Cucumber Relish

If you are like me this year your Cucumber plants have decided that they will grow and they will produce “fruit” and you will be inundated with Cucumbers.  If you are also like me you will have a 13 year old boy who loves to eat a cucumber whole – but not even he can keep up with the bounty that I have been picking on an almost daily basis.  Which makes it a far cry from last year when all my plants ended up with powdery mildew and dropped dead at the drop of a hat. I couldn’t use the cucumbers last year at all but strangely enough this years plant (yes I only put in one thank goodness) was grown from seed which came from last years cucumber.  Work that one out if you can.
Cucumbers

I found this old recipe many years ago and haven’t made it for ages but it’s a good one.  A friend loves it particularly with cheese and biscuits or cold meat in a sandwich   I do have a confession to make here. I really don’t like pickles/relishes/chutneys  of any kind. It’s just one of those condiments that I don’t enjoy eating………but I LOVE making them so work that one out.

This recipe is from The Esk Valley Cookery Book which I think is from around the 1950’s so all the measurements are in pounds and ounces.

Cucumber Relish

1 pound Apples

1 pound Onions

1 1/2 pounds Cucumber

1/2 pound Sugar

1 pint Vinegar (I use white)

2 ounces salt

1/2 teaspoon Cayenne Pepper

Peel, core and cut up apples and cook in vinegar till soft. Allow to cool then add other ingredients, onions and cucumbers to be cut very small. Mix all together and put into jars. Leave one month before using.

****** NOTE – I cut up the onion finely and grate peeled apples and cucumber trying to avoid any seeds in the cucumber.  I then put everything into the saucepan – vinegar, apples, cucumbers, pepper, sugar and salt and bring it to the boil. Boil gently for a few minutes until everything is really hot then bottle into hot sterilized jars and label.

 

PS  If your Relish is a bit watery just cook it gently until the liquid reduces. Mine was – maybe the cucumbers had more liquid in them than normal, I don’t know –  but reducing the liquid by a slow simmer worked and now the relish is lovely and thick.

Reduce – Knit Socks

As part of the Reduce, Reuse and Recycle trend I’m currently on – mainly due to being so overwhelmed by the amount of “stuff” I have – I have roughly planned a series of posts linking to that theme.  They may be posted daily or even weekly but each one will highlight where I have either Reduced my stash, Reused or Recycled something already lurking in this household.  There will be no set time or day to post them – I don’t need that kind of pressure.  Instead they will happen when the mood strikes, the stars align or I have a flash of writing inspiration.

I desperately need to Reduce my stash of spinning wool. I have Alpaca – in white, brown and black.   Sheep’s wool – Perendale, Corriedale, English Leicester, and an unknown brown sheep’s wool.  There are bags of wool tops that have been commercially processed, Mohair fibre from goats and even some Llama – just a small bag.   In all enough that I could spin 8 hours a day for an entire year and possibly still not get through it all. I have promised myself that  I will not buy any more fibre until I have used all that I have…..which quite frankly seems a fairly daunting task. However like the old saying “How do you eat an elephant?  One bite at a time” I’m doing just that.

In the months leading up to Christmas I would hide away in my sewing room and prepare and spin the lovely Perendale Wool that I had.  The plan was to spin enough that I could knit a pair of socks for Ashley. Something hard wearing but comfortable.  They couldn’t be prickly but they did have to last a workday on his feet and in his boots.  By the way I only wear hand knitted socks now. My feet sweat and rub something horrible in the hot weather and ache in the cold, but with hand knitted wool socks I haven’t had any problems and my feet don’t seem to hurt as much as the end of the day either.  I did experiment with both commercial socks and hand knitted one week when I was working long hours with Ashley – and the hand knitted were absolutely  the best to wear.  I’m hoping Ashley finds them as good as I did.

