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6 Oct 2019

Feeling despondent

It's a long weekend here.
People are enjoying their 3 day weekend.

I'm feeling depressed as my cat was bitten by a snake yesterday afternoon and died overnight at the veterinarian's.

Normally I try not to put private personal posts on my blog but in the last 6 months there's been the death of a family member and 2 family pets. It's a lot to cope with.

Thanks for your understanding if I'm not as frequent with my posts as I want to be.

R.I.P. Fibonacci.
We are going to miss your happy-go-lucky attitude.


Cheers,
Robyn Louise.

5 Sep 2019

Berry Bounty

I've been wanting to try growing berries for years, but never made the commitment as the plants weren't cheap, and I was nervous of not caring for them properly and killing them.

I purchased some half price berry bushes a few weeks ago as they were old stock. A thornless blackberry, a raspberry and a blueberry. I began planting them into the gardens on Thursday. Home nurtured compost was dug into the soil, plants will be watered in with seaweed fertiliser and mulched with matured horse manure and straw. The pH in that garden usually averages 5.5 along the fence line so all the requirements for healthy growth should be met.

Bed piled up and reinforced by wood beam.

Teasing out the roots was a challenge

Blueberry planted. Trench in front of bed was filled with aged horse manure.

Watered in and mulched. Remaining bushes will be planted in the next few days as now I am "bushed"!

They may need a shelter erected above them which will prevent any potential sun burn in Summer and frost burn in Winter. Now we need to keep a watch for ambitious finches and other winged pests in case a more intensive screening is required so I can harvest fruit before it is stolen.

Looking forward to possibly harvesting some fruit this season.

Cheers,
Robyn Louise xo

19 Aug 2019

Making pastry and pies

It has been busy here lately and I have neglected to take photos of activities. Projects have been a bit disjointed too, so I felt I didn't have anything worthwhile to post. Life can be like that at times. Much happening but nothing being completed.

A couple of weeks ago we bought a pie maker. I used it today and made one of the recipes in the book that came with it.

The recipe was Moroccan lamb with chickpeas.

I changed the ingredients a little as the recipe required using lamb chops, cut up into small pieces and fried, but I had neck lamb chops that I'd slow cooked previously and stripped the meat from. The recipes in the book also used frozen pastry for the pie cases but I made shortcrust pastry for the bases  (recipe below) and used frozen purchased puff pastry for the lids.

Shortcrust Pastry:-
340g plain flour
85g chilled lamb tallow chopped in small pieces
85g chilled butter chopped in small pieces
6 tblsp chilled water

Sift flour, then stir in tallow pieces. Rub tallow into flour until mixture becomes crumbly. Stir in butter pieces and rub those into flour until mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Add chilled water to flour mixture a little at a time, stirring in with a knife. As soon as flour mixture begins to come together gather it with your hands into a ball. Knead until smooth, being careful not to warm up the dough too much, form into a large pat and wrap with plastic wrap. Place in a cool area, or in refrigerator, for at least 30 minutes to rest before rolling and cutting into pie bases. This will make 8 pie bases for my Sunbeam pie maker.

All the ingredients were added gradually to the frypan. The kumera was the last addition, and it took quite a while for it to cook sufficiently enough to be used in the pies, so in future I will pre-cook it then add it to the ingredients in the frypan.

 The cooked pies.

For lunch I just added spinach as a vegetable as the pies are quite large.

We were delighted with the flavour that the garlic, spices and coriander imparted to the filling. As the recipe made enough for 8 pies, and I cooked 4, I froze the rest of the filling, along with the other four pie bases I had cut, to make more pies next week. There are 2, of the 4, pies I cooked today that will be lunch tomorrow.

Update on the muffins from this post: they freeze well and thawed out they are a similar texture and taste as when first baked. This makes the recipe a definite keeper!

Cheers,
Robyn Louise xo


7 Aug 2019

Muffin experiments

There were some apples becoming a little over matured to eat so I decided that I should use them before they ended up as chicken fodder.

I quite enjoy muffins, but haven't made apple muffins for years, so I did an internet search and discovered this recipe. The recipe appealed to me as it uses wholemeal flour, and contains other ingredients I would normally have stocked in my cupboard or pantry, so no special grocery shopping was required.

 Before baking. Handy that there's no guess work as the muffin cups are just filled to the top with the mix. Obviously more practice is needed to ensure equality of size 😄.


