Monday, 24 November 2014

Simple Living Sunday 44

Another busy week has flown by. I was thankful to have the weekend at home after last week's sports carnival in the heatwave. I managed to get a lot of mowing done by getting up early and doing a couple of hours before full sun, and then again in the late afternoon. It is still too hot during the day here to get very productive outside so I am hoping for a cooler spell this weekend.

I was amazed to find these huge squash on my other plant in the food forest garden. In a week they had grown from golf ball size to melon size. I think they were supposed to be green button squash but they look more like the patty pan squash I grew last year. Anyway the size does not affect the flavour and the skins are not too tough so...I have some awesome vegies to eat this week.

Not a great photo but you can see how fleshy they are. I made an awesome relish from squash last year, so if I get too many I know what to do.

Location and soil preparation make all the difference in raising an abundant vegetable garden. This squash was planted the same time as the others, in the same north facing sun...but in a different garden bed.

This is the one planted in my no-dig food forest. Amazing how some take off and some don't.

Another example is this golden nugget pumpkin planted under my lime tree, not in a garden bed.

And the same one planted in the no-dig garden which is layered with compost, manure, soil and mulch.

Yay, I can finally see a straight, normal looking zucchini.

And I am learning to pick my cucumbers young before they turn yellow. 

This is a forgotten rosemary in the herb patch which I totally failed with last year. Would love to get some major herbs going here.

The lemonade tree is also forgotten but still bearing fruit despite the dry weather. The recent rains will hopefully see this fruit ripen.

I love the little surprises you find that grow themselves.This passionfruit vine sprung up from nowhere in the front garden...

...and I am hoping to trail it up and around the front porch beams.

Not sure if this is a pumpkin or a melon vine but it just sprouted up under the tap outside.

I try not to waste any produce but the recent storms shook up the lemon tree, and the heat spoilt the fallen fruit...I really should have picked them up sooner.

I turned the yellow cucumber which was slightly bitter into relish, together with my abundant cherry tomatoes. I salted the cucumber over and then rinsed before using.

I added a capsicum, turmeric, garlic, sugar and apple cider vinegar and let stew for an hour.

Perfect. I mixed a little in with my chicken casserole for dinner which was really yummy.

And I have enough for the next week or so with my salads...and a jar for the preserves cupboard. Only 100 or so bottles left to fill now :)

So, that's what I have been up to this week. What's going on at your place?

Monday, 17 November 2014

Simple Living Sunday 43

Well, it was hardly simple living today as we sweltered in 41 degree heat. Gympie Athletics went ahead with their planned athletics carnival, so needless to say we had a pretty tough day. It was lovely to come home, cool down and have a forage around the garden before dinner.

I managed to pick a few cape gooseberries. I am still trying to get the timing right for picking them. They are sweeter when they turn yellow but I find if I leave them too late then they dry out in the hot weather. So, apparently you can pick them green and let them ripen but I have found the tart taste of the greenish ones not unpleasant anyway. They taste very much like a mini tomato.

The squash are going crazy which is awesome. The two large ones I picked today will last me for the week.

Tomatoes (besides cherry) are not a great success here with the heat. This is a mini roma that I picked up at Bunnings on a clearance table for $1. Glad to see it is fruiting but the leaves are looking a little heat affected.

This tomato plant has been in the ground since the beginning of the year and has produced a few tomatoes so I let it keep going.

This indian lab-lab bean plant is now as tall as the squash.

My malabar chestnut looked dreadful after the frost so I am happy to see it is coming back.

The pigeon pea are really taking hold now.

This avocado had been struggling with the heat so I am really hoping for some rain.

Ironic that Paul's Pink Trumpet Tree is looking the best it ever has.

This young mandarin Lauren gave me for mothers day is finally starting to settle in.

I have had three large cucumbers from two vines and am pleased to see a few more growing.

The zucchini are growing well but some of them end up narrowed at the end.

I picked three kilos of cherry tomatoes and there are still tons more. The chooks love them.

We still have patches of green lawn but it is getting very dry here. You can see the running track the boys mowed and my budding food forest garden.

Another shot taken before dinner, facing the mountain.

My garlic was not a huge success but I did manage to get a few bulbs up to dry.

This is an old filing cabinet that I sprayed black. It sits in my kitchen and houses one of my addictions... jars! Can't wait until my Xmas break to start preserving again and will do a follow up post soon about the results from last years 'vacola fest'.

We had a welcome barbecue for dinner last night as it was way too hot to cook inside.

I threw together an exotic salad utilising my home grown and preserved produce which was amazing! Cucumber, cherry tomato, gooseberry, lychees and basil topped with homemade cherry tomato relish. Makes you feel absolutely wonderful to source a meal from your own produce.

This is a shot of the lychees I preserved last year and I will definitely be doing them again this year. They stayed firm and made a lovely sweet addition to balance the tartness of my salad.

So, that's my weekly round up. What have you been up to at your place?

