the 1st XI on Boxing Day

Ha! Ha! Ha!  Without doubt, only the locals will have a chuckle over the title of this post :-)  But when we realised – well, it was just a sign that it was meant to be!  (The Boxing Day Cricket Test is played at the MCG each Boxing Day with each team fielding 11 players.)

geoffrey the proud father

Julian and I were lying in bed, Boxing Day morning, exhausted from the appalling heat of Christmas Day – the temperature did not drop below 30 until after 2am! – and I’d managed to pull a muscle in my neck/shoulder (I think it was from letting a very sweet patient with broken ribs repeatedly pull on my hand to help him up into sitting position on Christmas Eve) – looking on Gumtree at the livestock available.  It’s one of our favourite pasttimes :-)

And I said “Hey!  There’s 8 Orpington pullets for sale at Cockatoo – with $5 roosters! They sound good.  It’s so hard to buy good chooks – we really need to snap ’em up when we see them!”

Much to my amazement, Julian replied “Absolutely!  Let’s send them a text and see if they’re still available.”

Oh my goodness!  I was gleeful with excitement.  No Boxing Day let down here – if we could go pick up a lovely flock of pullets and a few cockerels it would be just as fun as Christmas morning!

Julian sent the text and I kept looking – goats in Orbost, peacock eggs in NSW, no sheep anywhere, but gorgeous Alpacas here, there and everywhere.   Within minutes, Mrs. Orpington replied.  “Eight pullets available and as many roosters as you like!  Come by around lunch!”

Oh yes please!

guineas in the garden

very friendly sophie

lemon verbena

baby guinea pig

their birth home

turkey egg compost

Well – it was so much more magical than we could possibly have imagined!  The best Boxing Day EVER!

Mr and Mrs Orpington were the loveliest couple.  They have a lovely permaculture establishment – chickens and turkeys roaming around the property.  2o odd guinea pigs tearing around the fabulous large hoop netted gardens – 3 metres high, with about a 9 by 20 metre perimetre – they were hysterically cute – used for cultivating the raised garden beds and keeping down the weeds.  One hoop garden is for vegetables – the other larger one is full of fruit trees.  And their lovely deck was covered in pots of vegies all ready for transplanting into the guinea pig tilled beds.

We stayed over 2 hours.  They shared so much of their knowledge and experience – and we invited them up to Wombat Hill Farm.

We packed 7 pullets, 3 cockerels and 1 little unknown into a very large plastic dog kennel (I picked it up from hard rubbish – washed it out, dried it well and filled it with fresh straw) in the back of the car and brought them back to Bootville where they’ll spend just 2 weeks in the rabbit/guinea pig aviary before moving on up to the farm. Their initial job there will be to till the vegetable beds – Julian’s making them movable A-frames.

But before too long, he will hopefully have their permanent home ready.  A nice little house on stilts with a deep litter grilled floor and ramp, in a fenced field about 30 x 40 metres, with plenty of shady Apple gums – just in front of the house garden.  We’ve even planned where we will put some nice outdoor chairs so that we can sit in the shade and watch these lovely chickens grow and roam.
temporary house


teenage feathers

dust bath

ginger and black

under the water bowl

so many pretty feathers

amongst the butts

fus intrigued

And Fu’s going to have to learn how to be as respectful and obedient around the livestock as Mr. and Mrs. Orpington’s lovely Sophie dog is.  It’s going to be a steep learning curve, that one.


lilly pilly jelly

with the basket

The previous owner of our wee farm was a big tree planter!  He and his dad (an arborist) planted a grove of walnut trees (which were burnt down shortly after by a neighbour’s out of control grass fire!), a grove of native hardwoods which cover the hillside in front of the cottage, and a superb windbreak that encircles the cottage and its garden.

too high up

They planted the windbreak with natives so as to encourage the local birdlife – immensely successful! – and in one of the top corners is a cluster of lilly pillies.  This tree belongs to the myrtle family, grows very tall, has vibrant, waxy green leaves, and produces thousands of little pinky red berries which the local wildlife love.

