Nearly 5

08082008404I can’t believe Jasper is nearly 5. It’s doing my head in to be very honest and I’ve avoided thinking about it until now. Ok, I’m still a few months shy of his actual birthday which is in August but I know I will need to wort out a few things before then so I need to get my thinking cap on now.

I’ve just asked him what sort of cake he wants and he’s requested a tiger cake. This seems like a truly simple thing, some black food colouring and orange and whammo, but it’s not that easy. We avoid all processed sugars and all artificial colours, flavours and preservatives whenever possible so I need to design his cake around this. Fortunately, I can do this with black and orange sort of easily I think. ๐Ÿ™‚ I hope. ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

My first thought was, what kind of cake to bake? It must needs be a sourdough cake as this reduces the phytates in the flour and means I can eat it too so I need to make it sourdough whichever way we go. Chocolate makes sense if I make it really dark chocolate for the black stripe part but what about orange? Well, I love orange poppyseed cake butย I quickly discarded that idea. That’s a cake that must needs appear white (or very light at least) for the poppyseeds to show up as beautifully as they need to and rapadura is not conducive to light coloured cakes. It adds a lovely caramel tone (and flavour) though. I also loveย ย jaffas (the choc orange balls) which is the most divine combination of flavours for a cake outside of cherry and chocolate. If I make it a marbled cake between chocolate and orange, well, there are the tigers stripes. ๐Ÿ™‚ Ok, cake flavouring decided. ๐Ÿ˜€

A quick search on Dr Google (my best friend I swear) reveals these recipes…
http://www.sbs.com.au/food/recipe/4071/Jaffa_cake/search/true
http://www.aliveandcooking.com.au/recipes/season2/s2-jaffa-cake.php
http://needsmoresugar.com/2011/04/04/chocolate-orange-mud-cake-jaffa-cake/
I am very much liking this last one but I need to tweak it more than just a bit to make it sourdough. I also don’t want to purchase sugar-laden chocolate so I will be using cocoa/cacao and cacao butter. I also need to substitute all the sugar for rapadura. Hmmm, am I taking on too much here? Can I do it? Am I up to the challenge?

Now for the icing. How does one ice a cake without using sugar. This I don’t quite yet have the answer for. I have foundย this recipe for sweet potato icingย on Pinterest which I intend to try and I hope it works as it solves two issues in one – making a sugar free icing and making an orange icing without the use of lots of artificial colouring. Natural yellow I have (turmeric) but natural red I do not. No cochineal for us thanks. If I make a chocolate icing then I can get away with substituting rapadura/jaggery/panela instead. That won’t work for orange coloured icing though even if I can actually get the colour orange enough.

Jasper has also been choosing the cake designs he wants too. My shortlist includes the simple cakes with stripes, the tigerish faces or even just a plain chocolate iced cake with a toy tiger on top but no, Jasper would like one of these masterpieces.

coolest-birthday-cakes.com

 

fancycakesblog.com

shoshannah84.deviantart.com

Now kid, as much as I appreciate your fine sense of artwork (and these cakes are nothing short) there are limits upon my abilities and creating something like this is so far beyond my capabilities as to render it utterly impossible. I can bake a nice cake and I can make it pretty. I can even whip up something with levels of creativity (I seem to remember an aeroplane cake somewhere back in history) but this I cannot do. And no I will not try. Thanks Allegra for the idea that you and daddy can help but I’m not sure a 3 year old, oh sorry, 3 and a HALF year old can help much and Daddy’s skill set lies elsewhere. Sorry to disappoint Jas but a masterpiece like above you will not receive.

Well, there’s the plan. A healthy cake, no sugar, sourdough, chocolate and orange and looking like a tiger. Not too much to ask is it? Any advice anyone?

