Thursday, 30 July 2015

Giant Turbines Capture The Wind

When we lived in Perth, I used to use a WiiFit, a gaming console, to do an exercise regime.  With the use of a special board to stand on, it monitored the workout I did, keeping track of the time I spent on it, how much I weighed etc.  It's been packed away since we've been down here, with me choosing to exercise in the great Albany outdoors instead, but as you know I have fattyboomba tendencies, so I decided that I would try to do some WiiFit exercising as well.  This was the opening screen that presented itself to me, it amused me no end....
We are making a point of taking ourselves off to beautiful places to do some invigorating walks, both to get fitter and to see more of the south coast, there are loads of areas we have given no more than a passing glance, so we pore through our book of Albany walk trails, and choose what we are going to do.  And winter is the most glorious time to walk down here, the snakes are hibernating and there is no problem about sweating or sunburn.  Everything is green and lovely.
First stop was my favourite place, the Albany Windfarm, with 18 magnificent turbines solemnly and majestically turning, gathering the power that Albany needs.  The signs in the photos below say it all.

As well as the actual walk around the Windfarm, which is meticulously looked after, with easy walking paths and well tended plants, once you get to the coast you can choose to walk a longer journey by hopping onto the Bibbulmun track, that cuts along this area of coastline.  Just look at that magnificent view!  I think we walked about 4km on this day.
This area of coastline is great for spotting whales.  Now I know it looks very insignificant and boring in the photo, but trust me, this is the back of a Southern Right Whale, who chose to meander along gently rather than spectacularly breaching out of the water.  I was thrilled to see it!
 A pod of dolphins enjoyed themselves surfing.
A few days later we headed to Emu Point for the 6km return walk to Middleton Beach and back.  Another well looked after path with shrubs and trees cut away to make the walk really pleasant and pretty.  Except we aren't very fit and 6km nearly killed us.  We had to have a wee nap when we got home! :-)
 It was rather rainy but that didn't stop us!
When we got to Middleton Beach I was really excited to see yarn bombing on the trunks of the enormous pine trees.  I love the concept of yarn bombing, the surprise of seeing some brightly coloured knitting or crochet where you don't expect it to be, whereas  Steve just shook his head.  :-)
Today we took ourselves down to Frenchman Bay for a short 2km walk along a well maintained path.
The photo doesn't do the view justice, being overcast.  It is magnificent looking out over huge rocks and islands at the entrance to King George Sound, with the sentinels of Breaksea and Michaelmas Islands in the distance guarding the entrance to the sound.
 And there's nothing like returning home on a cold, grey day, to build a warm, inviting fire.
Meanwhile his lordship has been enjoying moments of afternoon sunshine streaming in through the front windows.  He tucks himself between the curtain and the window and gets utterly toasted.
I am very pleased with myself.  I've mentioned a few times that I suck at growing sweet potatoes, but I have diligently tried year after year.  This year I planted the runners in a completely different area, up behind the house this time, in dark, nutritious soil in an area that gets afternoon winter sun, in the hope of keeping the ground warm enough just that little bit longer in order to help them grow.  I had the first tentative dig with a garden fork a couple of days ago, and look what I found!  They are not huge but they taste great.  Wonderful!  I think I need to fork the rest of the bed and get them all out of the ground though, I noticed a couple of them had soft spots, like the beginnings of rot, due to the ground being very damp.  I think I'll get them all out and store them in a box in the pantry.  Here's hoping I actually find a few more in the garden bed!
Another bit of joy for today, our very first Washington Navel orange.  It is sweet and delicious!  The rind is a little thick, apparently I might have caused that by overdoing a dose of urea - a nitrogen fertiliser that I heaped on a while back when a lot of the citrus trees' leaves went a bit yellow.  Thick rind is apparently a symptom of excess nitrogen.  Anyway, point taken for future fertisiling, but we are rapt at how good the orange tasted.  Yay!

Bits and Bobs
Water status - small tank full at 23000 litres, big tank at about 75000 litres.
What we are eating from the garden - broccolini, English spinach, King Edward and Dutch Cream potatoes, sweet potatoes, bell chillies, herbs, citrus (lime, lemon and orange) and passionfruit.
Egg status - zilch
What I'm reading - Book 1 of the Earthsea series by Ursula K Le Guin (fantasy).  Just finished reading the Mistborn Trilogy by Brandon Sanderson (fantasy) - enjoyed it a lot.

