Monday, 30 June 2014

Simple Living Sunday 32

It was not a highly productive weekend here at the farm as we were overloaded with birthday celebrations. It has been cold, with a few light frosts this week and it was lovely to have a wander around the garden during the sun today.

I discovered that a few of the plants I thought were brussell sprouts...are actually broccoli.

And I am fighting an uphill battle with grasshoppers and caterpillars. This is the worst affected...totally decimated.

I now have a variety of lettuce to pick.

The peas were not a huge success but I did manage a handful.

And just when I thought the beans had finished...there are now a few more.

The gum tree garden has yielded some pest free kale...not as large as those near the chook pen.

The winter strawberries are still going strong.

I have these ugly tractor tyres lining the drive way and they are too large to remove... I am working at clearing around them and will grow something edible to creep over the top.

I covered all of my young fruit trees during the frosts this week but the chestnut is looking a little affected.

There is a lot of little funghi growing around the garlic.

Pumpkins are popping up everywhere.

But may not grow any bigger with the upcoming frosts.

I am hoping the mulberry will have another season.

And on a funny note, it appears that the laying hen I was sold with the chook tractor...has now turned into a rooster! :)

Hope you had a great week at your place. What did you get up to?

Friday, 27 June 2014

Roast Lamb Bone Soup with Kale and Herb Scones

As a result of my efforts at being frugal and minimising waste I actually created something really special. We had a roast leg of lamb last week and I decided to use the leftover bone which still had a little meat on it, to make a soup. The first thing I did was to cover it with water and simmer for two hours to make the stock. I didn't add any vegetables or flavouring at this stage.

The meat on the lamb bone cooked off, and the remaining bits I pulled away from the bone and reserved. I did this while the stock was hot, and then put the stock in the fridge overnight so that I could remove the fat layer the next morning.

This is the beautiful gelatinous stock I ended up with. I then made my soup in the stockpot and it was perfect by the time we got home from football. The kale and herb scones were a last minute effort to 'tart' up the soup for dinner. The beauty of this soup is that there is no set recipe, just use up what you have in the fridge. A few similar recipes use the pan juices from the roast too but I didn't have any of those. Will give that a go next time.


1 x leftover roast lamb bone
1 x onion
2 x carrots
1 cup pearl barley
Salt & pepper to season
Chopped kale
1 x tablespoon beef stock powder

1 x cup self raising flour
Pinch of salt
1 tablespoon of butter
1/2 cup of milk
Fresh mixed herbs (thyme, oregano, basil)
Finely chopped kale

I just added everything in the crock pot with the stock and lamb pieces and cooked on high for four hours. For the scones, I added the flour and salt to a bowl, rubbed in the butter until crumbly, then added the chopped herbs, kale and milk. Make a nice soft dough (only knead and turn over a few times) then use a cookie cutter to cut out your scones. Place them on a lined baking tray and brush with a little milk. Then bake at 200 degrees celcius for about fifteen minutes.

I really loved the kale in the scones and will definitely be making these again. I came up with the idea because I have a ton of kale growing and need to start using it more in my baking.

So, there you have it. A wonderful winter warmer!
Bake Play Smile

Thursday, 26 June 2014

Join Me For The $21 Challenge

Simple Savings $21 Challenge

The school holidays are starting here next week and I could really do with a little more cash. My pantry, freezer and fridge are reasonably well stocked at the moment so I thought it would be the perfect time to have a look at doing this challenge. My good friend Nanna Chel from Going Grey and Slightly Green mentioned that Simple Savings had a special on the $21 challenge book and that was enough to motivate me to give it a go...that, and the extra cash!

Many people have asked me this week what the challenge is and the following is an excerpt from the $21 challenge section of the Simple Savings website:

What exactly IS the $21 Challenge?

In a nutshell, it is a one-week grocery slashing marathon where you can save a big pile of money, declutter your pantry and learn new skills all at the same time!

How does it work?

Simple! For one week you try as hard as you possibly can to stay out of the shops.  Instead of going out and doing your usual supermarket shop you have to stretch the food you already have in your cupboard, pantry, garden and freezer to stay within your $21 budget.

