Monday, December 19, 2011

Merry Christmas 2011

I can relax now. My Christmas preparations are finished so I can stop whinging about it all now and enjoy. I don’t have to go near the shops this week and only have to go into town for my final Tai Chi class for the year and probably pick up milk, though now I think about it we are going into town on Saturday but we are just playing squash and not going near the shops as it would be crazy.

We had our Tai Chi lunch on Thursday and while not everyone turned up and it was a bit hot, we had a good time. How could you not enjoy lunch, especially with friends? It is a nice spot at the boat club and the ocean makes a lovely view and of course deciding which boat we would live on and what we would do on it.

I have made some mango sauce last week and so we have enough sauces and such to last us a while. Just need to label them now before I forget :)

The garden is a bit wild again and so I am getting that organised as a lot of things won’t grow over the wet season but am planting what will. So I have put in more gigantic cucumber, snake beans, rocket and okra, though I am not sure if this will grow but I am giving it a go as I have space. We have plans to improve the garden next year, it will be larger, easier to manage and produce more, it’s a theory anyway.

I went to get sweet potato from the garden yesterday and they are all gone, bandicoots have tunnelled all under the garden and eaten them, I found one half eaten. Obviously I need a better plan for this patch.

I planted out some paw paws and hope they survive the transplant, we actually have a few popping up in strange places.

This week I have recovered the benches on the front veranda. The old covers have faded and had who knows what spilt on them, so time to be redone. I did this 18months to nearly two years ago but being outside does take its toll. I think they look very bright and fresh.

My partner in crime and life had some money from his birthday and bought two coffee plants which have put in pots on the veranda. They will hang out with the lime, lemon and orange trees which are already there. I like having pots on the veranda and will continue looking for edible trees that are suitable for pots to go across the front.

We have had some much needed rain this week, of course not enough but enough to make the grass instantly shoot up. It has also been nice to not have to water the garden every day, you can never water as well as some rain.

Here is my partner in crime and life doing what he does every day come rain, hail or shine, spending time with the chooks. For wild chooks, there are a few who have more front than Myers (it is called greed), though there are some who dart in and out to get some bread and others who won’t come close.

So wishing everyone an amazing and safe Christmas (in case I don’t post again this week), wishing everyone the spirit of Christmas and make sure you pace yourself with your eating and drinking (you will feel so much better for it) and drink lots of water :P

Merry Christmas

Friday, December 9, 2011

Tomato Sauce

Well, the Christmas thing is in full swing, can’t avoid it till about February when the “After Christmas” sales are over. Actually, I suppose you could but you would have to drop out of society for a while and for most of us we have to live in the world despite wanting to be a hermit.

So onward we go into Christmas. Our number one and only son has managed to keep himself occupied so far, but it has only been a week. Only 7 weeks left. His school report was OK when it arrived yesterday in the mail, though of course his best subjects were the ones that actually interest him, computers, art and robotics/tech (woodwork), boy subjects.

I haven’t grown many tomatoes this year just cherry tomatoes so the other day I bought a box of tomatoes for $5 for making sauce. It is the yummiest tomato sauce ever and it is difficult to go back to the bland store bought sauce. I have made four batches all up, requiring 2kg for each batch and there is some left over for eating.

We use the sauce not just for on meat but on homemade pizza, and savoury scrolls and in any cooking at all really, we can go through quite a lot. I have also given some away to my friends which I love to be able to do.

It really is the best season here as all the fruit is on. There are mangoes and lychees everywhere and well, don’t’ really need more than mangoes and lychees, what more can I say.


I read the news every morning to catch up with what is going on here in Australia and around the world and this morning was the news that yet another factory will close down. It is a wheel manufacturing plant in Adelaide for Harley Davidson and 212 people will lose their jobs in 18months. There have been other closures recently as well, so some more people will be having a more serious Christmas.

However, there is this article at Survival Mom titled 15 Ways to Celebrate Good Times in Hard Times which reminds us that it isn’t only about gift giving but experiences and rituals. Our number one and only son has always loved birthday cakes (can’t not have one) and the Christmas decorations (which he seems to want to put up earlier and earlier every year).

Art Finds Kate always has lovely art work and this is a very sweet piece. My own artist friend Kate gave me a sketch book and pencils for Christmas and I will be making good use of them these holidays as well as doing some paintings (not sure if I will be game to post pictures of my work as I am not that good though I do enjoy it). I need to practice as I have said I would come to their art group next year, not sure I am game for that either so might hide in the corner. One of my mottos is to always try the things you fear as it is usually not that bad and you will probably have a good time plus it saves lost opportunities. Just took notice of the title of Art Finds Kate's post :)

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Shopping Bags And Fair Wages

We are certainly getting near the end of the year now, I can see it just there. Last week I had the first Christmas lunch for the season with some amazing women, they are artists and crafters and writers and have incredible imagination, talent, compassion and love, and they all have a wonderful laugh. I am so thankful they are in my life :)

Our number one and only son finishes school this week and next year is in Year 10, can't believe it, he is still a skinny thing, though is now getting taller and starting to broaden in the shoulders. So eight weeks off school and we have to have a plan. There will be painting and drawing, building and mowing and he will also once a week go off to work with my partner in crime and life.

