Saturday, December 21, 2013

The Quadrennial Parisienne Review

I know here in internet land, there are those who are primed to see amazing feats of childhood dreams being breathed into life with matching straws and dispensers of spun sugar.

If you are from this category of fish, its probably best to look away now.  We didn't do that to celebrate 4 years of having Paris in our lives.

Actually, we didn't really "celebrate" at all internet style.

We just awoke at 6am at her request and did her bidding all day - pretty much an average day in Paradise.

It has been four years of joy,


and love.

She lights up our lives

and adds colour and sunshine to our days.

We made fairy cakes,

she got some new wheels,

we went and ate junk food together in the park,

and she got lasagne and mango (separately) for dinner.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Why did the duck cross the road... or Shoe Part 4 I suppose...)

I would like to announce that the season of Christmas Shopping has officially now launched in Paradise.

I know.  Early this year.

("Christmas Decorations as viewed by Paris" - by Paris)

I have heard rumours that some people apparently finish their shopping for the festive season in October.  Sheesh.

Where is the fun in that?

What do people do on Christmas Eve if they are not wrapping presents and hyperventilating about enough stuff and more than enough stuff?

I like to approach a Christmas quietly for as long as possible.  Sneak up on it.

If it knows you are there, it will try to extract as much festive spirit - or as the agents of christmasitalism call it, profit - from you as possible.

The pickings leaning towards any -isms profitting from me do tend to be rather stringy and lacking in substance.  Therefore I have learned I cannot stand up to protracted scrutiny from such suckers, and so quietly with an air of disinterest is the only approach possible.

It is not just through fear of being parted from the filthy lucre that makes me pause, though.  I know what the combination of spending, me, and the term "sucker" have, and I actually suffer from a rare (however very rarely fatal) condition, where I am a woman who does not enjoy shopping for the sake of spending.

(I will let you in on a secret - there are more of us out there than you think)

As a result, I am a hugely unsuccessful shopper.

However, even I surprised myself with my launch* this year.

It has been a week - nay, ten days - oh, what the heck, nigh on over a year of crap being dumped in my general vicinity.  Not aimed directly at me (all the time) but close enough to make an impact on the otherwise smooth and uneventful perambulations of my life.

The little, niggly stuff amped up a bit over the last week - speeding fine (again, so not my fault), death, confirmation of a friend finale (not due to death), dental dramas, pre-menstrual psychosis - okay, perhaps the lady doth over-exaggerate, but if there is a bad guy aiming stink bombs, they were hitting fairly frigging close to the bone.

So today, all armed with the knowledge that the proposed budget is in the black until at least 2014 ** and listed up, Paris and I set forth on the inaugural shop.
(not an actual representation of the list.  I am not giving anyone Vinegar for Christmas this year)

My shoe broke.

My freaking shoe BROKE.  I was strong.  I did not take it as a sign.

It was not a SIGN.

(if you look closely, you can see a mob of kangaroos behind this sign)

It did, however, mean that, rather than striding into the first store of my chevy, I approached in a more disheveled manner, broken shoes in hand to PROVE that ferality was not my natural state (well, not for the last few years, anyway) but still bowed by the sneers of the righteous folk lined up at Santa's Kiosk and exiting the bottle-shop near the entrance of the Shopping Centre.

Now, I had actually budgeted for a pair of shoes.  For Paris.  My footwear has not been pencilled in, therefore whatever is spent in the shodding must be spent with care and an eye to very low financial impact.

I have before mentioned my shoe shopping phobias, have I not?  Here and hereThis one is nothing about shopping for shoes, but emphasizes that should the universal conspiracy have been looking for something that is going to just make my life a little bit more stressy, go for the footwear.  The girl sucks BIG TIME at shoe shopping.

Let me just say that I am actually not TOO much poorer, as a result.

My total footwear range has expanded, it is true...  however, we would have to describe the trajectory of style and show of social standing as in a Southerly direction, with the other major shoe factor, comfort, not really offering any redemption in the selection I ended up with.

Am rethinking my declination of the feral status.

*  Allow me to confess to three transgressions:
  • I actually used the internet to contact Santa and arrange his part in one Parisian delight;
  • Whilst shopping for 'Salina's birthday I inadvertently overbought at one store (it was an excellent deal); and
  • I have hatched a scheme for several of the recipients of the darts of my goodwill that has required an assembly of materials - and I have procured the materials.

 ** a year that I hold much higher hopes for.

Friday, November 29, 2013

The Garden that nearly blew away...

