Times are a’changing at Quarteracre!

All the best laid plans! We had a 3 year plan for what we wanted to do here but they have just become 3 month plans as Roger quit his job today, he finishes at the end of next week. No, he didn’t get the job he went for but he sorely needed to because he has had well and truly enough of his present one. I could go into the ins-and-outs but no need or desire to.

So our three year plan was 1) Wendy wants to make her soaps and stuff and sell them – she is on plan for this. 2) Within 3 – 6 months have the property set up for private precious pup boarding – we can have 3 at a time but only want two. 3) We ideally would like to earn an income from funked up junk but never get time to actually settle to this – the plan was for Roger to go down to part-time work in a year or so to help achieve this and hopefully open a cottage shop in 3 years at our home. Well…….!

Roger will be unemployed next week and I will continue to work part time, he will advertise to get contact work locally, just part-time AND h-o-p-e-f-u-l-l-y between us we can earn enough to pay the bills :) We have food and are pretty skilled at living on little! Roger is well known in the area for his ability to kill gorse which I hate because it’s spraying chemical all day but it’s needed here, it’s the right season and we are hoping he can get enough odd farm work to get us through. He could go out and look for full time work but we have decided maybe we should just back ourselves and have confidence our plans will work for us. I shall keep you posted! lol I know it seems crazy in today’s climate but at the end of the day we want to make our place work for us and be our own bosses…that’s what we want.

A website will be set up for us and off we go, into the wide open… and unknown!

This is what I have been doing recently and what our home is starting to look like :)

Dandelions, kowhai flowers picked for infusing and forget-me-nots for pressing for packaging

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There are always petals drying in the front window and jars of somethings sitting in the sunlight

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Pansies and forget- me- nots being pressed into a jeweelery making book but how pretty the picture turned out!

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A corner of the hall I just spied

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Trialing Lotion Bars made with beeswax and the Camelia petal infused oil

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Lemon and Poppy Seed Soap, Rose-hip soap and Rosemary, Lavender and Sweet Orange Shampoo Bars

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Mark 11 trial of Rose and Frankincense Moisturiser which is gorgeous :) (Excuse photo quality)IMG_3983

So, within a month or so I hope to be up and running. I have so many ideas I am nearly popping with brilliance lol. But for a girl who actually just likes making these things quietly enjoying her own company and hates being “out there” this is a brave move, one which involves much courage and confidence and feels rather scary, So WISH ME LUCK PLEASE!!!! lol

The Greening of the Self

I came across this article on Facebook, shared by Linne :) Thanks Linne, I really enjoyed it and felt it might be of interest to some readers here who I know struggle with feelings of frustration and anger at issues that affect our times and our environment.

An excerpt from World as Lover, World as Self, Joanna Macy, 1991.

“Why do I claim that this erodes the old sense of self? Because once we stop denying the crises of our time and let ourselves experience the depth of our own responses to the pain of our world whether it is the burning of the Amazon rainforest, the famines of Africa, or the homeless in our own cities the grief or anger or fear we experience cannot be reduced to concerns for our own individual skin.

We are capable of suffering with our world, and that is the true meaning of compassion. It enables us to recognize our profound interconnectedness with all beings. Don’t ever apologize for crying for the trees burning in the Amazon or over the waters polluted from mines in the Rockies. Don’t apologize for the sorrow, grief, and rage you feel. It is a measure of your humanity and your maturity. It is a measure of your open heart, and as your heart breaks open there will be room for the world to heal. That is what is happening as we see people honestly confronting the sorrows of our time. And it is an adaptive response”

For the full article, which is only one page, read here. This is also a link for Films For Change which has some really interesting stuff on it.

Creating Solitary Bee Hotels

quarteracrelifestyle:

I used to notice alot of pictures of bee hotels before we got the hive then really didn’t give them another thought. Hives are expensive though and not something everyone can afford, desire or have room for but these are such beautiful, useful additions to a garden. Besides giving homes for bees they encourage them to live in the garden and we benefit from the pollination from the bees – a win/win situation!Take a look at these lovely photos of hotels made from reclaimed materials, just gorgeous and I think we will make some ourselves now :)

Originally posted on Urban Overalls:

For folks across the country, September heralds the change of season.  Hot summer days are replacing with pleasant temperatures and cooler evenings.  Leaves are showing the first blush of fall color.  Warm season crops such as peppers and tomatoes are still producing.  And the bees foraging in the garden are making a final push to gather nectar and pollen before the weather turns cold.  But with all the buzzing going on, are you noticing other types of bees?

While folks may recognize a honey bee, what about the other insects that seem to be on the plants collecting pollen.  Do you know what they are?  Folks, many of these insects are what as known as native bees (the common honey bee was originally imported from Europe).  These bees were here before the introduction of honey bees.  Another term use for native bees is solitary bees or even pollen bee.

These…

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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!