Tuesday, December 30, 2008


In our garden we have 12 palms. They are planted in a cluster around the pool area and are all mature and tall. So tall that now when the palm fronds die it is impossible to reach them without a ladder. Two of the palms are Bangalow Palms and have self shedding leaves but the rest don't. Now if I was planting palms I would choose all self shedding varieties because it is a pain in the but to cut the dead ones off. Eventually, after a few months they break off the tree and come crashing down to earth. By this time they are very hard and dry. The palm fronds are are real nuisance. They are too big and woody for the compost and take hurculean strength to cut through them. But on saying that I do love the palms, I love laying in the pool and looking up at them and imagining being on a tropical holiday.

Up until recently the fronds used to get broken up and put into the compost or we would wait until there was a bulk garbage colection and put them out for that.
But now that I am now longer throwing garden waste into the bin (gulp) I have found a use for them.
They are the retaining sides to my no dig garden beds. As more fronds fall down I raise the sides. I am working on my third no dig garden now. All green waste like fern fronds, grass clippings and other prunings gets thrown into the bed.

Speaking of the beds, the no dig garden beds are going wonderfully. The first one I made is growing pumpkins and there are a few pumpkins growing nicely. The vines have gone crazy and are rambling everywhere.
The second no dig garden has watermelon growing. In the photo above you can see the pumpkins at the back and a watermelon plant towards the right bottom of the photo. There are more plants there no since this photo was taken. No watermelons yet but the plants are growing nicely.
The no dig beds are on the other side of the fence (not our land but a council walkway/reserve). There is no water supply other than rain but every couple of days I have been taking a bucket or two around the side and watering them. Mainly though they are going well with the little rainfall we have had.

I am so pleased with this reclaimed area being put to good use. And I am dreaming of all the pumpkins and watermelons.

M xx

Thursday, December 18, 2008


I have never tryed growing gourd before. So this year I brougth a packet of seeds from Eden seeds. They were easy to grow from seeds. I grew 8 seeds and planted four into the side garden.
The side garden was an unused area - tree prunings, lawn clippings etc would be thrown into this area. Soon weeds grew over the rubbish and then nasturiums grew covering the heap. Finally Guitar Dude decided this garden area would be his. So full of very short lived enthusiasm he levelled the area, weeded and dug over the soil. He dug in dynamic lifter and ocvered the new bed with mulch. Then after doing the hard work he left the garden bed for me. So in went the 4 gourd seedlings. And along with the nasturiums they have covered the area.
Some of the leaves of the gourds have powdery mildew. When it gets cooler this afternoon I am going to remove the worst affected and throw them in the rubbish bin. Then spray the plants with the mixture below. I haven't used this spray before so will let you know if it works.
1 tbs baking soda
1/2 tsp liquid soap
1 tbs oil
1 gallon water ( being of the metric era I had to look up a conversion and 1 gallon is 3.78 litres)

I have a number of gourds growing. I have no idea how big they get or what to do with them. I know people dry them and carve them and turn them into bowls and bird feeders and other ornamental things. But I don't know when to pick them or how to dry them or how to carve them. Any ideas would be welcome.
In this garden bed I have also planted 4 rhubarb plants. And they are all thriving. I am very happy about this. Growing up in Tasmania we always had rhubard growing in the garden. It seemed to love the cold and thrived down there. So I assumed that rhubarb wouldn't grow here in Newcastle and never bothered trying it. MMM - I am looking forward to rhubarb and apple pies.
And in my seed raising area I have these red kidney beans growing very quickly. Also cherry tomatoe seedslings, chilli and some more watermelon seeds too.

M xx

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Creating Memories

This time of year is so very busy. We have had Christmas concerts, morning teas, presentation days at the boys schools (I have one at high school, one in primary and one in preschool) , parties ... and the list goes on. I have visited the shops more times than I would have liked buying presents, food etc. While I love this time of the year I also look forward to the pace slowing down a bit.
I really do enjoy this time of the year. The thing I enjoy the most is the creating of memories and the continuing on of traditions. I want the boys to look back on these years and have very fond memories of fun family times and warm fuzzy memories.

