Friday, December 30, 2011
Wednesday, December 7, 2011
Wednesday, November 16, 2011
Wednesday, November 2, 2011
Monday, October 31, 2011
Sunday, October 23, 2011
Monday, October 3, 2011
Friday, September 16, 2011
Saturday, September 10, 2011
Thursday, September 1, 2011
Thursday, August 11, 2011
Monday, August 1, 2011
2 months. Almost 9 weeks. 62 days. You could be forgiven for thinking I'd hung up my hat and gone home. In a way, I have! But these are the cold hard facts and I'm putting them upfront because they're shocking and I'm embarrassed. The worse thing is that whilst I could give you an overview as to where the time has gone, there's no way I can account for 62 days. Sure, there's been a whirl of interstate travel punctuated by brutal windstorms and then unbelievable days of Indian Summer in Winter. But we're now two-thirds of the way through winter and to be honest, I'm panicking and often sit on the back steps feeling overwhelmed. But the scent of Spring is on the breeze and my broad beans have germinated. Blossoms are busting out all over, pierus is cascading and the rhodos and camellias are ready to dominate. And all over Magic Garden, pockets of daffodil and jonquil are erupting. Snowdrops are bobbing and grape hyacinths and purple crocus compete against Oprah Winfrey for a role in the reprise of the Colour Purple. Crocus is up in terms of sheer numbers but the hyacinths have a more intense hue. Who'll take the Oscar this time, I wonder?
Garden-wise, Winter has a reputation for being a period of dormancy; it's permissible to let things slide. But it is also one of the best times to make hard decisions about the shape of your garden. For me, the toughest choice I've made of late is to toss that old hat in the shot above. It's been a trusty part of my garden couture but there's only so many times you can repair the crown of straw hat before you start looking more jingle-jangle scarecrow than Flake lady. When trees are bare and legs are hairy, you can see the structure more clearly so it's a good time to identify plants which aren't working in the overall landscape and earmark them for transplantation when the weather warms. Plants which aren't thriving at all can simply be removed. In Magic Garden, I've nominated some rather spindly Azaleas which are for the tip and a big patch of seaside daisy which needs to be cut back before it completely engulfs the hebes. I've decided where I'll relocate the weeping Cherry if we ever renovate and I've finally started construction on a ring bed around the base of one of the biggest cherry trees. Next autumn, I'll pop in some of my many scattered daffodil bulbs and this time next year, share the joy.
During my meditations on the back step, I've been trying to come up with space for one of these divine chinese flowering quinces. The crimson cultivars of the superba are the perfect antidote to the fairy floss pink of the prunus which dominate at this time of year. Plus, I love the clash of pink and red together. The flowers emerge from a thicket of rather spiny stems which can reach heights of around 1.5 metres. Their spread is nearly 2 metres which makes me wonder if maybe I should aiming higher and be planning a hedge instead.
Thursday, June 9, 2011
In refering to 'house', it occurs to me that I'd really like to use the word 'cottage' which is a rather pastoral view of our abode, if ever there was one. The C word invokes a bucolic exsistence where I grow all our fruit and veg and keep livestock, chooks at least, sauntering out in my Flake lady hat collecting eggs as the sunrises. Truth be told, the closest I've come to keeping chooks is going on a hen's night. The two pasttimes really aren't that dissimiliar; each lady must be kept fed and watered, with a close eye on the proximity of foxes...which brings me neatly back to why I felt so dusty last Sunday morning. One of this lady gardener's oldest friends is getting married and she came up specially from Melbourne to celebrate! Which is so thoughtful as we're all travelling down for the big day and in order to show our gratitude, seven of her nearest and dearest Sydney sisters really put the boat out. Gorgeous girls in fabulous frocks with drinks at the revised Norfolk, dinner at Eat House Diner and then a ring-ding of sing-song somewhere on Clarence St.
