Winter 2017

 
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Erhumm, right then...  I think perhaps an apology is needed.  I am sorry for disappearing from this space without any notice at all.  I did put a little post up on Instagram, way back in July, explaining where I was at and my need to retreat but that explanation never quite made it here.

Three months it's been!!!  Pretty much the whole of Winter!  Shortly after my last post, I hit a wall.  It was a classic and very real case of burnout and none too pleasant.  I promptly decided to shut down and go into radical self-care mode.  I thought maybe it would only be for a week or two, but then I found myself embarking on several big changes all at once.  Life offered me a cross road, or a fork would be more accurate - right as those two massive eclipses came about... funny that eh?!  Things needed fixing, externally and internally and since I'm not one to delay matters, I swiftly went about purging some old to make way for the new.  Thing was, I wasn't entirely sure what those new things were going to look like and to be honest, I'm still only a tiny bit clearer.  One thing is certain though, as soon as I closed a few doors, new ones opened.  Fresh opportunities appeared and decisions had to be made.  To do so, I really had to filter out the noisy online world of social media in order to process all that was needed and integrate this next faze in my journey.  The changes are all very new and still unfolding, thus I am moving through very consciously and mindfully - or at least I am trying to, but let me tell you there is a good dose of anxiety going on!  I am needing to remind myself constantly of my own words... observe it without attaching to it.  Urgh, so much easier said than done!

Once I have found my feet a little more firmly, I can't wait to share more about this new direction of mine and although I am not wishing this year away just yet, I do feel that 2018 is set to be a good one.  I am so, so grateful to those of you who reached out with sweet words of kindness and support.  Thank you!!!  It filled my heart to have you check up on me xo

So here we are, the Spring Equinox was a small handful of days ago and Winter is behind us.  These pics are a snapshot of some of the many things we 3 have been up to... **

 

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We are a beach loving family, four seasons of the year!  Do not be fooled, while those two appear in shorts, this Mumma was layered up in her merinos!  Besides, who can resist playing 'Otter' and sliding down the sand mounds?

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The mini-orchard is slowly starting to take shape!  This years plantings include... 2 varieties of pear, 1 nectarine, 1 peach, 1 apricot, 1 Kaffir lime, 1 mandarin (making a total of 2), and 3 blueberries.  Although digging those holes practically killed me and happened to coincide with the nuclear implosion of our hot-water service (read: no hot shower at the end of a hard day digging! - it was not a good week!), despite those begrudged character building experiences, I am now thrilled that those trees have their roots in the earth!

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We foraged for olives!  Around here, olives are actually considered a pest, having been introduced with early European settlement.  But given there are so many trees growing wild nearby we decided to have our first attempt at harvesting a few.  There are now three jars down in the cellar which, according to Matt and Lentil of Grown & Gathered, should be ready by Christmas!

And then there was pinecone collecting.  We were a little late with it this year as normally this is a late Summer - early Autumn activity.  But, with the olive trees neighbouring the pine forest... well, better late than never :)  And, FYI, if you weren't already aware, pinecones make for the very best fire-starters!

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And now here we are...  Hello Spring! 

I do hope all is well in your corner of the world, friends!

Lots of love xo

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**I just realised that none of them show the crafting that went on.  Let me tell you, craft as we all know, has been a saviour!  There's been knitting, stitching, makeovers, novels read and even a Game of Thrones binge session - I was a little behind on my seasons!

 

The Weekend That Was

 
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I know I have mentioned it on Instagram before but I don't think I've spoken of it here..?  I hold a monthly ritual these days, where I step back and unplug around the time of each full moon.  Over this past weekend not only did I unplug, but we three went the extra mile and entered into domestic lock-down mode where no one came in and no one went out!  It was lovely and just what was needed after last week's global events.  Despite all the confusion and uncertainty that has been swirling around since the U.S. election, there is one thing that remains clear; no one can ever take away our Love and Connection.  Be it with our children and families, our friends, our relationship with Mother Nature, or our community.  The value and importance of love and connection holds fast and, I believe, is what gets each and every one of us through the days when everything else seems shaky. 

