Problem solving skills

I had to have a student in my car for the day last week. I figured it was probably as good an excuse as any to clean the car out. The problem is the vacuuming part.

3 indoor cats, each very curious. I ran an extension cord out the front so that the vacuum cleaner could reach. This meant that I couldn’t close the door. I thought about running it through a window but I would have had to break the fly wire to do this.

This is my ingenious problem solving piece of string. I tied it to the door handle and to the rail on the other side of the landing.

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Over the course of the vacuuming each one tried their luck. The string held. There was enough give that I was a little concerned that Lucy may succeed.  The string held. I was a little worried about Herbie’s considerable bulk. The string held.

Success.

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If I push my face real hard into the gap it may let me out….

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How could you do this to me?

img_4845In order of persistence. Lucy tried the hardest and the longest. Franklin was next most persistent. Herbie only tried for about a minute then gave up. Slacker!

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Round the house today.

Today I went all renegade, I was cleaning the benches in the kitchen when I realised I was running low on orange vinegar. What did I do? I mixed the last of my orange vinegar with sage vinegar. I like them both separately. Turns out, scent wise, they do not enhance each other. This is fine by me, I am getting twice the antibacterial benefits. Right?

I am making some pizza for lunches for the next few days. I drive a lot for work and don’t get time for a lunch break so I like to have food that I can eat while driving. I am real classy like that.

I am experiencing minimal success in the garden, I think it is a mixture of problems. Old  seeds – a lot of them have expired. Plus Spring keeps showing itself for a day and then disappearing for a week. Not enough to warm the soil. I am starting to panic a little at the lack of seedlings. So this morning I planted even more seeds. Over the weekend I put random seeds in the mini greenhouse, no labels, no location system. Now I am regretting that but committing to the error by compounding it. I put more seeds in today. Please make some sprout…

I transplanted a young zucchini plant a few days ago, I put crushed egg shells around it, it looked a little nibbled the next day anyway. Annoying. So I went out at night and had a look at who the offenders were. 23 snails. On one little plant. Their abdomens were covered in egg shell. They did not care. Smug bastards. I got rid of all of them but the next morning there was a stump where the plant used to be 😦 I planted more zucchini seeds this morning. I also think the earwigs are back.

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The remnants. 2 days prior this was a luscious young zucchini plant 😦

I am knitting a blanket, it should be ready for Winter 2018. I will knit some more of that this afternoon if the rain is still here. Or maybe I will make some honey and sultana scones. I feel like eating scones and drinking tea. At the rate I am knitting maybe 2019….

What else is going on today? Cleaning (using newly topped up vinegar spray), research  on the computer for bee supplies. I start the bee keeping course tomorrow. Weeding. The rain has been like a hand written invitation to every weed in the world to come to the party in my backyard. I swear they pop up in the thousands every night. Why don’t the snails eat those? Wouldn’t that be lovely companion gardening??

Nothing huge going on here. Although I must admit the excitement levels are high, the last 3 days we have got 3 eggs a day!!! From 6 chickens some would say that is a poor outcome. I am thrilled!!! I thought we would be getting 1 or 2 a day at most. 9 eggs. I am rich!!! Eggs for dinner tonight 🙂

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Beatle doing her best ‘I am sage, wise beyond my years, you should damn well do as I say. Get me more food wench’

I tried to take an update photo on my trial. The one where the nasturtium grows large and lush in the chicken pen without being eaten by the chickens. Well it is growing. Slowly. I think when the weather warms up it will be fine. Every couple of days or so I see a pecked off and discarded leaf but it is still going ok. The ladies didn’t think I should take a photo of progress…

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I persevered.

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The blossom has just begun on one of the pear trees 🙂

 

The sage and thyme have put on some Spring growth and are looking healthyimg_4814.

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Zero waste cookies

These are one of my favourite snacks to have available in the kitchen. I have made them many many times, each time different. Each time delicious.

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They are called Nature Cookies. This is where I got the recipe from http://weelicious.com/2014/09/18/nature-cookies-recipe/

I don’t know how I came across them for the first time but I am so glad that I did! They don’t photograph well, they don’t really look anything special in person, but the taste! They are delicious!

Ingredients

  • 1 cup whole wheat flour (I use white unbleached organic as that is what I can get package free)
  • 2 cups old fashioned oats
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon (I use at least 3 teaspoons but my love for cinnamon seriously has no limits.)
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1 large egg (thank you chickens!)
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract (I make my own, so easy)
  • 1/2 cup raisins*
  • 3/4 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1/4 cup sunflower seeds
  • 1/4 cup chocolate morsels
  • 1/4 cup dried cherries
  • *Or add 2 cups of any mixture you prefer of the following add-ins: coconut, chocolate morsels, nuts, seeds, and dried fruits

Preheat oven 175C or 350F. In a medium bowl mix together flour, oats, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon. In a large bowl using an electric mixer (or your grandmas super cool hand beaters) beat together the butter and honey til light and fluffy. Add the egg and vanilla, mix to combine. Slowly add the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients and mix until just combined (I do just dump it all in, but I am no chef or cooking connoisseur!) Fold in the raisins, walnuts, sunflower seeds, chocolate morsels, and dried cherries (I employ the mix and squash method with my hands, fairly scientific). Grab about a tablespoons worth and shape it into a disc, the cookies do not spread during baking. Bake until golden brown, about 12 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.

I have a source for each ingredient package free. I don’t follow the ratio at the bottom, I just mix up 2 cups of whatever I have in the pantry. These are some of the things I have used:

Dried fruit: Barberries, cranberries, dates, sultanas, apricot, peaches, cherries, blueberries, any other dried fruit I have on hand. One time I added orange zest, that was nice too.

