Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Quick update …..

Okay, first of all I wish everyone a very happy and safe festive season.

Tomorrow we leave for South Australia as my younger daughter is to be married on Saturday. I live here in Tasmania and it has been hard dealing with the fact that I haven’t been able to help her with the wedding arrangements these last few months. Luckily she has a wonderful older sister who has been married before and she has been there for her. There has been trouble with dresses (all sorted now), flowers (they were going to charge $120 delivery) but big sister is now going to collect them, photography (the charges are only for one site and that is the garden setting – charging more to do a “pretend” cutting of the cake), weather (it’s changed from sunny and 32 degrees to rain and 25 – eek) and the piece de resistance – the bridegroom was carted off to hospital at 4am this morning with terrible pains in his belly!

This is the groom who had a serious bike accident earlier this year and lost his spleen. He is now on medication for the rest of his life and has been taking it carefully. He lay in “emergency” for five hours before he was seen by a doctor. All I know so far is that they are waiting for the results of a cat scan. I’ll try and let you know what happens next……

But on a happier note, Thelma the chook is fine. Last week I noticed that there wasn’t the reticence to come outside as it has been for a while and after bolting outside she “took up the position” quite willingly with Ron the rooster. Sure enough, I had a lovely brown egg to join Eddie’s white ones. However, Thelma has decided not to wait for Eddie to finish on the nest and has chosen another spot on the floor of the chook shed – good for her! They’re probably going to sulk until new year when we return!

We leave tomorrow at midday and will drive up to Devonport to catch the ferry. That should take us about five hours in the car. We have a cabin on the boat so we should sleep – a little -  we arrive in Melbourne around 6am, phew. Then we have the drive from Melbourne to Adelaide which we will break up as I can’t sit for that long in a car. We’ll probably stop at Bordertown for the night. If everything goes according to plan we’ll be in Adelaide by Friday lunch. A quick trip to the wonderful market there and then down to my friend Sally’s house.

The wedding is on the Saturday and M’s birthday is the next day, Sunday, hmmmmm. We plan to stay for Christmas, the first one with my family for a number of years, and then on the 27th December we will leave for the Great Ocean Road trip back to Melbourne. We will catch the boat on the 30th December, it’s a day trip, and will arrive back in good old Tassie at 6pm that night. We will then drive to Launceston to visit M’s parents and finish the drive home the following day!

Needless to say the New Year’s Eve party is NOT at our house!

So, that’s the plan.  I hope it works out. I just have to worry about “shaving legs, stockings or not, new shoes and not dropping the ring in the grass when I hand it over to the groom. My daughter wanted me to be part of the ceremony so that’s my job.

Best wishes to all and I’ll see you next year.




Sunday, November 13, 2011

Assistance Required!

It’s a chook problem.

I have a rooster called Ron, and two hens. Eddie is the white leghorn and Thelma is a brown Hampshire. Thelma is the smallest of the trio.

Now Thelma hasn’t laid any legs eggs for over a month now and I haven’t been bothered as I thought she must be on a moult. She has been laying fairly consistently throughout the year. Eddie has kept going so I still haven’t had to buy any eggs.

But recently I’ve noticed that when I let them out of the chook shed during the day to free range, Thelma has held back and only followed the other two out if I’ve gone in to change water/food/clean etc.

Now we all know what roosters are like and Ron is no exception. He holds himself in check in the chook shed but once he’s outside any hen is fair game for his amorous advances. (I think it looks more like rape but we won’t go there!) Eddie accepts his advances, begrudgingly I think, but Thelma acts as if he’s Jack the ripper and runs around the garden with wings flapping and squawking all the way. She tries to hide in such a position that it would be impossible for Ron to have his wicked way with her. And she looks distressed, panting and beak open.

So, could she be hurt and Ron is exacerbating the problem; how can I tell if she is egg-bound; or is she just playing hard to get? I felt so sorry for her today. Ron chased her and chased her and then Eddie started picking on her too. Talk about hen pecked!

So I welcome any suggestions, please. For Thelma.              p1010005




Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Showing Off!


Here it is on November 9th 2011 – my first tomato in the grow house this year.

This version is called Wild Currant and is smaller than cherry tomatoes (well mine are) but so incredibly sweet the kids eat them like lollies.

I left two of these plants in the grow house over winter, just chopped them right back and lo and behold they grew up again and flowered. It was all an experiment to see what I could do under cover in Tasmania.


Here is the first capsicum too. Very small but hopeful of bigger things to come.

And the Tahitian Limes are coming on strong too. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

So I’m feeling quite hopeful for this year……


Monday, November 7, 2011


or hoophouse overload!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA         Nice one M – parked right in front of the verandah.


Oh look – there’s another two on the other side!

So altogether Now


Yep – that’s three hoophouses in the front garden, sigh…..

I suppose they counterbalance the boat on the other side of the house………


On a good note, two of the hoophouses have already been sold and will probably be going after our local agricultural show this coming Saturday.

Anyone for a boat – not quite finished??????


Saturday, October 22, 2011

Hoophouse in the garden


This is M’s latest project. He aims to take one to the local Huon Show in November to generate sales. Currently this is in our front garden and already we have two families interested in buying one.

Today, I filled it with all my tomato seedlings with a scattering of lettuces with a hope to sell some. They’ll be called “Lucky Dip Heritage Tomatoes” and we’ll see what happens. Some of them already have flowers on them so that’s encouraging.

