Hi, I am back :) Working on a new laptop that I hate, Windows 8 sucks by the way, for anybody thinking of buying a new computer! And for anybody waiting on an email reply from me please let me know because some of my emails are disappearing out into the net world never to be seen again I am discovering – I have replied to all! This has been an expensive month after having to replace a laptop, vacuum cleaner, cell phone and repairs to the truck – how glad I am now that I worked all those hours!
We are harvesting from the garden with some great successes this year but also disappointments. We lost all our tomatoes this year, I think my husband was to blame for that one though he is keeping quiet about what he possibly did to them. I have a feeling that the “foliage feed” he used was something else entirely that he knows I wouldn’t have liked him using but he did in error. Our self sewn beetroot that we transplanted out in great rows all failed, a terminator gene maybe? Our strawberries have not done well. But after a few years of failed potato crops because of a bug problem here this year we harvested over 70 kg of beautiful potatoes. The raspberries went crazy and we got over 40 kg with autumns berries already on their way, the beans and zucchini are always great cropping, the blackberries, cranberries, peaches, peppers and chilli will have very good harvests, silverbeet (chard) lettuce and broccoli have all self sewn everywhere for regular picking. The pumpkins are spreading out everywhere again with plenty on. We got heaps of onions, garlic and carrots and have stared replanting empty spaces for autumn. The herb garden is wonderful with another rock garden dug up and planted in herbs (another post!)
After saying I wouldn’t be freezing vegetables this year, I am :) Old habits die hard and it seems stupid not to when you have it lol. Jams and chutneys and being made at the moment, last year I made around 35 jars of our favourite Zucchini Chutney and just used the last of it two weeks ago so will make the same this year. We still have heaps of bottled fruit left from last year and 14 jars of other chutneys Roger wont try so I will be sticking to just the one in future. We ran out of tomato sauce a month ago and the commercial stuff is disappointing in comparison so I will have to buy a mountain of tomatoes to make more.
I have made no liqueurs or wine so far this year, I just haven’t felt motivated to. I have gone back to work doing strictly one day a week plus m on-call shifts which are simply by phone if any issues and occasionally going in to help with something. Roger is still doing 5 days a week but the work is far less demanding physically – I have to say I didn’t realise how exhausted he was and how hard he pushed himself on the farm. He had little desire for the garden but now is back to his old self and out there for hours….it’s tidy again! :)
Me, most of what computer time I spend is on the Freeconomy page – we have grown from 130 at the beginning of December to nearly 500. It is working fabulously but there are occasional issues of greed, grabbing, rudeness, a couple of people selling stuff they got free on other pages! People are people and there are all sorts out there, after banning a few we are going great.
I am back to making my soaps and hope to do a market this weekend. I have been busy drying herbs and local weeds/wildflowers for use during the year. How to package them at reasonable cost is always a consideration but I have settled on this, brown paper with a band. Printing whole sheets for wrapping was too expensive.
Anyway, I think this is about as long as it needs to be. I hope others are enjoying their summer, or keeping warm through their winter.
My laptop has gone bung and I am using Roger’s old desktop that is as slow as a wet week and quite frustrating to use so I am not going to be around WordPress much at all, I thought I had better let everyone know why!
A most painful thing is I have lost all my soap labels, papers etc! I am not sure yet when I will be getting another….maybe another few weeks or so, not sure at this stage.
I had to share this from the lovely Beltaine Cottage, 1 woman’s work over 10 years
Originally posted on Bealtaine Cottage:
Just over ten years ago I bought a derelict cottage standing on three acres of wet, rush-infested, north-facing land.
This is how I transformed it, using only Permaculture and my own labour.
See for yourself and share the magic!
Year One…the pond and stream beds were dug and the water has flowed ever since!
For the past fifteen or so years, Mother Earth has been communicating with us in a powerful and energetic way.
She wants us to plant her, nurture her and most of all recognise her for the Great Mother she is.
I heard her over ten years ago.
I write about her and photograph her magical ways every day, uploading to bealtainecottage.com several times a week, to be her voice and advocate.
