Not much to blog about this month :)

I have little to report on the garden, except that it’s muddy as anything. The weather has been cold and wet, Roger has been pruning back fruiting trees and bushes and pulling out very dead plants. There are piles of spent plants everywhere.

I turned on my camera this morning to take a few photos but it’s flat – so, a short post!

We have just harvested our pumpkins but haven’t counted or weighed them yet. We have around 30 which is less than we were hoping but enough. There are still carrots, silverbeet, leeks, beetroot, broccoli, beans, lettuce etc growing. We have just had the last of the zucchini.

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We have been keeping a journal of harvests from the garden this year including weights etc. We have just reached 6 months and so far have well over 600 kg of food recorded from the garden, that includes eggs. We have had some great harvests this year but also some flop crops. Potatoes failed to do anything, from all that we planted with high hopes something happened to them and we only got 16 kg. Peppers and Chilli didn’t do great but I think Roger’s mammoth tomato plant prevented them from reaching their potential greatly 😦 Peanuts were planted and just disappeared.

We are still harvesting feijoa and figs. Did you know you can freeze figs whole? Just top and tail and freeze on a tray then bag. These will not keep there shape or texture but as we use them mostly in smoothies these are fine.

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I bottled the apple cider vinegar. This time I had a most wonderful “Mother” on top. I haven’t taken the time to find out what I can do with this but if anyone has any ideas please do let me know. I had a quick look and understand I can use it to make more vinegar but no-one really said HOW? so it’s sitting in some of the vinegar still waiting to become something new.Image

I bought a large box and a supermarket bag of walnuts for $30 from a friend.Image

I have been making soups galore. I could live on soups though Roger does not like them, my son loves them too so pots of it get dropped off to him. This one Pumpkin and Bacon.Image

Home:

After we finished painting the lounge we painted the porch which sorely needed it. To replace the large heart on the wall Roger made me a rusty barbed wire one mounted on a piece of recycled wood. I just love it but unfortunately can’t get a photo today. I also changed the little cupboard I was painting. I used to do alot of folk art but have discovered my hands shake too much now (I turned 55 on Saturday, I guess that’s just where age is getting this woman!) I was really unhappy with it so have decoupaged it. It’s very cute but no photo of that either today. I made my own Mod Podge as it’s $20 for a small jar of it here – how on earth do people afford that??!!

I am also making some velvet patchwork cushions, hand sewing them because my friend has borrowed my machine. I searched the op shops for old velvet and beaded clothes… and acquired some great ones but have just started them so I don’t imagine there will be any photos of them for a lonnnggg while 🙂 I am really enjoying having the time to just sit by the fire and listen to music and do something else other than food! I have also still been working but that will be ending shortly, winter at home is sounding truly good.

A photo of my shabby sideboard for Pauline (as requested) Image

And finally, I took some photo of Roger with Syd the other day without them realising – I thought I would share one on here because I love it (*whispers* don’t tell Roger!) Man and his best mate.

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 I hope you all had a lovely Mother’s Day!!!

Home, lavender products and the absolute best of market finds!

After 2 weeks of cold and rain we have a most beautiful autumn day here so I popped out and took some photos of the “hood” 🙂

This photo shows our wee valley, we are in the first row of houses opposite the vineyard and amongst trees.

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New Zealand, home to 4 million people and over 30 million sheep 🙂

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Winter is creeping up.

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We managed to finish our lounge but haven’t finished putting everything back or all the pictures back up. This is it though, it’s actually a pale coffee colour which isn’t showing very well. We are really happy with it. It ended up costing around $290 to de-stipple the ceilings, replaster and finish/paint, put in downlights and paint the walls, windows etc. A big job for Roger but I did help with the painting and the shifting of way too much “stuff”

Before:

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After:

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Last weekend we had to go to Nelson for Roger to attend an apt and got there early to have a look around the markets. It was only 30 minutes before they were due to pack up and I asked one woman how much she was asking for some cake tins and a retro dinner set  – just being nosy really as I thought they would be too expensive. “Fill a bag for $1, I don’t want to take this stuff home” she said handing me a pile of supermarket bags. After a brief discussion with me clarifying she actually DID want people to take this stuff for so little…she then put the cake tins inside each other so we could fit more in a bag, we ended up with all this for $4.