It has a lock up screen door so I don’t have to keep moving the tomatoes inside. It will fit on the back of a truck and wheels can be attached to move it around the garden. This one obviously is covered in plastic, but one enquiry was about making it into a chook house, so different coverings will be used for that. But we could also use shade cloth if it’s just protection from the possums etc. that is required.

Possibilities are endless.

I’ll let you know.


Thursday, October 20, 2011

In a bit of a spin

I asked a friend to visit last week with her Mum. They’re Scottish and full of fun.

My friend brought her spinning wheel with her – and one for me to borrow. A neighbour has given me about three large bags of alpaca fleeces and two large bags of woollen fleeces as she has a shed full of the stuff.

It’s always fascinated me, spinning I mean, and now after a couple of hours of learning I think I might keep going. My friend can spin fleece into the finest of thread and yet it’s so strong. My efforts are well, um, kind of rustic and textured. Yes, textured is a good way to describe it, with lots of lumps and bumps etc.

You have to start by sorting the fleece. You don’t want the scraggy bits from around the bum area. That’s good for compost if you can persuade the local birds to leave it on the pile and not steal it for their nests! Then, prior to spinning, you have to comb it. I think that there is a different word to describe that action but I can’t remember it.

Once it’s all soft and combed it’s time to spin. My friend started me with hands only and she span the wheel with her hand. I’m right-handed so I held the new piece of fleece in my left hand, along with the thread on the wheel and using an up and down motion with the right hand along the spinning thread, proceeded to join both together. I tried that for a couple of hours and then we had a break for lunch. After lunch it was time to add the feet to the picture. I used to watch my mother with her old treadle sewing machine so I had a faint idea what I was supposed to do. Ahem, I’ve come to the realisation that it’s pretty tricky coordinating hands and feet and producing wool at the same time. A bit like Tai Chi really.


But it was fun and again the sense of “I made that” (never mind the lumps and bumps) was extremely pleasurable. So I aim to continue my practising, whenever I have the time, and hopefully produce enough wool to make something. I’ve been told that a “beanie” is usually the first item to knit after spinning – we’ll see.

I still don’t understand how Sleeping Beauty” pricked her finger on a spinning wheel and fell asleep for one hundred years until her handsome prince happened to pop in. There aren’t any needles involved with spinning wheels. Perhaps it really was a fairy story…….


Monday, October 10, 2011

‘Occupy Wall Street’ Issues First Official Declaration


  • Since the occupation of Wall Street first began on September 17th, the mainstream media has criticized the general assembly for its lack of a cohesive list of complaints or demands.

Not to be rushed by expectations of corporations and the elite they serve, the Occupy Wall Street action took its time fulfilling this demand.

On Thursday night, Occupy Wall Street participants voted on and approved the first official “Declaration of the Occupation of New York City.”

It it reprinted in its entirety below.

As we gather together in solidarity to express a feeling of mass injustice, we must not lose sight of what brought us together. We write so that all people who feel wronged by the corporate forces of the world can know that we are your allies.

As one people, united, we acknowledge the reality: that the future of the human race requires the cooperation of its members; that our system must protect our rights, and upon corruption of that system, it is up to the individuals to protect their own rights, and those of their neighbors; that a democratic government derives its just power from the people, but corporations do not seek consent to extract wealth from the people and the Earth; and that no true democracy is attainable when the process is determined by economic power. We come to you at a time when corporations, which place profit over people, self-interest over justice, and oppression over equality, run our governments. We have peaceably assembled here, as is our right, to let these facts be known.

They have taken our houses through an illegal foreclosure process, despite not having the original mortgage.

They have taken bailouts from taxpayers with impunity, and continue to give Executives exorbitant bonuses.

They have perpetuated inequality and discrimination in the workplace based on age, the color of one’s skin, sex, gender identity and sexual orientation.

They have poisoned the food supply through negligence, and undermined the farming system through monopolization.

They have profited off of the torture, confinement, and cruel treatment of countless nonhuman animals, and actively hide these practices.

They have continuously sought to strip employees of the right to negotiate for better pay and safer working conditions.

They have held students hostage with tens of thousands of dollars of debt on education, which is itself a human right.

They have consistently outsourced labor and used that outsourcing as leverage to cut workers’ healthcare and pay.

They have influenced the courts to achieve the same rights as people, with none of the culpability or responsibility.

They have spent millions of dollars on legal teams that look for ways to get them out of contracts in regards to health insurance.

They have sold our privacy as a commodity.

They have used the military and police force to prevent freedom of the press.

They have deliberately declined to recall faulty products endangering lives in pursuit of profit.

They determine economic policy, despite the catastrophic failures their policies have produced and continue to produce.

They have donated large sums of money to politicians supposed to be regulating them.

They continue to block alternate forms of energy to keep us dependent on oil.

They continue to block generic forms of medicine that could save people’s lives in order to protect investments that have already turned a substantive profit.

They have purposely covered up oil spills, accidents, faulty bookkeeping, and inactive ingredients in pursuit of profit.

They purposefully keep people misinformed and fearful through their control of the media.

They have accepted private contracts to murder prisoners even when presented with serious doubts about their guilt.

They have perpetuated colonialism at home and abroad.

They have participated in the torture and murder of innocent civilians overseas.

They continue to create weapons of mass destruction in order to receive government contracts.*

To the people of the world,

We, the New York City General Assembly occupying Wall Street in Liberty Square, urge you to assert your power.