The energy is quickening.
We live in wonderful times.
This recipe is adapted from The Queen of Hungary’s Water recipe I found in a book of herbal beauty recipes Earthly Bodies, Heavenly Hair written by Dina Falconi. It has the most gorgeous herbal recipes in and I can recommend it, I downloaded it from The Kindle service at Amazon.
Doing a search on this tells me the water was firstly created for Queen Elizabeth of Hungary in the 1300’s, other sources believe it to have been created by gypsies but whatever the folklore surrounding it, it is a most beautiful thing to use. There are many variations on-line so it’s easy to actually just adapt using whatever grows in the garden. Though Dina Falconi suggests it’s use for Normal/Oily Skin I have Dry/Mature skin and I really like using this. It leaves skin feeling fresh, dewy and soft.
You will need Raw Apple Cider Vinegar, Witch Hazel, Lavender Essential Oil (optional) and your selected herbs and florals. This quantity makes around 6 x 100 gram bottles which may be too much for the average woman to use but you get the idea of the technique.
Basically you infuse your herbs and petals in raw organic cider vinegar and leave to sit for up to two months. Other recipes have suggested 2 weeks…I left mine for 6 weeks. I used around 2 handfuls of Lavender flowers and leaf, Calendula petals, Rose petals, Violet leaf and flowers, Sage, Comfrey, Chamomile, Rosemary, Lemon Balm, Peppermint and a little lemon zest.
Pack into a preserving jar and pour vinegar over, seal and leave to sit. After 6 weeks you have some faded herbs and a very astringent smell.
Strain the liquid through fine muslin (or similar) squeezing to get all the liquid out. Measure and add an equal quantity of Witch Hazel. Add some Lavender Essential oil to suit, I only added around 15 drops to this quanity of liquid. Bottle, it will keep for “many” months though I am not sure how many that means. (Don’t pour it into a jar that previously contained Pickled Garlic as I did with the amount I put aside for me!) Use a cotton wool ball to apply.
I love this recipe, nice to make and lovely to use.
Happy New Year to you all, I hope this year you & yours stay healthy and happy, and your dreams come true….whatever they may be.
This is how I am feeling this New Year. I never make New Year resolutions, I have learned from experience that I am doomed to never keeping them :) But I have spent alot of time thinking over this first few days of the year. I have started the year so weary!!! Our plans last year went all skew-iffy and all we have done the last four months or so is work because of company/organisational needs. Roger took a job of 3 days a week and has worked 5 since he started, because they “are behind”. I agreed early last year to go back to my former place of work as a reliever for occasional shifts only to keep my hand in there, I enjoy it and missed it. Over the year there have been a few issues (as there is in any place) and my hours crept up, for too many months we have been so short staffed that I have been working far too many hours for me – up to 65 hours a fortnight and 3 nights a week “on-call” if there are any problems. I work in a mental health respite place and have been there 7 years, I do love it. But I also want my life back, the one where I work in the garden, make soap and other things, I don’t want to be so tired on my days off I feel like a zombie. I have Fibromyalgia, I feel like crap most days but try and keep active because I need to. I don’t want to live with resentment at being ill all the time, resentment because too many other things steal my time, resentment because my needs are not being met. Basically, trying to fit “The Simple Life” into a hectic lifestyle doesn’t work :) I want to sleep if I need to, sulk on the bad days… sleep under the stars because I just feel like it, pick wildflowers and herbs, create, dabble, experiment, experience and do things, whatever things I feel I need to do at that time! After telling my sister a couple of months ago I am doing fine pushing through feeling like shit, I now want to just surrender to the fact I feel like that, for the first time ever! So, with the New Year I am taking two weeks off work to decide whether I want to even go back because right now I am over it, I am exhausted, in pain and feeling very hard done by because my soap-making has turned to zilch along with time in the kitchen and garden doing what is important to us – what I enjoy doing has been absent and that’s not ok.
