Monday, February 27, 2012

I'm Back for 2012!

It has been a while and life has been very busy since the silly season, so lets jump right in with an update.  Our Holidays in January were cut short this year.  yucky weather, 2 broken teeth (in separate people), and a general sick of being stuck in the van with 6 people took its toll so we came home about 2 weeks early.  Whilst we were away we lost our lovely goat Billy to a snake bite and then a few days after we got home we then lost our cat Pip to a snake as well.  To alleviate the extreme distress this caused PJ, we then went to choose him a new cat and of course Nish managed to con us into an early B'day pressie, so now there are 2 new kittens joining our family.  Meet Snuggles (PJ's) and Shia (Nish's).

Well onto the veggie patch and our first year in the garden is going great guns,  I have so missed having a veggie garden.  I think the pics of some of our harvest so far speak for themselves. 

 Cabbage was just so yummy in coleslaw

 We have already harvested upwards of 80 cucumbers and they are still coming and absolutely huge and tasty,  The kids are loving it

The corn is delicious and we have more than I was expecting,  I originally just planted a small crop so was expecting to get only a few meals worth but this corn had other ideas, I am getting 2-5 ears of each plant, have never seen anything like it, already had about 25 ears and we are only about 1/2 way through the harvest

 Jalapeno Chillies (green) and Hungarian Hot wax (red) they just keep coming and coming, I cant give them away lol.  I have been dehydrating them (thanks Laurel for the loan of the dehydrator) and then powdering them for storage in the herb draw.  Nice amount of heat in them (fairly hot).  But we learnt the hard way not to dehydrate chilli's in the house, the "burnyness" of them became airborne and had all our eyes and skin burning!
The tomatoes were annoying me a bit.  my first 2 rows planted back in September had grown and had lots of fruit on them but they were all green,  the plants were just so heavy with them they were starting to break their branches and escape their  staking.  We really haven't had enough sun here for them to ripen, but last weeks hot weather has kicked them into gear and so far I have preserved 12 ltrs of Passata. I still have 6 more rows of tomatoes growing that were planted later and the original 2 are not even 1/2 way through ripening,  so I foresee more preserving in my future.

The pumpkins and watermelons are climbing all over the garden with is good cause they are keeping the thistles down in their wake.  I have a huge back log of weeding to do and the thistles are taking over but the rabbits will certainly enjoy the food when the weeding is done so that will reduce the purchased animal food bill, which is always good.

When I got back from our holidays I had lots of tomato plants to tie up and as expected I knocked a lot of green tomatoes off in the process.  Rather than waste them I went on the hunt for uses.  There wasn't enough to make it worthwhile to make green tomato chutney but  I found a Green Tomato Pasta Sauce recipe on Pennys Recipes and got the OK to share it with you.

Green Tomato Pasta Sauce
5-6 medium size unripe, green tomatoes, sliced
1 ripe red tomato sliced
1 dessert spoon sugar
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cloves crushed garlic
5-6 basil leaves, torn
6-8 black olive, sliced
55g / 2 oz grated cheddar cheese
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
150g-200g / 6-7oz pasta
    Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C
    Place the sliced tomatoes in a baking dish
    Drizzle the olive oil over the tomatoes
    Sprinkle over the sugar
    Add the garlic and basil leaves
    Stir everything around a bit to ensure even distribution
    Bake in the oven for 30 minutes or until the tomatoes are just starting to char
    Meanwhile place the pasta in a large saucepan
    Cover with boiling water, bring back to the boil and simmer for 10-15 minutes until cooked
    When tomatoes are ready stir an mush slightly
    Add the olives and cheese and stir into cooked pasta over a low heat
    Season with freshly ground black pepper
    Serve with a green salad

It was yummy and nice for a change from the standard red or creamy sauce.  Have a go.

I have also been trudging through my knitting basket trying to get my works in progress finished.  There is a skirt for either Kie or Tay, A cardigan for Nish, A bolero for me and a jumper for either Dave or PJ.  I have also got a Crochet Table cloth on the go too.  I did finish a bolero for myself already but have yet to take a pic so that will come up soon.    I also have started back as spinning group this year so there will be more squishy homespun wool around soon.

