Friday, September 23, 2011


We are currently in France enjoying a much deserved holiday. We have all had a busy and/or difficult year one way or another so we are hoping that this will be restorative, mind expanding and inspiring. We had a great week in Paris and one of the things I really enjoyed was the gardens. Below the gardens of the Palais Royal.

We were staying a very close walk to the Luxembourg gardens and this was a wonderful place to walk.

There was a lot to do before we left home, a lot of work to finish off for me, and a lot of work to do in the house to make it ready for our housesitter. So of course with this in mind I spent hours in the garden!! I prettied up the veranda

Mulched, weeded, watered, fertilised and pruned....

Did some spring planting......

Repotted a whole lot of Orchids...not this one actually

Bought an outdoor clay fire for the veranda...

Mulched some more...

And more.....
It was great to spend some time in the garden and the weather was beautiful for the few weeks before we left. The house was eventually left in a reasonable state!

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Spring is here

Another season has passed by.
Spring is well and truly in the air and has been for a week or so in Adelaide despite the fact that it is still August.
The Winter sadly did not contain much in the way of gardening and my small plot has been looking quite neglected until this burst of Spring weather lured me outside to weed and feed and mulch.
All that has grown for consumption in the garden has been pretty well self sufficient; Silverbeet, Parsley, Chives, Sage, Thyme, Rosemary, Carrots, Lemons, a few Limes (exciting!)
I have been picking an occasional Capsicum and Chilli until a week or so ago and some Basil in a protected spot until really late June, so fabulous to have that fresh taste with pasta and stir fries.
I did manage to plant some Garlic so there will be a little bit of fresh Garlic come the Summer.
Four Tomatoes have come up self seeded in the vege patch so I will leave those and see how they go. Last weekend I planted some Purple climbing beans that have done very well in the past.

Other than this I'm going to have to wait to late October for planting as we are going to France for a month! I am hoping to do some blogging on our trip which will take in Paris, Provence and the Pays de Gex.

We have been greatly enjoying the home made Tomato Sauce and Passata that I made in March. Planning to make MUCH more passata this year, the flavour is so beautiful compared to the bought variety.

I have been on a frenzy of Marmalade making, I have made Grapefruit, and a batch of Orange and today I am going to make a 3 fruits batch with Orange Grapefruit and some of our Lemons.

The Hellebores are fabulous this year in the courtyard and seem to have thrived on neglect.
Good rains this winter have also helped I'm sure.

We have had a busy chook winter. Sylvia was broody and we brought in some day old chicks to put under her. Sadly she rejected them so I have been a chook mother for months. The first few days they were in a bad way as they had become very cold and infested with mites in the chook run. This meant intensive care for the wee things and I was very pleased that they all survived, even "Lazarus" who spend a good 12 hours lying on her side with her eyes closed, only twitching when I suggested to my son that she was dead!
They then spent weeks in a cardboard box in the laundry with a light and have only graduated to the chook run in the last week.
We all ended up with mite bites from handling the chicks, these are horrible and stay itchy for days. In the end it was a positive experience as we really cleaned out the chook run well, spread a lot of the compost throughout the garden and sprayed with a an insecticide. I don't really like spraying with chemicals but we really needed to get rid of the mites!

Here they are in recovery from their traumatic early experience, they seemed quite happy on the lounge room floor:
Even now they have to be fenced off from the large chooks who are very mean. You can see that they are adolescent chickens now.

The front yard always looks nice in the winter the Banksia is getting big and the Eremophila below it is in flower.
The lemon tree is healthy and very prolific, time to make more preserved lemons. We made some last year and we did use them all up, I love middle eastern cooking.
Winter is still a great time for walking along the beautiful Henley Beach with the added advantage that it is mostly left to locals and dedicated beach walkers rather than the noisy hoards who come in the Summer and leave their rubbish all over the beach.
One of the other joys for locals is the Grange Organic and Sustainable Market held fortnightly at the Fulham Gardens Primary School. If you have not been to the Market come along and check it out it is well worth it, just don't come and buy all the good bread before I get out of bed!!

As Spring really gets going there is a range of seedlings from the Henley Community Garden in addition to all the yummy organic goodies.
Also look out for the Vanilla Mossie range of natural organic insect repellant sold by my good friend Catherine Carroll, this really works, smells divine and is moisturising for your skin. Good eh?

While I am in the product placement mode please check out my family Olive Oil production in the Willunga hills.

This is handpicked extra virgin cold pressed oil which is local and organic. It is very, very good.

Strange that the cats preferred sleeping place is a basket full of clean washing. I have arranged for him a variety of sleeping options over his long life (13 years) but none is so popular as one of the washing baskets-never with dirty washing, clean washing only.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Now it is Autumn

I really would like to be able to post at least once a month but it is very telling that the last time I managed to do this was the January school holidays and here we are again, it is now Autumn and the first school term is behind us and a quarter of the year has been swallowed up.
Life has been very busy.

Mothering two teenagers is challenging and it reminds me of the very early days of motherhood feeling at sea and having no idea if anything I am doing is Ok or completely wrong.
We have been having some lovely times in amongst all the busyness.

We had the great privilege to make greek biscuits at home with Yai Yai and although I am sure we would never be able to make them without her up to her high standard we now have some idea of the process.

They are super delicious.

It being Greek Easter as well we have a house full of other delicious Greek treats as well and lots of chocolate.

Last weekend I picked some of the last of Summers bounty from the Garden. We still have a few tomatoes producing and some capsicums and chilli, basil and zucchini.

