Sunday, April 26, 2015

SOME BITS AND PIECES, INCLUDING A TADAH MOMENT!


     
About three years ago I bought a camellia and planted it is a shady spot where I thought I might have a hope of it growing. Camellias seem to do well in our hot/cold area if they get a good start but I hadn't had any luck with them...until this one survived...but then we left it behind when we moved. And today I've just realised that the camellia I've been ocasionally picking is the same as the one I left behind. One of those happy little coincidences that has happened since we came here.


An at last finished jumper! For the 4 year old J. I was worried that it wouldn't fit him after 18 months of knitting, in very much fits and starts. Lastnight I finished sewing ll those ends from all those stripes and breathed a huge sigh of relief! I have been doing other projects in between knits and now can get going in earnest with my already begun ripple rug....


It is probably not a good idea to look too closely at the ripples, they aren't altogether in alignment but I'm hoping to be an 'expert' by the end!??!


I'm using wool I have in my stash, the brown is not a favourite of mine, nor is the blue but with the other favourites I think they work. And sadly the lime green isn't being produced any more so will have to find something similar. So....hopefully it won't take me two years to finish!
Hope you're all having a happy weekend.

Friday, April 17, 2015

THE DUCK PARTY MORNING

I've neglected my blog so much lately and I do miss it. However I always read my blogging friends first thing whilst having my morning cup of tea.  At last I seem to be pretty organised, most things have a home even if I would like a few more shelves...just waiting for E to have some me time...that is time for my wants rather than his time for himself!
The weather has been extremely dry in our corner of the woods and the creek which runs through the middle of the town had all but dried up, just a 'puddle pond' left where people tend to picnic instead of the flowing stream. The ducks had deserted the area, not enough water for them to have more than a splash. However! We have now had a little bit of rain, some further up towards the source of the creek and our 'puddle pond' has grown and with the growth the ducks have returned, so many of them it is a treat to see. I'm not sure whether it is 'legal' these days to feed the ducks but decided it would be fun to walk down with our 4 year old grandson who was with me this morning. And it was fun! We scuffled through the leaves, he picked up the conkers  from the plane trees, carefully bringning home one that had 'horns' on it and best of all he fed the ducks! Two pieces thrown into the melee of ducks, one piece for him! Obviously the grandson didn't want to go hungry!!



The one magpie who tried to attend the party! But wasn't allowed to participate but the ducks!




Al in all a happy morning, for little J, for the ducks....and for me!

Thursday, March 12, 2015

OUR NEW HOME!!





It has been such a long time since I wrote, so much happening here in our corner of the woods...packing yet again and moving house. Not far this time, only a kilometre away from where we were renting. But now it is our permanent home, no more shifts for us...I now need to get rid of all the packing boxes we have accumulated with each move, maybe keeping them might be a subconscious message we are to move again! No thankyou Universe, we are very happy here and intend to stay for our forever!
And no, the above picture is not where we are living! I'm not quite prepared to livie in a tiny cottage like this as someone so obviously did years ago, the old tank stand on the right hand side of the house showing that the rain would have been collected from the roof, every precious drop. I have seen the cottage on morning rides before but this morning it inspired me to write my first post I think for the year. Our house is a little bigger than this, probably at our age one might say too big but we have nestled down very comfortably. One of our requirements for our home was to have a big shed that didn't dominate the entire back garden, not so easy in a small town to find exactly what we wanted. We have our shed, not mine you would all know but the domain of the very industrious, clever and handy husband of mine. We all think he can do anything, going right back to Kate from Greedyforcolour  who at the age of 11(think) bought me a special tumbler for a present, dropped it and broke it. She came home and said to E that she had collected all the pieces as she knew he could mend it! Well, not quite!! Sad for Kate! The shed is a very big double garage with an extension at the back, just perfect for our needs....sorry...for HIS needs!
I'm still sorting out boxes of all my 'making' and 'doing' stuff I've collected, that has been in boxes since we left the farm. The tricky part is where I'll put it all as I haven't the same cupboard space as I luxuriated in before. So there is some culling, more op shop with all sorts of 'stuff'. I won't show you the state of two rooms, one is to be cleared with the conglomeration going to somehow fit into 'my room'! I feel so lucky to have a ’room' to call my own and can't wait until there is some more order and calm in there. I have an armchair in there and a desk from where I can look out onto the prettiest part of the garden, particularly in the afternoons when there corner is in shade.


Not a great photo as it was through the fly wire sliding door...I'm sure you can imagine! 
Moving isn't much fun but the nesting sure is! Happy day to you all!

Thursday, December 4, 2014

WHITE


I was just browsing through photos thinking I hadn't been in blog land for a little while so looking for some inspiration found a theme of WHITE. As our days are lengthening and becoming hotter I see so many beautiful snow photos, stunning snow photos and I sigh for the cooler weather. I do know that for many the snow becomes very tedious but from this little corner in Australia I'm rather envious!


This photo was such a fluke...the pair of cockatoos had been sitting quietly, but as I snapped away I caught this one taking off. They are such naughty chaps and are now haunting our garden again. They have stripped a crabapple of all of the beautiful dark red fruit as well as little offerings of the ends of the branches and leaves. Then today I caught them in the apricot tree, it doesn't really matter as the fruit was destroyed by fruitfly last year and no doubt it will be again. The apricots are green so they aren't nipping them off to eat them, just to have fun. And then later this morning the baby quinces were being attacked! Ugh!


Gardenias...such a favourite!


Quince flowers, so delicate and sweet.