The Japanese culture has made some rather significant contributions to modern life but for me, the hands down over sushi, sashimi and tempura, the winner is karaoke. What is it about confined spaces, table service preferably and singing your guts out? There is something life affirming is singing en masse, no matter how drunk and silly you are. Yes, my hangover the next day was shocking. Yes, I am scared to see the photos. No, I don't care and I'd do it all again in a heartbeat...or a Phil Collins' drum solo. So a big shout out to all the ladies on Saturday night, particularly Results TSAI who came in whipped that playlist into submission and Miss Staples who whipped up an alternate venue when we were too late for our initial booking at Ding Dong Dang. What a wonderful knees up for our beaming bride in her chickadee tiara; a hen's night is one of the nicest rituals of modern day life, up there with kitchen teas and baby showers. So lovely to pay tribute to the bravery involved in leaving the known behind and embarking on an adventure in life, on a bicycle built for two. Looking forward to seeing you all south of the border for round two!
My top ten Karaoke hits, in no particular order:
Scissor Sisters, Take Your Mama
The Carpenters, Rainy Days and Mondays
Elton John, Benny and the Jets
Phil Collins, In the Air Tonight
Womack & Womack, Teardrops
The B-52's, Love shack
Madonna, Like a Virgin
Bon Jovi, Living on a Prayer
Duran Duran, Hungry like the Wolf
Survivor, Eye of the Tiger
Salt n Pepper, Push It
The Police, Roxanne
Dolly Parton, 9 to 5 or Islands in the Stream
Queen, Bohemian Rhapsody
Sonny & Cher, I Got You Babe
Pat Benetar, Love is a Battlefield
Anything by Carole King
Well, more than ten but good to have a reference for next time! Between a sushi train and an onsen, a karaoke parlour is something that is definately missing from the mountside lineup. Anyone takers, anyone?
ps: if you found yourself on the mornington penninsula anmd were keen for some snow monkey frolicking, go here: http://www.peninsulahotsprings.com/
*you know me, a whiz with photoshop!
Monday, May 30, 2011
Monday, May 16, 2011
Thankfully, after a week of this carry on, on Saturday I finally managed to shake off the shackles and get out into Magic Garden. A simple afternoon in the autumn sunshine, planting clever clover, radish and more garlic; transplanting some succulents and the last if the butterfly plant.
It's true: fresh air does you the world of good.
Monday, May 2, 2011
The problem as viewed from Miss C's bedroom.
Since we took on Magic Garden, Husbando and I had loosely decided to work front to back; pruning, removing noxious weeds and improving the soil with mushroom compost and sugar cane mulch. Then, the plan was to leave it for a year and see what happened. To be truthful, finances didn't really allow for much else! But now that our self-imposed moratorium on decision making has passed, it feels like it's time to start slowly making some improvements. As always, the onus is there to avoid pointless, pretty, busy work and focus on things that actually need doing. Ah, the conundrums of modern life...what happens when you're aware of what needs to be done but can't decide on the resolution? Enter the gestational solutions-based paradigm and allow the universe to provide!
The solution kindly provided by Living etc. May 2011
Using the hot pink rhodo as a central point, recycled sleepers will radiate out like spokes on a bike. These will act like stepping stones of sorts and also break up the expanse of gravel in between. Only question now is what type of gravel? I'm leaning towards crushed pink granite, which should work nicely when the rhodo is in bloom. And if it ever stops raining and we get this project sorted before we see the first blossoms, I'll be very pleased.
Wednesday, April 27, 2011
Dusky red sedum, another gratefully received donation from my lovely next door neighbour.
Prehistoric mystery plant...the flowers (fruit?) look like they should be swaying beneath the sea...in an octopus's garden, in the shade.
Definitely fruit this time! This viburnum is just to the right of where my grand plan vegie patch will be situated. Now, if only I could lock off the design as I really want to have this patch up and running for next summer. Whilst I'm a big believer the positives of procrastination; I feel that a period of gestation allows the right path to come forward. Sometimes, though, you just have to make a decision or otherwise, life just keeps passing you by.
This is the type of countenance I strive for when gardening. She is tremendously tacky and definitely not what Husbando has in mind for the Magic Garden sculpture park! But for some reason, she and her smaller twin stay insitu.
Monday, April 4, 2011
On one of our frequent lady beetle inspections, divine miss C and I uncovered this bobbydazzler of a zucchini turned marrow. I was sure it'd be rotten on the underside considering just how wet it's been but no, this marrow was intact and ready to eat. Thanks to Stephanie Alexander for the handy marrow scale of measurement (somehow a matchbox just wouldn't cut it!) and also for her spag bog recipe, which in a very pleasing instance of serendipity, I had made a batch of the day before. I do love a spot of freezer stockpiling and long for the day when I have a more freezer real estate.