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 And some shameless advertising for my sister 🙂 Jan owns a lavender farm in Carterton and have offered to put an ad here for her for any Kiwis interested in purchasing lavender oils or products from her directly. She sells oils. soaps, hand creams and lavender pillows and can be found at lavenderabbey. Look at her gorgeous dog Rene!

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There is very little going on in the garden right now, but Feijoas and Figs still coming thick and fast. Job today!

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Our Easter Weekend….Redecorating!

Roger has had 5 days off work over the Easter hols and most of it has been spent moving furniture then plastering, sanding, plastering and sanding till he’s happy with the finish….then installing down lights and now we are ready to start cleaning up to start painting. When we bought this place the lounge looked like this……Pink and silver embossed wallpaper, the most horrid stippled ceilings and classic early 80’s brass light fittings. Just awful, but not as bad as the rest of the house lol.Image

We redecorated all the other rooms over the first few years but it was 4 years before we got onto the lounge – actually Roger started it about 2 months before we got married – it never got finished! After he undercoated it I got home from work one night to find this on the wall. It was supposed to be painted over a few days later but we run out of time and had to put everything back for the wedding.

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So – lol, we have had that on our wall for 3 years, it’s the joke of everyone we know. We would have done all this sooner but our lounge is large, the finish on the previously stippled ceiling was awful and Roger is no plasterer but we just never have got the money together to pay for a professional. Since then of course we have had upteen thousand earthquakes which left a whole lot of cracking. It desperately needed doing so we just started (I say we, I moved everything I could out, Roger has done the rest) He’s done a great job, it’s all set to paint…he has gone over it and over it till he’s happy. And he installed the down lights which look really good.Image

The down lights he bought at a garage sale 6 months ago – $10 for 8, still in box. The plaster he bought last year also at a garage sale, a large bucket for nix. The wiring for the lights from his collection of materials he acquires/finds and hoards in the basement, ceiling paint left over from rest of house. Basically all we had to buy was the wall and window paint and a few new brushes, masking tape. I think we have spent about $280 to redo the lounge…. but a whole lot of time.

We also had to get a freezer into it’s rightful place. No small feat given it had to go downstairs and he only had me to “help”. I tell you something, I think I must be married to the most stubborn (he calls it tenacity) person I know. He wouldn’t bother anyone he knew to help move it down a flight of steps…or help him when we got it stuck in the doorway 🙂 We measured it, it would fit if the door came off. So, he removes the door, it would JUST fit. The doorway had a bow in it down the bottom, so….!

Roger giving me the thumps up “It’s ok, we’ll get do it!”

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After 15 minutes of stuckedness, with him on one side, me on the other insisting we get someone to help because we do have a large freezer stuck in a doorway, he came up with an idea because “It SHOULD fit!”. He climbs over, puts olive oil down each side of the doorway, pulls it back up toward him, shoves a trolley under it, wedges himself between it and the wall and pushes like crazy. I walked away because I just had visions of the freezer crashing to the ground.

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No accidents, just a freezer safely through the doorway and a beaming husband telling me I have little faith.

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All filled with food from the garden 🙂

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Anyways, that has been our Easter weekend, I hope you have all enjoyed yours 🙂

Rain, rain and more rain

The past 4 days it has just rained. After months of none at all we have quickly become a quagmire in the garden, it’s been cold and miserable.

Garden:

Roger made a feed tray for the chooks from an old paddling pool frame (from his “collection of useful junk”) The fence is really high and a bit awkward for me to undo so I generally tip food over it, ok when it’s dry but not when muddy.Image

Before any bale of peastraw gets to the garden the chooks get to enjoy it for a while, pecking insects out and whatever out.