The finished products. Due to the wholemeal flour used they are a tad denser than a white flour based muffin but, I feel, nicely light and moist throughout for a fruit muffin with a great flavour. I used Pink Lady apples.


PC can't eat fruit so I made him some chocolate muffins, using grated fresh beetroot, as this is another recipe I've wanted to try as it is supposed to keep the muffins moist while they are stored.

I decided to grate the beetroot in the sink wearing rubber gloves to minimise the mess.

This mixture was more fluid than the apple muffins so a little easier to ensure equality in size.


PC commented that they are chocolatey enough and there is a mild sweet aftertaste that is not unpleasant. He tried 3 just to be sure! The texture is light and fluffy.


Both recipes are supposed to freeze well. More information on that at a later date.

After the preparation, baking and cooling (not too much cooling!) we decided to try them for afternoon tea with a cuppa.

Scrumptious!

Do you have a new or favourite muffin recipe that you use?

Cheers,
Robyn Louise xo

31 Jul 2019

Peanut Butter Cookies

I'm not prone to making a short post with a picture but I had a jar of peanut butter that had to be used and PC had eaten all the biscuits I'd baked previously.

He keeps saying "those darn ants they'll eat anything!".
It's a bit of a joke between us.

I've never baked peanut butter cookies so I found a recipe and tried it out this afternoon. I added my own touch by adding a chocolate drop to the centre, as there's only a few of these left, and they need to be used as well.

Here's about half the quantity baked as the others needed to cool more before I removed them from the baking tray. They taste as good as they look 😋.



Try not to gobble them up too quickly.

Cheers,
Robyn Louise xo

28 Jul 2019

Gardening in Winter

It’s been a strange Winter so far.

There have been some quite warm days, at 20 deg Celsius, but also cold nights down to minus 3 Celsius a few times. No wonder the plants are confused!

In the few weeks I’ve been pruning roses a couple of them have put out new shoots, even though there has been heavy overnight frost.  


The bed of stinging nettles hasn’t died off. The bed is on the north side of the yard and, due to the fencing, they are in a warm micro-climate but I am surprised the nettles have remained alive let alone continued to grow.  
The garlic in the front row is an experiment and, if it succeeds, I'll have around 30 heads.

Due to the warmer weather I am still able to grow some loose leaf lettuce and radishes. I have planted some broccoli and roquette(arugula) seedlings that will feature a photo when not so tiny! The leafy vegetables are sheltered by suspended shade cloth to prevent the frost from being in direct contact with them. 


Even the Tahitian lime tree hasn’t suffered this Winter, though that may change.  

Now is the time of year I feed the cherry tree in preparation for flowering/fruiting in October/November. I’ve forked the ground to loosen it, mulched/fed it with horse and matured chicken manure, added a sprinkle of lime, then watered it thoroughly. Mulch straw needs to be purchased to form the final layer. We’ve been doing some burning of dead wood so wood ash will be collected and stored to use on any cherry slugs that appear when the leaves have grown. 


The apricot tree will need a chainsaw pruning this year. This photo was taken last year. I've posted it, rather than a one of a bare tree, as the apricot branches are difficult to see against the plethora of eucalypt trees in the background. The branches were so heavy with fruit last year that a few broke.


What grows in your garden in Winter?

Cheers,
Robyn Louise xo

20 Jul 2019

Blogging Mixup - Part III

Are you bored with this yet, readers?

Well.....TA-DA
I think I've corrected it. 😏
I'm not as IT deficient as I thought I was!

I searched the Blogger Help Community pages and tried some suggested changes, including deleting some HTML, that had a 404 error, when viewed through the developer tools option. Changing some of the settings in the dashboard seemed to make a difference, as well, and I am now able to reply to individual comments under each of my posts.

Unsure why the notifications began coming through on my email again but it could just be that I deleted then re-entered my email address and it somehow rebooted the comment notifications. I'm just pleased to have it functioning again.

Now to decide the ordering of my future posts as this mixup has messed up posting in chronological order!

Cheers,
RobynLouise xo








11 Jul 2019

Blogging Mixup - part II!

Gee, I have to laugh or I'd stress out or cry. Blogger has decided that it won't publish my answering comments to any one.

