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“Wouldn’t you like a native “Pollinator Symphony” right out your door?

quarteracrelifestyle:

I had to reblog this post of Robbie’s, it holds so many important messages and her photography is just beautiful, as always!

Originally posted on Palm Rae Urban Potager:

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When was the last time you ” unplugged” and just sat outside, without a cell phone, or laptop, or music playing in your head…to just listen to nature? We all have become so disconnected from the natural world that it is effecting our health. This new disorder is known as Nature Deficit Disorder, but that is another post some day. If we do not get outside, turn off our electronic world we will one day have no choice, but to pay attention, for what you eat will no longer be, and it will be too late to make a difference!There is a world that is only visible up close, if you take the time to sit and be still, you will hear the pollinators of our world. They move around us all day long, and we do not even bid them a good morning as we dart to and from…

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This Spring…we are scaling back the garden

I love Spring! It’s well and truly here and some of the days have been beautiful.

Roger and I have made a decision that we are going to scale back the garden this Summer and try and grow more year round. I spent much of last Summer and Autumn in the kitchen and fitting in gardening when I could but honestly….I would rather do other things than spend my time in the kitchen and at the end of Autumn I was really weary and grumpy. We grow enough food to feed half the neighbourhood, which is nice but it’s hard work for these fifty-somethings! I don’t want to do so much preserving this summer.

Roger is putting up the other glasshouse soon and we will use both through the late autumn and winter. The garden will remain the same size but we won’t be racing to succession plant this year. Every summer and autumn we grow up to three harvests from the same space, it makes for alot of work and long growing seasons.

He has planted the potatoes, beetroot, carrots, onions, broccolli, cabbage and lettuce. The beans will go in soon. In the glasshouse I have planted seeds for tomatoes, peppers, zucchini and we have a few spinach and lettuce in there and a chilli plant from last summer that is still producing.

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We have been picking chillies throughout winter.

The Strawberries are just being split up and planted everywhere, like the cattle feeder we salvaged :)

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I am still working quite alot and this looks set to be the way till at least Christmas at this stage.

I have still been making soap, thinking soap :) Last weekend I went and scrounged Camelia petals and have dried some and the rest is infusing in oil.IMG_3933

I have been looking at different ways of just using natural ingredients for both colour and benefits. On the windowsill is Lemon Balm, Rosemary, Geranium Leaf, Camelia and Calendula petals.IMG_3953

Two batches I have made this week are Chamomile and Calendula. And note…Wendy is practising her photography for if and when she starts selling it :)

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Soap making seems to me to be the ideal hobby for gardeners to use some of their herbs and flowers in other ways but food….and maybe, just maybe, a small cottage industry can be created! For all the years I took to eventually try soap making I now think I was mad for being so fearful of it….it’s simple. Just like driving, I didn’t learn how to drive until I met Roger at 9 years ago at 46.

We still have heaps of preserves left to last out till summer, still have heaps of frozen berries and fruit. Last summer I dried some cranberries and used the last of them today (along with some walnuts we still have heaps of)

Cranberry and Walnut Muesli

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Tonight I am going to make dog biscuits using this recipe that Syd likes so much but I will be using pumpkin instead of carrots.

Roger is looking for another job at present and has an interview next week for a building job….he goes between building and farming. This means though if he gets it we will have to give up Syd, he’s a farm dog who belongs to the owner. Gosh we will miss him terribly :( We will be left with Mittens, who just loves this huge old bowl I pulled out of the spare room.IMG_3928

Anyway, that’s all my news. I hope Spring is being lovely for you all in NZ and Oz! I have seen photos of gentle snow falling in America, ugh!

This weekend….Salvaging Building Materials and Junk!

Warning – sheer grunge follows!!

There is no gardening going on here this weekend but Roger is busy, busy. Most of our materials for outside have been salvaged from somewhere or another and a couple of weeks ago Roger heard about a new vineyard going in next to the farm where he works. To make way for it they are pulling down old shearing sheds and yards with hundreds of metres of timber fencing. Roger went around to see the contractor and told him he was interested in some timber for both fences and gates (we have to fence off the whole garden which would be no small cost if we were to buy it new) The guy took his number then rung him last night to come and take whatever he wanted because it is going to be demolished on Monday.

We went around last night to see if we wanted anything other than the fencing he had seen,  these fences you see at the side go for miles and some will be coming here. They aren’t as old as some of the timber. this building is between 80 -100 years old.

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Gates galore.IMG_3910

And 3 sets of these cute old indoor swinging gates (I have no idea what we are going to do with those!)

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And really old gates covered in lichen which Roger will make something with, but a mountain of these.IMG_3914

Inside is a long feed trough made from a really heavy old wood. It’s about 8 foot long and will go in front of the house for plants.

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This old hand basin doesn’t look flash all grubby but it’s a fabulous old thing, much bigger than a usual hand basin, there is no damage to it anywhere. We both liked it and are hoping we can use it downstairs.

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Some old cubby shelves.