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Roger has been repotting boysenberry plants that have rooted. Shoots self root and can be cut from the parent plantImage

He took this photo to show me his wonderful compost under his 2 yr old branches left in a pile down the back of the garden.

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This is a carrot he left to go to seed. He hasn’t done this before but instead of collecting them he prepared some earth then shook the large seedheads everywhere. He is hoping they grow this way….?Image

Kitchen:

Shameful bragging – look at the size of our figs this year!! This is a decent sized avocado next to this one.Image

I have been drying any excess as they come in, there is not enough yet to bottle. Figs really only last a day or two before they spoil, we had our first meal of buckwheat pancakes, bacon and honey grilled figs and it was good!!!!Image

Drying herbs at the same timeImage

Making more chutney and a large jar of onions.Image

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I keep a pail of wild bird seed on the porch and mix it with fat left in the roasting tin for the birds, the chooks also love it. This mix costs $7 for a large bag at the supermarket but a local seed and grain place sells it for only $3.30.  Apparently irresistible to a certain cat.Image

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Home:

A month or so ago I wrote a post about thoughts of leaving here. We have each decided we want to stay put 🙂 We’re too old to start over and we are rooted here when it comes down to it 🙂 We have thoughts of how we can earn some income from here but won’t mention those just now, a “one-day plan”. Next weekend, Easter, we are going to repaint the lounge after leaving it undercoated for rather a long time.

This bird’s nest is too tiny to catch a decent photo but we were amused to find it when Roger cut down the trees at the back. In the earthquakes last year our hot water cyclinder burst. We replaced it and Roger pulled the old one to bits to get a most lovely copper inner out. It was insulated with old wool that he put in a sack, this nest was made with some of it 🙂

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This has been sitting on our front porch for ages, my son was going to throw it out. I grabbed it but never did like the black of it and one piece of cane was missing from the front. Image

I got bored the other day and decided to repaint this. Roger plucked a piece of cane from the back of a cane bookcase to fill the gap. I am not doing a great job but it will be better I hope than before…maybe? maybe not 🙂

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Anyway, I think that’s all this week from Quarteracre. Keep warm those in the Southern Hemisphere and enjoy your Spring those in the Northern 🙂

Nothing from the Kitchen today :)

Because Wendy decided to go on strike….no more preserving till the feijoas and figs come in. I figure I have a two to three week window to relax a bit in 🙂 Actually the drop in temperature was making my body ache like crazy so I have been nurturing myself rather than pushing myself through it. It’s worked and I am feeling alot better.

There is little going on in the garden either right now. The pumpkins are dying off but they will stay where they are till the first frosts, we have found this gives much richer colour and flavour. The figs are still a wee way off and the feijoas are just starting to drop with one or two a day. Carrots, silverbeet, beetroot, beans and broccoli, one of the zucchini plants are still going. Roger has just planted broad beans for winter, parsnip went in a few weeks ago. The raised garden in the front needs emptying and planting for winter greens. Everything is slowing.

The feijoa bushes are laden

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Capsicums are nearly finished and waiting on chillis which are trying to grow amongst a rampant tomato plant in the glasshouse.

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I am not quite sure how the black ones happenedImage

That time of the year!!

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We have had 3 lots of visitors this past few weeks We have had family here to stay and Anthony and his lovely family to visit. Anthony is a like-minded blogger from Melbourne. We really enjoyed their visit and a chance to chat with others doing similar to us and we managed to glean lots of info on bees from them….we hoped they didn’t notice we know virtually nothing about what we are doing with them. Anyway… lovely times 🙂

So, apart from cleaning my house so it is acceptable for visitors I have really been chilling a bit and thoroughly enjoying it. I have done lots of reading, listened to music, done a little sewing but haven’t finished my items yet.

When I listen to music Mittens will too, however he gets alot closer to the stereo than I get. One music loving feline!

