30 November 2022

I'm having trouble writing another blog post

Queen Anne's Lace cut from a ten foot high plant in the back yard.

Although I'm feeling okay overall, I'm having trouble writing another blog post. The ideas I have in my head don't become the words and sentences I want to write so I've decided to take a break until the new year. I'm sorry to disappoint you but I have to look after myself.

I'm looking forward to Friday when we're celebrating Jamie's last day of primary school with a family lunch. I'll spend Christmas here with my family coming over for lunch and, of course, the cricket started today. So along with my daily chores and sewing a set of new aprons, I'll have plenty of slow work to keep me out of trouble.

Thank you for your kindness and comments during what has been a life-changing year for me. I hope you enjoy the holidays and can spend time with your loved ones.


14 November 2022

Make the most of what you've got in front of you

I believed we should all make the most of what we've got. If you haven't got what your family or friends have and you envy them, it's wasted time and emotion; you can't change it, you can only change yourself. Look at what you DO have and then make plans to make a beautiful life built around what you've already got right in front of you.

You probably know that Hanno and I have been gardeners for a long time, probably about 40 years. We started off small and taught ourselves by reading books and observing what happened in our various gardens. I also asked neighbour-gardeners what they were planting and how to do things that pushed the envelope a bit, like growing fruit, nuts, potatoes and garlic. It's all pretty easy after the first harvests have been gathered but it always take time, effort and persistence. I've loved all my gardens. It was a way of being outside in the fresh air surrounded by nature, birds and wildlife. The vegetables and flowers were a wonderful bonus!

This is where I sit every day. I have a radio, mosquito coils, books, Kindle and Gracie to keep me company.

My work bench with the Black Cherry tomato and chives. They'll be potted in the next day or two.

Here is the new fountain - I bought this new pot because Gracie kept drinking from the smaller pot, even though she had a bowl of water there,  and I had to keep filling it up.

This capsicum/pepper is called Sweet Mama. I usually buy two capsicums a week. I like them in coleslaw, salads and pickled vegetables, so growing my own gives me the freshest and the cheapest.

You can see the Roma tomatoes peeking through here.  They've been growing for about 3 weeks, they were on the verge of flowering when I potted them.

Angelonias and lavender.

This is a Digiplexis called Berry Canary. It's a foxglove.

When Hanno got sick at the end of last year, I walked away from my garden and didn't return until after he died. It was so overgrown that it made me realise then and there that I couldn't continue it. Back then I felt weak and defeated but gardens have a way of getting under your skin. After sitting on the front verandah and thinking about my future life, I just couldn't imagine it without a garden being there somewhere. 

What I did have to take into account was my brain tumour and my age. I have a non-malignant meningioma and I'll be 75 next birthday, so starting a new garden wasn't as easy as it once was. I already had a few things growing in containers and they were easier for me because bending down and standing up again makes me lose my balance. So I decided I'd make a container garden of flowers and a bit of food and I'd put it right beside where I sit so I could see it, tend it and love it every single day. And it would be next to my three bins - rubbish, recycling and garden waste. How convenient and the real gift was that it brought beauty to that area that had always been the bin corner.

This is along the neighbour's fence. It's next to the bins at the garage entrance. Here I have the Montville Rose, gaura, parsley, another Digiplexis and The Fairy rose in the big pot surrounded by recently planted alyssum.

Yes, there they are ... the bins. I'm sure it's not everyone's idea of a good spot for planting but my down to earth heart loves it.

In the food selection I have, one determinate Roma miniature tomato called Little Napoli as well as an indeterminate heirloom tomato called Black Cherry. I haven't planted that out yet because I'll have to rig up a support on the trellis. Already planted are onion chives, Italian parsley, capsicum/pepper Sweet Mama, rainbow chard (in shade of the bush house), a foxglove that regrew from last year, a digiplexis which also regrew, a new digiplexis called Berry Canary, a gaura called Sparkle Pink which is mostly white 🙄, yarrow, Japanese anemone, penstemons grown from cuttings, and lavender. There are also four potted roses - The Fairy which is a miniature shrub rose with masses of small pink double flowers and repeat flowering, the Montville Rose/Duchesse de Brabant - an old French heirloom, and two standards - Mary Rose and Munstead Wood - both heirlooms and brought from the back garden and now potted. Mary Rose and Munstead Wood are standing at the middle entrance to the verandah, you've seen them before in the last post.

And here is my shadow. She knows when I want to take a a photo of her and she turns her head. I waited but she kept looking away. LOL

I won't go on too much about it, I have the photos here so you can see for yourself. It won't be everyone's cup of tea but it's not everyone garden, it's a garden for my wellbeing and I feel grateful to have it. It will give me something to work on, it gives me flowers to look at and it's relaxing. I like how it connects to the fernery garden we already had on the verandah and the whole thing makes a lovely entrance to my home.

This is a Federation Daisy that I'll pot soon.

