Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Major Declutter...Maybe...YES!! Step 1.

I was emptying out and cleaning the cupboard with the mouse poop on Sunday when a daughter showed up.
Which was good as she *encouraged* me to declutter a few things and has offered to come back WITH BOXES!! sometime during the week.  I think it will be easier to get rid of some stuff with her here helping and me knowing that it wont be binned but taken to the Really Really Free Markets.
I kinda hope she has plenty of boxes, I have stuff that NEEDS to go...and with emptier cupboards it will be easier to clean them out if the mice get in there again...

But I hate getting rid of stuff.  I don't know why.
Well I think I know why.
I hate good useful stuff being thrown out as rubbish.  I see it as a waste and think that we are doing the Earth a major disservice by dumping all our crap on it.  So I am **saving the world** by not throwing anything away!   Hmmm, it doesn't really make sense to me anymore.  Instead of taking stuff to the tip our place looks like one.
Still, I know I wont bin it but the free markets is a great concept so I am happy to support them by *donating* my stuff.

I have trouble passing by a bargain, but my thinking "even if I don't need it now it might come in handy later and it's so cheap"  has led to us living in a way that I no longer want to.  Step 1 taken!

I used to take a bit down to our local Op-shop but a lot of the time they throw it away anyway.  Their place of business is just a small shed so they don't have a lot of room but I don't agree with them throwing decent donated stuff away so no longer take much down there.

But I have too much and it is not good for us to be living with so much un-used stuff.  It creates mess, hidey holes for pests, makes it hard to keep things clean...Some of you will know the story...

Knowing that this daughter will not bin it will make it a bit easier.  Well, maybe not easier as such but I will be more likely to not keep things just in case.  Like she says...IF I need it later on then *The Universe* will provide it.  I don't need 3 coffee plungers, none of which I use but someone else might be wanting 1 that they will use.  And love.  So 2 will go...and I will start using the one I keep.

June will be the month that I get stuck into this project and if I am lucky then Daughter might come out and help a couple of times.  If not I WILL still get it done...

This is going to be a major challenge for me but one I am up for.  Anyone want to join me?   Write about it and link back to here? 

Monday, May 30, 2011

Vegetables in May.

End of May is coming up and we are still mainly eating what we have grown ourselves.

I did buy a 10kilo bag of onions from SpudShed the other day for $1.99. and a 10kilo bag of potatoes for $4.99.  I don't usually pay that much for spuds but I was running low and Hubby will be home for a few weeks so thought I'd better.  That is it on the fruit and vege buying front though. 

We are picking and eating spinach, choko, capsicum, tomato, chilli, silerbeet, onion tops, sweet potato, lettuce.
We have pumpkin in the shed and a few on a vine still growing.  Garlic and onion still in the shed.

Fruit that we are picking and eating from here...not a lot.  Apples are finished but we have had a bunch of bananas and a few oranges.  Looking forward to the oranges being completely ripe and having lots.

Eggs.  Chooks have stopped laying or if they are laying we are losing the eggs.  Very disapointed about that.  I resent feeding them when they won't feed me.

Free Food.  We have been given some free food though and that is always a bonus.  Have I mentioned the box of cooked prawns that the son gave us. That might have been last month but there are still heaps in the freezer.  Well anyway, this month he has passed on some pork roasts, decent mince, a few meat pies and some $36 kilo!!!! fillit steak.  He works in the butcher department of a supermaker and sometimes things don't get sold by the use by date and he gets to take some home for himself or his dogs.  I have spoken to him about feeding his dogs good meat so he sometimes *throws his poor old mum a bone*  No complaints about that from me...WoofWoof!!

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Mouse in my House.

Going by the racket in the walls last night there is more than1 but as of this morning 2 less.  I hate having to use traps but I hate having mice pooping in the food cupboard more.  Last week the cat was playing with a mouse inside but it escaped.  That could be the one in the cupboard...but there are some out in the shed again and they come in to get warm.  And to eat the icecream cones!  I usually keep all perishables in glass jars but forgot about the cones.  Oh well, we didn't have any icecream to put in them anyway.

I wont use poisonous baits as we have animals and native creatures that we want to stay safe and I wont use anything that will kill them in a horrible way...I have thought of one of those sonic things...has anyone any experience with them?

What I want is a humane, safe way to make them stay away.  Anyone have any ways that have worked for them?

I have read mixed reports on Peppermint oil but as I don't have any I can't test it for myself.  I do have Mint growing so maybe a handful of that thrown in there will work. 