November can be summed up in one word - windy.  There were approximately two days where "gale force" wasn't the technical term for the Northerlies that went a whistling through...

As this has been the state of affairs for the majority of the year, please feel free to critique my total lime crop. 
Yep - contemplating going wild on that with some soda at some point...
Still, we have dealt with the aphids, the leaf curl, the sooty mould and the magnesium deficiency, so we do have some hope for the next go around
I love it when nature gets all excited and offers promises and entices you to dream
me and the big guy have got to have a talk about this wind, though.
The capsicums beneath the lime tree are beginning to get their awesome on also - this beauty became slivers in Green Tomato Pickles (courtesy of a bumper load from my Tuesday boss), roasted goodness and part of a salad.  Am very much anticipating more goodness!
The front yard has some beautiful flowers
although the heat and howling (check out the ponytail's action to gauge just how much) has meant that marigolds are being deadheaded almost daily.
Cornage (to use V's word) and that corner are going great guns.  More flower than action on the pumpkin.  By the way, has anyone any tips for blossom end rot when the soil is already sweet?
  The chillies are still being their prolific selves - I am now making a new sauce that is based on about twice as many chillies being used in a go, and still cannot handle the glut.  Will be taking a bottle of the new fermented hot sauce tomorrow to the local Food Swap - so long as the predicted morning thunderstorm doesn't eventuate.

The beans are beginning to flower - we had an inch of rain last Monday and it did wonders for their spirits. The jury is still out on the cucumbers, though.
I had to pull up zucchinis and cucumbers in this bed - again blossom end rot, and then the zucchini started with the whole powdery mildew and I just couldn't be bothered.  As silverbeet is going great guns (and we love the stuff) we have now filled the bed with more of the same.  The snowpeas and peas are self-seeded from the crop a few months ago - didn't have the heart to remove them.
 We have now taken out all of the sunflowers from this bed.  I harvested a good salad bowl full and left the rest of the heads to the local galahs - who squawked their thank yous quite vociferously.
  There is a battle in the herb bed for dominance.

V removed the rather useless Jade plant from the corner to give a bit more life to this lemongrass.  We are being repaid by almost being able to watch it grow.
Of course, our garden isn't just about food (thank goodness) - we currently have a carpet of these flowers
  and are still being entertained by a choir of these guys.
And so this is what I am taking to the food swap, as there is no glut available.

This post will also be in Strayed from the Table's round up for the month (I am actually EARLY  - woo hoo) so shall give the proper link when hers is up.  (Here it is)

How is your garden going this month?

PS - Food Swap was awesome - forgot the chilli sauce, but took some herbs - and reaped big time with pumpkin, eggs, lemongrass, greek basil in pot, five-in-one herb in pot, eggplant, cucumber, celery, tamarinds, thai basil, rosemary, capsicum, kale, mangoes and some yummy energy balls! (I did add to the donation pot as well - the balance was well in my favour)

But truly the best thing about the Swap is the people - nothing like gathering some gardeners together for great information and inspiration.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Food Bleurghing

There are several obstacles between me and being an Internationally Renowned Food Blogger.

Complete lack of poise (although that bright light shining out of my grey streak head is an attractive feature that should be used to my advantage in the IRFB stakes, perhaps...)

I am guilty of contempt for my perfectly adequate equipment - the abuse carried out on this particular piece was due to a failed gingerbread experiment.  The gingerbread turned out fine - the invectives cast since in its direction as I have to deal with a deformed plastic-y bit in the middle however makes it far less sweet in my memory.

Complete lack of food styling nouse.   I have read the links people have helpfully sent me in my quest to be an IRFB- but until I have a camera I can respect (or, indeed, even call a camera), general style or proper lighting, I offer - well, I don't really, do I?

 And even if I had all of that, there is a bit of a constraint in the food preparation "space" - and I use that term advisedly - in fact, whenever I do start to get an inkling of maybe flexing my inner Food Blooger (typo left deliberately), I only have to move the pan to get out the scales and then stack the chopping board on the food processor, take the oven glove and put it back on the hook, rearrange the dishes awaiting sink action, rearrange the dishes post sink action, revise the alfoil angle thing that is real estate greedy and rearrange the deckchairs.  Luckily, it is only three paces from one end of the kitchen to the other so its mainly your brain that gets a workout...

I am sure that an IRFB would have made the crumbs the hero of this picture, but these little soldiers were so valiant...

