Thursday, 17 December 2015

Better Days Ahead ...

It's been a tough couple of days....sending my love to my nephew.  Hang in there kiddo, things will not always appear as bad as they are now. 


Look out for those you love.....Life is precious and we should use it wisely.

Thursday, 10 December 2015

Lovin' the Country Life.....

Since moving to Gippsland I am falling in love with the country lifestyle...it's just amazing here.  The locals are incredibly easy going and friendly...even the Real Estate agent who sold us the house called around for a chat and to see how we were settling in...and did I mention the markets ..... every weekend there is a local market here and the surrounding towns...so far I've tackled Drouin, Warragul , Rokeby and Yarragon....lovely little markets...while they are no Red Hill they are lovely and quirky in their own way.

Gorgeous morning tea at a lovely cafĂ© in Yarragon....china tea cups for my green tea  ...yay  !!!
 Last weekend was our monthly catch up with friends and the big K and Robbie were the hosts....we had a Christmas celebration and as usual loads of delicious food.


J and A surprised us with festive dips!!...spinach and beetroot inspired by Karen Martini no less...delicious
I took along a Christmas Trifle...yes I know a bit daggy...but it was a festive theme with red and green jelly.....forgot to get a pic before we ate it. 
Turducken ( I think that's it), home smoked ham and amazing vegies from the hosts and J & M...scrumptious !
 With Christmas almost here and so much celebrating and drinking ahead I am trying to eat a healthy lunch each day to combat all those calories.....delicious salad two days in a row now...that's a record for me I think.
Healthy salads for lunch...including my home grown sprouts.
 Got my sprouter up and running....have grown alfalfa and broccoli sprouts....was a bit surprised by how funky the broccoli sprouts smelt...thought I had done something weird...but apparently they always smell a bit pungent....they taste great and I am happily adding them to my salads.
All good in the sprouter...they pop up in a couple of days...very easy.
 My lovely old neighbour over the back fence popped in yesterday morning ...early !!...knocked on my back door with a feed of rainbow chard and rhubarb ...... I gave him 1/2 dozen eggs the other day and he was pretty chuffed....I love country people.
Home goodies from Les....my new gardening buddy...he's 78 and loves his vegie garden.
We have a fantastic blackberry patch in the garden...complete with bird netting....which we inherited when we moved in....it has the biggest blackberries I have ever seen and they are delicious. Can't wait until all the stuff I've planted gets going....hopefully not too long.
Blackberries and eggs.....not much in the vegie patch yet but hopefully soon !
Our neighbour over the road...Leo the ex minister....just brought my bins up the driveway and left giving me a big wave through my glass front door......... Lovin' this country life.

Wednesday, 4 November 2015

The Quest for a Simpler Life....

It's been nearly two months since I've been in the mood to update my blog....so much has happened that has drained a lot of energy and taken a large chunk of my life.....hopefully much of it is now almost resolved...have had an aged care assessment on my dad which will hopefully improve not just my parents quality of life but mine also !....we have moved to the new house 3 weeks ago and all is now going well....so much drama with Telstra/Internet and still missing my mail redirection from Australia Post..3 weeks and still waiting !!....it seemed like my dream of an even simpler life was never going to happen....but I think it finally has...my man and I are now debt free and can't believe the feeling that it brings. We are now furiously planting out the back yard and I am joining a permaculture group so that we can be a little self sufficient in the garden.


First things first we organised the new accommodation for the feathered girls...it's a much better set up now and the ladies are very happy with their new digs.

the coop and custom built chicken run.......I traded some bookkeeping with a builder and he built the run in exchange.
 The yard has a few overgrown garden beds which were covered in weeds and we found some struggling strawberry plants which we managed to resurrect and they are going pretty well now in what I loosely term "the strawberry patch".

the resurrected strawberry patch.....hopefully some strawberries coming our way soon.

lovely little nest in amongst the rose hips......
Found a delightful surprise behind the rose bush that runs along the back fence.......when the little lady got off her nest I snapped a quick pic of her 3 baby blue eggs...not sure what type of bird she is but the nest is beautiful and a lovely reminder that Spring is still in the air.

Three little eggs......I'll keep my eye on them for when they hatch
Have meet quite a few local country characters since we've moved in....an elderly chap out the back who is apparently the best tomato grower in the district....or so he says !...Les is 78 years old and quite the old charmer....will definitely be taking gardening tips from him.

