Hello friends. I'm almost back to normal and with the exception of a bung knee, I'm feeling pretty good. I had the exceptional gift of being able to rest and take my time with recovery and even though in years passed I would have become impatient with illness and the time it takes to recover, now I feel grateful I have the time and good sense to appreciate the process. Thank you for your patience and the lovely comments you sent.
Hello everyone. I just wanted to let you all know I've been sick so I'm going to cut back on my work, which includes this blog, and rest until I feel better. Don't worry, it's nothing serious. I have osteoarthritis in one knee so I've been hobbling around, and I've had three colds in less than a month. I usually don't get colds or flu so it's been a struggle dealing with it. The current cold has really floored me so I'm going to do what I tell other people to do - rest, elderberry tonic and rest. Then rest some more. We have school holidays here next week and we have big plans which include grandchildren. I have to be well for that. Bye for now, I hope to see you all soon.
I've been kind of busy here lately with family dropping by, looking after Jamie, winter cooking and baking, gardening and a few small changes in the house. It's slow work with plenty of opportunities to sit and talk but the time slips by and before I know it another day has gone. Another day without doing everything I planned. Not that it matters, the work I do now can easily be slotted in the following day.
Early morning in the backyard.
As soon as the coop door opens, the first of the chooks race out...
and are followed by their sisters, all looking for whatever fell into their run over night.
Last Friday I received a gift that Hanno bought for my 70th birthday in April - two David Austin standard roses. One is Munstead Wood and the other Mary Rose. They came from Treloar roses in Victoria, as bare rooted plants, and arrived in perfect condition with complete instructions on how to treat them immediately and how to plant them 24 hours later. We soaked them for 24 hours then, bright and early Sunday morning, Hanno planted them for me. They're in the vegetable garden where I know they'll receive all the TLC they deserve. We've grown roses in the front yard in the past but they never get enough water in summer, so my roses are all in the backyard now, some in pots, some in the ground, and they're multiplying nicely. 🌹🌹🌹
Hanno picked the last of the daikons to make way for Mary Rose.
A planting hole was dug a small distance from the garden arch on both sides.
Hanno added our wonderful compost to the holes.
And both roses were planted - this is Munstead Wood.
This is Summer Memories, a modern shrub rose, now planted in a large pot in the vegetable garden.
And this is an old tea rose, Duchesse de Brabant, aka the Montville rose, also grown in a pot in the vegetable garden. Soon it will be full of beautiful pink roses.
I still have one to plant - Smiling Eyes, a florabunda rose which was sent as a gift from Treloar along with the standard roses. I haven't looked up its preferences and growing habit yet but it will eventually be planted close to the others.
One of our very prolific cocktail tomatoes. They're larger than the cherry tomatoes, absolutely delicious and great for eating fresh or for cooking.
We've harvested a lot of very fine tomatoes from this vine, now planted on one side of the garden arch. As you can see, wilt has a firm hold which doesn't effect the tomatoes at all but it weakens the vine a lot. I'm going to strip off the remaining tomatoes today and pull out the vine.
We went for a drive over to Kenilworth last Thursday, took Gracie for a stroll in the park and had lunch there. On the way back we called into our local strawberry grower to buy some of the season's first berries. I got 2 kilos of "seconds" which cost $20. Going through them the following day there were very few berries that were slightly less than perfect, the rest were beautifully ripe, juicy and delicious. We had to eat quite a few to check them. ☺️ Hanno helped prepare the berries for jam. He took the tops off, carefully keeping any green and unripe bits because they contain the most pectin. I washed the fruit, added lemon juice, sugar and a little fruit pectin and turned them into a very tasty jam. In the next few weeks, I'm going to make some dried apricot jam and that should keep us in jam for the year.
Yesterday I made a tea cake and this is what we had for lunch when Jamie was here. It's just a simple chicken casserole. After I'd browned it I added homemade chicken stock then sat it in the oven to slowly bubble away for an hour. Delicious and just the thing to share for lunch on a cold winter day.
I'll be out in the garden and doing a few things in the house during the week. What are your plans?
Congratulations to Meg Hopeful who has won one of The Simple Home books for her encouraging and helpful comments over the past few months. Meg, please send me your address so I can post the book to you. The final book will be given away in December.
I haven't had much time to read and collect links lately so just a short list this week. I hope you enjoy the weekend. ♥️
Talking to Tricia on the phone this morning and she asked had I looked at Odgers and McClelland Exchange Stores site recently. She told me there were a number of fabulous new products so I went to look straight away. I love the various Kilner products - a fermenter, honey pot, butter churner etc. as well as the large selection of enamel baking and kitchen items they have. If you've never visited this store before, you're in for a real treat, their link is on my side bar. Their service is outstanding and you'll find products there you won't see in large stores. Duncan and Megan have been supporting my blog for a few years now and I am very proud to be associated with them and their store.
There are many food products that are easy to preserve at home. They are usually tastier, healthier and cheaper than those you can buy, and by adding them to your stockpile you’ll be increasing your options when it’s time to prepare a meal. The trick is to find a few hours when you can make some of your favourite preserves, pickles, spice blends or whatever you want to store.
Don't forget that freezing and drying are also good ways of preserving food to be enjoyed later, either out of season or for many months of the year if you have a glut of produce. And baking is a form of preserving and you can bake a wide variety of breads, fruit buns, scrolls, biscuits, crackers, scones, and pancakes. These can be stored as the finished product or in pre-cooked form as batter or dough.
