Weekend Reading - home cooking and cleaning

26 November 2021
It's been a busy week, a mix of doctors, decisions and housework. Hanno is still unwell and now we're waiting to hear about another appointment with another specialist. I don't want to go into it here and please don't email or message me about it, when we have a solid diagnosis, I'll let you know.


This rose is called The Fairy. It's an old miniature rose that grows well in a pot or in the ground.

The thing that lifted my spirits during the week was rain. We had 200mm/7.8 inches of rain in three days and another 40mm/1.5 inches last night. I always feel safe and secure when it rains and just the  thought of rain soaking into the garden out the back makes me smile.


I cleaned my utensils bucket out and "edited" a number of items. Amazingly, I use everything in the bucket now.

Meals during the week included pork chops, red cabbage and potatoes, ham salad and the day we went for Hanno's MRI in Caloundra, we came home with fish and chips. I made biscuits and a tropical cheesecake for morning teas and desserts and some lemon cordial.




The rest of my time has been spent cleaning, doing the washing and clipping Gracie. I hope to wash her in the coming days. I'm also starting to organise my summer sewing which I hope to start next week.

Happy Thanksgiving to all my American friends. I hope you enjoy this special day.  And to everyone, slow down, sit and think and glide into the holiday season.  I send love across the miles.  xx

Weekend Reading

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Comfrey liquid fertiliser

24 November 2021
This photo of our comfrey clump was taken a couple of days ago.

Comfrey is one of the easiest herbs to grow and is also one of the most helpful herbs in the garden.  If you have a chance, particularly if someone offers you a comfrey root cutting, take it and grow your own clump. You won't have to buy fertiliser again.  

Comfrey sends down a tap root and that mines the soil for minerals and makes them available in the leaves. Using those leaves in a fertiliser will give you minerals such as Vitamins A, B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B9, B12, C and E, as well as boron, calcium, chromium, cobalt, copper, iodine, iron, magnesium, manganese, nitrogen, phosphorous, potassium, selenium, sodium and zinc. And comfrey nutrients are immediately available to your plants, unlike pellets and granules, blood and bone etc which have to break down for a a couple of weeks before they become available to the plants.


But that's not the only reason to grow comfrey. I use it here to mulch tomatoes and potatoes when I plant them.  I scrunch up the leaves to begin the breakdown of the leaves and over the following week, when I water the plants, the comfrey mulch will start fertilising your plants as well as add organic matter to the soil. Comfrey is an excellent source of nitrogen, potash, phosphorus (NPK) and calcium so if you're growing green leaves such as lettuces, silverbeet or cabbages, comfrey will help you grow magnificent vegetables.  Are you growing flowering fruits and vegetables?  Then comfrey is your go-to fertilising liquid - tomatoes, potatoes, egg plant, any of the melons, stone fruit, citrus trees, passionfruit, beans, peas, chillies, capsicum/peppers, herbs and a whole lot more.

Someone might tell you that comfrey spreads and you have to be careful, but that's not quite right. It doesn't spread out like bamboo does but if you plant comfrey in a hole, it will slowly increase the clump but it will take many years before it outgrows it's spot. Comfrey likes water but we've been in drought here for the past ten years and our comfrey is still growing strongly. Make sure the space you choose is where you want it to grow for a long time because if you try to dig it out later, leaving only the slightest piece of root behind will make it grow again. The best spot is either at the edge of your garden or near the compost heap because it won't get in the way of your regular plantings and if you have an excess of comfrey leaves, you can throw them onto the compost heap and they will accelerate  decomposition and add nutrients to the heap. 




HOW TO MAKE COMFREY LIQUID FEED

  • Cut the leaves from the comfrey plant and put them into a bucket that has a lid. Half fill the bucket with leaves and put a brick on top of them to stop them floating. Fill the bucket with water and put the lid on.
  • It will smell ... a lot. 
  • Stir it every couple of days and in two or three weeks you'll have a dark brown liquid that is an excellent feed for your plants. 
  • When the comfrey fertiliser is ready, strain the leaves out of the mixture and put them in the compost - it will help your compost decompose faster. 
  • The ratio to use is one part comfrey concentrate to 10 parts water. It will make up a liquid that looks like black tea. If you make a weaker mix you can use it more frequently.
  • It's equally effective poured over leaves and around the root ball on a weekly basis.
  • If you have an excess of comfrey liquid, store it in plastic milk bottles in a dark place.


COMFREY ROOT CUTTINGS

When you want to give root cuttings to your family and friends, and I encourage you to do that - the less chemical fertilisers in the world, the better - choose a spot at the edge of the clump and with a spade, dig into the clump as far down as you can go.  Hopefully, when you pull the spade back you'll hear a "snap" and you can pull up the cutting with your spade and hand.

There are about 30 species of comfrey and  they grow in zones 4 - 9.  It will produce leaves all year but start to die down in winter. Depending on your climate, the leaves will die back completely and over a couple of weeks, with watering, will regrow when the weather starts to heat up.  During that regrowth, it will form white, pink or mauve insignificant, bell-shaped flowers.