Oh and I have a 40 something 21st birthday to face for Martin and a 2nd birthday for Orik in the 6 days before Jasper’s. My lovely Leo boys. ๐Ÿ˜‰

A workshop in Sourdough

Yesterday I attended the Prickleberry Sourdough workshop on how to make sourdough. Considering how much I have learned and how my bread turns out most of the time (not perfect by any stretch of the imagination but not bad none the less) I was really surprised with just how much I learned. All complimentary to what I already knew but I did learn why some of the breads I’ve made are less than satisfactory. And I’ve now got another starter on the go who shall be named Andreas (please don’t let mt brother-in-law know I’ve named some flour, water and wild yeasts after him ๐Ÿ˜‰ )

I’ve come away with 2 recipes, or 2 variations of the same recipe for bread and then information on how to jazz up the bread in a dozen ways. Whilst we made fruit loaves using soaked apricots, sultanas and spices, Oskar made chocolate loaf. Yep, chocolate bread! NOICE! ๐Ÿ˜€ I’ve come home with quite a doughy bounty. I have a new starter, a loaf of plain shaped loaf, a cob fruit loaf (the way to form a cob loaf is MUCH harder than I thought – practice needed there), dough that I made there, now baked into olive bread here at home this morning and as there was extra dough at the end of the class and we hung around to chat, another batch of dough I made into a tinned loaf this morning. I learned that the oldest known sourdough starter in Australia is about 150 years old and kept in 3 forms – dried, fresh and frozen. I learned that starters do well with sugars in them and Andreas has a slice of apple in him which I will discard tomorrow and a generous pinch of sultanas which will remain indefinitely. I also learned that using the water from cooking spuds makes a very sour smelling starter but even an over fermented apple based starter will smell of sweet apple cider vinegar. I also learned that I have been baking with a LOT of starter which may not all be necessary. Now there are different ways to bake and everyone has their own method, recipe and style and I’m not actually wrong which what I’ve been doing but I now have other recipes and techniques. I had an absolute ball making it too.

The only bad news I have to report is that not once did I think of taking a photo! Not a since one. Sorry.

Prickleberry Sourdough are only a new bakery (although Oskar grew up in a cake bakery on Ackland Street) and have done very well for themselves with their new store opining in a little over a month in Mair Street (just in case anyone is going through Ballarat or lives locally) and given the taste of the breads we ate throughout the day, if you can visit I highly recommend it. They have a Facebook page if you’re on Facebook too –https://www.facebook.com/prickleberrysourdough

A quiet time and all that we have achieved

Things have been quiet around here. Not literally in terms of noise. Our house is rarely devoid of noise but in terms of achievements and blogging things have been quiet. I’ve needed the downtime and time off from the blogosphere, both reading and writing, and as I come out the other side of this time I am feeling the better for the time off. And after getting a new RSS feed (thanks Narf7) I feel like I’m getting all my posts and nearly on top of them all too. ๐Ÿ™‚ Continue reading

A harvest meal, real food, Freecycle and bartering.

We dispatched our first chicken last Sunday. One of our roosters has been limping for a few weeks and he hasn’t improved so the decision was made to end his misery, despite not having reached maturity or harvesting age. His end was as quick as we could make it with no prolonged suffering and he has been waiting in the fridge, resting until we were ready to cook him up. I decided to roast him, despite the lack of meat on his scrawny carcass and so he was roasted with some Chinese 5 spice rubbed into him, with plums inside the cavity and around, roast spuds and peas and corn.ย I wouldn’t say it was the best meal I’ve ever eaten, not by a long shot but it was tasty. The plums which I had bottled the other week were sour but the rest of the meal was good. The bones are now simmering on the stove to make stock (waste not want not) and I am feeling comfortable with our decision to raise our own meat.