Like most Australians, I have grown up with lilly pillies and yet have been woefully ignorant about the edibility of their berries!  It wasn’t until this year, whilst watching Tilba River Cottage, that I realised how delightfully useful they could be!  Cordials!  Champagne! Ice cream!  Jams!  And such a pretty pink :-)


So my first harvest at Wombat Hill Farm – lilly pilly berries.  Collected with dear little friends that came over to help celebrate our first weekend at the farm.  In a rope basket of course!  Unfortunately most of the berries were so high up we had no hope of gathering them.  But enough were picked for one little jar of home grown goodness …


I followed the recipe and instructions from the Forster State School in New South Wales – which just so happens to be around the corner from where my grandparents lived by the sea in the Manning Valley – meant to be I say :-)


Added the juice from one of Mum’s lemons …

jam pot

Honestly, I’ve never had jam set like it!  I don’t know whether Mum’s lemons are especially high in pectin – or perhaps lilly pillies are?


But it was obvious this lilly pilly jam – jelly! – was not going to be dolloped.  By the time it had cooled in the jar, it could be sliced like quince paste and possessed such an intense flavour that it was best served in small amounts.

on bread

In fact, our lilly pilly jelly tastes brilliant with Erica’s divine 3 year vintage cheddar cheese from South Coast Cheese at Tilba – they were made for each other.  Perfect!

the solitary jar

So now, I reckon we need to plant more lilly pillies – luckily, they are very fast growing – and work out how to gather all those up high berries so as not to waste them.  Unlike Paul from Tilba River Cottage, I will NOT be climbing our lilly pillies with ropes and safety gear and shaking the berries down into waiting sheets.

But I do want many many more jars of this lovely stuff, that’s for sure!


on wednesday afternoon …

growing quilt

… I’m in awe of my mum’s beautiful quilt

white way of delight

… I’m so happy (relieved) that we’re moving into spring – my arms are bare and my own white way of delight has sprung ’round the corner

thicket of carrots

… I’m thrilled to pieces with my first thicket of carrots – shall have to look up when they’re ready to harvest


… I’m a little bit pleased with how my wood and water colour experiments are progressing


… I’m hoping this isn’t the only sunflower that will grow in front of my bedroom window  – given I planted the whole packet of seeds


… I just love the camellias that are smothering every garden in our neighbourhood


… I’m sipping the berry, banana and yoghurt smoothie Abby made me  – just the fuel I need for a few more hours of research and mind mapping

… I’m listening to Vashti Bunyan’s whimsical magic and am so pleased that I found her via the equally magical Phoebe Wahl – make sure you scroll down to the fairy mobile so that you can watch the little video – it’s enchanting.

Half way through ten intensive weeks of classes, workshops and pracs.  Who’d have thought Complex Care would be so .. well .. complex!  I find out on Monday where and when my next placement is – two weeks in community nursing, two weeks in high dependency acute care.

I’m so looking forward to summer.

loveliness found 10/52

make sure you get to the bottom of this week’s ~loveliness found~ post
to check the winner of the May Gibbs giveaway!

again, thank you all so much for entering and leaving such lovely comments
– I only wish I could send all of you a pillowslip!

p.s. & if you would like to share your ~loveliness found~ moments from this week
– & I would so love it if you did,
please leave them in the comments (links always enjoyed :-)

~ the acorns are making promises they can’t keep, the carrot seedlings are exploding, thank god for indian summer cocktails ~
(freshly squeezed beetroot juice, a twist of lemon, traditional bitters,
a splash of Cinzano, soda, & a whole lot of ice)

~ big girl reading whilst little girl playing,
silly-sweet dog can’t decide who to squash up to
so boings from one to the other with a huge delighted grin  ~

~ picnicking delights – hand squashed strawberry jam
& gorgeous new to me magazine ~

~ finally getting the hang of things …
making the little green machine zig & zag,
& whizzing along with that magic loop ~

~ one day closer to filling these drawers,
oh how I love before & after photos! ~

~ the season of birthdays is over … the new one will arrive before I blink
… oh my she’s growing up so fast ~

~ & the winner is ….. number 27, Elizabeth Boswell!
send me an email, Ms. Elizabeth, to arrange delivery :-) ~

loveliness found

~ the little girls discovered the thrill of making their own music ~

~ Jules celebrated his birthday … with cherry cocktails and a kitchen supper ~

~ a quilt design was tinkered with, fabrics were foraged from the stash (there’s a newly thrifted lampshade needing dressing), and an ever-so-sweet layer cake arrived ~

~ the ancient hills hoist clothesline fell down – completely rusted – one of us cheered, the other (being she who hangs out the bedding) pursed her lips ~

~ the big girlie devoted her afternoon to helping the little girlies with their maths’ project – the kitchen was buzzing with excitement and creativity ~

