Sunday, 30 March 2014

Simple Living Sunday 23

Well, for once I do not have a basket of goodies to display. The weather has been too rough for picking this afternoon. It was also too wet to plant these seedlings that are now ready for the gum tree garden. So, maybe next weekend :)

The entire property is very damp after all the rain this week, and a little smelly from the floodwaters. We even have fungus growing amongst the corn seedlings. Not sure if that is a good thing or not.

 I have no idea what these are but I find them all through the garden. A fungus? A hive or nest of some sort? If you have any clue please let me know.

The beans are thriving despite the pummelling from heavy rain.

This is that little lemon tree I cut all the 'bulbous' growths off...looking very healthy now.

I spent most of my indoor confinement cleaning and preparing for my A-Z Challenge, but I did make a fresh batch of yoghurt which I will process again and make into Greek yoghurt.

This is the final water level. Just to the edge of the bonfire.

And some water at the back of our block.

You can see here that it stopped a few metres short of the house...thank goodness :)

We went for a walk with Bella to the Six Mile Creek bridge. This is the water over a low point in the road. Our property is on the right hand side.

Apologies for the poor lighting but this shot shows how much water was over the bridge. You can't even see it :)

But it is so very pretty in the last stages of the day. Lauren's boyfriend Luke was contemplating swimming across to get to us but the current was too strong. We then walked back to find....

...the boys playing flood footy of course!

I hope you had a lovely weekend at your place. What did you get up to?

Saturday, 29 March 2014

A-Z Blogging Challenge for April

I am a little late with this post as the big reveal was on the 21st March, but I finally made up my mind to accept this challenge for April. I first heard of the A-Z challenge only a week ago via Zita at It's Time.

Basically the challenge is to write a post every day except for Sundays in April. That makes 26 posts which corresponds with the letters of the alphabet. So, on April fools day, we start with a post inspired by the letter A. Most people have chosen a theme for their posts and I thought long and hard about it....and came up with the theme of....drum roll....

Simple Living! ta da! It fits with the lifestyle I am working towards, and will give me the opportunity to share my experiences thus far, as well as research and provide information on new topics. I hope you find my posts during the challenge enjoyable. I intend to start working on them over the next few days since I am flooded in anyway at the moment :)

The hardest part of the challenge is deciding on what to write about for each letter, and I hope by starting off organised, that I will be able to complete the challenge...and have some interesting posts to look back on later.

So, how about it? Want to join Zita and I (and so many others around the world) and accept this challenge?
If you do, you can register at Blogging from A-Z. I hope to see your blog on the list :)

Friday, 28 March 2014

Flood-Proof Friday: Floods Again

The view from my upstairs verandah this morning

Mother Nature never ceases to amaze me with her unpredictability. Just last week Gympie was officially declared a drought zone and farmers became eligible for much-needed assistance. Calves were being sold for a few dollars each because the cost of feed was just too high for many farmers to maintain. I also read earlier this week that, even though we were expecting some rain, Autumn rainfall would be below average - leaving not a lot of light at the end of the tunnel. Then you get thrown a curve-ball.

It has rained heavily here for the past few days. I estimate we have had over 200mls of rain in the past 48hrs. Because the creek was bone dry, and the forecasters only predicted minor flooding, I was not really expecting to be flooded today. I suspected the roads would be cut, and I would not be able to get to work, but in the top photo, the water is well past our power pole...which means the Six Mile Creek bridge is under water.

Our first job this morning was to rescue my little red car the boys drive around the farm in. It conveniently ran out of petrol at the bottom of our block, so...

...Paul and the boys towed it to higher ground.

The water is coming from the gully which surrounds our property. This side is well and truly overflowing, and the water level of Six Mile creek will determine whether it keeps coming onto our block. At the moment it is only a few metres from our house, and even though the creek is slowly falling, the water is still creeping towards our house.

That's the nature of floods. They are so unpredictable. It is the decision-making which is the most frustrating part though, at the moment. I have the kids downstairs cleaning out their rooms, and preparing to move their stuff upstairs....just in case.

You can just see the water through the trees here. This is where we have lost cars before, when there was little warning.

The rising water brings all sorts of rubbish from the creek onto our block. Some of it is stuff that washed into the gully in the last flood. The black blur in front is Puppy Bella, who runs like the wind.

Despite the threat, there is beauty to be seen during a flood. The birds are already enjoying their temporary lagoon.

This is the latest photo I took a few minutes ago and the water is now coming up from the back, which isn't a great sign. So, I am off to clear upstairs just in case we need to bring everything it needs to be done anyway. There is always a bright side :)

I hope you are having a wonderful day so far, and a little less adventurous than mine!

Wednesday, 26 March 2014

Permaculture Noosa

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I have never really been involved in community groups. I think it's because I have always worked full time and was a single mum juggling kids for several years. I just couldn't afford the time to devote to outside groups and, I think deep down...I'd rather be at home than socialising and getting involved with people. By the end of the day, I am so over talking and making conversation with people I don't know :)

In the past six months this has begun to change. For example, I joined a writers group and we meet once a month to share our writing projects and learn our craft from the incredibly talented Karen Foxlee. I have completed the paperwork to become a volunteer for the Army Cadets every second Sunday and am looking forward to that commencing. Just last week I discovered that Permaculture Noosa meet once a month in Cooroy, which is half an hour from home, so I decided to go to their meeting. Paul, who usually has band practice, came with me...even though the topic of the night, Insects in the Garden, was not something he was the slightest bit interested in :)

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There was quite a large turnout at the town hall in Cooroy, I would guess at approximately 50 people. I was hoping to get there for 7pm as they have a 'swap' with members bringing extra produce to trade...something I have always wanted to participate in. There were plants, seeds (locally sourced and saved by members), books, honey and preserves, available for swapping and purchase. The meeting opened with people coming forward to talk about upcoming events they were having, and one gentleman was looking for land for his cattle as they were starving due to the drought.