And our visiting white rabbit. He is wild, very timid but seems happy to visit. For some strange reason our golden retriever absolutely ignores him, will happily be in the garden at the same time ignoring him. Just lately a small grey rabbit visits too and it has been funny to see the white one chasing him, pulling him into line. 


We visited a beautiful garden a couple of weeks ago where we admired these romeneya poppies. Luckily my sister-in-law knew their name so could look them up when we arrived home. The next morning I discovered them flowering here and I hadn't noticed them before. They weren't as good specimens but still beautiful as you can see.
So lots of white even if it isn't Christmassy snow! How are your plans for Christmas? I'm slowly getting there, the pudding and now the cake as of today are made. I have at least a million, slight exaggeration, cards to write as I'm putting in our change of address for when we move, a bit premature for our move but it will help later on and save 'double handling.' Only a fortnight now until our NZ family arrive, how exciting for us all!

Thursday, November 20, 2014

CHRISTMAS PUDDING MADE!

Today I made the pudding for our family Christmas, one of my beginning steps to being a bit organised. The recipe I always use was given to me years ago by a school mother who was a wonderful cook and in fact catered as a business. It is so simple to make and really is delicious, bringing the fruit to the boil and letting it cool before adding the final ingredients.




And don't die of shock....


                                                                RECIPE 
2 1/2  lbs mixed fruit, I use lots of raisins, some sultanas and I I have any some currants. You could use craisins...dried cranberries, apricots, your choice really but lots of raisins, leaving them whole so they are good and juicy!
2 oz mixed peel...I don't use because none of us like them!
4 oz chopped dates
Pinch salt, 
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp bicarb soda
1/2 tsp mixed spice
If I haven't got the particular spice I might substitute cinnamon, ginger etc
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup brandy or rum, I always use brandy...
Heat all of the above until it reaches a boil, turn off and leave until COOL. I usually do this the night before the actual cooking. 
When cool add 3 large well beaten eggs, 4 oz glacĂ© cherries...I never weigh these just maybe 3/4 cup, left whole again so you get a juicy piece of fruit, 2 oz almonds chopped but I always use walnuts, broken into pieces by hand, much easier than getting out the chopping board, and lastly add the 375  
gram packet of pastry mix. Sounds peculiar but of course it is the flour and shortening...butter? ...already mixed.  Believe me it DOES WORK! 
Cover he top and boil for 5 hours, 1/2 mixture for 3 hours.
I have a couple of tips, after greasing the pudding bowl I place strips of baking paper across the base of the bowl, making it easier to get out of the bowl on D Day.




Covering the top with a couple of layers of baking paper...which I leave on unless it is very wet after the cooking, it doesn't seem to be a problem.


Then I put strips of foil across the base of the very large pan which then makes it easier to get the pudding out.
This bit has been added today, the day after the original post as I realised I didn't say to add water to the pot! A big OOPS! I put some in at this stage, after the strips of foil are in place, maybe 2-3 inches. Then put pud in! When the bowl is in place just check that the water comes up to at least 3/4 of the sides of the pud. I have to carefully pour water in as my bowl is only a tad smaller than my pot. Then you bring pot and pud to a boil and let it simmer away for the five hours, checking to see if the water needs topping up. If I can hear a gentle simmer I know it is right! Good luck!



The only thing I haven't written down in the recipe is the size of the pudding bowl, maybe you can work it out from my photos. I store in the fridge until Christmas Day, a cool pantry would be fine.
On Christmas Day I boil again for 2-3 hours, doesn't really matter, it gets put on and just left, a slow simmer. 
So there you are, our Christmas pudding made! Hope you try this pudding and do let me know how you go!

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

BUSY, BUZZING BEES AMONGST THE ROSES



Another rose I've discovered in my garden. I don't know the name so would love someone to tell me. The bees adore it, rolling around in ecstasy to get as much pollen from the delicious stamens as possible! I'd almost say they were in a frenzy, squabbling to be the one to get the most pollen! 







The flowers fade, the outer rims of the petals quite creamy and the main part a beautiful pale apricot, softer than the orange that it first shows. The scent is beautiful but not a strong one and the stamens loaded with pollen, come out from quite a red centre...





These last two photos are from some that have been in a vase for a few days, the pollen has simply dropped onto the petals, I've not seen this before.
See you soon!

Sunday, October 26, 2014

MORNING BIKE RIDES




As you may know I ride a three wheeled bike around our little town for some exercise! I'm really enjoying these early morning rides, especially at the moment...after the cold mornings...and before it gets really hot. A bit like the story of the three bears...my 'porridge' at the moment,the temperature is just right! 
But is is more than just the temperature...it is all the fragrances that fill me with delight as I ride. This morning there was the scent of freshly mown grass, a jasmine flowering over a post, wisterias in bloom, the 'whiff' of delicious roses as I ride past. On one of my 'roads,'on the edge of town, there is a horse farm so I have the lovely...to me....horsey smell as I ride right past.This morning a sheep truck drove past me, no sheep on board but I could still smell them, again to me a smell that brings back memories. 
Then there are the birds I see and hear. So many different ones and some elusive, I hear them but they are well hidden high amongst the foliage in the trees I past. There are of course the magpies dive bombing me, crows and Indian Mynah birds strutting their stuff,  very important in their own eyes. Willie wagtails, masked lapwings, blue wrens and so on, a real feast of them.
So come with me and I'll show you some of what I've seen in the last couple of days...












A 'bee' tree caught my eye!


If you look very carefully you can see the bees above...I just happened to pull up beside the tree this morning and noticed the bees very busily flying in and out. 


So...I hope you've enjoyed your ride along with me! And that you're enjoying your Sunday too!