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  A little drawing/painting for my granddaughter, the mermaid lover in the family and apparently these  “really do exist” because she has seen photos of real ones on the internet. Not even close to Pauline’s standard yet 🙂Image

One book I have been enjoying is James Wong’s Grow Your Own drugs, it’s wonderful and I intend to make a few of his recipes soon.

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And that’s all from me 🙂

Settling into Autumn

We are well and truly hitting Autumn. We have had the fire going quite a bit, the nights and mornings are chilly, the garden is on it’s very last legs. Just in time for fellow blogger Anthony and his family (from Australia) to visit tomorrow, the garden has exhausted itself!! But we are very excited and looking forward to meeting them 🙂

Either dead or dying

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When your garden looks like this on a very large scale there are several reactions all at once. Glee for one, lol. Things will slow down now and we can get to enjoy some other aspects of life and hopefully paint our lounge! Sorrow because we do love summer and horror, because that’s one grizzly mess to clean up!

But we do have sunflowers and we are still waiting on fruit and pumpkins to ripen.Image

There is still plenty to preserve. I have continued buying sauce tomatoes for pulping, cooking till concentrated and freezing. I did 7 jars of pickled garlic.

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A lovely fellow blogger 🙂 sent me a link one day for an easy way to peel garlic that was on You Tube. It was bashing it to break up then putting in 2 stainless steel bowls and shaking it rapidly for 5 minutes. If anyone ever tries this and gets it to work please let me know HOW? because it didn’t work for us!

Still pickling beetroot

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Roger picked me some peaches to do…..Bless him she says, between gritted teeth 🙂

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Capsicums are still coming and being frozen, as is, for stuffing with whatever over winter

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We have plans now for our marrows. I got given a recipe by a friend for Marrow Rum (Fran?)

You take the top off, de-seed it, and fill it with good brown sugar and let it ferment for 2 months in a cool place. Apparently it makes very good booze! I hate rum but am keen to try it, I am sure we will find takers for it.

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A large batch of apple sauce was made and frozen and another batch of cider vinegar is on the go.Image

You could be mistaken for thinking we either a) had a white telly-tubby call in or b) we were visited by martians – Roger’s first visit on the bees 🙂

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He is really enjoying them and we are both becoming quite fascinated as we read more about their community living, work, and lives.

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Our kitchen window is the most used window in our house. Roger will often appear at it, grin, tell my to hold out my hand and pass me the first fig, strawberry, tomato…bird’s nests he has found etc. All sorts come through that window, or get passed out of it, often a beer or a fresh baked something. Twice in one week he bought these to show me 🙂Image

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AND FINALLY!! A source of great excitement arrived.

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Last year I inherited by Mum’s new oven when she went into a rest home. A year later it’s arrived via my sister and hubby on holiday. It was a 3.5 hour ferry trip and over an hours drive away but was bound to get here sooner or later. The decrepid old thing we had was near it’s last legs, half the elements no longer worked and the racks caved in occasionally. You have no idea how welcomed this appliance was!!! It will make preserving and drying a whole lot easier that’s for sure.

Many of you are heading into Spring, I wish you a long and productive two seasons!!

Growing our own food – frugal food, self reliance and the learning of new/old skills.

Things are so tough for many out there right now and it heartens me to see so many young ones returning to the habits of older generations, growing some of their own food. This may end up a long post for regular readers who have heard it all before but this is for those who are thinking maybe they would like to try for a garden, or grow on what they are already doing.

When we moved here there was just lawn and we shopped like everyone else. This was 3 months after we moved in, a wee vegetable garden had been put in (bottom corner) Excuse the dead branches by the house, this was Roger thinning out a dead vine!

IMG_0033 Our garden has grown over the years but it was only last summer we decided to really go for it and see how far we could go with “eating from our section”. This has been a journey of learning self reliance….one thing leads to another and formally frugal habits have been replaced by simple living, making our own cleaning mixtures, less chemical exposure, an appreciation for nature and our environment, searching for more free foods, the trading and sharing of our excesses and helping others.last summer

So, here where we are now (actually taken last summer).

