Saturday, March 29, 2014

You Get The Picture?

Well, a picture paints a thousand words.....
Yes, it is raining and I didn't care that I got soaked having the photo taken!  Hip hip hooray :-)  10 ml in the last 24 hours and more forecast over the next five days.  It is quite amazing the impact it has had on us, we are cheerful and carefree tra la la.
I've been freezing more potatoes.  Remember a while back I parfried gazillions of chips and froze them?  They are pretty good but a bit greasy though, although I've been refrying them when we eat them, next time I shall oven cook them when we are having them with dinner, which should be better I think.  This time I did wedges.  I cut up about 4 kilos of potatoes, parfried them for four minutes (as opposed to the ten minutes I did the chips for), drained them, sprinkled them with salt and spices, then froze them.  I oven cooked a batch yesterday and they are pretty good.  Next try I will parboil rather than parfry and freeze - it will be interesting to see how the texture is.
I've been mucking around in the sewing room a bit.  Another set of curtains is in progress, ho hum, but on a more fun note I've been making a few more Kansashi flowers.
Most of the flowers went into a box but I used six in the making of two little girl bags as a present for two special little granddaughters, Stevie and Riley, who I'll be seeing in a few weeks.  :-)
 I've started a new embroidery project,  blackwork sampler.  I have a big file of patterns so I'm poking through that, choosing bits and pieces that appeal to me and putting them together.  Enjoyable.
Lord Neo has declared us acceptable as his slaves and is right at home.
He has his own app and works hard at trying to beat his high score.  :-)
This may have been a bad idea however, as he now thinks he can help with anything that is being done on the iPad......
He's growing fast!  Currently 3.5 kilos, and is off to the vet on Tuesday for his little operation.  Here he is, with silent but obvious instruction to me - "Slave, get on your knees and remove my ping pong ball from under the oven!"
Steve, alias Mr Construction, has been having lots of fun.  It started with his friend Mel bringing down a couple of old machines.  I hope I get this right, this one is a thickener, planer and saw, and wasn't working.  Steve expected to need a new motor for it, but as fortune would have it, he had a look at the plug, and found it was wired wrongly.  A few brief and minor repairs and hey presto, it works!
Mel also brought him this, a Triton saw.  Don't ask me what it does, cuts things I expect. :-) Steve is in raptures over these things and has all sorts of things planned.  Thanks Mel!
Mel also brought Steve some pieces of pine to work with, wonderful!  And Steve's friend Andy gave him some beautiful old jarrah too.  It's like Christmas in the shed!  Thanks Mel and Andy!
Steve started cutting the jarrah into planks with one of those machines, the colour has come up beautifully.  His plan is to make a table for under the verandah.
He made himself a very useful sectioned tray from the pine, to store his screws and nails and associated bits and pieces in.
 Now he has the fun task of sorting trillions of bits of crap into order and symmetry.
 He also got busy with more pine and made something for the house.
Isn't this cool, a storage box for potatoes and onions, on handy 360 degree castors.  Perfect for the pantry and it's nice and big, stores heaps and heaps of potatoes.
 Here it is with the lid open.  Clever boy :-)
Steve is also awaiting yet another new toy!  He has stashed away all his birthday money and ordered one of these, let me get this right, it's a metal cutting band saw.  He is very excited, apparently it will make his life a lot easier, no more hacksawing futilely at metal bars.
Well, the wind is howling, it's grey and dismal outside, with bursts of rain, and I am so freaking happy! :-)

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

What A Woman!

Do you remember from last post that Terry and Heather came for a visit, we went fishing, Heather rolled her ankle at the top of the hill, pronounced herself okay, then climbed down a cliff, fished, then climbed up the cliff again?  Well, there is an update to this seemingly completed story! 
The following morning Heather's ankle was very swollen although not particularly painful, so she and Terry choofed off to the hospital to have it checked.  Well, to cut a long story short, an x-ray was done, Heather was marched to a hospital bed where she stayed for five days then had surgery to have a plate and screws inserted into a broken ankle!!  She was known as the 'fishing lady' in the hospital and we are all in awe of this wonder woman who climbs cliffs with a busted ankle!  Poor Heather is now on crutches for six weeks which will undoubted drive her balmy.  Get well soon Heather! xx
 I am pleased to announce that we have had a few days of light drizzle, not enough to put much into our tanks, but a welcome drink for parched grass, plants and trees.  Our tank marker is very low, we've probably got about 10000 litres of usable water left, which will just scrape us through before the rains start in earnest.  Worst comes to worst we have to buy in a tanker of water but we don't think it will come to that.
 At the bottom of the hill we've just noticed that we have probably lost a few big peppermints, they are completely brown and look very sick.  Hopefully they will regenerate, but if not then they will be the next source of firewood.
 