Exercise your right to peaceably assemble; occupy public space; create a process to address the problems we face, and generate solutions accessible to everyone.

To all communities that take action and form groups in the spirit of direct democracy, we offer support, documentation, and all of the resources at our disposal.

Join us and make your voices heard!

*These grievances are not all-inclusive.


Thursday, October 6, 2011

Almost Done!

boat There’s just a little bit of tweaking (technical term!) to finish off. It took six men to get the plastic covering over the framework yesterday and I must say I think that both M and the customer breathed a huge sigh of relief once it was done. The weather was crucial and although it looks pretty cloudy the sun did come out and the air was warm with no wind. The wind was the critical factor as the roll of plastic was long and heavy.

But it went up without a hitch, and all involved went home with a feeling of immense satisfaction, particularly M. You can just see the outline of the boat inside. The hoop house (M has decided to call it that) will be able to grow fruit trees never mind vegetables inside because it’s so tall and, if kept empty, an entertainment area during Tasmania’s long cool winters. Another idea of M’s!

You may remember from a previous post that this is what it was like under construction:-


boat growhouse And now it’s nearly done.

He’s already started the next project, in fact it’s nearly finished. It’s the prototype of one of his ideas and will be sitting in our front yard as advertising, sigh. There goes the pretty flowers, again.


ps. Just a note that I’m having problems with blogger. I can publish comments but when I try to reply, blogger doesn’t recognise me. I could be working on the problem for a while…….

My apologies.

Friday, September 30, 2011

I Love Volunteers


(click on photo to enlarge)


These are all heritage tomatoes from last year. I’ve already potted up over one hundred of them and I have an idea to sell them on to neighbours (if I can). Mind you, I’ll have to call them “Lucky Dip” tomatoes as, naturally, I have no idea which heritage tomatoes they are as I had about four different types last year in the same tank.

In the top photo on the right hand side are two “Gardeners Delight” tomato plants that I left in the tank over winter in the grow house – and they’re already flowering.

So – tomatoes for Christmas ……


Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Boathouse to grow house

boat growhouse This is the latest project that M has been working on.

A local guy had come around to see him after hearing about the construction of grow houses that M has completed for various neighbours.

But he wanted a grow house with a difference. He is currently restoring a boat in his back yard, (something I can relate to!) but the weather is holding him up. So he asked if a grow house could be constructed around the boat so he could work in relative warmth and out of the wind and the rain. The plastic is yet to be stretched out over the framework as a few warm sunny days are required to make it more pliable; there are tarps over the top of the boat at the moment to try and keep it as dry as possible.

Now I can’t recall the measurements but I do know it’s the biggest grow house around here! I have asked how the boat will be removed from the grow house at the end of the project, but after a fair bit of mumbling I was told that it would all be okay….. And then it would be a real grow hose with real vegetables.

This fellow, the owner of the boat and presumably one of the largest grow houses in the district, lives in a caravan on his block. He hasn’t even finished building his shed yet, which he later plans to live in whilst he builds his house.

Now considering this guy is around 65 years old and complaining of chest pains and vertigo, you have to admire his optimism.

I will post photographs of the finished product as they come.


Sunday, September 18, 2011

Normal service will be resumed as soon as possible

I’ve been struggling lately. Maybe it’s SAD syndrome as the weather has been pretty crap – up until today which is glorious. But I have been driving M crazy as he hates my moods. He’s sympathetic at first but then becomes impatient and gets bad-tempered. I woke at 5am this morning and I think I’ve sorted out what’s playing on my mind – I just don’t know how to fix it – yet.

But today I’ve had a cry and that usually means that I’ve “peaked” and the long haul out of the black pit has begun. It was a natural cry as today M had to slaughter Lulu the chook.

Before we went away she had leg mites and I had treated her with Vaseline on her legs and that seemed to do the trick. But when we returned after a couple of weeks both her legs were badly affected and before long she became lame and stopped laying.

Lulu has always been the rebellious one, content with her own company and wandering off on her own (except when Ron the rooster picked her out for his special attention) and gave me beautiful dark brown eggs. But when she became lame it was heart-breaking watching her flap about in the chook house to get to the food and water. When she stopped trying to come out with the others – well, that decided me. It was time to go.

M watched “how to” films on the internet and today was the day. So he removed her from the chook shed and took her over to the willow tree and did the deed. The body is now cleaned and sitting in the fridge ready to be made into a beautiful stock. Ron looked for her, but once he realised that I was cleaning out the chook shed he became much more interested in that and the clean straw.

I’ll miss Lulu and her rebellious streak but I’m sure that when I replace her with another two chooks, their personalities will make up for the loss.

 p1010002   Lulu is the one with the tail up at the front of the picture.



Saturday, August 27, 2011

Back to reality

port douglas This was one of the gorgeous views at Port Douglas in North Queensland that we enjoyed. I can’t say that the actual town was impressive – it seems to be approaching the “Gold Coast” theme of buy, buy, buy. And most of it was cheap crap!