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And there were treasures that were nothing at all to do with timber or fittings. Roger bought these home – they are interesting! Not good for anything but looking tatty somewhere :)

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Tomorrow our carport will be full of what to anyone else (yes, I know what you are thinking! lol) but to us all of it has potential. It needs a damn good clean, but this represents a huge saving on building materials for us. On top of that we get a pile of junk we cetainly don’t need but can do something with. I am not even going to show the old cupboard because everyone will think we are madder than we really are. Maybe one day :) :)

If you don’t ask you don’t get and Roger will ask if he knows something is going to be thrown out or burned (me, no, I won’t ask) But I am just thinking of a conversation we had with a young guy here about 6 months ago. When they moved here he couldn’t find work and things were pretty grim for him and his family. He saw a farmer getting his sheep in one day while they were out driving. He stopped the car, bolted the fence and bowled up to the farmer asking if he did 2 days work could he have a sheep to eat. The farmer didn’t hesitate and he got the animal butchered by the farmer all ready for the freezer.

During the week the old church down the road was pulled down, it was damaged too much in last years earthquakes. We didn’t know until later but I imagine (I certainly HOPE) that they managed to save the lovely old windows and some of the timber.

Soap, soap and other stuff!

As I mentioned in my last post I am enjoying soap-making….rather too much. I have made alot using different recipes. It is now becoming too much to make in the kitchen so my craft room has been taken over. I would like to think I can do well enough to sell some at the markets but we will see – it was clear I would need better equipment so I finally caved in and bought a few molds and have been trying to source the cheapest places for ingredients but the extra work I have been doing recently has meant I can have spare money to buy yummy oils etc.

My painting/craft table at present

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The pink slab in front is a Rose Clay Facial Soap which I have high hopes for in the battle against  wrinkles and aging skin :) It has olive, coconut, apricot, jojoba and castor oils in – I added frankinsense and rose essences. The purpley / blue soap in the molds is lavender, a problem with keeping everything natural is learning about and sourcing the right colourings – this was hoped to be more purple.

I have alot to learn!! When I made my first batch of lavender soap I naively thought you could just chuck all sorts of pretty florally things in soap, you can’t! I put lavender on top and it went grey, the lye affects flora in soaps, apparently grinding dry lavender buds first works better. I wanted petals, some people have them on soaps and they guard the secret of “HOW….?” very closely but I did read you could do so with rebatching – grating a cured soap, melting it down and pouring it in molds. I added too much water so it’s taking forever to dry and this is very rustic in appearance but for my own use it will be fine. This is an area I would like to learn more about because it’s just too pretty not to. To me this is what lady soap should be like!

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An old shelf has come in handy for curing and storing, these all have to sit for at least a month.

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There are the calendula and lavender ones I showed early on, the musk and apricot which looks like Russian Fudge, Gardenia, Patchouli and a lovely blend of oils, A Cedarwood and Juniper Berry for men which smells gorgeous (coloured with spirlulina which disappointedly changed to a very muted green, and a mountain of Coffee Hand Scrub which I made double the amount for Roger and it turned out to be an awful lot lol

I also made the most divine night cream full of luscious oils….olive, sweet almond, jojoba, apricot and cocoa butter. I created it myself and it’s beautiful but I didn’t write down the amounts I used which was dumb! This is better than anything else I have ever made or bought, my very own fountain of youth in a jar!!!  I now just have to remember how I made it.

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Soap wrapped in lace and ribbon and a jar of my special cream is a nice pressy for my best friend for her birthday I thought!

 

 

9 days till Spring!!

Winter is nearly over and in 9 days time it will officially be Spring. In past years I have disliked winter intensely but this year I have loved it…there has been much to do inside. I have also been working quite alot which wasn’t expected but welcome for the extra money. 

Garden: 

We are just gearing up for the garden now. Seed raising potatoes are laid out in the basement and the first lot will go in tomorrow…then will start the morning and evening rituals of covering to protect from frosts then removing during the day. Potatoes need to go in early here because once the weather gets a bit warmer we have a bug that chews the new shoots and does something to the starch content preventing them from growing. Carrots and beetroot have been planted as well as broccoli and cabbage seedlings. Tomatoes, zucchini, peppers, cucumbers etc will all be started off in the wee greenhouse. Roger bought a dismantled second hand greenhouse as a second one for the bottom garden but is a bit befuddled as to how to put it back together right now :) We are still harvesting leeks, silverbeet, spinach, lettuce, beetroot, carrots, oinions and broccoli from the winter garden and garlic has been planted. All the fruit and berries were pruned over winter and are ready to go!

Kitchen:

We still have a good supply of stored produce. The pumpkins have started to shows signs of deterioration so have been been picking those out and cutting up to freeze. We still have a large amount of stored food and have had smoothies made with berries and frozen fruit throughout winter, lots of soups and stews made with both frozen and fresh vegetables, have loved being able to have heaps of salads with fresh vegetables from the garden and spiced beetroot, pickled cucumbers and onions, peppers in olive oil etc. We didn’t have extras for many months but have noticed the past month we have desired more so have made crumbles with bottled peaches, apricots and plums and berry clafouti, our favourite. We are still using dried herbs from last summer.

