, so we all headed into the garden. While PK chopped and mulched, the girls and I got on with our garden project. With the beds finished and resting for two weeks, it's time for us to try out our seeds.
The carrot seeds are on hold. They need to be sown directly into the beds. Both girls have opted for carrots and I am a bit concerned about how they'll go. In a no-dig bed, the layers may be a little fresh and firm for good results. Carrots ideally need soft well-turned soil so they can develop without splitting. With this in mind we've opted for a variety that grows in little balls. Interesting. Will keep you posted.
We decided to put the capsicum seeds into jiffy pots. This way we can transplant them without having to disturb the delicate root structure. 
The spinach, rocket, celery and tomato seeds have gone into coir seed raising mix. Well grow these in little greenhouses and then hopefully thin and transplant in 2-3 weeks.
I guess a lot of this project is about experimentation. We've got all manner of soil bases and techniques. It will be good to see which works best. I'm also hoping our warm subtropical climate will support these particular seeds. Ideally we should be looking at more winter crops, such as beans, beets and potatoes. But the girls just weren't interested, even after explaining about seasons. I'm planning to grow these winter crops in my beds. If they work, maybe the girls will have a better understanding of seasonality...

The girls wrote labels and soaked jiffy pots. But the most fun was had soaking and squishing the coir block. I hadn't used this stuff before but it turned out to be super easy. It's light, holds moisture well, and hopefully will give our delicate seeds a good start.
After we had finished, I lay on the grass and looked at the sky...


Sunday, April 21, 2013

this week, I finished...

Since my coffee buddies left town, I have been determined to make good of my spare time..
This week I have been on the sewing machine..
A dress for my youngest. Old thrifted sheet, recycled, pink edged..

A teddy for a new baby..(just the scarf to sew up now)

A skirt for my eldest..

The veggie beds were finished late this afternoon,

I finished my book, which was borrowed from the library after I found some good reviews posted on other blogs. It was a beautiful book. Whimsical, lyrical, with a lovely sense of place. I was absorbed...

I even found time to complete one of my online courses.
Not too shabby for Week One.
We had a beautiful weekend. The weather was sublime. On Saturday we beached, went bike riding, played tennis, shared dinner and laughter with my parents. On Sunday my parents took the kids out to the river. More swims, ice cream, more laughter.
It has been lovely to see my parens settle in so well. Even nicer is the relationship I see developing between them and my girls. More on that later!
I have a few goals for next week...
(List to follow in another post.)

Saturday, April 20, 2013


Stella: "tween-ager"

Ruby: happy to be beaching it in her cool hat and new dress

"A portrait of my children, once a week, every week, in 2013."

Joining in with Jodi, at Che and Fidel

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

gardening, continued..

On the way home today we scooped up a bagful of dry leaves that are collecting on the school oval. They form the third layer in our no-dig veggie bed.
With the cool weather starting to settle in, the leaves were plentiful.
(There was a bit of leaf throwing and giggling before the task was complete.)

Then we were home to finish the first layer; soaked newspaper, ten layers..

... followed by a trip to our lovely friend to pick up a sack of grass clippings (second layer).
The dry leaves went thickly on top of the clippings...

... and were watered in with diluted molasses. Chook pellets went down next, then a good helping of lucerne hay. Watered in with more molasses.
At which point we'd all had enough.
We went to do some guinea pig wrangling; they were free-ranging in the backyard. We wanted to put the little critters away in case the predicted storm came through. Ten minutes later they were safely tucked up in hay with some fresh food.

Tomorrow, we'll finish the layers. Manure and lucerne, alternating, followed by compost and mulch on top. Tomorrow...or Friday.. or Saturday...
But I'm inspired to finish so we can get to the really good part. Planting out our seeds which arrived yesterday. I've got mini-greenhouses, jiffy pots and some ideas for newspaper pots.
Should be fun!

Keep you posted...

Sunday, April 14, 2013

street art

 This morning the little girls got up and decided to set up a street stall. They would sell beautiful drawings made on kitchen paper. They took their time and created lovely pictures.. imaginary creatures, rainbow colours, portraits..
They took their table and chairs outside to wait for the much anticipated rush of customers...

 And, blow me down, a couple came along and bought three drawings. 
Thank you, lovely people, for making their day

Saturday, April 13, 2013


Stella: my new coffee buddy and confidante.

Ruby: all heart. Loves family. All of us, without exception.

"A portrait of my children, once a week, every week, in 2013."

Joining in with Jodi, here

This week I love the rainbow colours of this little girl's PJ's. Do they make them in an adult size, I wonder?
And this one.. wicked smiles

And I just love Elsie and Joan's photos, here. Gorgeous.

(That's my top three for this week)


It's still raining. A lot. Not good news for my sister and her family who made the trek up from the city to spend the last weekend of the school holidays at the beach.
But I quite like the rain. Still. It's a perfect excuse to sleep in, then indulge in a cooked breakfast. Today I fried up some Tasmanian bacon with poached eggs, rocket and feta. We used to eat this bacon during our months on Bruny, almost three years ago. We would drop the girls at school and daycare, then make the trek up to town via the Red Velvet Lounge in Cygnet, stopping in for a quiet and delicious breakfast before the hours of grocery shopping ahead.
So finding this bacon in my local organic store made me just a touch nostalgic. It was worth the splurge, even though it has a lot more food miles on it up here in Queensland.
After breakfast, the girls and I pushed ahead with their garden diaries. Seeds were chosen and ordered from Green Harvest. Together we researched and documented the steps involved for our no-dig beds.
A trip to the library, some homemade pumpkin soup and some down-time behind us, we headed out to catch up with family. In spite of the rain we meandered around the square, where the girls danced and posed for photos. Back for a glass of wine, I watched the boys play footy in the rain.
The girls swam in the pool in their undies. I hadn't packed their togs. No matter.
I've kidnapped my niece for a final sleepover before school resumes. Tonight, with her curled up on the couch with me and my girls, it was just so lovely to see her so comfortable here.

I'm blessed and lucky.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

starting over

 One friend has left town and now the other is set to take flight for five long weeks..
I have felt a bit low. It seems that everybody is on the move, new adventures and experiences ahead of them. It's taken a while, but self pity over now, I have decided this is a good time to action myself and get into some tasks I set myself quite some time ago.  At the beginning of summer, to be precise.
The vegie garden was abandoned after a long hot dry spell, followed by weeks of intense raining and flooding. Surprisingly, quite a few of the hardier plants battled through.
Today, I was inspired to put together the small beds I had promised the girls. The weather is cooler and it just feels fantastic to be outdoors again.
They're keeping journals on the progress of their own little patches. We got off to a flying start today.
The plan is to build the beds using recycled materials. As documented in an earlier post, I've used some old hardwood from an outdoor table that a friend made quite a few years back. The corners are held together using some old pieces of lattice driven into the ground at the corners. It's rustic and kinda cute. We'll then use the no-dig method to build up a healthy organic soil. I have some seeds put away from the Diggers Club, and I will probably get some more from Green Harvest. The girls have painstakingly copied out lists of autumn and winter plantings that should grow in our subtropical climate. With the help of a great app from Gardening Australia called the Vegie Guide, we will track and record the progress of our seeds and seedlings, and hopefully have a harvest to photograph and enjoy at the end.
While the girls were busy wetting and layering newspaper, I turned over the soil in my beds. It was wonderful to find that even thought the soil was compacted and a bit root-bound, it looked great and was full of earthworms. It will be fine, I think, and I am looking forward to getting back in there.
Wish me luck.