Wednesday, 30 September 2015

Introducing Trixie and Jessie

Well we finally finished the chookhouse, but not before we got the new girls. We didn't plan for things to happen so quickly but Trixie (the Barnavelder) was about to move to Sydney so we picked her up and secured the house enough to keep her safe. We didn't want her to be alone, so I went and picked up Jessie (a Wheaten Maran) the next day. Then it rained for a few days straight which was really annoying, especially while we were trying to get the roof on and the house finished, but we did it and now they have settled in nicely. Trixie is quite friendly and although not too happy to be picked up will let me give her a cuddle, while Jessie on the other hand is not keen at all. I wait till she goes into her roost at night and then give her some loving pats. Determined they will be pets and part of our family. Now I am eagerly awaiting our eggs. And in case your wondering, yes we will be getting more, just waiting for the right ones to come along.

Trixie (left) and Jessie (right).

The chook house.

Jessie, a Wheaten Maran.

Trixie - a Barnavelder.
 The sun has started shining after a pretty miserable week of rain and wind. I do love the rain when it comes and nourishes my garden, but the wind just makes it downright awful! Its nice for the wee ones to be able to get out and play and turn the darn TV off! We have been busy weeding the clover from the lawn, planting out some new baby seeds - although the wind might have got to most of them, and making new friends - with people not the chickens..... My most grateful moment this week was meeting a lovely new friend. Well not exactly meeting for the first time, but actually catching up and getting to know each other better - I can see many good times ahead. As I grow older (and wiser) it really becomes so much more simpler and kinder to your soul when you realise that the quality friendships far out weigh the quantity of friendships. And so I'm sticking to that.

The kidlets play trees.

Nasturtiums. Do you enjoy them added to your salads?

Lemon flowers.

Cape Gooseberry, Blueberry and Raspberry.

Waiting for homes.

Red Dragonfruit.
Glorious Lemons.
Just on a final note, might be a little late now the lemon season is over, but my favourite thing to do with a bounty of glorious lemons is to zest the skins and store in the freezer in a container, then juice the lemons and freeze in ice cube trays, pop out once frozen and store in a container in the freezer too. You will have lemon zest and juice on the ready for cooking anytime, plus its already prepared.
Now I'm off to enjoy the sun some more and give some more of my plants in pots new homes.

Tuesday, 22 September 2015

Homemade Laundry Liquid

I've been waiting to make this for a while now, just had to finish all the store bought laundry liquid first. I have been saving the bottles too for a while which is just as well because this recipe makes 
10 Litres! Its so easy.

Items you will need:

  • A large stock pot or bucket
  • 1 1/2L boiling water
  • 1 cup Lux soap flakes or grated laundry soap
  • 1/2 cup washing soda
  • 8L cold water
  • Whisk
  • Bottles (I saved my old laundry liquid bottles - could use milk bottles)


Mix boiling water and Lux flakes in a large pot with a whisk until dissolved then add the washing soda and whisk again. The water will instantly start to thicken. Add cold water bit by bit mixing as you go until you have added the rest of the cold water. The liquid will continue to thicken as it cools and can separate. The more you mix while it is cooling the smoother the consistency will be.

Pour the liquid into saved containers and fill almost to the top. Leave a little space to shake before use. 

Use 1/4 - 1/2 cup per load or whatever works for you. 

This liquid is suitable for front and top loader washing machines and is also safe for septic tanks and grey water.

You could also add a few drops of essential oil to make it smell pretty.

And that's it! Simple, environmentally friendly, oh and cheap to make too. I think a box of Lux costs about $7, washing soda about $3 and I only used a fraction of it so plenty left for the next time. I'd say 10L cost less than $2!!!

The rain has stopped now so back to the garden to plant out some more of my seedlings which I will share next time - oh and our new girls too.....

