Sunday, October 31, 2010

200 Posts

This post marks my 200th post blogmark.
Reaching this blogmark has naturally got me thinking about blogging.
Firstly, even though I have been blogging for nearly three years, only a very few family and friends know I blog. I am happy for people I have never met to read about me, but not people I know. What does this say? Is this just me, or is this common?
Secondly, sometimes I wonder whether I should reveal more or less personal stuff in my blog posts. I find this a difficult line to draw. On one hand,the blogs that resonate most with me write openly and honestly about all sorts of issues. On the other hand, I am old enough to guard my privacy and that of my family (who didn't ask to be blogged about) tightly. Where do you draw the line? I'd be interested to read your thoughts.
Thirdly, checking out my stats, by far the most page views are generated by a single post I made in March 2009 on making strawberry guava jelly. Fortunately, world domination in blogging has never been a particular goal. For me blogging is a creative outlet (and it also acts as an on-line diary for me. It's amazing how often I refer back to my own posts for recipes and the like). The other pleasing part about blogging is the comments I receive from the blogging community: "regulars" such as Linda, Tracy, Libby and Emily as well and others from time to time. I write with you in mind, and love to read your comments, as well as check out your blogs, even though I don't always comment as much as I'd like. Thanks for your interest in my blog, it definitely keeps me motivated to continue when at times I've thought of stopping.

So, blogging? Why do you do it? I'd love to know.

China Kidz Christmas Project

I've just signed up for the China Kidz Christmas Project being organised through Notes from the Frugal Trenches here. Frugal Trenches has some friends who care for orphans in China, and she is organising blog readers to knit, sew or crochet warm winter clothes, or simply buy a toy, all of which are sorely needed by the children. It sounds so simple and worthwhile. Please check out Frugal Trenches' blog, and volunteer to join in if you feel able.

Edited to add: I've just redone the link above, so hopefully it is working now. If not, click on the link to Note from the Frugal Trenches in my Bloglist at left, and check out the post from October 29.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

The impossible tomato

Last summer, we had a tomato grow from a crack in the concrete at the bottom of our front steps. It ended up being our highest yielding tomato bush ever. The summer, we have this contender, growing with no visible means of support from a crack between the house and the verandah. I don't have high hopes for this bush, because it only gets minimal morning sun whereas last year's impossible bush got lots of sun. But, hey, when it comes to gardening, I am constantly being proven wrong, so why listen to me?
I'll keep you posted.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010


Swallows have built this nest under the eaves, right over our front door. Cute. Now parenting some tiny birds, I get to spend a portion of every day cleaning swallow poo off my front door step. Not so cute.
I was starting to get exasperated, when my mother came to visit the other day. I pointed out the current bane of my life. Her reply? "That's lovely!" Why? According to her, in Italy they believe that swallows only build nests under the eaves of happy homes.
Well, okay then. I'm slightly mollified. They can stay. I only wish they didn't build their nest where they did.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Fruit Fly foes

If there is one thing that makes my eyes cross, it's Queensland fruit fly. My nemesis.
Our fruit trees are seven years old, and in that time, we have tried all sorts of things to stop these little pests in their tracks. This year, we are going the belt-and-braces method. ie. we are throwing everything at these trees that we can. So, here is a Japanese plum (can't remember the variety - Mariposa perhaps?) It is covered with small developing fruit. Firstly, we had the trees pruned in winter so that the tree is a manageable size so that we can use exclusion bags effectively. Secondly, I've hung a fruit fly trap, seen here dangling on the left. The mixture in the trap consists of warm water, sugar, vegemite, vanilla and urine. I'll let you join the dots on my devotion to this task yourself. Thirdly, I've been spraying the tree with spinosad (an organic compound), and will keep this up weekly until harvest around Christmas.
Action Man reckons we should spray with nasty chemicals as a last resort. My thinking is that if we do this, we may as well buy our fruit. Heaven knows, it will probably be cheaper.
If all this fails, and we still don't get to eat any fruit this year, but are sending bags of rotting fruit to the tip, the next step is a chainsaw.
I think the problem is our insistence on growing stone fruit in an area where fruit fly is endemic. Sometimes retreat is the best way forward.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Who ate my cheese?

An update on the camembert cheese I made at a cheesemaking course a few weeks ago.
After a few weeks of tending the cheese - mainly changing the ice brick in the esky morning and night, taking it with us to Sydney when we went up there for a few days, and turning the cheese every couple of days - we ate the cheese the other night when we had visitors to stay.
It was good! It tasted just like a real camembert. Quite chuffed overall.
I have plans to make a batch of cheese at home , but I don't think this will happen until the school holidays at least. I'll need to source some non-homogenised milk to start with, and then I'll need to clear 4-5 hours during the day to make the cheese. I don't see this happening for a while.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Woolly jumper...done!

Woolly jumper wearing weather has passed us by, I'm afraid, but here is my first ever jumper..done! More amazingly, I finished it in about 6 weeks. A miracle, considering every other thing I've ever attempted to knit has ended up as an unfinished object.
It may not be cutting edge fashion, but it's toasty warm, and I'm looking forward to next winter to give this jumper a run...

Monday, October 4, 2010

Holiday from motherhood

Strange couple of days around here. Action Man and the kids have gone to Queensland to visit my mother-in-law and I've been home alone.
I haven't been alone so long since before our son was born nearly thirteen years ago. In those days, I spent a lot of time alone because AM was then a ship's captain in the Navy, and was away a LOT.
I can't remember how I spent all those weekends alone (during the weeks I was working), but I do know I didn't appreciate then the luxury of having all that time entirely at my own disposal, with no responsibilities to anyone but myself.
So what have I done? I spent a lot of time sewing (made myself a pair of pants), reading and gardening. Went walking every day, and have had a couple of long yoga sessions. Cooked vegetarian meals. Played my music very loud, and watched a couple of DVDs. I feel like I've been on holiday, and have not felt lonely for a second.
Having said that, I am looking forward to picking up the kids at the airport tomorrow. (AM is off to Darwin for his birthday present fishing trip). Much as I have enjoyed the novelty of 72 hours without demands on my time, by tomorrow I know I will be glad to have my world back to normal...

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Pumpkin Tea Bread

In my continuing quest to use up the pumpkin, I made this Pumpkin Tea Bread. It's a bit of a plain Jane in looks, but if this was scratch'n'sniff blogging, my goodness! It smells divine thanks to lavish amounts of spice.
The method is easy as, and come to think of it, is just the same as making muffins. Dry ingredients mixed together, wet ingredients into dry, mix and bake. Simple.

Pumpkin Tea Bread

1 cup wholemeal plain flour
1 cup brown sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1 cup sultanas
1 cup roughly chopped walnuts (or almonds, or hazelnuts)
1 1/2 cups grated pumpkin
2 eggs
1/2 cup light olive oil
1/2 cup milk
1 tablespoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven 180 degrees. Butter and line a loaf tin.

Mix together the flour, spice, baking powder, spices, then tip in the sultanas, nuts and pumpkin. Give it all a good mix so that everything is well combined. In a jug, whisk the eggs, oil, vanilla and milk, and add to the dry ingredients. Another good mix, then into the tin and oven for 1 hour or thereabouts.