Saturday, August 30, 2008

Painting Party

My back fence neighbour Alison came around last weekend for us to paint together. She walked around and then Jeff, her husband passed all her supplies over the fence. We spent the afternoon chatting laughing, and yes doing some painting.

We were both painting for the local women's art competition, sponsered by a local museum. I didn't get my entry in on time, and Alison never finished her work, (pictured above) but it was a great afternoon, just to hang out together, and the painting seemed to come easier.

My painting, half done is the one on the table in this photo. I stencilled a pattern on the background, to get a lace effect, and after this photo was taken, painted a still life of teapot and cups. The theme for the art comp was 'the everyday things women do' and for me nothing much gets done without a cup of tea.

Yesterday I went to opening of the exhibition of the artworks and there were just a couple of artists who thought the same as me. One of the prize winners had entered a work that was painted on a teapot. I'll see if I can get a photo to post on here next week.

It was great to paint with someone else, and this room is my favourite for painting, as the afternoon sun comes in and warms it in winter and in summer, I can open the doors and it stays cool. I've already got two more people who want to come paint next time we do it.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Growing Challenge / Independance Days Challenge.

Planted: Asian greens, leeks, cucumbers, squash, capsicums and eggplants.

Harvest something: Lettuce, Rocket, Dandelion greens, Snow Peas (First ones) Have been eating Salad from the garden most days now.

Preserve something: Attempted to make lillipilli jelly - dismal faliure. I was using a local variety of lillipilli that's a purply grey, just not the same as the hot pink ones I used in Sydney.

Manage Reserves: Using up more old stock - Brown rice, old tin of tuna, creme caramel packet.
Prepped: Set up the small greenhouse again to start the spring veges in. This time I weighted it down with bricks so I don't worry about it blowing over again.
Worked on Local Food Systems: Have set a date for first Permaculture Network Meeting. Not this weekend but next. If you know any gardeners in the Shoalhaven area, tell them to contact me about it!
Reduced Waste: Using old milk cartons cut up as plant labels. Scraps from church and from neighbours for chickens and compost.
Cooked something new: Creme Caramels. (It was a packet mix I must admit, but it needed using up, and it worked perfectly) I took the leftovers to my morkmate's for dinner last night. Also made a Banana Loaf and a Pear and Lillipilli cake. (It's great too except I'm not happy with the lillipillis, need to use normal variety which is better for eating, leave the local ones to the birds.)
More Info about the Growing Challenge

Off to the Ball

I was saying to a friend last weekend that I needed to get out. It didn't happen that night, by about 5pm I was ready to crash in bed, but we found out that the 000 ball (for the emergency services) was on the following saturday. So this weekend we all got frocked up and headed to the Bowling club for a night out.

Debs took up a curling wand for the first time in her life, and did an awesome job on Bec's hair, they both looked gorgeous

Friends Alisa in red, Gareth and Alexis in matching outfits, Awww!

Fiona, Bec, Jill and me hanging out. The only downside to the night was that we were on the table closest to the door for the smokers and it was freezing outside. But we worked that one out, and one the delicious meal was over and the music started, we didn't mind the breeze, spent most of the night on the dance floor.
This may become a regular event!

Monday, August 18, 2008

Garden Update

I didn't get anything really done in the garden this morning, (I have to confess, I am reading 'The other Boleyn Girl' and it kept me up last night). But I did take the camera out and took some shots to show some of what is happening.

Re-using PET bottles as cloches, the lettuce is now huge, and there were some basil seedlings that were fading away in the darkness. Hopefully they will not only get some light, but grow faster with the warmer microclimate created in here, and the slugs and bugs will be deterred until they are a bit bigger.
This picture is very exciting, my first two snow pea pods and lots more coming. I love fresh snow peas, and the only reason these will make it from the garden inside the house without being eaten first is that I am weighing everything I grow. The trellis is recycled concrete reinforcing wire.

Apricot blossom, which smells divine, and two spend blossoms above it - hopefully growing apricots!