 

Roast chook stuffed with plums, surrounded by crunchy spuds and more plums. Best looking meal I’ve ever made that’s for sure. ๐Ÿ™‚

 

I had a friend come visit today and we were talking about food. She jokingly asked what “real” food we had in the house, referring to conventional supermarket foods and we went to have a look in my fridge, freezer and pantry. What we found makes me beam with pride. There are a few condiments, vinegar and the like, frozen peas and corn and a few leftover berries, milk, a beer (home-brew is on the cards one day) and a few other bits and pieces. I am proud to say we make the gross majority of our food from raw ingredients. ๐Ÿ˜€ I don’t have an issue with buying things and I am sure I will in future but I love the fact that I can “damn the man” and make it myself. I just wish I could find a recipe for homemade Vegemite. Supporting Kraft, even as infrequently as one buys Vegemite sticks in my craw. ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

Who says you can't sleep the baby in the drawers? Yet another use for repurposing some old drawers into underbed storage - the kids can play in them :D

Who says you can’t sleep the baby in the drawers? Yet another use for repurposing some old drawers into underbed storage – the kids can play in them ๐Ÿ˜€

I love a good bargain but even more than that I love a free bargain! I mean who doesn’t? ๐Ÿ˜€ I love Freecycle for that reason. Freecycle is a place to list your unwanted goods or to put up a wanted ad if there is something you are after. You will not be offered things like a good car or the latest LED TV but people list unwanted books, furniture, unused garden items (gravel, plants, seeds), kitchen items and occasionally some pretty wonderful items too – I missed out on a knitting machine once which I sought for a friend (I already have one) – as well as the more commonplace. I’ve seen requests for glass jars, school uniforms, newspapers, yarn, and offers for kitchens (we listed our old one), topsoil, kindling, hot water units and more. Almost anything goes although different groups have different policies and those policies differ often around the placement of wanted or offering animals/pets.

The other day an offer came up for a 6 seater extendable dining table, something we have been after for quite some time. We have 5 of us crammed around a 4 seater table and Martin or I end up sitting on a folding chair as Orik’s high chair clips to a normal chair. I fired off a reply as soon as I saw the ad and was lucky enough to be offered the setting. The description wasn’t encouraging – laminate and timber – so I was expecting an old, possibly late 70’s early 80’s brown wood look laminate table and the matching vinyl chairs but needs must. I was jaw-droppingly surprised to discover we had just become the new owners of 6 lovely high backed chairs and a deep reddy-brown timber veneer extendable table with only a little damage. I am stoked! ๐Ÿ˜€ Freecycle, you RULE! We have some more stuff to list now, including our old table as well as some other unwanted items that are too good to throw out. If they don’t find homes on Freecycle then it’s off to the op shop.ย I love the idea of eBay, Freecycle, Gumtree and any other similar webpages, just like op shops, as they do one HUGE thing. They keep usable items from ending up in landfill. There is nothing wrong with our old table except its size but without a second hand market out there it’s a perfectly good and undamaged item that will sit there for all eternity (glass doesn’t decompose).

The excitement of lift off and pressure building int he pressure canner - first time I've used it and I "canned" chicken stock.

The excitement of lift off and pressure building int he pressure canner – first time I’ve used it and I “canned” chicken stock.