Hand Spun Hand knitted Socks

I decided to spin three bobbins of fine yarn and ply them together to make one thicker yarn in the hope that it would prove more durable.  It certainly meant a lot of preparing the fleece and lots more spinning but I did watch some fabulous movies while I was working….lol.   In the end I had 200 grams of yarn that was the best I had spun for a long time and hoped it was enough to knit the socks….and so I started knitting.

The yarn knitted up at 5 stitches to one inch on 3.25 mm needles which is  roughly Double Knitting Yarn.  I used slightly smaller needles as I wanted it to be a fairly dense pair of socks.   It was fabulous to knit with and the socks came together beautifully.   I used the directions from here which are definitely my “go to” instructions when I want socks in anything other than sock yarn.  This is the second pair I have knit from this pattern and the instructions work brilliantly.  When it came to the toes I added some sewing thread from about half way down the foot as I wanted extra durability. Ashley’s socks all wear on the toes and ball of the foot first and I thought that the sewing thread might help with wear.  Grandma used to knit in sewing thread as well when she made socks and Mum always said it helped, so I figured there was no harm in experimenting.

I even managed to see in the New Year as I was near the end of the socks and didn’t want to stop.  Which just goes to show how good these socks were to knit as I haven’t seen in the New Year for many years.

New Socks for Ashley

New Years Day the socks were finished – after I had had some sleep – and presented to Ashley.  He put them on. I took photos and he left them on – for the rest of the day – which, to me, means they must have been a success as there is no way he will wear itchy socks.

I didn’t use all the wool but don’t have enough to knit another pair of socks so it means more spinning which is a good thing.  The only down side is the Perendale fleece I bought weighed 2 kg and I have used up only about half on these socks and other things.  Best get out the spinning wheel again I feel.

If you want more information on Perendale sheep have a look here.    I also found that Perendale were listed on the Rare Breeds Trust of Australia  as being under investigation.  Hopefully, since the report I found was dated 2004, the breed is increasing in numbers.

21 Years

Many, many years ago a boy and a girl met.  Actually the girl saw the boy walking down the church aisle after being baptised and thought he was pretty cute but then stopped herself as she knew he was younger than her and seeing someone else.  At the time the girl was also seeing someone.

Several months later, both the boy and the girl having split up from those persons they were seeing, started dating.

There was much opposition from the families of said boy and girl. His parents thought the girl wasn’t good enough. They still don’t.  Her parents weren’t impressed especially as the boy had been seeing their younger daughter and no the girl didn’t split them up.

The boy and girl both knew they were onto a good thing. There was trust and communication and friendship and most of all love.  Best of all the boy and girl worked well together on any projects they undertook.

Three years after they started dating the boy proposed.

It was really romantic.  “Suppose you better go and get an engagement ring” he said.

The girl, wanting a somewhat more romantic proposal than that, told the boy if he couldn’t propose properly then she wouldn’t be looking for anything.

The boy, knowing that the girl meant it, proposed properly although not on bended knee.  ; – (

Three months later the boy and girl were married.

Just twelve months after that wedding a baby girl was born, two and a half years later another baby girl.  Then the boy and girl – both slightly more mature by now – built a house.  That working together well paid off as they hung plaster, laid floor tiles, wired the house for electricity and did anything else they could to save money.

They had just moved into the house when the girl found she was pregnant again.  A baby boy was born, four years after the second daughter.

They boy and girl then went on to raise three beautiful children and have welcomed (over the course of many years) four much loved dogs and two cats, a guinea pig, numerous chooks and several fish and run their own business.

Today that boy and girl – though much more mature looking but who don’t act mature – celebrate their 21st Wedding Anniversary.

21st Wedding Anniversary Flowers

Ashley surprised me at lunchtime with this beautiful bouquet of flowers. He very rarely gives me flowers for two reasons. He says I have plenty in the garden and as I trained and qualified as a florist he never knows what I like….lol.

We aren’t doing anything special.  Sometime later in the year we will have a weekend away together. We enjoyed last years break so much we have decided to make it an annual event and Ashley can’t get away at this time of year.

