David20’s music video.

Well… it’s not just him. The other band members contributed….

But the piano player; what a guy!

Thermomix recipe: An oldie but a goodie: Chicken chorizo stew

Posted in Children. | Leave a comment

Yesterday was a full-on chicken day.

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Meet Martha and Bunty. Martha is the grey and white hen, while Bunty is the caramel and white. I’ve had chooks with these names before, but they both died, so I’m recycling the names as they seem particularly chooky. Waste not, want not!
I decided to spend yesterday working on my business, making phone calls etc, but it was such a glorious day that I ended up beautifying myself by getting a haircut and then impulsively driving up in the hills to Cockatoo to buy a couple of bantams for the chook tractor. When I got there the chook lady said that they wouldn’t have any till November at the earliest, but then she remembered these two 6 month old cross-bred hens she had. She didn’t know what their breeding was so she sold them to me for $10 each. Bargain!!!
I was going to put them in the big run with all the others but when I got them home I looked at them and realised that they’re tiny. Perfect for the chook tractor! My chook organisation is now finished.

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Once I got home with Martha and Bunty we had to move the Australorps (both called Matilda because I can’t tell them apart) and Rosie the Rhode Island Red into the big coop. There was a bit of a hullaballoo for a while, with little Lady Grey deciding that she was damned if she was going to continue to be at the bottom of the pecking order. She ripped into all 3 of those hens as soon as I put them in. They tower over her, but for the moment at least she has them completely bluffed.

After the gerls were moved in and things settled down a bit, I got three of th boys to move the old chook coop out of the run and pop it on the nature strip out the front for a hard rubbish collection. The chooks loved scratching around where the old coop was. See all the bricks? They were lining the outside of the old pen to fox proof it. Now I can use them for new projects.

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The first project was this one. I’m just a couple of centimetres too short to reach the eggs.

Last night after the sun set I went out to the run to check on where the gerls were sleeping. Claire and Brianna were in the new coop, which made sense considering they belonged to the chicken coop guy so they’d be familiar with his design. The others were huddled together in a couple of seperate corners. I picked them up one by one and popped them onto the perches at the top. Once chooks are asleep they’re ASLEEP. It was an easy job.

This morning I woke up early to go out with a coffee and see how they manged to get down and out of the solar door. I got there just in time to see it open. As expected, Claire and Brianna nipped down the little walkway and were out the door. The others took longer. My two oldest ones, Buffy and Lizzy, took the longest. One of the Matildas was keen to lay an egg so she got impatient with Lizzy’s dilly-dallying and ended up pushing her off the ledge.

Today I’m hoping they lay their eggs where they’re supposed to. Tonight I’m expecting that more of them will know where to put themselves to bed, so in a couple of days it should all run like clockwork.
I can’t tell you how happy I was yesterday, seeing them all clucking around and enjoying themselves. Well, except for the ones who were getting beaten up by Lady Grey and the others…

Thermomix Recipe: Date and Walnut Loaf
I saw this and thought it was a great idea: Strawberries in Cardamom or vanilla syrup
In honour of the gerlies: Sous Vide Eggs

Posted in balance, chickens, Quality of life | 5 Comments

Major project #1 completed.

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Well here it is. I’d call it Cluckingham Palace but another blogger’s already pinched that one. The chicken coop guy took two days to put it up and on the second day he brought two new gerlies to increase the flock.

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Meet Claire and Brianna. (Brianna’s the redhead.) I named them after a couple of characters in the ‘Outlander’ series of novels.

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That’s the solar operated door.

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The solar panel on the roof charged up all yesterday, then this morning I swapped it from manual to auto and the door slid open. Very exciting.
It’ll be even more exciting tomorrow morning when the chooks have slept in there. I wanted to make sure the concrete floor was fully hardened, so they had one last night in their old coop. No more fox massacres for us! Once was more than enough.

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This is the part I think I’m most excited about. I designed this myself and the chook coop guy had to work out how to do it. Not just the egg collecting, but also the feeding and watering can now all be done from outside the run. How neat, clean and suburban is that? My mornings will be chook poo free.

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Poppy’s now banned from the run. Some stupid chicken ran away from her and now she chases them everywhere. Every now and then though, she gets her way.

