Sunday, October 30, 2011

Strawberry Jam

Saw this sign...
Jam Strawberries - who could resist?
A few hours later they looked like this
The kids were my able assistants
And by that night...
3kgs of Strawberry jam


Have you liked my Caitlyn Nicholas facebook page??  I post all the odds and ends that don't make it onto the blog there... like photos of hubs in a turban at last night's Bollywood thing :)

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Laugh or Smack-Him-In-The-Head

Bring the straw in, I said.
I'm not driving around with it in the car, I said.
Don't leave it outside, its going to rain, I said.
Yeah, frickin hilarious.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Broad Bean feast

The broad beans are coming to the end of their season. Not as prolific as usual, but productive enough - can't complain :)

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Stylish Butter Dish Lid

Someone broke the butter dish.  So I have gathered my initiative and fashioned a new one.
Am not sure if this is up-cycling or down-cycling

Monday, October 24, 2011

The End of the Spuds - frickin chooks

My Magnificent spud patch fell victim to voracious worm hunting chickens
It was solid green before
The spuds were about a month off being harvested.

But, being one to make mashed potato out of, um, potatoes, I set my beady-eyed spud harvesters to work, to clear it out for me.
We got around four kilo's worth
And planted it up with some zuchinni's (plus room at the front for more carrots - you can never have enough carrots).
Zuchinnis - yes they are in there somewhere

Sunday, October 23, 2011

The self-seeded Peachterine

Two years ago a little seedling came up in the tomato bed, it looked like it might be a peach or a nectarine, so I named it the Peachterine, took a chance and nurtured and cared for it.

This year it was covered in stunning pink blossom that has resulted in...
Peaches, white ones I reckon
Its doing brilliantly, and my next big challenge is keeping fruit fly away from it.

Yes, I know this is not a fruit fly
This year two more peachterine seedlings have popped up.  Can't wait to see how they'll go.


Friday, October 21, 2011

Clawing back the Routine - Part 2: Written Down Routines

We're still in a mess.  Yes, having meals planned and the food in the house has been brilliant.  We are eating better and I'm not in a daily panic about the evening meal.  I'm even having wild thoughts about a FORTNIGHTLY meal plan.  Going to the supermarket once a fortnight - do worlds like this exist?? Can it be true??

Now I did say I'd be doing all this meal planning on Saturdays - but I've changed that so I can resume going to the Hornsby Farmer's Market on Thursday and getting my hands on some high quality, cheap fruit and veg - rather than expensive supermarket crappy stuff.

So Wednesday will be meal planning day and Thursday will be shopping day.

The next step in getting this disaster zone back on track is written-down routines.

At the suggestion of Miss 5s OT Lady we have, for the last few weeks, had an evening routine that looks something like this...
The Going To Bed Routine
Each step is laminated with a velcro dot on the back, so when she's done she can pull it off and put it in the finished box.  Miss 7 has a similar one, but just words, no pictures.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Preserving Olives

A few months back Dad gave me a bag of fresh olives.

Following one of the recipes in the sublime Preserving the Italian Way (a book I cannot recommend highly enough if you are into preserving your own stuff at home), I have pickled a kilo or so of olives.

Olives ready for eating
They taste wonderful.  The lot in the sieve are back in brine and will be used in the next six months.  The lot in the jar (well Maggie Beer Ice cream container) are in fresh water in the fridge with some oregano and garlic.

Rather chuffed actually.


Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Clawing back the Routine - Part 1: Meal Planning

Following the ups and downs of the last few months, our home routine has descended into having no routine at all.  Haphazardry is the name of the day, chaos reigns and stress levels for this poor weary Mum are flying high.  In addition to this, Aspie kids crave routine, Miss 5 is no exception and changes in routine (or not understanding what's going to happen next) lead to spectacular levels of anxiety followed by meltdown after tantrum.

Nothing is getting done, untidiness is creeping over all the surfaces, I'm making almost daily trips to the supermarket, bills are being forgotten to be paid, budgeting consists of checking the bank balance on my phone before filling up the car with petrol, I've put on 8kgs, the bathroom looks like a public toilet, the clean laundry pile is gigantic, the dirty laundry pile is worse, I have no idea when I last bathed the kids... well you get the picture.

Big fat heaving mess.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Oh the Purpleness

Purpleness is bursting forth in the garden.  A lot of heirloom vegies have a purple version, and as purple is my favourite colour...
Purple shallots
Purple carrots
My purple podded peas (try saying that six times fast) which were pruned by a possum, have made a comeback.  Nothing spectacular, but hopefully enough to save for planting next year.

I have generally found that the purple versions of things are more robust.  The carrots are ready sooner, and less likely to get all neurotic about soil conditions (within reason, I mean they are carrots after all), though they do seem to be hairier (ie more roots - maybe that's why).  The purple shallots have survived where as the wussy green ones didn't even try (well, this may have something to do with where they were planted and where the wretched chooks chose to go worm hunting - but yanno, details).  And the purple beans are more prolific - and also awesome when you cook them and they go green. 'Mazing that.