We are fortunate that Roger works on a farm and can get meat – for those of you who can’t work in farming though it’s all relative, he earns a low wage, the meat is counted in with it. I don’t eat alot of meat and basically no-one needs to eat alot of it. Much of our diet can be grown at home with eggs, vegetable, fruits and berries….nuts if you are lucky enough to have a large section. Our diet comes from a garden that’s probably 1/8 acre. This is why we do it, this was my shopping last week for two people.

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I already had 2 bottles of milk in the fridge bought the week before on special. The avocados were cheap so I got 10. The spices and seals were for preserving. The wee tins of fish are for me. We can’t grow bananas. Roger prefers this brand of softened butter opposed to the butter/olive oil blend I make sometimes. Dates, raisins and raw peanuts are healthy additions to our diet. Basics like sugar, flour, vinegar etc are bought in bulk. The bread is Rogers favourite. Few of these things are necessities, but desires. I also had cheese already, and a little coffee I bought up on special. Just about everything I buy is bought in bigger quantities when on special eg the avocados here. I also don’t show the pet food here.

Seeds and buckwheat are bought from the bulk store and I will go every week or two and stock up on stuff like this…coconut, brown rice, dried beans, baking soda etc.

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This is basically our shopping for the week…things like toilet paper and soap are purchased in bulk when cheap. We spend on average around $40 – $60 per week on our food and some weeks all we buy is milk. A few years ago our Health Dept put our a brochure for shopping on a low income and it was estimated $70 per person is the least a person could live on foodwise in NZ and this would be for a very basic diet, nowhere near as healthy as we eat.

Garden produce is either frozen, pickled, bottled or made into sauces, jams, chutneys…or boozy drinks! An old disused laundry has been crudely converted into a store room, a would be larder…(note the earthquake proof shelving as last year alot of bottles and jars just slid off shelves)

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I still have a couple of months preserving to go then the majority of our food is stored for the remainder of the year. In fact, we could survive from our food stores and garden etc until next summer (9 months) if need be…and still be healthy.

I sometimes also make white bread for Roger and freeze some, three loaves can be made for $1.80.Image

Every few weeks I am tempted to buy something like this – a deli pack the supermarket sells cheap. This all cost $7.95 and their are foods we don’t get…salami, ham, quiches so I don’t have to cook tea a couple of nights. All of this can be frozen. Served with salad they all make a good meal for those nights Wendy doesn’t  be bothered  cooking / making her own quiche or Roger would just like toasted sandwiches for a change.

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 Again these are just desires.

Truly we could survive from our garden if need be. We preserve summer fruits and vegetables to eat through winter. We preserve nice things to eat because we can, because they add variety, nutrition, a taste of summer through the cold months. If we wanted we could just freeze everything but we make our preserves because we appreciate the flavours on what could otherwise be quite a limited winter diet.

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 Sharing food with others means they share in return. These pears and oranges came from friend, lemons we pick from an unowned tree down the street. These apples came from a wild tree by the farm.Image

At present I am doing a juice, salad and soup detox so am living on vegetables from the garden, along with dried beans/legumes and feeling good for it on the third week. I am not starving to death and am surviving well 🙂

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Eggs supply alot of nutrition and with eggs and vegetables you always have a meal.

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We also just got bees to get our own honey….this lasts forever, is a healthier alternative to sugar and the bees will help pollinate the fruit etc.

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To put food, our shopping habits and what we really need to survive into perspective, I like this. The healthiest and happiest looking people I think are those from Mali who have (by comparison to western diets) a very basic diet sitting in front of them.

What people eat in different countries around the world

We grow herbs in the garden too, these can be used fresh, dried, used for skincare or remedies. I am still learning about the use of herbs and do not get enough time to really get into it but herbalism really interests me, I have a whole lot of learning to do in this area!

