Monday, November 26, 2012

Garden update - Nov 2012

Gosh it really has been the longest time since I've done a garden update! My reasoning is that the Slow Living catch ups each month take care of it. But it's so nice to look back over the months..(years even!), and see the changes that have evolved in our outdoor space..

Garlic is out!
After neglecting to water it during a dry patch, our garlic decreed it was time to be pulled by doing the predictable yellowing of the leaves and inevitable flop. Oh well, the bulbs are not as large as last year's, but with close to 200 of them, they should be enough to see us through the next twelve months.

Ladders have been implemented in the hopes of rampant pumpkin vines. I have several varieties planted here and after a meager pumpkin harvest last year, am hoping for the best..

Our first quinices ever! I do hope they'll stick around and not do that fruit drop that seems to happen so often with other young fruit trees..

Oh, look, a gate! Made from scrounged twigs from our property. A most time consuming exercise, but charming I suppose, in it's own rustic way..
Let's hope it stands up to the rigours of a funny little dog..

Cherries are turning. This variety is a Sunburst..I think! They seem to have survived the attack of the black aphids - picking off infected new growth and applying sticky bands to the trunks seemed to do the trick.

The raspberry walk this year is actually that - an unobstructed walk! This is quite a step up from last year's jungle scramble..
Hooping the canes has helped enormously in keeping them contained. And oh, look at that..would that be another quirky gate made by yours truly? I think it might be. I do love a gate made from scrounged materials.

First currants ever, exciting!

Tomatoes are growing well, given their semi shaded position..

And strawberries always seem to perform better for me in pots and planter boxes rather than the ground. I can see a project of strawberry planter boxes happening sometime in my not too distant future..

I hope you're enjoying your garden as much as I am here! There seems to be so much to do at this time of year, but a little each day slowly marks the 'to-do's' off the list.

Fingers and toes crossed for abundant summer harvests! :)

Monday, November 19, 2012

Fitting the 'slow' into our fast paced lives.

I've been enjoying a little bit of time away from the blog lately, and as a result the quiet headspace that comes with such a break. Thoughts seem to flow much better when I am unplugged. Ideas form and solutions to otherwise impossible problems seem more accomplish-able (a word?).

It did however, get me to thinking just how much we try and pack into our 'slow' lives. Speaking from my own perspective, I know how hard it is to stay true to one's values and ideals while trying to fit everything else in that our fast pace world throws at us. If only our schools, workplaces and communities would oblige things would be so much easier! But they don't, and they aren't so we find ourselves forming our own way of a slow existence that works uniquely for us.

For instance, take the work that happens inside the home for those embarking (and already) on the slow living path. Household cleaners, body products and homemade gifts. Not to mention edibles - homemade yoghurt, cheese and other dairy delights, bread made from scratch and homemade stock to boot! It never seems to end and is something I consider a full time job in itself. I really do take my hat off to couples (and singles too!), working outside of the home, raising a family and staying true to their own slow living values. Or those working inside the home, raising a family and homeschooling no less.

Where does it all fit in?

Does something have to give to include a new 'necessary' function for the home, a 'must have' for the well being of the inhabitants? Speaking for myself, I find it incredibly challenging trying to fit in all the 'necessary' home jobs, let alone managing to fit in anything extra, such as a little vegetable gardening on the side, fruit tree tending, entertaining thoughts of keeping a milking goat and so on. Not to mention a touch of creativity for the soul along the way. And property maintenance! Lets not even go there. Sometimes I wonder if there will ever be a time when we will 'catch up', a time when the property will be functioning in such a way that only minimal maintenance is required and systems are well and truly in place for growing and harvesting our own food. That is my dream day, oh yes!

So getting back to my original thoughts on how to balance out a slow life in a fast paced world, I jot down a few notes for my own reference. If they happen to help you out a little too, then so much the better.

1. Do not be too hard on yourself, you are only human and can only do so much in a day! Very important to remember.

2. When things just don't seem manageable on the home front, it is OK to purchase!. Ethically of course, but perfectly OK!! Farmers markets, local fruit, vegetable and meat growers, roadside stands, whatever is your thing. Ditto for handmade gifts, wouldn't it be lovely to have a fully stocked 'gift larder'? But when life throws you hectic times, buying local and handmade is nearly as good for the soul as making something yourself. Support local bakers, makers and hand crafters. If you yourself are one, you will know first hand how much effort, time and thought goes into making something to sell.

