Sunday, January 14, 2018

The Beauty Of Sunflowers

I went to the Community Gardens today as I do every Sunday but this week the Sunflowers just spoke to me. All lined up along the fence. Originally these seeds came in an Anniversary Yates Tin full of heritage seeds, given to me by my best friend. While I managed to plant the others the Sunflowers were alluding me. Finally I gave them to a garden member and she planted them along the fence line. The chances of them growing was slim as I had them for probably 5 years but always in the fridge. Voila nearly all of them came up.

Such a golden yellow

As I arrived at the garden, early this morning, there they were all  facing the morning sun. It looked so pretty.

Can you see the happy faces?

The biggest one is the size of a dinner plate. The seeds aren't ready yet the bees are still harvesting the nectar, but hopefully we will beat the birds and get some for ourselves.

Why is this one so big and lovely?

The front entrance is looking lovely at the moment, despite all the hot weather.

Meanwhile back at home I have been pulling up the carrost in readiness for the changeover of the garden. Only did half the bed but they weighed 3.5 kgs. Dumped them all in the sink while I had morning tea, I wasn't sure if to freeze or dehydrate them. Dehydrate won out though as once I checked the freezer space, I already have 5 kgs. of carrots frozen.

Getting ready for processing.

 It was 35 degrees when I did this and took 3 hours to process, then I  put them in  the dehydrator, which went into a spare bedroom, I didn't want to add  more heat where we were.

Small ones I did freeze.

Nearly done

As I write this the weather is finally on the change and it is getting cooler. A good time to do some embroidery.

Till next time.

Sunday, January 7, 2018

Hello 2018

For the first time in a long time I didn't stay up to see the New Year in, but this week I have been regaining my energy and before John came home did a thorough cleaning of the main areas. I am going to try and keep it that way, and have been shining my sink all week, it feels good.


As I have to watch the UV level of the sun,  going out to the garden has to be early, usually around 7 am which gives me 2 hours to do something. I am pleased to say we have started on the big changes to the front vegetable garden. As I age I want to make the garden easier so we will be putting in raised beds.

Starting in this area first

This means a lot of work and we have to go slowly while we shift everything around. Most plants can come out and I will start again, some I am trying to save for their seeds.

Going to use the two tank beds our son made.

Christmas growth very messy

 I downloaded some graph paper first so I could see it laid out, by cutting out shapes etc. Hopefully I won't lose too much growing space.

Makes sense to me

I  feel it will be more compact growing and more organized,  as with an open garden there is no set area, and can be a bit vague planting things. I am very excited about it all, so will keep you up to date.

Doubling the height of the edging bricks

Pulling up from here where the tank beds will go.

I have also joined this month the Uber Frugal Monthly Challenge to see if I can save a bit better, both for the garden upgrade, also a planned caravan holiday, and everyday I get a reminder of how to be frugal or save. This is her site and the last challenge for a while, as she is due to have a baby.   Frugalwoods. 

In the meantime this week I dehydrated some mushrooms. Aldi had a special so grabbed 4 packets of their sliced mushrooms, placed on all 8 trays and sprayed  a weak lemon, so easy.

Ended up with 2 jars. Great for putting in crock pots along with dehydrated peas for soaking up liquid.

Next week I will either freeze 400grm blocks of tomatoes or maybe make some more spicy relish. Haven't decided yet.  Between the community garden and mine there are plenty of tomatoes.

Today in Australia for many, it has been an extremely hot day, up to 47C in Sydney, that is terrifying and I hope all of you are coping. We are fine and spent the afternoon in air conditioning.

Till next time.

Sunday, December 31, 2017

Goodbye 2017

The last week of the year for me is always a time of reflection on the year itself and a time to get organized for the next year. As I wrote on the forum I moderate for, in numerology 2017 was a year to break away from our comfort zones, and leap headfirst into new roles and circumstances, with plenty of challenges and opportunities, trailblazing and finding new directions. Well it certainly describes my year.

Happy moment with my sister waiting in line for the opening of the Kaiser Store.

 I am back home, from a fortnight in Sydney with all the family. John put in a new kitchen for our daughter, and helped make new garden beds for our 2nd. son. We spent time with all 8 grandchildren at once, skyped with our youngest daughter in America. Had 20 plus people for Christmas Lunch, went and saw Star Wars at the cinema, a family boxing day tradition. Celebrated our youngest son's birthday on the 27th Dec.  Not surprisingly  I have come back tired, not used to all the noise and going ons.