~ in return, the big girlie and her grateful mama spent the following hot and steamy afternoon savouring gelati and soaking up the air conditioning of our local Readings ~

~ Heidi grew and grew and grew  …  a wee felted heart was stitched for her and slipped inside for extra love ~

~ summer’s last Sunday barbeque was relished …

~ as was the return of tablecloth week! (one week off, as per Julian’s preference;
one week on, as per Lily’s preference ;-) ~

~ a favourite magazine was enjoyed after dinner
– two pages per watering can refill ~

~ & I felt so lucky to be watering the herbs and spinach by moonlight,
or I’d have completely missed this beautiful sight ~

What loveliness did you find this week?  Share your delights in the comments or leave us a link so that we may follow the path to your place :-)

the fullness of tuesday

I’m a girl who works best to a deadline.  Provide me with long, endless days of no commitments – nothing to do except exactly as I please – and I am all a dither.  On the rare instances that this happens, I mooch about, lost and lonely, waiting for the rest of my family to come home.  Yep, give me hours on end of “me time” and I usually end up with not much to show for it.

But give me a cut off – must leave the house by 3.25 at the screamingly latest – and I am a flurry of activity.  Such is a Tuesday.  We start early – orchestra rehearsal for the cellist in the family starts at 7.30pm – and by 7.45, I have every minute until school pickup for the little girlies packed full.

Today, it was gloriously sunny and silly hot – a day of energy and promise – and oh I had plans!  Of a line full of washing sparkling in the sun, a quick whip around the shops, fresh summery starts in the kitchen garden, the preparing of food for tonight’s supper (to be put on by Abby before I return home from babysitting) and some more for those suppers when none of us want to cook, podge for the feathered folk, bread that rose like a tall tale, second coffees on the front porch with my very first issue of the delicious Molly Makes (oh my! this magazine is so me, me, me!), and some super quick skirt making in a quirky dachshund fabric that makes me smile and think of my dear little Toph.

Oh I made the most of every second.  There is some sweet chicken scratch that could be stitched whilst collapsed on the sofa, but you know, now, all I can think of is a nice bubbly soak in the tub and an early bed.  A fit ending to a full day.



Oh pretty sky!  You are such a welcome sight :-)

The sunniest spot is mine …

… with my feathery and furry critters close by …

… and a hat, ’cause it’s so darn sunny!

Julian’s bike twirls from the hills hoist in the sunlight, sparkling like a steampunk mobile …

The potato plants have doubled in size and are stretching out their leggy heads to catch more of the light.

Instead of hot tea, there’s lemony water by my feet …

And a tray for my almost-finished-steeking supplies … it’s taking soooo long.  I am repeatdly picking up stitches, adding in MC and then breaking it off, knitting on the wrong side here and then the right side there.  And because I only have one 4.5mm circular needle, there’s a lot of threading and unthreading waste yarn.  It’s one of those games that I’m so unfamiliar with, I’m all thumbs and stops and starts!

But look below … can you spy a finished steek sandwich!  Yep – and there’s no sign of anything falling apart – amazing!

Thank goodness for slow, sunny weekends at home with my family.  They make the long, dreary winter weeks bearable.


Every moment, think steadily to do what thou hast in hand
with perfect and simple dignity,
and feeling of affection, and freedom, and justice;
and to give thyself relief
from all other thoughts.

Marcus Aurelius, Book II, Meditations

So that is what we did today.  After several days of both tumult and peace, I looked at what needed to be done and with my daughter by my side, we did it.

The potatoes were fenced (from the marauding chickens), as was the herb garden (ditto!)

The guinea pig/rabbit enclosure was completely shovelled out, refreshed with sweet smelling straw and the guineas were given a pedicure and bath.

The garden was raked, and raked and raked and then raked some more.  Order was restored, what needed to be put away, was put away.

Seeds were planted … an optimistic start on the spring crop!

The chickens’ coop was also shovelled out and refreshed whilst the chickens danced cheerfully about my feet.

By the time we were done, the winter layers were stripped down and our legs tired.  But oh we were pleased as we surveyed the neatness.  It was achieved simply and with affection.  There too was much relief from all other thoughts.  Marcus knew what he was on about.

The sky darkened, we dragged our weary but cheerful selves indoors to warmth and comfort, a little drawing, a little embroidery, good music, the baking of chocolate chip cookies for tomorrow’s school lunch, and upon Julian’s arrival home, deserved boasting and a torchlit tour of our efforts in the garden followed by several rounds of after dinner “trouble”.

