Garden Tour

Spring has sprung.

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Sweet Peas, I think they are called Painted Lady. They smell sublime!

My little seedlings are ready (mostly) to be transplanted. But I have an earwig problem. I have not had a problem with them before. I have seen the odd couple when moving things around but never to this level.

The seedlings that I have transplanted are being killed left right and center. It wasn’t so bad when it was my sunflowers and cosmos but now it is my food that is suffering! Not Cool! The tomatoes seem untouched. They were much bigger when I transplanted them. That may be what I have to do this year.

The Zucchini will probably not make it.IMG_4027

The corn seems to be fine.

Corn with a few stray garlic in the background
Corn with a few stray garlic in the background

The dill, spinach, mustard and a few other things were fine for a few days and then eaten down to a single stem. This makes me sad…

Today I am going to replant a heap of seeds. It isn’t too late. It’s on my list of things to do.

Future strawberries
Future strawberries
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Society garlic, the flowers are edible and taste like garlic, great in salads!
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Jasmine, I can smell it throughout the backyard. Heavenly.
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Too many aims

I think I am trying to do too many things. They are all in the same vein but I have trouble when there are conflicting means to ends.

I would like to create next to no waste.

I would like to have a minimal carbon foot print.

I would like to eat only local food.

I would like to be off grid.

I would like to have less technology in my life.

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Each of these by themselves is achievable (with a lot of work!) But to create next to no waste I have to drive further (petrol=big carbon foot print) than I can ride my bike to get package free food. I bought big jars to store the zero waste food in which seems counter productive. Sometimes I need to choose between local but packaged or further away and package free. Or organic from India or non organic from Australia. I would like less technology but I love writing a blog, the internet is invaluable when researching better ways to create less waste, people get annoyed when I don’t answer the phone.I feel like each step forward I make in one area is a small step back somewhere else.

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Off grid is more challenging. I have solar panels but no means of storing the power, so at night we use grid power. We have a gas stove top and heater. I drink mains water. I think it would be expensive to get off grid but I also believe you shouldn’t work all the hours of all the days in this life. Balance is so important. But money makes all of this easier. Conundrums upon conundrums. I guess this is just a venting of frustrations. Slowly I will work out the nuances of how and what works for me. Til then I will just keep compromising. I do drive for package free shopping but only once a fortnight when I am kind of in the area. I am growing nearly all of my own fresh food so especially going into Spring/Summer hopefully the garden will be in abundance and I can eat delicious nutritious food from my back yard.

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I try to charge the computer and phone only during the day when the solar panels are doing the work. I run the dehydrator on sunny days. I try, I try, I try.

IMG_3988I guess that has to be good enough…

Doin’ some DIY-ing

The house that I live in was renovated by the people who lived here before. Always with the intention of selling it straight away. They did a bad job, a lot of DIY with no care or attention to detail.

I am too lazy to fix some of the stuff, seriously who doesn’t paint between things.

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Who doesn’t fix that as soon as they notice it…. me, six years later, it is still unpainted. Anyway…

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So this is behind the sink in the kitchen, I figure there is a lot of water in this area. I am a notoriously messy dish washer, I rarely walk away with a dry sweater and the area around the sink is normally wet. The other day a few ants came in from there. That was the line that apparently I was waiting for.

I put on my DIY cape and decided no research was required I would just borrow my brothers caulking gun and gap filler then caulk a layer of silicone over the top. It appears as though when they renovated they did use gap filler at the bottom but neglected to water proof it. Hence the breaking down and disappearing of the gap filler.

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This is the where the kitchen tiles meet the pantry. This is how it has looked since the day we moved in. They used an inflexible grout here and it probably cracked nearly straight away. I have had intentions of fixing it but just never have.  So I got the sharpest kitchen knife I could find and proceeded to remove the remaining gap filler and grout.

IMG_3907It took a while but I got it all out. I cleaned and dried the area. I used the caulking gun and my fingers to refill the gap. I let it dry and then covered it with silicone. It now looks like this.

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Much neater, but it does make the grout look a bit dirty. Oh well! I did up the wall between the tiles and the pantry so it now looks like this, I did not silicone this as it shouldn’t get wet.

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This, in my mind, was a success. Time will tell if I used enough silicone. If it holds up for the next year I will call it a resounding success.

Pantry mayhem

I am a food hoarder from way back. I also like to try different recipes that have new to me ingredients. Combined this means I have a lot of stuff in my pantry. It usually looks like this.

IMG_3977Lots of random jars people have given me filled with equally random things. I can see chilli from the garden, home made brown sugar, and honey in this pic.

This is my most frequently used shelf. I also have 3 large boxes that stack on top of each other, these hold mostly dried fruits, nuts and all those weird dry goods that I have purchased, used in a recipe once and not found another use for. This is going to change!

Starting with the shelf. It is a very non user friendly space. Partly because it is so deep and therefore the thing you want is always right at the back. Partly because I have stacked stuff on top of other stuff to fit all the stuff in.

I already had 4 large glass vessels that worked well (except you have to take them all out to get to the one at the back) so I figured more would help. When buying zero waste I get home and need to empty the cloth bags into something air tight. This has meant I have a lot of small jars filled with the same thing. 4 jars of red lentils, 5 jars of raw cacao powder, 4 jars of chickpeas. You get the idea.

Yesterday I transferred them all to their own home, 1.8L massive jars. Now the pantry shelf looks like this.