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She’s learned that if she bangs on the door while I’m in there, it’ll sometimes swing open. Two chooks got out while I was inspecting the new work and so Poppy had a bit of a gallop with them before I got them back in.
Today I’ll get some wood shavings for the floor of the coop, then I’ll move the Australorps (both called Matilda because I can’t tell them apart) and the Rhode Island Red (Rosie) across.
The last step will be to get 2 or 3 bantams for the chook tractor so they don’t make so much mess and then the flock will be complete.
Happy days! :)

Thermomix recipe: Thai-style Chicken and Coconut Salad
And for more Thai: Red Thai Prawn and Mango Curry

Posted in chickens, Quality of life | 4 Comments

Skinflint Sunday: use up what’s in the pantry!

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Yesterday the orchard looked like this.
I planted 3 nasturtium seedlings in late Spring to see if they’d survive as a ground cover.
They did.

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Now the trees can breathe!
I have to copper spray the nectarine and peach trees today. A trip to Bunnings is in order.

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Yesterday I finally got around to cleaning up the back wicking bed ready for Spring/Summer planting. I’m saving some of foodnstuff‘s parsnip seed. Usually I just let it fall to the ground, but I might move them next year. Had the last two in a soup last weekend…. mmmmm.

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Poppy, or Mrs Popplesfield as she’s sometimes known, was waiting to see where we’d go next. We haven’t visited the chooks yet, so she was living in hope.
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Jeff was just living. Out of focus, it appears, but anyway.

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Bertie decided it wasn’t worth his while to come down from the deck.

Thermomix Recipe: Thai Sweet Chilli Sauce
Chickpea patties I have some dukkah and some whole chickpeas I want to use up, so this is perfect. Dinner tonight, kids!!

Posted in Fruit trees, gardening, pets, Skinflint | 2 Comments

Look! I love it when plans come to fruition.

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Remember when I planted the daffodil and jonquil bulbs in the herb wicking bed? I can’t tell you how this lifts my spirits every morning when I race out on my way to work and see this.

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Asparagus is up in the new bed! Actually, considering I bought $50 worth of plants and only 7 spears have made their appearance, this isn’t exactly looking like a roaring success at this stage of the game. Still, they’ll get more numerous every year, if what I saw at foodnstuff’s garden is anything to go by.

And now for the not-so-successful.

I came out to feed the chooks two mornings ago and saw this in the veggie bed:

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It was devastation.

Look at this cabbage! It looks like someone took a whipper-snipper to it.

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I didn’t know what had happened, until yesterday Ryan19 casually asked me why I let the chook tractor chooks out. Apparently he’d wandered out into the back yard, (which is a minor miracle in itself, considering he’s a nocturnal gamer) and saw the gerls cavorting in the cabage, kale and garlic bed. He grabbed some sunflower seeds and shooed them back into their pen.

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Cows…

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I’ve had my brother-in-law here over the last few days doing fixer-upper things on the house now that I’m not having to pay all my money into the mortgage. He’s been replacing rotten weatherboards and repairing holes in the guttering in prearation for….. wait for it….. the PAINTER!!!
My house is going to look pretty.
Exciting times ahead.

There’s also big changes happening with another house:

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These gerls will be getting a new chook house next week. The chook house guy came over last night after work and measured up the area. That’ll be another project ticked off the list.

Oh! And I finished the cowl I started last week. I’m putting another one on the needles today.
Life is good. :)

Thermomix recipe: 6 minute Protein Butter

And then I saw this recipe this morning for Lemon Chicken and Rosemary risotto. Our dinner menu is decided!

Posted in chickens, gardening, Quality of life, renovating | 3 Comments

Yeah well, remember that gardening day I had planned?

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I kntted all day instead. This is the first thing I’ve had on the needles since starting the thermomix business. I’ve been missing it, so on Saturday morning I thought I’d bust the stash out and see what I could do.
That was the end of the productive gardenng day. I sat for hours, listening to Dave Ramsay podcasts and knitting away on this.
Happy as a clam.

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Then I made more pumpkin dog biccies.
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Then Mum and Dad said they were coming over so I made an apple tea cake from the Devil book.

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We washed it down with a shiraz.
The garden will just have to wait a week or two longer.

Thermomix Recipe: Pumpkin, Spinach and Feta Quiche

Posted in cooking, knitting, Quality of life | 5 Comments

I was so excited by my day off that I woke up at 4.30AM. I may need a nanna nap.

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Daphne and Maris “holding hands” on the couch.

August is shaping up to be a hugely busy month for me. There’s only 2 days in the whole month where I’m not working on either teaching or thermomix, (or both.) Today is one of those days. I’m eying off my neglected wicking beds, thinking that they’ll all be cleared of dead and scrappy growth and all topped up with compost and mulch by the end of the day. Let’s see how I go.