This is a new flower I bought, perennial. Arctotis var. Hannah. Being so pretty and having my name, I couldn't go past it.
And lastly, my broad bean flowers! No pods yet though. They are self fertile aren't they?

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Independance Days Update

Planted: Another salad bed: lettuces, rocket, basil, and more, Okra.

Harvest something: Oranges, Herbs

Preserve something: Grandma's Tomato Sauce

Store Something: Rice, Flour, Raw sugar, Oats and Sultanas from Food Co-op.

Manage Reserves: Bought up as rice is getting very hard to purchase, so I am a bit overflowing at the moment. I am gradually getting down to one of everything and using up mu multiples.

Prepped: Saturday I visited a friend's farm. It's organic, natural methods for animal management, and he works with at risk young people at the farm. Amazing. Check out A Taste of Paradise. Anyhow, Francis gave me a few bits of donated timber to take home and start making my chook tractor. I regrettably didn't take my camera, but I did play with horses, chooks and day old baby goats. (Cluckyness for the baby goats was definately going on - although seeing what they're like as teenagers in the next yard helped alleviate that feeling somewhat) I will go back soon and take photos I promise.

Went to the buy back centre at the tip yesterday. Got some bits of Reinforcing mesh for garden trellises, a mower catcher for nesting box - should result in cleaner eggs. and some metal roof ridgeing for the chook tractor.

Spent an hour with my neighbour Sunday pm starting to make the chook tractor, also recycling metal braces for the frame from his in-laws house building.

Worked on Local Food Systems: My old house mates bought their first fruit tree (haha, I would like to take full credit for inspiring that one, but I know her parents are gardeners too. I also did my regular shift at the local organic food co-op.

Reduced Waste: Re-using PET bottles as cloches over the veges. Photos in garden update this week.

Cooked something new: Mushroom Oven Baked Risotto (2 cups rice, 2 stock cubes crumbled, 2 cups mushrooms -I used the chinese dried style which gave it a great flavour and they soaked up well through the process - 2 tbsp butter and 5 cups boiling water. In a casserole dish with the lid on in the oven on med for 1/2 hour. Stir through parmesan cheese and serve.

Learned a new skill: Drilling through metal and cutting corruguted iron with tin snips.

Time flies when you're having fun.

I was recently out at Huskisson on a weekday with work and they were haveing a paper bag sale. Basically fill the paper bag they provide with clothes and soft items and the lot is $5. I got brand name jeans, black dress pants, lovely warm track pants, shorts, a skirt, a number of shirts and jumpers, a pot holder with chickens on it and this lovely apron. The skirt I have on underneath is the skirt I got in the bag. It's handmade, and fits like it was made for me.

This is the detail of the embroidery up close. I think it may have been machine embroidered, but not sure.

Some of my friends say they don't go op-shopping, because they can't find things that fit. Maybe I have an op shop figure (whatever that is) because I find it easier to find clothes that fit at the op shop than at the stores. You have to have an idea of what you are looking for and stick to things you actually need, but I love them.

Just thought I share some of my flanellette quilt. My mum made this for me, it's a kit she bought at one of the craft fairs, and it's divinely warm, and most beautiful autumny prints and colours. Thanks Mum

I had my neighbours around for dinner last week, and on thusday Alison gave me this painting she did of the night. The red flowers are Arctotis "Hannah" Which I had on the table, which is in the middle of the painting. The blue kitchen cupboards, which are growing on me, and the shelves where my plates are stacked.

And this weekend I made Tomato Sauce. This is an old recipe passed down from my grandma and it's divine. I got the tomatoes at $12 for the box (10kg) which is very reasonable. In the shops they are on special at $1.50 per kilo so I went to the local fruit and veg, and they gave em a discount for buying the whole box.

I did buy the bottles, but they were only $2 each and I can re-use them many times. The jam jar just fitted what didn't fit into the bottles and I'll give that to my old housemates who i'm having dinner with tonight, and they love the sauce too.