I'm feeling a bit of a purple summer coming on actually.  Have been fossicking about on Diggers and looking at all the purple versions of artichokes, basil, beans, eggplant, passionfruit, garlic...  I reckon I could declare it the Year of Purple and plant purple everythings.  That could be so much fun (well, only a gardener would understand the funness of it, the rest of you will have to humour me).


Sunday, October 16, 2011

Tick Season + Lyme Disease

Ella's rose is starting to bloom.
Buff Beauty
Tick season never really ends in Sydney, even in the middle of winter dogs still get paralysis ticks.  But from now to the end of January the threat is at its worst.

We use advantix on Sebs, once a fortnight.  It is wretchedly expensive, but I don't even want to contemplate the alternative.

That said, we lost Ella nine days after I had put Advantix on her.  So chemical warfare, whilst effective, is not an 100% guarantee.

I don't use a tick collar - it has nasty chemicals that do unpleasant things to children, girls especially (it messes about with their oestrogen according to my naturopath).

So, other precautions I take are;

  •  Keeping Sebs clipped short, so that ticks are easy to see.
  • A daily tick check - they are commonly found on the head and neck area, including under the collar, around the lips, and in the ears (Ella's tick was on the back of her hind leg though)
  • Keeping the backyard free of long, grassy, weedy, damp patches - ticks love this environment
  • Letting the chooks roam - they have beady eyes and love a tick (almost as much as freshly planted lettuce seedlings)
If you do find a tick the best way to remove it is to drip on some Advantix (or similar), and then pulling it off 15 minutes later - that way the tick doesn't put anymore poison into the dog.

On the subject of ticks, those in Australia might have noticed a plethora of Lyme disease pamphlets infesting chemists of late.  Lyme disease does not exist in Australia (link here to Sydney Uni research on it).  The tick that carries the Lyme disease bacteria does not exist in Australia, and the most common Aussie tick that bites humans has been tested as unable to carry the bacteria.

The only case of Lyme Disease at Westmead Hospital was a person who had just returned from an area of Northern Europe which was suffering a Lyme Disease carrying tick plague (and I'm getting this from the Sydney Uni medical school Department of Entomology website - the link above)

However, due to publicity, the testing for Lyme Disease has dramatically increased.  Hmm. I wonder who makes a profit from that testing? And I wonder where all that publicity is coming from? Surely if the disease is non-existent in Australia then pharmacists - who are the most trusted profession in the country - would see no reason to be part of a campaign to 'raise awareness'?? And in fact would be wary about promoting something that could put a shade of grey over their pristine reputations.

Which brings me to how this subject came to my attention... you see I was having a long chat with a pharmacist (yes the qualified one with the Uni degree that works out the back) when picking up some medicine for Hubs very late one night. The guy saw me glance at the Lyme Disease pamphlet and told me, in detail, how the whole thing was bullshit.  So why the pamphlets?  If the pharmacists know they are blatantly misleading, they why does every chemist I walk in to have Lyme Disease pamphlets right next to the cash register??


Saturday, October 15, 2011

Escapologist is at it again

I planted some lettuces to fill in the gaps amongst the flowers.
Perfect for a dust bath apparently
As she is laying beautifully at the moment she has been forgiven. Just.


Friday, October 07, 2011

3 Year Old Apple Trees

This is the third year I've had my apple trees in.

To my utter delight it looks like the Granny Smith is going to bear some fruit (famous last words!!).
Love that pink
As I have banged on about before, our climate, here in the northern 'burbs of Sydney, is exactly in-between sub-tropical and temperate.  When I bought the apples and pears for the front garden I was under the impression we were temperate, but since then I've figured out that we're a bit too warm to be properly temperate.  As apples need set times below certain temperatures to bear fruit, I've always had a sneaking suspicion that we're not going to get very far with them.

But, the Granny Smith is performing this year, and all the others did the right things, ie went dormant at the right times, so maybe, eventually, we'll get something out of them.
Potential apples
In hindsight, I would've bought sub-tropical type apples from Daleys Fruit, rather than temperate type from Diggers.  But, yanno, live and learn.

The pears are not happy, by the way, not happy at all.  I expect I'll eventually move them to some quiet corner and leave them to their own devices.

This is an On My Mind post, with Rhonda at Down to Earth (brilliant blog if you haven't discovered it yet).

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Farewell Grandad

My Grandfather passed away last night after a short illness.

He was 95. He had a wonderful life, achieved amazing things, fought in a world war, started a company that is now a household name, and always gave back more than he ever received.

We will all miss him.

Saturday, October 01, 2011

Things I love

Ten things I totally love right now....

  • My new laminator... (mmm, laminating)
Why yes, I have lost the plot
  • My husband...
We had children
  • My children, who went to bed with no fighting, no screaming, no getting up, just cuddly cuteness (that Hadron Collider thingy must have torn a hole in the space/time continuum or something)
  • The three almonds on the almond tree
  • Going to see Alexander McCall Smith speaking at Sydney Opera House
  • Apple blossom
  • Massive roast dinners with wine, laughter, second helpings, third helpings
  • Phone calls that go... "Guess What." "What??" "I'm pregnant!!!"
  • Twitter - its great company when you are sitting in a hospital listening to someone breathe
  • Sleep