Sunday, October 16, 2016

Weekend catch up

Power finally came back on Friday afternoon, after being off for 5 days.

Went into wrecked greenhouse on Monday, scooped up the jumbled potting mix and seeds putting them all into a large polystyrene box. Now I have a lucky dip, see what grows box! Will be interesting to see what germinates.

Saturday I planted some more zucchini seeds and noticed that the lettuce box has some germinated seeds popping up.

Sunday - went and bought seedlings to replace the ones lost in the storm: tomatoes, eggplant, basil, zucchini and butternut squash.  Potted some of these on so that they can be bigger and stronger before planting out. Also planted my purchases from last Saturday, restaked the olive tree, fed the citrus with diluted epsom salts and planted some lettuce seedlings.

The apple trees are covered with blossom which is a big relief as I was worried that the storm might have destroyed all of the blossom. Looking forward to a bumper apple harvest :-)  Pruned back plants that were overshadowing one of the pear trees and an orange tree. Noticed that the Loquat fruits are starting to ripen.

Photos to be added shortly.

The storm, October 9th

A belated note about last weekend.

Saturday was a lovely day and I spent a little time in the garden. Also went to Cloudehill for a stroll around the gardens with Miss 9. Bought some plants from the garden - comfrey, mint and sun baby.

Sunday started with sunny weather so I headed out into the garden with big plans for progress. As the morning progressed the weather changed and the strong winds that had been forecast started to blast through the garden. I decided that I felt unsafe outside as we have several tall gum trees on our block, as do the neighbours. At about lunchtime, the gusts grew stronger (up to 100 kph) and we hunkered down inside the house. Trees began to fall and we kept hearing the distinctive crack / this sound of falling trees from all directions. It didn't take long for the power to go out.  A large tree fell from our neighbour's front garden and landed on our power line, ripping the connection from the front of the house and exposing the wires in the connection box. At this point we carefully ventured out to discover a large gum tree at the entrance to our driveway had uprooted and landed across the neighbour's garden, flattening a few other trees. Our neighbour came to let us know that one of his trees in the back garden looked close to falling into our back garden. A few minutes later it fell, completely squashing our avocado tree!

The winds seemed to be slowing a little so we went out to investigate for damage. It was at this point I discovered that our greenhouse had been lifted out of the ground, blown along and then smashed into the ground. It was twisted, with panels missing and the doors were flapping wildly in the wind. The staging had collapsed, throwing seedlings and potting mix onto the floor in a big messy jumble. Last weekend's hard work completely ruined! Still, we counted ourselves lucky as many others had damage to their homes.

Photos to follow shortly ☺

Saturday, October 1, 2016

Stepping towards downshifting

So, it's been a long time since I updated my blog. Lots has happened in the last three and a bit years (more on that another time) but I am still deeply interested in sustainable living and have recently found myself constantly thinking about how to downshift. Lots of plans but nothing concrete at this stage. In the meantime I have decided to work towards a lifestyle change, with a focus on simple living, getting my veggie garden thriving and trying to become more self sufficient. Also hoping to chart my progress with regular updates on this blog, so here goes.....

Spent the morning taking little Miss S to gymnastics lessons while I passed the time on the treadmill in the gym (yes, have rediscovered my love of running since I posted here last!). On the way home we popped in to my favourite charity shop and came home with some bargains including the Stephanie Alexander Cook's Companion book which will come in handy when we have surplus crops to eat.

After a hearty lunch and some pottering in the house I headed out into the weed infested garden to get started on my long list of tasks. Filled lots of pots with compost ready for a day of seed planting tomorrow. While the chooks were free ranging around the garden, I tackled some of the weeds and put them into the chicken coop where they will slowly compost.

The garden is springing into life. Blossom on the fruit trees, mini apricots all over both of our apricot trees, lots of citrus ready for harvest and loquats not far behind (our first crop so need to research recipes!). Other steps towards simple living this weekend include starting some bean sprouts, making bread and sorting out a large collection of seeds that are ready to be planted now.

Monday, February 11, 2013

dreaming of a slower, simpler and more resilient lifestyle

Well, we are already a few weeks into 2013 and I have only just got around to updating my blog.  We had a lovely simple calm family christmas and managed to keep the present giving to a sensible level, which can be a challenge with an 8 year old and 5 year old.