The sheep have been all swapped around and split into 2 mobs,  all but 2 of the adult girls are in with our big Border Leicester ram Honor.  The other girls are in with our new Merino Ram  Hercules.  He is in with 2 coloured sheep in the hope that I may get a coloured lamb.  He wasn't really big enough to go in with the big girls yet and I  didn't want to risk not getting lambs this year, so split the mob.  Due to paddock constraints he is also in with the the rest of the lambs from last year and even though theoretically the girls could get pregnant already we are hoping they don't. Unlike Honor at the same age, who was willing to have a go at any ewe, Hercie doesn't seem that interested.  He has had a go at one of the adult girls and got a swift kick for his efforts lol.

Well that is probably enough for now

Catchya Later

Monday, December 12, 2011

The Chaos of the silly season.

Well you are all probably well and truly into the silly season just like us.  School concerts, final assignments, reports, work do's, Christmas shopping to finish, the planning of Christmas day - Ahhhhhhh why do we do this to ourselves.  Well this year with one week (the worst chaos week at that) of school to go my lovely baby gets chicken pox.  As miserable as she is there is an upside to this - instead of racing around like a mad woman all week, I have now been forced to stay home and tend to my baby.  At 7 she is still the baby of the family and a huge drama queen, and when she is sick she just wants to sit with mummy and snuggle. So this week will now be a nice quiet week at home with my little one, so a lovely rest before Christmas is definitely to be viewed as a blessing in disguise (all be it a spotty one).

I got a lovely pressie from a lady at school today.  She knows I knit and crochet and she works at the local op shop so when this yarn came past her way she snapped it up for me to thank me for helping her out this year with some school runs i did when she was unwell.  I never expected anything in return for the helping hand but this was a lovely thought and will be turned into many loved items in the future.

The first incubated chickens
Our chickens are laying up a storm, our numbers are on the way back up as Nish bought home 3 laying Isa Browns from her school project and the little chickens have really stepped up. Also I am a bit excited because the first batch of incubated chickens look to have 4 girls and 2 boy Sussex.   I am yet to decide what is going on with the barnevelders, they all look the same. lol  I also have 4 plain white cross breeds that look like they might be girls to.  This girl heavy flock will allow me to replenish and then all the others will go for food. So as annoying as the fox attack was it wasn't a complete unfixable disaster, and it has moved Ian into sorting out my chicken coup and run.

We had friends come over for a BBQ on Saturday and that bought with it 4 extra adults and 4 extra kids.  I just love watching kids up here running around and yelling with childish delight.  There was some adult giggling when I just leaned over and picked up a lamb for the kids to pat as they are more than 1/2 my size now.  The sheep do look rather impressive bolting up the hill straight at me when I call them.

I would like to introduce you all to the newest member of our family.  Sisma.  She is my little baby and I got her from my little sis Dee. She will become our mummy cat (Ma)  get it Sis-Ma.  We thought we would let the kids experience kittens "just once".  She is lovely and very smoochy.  She has settled in extremely well and has everyone wrapped around her paws, even they other cats took straight to her.

As I was writing this the kids came to inform me that Hercules our lamb ram was stuck in a tree????  Earlier today I saw him walking around the front bush paddock, he had gotten off his tether and I thought I might just let him have a wander around,  he is such a sook and wont go out of sight of either us or Billy the goat so I figured he would be OK.  Well as usual when it comes to our animals I was wrong.  I'm not sure why but he was trying to climb up a tree, I assume the leaves must be tasty.  He had one of his back legs caught between 2 branches and was stuck.  I had to lift him down but then he was limping,  I can't see any damage and he keeps shacking it out so I am thinking maybe just pins and needles so we did a few laps around the house block to walk it off - crazy animal.

I thought today I would share our Christmas breakfast recipe with you.  It is really easy to make, you throw it together the night before and put it in the fridge,  then just put it in the oven in the morning.  We put ours in just before we start with the pressie opening and by the time we are finished breakfast is hot and ready to be served.