One big mess, typical of all the gardens

The garden is a mess, having rained several times followed by heat, but I am just leaving it till I regain a bit of strength. Next year it is undergoing a complete change.
I also have to still start organizing my garden to do list and vegetables to grow next year, hopefully a start date of March depends on how we go changing the garden.

Yellow flower is parsnips going to seed never had that happen before, white is perpetual leeks.

My planner this year is going to be the Happy Planner style. Even though I completely designed up planner pages for the forum I am not going to go with it. I have stickers, and left over pages to use up on this bigger style so downloaded a weekly one to print and have now put it all together. I am still sticking with my favorite organizing chart by weeks here 52 weeks to an Organized Home   that I have done now for 4 years.

Chose an undated one, and bit bigger than A5

 2018 will be a year of projects to finish, both the house, garden, and craft as I get older I am now looking at easier, and while I am still able get us there. Declutter is a big one, paying off the mortgage, a new car as mine is now 15 years old, and that is  just to start with. Hoping your plans for 2018 are coming together as well.

Happy New Year Everyone, and Happy Birthday to my Sister, it is on New Years Day, love you lots.

  Till Next Time.

Sunday, December 24, 2017

Mum's Christmas 2017

The Christmas Party held at Mum's Nursing home this year was held in two separate areas. The elderly in their large dining room and the dementia ward had theirs in the small dining room in the secured area. The verandah off the main area was being repaired so room for extra people wasn't available.

Tree squashed into the corner

Something different this year for the wall.

One visitor per patient is allowed but we sneaked my sister in during her lunch hour. I am not sure if  Mum knew what was happening that day but still we made her smile and Santa came, we then moved to a quieter area in the garden for a hour.


Mum and Jan enjoying the afternoon.

This is a small garden off the dining room.

 I am pretty sure there were moments of knowing us, and finally one of the nurses took her off to the bathroom and she left without any problem and we were forgotten as was the lunch. Such is the Disease.

Merry Christmas

Today, 4 days later,  we decided to take her out to a local cafe. Getting her in  and out of the car was difficult, the brain didn't know which way to turn, or which leg to put in first, and we eventually managed. She knew us and loved the teddy bear we gave her for Christmas, and enjoyed cake and coffee.

Jan added her name, as things tend to wander from room to room. The hat is a communal one.

Then a walk back to the car via a ramp and 3 small steps down, which was very difficult for her to negotiate. We managed all right going up. These little things is enough to not go out anymore and the incontinence which is now at a difficult level, and the need to take towels for the car seat etc.
So on arriving back, the nurse whipped her off to the bathroom, and we sat in the lounge for 10 mins. and left. Mum again just heading off in the opposite direction and we were forgotten. We will both be with family till New Year and once more we will catch up with mum again and see what 2018 brings.

The Three Girls.

One thing for sure, we are seeing her every week more than we ever did when Mum and Dad were living 2 - 3 days travel away. She is the last of her whole family on both Mum and Dad's side, and I am glad we have these last few years with her despite the problems. Your mum is still your mum and we love her.

Our Christmas is now upon us, I hope you all have a lovely time whether on your own or with family and friends.

Merry Christmas Everyone.

Till Next Time.

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Jam and Chutney Week.

After the jam making last week, this week it is all about the chutneys and pickles.
I had some tomatoes to use up from the garden so decided to use them on a chilli and tomato chutney and ended up with 5 bottles, tasted really nice too.

A mixture of garden tomatoes

The following 3 days later after a visit to the community garden more tomatoes, this time I decided to use up leftovers with them, dried apricots, raisins, some apples and a couple of onions. Another 5 bottles later have a wonderful fruit chutney, even had a little bit left for dinner that night with crumbed fish. Worked really well.

Cooking away

Like the colour it turned out.

Little bit at a time adds up.

So if that wasn't enough preserving for the week today ended up picking all the beetroot. It had been there a little bit too long so a lot of waste but managed to scrape up 2 pint bottles of beetroot in spiced vinegar. Once it has seeped a month or so it will be just right.

Garden Beetroot

It is good to get back to the preserving with all that has been going on this year, with my  medical trauma, mum, 3 lots of travel, and  the community garden, my life feels like it has gone a bit haywire, hopefully 2018 will be a bit more settled into a routine.

What tomato is this?

 This tomato was from the Community Garden. We were given a few heirlooms but don't know the name should anyone recognise it. Some sort of Paste tomato. Kept the seeds and the rest went into the 2nd. chutney, as it had ripened nicely by the time I started cooking.

