11 July 2017

Working on the basics - gardening, food and knitting

We're in the middle of our winter work at the moment.  Now that we're older, it's easier to do most of our garden and outdoor maintenance while the weather is cooler. This year that's meant replacing the wisteria and rose arbour in the front yard which was about to collapse.  It's been up for 20 years so we got our money's worth out of it.  Hanno waited until the wisteria shed its leaves and cut it back along with the Cecile Brunner rose that stands on the opposite side. When this arrangement is in full flower, we had a delightful mix of green foliage, curly tendrils, pale mauve flowers and tiny pink roses dotted throughout.  But now that it's all down, the wisteria and rose are just stumps in the ground, I'm wondering if we should erect another wooden arbour, buy a metal one or leave it open.  I think I'll have to look at the space for a few more days before I know which is best.

Along with that work, which has all been done by Hanno, we're renovating the driveway garden. I found a online business near here with tube stock of native Australian and exotic plants.  I put in an order on the weekend and instead of it costing a lot of money for established plants, we can plant up the entire driveway garden for under a hundred dollars.  We'll add a soaker hose to get them established, pour on some mulch and that area should look good and keep improving while the plants grow and fill in the spaces.

Out the back the vegetables are still motoring along in this fairly mild winter. Gardening is a bit of a gamble at times and often, at the beginning of a season, you have to flip a coin to decide whether to take a risk on certain plants.  We usually plant out tomatoes a couple of months later but the coin flip paid off this time. Had there been a harder winter, I wouldn't be waiting for tomatoes to ripen as I am now.  I had the first cherry tomatoes during the week and I can hardly wait for those larger Rouge de Marmande, a French heirloom, to be ready for our sandwiches.

I'm making vegetable and beef soup today and will probably make a few tiny herb dumplings to go with it. I doubt there has been a winter in my life when I didn't have this soup bubbling away on the stove. During the week we also had little cherry cakes, corned beef and cabbage, and sushi that Sunny sent over.  All of it was delicious. What have you been cooking?

I wonder if you take your knitting with you when you go out. :- )  Below is the view from the car park when I looked up. 

I took Hanno to his eye specialist this morning. He can't drive after the consultation because of the eye drops they use.  I didn't go in, just sat in the car and started casting on another dishcloth.  I'll do another post on dishcloths on Thursday so we can discuss the pros and cons of open weave cloths.  I love them and hope to convince you of their worth. So until then, happy knitting and gardening.  🤓



  1. I love reading about your days and how you fill them. I am a carer and currently I am finding that I am not cheerful or happy. So I am trying to stay on top of that. Then my daughter is pregnant and has been vomiting for 26 of the last 29 weeks.

    Therefore I am trying to reduce my workload. At present I feel buried by household chores. We are having fairly simple meals like roasts, burgers, soups and noodle dishes. I am knitting. We had this idea that friends could knit some squares and we would patch the squares into a blanket. Mum has done a few, the mum to be has done a few rows and only one person has helped so far. I have an entrelac blanket on the go but I have made a mistake and need to sort it out when I have some quiet. I am knitting a baby coat as well. There is a small mountain of stuff to finish and I want to sew some simple dresses for the coming summer.

  2. Rhoda, what a lovely post. It felt like I was catching up with an old friend (which in my head you are). I'm going off to school now, I'm a supply teacher, we have two weeks left until the summer holidays, just feeling calmer and brighter for having read your post. Thank you PennyL in Dorset x

  3. Hi Rhonda,

    well done you on the tube stock! How wonderful to watch a new garden grow. Our Winter here in Armidale is so different to yours - definitely no possibility of tomatoes!

    I have been cooking lots of hearty soups and stews and the kids have been doing pizzas from scratch, banana pancakes etc..When friends visit there are endless pots of tea and an astonishing number of home-baked biscuits consumed!


  4. I cast on a washcloth today too, Rhonda. I had lost my crafting motivation the past few months (too busy gardening!) and then today I thought I really should get stuck in again and knit something quick and easy. Tube stock is great, isn't it! Meg:)

  5. Hearing a simple journal like this post about how you are spending your days calms me. Thank you to you both. A shout-out to Hanno - we hope his eyes are AOK.

  6. Rhonda, I have even brought my knitting while catching shrimps on a boat LOL...got quite a bit done especially when nothing bites for a long time

  7. I love reading about your day to day tasks and then reading about the tasks that commenters are doing. They inspire me. I knit only in the winter as I'm too busy gardening in the warmer months. I do take my knitting with me to pass the time in the car.

  8. I'd love to know what the native plants are that you're getting tube stock of. Any chance of a photo of them at some stage?

  9. Your cherry cakes look so colorful, cheerful, and delicious. What a nice dessert. I've been making lots of bone and vegetable broths in the early morning. I give it to the dogs, too. I was just knitting the foot of a sock on the bus ride home from my bicycling work out. I look forward to reading your post tomorrow about open weave dishcloths. It sounds like they will dry quickly, like the crocheted ones.

  10. I always take my knitting (or whatever craft I'm working on at the time), with me when I go anywhere, & people are often interested enough to ask what you are doing, particularly other crafters, it's a nice way to meet them. On the dishcloth debate, I have both types & I find the garter/stocking stitch ones clean better

  11. I have taken my knitting to my daughter's gymnastics at times. If I pick her up early I sit in the viewing area knitting. It starts up a lot of conversations. Would love to be able to knit and read on car trips but travel sickness kicks in straight away.
    I love cooking any time but even more in the winter. Soups bubbling away, slow cooker going and baking. As the kids are on school holidays I tend to cook more as in hot nourishing lunches and baking. They also get involved. Our son can make his own pasta so I've asked for a lesson.