Right, Mint is in the cupboard, I will see how that goes.  If nothing else it will make everything smell nice.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Bread and Butter Choko.

Hubby wasn't too keen on me making these so asked that I half the recipe first so as not to waste too much stuff. 
I did, well I tried to.  Apparently I don't know what half of 1.8litres is but lucky I had a taste test and the too sweet mix told me I must have had it wrong.  Add in the extra 300ml vinegar and all is fine.


Below is my original recipe but this time I halved it and used Choko instead of Cucumbers. 


Bread & Butter Pickles 

8 large cucumbers, sliced
3 large onions, sliced
4 large capsicums
1 cup of salt
9 plus cups of cold water
1.8 litres  white.
  The original recipe calls for malt vinegar but I don't like that so never have any.
1.5 kilo sugar
1 Tbs turmeric
1 tsp mustard seed
Wash and slice the cucumbers, slice the onions and capsicums. Combine the vegetables in one or two very large bowls, sprinkle with the salt (do this in layers as you are adding the veggies) and add the cold water (you will need more than nine cups!) Let stand for 3 hours then drain without rinsing.
In a large saucepan combine the remaining ingredients. Heat to boiling, then add the vegetables. Bring back to the boiling point but do not boil.
Pack into hot sterilized jars and seal Chill before serving.
Very good on bread and butter, but serve with cheese and cold meats, too.

It tastes good but is a bit darker, more cloudy than the cucumber one I did last year.  I possibly (pretty sure) used more than a 1/2 Tbs Turmeric...HoHum, still good though.  

We now have 4 jars in the cupboard and 1 open in the fridge.  And I have Hubbies permission to make more.
I will add some red banana shaped capsicum/chilli to the next lot, for a bit of colour.

Poor Birdie.

I was out in the pen yesterday, where we had the bird we found, couldn't see it in the shed where it was or anywhere else so was happily thinking that it was OK and had *flown the coop*  Little happy dance.
I have been out there today cleaning the shed out and found the poor thing dead behind a crate. 
It is now buried under a Peach tree.

Thanks to Wendy who informs me that it was a Black Shouldered Kite.  

Friday, May 27, 2011

Choko Time.

Well it is that time of year again when the yard is taken over by the chokos.  Some of the ones still on the vine are huge so I will need to pick a pile today and decide what to do with them all.

I am going to take a bag full down the road 'cause the old bloke on the corner really likes them and he was asking about buying!! some.  Sheesh, he'll be getting a lot of the extras for nothing just so they aren't wasted. 

One thing I am going to try today is to turn them into Bread and Butter Pickles.  I do that with cucumbers and it is so nice so can't see why it wont work with these.  I don't have many green Capsicum to add to them like the recipe says to but I do have lots of banana caps (or chillies) so will use them.  Hope they are not a hot chilli, I *think* they are a type of capsicum.  They came in a punnet of mixed caps but I'm not game to take a bite to see what they are like.

I'll cook and freeze a bunch to add to soups and stews and will try different ways this year to what I usually do.  I have a heap of recipes that need trying so will make sure I do this year. 

And I'm sure that there are people out there that will want some.  Sherrie?  How about you?  I could come for a visit and bring a bag...

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Cold Cure.

Maybe not a *cure* as such but something that kicks any cold I start to get out the door quick smart is a mix I make up and sip on throughout the day.

We've been away for a few days, it was great but wet and windy and I started sneezing and had a few other symptoms so on getting home I made up my *medicine*

It's just a mixture of white vinegar, honey and lemon juice.  I mix the same amount of each, give or take, and drink it down.


It doesn't always taste great but it isn't horrible and it works better than any cough medicine.
I have also made the mixture with added grated lemon zest and extra juice.  Much nicer as the vinegar taste is not as strong.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Birds.

Hubby spent the morning putting in a gate out the back in the fence around the dam area.  A little while afterwards we noticed some magpies sitting on it with a couple on the ground as well.  It seemed strange so we went out for a closer look.  Saw one pecking at *something white* that was on the ground and on closer inspection found this hawk type bird.  It didn't fly away and seemed stuck so the son in law donned some gloves for a closer look.  It didn't look hurt at all but had meat ants crawling over it's legs so we thought we would box it up for the night.  It's possible it flew into the gate...but we don't know.




 
  video
I had the idea to put it in an empty chookpen so it could fly away whenever it wanted to but be protected from predators.  M. put it in the chookshed, on a roost and 4 hours later it was getting dark and it was still out there.
I hope it will survive the night and be OK.

Helpful Fairies.

