Monday, January 31, 2011

Holiday Postcards

Wye River, Great Ocean Road, Victoria.

 A tranquil spot to holiday with swimming, beach activities, surfing, fishing, canoeing, exploring and spectacular scenery around every bend.

Monday, January 24, 2011

A very surprising potato harvest

I wanted to share some pics of the potatoes that have come our way recently. It was a gorgeous evening last night and after eating dinner outside, I found myself watering the veggie patch which is right next to the kitchen. Noticing a few potatoes near the surface, I pulled them up not wanting them to turn green by leaving them exposed to the sunlight. The thing was.. I kept finding them. Then the 7 year old came along..and then the 10 year old..pretty soon we were all covered in soil pulling up potatoes and filling a basket and then some.

7.5kg was unearthed from our little evening dig! There were also some very surprising potatoes in amongst the harvest....

It's obvious! It's attempting to self-clone!!

And there were more where that guy came from!

Yes, it DID have to be weighed!

Some of them were enormous..the biggest potatoes I've ever seen. Yes, I confess, the scales did come out. The biggest one weighed nearly half a kilo! (1 pound!). Amazing. I love Nature's gifts, however strange they may appear.

*I'll be away from the blog for a few days, spending some time with the family. I look forward to catching up on your posts when I return.  Have a good week! :o) *

Saturday, January 22, 2011

A School Vegetable Garden...on holiday

The primary school that my daughters attend is really lucky to have an amazing vegetable garden. It is a large area and in addition to vegetable beds and fruit trees, includes a greenhouse, shadehouse, super-huge shed for classes and activities on rainy days, , woodfired oven with eating area, a wetland, a chookpen (with broody hens!), a 'jungle' (section of bush with pathways and bridges), a maze AND a fairy garden that the younger kids love to visit and post notes to the magical fairies in the letterbox there.

Contrary to popular belief, the magical fairies do not care for the gardens over the long, (usually!) hot summer. It is in fact willing parents and friends of the school. Meeting once a week seemed like a good idea for the Friday veggie gardening group I'm in, we could continue to get our 'fix', plus help out the school with no committments of hosting the group at our homes along with the hoard of energetic, hungry kids that make holidays...well...holidays!

I wanted to share a few pics of the school garden, as it is really looking great at the moment..something for the school community to be very proud of...

Yellow fleshed plums..they are as delicious as they look! Of course we had to try some..

Plum tree, citrus and rhubarb bed

Herb beds, including 'pizza garden' and healing garden

Nashi tree absolutley laden with fruit! A nashi is technically a pear although they  have several apple characteristics.
So yummy!

Hard at work...but not too hard. It is the holidays, after all.

Long stemmed lavender and raspberries..a thornless variety, which produced an abundant crop this year

Golden nasturtiums

By visiting the garden a few times over the holidays, at least when the kids return to start a new school year one of their first jobs won't be weeding, and the plants that they sowed/planted late last year will be surviving and (hopefully) thriving from the waterings they received.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

The Vintage Sheet Picnic Blanket completed!

It's probably (ok, definitely!) not my best work, but after looking at it hanging over the back of the couch for what seems like fooorreeever, I'm just so glad it's finished! Maybe it will bring some picnic weather our way. Maybe? A person can always hope, can't they?

Made from the 12 1/2" squares from the Down to Earth sheet swap,  it is 7 squares long by 6 squares wide, which makes it approximately 84" x 72" (210cm x 183cm). It looked huge inside the lounge room but once I placed it outside on the grass, it suddenly seemed perfect picnic size!

Here are a couple of my favourite squares:

The top is backed with a bedspread that we no longer use. I took the easy way out and instead of binding it, sewed it wrong sides together along three sides and then turned it right side out and handstitched the open edge closed. To secure the two layers together, I 'tied' the blanket with crochet cotton at the intersections where the squares meet.

Because the bedspread is slightly padded, our new picnic blanky is really comfy! Everyone is looking forward to trying it out....

Monday, January 17, 2011

Round-a-bout Cherry Plum Jam & Lemonade Scones

A funny thing happened the other day. I was itching to go and do some foraging with my young ones but the weather hadn't been favourable and was looking like more rain was scheduled to come (380ml over 4 days, for the record!). I wasn't after anything in particular, just happy to see what would come our way. Resigned to the fact that no foraging was going to take place due to the weather, it was with great surprise that I spotted the huge cherry plum tree on our roundabout dangling with offerings of plump, juicy fruit.

Our 'roundabout' Cherry Plum Tree
A forage at home! What could be better under the circumstances? I quickly retrieved the ladder and with the help of the  7 year old, started filling a bowl. Yes, a very small bowl as I suspect the birds had already found our bounty. The fruit was small..3-5cm in diameter with gorgeous red flesh and a slightly tart taste. A fruit ideal for jam making, I thought....

Using equal quantities of sugar and fruit, and no added pectin (I suspected there would be ample in the skins of the fruit..which turned out to be so), the fruit was turned into a handsome pot of jam.