There are things we do year after year at Christmas time. We put up the tree and decorations as a family.
I get out all the craft things - papers, glue, glitter, stencils etc and the boys make Christmas decorations. This year the two youngest spent a whole afternoon cutting out stocking shapes and gingermen shapes and decorating them.
I have an advent calendar with a treat in it for each day of December. Each morning the boys check it.
We make lots of delicious Christmas yummy foods like rum balls, Christmas rocky road, ginger bread men. Guitar Dude is a whiz in the kitchen and often gets in there and cooks. He uses every bowl and every spoon and makes a hell of a mess but the end result is usually delicious.

Of an evening we go for walks around the area to admire everyone elses Christmas light decorations. We don't put up outside lights so we walk the streets looking and admiring other peoples homes.
The boys make or buy each other and their grandparents Christmas presents. Mr Gadget and I really want them to enjoy the giving as much as the recieving. They take this very seriously and have made some wonderful gifts over the years.
We go to Carols by Candlelight each year at the local park and watch the fireworks.

Christmas day is sometimes here with just our family, sometimes with Mr Gadgets great big family and sometimes we travel to my families. But no matter where we are santa comes and leaves them a present by the end of their beds.

The other presents are opened later in the day one by one. We read the labels and a helper hands out the presents. There is no mad rush and ripping open of presents first thing of a morning here. We play games together and eat too much.

I have such wonderful memories of Christmas and so does Mr Gadget. His favourite memory is of playing cricket, Christmas afternoon at the beach. Mine is the delicious food and family time. I dont remember any specific presents and neither does Mr Gadget. I hope our boys will have equally fond memories too when they are adults.

How do others celebrate? What special traditions do you follow?

M xx

Saturday, December 6, 2008


I first tasted Dukkah about a year ago. For those that have never heard of it -it is a delicious Egyptian spice blend made by mixing toasted nuts and spices. Traditionally it is eaten as a snack by dipping flat bread into extra virgin olive oil and then into the spice mix.

It is delicious!
So after a bit of experimenting I have made some for Christmas presents with a little help from my very eager assistant Super Boy.

Here is my version of the recipe.
1 cup pistachio nuts
1 cup almonds
2 tbs dried parsley
1 tbs mixed herbs
1/4 cup sesame seeds
1/4 tsp salt
2 tsp five spice
1 tbs coriandr seeds

Roast nuts in a hot oven for 15 min., mix often to ensure they don't burn.
Roast seeds.
Cool nuts and seeds.
Process in a food processor and combine with other herbs and spices.
Store in sterile glass containers.
This recipe made 2 1/2 jars.

M xx

Saturday, November 29, 2008

little HARVEST

Well this is what it is all about.
The weeks of watching and watering and waiting for the seeds to gently unfold from the soil. Nurturing them with sunlight and water, protecting them from the cold and wind until their true leaves appear.
Trying to be patient until the little seedlings are mature enough to go it alone in the elements in the vegetable patch.
Battling the soil conditions, the snales and caterpillars, too much heat, not enough rain.
But then going out my own door and picking my own vegetables right there in my own garden. Cooking them up and an hour later eating them. I am proud of this little harvest! Not enough to feed a family of five but enough to put a smile on my dial.
The lettuce, tomatoe and parsleywent into the salad. The basil,coriander seeds,silverbeet and thyme went on the fish. Yum, yum, yum.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008


We have just spent the last few months redoing our front yard. It did have a lot of brick pavers with dips and big puddles when ever it rained. There was no drainage in front of the garages and since there is a gentle slope down to the garages from the driveway this wasn't good news with heavy rain. So we decided to redo the whole front yard. Drainage was fixed, old weeds and all the grass was removed. We redid the driveway with a stampled concrete finish. And I was all for having no grass what so ever at the front. Mr Gadget is far more traditional than me and thinks that front gardens must be very manicured and must have grass. So a compromise was in order.

He got some grass. I got a much bigger garden in the front and a lovely sitting area. I love this front area. It is so pretty and a beautiful place to relaxing. There are fragrant roses, and pretty cottage garden flowers.
The heavely fragrant Double Delight rose
and the gorgeous apricot Just Joey are flowering prolifically.
A hedge is growing along the front of plumbago and in front of the bricks there is another hedge of photinia. Amongst the flowers I have tomatoes, eggplants, parsley, artichokes and thyme growing happily. I have planted a few trees too - a weeping mulberry, coffee tree and magnolia. It makes me happy to see the flowers as I come home and to be able to sit out here amongst them. Everyone should have a place of indulgence and beauty and this is mine.