Today was good and I am thankful.



ahhh … a long weekend.  Such bliss.  We are …

:: cooking and eating our way through Hugh’s new cookbook – Veg – though Abby is not sure the recipes could be considered authentic Hugh seeing as he has lost his curly mop!

:: casting loving and longing looks at the two new gorgeous skeins of wool that found their way to Bootville on Friday – Beaverslide for arm warmers and Araucania for socks (red socks to wear with my newly dresdenised skirt!)

:: finishing the first sock and frantically knitting the second so that I may dive into that afore mentioned gorgeous wool

:: counting the emerging spring beans and hoping for magical ones

:: spending the afternoon in the garden with Julian, Abby and the feathered girls, still marvelling at the beautiful eggs they present us with every day, and watching with an amused and careful eye as Fu learns that she may WATCH the chickens, she may FOLLOW the chickens about, she may even SHARE their podge (when they let her – Benny has no qualms standing up to Fu) but she may not TOUCH the chickens – those chickens are OURS not hers.

:: wondering why it is that MY feet turn black when gardening in my old chewed up crocs, whereas Julian’s feet stay clean?

:: turning today’s eggs into pasta – and pondering the pasta drying rack Julian’s finally constructed me after 10 years of whining :-)

Wishing you a lovely weekend with those you love – and plenty of what you love too …


our new girls

Well.  That’s a big “well” followed by a big deep sigh.  And a bit of a shudder.  You see, this post – that I’ve been composing in my head since we began building in August, was going to be one of absolute delight and excitement …

… and there still is an element of that.  But there’s also been a lot of forehead slapping, cringing, amazement, horror, tears.  And a good dose of shame.  I do believe this last one is a valuable emotion to experience because it makes me do better next time.

We’ve been dreaming of our own chickens for years.  Back in August, we decided that if we waited until we had plenty of money to build the perfect chicken coop, we would be waiting for ever.  So we decided to do what folk used to do – use what we could find.  I had my copy of Storey’s Guide to Chickens open every night.  I had read hours of information on the different Australian Department of Primary Industries websites, local government ordinances, RSPCA and backyard chicken keeping forums.  I had contacted so many chicken breeders.  We had talked about why we wanted to keep chickens and what was important to us.  I felt informed.

So, I spent a few weeks gathering useful and appropriate hard rubbish (it’s amazing what builders throw out) and one sunny winter morning we laid it all out, Julian stared at it for a very long time, to sort out what was useful and what he could do with the curious assortment of materials before him, and we started building our chicken coop.

Meanwhile, I scoured the listings for chickens for sale and as mentioned, spoke to lots of breeders.  Friends had spoken lovingly about their Isa Browns (specially bred layers) that were cheerful and gentle family chooks that laid plenty of eggs and were easy to source and inexpensive.  Aunty Cate even suggested we adopt Isa Browns from a rescue organisation that gets them from battery farms.  But I had my heart set on Orpingtons. We even put in orders that never arrived.  Pure breed chooks were hard to find.  Wee little chickens -much easier – but we didn’t have the set up for raising them.  We needed bigger girls.  Things ground to a halt and with Christmas holidays coming up, we put our chicken plans on the back burner.

Fast forward to last week’s cherry picking adventure.  On our way to the cherry farm we noted a sign that said “Local Honey” – I love real honey – so told Abby and Sacha to look out for it on our way home.  They did, we pulled in to a lovely farm driveway, bounced along the potholes and when we pulled up, not only was there honey, there were chickens. Beautiful toasty red Isa Browns strutting about all over the place – peering out at us from old corrugated sheds, standing on old ploughs, gathered next to an old tractor – it was picturesque.  As was the farmer – an elderly gentleman who when he appeared, the chickens came running and plonked down at his feet to be picked up.  Which he did.

I’ve since hung the feeder and waterer – so as to reduce the amount of dirt the girls chuck in!

And guess what – he had point of lay hens for sale.  Well – my Orpington dreams flapped out of my head quicker than you could say omlette and with my honey tucked under my arm, I wandered the farm with him, meeting his girls and listening and taking careful note of his 50 years of experience raising chickens for eggs.  He reminded me so much of my grandad, with his gentleness, cheerful nattering and stories of long ago.

Just last week, we listened to Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall opine on the importance of getting acquainted with real farming folk when you start your small holding – people in the know who can lend a hand and tell you how it is.  I thought I’d found the chicken version.