Christmas 2012

Finally I have fast Internet again.  With everyone home over Christmas our Internet account had been given a fair old workout and as a result while we had a connection it was incredibly slow. It drove us nuts for a few days but then we got used to not being on the net and life moved on and it’s really quite surprising just how peaceful it is and how much you get done when the computer isn’t on.  I’m determined to limit my time on the net over the new few weeks in an attempt to work through the looooong list of “things I must do, must make or want to do or make”.  So far I have made a good start.   I am also brimming full of ideas for blog posts and have been making notes and taking photos as I get things done so hopefully the beginning of 2013 will be a far cry from the spasmodic posting of last year.

Now onto the fun stuff.

Christmas was amazing. Very quiet and very relaxed.

Opening Presents

Opening Presents.  Nicola, Mum and Elise in the background.

Mum came for lunch along with two very dear friends, Nanny Cate and Poppy Bill,  so it was a lively meal with lots of laughter and even discussions of Christmas’s past.  We don’t realise just how lucky we are these days.  Both Mum and Nanny Cate told stories of very limited Christmas’s but despite those limitations it was those Christmas’s that remained brightest in their memories.  They both said it wasn’t the gifts that they remembered – instead it was the love and company of extended family and the fun they had.

Ajax - in the Christmas Spirit

Ajax doesn’t care what’s inside the present – he just loves tearing the paper apart.

This year the children decided that we would do a Kris Kringle and each of us had a budget of $50 each and only had to buy or make for one person.  It wasn’t bad but we all agreed that it really wasn’t us.  Not that we all wanted lashings of presents but it just made it hard when we saw or wanted to make something that we thought would suit a particular person but that wasn’t our person to have a gift for.  Personally I enjoyed the previous year so much more with our handmade Christmas even though it was a lot of work, I found it the most satisfying and I think so did the children as there are rumours already of gifts they want to make.

Elise's Christmas Table Centre

Elise’s table centres.  Fowlers Vacola Jars with crochet doileys tied around them and gold candles sitting inside them.  They looked amazing and are still out on display.

By Christmas afternoon Ashley and I were exhausted so a traditional two hour nap was called for.  The evening meal was leftovers and a very quiet wind down to Christmas Day.

Blowing Bubbles

James with his Bubble Maker in the Pergola.

Boxing Day was very quiet. Elise left early to head back to Bendigo with Ralf. She didn’t have any work so decided to go back and start packing up her house as she had signed the lease on a new flat just five minutes up the road from where she is now.

James and I headed off to Bendigo Thursday (the day after Boxing Day) for his appointment at the Fracture Clinic at Bendigo Base.  They didn’t need to do anything with his hand thank goodness.  The Surgical Registrar said it was fine but he wasn’t happy with the cast the hospital here had put on James’s arm and hand. Instead of his hand being in alignment with his arm it was on a 45 degree angle….so now he has a new half cast on his arm which is (we thought) securely wrapped with all the appropriate bandages. Unfortunately the Plaster Lady didn’t take into account a very active 13 year old who loves to spend time in the shed with Dad and both the cast and the bandages are looking very worse for wear. I was at fault too. I should have known how grotty James can get and should have put a sock over his cast but didn’t think of it until he came inside with grease marks on it…sigh. Goodness knows what the clinic will say when we go back on January 23rd.  The best news is however James is in no pain what so ever and while he won’t have an obvious knuckle (even though it’s still there and functioning normally)  when he clenches his hand – not that he is worried about that – he at least didn’t need surgery.

New Years Eve rolled around before we knew it…………not that we were doing anything anyway.  For the first time in years I saw in the New Year mainly because I was knitting socks for Ashley (a future post) and we were watching old episodes of “Grand Designs Australia” where people could spend three million dollars on a home and not even blink.  Crazy stuff.  Nicola and James didn’t see in the New Year at all – both were sound asleep long before Midnight, but Elise did see some of the fire works in Bendigo as she stayed with a couple of friends and they watched movies, talked, ate and watched more movies.