This silly season always gets me thinking about a lot of different things and the one I am thinking about at the moment is sewing. I have made these shopping bags, which are reversable depending on what colour you are feeling on the day,(because I have an unnatural obsession with shopping bags but not shopping) and I love them and plan to make a few more.

However, with everyone so obsessed with getting a bargain when shopping, it makes me think about the real value of things. Now these bags that I have made I would think they would be worth about $1000. Yes that is right. Do you know why? The time and effort put in to making these seemingly simple bags, for me anyway as a non sewer, was a fair bit, despite the materials only being about $15 for one and the other about $2, as it is made from op shop sheets (like my clothes).

I also expect these bags to last for at least 200 years for the time, effort, broken needle, bent pins and the physiological trauma. Yet we expect to buy things, new, for $5 and $10 with no thought for the person who made it, and if it breaks tomorrow well, they are only cheap so we will go buy another. Is there an eight year old child out there making our goods for just enough money to survive on and don’t’ tell me they should be thankful for a job that only pays them just enough to survive on and not being able to go to school, instead of having no job, because that is not good enough.

Parents who barely have enough money to feed their kids, and they are probably still hungry anyway, or can just put a roof over their heads, don’t tell me they should be thankful for only JUST being able to do these things. Have you seen the documentaries that show the conditions that some of these people live in? I know it isn’t always like this but it is like this a lot.

So when I make these very simple things (and get frustrated as it takes me about twenty times the amount of time I think it should) I think of people around the world making products to earn just enough to buy food for that day just so we can pay a pittance for something because we don’t want to spend a few dollars more so that people can be paid a fair wage and so that children can be children and get an education.

So while you are out spending all that money for presents for family and friends, just think about who has made the product and how do you think they will spend Christmas. If they only earn enough to survive day to day, I don’t’ think they will be having Christmas, and yet we really didn’t want to pay more than $5 for that top or pair of shorts or $2 for that toy.

We should pay a fair price for our products, we should value our things more and we should not take more than our share. So while out shopping with the crazy people, while pushing past people and small children in your rush to buy that thing that is on special and you only have to pay $12 for it rather than say $20, just stop and think. Has someone been paid a fair wage for the work they put in to this thing you are about to buy? Because I can tell you, that if you had to make this thing yourself, you would demand a hell of a lot more than just enough to eat for the day.

Take a look at these articles if you don't believe me and think about some ethical gifts this Christmas, or even just making sure you know about the product you are buying. The amount of articles are endless and I dare you not to cry.

Look here
Workers exploited in Melbourne sweat shops
Living in a garbage tip
Nestle 'to act over child labour in cocoa industry'
Look at this.
Child sweatshop shame threatens Gap's ethical image
Nike Shoes and Child Labor in Pakistan
Sweat shops in Australia

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Christmas Card Basket, Fisherman Pants and Shopping Bags

Talk about time flying. Where does it go, I need to get moving on Christmas, have my first Christmas lunch this week and need to make some cards to go with the small presents I have made, oh, and finish the presents.

I need to see if I have any Christmas cards, I don't send out many at all and the list gets shorter each year. I only send to people that we don't speak to very often and they are people who we are often only in touch with at Christmas time, otherwise I think it is a waste of resources and time. Christmas cards only get thrown out after Christmas anyway and are not given a second thought, like a lot of gifts really, put away in the cupboard and forgotten. We really live in a throw away society.

So, here is a link to instructions to use up all those Christmas cards we will get. I have made one of these before and really like it, however I will only make them for people who will appreciate the effort put in it.

So while I have been making some small handmade gifts, I have also been doing some other sewing. I have been making myself fisherman pants and skirts, a couple of which can be worn in public and a couple of which can only be worn around the property.

Here is one of the fisherman pant I made, I love them, I only wear comfortable clothing, no point in wearing anything less.

I have made them out of bed sheets and doona covers that I bought from op shops. Material is sooooo expensive and so this is my solution, and I get some unique patterned clothing. There is also plenty left over to make some shopping bags, I just made a pattern from those green bags we all have, and now I will have some unique shopping bags too.