Pauline aka The Contented Crafter kindly sent me some milk and water kefir grains and some kombucha so I have been using those and am hoping not to kill these ones. Thanks Pauline, right now they are still very healthy!

Neither the kitchen or the garden have been exciting enough to photograph at any time this month :)

Home:

I bought these lovely things at a garage sale for only 50 cents each. The bowls are a little irregular which I really liked, the plate is handpainted…all very cute!

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I have gone crazy soap making which needs a post of it’s own I will do tomorrow. I have been trying different recipes and am hoping to get good enough to sell some at the local market for Christmas. Time will tell……! I clearly need to find an outlet for what has become an obsession.

Roger comes home home ever so often with a big grin on face saying he found something today…he works on a farm which has alot of history and finds old draughthorse shoes, old bottles etc….treasures. He came home last week and told me to guess what he found. 

“A bird’s nest? A horse shoe?…..” “Nope, nope” he says “it starts with a B and you will never guess!!” No, I couldn’t, so he proudly produces it.

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My husband was standing in our lounge with this – it’s a BOMB! Hadn’t had it checked, assumed it would be fine and brought it home as another collectible. It’s gone now! Taken by the police to check it and I very much doubt we will ever see it again unfortunately. It’s an old training one from WW2. He didn’t trust that I was right in saying it needed to be checked so called a mate down – who admired it quickly then backed off even quicker saying it’s something? was still in tact and it needed to be checked!

This is Mittens standing at his access to the house, the kitchen window. The front door is often open but he likes to enter this way and will pull all sorts of desperate faces while he waits…next to the open door.

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And this is both Syd and Mittens blissed out in the evenings taking up all the furniture :)

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I hope those of you ending summer are enjoying some beautiful weather and plentiful harvests and those of you in the Southern hemisphere are enjoying your planning…and warmer days!

Projects and Happy Mail :)

I seem to be forever posting this past two weeks….nothing for months then too many.

The first thing I need to do is say “THANK YOU so much” to the dear, sweet blogging friend (who wishes to remain nameless) who trolled my site to get a link for a family member’s lavender farm and sent these as a most lovely gift. I am not sure what I did to deserve such a pressy but what a gorgeous surprise, I am truly touched. Big,big hugs to you know who you are :)

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I finished the bird house and Roger added a couple of old wood and cast iron handrails around it. These had been lying around for years.

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I am still working on these and will show before and afters when finished. Loving the map drawers :)

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Last weekend we went to a couple of garage sales. One was a tumbly down old garage full of boxes and old crates of all sorts of man stuff. But I did see some boxes I needed. Roger filled them with junk handy stuff to have and asked for a price. Only $10 for the lot. See the one in the bottom corner, it ended up in the basement and I need to find it, it’s fantastic (if you love old boxes)

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Emptied, scrubbed and dried, my new SOAP MOLDS!!!!!! What joy, they are on their way to being filled as we speak.

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In one of the boxes was a long chain which Roger knew I had been looking for to go with this plate I picked up years ago for just a few cents. It had holes in the sides, no use for much but being pretty but I did get an idea off Pinterest last year.

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A bird feeder :)

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 Funny thing which I must add just while I am here before I forget. Does anyone else look at the search engine part their stats to see what leads people to their site? Most find it through searching for Tumeric to  Whten Teeth…thousands. But one last week got me ” Rubbing soap on legs descise drugrunners”. Mmmm!!!!

Apricot and Musk Soap…Experience is a great teacher!

What started out as Green Tea and Gardenia Soap ended up being something quite different…! But before I ramble about how this happened I will tell you about the new recipe I tried that I am really happy with even though it will be another 3 weeks before I can try it. Jessie, aka Rabid Little Hippy commented on my first soap post that I might like to look up The Greening of Gavin‘s site for lots of good soap info. She was right I did like it :) For a start he has a great recipe, you can find here for a very economical soap containing Olive, coconut, grapeseed and sunflower oils. Secondly he tells how he got into selling it which is what I would like to do because now I obsess over soap making and all it’s possibilities and ideally some sort of small market (if I ever get good enough)would be really nice to offload what I can see is going to become a problem hobby otherwise :) and thirdly, he has a fantastic blog!!!! His soap recipe provided the nicest textured soap from the three I have tried, it’s very economical, it also came to trace the fastest of the three – this was quick to make.

Lessons learned: I wanted to make a small batch to trial the recipe. I had read you can get a nice pale green colour seeping green tea bags in boiling water and using that as the water content. My plan was to scent with gardenia oil. Didn’t check what teabags I grabbed and it was black tea…which actually makes a beautiful brown. I had to rethink what would go nicely with this new unplanned colour and rushed through my box choosing an apricot/musk blend. I had read that cheap oils would lose their smell and possibly be synthetic rather than natural essential oils but forgot all this as I grabbed up one of the cheapy bottles I had. It used a whole bottle with only a light scent.

Message to self….check everything twice before you rush in, concentrate, because if you can’t do that you shouldn’t be working with lye Wendy.

Anyhow, what I ended up with was the most delicious looking soap that looks just like Russian Fudge that smells lovely but not lovely enough.

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