We had arrived in Cairns on the 13th August at 11.40pm and our two good friends were at the airport to meet us – and drive us to their home in El Arish (2 hour drive). A place I had never heard of before as they had always talked about Mission Beach. But their beautiful home and garden is a fifteen minute drive from the beach. Kathy is the gardener and obviously loves it. She even knows the botanical names of all her plants. She had lost six truckloads of garden to cyclone Yasi but you would never know. The climate in winter up there is very beneficial to restore gardens. As she said “you could put a stick in the ground and it would grow”. Sigh. It’s a very tropical garden and there are coconut trees, lychees and the biggest passion fruit I have ever seen. Her mango tree is flowering and she has a few herbs scattered around, like lemongrass. Her pride and joy though, are her orchids and I can see why.

orchid                                    orchid2

The orange and yellow flowers trail gracefully over her pergola and can be seen from most areas of the house. I had a long walk around her garden and was wistfully commenting on the beautiful colours and lusciousness of it all when Kathy said that she was jealous of my garden. Now there’s not a whole lot of colour in winter in a Tasmanian garden (well not in mine anyway), but Kathy loves geraniums, pelargonium's and all the fruit and vegetables that we can grow. I suppose I forgot about all the blossom on the trees right now and the daffodils poking through and the little pansies scattered about the garden!

But what that walk around Kathy’s garden did do was to inspire me to get back out into mine and start planting seeds, ready for spring and summer. We were lucky that the weather was gentle for the first few days of our return so it didn’t seem like a chore. I am happy to report that I have since planted half a water tank of mixed radishes; a large pot of Drunken Woman lettuces; eggplants; carrots; peas; rock melon; tigerella tomatoes; moneymaker tomatoes; black russians; napoli paste tomatoes; spinach; rainbow chard and chillies. I’ve left them in the grow house and that way I will remember to water them regularly as I’m already picking silver beet and broccoli from inside.

The weather is cooler today and I’ve ignored housework for as long as I could but now is the time to drag out the old vacuum and attack the dust bunnies lying around. So I’ll get back to the holiday report another day.

Have a great weekend.


Saturday, July 30, 2011

Wild weather, birthdays and a very sore finger

Last week was my birthday – not a significant one, that’s next year. But it was the day that the weather in Tassie went wild with a capital W. We had about 70 mls of rain and the wind and chill factor had me huddled inside. I was expecting some friends for the afternoon and then later another couple were coming with a wonderful Asian curry for my (our) dinner. As the day continued to deteriorate (weather-wise) I wondered if my friends with the dinner would be able to drive down their bush track, even in the 4WD and contacted them about the safety of the idea. They just laughed at me and said of course they’ll be there. Naturally, the afternoon crowd, who all lived locally, were still around when dinner arrived so it was considerably later when we actually sat down to eat. But it was worth the wait, yum. I had a lovely birthday and it really made me appreciate what good friends I have made since I arrived in Tassie nine years ago. But, I had started drinking champagne at 1.30pm with the first group of friends. I ensured that we had nibbles on the table throughout the afternoon and ensured that I did partake. I then had a good sized serve of the curry etc. but when the whiskey bottle came out later I should have declined. But I didn’t. And I didn’t go to bed until 3.30am. Now my friends stayed over and the next morning I can’t say that we were up and out of bed bright and early. I also can’t say that we looked the picture of perfect health. In fact, after a late lunch of bacon and eggs a certain birthday girl took herself back to bed for a couple of hours. But was it worth it? Darn right it was! There was so much laughter, pretty gifts and good friendship. M apologised for not having a gift for me but said that he had thought about it and he was trying to source a cold climate banana plant for me to grow in the grow house. (He’s since decided to build a separate grow house for tropical fruits since I told him how tall bananas can grow!)

**** Now all of the above was written around the second weekend in June. It’s now July 30th – where have I been and what have I been doing?

The week after my birthday we went to a funeral. A friend in town had contracted cancer and died ten weeks after diagnosis. She was 51 years old and had a loving husband and three beautiful daughters. All of those amazing young women spoke at the funeral and the church was packed. Everyone from our small town had travelled up to Hobart (well it seemed like it). I am never very good at funerals, I cry easily. I managed to hold it together until the final song when the coffin was removed from the church. “It’s time to say goodbye” tipped me over the edge and I don’t think I was the only one. We decided against the cemetery as we thought maybe it was going to be just for the family and made our way home with the friends we had brought along. Unfortunately for the town the friend who died was the wife of the local baker and German coffee shop owner and it hasn’t been open since Easter and now is up for sale.

Then this month another friend died. He was the husband of the lovely Peggy who died last December and I wrote about her then. Dave was 95 and had been in hospital since December. I last saw him around the end of May when he regaled me with stories of Genghis Khan. But he deteriorated quickly and was sent up to Hobart for specialist care and that’s where he died. We didn’t hear about it until I saw a notice in the local paper. He’s back with Peggy.

But back to the living….

In June we went to protest meetings after the state government announced that they were going to close our school. It’s since had a reprieve, for now, and no doubt we’ll be back to the placards in late 2012 when it will start all over again. We have also been to protests about the budget cuts to our local medical centre. We were able to speak to both the Premier and Deputy Premier as M knows the Deputy and I have had many dealings with the Premier through my previous job. Somehow, we were not reassured with the words “We’re not closing the medical centre but there has to be some rationalisation there”. It’s running on bare bones now so which services will they cut? Ah politicians, I don’t envy them their jobs but it would be nice to get straight talking sometimes.

Did I mention that I’ve lost my job? Oh yes, the financial crisis has certainly arrived in Tassie. I was only working one day a fortnight but now even that has finished. I used to use the cash for the food bill so there’s going to be a bit of downsizing on “yummy treats”. However, with the extra time at home my sourdough baking is coming on a treat. M has gone to visit his parents in Launceston this weekend and has taken three loaves with him for them to try, one white, one multigrain and one rye (thanks to Kate from Vegetable Vagabond for the rye recipe) and a large bag of Asian lettuce mix from the garden.