Sunday, 19 July 2015

The Cat Still Loves Us

We headed up to Perth for an overnight visit last weekend.  I got busy in the kitchen first, I like to take goodies with me.  Firstly there was a marathon sausage roll making session, two sorts - a meat and veg variety plus spinach and ricotta ones.  Next was a batch of leek and potato soup. Then I made a batch of Pennie Darling's Aunt Carol's fudge.  :-)
 And also a birthday cake, for a special boy who was turning 27, I can't believe my baby is 27!  I was pleased with the cake, I used a reliable simple chocolate cake recipe, then I sliced the cake into halves (is halves the right word for a top and a bottom as opposed to 2 half circles? just wondering, it seems wrong), filled the middle with cream and homemade strawberry jam, then iced the top with butter cream icing, stuck maltesers all over it and some sprinkles.  It was yummy!
Happy Birthday dear Pauuulllllllll, Happppppy Birthhhhhhday tooooo youuuuuuuu xxx
We had a lovely little gathering at Paul's house to wish him a happy birthday.  Here is Steve and Michelle.
 And here is mum, the birthday boy himself, and Paul's girlfriend Sam. 
We said to goodbye to Paul and Sam, then Steve, Michelle, mum and I headed off to the hospital to visit poor dear dad, who is flat on his back after surgery following rupturing the tendons in both his knees after a fall.  He is struggling through the painful and slow rehabilitation process at the moment, gritting his teeth and learning how to walk again.  Hang in there dad, we love you and think about you often, sending healing thoughts. xx
 After we finished at the hospital, Michael joined us after work and we went out for a meal with Michelle, Michael and mum.  It was really good to see everyone.  :-)  xx
We arrived home with some trepidation, having left Neo home alone to be a batchelor overnight.  He is the type of pussycat to wreak vengeance if you piss him off, so we wondered what he has felt was our deserved punishment.  As it turns out this is all he did, a chomp on a CD cover that was left out.  We got off lightly!
 I thought he might punish us the night we got home, by biting our toes and creating havoc, but no, he snuggled in at the end of the bed, went all purry, and slept like an angel.  He must have missed us bless his little cotton socks.
 A couple of days later Michael, who was blessed suddenly with a week's leave, came down to stay with us.  Here he is with us at Boston Brewery where we popped in for a pizza for lunch.  Michael likes to climb mountains (and to quote Michael's wisdom, apparently the difference between a hill and a mountain is that a mountain is over 600 metres high), so he disappeared at dawn every morning and climbed every peak on the Stirling Ranges and the Porongurups.  Impressive!
 Michelle had to work so she stayed home to look after the lovely Heidi dog.  Heidi was a lucky dog, spending plenty of time indoors on her comfy bed having plenty of her favourite tummy rubs from her favourite girl person.
 While Michael was away climbing mountains we got on with our homelife.  I spent two mornings preparing and pickling the olives, 14 one litre jars and 6 two litres jars stuffed full of yummy kalamatas.  Looking forward to the beginning of September when they will be ready. 

While I was busy with that, Steve spent time cleaning up the shed as we are having some electrical work done in a few weeks.  We are getting the new bore pump wired up properly to the shed power, a couple more power points in the shed and a light wired up properly.  We are also having our house water tank pump wired up independently to our house.  Currently the house tank pump is connected to our house power, and as it is a powerful pump, every time it comes on it has a impact, either dimming the lights momentarily or slowing appliances.  We've ummed and ahhed about this issue for a while and finally decided to wire it separately to the house.
I thought I had finished my forest floor embroidery, but I'm not sure now.  As I did my log on an angle, it feels a little out of whack to me and I think I need to do something else low down on the right to fix the symmetry.  Will leave it a while and ponder this.  I think I'd like to do another blackwork piece next, I have in my mind an idea to try and convert one of my magpie photos into blackwork, still trying to work out how I'm going to do it.
 We had a spontaneous buy, a new quirky clock for the living room.
 We are both about to undertake a get fitter campaign, so we have plenty of walks on the cards.  We had a wander along Shelley Beach the other day, which is a beautiful beach, although not the kindest to walk along, it is quite sloped with deep, soft sand, which tends to make our knees complain.  I love the big Pacific gulls, at least I think that's what they are, and I believe this is a juvenile as it has the brownish colouring.  Regardless, it's very pretty! :-)