It's no surprise that creativity- in all it's many forms- is woven thickly into each of my days.  Creating is how I regain and maintain my centre.  It is my fuel and helps to shift my focus away from external (or global) chaos.  It's a guiding light leading me back home to my nest and even though I have at times pondered over whether I should hone my skills into one specific craft, it's times like these that remind me of why I like to explore.  Depending on where I'm at or the influences that have led me there, I will sometimes create through sewing or knitting, sometimes it might be another textile art or a home DIY, and then sometimes it is gardening or cooking.  This past weekend it was all about the later and of course, there's always a bunch of photos taken along the way ;)

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So a couple of weeks ago there was a garden update where I spoke of a potential mid-November garlic harvest.  Well here we are and yep, I probably could get out there and pull up those bulbs.  They would be fine, except out of the blue (and for the first time in my garlic growing experience) I noticed a lovely long tendril growing out of almost every plant.  I feel like those scapes appeared overnight but in truth I think I have been too busy and distracted to see past the leaves and actually notice that they were there.  In my defense they are a bit camouflaged but while searching for a scape pesto recipe* I learned that the appearance of said scapes indicates the bulbs are about two weeks away from being ready.  I guess that means I'm about two weeks away from pulling those babies up.  In the mean time, with walnuts and Parmesan on hand, I snipped the scapes and blended them into a pesto.  Now the plants can spend these coming days putting all their energy back into the bulbs so that they are as best as can be for harvest time. 

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Next on my list was to get making with that sourdough culture and the kombucha scoby I brought home from the Makers Table.  I started the first ferment for the kombucha about a week ago so the weekend was a perfect time to bottle that batch with their flavours.  Once capped I returned them to the cellar for their second ferment and away I went with another fresh batch of tea.  This first lot of bottles I've flavoured with strawberry and ginger, and I'll let you know what it's like in a few days after I transfer them from their shelf in the cellar to a shelf in the fridge.  Cross your fingers for me!

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Now will you allow me a moment to gloat... just for a second?  Because I thought I might have killed that thriving (sourdough) mother culture I came home with the other weekend.  You see, the busy days took over and I kind of forgot what I was suppose to do with it, so for a little too long it sat on my kitchen bench before I shoved it into the fridge.  On Saturday I pulled it out and tried to revive it with a fresh feed (flour and filtered water) before leaving it to sit and then mixing it into a dough later that night.  Then Sunday I got baking and would you have a look at it!?!!!  I am feeling so darn excited (and maybe a little bit chuffed with myself!).  It worked and it is delicious!!!  I fed the remaining starter and am keeping it in the cellar (hopefully a safe enough distance from the kombucha since I've been warned that scoby is a bully and will take over any other fermenting process, eeep!).  I'll go again with another loaf this coming weekend and if it turns out half as good as this first one then I think it could well be the start of a wonderful love affair!!!

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And just because no weekend full of making, baking and creating is complete without a batch of cookies, I have to include a shot of this lot.  They are sultana and dark chocolate chip using rye flour and dark muscovado sugar.  I use a basic biscuit base recipe and change it up with add-ins each time I make them.  The base recipe is the Milkwood Farm House Cookie and although I have usually used the raw (unrefined) sugar they call for in the recipe, this time around I only had dark muscovado so I went with it and I think I'll repeat that variation again because the extra molasses caramelises and makes for a super delicious, crunchy but chewy cookie.

So in between games of Battleship, chapters of Harry Potter book 3 (that's our current family novel), and the washing and vacuuming, there was a fair bit of time in the kitchen and all of it felt just right.  Now the Moon has reached her peak and here down in S.A. we had a clear night so She was as Super as they said she'd be.  A fresh new week has begun and although there is still so much unrest in the world, I feel lucky and grateful that I can still focus on what is most important to me. 

Over the next couple of weeks I've got a deadline to get cracking on so I might fall quiet here but I'll be back to share soon. 

Have a great week friends! xo

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* Ps/ I nearly forgot... the scape pesto recipe I used is from here ;)

 

Springtime In The Garden

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Well helllooo there!

Can we just skip right on past the fact that I haven't blogged in over a month and move straight into one of the main reasons for why that is so?  Pretty please??