As all our summer green vegies have now finished, I am scrabbling to find green stuff for the chooks.  I have bought them their very own lettuce from time to time but I also wander around picking any green grass I can find and tie it up in their yard, where they have great fun pecking at it.  They are definitely moulting as there are a lot of loose feathers lying around, but they haven't diminished their egg production at all, which is what I thought happened when they moulted.  Super chooks, that what they are, good girlies, they've given us over 500 eggs in just over six months.  :-)
Lucy the old roo is so hungry and bony looking, desperate in her hunt for grass.  I couldn't think what to feed her except chook pellets and I tipped a pile out the back.  She has been coming every day to the same spot, scoffing them down, then finishing off with a big drink from the birdbath.  She has gotten so used to this over the last couple of weeks that when Steve went out the other day, she came over to him and ate right out of the container - I was rather jealous I can tell you.  :-)
 
It occurred to me that chook pellets were not the best choice of fare for a roo, so I went to the stockfeed shop and bought a bag of roo food - crushed grains and lucerne hay.  I mixed some up with water and a bit of molasses and put it in a bowl outside, and this morning, supervised by Neo in the window, Lucy and Lucky have scoffed their proper roo food.  Steve showed off first by going out with a handful of the roo food, and of course Lucy ate it right out of his hand.  Bitch.  :-)
I harvested a huge pile of little chillies.  This time I have had a go at pickling them, something new.  We'll find out in a couple of months if they are okay.  All I know is these are hot little suckers, hopefully the pickling will tone them down a bit.   We still have loads of little tomatoes and eat heaps every day.  The ones I dried a few weeks ago are going down a treat, yum yum.
 
Despite the dry, I have been carefully watering the plants in my fenced garden and have been rewarded by some lovely flowers.  This little beauty is a mini Buddlea, commonly known as Butterfly Bush, as it attracts butterflies.
My pineapple sage is flowering again, a reliable plant that strikes very easily from cuttings.  The little birds love it for its nectar, and it smells divine. 
 My tansy has flowered for the first time.  Its foliage is pretty and fernlike, and the clumps of bright yellow flowers glow brightly amongst the greenery.  Tansy is supposed to repel flies and mosquitoes apparently.
 I have planted quite a few elders, aren't the massed heads of tiny white flowers pretty.  I am planning to make a batch of elder wine and elderflower champers when I have enough flowers.  The rhubarb and elderflower champagne I made before Christmas, while becoming very very bubbly, didn't actually ferment so it ended up like a very sweet and fragrant soft drink, yummy.  The elderflowers give it a certain tang and smell really nice and fresh.
This beautiful shrub is commonly known as Karri Oak, or Chorilaena quercifolia.  It normally grows in karri forests as a shrub.  I love the little oak shaped leaves and it has many many hidden fluffy white flowers that bees and nectar birds love.
I am thrilled to bits with this.  This is a Kunzea.  This is the first shrub I planted on our land, so it has been in the ground for about 3 years, and has grown big and strong.  But not a flower was to be seen on it for all that time, just lots of leaf and branch growth.  Finally it is starting to produce the gorgeous red, fluffy flowers, hooray.
And then we have Neo.  Lord Neo, Of The Hill.  Sir has settled himself in now, totally happy and confident in his new home.  He is a gorgeous boy, just the right amount of cuddle in him, and the energy of him!  He has his satan hour morning and night, when a mere glance in his direction will send him shooting around the house at a zillion miles per hour.
 He loves playing with screwed up bits of paper, and somewhere under pieces of furniture, I am sure hundreds of these are to be found.  We bought him a six pack of ping pong balls the other day, great fun on the hard floor.  These too are nowhere to be found, and then he will find one again and the sound of it being swatted around the floor fills the air.  I can see that I am going to have to grovel on the floor with a broom handle under everything to find sir's toys.  :-)
Do you like his home-made toy?  This is the thing he likes to kill, providing one throws it for him.  He is ever so clever at catching it in mid-air, clasping it to his belly and giving it a damn good hiding.
 