After all the excitement and “goings on” as Grandma would have said, it’s been nice to sit back and relax under the air conditioning. It’s stinking hot with quite strong winds and the garden is suffering dreadfully.  I’m so glad I cleaned up most of the vege garden and only have a few plants to see to.  No bush fires here but my heart goes out those those who are affected.

There is lots of sewing and crafting and crochet happening here and even a bit of tidying up in the sewing room.  This year is a year to reduce, reuse and recycle much of my craft supplies and I am already seeing a real trend in the up coming blog posts I am planning, not to mention the slightest reduction in the fabric stash….lol.

 

Christmas Is Coming

The house is clean for tomorrow,  Elise is finishing up making the last of the salads, Nicola has scrubbed bathrooms and James has been the “gopher” (go for this and go for that).  The washing is hung out, presents are under the tree and now we wait – yet I find myself in a somewhat reflective mood.

Elise baking

Nothing has changed – Elise is still in the kitchen.

When we started 2012 the family and I had no idea on just how big a year it would be or what the year would entail. Which is probably a good thing as had I realised just what was in store I may have run screaming for the hills at even a glimpse of it.

It’s been a year of incredible joy with Elise being accepted into University, adopting Ralf and moving and coping with a new house, new town and new friends.  The delight on Nicola’s face when the braces were finally removed was another plus. The  photo I have of my girl beaming with delight and showing off those beautiful straight teeth was so worth the tears, pain and money it cost.  The knowledge that James was in his final year of Primary School was scary but he coped so well and had a reasonable report at the end of the year.  James did enjoy Secondary School and hopefully it will offer him the scope and challenges what will bring out the best in him.

Nicola - Braces are Off

Braces off.

It’s also been a very stressful year. Work, while busy, has caused Ashley lots of stress and worry although dropping one of our major clients certainly helped in that area.  We have re- prioritised what is important to us regarding work and have decided next year (fingers crossed) that a proper holiday is on the books and Ashley will try to only work 4 days per week in the quieter months so he can have time to work on his own projects.  Both girls have had stressful times with school work but both have done very well and coped brilliantly. James has had trouble with being bullied but managed to carry on and despite breaking his hand towards the end of the school year has kept on smiling.

James - helping Dad

No matter what happens you will always find James in the shed helping Dad.

As for me – well to be honest it’s a year I would rather forget. Stress, worry, exhaustion,working, lots of driving back and forth to Bendigo, and now Doctors visits with James’s hand has lead to a year I would rather forget. The good news is that we have an appointment with the Orthopaedic Surgeon on December 27th (the day after Boxing Day) so hopefully we will have closure on the whole incident. While yes there were plenty of highs for some reason the lows seem to have dominated.  Still there is a new year just around the corner and while I’m not going to make any New Years Resolutions I am determined to just go with the flow.  I can’t control life or events no matter how much I would like to.

James is 11

Like Father, Like Son aka Two Peas in A Pod.

I’m determined to really get the vegetable garden up and running and have been preparing new beds. This coming year I want to grow far more of our own food and be less reliant on the supermarkets.  The using up of what craft supplies I have has lead to a whole host of new ideas and projects and I’m really enjoying the re-purposing of items we already have.  Ashley bought a Wood Fired Oven from an old school friend the other day – a proper pizza oven – and already I’m planning the bread, roasts, cakes and casseroles I’m going to make.  It will be a new dimension to self sufficiency that we have been dreaming for some time.

So in the last few hours before Christmas Day arrives I want to thank you all for putting up with my ramblings, for sharing our joy at the momentous events that have occurred, the support you have given and for the friendships we have formed.

Whatever your beliefs, whatever your traditions and where ever you live, may Peace, Joy and Happiness be with you this coming Festive Season.

Nativity Ornament

Grade Six Graduation

Last night was the Grade 6 Graduation.

The evening went off very smoothly.  The speeches were heartfelt and thoughtful, if not a tiny bit long winded, the children looked amazing and many had gone to a great deal of effort to dress for the occasion.