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Weekend Reading and returning to "normal"

19 November 2021
Hello everyone, I hope you've had a good week.  

I got the all clear from my doctor on Monday and my arm is slowly healing. It still looks terrible and it's swollen and peeling but the areas of redness are clearing.


I bought this Finish Arabia porcelain vase for my mother during the 1960s. When mum died it went to my sister and she returned it to me on her last visit. It was very modern when I bought it and I'm not entirely sure it was to mum's taste, but she kept it and used it. I remember her roses sitting in it.

Today's lunch will be spinach and feta ravioli, frozen - I'm not quite back to full scratch cooking yet, with homemade tomato sauce. I'll make a cinnamon tea cake this afternoon for our morning and afternoon teas. We're running low on fruit at the moment but I don't want to go grocery shopping till Monday so we'll eat our one fresh mango and have some tinned fruit after that.  I'm happy that I had enough food here to keep us going while I was sick.  What are you eating today?


Making zucchini fritters for lunch during the week. 


Cleaning the kitchen and sink, below.


I'll be talking to Grandma Donna later today which I'm looking forward to very much. We both have a similar view on life and simple homes but we express our views in different ways. It's always interesting talking to her and seeing her in her home.


Folding wash cloths and tea towels in front of the fan at my desk.  🙂

Of course, cleaning my home is never-ending with laundry taking up a fair amount of time. I'm lucky to have a good washer and dryer as well as an outdoor washing line, an under cover washing line and a bamboo clothes airer. No matter what the weather, if I wash it, I can dry it too.


The garden is very overgrown and during the past couple of weeks, the only time I went out there was to take these photos yesterday. The rain has pushed the Queen Anne's Lace flat, you can see some on top of the snapdragons at the front. When I start gardening again, that's the first thing I'll pull out.  There are plenty of seeds in the ground now, it's been dropping them for a couple of months. I have no doubt it will regrow as soon as there is space, water and sunshine.


I hope you've had a good week and that things are going well at your place.  Soon it will be either hot or cold, depending on where you live, but for us it will be HOT. It's not my favourite time of year, I prefer cold weather. Still, I enjoy the flowers the hot weather brings. What are you doing at home now? If you celebrate Christmas, have you started preparing yet? I hope you have a wonderful week ahead.  xx


WEEKEND READING

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I'm back and feeling better

14 November 2021


The first cherries of the season for us.

There was a time when I would rise at 4 am to write, read, think about life and plan the day ahead. After breakfast I'd make the bed, do some washing, get bread on the rise and bake a cake or biscuits or whatever we fancied for morning or afternoon teas. There may have been harvesting, preserving or sewing and mending and I would happily do it because it helped me build a life so simple I valued every day like never before. This was a life where I produced as much as I could from what I already had in the house. It was pure domestic productivity, I had no thoughts of fashion or celebrity and still, twenty years on, I put no value in either. I just want to be what I am, no more, no less.


I've just spent the last two weeks with an infection on my arm brought about by our wonderful dog, Gracie, when we were mucking about on the couch about three weeks ago. I had two courses of antibiotics with the first not working at all and I slowly got sicker and sicker. I didn't want to do anything and I sat in the lounge room like a zombie, watching TV. I didn't know things were so bad on the telly! But thoughts of bread baking or even making lunch some days just didn't register. We even had two days of takeaway pizza!




Cookies going in (above) and cookies coming out of the oven below.


Choki saved me. I watched her love her cats, live her solitary life, cook, bake and preserve, sew her household linens, work on her computer and give meaning to her life by all those simple actions. I love her YouTube channel, I am hooked. I discovered her just after she started her YouTube but flittered away when I got busy. So when I started coming back to myself after a couple of wasted weeks, I watched her make choc chip cookies. And today, as a way of honouring her calm and quiet life, I made a batch of those cookies and now the house if full of that wonderful fragrance. Thanks Choki.

Cookie recipe - it's delicious and buttery
  • 110 g soft, not melted, butter plus 110 g sugar and beat together 
  • 1 egg, vanilla and mix again
  • 180 g flour - I used half plain, half self-raising and a pinch of salt - mix
  • 120 g chocolate - I used 200 g choc chips because I didn't want 80 grams of choc chips lurking in the fridge. True story. 😇
Make sure the batter is not melting when you put it in the oven. If it's really soft, put it in the fridge to firm up before baking. Bake 170 C for 15 - 20 minutes




The other person who kept me sane was Grandma Donna. We tried to talk on Zoom today but couldn't connect properly but that didn't matter because I'd already received her messages of concern and friendship and we can try again later in the week. 

Finally, but certainly not last on the list are the memorable comments, emails and messages I received from you, the people who read what I write. I include those people who live near me and who offered to come over and help. 🥰. Thank you for shouting out and being there when it felt like nothing was. 



I am feeling better now but my arm is still swollen and bright red with peeling skin. It's like I've been badly sun burnt. I'll go back to my doctor in the morning, hopefully the last of the many visits I've made to the clinic. It's good to be back among the living. 💖

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Weekend Reading

6 November 2021

I'm not well. I was diagnosed with cellulitis of the arm yesterday and I've been told to rest and take antibiotics. The wound was inflicted by Gracie when we were playing last week. I didn't think the skin was broken, but I was wrong. The doctor said that if I get worse, I'm to go straight to the hospital 😮. I already had my list ready so I'm sending it to you and hopefully I'll be back fit and well next week.