And he is – well sort of.  Abby, Sacha and I were back on Saturday.  We’d bought our feed, feeding and watering troughs, bedding, and Julian was at home putting the finishing touches on our chicken coop.  Following the farmer’s advice on what to look for, I picked out our four chickens.  We popped them in the big Christmas tree box in the back of the car and brought them home.

Julian was just about done.  I helped finish the fence – star pickets and steel compost heap panels and as the sun vanished, we gently lifted each of our girls out of the box and into their new yard with coop, complete with a lovely heavy branch – knotty and barky – screwed into each end of the coop for roosting.  Plenty of room for all.  Big old trees for shade.  Two metre high fencing on two sides, with chicken wire dug in around the bottom. The sewing shed on the third side.  Our picket and panel fence on the fourth.

At this moment, the bubble of joy burst.  Julian looked closely at the hen in his arms. Then at each of her sisters.  “You’ve bought debeaked birds?”  Open hole of horror, shame and stupidity and let me climb on in.

I was amazed.  I hadn’t noticed.  I’d been on the farm for the best part of two hours on two different occasions and hadn’t noticed.  I’d talked with the farmer about their age, general health and prospects, and about their immunisations.  I’d seen his set up.  I’d read the books.  Debeaking hadn’t even featured in my novice, city-slicker chicken world.  I didn’t even remember that the practice existed.

I’ve seen Food Inc.  I’ve watched documentaries on the horrors of industrialised chicken farming.  I’ve read so*many*books.  I’m sure the inhumanity and cruelty of debeaking has flashed before my eyes and I bet I’ve even nobly lamented its practice, but did I think of this last week.  Nope.  They looked such happy, healthy, free roaming chickens.

What a dolt.  So thoughtless.  Such a good lesson.  Abby’s amazement was accompanied by “But we try so hard to do the right thing?!”  Yep.  But as Yoda would say, “Try not! Do!”  And I didn’t.

Our poor wee girls.  They have such stunted little beaks.  I’ve since read terrible things about debeaking – both the acute pain and terror, as well as the lifelong chronic pain and difficulty feeding.  Our girls seem to cope fine with their pellets, but only Benny and Letty can catch bugs – poor old Souffie and Nog’s beaks are especially short.  They haven’t been able to eat the corn cobs I gave them this morning as a treat – they even struggle with greens.

However, they do seem to enjoy pecking about the ground and display all kinds of good chicken behaviour.  They’ve even laid us four eggs already.  One on Sunday, a teeny wee one yesterday (I imagine it was the very first egg for one of them) and two today.  Today’s first egg was Benny’s – Abby and I were in the run with the other three – having a cuddle with Letty who’s very snuggly – and we saw Benny sitting on the nest, squawking away in the most operatic fashion.  After she hopped off and we checked – yup!  An egg.

How extraordinary.  We treat them so harshly and with such little respect and yet continue to take advantage of the richness they offer us in return.  We take those eggs and bake them, fry them, poach them, turn them into cakes and custards and pies and quiches.  Without them, our kitchen is rather barren.  And yet, in return, we chop off their beaks. I don’t think we’re particularly deserving of the livestock (note the first part of that word … LIVE) that sustain us.

I was so sad Julian suggested taking our girls back to the farmer.  But I can’t do that – in fact, how dare I!   Mum will nod knowingly at this point.  I’m famous in my family for being the passionate advocate for the unfortunate.  We brought our girls home – and we have a lovely home for them.  We named them – carefully noting their individual features … Nog has the smallest comb, Souffie is the tallest by far, Benny has the darkest collar, and Letty’s collar is speckled with white.  We accepted responsibility for their wellbeing – for their very lives. When the weather cools down a little, I will make them warm mash with milk and veggies all squashed up.  We will love them, care for them and be grateful for their eggs.

I have learnt a very valuable lesson.  Things are not always as they seem.  So keep notes ON PAPER (not just in head which has a tendency to be a bit sieve-like at times).  Be extra cautious.  Don’t just trust that people will do the right thing and support what you support just because they are nice and friendly.

We’ve started a noticeboard of all the things we need to remember about our chickens – little notes with important reminders.  We’re hopeful this knowledge will become part of who we are.