Graduating
James being handed his certificate by the Principal – his teacher is behind them.

On a side note my mother taught craft to James’s teacher’s father when he was a boy which is more years than any of us care to remember… just goes to show there are people who know you everywhere.

The hall was packed with parents, grandparents and siblings which considering the school hall has no air conditioning made it a little warm but we all survived.

James was very glad when it was all over – he really doesn’t enjoy being the centre of attention even if it is just for a fleeting moment.

James and Curtis
James and his mate Curtis. 

So the evening was over. Today we have the Grade 6 Break up – we are only going for lunch – a sausage sizzle in the park.  Tomorrow is the Peer Mediators lunch then the year, and Primary School, are over for my boy and this family. I feel a tiny bit melancholy that these days have finished. Despite all that has happened our relationship with the school and many of the staff has been a good one but life moves on and new and exciting things are just around the corner for James.  Secondary school will hopefully give him more room to grow and develop skills in areas that he is truly interested in.  Apparently Tech/wood work was a firm favourite when he had the two days orientation at the college the other week.

As for seeing the Orthopaedic Surgeon – I rang the Fractures clinic late yesterday afternoon. They still didn’t have the paperwork but they did say it took 24 hours.  There is only one clinic a week and that was the day James broke his hand – the next one isn’t until after Christmas – possibly Boxing Day or the day after but whether he will get into that one remains to be seen. I did speak to the Liaison Nurse regarding his hand. We just keep it elevated, wrapped and wait. She said the bone won’t even begin to mend for at least two weeks so there is time and even if it’s a month before we see the surgeon they can still manipulate it without any problems.  I’m crossing my fingers and toes that we get in sooner rather than later.  James is in more pain now than he was when he first broke his hand but I’m guessing that’s because the swelling is going down. We are keeping an eye on it and he is having pain medication when he needs it.  If necessary we can go back to Emergency and get them to look if the pain suddenly spikes or he is really uncomfortable.

Thank you all for your lovely thoughts and get well wishes for James. He does appreciate them – apparently it’s easier to be the centre of attention when no one is actually looking at you….lol.

James and the Boxers Fracture

James came home from school last night and one look at his face told me something had happened at school.

He held up his right hand which was incredibly swollen then, in between crying, he told me that another boy had decided it would be a good idea to get stuck into James hitting and punching him during both recess and lunch.  At lunchtime when the event occurred again, James hit the boy in self defence and thought at the time his hand hurt.  He said nothing to his teacher and didn’t go to sick bay as he was certain he would have got in trouble for fighting even though this other child started the whole affair.  Of course by this time he was in a considerable amount of pain.

Three hours later when he got home he was in agony with a swollen hand and I took him straight up to the hospital. Now I have to say that there are lots of times when we have been in Emergency where it is just one long and very frustrating wait – not so last night.  We were seen straight way by the Triage Nurse who was lovely.  We then saw the Doctor who said it was typically known as a Boxers Fracture, then went to Radiology for an X-ray  The longest part was waiting for the surgeon to see him as the Surgeon was in emergency surgery.

Swollen Hand

 

Self Portrait by James

I should explain here that a Boxers Fracture is a break of the of the bones in the hand that form the knuckles. In James’s case it is the knuckle of the little finger (or pinky) between the finger and the hand, that he has broken.  You can find more information here.

After a good dose of “laughing gas” and a local anaesthetic the surgeon manipulated James’s hand and wrapped it well with a half cast underneath his hand and arm to support it and told us to come back in today for another X-ray which we did.  The news is just semi ok. The surgeon wasn’t totally happy about the bone realignment and has referred us to the  Fractures Clinic in Bendigo for an Orthopaedic surgeon to look at the break. They may manipulate it further or he may have to go into hospital overnight in Bendigo and have surgery on his hand.  Something neither of us are looking forward to.  The best outcome we are hoping for is that the Orthopaedic Surgeon will be happy with it as it is and nothing will be done which is, according to the Registrar, a possibility.