There are many foods that are suitable for preserving: milk can be made into yoghurt or frozen as ice cream or custard, cream can be churned to make butter, fruit can be turned into jam and frozen juice, vegetables can be fermented or made into relish, chutney or sauce and both fruit and vegetables can be dried.
Be inspired by the seasons: when your backyard lemon tree produces a good crop or there’s a seasonal abundance of cheap lemons in the shops, pick or buy enough to make lemon butter, cordial, sweet preserved lemon slices, salted lemons, marmalade and lemon juice ice cubes. These will add such splendid variety to your cooking, you’ll be looking around for your next preserving project in no time. You’re never going to preserve everything you want in one afternoon, but make it an ongoing activity and explore the endless options. Instead of meeting your friends for coffee, why not invite them around for a preserving afternoon. You'll have fun, learn new skills and have a few extra jars of food for your cupboards.
Here are links to some of the things I make on a regular basis. All these links will show you the recipe and how I make it up.
Apple rings are a great addition to your stockpile cupboard because they can be used as snacks or, rehydrated, in baking and desserts. If you have an apple tree, use whatever variety you’re growing. If you have to buy apples, buy Granny Smith: they’re available everywhere, they’re fairly cheap and they hold their shape.
Drying fruit is simple. You need to place the apples in an area that will heat up enough to remove all liquid from the fruit without cooking it. When all the moisture has drained from the apples, they’re ready to be eaten or stored away. You can dehydrate your apples in an oven that operates on a very low temperature (about 100°C), on a drying rack in the sun, or in your car if you have warm to hot weather.
There is a bit of flexibility in drying apple rings; it doesn’t need the precision of preserving. I prefer peeled apples because the skin is quite tough when it’s dried, but you can leave the peel on if you prefer. Many people recommend dipping the apple rings in acidulated water, but I have found they don’t need it: there will be a small amount of browning either way. If you want to dip them, add one part fresh lemon juice to three parts water.
These slices can be stored in the cupboard in a sealed jar for up to six months.
1. Peel the apples and slice them thinly and evenly with a mandolin or knife, so that each slice dries at the same rate.
2. Cover an oven tray or cake rack with baking paper. Place the slices on the paper and put the tray in the oven, outside in the sun or in the car. Leave until the slices are completely dry.
The drying time will depend on a few things such as thickness of the slices, the variety of apple, how crisp you want the slices to be and the humidity and temperature. It will take longer in high humidity and less time with high temperature.
You can test to see if the apples have been fully dried by placing a few slices, still warm, in a jar with the lid on. If a lot of condensation forms inside the jar, they aren’t dry enough. It’s okay to leave the slices covered overnight and continue the drying process the following day. Make sure the apple slices are completely dry, or they’ll rot in the jar.
Hanno and I are off to lunch with Nanna Chel and her son today. It's nice to keep in touch with her and luckily I can see her when she comes to the Sunshine Coast for her break. Apart from that we have the last bit of interior ceiling painting being done today by a painter. Life's good here - the garden is growing well, the chooks are happy and back to producing eggs and Gracie is progressing well with her training.
The honour guard of chooks.
That plant in the front is a flowering wasabi rocket. It's delicious in salad with a not too strong wasabi taste. I'm allowing it to flower so I can collect seeds to keep it growing. On the side there is rainbow chard with parsley and tomatoes at the back.
I hope you have some plans for the weekend. Whatever you do, take care of yourself, spend time doing something you love and come back full of energy next week. ♥️
Hello friends! Here are the cushions I made yesterday. The pink is a Tilda fat quarter found with the other one I made into a lamp skirt and showed yesterday. I remembered I bought these when Tricia was last here and I went home, put them in the cupboard and forgot all about them. I really love this pink fabric, which I call pixelated rose, and have teamed it with beige linen from an old skirt of mine.
The blue and white fabric is an Swedish design bought at Ikea as a continental pillow cover many moons ago. When I finished using it as a pillow cover, I cut it up and made it the centre of a quilt I intended to make. But halfway through I didn't like the look of it so folded it up and it sat near the Tildas in the cupboard. The colours match the wall behind it perfectly. It's backed with a darker blue cotton that I picked up in one of the many swaps that happened at my library talks and workshops.
Making a pocket-type cushion cover is really easy, it's straight sewing just like the lamp skirt, and most of the work is dome with cutting out, smoothing out the fabrics and assembling the layers. Here is a You Tube video to show you how to make a cushion cover using three pieces of fabric. You can make a simpler version if you have enough fabric to make the entire cover - front and back. Here is a You Tube video to show you how.
I've just noticed that I need more fabric glue along the edge at the bottom of the box. Applying fabric glue provides a really solid covering but you have to make sure all the fabric edges are completely covered.
My last show and tell today is a little box I made for my desk. I'm a terribly messy person and need help when it comes to my desk. This box hides all my little bits and pieces like erasers, pencil sharpeners, sticky notes, paper clips etc. I found an old sturdy box, cut pieces of fabric to fit, and covered it. I used fabric glue to secure the fabric so it's a really easy project. You need to wait 24 hours for the glue to dry completely but then it's ready to serve you for year to come.
What craft projects do you have on the go right now?
I had a few emails from readers asking me to list the books in the bookcase I showed last week. Well, that would take too much time but here are three closeup photos so you can see the titles. When we moved the bookcase, I went through all the books and culled quite a few, these are what survived.
I've had a cold this week and I was sitting around and not doing much. I'm feeling better now so I'm looking forward to making a small lamp skirt and some cushion covers for the lounge room.