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We then enjoyed a series of talks for the next hour on insects in the garden, and the importance of attracting beneficial insects to maintain the eco-balance of the garden. For example, wasps may be seen as a predator but they actually control some of the pests such as grasshoppers. I learnt about creating habitats for these insects such as a pond or an 'insect hotel' to encourage insects to inhabit my garden:

Insect Hotel
I don't think I need to go this far but I can see the benefit of attracting insects such as bees to pollinate my pumpkins and squash, and beetles to prey on leaf eating bugs. I made a start by buying a packet of Good Bug Mix, recommended by the members. It is produced by Green Harvest in Maleny who have a great range of gardening produce and products.

Vegie Mama
I see that Vegie Mama (link on image caption) also mentioned this mix (via a guest post by Cooker and a Looker), so I am in good company here :)

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I also bought a copy of the Permaculture Noosa Newsletter which includes a Sunshine Coast Planting Guide for April which is very handy. There are some different ideas than those I have planned, such as planting cucumbers in the shade for the best result if planting in March, so I will tailor my Autumn Vegie Patch to include this local knowledge. Even though I am not technically on the coast, the guide does incorporate the hinterland.

Another item of great interest to me in the newsletter is an upcoming workshop by Elisabeth Felkonia from Permaculture Produce. It is in May and is called "Sourdough, Sauerkraut and Kimchi". You even learn how to make a fruit wine, so I have already registered to participate in this one :)

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So, it turns out that getting involved in some community groups is actually beneficial for me as there is so much I want to learn (and help out with), and even though I did not hang around to have supper and make conversation, I really enjoyed my evening (and the awkwardness of my husband sitting through an hour of bug talks). I look forward to seeing what they will be presenting next month...and will probably join up as a member. I am also investigating whether Gympie has a group too.

Later in the week I will share another experience I had last week that opened my mind to new possibilities.

I'd love to know if you are involved in any community groups and whether its just me that has shied away from them.

Tuesday, 25 March 2014

Get a Free Five-Minute Blog Feedback Video

A few days ago I followed a link on my Facebook page by Techie Mum. As the name suggests, her site deals with anything techie and she has some amazing tips and app reviews if you have not visited her blog before. Anyway, the link I followed via Facebook was to Peek User Testing, a site that promises you a review of your website via a free five minute video.

I typed in my blog url, supplied my email address, and about half an hour later received an email link to my video...and it is so enlightening. Take a look:

I love how the person reviewing my blog followed a process, and I could physically see where they were clicking to, and the thought process involved in each decision of where to click to next. I also like the feedback regarding what I can do better and what I am already doing well...from a totally non-biased viewpoint.

If you have a blog or website, give it a go!! I'd love to hear what you thought of your video. Now I am off to fix those typos he mentioned :) Have fun!

Monday, 24 March 2014

Simple Living Sunday 22

It's been a lovely quiet weekend with the boys at their Army Cadets training camp. It is still hot here so I didn't get as much achieved yesterday as I would have liked. However, this morning I woke up early to beat the heat and plant out the lemon tree garden. I decided not to mulch until the seeds sprout, because even though I moved it aside when I planted the water tank garden, it still managed to get in the way of sprouting seeds.

These are the Blue Lake beans, about 7cm tall already, so off to a good start.

A couple of happy little sweet corn...

...this one is twice the size of the others.

Very happy to see the first few leeks sprouting.

A couple of purple cauliflower.

The first time I have grown peas. I usually grow snow peas but thought I'd give these a go.

Sadly, the baby pumpkin I showed you last week has not survived. Maybe that will be the last of them unless we get some rain this week.

The gum tree garden covered in a layer of leaves. I will get to this one later today to prepare it for kale, spinach and lettuce. Permaculture Noosa also advise that cucumber fares better in the shade in our climate, so I will plant a couple here as well.

The Hibiscus is feeling the effects of the heat, with leaves turning yellow and only a few flowers.

I made a healthy juice this morning...enough for a couple of days. I dilute it with whey and blend with my home made yoghurt to create a yummy and healthy protein smoothie.

The end result...what an amazing colour. The only way you will get me to eat beetroot :)

I cut my second pumpkin last night to have with our roast pork. I cured this one properly by sitting it out in the sun for two weeks. It hardened the shell and turned the flesh a beautiful orange. Can't get any better than that.

I whipped up a zucchini slice for my work lunches.

And made gourmet baked eggs for  breakfast in my new ramekins, using spinach and cherry tomatoes from my basket of goodies.

They turned out really yummy!

I started a cream cheese yesterday. It is currently hanging in cheesecloth, draining over a saucepan. I will see the end result later tonight. Fingers crossed it turns out okay. If it does I will post the recipe.

It is now later tonight and I am just finishing my post...look at that cream cheese! It is beautiful and I will be posting the recipe :)

So, what have you been up to at your place? Any tips for storing cut pumpkin?

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