I had originally made a pair of fisherman pants out of this lovely material I had bought and it cost me about $40, it has skeletons on it and is a dark blue and I love them but not the price. Also I am scared I will stuff it up and so I now I can get a pair of pants, a skirt and a shopping bag for about $10, depending on how much I pay and how big the material is, but you get the idea.

So, today, I had best finish weeding the garden and sewing up the shopping bag which I have half done, after a cuppa tea I think though :)

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Barramundi and Eels

We have finally put some Barramundi fingerlings in the dam. We have tilapia in there at the moment and as they are a pest fish we need to get rid of them, especially as our dam overflows into a creek.

So we went off to the fish farm, a place a bit out of the way, went a bit further than we should down the road. Lots of shacks and keep out signs and cars that have not moved for a very long time, the indication being that the bush is reclaiming them. We decided that we had gone too far and needed to turn around and go back. Found the place we needed to be, no signs just rather large gates.

So we went and paid our $220 for two hundred 50mm barra, from a place with a long driveway and more than a few dogs. He said just come down the driveway, you know how people say you can’t miss it, (yeah right) well there was a shack not far in so we were still unsure but we just kept driving and got there to the right place.

So when we got home we placed the bag in to the water in the dam so the temperature could adjust and then we released them, not that they seemed to want to go but they did eventually.

The unfortunate thing is that a day and a half later I was walking around the edges of the dam and in the shallows in the gully I saw a massive eel. Oops. Just what we don’t’ want so we are now desperately trying to catch all the eels so they don’t’ ea all our barra. And they are ugly, sorry, but they are, ugly and slimy. And we now really hope we haven't blown our money.

So far we have caught two eels, a fair size too and hope to get them all out, we only want barra in there so they can grow and then we can eat them. Oh, and we are going to eat the eels, they are in the freezer now and we just have to do some research on cooking them as we haven’t cooked eel before.


Here is an article called The Case Against Buying Christmas Presents, I actually have this bookmarked in my favourites and go to it from time to time. It is a good read with good points, so check it out.

On the Simple Savings forum there is a thread that has come back about Banning Plastic. We try not to use plastic for lots of things but we fail miserably, though we seem to be better than some people I know, so I am now back on the wagon to ban more plastic from the house. Here is a link to a blog that has some tips and alternatives to using plastic.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Cyclone Season

We are zooming through the year and are now in full Christmas mode, well, the retailers are anyway, I am still in denial and resisting. I already have to plan, and let others know, when things are finishing up for the year and starting back next year and I haven’t decided what is for dinner tonight.

I think today must be the official start of the cyclone season as they have been discussing it on the radio and reminding people to get ready. So I guess we had better work on our list. They say (as they do every year) that we will get a few cyclones and a couple crossing the coast, hope not but it happens.

We are quite prepared and always are every year, however there is always more to be done, and really, when you are without electricity you want to be as comfortable as you can and make sure you have enough chocolate biscuits.

Seriously though, we actually have enough food and water and I am always stockpiling more and I am not one of the many, many people who every time a cyclone is coming rushes to the stupidmarket to stock up on baked beans and cartons of coke, I am serious, I have seen it, it is crazy.

Everyone knows at the beginning of every season that we could a cyclone or two and they go on and on about it on the radio and also the TV and people are still unprepared. Honestly, if you don’t have at least a few days worth of food and water (minimum) and a small camp cooker (only about $15 at just about anywhere and about $5 for about four canisters to go with the cooker) you are stupid. I don’t normally go around calling people stupid, it is actually a pretty horrible word, but you are stupid if you aren’t ready.

Here is our little camp cooker which you put a butane canister in, so cheap.

We have about four ways to cook, lots of food to cook and lots of other food that doesn’t need cooking. We have a generator, the silence that comes with no electricity is deafening, so we can have lights and fans and the water pump going. We have a couple of radios and rechargeable batteries, we have torches and lamps and tarps. We have fuel drums for the generator, ropes and tape, dog food and chook food. However there is always more you can do to prepare.

I never feel like we have completed our preps and so this year we are going to get more fuel drums, star pickets, rope and tarps. We did get tarps last year but want at least one more good one and we got a star picket puller outer thingy (very handy) but we need to replace our star picket dolly as we broke it putting up our fence.

Here is just some of the basics we have on hand. Don't forget the coffee for all you coffee addicts out there, no point in only buying a small jar, it is not like they aren't going to drink it.

Don't forget the Billy and pan, can cook nearly anything with these two things.

We don’t need any food but I will stock up on some more snack food and easy to make food like Mac N Cheese. Not actually a fan of these, and we don’t eat them under normal circumstances (except when they are about to run out of date and our number one and only son gets to eat them for afternoon tea) however they are easy to make up and you can add other things into them to make them a bit healthier. And when you are getting ready for a cyclone to hit you don’t have time or the inclination to cook a full on meal, so these are fast and easy and filling.