Just the thing to dollop onto some warm scones fresh out of the oven!

Cherry Plum Jam
500g stoned cherry plums, washed, and chopped
500g sugar

Gently heat the plums over a low heat until soft and mushy (in a pot large enough to allow the mixture to double in size as it boils). Add the sugar and continue to heat on low, stirring with a wooden spoon every now and then until sugar is completely dissolved. Increase the heat to bring the mixture to a rapid boil and allow to boil until setting point is reached (I do the dollop on a cold saucer test and then place on a breezy windowsill for 20 seconds..if the dollop crinkles when a finger is run through it, the jam is ready). Ladel the jam into a warm, clean jar if consuming straight away, or a sterlized, warm jar if storing for any length of time (hard to do!).

Lemonade Scones
3 cups self-raising flour
1 cup cream (US readers - heavy whipping cream - 35% fat)
1 cup lemonade (US readers - Sprite or 7-Up)

Preheat oven to hot 200-210c. Line a baking tray with baking parchment paper or a baking sheet. Place the flour into a large bowl and add the cream. Mix with a flat bladed knife and then add the lemonade, trying not to over mix. Sometimes I add a little more lemonade just to make sure the mix all comes together. Tip out onto a floured bench and pat gently into shape (DON'T knead!). Cut into rounds with a scone cutter and place onto trays, allowing room for spreading. Bake in preheated oven until well risen and golden brown on top. Serve warm with your favourite jam and whipped cream. Accompany with a steaming hot cup of tea and 15 minutes alone to read the paper...bliss!

A winner..

Thankyou to all of you who entered my little  new year giveaway.  I really appreciate your comments and ideas. There is so much to learn when it comes to taking photos it can be a little daunting, but it's very encouraging to hear how you are learning too and sharing tips sure is a great motivator!

The winner of the 2011 calender produced by my clever brother is Joanna. I hope you enjoy your year in pictures, Jo. If you could email me your postage details I will get it out to you.

For others who entered and would still like to enjoy a year of Bruce's pictures, a complimentary downloadable version of his calender can be found here: Braun Audio's 2011 Calender

Enjoy :)

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Garden goings on.. Jan '11

Remember those strawberries  that were dug up and potted last year? Their new position along with all the recent rain seems to be agreeing with them. For the first time ever, we have tasted fresh, homegrown, juicy, ripe strawberries....soo good! It's always a race to see who finds them first..

Cabbage moth caterpillar is eating it's way through the garden having a most wonderful time in the process...
A few kale plants are the only brassicas I have growing at the moment and I keep picking off the bug infested leaves and throwing them to the chooks. I hope it hangs on until the cooler weather for some soups and stews....

Corn is thickening up on the stalks and the flower heads are forming inside..

The first zucchinis have been pollinated (by me! Ha!). Not long to go.....
Lebanese zucchini

The tomatoes are taking their time, but we are happy to wait......

The majority of our tomato plants this year are from 'volunteers' (those that come up of their own accord). I'm pretty excited to see what varieties we have growing!

Comfrey is flowering. I'm not sure if it's a good thing or a bad thing. So long as the plant keeps growing leaves, I'll be happy, PLUS the flowers are so pretty!

...and self-sown sunflowers are popping up from the grain I feed the chooks in their dome tractor. I do enjoy their presence!

Currently we are harvesting potatoes, beetroot, raspberries, parsley, lettuce, spring onions, rhubarb and silverbeet. We are also enjoying the garlic the was harvested last month.

What's happing in your veggie garden/balcony/allotment at the moment?

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Flowering Alliums

Perennial leeks in flower to be exact. Having them flower at last and seeing how attractive they are, I won't mind letting a few go to flower each season. I think they add something really special to the veggie patch...

...don't you?

Friday, January 7, 2011

2011 in images - **a special G1veaway**!

A little while ago my brother discovered the pastime of picture taking and I think it's fair to say, has become quite hooked. Every time we see him he has more pictures to share with us. These are just a few of my favourites...

Altona Beach

Lakes Entrance sunrise

A very familiar looking boatshed!

The Crofts

Sorrento Pier

Phantom Falls, Marysville

Reflections of a shed

(Lakes Entrance Sunrise)

More of his work can be viewed at his deviant page. His pictures are amazing, at least I think so! Jump over and take a look when you have a few spare moments.

He also went to the trouble of producing a 2011 wall calender which he handed out to each family member at Christmas! I thought it would be fun to offer one here as a giveaway to see in the new year for a lucky reader. The calender has one page to a month with space for jotting down notes/appointments on each day.  There is a different picture for each month, drawing on a selection from those in his deviant gallery.

To enter, tell me something interesting about photography (it could be a tip, a memory, your best photo experience - either as the subject or taker, or even just what sort of camera you are using or would like to use). Entries will close Sunday 16th January (AEDT) and the winner announced that week. Overseas readers are most welcome to enter. Good luck!

Photos shared with permission from Braun Audio. (
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