He is a big stickybeak and his favourite haunt is at our bedroom window, either on the ledge or perched on his tower in the window, surveying the domain, and being entertained by magpies and kangaroos having breakfast outside the door.
Well, the oven is beeping to tell me the triple batch of shepherds pies I made are cooked, so I best be off.  Great way to use up more of the masses of potatoes we grew, love home cooking with home produce! :-)

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Harlequin Delight

I sit here with a lovely overcast sky outside.  A light drizzle has fallen today, a mere trickle into the water tank, but that's better than nothing hey.  We are crossing our fingers that the heavens may open tonight rather than merely being tantalised with cloud formations that only pretend to hold rain.  In the meantime I shall go and hang out a load of washing, that's bound to make it rain, right? :-)

We have had the pleasure of a visit from our friends Mel and Sheila over the last few days.  Steve and Mel took themselves off fishing a couple of times and Mel hit the jackpot.  Here he is, unable to wipe the smile off his face, with his ripper Harlequin fish.
What a beauty, it weighed nearly 2 kilos and provided about 800 grams of fillets.  Apparently they are a fantastic eating fish.  Look at the teeth on it!  Well done Mel!
This was the rest of the bagful, quite an assortment.  The boys were very happy.
Today we enjoyed the company of Steve's cousin Terry and his partner Heather.  Here we are having a fish, well, trying dismally to have a fish, today was one of those days when the bait fish were bigger than the fish being caught!  Heather is putting on the brave face here, it is quite a steep climb down to this spot and Heather unfortunately rolled her ankle, which puffed up and started turning interesting colours.  Hope it feels better soon Heather!
 
Neo the Magnificent is coming along brilliantly.  He has settled down a lot in the last week and has become a pussy cat that still likes his big day sleep tucked behind our bed in his man cave, but spends the (early!) mornings and evenings doing insane cat things, roaring around the house like a maniac and chasing screwed up pieces of paper around.  He is becoming more and more affectionate too, staying on laps for longer, following me round, and being generous with kitty kisses and cuddles.  :-)
He is using his tower more and more, he likes to watch magpies through the window whilst perched on the top tower and he is starting to scratch on the sisal wrapped pole, and will charge up the pole and claw his way onto the top, lots of fun particularly if I (bravely, very bravely) wiggle my finger from the top of the tower - his pupils dilate, his arse wiggles and he roars up the tower after it!  He has sharp little kitten claws!!
Lucy and Lucky are still staying close by the house, making use of the bird bath water and the patch of greenish grass outside the back door.  They very kindly posed pretty for the camera.  They want it to rain too!

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Tomatoes, Potatoes And, Oh Yes, I Have A Kitty Cat!

It's hot, yucky and hot.  Yes Perthies, I know you have had it much worse and I feel very sorry for you, but please allow me my whinge okay :-)  I'm feeling a bit useless as it's too hot to be doing much outside except for early in the morning, then I try and find things to do inside that don't involve playing on the iPad too much ha ha.

I've been peeling shallots and garlic for pickling.
I spent a day peeling and cutting up potatoes.  We have so many and although they keep for ages, eventually they go soft and yucky, so a way of preserving them is always on my mind.  Potatoes don't freeze well, unless perhaps in a casserole or soup, but I wanted to try making chips, par frying them and freezing them, to see how they go.
I ended up par frying them for ten minutes, so they were past mush but not yet coloured.  Then I drained them and froze them in a single layer, before bagging them up.  We tried some and I am fairly pleased with the outcome after refrying them for about five minutes. Some of them are perhaps a tiny bit dry, so next time I will cut them a bit fatter and par fry them for a minute or two less.  The next batch I plan to try as wedges, leaving the skin on.  Again, par frying them then freezing, and shaking some spices into the freezer bag, and probably oven cooking them when we eat them.
I glanced out the kitchen window to see Lucy, the old roo with the long, Lucille Ball eyelashes, drinking out of the birdbath!  She has figured out that there is water and a bit of green grass to be found around the house, so she stays close most of the time during the heat.
Here she is with her child Lucky, having a siesta in the shade.  Note my window sill, we have quite abundance of tomatoes!
Next job was to do some dried tomatoes, sprinkled with herbs and salt, then squashed into a jar and covered with olive oil.  Nice.  The next batch of spare tomatoes I think I'll cook up and freeze in cupfuls, for winter cooking.
Now, for my big news.  We haven't had a cat for three years, what with moving from Perth and living in a shed, and I have really missed it.  After persuading my dear husband that he would once again love a pussy cat in the house, I started to ponder the details.  I love oriental cat breeds as they are very people-oriented cats and they talk, loudly, and that's what I've always had.  But I liked the idea this time of adopting a rescued cat plus there are no Siamese or Burmese cat breeders in Albany, so I started watching the Albany Animal Rescue Team Facebook page.