In the back garden I have harvested 7 beans and two cherry tomatoes! Who would have thought I would get so excited over home grown vegetables. They went into the stir fry we had for tea along with fresh oregano, parsley and sage.

With the weather warming up I have been making lots of iceblocks and icecreams for the boys. Iceblocks are simply frozen cordial or juice. The icecreams are made from powdered milk mixed with fresh fruit or vanilla essence or chocolate topping. The powdered milk is much cheaper than fresh milk and I always have some at hand for using in cooking, custards or for the kids when we run out of fridge milk.
M xx

Friday, November 14, 2008


Today was hot. It was hot and sunny. Being a garden lover I spend many hours outside. I am very much an outdoors person during the daylight hours, whether it is in the garden, riding our bikes to the park, walking around the lake or just sitting outside in the fresh air. I have always loved the feel of a fresh breeze and the warmth of the sun on my skin.

But now I am finding myself far more wary of being outside during the high uv hours of 10 am - 3pm. I still am outside during that time but I cover up with a wide brimmed hat, sunnies, sunscreen etc.
You see, at the beginning of this year I found a mole that was changing and had grown in size. It ended up being a melanoma. The mole was right behind my right knee in the crease. Initially I had the mole removed but then had to have further surgery to remove more tissue from deeper and surrounding where the original mole was. I also had lymph nodes removed in my groin to check for spread and those behind my knee were also removed or damaged with the surgeries. Now I have lymphoedema in that leg which is a chronic condition due to the damage of the lymph flow. Means that my right leg swells up due to the high protien lymph fluid pooling. It becomes very heavy and uncomfortable and I need to elevate and rest my leg more that I like (and believe me with three very active boys it isn't always easy to do this). I wear a full length lymphoedema stocking during the day and am still learning what works and doesn't and how to best control and live with this condition.

Now most people that read this blog are gardeners and probably like me spend hours outside. I am writing this as a reminder to others that now with the hot sunny weather coming to please take care of your skin. Wear hats and sunscreen and reapply the sunscreen after a few hours (it wont last all day). But most importantly check your skin for moles that look unusual, are changing, are irregular in size colour or shape. Get someone else to check your back or hard to look at areas, like the back of your legs or neck.
Please slip, slop,slap and be vigilant.

M xx

Tuesday, November 11, 2008


I have been asked about our rabbits cage so thought I would share a few pictures.
The rabbit is Zippy's pet and when he came to live here (the rabbit not my son) in 2006 it became very clear that given half a chance our dog would love to eat poor bunny or scare him to death by barking at him. So he couldn't go into the cage we had set up on the lawn.
Instead we decided that bunny would have to live in the pool area where the dog couldn't get to him. Trouble with this was that he does not have access to grass to graze on all day. So the cage needed to be big and roomy and plenty of room for bunny to stretch and move about.
We came across this pine dresser at the local op shop for $10.00 dollars, the drawers were falling apart and so was the back so it was perfect for our needs. We removed the drawers and the inner wood around the doors. These were replaced with wire mesh. Half of the second shelf was also removed and a ramp built complete with railing. One door was left as is and that part of the cage is bunnys bed area.

A coat of paint using left over paint from when we painted the exterior of the house , a back added, fly screen over the mesh to keep out flies and mosquitoes and roofing iron to keep out the rain and we have the Taj Ma Hutch. One very cute bunny hutch for about $15.00.

M xx

Monday, November 10, 2008


Well after the last post about the vegetable garden dilemma I thought I would post about my seed raising success. I think the vege garden will sort itself out. Maybe I should have left the patch to sit for a few weeks before planting it out. Now things are slowly growing and although I most likely wont have a bumper crop in everything I have learnt a few things for next time.

Over the years I have tried growing veges and flowers from seeds with varying success. But last few years I have been taking the easy option of buying seedlings from the nursery. Partly because I was too impatient to wait for seeds to grow, partly because I couldn't be bothered.