Wednesday, 12 November 2014

20 Years A Mum and 20 Years Without One

This is my beautiful mother, whom the kids and I affectionately call Nanna Kerrie. Lauren was four months old when she died suddenly at 45yo, and the twins were born four years later. It hit me this week, when I was getting a little tired of all the driving around that being a single mother of teenage boys brings, that I have been a mother for a staggering 20 years. Any wonder some days it's tiring. However it also hit me that I had also been without my mother for 20 years, a huge number of years filled with so many unshared memories. So today, on the anniversary of her death, I thought I would share a few photographs and stories...for my family to look back on and cherish.

My mother, like my daughter Lauren, was always very girly. Although I did hear stories of her swinging from willow trees in the creek with her five brothers, even from an early age she loved to dress up and don a frock.

I especially love this photo and the vintage of the boy's cars. Mum looks pretty determined to race with her pram in the middle.

She was only 5ft tall and very petite when she met my dad at sweet sixteen.

My Dad was a mad golf enthusiast. Love these pedal pushers and classic 60's hairdo.

Lauren wears her hair a little like this and looks very much like her. Mum met my dad when he was on leave from the bank in Port Moresby and they had a long distance love affair, writing to each other and planning a future together. I kind of brought that future closer for them...

...they had to marry sooner because of me. Mum was 17 and my dad was 20. I remember asking Mum why she looked so sad in this photo and she told me she loved my dad but was not ready to get married and have babies. But there were very few options available at the time, and they were madly in love. I remember them being very happy and affectionate and after an argument my dad would always bring home flowers or a gift.

I remember she would spend hours at the dressing table teasing her hair and applying makeup. She loved to look her best when Dad came home from work.

 Along came Tanya in 1967, nearly seven months after they married. Mom told me she used to sticky tape my ears to my head when I was a baby so they would't grow sticking out. I must say they are nice and flat, but I must have looked rather silly...and her. My kids ears grew just fine without the tape lol.

A rare colour photograph of my mum and that a golf club he is holding? Mum always complained of being a golf widow but I knew she was very proud of him. Dad was very talented and had tournaments most weekends. He was always bringing home trophies and prizes.

Mum went on to have three more children. My brother Mark was born 18 months after me and then they had Aaron who was born with downs syndrome. Following from Aaron was my sister, Krishna, seven years my junior and an absolute blessing to my mum after Aaron passed away when I was 7. I don't think my mum ever got over the loss of Aaron and she lost her father around that time too. She had Poppy's sense of humour and a 'daffyness' which is one of the things I loved most about her.

In her late twenties she took a part-time job as a waitress at a motel where she met Colin and had a scandalous affair. He was a travelling salesman who sold Addis brushes and she left to move with him to Sydney. We stayed with Dad. I was 12 and my sister was only 4, not yet started school. Apparently she wanted to take us but the family would have no part of it. Fair enough too, who knew what sort of life we would have in Sydney? Despite her leaving I have cherished memories of the time spent with my dad. This is Mum and Colin's wedding photo and I think they were married for about five years. She told me she always regretted leaving my dad and to never leave the father of my children because she could not go back. She used to send me postcards every week from Sydney and I still have many of them. She was on an adventure and living a life that she didn't get a chance to before she married.

A prized photo. Four generations of Steel women. I think I was 16 here. Ghastly purple dress I am wearing but Princess Di had a similar one so it was all the rage...along with the fluffy 80's hair.

When Colin's job transferred to Adelaide I went with them, as I had moved to Sydney to be with mum. Actually I was a rebellious teen and Dad did not know what to do with me after I threw a party behind his back (fair enough too!), so he sent me to live with move ever. Mum and I grew really close (besties) and when she broke up with Colin she met Peter, and they married soon afterwards.

Love this photo of us three girls. Guessing I am 17 here and my sister 10. Mum would have been about 34. She always wore her hair up from about this age as she was balding. Hormonal the doctors said or maybe a result of all that teasing. She always told me it was because she had children.

This photo was taken a few months before her death. She married Robert when she was 45, just after Lauren was born. It was a beautiful wedding and she was truly happy with Robert. They lived in Newcastle and bought and restored antiques which she loved. It was while he was out on a buying trip early one morning, that mum passed away in her sleep of a congenital heart disease she never knew she had.

Another favourite photo taken a few months later at my brother's wedding. Mum is holding Lauren and we were both captured wiping tears from our eyes. This is the last time I saw her one month before she died. I am so thrilled she got to meet Lauren and I have a few wonderful cards she wrote to Lauren that survived the floods which I have shared with my from the grandmother they never knew.

She would be very proud to know that she has seven wonderful grandchildren and her three kids are all doing well. I am proud that I can pass on her legacy to mine. She was a gorgeous, loving woman and I truly believe that she was meant to start her family so early so that she would see us grown up and meet two of her grandchildren before she died.

Love you Nanna Kerrie xxxx
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