Thank you for the delightful comments you leave. I don't spend a lot of time on the computer now so I don't reply to all comments but I read every one of them and I feel grateful that you take the time. I'm continuing my busy schedule here with decluttering, helping my family, reading, cleaning, cooking, gardening and being Gracie's best friend. In the next couple of days I'll start my next post in which I'll write about how I clean my house now. It's changed a lot to what I used to do, it's faster, takes less energy and is all done with steam or homemade cleaners. So until then, enjoy what you do - stay cool or warm, depending on where you are and be kind to each other. xx


4 November 2022

Beauty and practicality, I rate them equally

This post is about a few small things that I've wanted to write about for a while but larger topics overtook me. My life is full of small things that are a part of something much bigger. I'm constantly reminded that not all people live as I do and usually it's the small things that people are interested in. I get that because without time set aside preparing for the bigger things, nothing runs smoothly. For instance, food - shopping list, cleaning out the fridge, checking the pantry etc.; cooking - peeling and cutting vegetables, defrosting meat or fish, menu plan so we know for sure we have what we need during the week; washing - soaking, stain removal, making laundry liquid etc.; gardening - saving kitchen scraps and making compost, sowing seeds etc.; maintaining relationships - keeping up with family and friends' messages, making time for occasional online, face-to-face talks, keeping a calendar with birthdays and important days, invitations for meals and morning teas.  You have to put time and effort into relationships. Life is made up of the big things, but without the small things, the big things fall apart.  So here goes.

Yesterday I visited my friend Nicole Lutze in her gorgeous new home. We'd not seen each other for a long while so it was good to spend time catching up over tea, delicious cake and pikelets. Both of us have undergone significant life changes so we had a lot to talk about and as I drove home I realised that talking with Nicole did me a lot of good. Nicole's blog and Instagram links are in my sidebar so do yourself a favour and check her out.

As you can see in the photo, I haven't been to the hairdresser for almost two years. My hair is usually in a ponytail now to keep it relatively neat and off my neck during summer. I decided not to get it cut short again and to wear it in plaits/braids in a circle around my head. I used to wear it like that when I lived in Germany in the 1970s and it always felt comfortable. I think I'll be able to plait/braid it early in the new year.

As usual there was washing to do which had built up over some rainy days we've had here.

Munstead Wood standard rose.  You can see where this rose is standing in the next photo.

The weather is surprisingly cool at the moment so I hope to get the garden finished this week and all I'll have to do when it heats up again is water the plants and harvest. I'll write about the garden when I finish fiddling with it and show the photos I've taken. It's nothing fancy but it fills my heart up and makes me happy. The garden is on the edge of the verandah and spills out on both sides of the garage door. The rubbish bins are there too - beauty and practicality, I rate them equally. I would never have thought such a space was garden-worthy but now it makes complete sense to me.

I finally got someone to mow the lawn, it cost $210. I didn't want to get a teenager in to mow because I wanted someone who had insurance, just in case. I'm very happy with the work he did and I'll get him back again. I wish the grass didn't grow so fast.  😳

In my previous post I had a photo of some pastries I made recently.  They're very tasty, don't take much time and they'll give you a quick and easy change from your usually baking.  You'll need:

  • 1 or 2 sheets frozen puff pastry
  • 1 egg yolk + teaspoon water
  • jam - I used apricot jam
  • tinned fruit or homemade stewed fruit - I used apricot halves

Before you start assembling the pastry, preheat the oven to 230C/445F - the pastry needs high heat to puff up. 

I cut the pastry into four portions but they were two big and when I ate the first one, I cut it in two. Next time, I'll use one sheet and have three rectangles instead of the four large squares I made with two sheets. Work out the size you want and cut the pastry accordingly. Each pastry has a double layer so cut all the pastry the same size so you can double up. Cut a hole in the top layer, (see photo above) that's where you place the jam and fruit. Brush the egg wash in between the two layers and add the pastry with the hole in it on top of another piece of pastry without a hole - that's the base. Use whatever jam and fruit you have on hand.

When the pastries are made, brush them with egg wash - that's egg yolk with a teaspoon of water in it. That creates the golden colour. Put the pastries in the oven and bring them out when they're golden and puffy. When they're cool, you can drizzle water icing on them but I think they're sweet enough without it. They can be frozen and reheated in the oven on a low temperature.

I've been meaning to tell you about this kitchen brush I've been using lately. This isn't a paid promotion, I bought my brush and it does a great job. I use it for my frying pan, saucepans and sometimes I clean the sink with it. It's the German Redecker dish brush ($29.95) and I bought mine here. Although I've used mine a lot, it's kept its shape, no bristles have fallen out and the handle doesn't seem to stain. If you're looking for a good kitchen brush for a reasonable price, I recommend this to you.

When I had spare time this week, I worked on my replacement aprons. I like to have several aprons in the cupboard so I have a clean one to work in every day of the week.  I've worn out most of my aprons that I've used for the past ten years so I thought I'd replace all of them in one go. Aprons do a wonderful job keeping your clothes clean while you work in your home and if you put a big pocket on your apron, you can collect eggs, put pegs in the pocket when you hang out the washing, or just collect bits and pieces that you find around the place. Just don't put scissors in your pocket because if you fall, it could cause a serious injury.  Aprons are so easy to make so if you're not a sewer yet, it's a fantastic first project. Here is a YouTube apron tutorial and here's another. I hope you give it a go.

Thank you for the lovely comments on my last post. It really makes a difference when you comment, not just for me but for all bloggers. I appreciate the time you take to connect with me.  xx

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