As you can see, the container needs fixing, camping gear around the place, boxes, bikes, kyaks, but this is our shelter during a cyclone and we want it to be comfortable.

What I also need to do is check out the container with all our gear and go through it and check that everything is where I think it is and maybe do some rearranging to improve things. Things have been moved around out there through the year and some things not put back where they should, don’t want to be doing this at the last minute.

This was the best thing that happened to me for my 40th birthday. A good friend gave me this tool box with BBQ gear in it, including dish washing liquid and a tea towel. It has everything needed in it and you just pick up the tool box knowing it is all kitted out.

So the things that I want to buy are on the list, if we don’t get them it will be OK. It all costs money and what we do have has been gotten over time, however everyone should have the basics and not have to panic at the last minute as always seems to happen. We live here, the wet season comes around every year, we all know about cyclones, and they talk about it in the media to make sure we all remember, there are no excuses. It still amazes me that people ignore the warnings.

One last thing I just thought of to have on hand is some cash. If the power goes out there are no ATMs so no money. I remember after Cyclone Yasi earlier this year and a girl on the news only had $5 and no way to get her money out of the bank and no food, all I could think was what was she thinking? We all knew that the cyclone was coming and she didn’t’ get ready even then, I didn’t feel sorry for her, I just thought she was stupid. That sounds harsh even to me, but we have to help ourselves as much as we can and use some sense.

So it is out there now, we all know what our seasons do, every year there is a wet season, cyclone season, a winter with snow storms, whatever it is wherever you are. You know it happens every year, you know there is a chance you will be without power or won’t be able to get out of the house for a few days, so get ready people.

Here is the BOM site that tells you about cyclones.

This BOM site tells you how to get prepared for the cyclone season.

This is an article from our ABC site tellig us to get ready for the season, just in case someone doesn't believe me.

And a link from the ABC article to the Queensland Government about cyclone preparation.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Finally,We Have Some Rain

IT IS RAINING, YAAAAY. We were starting to think about what to do about our water situation. Didn’t want to buy water, so we increased our water saving to extreme water saving and we checked out the old bore hole which is in the middle of the property.

Here is the old bore, the chooks like hanging out here sometimes :)

Turns out that water is very sweet. My partner in crime and life dropped a rope down to see how deep it was and turns out it is quite deep (can't remember how deep), then he brought up some water in a tin and WOW, very nice. So we are going to get the water tested (just in case) and put a pump on it and then we can use it for anything including pumping into the tanks for the house. My partner in crime and life is also looking for a windmill to put on it, which would be pretty cool :D

It really makes us wonder though, why another bore was put in with a pump and all the taps around the property connected to that, and the water is awful, to put it mildly. It smells bad, tastes bad but is potable, it is fine for the gardens and the outdoor shower but that is it, and yet there was a perfectly good bore already here, the mind boggles.

This is last week

This is this morning

With all this rain our dam has gone from a puddle back to a dam. Most of the water has come from runoff from the road and hill and it just so happens that there is a sort of gully that runs from the road down to our gully into our dam. If it wasn’t there, there wouldn’t be so much water and we would also have to wait for the dams above ours to overflow.

The chooks are very bedraggled and have a “not happy Jan” look about them as they are used to the very fine weather where they can go where they want and do what they want. Their pen is also a bit of a mess and we have been working to improve that and need to put more roofing on as there is now so many of them that they need to be able to come out of the house and into the pen.

The Lime

The Lemon

The gardens are very happy and I have more corn to put in and sweet chilli and eggplants. Though I really need more garden space and so have to expand. I have also bought a lemon and a lime tree to put in pots for the front veranda, always wanted plants out there and if you are going to bother it may as well be something productive. I also love the smell of citrus flowers, I think it is the prettiest smell of any flower, and to have them on the veranda means I will be able to smell them anytime without having to walk to the orchard. These trees are also supposed to be quite productive. Now I will be searching for elephants.


Honestly, I wish people would stop putting up yummy recipes on their blogs as I just have to make them and then eat them (of course I have to sacrifice myself to see it they are any good). Here is the latest one I am going to try from Domesblissity, it is a Caramel Apple Crumble Slice, sounds terrible doesn’t it ;P

At the Simple, Green, frugal Co-op is a post about Handmade Manly gifts that I am going to check out a bit closer as this is always a bit of a problem. I can make girly gifts as the world of craft seems to revolve around girly gifts but manly ones are a bit harder, so I think we can use all the help we can get.