  12. Good morning Rhonda,
    The photo of the arbour made me smile, my Nan and Papa had one with a Wisteria growing over it when I was young, living in Gympie. My Papa was a carpenter and made the arbour for my Nan. On the cooking front we have been enjoying a slow cooked Korean Beef dish, A pumpkin, broccoli and coconut curry, a red lentil and chorizo soup with 5 minute sour dough bread and tonight we will have tempura whiting with rice and Asian greens. I am yet to tackle a knitted dish cloth, I have the needles and yarn, I just need to have a go, I don't know what I am frightened of. Have a lovely day.

  13. Hi Rhonda, that must have been a big job, taking down that arbour. Fingers crossed the wisteria & Rose will regenerate. I've been out on the block but not growing tomatoes sadly. Far too cold here for that just now. I've been sowing kilos of grass seed to finally get a lawn going where there has just been dirt for too many years. It's taken a long time but it's all greening up now and looks amazing. Part of our plan to get this place finished before we put it on the market at year's end - I know we can't stay here forever; with my OP diagnosis it's going to get harder to keep on top of everything. But onwards & upwards. Will be cooking later - cottage pies to take over to a friend who's just out of hospital after a hip replacement and also a big pot of minestrone soup to take with us when we visit my son at the weekend. He will supply the rolls - I said I'd make soup to use up veggies in the fridge before we head off on our holiday next week.
    Also knitting - a sweater for me at the moment, which I'll take on my holiday. I have what I call my dishcloth bag - whenever I see cotton on sale I'll buy a couple of balls - sometimes just a simple square to knit is perfect if the brain can't concentrate on a pattern.
    Hope Hanno's eye check up went well. Have a great day.

  14. I think I have kitted so many of the dishcloths that I could knit them in my sleep. I love them and have converted the other members of the family, also some friends, into using them. Best idea ever. Cheers Maureen

  15. The Cecile Brunner rose grows well here, perhaps a little too well for my husband. They have been trimmed, moved, left alone and they thrive. My MIL (not long passed away in Caloundra) loved the flower and had them in her wedding bouquet. Your food looks delicious. It's good to keep busy.

  16. Thanks for another great post Rhonda! I luv knitting dishcloths & keep friends & neighbors supplied. I also like to take knitting along with me, especially like sock knitting. There are so many wonderful sock yarns available now.

  17. Hi Rhonda, I'm looking forward to your upcoming post on open weave dishcloths. I have you to thank for the stack of dishcloths in my drawer....you were my inspiration in this as in other around the house ideas. You are a treasure!

  18. I made cauliflower soup yesterday (this recipe: http://www.cookingclassy.com/roasted-cauliflower-white-cheddar-soup-homemade-bread-bowls/ ) because Aldi has had beautiful cauliflower recently. So delicious--my kids liked it too. It's high summer and really hot here in FL, so it may seem odd to be eating a hearty soup, but I've found a nice hearty veggie soup makes my family happier about meatless Mondays, which I've been trying to do more often.

    And yes, I take my knitting with me whenever I think there will be a few moments for me to knit. If my husband is driving, I knit in the car, and if I'm waiting for an appointment and don't have the kids with me I'm either reading or knitting. I actually look forward (a bit) to long car trips because I know I'll get a lot of knitting done on the drive. My husband laughs because I spend longer trying to sort out what yarn/needles/projects to bring than I do my clothes for the trip. :)

  19. Hi, I too take my knitting most places I go and knit in the car until it gets to hot. I have knitted/crocheted dish cloths for many years and always like to keep a few in reserve to give to people who I think will use them. My son in law said to me only a few hours ago that he had bought 'chux' since the beginning of the year when I gave them my knitted dish cloths. Another thing I gave them were some edged flanelette home made hankerchiefs which are great when people in the household have serious colds. Much gentlier then tissues or even harder cotton hankerchiefs.

  20. I am currently knitting a cap for the chemotherapy center. I go to chemo every three weeks, and there is a counter where people put items that chemo patients can take for free. I made myself a cap, and I had enough yarn leftover to make a second, so I'm going to give it away. I like open weave dishcloths. They're much more flexible!

    Writing from the middle of the U.S.A..
    Laura of Harvest Lane Cottage

  21. Those Cecile Brunners can quickly get out of control! Lovely, but they must be pruned. I would bet the wisteria is glorious to behold when in full flower. I love them, but they, too, look best when given some care. As for knitting, I cannot do it to save my life: took lessons (paid) and never could really take
    to it, or adequately get the hang of it. I hope Hanno is not too uncomfortable with his eye situation.

  22. Hi Rhonda....I just had to comment re. your Wisteria problem. We had exactly the same dilemma last year. The archway was rotting and falling off in pieces, and was only held up by the strength of the 2 wisterias...1 white and 1 blue. In the end we took it down, and cut the plants to 2 6-foot high trunks. Then we replaced the arch with metal poles and cross bars, and covered the top with plastic coated mesh...from an old tennis court. This cost us just the price of bolts, drill bits, and concrete for the pole bases. In one season the wisterias covered the top, even though we made this one bigger. Now we can sit under it and look at the nearby pond. One of the best things we did, although quite tiring and aching on the arms, holding up metal!! So good luck with your project.


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