There's still half a box of tomatoes, I have a pasta sauce recipe I am nearly out of so I might make some of that up, but I'd have to buy the fresh herbs for it, as I don't have enough growing yet. Hmm.

In other exciting news, My harvest total reached 11kg today!!! (That's 24 Pounds) My goal is 50kg by the end of the year, and I think it is not such a crazy goal.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Food from the garden

Had my back fence neighbours for dinner on Monday night which was lovely. We had dinner together about a month ago. I only realised after making the offer on the house that theirs was the one behind. Jeff and Alison attend my church and I had made friends with them a month or two before.

This was one of the first 100 foot meals I have made (the idea being that the food travels less than 100 feet from where it was produced to where you eat it.) Well, the egg and brocoletti in the mini quiches and the salad all fitted into that category. It was delicious, and great to share my garden with my friends. We have decided neither is allowed to move, and Alison and I want Jeff to build a stile over the fence so we can visit each other without having to walk all the way around the block.

Jeff and Alison also brought some local organic beef they buy direct from the farmer (Alison's boss) and I gave them some of my chicken's eggs in return.

And we watched Peter Cundall's 'patch from scratch' while eating quinces I bottled myself with fruit gleaned from trees growing along the road near mudgee. (I also have a root cutting from this tree growing - hopefully delicious quinces soon to come) All in all a great night

Monday, August 11, 2008

Beautiful Bride

The other weekend my friend from work got married. I got to go down the night before the wedding (held about an hour down the coast from where I live at Ulladulla) and go to the Hen's night.

Beautiful bride being walked down the aisle by her dad
The happy couple, Leah and Tim

Me and Leah (I love this vintage dress I picked up at Sydney Markets, and old vintage jewellery from garage sale)The view out from the church - Ulladulla Harbour.

I think they should have gotten married outside!

But then again, we might not have spent so much time looking at them if that was the case.

Growing Challenge Update - I'm eating it!

Well, it's been time for an update from the garden for a while, so you're getting one.

It's going so well, I'm running out of space. In the photo below you can see the broad beans at the front which are flowering now. Behind them are the onions which are being overrun by self sown tomatoes. I'm going to pot some up to give away this weekend, and relocate some others. Garlic at the back left and Brocoletti at back right, and lettuce and self sown coriander everywhere.

This photo shows the main patch of lettuce, with kohl rabi growing in amongst it. To the left the snow pease are growing up the trellis. Right at the front is curly endive, not quite big enough to eat. I have some small flowering plants along the front to bring the birds, and just because they're pretty

Finally the newest bed, potatoes. I just layered wet cardboard, pea straw, dynamic lifter and straw with the seed potatoes put straight on the wet cardboard and the rest over the top of them. Inspired by Peter Cundall, I hope it crops like his did. (on Patch from Scratch)

I need to get my spring veges started, but currently don't have space. Big dilemma. I am going to try and get a chicken tractor upa nd going within the next two weeks, to start creating some more garden space, let them do the digging for me.

I also found a source of free clean wood shavings. Guess what's going in the chook yard tomorrow morning!

The gardening challenge is a challenge put out by Melinda at 1 Green Generation, challenging us to grow at least one new vegetable from seed and keep regular updates.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Independance Days Update

Plant something: Asparugus, Tamarillo, Raspberries, Apricot, Nectarine, Strawberries, Potatoes

Harvest Something: Lettuce, Pumpkins, Herbs, Brocoletti (My total for 2008 now 8.8kilos or 19.4lbs)

Store Something: Hay and Straw for mulching (although only half left now)

Managed Reserves: I worked on more of my paths, especially the one that goes to my chook run. More to go on it next weekend.

Prepped: Bought Sulfate of Potash (Supposed to be good for producing fruit) Had a look at my almond tree at the nursery. It hasn't produced any leaves or flowers yet, but the buds look good. Went to a garage sale, came home with a sizzle dish (you heat it up in the oven and then put the food on it) a table ironing board and a book on preserving food, complete with solar food dryer design - one of the projects I want to complete before summer.