Christmas Breakfast
250gms shredded Cheddar cheese
 6 eggs
3 c. milk
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
1 tsp. dry mustard
3 strips bacon, cut in half

Trim crusts from bread. Layer bread then cheese in bottom of greased 7 1/2 x 12 inch flat baking dish. Beat eggs and milk together and stir in the salt, pepper and mustard. Pour this over bread, cheese. Lay bacon on top. Refrigerate overnight. The next morning bake, uncovered, at 180 degrees for 50-55 minutes.
Remove from oven just after guests sit down. Otherwise, it may tend to sink. Tastes just as great, but doesn't look as glamorous. Serves 6.

I hope you will give it a try, its delish and so easy.

Well that's it for this week

Catchya later

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Its Late but it's Here

OK so I'm a day late this week, but have had a busy week.  Not sure what made this week busier than normal it just was.  It was our 16th wedding anniversary on Friday and both my and Ian's parents took the 5 kids for the weekend so we could have some alone time.  It was lovely, its not something we get very often so it was nice just to be a couple for a little while.

On Saturday we manage to finish putting up the Chicken area.  there are 2 separate night time areas and one large outdoor area.  The ducks and Chickens seem to be getting along, or at least have an understanding to leave each other alone.  After our Chicken tragedy the other week the 1 remaining full size chicken has really stepped up and is laying 8 eggs in 7 days.  Also our bantam chickens have joined the party and all 3 of the girls are laying an egg a day, they might be small but 3 small eggs and 1 large egg is enough to scrape by in the house so that we don't have to buy eggs, so that's good.

At the beginning of last week quite a few of the blogs I read and many recipe cites I browse all seemed to be talking about Granola.  So I took it as a lovely nudge  to make some.  I had been complaining to my mum about how expensive cereal is and we go through so much of it for some reason.  We also have a small weetbix problem, nobody will eat the broken crumby bits at the end of the box (which is about 3-4 serve usually), so this solves that problem as well.  I would like to share the recipe with you,  It is a combination of lots of the different recipes I looked at after tweaking for personal taste.  It works out to be about $1.50 for a 3lt plastic cereal container full. That is a lot cheaper than the $5-7 I currently pay for the same amount of cornflakes or cherrios, plus I know what has gone into it and can tweak it to my hearts content.  Dave has already requested a Bar Version be made for his lunch box, so that may be coming in the near future too.  OK here is the recipe:

Dell's Granola
    1/3 cup brown sugar
    1/3 cup oil (canola or vegetable)
    1/2-2/3 cup honey (fruit puree or golden syrup can   be used too)
    2 teaspoons vanilla
    1  teaspoon cinnamon (or to taste)

    3 cups old fashioned oats  Or left over crushed weetbix
    4 cups quick oats
    1 cup coconut
    1 Cup of dried Fruit (tightly packed) ) or to taste - optional
    In a small saucepan mix together brown sugar, oil, and honey.
    Bring to a boil.
    Remove from heat and add vanilla and cinnamon.
    In a large bowl combine oats, coconut, and sugar/oil mixture.
    Stir until oats are well coated and everything is combined.
    Spread onto 2 trays with sides or pans
    Bake at 160 degrees for 10 minutes, giving a stir about the 5 min mark
    Remove from oven and leave to cool
    Mix in dried fruit.
    store in an air tight container.


This recipe is also really  yummy with some yogurt and fresh fruit for a snack - Yummy.  I make it about every second day and it only takes about 15 Min's, give it a try you might be surprised.

On the Knitting front, I need some motivation.  I just really cant get motivated to do any,  I am hoping a visit to Dee's this weekend might spur me on cause I really need to get going I have so many works in progress that my knitting basket can officially not fit any more and don't walk to close to it  it may topple over.    I did get offered a stack of alpaca fleeces from my neighbour this week who just had her flock shawn so I am hopping that will kick start the spinning again too.

Well that's about it for this week

Catchya later


Monday, November 14, 2011

Hindsight -Grrrrr

 This week started off badly with a fox taking all but 1 rooster and 1 hen of our large chickens and 4 of our little chickens.  This is the second time in 19 months I have lost my flock, which this time was getting up to a rather nice size (about 20 in total) and were supplying both the kitchen and incubator nicely with eggs I am no longer going to free range our chickens.  We do enclose them at night but during the day we were letting them have free run of the property.  Not any more.   Its a lovely idea but I am pretty sure that a chicken kept in a cage with plenty of room will be much happier than a free ranged dead one!