These are unused photos from last week.


Weekend Reading

61

Yesterday, step by step

2 November 2021

This is a simple post laying bare what I do during the day. You've liked  these posts when I've done them in the past. It's my day, set out in chunks of time, so you can see not what I do every day because they're all different, but what I did on this day. I also took all of these photos yesterday so you can see some of what I'm writing about.



This is my work room. It's where I've written all my books and blog. There are a couple of laptops there, one under the fan, a sewing machine and overlocker.

So what happened on THIS day?


4 - 7am 

Up early, finished off a few things on the computer left over from the day before, had breakfast while catching up on one of the previous night's TV programs, then five minutes of news. I never watch TV at night. Breakfast was baked beans with ancient grains toast and black tea. Then I unpacked the dishwasher, placed the breakfast dishes in, cleaned the microwave and tidied the kitchen.


7 - 7.30am 

While I waited for Hanno to wake up, I tidied my desk, dealt with emails and finished setting up Adguard - I just bought a lifetime membership and changed a couple of settings. When Hanno was having his breakfast, I opened the windows in the bedroom and ensuite, made the bed and put a few things away in the wardrobe.



I don't like what's happening in the laundry at the moment. I have too many products on that top shelf and not enough folding space. I'll fix that next week when I have some spare time.


7.30 - 10am

Put load of washing on and scrubbed the laundry sink. Made some phone calls. Cleaned and organised the kitchen and started preparing lunch - corned beef, sweet potato mash and cabbage. The corned beef cooked slowly overnight and was really tender. Then I made morning tea, we had banana cake and tea, and I sat with Hanno on the front verandah.



10am - midday

Peeled and cooked vegetables and got plates, glasses and cutlery out to set the table. Peeled and cut up mangoes for dessert. Hung washing out, put some in the dryer and continued washing during the day.  Served lunch.


12.30 - 2.20pm

Man from Airtasker came to mow our lawns and do the whipper snipping. I finished setting up Adguard on Hanno's computer and starting installing the new iOS. It took nearly four hours! Set up Adguard on our phones and iPad.


2.30 - 3pm

Hemmed some small cloths on the sewing machine.


Cleaning the kitchen bench - a never-ending job.


3 - 3.30pm

Talked to our grandkids on the phone. Alex and Eve had just been picked up from school by Sarndra and were heading home. We talked about what they were doing at school that day, what they hoped to get for Christmas and Eve's newly pierced ears. I'm getting her some good earrings for Christmas. They were worried about Hanno's health and spoke to him but he got tired so I ended what he was saying. They said they wanted to come down soon to see him.


3.30 - 4pm

Took Gracie outside for a run around. She's still stalking lizards but happily they're much faster that she is.


4 - 6pm

Made tea and toast and watched some of the late afternoon news. Heated up a stuffed capsicum for Hanno's tea then tidied up the kitchen, packed the dishwasher and hung out sheets and towels.


6 - 7pm

Cleaned and tidied my workroom, vacuumed the floor and emptied the vacuum. I'm no angel, I hate emptying the dust from the vacuum cleaner but it was so full it stopping cleaning! It felt good that I emptied it though so maybe I am an angel. 😇


7pm

Checked on Hanno and Gracie watching TV, had a shower and went to bed. Couldn't go to sleep so I got up again and looked for cake recipes in Grandma's Cookbook. I love that site!  Also checked Grandma Donna's site. She has good, old fashioned, basic recipes, which is what I prefer to cook and eat now.


9pm

Got tired again so when Hanno went to bed, I did too. This time is was successful and I slept well.

 

I hang my dirty white cloths over the side of this tub and once a week soak them in oxygen-bleach. 


We have two air filters in the house now, we've had them for about six months and they're really helping Hanno with his breathing when he sleeps. They have HEPA filters so they can filter out Covid, cold and flu viruses and well as fumes from paint or carpet, outside smoke and cooking smells. It operates on a blue light most of the time but when something is in the air it goes to orange then, if necessary, red. It takes time cleaning the air then returns to blue. It's fascinating to watch because often you don't know why it changes settings. I'm grateful to have it.


Today I've just been outside to pick lemons for the slice I'll be making tomorrow. We had corned beef,  sweet potato and cabbage leftovers for lunch today. There are leftovers for tomorrow as well.


A few towels and a sheet on the line here. It doesn't take long to dry, maybe two to three hours most days.


It's a very calm and simple life we live nowadays. Most of the time we feel cut off from the rest of the world, we focus on what's here rather than what's out there and we work to our own rules and timetables. The work we do supports the lifestyle we've chosen and it consistently reinforces the importance of that work. I can't imagine living any other way now. It helps if you understand the significance of home to you. When you get that, it makes sense to care for what you've got.

Thank you for being here today. I hope some of what I've written helps you move closer to your ideal life. It's a mindset change really but when all that clicks in, the rest is not far away.  xx
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