Anyway, after all that whining :) I have to share this. This morning I received Happy Mail all the one from Canada and the funny, very talented, very delightful Kelly at Boomdeeadda. After commenting on her paper Halloween House a couple of months ago it arrived in a very cute package on my footpath.
Not only a most gorgeous haunted house but the cutest little poetry book I have ever seen, a postcard complete with flag, a Canadian gardening magazine and a bar of chocolate from a company in the Canadian Rockies. What utter JOY to unwrap :) :) Look at this treasure!
Thanks so much Boomdee, truly, it made my week!! I am just amazed to see how intricate it all is and how much time it must of taken…and your very obvious patience!
I hope you all had a great Christmas :)
Ours was different this year, suddenly hectic and not at all what we planned but was great.
Some of you know I started a Freecomony page on Facebook for our town earlier this year after reading a book I very much enjoyed by Mark Boyle, The Moneyless Man (here’s a post I wrote about it then). While I don’t aspire to living a moneyless life as he did I liked alot of what he had to say, in particular how the Freeconomy Community he started in his city was so successful. I like the pay-it-forward system of receiving what you need and providing what others need if you can at a later date, I like his anti-consumerism message of waste and poverty and his environmental ideals. Anyway I started this page which plodded along for months with nearly 130 people sharing, giving, receiving…but not in any big way, just quietly and slowly but I enjoyed watching people using it.
I had told a work colleague about it and she had said she would bring stuff in to me rather than take it to op shops. The last few months she had been trying to sell her house and had cleared stuff out for a garage sale, when it sold suddenly on the proviso they move out in two weeks she didn’t have time for the garage sale and asked me if I wanted the stuff for my page. Yep, I did. When I went to look at it there was 2 car loads and Roger’s truck full and I almost actually told her to ring an op shop to come and pick it up as we were so busy working and I was trying to get to the Christmas markets with my soaps. But, there were all these toys, beautiful ones….a pretty pink bike, 3 scooters, roller blades, PS 2 games, musical instruments, heaps of other toys, kids clothing and books and household stuff. It was 2 weeks before Christmas and we knew some people would not be able to afford toys so we took everything. Our lounge and dining room were full. I didn’t put them on the page but asked those who truly were struggling this year to message me with their kids sexes and ages. There were heaps who said there kids were not getting presents this year. I did our things but so did many of the other woman and it took off, 140 new people joined the page…those needing and those giving. My daughter in law came on board to help and my son, at 9 pm on Christmas Eve after putting out a plea for a donation of a PS 2 consul to go with all these games and a singstar, was given one by a lovely family who also gave a large box of wrapped presents for the family of 6 kids it was going to who had no pressies. In the midst of this one young Mum, one of the first to reply to me privately had a fire in her kitchen that next night and spent three days in a caravan park with her 3 kids before being rehomed…we and others helped her with things. I saw so much generosity it truly made my heart sing and I had the best Christmas I have had in ages!! I have often said I never really enjoyed Christmas in the past but this year was truly special. It was great :) :) The garden did not get done, my soaps never made it to the markets, our house was turned upside down, I had to fit everything around working but it was such a humbling and rewarding experience I have plans to do better for next year!
In contrast our Christmas Day was relaxed, very casual and we slept alot of it :) The kids came for lunch or dinner but these were easy meals and we slept all afternoon. It is so hot here most Christmas Days that traditional lunches went out years ago and cold meats and salads are about as fancy as we get here. We got lots of chockies and wine and ate too much. One of my boys who is always told not to spend much (but never listens) bought us a swing seat that folds down to a double hammock….that is going to be a most well used piece of outdoor furniture!
Roger spent the 3 weeks prior to Christmas working at the local school helping to strip out and earthquake proof some of the rooms (the builders he works for were doing it). In the pile of stuff being thrown out was this large cubby hole unit, it was painted with bright red, very ugly chipped and battered enamel paint. This was my present from him, lugged home, stripped down, sanded back and polished, I absolutely love it.
We will be spending this week catching up, yet again, on the garden! Have a happy New Year all xx