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Rose and Calendula Hand Cream

Rose and Calendula Hand Cream

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I recently bought a book on foraging in NZ and what wild weeds, herbs, fruits etc can be used and the making of medicines etc. This I found at a secondhand book store for $2.50, a quick flick through tells me I will be reading this avidly over autumn and winter to learn from. Besides personal interest in this sort of thing I have to say this – I am not convinced the economy will pick up any time soon, things could get alot harsher for everyone, us included. We believe it is our responsibility to be able to fend for ourselves if need be. Basic necessities in life are food, warmth and shelter…you have to add water. Many are living now on social security and benefits because of the high unemployment rates and existing poverty by the new working poor, so many in fact it is not sustainable.

Another depression or war would force so many to find food where they can. W want to learn how to survive if the need be. Sounds terribly pessimistic but I’d rather be knowledgeable than naive or ignorant if the “shit should ever hit the fan”.

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This month I have been doing an e-course I won through another blogger, Lois, at Living Simply Free . The course has been really interesting and was offered through Handcrafted Travellers. This young couple are very inspiring and have a great ethos, that of living off the land. I am ashamed to say I have not finished the reading but have it all stored to do so, I have just simply been too busy but I feast off their site!

In this course we have learned about embracing simplicity, experiencing quality v quantity, resistance and learning to say “No”, chemical free cleaning, getting rid of plastics, herbal beauty, handcrafted and natural clothing, learning new skills, earthing, the importance of Vit D, limiting technology for your health and wellbeing…in general self reliance and living in harmony with nature. They have a beautiful site and have much of interest to say, they also run many courses.

Another blogger I follow and whose post I recommend here is Rohan from Whole Larder Love. Read here how he jackhammered through concrete slabs to start his garden and honestly, this guy has a lovely blog…he lives off the land, fishes, hunts, runs classes and sells his vegetables. Also very inspiring.

We also practice self reliance in other areas too, which will be the subject of another post to come, this is already too long!

And so, after 15 – 18 months, this is where we are at 🙂 I will stress here, we are not feeling we deprive ourselves of anything. If we want it we will buy it, we enjoy the food we eat, I cook really nice meals and we like the fact it costs us so  little.

The First Week of Autumn

I don’t know what happened to summer this year, it’s been cooler than usual, cloudier than usual and has gone in a blur . The firewood has started coming, the garden is dying off in a mess of wilting foliage. The only good thing about autumn is the fig, pumpkin and feijoa harvests, smiling sunflowers…then it’s just one big clean up and the wintering down off most of it. 

The garden:

Roger is grinning from ear to ear today….we finally got his bees. We have been waiting for a year or so for a hive to come up cheaply and it did. They aren’t cheap, but this was 1/2 the price we usually see them for. The man he bought them from this morning assured us there would be 30 kg of honey from this box, additionally there would be beeswax and the pollination of vegetable plants and fruit trees. We then had to buy a book on keeping bees which was not cheap either…..I think the first new book I have bought in decades.

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Mittens early morning routine of watching the chooks being fed. It’s a good thing they are behind a huge fence I think.Image

The leeks are growing well, the zucchini are dying off and behind them a mass of pumpkins and ripening wine grapes.

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A pumpkin invasion.Image

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The tomatoes are nearing the end. With such a cool summer we didn’t get nearly as many as I had hoped for despite planting extra plants. We got heaps but not enough for the year, I will be buying some!

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Silverbeet (Chard) self seeds everywhere. We have masses of it, we eat alot of it and the chooks love it.

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Beans and beetroot still growing but not much longer for the beans.Image

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The herbs are nearing the end for many, the big herb garden has been covered with peastraw to build up the soil and keep weeds down over winter. The oregano flowering.Image

In the glasshouse we have peppers and chillis just fruiting/ripening and one enormous tomato plant that doesn’t have alot of fuit, is keeping sun off the other plants but Roger is very proud of it:)

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In November we decided to journal all our harvesting to see how much we could grow. So far, in three months it is up to nearly 300 kg (2.2 lbs to kg I think?) of fruit, vegetables and berries. There is still alot to come. This from our garden which is probably 1/8 acre. 