I have a personal situation to attend to at present so  I don't have the time, or mindset, to research how to correct this via Blogger help/forums. I do appreciate those who read my blog and enjoy the comments from those who post them. I'm aware there are readers who are not blog commenters, and I've been a "fence sitter" at times, but enjoyed the information a blogger has shared.

Bear with me everyone. When I have the opportunity I'll wrangle this internet beast and persuade it to comply.

Meanwhile, I shall continue to be more consistent with my blog posts and update my blog to suit what I need it to be now.

Thanks for your patience.

Cheers,
RobynLouise xo.



10 Jul 2019

Blogging Mixup


I’ve only just realised that Blogger has been keeping post comments “safe and secure” for me. In other words, the notifications had ceased – which I’d previously tried to correct a few times – and there were no entries in the awaiting moderation section of the comments. I thought, after my long previous absence from blogging, that followers had ceased to read my blog but suddenly, last Sunday night, I had a flood of notifications going back to, and including, the post at the end of 2018. I did a quick review of all the comments and then published them.  

It was heartening to discover the supporting and encouraging comments that were posted. Nice to know I have persistent friends who don’t abandon me when life throws a few curves in my direction.

I have enrolled in this course, which started recently, and am hoping I can upgrade my Blogging abilities.

Thanks to the consistent readers who post comments. This wouldn't be much of a blog without the reader communication. Time to write some personal replies.

Cheers,
RobynLouise xo.

3 Jul 2019

Reduce, Repair, Reuse

This has always been an ongoing project of mine as I really dislike clothing going in the trash, or even going to an op shop if I can still use it.

It reduces the amount we purchase if I can repair the item and reuse it.

Over the last 3 months I have rescued the items below from the rag bag or the trash by performing the following repairs:
  • 2 Men's flannelette shirts - one had  torn cuff repaired and the other was a collar reversal and repair (photos below).
  • 2 Men's long pyjama pants - one needed waist elastic replaced and the other required mending of a seam and the drawstring replaced.
  • 4 pairs of Men's pants - a zipper replacement in workpants, a hem stitched on casual dress pants, a large leg patch on thigh of jeans and finally the major patch-up and trim and bind hem on PC's favourite workpants (photos below).
  • 1 pair of farm jeans, that are too small for me now, I patched a leg rip and gifted them to a friend of mine and her teenage daughter now wears them as farm jeans..
  • replacing stretched elastic on a mattress cover.

My first ever collar repair! Quite proud of this as it was a collar turnover repair and a new top piece for the inside of the collar stand. The rest of the shirt was fine and my thrifty heart wouldn't let me throw it out, or recycle it into something else, when it could still be used for it's original purpose.


PC loves these pants as they have lined knee sections, lots of pockets big enough to shove spanners/screwdrivers  tools in, and they are comfortable.

There are still a few items I want to repair before the end of this month:

  • 2 pairs of Men's farm jeans to patch, one of which is a major undertaking like the photos above, and
  • 1 pair of track pants that need ribbing for the leg cuffs.
Cheers,
RobynLouise xo

27 May 2019

R.I.P. Flash


Not the post I thought I would be adding today. Flash seemed to become unwell quickly from Saturday afternoon and then she stopped eating, though she would drink water and seemed quite alert.  She couldn't rise without help yesterday evening so she camped in the kitchen on her hammock bed with a blanket over her.

This morning we took her to the vet and our fears were confirmed. She had a swollen liver, and her lungs were somewhat congested. Classic signs of a dog reaching the end of it's life. PC and I gave permission for the vet to put Flash to sleep, then we brought her home to bury her. She was just as much PC's mate as mine for the last couple of years.


Flash was my shadow and my best friend, for most of the nearly 15 years of her life but, as I was always the one with the camera, I don't have any photos with both of us in them. Not that it matters as she will always be "with" me. 

The only dog that belonged to just me. The only dog that wouldn't work for anyone but me.
My "bestest" dog I used to call her....and she was. 

So long Flash, say "Hi" to the others animals who have preceeded you, from me, all of whom hold special places in my heart and memories. Shame animals don't live as long as humans.  

Robyn Louise


24 May 2019

Timber recycle

Yesterday the tree removal contractors  that the council uses, came out and cleaned up the fallen tree and other fallout where it had crashed through the surrounding flora.

They started at about 8 am and finished around 11.30 am. I was amazed at the size of the branches the industrial wood chipper could consume.


There was expected damage to the fence that we will insist the council repair.