3. Laugh. Sometimes no other response is needed. Enjoy this crazy ride we call Life and learn from it. We all make mistakes and the most important thing is to learn from them, as cliche as that sounds. It's true!

4. Prioritise. Prioritise. Prioritise. Yes it's obvious, but do what's most important today, and work down the list for the week. Some things can go untouched for ages, as they slowly move up that list of priorities. You will know when it's the right time to get onto it :)

5. I'm a big one for bulk tasking. Washing, cooking, gardening. It saves so much time from flitting between tasks when you focus on the one thing for a good solid couple of hours. Well, perhaps not washing, I don't think I could focus on washing for that long! But it's true that I prefer to wash in loads in a particular day rather than scatter it out over a series of days. Cooking is a big one here and I really need to follow my own advice more and double batch cook meals more often. This saves so much time, stress and washing up, it is well worth doing on a regular basis.

6. Following on from 5, menu planning. Something I really need to get back to. Things just seem to function much more harmoniously when there is a plan for the week. None of that five o'clock stress about what to suddenly whip out for dinner. The meals themselves also seem to be much more enjoyed and well received when they've been plotted and planned. Yes, best get onto that. ;)

7. Plan out the tasks for the week and write them down. Try to check off at least one 'forward progress' task a day. By this I mean, something out of the ordinary routine of life of meals, washing, transporting children,  work and so on (fast paced life, remember?). Get to that batch of soap that you've been meaning to make for months. Less time will be spent actually making it than the time you've wasted stewing over getting around to it! Very true. Dig over that new garden bed, it will take an hour, tops! Tomorrow, paint that gate and the following day, hang it! Forward progress people, a little each day will get us to where we want to be. ;)

8, 9 and 10 + - Tell me your tips, I would love to hear!

I think we could all learn from each other here, so please share your tips for how you go about keeping true to your Slow Living values while wading through the busyness of life. You're a clever bunch, the monthly Slow Living catch ups reinforces this every time!

Enjoy your Monday out there, peepsicles.  :)

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Smoke signals

The weeks have been crazy busy around here. There are summer plantings to go in, hectic schedules for end of year activities, a handful of markets to attend (and prepare for!) and a new dog to keep us (me!) busy! Not to mention all the mundane jobs around the house that never seem to go away,  meals to cook and a dog enclosure to create! You get the picture, don't you. I'm sure it's quite the same at your place, this end of year bustle that won't see relief until the quiet days of January.

On the plus side, I did manage to plant 50 tomato seedlings grown in newspaper pots last week, which I was so pleased to do. My dream is to one day grow enough tomatoes to bottle, and, being occupants of a shady property I figure the more plants the better in the hopes of getting (abundant, shhh, don't want to jink it) fruit! Let's hope so, anyway..

In between times, we have been eating loads of leeks from the garden, along with carrots and silverbeet. In fact, I cleared a bed in preparation for some tomatoes and in the process filled the fridge! Don't you just love 'shopping' from your own backyard? My favourite way to use up assorted garden offerings is still our ever trusty standby, garden harvest fried rice...
A woolly package was sent off to some new parents in the family. I have to say I was relieved to get this project completed. Knitting, or rather finding the time for it, seems like such a luxury right now..
Checkheaton baby 4 ply merino. With little time or patience to spend on a detailed pattern right now, I followed the 'colour as the focus' line of thinking. I'm really liking variegations in this yarn! 

Poppies are arriving. Whoop!

The 11yo and I each had a stall at a local market today. It was great fun as her chum came too, as well as The Chum's mum, my good kefir sharing friend who is also a wonderful vegetable gardener. She also happens to make the most divine pot pourri, all grown without chemicals in her own garden and dried with the utmost care. We enjoyed sharing a stall together..

It was so nice to sit and catch up, do a spot of Christmas shopping and enjoy each others company. The time just seemed to disappear!

It's been nice to fire up the little chiminea again and cooking in it is such fun!
Today it was pizzas. A batch of dough made with 600g of flour is enough to make four medium thin crust pizzas for us..just right for a garlic one for a starter, one for the tweens to share, a mamma creation and a pappa one to his liking! With enough for lunchy leftovers the following day. ;) I honestly can't remember the last time we ate a takeaway pizza! 