Another concept I love that I am just delving into which is fast becoming the new black, at least in my circles, is bartering. Swapping this for that. Offering your goods or services in exchange for other goods or services. Effectively buying things but without exchanging money. It’s fun and it’s challenging, just like op shopping. ๐Ÿ™‚ The challenge of locating what you need is far harder than just walking into a normal store and grabbing the item off the shelf. Now where is the challenge in that? I LOVE the thrill of the op shop hunt and the open mind that you must have too. You may not get exactly what you dreamed of but that’s the joy, the flexibility. ๐Ÿ˜€ Well, bartering is the next level up from that! Not only are you searching for what you want BUT you must have something to offer in exchange that the items owner wants. It all of a sudden becomes a dual challenge. You find yourself assessing your goods and services, what you can offer, afford to spare or are willing to give up. Recently I had made a wonderful barter swap with a fellow blogger and hippy Narf7 from Serendipity Farm in Northern Tasmania. Steve carves the most amazing and wonderful spoons from locally sourced timber, some even from their own farm and I have been gagging to get my hands on one of these amazing works of art. But what did I have that I could swap. Turns out I was rich in 2 things that Narf7 was after, sourdough starter and knowledge and kefir grains. We faced the potential problem of customs as Tasmania is pretty rigid regarding the importation of anything that could harm their beautiful island so seeds and plants are out (sorry Narf7, otherwise I’d split my mangel wurzel seeds 50/50 with you) but after discussing the issue with my local postmistress I was pretty sure it would be ok. I bundled up Audrey the sourdough starter into a couple of leak-proof layers and did the same with the offspring of Kiefer our kefir grains, threw in a handknitted dishcloth and some rye flour which I pulled out again. I figured it wouldn’t clear customs and rather than tempt fate it was better to leave it out. It arrived yesterday and both the kefir and starter as settling into their new homes. ๐Ÿ™‚ MY parcel arrived today. ๐Ÿ˜€ In exchange for my items I have received not 1 but 2 hand-carved spoons and some parsnip seeds (the ban on posting seeds only works one way ๐Ÿ™‚ ) To say that I am happy is a major understatement! I AM STOKED! My salt spoon is the sweetest cutest and most practical little spoon perfectly suited to its job. It now lives in the vintage ceramic salt cellar I purchased off eBay a while back, helping to spoon Himalayan salt into my cooking and baking. As or my second spoon, I am not sure what its purpose will be quite yet but rest assured it will be an honoured position. I feel very very proud to be the owner and recipient of not 1 but 2 of these gorgeous spoons.

My new celery top pine salt spoon. :D

My new celery top pine salt spoon. ๐Ÿ˜€

It's so little and cute and perfectly sized for its job.

It’s so little and cute and perfectly sized for its job.

My second piece of art.

My second piece of art.

 

LOVE how the spoon "bowl" sits proud f the handle. Your attention to detail and craftsmanship is amazing Steve.

LOVE how the spoon “bowl” sits proud f the handle. Your attention to detail and craftsmanship is amazing Steve.

Well, here’s hoping for an early night. I AM trying to get to bed before 10 and be up before 7. Truly!

An update and things coming together

It’s all pretty amazing when things start coming together. I mean, you plot, you plan and you dream and you try and cram the plotting, planning and dreaming into reality, dodging around obstacles like time, money, weather, differing ideas, legal requirements and everything else and you hope to come up with a workable situation that hasn’t strayed too far from your first inspired musings.

File:Heidi Bild.jpg

Heidi, grandfather and Aunt Dete hurrying away

My initial dreams involved up to 5 acres, an eco friendly house built by my own two hands, robust and healthy children who look liked they had escaped from Heidi, friendly animals, beautifully landscaped (but not rigid) gardens and fresh produce pouring from their richly composted soil. The reality is a little different.

We have a 1/2 acre, the house was not built by my own two hands although I have had a lot of input into the design and materials used and we have been as eco friendly as the budget allowed for (low VOC paints, woolen carpets over recycled fibre underlay and LED lights). My children don’t have the plump legs and ruddy complexions of Heidi fame but they are healthy and happy and sporting somewhat of a tan, testament to their enjoyment of outdoor life. Our animals aren’t quite as keen on us as we are on them but Milly and Molly are getting more comfortable although Mandy still keeps her distance. The baby chicks are well acclimatised to children as they are picked up and carted around by the kids for a couple of hours each day and the silkies are fast becoming favourites (Mrs Silverpants was replaced last night along with her companion Dandelion the white silkie and Goldie or Gold Star the golden silkie). The baby chicks are used to being handled by us too although they still peg it during the day (we go out each night to make sure they’re either sleeping in a nesting box or on the perch which they’ve finally figured out last night too). The gardens are not the verdant oases I dreamed of and their soil, although rich, is not as rotted down as I had dreamed. It’s getting there now though. We do have crops coming along nicely too. I have 2 zucchinis that will be ready in the next day or 2 (they’re taking longer I think due to the still un-rotted garden beds) and my corn are flowering and I can see the beginning of corn cobs. ๐Ÿ˜€ My watermelons won’t make harvest this year but I will try transferring them even though they hate it. I have nothing to lose at this stage. My tomatoes are still coming along in the garden too. I live in fear of possums discovering them but we appear to have few of those thieving little blighters around thankfully. My broccoli are doing much better since I got up close and personal with them, rubbing the underside of their leaves and squishing all the caterpillar eggs (or are they butterfly eggs – defined by what they hatch into or what lays them?) and caterpillars of the (presumably) coddling moths that had turned their leaves into fine green lace. They still look a little lacy but much happier. My onions haven’t even made it to pickled onion stage sadly but then again I never really expected them to. ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

