Wednesday, June 26, 2013

nothing more than feelings

(Beetroot-mostly for a delivery but also for a salad for dinner)

I feel like so much of the time I am making it up as I go along these days.

I feel like I would rather be knitting.

I feel like I possibly shouldn't have spent the last hour sorting through the girl's clothing but I'm glad I did.

I feel messy and distracted and filled with butterflies.

(Winter cubby-house and kitchen-garden)

I feel like for me the words success and money don't go together.

I feel like I could cope OK with winter if it gave me sunshine filled days like today, every single day. Maybe it could rain only at night?

I feel so happy cuddling and watching and playing with the bunnies.

(Parsley on the door step)

I feel like the more that is expected of me the less I can perform.

I feel like this year was meant to be my cruisey year and instead has been a year of crazy personal challenges.

(Purple carrots without their ends)

I feel like I should tell you that we are selling a lot of our chookens. If you want to buy some chooks to lay or to make soup out of (sorry), please get in touch.

I feel like we might need to get a cat to take care of the mice in the garden issue.

(Rocket spiral)

I feel like having my parents across the road is a dream come true. I do!

I feel like our family need the school holidays DESPERATELY!!

I feel like I should deal with the cobwebs.

(Milk bottle frost/mice protectors)

I feel sorry for the gorgeous girl who has been trying to get in touch with me for days and who doesn't yet know that I never, well hardly ever, answer the phone.

I feel like we are burning through so much wood to keep two fires going 24/7 and we are only a month into winter.

I feel like drinking two litres of water most days has changed my life.

(Afternoon tea)

I feel really uncomfortable about having a profile pic taken for my press release.

I feel like I wish I had a house cleaner.

I feel beyond excited about the food forest going in down the bottom in the potato paddock. Oaks and quinces and mulberries and almonds and wallnuts and persimmons and rowans oh my!

I feel a little anxious about the weekend.

(Gorgeous golden broccoli)

I feel like sometimes parenting an almost teenager makes me behave like an almost teenager.

I feel like all day I look forward to reading a few pages of John Seymour in bed before sleep.

I feel like I could hug all of you who left a message or emailed me about my last post. You have no idea how much better and how supported you make me feel. I hope each and every one of you has felt happier and better and sunnier as the week has gone on.

How are you feeling?
What are you growing/cooking/creating/mending?

Monday, June 24, 2013

I blame the super moon


Which ever way you look at it, today was an awful day.

I cried and cried and cried. Little things, big thing, medium sized didn't matter, it was all too much.

The Jazzy middle child stuff.

The painful cold.

The mice eating our carrots.

The question of success.

Expectations that can never be met.

The 12 year old stuff that I can't talk about here. She is online, her friends are online and because it just doesn't seem right anymore.

The sad news that two friends are separating.

The fact that Miss Pepper is so divine and delicious and happy, like a gift, but that I know this wont last forever.

The thought of the home photo shoot this time next week. My house looks like a bomb site, I'm barely exaggerating and I don't know where to start.

The sorest lower back.

The end of an organic era.

Old age.

A bite.

The longest list.

Not winning at anything lately.

I could go on and on. And on and on.

When they got home from school, we bundled them into their jackets and hats and boots. We fed them carrots straight out of the ground and we started walking. Out the back gate, along the old railway, down the hill, by the for-sale dam, through the blackberry bit and home across the back paddock.

The air was icy cold and exhilarating. It felt like an adventure. It felt like fun. It felt like we all needed exactly that. To laugh and to chatter and to pretend to be old ladies, and to sing and to take big breaths of air right down into our bellies and to hug trees and to get snagged on blackberries and to forget all the day's stuff. To leave it at home.

It felt like there was only us in the world.

Later on at dinner, going around the table with our favourite parts of the day, every single one of the five of us said it was the walk. The walk was the winner.

The happiest end to the crappiest day.


Sunday, June 23, 2013

Odds and ends though

Our weekend.

(Ups and downs, round and rounds.) Repeat.

