Saturday, 29 June 2013

Rained out

2013-06-16 Home-33

Two wet weekends have stopped progress on Darren's garden projects. Once the rain stops, he is going to build the sandstone planter box for the trellis.

 2013-06-16 Home-35

In the meantime, the silverbeet, celery, onions and shallots Ma planted in the short vege bed are coming along nicely.

2013-06-16 Home-21

Thursday, 27 June 2013

Down comes the hedge

2013-06-09 Home-5

A tall hedge ran along our driveway.  While pretty enough, it stood about a metre in from the boundary.  We couldn't even get our little hatchback into the drive, let alone under the car port.

.2013-06-09 Home-3

So down it had to come.

2013-06-09 Home-9

2013-06-16 Home-1

2013-06-16 Home-8

2013-06-16 Home-17

Sunday, 23 June 2013

Why we have three generations under one roof

Untitled Photo by Alannah

On Tuesday night, I called the after hours doctor out for Ma. She had been sick for over a week, 10 days she thought, and I suspected we were looking at a chest infection at least, maybe pneumonia. The doctor agreed.

Ma worsened overnight. While we played cards and Guess Who, she napped in a chair in the sun on Wednesday morning until the earliest appointment I'd been able to arrange at the local medical practice.

By the time we saw the local GP, her blood pressure was 70/40 and she wasn't registering as receiving oxygen. A blood pressure under 100 alone books you a ride to hospital. He put her on oxygen immediately while we waited for the ambulance.


After five hours on oxygen, saline drip and antibiotic drip in Emergency, she looked better albeit not good. She was transferred to the acute assessment unit for the evening. The chest x-ray and blood tests indicated strep pneumonia to be the most likely diagnosis.


Alannah and I visited on Thursday morning and evening. The tubes were confronting for her initially, but she warmed up.

It's hard for a two year old to wrap her head around. Where's Ma? Why is she is hospital? Why is she sick? Why does she have pneumonia? Does Ma live at the hospital? I have answered the same questions a dozen times.

Untitled Untitled Untitled

By Friday morning, Alannah had had several meltdowns. Darren and I suggested to her she make Ma a card. She was quite intent on the task, kindy told me. They did a wonderful job helping her with it. Alannah and Darren delivered it to Ma on Friday night, not long before she was transferred to the ward.


This is Ma this morning, Sunday. At this stage, we expect her home sometime this week, although it may not be until later in the week. Some of her tests are better; some aren't.

THIS is one of the reasons why we live in a three generation house. But this alone is enough to confirm, for me at least, that we made the right decision. How easily I might have missed what was going on had we not all been under one roof.

UPDATE: Ma was discharged on the evening of Wednesday 26 June after a week in hospital.

Sunday, 16 June 2013

From the kitchen | Baked fresh today

Freshly baked bread has been in the news this week. Australian supermarket Coles has been advertising its bread as baked today and sold today, an ethical and likely legal stretch (read more here and here).

We switched to baking our own bread not long after we moved here in January. I don't make it to the supermarket often and Aussie Farmers' bread failed to impress me (although I love their service for other products).

I asked Darren for a breadmaker for Christmas and, after extensive googling, I chose the Panasonic SD 2501. It works a treat. I often set it in the evening on delay and we can smell it the minute we wake.


Until this week, I had used a variety of Laucke bread mixes and settled on the multigrain mix. I can't stand the smell of the soy and linseed mix and Darren isn't a fan of the white bread mix (which is quite delicious).

On Wednesday, I tried one of Gail's bread recipes that is based on the Laucke multigrain mix (or Defiance hi-fibre grain mix). Delicious! The texture and crust is a vast improvement on the mix alone.


And so the experimenting started...  

Experimentations in multigrain bread

Basic recipe

1 1/2 teaspoons yeast
3 cups Laucke multigrain bread mix
2 tablespoons milk powder
2 tablespoons olive oil
320mL water

And the variations I've tried...

* 2 tablespoons sunflower kernels, 2 tablespoons sesame seeds, 3 tablespoons linseeds (I substituted LSA mix because I couldn't find linseeds), 3 teaspoons mixed herbs

* 2 tablespoons sunflower kernels, 2 tablespoons LSA mix, 2 tablespoons chia seeds (this loaf was pretty much polished off in our morning!)