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Not amazing but quite an improvement I think. That back left corner is still a bit of a mess… Ideally I would have a larger space that is not so deep and the jars would only be 1 or 2 deep instead of 4. Til that day, hopefully this works.

The boxes I will deal with another day. I feel that now I know a few good no packaging places I will be able to purchase the new ingredient in the volume that the recipe states. This will mean I don’t have the rest of a bag to store till I remake that recipe or find another that has besan flour or millet, or barley etc. in it. I aim to get rid of the boxes and store everything in the large glass vessels. This will be a slow process as I eat all the miscellaneous food and work out what I really need to store 1.8L of. So far I have:

Oats, flour, sugar, red lentils, green lentils, chickpeas, cacao powder, desiccated coconut, hemp protein powder, chia seeds, and puffed buckwheat.

I have a few empty ones that I will slowly fill as I need. I feel I need to pare down my pantry a bit so that it is a little stream lined yet I have good options for protein and carbohydrates etc all sitting there ready to be used. Slowly but steadily it will happen!

Old school sewing

I am not an amazing sewer. I don’t make my own clothes. I do mend my clothes but often by hand not with a machine. But when I was given a heap of material I decided I was going to make a quilt for my friends birthday. Just a basic quilt as you go no skills required. I did not have a sewing machine. I thought I would just borrow one.

I was talking to my grandmother about this quilt. She said she had an old sewing machine I could have. I was fairly excited! Once I saw how cool and old it was I was uncomfortable with taking it. Granny assured me it was unbreakable. My grandfather had given it to her as an engagement present in the 1940’s. I was adamant that I would not take it. Especially with the sentimental value. She eventually talked me into borrowing it. So now I have it on loan (granny reiterates frequently that she has given it to me, I maintain it is loaned).

IMG_3843It had some water damage to the wood. I sanded and now re oil or wax the wood approximately yearly. I made that quilt plus 2 others. Now I make all the handkerchiefs for my etsy shop. I do put a little B&F on them with my mums fancy machine. But for all my basic sewing I am much more comfortable with my grandmothers. The Singer wins hands down.

It is old school and has a knee pedal (not sure if it is still called a pedal if it isn’t on the floor, but the thing that makes it sew is controlled by my knee). It weighs a ton. It is so heavy that it lives on the table all the time and I just slide it to the side when I want to use it.

IMG_3846IMG_3840IMG_3842I cannot believe it still works. I love using it. It is great! So easy to thread the cotton, no fancy buttons to confuse me, just forward and back. That I can handle!

Crazy Cat Lady

I saw a picture on the internet the other day that contained a box of about 7 or so kittens. The caption read “Crazy cat lady starter kit”. I have fully embraced my inner crazy cat lady, I tell everyone about the 2 cats I live with, if someone gave me that box of kittens I would keep them all…

Now I will show you a hundred pictures of Franklin. He is a little bit naughty. He likes to chase the chickens, he never actually does anything to them but he loves to watch them run. He loves to attack tennis balls. Herbie. Leaves. The wind. Anything really.

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Who the hell even knows what he is playing with here.

When I garden I throw all the weeds and plants that I pull out onto the lawn, next time I mow the lawn it gets shredded up into little bits and put in either the chicken pen or the compost. Until I mow the chickens can glean whatever snacks they can.

Franklin loves to play with these, especially the bigger thing like kale and broccoli stems. Let me walk you through how it goes.

He sees his prey. He acts all innocent. That kale won’t know what hit it.

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A little face rub, still acting all friendly…IMG_3816Then a casual sit down on top of the toy (kale)

IMG_3818 Then it is game on. He goes crazy. I have not captured the crazy as the camera just takes blurry photos of his frenzy. This is just a little biting, nothing too extreme.

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Then he rolls around like a mad man, flinging his chosen toy around.

IMG_3824If you ask him what he is doing, he is all innocence.

Me? I am not doing anything wrong, this is a cuddle....
Me? I am not doing anything wrong, this is a cuddle….

I find him endlessly amusing. Ah to have full accepted my crazy cat lady status is great!

Shorts no longer

IMG_3866I just got me 4 new washing cloths. My sister gave me a whole heap of clothes to take to the charity store, I sorted through them to see what I might want and to weed out anything in too poor a condition to send to a charity store. These shorts fell into the latter category.

They had obviously had a run in with some bleach or experienced a hefty amount of sunshine. They were all mottled on the outside and their original colour on the inside.

I was given a t-shirt about 3 or 4 years ago that was way too big. I did not intend to grow into it. We needed wash cloths. So I cut it up. It made quite a few wash cloths. They are approaching the end of their lives. They have been through the washing machine countless times. Washed thousands of dishes. Mopped up life’s spills. A thoroughly good job.

IMG_3868I will add these 4 into the mix and slowly move the holey ones to the car washing grease cleaning pile. I do knit some in cotton but I am a slow knitter so we only have 3 in the drawer. These were much faster to make.

IMG_3867I intend to cut the material off the waist band and get the elastic out, I will put it aside for a future purpose. This leaves the pockets and scraps. I am fairly certain I can find a use for the mitten like pockets. The rest, I am going to dig a hole in the back yard and chuck the scraps in. The tag says it is made of cotton. It should break down.

There are 2 or 3 other items of clothing in a similar state of disrepair, mostly paint stains, I will store them in the laundry until we need more cloths. I love when I can squeeze a bit more life out of something that has already had a good long life. IMG_3870

EDIT: After reading this my sister, the previous owner of these shorts, informed me that they had a very long productive life as tennis shorts and they were “bleached by the good Australian sunshine”.  A mystery solved.