Freezing cold mornings and the most gloriously sunny afternoons.

Farm chores.

Buzzy bees leaving their warm, winter hives for bathroom breaks and to snack on the flowering gums.

Brilliant blue skies.

A new rug.

A dancing concert for the teddies, complete with flashlight spotlight.

Missing our farmer boy away at the beach with his mates.

Casting off two scalloped beanies. Miss Jazzy's details here. Miss Pepper's details here.

An afternoon smokey bon-fire with marshmallows, potatoes and damper.

A birthday bestie phone call.

Snacks for dinner.

Movies til too late.

A sleepless night without my boy.

A Sunday lazy, late morning.

One fire survived the night, one didn't.

A movie and pop corn in Ballarat for some and about 6,000 steps around the streets for the others.

An angelic almost teen.

A new bunny home for the fluffies.

A relight of the kitchen fire with a milk carton.

A runaway middle child.

A homecoming Bren.

Soup for dinner.

Some knitting on the couch.

Soon to bed.

But before bed, some of this.

A lump of ends bought from the Bendigo Woollen Mills bargain backroom a few months ago. Just under 100 grams. I'm thinking a scarf. Maybe. If I have enough. I really feel like something odds and ends though.

What do you feel like?
How was your weekend?


Thursday, June 20, 2013

olive harvest 2013

On Wednesday we finally picked our olives.

It was one of those icy-cold but brilliantly sunshiney winter days. We wore sunglasses for the glare and about six layers of clothing for the chill. We chatted and we laughed and we sang and we joked.

And over the course of the day we picked all the olives from our one hundred trees. 

Some of us used little hand rakes to brush the olives off onto the white ground sheets (a small section at a time just like you do with your hair straightener, my farmer boy explained to his 12 year old). Some of us picked off each olive into picking bags clicked onto our waists. 

And the last one of us, had the most important job of all of us. Farmer Bren was in charge of catering.

He made us camp-fire Turkish coffee.

And he made us pesto, cheese and last year's olives jaffles.

Everything tastes more delicious when cooked on a camp fire don't you think?!

I love days like yesterday. I love the feeling of everyone pitching in and working as a team. I love the joking and the feeling of leisure at the start that slowly becomes a rush to get it all done before dark.

And I love the olives. Big time!

There's been a lot of other stuff going on here on our farm in the last few weeks. A lot of other stuff that has taken our focus and attention and meant we left the olives a bit longer than we should have. 

The birds got possibly more than their fair share and the frost damaged a few, but we got enough to press some for oil and enough to brine for eating and that makes me happy. Really happy.

I can't imagine how exciting it'll be to have bottles of our own Daylesford Organics olive oil.

We are trying to organise to get it pressed next week. I'll keep you posted.

And I'll keep you posted about the other stuff too. Soon I hope.

I'm off now to cover the lettuces, there's going to be another frost in the morning I think.

Big love to you peeps.
May your days be brilliant and sunshiney and your olives and coffee plentiful.


Tuesday, June 18, 2013

The pretty city dress

And then I sewed another dress.

The washing is still in the machine, the breakfast dishes are still in the sink, the olives are still on the trees, my inbox still has a red number on it and I haven't even thought about dinner.

But I fixed yesterday's disaster dress and I am happy.

I cut off the denim panel and sewed another dress around it. It's still not perfect but it's getting there. I think it'll look cute with some stripey tights and a cardi.

And I have that buzzy feeling that's making me want to keep going. Keep making. Keep sewing.

I wish Miss Pepper were here to try it on and see. I think she'll love it. Especially because I listened to her strict instructions and made sure all roofs are pointy, (even the sky scraper one), that there is green grass and a cloud in the sky. She wanted all the houses to have chimneys too, otherwise how will the people inside keep warm, but it was getting a bit crowded.

If only I had time now to sew the garden dress that's growing in my, I'd better fold the fabric, tidy up and fry some onions I think.