It's Spring time here, or it's suppose to be anyway.  So far it's been one of the wackiest Springs that I can remember.  The weather has been an extension of Winter with the odd sunny day in there just to tease us all.  I'm talking cold, wet and wild with more record rainfalls!  Last week I got another load of firewood delivered which makes two extra tonnes on last year's season.  All of us around these parts have erh well, to be blunt, we've all had a gut full!  Over it, enough, done!  Bring on warmth and sunshine.  Parts of Victoria had snow yesterday... SNOW!  In October!?!!  That's crazy.  And we had an overnight frost which I am hoping against all else wasn't so extreme that it damaged all my new plantings.

Which brings me to the garden.  It's all happening out there now with seeds sown and beginning to germinate and some little seedlings growing inside our craft room - which is north facing and full of glass windows so it's perfect for doubling as a glass house and getting those babies off to a good start.

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I couldn't help it on the Wisteria photos... their flowering days are so so brief and this year has been a particularly beautiful year for them, and all blooms really.  Apparently that is because of the crazy of amount of rain we've had, which makes sense, doesn't it?  Anyway, already the petals have mostly dropped and the new leaves are unfurling so I'm glad I took those pics when I did.

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So let's talk about what's growing, what's been sown and what will soon be transplanted, planted or sown.  The snowpeas have now gone from their seedling trays to being in the ground.  There's an entrance point on the opposite side to where I took that pic above and the idea is for it to create a teepee as it grows.  That will be Noah's hut with Evie's pictured below.  She wanted hers to be without food growing on it, so using a bunch of branches we have been saving especially, the making has begun and with a bit more scrap fabric to weave through, it'll be fit for a garden Sprite, Elf, Queen, Princess, Fairy... or whomever else she chooses to be.  I've also built a very basic firepit for these outdoor months to come.  It's nothing fancy but it will do the job!  There was already a mound right where it is that was the earth and gravel left over from transplanting the mulberry (growing happily behind it next to Evie's hut), so it wasn't hard to scrape it, shape it and pack it around some bricks (of which we have plenty on hand).  Then tadaaa... a firepit ready for the outdoor evenings to come.

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That there is a close-up of our mulberry tree and I'm not quite sure what to make of it...?  Our Winter to Spring transition has been out of the ordinary to say the least and I think it may have knocked this one around a bit.  In previous years it is usually the time for mulberry harvest right now but these are not ready for picking and I'm not entirely sure that that fruit is looking very happy.  I have noted some of the other Mulberry trees in the area and their fruit looks to be a little behind as well so given the leaves on mine look glossy and healthy and the rest of the tree is thriving, I don't think it was the transplant that's done it.  In fact I think it's going to love this new spot and perhaps with the nature of our odd Spring on top of the move it might just take until next year before we harvest anything edible...?

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In the mean time... looky, looky, looky... the fruit set!  Do you see those wee little green beauties up there?  They are itty bitty baby cherries.  I put two dwarf cherry trees in a half wine barrel each, about two years ago.  Or a little longer I guess given they were bare rooted and planted in the depths of Winter.  They are both Stellas which are meant to be perfect for eating fresh (as against cooking with or preserving) and have a firm skin with a slight crunch to them.  Just the way I like them!  I'll let you know how they rate once they are ready.  This is our first year for these and I guess we must have had enough chill hours for the fruit to do it's thing.  We three are SO excited and we each keep checking them daily, possibly even several times a day, but shh who's counting ha.  I'm going to have to net them soon I think - sorry birdies, I'm not willing to share when it comes to cherries. 

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That there is our new little almond tree.  Oh, I am so sentimentally attached to this tree... it comes with a story and one that I know you will love but far too involved for me to go into now.  I may even save it and pitch the idea for an article... mmm... not sure... either way, you won't miss out, it's a good one :)

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Finally!!!  The beginnings of some natives, yippy yay yay.  I purchased these two plants late last Spring... no kidding!  They sat there waiting for me to get them into the ground but then life happened and the Summer heat took hold and one thing led to another and I just didn't get there.  Thank heavens natives are tough because these two babies really did not get the attention they deserved.  Despite that, they are now both happily planted out into that strip next to the trampoline and as soon as I save up a few more pennies there will be other natives going in around them.