My first thought on earth could a family of four live off $21? You are not expected to do that, and if you want to raise the budget you can, it's up to you. You are actually living off food you might otherwise waste, and because I tend to have an overstocked pantry...I do waste things if I don't keep on top of it.

My $21 Challenge book arrived in a couple of days and I have read it from cover to many creative recipes. When I bought my book I also signed up to the website (approx $30) and have downloaded heaps and heaps of useful information. There are forums you can join and ask questions or share recipes, which I really like. I must mention right now, that this is not a sponsored post, I just want to share a system that is simple, makes sense and obviously works for many people. Let's see if it works for me.

If you have not visited the Simple Savings site before then I suggest you have a look if you want to save money. They cover every topic you can possibly think of and I recommended them back in April when I covered "B=Budget" for the A-Z Challenge. If you want to see if the book is worth buying then the first two chapters and some sample pages are available to download here.

So, without going into too much detail, the first step is to declutter. I started with my crazy pantry above and followed the guidelines to sort my food into three piles, the main one being a pile of bonus items...those things due to expire soon, or that I have not used because I do not know what to do with them, or they were for a one-off recipe. I filled a whole large box:

The box on the right is my compost pile...out of date items. I am pretty disgusted with myself at how much was lurking in my pantry that was no longer usable. My only consolation is that 90% of these items will go to my chooks and they are loving me every morning. A big lesson I have learned is to take better control of my pantry. There were at least six packets of biscuits the kids had opened that weren't stored in containers...a total waste of money. That's what this challenge is also designed to make you a better shopper and storer of your food. I can see that will certainly work.

I have already decided that my main goal is to reduce my inventory. I still need to keep a stockpile and I love being able to have all the ingredients on hand to cook any recipe....but I need to learn to substitute and utilise what I already have, which will also make me more creative. My friend Nanna Chel said her daughter did this challenge and her husband loved the variety of meals cooked, so I am looking forward to what I will create from my 'bonus' items.

You can probably see where this is going. I still have the fridge and pantry to go, and will then plan my weekly menus for the next few weeks using my 'bonus' items.  If you look on the website under the tools tab you will find sheets you can print to record your bonus and regular items. I had way too many regular items to record but have used the list of bonus items to google recipes for next week.

So...I am going to be off and running on Monday, and have decided I can do this challenge for two weeks, due to my over-stocking (the program is designed to just do the $21 challenge one week at a time). I also have the benefit of my vegie garden and the chooks laying, so together with the recipes I have already come up with, I may even be able to stretch to three weeks! This could realistically save me at least $300 - $400 and I will keep you posted each Monday. The great thing is, I will continue with the menu-planning which I have become a little slack with...ensuring future savings.

For those of you who have followed my blog for a while, you may remember my post last year on Saving Money on Groceries. Since that post I have succesfully reduced my grocery budget from $200-$250 week to just $150 - $170 week. Now my daughter has left home I am hoping I can maintain that and save a little more every now and then.

So....what do you think? Do you want to join the challenge or just join me and see how I go? Any suggestions of menu items when I share my list of 'bonus' items will be greatly appreciated!

Tuesday, 24 June 2014

A Fear of Fame

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Ever since I lay on my bed as a little girl revelling in the misadventures of Enid Blyton's Katy, or wishing I was entering the magical world of the Faraway Tree, I have wanted to be an author. One day I want to write a bestseller, to have my words, and a world that is purely a figment of imagination, read by many impart the same joy and wonder I felt as a child, and still now, as an adult, when I read a particularly good book.

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Sounds like a great dream, doesn't it? There is just one thing that could be subconsciously holding me back though....I don't want to be famous. I want to be well-read, and to be respected as a great author, but I don't want the fame and publicity that goes with I a little crazy then? Surely that's what everyone seeks when they write a novel or book and send it off to the publisher for consideration. Maybe for many it is financial decision rather than a bid for fame, but in a lot of instances the two go hand in hand.