This is the second article this morning I have read about population growth, urban density, the housing problem, lack of infrastructure and that sort of stuff.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Getting Ready For Christmas

School is back and we are going full throttle into the fourth and final term of the year. The silly season is upon us and the Christmas decorations have been out for a while now, I think Christmas would be a very nice time but for the commercialism and expectation of lots of money spent.

We only buy gifts for the very young on each side of the family, and even then I personally don’t do the buying giving the job over to the grandparents. The reason for this we live interstate and it would cost a small fortune to send through the post, so we hand over some money with vague instructions for gifts. If I had to do it personally, I am really not sure it would get done as I hate Christmas shopping, especially when everyone has everything and nothing is left over for special occasions.

I have started on some handmade gifts for friends, and these are the gifts I enjoy the most as I enjoy making them. This year I am crocheting some dishcloths and sewing a shopping bag, I think, I always make chocolate balls for my Tai Chi classes and I am thinking of some other stuff too, though I may run out of steam.

The Dam is getting quite low, this area has a lot of water in it during the wet season.

We still haven’t had any rain and our water saving skills are really coming in handy, at least we know how to get by and still be clean (always a bonus, to be clean and not smell). We are putting the hose through the window and filling the washing machine with bore water, filling buckets with bore water or saved rinse water from the machine to use to flush the toilet and having navy showers (you know, turn on the water and get wet, turn off the water and soap up, turn on the water and rinse off, done). We are really looking forward to the wet season.

The gardens are going along OK and are growing, though the watering I do is never as good as a good shower of rain. I really want to expand some of the gardens, widen them actually, and build my banana circle near the gully, however I will wait till it starts to rain, not much point in doing it now.

I have some good looking loofahs growing, I have left these ones to grow large to save the seeds and use for cleaning. The small ones, when I get more, will be used in cooking in things like curries, they aren’t very nice steamed.

Our chicks are growing fast and running and jumping and doing the things that chicks do. The big chicks hang out by themselves as they are at the bottom of the ladder and get picked on a bit by the others (life is hard in the flock) and the golf ball chicks are now bigger than a golf ball but the term has stuck.

Best get back to the full time job of running after the chooks, growing food and saving water while trying to stay cool and not get sunburnt, in our, currently, dry heat.


I am going to make these biscuits today, how can I not. The title of the post over at The Glass Half Empty caught my eye straight up “The Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookie” and how could I not look. So of course, now I have seen the post, how can I not make them? I will sacrifice myself and be a guinea pig to see if they are good, however, I am pretty sure they are, how could they not be, they have chocolate chips in them.

I haven’t been over to “The Greening of Gavin” for a while, not because I don’t want to it is just life is busy and I have a lot of blogs and sites in my favourites it is hard to keep up with them all. However it is time to catch up with what Gavin has been doing, check out his blog, it is always interesting.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Walls and Benches

The school holidays are just about over for us, today is the last day. They have been reasonably productive for us, as in we have gotten a few things done. We rarely go away during the holidays due to work, the inflated price of everything and the crowds, would rather have a weekend away at another time.

So, we have gotten in the electrician to finally hook up our number one and only son’s room with electricity and he will be back to finish the job soon. There will be plenty of power points, two ceiling fans and two overhead lights, and while he has had power out there by means of an extension cord, there will now no longer be cords running everywhere. Good thing to get done before the wet season begins.

So while the electrical cords have been run through the room, we have had to put up the internal walls before the rest can be done. Actually, I didn’t do it, but my partner in crime and life and our number one and only son did. Now all that has to be done is get the electrician back to finish up, we can then paint the walls and it is done (thank goodness).

The other thing they have done is weld up some bench frames. My partner in crime and life brought home two heavy bench tops from work that were going to be thrown away, but they would be perfect benches in our work container. Can never have too much shelving or bench space.

So, they went and bought some square steel stuff (I am sure there is a special name for it but it won’t save the rainforests if I know it or not so therefore it is not important) and made a plan.

Our number one and only son did some fantastic welding and there you have it, two very useful benches. We gave the front part of the container a bit of a cleanup, put some of the gardening stuff into the bore shed with some of the other gardening stuff, and we have some very useable space in the container.

The other thing that I finally got done was the irrigation through two of the garden beds that I have had to hand water all the time. It is so dry at the moment that it has been difficult and having some irrigation through them makes it that much easier. Though, of course it would be better if it just rained :D


Something we haven’t heard of for a long while is having a hole in the ozone layer, I had completely forgotten about them. There have been other big news things we have been concentrating on for a while but I guess some things don’t go away no matter how much you ignore them.

Here is a link to a site that I am going to check out, it is called Go Self Sufficient, it is a site from the UK and it looks like some interesting articles.

I read an article in my ACF magazine about this woman who is trying to live plastic free and I have just found her blog. I am sure we can all find some inspiration here.

