Weekend Reading

9 April 2021
The gift this week brought us was rain and it was so badly needed. It meant we stayed in the house, or at least on the verandahs, for three days but it was beyond wonderful to watch it fall, to see the green landscape return and to sleep as it fell on the metal roof. Simple things give so much. And now we have all that moisture back in the soil, it's the ideal time to do some weeding, relocate plants and get a better idea of what needs to be done to get the cottage garden up and running again.  In years to come, the garden will take care of itself for the most part, with just some weeding and watering from me so it's important at this stage to get everything in the right place, have taller plants that create shade for tender ones and not only get the colours right, but the structure too. Gardening and just being in the garden plays a big part in my mental wellbeing. I wonder if it's like that for you too. Maybe I should write about that. Hmmmm.🤔

Ginger, picked in the back garden just minutes before this photo.

It's the first time I'm trying this way of sterilising jars. I saw a lot of Korean homemakers use this method and if it works well, it will be easier to do small batches this way.

Both Hanno and Sunny have suffered with sore throats and coughs lately so I made up my throat tonic for them. The recipe is here for you to try.  

Ginger and Lemon Throat Tonic

  • a piece of ginger about 3 - 4 inches long
  • 2 lemons thinly sliced
  • 1 litre water
  • ½ cup raw honey
Add the water, ginger and lemons to a medium saucepan and bring to the boil. Gently simmer for 20 minutes. Turn off the heat, put the lid on the saucepan and let it sit for two hours. Then add the honey, stir until it's completely dissolved and pour into a sterilised bottle.  

You might go through this fast if there's a harsh winter but if not, you'll need the sterilised bottle to keep the tonic safe and able to be used much later.

I keep the ginger and lemon and  recycle it, going through the above process again. The flavour won't be as strong, but it's definitely worth getting two batches.

To make up the tonic for use, make hot tea with it by adding boiling water to 2 tablespoons of syrup, add it to black tea using the same amount or make it into a cold drink.

I keep a small amount of ginger and lemon in the tonic to keep up the intense flavour until it's used. 

I'm waiting for elderberries to ripen at the moment, they should be ripe next week, so I can make up a winter tonic too. You can freeze the berries as you pick them if you don't have enough with one picking. The berries and the flowers are still very useable after they've been frozen.  I'll write about the winter tonic when I make up the batch.

If you're looking for a small backyard tree, I'd like to recommend an elder tree. It's a tree that grows fast, it's a great shade tree, it will give you (and the wildlife) flowers and berries, it's easy to look after and you can easily keep it to the shape and height you want by cutting it back. It's a soft wood so it's not difficult to keep it tidy. The downside is that if it's in a really good position, it will send out shoots for new trees, but these are easily snapped off to keep it under control. You might have to look around for a sapling, I've never seen them at regular plant nurseries. I bought mine at the Maleny Co-op. Oh! I was just looking for unusual salvias online and found a place selling organic elderberry saplings for $5.50 each.  Great timing. 😃

I'm really enjoying the slow transition to colder weather. I hope you appreciate the change of seasons too. The Covid situation is settling down here again although we're waiting too long for our vaccinations. Hanno and I are eligible for our jab now but no one has any vaccines and it looks like it will be May before any working clinics will be up and running.  I hope you're well and staying safe.

Thank you for visiting me here today. I love your feedback and comments and although I don't always have time to answer them, I read them all and often think about them again during the day.  Have a great week.  xx

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  • Cafe Vienna coffee mix - this won't do for coffee drinkers who must have a certain brew made at a certain place but for those of us who just want a cup of coffee, this is a good mix to have on the shelf


Weekend Reading

2 April 2021
A few years ago, the week we've just had here would seem like a very easy week. However, now things take more time so I feel it's been a busy week. Today we're looking after Jamie, always a pleasure, so we'll probably make ginger syrup, talk about his birthday and birthday party, the final week of school and what he's got planned for the holidays. Then when he goes home today, the gate will be shut and over the coming days, Hanno and I will mix gardening with relaxing.  Oh yes!

Close to the front door, this is one of our book cases which holds cook books, my books, magazines and a few odds and ends.

We started weeding and reorganising our cottage garden during the week. It's a real mess with invasive weeds taking over parts of it and plants that are dying back.  It needs a total overhaul as well as working out where the empty spaces will be and weeding, fertilising and covering those spaces with compost and mulch, ready for planting next month.  My sister, Tricia, is visiting soon and she's bringing cottage plants from her garden, such as penstemon and Japanese anemones, and I have a climbing rose coming from Treleor Roses in mid-June.  Rebuilding the garden will be a staged exercise but that is true of most simple productions - instant anything is rare. I'm really looking forward to the rebuilding process - out in the cool, fresh air every day, gardening, watching the birds, insects and reptiles, and trying to work out new ways of adding interest to the backyard while keeping opportunities for foraging and safety for the abundant wildlife that share this space with us.

I made coleslaw as one of our side dishes last week. This was the start of it - the cabbage is under the vegetables on top. 

Our capital city, Brisbane, which is an hour's drive from our home, went into lockdown during the week when community acquired Covid was found in a handful of people. In the last 24 hours there have 9 cases acquired overseas and one local. Most of our cases are Australian citizens returning from overseas but this goes to show that local spread is still a possibility and we must be careful.

Hanno on his trusty lawnmower.

I hope you're healthy and remain safe, wherever you are. I'm very worried about readers living in areas with high mortality rates. Please stay at home if you can and if you have to go out, wear a mask, take hand sanitiser with you and avoid standing too close to others.

Nodding violets growing on the front verandah.

Thank you for visiting me today. It's Good Friday here and we have holidays until everyone returns to work next Tuesday. I hope you enjoy Easter and spend it with the people you love. xx

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