Friday, 4 September 2015

Unexpected inspiration......

At writing group this afternoon we had a visitor who had arranged to sit in on our class.  She was the most amazing young Indonesian Islamic woman who has written and published four books....you can read about her here Okky Madasari ...... is in Australia for 4 weeks and arranged to attend our group through the community house who run the course.  It was sobering to hear her speak of the issues facing her country....population of 200 million......mind boggling for such a small island......around 90% are Islamic.    I only wish those among us who spread hatred for the Muslim community could hear from someone like Okky. This gentle, highly educated, well spoken woman is a credit to her people.....It was eye opening to hear her talk of the problems in Indonesia including fundamentalist Muslim groups terrorising moderate Indonesian residents...she has also just travelled through Germany promoting her book and has seen first hand the issues facing the refugees on the borders.  The humanitarian crises around the world is something that we Australians should not turn our backs on.  It's an enormous problem that needs a united global solution.
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 Okky Madasari  is an Indonesian author and journalist. She won an Indonesian major and most celebrated literary prize, Khatulistiwa Literary Award, in 2012 for her third novel, Maryam. At the age of 28, she is the youngest ever to win this prestigious award. Her novels were shortlisted three years in a row by the same award.

Monday, 24 August 2015

A Return to Simple Days....

Such a lot going on at the moment..... hopefully all will calm down soon and life can get back to the simplicity that I love.   Moving house is certainly one of those times when you can take stock of all your "things" and realise you don't really need as much "stuff" as you think you do.  I hope to clear out all unnecessary "things" .... and reduce us down to mainly just the essentials.
There is a lot to do before we move in just 7 weeks...the time goes so fast and I really need to find the time to just stay in the moment and enjoy life.
We celebrated our 22nd wedding anniversary last weekend....unfortunately too busy helping my beautiful girl move house herself to get up to much celebrating...but we will hopefully take time out this weekend for a nice dinner for two.

Beautiful bouquet from my lovely man for our anniversary...hyacinth's  my favourite flower
 Managed to squeeze in a trip to the clippers for my fluffy girls....Daisy looks so funny when they trim all of her hair and eyelashes away....all eyes and nose.

Gorgeous Daisy after her haircut......I much prefer them shaggy . but she looks lovely and clean
 With our impending move I needed to sort out which chickens would be coming with us as we are moving to a much smaller yard.....I decided to keep the three youngest girls who I have raised from eggs, as all three lay eggs every day... my two lazy light sussex and one 4 year old isa have been retired to a small farm....and no that is not a euphemism for putting them down....they have literally gone to live on a lovely little property with 13 other chickens...four horses, three cats and three dogs....I know they will be happy there among a pair of staunch animal lovers. 

Three younger girls are coming with us...
Have not planted any vegies in our patch so nothing is growing and I miss it so much not being able to go outside and get food from the garden......can't wait until I have things up and running at the new house....hopefully in time to have some goodies in during Spring !!

Tuesday, 21 July 2015

We're on the Move .....

We managed to sell our house at our first open for inspection......thankfully we have been looking for our new home for quite a while and one we had our eye on luckily hadn't sold and we have managed to buy it.....Drouin here we come.
 Have been flat out and not managed many posts of late....we enjoyed our monthly luncheon with friends and it was our turn.....we made pulled pork sliders....my man (who is a very inexperienced cook !)  did a great job and cooked the pork in among other things Pale Ale.....it was delicious....I also made brioche buns.... a first for me and the recipe only made 8 buns so I had to include bap rolls as well....also made a coleslaw....they were really nice ......loads of delicious food , wine and good friends....a great afternoon !!

I had beetroot dip and Yarra Valley Goats cheese for starters.
J&M produced the most amazing caramalized onion, blue cheese and pear pizza's....
Our pulled pork and crispy crackling......J&A supplied potatoes 2 ways....very masterchef


Coleslaw to go with the sliders.....casual luncheon buffet style.

Pork Slider on my home made brioche bun......delicious
The big K's dessert to die for....verjuice panna cotta with poached pears and a tuile....YUM

Monday, 29 June 2015

The Blogging Experience.....