The heat is really starting to settle in now, so I am letting the garden work drop, gathering seeds and watering where needed. Next year will be a big change as going to change the whole front garden and add raised beds,  while we can and to make life a little easier for the future.  As I am writing this on Sat. 16th today is our 45th wedding anniversary.

Till Next Time

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Grumichama Fruit

Surprise ,surprise when I was watering the garden this week the Grumichama tree was loaded with ripe fruit. Don't know why I haven't noticed before, I knew some were there but not two containers full. They aren't that big. but delicious. Anyway picked and picked from above on the top level, then from below on the bottom bank garden,  which really told me how high this tree actually is. Had it about 6 years now, and small amount of fruit last year.

Glad the birds hadn't attacked it, and really don't know why. If you haven't head of a Grumichama it is a small fruit with two seeds inside, and the closest taste to a cherry as you can get with a tropical tree. Delicious to eat on their own, but as I am home alone at the moment while John is putting in a kitchen for our daughter, couldn't eat them all. I did leave some on so I hope I haven't taught the birds about a new tree for them.

So in the end figured I would make jam, couldn't really see it as a chutney, my go to preserve at the moment, as we don't eat a lot of jam. Next year though I am hoping to use the jam, for a different monthly challenge on the Homemaker's forum. This year if was A Fancy Cake  Challenge which was quite successful.

De-seeded cooking.

I decided just to throw the whole lot into my jam pan and cook till soft get the seeds out and add the sugar. Sounds easy doesn't it? The first mistake was throwing it all in the pan. Millions of tiny seeds later I had to pick them out one by one. That meant tipping the lot into another pan,which is of no use for jam making, it catches on the bottom. Tipping all the juice back into the original and then I tried to put small amount through a sieve, that didn't work either just a lot of mush and a lot of seeds. I then got a slotted spoon and bit by bit took the seeds out of it and threw what was left into the jam pan.

Actual Grumichama and the two seeds..

2 hours later aaaaaaaah. and a giant sink full of bowls, spoons, tongs, pots, finally had a mixture which I started to cook. I wasn't sure of the pectin in this new fruit so I added 2 lemons worth of juice and 4 old apples to thicken, and boiled the lot down, with 2 1/2 cups of sugar. I wanted to keep it tart, there was about 5 cups of mixture in the pot. Finally it started to set and ended up with 7 jars exactly, of Grumichama jam. It is sweet, glad I didn't add more sugar, cherry taste like but not quite, and should be nice on scones and toast.

Back to the housework. I was hoping to have a quiet 2 weeks to really get the house sorted,  and have  been out everyday for something or a-rather. Barely keeping up with the day to day catchup, let alone declaring war on the linen press or pantry.

Till next time.

Monday, December 4, 2017

Digging up Potatoes

I have been digging up the potatoes that I planted in pots and I wrote about back in August  HERE . 
They have been absolutely delicious and although not huge I was happy with the quantity  that I got from only 2 or 3 seed potatoes that I planted, in each pot.

This was a month ago and some of the plants were still green, but had started to die back so I knew they were ready. John had to lift them as very heavy.

Getting ready.

The soil that is left after the potatoes was wonderful. As I was away my sister had been filling up the pots as the potatoes grew, with a chipped mixture from the branches after halving the size of our fruit trees, a huge pile.

All on the bottom

I find that potatoes in this sub tropical area don't really grow from higher up the stem, hence why we fill the pots up. They all tend to be at the bottom. If you grow potatoes would love to know where yours grow from. I still have 5 pots to go, so will be digging these up soon as all the green has now died off.

This is two pots worth.

The other thing that I  have been enjoying is my gladioli. Last year I planted bulbs but was away as usual when they flowered so not sure what happened if any flowers at all. As I was cleaning up I put all the bulbs in one area and have had lots of lovely flowers coming up. They are so beautiful on the long stems.

Back area even had a few. 

Love this Pink.

These apricot ones are from my Aunty Betty's Garden and seed everywhere. She died 3 years ago so just love them.

First week

2nd week

Since those two pickings I have had more white, a lovely yellow one and apricot. I shall certainly be keeping my eye our for more bulbs especially on sale.

Hasn't the year gone fast, December all ready, so I hope you are all on time with your festivity preparations. This year our 2nd son is hosting Christmas Day in his new house. I have decided to provide the non alcoholic Pina Coladas and Strawberry Daiquiris. So enjoyed them on our holiday have to have them again. I know our daughter will be pleased.

Till next time stay safe.