Worked on Local Food Systems: Helped my mum renovate one of her gardens. Mainly flowers, as it's out the front, but she did agree to putting some strawberries in. The herbs and salad veges she wants to put out the back, that's a bigger job.

Reduced Waste: Collecting Church food scraps now - Chooks love it, and I don't have to buy as much food.


I'll have to take another photo of this part, this photo doesn't show it well at all. I have removed all the pebbles that were there and planted a row of raspberry canes given to me by some friends whose raspberries had gone beserk. No complaints from me. Dug them up and had them in by the end of the day. My friend Debbie came around and helped me as my back was hurting a bit. She dug the holes and I put them in.
But the other side of the driveway is where things are really happening. I put newspaper and cardboard down, brick edging, and filled the space with the pebbles that used to be where the raspberries are now. My garden chair went on top. I planted my grafted apple trees on the far side, there are some strawberry plants there as well, close to the edge for easy picking.
In the forgroung you can see one of the iceberg roses, which needs hard pruning and probably relocation away from the edge of the garden. Behind it is my apricot tree (Newcastle Early) which was already in leaf, and some flowers as well.

On the far left with mulch around it is my nectarine (Fantasia) which is budding, but no leaves yet, and in between them are my three asparagus plants. The rest of the ground is all coved with green manure seeds, figure I'll grow them until I have things to plant in their space, and they can improve the soil while it waits.

Yesterday I relocated the compost bin to the front yard, i'll move it round occasionally, my aim is that it will attract worms to break up the (quite compacted) soil and improve the quality and quantity of soil too. As I move it around I can then follow with planting some veges in the empty spaces.

The front of the garden faces north east and has the most lovely feel in the morning when the sun comes up. The trees should be protected from the hot westerly sun by the house, and from the wind as well for the most part.

Big Weigh In

Well, I have been inspired by Path to Freedom, and by Phelan at A posse ad esse to keep a record of what my garden brings in. Path to freedom are aiming for 10,000 pounds this year (Thats about 4500kilos for you metrics out there) and Phelan is up to 125 pounds.

I will add in an update on all my garden posts to let you know what I am up to. Seriously, it's so encouraging to keep a record, and it is also informative, lets you know when things are ripening, giving you ideas on when to plant next year, and what has struggled that you could try a different variety. The best part for me is that when I tell people about my garden, I can tell them that it is possible to grow a significant part of your food in a relatively tiny space, eat better save money, and not put huge amounts of time or money in.

So, my total as of today is 8.5 kilos, or 18.7 pounds. Seeing as I only moving in in May this year that's not too bad (I was helped by the established orange trees :)

My rules are that if I pick it for human consumption and it was produced in my yard it counts. I'll keep you posted as it grows.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008


My garden transformation is starting to happen. I thought I would post the before photos today, and hopefully (if I can find my camera) I'll post the updated photos tomorrow.

It doesn't look like this today. It's raining and thundering, and I'm sure if I could see outside there would be lightning as well. Regretting not having put my rainwater tank in yet as I hear the rain going down the drainpipes. Some of it is retained on site, but not working well yet. It's on my wishlist.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008


This Sunday I went with my mother and two people from our church to Riversdale for a Lior Concert.

Riversdale is one of two properties given by Arthur Boyd, a famous Australian artist to Australia in his estate. They are used for concerts, workshops, artists in residence etc. This photo above is the view back up the river from the Riversdale property. This is the Shoalhaven River, and I don't thank God often enough that I am blessed to live here. The property is 10-15 mins drive from my house.

Lior is an Australian music artist. Plays guitar and sings. Right up my alley. I had some friends who went to a recent concert and raved so I really wanted to go.

When we arrived they said they were sold out, but agreed to sell us some cheap tickets for standing room only (it had sold out weeks before the show.) However after having a picnic and the doors opening, so many people wanted to stay on their picnic rugs that we ended up sitting pretty much in the front row. (The photo below was taken without any zoom!) It was a great concert, and we got CD's afterwards.