The kitchen:

I have been making tomato sauces, both barbecue sauce and a ketchup. We love both of these recipes. I save my olive oil bottles for tomato sauce, I have done 4 litres, maybe another 4 will do.

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And started some Blackberry Liqueur.

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And it’s soup season, another thing to be thankful to autumn for 🙂 

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Home:

These are some of the guys from Vanuatu, they came last night for farewell drinks…all rather shy of the camera 🙂 These guys come over to work in the vineyards and we know them well now. This is the summer crew. We were talking last night about their lives…they either have family land or buy a small area for very little, build their houses from wood they chop down, live in small villages and their food is practically free. They grow their own vegetables, eat mostly seafood they catch and occasional chickens (usually for ceremonial meals) and their fruit and coconuts are picked freely from the thousands of trees that grow naturally. That’s their diet and for all our food groups and daily requirement lists….these guys are truly fit and healthy. They speak between 3 and 4 languages and are honest, hardworking, proud but humble people. Vanuatuans have twice been voted the world’s happiest in the world. I just thought I would add all this after the other day’s grumpy post about dissatisfaction 🙂 🙂

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Normal…….

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My son shared this on Facebook today. My son hates his job, he has been working for the same company for 18 years having worked his way up from a junior position, working now as an area manager for a boss he can’t stand. He doesn’t read my blog, (neither does his boss) so hopefully doesn’t find out I have been talking about him behind his back… I shall keep him identity-less! He stays there because in our small area this job provides security and decent wages which he needs now because he has family. This post is not to discuss him so much as dissatisfaction in our lives. I am not knocking the above, some thrive in big cities with well paying jobs and holidays to relax into. Not knocking it at all. This is not my life and I am happy for that, my way is not other’s way and their’s is not mine, we are all different.

But seeing this set me off on a tangent (as is my way!) How many of us fall into the lives we have, no conscious decisions made, we just live them. We do our 9 – 5, struggle to pay our bills, do whatever to make ends meet, many lucky to even get a holiday!!! My life is far from this picture above but today I was walking around with a mumbling going on deep down, feeling crabby and distracted. When I read this I laughed it off, made a joke, yep that’s life. Later on when thinking about it and thinking about the dissatisfaction with life some must feel, I recognised my own.

Roger and I have been discussing a few things recently, much of it centres around nooses we have around our neck – mortgages, insurances etc. We are very lucky to have our own home but fact is the bank owns half of it. It’s unstable times, if the economy gets worse (a possibility) there is no guarantee we could even keep it. Both of us have to work and there is never any money left after mortgage, rates, big insurances, utilities, the costs of running vehicles to get to work etc etc. There are no holidays bar a quick weekend away. We would quite like a new normal even though we are far from normal. We have spent 7 years here, we do what we do because we need to, we love our home and garden but there are problems here. Our neighbourhood has gone from a quiet country one where everyone got on fine to one where we are growing a high front hedge to keep away from. We walk through the gate and sigh. Glad to get home from work, because let’s admit it, work is not always fun! but no longer enjoying our situation of where we live. We are virtually surrounded by transient vineyard workers, loud parties and arguments, lousy attitudes, gang members wearing patches etc are the norm here now. I don’t want to sound judgmental here, that’s not really my thing, live and let live. But….we are living in a different environment from that which we moved into – we have escaped town to have it follow us! I went down the shop the other day, drove, and pulled up at a give way. An error in judgment in driving by someone else had her glaring at me and yelling “You stupid f….bitch” at me through car windows. Roger was out mowing the front berm when a car full of young guys pulled up beside him and a pile of rubbish thrown out the window by his feet before they drove off laughing…apparently that was really funny!