I think sometimes that it is this fear of fame (well not just fame I guess, but putting myself 'out there') that holds me back from finishing my flood memoirs. What if I say something someone doesn't like or I give the wrong piece of advice about flooding, or am seen to be an expert and someone does what I do with negative consequences? You can see the fear sitting on my shoulder nagging me can't you? I certainly feel it's weight at times.

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It took me a long time to start my blog, for fear of stuffing up (and opening up) really. I have seen the posts go viral that people make fun of, or are disgusted by...just one slip of the tongue, or pen, in this case and the world of social media is down on you like a ton of bricks. How about the lady who made sandwiches for her husband every day for years. A beautiful loving gesture and yet she was criticised worldwide. Fame, success and even just speaking out publicly attracts bullies, people with opinions that in their minds are the only opinions to have...the bullies attract followers who join the bandwagon like the Pied Piper's rats, and we end up with a cyber bullying attack.

These attacks don't always stem from a personal affront or an unfortunate choice of words. This became apparent to me last week with the very prominent social media postings by The Organised Housewife and Stay at Home Mum. A summary of the situation can be found here. I just want to say, first of all, that I love both of these websites and have promoted them on my site to others, so I am not judging the situation. Suffice to say, that what I read in our local paper today (Jody from SAHM is a Gympie local) indicates that the domain name in question is being transferred over in good faith, but the damage has been done...and all parties have been hurt by the situation....

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...including me, an observer. It is not just this incident that made me realise my fear of being 'too public' is once again is the aftermath, the hate, the rage and the personal attacks I read on Facebook regarding the situation. I would curl up in a ball and roll away to a dark place to hide if ever I was the brunt of such hatred. By standing up and acknowledging that we are successful, we are opening the doors to being 'taken down' should we stuff up or do anything wrong, intentional or otherwise.

That is what scares me, my fear of fame is real, it is tangible and I will double and triple check my posts for accuracy and citations, and any sort of unintentional bias because of my fear. Cyberspace and the wonderful community of like-minded people it has introduced me too, can turn in an instant and the speed with which it turns is mind-boggling...I am sure we have all witnessed it.

I, for one, was shown the ugliest side of human nature last week via Facebook comments....and I don't ever want to see that again...especially not directed at me :)

Do you ever fear fame or being 'too public'? Have you had any bad experiences you'd like to share?

Monday, 23 June 2014

Simple Living Sunday 31

Another beautiful and busy weekend here in Tandur. My boys have transferred from the Army Cadets over to the Navy Cadets which are based here in Gympie, and they had their annual inspection parade on Saturday morning. We drove straight from there to the boy's rugby union game then we settled in for the rest of the weekend at home...just the way I like it! I am a little worried about my vegies getting frosted, but the forecast does not predict any here this week, so will just wait and see.

This is a close up shot of the plants growing in the middle of my lawn. When we first got the chooks this is where the tractor was, so it must be something I fed them, Any ideas?

I am waiting for the gooseberries to turn papery and drop off apparently. There are now four.

A yummy lettuce for lunches this week.

You can see the damage from the caterpillars but they now seem to be under control and this cabbage in the water tank garden is now starting to form.

The celery are growing well.

This is the finished extension to the side garden. Using the no dig approach works well, and it will be primed and ready for Spring planting.

I now want to extend it a little further.

The beans have finished now. They were not really successful in this spot, only a few every week from five plants. I will change the location of the trellis next planting.

The passionfruit have set but are not ripening so we will wait and see if they last through winter.

The next crop of cherry tomatoes have sprung up near the pumpkins. If they don't get frost I will have a year-round supply of them.

The lemons are now having their turn. I can see lemon chicken for dinner this week...and some juicing.

The first capsicum on this plant near the cabbages.

I did some dehydrating for the kids lunch boxes today. Kiwi Fruit, Apple...

...banana, and papaya.

A colourful selection.

I then added sugar and water to the scraps to make a fruit vinegar. Will keep you posted on this one.

I spent all of yesterday afternoon clearing and sorting out my pantry in preparation for the $21 challenge which I will talk about this week. It was an eye-opener to see the amount of wasted produce in there.

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

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