Sunday, March 27, 2011

Thanks and a garden update

Just wanted to say a warm welcome to all the new visitors and followers . It's wonderful to think that others are interested in my little life.

A very big thanks also to those lovely people who left comments following yesterdays post. I was feeling a bit down and your comments made me sit up and think. Thank you :)

Now on to the garden......

The lovely Sonya from Permaculture Pathways has been doing a series of blog posts called 'Get started growing your own food'. Almost like a mini permaculture e-course. Me being the beginner gardener that I am have been following along with great interest. I'm pleased to say I finally have some progress to report.

Home grown sprouts have becoming a regular feature in my kitchen. As a child we always had sprouts growing. My Dad had one of those multi level growers, silly me sold it when we moved house.

A few weeks ago I got Tony motivated and we built two garden beds. We filled them with lots of layers of wonderful organic matter, then they were left to settle for about three weeks.

The beds were covered to keep the dogs and the cats off. We now have that section of the yard fenced, so now we only need to find a way to keep the cats out......any suggestions?

We decided to make raised beds and use the no dig garden method. The ground here is heavy clay and has poor drainage. Hopefully in the future all the goodness we have added will result in a lovely friable loam. Ideally I would have like to have made the beds deeper but money is a bit tight at the moment so we've made do with one layer of timber. We can always add another layer after this first crop is finished. Over the next few weeks we intend building maybe three or four more beds.

I had intended raising seedlings for these beds but that hasn't happened so far. Today we went to the Caboolture markets and purchased some, not the cheapest or the organic option I had planned, anywho it's a start. My intention was to plant them today however it became very windy this afternoon so I thought it best to wait it till tomorrow. I'll plant some seeds then too.

Rainbow chard, fennel, two types of parsley, peas, basil, eggplant and some corn (I know its most probably too late in the season for them but we'll give it a go). I'll raise some beans, tomatoes and a few other veggie seedlings and have them ready to go in the new beds.

My good old mandarin tree is loaded with fruit again, looks like another bumper crop. I've got a banana to plant out and a dwarf mulberry in a pot that looks a little sad, that will be planted in the yard as well. I even did a little housekeeping on the worm farm and moved one of the compost bins last week.

Thank goodness the weather is finally cooling down to a more civilized temperature. I'm now eager to go outside and play in the dirt! I only hope that I've inherited at least a smidgen of my Nana's green thumb.

Here's to happy gardening

Cheers Lisa

Friday, March 25, 2011

Three years on

Warning - long and rambling post ahead, you might want to turn off now!

This week marks three years since I left full time employment and a place where I worked for eleven years. Over the years my job role changed many times, eventually becoming a position that I really didn't enjoy. It was both stressful and very rewarding at the same time. It was also a job that sometimes had you on call 24 hours a day, not very good for ones health, family life or relationships. In the end I just got sick of all the politics and jobs for the boys (actually girls) mentality and decided that it was time to go and look for greener pastures.

The anticipation of leaving, gave me the opportunity to think about me for a change and what I wanted from life. What did I want to do? My dream was to live a simpler more greener life. I wanted to slow down and actually enjoy life, not just worry about and be so absorbed in work that I really had no life. I also wanted to escape the Queensland summers as they really knock me around.

About ten months before I left work we decided that we would move to Tasmania, something that I'd been longing to do for years. The plan was to sell our house in Brisbane and then look for a place in Tassie. I was excited at the thought of such an adventure, seeing that I wasn't really a risk taker. We had a weeks holiday in Tasmana to check out areas we might like to live in, things were finally looking up.

Once I had finished work I was left with the job of decluttering and getting the house ready to sell. The strange thing was that I just couldn't get motivated to do anything. Whilst I should have been excited at the prospect of moving, all I could think about was did I make a mistake leaving my job. It was a weird feeling, actually it felt like I'd had the life sucked out of me. My job had become my life and now it was gone.

The days, weeks and months went by without me achieving much. Sure I packed lots of boxes, didn't really declutter much, just packed all my troubles away. Eventually the global financial crisis took hold and the decision was made that moving to Tasmania without jobs to go to, was not the wisest choice in uncertain times. So the move was put on hold for three to six months. I got a casual job and that was that.