:: yet another deep sigh ::

So that’s our chicken story.  An unfortunate introduction, but I am hopeful it will grow to be a rich and merry story.  That’s all we can do, isn’t it.  Hope and learn.

p.s. there’s a few finishing touches to put on the coop – some weighted waterproof canvas to flap over the top (that closest panel of laser light lifts up) to keep out the rain but still let us open that part of the roof.  And I want to paint it red :-)  That will be lovely and cheery – and definitely bunting.  Special chicken bunting!


drinking the dandelions

Jules and I have given up coffee (mum gasps!).  At first, it seemed like a horrible, completely-undoable thing to do.  Especially since we have a beautiful Italian expresso machine that looks like she stepped straight out of the 1950s.  And especially since we truly love our coffee.

But we’d been feeling as if coffee didn’t love us quite so much.  I could only just manage two small cups a day – anymore and I felt as if my head could wobble off my shoulders and roll down the street.  We both had irritable, upset tummies.  Jules had an irritable head and trouble sleeping at night.  And I … well, I have such anxiety at times that the skin edging my fingernails is most often raw and red.

After a bit of reading, it would seem that coffee was probably contributing to all of these things and more.  The effect it has on our digestion and absorption of good food and its vitamins and minerals is terrible!  All that effort we go to to eat wholesomely and coffee is grinding away inside us, undoing so much of the goodness.

So .. we went cold turkey.  Saturday lunch time was our last coffee.  Given I only drank two cups a day, I coped quite well – day 3 I had a cracking headache but that was it.  Julian – he had been drinking several cups a day and oh he suffered!

Now, almost a week on, we’re doing fine.  Julian especially.  He is getting more sleep than he has been in years – and he even remembers his dreams – he says he hasn’t been able to recall his dreams for so long he can’t remember the last time.  We’re both waking up clear headed and energetic.  And because having coffee together was a really pleasant thing to share each day, we’ve substituted – dandelion root coffee.  I bought some from the Balaclava health food store and we are percolating it in the old corningware stovetop pot.

Mmmmmmmm …. it’s so good.  It’s clearly not coffee.  But it’s rich and full bodied (how nescafe-corny does that sound!) with a lovely flavour.  With a dash of cream it’s delicious.  And we can have as many cups as we like!  No caffeine.

I’ve been reading up on how it’s made – dandelion roots of course – from those dandelions that festoon our lawns.  Amazing!  We have heaps, so yesterday I plonked myself down in the lovely spring sun and dug and dug and dug.  My tool … an old weeder we found in the garden bed – was okay, but not very prongy (most of the length had rusted and broken off) which meant that it was darn hard work to get the roots out whole, and the handle has been chewed which resulted in a sore red hand.  I think a new one is in order.

Whilst I was digging, I could hear Sweetpea whimpering at the front door.  She so longed to be out there with me, but our front garden has no gate and a very low fence and Sweetpea has a manic desire for the road – with tramtracks – and long, ferociously fast dashes down the footpath.  So I put her on a long leash and then tied this to the front porch railing with a length of rope long enough for her to reach the front fence but no further.  She had a marvellous time – she could explore every inch of the front garden but even better, she could stand up at the front fence, under the shade of the trees, and watch the world go by.  She’s such a sweetie, everyone who walked past stopped to chat with her :-)

After exhausting one patch of the lawn, I’d think, “that’s it.  wait ’til you get a new weeder.”  And then I’d dig up a wonderful dandelion plant with roots like baby carrots and like a gambler after a win, I’d throw caution to the wind and attack another patch with enthusiasm.  I learnt that those silly dandelions that pile up on top of each have rather lame roots.  But the big ones, their leaves spread out like sundials, who have claimed their own home, are perfect.

I trimmed the roots off the leaves (which I didn’t realise we could eat until AFTER I’d put them in the compost), washed them repeatedly in a large bowl of water until the water ran clear, then sat in the afternoon spring sun and trimmed them up into 1 inch pieces.