Blogging and following people on line is an intriguing journey...... Sharing event's and experiences with people all over the world.  This morning I find myself in tears over the death of a dog I've never touched, belonging to a man I've never met, in a town I've never heard of. .... yet the loss of beautiful Meg brings me to tears...I've been following John's blog for over a year now and you really start to feel like you know them and care about what happens it their lives.  Meg had been sick for a while and had been given expert care by John before he had to make the difficult decision to put her to sleep. Hope John doesn't mind that I've shared a picture of Meg here as a puppy with her pal George.


Meg (she's the blonde) and George from Going Gently
Having to say goodbye to pets is such a difficult thing and John shared his experience with such honesty and love.  RIP Meg.

Wednesday, 24 June 2015

We're on the Market....

Haven't been here for a while.....it's a busy process getting your home ready for sale....but it's on the market as of yesterday..  Problem now is finding another one....fingers crossed the perfect house will turn up.  It's a bit sad to be selling, I really love it here but we've made a lifestyle decision to prepare ourselves for retirement.  Debt free will be amazing.   


It's really cold in the hills this week....winter is letting us know she's around.  Hope we get a sunny day on Saturday for our first open for inspection.

Wednesday, 3 June 2015

The Dirty B Word.....!

Yikes....Budget......We have been to see a financial advisor recently and yes the news is out...I spend too much money...no surprise really, I've never been much of a saver.  We are however needing to prepare ourselves for retirement in the not too distant future....my man is 61 this year.  Sooooo the dirty B word has raised it's ugly head again and yes we are putting ourselves on a budget....we have a plan to get out of our mortgage...sell up ...move a bit further out and buy a home mortgage free. Get completely out of debt and try to live on the weekly $figure that the financial advisor has set for us.  If we do things according to his plan in 4 years we should be able to have a comfortable retirement.... I know I will struggle on a fairly tight budget but there are heaps of blogs out there with good advice...fingers crossed and see how we go.

Meanwhile the garden is still producing a little....

broccoli , mixed lettuce, lemons and my first Protea flower from the garden...they are really lovely.

Managed to get a few figs off the tree before the birds consumed them all....
Now I just need a recipe to use them in !
One of my few remaining pumpkins grown this year....it was huge and tasted delicious.


We had our monthly luncheon catch up with friends and I had to bring soup....naturally my home grown pumpkin made a delicious soup...... that was budget friendly !

Pumpkin soup with caramelised onions ... garlic croutons and a little cream.

We ate outside as the weather was quite mild...even little Charlie joined us under the table.

Pork fillet inside whole pineapple wrapped in prosciutto........from the big K

Fondant Potatoes...there was also a lovely brussel sprouts dish. 
What can I say.....Lemon Meringue Pie from J&A....Yum.
Lastly it was so cold this morning that I spoilt the ladies with a warm breakfast of porridge....yes I can hear you saying that isn't in the budget.....still got a lot of lessons to learn.....but they were pretty happy.
Rolled outs and my homemade yoghurt for the girls.....probably need to get no-name brand oats now.

The feathered girls were very happy with breakfast today.
Winter is well and truly with us....my days will be spent trying to keep warm as we prepare to put our house on the market....watch this space.

Tuesday, 12 May 2015

Too Busy to Blog ........

Don't know where the time has gone but I haven't had a chance to get to the blog in quite a while.  A quick update on how I've spent the last two weeks or so.......monthly luncheon catch up with the gang was held by J&M....delicious BBQ lunch...I had to bring a starter which was sweet potato rostie's which we ate before I got a photo...lovely salad by J&A....scrumptious decadent cheesecake by R and the Big K....a lovely afternoon.... J&M moved into their new house so it was also a  house warming.

Steaks and salads all set to go.....self service at the big island bar.
What was left of the caramel cheesecake which had a delicious caramel sauce to got with it.

Also spent a day crafting with my eldest daughter and we tried our hand at making bath bombs to give as gifts....very easy recipe and I was quite amazed how well they turned out...I made big ones in a recycled plastic donut box...they came out really nice.   
Mixed up the ingredients, citric acid, bicarb, corn flour, essential oil fragrance, colour and water...
Placed the just damp mixture into the moulds and the donut packaging...
They turned out OK....great gift idea and we've put them on the list for homemade Christmas.