So this year I ordered vegetable seeds from Eden Seeds and I have had great success growing them.
The reason seed growing has been such a success is because of the location I chose as my seed raising area. Right outside the kitchen window, in a sunny but sheltered position on top of the rabbits cage. Everytime I look out the kitchen window I can see them. I can see if new seeds have risen, if something has been eating them and if they need a drink. They are in view so haven't been forgotten. Even Mr. Gadget has looked out the window at the seeds and gone out and watered them. At the end of winter and autumn when it was still cool I grew them in covered mini green houses but once the weather warmed up they have been raised in window seal pots and have grown very well. I have grown cucumber, chilli, luffa, gourds, chillis, artichokes, watermelons, rockmelons, zucchinis, corn, parsley, rhubarb, beans.
I have learnt to not be impatient in getting the little seedlings into the big garden beds too early. I have lost a few plants because of transplanting them too early. Next year I will grow them here again but with some of the seedlngs I will transplant them into individual pots and then into the garden when more advanced.
M xx

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Vegetable Patch Dilemma

The new raised vegetable patch is full of seedlings but the growth of the veges seems to be very slow! I think there is something wrong with the soil that Mr. Gadget filled the patch with. The soil was a special soil for new turf and with the excess we filled the raised vegetable patch. I also added compost, blood and bone and fish fertiliser too. I was so excited to have a dedicated vegetable patch that I went out and brought seedlings from the nursery and planted into the garden bed.
And some of the plants have something that has been eating them. I have applied snail bait which has seemed to have helped. I have some sugar cane mulch that I will mulch around the seedlings tomorrow. I don't know what else to do so for now will just hope that with time the veges start growing.

There is only one plant growing well - a zucchini plant. I planted about 8 seeds and while they all came up only this one has thrived. The others are tiny with just a few little leaves. You can see the other little plants overshadowed by this larger one. I think I will transplant them out of this garden and into the no dig garden and see how they grow there.

Else where in the yard vegetables are growing well. I have the first beans on the climbing beans and celery and silverbeet growing well. All my herbs are growing at great guns. Four out of eight gourd seedlings I have planted are growing really well and tomatoes, eggplants and okra are all going fine. But I have such high hopes fro the raised vegetable patch. Ahh, the dilemmas of growing veges!

M xx

Wednesday, October 29, 2008


Since I wanted to grow some pumpkins, watermelons, cucumbers and a few other rambling plants and don't have the space for them to ramble in our yard I have decided to utilise some of the land outside of our fences. The land is council land, walkways between our house and the next. There is a paved pathway between the houses and grass on our side and on the neighbours side too. I have planted about 15 natives out on the council land to give our place privacy and I maintain the area by mowing and looking after the trees. The natives I have planted are a few metres from our boundary so this is the spot I have reclaimed for my vegetables to grow. Hopefully they will be protected from passes by and hidden by the native trees so no one helps themselves to the vegetables. Although since it isn't actually my land I don't mind sharing with the neighbours. I just don't want the veges I hopefully grow to dissapear overnight.
I planted three pumpkin seedlings in a very rought no dig garden mid September and they are growing really well. I was thrilled to see a couple of pumpkins forming on one of the plants.
For this no dig garden bed I layed newspaper over the grass, added lawn mower clippings, blood and bone and a few bucket loads of dirt from another garden bed. Into the dirt I planted the seedlings.

Today I made another raised no dig garden. For this one I bordered the garden with old palm leaves as the sides of the garden bed. Then placed a thick layer of grass clipping onto the existing grass. Followed by newspaper, fertiliser, sugarcane, compost and more sugar cane mulch. I am going to let the garden settle for a week or two before planting out with cucumbers and watermelons.

Eventually I will extend the garden bed the whole length of the fence which will more than double the existing vege patch I have in my yard. This area is perfectly positioned for sun. But watering will be an issue as I will need to bucket water to the veges. from the tap in our front yard as the hose wont reach.

M xx

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Conquering fruit waste

It is working!
I am buying food more consciously with meals and a menu for the week planned. This week I have had some food that has gone off and needed tossing - some potatoes started sprouting so were tossed into the compost, some jelly in a bowl in the fridge was never eaten and some rice went to the dog. Much better than previous amounts that would be thrown away because we hadn't gotten around to eating it.

One of the things that used to be brought and regularly went off before being eaten was fruit. I would buy the fruit with the best and healthiest intentions. But it would sit in the fridge or fruit bowl and the kids, MR Gadget and I would overlook it for other snacks. So it would stay there deteriating a little more each day until it was no good for anything but the compost. So changes had to be made. I still buy heaps of fruit. But now I cut the fruit up (melons, pineapples etc) and put them into see through containers in the fridge. Because they are all cut and ready to be eaten the kids grab them out. There is no peeling or chopping so it is easy and fast for a quick snack. And because I am storing it in a clear container it is very visable and doesn't get overlooked or forgotten. I also add fruit to their breakfast cereals.