Three years later we are still here in Brisbane, still surrounded by boxes that I packed three years ago, still stuck in a rut. Each year around this time I feel rather sad and annoyed that I didn't have the guts to follow my dream. I don't want to wait till I retire, I want to enjoy it now! Sounds selfish I know. In the meantime I'm trying hard to make the most of where I am. Not an easy task I must say.

On a more positive note, the past three years have been a time for learning new skills and remembering old lessons learnt. I've still got a long way to go and much to learn.

Sorry for rambling on and for writing such a self indulgent post, just needed to get it off my chest.

Hope you have a lovely weekend

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Eggplant cannelloni

I made this delicious dish last week and intended posting this earlier but I got waylaid with another headache....damn things!

The original recipe came from Sunset Menus & Recipes for Vegetarian Cooking. One of the gazillion cookbooks that my parents owned. I remember counting over 100 cookbook titles in the kitchen bookshelf. The funny thing was that Mum disliked cooking but loved to buy cookbooks, go figure.

This is my version

1 large eggplant
1 cup of grated cheddar cheese
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
Ricotta cheese approx 3/4 - 1 cup
(I used Rose's quick and easy method to make homemade ricotta)
oil or butter for cooking
1 cup finely chopped mushrooms
1 clove of garlic, crushed
2 handfuls of baby spinach, washed
2 tablespoons of chopped parsley
2 eggs beaten
1/8 of a teaspoon of each, black pepper, salt and nutmeg

Tomato sauce:
2 large tomatoes, peeled and finely chopped, 1 tablespoon of butter, 1 clove of garlic, crushed, 1 medium onion, finely chopped, 1 cup of vegetable stock or water, fresh basil and oregano finely chopped, salt and pepper to taste. (I used a 500ml bottle of homemade passata or you could use a tin of tomatoes)

Cannelloni method:
Cut unpeeled eggplant lengthwise into 10 to 12, 6mm / 1/4" slices. Save the small bits for another meal. Cook slices in a single layer in a large pan or griddle, till browned on each side and soft, use a little oil if necessary (the original recipe dipped the eggplant in batter then cooked). Set slices aside on a try till required.

Filling - make this while the eggplant is cooking
Melt 1 tsp of butter in a saucepan and saute garlic and mushrooms till soft, remove from pan. Wash spinach and then add to saucepan and cook till wilted, place in a sieve to drain. Combine in a bowl the ricotta, beaten eggs, parsley, mushrooms, drained spinach, half of the cheddar and parmesan cheese, salt, pepper and nutmeg, mix well and divide into enough equal portions, for the number of slices of eggplant.

Meanwhile prepare the tomato sauce, melt the butter or olive in a pan (I used the frying pan I cooked the eggplant in), saute the onion and garlic till soft, add the tomatoes, stock or water, herbs and spices. Bring to the boil over a high heat and cook for 10 minutes stirring frequently, then reduce heat to medium and continue cooking until sauce thickens.

To assemble:
Place a portion of filling across the middle of each slice, fold narrow end of slice over filing and roll up to enclose. Arrange cannelloni seam side down in a single layer in a shallow large casserole dish. Spoon tomato sauce over eggplant, sprinkle the remaining cheese over the dish and bake in a preheated moderate oven for 25 to 30 minutes or until the cheese is golden and the sauce is bubbling.

Rather a pathetic looking salad I must say, with one lonely piece of beetroot!

As you can see from all the steps it is time consuming but well worth it, tastes fantastic!

You could assemble the cannelloni in advanced and then cook when needed. You could even omit the dairy and use a filling of beans or lentils or use tofu instead of ricotta for a vegan version.
Cheers Lisa

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Happy chooks

Some of you might remember my post The case of the missing eggs. Well I'm pleased to report that the girls have finally clued on and are now laying in their nest box. Two lovely eggs every second day.

Margot on the left and Queenie on the the right

The only problem now is that I noticed yesterday morning that Queenie has started making a gurgling sound and has the odd sneeze. Great a respiratory problem! She is happy, eating, scratching around, doing normal chook things. Thankfully I have a friend who is an animal naturopath so I'll contact her today for some advice.

Also I discovered yesterday they have lice.....arrrgh. So their house had a big clean out, the floor got covered in lime, anything timber was sprayed with neem spray and finally much to the girls disgust, they got dusted in neem powder. Lets hope that does the trick......damn blood sucking bugs!