He said an acapella song, a Hebrew blessing at the end. WOW!

Thanks to Steve and Sandy for driving and Lior and Brett for the music. It refreshed my soul.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Spicy Simmered Pork

I have only tried this with Pork, but imagine it would go well with chicken as well for those who don't like pork. For vegos, hmm, sorry. Promised this recipe for Shannon and Ian. This is adapted from a recipe in "Off the shelf" by Donna Hay I think

1/4c soy sauce
1/2c sugar
2 sml red chillies, seeded and chopped (optional)
1 tablespoon shredded ginger (I used grated fresh ginger)
2 tbsp fish sauce
2 tbsp lime juice
1 teaspoon ground star anise
650grams boneless pork fillet (I used a pork leg steak cut into small strips)

Place all the sauce ingredients in a deep frypan. Heat over med heat 4-5 minutes. Add sliced pork and cook on both sides 1-2 minutes. Sauce should be simmering/slightly frothing.

Serve the pork on a salad of mixed leaves. (I used lettuce, parsley coriander and nasturtium leaves, book suggests mint and spring onions as well.)

Drizzle some of the remaining sauce over the salad.


Independance Days Challenge

Planted: Tamarillo Tree, from my old next door neighbours. About 12 Raspberry plants from friends from church. Celery seedlings.

Harvested: Oranges, eggs, salad greens( lettuce, parsley, nasturtium leaves, coriander)

Preserved: No

Stored: Pork. I cooked it last night, hoping to post the recipe today. Went to local bulk food store and got it for about half the price of supermarket pork. Polenta. BBQ Pork buns. Asian noodles.

Managed: I finished building my living area in front courtyard, with cardboard and newspaper laid down wet with brick edges (all recycled) and pebbles that used to be along the side of the driveway spread around. (the raspberries replaced the pebbles) It looks really great now.

Prepped: I bought Asparagus crowns and a sultana grape. Need to plant them.

Advocated for local food economy: Talked to friends about vege gardening. They are keen to start gardens too. One friend has fenced off their area (to protect from their dog) and another will wait til her partner returns from defence posting.

Reduced waste: Helped a friend fix her lawnmower so she didn't need to pay someone to do it.

Cooked something new: Do made up recipes count? Cauliflower curry. Sauteed some onion, then added cauliflower and grated carrot and steamed. Then added curry powder, turmeric, and coriander seeds and a tin of coconut cream. Simmered for 5-10 mins added some broken up chinese egg noodles towards the end. Served with natural yoghurt and coriander leaves. Yum

New Blog

I hope you all find your way over here, I am sorry to leave the other blog, but I needed a blog linked to my work email account so have started a new one. Older posts can be found at
I figured to make this one easy to find if you know me. So the new address is

Caminho de Vida? It means Path or Way of Life. For me this relates to my house and garden and my life. In my life, I am on a journey in faith. I hope I never stop learning about and growing in relationship with my creator God, and teaching others about and encouraging them in their faith as well.

I have been looking for a name for my house for a while, not wanting to rush. I felt maybe to give it a name in Portugues, the language of Brasil. This is my second language, having lived there for a year after finishing school and loving it. I want my house to be a house that brings life to people. Good food and good fellowship. I don't want it to just be my living area, but to bring others in. Possibly to foster children, and allow them to experience my life. I want to live in community with my neighbours, and also in my house.

This relates to my garden as well, which I post about regularly in that my garden does sustain me. It sustains me physically, by growing food in it. It sustains me emotionally, as I relax after work by going to the garden, planting, nurturing. It sustains me spiritually as I look upon the wonder of a seed that grows into a plant, the wonder of God's creation. I hope that in the future, it will contribute to sustaining me financially, that there will be a surplus to share, to exchange/barter and to sell.

Hope you will join me on the next part of my journey, and please leave some comments behind as you visit.