Starting the vegetable garden

The garden is overgrown with flowers and herbs and the soil is rock hard in places. Hanno has the sprinkler on to make digging easier.

Every day that passes by brings our 2019 vegetable garden closer to reality. There was a time when we'd (mainly Hanno) get stuck in and the set up was fast and efficient.  Now that we're older and slower, we do what we can, usually one big job a day, and that is inching us towards our gardening goals. Yesterday Hanno pulled out weeds and raspberry runners under the big trellis next to the chicken coop. We're going to plant beans and cucumbers there this year. We'll save two healthy raspberry runners for a life in pots. Having the raspberries transfer from the garden to pots takes them into my realm, but more on that when I actually have them in my clutches.  Hanno also weeded a couple of smaller patches, pruned the potted roses and watered the soil to make it easier to dig, which will probably happen in the coming days.

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Cooking from scratch

I think I'm a little ahead of myself when it comes to the transition from cool summer food over to warmer and heartier autumn meals.  We're in the last week of summer here and I'm longing for my favourite season to start with her cooler nights and warm days. I'm always conscious of the need to create nutritious food for my family and when Jamie is here on the weekends, I love serving him the same kind of food that his father grew up on. So maybe a little earlier than expected, I've been making lasagne, breads, soups, and today - corned beef, potatoes, broccoli and cauliflower.


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Seven years old? Really!

My first book, Down to Earth, is seven years old today, it was published 22 February, 2012. My editor, Jo Rosenberg, said she thought the book would sell for a long time and yes, it's still in the book shops and selling well. It helped me get to know so many people I would never have met otherwise and opened up many opportunities. Penguin sent my sales figures yesterday. So far, Down to Earth has sold 23,056 copies. 

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A collector of buttons

My mum was a collector of buttons. She loved roses and magnolias and preferred raw vegetables much more than cooked ones. She was a dedicated family woman, a loving mother to her two daughters and a frequent helper at our school. She was quiet and gentle but fearless when something upset her. One day, she saw the local priest walk out of the pub across the road from our school. Oh boy! Stand back.

My mother, Jean St Claire - 1919 - 1993
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Sending love to our Korean family

Sunny flew to Korea on Friday to spend time with her mum Sun Ja. She has been receiving treatment for an illness for a few years now and Sunny's two sisters have been caring for their mother and doing their best for her.  She's in hospital now so Hanno and I want to send a message to Sun Ja, along with these photos I took this morning.

Hanno, our son Kerry and Jamie.
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Baked tortillas (flat bread) for lunch

Hanno and I generally eat the food we grew up with. We feel satisfied and comforted by that kind of food and we know it's preservative and additive-free and contains a lot of fibre and nutrients.  But we also like spicy food and since Sunny came into our lives she has opened up the dazzling world of Korean food for us.  We're lucky here because we have three chefs in the family so usually there is no mediocre food served. My mum taught me to cook and although I'm not a trained cook, I think I'm a pretty good home cook.  πŸ˜‡


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Dried apricot jam and elderberry cordial

It's been hot and humid here this past week. Most days, Hanno and I both took advantage of the cooler temperatures before 8am and did a few bits and pieces in the garden and front verandah.  Hanno is continuing with general tidying up as well as lawn mowing on the ride-on, and I've been cleaning and organising the bush house, planting up the first of the polystyrene boxes and sowing seeds. It's hot work but it needs to be done so we work until we get hot and then go inside, put the air-conditioner on and have a cold drink.  And there we stay, working on inside jobs, until about 4ish when the temperature starts to slowly descend.

 Hanno making up a cold elderberry cordial. 
You might be able to see the grasshopper Gracie is looking at. She was locked in on it and when it hopped away, she lost it!

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Cut back and pay off debt, it's life changing

Angie Grant, please email me about your course.

πŸ”ΆπŸ”΄πŸ”Ά

Do you sometimes wonder if change is possible?. You sail along accumulating debt with a home loan, car loan and credit cards that you thought you'd easily pay. Then on top of that there is your phone and your partner's phone, broadband, pay TV, gym memberships, insurance, your holiday, the kid's camps, entertainment, eating out, your new iPad, laptops for the kids, clothes and shoes for everyone, education costs and toys to make the kids happy. Oh, and don't forget food and fuel, both must be bought every week. If only you could press rewind, go back a few years and make better choices. Life would be easier if we didn't spend like this.


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Both courses full


It looks like both my workshops - blogging for beginners and writing, are full. If anyone drops out, I'll let you know. I'm looking forward to speaking to everyone face-to-face.
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Changing how we work in the garden

After quite a few conversations and hours of thinking about the pros and cons, Hanno and I have decided to keep our vegetable garden going; although there will be some changes. We were going to pay someone to weed and plant for us but decided that the $200 would buy a lot of fruit and vegetables and was not a wise investment of our limited funds.  Then we thought about having a cottage garden with no food crops. That would have been an easy option for us but when I thought about not being able to walk outside and pick herbs for our meals or not having homegrown tomatoes, it was so far from my vision of us, we dropped that idea too. Eventually, after weighing it all up, we've decided to grow some things in the garden and have another garden in the bush house with food plants in polystyrene boxes.


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Writing and blogging workshops

I've been asked to do another blogging for beginners workshop and a writing workshop, which would be a new addition. The blogging one would start in March and consist of comprehensive notes on how to set up a blog or improve an existing one, and how to use Instagram in a productive partnership with the blog. The notes would be followed up with two hour-long group Skype sessions with face-to-face questions and discussions in real time. I'd also answer emails with any questions you may have. This workshop is AU$130.

I'm still working on the structure of the writer's workshop but it would cover writing for blogs, books, magazines or personal journals. The workshop is AU$130. I'll give you more details of the course structure when I've worked it out.

I have an Arts degree majoring in Journalism, English Literature and Communication. I also have extra qualifications in technical writing. Over the past 30 years I've worked as a journalist, technical writer, monthly columnist for the Australian Women's Weekly, freelance magazine writer and have written three books, all published by Penguin. My blog has had almost 29 million hits. So if you're just starting your writing career or you've been writing for a while but you're in a rut and need new ideas and techniques, I'd be happy to share my experience with you and help you get to the next step and beyond.

All courses full now.
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