P1010009                          P1010010

This is one of the white loaves I made yesterday.

As for the garden, well the weather has been soooooo unpredictable this winter. We have had many frosts and wet and windy days. I remarked that I thought that it was a lot colder this year to M as I was even wearing a long sleeved spencer under my woollen jumper. Something I have never done before. He said it was because I had my hair cut short at the wrong time of the year – oh duh… So consequently the veggies have been somewhat neglected. The lettuces and rocket are still going strong; the chooks ate all my kale (while it was still growing); I finally pulled the last of the tomato plants out in mid-July; and have planted brassicas, peas, garlic and silver beet.

P1010001                      P1010002

Cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli                            garlic

P1010003                      P1010004

silver beet and peas                                          lemongrass

P1010005                    P1010006

tiny avocado plant                                            first head of broccoli


the first (very blurry) buds of the Satsuma plum

I think I’ll have to go to dot points or this will never end!

  • Took the granddaughter to Cirque du Soleil – fantastic
  • Saw the show Chicago which was presented by Hobart college students – very professional
  • invited to a Christmas in July in June – ate far too much
  • three friends with birthdays – ate too much
  • booked the villa for Bali next year for my significant birthday with five friends – YES!
  • off to Adelaide to see the family next week and then on to Mission Beach to stay with friends – some sunshine please
  • have an inner ear infection affecting my balance – Labyrinthitis, a very Alice in Wonderland name for an ear infection and found out I have the blood pressure of a 10 year old (pity about the rest of me)


And in the words of our beloved Peter Cundall – That’s your blooming lot!


ps. Just in case anyone is wondering about the sore finger in the title – well I can’t remember so it can’t have been that sore can it?

Monday, June 6, 2011

Newspaper Headlines


Yes we have snow on the mountains – but the rally yesterday was just windy and sunny. I mean really, really windy. The icy blast came well after the rally had finished. The stage looked like an upside down jumping castle, in that it was inflated and there were a couple of gusts there that had it moving side to side. When we first arrived there was a small group of people in a percussion band – using garbage bins. They were extremely good and very entertaining but I can’t remember what they were called. I know the name had the word trash in it somewhere. Anyway I really enjoyed them. There was a brief introduction by the Secretary of Unions Tasmania and then the three main speakers for the rally with not a politician in sight. They delivered the sobering facts of climate change and the consequences of “head in the sand” philosophy. There was huge encouragement to keep pushing for change and to ignore the scare-mongering of certain politicians (that man’s name will Never appear on this blog – but you know who I mean!). After the speakers we were then entertained by local talent “The Bedroom Philosopher” (he’s from Burnie) who complained about having to perform on a Sunday morning with a hangover. But he managed to keep us laughing and all too soon it was all over and time to go and do the monthly shop on the way home from Hobart. We had hoped to be home before the rain/snow came and we almost made it. Later that evening M received a text message from his son “Hey, you’re on the TV old man!” I guess M and his SOS flag had received a bit of camera coverage at some stage. We were able to bring home one of the posters too so it’s now sitting in the front window of the house to hopefully make people think and talk about this important issue.

And the other fabulous headline in today’s Mercury newspaper; -


Escaped pig disrupts traffic     pig99

I love living in the country.


ps. the pig was finally cornered at “Ham Common” – I kid you not!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

It’s here (winter)

first frost2              first frost

first frost3


Oh yes, it was cold this morning. The first day of winter certainly lived up to its name!

As I entered the chook house to give them their breakfast, the frost on the roof melted and dripped down the back of my neck. I knew there was a reason that I had long hair before – I wouldn’t have felt it four weeks ago (pre-haircut)!


Sunday, May 29, 2011

Blogger back online at last!

yams for dinner


Last nights dinner consisted of most things coming from the garden. The New Zealand yams (otherwise known as Old Mans Toes) are dying back so I went and bandicooted a few for dinner last night. Then I went and gathered some rocket and Asian lettuce mix, radishes, which I forgot to put in the picture, tomatoes from the grow house, mini chocolate capsicums and grated carrot which was not from the garden. In the home made meat pie, made from scratch, I included some of the mushrooms out of the bags of mushroom compost. The yams were baked in the oven and even M commented “It’s pretty good”. Tonight we’ll have marinated steak from our friends happy cow, rice and the remainder of the salad, easy!

Autumn is well and truly here and the weather is being pretty unpredictable. The nights are cold this week but we do have sunshine during the day (oh doh – we’re not going to get it at night are we?). Stupid comment Jan. I finally succumbed today and pulled out all the eggplants, sob. I only got one eggplant off about six bushes in the grow house. There were still flowers but nothing much else was happening. So it is done. Now, what shall I try in the grow house through winter? I’ve already put some silver beet in and the capsicum and tomatoes are still going strong so I might try some bush beans and peas perhaps. The sugar snap peas are still growing in there so I might take a gamble with some seeds. Plus some lettuce I think. I have some Drunken Woman lettuce seed to try, yes I bought the seed because of the name!

                            fallen leaves2

You can see by the lack of leaves on the old oak tree that Autumn is definitely here. M spends a lot of time raking up the leaves to put on the compost pile – and then the wind blows and he starts all over again.

fallen leaves I’ve started the pruning of the apple and plum trees but there’s still about six to go. That’s what I should be doing now but I haven’t been able to access Blogger for a few days so I thought I’d do a quick post whilst I can.