'Smoke signals' are always the highlight of such dinners. No sooner is the chimney lit, there are hands stuffing twigs in there, waiting for them to heat up and start to burn, only to extinguish them to form the much loved 'signals' to wave about in the breeze. One of the many benefits of eating outside, which we are loving doing with some warmer weather making an appearance here lately.

Enjoy the weekend out there, people! (Are things crazy busy at your place too?)

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Slow Living 2012 - Month 10

It's that time again! Time to look back on the past month and note achievements and progress of all things Slow.  If you feel inclined to join in, please do! Just leave a link to your blog post written in this format at the bottom of this page and enjoy hopping over to see what others have been up to, hopefully gaining some new ideas and inspiration.  For a detailed description of each category, click here.  

{Nourish} I'm embarrassed to say but this has been The Month of the Cake. There is a good reason though, it happens to be the birthday month around here. On the plus side, we have been consuming LOADS of kefir, both of the milk and water variety, which surely has to have a positive counter effect, right?

{Prepare} Aha, yep, as with last month, zilcho! Really, this is not preserving/bottling season around here! Does taste testing a few of hubby's home brew offerings count? All for evaluation purposes, of course ;)

{Grow} Tomato and pumpkin seedlings are going well and will hopefully be planted out in the next week or two. I must make an effort and put some zucchini and bean seeds in this week. I've noticed that the cherry trees have tiny fruit on them and made a ghastly discovery yesterday in the form of black aphids! They were clearly being farmed by a substantial population of ants so I have made an attempt at a couple of homemade 'sticky bands', which will hopefully keep the ants down on the ground where they belong!

We are currently harvesting silverbeet (still, ugh!), lettuce, leeks, carrots (just! They are about to go to seed), parsley, kale, spring onions and celery. Oh, and eggs. Plenty of eggs! I really don't know what I'd do if we didn't have eggs..

{Reduce} I happened to scrounge a handful of fence posts this month after sighting them on the side of the road with a 'free' sign attached! It couldn't be better timing as we need to install three gates to secure the backyard into a dog home zone. Newspaper pots were made for starting off seedlings but my most favourite scrounge of all this month was a new/old sewing machine. I do have a soft spot for sewing machines from previous eras and just could not walk past this little gem in the op shop when I discovered they were having a half price sale! $20 and it actually still does zig-zag, which is more than I can say for my later model Janome!

{Green} I've made a big effort this month to cut back on driving where I can. We have ridden to school and the shops on a few occasions and when we are running short on time on other days, will drive half way to school and walk the rest of the way, doing the same in the afternoon (it's actually a little too far to walk all the way!). Keeping a dog is the best exercise motivator around! 

I have also been reaching for the bicarb as a natural deodorant as the weather warmed up and this week I had the comfrey ointment by my side after I ridiculously pulled a back muscle while making the bed. Pfft! I know, absolutley ridiculous. Using the ointment, I was back to my normal self in just two days. 

Loads of sewing took place this month (on the new/old sewing machine, whoop!), plus a little knitting. I finished a dress that had been on the backburner for way too long that I wore to a wedding and I also managed to crochet up a few coat hanger covers, which was a complete first for me! I remember my nana making similar covers to fund raise for fetes! 

{Discover} I am SO enjoying revisiting cherished sewing patterns from my stash - in particular the Enid Gilchrist designs. There is something so satisfying about drafting up patterns onto brown paper! I have also been studying a book I found in the bookcase - The New Dog Handbook, which is full of loads of useful info on all things doggy. I also was introduced to an interesting site: Herbs and Oils World when I had my homemade comfrey ointment featured there.

{Enhance} October saw action at spinning group, the local show, veggie group and the Suitcase Rummage. All enjoyable events out in the community.

{Enjoy} Last month was a huge month, enjoyement wise - hence my sporadic posting of late. Tween birthdays, an interstate wedding, a  poochy pal, an ugly frock party, school productions and Oma's Halloween celebrations were all on the agenda. Yes, a fun filled, action packed month indeed! Life is good.

So, tell me, how was YOUR month?