If it looks like the fruit isn't going to be eaten in time I will stew and freeze (apples, rhubarb, pears etc).
We have passionfruit vines and they produce an enormous amount of fruit each year. The kids love them but I was always having an excess, even after giving some away to friends. Then Guitar Dude had the brilliant idea of putting them in the freezer whole. They made the best frozen snack. It was just a matter of taking them out, cutting open and scooping the frozen juice and seeds out with a spoon. Big hit and no more passionfruits going off.
I have also began making fruit smoothies using fruits, yoghurt, honey, milk etc. Very refreshing and filling for an afternoon snack.
M xx

Wednesday, October 22, 2008


While I have said I want to replace some ornamental plants with ones that are edible I could not imagine a garden without flowers. Balance is always a good thing.
In the garden I have ginger in flower. Pretty flowers that don't last long but look gorgeous.
I love the flowers that are popping up at the moment.

I have roses in flower -Gold Bunny, Seduction and Blue Moon.
I brought three blue moon rose bushes on special that were all looking a bit sad and sorry. So I am delighted that they are all coming to life and I have had my first flower. Unfortunately it didn't last long as a hail storm broke the stem. But it is inside in a vase and smells divine.
Lavender is always flowering and looking and smelling gorgeous and attracting loads of bees.

This week I have transplanted tomatoe seedling that have popped up where I have emptied the compost onto the garden. I have tomatoes growing on some of the bushes. I have planted more seeds - watermelon, cucumber, loofa, chilli and thyme.

I have planted in the garden okra seedlings and cleared a patch of garden for two passionfruit vines to grow. Hoping they will grow up an arch way and then spread into the trees on the other side of the fence.

I have begun a new no dig garden for the watermelon to go into on the reserve side of the fence.
Fruit flys are eating all the strawberries. Need to deal with them before they become more of a problem.

Now it is raining. Now that I am so into growing our own veges and fruits I am so much aware and in tune with the weather, the rain, the heat etc.
M xx

Tuesday, October 14, 2008


I thought I would give you a tour of my garden and home. Our block of land is in suburbia. It is a larger than average block of 979 m2. The house larger than average too and is slam dunked in the middle of the block. We are at the end of a culdesac and have a walkway and reserve land running around two of the boundaries. Behind the back boundary is a road.

I hope you can see the numbers on the plan alright.

1. Front garden with coffee tree (coffea arabica).

2. Front garden with man fern, ornamental ginger, mondo and hydrangers. In the front of these plants I have extended and there is tomatoe and eggplant and creeping thyme.

3. Front garden with roses, weeping mulberry tree, apaganthus and flowers.

4. The pool area is paved and faces north. Our bunny cage is in here (so the dog doesn't try to eat him. On top of the rabbit cage is where I grow my seeds.

5. Pots fill this corner in the pool area, mainly ornamental plants at the moment.

6. This garden bed is viewed from the entertainment area. There are palms, hebes, mondo and murraya.

Between 6 and 7 is where Mr Gadget is planning on building a wood fired pizza oven. We already have a movable open fire place and grill here. It gets used heaps for sitting around in winter and roasting marshmallows.

7. Raised vegetable patch.

8. Plumcot fruit tree.

9. pots of herbs (parsley, bay tree, rosemary) outside the back door.

10. Perennial basil, meyer lemon tree, aloe vera. Also passionfruit vine.

11. Ornamental chinese tallow tree and rosemary planted underneath.

Between 10 and 11 and also near no. 14 there are two arches with potoatoe vine growing over. I also grow climbing beans over them too.

12. Hedges of curry plant.

13. Behind the curry plant hedges are lemon grass growing and beside that marjoram.

14. My old vegetable patch and a young meyer lemon tree. Also lavenders.

15. Rockmelon seedlings and more lemon grass.

16. Lemon verbena tree and port wine magnolia.

17. Mandarin tree.

18. water tank (1000 l). In the garden bed opposite I have rhubarb growing (4 little plants at the moment) and gourd seedlings.