Next Sunday in Hobart will be the Climate Action rally. It starts at 11am at Franklin Square so I might try and get to the farmers market in Hobart first, just to have a look. That’s one of the problems about living an hour’s drive away from the city, you never do just one thing when you drive up there, there’s always a list of things to do/collect/visit! Please send us dry weather for the rally, just like today would be perfect!

Well, I’d better get out there and prune whilst the sun is still shining! Have a good week everyone.


And I’m really mad that I missed the Aurora last night here in Southern Tassie, double bummer!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Oh lordy it’s cold

This past week has been very cold – and wet. The ground is soft and the leaves are falling quicker than ever. But the poor pear tree is totally confused! I saw blossom a couple of weeks ago and now there’s a tiny pear growing. I have to prune the tree in the coming weeks so no doubt it will end up in the pile of clippings.

I actually started the first paragraph one week ago and then the weather fined up! We had a glorious weekend with sunshine and warm temperatures and I was able to get outside and start the pruning of all the fruit trees. I’m still pruning. And clearing up all the cut off pieces to put on the bonfire – ready for the man. Men luuuuvvvvv bonfires! And now – well it’s bloody cold and wet again!

Other news – well the daughter who said that she wasn’t going to get married until 2013 has decided that they want to go and live on the Whitsundays so they’re going to get married now on 17th December 2011! Yes, only six months to lose this belly of mine. It’s taken me ten years to grow it (since I moved to Tasmania) and now I have to lose it in six months. So, last Monday I started the seven day soup diet to give me a kick start, so to speak. I have lost 2.5 kilos but going by the number of times I had to go pee I’d say it’s mostly fluid. I didn’t get hungry on the diet as it was a thick vegetable soup and there was fruit and vegetables on various days, but – and it’s a big but – I don’t think I can eat another bowl of soup for a while, at least not vegetable soup! So I’ll try and boost the exercising and stay away from the vino, sigh.

Tonight we had mushroom risotto for dinner with a green salad. The mushrooms were from the mushroom compost bags that we bought in bulk locally and the salad greens were from the garden. The radish, rocket and Asian lettuce are doing fine in this cold weather. I collected the tomatoes, sugar snap peas and capsicum from the grow house and there was dinner. The rice, unfortunately was from the local stupormarket. I’m sorry there’s no pictures but I’m hopeless with cameras and always forget to take any photos. I will try harder.

And for all those that can make it to Franklin Square, Hobart at 11am on Sunday 5th June, you’ll see M and me there at the rally for climate action. It will be a good day and a very important day too. Speak up now before it’s too late.


Monday, May 9, 2011

A big week

Last weekend (not the one just gone), I had one of my favourite friends come for a visit from Adelaide. She had a meeting to attend on the Monday so she came on the Friday and stayed with us in far south Tassie. She arrived on a 9.15pm flight into Hobart so M and I decided we would go a bit earlier so we could pick up a few things in town first and have a bit of a treat and maybe see a movie or eat out for a change.

Harris Scarfe (HS) had a sale on cast iron cookware and I was interested in the large oval Dutch oven, reduced from $400 to $70. We arrived in town about 4.30pm and HS was the first and most interesting shopping venue (well he wanted to go to “Nuts and Bolts” and Bunning's) for me. M parked in a 5 minutes loading zone (it was the closest park) and I ran in to HS to discover that kitchenware was on the first floor, up a large staircase as I couldn’t see the lift. Anyway, I found what I wanted almost straight away and wow, they even had the green one. I paid and refused the plastic bag after finding out where the lift was (this was one heavy Dutch oven) and staggered over there. Naturally, the lift was at the opposite end of the store where I had come in so I hurried the best I could through the shop and out into the street.  M saw me coming, but did he leap out of the car to assist me with this heavy parcel (I’m pretty much panting and red faced by now)? No, he flicked the switch for the boot of the car from inside the car, and I carefully placed my precious parcel in amongst the assorted “necessities”, i.e. tools, bits of rope, telephone directory????

“Thanks for helping” says I. But sarcasm is wasted on someone who is fixated on nuts and bolts don’t you think? Anyway, the next part of the day was pretty boring as it was his shopping and I was glad when he had finished and time to find somewhere to eat. I had previously checked movie times and nothing had fitted into our time schedule. But, we did find an absolutely fantastic Turkish restaurant in North Hobart called Anatolia and if you ever have the chance, do pay a visit. There was a guy playing the Spanish Flamenco guitar and the banquet for 2 was just divine. Dips and bread, followed by an assortment of lamb and chicken kebabs, meatballs, falafel etc. and baklava and Turkish coffee to end. We stayed there for two and a half hours, it just felt so friendly and the food was perfect. Needless to say we’ll be going again.

Off to the airport to meet my friend. Well she arrived but her suitcase didn’t! So over to the desk, details given and a promise that she would get the case the next day. (It didn’t come until lunchtime). She wasn’t that bothered about the case but the delicious cheeses, Maggie Beer pate and quince paste and South Australian wines were in it. Would the cheese and pate survive? Well, if we lived in Queensland or the Northern Territory where it is warm I may have worried, but here in Tassie – not a problem! Lunch on Saturday was very enjoyable as to complete the meal we opened a bottle of organic strawberry champagne and spent a lazy afternoon at the table talking – a lot.