The Fractures Clinic apparently won’t ring me until after 1.30 pm (hopefully) today. I did ring Emergency here again to check the number and to see if everything had been sent off and it had. The woman on the desk said don’t be surprised if it is after Christmas before they will look at his hand. Quite frankly that isn’t good enough…..by then he would have to go into surgery as the bones would have started to knit.

Broken bones

To top off these amazing/crappy/stressful two days tonight is James’s Graduation Ceremony from Primary School. We are going  – it’s far to important event to miss.  Tomorrow is the Grade 6  Break Up Party which he may or may not attend just at lunch time. The is no point him being there any longer as they are swimming in the morning (and obviously he can’t swim) and there is a movie in the afternoon and by then I think he will be in pain again.  Thursday is the shirt signing and the Peer Mediators lunch which again he may or may not attend depending on if we get an appointment in Bendigo at the Clinic.

And just to make my week Nicola has to be in Bendigo on Friday to see the orthodontist to get a new retainer for her teeth fitted although there is a chance we will either have to reschedule the appointment or Elise will  have to go to Bendigo with us and take Nicola to that appointment.

The good news for today is that Ashley went  and saw the Principal of this school this morning and while very polite, made it very clear that it just wasn’t good enough especially considering there had been lots of “incidents” though out the year that we and James and even other classmates had pointed out to the school.  James and I saw his teacher this morning to update her on what had been happening. She hadn’t noticed in class that his hand was swollen (something that apparently the Principal isn’t too happy about) and apologised to James for not noticing.  Mind you with some of the kids has in that class to deal with I’m surprised she has time to even teach!!!  I will say that I really do like James’s teacher.  She has had a difficult year with many of the kids but has done her very best in what are exceptionally trying circumstances and has treated everyone fairly and equally.  We then went and saw the Principal who questioned James closely (and wrote it all down) and who then called in the boy who, to his credit, was genuinely sorry and apologised to James for what had happened.  The incident is still being investigated and the boy who started it all has picked his punishments – such as detentions – but the matter isn’t ending there.

I will admit I took to opportunity (with the Principals permission)  to speak to both boys about what had happened. I reminded them that fighting does nothing and that both could have sought out a teacher and asked the teacher to mediate while they discussed their issues.  I also reminded them that next year is a whole new opportunity in a new school with new classmates to really make something of their lives and that any incident at the secondary college would be caught on security camera (they are everywhere up there) and that if they couldn’t be friends (quite frankly I don’t expect it of them) they can at least be civil to each other but stay away from each other.  They were also told that if I heard of any incident between them I would call in the Police regardless of their ages and would get the law to deal with it.

The sad thing is this other boy has a difficult family life yet to look at him he is a bright, good looking, intelligent boy who has so much potential and with the right guidance could make something of himself, but unless a miracle occurs he may end up on totally the wrong path in life.  It makes me so thankful that we are able to offer our children choices and opportunities that Ashley and I never had even if it means working long hours and with the stress that comes with that. It also makes me incredibly thankful that we have a stable home life and; as a family, love and support each other during all the events in our lives.

So now we are home again and waiting on phone calls.  It’s going to be a very long week up to Christmas.

Being Organised

I will admit that the one thing that can really do my head in is not being organised. I’m not as bad as my Grandmother  who would be organised at 1 pm for something that started at 6 pm.  As much as I loved her dearly that drove me nuts, but not being organised in everyday things is a close second.

I have been seeing on the net for a while the Home Management or Home Organisation Folders and I kept resisting the idea.   I kept thinking that the last thing I needed was yet another pile of lists or a diary to keep things in order.  This was even though I have a diary to jot down upcoming events.  Finally – after months of feeling so out of control (part of the reason while I haven’t blogged as much as I would like to) – I caved and started searching for the ideal folder. Of course that means that I will never find the exact pages that I needed and even if I did find them they would have areas on them that I would never use or they were too fancy, or printed in lots of colours and so on and so forth. After a couple of days searching, which I must admit was lots of fun – I finally admitted to myself that I would need to create my own pages. Pages that suited the lifestyle we live with the items on them that we I needed.