Goodness we've only had these two for about 6 weeks what else can go wrong? On a positive note they are now acting like normal chooks. For weeks they would just hide under the tree near the chook house, now they happily roam around scratching away to their hearts content.

I love my girls

Hope you have a lovely day
Cheers Lisa

Sunday, March 13, 2011

I did it - new underwear

Yep I did it alright, made my first bra and the best part is, it fits! Not the best fit but certainly comfortable and wearable.

Bra for young ladies from Ten to Teens and Casual Clothes

The bra is made from cotton and lined with a poly/cotton blend, all remnants. I also added strap adjusters and a bra fastner. Very 50's in style, shame I don't have the bust to give it the sweater girl look!

Whilst it was a challenge to make, it wasn't that difficult, you just need to pin and baste everything. I'm tempted to try another one in a cotton knit to see if it has a better fit. Actually I'm really surprised how well it came together, good one Enid!

Of course you can't have a new bra without matching or coordinating knickers, so I made a new pair of those as well.

I used a different pair of undies this time to draft the pattern from. Ideally they should have been made in cotton Lycra instead of knit. They're just a tad on the snug side. Oh well it's all a learning experience. I'm on a roll now, this week I have three more pairs of undies to make and will try a different bra pattern.

Hope you have a great day

Cheers Lisa

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

The things you find at the tip and the case of the missing eggs

Oh it's been a while between posts, I've been busy and have lots to tell. I don't want to bore you all to death with a large rambling post so I do little ones and try to keep it short and sweet.

Last Sunday morning on my way to the farmers market I took a detour to the local tip shop. I was hoping to find something for the chook house but instead found this wonderful bundle of goodies. Honestly my little heart jumped for joy when I spied the box of sewing patterns in amongst the crate of books, toys and general junk. There must have been about twenty patterns and I came away with this lot, all for the grand sum of $2.50.......yay a bargain indeed! Some have never been out of their original packets, stilled sealed and in their factory folds. I guess some old dear must have passed away or had to move and her sewing pattern collection ended up at the tip. The patterns range from the 40's to the 80's.

The swinging sixties

The groovy seventies
Forties and seventies children's sleepwear
Sixties era judging by the hair styles, although the blouse pattern has a newspaper draft dated 1951

I'm sure you can tell by now that I love vintage sewing patterns. I plan to use some of them myself and sell the others.

On to the case of the missing eggs.....
My little chickadees recently started laying. Two little eggs were offered up to us then nothing. I thought well, they're only young, Old English Game are not prolific layers, lots of excuses. Silly me didn't think, maybe they are laying them somewhere else.

Our old bantams always did the deed in their nest boxes or in the chook house. This pair have other ideas. Yesterday I finally found the hidden egg stashes. One tucked away under a pumpkin vine and the other in the tall grass in their run. Fourteen rather soiled eggs in total. Since I've no idea which eggs are the oldest and it's been raining on and off almost every day for the last week, I'll have to throw them away......oh such waste. Anyway I'm onto them, I'll put a couple of the old eggs in the nest box and hope they get the idea.

I'll be back soon with more updates

Have a lovely day
Chees Lisa

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Almost back to normal

I'd love to say thank goodness autumn has arrived, cooler weather, a lovely change in season. Somehow here in Brisbane autumn seems to have forgotten us. The temperature has been in mid to early thirties since Monday, which is not pleasant to say the least.

The heat hasn't helped with my most recent bout of illness. I've been laid up in bed for the past two days with a really bad headache/migraine. If it was just a headache it wouldn't be so bad, unfortunately if it's a really bad one I end with constant vomiting, which can last for more than twenty four hours. I usually end up having to see a Dr for a jab. Then I'm so drained that I can't do anything for the next few days.

It is a little strange as I had a similar episode in January, before that I hadn't had one for about three years. I use to have these attacks on a yearly basis, every August or September I would be out of action for about four days with the migraine/chucking thing.

Anyway I've had enough sleep to catch up with all the stuff I've missed over the past few weeks. I'm now starting to get a little restless. So I thought I'd pop on here and say hi and catch up on some reading.

Hope you're all well

Cheers Lisa