And an IRFB would have had the fresh Nutmeg in the cupboard - which I actually did have - but they had been in there for long enough to have started their own civilization.  They are now forming part of the next generation of compost.  Its okay, though, because I would have had to find the nutmeg grater, which has been pilfered by my second daughter for playdough use (and had often been so pilfered often by my first when she was in the PD zone).

They also would have had the wherewithal to photograph the stuffing, the stuffed and the post cooking delights while waxing lyrical about the whole tenting process.  Heck, an IRFB may have even remembered to massage with butter.

Ah well, we eat well - and until the internet transmits taste and smell, you will just have to use your imagination (or come visit)...

Sunday, November 03, 2013

November in the Garden

Today is a very special day - as this day, 14 years ago, we welcomed 'Salina into our world.  In fact, at this point in time 14 years ago I think I was dealing with my first major nappy eye-opener!!

Obviously she is well past that stage of life (as is her little sister) and has grown into someone I am pretty darned proud of - and she has a keen sense of humour.

We had her friends over yesterday for a beach visit and barbeque - this morning, we have had breakfast and been to the beach - there is a theme.

Although, apparently, her day also consists of some homework - as does mine...

Its hot here - very hot.  It has been hot AND windy approximately 80% of the last 3 weeks, and the garden is showing the effects of that, I am afraid.

 The front flower beds are desparately in need of some serious deadheading.  This bed is virtually all antbed, so one day the dream is to remove it and create a hedge and/or some sort of privacy in this area - it is evolutionary.

This bed, that was created completely from deadheading and random scatterings, is looking very sorry now that the sunflowers have been removed.  There are plans afoot to put an orange tree in on this side.

I love the hippeastrum, but the display this year is fairly paltry because they were lifted and separated fairly late.  I am going to try and leave them in situ for a season or so before the next lift.  That being said, I did manage to give away over 100 bulbs for others, with the instructions "they are compost if they don't strike" - but the strike rate is apparently pretty good out there.

It is anticipated that this corridor at the side of the house will get paved one day, with some shadecloth and potting areas under contemplation.  Another wonderful idea is to possibly move the fence/gate back to allow Ergon access (and more sun to some of the bed) - that is the great thing about a garden, the dreaming of possibilities.

Unfortunately due to the massive winds we have had for the last 2 months, my blossoming promise is basically three little fruit on my lime tree.  Fairly devastated about that.

The plan is that this bed will change the wind issues (and privacy) with the bamboo, and while it is growing like wildfire (as are the marigolds and borage) it will be a few seasons.  My Vietnamese  mint died and Eddie (the cat) is a serial offender in upsetting the hope for the eggplant as, instead of seedlings we find offerings...

Luckily the back corner garden is pretty sheltered, which means that it continues green and lush - snowpeas, sweet potatoes, pumpkin, basil, marigolds and whatever else lands a seed there grow in abundance, although setting fruit is an issue with the lack of direct sunlight.

We still have hope of the corn - it was rather trammelled by the wind but V did straighten it after the last big blow and it seems to be steaming ahead.  

The chilli bush is prolific - we are currently at saturation point with chilli sauce and, while I will harvest and contemplate preserving these, the long-term plan is to demolish this bed and create a larger bed in conjunction with the corn bed.  The strawberries (that are feeling the heat) will be renewed once that renovation is complete.

 We harvested one bed and planted beans and beetroot - something I have since learned is a no-no, but we were saved from consequences by the complete failure of beetroot!!  The beans only have a 50% strike rate as well, so will revisit this garden again today and contemplate the next move.

The bed beside it, however, is going great guns, with both zucchini and cucumber flowering and setting fruit, the silverbeet being prolific and the self-seeded snowpeas already forming pods.  Love bonus plants!

While our vegetables have fairly well dried up now that Summer is upon us (although officially we are still 1 month off), we do get some pretty special floral displays.

We have 3 frangipani trees in our garden - the dwarf pink, the cream (above)  and a newly planted cream are all flowering their head off (the bit that  broke from the latter was shoved into a pot and is flowering also).

These sunflowers in the side bed are greeting each morning (and the neighbours) and just starting to get to the stage of droop and harvest - if anyone has any sunflower recipes I am open to suggestion (or you want some seeds - if it is legal to send them from me in Queensland to you - let me know)

The "herb" garden is still going well, although we are bereft of coriander (due to the spread of a voracious oregano).  We have pineapple sage, parsley, thyme, oregano, sage, chives and rosemary available to us in this hot little corner.

So - it will be spending a bit more time down in the garden (early morning and late afternoon) and praying for rain like crazy for the next month here.

Go visit Liz at Strayed from the Table to visit other gardens in The Garden Share Collective