Then I spied a photo of two 4 month old slate grey kittens, who had been found abandoned two months ago (which I presume was after Christmas, how disgusting), and had both been in rehab ever since with foster carers, to bring them back to health and teach them that not all the world is a terrifying, horrible place.  Anyway, the bigger boy was declared ready to find his forever home, and so I arranged to visit him at the foster carer's house.  And that was that really, he was coming home with me!  I arranged 24 hours grace, then went shopping.  I had forgotten how much stuff one small pussy cat needs!  Cat carrier, cat litter (he's going to be an indoor cat), mushy food, bickies, collar, flea stuff, worming stuff, brush and a couple of toys later, I was ready for him.  Except for a name.  It took me 36 hours of hard thinking to make a decision.
Let me introduce you to Neo.  He is named after the cool dude in the Matrix movies who has quite some acrobatic skill, plus neo means new, it's his chance for a new, happy life. 
He is still a pretty nervous little boy, easily startled, but amazing how quickly he is settling down.  He found himself a couple of man caves where he feels secure. The first was behind our walk-in robe door, amongst the folds of my hanging up dressing gown, where he could hide but peep through the crack between the door and doorframe to see what we were up to.  His new spot is behind our bed, in the tunnel area under the bedhead, so he has an exit each end which obviously pleases him.  He still goes in there to sleep, he seems to still need a lot of security to have a good sleep.  While he was settling in, we got busy making him a magnificent tower to climb, scratch and survey the world through the window.
 We found some spare wood and poles in the shed, gratefully accepted some carpet from a friend (thanks Lesley!), bought 60 metres of sisal rope to wrap the big pole, and got started.  After a bit of brainstorming it all started coming together, a nice sturdy tower.  I had a look at some in the pet shop and was shocked at the cost and also how flimsy some of them were.  Imagining a cat thundering across the room and flinging itself up a tower, I would think it needs to be quite strong!
Anyway, here it is, the kitty tower, sitting proudly in Neo Corner.  I just hope to heck he uses it!!  So far he is reluctant, but it still smells of glue and he is still a scaredy boy so I suspect we need time.  He did however, grace me with ten seconds of scratching on the sisal wrapped pole so that thrilled me no end.  I want to eventually see him sitting on the top, watching the magpies through the window, and generally surveying the world from his 1.2 metre perch.
Now, photo time.  He has been rather difficult to photograph as he tends to sleep hidden away during the day, and then when he is out and about he has a lot of energy to expel, hence it is hard to catch him in a pose!  He has started doing little maddies around the house, and loves chasing little pieces of screwed up paper.  He is so cute.  :-)  He looks very grown up don't you think.  But his age is pretty right, I know this because of those little round things that have just pronounced themselves, sitting there proudly.  They are coming off tout suite!
He is a beautiful slate-grey colour, with just the faintest hint of a stripe on his tail, and a couple on his body.  He is long and sleek, and it has been suggested that he may have some Russian Blue heritage.
 He has beautiful eyes.  At first I thought they were yellow-green, but they also have a copper look to them.  Regardless, the intensity of them against his grey coat is really beautiful.
 Here's a shot of him with his brand new collar, that he has accepted with amazingly good grace.
Hanging out on the bed with his new toy.  He is definitely feeling less stressed here, and has taken to a lot of exploring around the rooms we are currently letting him into.  His latest game is to try and walk around the entire living room without actually touching the floor.  There are paw prints on all my dusty shelves ha ha
Have you fallen asleep yet?  I will try not to overdo the pussycat photos in future, however I think I may fail dismally.  He is such a lovely little boy.  He has a teeny tiny meow that I find amazing, having had only raucously loud oriental cats before, but he makes up for it with his huge motor purr!

I will finish today with something my dear daughter sent me, she is so right ha ha ha