The next day we decided to be a bit more adventurous and not just sit around talking (and eating) and off we went to Hobart again to visit MONA (museum of old and new art), which opened at the beginning of the year and we had yet to visit. Wow and double wow, we all loved it. We spent the whole afternoon there and will have to go back for many more, there is just so much to see and absorb and it’s all pretty much exciting. There’ll be future posts on MONA for sure.

Meanwhile, my friend was dropped off at the city hotel and home we went. One thing I have neglected to mention was that my friend didn’t recognise me straight away at the airport because I Have had my First Haircut in twenty years! Not just a trim, a hair cut. No more Janis Joplin a bit more Germaine Greer I think! (Although another friend has used the words “ becoming a bit bag-ladyish”) It was nerve racking (for the hairdresser too) and I worried needlessly because I am very happy with result. Yes, all the blonde has gone and I’m now totally grey, but it does have some interesting silver highlights. But, boy, did I choose the wrong time of the year to have it cut! My neck is freezing! Luckily, I have scarves that people have given me over the years and I have never worn because my hair always got in the way. I now wear them – all of the time.

From this:                                  jan long hair2


To this:                                                            jan short 3

All in thirty-five minutes.

Apologies for photo’s – M used his telephone, not his camera. Little Miss D is still not sure even though it was her Mum who cut it!

So now I’m wearing all the ear rings that I never used to wear as they couldn’t be seen and I don’t think I look at all like a bag-lady anymore!


Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Time to organise – myself!

cast iron sourdough Taken out of the oven at 9am this morning before I went off to work. M was given strict instructions not to touch – again. But when I came home at 3pm, absolutely starving (missed lunch), this is what I found":-


So I cut myself some too! This one was baked in the small,  3 quart cast iron pot and M has decided that it’s just the right size for me to bake for us three times a week! That is going to take some organising until sourdough baking becomes second nature. Can you see my wonderful slicing?



OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA         It’s not as holey as the last one that I made freeform, but then every one that I have made seems to come out different. I’m kind of following a couple of recipes and the dough does seem incredibly sticky – I almost end up wearing “rye dough gloves” and I often wonder about how much I seem to waste as it’s stuck to my hands (and my watch – and my sleeves – even in my hair, don’t ask!).

So, the next task is organisational training. This could be a major obstacle as I have a first class honours degree in procrastination ……..


Saturday, April 23, 2011

This and that




So, here it is, Easter Saturday and I’m home alone. In this little town where I live, we have an annual sailing regatta – at Easter. Now even though M has not taken his little sailing dinghy down to the beach he is involved with the races. Today he is in the patrol boat. His job will be to rescue anyone who has the misfortune of falling into the sea; broken mast; upturned dinghy etc. etc. He may very well be busy today as the wind is pretty strong out there. And it is very, very cool today. There is no promised sunshine to be seen. However, the sailing crowd seems to relish these conditions, apparently it makes the racing more exciting (even if your fingers fall off with the cold) and there is a good turnout from southern Tasmania.

Some of the larger boats sailed down from just outside Hobart last night as part of the weekend’s racing program and some very brave souls have set up camp on the foreshore. The committee of the sailing club here ensure that there are meals and drinks (particularly hot ones!) available and there is entertainment at the club on both Saturday and Sunday nights. M is also working the bar tonight as he enjoys the singer who will be performing (and it means he’s in for free). I may wander down later but it could be difficult leaving a warm room to brave the walk down the street in the wind and possibly rain. Hmmm we will just have to wait and see.

But on a positive note I have had a wonderful success with my sourdough trials. A big thanks must go to Kate from Vegetable Vagabond fame on this count. I visited Kate at her pretty home and wonderful, wild garden last week to collect some multigrain that she had ordered for me through her Garden Shed business. Naturally I stopped for coffee and a chat and Kate broke out her fantastic South Australian Haigh’s chocolates. I was very strong and only had one (I think). They are very yummy. Anyway, I digress. Whilst I was there I asked Kate about sourdough starters and baking, did she have any helpful hints? Well, she very kindly handed over some wonderful rye sourdough starter from her fridge, told me about cast iron camp ovens (cheaper than Le Creuset cookware) and their beneficial use. I was very excited about all of this and thought that M might have an old camp oven in the shed. So with many, many thanks to Kate I took myself off to collect a friend who needed a ride home. 

But, I didn’t get very far down the road when I espied Pickle, Kate’s jack russell terrier, who had been for a wander into town, on his own and was in big trouble. He was playing with a couple of other small dogs and a young boy obviously on his way home from school. I stopped the car and wandered over to the pavement where I called Pickle by name. He came running up and I grabbed him quickly. I asked the young boy if he knew where Pickle lived and he pointed to Kate’s house so I was pretty sure that I had the right dog. I put him in the back and gave him a talking to while I turned the car around and drove back to Kate’s. She heard me arrive and came out and the first words that I said were “This IS Pickle isn’t it?” I was so worried that I had stolen some poor child’s pet. Luckily it was and with Kate holding Pickle (firmly) in her grasp I left.

