Sunday, August 29, 2010


We moved into our new house a few weeks ago. I was so thrilled to move from our unit into a house with established garden beds. See one of my previous posts on my unit/balcony gardening here.

Over the past few weekends since moving in I have dabbled in gardening a little, but not as much as I would like, due mainly to unpacking (ewww), being sick and under the weather (also ewww) and then this weekend going camping (not ewww at all!). We went to Neurum Creek Bush Retreat, which was beautiful.

Although it did happen to be some doggie spectacular event going on and we were the only ones there without a pooch or taking part in any of the activities (it was totally fine by me to lay next to the creek and read rather than throw things in the water for my dog to jump in and get!). If you live within a few hours of Caboolture I suggest you go check this place out. Only thing though, don't expect many nicetties from the staff that check you in, I found them to be very rude and uninterested! If I worked in a beautiful location as they do I think I could probably pull out a smile!

Anyway, I'm getting off track, I wanted to talk about gardening.

So I potted around a little bit these last few weekends and I wanted to show some pictures and also show what needs to be done!

Lemon tree with new buds

Plants still needing to be transferred into the garden

Some garden beds still to be prepared

One garden bed with Bush tomato in front, broccoli, carrots, potatos, and one transplanted tomato at the back

Second prepared bed with lettuce and a flower mix to attract beneficial insects

Spring has sprung! (on my lime tree)

Mulberries starting to form (IN MY BACKYARD!)

One of the beneficial weeds in the lawn (probably the only beneficial one!)

My seeds are actually sprouting! I must be doing something right

Luffa seedling - it's HUGE!

Even my pumpkin seeds, that I saved myself, are sprouting. Good signs!

Well that's the tour of my backyards so far. Hopefully I'll be able to bring you some more pictures soon.

How was your weekend?

Friday, August 27, 2010

Using it all: pumpkin

We have been actively trying to not create any waste when we make our meals. Our latest success has been with pumpkin.
My other half decided to cook a very delicious pumpkin soup with beans blended to add thickness to the soup.
That was dinner. Then instead of throwing the skin and seeds in the compost (which in itself I thing would have been considered 'using' it all up) we then made pumpkin chips from the pieces of skin (which I officially love!) And are currently drying the seeds to eat as a snack (very good for u according to my naturopath). So that's one way of using the whole pumpkin. What do u do with pumpkin or do 'use it all up' with something different?

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Books: the frugal way!

This is my ever growing list of books on hold at the local library:

Steen, Bill.
Alexander, Stephanie,
Woodward, Penny.
Green, James, 1940-
Fallon, Sally.
Soule, Amanda Blake.
Soule, Amanda Blake.
Brocket, Jane.
Seymour, John
Langman, Adrienne.


What a treasure trove! Cost to place a hold and have the book delivered to your choice of library within the Brisbane area is 80cents. Not bad! 

I can't wait until I receive that email in my inbox to say they are ready to pick up! Some will take longer than others, for Amanda's (aka Soulemama) 'Homemade Home' I am 7th in the queue so could be a long wait, but all of the others I am the next in line so should receive that email to say they are ready in the next few weeks. 

Oh how very frugal!



Monday, August 23, 2010

Using it all up with mangoes!

Last weekend at the farmers markets I couldn't walk past the fabulous aroma of MANGOS!

To my they epitomize summer in Brisbane. Yep I know it's not summer yet, but that beautiful tropical smell is hard to walk past.

I bought a couple and after having one with ice cream (best combo ever), I made up some orange and mango cordial.

Very simple standard recipe that you can use on any mix of fruits that I read on Rhonda's down to earth blog.

Juice your fruits and weigh. I lined a bowl with muslin cloth and scrapped all of the mango flesh into it, then squeezed all the juice through the cloth into the bowl. This left a lot of the flesh in the muslin cloth.
Make the same weight of sugar syrup (which is a mix of half sugar, half water heated on the stovetop until the sugar is dissolved)
Then just mix them together and pour into sterilized jars.
The cordial will stay fresh for at least 1 week like this, otherwise add a little citric acid (which you can easily find in the  baking section of the supermarket) to keep the flavours fresher for longer.

I used the juice of 2 mangoes and 1 orange, and this gave me about 500ml of quite nectar-y tasting cordial, very delish!

But then I had the leftover mango flesh that I didn't want to just throw out. So I whipped up a mango cake to use it up! I didn't follow a recipe. Just added flour, sugar and milk until it was the right consistency and poured it into my ring tin then into the oven until it looked just about right. Easy, no fuss!

All that was remaining of those mangoes was the skin and seeds, into the compost and each and every part of those mangoes was used productively.

Do you have any great recipes for 'leftovers'?

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Lost my mojo

I have completely lost my blogging mojo. No, I lie, I've also lost my housework mojo, actually I think I have actually lost my do-anything mojo.