Friday, September 30, 2011

The Self Sufficient Life, A Dream?

With all the news about the economy and wild weather events even the non crazy people are talking about self sufficiency. The last few years more people are talking about it and doing something about it, even on a small level.

Our new batch of chicks

There are news articles about how people are starting backyard gardens with a few chickens, and community gardens are starting to pop up around the place especially in big cities.

We have always wanted to be self sufficient, since we were first married. With the idea of building a mud brick cottage, a large (and of course very efficient and prolific) garden and the healthiest and juiciest fruit trees. We have always had a garden of some sort even just a few herbs and tomatoes and in a few places only a fruit tree or two as we moved around with the military, and our first home that we bought only had a very large mango tree and not really any room for more. The property we dream of has to be large, like a thousand acres, in the middle of nowhere, with permanent water supply, no neighbours, and good soil (not much really).

Welding up some new bench frames

However, we have always done a lot of reading, we have books that we bought twenty years ago that we still use and of course now we have the internet for information and forums to link up with other like minded people even if we can’t find them in real life. I have also done various crafts and a few courses and my partner in crime and life is also very handy and has done various things too. We are also trying to teach our number one and only son, got to practice for the life.

Our books shelves have lots of books on gardening, herbal remedies, self sufficiency, cooking out of the garden, survival in hard times, building stuff, medical and of course craft so I can make our own clothes (cough cough, in my dreams).

A smoky sunset

So finally after all this time of making plans we are on five acres with clay soil, not really that far from town, a seasonal creek, still on the grid and we can see the neighbours. We still dream about that other place though, of course I am older and a little tired, it would have to be a bit established and I still want my laptop with an internet connection. Don’t need a phone or TV, I can live without those but I love the internet and watching movies. I want it all, the simple life combined with modern technology and all the creature comforts of course, don’t we all want that?

The reality of self sufficiency is it is harder than you want to think, and not relying on anyone else is a dream. There is no way I can make my own clothes, especially without an electric sewing machine and not even really then. We need fuel and power to run the water pump for the rain water tanks and the bore pump, I sure there is another way but I am still looking into it.

A lovely paw paw from the garden, great for breakfast :)

My garden isn’t as large as I would like and I have to buy my soil to make raised beds due to the clay. We eat out of it but it is really only supplementing what we buy. The fruit trees are young and while they may get a few fruit, are a few years off full on production and they are in clay soil so we are always mulching and feeding them.

Pete and the hens free ranging as nature intended

The chickens are actually what I imagined. As they are free ranging, they are not eating as much store bought grain and we have now more than doubled our flock size with all the chicks. Another six to twelve months and we will be getting eggs out of them, of course they are all hens and no roosters that we have to get rid of, also another dream. They are also good entertainment value, though going bush with my cup of tea to find them isn’t something I want to do very often.

We are still working towards that dream, there will need to be some sacrifices as the dream doesn’t actually exist, but it doesn’t mean we will give it up, nor does it mean we won’t be happy with what we have. However, we will always be striving to improve where we are, as we do love it here, but we can also have goals and dreams (like I can dream of travelling the world) and we should have them, and still love our life as it is.

Friday, September 23, 2011

I REALLY Want It To Rain

It is trying hard to rain. It was hearing some sprinkling on the roof that got me out of bed this morning. Only yesterday I told my partner in crime and life that we should put some bore water into the rain water tanks as they are getting so low.

I actually don’t want to put bore water in the tanks, though a lot of people do. We have started using bore water for the washing machine as we still have a water guzzling top loader, next year we will have a front loader which will use less than half the amount of water, it will make a huge difference. Though for the time being, putting the hose through the bathroom/laundry window and filling the machine will have to do.

We have started having two minute showers instead of five minute showers and of course we do all the other water saving things without a thought as that is just what we do all the time.

It has just been so dry, the grass is crispy and you can hear it crunching under your feet. We are seeing a lot of wallabies around as they come looking for feed, I always wave at them, and they look they want to wave back as they sit up and look at me, but don’t want to encourage the crazy woman :D

Our second lot of baby chicks have started hatching out in the last couple of days and we have been told it won’t be long before we are totally out of control with chooks everywhere. Hopefully there won’t be any more hens going broody, we have had enough of not many eggs and with the three chicks from the first batch and now (so far) three from this batch, we have just doubled our flock size.

Well, I had best go put some fuel in the bore pump and put the hose through the bathroom window and fill the washing machine as we always seem to have washing to do. Also, I really want to encourage it to rain and a good way is to hang washing out, lots of it.


In case you didn’t know, an old satellite is about to come crashing back down to earth. I have been reading articles for a few weeks about this and they now think they know when and where it is going to come down.