We have had a great crop of quinces this year, at least 30. I made some quince paste over Easter. Looking forward to having some of it when it has dried out a little.

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A few weekends ago we spend a morning using up 3 dozen eggs from the chookies making pasta for drying, it's hard to keep up with all 4 producing, having looked at some pictures of custom made pasta drying racks I decided the small clothes line would do the same job.

I also had a lovely day with two good friends and 25 kilos of tomatoes making beautiful tomato sauce to a Stephanie Alexander recipe. We had a fun day. The next day being quite inspired on the tomato front I made a small amount of passata. Next year I would really like to made a large quantity.

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We had 4 day tickets for WOMAdelaide this year. As usual it was a beautiful experience, the atmosphere is wonderful, so many delights for all the senses. There were many highlights. Asa was a delight, such great energy and a fab band. It was great to see Martha Wainwright in the flesh,I love her voice and her sassy personality. It was very special for me to see Luka Bloom again after many years. His music seems to really be in my bones and blood somehow....also great to see the Alan Kelly Quartet, great traditional Irish music. There was a lot of other wonderful music.
WOMAD is one of the great things about living in Adelaide, of which there are very many. Sometimes just walking along the beach at Henley on a beautiful day I get a glimpse of how very, very privileged I am to live in such a beautiful and peaceful place.
I went for an early walk this morning, and at 7am there were dolphins swimming in the shallows and mutton birds flying over the water.....and the coffee was hot and strong at Joes.

I have been playing around with different lens on my camera, it makes the garden look interesting.

I had the water lilies flowering in the pond in the late summer.

Here is Sylvia, she finally stopped escaping from the chook run and has settled in with the others but it took a long time!

More fun with the camera
I seem to have worked backwards from Autumn into Summer!
The weather is glorious now and it is nice to have an Easter at home, we nearly always go away. The garden is looking neglected so I will spend some time this week weeding and planting, as well as having a bike ride and relaxing.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Happy New Year

Happy New Year.
My thoughts are going out to all the people in Queensland and Northern New South Wales who have suffered because of the floods. The stories of courage, tragedy, kindness and community are very moving.
It was quite surreal several days ago watching this all unfold on TV from the comfort of my South Australian lounge room. The intensity of the weather and the human and environmental consequences all over the East coast of the country made me feel very concerned about our future and the effects of climate change.
Here in South Australia we have had rather a wet spring and early summer which has been beautiful for the garden and gentle on the spirit and body compared to our usual fierce Summer weather.
There has been a lot going on in my life in the last year and I really can not call myself a blogger with one post every 8 months!

I have been slowly getting to things in the garden, with a new patch going from this:

To this:

There is a Persimmon in the middle from the wonderful Perry's in McLaren Flat and some roses, climbing and bush roses from the equally wonderful Ross Roses in Willunga.

The trip to make these purchases in June 2010 was my last outing with my dear friend and colleague Lesley who died later in the year. I will always remember her when I see this beautiful part of my garden growing and changing.

The vegetable garden is growing well. In the Spring the Rainbow Chard was still going well and and I planted some tomatoesAs you can see the tomatoes have grown extremely well. Unfortunately the latest addition to the chook run Sylvia is an escape artist and climbs over the fence to eat tomatoes. She is an Australorp cross and apparently they are quite adventurous. I have not managed to get a really good picture of her yet so that will have to wait.

We are also picking Zucchini, squash, french beans, capsicums, mint, parsley, rocket, nectarines, lemons,
Soon we will be picking Roma tomaotes as well as the heirloom variety we are eating now, chillies, grapes, basil, lettuce, passionfruit and figs.

The citrus have responded well to all the rain, lots of new growth on the manderine and the lemongrass in front of it has finally taken off.

The courtyard is looking lush
and the Ginger is flowering very well under the Frangipani

The other exciting development in the courtyard is the new electricity meter, we now have 27 solar panels and I am looking forward to our next electricity bill which may be nothing or may be a refund!!

I have had a couple of small craft projects. Being a craft novice this is very exciting for me. I do take inspiration from the wonderful blogs from the hoards of extremely crafty young women out there. Good on you! This is a little crocheted cap that I made for my daughter but I don't know if she will ever wear it.

I have stared a African Hexagon bag, I found the hexagons on Ravelry. There is a pattern for a bag made out of the hexagons on there and some other lovely things that can be made from them as well.
I have been greatly inspired in the last few months by Ronda Jeans blog Down to Earth, I have put a link from here. I heard her speak in Radio National while driving up to Clare for work in October. Her ideas around sustainability, family, community and a simple life have really gelled for me. I greatly enjoy following her blog and exploring the links from it. I have enjoyed making quite a lot of her recipes and ideas for organising ones home. I have bought the ingredients to make soap but have not got to it yet!
The joy of the internet for me is that inspiration, idea and community can be accessed in such an easy way.

I have also been inspired by my continued reading and thinking around meditation, loving kindness and awareness. I am reading Jack Kornfield's "Wise Heart" having just finished listening to a 6 CD set called "Mindfulness and the Brain" by Jack Kornfield and Daniel Siegal. Fantastic for anyone interested in Mindfulness, Meditation and /or neurobiology.
I have also been reading Rachel Ramen "My grandfathers Blessings" and "Kitchen table Wisdom" Beautiful,moving and thought provoking vignettes from her work as a counselor to the dying, a counselor to health workers and tales from her own childhood.

I am on holidays at the moment for the last week so gradually calming down and slowing down. The complexities and challenges of life go on as the mother of two young people 15 and about to be 13.
I have this up on my fridge to remind me to breath, return to inner calm and keep going on.