Monday, 28 December 2015

Happy Holidays

We have visitors!  Lots of lovely visitors.  Michelle and Michael, and Paul and Sam are here and it's great. :-)
 Everyone dumped their Chrissy presents under the tree until it looked like a warzone.  Lovely :-)
 We all had fun swapping gifts with each other, I think everyone enjoyed watching others open their chosen present, we were all very lucky with a stash of lovely things.  We had a Facetime with mum and dad in Perth, it was great to see faces and say thank yous for presents.  This is my favourite present, a handy little bag from mum in the most glorious colour.  It's been out and about a few times already, thanks mum! xx
 We did some cruising around Albany, seeing the sights.  Here are Steve and Paul up near the National Anzac Centre, we went up there to admire the views so Sam could take some photos.
 Here's Michelle with some the glorious view behind her.
 And Sam, moi and Paul.  When did I become such a shortarse?
 We had a great lunch at Due South in Albany, then the next day we had another great lunch at good ol' Boston Brewery.  Lovely.  :-)  I say lovely a lot don't I, but it has been!
 Yesterday morning we hit the beach, it was perfect, a light breeze, nice and warm, and we chose a quiet area that we virtually had to ourselves.  Here are the girls soaking up some rays with the boys fishing in the background.
Here is beach babe me.  I must say that I had a lovely time swimming and behaving like a small child jumping through the waves and attempting to body surf.  Good fun.
 And look what Paul came home with, a giant flathead!  He pulled that in on the first cast, lucky thing.  He and Sam had it for breakfast this morning and declared it delicious!
Paul took Sam home today as the poor girl has to go back to work tomorrow, we loved having you here Sam! xx
Paul is coming back down tomorrow, this time with our granddaughters, so lots more fun awaits!  :-)

Tuesday, 22 December 2015

Bodies In The Kitchen

We are coming to terms with our bore water, the components of it meaning that it is not good to wet the foliage of plants as they then suck up the minerals and then get upset with the excess ones.  We have to rethink a lot of our strategy and will need to water at ground level.  Eventually we will be putting in drip systems through the garden beds but for now we continue to use sprinklers to water and just do a rinse off with rainwater.  A little tedious but if it helps then its worth it.  But there are going to be some plants that just wont want to grow here, but on the other hand there will be others that I've not thought of that thrive in saline conditions, I have to move my mind towards plants that are happy to live near the coast.  It's all a learning curve!
Meanwhile, trying to drag myself away from the misery of looking at the plants that are unhappy, I am thrilled to see some wonderful things.  Those tiny green balls are mandarins!  You may not think much of that, but that little tree has stubbornly been on the brink of death for about 5 years, it was on its last hoorah this season and was threatened with being pulled out and replaced.  It must have heard me as it has started to green up, started to grow, and produce teeny fruit.  I will cross my fingers that they don't all fall off, but the fact it has even produced them is a bonus, there hasn't been a flower on it ever until now.  So yay!
This is one amazing plant, the banana passionfruit vine.  It has literally hundreds of young fruit on it and is thriving, with no signs of unhappiness with the water.  The passionfruit also has loads of fruit but the leaves are showing tiny signs of bore water damage so I will need to use more rainwater to keep that one happy.  So looking forward to ripening fruit!  Our sick peach dropped all its fruit but the other peach has a dozen or so fruit that are starting to swell up towards maturity, and the sick nectarine is recovering well after dropping half its fruit, the remainder starting to swell up, not far off ripening. 
 This is a naughty chicken.  The girls get to range all day in the orchard, and they love it, but this one has learned to jump the fence into my garden, and gleefully spends the day alone, hogging all the worms and bugs she finds.  I'm amazed the others haven't copied her, perhaps she is the most athletic of them all and the others can't get over the fence.  She's not doing any harm, just makes a big mess kicking mulch all over my paths!  I have to forgive her though, she and her mates lay lots and lots of eggs for us :-)
 Some of you may find this revolting, but I like spiders and I have no huge problem with the odd little spider web in my house.  This is the web of my kitchen spider, he has lived happily there in the corner of the window for about six months, catching the little midgie things that get through the flywire, and also the odd fly.  Good job Mr Spider I say.  Occasionally he leaves debris on the window ledge, he turfs out the dried bodies of his victims when he does his web housework, and on a few occasions I have thought he had died, a curled up limp body on the window ledge as in the photo above, but I finally worked out he is shedding his exoskeleton as he grows, and turfs that out too.  I find it all rather fascinating.
Keeping Mr Spider company in the kitchen, I had a day of Xmas biscuit baking, knowing that my children are rather fond of them.  Two more sleeps and they will be here for a visit, so looking forward to it!

Merry Christmas to one and all xx

Saturday, 12 December 2015

Xmas Trees That Move

As I write this I can hear rustling in the corner, the Christmas tree is shaking, there is an intruder amongst the decorations.  We put the tree up a couple of days ago and left it naked, just to see what would happen.  Neo was somewhat nervous of it at first, being the first scary tree he has seen, but it didn't take long....
We decided to keep lights off the tree, in the interest of not frying the cat, instead draping them along curtain rails and under the patio outside.  We particularly love this set that are wrapped around the flue of the solid fuel heater, they look so pretty.  And the grey furry one doesn't seem interested in these.  The tree is much more fun, especially now that it has tinsel and balls on it. 
Steve, Neo and I has a quick visit to Perth last weekend to wish a special little someone a very Happy Birthday.  Yay seven! Happy Birthday to you dear Stevie, Happy Birthday to you x
 The aftermath of unwrapping and cake.
Meanwhile, back at home, we realised that we stuffed up our garlic by watering it too much just before harvest.  Last week we stripped the outer papery layers off, to try and dry the globes out a bit, but finally we decided it wasn't working very well and if we didn't do something else quick we would risk losing heaps to rot, so we got to work separating and peeling all the cloves and mostly freezing them while they were still healthy.  We dropped the small ones into a jar of vinegar to see what they are like pickled.  It took ages!  We had done a small amount for the freezer last week but there was heaps to do this time.  We chucked out any cloves that were discoloured and now have a huge quantity of healthy looking frozen cloves.  It will be nice and easy to use them, being that they are already peeled and ready to be chopped.
I also made a batch of lemon/lime marmalade to use up some citrus, the last batch was delicious.  I also made some NeverLasting Orange Slices in Cointreau Syrup.  This batch is made with bought Valencia oranges, following on the first batch I made earlier in the year using our first small crop of a dozen, and boy oh boy they are yummy, particularly with yogurt.
We were rapt coming home from Perth last weekend to find that we'd had a huge 60mm of rain, yeehar.  So the tanks are pretty much full which is amazing for December, and the shed tank that holds the bore water has now been shandied with a heap of rainwater so it's nice and diluted.  We should get the results of the bore water analysis at the end of the week, it will be very interesting to find out exactly what is in it, then we can sit down and work out the most effective way to use it.