Voila! Marrow stuffed with Bolognaise! As I already had the spag bog sorted, this dinner was as easy as slicing the marrow and scooping out the seedy centre. I mixed the seedy goodness back into the bolognaise and then whacked it back into the marrow boat. Husbando grated some cheese over the top and we popped it in the oven at around 180 degrees C. 45 minutes later, the marrow was soft with the bolognaise's oily goodness and we served it up with garlic bread and broccoli. Delicious and even tastier for having used the marrow.
Thursday, March 17, 2011
There are many ways to celebrate St Patrick's Day but for this lady gardener, it's never been about drinking copious amounts of green beer. I like to speak to my grandmother as it's her birthday and then follow up with a sweet pea planting extravaganza. For some reason, St Patrick's Day is the traditional day to plant peas in the Southern Hemisphere, though apparently you have until Anzac Day to get your seeds in place. I've tried to find out why St Pat's is the day but to no avail. I wonder if it might be as simple as tying the reminder to an actual 'day' is a good way to get it into people's consciousness. However, today is a drizzly delight and not so conducive to planting with my 3 and a half year old helper in tow plus the seeds I've ordered ('Painted Lady' and 'Matcuana' from the Digger's Club catalogue) haven't arrived yet. This is no fault of the Digger's, my deliberations took an overly long time. I'll use the seeds I saved from this summer's flowers as well but I'd like to introduce more reds and pinks this time round and start moving away from quite so much purple.
With a quiet day planned, only so much lego can be built and fairy snap played so I needed to come up with an alternate St Pat's Day plan fast. I've been meaning to make a batch of green tomato chutney for weeks now and today proved to be perfect. Serendipity at its finest! I collected a good 2 kilos of green tomatoes while Miss E was sleeping and Miss C was busy with Play School. Half an hour later, we were in business. The beauty of of this chutney is two-fold; by removing some of the green fruit, it frees up the plant's energy to ripen up the remainder. This is specially helpful if your summer hasn't been consistently hot and let's you utilise fruit that may have spilt due to too much rain following intense heat. This year, the mountains seem to have had every possible permutation. The second advantage is that green tomato chutney is quite simply and totally delicious, well worth stock piling. I find it really hard to get the keep/give away ratio right and by the time I've run out, I'm cursing my largess. If only there wasa reliable way to estimate how much chutney I'll need to last through to next year...
The littlest sous chef in action - love that motion blur!
The recipe I use is very simple and based onthe one in the Australian Women's Weekly's 'Book of Perserves.' I'm not sure if this treasure is still in print but it's a fabulous resource so snap it up if you come across it on ebay or at a garage sale. AWW say to use dry mustard powder but I prefer to use freshly roasted mustard seeds, ground in a mortar and pestle.
1 kilo of green tomatoes, washed and roughly chopped
- feel free to throw in some ripe ones if you can't quite make up the full kilo
1 large onion, red or brown, whatever's in the pantry
1 cup cider vinegar
3/4 cup raw sugar
2 tsp freshly ground mustard seeds
1 tsp curry powder
1 tsp tumeric
1/4 tsp chilli powder
1 tbsp cider vinegar
1 tbsp cornflour
Throw all the ingredients, except for the last tbsp of vinegar and cornflour.
Bring to the boil and then simmer covered for 40 mins until the mixture is pulpy.
Then ass the remaining vinegar and cornflour and stir until the mixture boils again and thickens.
Quite the tub ring in this shot...
While the mixture is still hot, pour into hot sterilised jars and then seal once cold. For more infomation on sterilisation, check Google. I cheat and use the baby's steriliser in the microwave.
Whilst this chutney doesn't look the prettiest, it is super tasty and loves to served with any type of pork product, a sharp cheddar or the vegetable and lentil pie from Hominy bakery in Katoomba.
Please note: I am the queen of not necessarily following recipes to the letter. this batch, I forgot to 'cover and simmer for 40 mins' and instead I just let it simmer for hours on end. As the pot I used was extremely heavy, this took hours. If dancing you're own steps here like moi, take to keep stirring as you don't want the mix to burn and catch on the bottom. This recipe should make approx. 3 cups but I did a double batch and that's why there are so many more jars in the final shot above. Such a bounty, I'm well pleased with myself.
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