19. On the other side of the fence where the pool is I have made a raised garden bed. This isn't actually our land. It is councils but I have reclaimed a bit as where it is positioned is hidden and never used. And besides I maintain it by mowing and weeding it and I have also planted about 15 natives outside our boundary on the council reserve. In the raised bed I have planted pumpkins and hopefully very soon I will lant watermelons out here. I am just waiting for the watermelon seeds to get big enough.

I have plans to grow dwarf fruit trees in pots in no. 5. Install another tank near the clothes line and also one smaller one near No. 4 for topping up the pool. I also have plans to replace ornamental plants like all the agapanthus and mondo with eatable plants and herbs. I really want chooks and they would go between No 10 and No. 7. I want another trellis here for more passionfruit to grow. On the fence between 6 adn 7 I plan on having a narrow 1 metre garden bed and growing espalier fruit trees here. It will probably be years before all this happens. Takes time and takes money. So for the moment I will just keep adding to my wish list.

M xx

Friday, October 10, 2008


My Nanna was one of the people has influenced me the most. She was a truelly remarkable lady. Her life was not an easy one but she was such a positive person who just got on with what needed to be done. She managed her family through the depression and world war two. She had to endure the doctors decision to sacrifice her unborn baby boys life so she could live and provide for the children she already had. She never forgot this baby, the little boy she named but never saw. She only found out where he was buried when she was in her 60's - in a unmarked area of the cemetry where stillborn babies were buried together. Even at the age of 80 she would talk about him, not in a grief stricken way but as a matter of fact way. She was a breast cancer surviver of more than 15 years. She went through a mastectomy, chemo and radiation and just accepted it as a hiccup in her life. She talked about her false breast and her mastectomy in a positive way and just got on with living.
Nanna once said to me that she was an enviromentalist and a recycler before it was trendy to be one. By this she meant that out of necessity she needed to be frugal, needed to recycle and reuse things. She needed to care about here patch of earth and ensure it provided all she needed it to for her and her families day to day survival.

There are many things I remember about my Nanna and I thought I would share a few.

She started every morning with a warm water with lemon juice squeezed into it. The lemons were from a large old tree in the backyard that always seemed to have a never ending supply of lemons on it. The tree is still there in the yard and still provides a prolific amount of lemons each year.

She would sew, knit, crochet just about anything she set her mind to. This started out as being a necessity - making handmade dresses for her little girl, knitting socks for her husband, scarves, beanies, baby clothes etc. As she got older she began knitting and crocheting for pleasure and for here children and grandchildren. Each of her grandchildren were given a hand crocheted mohair blanket as a 21st birthday present. When I had Guitar Dude, my first born very premature baby, she was knitting tiny beanies, matinee jackets and booties for him using dolls clothes patterns. I still have all these put away. She made bunny rugs for her great grandchildren and the most adorable soft knitted toys, baby blankets. I have fond memories of sitting in Nannas kitchen , near the old kerosine heater and of her teaching me to knit. I am left handed and she was so very patient reversing everything and explaining the stitches to me, picking up my slipped stitches and providing me with endless amounts of wool.
Washing day was Monday. The clothes would be washed, hung to dry, brought inside to air, ironed and folded all on Monday. As the washing machine emptied into the laundry tub she would collect this water in buckets and water her plants with it. Not a drop of water went to waste. Even the left overs from the teapot went onto the garden.
Wrapping paper form present was recycled. We were encouraged to open the presents carefully by unsticking the sticky tape so as not to tear the paper. The paper was ironed to get rid ofthe creases and stored until needed for another present. Same with ribbons. This is something I do, as did my mum.
Nan lived in suburbia and over 3/4 of the yard was garden or fruit trees. There were apple trees, peaches and apricots, plums and lemons, raspberries, loganberries. And many, many vegetables. What she couldn't use was given to neighbours or family.

Leftover foods or scraps were composted in an old metal drum. Egg shells were placed on a tray and when she had been cooking she would place them int he oven, then when dry she would crush them and put around the vegetable garden to stop snails eating her veges.

Old clothes were reused and reused. And when they were threadbear she would use them as rags for dusting, cleaning windows, scrubbing the bath etc. Before using them all buttons, zips, lace or ric rac would be removed and reused in other sewing projects.

