Monday, June 30, 2014

A little early but aren't these daffodils beautiful

What can you do on a cold, windy Winter day? Why, bake of course

Sunday dawned cold and blowing a gale. Too cold to go out. Hmm what to do with my day?
Why I baked of course.

Pumpkin and apple muffins for a sweet morning tea treat. There is a surprise inside - a little dollop of cream cheese. Impress everyone with this simple little tip! Mix cream cheese and icing sugar, then place in the fridge. Prepare your muffin batter and fill greased muffin trays to about one third. Put a dollop of cream cheese into each one, then top up with remaining batter. Watch everyone's surprised faces when they bite in. Yum.

The rest of my baking wasn't as exciting, but has helped prepare me for the working week.  Bread with potato and herbs from the garden. Mini frittatas and a dish of roast vegies will provide lunches and dinners in various forms. A big tray of vegetable lasagna has gone into the freezer in individual portions.
Mushroom soup will be tonight's dinner and tomorrow's lunch.

I've also done a serious cull of my recipe collection. I subscribe to a couple of email recipe alerts and when I see something yummy I print it out. Well I have ended up with a crazy number of recipes I have never tried. So I have culled as part of this year's de-cluttering plan. Believe me I still have plenty left to choose from and have picked a few new things to cook this week like sesame encrusted tofu with orange reduction and spring rolls.

Other than that my day was spent on housework. All essentials to get ready for the week ahead.  What are you eating this week?

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Some days gardening is disheartening and I feel like giving up

Last weekend I worked so hard in my vegetable garden, weeding, mulching and nurturing.
I wondered down one morning for a little fix of paradise before rushing off to work.  Everything looked so beautiful.

This morning I rushed down to check nothing had completely dried out as we have had gale force winds since Tuesday. I mulched well but this wind has been strong and persistent. I was devastated to see my magnificent, lush silverbeet had been stripped to the veins. I had plans to eat silverbeet for dinner. Most of the plants will be lucky to survive. I never take more than a few leaves, but this raid left nothing.

But I haven't given up. I stomped around for a bit, added scraps and fallen leaves to the compost. Collected twigs for kindling so we could have a fire to ward off the winter nights.  When I calmed down I set about trying to solving the problem and protect my plants.

I screwed saddle clips on the inside of the highest risk garden beds, slid in some tomato stakes and stretched some bird netting over the top. It is not an easy thing thing to work with, difficult to stretch out and pin down.

The wind has picked up again tonight so I hope it will stay in place. I also hope it deters whoever left this behind.

I have done just a little research into scats, yes, yes I know its a weird thing to research but without an infrared camera set up in the garden how else can I work out what's doing the damage. The pointy ends suggest black rat. I've never seen rat poop anywhere near this size and yes we definately have rats near the chicken coop and in the compost.  Grey ones.  The next best guess is possum. I have seen possums in the past although not often. Not seeing doesn't indicate their absence though. Possums are lovely and native. But the rotters can't eat all my plants.

Let's wait and see if my net works.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Early winter gardening

May was astonishingly warm and sunny. An Indian Summer that we all enjoyed so much we didn't want it to end. But we can't reprogram Mother Nature that easily and June has dawned cold.  The weekend just past was stunning, chilly mornings and evenings but warm, sunny days so what else could I do but get into the garden. All through the busy weeks, the lovely weekend away and the time spent renovating and de-cluttering, my thoughts have been on my garden and the guilt of neglecting it.

I missed the warm May gardening weather so really I would have gardened whatever last weekend turned out. The critical issue was that I had the time and gardening was no longer relegated to the bottom of the priority list.  Its sad but I can't get away from the fact that other chores must take precedent and that gardening can only be done when everything else is sorted. Gardening doesn't get us through the working week with clean clothes.   But Nature smiled on me and gave me exceptionally perfect gardening weather. It was not only clear and unseasonally sunny but only a couple of days later its blowing a gale. So its good I didn't waste that perfect chance. Hopefully all the mulch I spread is doing its job and keeping my vegetable beds moist.

So here's what I did:

I weeded all garden beds and pulled carpet grass out of the open areas.

I emptied a big bin full of fine compost. Hard to believe this used to be food scraps, shredded paper from the chicken coop, manure and grass clippings.  Every bed got two buckets of this garden food.

Next I topped each bed up with this straw and soil that I scraped up from the bottom of the chicken yard.  Chicken droppings are a bit high in ammonia to put straight into the garden but this mix was been out in the rain so I'm confident its all quite dilute.

Harvey came to help me.

Benny too.

The finished garden with all beds mulched with a layer of straw to lock the moisture in. This will break down into the soil adding yet more organic material.

There are lots of 'greens' growing: silverbeet and this red mustard komatsuma.

My last task was to pop my trusty Diggers Club snail traps in the brassica beds and under the passionfruit vine with its lacy leaves shown here on the left. I don't do poisons but hopefully the soapy water in the trap will do the trick. A good weekend's work!

An end to my unplanned blogiday - homespunblissblog is back

I knew it had been a while since I last posted on my blog but until right now, I did not realise just how long. Funny how time gets away. Normally I would say I don't know where it went but for once I know exactly where I have been since May 5. That was the day I stepped into a new, challenging job at work. I posted with obvious intentions to continue regardless of the work challenges ahead of me but looking at that date now, I apparently succumbed and abandoned all routine. Here's the tale of how I got off, and then back on my path.

The first month I worked at least 40 hours each week while I found my feet, mastered the ropes and met the deadlines I had inherited. Looking back I have ticked many many things off my work to do list. Which is good, feels good.  Gradually the long hours have subsided, the routine is slowly coming back and I can look up again. And realise what I have neglected.

I have bought lunch almost every day over the past week so I need to fill up the freezer and start packing home cooked food again. Especially healthy snacks as I have been far too indulgent. Hard work does give one an appetite for breaks and snacks.

I have mostly kept up on cooking dinners but have been shopping every other day. Meed to get back to planing ahead.

I did get to go away to Hobart for a lovely, romantic, relaxing weekend. That was a couple of weeks ago and I think I've only just caught up on the laundry.

And we have done a lot of de-cluttering. Over Easter we ripped up the carpet in two bedrooms and the hallway and replaced it with a floating timber floor. This required completely stripping out both rooms and living amidst boxes and stuff for weeks on end. Howard did a great job of laying the floor so I didn't want to shove all the same stuff back in those rooms. My sewing room, aka spare bedroom, has new furniture and looks fabulous.  Last week we hired a big skip, got rid of the old carpet, and old stuff from in the house and under the house. Ah it feels good to have cleaned up so much, de-cluttered and re-organised.

So really, now that I chronicle it I have not been idle in my time at home, I have just re-prioritised for a while.  Now that I have achieved so much, I'm back to share my journey to homespunbliss.


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