So this weekend we began to move the cages around.  We have a split in to cage off the side of the house that we spent a long time pulling apart and moving around the the other side of the house off the veggie patch/orchard. Once we put the cages back together we are planing to fence of a large area with hurricane fencing (really high stuff with a small mesh).  So there will actually be 3 indoor/night cages attach to a huge run.  The bright side of this is that I have been trying to get this chicken plan done since we moved here and it will have much easier access to the workshop where the incubator and brooder is.  Also the ducks will be moving to so they will stop messing all over my front porch - So I suppose I should say Yay!

The week continued with Dave's asthma going into melt down.  His asthma was pretty bad before we moved up here (multiple puffers numerous times a day and always sick with some chest infection)  but since we moved up out of the burbs into that fantastic country air, he has been really healthy.  I could count on 1 hand the times he has needed his puffer in the last 19  months.  Well   he ended up having 4 days off school, a trip to the hospital and a trip to the Doc's.  so now he is back on 2 puffers for at least 2 weeks, and then the Doc will reassess.

I did get some more seedlings done for the garden - 8 types of tomatoes, 2 types of melons and 4 types of cucumbers.  I also have been preparing more pots to plant more herbs in.  Every time I go out to the garden I get hungry just thinking about the yummy food that we will be eating in just a few months.

We have been very naughty this week and have been wolfing down 3-4 kg of cherries every 2 days.  I just love this time of year the summer fruits are just starting to creep in and remind us of all that light, healthy food.

A few months ago I gave a lovely mum at school some of my laundry powder and dishcloths to try after chatting in the car park about it one day. I thought if she liked them she would just make them herself but she just wanted to buy some.  I worked it out at about $6 Kg (just for the ingredients).  which when compared to store bought powder is not the cheapest but certainly no where near the dearest and you use about 1/4 -1/2 of what you would use per wash in the store bought stuff.  She has now ordered another Kg and 2 of my dishcloths for Chrissie pressies for the Nana's.  Its nice to see some of the old, chemical free stuff coming back into favour and I am glad to keep making it for her as long as she wants it.

Well even though there were no "major" catastrophes, I still felt a bit "yuck" this week and just when I needed it the following verse came up on my daily devotional reading - It still amazes me that just when you need it Gods word seems to be right there.

17 Even though the fig trees have no blossoms, and there are no grapes on the vines; even though the olive crop fails, and the fields lie empty and barren; even though the flocks die in the fields, and the cattle barns are empty, 
18 yet I will rejoice in the LORD!  I will be joyful in the God of my salvation!
Habakkuk 3:17-18

Well that's it for this week, I cant wait to tell you all how good this coming week will be.

Cathchya later

Monday, November 7, 2011

Not Already!!!

So I am driving home from school today and all the cherry farm signs are out and the cherry stand is open.  It can't be, the cherry stands signals the count down to Christmas has started!  So after the shock I couldn't but resist stopping and buying some cherry's which I am now scoffing as I write. Yummmmmm.

during the building
All Finished
OK so the boys room was finally finished on the weekend and they are all moved in and have managed to make messes of their rooms already.  For the last 19 months they have been in a big concrete floor room divided by shelves.  Now they have a room of their own and a small TV/lounge area.  So now everyone has their own rooms.  As much as I am an advocate of kids sharing rooms, I must admit that live is easier with them all having their own space.  When the kids specialist first said we should separate them I was a bit "hmmmm easier said than done" when you have 5 kids.  The girls still like to have "sleep overs" with each other nearly every few days and we allow that so am hoping the boys do the same.
The front of the house now

PJ unloading soil from the Ute
Put the kids to work weeding
We have also been doing more work on the Veggie Patch.  Another tonne of soil has gone in and all but one of beds are ready and raring to go.   We also filled many of the herb pots with soil and My lovely Hubby put his muscles to work digging up some big round metal circles from the garden off the pergola (we are eventually getting rid of that) and moving them around to the herb garden for strawberries, so they are already to go, I just have to find a day to go and buy the plants.