She made tomatoe and plum sauces to last all year, her own jams, relishes, biscuits and cakes. Visitors never ever left Nannas house empty handed. They were always given homemade food to take with them.
There are so many other things she did that I will share in another post. There is so many things I have learnt because of my Nanna, things that I do today not because I have to like my Nanna did but because I choose to.
M xx

Thursday, October 9, 2008


I am a week and a half into the challenge I gave myself to not waste food. So time for an update. I was so good at the beginning of this challenge and wrote out a weekly menu and then a shopping list of what I would need. But the problem was that I never actually got to the supermarket - see post below about car. So I had to rely on Mr Gadget stopping at the shops to buy what I wanted (roll eyes here please). He doesn't exactly stick to lists! So what came home and what was on the list varied considerably. And the other issue has been the kids being home on school holidays - hungry kids, extra kids, food being eaten that was planned for a meal . Excuses, excuses, excuses!
Well you get the drift. There is definately room for improvement.
So now my car is back (and with the amount it cost to get repaired it is a wonder we can shop this week at all.) and armed with a new weekly menu plan and shopping list I hit the shops and brought exactly what was on the list. Even allowed for very hungry kids this time.
I have had a good look at what is in the fridge, freezer and pantry.
I have planned meals around using up older items first.
I have cleaned fridge, and threw into the compost some mouldy, stuff.
Have some meat I found in the recesses of the freezer defrosted, it has been there way too long and will go to the dog.
Hopefully next update will be a more postitive and successful one.

Monday, October 6, 2008


Today it has rained and even hailed much to Zippy and Super Boys delight! Very exciting - the rain that is! As you would realize if you had read a few posts below about my dumb, aaaghh moment of leaving the hose on and forgetting about it until the tank was empty. The tank is only a small 1000 litre one but it gets lots of use and I rely on it to water the back of the yard where the town water hose won't reach. It is used just for the garden. I really want another one, preferably bigger, for the other end of the yard. Just don't know where I would site it yet.

Thought I would share a few more herbs from the garden.

There is oregano (Greek oregano I think). It is a great ground cover and gets a fair bit of shade where I have planted it yet it seems to really thrive. I use it heaps it cooking. It is delicious in meat dishes and perfect for Italian and Greek recipes.
It has some fantastic health benifits too. Infuse the leaves to make a tea and drink when you have a fever to induce perspiration, relieve colds, cramps , digestive problems and stomach pains. A strong tea of the leaves can be cooled and used as a final rinse on the hair. It is supposed to help darken the hair of brunettes.
Mint- I think this one is spearmint. I make mint iceblocks for drinks on hot sunny days. I also use mint in lots of meat dishes too - sausage rolls, dolmades, meatballs etc. Mint also makes a refreshing tea, brew the tea and then chill. It is good for stomach upsets. MIne is grown in post becasue otherwise it would take over the garden.
Curry plant, not to be confused with curry leaves used in Indian cooking. I started off with one of these plants and then grew more and more from cuttings. Now I grow them as a low hedge along both sides of the pathway. The leaves smell like curry spice. Unfortunately when used in cooking they don't taste as wonderful as you would think they should from the smell. The taste is very subtle but they make a good seasoning for soups, salads and stews. Evidently the flower heads (which are yellow) and the leaves can be made into tea to soothe abdo pains.
Outside it is raining again -yippee the tank will be full again in no time.
M xx

Saturday, October 4, 2008


The weather is getting warm and the garden is coming alive. I just thought I would share some snapshops I took on a wander around my garden.
This is a lemon verbena tree. The tree has been moved two times previously and this is the third. All the leaves fell off and just when I thought it had died and was all set to remove it, we had rain and a few days later it had new growth.

Lavender is my favourite flower. I have a few different varieties. I find that if I don't give them a severe pruning they grow too woody. This plant of lavender is so easy to grow from cuttings. The bees love it and the scent is gorgeous.

The Bay tree is a year old and is in a pot. I was told when I brought it that it is a slow grower and would still be pot size by the time Super Boy reached high school - he hasn't started school yet so that gives me a few years. There is plenty of new growth on it and it seems to be growing rather quickly. It needs a bigger pot.

Rosemary is in a pot by the back door. Sometimes it gets knocked by the kids or dog and bits fall of. I bung them into pots and they always grow. From this one plant I now have 6 rosemary bushes around the place. Great for cooking and for roasts or marinades.

Chocolate mint - smells divine. I am ashamed to say I have never actually used the mint in anything. But I am thinking it would be good to add a few sprigs to iced lemon drinks or in herbal tea.

I will share some more photos next post of wanderings around the garden.

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