The manager asked if we would like to keep the remaining large logs and woodchip or have them remove it. We have friends with woodfires, and apparently this is a Blakely's Redgum, so has good burning qualities, low sparks and excellent coals. It will need to be split soon, though, as it has a reputation of being difficult to split. Considering the drought in progress and the cost of buying mulch I decided to keep that too! There wasn't as much as I thought from so much tree but it will be useful.


Being impressed by the way they worked I also asked for the company's card as there are a few trees that can be a problem, at the front of the house, that we will need to remove in the future.

Stay safe everyone, and always keep an eye on trees that creak as it may not be branches rubbing against each other!

Cheers,
Robyn Louise. 

17 May 2019

TIMBERRRRRRRR!!!!

About 2 years ago PC sent a letter to the local Council requesting that some dying trees on the verge be removed. He followed up with a phone call a few weeks later when no reply had been made and no action had been taken. The answer given was that it was being looked into. A few weeks after that a council team of workers came out and cleared a few branches that were close to the roadway and we were given the impression (verbally) that a more major tree clearing was being organised for the area when a professional tree maintenance group was contracted.

Yesterday afternoon, around 5pm, I was cutting branches off a Peppercorn tree that overhangs our property fence. I heard a creak, stopped working, and looked up at the nearby trees, noticing there was no wind disturbing them. Then after I looked away I heard another creak and a soft whooshing sound and my memories of trees falling, whilst horse riding in the bush, kicked my flight or fight adrenaline response into top gear and I bolted.

I heard the thud and crack of tree branches crashing down behind me, and felt the wind they created, but I didn't stop running until I was halfway across the one acre paddock. I had to sit down until my legs stopped shaking and I could breath normally. When I studied where the branches had fallen I saw that I would have been underneath a heavy side branch, which had broken down the peppercorn branch I was cutting back, if I hadn't moved.

It's midday now and, even though I rang the emergency number and reported the incident within an hour after it occurring, the lane has not been blocked to traffic and no one has appeared to evaluate the situation. A phone call to Council this morning hasn't prompted them to send a clearing and evaluation team either.

Where the bright green squashed Peppercorn tree branch, in almost the centre of the picture, is where I was standing prior to the tree trunk breaking.


The fence is approx 165cm high, or 5' 6" so the main trunk that broke off is about 50cm (20") thick. That is a good few tonnes of wood. I would have been blood and bone if I had no idea about the way a tree creaks before it breaks. An advantage of having lived in the bush most of my life.


In the centre of the group of trees the lighter coloured broken trunk can be seen at the top of the photo. 


Fortunately, there is a smaller paddock that the grazing animals can be contained in, for the time being, as I don't want them near this corner of the property until all the dangerous trees on this end of this lane - see photo below - are removed by council. Our fence is to the left of the photo. I'm going to make a nuisance of myself, with council, until this is done.


Stay safe everyone,
Cheers,
RobynLouise 

15 May 2019

Something new

I haven't grown Sweet potatoes (kumera) before, and I'd just about given up, as each time I checked under the lush vine there were only scrawny little roots.

When I was watering them this morning, after not doing any checking for almost a month, I saw that the soil was raised in heaps. I dug into the soil and unearthed this (my size 7 boot is for comparison)



which was a huge surprise as I thought the whole project had failed. On quick investigation I discovered there are quite a few other tubers around this size available.

Maybe it just needed a cool change to the weather to encourage the vine to store more energy in it's roots, making them larger!

I'll harvest as required as I don't need the garden space they are growing in. Considering the current price of these at the shops I think it's worth it to have these home grown.

Cheers,
Robyn Louise

26 Feb 2019

Inspirational


It's not often, now, that I refer readers to another blog but I read an inspirational post that is worth sharing this morning.

It is on a blog I have followed for years, written by someone I admire for their energy, their lifestyle and their attitude on life.

Enough of my preamble. Read it here. 

Cheers,
RobynLouise XO

22 Jan 2019

Hot, hot, hot.......

That's not an advertisement for a new product but a comment on the weather over here, in the Central West Plains of NSW, Australia, the last fortnight.