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Woot woot!!!  More looky lookies... we have some banana passion fruits ready for harvest.  That vine has it all going on, there's flowers opening up for pollination, there are little green fruits, big green fruits and yellow ripe fruits.  This is our first year of harvest for this vine and I can't tell you how excited I am about that.  I grew this baby all the way from a little seed!  Isn't that just THE most satisfying, miraculous, rewarding and joyful thing of all.

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Those are some mystery leaves.  I mixed a few seed packets together... some herbs, Asian greens and lettuces so I'm not entirely sure what these ones are but, all the same, I'm happy to see them poke their little leaves through.

  Photo bomber!  AKA Snowy ;)

Photo bomber!  AKA Snowy ;)

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HELLLLP!!!  They're at it again!  Urgh!!!!  Those little devils are the bane of my gardening existence.  Oh what to do, what to do?!!  Perhaps I should barricade that one strawberry plant and make it the sacrificial plant to the destructive force that is the slater beetle.  Do you think it would work?  You know, allow them the feast of that one plant while using a barrier around it to keep them away from the rest of the patch?  None of the others have much developing fruit as yet so I don't know if there are other plants affected but gee, can I just have a few homegrown strawbs, please???  I've companion planted some borage and pyrethrum in among the plants but with all that wacky weather they are slow to get going and I'm not sure how effective they are against slaters...?

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Garlics, oh the garlics.  I was a bit worried about them towards the end of Winter as I thought we might have had too much rain and maybe not enough frost but the last couple of months have fixed that.  Yes there has still been the rain (sooo much rain!) but we have definitely had a good dose of frost too and over the last month or so those stems have really fattened up (which to me indicates a bigger bulb and more garlic per clove.. yum, plus a much easier job with peeling).  The tops are just starting to die off a bit so I think we are on schedule for a mid-November harvest.  In the past I have loved timing my garlic harvest with Beltaine, it always feels so perfect to do it on Halloween, but not this year.  The 31st of October is only one week away and I'd like to see those tops brown up just a little bit more before I pull them all out.  We'll see, there are some very beautiful warm Spring days forecast in between now and then so you never know what next Monday may bring... perhaps a Beltaine harvest after all?

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Ah the crab apple.  We're so close, so very close.  When that tree bursts into full bloom that is when I officially know we are into the warmer months and our nightly fires become fewer and farther between.  Not to mention the fragrance and the sheer spectacular sight of all those pink flowers.  Oh I long for it every year, in fact, I think most of the neighbourhood does as it is a bit of a show stopper.  Each year it becomes the local talking point that tree and already there have been a couple of comments over the fence... "look at that, looks like it's nearly there".  Yep, yep it sure does!

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I gave our bay tree a pretty heavy prune early in the Winter and now it is shooting out with new growth all over the place.  Having fresh bay leaves on hand... I tell you, never again will I be without a bay tree.  I do however, really need to dig it up next Winter and transplant it into a barrel or something.  I have a better spot for it than where it is and I want to keep it to a smaller more manageable size.

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And at last our newest babies.  I picked these up just yesterday.  The top one is a Japanese mandarin, easy to peel and sweet as sweet when left to fully ripen, or you can pick them a little earlier if you're like me and prefer some tartness to your manda.  The bottom one is a pomegranate which are tough and tend to thrive in our temperate climate.  A pomegranate isn't on the garden plans and I didn't even know I wanted one until I found myself looking at them yesterday at the nursery.  I actually went there to get myself some Blueberry plants for our three empty pots by the veranda steps but as it turned out, they were out of stock and will call me when they have more.  Well I'd driven all that way, I couldn't possibly head home empty-handed could I?  Nope, I didn't think so either!  And just on the side, things are changing a little from those garden plans.  Nothing significant but small refinements as things take shape and evolve, just like Nadja said they would.  I love this process!

So there we have it - an update on all the Spring-time garden action.  It's busy out there these days and underneath all that mulch you see below are lots and lots of seeds getting ready to burst forth.  I'll be sure to keep you posted on their growth and all the yummy bounty.  Tomorrow promises 27 degrees (Celcius) with warm sunshine and I have plans to be sowing another round of tomatoes, corn, cucumbers and whatever else I get inspired by in the moment.

Have a great week friends!  If anyone needs me, I'll be out here ok ;) xo

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