I collected my friend and drove us home and when we arrived at my place I asked B if he wanted to stop as M had just arrived home from a job. The decision was affirmative and M said that he would drive B home after they had both had a beer. It was at that point that I asked M if he had a camp oven in the shed that I could use for my bread. Answer: No, but I’ve got one that’s a bit effeminate! But no, he didn’t even have a girly one so I had to pay a visit to the hardware shop in town. They didn’t have an oven that was the right size but they did have a saucepan and the wooden handle screwed off very nicely. I haven’t used it yet as the first batch of Kate’s starter produced a large loaf and I baked it on a baking sheet instead. I gave strict instructions to M that it was NOT to be cut whilst warm but even so, by the time I came in from the garden a lot of it had disappeared and he wormed his way out of trouble by saying that it was wonderful. And it was.

On another note, we had a long discussion with Miss D, the five year old grand-daughter this week about “Where does the Easter Bunny live?” So after dismissing the idea that he might be in the magic cave with Father Christmas, we thought that it must be a gigantic magic burrow where the Easter eggs can be stored. She is soooo excited about the Easter Bunny coming tonight I’m not sure that there’ll be much sleep.

By the way, the other news is that my younger daughter sent me a text last week to tell me that she is getting married! Congratulations, I sent back, but please give me some time to lose some weight. “No rush” she said, it’ll be on Daydream Island in 2013!” That should give me a good chance, don’t you think?  She’s already living with the man involved in the story. He was the one that nearly died earlier this year in a motorbike accident. I think the wedding is the silver lining of that event! A near death experience tends to put things into perspective and realise what love really is. Good luck to them both and hopefully the magic will still be there in 2013. (And I’ll be a size 14).


Friday, April 15, 2011

Kitchen (mis)Adventures

Well, what a week in the kitchen. Naturally it’s still tomatoes, tomatoes, tomatoes and I now have a cupboard full of dried tomatoes, chutney, relish, pickles and a freezer full of frozen tomatoes. And they’re still coming! We have eaten tomatoes with everything and nobody is allowed to leave the house without at least one bag brimming with them.

But I also decided to try an bake some sourdough bread this week. Here I am, nearly 59 years old and never tried before. So I did a bit of research and thought to myself that it seemed pretty straight forward and gathered the flour and water and nothing else to give it a go. Well, you have to “feed” the mixture and wait for the magic. Hmm, the first bowl of “magic” ended up in the bin as it looked and smelled mouldy – not sour. But I was not going to give up and started another little batch of “magic”. This time I was excited to see the bubbles and a little bit of froth so I thought that we were in business this time! I had a very plain recipe from the web and set about to create the masterpiece. Well, maybe it’s not that warm in my kitchen but it didn’t seem to rise very much, even after leaving it overnight! Now I’m not known for my patience, in fact I think that when it was being given out I must have got bored waiting and left before I received my share! So after hours and hours I just bunged it in the oven, a very hot oven. The recipe said to leave if for thirty-five minutes but after peering through the oven door for the millionth time I decided to pull it out after only thirty minutes. It looked done to me – see below


However, upon cutting it was plain to see that this very dense loaf was not completely cooked in the centre. Bugger! M said that he was sure that it would be fine if we toasted it. So we did. But one slice was enough it was so heavy. So then I thought that I had better make some bread with yeast so at least we would have some edible bread in the house and I made these


The focaccia (spelling is not a good point either!) turned out very well and so luckily we didn’t starve this week.

Yesterday I decided to give the old sourdough “magic” another go and dragged the starter out, separated what I needed and gave it a feed and left it all day to bubble up. Naturally I had forgotten that I was going out to my book group last night, so after making up the dough with the starter and putting it in the bread making machine for it’s first mix, M was given strict instructions to “NOT TOUCH IT” except for turning off the plug and I would deal with it when I came home. Well, it was a good evening last night so I was a bit later home than I had originally planned. And yes, at 11.30pm there I was in the kitchen kneading this bread dough, which quite frankly, didn’t look as good and elasticy (yes I know that’s not a real word) as the first lot. But being positive I left it to rise overnight again. It’s still there, not rising. So I’ve started an ordinary rye loaf in the mixer to keep us going. Just in case. I am going to leave the sourdough all day and then bung it in the oven to see what happens. This could become a mini series……

M had also decided to have a go in the kitchen last Friday. I was going around to a friend’s place and he decided that with the surplus plums he was going to try and make an alcohol of sorts. This involved cooking the plums. So he filled my largest pot to the brim (we had a lot of plums), added water, aaahhh, put the lid on the pot, double aahhh, turned the heat to full power, Noooooo and then went out to do a little job in the shed! Need I say more? Apparently, (it was all cleaned up before I got home) when he remembered the plums they had escaped and were covering the stove top, the benches either side, dripped down through my recipe books onto the floor and through both drawers under the cook top. In fact I was cleaning a small river of plum juice from those drawers for a couple of days! The pot of plums was taken outside and left there until I peeked inside and saw the mould and insisted that it be sent to the compost heap! I also refused to wash the pot so I think it might still be in the shed!

I’m so glad that kitchen failures are something that can happen to everyone!

Happy weekend, we might even have a dry one after endless days of rain………


Friday, April 8, 2011

Recycling at it’s best!






What a creative idea! Joanne Ussary bought a used Boeing 727.  She paid $2,000.00 for the plane.  It cost $4,000.00 to move and $24,000.00 to renovate.  (She has a LOT of wood and specialty windows for $24,000!  I want her carpenter!)  But not bad for a $30,000.00 investment...  The stairs open with a garage door remote and one of the bathrooms is still intact.  There is a personal Jacuzzi in the cockpit. The Boeing home is featured as part of a collection of creative conversions.  It  has a spectacular view!  (I wonder how much the land with this view cost!!!)  

And where it is based!