I've been away for a few days, we got home late yesterday afternoon and though I had a quick look around I don't know what is happening out there.  I'm out this morning but will check on the gardens sometime today though I'm sure everything will be fine as I had asked the kids to come out and feed the chooks for me and it rained a bit.

One thing we noticed when we pulled in the driveway was that the area looked tidier.  Getting out and walking around it seems that the *yard fairies* have been here.  The grass is mowed, garden edges tidy.  Everything looks good.  We go inside and it looks like their cousins the *house fairies* came visiting with them.  It was real nice to walk into a house that was so much tidier and cleaner than I had left it.  So a BIG thankyou to our friendly neighbourhood fairies.

I think I will go away more often now...

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Front Yard. Coming Along.

The front yard work is steadily getting done.  Some bits are a lot harder than others but I think I'm doing oK with it.
This week I am trying to get the yard tidy and mowed and the gardens looking a bit neater so have been mowing, raking, mulching...and over the last few days I have been digging the 2 posts up.  I dig a bit, mow a bit, back and dig a bit more.  The posts had been cemented it and put in deep so it was bleedin' hard work and not something that I could do in the one go but over a few days I am happy to say that it is one job finished or nearly anyway.  I cannot physically get the second post out of the hole so will need to wait until the son comes out or Hubby gets home.  When one of them lifts the post out I will be ableto fill in the hole.


Both the Bougainvilleas that were dug up and planted along the front fence seem to be doing alright and have new shoots starting to sprout out.  The seedling tree has died so I will pull that up today.  Two daisy bushes are doing OK in their new spot.  One didn't make it so that has been buried in the  hole where the first post came from along with heaps of other garden rubbish and a lot of the Cannas.  I hope they don't start growing from there though. 

I have trimmed some of the monster Pepino back and planted some of the rooted shoots.  Some were given to the chooks to munch on though.  I can actually see now that there is quite a bit of fruit in there.  It was all hidden away before.  Lots of snails were hidden under there too but they made good chook snacks.  I will trim it back a bit more soon but have other stuff to do before I do.

I still need to figure out where to plant the Chrysanthemums.  I want to keep these and as they are just starting to flower I need to wait until they have finished then I will cut them back and put them...somewhere.

I don't think it will be finished the way I want before the end of the month which is a bummer but I have the oportunity to go away for a few days so am going to do that as I might not get another chance at that but the frontyard will still be there when I get back. 
I will also need some sand or dirt to level the area a bit and that's something I need to rely on other people for.

The bits I can do will still be worked on while I am home though and in saying that I will get out there now and do a bit more.

Free Seeds.

On Thursday as I was driving out the gateway I noticed a parcel in the letterbox so stopped and put it in the car to look at later.
My name was on the box but no return address or anything to show who it was from.  But I presumed it wasn't a bomb and opened it.




It has heaps of seeds in it and I have been trying to work out where it might have came from.  Well this morning at 2am when I was trying to decide whether to get up or not I remembered.  There was a thread on Simple Savings about sending away for some free seeds and I emailed them so this must be them.  I have been looking on SS for the email address but cannot find it.

There are heaps of seeds, mostly vegetables but a few flowers and some native tree seeds as well.  Also a couple of tiny, tiny pots.

The seeds are on little sticks of cardboard and I must confess that when I first opened the box I thought that it was full of matches.  It took me a bit of looking to see that they were seedsticks.







These will come in handy as well as saving me a few dollars. There are some things in there that I wouldn't buy but this will give me a chance to try them.  Rocket comes to mind. 

Now I need to plant them at the appropiate time and hope that I don't kill them all.
That would be a waste of a decent freeby.

Have come back to say *thankyou* to Nicole from over at SS.  It was her that put a link in to get the free seeds.   I found where the seeds were mentioned so will put it here too.
I don't know if they are still doing it or not though.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

A Nice Meal Out.

We are not long home from being out having tea. 
We had a lovely meal out down at the hotel.
Hubby ordered a roast and I was umming and ahhing between fish and chicken.  Finally decided on the Chicken Parmigiana (sp?) as that is something that I wouldn't cook at home.
The plates were huge so not something you'd want too often but very nice.
And thanks to the Son in Law, we didn't have to pay for it.  He rang and offered us both a meal out and it's much appreciated.    And no dirty dished here to wash.  Thanks M.

Zoo Friend.

I sometimes looked after a dog for some friends while they went away and though it never cost us anything and I enjoyed having him she always gave me some money when she picked him up.  It usually gets put away and absorbed into the other money but this time I used it to buy a yearly pass for the zoo.