The greenhouse garden

The greenhouse garden, marked out with sticks and some used chicken straw for nutrients. I will mulch it when the seedlings are up more. Thanks for the idea Narf. ๐Ÿ™‚

But it’s the greenhouse I am most amazed with and proud of in our garden. It’s a Sproutwell greenhouse built from a kit I bought off eBay (they also have a website and the price is the same) and the garden beds I built myself using corrugated iron and hardwood corner posts. The hardwood we already had and the iron, bought from my uncle, makes each bed cost $1.50! WIN! Anyway, I’ve built 3 beds in there and filled and planted 1 of them. I transplanted the tomatoes from the second martie bed as they were very small and not going to make harvest before the frost arrived so I had nothing to lose. I planted my mandarin, banana and lemon trees in there first, then the transplanted tomatoes and transplanted marigolds in there, some beans planted down the side, transplanted capsicums, rocket seeds between them, then planted carrot and radish seeds, some spinach seeds, leek seeds, coriander seeds, transplanted chives and also chive seeds. So far the chive seeds are the only ones I haven’t seen a sprout from yet. I also transplanted in a pumpkin that popped up from seeds I’d scooped out of a pumpkin around Christmas time and planted out mid January. So, although it’s not yet that verdant oasis, it is well on its way to being a nifty little food garden.

Radishes

Capsicums and radishes

A bean

A bean

Carrot wisps :)

Carrot wisps ๐Ÿ™‚

Spinach

Spinach

Capsicums and rocket

Capsicums and rocket with a tomato and the beans in the background. The carrots are near the icy-pole stick.

Nice mangel wurzels ๐Ÿ˜‰

I’ve also bought some more interesting seeds – mangel wurzels which are like turnips but they get HEAPS bigger and if harvested small they’re good for human consumption or if left to grow out, great for cattle and chickens. I wanted to try them just because I can! I’ve also finally sourced some black carrot seeds (purple/black inside and out and amazing for antioxidants), kale, rainbow chard and some other bits and bobs. I’m planning some BIG gardens over winter. ๐Ÿ˜€ And speaking of winter gardens, I’ve started building the garden beds to go in. The existing beds will be raked up to fill the new ones and they’re a little shorter but I can double the amount of beds, greatly increasing planting area overall. I am eagerly awaiting Autumn now, something I NEVER thought I would say. ๐Ÿ™‚