Tuesday, 15 September 2015

Farms and friends

Much of the same stuff going on at our 'beach farm' this week, busy in the garden, cooking in the kitchen, chasing after wee ones. We did head up to our friends farm on the weekend to catch up and I had to remind myself before we left to be grateful of where I live. They live on some lovely property by the river and have everything there I could wish for. So I bought some back with me. Lots of pretty plants to mingle into our edible garden with hopes of attracting the ever amazing 'pollinators' to visit.
Can anyone tell me what this beautiful flower is?
Have started planting out some of my seedlings into the garden and they are going well. I'll just keep pottering away and enjoying myself as I do. The weather is definitely starting to warm up and I even managed to go for my first swim at the beach since before winter. Still a little fresh, but envigorating and amazing.
Baby sunflowers.

Alpine strawberry, sweet corn and radish.

Snow peas



Still sprouting.

A gorgeous hippeastrum I received from some lovely friends.

A bounty of oranges, lemonades and mandarins from friends again.

Potatoes are 'chitting'.

Carrot tops.

Chook house almost done.
The chicken house is almost done and we have started looking about for its new tenants. Hoping to get 4 girls of varying traditional breeds. That's about it for me, just a quick scribble while the baby sleeps, plenty of work still to be done.

Tuesday, 8 September 2015

Preserving food using the water bath method

Cooking from scratch is one of the biggest ways I can contribute to the well-being of my family. A little while ago I bought a big pot to attempt canning or preserving food and I finally got started on that last night. In the morning I went into my local fruit and veg grocer to check the discounted trolley and found about 5kgs tomatoes for $3 and 4kgs extra ripe strawberry's for $8. From that I got 10 jars diced tomato (30 cents a jar), and 10 jars or strawberry jam (80 cents a jar). So not only do I know exactly whats in the jars, they are also so much cheaper than anything I can buy in the shop. Sweet!!

Strawberry Jam, diced tomatoes, water bath and stock all on the go!

The method I used is the water bath method. I dont like to use anything fancy and also prefer to use what I already have. So I recycled jars that I have kept. One note of importance if reusing jars like this is to make sure they have no cracks and the lids are intact with no signs of wear or rust.

Items you will need:

  • A large stock pot.
  • A tea towel or a round cake rack to put under the jars to prevent them from touching the hot bottom of the pot.
  • Recycled jars.
  • Tongs and hand mittens.


Prepare the jars.

  1. Before you start check the jars for cracks or chips and the lids for rust or dents. Never use damaged jars or lids.
  2. Wash the jars and lids and boil gently for 5 minutes in a pot to sterlise. 
  3. Allow to cool slightly on a rack.

Diced tomato ready to store.

Fill the jars with goodness.
  1. Pour or spoon the hot contents you have prepared into the warm jars.
  2. Leave about 8mm from the top to allow the contents to expand when boiling.
  3. Make sure there are no air bubbles as this may allow mold to form whilst in storage.
  4. When the jar is full, screw the lids on fairly tight and wipe the jars clean.

Give the jars a bath and store.
  1. Place the jars into the pot (on top of the cake ring) and fill with warm water until the jars are covered by 1-2 inches of water.
  2. Bring the water slowly to the boil. Once it is gently boiling leave for another 45 minutes for small jars and up to 1 hour for larger jars.
  3. When time is up carefully remove the jars with tongs and hand mittens and place on a tea towel to cool. The prolonged heat will form a vacuum in the jars.
  4. When the jars are cool check the lids are inverted. The jars must have a perfect seal to allow for storage in the cupboard.
  5. Store them in a dark cupboard and they will last up to a year without losing their nutrition.

Strawberry jam galore.

Now my fingers are crossed that my jam sets nicely. Yes I did use sugar (gasp!! I know), but I have tried to use a fair bit some lemon juice - supposed to help it set? Preserving food like this is so easy. My next idea is to make some curry sauces to store so that I can use them on the nights where I am a bit time poor, my own version of Chicken Tonight or Kan Tong.....


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