This last week I have felt so flat. I think a combination of moving last weekend, being the week before 'that' time of the month and having a stuffy headcold is doing my energy in and throwing my emotions all out of whack. Absolutely drained is a pretty good term for how I'm feeling right now.

It also doesnt help that next month going to be ridiculously intense for me. I work for a festival and next month is THE festival, so this whole year we have been working towards the 3 weeks in September when we (somehow) pull it all together. So just thinking about that is not doing much to increase my energy levels at all.

Today my headcold kicked into overdrive and has knocked me out. I slept for 4 hours in the middle of the day today, now that is very unlike me.

So I have been upping the vitamins to try and kick whatever this rut is in the butt! I'm taking valerian to help me get a deeper sleep, a zinc, B6 and magneisum mix for the dreaded PMS, and LOTS of cups of tea and hot chocolate just because I'm in need of comforting. I am seeing a naturopath tomorrow to see what they suggest also.

What are your natural remedies that you swear by?

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Homemade ricotta

I've been a little silent here over the weekend as we were moving into our new house! So very exciting, but I'll share those details with you another time. It's just too exhausting thinking about what still needs to be unpacked and put away that I've decided that this week I am not going to think about it at all!

Last night in our new kitschy 50's kitchen I decded it was time to get back into experimenting with making things myself (and ignore the boxes and mess around me. I am VERY good at procrastinating).

I read on a few blogs that making ricotta was quite simple, it has been on my to-do/learn/master list of simple living skills for a while.

So here is the process I used (I found it online, sorry I don't have the link, I'm really bad for writing down a recipe and forgetting where I saw it to link to and reference)

Pour 1L full cream (preferably organic) milk into a pot. I used Barambah Organics milk, which is pretty local to me.  Add 2 1/2 tablespoons of white vinegar.

The milk will start to curdle straight away after putting in the vinegar

Bring up to a slight boil and boil for about 30 seconds.

Curds and whey seperating even more after boiling

Take off the heat and let sit on the bench for approximately 15 minutes. This will result in the curds and whey seperating even more and allow the mix to cool down so you can squeeze it later.

While the pot is sitting, set up a bowl with muslin cloth over it (I also used a strainer between the two to catch any bits that escaped the cloth, but later realised this wasn't necessary)

After the 15 minutes is up pour the mixture through the muslin cloth, being careful to not allow any of the curds to fall into the bowl. If they do just scoop them out and put them back in the muslin cloth.

Ricotta mix in muslin cloth

Then gather and lift the muslin cloth, and squeeze out any excess moisture.

What's left in the muslin cloth is your yummy fresh ricotta!
1L of milk made this much ricotta

We mixed it all through a fresh basil and tomato pasta that we'd cooked for dinner. YUMMO!

And what's left in your bowl is whey.

VERY nutritious and useful, especially in bread making. We used it in little scones. But you can use it anywhere that asks for buttermilk or replace any liquid in baking (pancakes would be yummy!). Some people swear by drinking it straight!

Nothing like playing around in the kitchen to take your mind of the household duties!


Thursday, August 12, 2010

I'm a no-pooer!

Now don't take that the wrong way, I'm talking about not shampooing of course!

I have read about not using shampoo in a lot of blogs, and it really got me to start thinking it might be something I could try. It fits in nicely with my simple living and frugal mantra and I had everything I needed for this little experiment in my cupboard. I was further prompted by the fact that we had just finished our bottle of shampoo.

First step was breaking it to my partner. He wasn't too impressed and his first words were "Don't expect me to do that!" hehe. Well I was't going to let that dampen my enthusiasm.

So I have been using the bicarb and vinegar method for the past two weeks now.

After experimenting with different amounts of bicarb and vinegar, I think I have perfected my recipe!

I certainly went through about a week of greasiness, but apparently that is to be expected. I've read that using shampoo strips your hair of all its oils so your scalp compensates by producing a lot more oils. So once you stop using shampoo your scalp takes a little while to get back into the habit of not producing that much oil, hence the greasiness for a little while. But I promise it doesn't last long, and I can proudly say that now I am sporting some healthy looking hair and no one at work is any the wiser (well they will be if a certain someone reads this post!)

I've found that using vinegar is a bit too smelly and makes my hair too dry, so I only use 1 - 2 tablespoons of bicarb dissolved in a jug (that I keep handy in the shower) of warm water. I pour half over the top of my hair then I flip my hair over and pour the rest over the underside. As you would imagine the bicarb mixture isn't thick like shampoo so you need to pour slowly to get an even coverage otherwise you'll lose most of it down the drain. My hair still feels a little different when I'm towel drying it, but once it's completely dry it looks completely normal!

I just did the sums and on the 500g Coles brand bicarb soda that I get for $1.50, 2 tablespoons (approx 15grams so Wiki says) works out to be 4.5cents! How cheap is that! Very frugal indeed, and one less thing I need to buy from the supermarket!