Once again an interesting post and some good ideas from over at Organised Castle about reusing things you have around before you recycle. I love the old school table that has been decorated, and the shoe box that is used to store stationary. I do this one too (I keep all shoe boxes, from the few shoes we buy, and I think it drives my partner in crime and life crazy, so maybe that is a little why I do it) and I use old gift wrapping paper to decorate them (yes, I keep all wrapping paper too, and all old envelopes become shopping lists and to write notes to each other on).

Grams Survival Kitchen has a post about how she is going to cook recipes (and eat of course) from a Little House on the Prairie cook book. I used to watch this show growing up and so will watch this with interest.

Monday, September 19, 2011

School Holidays

We are now into the school holidays here, and I have no plan. Luckily our number one and only son can occupy himself, until he runs out of ideas and then tends to sit in front of the Xbox or computer, so far so good. He will be coming into town when I do my Tai Chi classes and he can go to the library and help me with any shopping that needs doing. We have plans to help a friend get a homemade swing set from her parents, and also have a sewing day at her house where the kids can then swim in her pool if it is warm enough. We are also going to do some painting, as in art, and I promised to get him a large canvas to paint on, I am going to paint our chooks (on canvas, not on the actual bird).

I finished my hot water bottle and am very happy with it, not sure if I have mentioned this before or not.

I also made myself a little cap/beanie/hat. It is only light and is good for cool evenings or mornings.

We haven’t been getting many eggs from our lazy chooks, actually, we have been lucky to get one a day. However things seem to be picking up and we have gotten a few more the last few days and we found four eggs in a nest in the bush, so that is where some of the eggs had gone.

We managed to get a photo of the SIXTEEN eggs that two of our hens are sitting, crazy chooks. The two hens are Blackie and Dirty, and my partner in crime and life hopes none of any hatched chicks imprint on Dirty as they will end up delinquents and Dirty will probably forget they are there.

We are letting the chooks free range for a fair bit of the day, early morning when it is cool, lock them back up when it is too hot for them, and then back out again in the afternoon when it has cooled a little.

Mondays are my big housework day and I also want to do some cooking today as we are pretty much out of snacks. So had best get some breakfast and then get on with it.


My partner in crime and life pointed me to this good article “Wiggling out of agreement, one policy at a time” regarding our politics here in Australia, should definitely check it out.

There is going to be a lot of this going on now “Siemens pulls out of nuclear industry”.

I have come across this you-tube video in a few places so it is obviously doing the rounds, it is about a solar water bottle, you must watch it. It is amazing the difference some things make in people’s lives. Here is a link for it through The Apartment Prepper’s Blog, so you can also check out this blog.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

A Growing Garden

My garden seems to finally be on the way with it nearly all being refreshed and replanted except for a small bit. I got some horse manure from a friend who has brumbies and hopefully the garden will kick along.

The corn is quite high and very healthy and we would love to plant more but we are running out of space. I really don’t think the garden is big enough. There is also sweet potato growing amongst the corn, leftovers from when I actually allowed sweet potato to grow there, hopefully they are compatible.

There are cherry tomatoes popping up EVERYWHERE. So there will be no shortage there, though I did plant a grosse lisse tomato plant just to get a couple of large tomatoes and it is very healthy. I actually discovered a decent sized tomato underneath all the growth. I also planted some basil around it too as companion plants.

One whole square is now dedicated to Ceylon spinach and it has room to grow on its own and is a great addition to the garden.

I have planted the zucchini seedlings out and planted some more seeds. We also put in winged beans, also in a patch of their own, so hopefully they will grow better this time. And in the small section next to the winged beans my partner in crime and life planted Egyptian spinach seeds which will probably go better than when I tried, just because I wasn’t’ the one that planted them (he also is able to grow chillies while I can’t, don’t’ know why).

The loofas are going well with the little bit of warm weather we are getting, and two of them now have baby loofas on them. The chokos are also now starting to pick up with two doing better than the other two.

I also have snake beans (which I must not touch as I always seem to break off bits) and the cucumbers are also starting to grow well. The green things like bok choy, pak choy, lettuce and rocket are, as always a huge success, I love that they are quick growing and I can start to pick them fairly young.

I have a couple of potatoes finally popping up, some already there that won’t be long before they can be picked, and a few more sprouting that can be planted soon. I always check the potatoes I buy for any that are sprouting and save them for the garden; I always buy local potatoes that come from up the road.

The sweet potato patch is starting to regrow, though not as quickly as I would have hoped because of the bandicoots, but I think it is under control. I have one more patch to dig up, though don’t know how much is left in there, also because of the bandicoots, but I am sure they have left us some, and then I can also refresh and replant that one too.