But the most fun of all is that Ignisa and I are starting to work together. We’ve had some veryย unseasonablyย cold weather this last week and Ignisa, our lovely Gourmet Cooker has been alight for about 44 hours although she’s been resting for the last hour or 2 but I’m getting cold again so reckon it’s time to fire her up again.. We need to organise some hardwood to burn (if anyone local has any they’re getting rid of or selling…?) but in the meantime we have been able to make do with our existing poplar stocks which isย marvelousย that we can use them up. ๐Ÿ™‚ We also had a little bit of plum from a tree that we chopped down after it died at Spotswood. I started off by bringing in our old DVD shelves and then arranged them in such as way as to make a surround or frame for the stove. I’ve now got some space for trinkets, wood, kindling and fire lighting paper. The lamps came out and look lovely too, bringing some pleasant ambiance to the room. The fire guard, half of our playpen is doing duty as a fire guard and at night it makes a great clothesrack too once stoo up on it’s ends. ๐Ÿ˜€ Multitasking and repurposing at its best. ๐Ÿ™‚ I’ve done some cooking with Ignisa too. ๐Ÿ˜€ I cooked a compete meal on her the other evening, spuds in the oven and then fried off the bacon in aย fry panย on top and breakfast this morning was homemade sourdough English muffins cooked on Ignisa and a hot chocolate made with her heat too – another complete meal. ๐Ÿ™‚ I also baked bread in her belly the other night but the oven was a wee bit hot (like 350C rather than 200C required). Should be fine once I carve off the top inch. lol

3 bookshelves arranged just so

3 bookshelves arranged just so

IMG_5380

English muffins and hot chocolate – this mornings breakfast

Briquette?

Briquette?

I also did some more unpacking – DVD’s away (not that they will see much use given the lack of tv), my crystal radio set up and working (I need to find a better station with some music although ABC news radio is ok too), and I’ve been knitting away getting clothes ready for winter. The kids each have a new hat and I’ve made a scarf for Orik too. I need to source some more yarn to make Allegra a scarf so it’s time to dig into the stash. I also knitted my first dishcloth using this pattern and I’m happy with how it’s come out. Now to test it and see how it works.

Our food is improving on a weekly, if not daily basis. I’ve committed to making sourdough pasta using this recipe so we are slowly using up our normal pasta which I can’t eat and once it’s gone, that’s it. We’re now drinking real milk, our veggie box arrives each week from Highland Heritage (I highly recommend contacting them if you’re local and interested as their produce is first rate) and I’ve started culturing milk too – milk kefir is like super dooper yakult and it tasted a HEAP better as well as being heaps better for you. Google kefir if you’re interested. I just don’t know enough about it at this stage other than to say it’s very good for you and not unpleasant to taste.

Bertha was also split and fattened up and her daughter, Agnetha has gone to her new home. Bertha will be fed and split again and posted this week to The Eco Mum and Narf so you should see some mail coming your way soon ladies. I had planned to post it today but I haven’t fed her or her babies enough for the rigors of travel. ๐Ÿ™‚

IMG_5353

My Bertha, Agnetha her daughter and the tub with my bread in it at the bottom of the picture.

A Dexter. Photo is not such a good one of the cow but gives a brilliant idea of their size.

They come in black (most common) dun and red, polled or horned, short legged or normal. I think these are polled and the black one closest appears to be short legged. Aren’t they pretty. ๐Ÿ™‚