* 3 tablespoons sunflower kernels, 3 tablespoons LSA mix, 3 tablespoons quinoa flakes

(On my breadmaker, I use the multigrain bread setting number 6 and choose the large or medium size.)


Saturday, 15 June 2013

And didn't they grow, lordy, didn't they grow!

These seedlings were transplanted into our low bed on 21st May, which is a month this coming Tuesday. I could not be happier with their progress. Today, I labouriously pulled all the 'winter grass' that has sprung up through the compost. Perhaps I should stop putting bread off-cuts into the compost, which might keep the green haze of weed to a minimum. Not sure.

The silverbeet should be ready to start picking in another two weeks, so will apply a weak fish emulsion twice weekly from here on in. The celery has a long way to go but I want to start stretching it to the sun, so will get my sleeves ready.

The kumquat has three fruit on it already. My bible says they take months to ripen, and never never taste until they are fully coloured as they are tTart!

Repositioned the compost bin today, and turned the contents upside down. Hefty job. I am half way through this batch (6 weeks), so should be starting my next batch and leaving this batch to settle and do its little chemical dance. Bunnings. Need to go to Bunnings!

Thursday, 13 June 2013

Keeping the garden healthy

Our friend, Gail, drove down the F3 this morning, through the fog and the sleet, carrying two sacks of lucerne mulch for our veggie garden. The produce must get through, you know. Inside the sacks are sweepings from her prep shed in the stables. Not the horse pens, not manure and all. But sweepings from beneath her feet.

When I was up at Gail's horse stud two weeks ago, waiting for her at the stock feed store, I tallied up the various types of mulch available, and asked for her opinion re best for my purposes. She assured me that lucerne mulch fitted my requirements perfectly, as not only would it retain the moisture in the soils, but also it would add organic nutrients which neither pea-straw nor hay-stalks would.

I am hoping it will reduce the quantity of weeds that are currently sprouting ... everywhere. We are getting near the pointy-end of this garden-creating lark. Coming up to five months of work.

Saturday, 8 June 2013

From the kitchen | Pikelets, tarts and other goodies

Pancakes on Sunday morning 

Homemade vege soup Vegetable soup using homemade chicken stock from Annabel Karmel's Complete Family Meal Planner

Untitled Whole Orange Cake from Rhonda Hertzel's Down to Earth

Untitled Porridge with blueberries, raspberries and maple syrup

Untitled Condensed milk from Rhonda Hertzel's Down to Earth

Lemon tart from Meyer lemons which Ma brought home from Gail and Peter's farm 

UntitledQuiche Lorraine

Saturday, 1 June 2013

Value added, rather than value for money

Kirsten rarely goes trolley shopping, or even grocery shopping. Instead of trolley shopping, she orders approximately every six weeks from Coles Online. It is delivered the next day, and delivery is currently something like $13. Instead of grocery shopping, she receives a twice-weekly delivery from Aussie Farmers, and a fortnightly delivery from Sydney Fresh.

At the moment, we receive the $50 family box from Sydney Fresh, and when it arrives Alannah and I unpack it, and I put it all away. By then said child is too busy eating! The apple she is eating is a 'Pink Lady', with a 'Granny Smith' lined up for next. When I went to 'repackage' the celery, it occurred to me that she would have no idea where a celery came from. So out we went for an impromptu lesson.

From Aussie Farmers we receive milk, eggs, butter, cheese, a fresh chicken or salmon, perhaps some bagels. These arrive by 6:30am each Friday, and are placed in an esky on our front porch. Good quality, good service.

But this is what our garden is trying to replace. This level of quality product, and this level of availability. A big ask. Keeping up the quantity AND the quality throughout the year, reducing the outlay on purchased fruit and vegetables, and providing justification for the exorbitant cost of the veggie patch. Lucky I can rationalise this veggie patch. Like the activity for me, both physical and mental. But also, the involvement and understanding of the food cycle for Alannah. And getting to know the neighbours, and swapping tomatoes for fresh eggs.