Almonds and hazelnuts are the 2 nuts I have tried. My sister is allergic to nuts so more often I toast up sunflower and pumpkin seeds and use those instead of nuts. I have added coconut flakes, hemp seeds, cacao nibs, choc chunks, sesame seeds, chia, linseed, seriously what ever I find in the pantry that I think could work. Each time different ratios. All adding up to 2 cups.

These ones had a few squares of dark chocolate, toasted sunflower seeds, toasted pumpkin seeds, cacao nibs, sultanas, and dates.

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They last well out on the counter. They get eaten within a few days so I can’t vouch for longevity beyond that. They are a great snack and can really tide you over til the next meal.

I don’t measure the size of each one as suggested in the recipe. I got 32 out of this batch.

And at the end, No trash! Yay.

 

Completely unrelated but when I took the photo of the cookies Lucy was just next to me. Her desire to sleep in the sun knows no bounds. She is evidently willing and able to squeeze herself anywhere. She was waiting. The sun reached her about ten minutes later. Clever cookie.

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The rains are here

That fleeting feeling of Spring has gone. It is back to Winter. Yesterday at work I got drenched, it didn’t stop raining the whole day. Not just a drizzle either, proper rain. The day before was similar. Yesterday I went to let the chickens out before work and noticed there was water pooling around one of the apple trees, annoying but surely not the end of the world. This morning the yard looks like this.

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Kinda shows you where your uneven ground is! I am an incredibly scientific mathematical sort of person so I measured the depth of the water using up to date technology.

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It’s not too bad. Except around the apple tree. This morning I thought maybe adding wood shavings would turn it into a sludge that I could move away from the base of the tree. Not sure why I felt this was important, the poor roots will still be water logged. But I did it anyway.

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Useless. Although looking at this picture I don’t see all the water all I see that the tree wasn’t planted in the middle of the circle. GRRR.

Anyway re-employing the same up to the minute technology I ascertained that it it the deepest here at the apple tree base.

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The wood chips did diddly squat.

 

These are the two rows of potatoes that I diligently dug trenches for and planted last week. Hope they like water… I am hopeful that they wont rot. I may try scooping some of that water out.

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The poor apple tree is swimming and probably not loving it!

Some gumboots in water photos.

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There are flood warnings for much of Victoria. I hope the farmers don’t lose crops. I hope people don’t lose lives or homes. My pitiful mini backyard flood is nothing, the rain is supposed to ease a bit today, I am going to go and play in the puddles with the chickens who by the way are loving it. Due to the water logged nature of the whole backyard the worms have come up to the surface for some oxygen and the chickens are having a smorgasbord.

Garden Tour

Yesterday felt like Spring, so does today. Tomorrow 30mm of rain is expected and the 7 day forecast tells of Winter weather. I am pretending that isn’t happening. Yesterday I planted a heap more seeds. I transplanted my Rosemary that I took from cuttings in early Winter. I transplanted some climbing beans. I generally just spent the day cruising round the garden soaking in the warmth and light.

Little things like this flower give me such joy, it is surely the happiest looking flower. Right up there with Sunflowers for happiness!

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This right here is future pesto. I cannot wait til I can have basil, tomato and goats cheese on a cracker. I am salivating just thinking of it.

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I love when you try to take a photo of the just about to open buds on your pear tree but Baby chick (Cricket) just has to see what you are up to and it confuses the camera as to what to focus on.

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The other pear and apple trees are not ready to bloom, just this one. Oh the anticipation! I LOVE SPRING!!!

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Some more happy looking flowers.

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This is the transplanted Rosemary.

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I am hoping to create a hedge, I transplanted 3 babies. The Winter flowers can provide food for my bees (I start my course next week, the bees arrive in October or November, I can’t remember, must look into that…) This is my one main plant that I took the cutting from, the bees were loving the sun yesterday!

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The garden is looking a little sad, this is what happens when you allow your flowers to go to seed. Then you allow those seeds to sit in the soil. Then you allow them to grow. Then you allow them to go wild, growing not just in the soil but between the pavers and any crack or crevice they could find. In my defense, I love looking at green. The wildness is just a counter point to the structure of having raised beds. It would be too boring if it was all paved pathways and lovely raised beds. So really I am doing the garden a favour allowing it to grow wild…

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You can’t even see in this picture all the self sown Nasturtiums that have taken over some of the other pathways. It really is out of control! In the above photo I have places where I can still step and make my way through this mess. The Nasturtiums, well, I just don’t use those paths…

The garlic is starting to fatten up.

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The Winter stuff is starting to bore me. I am done with Kale and Silverbeet, don’t need to eat another cauliflower or broccoli for a while. This is why I don’t grow these things through out Summer. Come Winter I am ready for them again. Every now and then I allow a Silver beet in the Summer garden but it really is just for the chickens.

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I have 5 beds, except for the garlic filled one they all look kinda like this. Except the others have plants in all 4 quadrants. This bed the back doesn’t get any sun in Winter so I don’t plant in it.

A little Watercress to add to my Rocket to have with my boiled eggs. Now that the ladies have started laying I can finally eat eggs again! Have I mentioned that I love Spring? We are getting 1-3 eggs a day. From 6 chickens that is atrocious but coming from no eggs a day in Winter I count this as a win!!!

img_4765The watercress is quite young. It is growing pretty quickly, I am hoping to add it to all future salads. Must plant some lettuce seeds…

That is about all that is going on here. Now I am off to plant some potatoes and a trial batch of peanuts. Wish me luck.