My latest project, much to the horror of my darling long-suffering husband is to purchase a house-cow. Yep, a cow! ๐Ÿ™‚ Don’t have a cow, she wouldn’t be a full sized one and nor will she be a genetically twisted (albeit via breeding only) miniature cow but a genuine naturally occurring small breed cow, the Dexter. The average Dexter cow, when fully grown will stand no higher at the hip than Jasper. They stand around and just over the 1m mark although the bulls are up to 1.17m I think (44in) so they really are quite small. They’re easy calvers, easy milkers, friendly animals and make excellent lawnmowers! ๐Ÿ˜€ They also require a lot less pasture space and although we don’t quite have enough land for exclusive grass feeding we may have access to some good local and I believe organically grown hay. It’s also another reason I want to try growing mangel wurzels as they used to be used for winter and early spring food in the UK for cattle. We are big dairy people here with hot chocolates, homemade yoghurt, custard and cheese (not yet homemade) on our menu with frequency. I want to know that our dairy is organic and hence free of hormones, anti-biotics and all the rest of the garbage pumped into many commercial cows (I’m not sure how much of that is dairy cows rather than beef cows which I believe are treated with regularity in factory farming conditions but any of that gunk is too much gunk) and I also want to know that it’s cruelty free. These cows are prolific milk producers for their size and can easily feed 2 or even 3 calves so I figure that there is no need to remove the calf from mother and we can simply milk the excess. No poddy calves! ๐Ÿ˜€ I also want to know that our milk is local. Full respect to dairies around Australia but I would prefer to support any in the district and preferably my own back yard… Literally. ๐Ÿ˜€ I also want to be able to give my children raw milk, full of all the wonderful goodness that milk contains, not pasteurised to within an inch of its life. I understand that pasteurisation aims to kill nasty bugs but it also kills many beneficial ones and a single cow raised at home will be much easier to maintain in a sanitary milking condition than hundreds of them all traipsing in manure and mud. And that brings me to another great reason for keeping a cow… I want her manure for my gardens. ๐Ÿ™‚ Bonus fertiliser cakes. ๐Ÿ˜› Dexter cows are also great for their meat which is reported to be superior – a wonderful duel purpose cow. They can also be trained to pull like oxen, something that will come in handy in a post peak oil world. Any bull calves would be fattened up for organic, pasture-fed, free-range, cruelty free (need to find an on-site butcher) and utterly local beef. It’s a HUGE undertaking though, with initial costs, commitment (10 months of the year they lactate and they live for up to 20 years, even more) and we obviously need to check council rules and permits (definitely required) and whether we have or can access sufficient fodder (I do not want to grain feed except maybe as a treat) and there is also up to 10 litres of milk a day to work through. I would need to make cheese on a daily basis which would be far too much for us to eat) and I’d still have enough left over for custard, yoghurt, bechamel sauce, Orik’s bottles and all the rest. It’s very exciting to dream though and following up on information and researching is keeping the old brain box ticking.. ๐Ÿ™‚

So anyway, that’s the updates for now. There is lots happening, lots in the pipleline and many many more things on the discussion table. It’s a busy time and I’m loving it. ๐Ÿ˜€ What’s the news in your slice of paradise?

Settling in

Well, we are moved in. We have our beds, most of our clothes, half of the kitchen and little else in the way of furniture but we are now officially residing in Ballan. ๐Ÿ˜€ We are still lacking things like mail redirection, internet access (pre-paid wireless thingies or over our phones at the moment and I’ve blown my bandwidth allocation in 5 days L ) and we have yet to get a home phone too but hey, these things will come.

I wouldn’t say we are properly moved in yet, not by a long shot, but things are starting slowly to resume normality. Our tiles are nearly complete with 1-2 days more work to finish laying and then grout them and then we can look at bringing up the rest of our furniture. Oh to be able to sit on a couch and put my feet up, even if only for 5 minutes! We now have a completed shower which is making life a lot easier. Baths are very well and good but they do take more time and there is something wasteful about running a bath, hopping in for a quick splash and getting back out again. Baths sort of demand that you soak in them, something I have neither the time nor the inclination to do. Along with the shower screen installation we had the broken windows repaired. The kitchen now has so much more light during the day and more of the wonderful view too. Aside from that, not much else has changed except for Martin just about finished setting up the cubby house and I’ve got a few bits of the greenhouse put together. Now THAT is a fiddly job!

Today was a day of time off for me too. Martin has had a busy few weeks with Christmas parties for work and the afternoons cooped up inside a house with greatly restricted access (canโ€™t walk on the tiles for 12 hours after theyโ€™re laid) had taken its toll. I was a cranky Mummy. ๐Ÿ˜ฆ I took myself off yesterday morning for some op shopping as there are 2 wonderful op shops in town and I have scored some fantastic bargains. Gumboots for Allegra and Orik, a top for Allegra, shorts and shirts and trousers for each of them, 2 shirts for me, a shirt for Martin, 3 lovely little cups for the kids (matching hot chocolates ๐Ÿ˜€ ), a few kids books and best of all, a young adults novel I have been wanting for over 20 years as itโ€™s the sequel to a much loved story I have! ๐Ÿ˜€ STOKED! I came home much happier than I had left.