We roasted them in a cast iron pan on 120 celsius for 2 hours – with the door open to allow moisture to escape.  Then I ground them in the wee bamix bowl with the big blades. Now, they are in a jar awaiting tomorrow morning’s coffee – we’re curious to see how it goes.  I think our current shop bought blend might be dandelion and chicory root (and so I have ordered chicory seed from Eden Seeds) but it’s all an experiment isn’t it :-)

I’ll let you know how it goes!  Meanwhile, we are so glad we have ditched the coffee … and found dandelion root.  And how marvellous if we can make our own!  I might have to send Abby on dandelion hunting expeditions when their seeds set in the next few weeks.  Then we can reseed our front lawn ’cause really, who needs grass! And dandelions sure are nicer than those wretched bindis.


garden beds + a carrot cake recipe

This afternoon was at last deemed the right time – warm, sunny and dry – to start work on our raised garden beds.  I’ve been collecting unwanted pallets for the last couples of weeks (any locals who watch me must think I’ve finally hit rock bottom, lugging these heavy, dirty things into our car!) and we are going to use them to build the frames for the beds … I got the idea from the Little Veggie Patch!  Such a marvellous use of an unwanted but still oh so useful and valuable resource.  You should have seen the towers of them at the dump the other day.  Made me feel so sad for our living forests that end up this way.

In the spirit of cooperation, I too donned my workshorts and gloves and set to ripping apart the planks.  ha! ha!  Not a hope in Hades.  Not a hope.  I’ve never encountered nails so long and tough and embedded so deeply.  So I did the next best thing … I offered to bake a cake and start on a fresh batch of white tshirts for he that COULD pull the 4 inch long nails out of the rough wood.

This may sound very 1950s housewife twee – but it truly isn’t :-)  I’m very fond of tackling the dirty, skin-tearing outdoor jobs – I’m much more likely than Julian to be the one stripping off manky old varnish, sanding down old wooden surfaces, or digging out garden beds.  But pulling apart these pallets – I may have been able to hoik them into the car and I will certainly help put them back together and shovel the dirt and compost in – but folks, in their current state, they are beyond me!

Carrot cake baking – definitely within my scope, specially with these dear little bunches of carrots we brought home from this morning’s farmers’ market.  I measured the ingredients into the mixer whilst Abby grated the carrots.

White tshirt making – not so sure.  I’ve never done it before.  But Julian wears white tshirts a bit like Steve Jobs wore black turtlenecks.  They are his standard no-think wardrobe but unfortunately he doesn’t have a good supply.  Part of the whole modern clothing dilemma – all that he finds are made cheaply overseas with their inherent labour and environmental issues (cotton sounds so much nicer than polyester and surely is, but the terrible mainstream cotton farming practices with their excessive use of pesticides and immoral consumption of water make me cringe about this fibre now too!) as well as unnecessary carbon miles.  Then there’s the quality of most of the shop bought ones – largely rubbish and designed to be thrown out within a year.

I thought we must surely be able to do better so have been searching for a source of environmentally sound fabric from which we can make our own tshirts within a thrifty budget.  I’ve found a beautiful Australian online retailer that sells lovely knit fabrics in bamboo, hemp and organic cotton – for the same price as I can buy the regular cotton at The Fabric Store.  And because of the awesome width of the fabric, I can make 3 tshirts out of 2.3 metres – that’s $12.22 per tshirt.  Awesome!  Now I just have to get the overlocker rethreaded with white.

Oh!  And the KwikSew pattern – first time I’ve ever bought one – and I’m so impressed.  The paper is so much thicker than the usual onion skin, the lines clearer, the leftover pattern pieces folded up beautifully (I can never re-fold the onion skin successfully) and the instructions are perfect and succinct.

Now!  back to the carrot cake … I’ve written out the recipe for you … it’s a modified version of Donna Hay’s from her Classic Cookbook II


:: cake
200 g carrot, coarsely grated
1 cup wholemeal flour
1/2 cup unbleached white flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 heaped teaspoons cinnamon
1 heaped teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
185 mls sunflower oil
1 cup brown sugar
3 large eggs

:: icing
the juice of half a big lemon
icing sugar


Preheat oven to 180 degrees celsius.  Butter a round 20cm cake tin

Thoroughly beat the oil and sugar in a mixer.  Add the eggs and continue to beat well.  Sift the flours, baking powder and spices into the oil/sugar/egg mix and beat well.  Add grated carrot and walnuts.  Beat until thoroughly combined.  Spoon into prepared cake tin.

Bake for 50 minutes.  Allow to cool – but not too much, warm cake is so irresistible!

Pour lemon juice into a bowl and spoon icing sugar in, mixing as you go until you reach a nice consistency – I like mine quite runny but if you want it thicker, just keep adding the icing sugar! Pour over the cake – starting in the middle – and smooth it out with a knife.

Find a sunny spot with your loved ones and gobble with a glass of beautiful, cold, rich, creamy, raw Jersey milk and give thanks for the beautiful food and Saturdays our planet provides :-)