Last year we managed to move towards a more sustainable life with the expansion of the veggie patch and experiments with preserving, sewing, knitting and yogurt making to mention just a few of our little projects.

During 2013 (and beyond) I am aiming to move further along the path to a simpler and slower life, as it just feels completely right.  The month leading up to Christmas was a frantic, stressful mess of social engagements, present buying, work pressure and much more - by the time the holidays arrived I was mentally at breaking point.  A place that I don't enjoy being and that is not good for the rest of the family.

I spent the holidays investing in my health and enjoying time with my family doing fun and simple activities such as walking in the nearby forest, taking photographs, dancing to my favourite music, tending the garden and baking delicious food.  I now feel a whole lot happier in myself and want to retain this feeling.

I have jotted down a simple wish list of ideas for the upcoming year to remind me of my goals and share with anyone else that is on a similar path (I'd love to hear from you no matter where you are along the path to simplicity).

My 2013 - plans for downshifting and upskilling

  • Learn to say no!  no!  no!  (note to self... this means not taking on more than you can cope with!)
  • Focus on activities that make me happy and reward me, rather than those that drain me (within reason, obviously there will still be some unrewarding tasks that need to be done!)
  • Map out longer term plans for the future - where do I want my family and I to be in 5 years / 10 years time?
  • Try out solar cooking - this is one that I am very keen to try but I need to save up for a solar cooker first!
  • Make more food from scratch
  • Makes some green cleaners and maybe learn how to make soap
  • Make some more progress with my fledgling home business, this requires me to be more organised and use my spare time more effectively!  
  • Spend more time being creative especially sewing and knitting.
  • Consider completing a Permaculture Design Certificate if time permits
  • Attend workshops and classes to upskill - cheese making is one course that I am particularly keen to do being a big fan of cheese!
  • Move towards a more frugal life which includes streamlining our financial outgoings so that we can make additional payments to our mortgage.
  • Declutter
  • Plan the veggie patch better to maximise food production and store the excess harvest, I really need to get organised to have plenty of food in ground at all times!  
  • Maintain a well stocked store cupboard of essential food / household provisions.
  • Strengthen my connections with the local community and the children's school.
and perhaps most importantly.....
  • Focus on my health and wellbeing.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Slow living reflections November

I can't believe we are almost at the end of 2012.... time flies when you are busy having fun!  So time to reflect back over the month of November with Christine from Slow Living Essentials.

NOURISH: This month I have been returning to making more often.  One of the big successes was the homemade pizzas with dough made by hand.  We have family pizza and movie nights every Saturday and the dough is usually made in the bread maker.  However a work colleague has been telling me for quite some time that it is extremely simple to do by hand so I decided to give it a go.... he was right, it really is very easy to do and tasted fantastic!  

I've also been baking more cakes and cookies to avoid the need for shop bought cookies in school lunch boxes.  I even made my own birthday cake - one for at home and one for my team at work.  Both cakes were very well received and complemented so I will be baking that cake again.

PREPARE:  We had a lot of very ripe lemons on one of our trees and we have already had our fill of lemon drizzle cake so I have juiced them all and frozen them in ice cube trays to be used in cooking throughout the year - thereby avoiding the need to buy bottles of lemon juice.  I have also started my Stockpile cupboard again, buying essentials so that we wouldn't go hungry if we couldn't get out of the house.  After some initial skepticism and comments that I was losing my marbles, the man of the house has been impressed with the stockpile cupboard as it has come to our meal rescue on several occasions already!

GROW: The vegie patch is bursting into life again.  I have planted sweetcorn, potatoes, beans, tomatoes, zucchini, pumpkins, beetroot, carrots, lettuce, radishes, spring onions, basil, coriander, chives, eggplant and they are all busy growing away.  There are hundreds of self sown tomato, silverbeet and pumpkin seedlings sprouting up all over the place too.  

We have cherries and apricots ripening on our trees.  Unfortunately we won't be getting any apples (again!) as something has eaten all of the little fruitlets (probably one of the neighbourhood possums).  Next year we will have to net the tree as soon as the blossom has been pollinated   We also have our regular jar of beansprouts on the go in the kitchen to add to the vegies growing outside. 

CREATE: I've been sewing sunhats for my little monkeys now that the weather here in Melbourne is starting to warm up.  I've also started to make some shorts for the little ones to wear.  I am also half way through making myself a summer top.  