Big love to you guys.
I hope your creative garden grows.


Monday, June 17, 2013

sometimes I miss being a crafty blogger

Sometimes I miss being a crafty blogger. Sharing post after post about dresses I've sewn, tee-shirts I've printed and blankets I've crocheted.

Way back then when I started this blog, four years ago this month, my girls were much smaller and needier but somehow I seemed to have more time for the making. I was always making. And always planning my next make. My world and my blog revolved around it.

Piles of fabric, pattern pieces cut out, overlocked, seams sewn, pockets, appliques, trims, details...

I made enough to clothe my family, to give away as gifts and to even have an online store to sell the excess.

And despite my productivity, I'm sure that way back then I dreamed of a day when the girls would all be at school and I would have interrupted time. Uninterrupted time to make. Time without any helpers, time without any interruptions and time to sit down and work on a project of my design from start to finish. Imagine that?!!

But somehow now that I'm there, I have less making time. How is that even possible?

Before my last baby started school this year I made my self feel better by thinking about how much time I would have to sit at my sewing machine making dresses. I thought I'd be able to finally get to work on some of the printing ideas in my head. And I dreamed of cozy crochet sessions over cups of tea with friends in the afternoons.

But none of this has happened. Today I actually sat down at my sewing machine to sew Miss Pepper a dress for the first time all year. Only to find it was a disaster when she got home and tried it on. And it's such a shame because it was so cute and denim and had appliqued buildings on it. But she declared that it made her look like she was wearing a tent and she was right!!

I'm waaaaaaaaaaaaay out of practice.

Somewhere along the line, I lost all my crafty time. Well all except the knitting time and the time for stitching up bunting to go in some book shops that will stock my book.

That's what the top picture is about. Fabric and cotton to make the bunting, little knitting needles to encourage the little girls to keep knitting and a choice of two yellows for Miss Indi's new beanie (she lost her last one).

And then there are the three bear beanies I knitted on the weekend.

The green one was too green for the birthday four year old.

The pink one on top of it was too big for the birthday four year old.

And the third one I cast off ten minutes before the pony party on the weekend and was juuuuuust right, (thank goodness).

Ravelry deets here.

I wish I had time tomorrow to have another go at sewing a dress. I even think I know how to fix all the mistakes I made today. But we're spending the day picking olives. We have to get them off the trees before the birds get them all.

Maybe I'll sew when the girls leave home....or when we retire....

How come the slow life is such a busy life?


Sunday, June 16, 2013

How to make fruit leather ❤ SO YUM!!

Finally, after many months of supplying us with their delicious fruit, our apple trees are dropping their last few leaves and getting ready to go to sleep for the long, cold winter ahead. They've worked hard for us this year and we've eaten, shared and sold hundreds of kilos of fruit. Hundreds of kilos of crisp, tart, juicy, sweet delicious apples.

And now as winter sets in and makes herself comfortable, we're making plans to use up the last 20 or so crates we have left and to switch off the cool-room. Heritage varieties of apples are delicious in their season, but are not meant to last a long time.

So along with the stewing and juicing and eating fresh, we've been making apple leather. Constantly. And the girls have been eating it as quickly as we've been making it. It's totally delicious.

So I thought I'd share the simple recipe here just in case you wanted to make some too.

First wash, peel, core and slice your apples and place them in a saucepan on a low heat on the stove.

From what I've read, the rule is to add half a cup of water to the saucepan for every four cups of chopped fruit, but I just add a big glug here and there to make sure the mixture isn't too dry and isn't sticking to the bottom of the pot.

Stir in the juice of half a lemon and some cinnamon if you feel like it. Have a taste and see if you need to add some more.

Simmer and stir. Simmer and stir, until the fruit is soft and mashable.

Using a food processor or a blender, mash the cooked fruit until it is completely smooth and lump free. Like baby food.

Lay a sheet of baking paper over your oven trays.

Spread apple mixture evenly over one oven tray at a time until the mixture is about half a centimeter deep.