Temperature has broken local records at 45.8 deg Celcius. Thankfully the newly installed solar power system has saved us a small fortune as the air-conditioners have been in operation 24 hours a day, unlike previous years, as even the lowest night temperatures have been 24C or more. We had a hen die last week from heat stress. Ice containers cooling the water, wet patches on the ground where they can sit under the trees, and even shallow dishes to stand in didn't help on the day when the winds were hot and brisk. Two days before that one of our hens hatched 6 chickens in 44C heat! One died the next day, but it had a difficult hatch and was possibly blind so it may have been kinder that it did die, even though we took over the care and did our best for it.

Even the outside dog has been encouraged to come inside. She's 14 now so she feels the temperature changes more keenly.
 

Of course the cat is mostly inside as he "owns" the place....hahahaha....



The temperature dropped to 38C over the weekend but the humidity rose so the weather was still difficult to endure. I will definitely be glad when Autumn weather arrives with cooling breezes and the possibility of rain.

Mulching and deep watering infrequently has kept the  few vegetables and fruit trees alive, though my little Emperor mandarin has dropped all it's fruit. The lemon and the lime tree haven't flowered this year, but as they too are small, I'd rather the energy go into strengthening the tree than into fruit. The worms are still producing their type of fertiliser and I'm grateful for it as the compost isn't breaking down very quickly in this dry hot weather. Photo is about 2 litres of worm juice that I gather once a week.



I participated in a Christmas card swap last year, in a forum I am a member of, and received cards from 2 members in England. I should have posted these earlier, but it doesn't alter the fact that they are beautiful cards, and much work has gone into the making of them. Thanks again, Sarah and Josey.

Sarah's card

Josey's card

My card to Josey

Cheers,
Robyn Louise XO






10 Jan 2019

Solar Power!

Yesterday was the completion of the solar power installation. This installation should give us the electricity we need to perform daily household tasks as well as power for hobbies like sewing, woodwork and welding. There were already 3 phase power lines installed on the property when Hugo bought it.

Installation - that's the roof of my craftroom with the mechanical workshop next to it.

It was surprising how quickly these were set up and screwed down. 

The solar panels all angled nicely to collect the sun's rays. They also have the effect of shading the buildings below them reasonably effectively but not interfering with the air flow over the roof.

The Inverter

The inverter is linked via internet to my mobile phone and also to the computer, so we have a record, whenever it is collecting power, of the kilowatts of power being collected, the kilowatts we are using and also the kilowatts of power going to the grid. 

Basic Statistics
Fronius Symo Inverter 8.2-3-M
36 x Phono Solar Technology Hyperion Solar Panels which delivers 9.9kWp
IR = 116% (allows for degradation over time of panels)

Cheers,
Robyn Louise XO


4 Jan 2019

HAPPY NEW YEAR! ,Procrastination and Intentions

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

No resolutions but I intend to stop procrastinating....again...and begin intentionally planning as I have a couple of times previously. 

To fine tune this I have purchased a book, which uses a method that I have researched extensively, over the past year or so. At first I thought it was just another scrapbooking gimmick as social media was flooded with it. I have learned though, that if you want to know the real facts you go to the source, so I searched other areas on the internet and found these: -
both of which interested me as I'd read similar before but didn't realise the importance of it, to me, at the time. 

 I discovered that I could relate to what Ryder said, then he wrote a "manual" about it, which resonated with me as I have always been a reader, but I find some learning methods need a mixture of reading, hearing (audio) and doing (kineasthetic)  for it to capture my interest and for me to learn it. The basics of this is simple but I needed the original version, with all the later "fluff" and  everyone else's version absent, to visualise how it could work for me otherwise it seemed just another collection of lists, but in a notebook and not on loose pieces of paper.



I have also discovered there are many everyday items, that use up my time ineffectively, so I am evaluating what is necessary and what is "pen twiddling" or just something to do to fill in time when I cannot think of something more practical to do. It is surprising how much can be achieved in 5 minutes if you just do it! My friend Rose, from the DTE forum, taught me this but I let life direct me in recent years and lost the habit of intentionally finding something purposeful to keep me occupied.

Blogging needs to be scheduled as well or it becomes intermittent and then non existent. Routine is something I've always had a problem with but if I can make the daily living tasks routine then I figure I will be able to meet unexpected challenges with the time and focus needed than if my mind is cluttered with trivialities that I can solve/complete in a spare 5 minutes of clear thinking.

Trying something gives a better understanding than just looking at it from the sidelines so that's my plan this year.

Cheers,
Robyn Louise XO