If you wanted to also take up this challenge please do it for at least 2 weeks before you throw in the towel and experiment a little with the amounts. Report back and let me know how it's gone for you.

Happy no-pooing!


P.S. I still haven't convinced Lyndon to give no-pooing a go, but I am hoping by leading by example may show him it's not really bad

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Rain rain go away so I can MOVE HOUSE!

I love rain, I do! I love how you can get all cosy in big fluffy jumpers and under doonas and with spunky fiances! But I want to move furniture tomorrow and it's going to be very difficult with weather like this....

Webcam view from South Bank towards city

In other news, I learnt to knit last night! Well no, that's a massive overstatement. I followed instructions in a book and online to cast on and I knot 4 rows. My first 5 attempts slipped off the hook, the knitting is too tight and really difficult to seperate each strand to knit into and it's slow! (ok I'M slow). I like crocheting much more. But I'm going to perservere and at least learn how to knit properly (and purl) and at least knit a scarf or something just to say I've done it. I may grow to like it. Doubt it, but you never know.

What do you prefer? Knitting or crocheting?

Tell me your early experiences with learning to  knit.

Hope you're enjoying the rain if you're getting it!

Sunday, August 8, 2010


I should be packing or cleaning or something relating to our move next week, but I'm not.

Oh don't worry, I've had spurts of motivation over the past two days and got a bit done, but now that we're down to the knitty gritty I am procrastinating, just like the latest post over at The Knitty Gritty Homestead (ha like how I did tied in that 'knitty gritty'!).

I catch myself actually seeking out things to do that have nothing to do with our move. Like washing outdoor chair cushions(!), checking out Freecycle, making ginger beer or reading books (I do admit these do have to go back to the library before we move so this is activity might just fit into the moving category).

I want to chat about the book I just started reading. It's called Successful Organic Gardening and is written by David Murray. Has anyone read this book?

Within the first 11 pages, he has already slammed the concepts of moon planting, biodynamics and permaculture! Quite aggressively too, I might add, while touting his obviously favoured concept of Integrated Pest Management. Now to be honest, I haven't tried ANY of these ideas, so have no real leaning to any one just yet. As I've written about we currently live in a unit with space for just a few container plants, but from next weekend we will be in a house with lots of room for gardening so I am educating myself on the different methods of vegetable gardening. I am very intrigued to learn about IPM as I hadn't heard of it before, but he's kind of put me off already just by the way he's attacked the other concepts.

Well, as I said I am only 11 pages in, so I can't really start judging the book by this inital reaction, but I will give a review at the end so you can decidde if you want to read it also.

I'd love to hear if anyone uses any of these different techniques in their gardening and how successful it has been for you. Also any good books that you think I should read.

Well I should get back to it, the front balcony needs a tidy before the real estate comes tomorrow to take photos to put up on the web to advertise the property.

Hope you're having a great weekend!


Friday, August 6, 2010

{this moment}

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.
Inspired by soulemama

Have a fabulous weekend!

Our new house! Can't wait to get into that garden!

Thursday, August 5, 2010

We're Moving!

To a HOUSE....with a YARD....and GARDEN BEDS!

I am SOOOOOO excited!

The little unit balcony has been great for growing the few things we have but I just can't wait to get a whole yard to grow in!

It will be a little sad to say goodbye to my home of 2 years, but it is oh-so worth it!, seed catalogues to peruse... packing to to buy...

More details to come, stay tuned!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Crochet: SLOWLY but surely

Crochet patterns scare the living daylights out of me!

All that gibberish means nothing to me (and I'm Gen Y, so you think it would make perfect sense to me!LOL). But I have mastered (ok not really mastered at all, just understood) my first one!

It's a very simple one mind you, and I had to watch the Youtube videos about 3 times before I could actually decipher each crochet in the written pattern!

Note the very large petal on the upper left hand side. Yup thats too many double crochet's right there. But wasn't I proud as punch when I finished it despite that little flaw! I ran out to show Lyndon and he was very lovely with his compliments (even though I'm sure a mid-twenty male couldn't truthfully be that excited about crocheted flowers!)

Now this one is much better but still a few lose threads hanging about.

I also learnt how to tuck the end yarns into the flower, which deserves another pat on the back I think! hehe

Now onto the real patterns.......


I won a giveaway!

I was so excited about Emily's giveaway when it saw it on her Little Greenapple Farm blog. These cute little bird earrings on wattle from The Purple Finch are right up my alley!

Aren't they just adorable! And I was soo very lucky to win them! Weee I can't wait to get my little parcel in the post!

Thanks Emily for running such an awesome giveaway. Check out her fabulous blog here

And also head on over to The Purple Finch's online store here to check out Vee's other goodies


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