Place your trays in the oven at the lowest heat setting possible and leave the oven door slightly ajar. You might need to place a spoon in the oven door to keep it from closing but beware, the spoon will get very hot.

(This oven method is wonderful for us because our wood cooker is on 24/7, but a food dehydrator will work just as well.)

Keep the fruit leather trays in the oven for as long as it takes to completely dry out. We've found it best to leave the trays in the oven overnight as the process takes about eight to ten hours.

The apple leather is ready when it is no longer sticky or wet, but dry and leather-like.

Once your apple leather is ready and dry you can peel it off the baking paper and roll it up.

Keep the baking paper sheet and use it again on your next batch.

Cut the fruit leather into little bits.

Or chop it into cereal or salads.

We like to store the rolled up apple leathers in a glass, sealed container. To be honest, I have no idea how long it will keep as our girls eat it almost as quickly as we can make it.

What I do know is how great it feels to feed our family something we have made from the freshest, organic fruit, with no sugar and only two ingredients. No nasties, no numbers.

And there have been reports that even the kids who only eat junk food in their school lunches love it too, so it must be a winner. Yay!

OK, off you go, if you get some in the oven now, it'll be ready for their school lunches tomorrow.

I'm off to peel this lot.

See ya later - apple dehydrater!!

Let me know how you go, OK.


Wednesday, June 12, 2013

The Turkish coffee grinder & other adventures

Yesterday we went to Melbourne and found LOVE!

I have a few winter warmer tricks at home to get us through the freezing cold days, but yesterday needed something bigger. Something stronger. Something more hard core than soup, stripey socks and silly dancing to get us through the irritating coughs, sniffles and muddy puddles everywhere.

So we got the girls out of bed a little later than usual. We ate breakfast when they should have already been at school. We piled in the car and headed off to Melbourne.

We were on the hunt for a Turkish coffee grinder and an adventure.

We ate lunch and drank lots of coffee at the always awesome Seven Seeds.

As our waiter placed each plate in front of each of us he whispered a barely audible yum! which was cute and so very accurate.

My salad was made of freekah, corn, chickpeas, pomegranate, rocket and feta and was possibly the best salad I've had all year, if not ever. Bren had kangaroo and the girls thought that was hilarious.

Then we drove through a yarn bombed city street. Royal Parade renamed Royal Granny Parade. Each of the trees wore a colorful decoration. And I wished we had had more time to walk along and admire every amazing work of art. (Watch the video about it here).

Then we walked up and down Sydney Road Brunswick. We admired the new to us shops and decorations and people. We bought some clothes in an op shop, some pies in a Lebanese bakery and a Turkish coffee grinder, some Turkish coffee to try and six small Turkish coffee glasses.

We ate a sandwich dinner at my farmer boy's folks house and then we drove home in the dark. Possibly a bit later than we should have.

My clever, thoughtful boy had left the kitchen stove burning and set up the lounge room fire so all we had to do was light it and we were extra toastie.

When they were tucked into their snugly beds, he told the girls a story of a talking Turkish coffee grinder. They laughed and laughed and all slept through the night for the first time in ages. No eczema, no coughs, no drinks, no nightmares.

We felt happy, like we'd done the right thing by our family by having a day away.

But this morning was a different story entirely.

This morning we woke up a bit late, the little two girls were coughing constantly, Miss Pepper had a rash, they were all three cranky maganky and it took everything I had not to get swept away with the wind and the rain and the storminess.

I had thought that one great day away would mean an easier next few days, but it felt like the opposite. Like it was all so much harder than it should have been.

Never mind. I wont be put off. But maybe next time we'll take two days away instead of the one? Maybe.

And there's only 10 days until the winter solstice and two and a bit weeks until school holidays. We'll be OK.

But if you have some winter warmer tricks up your sleeve, feel free to share. I'm all ears.
Oh and freekah? Been there, done that? Are you a fan?I think I am.

Bye. xx

ps Miss Indi took the top pic. xx

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