So my home management folder and by extension home management corner was created.

Organisation Centre - I hope

It’s in the corner of the pantry – where it’s always been but now it’s all tidy…lol.  There are two pin boards right next to it which are so handy. One is for the “all year” stuff and the other for the daily/weekly things.

Pens - organised

I have a place for my pens, highlighters etc. I saw this idea on Pinterest (which I confess I’m seriously obsessed about – the cans and Pinterest) and just had to have a play. Empty food cans painted bright red with paint Elise had, hot glued together and Ashley screwed it to the wall for me last night. Now I have to put the pens in properly or they fall out. Ashley even put a hook in the bottom of the cupboard so I could hang up the scissors as they are always being lost.

I told myself that while I could use new dividers for each section and I bought some blank reinforced paper for the monthly calendars, everything else had to be made out of what I had around the house which is why some of the lists are printed on the lined paper the kids use at school.

Weekly Calendar

I have a Weekly Planner.

To Do List

A To Do List. I don’t think I will need to fill this out everyday but on those days where there is lots happening it should help me keep everything under control a little better.

Weekly Spending

A Weekly Spending List. Yes there are two weeks to a page but I’m hoping I shouldn’t completely fill one week with my spending let alone run into the second list. I also have a list for each month of the year where I can put in my totals to try and see just what I’m spending and where.

Meal List

I made a list of all the Main Meals we eat most often and listed them according to their main ingredient – fish, mince, chicken etc. There are approx 32 meals here so it should be easy to eat something different each day of the month and that’s not counting the variations on each basic meal or the nights were we have leftovers.

Meal Planning

I also made a weekly Meal Plan. While I have been planning meals for quite some time – it saves arguments when everyone wants something different – I haven’t planned lunches before. I’m not sure how that bit will go but at least if I have an idea for lunch I can jot it down rather than thinking “on the fly” as Ashley drives in at lunchtime.

None of the pages are complete originals as I took ideas from a lot of those I saw on the web and changed them to suit myself.   They were all easy to do in Word and I will freely admit to being just slightly obsessed with using different shapes  for different areas… vbg.

So far the system is working and I think this week will be the major test.  With a week until Christmas Eve, James having his Grade 6 Graduation ceremony tomorrow (Tues) night, his class break up Wednesday and finishing school on Thursday, Nicola and I driving to Bendigo Thursday for two Orthodontist appointments on Friday then coming home after the last one, Elise working all week as everyone has decided they need new Lawns just before Christmas and Ashley doing his usual running around madly trying to finish jobs off before he takes a much deserved two week break over Christmas and the New Year –  take a deep breath now – the home management system will be truly tested.

Hunting, Gathering and Preserving

Yesterday I GATHERED the potatoes that have been growing in one of the wicking bed bath tubs.
Potatoes
I have to say I much prefer this method of growing them. No mucking around with potatoe grow bags which didn’t do at all well last year. I just popped in half a dozen potatoes that had sprouted in the pantry and look at how many I dug up. Best of all they were easy to find, there was no heavy digging and lifting and they look amazing. We will be having them boiled in their skins for tonight’s tea.

Today I HUNTED down the first cucumber of the season from my vine/bush.

Fist Cucumber

Last years effort was a complete failure due to powdery mildew and plants turning up their toes at the slightest sign they weren’t happy.  Fingers and toes crossed this years plant is a good one. It should be I grew it from seed I had saved from another years crops.

As of ten minutes ago the cucumber is no longer. James spotted it and has just eaten the lot.  Show much for showing Ashley my efforts…lol.

This morning I PRESERVED Peaches using the Microwave method of bottling fruit.

Microwave bottled Peaches

The method worked perfectly, the kitchen didn’t heat up and I had everything done and cleaned up by lunch time.

This is the book if you want to have a go yourself.