Waking up on a misty drizzly wet old morning.

Waking up on a misty drizzly wet old morning.

Todayโ€™s plans went awry again, thanks to the weather. Yesterday drizzled constantly, with barely a break all day. I noticed this evening that one of my pumpkins has put out a shoot thatโ€™s nearly 2 inches since yesterday when I had 5 dry minutes to mulch them. Nothing like rain on the veggie garden! Anyway, today there was a huge band of rain and storms that meant once again our outing to Anakie was postponed. I had planned to head up to the Trentham Farmers Market for a quick shop before we headed off but I ended up having a blissful 4 hour reprieve that included iced chocolate, cherry ripe slice (I know I shouldn’t but YUM) and lots of giggles, chatter and of course, shopping! I hate wandering a shopping centre and all that commercial shopping but given the opportunity to shop at Farmers Markets, well, I love it! I bought a lovely big cauliflower, some potatoes, asparagus, peanut butter (itโ€™s delicious) and some organic white peaches. The best bit though was spending time with my best friend uninterrupted by little people wanting something. Itโ€™s a rare thing we get uninterrupted conversation!

This afternoon Martin went to help a friend pull apart a shed he no longer wants and has kindly gifted to us. Looking forward to getting it set up so that Trevor no longer has to cower under a tarp when it rains. Whilst he was out and the kids were playing quietly I had a think about my tomatoes. After seeing pictures of your tomato plants Fran, I decided I would try digging one up and see how the newspaper pots had rotted. They hadn’t! L Explains why my tomatoes were looking very stunted. So, off I set, digging them all up and liberating their roots. Theyโ€™re all replanted and hopefully, in the compost-rich soil they will get themselves into gear. The good news is that there were a couple of flowers evident so there is hope. ๐Ÿ™‚

Happy belated birthday Allegra. Although you had a little party on the day, it took until now to get the cake made. Mind you, 2 parties is always a good thing. :)

Happy belated birthday Allegra. Although you had a little party on the day, it took until now to get the cake made. Mind you, 2 parties is always a good thing. ๐Ÿ™‚

I had another go at sourdough chocolate cake earlier in the week and was less than impressed so I decided to try it again, but measuring closely. THIS time it worked! I iced it with chocolate cream-cheese icing (decadence) and I have to say itโ€™s a success. ๐Ÿ˜€ It is so wonderful being able to have my cake and eat it too with no repercussions! I’ve baked several loaves of bread too so my house is awash in the heavenly aroma of fresh sourdough. J I feel like Iโ€™m truly immersing myself into our wonderful new life now. We worked late last night felling trees and cleaning up the branches and I spent a good hour today pruning more branches, chopping up the fallen ones and piling them up. The chooks and ducks chatted to me and the Dorkings follow me along theย fence lineย begging for scraps. We lob bits and pieces in to them and watch the mad scramble. The ducks and Dorkings are in there for young and old then pegging it off across the pen with their spoils. The Pekins just amble up looking fat, fluffy and mean and take what they want after a few vicious pecks at the current owner of the bounty who usually relinquishes it with a squawk! Our cats are still in quarantine in the laundry, although they have been allowed a few forays into the rest of the house. Weโ€™re taking it slowly with our furry boys. In revenge they have destroyed the door stops in both the bathroom and the laundry. Lol ๐Ÿ˜› As much as I hate keeping them confined, I hate the thought of losing them so much more. They’re out on parole, meowing around my ankles and purring.

Anyway, I am beginning to really ramble. Iโ€™m exhausted (surprise surprise) and ready for bed. Hopefully soon I will have something new to report other than just commuting and moving.