We also tackled homemade candles but the soy we used was for pillar not container so we had a few problems but they came out okay in the end....I have kept my empty jars from candles I have either bought or been given over the year and have up-cycled the beautiful jars....very happy with the result....don't think I will ever buy candles again as they are very easy to make and work out much cheaper.
My up-cycled jars being used for more candles...labelled and ready to give as gifts....or keep for myself !
 Also tried a couple of organic beeswax candles....added coconut oil as this was suggested on the internet...the fragrance I used on these ones was caramel & vanilla......they smell fantastic.

Beeswax candles have a beautiful colour....really happy with these ones.
A trip to Red Hill market for the last market before winter was a lovely day spent with my girls and my gboy....they had a petting zoo which he loved.

At the petting zoo which had lovely baby animals...he also feed a kid and a lamb.
Unbelievable my gboy starts school next year...........time really flies..... I just love him to bits .
My little man in full flight at kinder........a school boy next year!
 Sunday saw us all having Mother's day at my mum's place for afternoon tea...... we had a lovely family day and I was very spoilt with perfume, books, chocolates and a pasta machine from my fluffy girls...thanks to my husband.  Looking forward to getting into some homemade pasta !!
 

Sunday, 19 April 2015

Eggs at Last............ !!

 Finally a little surprise in the henhouse ....... the girls that I raised from fertilised eggs that I posted about here and here  have laid their first eggs....albeit a bit funny looking....the colour doesn't appear to be uniform on the shell but they were fine inside..... it's the first time I have raised chicks that have laid eggs....previously in 2013 when I put eggs under the clucky mum they were both roosters....this time I got 3 girls.... it's great.

My two funny little eggs......at last they are laying.
All the girls foraging beneath the fruit trees.................they love it.
The six girls out foraging under the fruit trees....three old girls and three newbies.....I just love watching them peck around the garden..... they are such a natural addition to the yard and worth the effort.

Tuesday, 14 April 2015

The Human Spirit.......

I am always in awe of the human bodies ability to endure......my daughter and a team of friends entered the Oxfam Trail-walker fund raising event.  They managed to walk the 100km in around 35 hours walking through the night, only resting briefly....a true test to their will and determination to succeed......they are all in a lot of pain and blistered feet (which thankfully they were able to have treated by podiatrist's during the event)...but very pleased with their achievement....congratulations girls!!
The team as they headed off at 10:30am on Friday morning
The team when they finished at 9pm on Saturday...a bit worse for wear but still smiling.
My best friend joined me for a stint as support crew at one of the check-points....we fed and watered them and then sent them back on their journey....The Melbourne event raised over 2.5 million for Oxfam... a fantastic cause...to aid global poverty.

Thursday, 9 April 2015

The Good....the Bad....& the Sad...!

 We had a lovely Easter....home made hot cross buns on Good Friday..... a lovely sleep in on Saturday...then an Easter egg hunt in the back garden with the Gboy on Sunday morning, followed by Brunch.....and a visit to our parents in the afternoon....My man having 4 days off in a row....perfect.

All ready for the oven......very wonky but who doesn't love imperfection !!

All brushed with sugar syrup and ready to eat..
This week I got around to making tomato relish from some of the last of the crop......followed the recipe I found on the internet and I did think 1/2 cup of salt into the chopped onion and tomatoes seemed quite a lot.....2 cups of malt vinegar also.... and it took forever to reduce.... upon tasting it is very very salty....I checked the comments on the recipe and they all said way too much salt.....I bottled it up anyway and will see how it tastes in a couple of weeks time...such a nuisance using a recipe that I wasn't too sure of.....would love to hear from anyone who has a great tomato relish recipe!

after a quick dip in boiling water the skins come off nice and easy.
Red and a couple of yellow heritage tomatoes, onions.......and loads of salt !


Will see how it goes, but I think it is going to be a bit nasty ...!
 And sadly the little chicken who hasn't been well for quite a while died yesterday......when I went out in the morning to let all the girls out she was just standing there not moving and let me pick her up.....she was so thin......I placed her in a small cage and put her on the porch in the warm sunshine...she laid with her eyes closed all day only waking occasionally.. and the fluffy girls and I sat with her in the sun for ages....she seemed quite peaceful but I wondered if it would have been more kind to put her down....It is such a dilemma but I let nature take it's course..... she had been eating and running around the day before.......hopefully her last day she was peaceful away from the others who were starting to peck at her....I buried her in the backyard under the lemon tree.

Daisy and Daphne sat with me keeping their eye on the poor thing...she was very weak and listless.