Well, best go finish crocheting my first hot water bottle cover so I can get on with the others and then maybe some dishcloths.


More bad news on the economic front in Europe, Alarm sweeps eurozone as crisis deepens, don’t know how much the media hypes this up but we still need to take notice.

In case you hadn’t noticed I have put up a list of links to the recipes that I have put on my blog. Sometimes I go looking for a recipe, can’t find it and know I have put it up on my blog, so thought I would make it easy and put the list there. It probably won’t stay in that spot so when I have time will rearrange, but I do like know it is there.

At Vintage Foodie is a recipe for a chocolate caramel slice. I think I have made this one before and it is yummo, evil, but yum, so I think we might make it on the school holidays and just keep it for then, or my waistline will re-expand, is that a word? Well, I can say it so it must be.

Here is a crochet pattern for a vintage sweater. I love these sorts of patterns, I don’t think I will make any but I still like them and you never know I might decide to make it. I even found a vintage pattern for a hot water bottle cover, who knew?

Friday, September 9, 2011

Ginger Beer

Another week has zoomed by. Not long till Christmas now, I have plans for Christmas and just need to manage my time better so I can get organised.

I have been making ginger beer the last couple of weeks and I had forgotten how easy it is to do. We used to make quite a few years ago, bottled into glass and had a few explosions and ginger beer going everywhere. Now however, I have plastic bottles and it is so much easier, our number one and only son just loves it, so I am going to have four boxes going around so there is always some there ready to drink.

I don't know where this recipe came from but the ones I have looked at on the internet are much the same.


The Plant

In a sealed container place 8 sultanas, juice of two lemons, and teaspoon of lemon pulp, 4 teaspoons sugar, 2 teaspoons ground ginger, and 2 cups cold water. Leave for 2-3 days then feed daily with 2 teaspoons of ginger beer and 4 teaspoons sugar for one week.

The Mix

Pour 4 litres boiling water into 4 cups sugar, stir until dissolved, and add juice of four lemons. Strain the plant/lemon into ginger beer mix with fine muslin and squeeze cloth dry. Add 7 litres of cold water and bottle. Leave for 2 weeks before using

To keep the plant alive halve the sediment and add two cups of cold water. Feed again for one week.


Three sultanas can be added at the bottling stage, when the sultanas float ginger beer is ready to drink. Use of plastic soft drink bottles will avoid the problem of bottles exploding.

We tried ours after one week and it wasn’t very fizzy, and of course just to test it out had a bottle a day after that to test the readiness. The batch got a little fizzier each day, so I think 2 weeks is a good time to wait before drinking, though being the first batch we couldn’t wait, the flavour was great though.

We actually bought empty plastic bottles because we don’t buy soft drink, we have a soda stream for when we want some soda water or our number one and only son wants a soft drink on the weekend. It was about $15 for a box of 15 750ml bottles which are of course reusable and you can buy replacement lids when needed.

My partner in crime and life is now wondering what else there is we can make ourselves. Of course the list is endless and interesting. We currently brew our own beer, from a kit of course, but it is way cheaper than buying cartons. Say you buy a carton for approx $40, it varies of course, well we pay about $20 for three cartons plus some time and effort but not a lot.

The cost of the ginger beer is not a lot, say 50c per lemon or free if you grow your own, some ginger maybe a couple of dollars, some sugar also a couple of dollars, and some time and effort. I am going to say (because I can’t be bothered to cost it properly) about $5 for 15 bottles of ginger beer. I am not including the cost of the bottles as they are reusable and you could get them for free if you asked friends to save their empty soft drink bottles for you.

So the whole ginger beer thing is a success and so easy, makes me wonder why it took me so long to get back into it, there is barely no time involved and very little cost. So I will be continuing to make it and we will also be looking for more things we can make ourselves, it is very satisfying and nice to just know we can do it.


I read the news on the internet every morning, even when I don’t have a lot of time I have a quick zoom through just to get a gist of what is going on in the world that day. On goes the computer first thing and a quick look at a few sites to see what is happening here in Australia and in the rest of the world (I always think of the ripple effect, what is happening overseas could very well affect us here).

And so, here is one bit of news that caught my eye this morning, regarding chooks not really being free to roam despite claims by producers. Well, we all knew this was happening but hoping is wasn’t, well I was anyway, so here is the link.

Here are some lovely quilts made by Jan at Outside the Lines. This is something I would like to try my hand at one day because I think they are beautiful as well as useful, I just need to get some more focus so I am not distracted and don’t finish. So check out someone who has patience, and obviously skill, and see what can be done, I love them.

I so need a wood pile like this one in the photos on Red Woman blog. I will work on it for next year. In the mean time I am also going to check out some of the interesting looking blogs she follows, listed on the side of her blog.