Smokey was old and unwell and is no longer around so this way everytime that I visit the zoo I will think of him.

Being a Zoo Friend allows me to get in to the zoo for free for any time over the next 12 months so I plan to catch the train and go every couple of months.  I like the zoo and for the $9.00 train fare it will be a cheap and nice day out.

When our kids were younger I used to think that the zoo was a cheap day out but now at a cost of $21 for an adult and $10 or so for kids it wouldn't be.  I think that a pass given as a birthday or Christmas gift would be a good idea but would still add up if buying for a family.  Still a good idea though, espessially if you live close by.

Does anyone here have a pass and if so do you think they are worthwhile?

Friday, May 6, 2011

Front Yard. Beginning of May 2011.

Looking in from the driveway.


We are changing our frontyard and because I am slack I am writing about it here so I will be more likely to work on it and get it finished within a reasonable time.  We have taken down a fence and I now need to dig up and move or get rid of a pile of plants.



 I did take a vidio of this whole area saying what I want to do but I cannot get the thing to upload on to here so I will do it the old fashioned way and will write it down instead.

I have given myself a month, so the end of May, which is plenty of time, especially as it's cooler now and I can be outside longer but I still think I'll need a reminder now and then.  Though walking out the front do will be a constant reminder so I'm thinking this is one job that will be finished ahead of time.
I know the 2 Bougainvilleas will be kept and put out along the front fence.  I like the yellow Cannas but Hubby doesn't and I don't look after them so they are always scraggly looking.  I think I will get rid of them altogether...or plant them out the back paddock and see how they fare.

In my head I can see exactly how I want it to look and if I can get it out and set up for real I will be very pleased with myself.

A few things might hold me back, them being, I don't want to spend any money, I'm not very strong, I'm lazy, I don't want to spend any money...

Nothing insurmountable though.  And I have a month...



Here I am standing on the front verandah, looking East.  Those plants in front all need to go, stuff needs to be put away, those 2 posts need to be dug up and moved back for the new gate.  That's where the gate used to be.







Looking back towards the driveway.  There is an Orange tree to the left, that's staying there.  The logs on the ground to the right is the edging from the old garden.  All those plants along there have to come out and the area needs to be leveled so the grass can grow over.


This is the second Bougainvillea, cut back.  I need to dig a hole near the front fence then dig this up and replant it.


All the plants that you can see here are going to be cut back and replanted somewhere.  Yellow daisy things on the left and the massive pepino on the right.

My original idea for the front area of the house was some pretty flowers that kept replacing themselves, kind of a cottage garden thing.  I am too lazy to keep it under control though and the things that grow there are not what I wanted.  It also gives snakes and other *creatures* a place to hide.   I will go back to grass in front of the house and if it is clear of plants and crap it will be easy enough to just run the mower over it every couple of weeks.  I will still have plants that give some colour, they will be in different areas and I will plant Nasturtiums under the fruit trees.  Hubby will love that!!


Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Spiders.

I was on my knees vacuuming the mat yesterday morning, humming away and minding my own business...go to put my hand down so I can move over and do another patch and...


It was more scarey in real life, but that could be because it was big and I thought it was a Huntsman.   I don't like Huntsmans.  I was going to suck it up with the vacuum cleaner but thought that wasn't very nice so
I called Hubby in to do the man thing.  He got it into a container and had a look, said it wasn't a Huntsman. So what is it?.  Maybe a Wolf spider?  It was quite big, easily 2 inches all up.  It has been taken out he back and released.

Passionfruit Spread.

Hubby came in with another bag of of Passionfruit so I had 2 big bowls sitting on the counter.  What to do what to do...
I was having a visitor for morning tea so decided to serve pikelets and passionfruit spread.
Hmmm, how do you make passionfruit spread?  Dunno but probably like lemon spread...
So I checked out how I made that and had a thought and came up with this.
Morning tea was postponed but 2 came for lunch and this was still served and proclaimed a keeper.

It only took a couple of minutes in the microwave.  The most time was spent scooping out the pulp.

Passionfruit Spread.
125ml Passionfruit pulp.
1/2cup sugar.
2Dsp cornflour.
1cup water.
Mix together in glass bowl.  Nuke for a bit maybe 1and1/2 min, stir, nuke again 1min, stir.  Again maybe...Watch it as it boils up, you don't want it going over the top.  A few minutes all up is all it needs.  Be careful when you taste it as it is hot!  Could be done on stovetop.

This didn't make too much, a couple of small jars and a small dish but is easy and quick enough for me to make as needed.