Little tomatillos
I planted in the herb garden today some chilli's, Chives, Spring onions, Capsicums and some Purple Tomatillos which are used mainly in Mexican cooking which I cant wait to give a go, they already have little fruit on them from the seedlings I planted.
I also planted out the tea section of the herb garden.  Mint, Trio of Mint, Peppermint and Chamomile.  I also have 1 sad little Camelia Sineisis (that's where your tea leaves come from) still waiting to go in but they aren't back in the stores till around mothers day so will get some more then.  I love home grown tea.

Our second batch of Chickens have started hatching, we had 8 hatch but 1 died,  there were 30 put into the incubator but there has been no movement for a few days so am thinking that might be it, which makes for a low success rate this time.  So the first batch is now outside in a small cage I wiped up before they are big enough to go in a real cage.  This cage is good cause with the small hutch area they huddle up and stay warm if they need to but when its hot I can cool them down with a wet towel.  Its just a bit easier to control the temperature in this than a big cage and they are still only 5 weeks old so they still need a little bit of babying.

This week I also came across this blog post for home made yogurt with the easiyo yogurt maker, so have pulled it out of the cupboard (or rather took it back from the mum lol) and have been having a go.  We go through stacks of yogurt and it isn't cheap so this is great.  I have been going with the following:

500ml powdered milk (made up), mix in 2-3 tbs yoghurt for a starter, 1/2 cup powdered milk powder, 1-2 tsp vanilla essence, 1-2 tablespoons sugar dissolved in the smallest amount of water.  Shake to mix, top up to the top with made up powdered milk.

This is costing me about $1 a litre as opposed to the $4-5 ltrs in the store.  I made up some apricot by just pureeing some tinned apricot, but Ian and I are the only ones who like apricot yoghurt.  Cant wait till the summer fruits all come in so I can play with them in the yoghurt too

Well I thought it was going to rain but it changed its mind so I better go water all my new plants.

Catchya later

Monday, October 31, 2011

With Spring Comes Work!

As much as I have been sooo looking forward to spring, I had forgotten that it also brings more work.  Have you ever noticed that when you open the windows to let the air and light in after a cold winter that when you look around there seems to be lots of cleaning to be done.  Yes you have been doing your normal weekly cleaning jobs, but now with that spring light coming through the window that cupboard door seems to be a dirty shade of cream, there are thousands of finger (and lip  - Kie was giving her self kisses lol) prints on the mirror, and lets not even mention the cob webs.  So I have had these things staring at me all week this week but with the boys bedrooms still being built and everything they own being stashed throughout the house I hadn't had a chance.  Well there rooms are 90% done (just the bricking in of the windows on the outside to be done now) so we moved them in.  That was a job seriously I think they have too many toys and little bitsy ones at that.

With Spring Cleaning in mind I thought it was about time to share with you the Jiff Cleaner recipe I use.  I use it to clean all the sinks, bath, vanity areas and the toilets.  We are on a bio cycle for sewage here and they work on bacterial breakdown so we cant use most chemicals or any thing with bleach or antibacterials.  This works wonders and is actually the only thing that touches the build up of the dam water scale that gets on the loo.  I was using it when we lived in the suburbs mainly cause it didn't have harsh chemicals and was cheap but now its a way of life. Give it a go.

Jiff Type Cleaner
1/2 cup liquid soap (I use my home made one)
1/4 Bi-carb Soda

mix soap and bi-carb till a thick liquidy paste.
Add small amount of water to smooth consistency (personal taste.)
This does store, sometimes it may separate but just give it a shake.

So with the boys mess back in their rooms, I got a bee in my bonnet today and couldn't stand it any longer so I started those spring cleaning jobs with the jobs I had to do today.  It was the kids bathroom, floors and Laundry today.  There is definitely more to come this week including a lot of glass sliding doors.

Ian also finally bought me some soil for the veggie patch on Sunday so we have loaded that in and there are 3 more garden beds ready for my seedlings.  I also rounded up all the posts and plant protectors I could find on the property and started laying them out in what will be the herb garden.  We have and area between the house and the veggie patch that is a decent size area and at the moment just looks weedy and messy.  I cant really plant anything there because it is just all that horrible foundation rock that they use when they build the house and it would cost a fortune to get it dug out and soil brought in plus really do I want to be digging up that close to the house?  so rather than just forever be annoyed with this area I have rounded up anything that looks like it will hold soil and will be filling them with herbs.  Another tonne of soil and I should be ready to plant lots of herbs yay!

