Sunday, 28 April 2013

stills: gifts. creating. & free ranging

1. i received these lovely fabric buckets in the mail from here
2. more LGBs for the collection from Kylie
3. card making
4. inspiration from one of my favourite mags
5. my first batch of pesto. with basil from the garden and cashew nuts
6. the girls have been free ranging in the garden. enjoying the autumn sunshine and dust baths.


Wednesday, 24 April 2013

my love of gardening & books

my love of gardening started as a young child. i had a little garden of my own nestled under the huge birds nest fern at my grandparents house and one at home beneath the lemon tree. there i grew violets, busy lizzie's and sprinkled ‘cottage garden mix’ seeds.
now i have much more space to construct a garden bed or three and my attention has turned to productive plants. lemon grass, nasturtiums, rosemary, thyme & lavender are dotted amongst the existing shrubs in the front garden. the mushroom compost filled beds out the back are filled with vegies. green beans climb a wire trellis with lettuce seedlings in front. rows of beetroot, spring onions and silver beet are interplanted with marigolds and more nasturtiums in the other recycled timber-edged beds.
growing a plant. nurturing it from a seed as those first green leaves appear. it grows taller and later its small limbs hold produce: beans, tomatoes, pumpkins or peas. such a rewarding experience it is being able to pick, prepare and then eat.  
alongside my love of gardening is that of reading and studying the images in gardening books. over the years my collection has grown; consisting mostly of thrifted books along with gifted titles from my wish list.
my top gardening books are-

'introduction to permaculture' by Bill Mollison. my go-to book. packed full of info on designing a productive and practical garden (and home) using permaculture principles- from a small backyard to commercial farm size. there are plenty of helpful hand drawn diagrams throughout too. i’ve been lucky enough to find 3 copies over the years from op-shops.
'Esther Deans’ gardening book: growing without digging'. an oldie but still very relevant. all about constructing a no-dig garden using layering methods, composting and pest control.
'the permaculture home garden' by Linda Woodrow (who also has a lovely little blog). another thrifted book. easy reading based again around the permaculture principles. topics of this book include choosing a site for your vegie beds and introducing chickens into the garden system.

'one magic square': grow your own food on one square metre' by Lolo Houbein. great for the small area gardener and those new to growing their own food.  it has instructions on plant spacing and garden bed layout to make the most of limited space. also featured are themed plantings- the curry plot, the pizza plot and the soup plot.
the latest addition, my easter gift this year is 'seasons in my kitchen garden: a journey from paddock to potager' by Marcelle Nankervis. this book is written season by season about Marcelle’s experience on moving to her family’s farm and starting a beautiful garden from scratch. plenty of beautiful photography too.

do you have a favourite gardening book? maybe one you always seem to turn to when you have a gardening query?

Sunday, 21 April 2013

stills: floral & frost

1. & 2. a favourite combination of fuschia and teal in this thrifted artwork ($1)
3. & 4. more thrifting- metal tray ($2)
5. a bare light shade ready for decorating. just not sure with what
6. fresh bread rolls just out of the oven for lunch today
7. nasturtiums in milk glass
8. sitting on the shed roof under the canopy of the apple tree
9. new little lettuce seedlings
10. the first light frost this morning
true autumn weather has well and truly arrived. the wind gusts bring with them a chill. the heater is on come 5pm. woollen blankets lay at the end of the bed ready to pull up of a night. and the baking has begun- vegetable stews and pasties, bread rolls and hot pizzas.. cold weather comfort foods.
what do you like best about autumn?

Thursday, 18 April 2013

dairy-free baking

a recipe for brown sugar coconut oil cookies. & it turned out delicious. i had all the ingredients in the cupboard and it was simple and quick to whip up. i made the dough up the day before and baked the biscuits the next day ready for morning tea.

1/2 cup coconut oil, softened to the consistency of soft butter
1 cup brown sugar, packed
1 egg
1- 2 tablespoons vanilla extract
1 tablespoon golden syrup or molasses 
1 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons cornflour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
combine coconut oil, egg and sugar in a bowl and beat (using a stand mixer or hand mixer) on medium-high speed until light and fluffy (4 to 5 minutes).
add the vanilla, golden syrup/molasses, and beat to incorporate. add the flour, corn flour, baking soda and salt, and mix until just combined, about 1 minute.
roll dough into balls about a tablespoon in size. place dough mounds on a large plate, and slightly flatten each mound. cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 2 hours; or up to 5 days.
preheat oven to 180°C, spray a baking tray/s with cooking spray.
place dough balls on baking sheet, spaced at least 2 inches apart. bake for 8 to 10 minutes, or until tops have just set, even though appearing undercooked. they firm up when cooled. 
store cookies in an airtight container for up to 1 week.
unbaked dough can be stored in an airtight container in the freezer for up to 3 months, and baked as required. prefect for a short notice, fresh out of the oven, house smelling delicious, morning or afternoon tea when visitors drop in.
happy baking. x

Sunday, 14 April 2013

stills: autumn-y

1. feathery chook legs
2. fluffy chook bottoms
3. vintage sheet curtains and doily bunting
4. a sweet little thrifted print
5. watching River Cottage
6. apple and (homegrown) rhubarb tart
7. delicious and dairy-free biscuits. the first time i've made them & they are a favourite already.

Friday, 12 April 2013

the new chooks and their home


the remodeling of the shed into a chook house saw plenty of repurposing and make-do:
an old metal trunk as a nest box.
ladder turned roost.
garden stakes became chicken tractor framework.
timber from our first chicken tractor transformed into a door.
& an old silver spoon has a new life as a handle.

do you often upcycle objects?
do you have a favourite repurposed project?

Sunday, 7 April 2013

stills: around the garden

the week in stills.
this past 7 days has seen a bit of book reading and note taking followed by construction. the conversion of one of the sheds into a chicken house and the building of a chicken run/tractor. and i'm happy to say that it only cost under $50 all up. and that was for a new roll of chicken wire and a couple of bales of hay. for the rest of the materials we used what we already had. repurposing where necessary.
my hands are showing signs of all the work though: timber selection, hand sawing and chicken wire measuring & cutting.
& today we picked up the girls from a heritage poultry breeder just out of town. all the chickens, turkeys, guinea fowl and peacocks looked very happy in their old tennis court yard.
the 3 we selected are Wheaten Marans. a docile breed. tolerating heat and cold (the latter of which we're already getting a bit of here). lay dark, chocolate coloured eggs. and have cute little feathers on their feet.
they have their work set out for them: digging in the vegie garden, eating bugs, turning the soil ready for planting & fertilising as they go. i am so very happy to have chooks once again. since moving from the coast i have missed their antics so.    wishing you all a wonderful week ahead.

Friday, 5 April 2013

a tea towel birthday cushion


more cushion cover sewing of late.
for the fiances birthday using a calendar tea towel of his birth year (which Kylie kindly gifted me from her stash).
this one has the zipper on the side. a bit of a change from my usual style of zipper on the back.
a little stitching around his birth date and this personalised cushion is done.

in other news there is a flutter of activity here as ideas are discussed, books are revisited, and plans are drawn up. hopefully we will add a couple of feathered additions to the family in the next week or so. i can't wait.