DISCOVER: This month I have been reading How to Bake a Business by Julia Bickerstaff, to get some useful ideas for a fledgling business that I am planning to launch next year.  I have also been reading Down to Earth by Rhonda Hetzel, which was a fantastic birthday gift.   

I am almost finished reading Angels of Aceh, which follows the story of the emergency medical team that flew out from Australia a couple of days after the Tsunami in 2004.  A fascinating and inspiring read which follows the team through what must have been an incredibly tough time and shows the strength of human spirit and determination.  I picked up this little gem from the book sale in my local library.   In the pile of books on loan from the library there is Sewing for Boys (Shelly Figueroa and Karen LePage) and Permaculture - Principles and Pathways Beyond Sustainability (David Holmgren).  Too many books and not enough time to read them!!!

REDUCE: I have an ever growing mending pile sitting next to my sewing machine.  I have repurposed my worn out hiking boots into planters as I just couldn't bring myself to throw them "away". I also rescued a large water container from the hard waste collection which will be perfect for keeping water in the chicken coop - the previous one perished in the sun and split in half when it rolled down the garden in a storm!

GREEN: I continue to use homemade dishwasher detergent which is just as good as the bought variety!  I also plan to make some clothes washing detergent as we have just run out of a locally made green version.  I have also bought bicarb of soda and apple cider vinegar so I can trial using them in place of shampoo and conditioner.  White vinegar is used a lot in our house - particularly as the rinse aid in the dishwasher and as the fabric conditioner in the washing machine, where we also add a few drops of eucalyptus oil.

ENHANCE: I have joined a local ladies walk n talk group and recently attended my first walk with the group.  It was a great opportunity to meet some new people whilst having a chat and getting a bit of exercise into the bargain.  I'm looking forward to the next walk n talk event.   I also continue to buy from local shops and suppliers whenever I can and have to say it is an absolute pleasure avoiding the BIG bad supermarkets.  My weekly craft group is slowly growing with two new lovely members of the group.  

ENJOY: I am enjoying watching my little fairy settling in to the school practise sessions - she is so excited about starting school in January and has grown so much over the last year.  

Late November is also the annual celebration of getting another year older and wiser :-)

Monday, October 1, 2012

health and well-being

I think it is fair to say that I have been neglecting my health and well-being of late.  Too much indulgence in good food and wine, combined with not enough exercise is not the greatest way of maintaining an ageing body and mind! 

Today I finished work early and decided to get back into my running gear after a 2 month break - it was hard work but I am feeling very pleased with myself for breaking the lazy spell and making the first step towards getting back to a healthier me.  I have a couple of favourite running spots and this is one of them - such an awesome natural space that invigorates and inspires me as I run.
slightly red faced, a bit puffed out but very happy at the end of my run

I am now going to make an extra effort to keep looking after my health and well-being  today was the first of many steps!

Sunday, September 30, 2012

a spring tidy up

The weather has been very mixed this weekend.  We have still managed to get a lot of tidying up done in the garden, as well as a bit of planting.

The vegie beds are now (almost) weed free and are ready to planted up with summer vegetables.

before the weed-a-thon
After the weed-a-thon
The new section of the vegie bed has lots of self sown silverbeet growing, along with some parsnips and parsley.  We have planted a raspberry hedge and a couple of rows of potatoes in front (Dutch Cream).  We planted another row of potatoes in the existing vegie bed (Pontiac) and some of the Kipfler potatoes from last season are starting to grow again too.

I thinned out the parsley patches today so that we will hopefully have a lot more parsley in the summer.  We also planted some oca (New Zealand yam) in the front garden.  These are a new crop for us and were a kind donation from a work colleague of the man of the house.

Preparation for summer planting is well under way - lots of tomato seedlings are popping their heads up, and we also have hints of zucchini, beans, sweetcorn, lettuce, carrots, chilli, capsicum, melon, beetroot and pumpkin. Still more crops to get going but not enough hours in the day :-)  At the end of a busy day of gardening we harvested a basket full of home grown vegies to make a stirfry with egg rice (eggs happily provided by the chooks that are merrily scratching around in mountains of weeds from the rest of the garden.

A basket of yumminess from the garden... carrots, broccoli, cauliflower,
silverbeet, broad beans, celery, spring onions, lemongrass, vietnamese mint.