Whilst we were all out working on the garden I brought our baby chicks out for their first frolic in the sun, they had a ball.  The ducks also finally realised that the blue tarp in front of the boys room isn't actually water and found their pond.  (Did I tell you that Donald's girl friend Daisy had arrived).  they aren't quiet eat out of your hands ducks yet but they love to hang around the front of the house and if you haven't been out to chat to them for a while they start peaking through the windows  and tapping for you if they see you.

OK so my little sis Dee says to me (on-line chat) I need to learn how to crochet hair clips.  so the hunt for some patterns and some playing around with them ensued.  Here is the results (excuse the hot pink but when doing testers I use up the bitsy yarn and if it works I have little girls who love pink lol)  Have a go at them the are a great way to use up little bits of left over yarn  and any princesses in your life will love you.  You can find the patterns here and here and the other one is in my head lol.  Well that about sums up this last week.

So catchya later

Monday, October 24, 2011

The sun was finally shinning!

Well we spent a glorious weekend outside, for once it wasnt raining or drizzling or just plain wet.  I got some planting in the veggie patch done finally.  2 types of cabbage (one purple), 6 types of Lettuce, Rocket and Coloured Silverbeet, so thats the Brassica bed planted.  All of these I have grown from seeds in the little hot houses I bought earlier this week.  I am now waiting on more soil to get the Tomatos, chillis and eggplants going.

Sunday, Ian let me play with his new toy,  a ride on mower.  I did the veggie garden where the grass was upto my waist in some places,  I couldnt see the fruit trees bordering the garden for all the grass.   It wasnt as easy as I thought it would be.  definatly made to be used on flat open spaces,  not for swerving around fruit trees and garden beds.  Got the job done though, now it looks much better, and I can even see that all my new fruit trees are  coming along nicely with lots of new foliage.  My Fig tree even has a little fig on it!

It was lovely to see the kids out playing in the sunshine again,  all of them at some point came and helped in the veggie patch too.  Hide and seek is a whole new exciting game on 15 acres but alas there is always one who doesn't get found and gets cross when they have sat in their little hidie spot for too long.  I turned my back on the ride on mower for 2 seconds and Ian had it back and  was mowing every flat spot around the house!  There were animals running everywhere trying to get away.  We let the ducks out for a wander for the first time after clipping a wing each.  they had a ball checking out their new home. The kids thought this was a seriously mean thing to do especially when I told them that it was to stop them being naughty and flying away and that I would consider removing body parts of any naughty children.

Today of course the drizzle was back so spent the day inside pottering around.  For tea tonight I made meatloaf and thought it was about time I shared the recipe.  its one of my goto recipes for a hearty but quickish meal and its great for using up little bits of  veggies that are hanging around in the back of the fridge.

Cauliflower, Peas, Bread Crumbs, Celery, Onion, Carrot
Dell's Meatloaf
  • 500gms mince
  • 1 cup bread crumbs
  • 1 small onion
  • 1 carrot grated
  • 1 1/2 cup grated or finely chopped veggies (eg zuccini, brussel sprouts, cauliflower, peas)
  • 2 tb sp tomato paste
  • 2 tb sp mixed dry herbs
  • 1 egg beaten
  • 1/4 cup bbq sauce (I use a home made one but bought will do)


  • preheat oven to 180 degrees, line tray with alfoil/baking paper
  • mix mince, bread crumbs, onion carrot, Veggies tomato paste, dry herbs, and egg together in a bowl, mix well with hands
  • shape into a 10 x 18 cm rectangle and place on tray
  • bake until firm to touch (30 mins approx)
  • spoon over bbq sauce and bake for a further 10 mins til golden glazed
  • remove from oven stand for 5 mins
  • serve with veggies or salad. 
NB  this is fairly mild flavour (for my kids) but I add pepper sauce or any other spicy sauce when making it for us big kids.

I hope you will try it and enjoy it like we do.

Well I am off to do some homework with the kids

Catch ya later.