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I was at the feed store a couple of days ago, buying chook food, when I saw lupin seeds for $2.50. I remember a guy in the gardening club using lupins as a green manure; growing them and then digging them in just before they flower (I think). Apparently it adds a lot of nitrogen to the soil (I think). Anyway, I thought I’d add this to a couple of the wicking beds that the house painters will be working around, so that they’ll be able to get to the walls behind the beds without hindrance. I keep thinking of Monty Python when I see the lupin seeds.

Yes, things are moving along at the Frogdancer house! I’ve got my brother-in-law here fixing up a few rotten weatherboards, leaky guttering etc…. then we paint! My house is going to look PRETTY! I’ve also got the chook coop guy coming over to measure up what needs to be done, so stay tuned for that. By the time he’s finished, I won’t have to go into the run at all, except to actually muck out the hen house. No chook poo on my boots any more!!!! VERY excited by this prospect…. I’m a suburban girl at heart, no matter how many chooks I own or veggies I grow.

I popped into the travel agent’s yesterday and laid the groundwork for my trip to Europe next year. Scott, a bit of July in the UK/most of August on the continent/a bit of Sept in the UK again is looking likely at this very early stage. With all the work we’re going to be doing on our house, I hope that your renovation will be well and truly finished by the time I arrive. I’ll be accustomed to a certain level of accommodation that I’ll be loathe to abandon. :P

Dad came over and taught Ryan19 how to paint. I decided that if my son is going to have a gap year and live the nocturnal life of a gamer, he also has to pay his way by being useful. He began three days ago by filling some cracks in the hallway. Then he stopped.
This may be a long-term project…

Thermomix recipe: Natural Whipped Body Butter It’s not just food – you can also make cosmetics and moisturisers too.

Posted in chickens, Children., Flowers, gardening, pets, Quality of life, vegetables, wicking beds | 5 Comments

On my front porch.

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Remember when I planted the daffodil and jonquil bulbs in the herb wicking bed?
Some have come up!
(So’s Daphne… this is two seconds before she got told off.)

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When I went to Yvonne’s place to do a thermomix demo we also had a seed swap. This is the second generation of oakleaf lettuce. It bolted over summer so I just bent the plants down and let the seeds fall back onto the ground. Voila!

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This is an idea I’ve filched from Jackie French. In ‘Backyard Self Sufficiency’ she writes how they never dig up their garlic anymore… they just leave it in the ground and use the leaves (garlic scrapes) to flavour their dishes. She says that the garlic patches get bigger each year.
I have garlic in the ground next to the chook tractor, but I like the idea of always having garlic flavour on hand, so I planted the smaller cloves of Nonna’s garlic in this wicking bed around a lemon verbena that may or may not have survived its repotting. (Hey, not everything works at my place!) So far the scrapes look pretty healthy.

Thermomix recipe: Lunch for one. This is how I’ve been making a lot of my lunches and dinners since losing 14KG over the last few months. So quick, easy and tasty.

Posted in Flowers, gardening, vegetables, wicking beds | Leave a comment

Cultural Sensitivities.

I’m not just a dashing Thermomix consultant. By day I’m a mild-mannered English teacher in a suburban high school, teaching English and EAL (English as an Additional Language) to kids who make me laugh every day. However, sometimes you get more than you bargain for when you’re in this job. Kids are unpredictable.

My year 9 EAL class has lots of kids from Asia. They had to write a story using an event from their own lives, but writing it in the style of Christopher from ‘The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time.” It’s a difficult challenge for kids who’re writing in a language not their own, but I was correcting them and was really pleased with how well most of them had done. Then I read G’s story.

Basically…. He had a dog. He loved the dog. It was his best friend in all the world. The dog died. They ate it. He’s happy that the dog will now be with him forever living in his belly.

It was a very difficult story to mark. Still, it made for interesting classroom discussion, when we talked about why Australians react so differently when they hear things like this. (I kept seeing Poppy and Jeff’s little faces….)

Thermomix Recipe: Flatbread

Posted in work | 4 Comments

Mrs Popplesfield

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Poppy helping me look after the chooks this morning before work.

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Quite a few of my cabbages and caulies were decimated by grubs, but look at this fine fellow!

Thermomix Recipe: Tortillas and Mexican Seasoning Mix No need to buy taco seasoning again!

Posted in chickens, gardening, pets | 4 Comments