What we have been thinking is to move, there are other towns over the west coast of the island which are really cheap, we COULD be mortgage free. We could live in a more settled area. We could leave our home and garden. We could invite my son and fiance to join us, how nice that would be – or leave them behind because they have different ideals. We could live in a wee structure and get more land. Could… maybe…..!!!

So, this is where my mind is at this morning. Dissatisfaction, with everything we thought we were doing right not feeling so right. It’s led me to think of others, human nature, why we are so stuck in our ways doing nothing to change them, why we live lives we aren’t really happy with. Why we complain so much and don’t just feel grateful for what we DO have 🙂 Why people don’t just live lives they love in order to conform, then how hard it is to get unstuck because we have families to support, expectations,bills etc. Then the fact there are homeless people who would be grateful for anything, the fact transient workers have to live somewhere and are probably all very nice people even if some seem a little aggressive at times lol. Giving away eggs and veges over the fence doesn’t seem to work anymore in helping neighbourly connections.

Happiness and what it takes to make ourselves happy, in our own individual and sometimes different ways, seems to be hard to find. I don’t think wanting happiness is a selfish thing, shouldn’t it be the norm? There’s only so much TIME in life with which to find happiness….if only we could bottle time.

An oldy, Jim Croce – Time in a Bottle

Anyways, my rambling for today is true rambling! Now I have to go and get the carpet shampoo unit from the shop and clean my carpets, probably the real reason for my grumpy mood today! Sometimes I think it would be nice to not be broke, you could pay to have your carpets cleaned. Maybe we just need better jobs, more money…. holidays……..! 🙂

Secondhand buys and my hideous pantry

No one could ever call me a minimal. I buy all sorts of things I like because they are cheap, I will say though I don’t do it often…just occasional trips nowadays when I am looking for something in particular. This time I was searching for more jars and also bottles suitable for fruit liqueurs. It always happens that I see other people’s pre-loved treasures and feel I would like to love them too – or I see other people’s junk and think I could use it somehow. (I will not show you a photo of our spare room full of stuff to go back to op-shops but instead we will gloss over the fact Wendy buys stuff for which she has no use for sometimes because it was very cheap!)

Anyway, these jars cost 50c – $1 each and is the only way I will ever buy jars. I have bought whole boxes full for $1 before but these were all needed for some reason. See that lovely big bottle, it’s an old whiskey one with a screw on lid – $1!!

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Wicker hamper $5

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Large flour bin was $10, this will last my lifetime.

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Roger’s buy, a pig cookie jar – $2

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2 wooden containers for $1, I have no idea where these will go/fit!

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And this for $5. Now…this will be a winter project (well, that’s the plan) I have a weird thing for boxes, wee drawers etc, have them all over everywhere. This took my fancy, it’s about knee high but pretty ugly as is. What potential lies here though!! Watch this space for a beautiful decoupaged piece – or, you could see it in a future post on purging my home and a rant about all the junk I have collected and the need for it to be gone!Image

 We have been here 7 years and have always despaired of the pantry. Much of it is hidden behind the wall, it’s never been finished (the house is 40 years old!) and is full of wasted space. Image

In fact it’s the ugliest pantry you will ever see 🙂 and there is little other storage in the kitchen. These brackets in front were very quickly put up after the first earthquake when everything felt out – they are not normal pantry fittings I know 🙂 They have not come down because we still get the occasional one 6 months later. You see my problem here though ay!? I would like something nice and something functional. Roger is going to be taking this front wall down and building all new shelving, which IS a bit concerning because I get to view his unfinished projects every time I go into the garden. He assures me though that he does realise the importance of a job done quickly, and done in it’s entirety, when in the kitchen.

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I cannot believe I have just shown the whole world my crappy pantry! The door normally stays firmly shut 🙂 🙂

But I will be so happy to see it gone and something workable in it’s place. That dishwasher does not go (top photo) and will be gotten rid of to use the space. Much as I would’ve liked another it’s not going to happen, they use too much power.