Saturday, 4 July 2015

Gerald Who Is A Girl

It's so green here!  It's lovely and moist and cool and green.  The kikuyu grass is gradually growing down the hill and contributing to the intense colour.  And the weeds are enormous!  We've spent some time this week ripping out waist-high weeds around the potato beds, it looks much more civilised now.
 With the moist coolness comes little treasures to be found in the forest.  Look at the vibrant colour of this orange lichen on a tree stump.
 And teeny tiny fairy mushrooms popping up in clumps amongst the leaf litter.
 Moss abounds on the gnarled tree trunks of the old peppermint trees.
 I love the texture of the bark on this old jarrah.
Gerald the girl magpie (I named her after Gerald Durrell when she was a juvenile and I didn't know she was a girl) patiently waits outside the door for her breakfast of rolled oats, then she bursts into caroling song to let her buddies know that grub's up.
The kangaroos arrive most mornings and watch us with hopeful eyes that we might give them a few mouthfuls of wheat.  Lucy also enjoys eating the leaves on the banana passionfruit vine.  See how the outside of this end of the fence is bald?  She strips the leaves that she can reach, thankfully the majority of the vine is still growing happily on the inside of the fence.  Interesting that she doesn't touch the leaves of the ordinary passionfruit vines a bit further up the fence, apparently those leaves don't taste as good. 
We have to be a bit careful when the tame girls come into season, as that means the arrival of a large boy who follows the girl around for 3 or 4 days until he can do the deed.  This is Patience with her boyfriend.  Normally the boys are very wary and keep their distance, but when one is following a girl who will hop right up to us, we keep a close eye out just in case he decides to follow. 
Here's Patience again with a better shot of little Elf who is very disinclined to leave the warm pouch.  She is a very good mother, calm and quite happy to lug around a huge child for far longer than necessary.
I've been trying to use up some of our citrus.  I had a go with the Valencia oranges at making a preserve sort of thing, it's orange slices in syrup.  Basically I had to boil the oranges, then thickly slice them, then boil them again for a couple of hours in a sugar syrup, then stir in some Cointreau, then bottle the whole lot, syrup and all, into a sterilised jar.  The syrup went all thick and jelly-like, and every so orangy.  I imagine the slices and syrup will be rather nice on top of yogurt or cake maybe.  Hope so!  The oranges were too sour to eat so I thought I'd try something different with them.

I also made a Lemon Delicious Slice, to use up some lemons.  I have to admit that I don't have a photo, well, because we gobbled it up before I thought of the camera!  :-)  How about the recipe instead....

Lemon Delicious Slice
150g butter, chopped
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/3rd cup caster sugar
1 tablespoon cornflour
1 1/3 cups plain flour
Icing sugar to dust on the top
for the lemon topping
4 eggs
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon rind
1/3rd cup plain flour
1 1/3 cups caster sugar
2/3rds cup lemon juice (for me that was 3 large lemons)

Preheat oven to 180C or 160C fan-forced.  Grease a 3cm deep, 16cm x 26cm slice pan.  Line with baking paper, allowing a 2cm overhang on all sides.

Make the base -
Place butter in a large microwave-safe bowl and microwave on medium for a minute or so, until melted.  Set aside to cool.  Stir in vanilla and sugar.  Sift flours over butter mixture.  Using a wooden spoon, stir until a soft dough forms.  Transfer to prepared pan and press in.  Bake for 15-20 minutes or until golden.  Remove from oven and set aside to cool a little.

Make the topping -
Whisk eggs, lemon rind, flour and sugar together until smooth.  Add lemon juice and whisk to combine.  Pour over the cooked base.  Bake for 20 minutes or until just set.  Cool completely in the pan. 

Dust with icing sugar, cut into pieces and serve.  Nice with cream.