Microwave Bottling

Isabel Webb has written several books on Microwave bottling and preserving and while you might have to hunt to find them they are definitely worth the effort.   I borrowed one other book of hers from the library and  I knew that when I saw this book for $5 in Bendigo the other day it was a must buy. The books are simply written, have loads of recipes and cover every possible detail you might want to know on bottling fruit in your microwave and yes you do bottle the fruit with the lids on – it’s ok and doesn’t arc in the microwave.  I can’t imagine not using the Fowlers Vacola preserving unit – in fact a year without putting fruit into bottles, fitting on rings, lids and clips and having the preserving pan bubbling away in the laundry is pretty much unthinkable – but for small amounts of fruit the microwave method is brilliant.   Plus it has the added benefit that I can preserve smaller bottles of fruit than I can with the Fowlers which are the ideal size for Mum and Elise where there is only one person eating the fruit.

Yesterday I GATHERED Garlic Bulbils and Garlic Cloves which will be planted next year and picked the one onion that didn’t run to seed. Not sure what I did wrong with the rest of them – but at least there will be plenty of seed for sprouts this year.

Giant Onion and Garlic Bulbils

I’m going to cut up the onion and dehydrate it for those days when there are no onions in the cupboard but I desperately need some. I did some onion not long after I bought the dehydrator and it was brilliant. To make onion flakes I just ground the dried onion up in my food processor.

Tomorrow I might just have to make some Apricot Chutney as I have a box of apricots sitting there calling my name.  Despite the heat I do love this time of year.  All this preserving and storing of food that will feed us in the coming months and seeing all those bottles of fruit, chutneys and jams gives me a warm glow and that’s not just from standing over a hot stove.  ; – ))

Green Jelly……..Anyone?????

Yesterday Elise and I were at the Primary School cleaning Air conditioner filters. It’s part of the work Ashley does up there and as it’s a pretty non technical kind of thing and doesn’t need a special licence  we were volunteered to go up and do the dirty deed as Ashley was flat out with Air conditioner breakdowns and cool room problems.

Just as we were finishing up Marilyn in the office asked me if I had a cool room and could the school put jelly in it.   For a brief moment the mind boggled…..wicked grin.

Today the school is having a “Green Day” where the kids can all wear green for a gold coin donation and green jelly in cups are to be sold all to raise money to improve the garden spaces around the school.  Of course we have a cool room and after some discussion with the teachers organising the whole event we ended up bringing home two bulk packets of jelly, plastic cups, several bags of sour worm lollies to put in each cup and some boxes to sit the jellies in so they didn’t spill all over the cool room.

After a quick shower (we couldn’t make jelly with that much dust all over us) and a cuppa and meat pie – yes we are good trades people…..vbg – we started.

Getting organised

Getting organised was easy – place 200 cups into boxes and add a sour worm to each.

1.1 kg jelly crystals

We both loved the fact we had green jelly crystals (1.1 kg of crystals in each packet) and a green bucket to mix it all in.

Jelly

Add 11 litres of water and mix well before pouring into plastic cups.

Jelly In Cool Room
Carefully transfer each box of jelly cups into the cool room and breathe deeply of the lime jelly smell each time you walk in there.  Yes we did make sure Ralf was out of the cool room before we shut the door. You can see him inspecting our work at the bottom of the photo.

Spend another 20 minutes wiping down benches and floors that were sticky with jelly spills even though we thought we were being so very careful.

The jelly is supposed to be picked up from here around 1 pm in time for lunch.  We only had half the jelly to do as several of the children were helping the teachers and the staff room refrigerators were already full – hence the cry for help.  Apparently this jelly will sell like the proverbial hot cakes and they are hoping to raise quite a bit of money.  I hope so.

Today is also the day the kids get to try out their solar boat/cars – can’t remember which one it was. James, while he loved his model, wasn’t looking forward to standing outside in 44 degree heat just to see it worked. I’m guessing the teachers will be keeping a very close eye on all the children and making sure they drink heaps.