Skinflint Sunday: Get out there and plant some seeds!

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Mrs Popplesfield with a stolen sock.

She’s been in season for the last week or so. The boys were delighted, especially Murphy and Bertie. Fortunately for Poppy they’ve all had the snip so her virtue remained intact. In some misty future she’ll be a Mum, but for now she’s still free to be a teenager with Jeff. I’m so glad I made the decision to get Poppy a friend; she and Jeff spend every waking (and sleeping) moment together and they play all day. It’s been really good, especially considering I’m working so much at the moment. They go nuts when I come home, but I know they’re not lonely when I’m away.

Today the only thing I have to do, business-wise, is train a new consultant in the dishes for the demo and to go over the flipchart with her. So I’m thinking that after I get back, today might be a gardening afternoon.
I haven’t planted any seeds yet for late Spring/early summer planting and the lupins I planted as a green manure crop should probably be mashed back into the ground before they flower. I know ‘mashed’ isn’t a gardening term, strictly speaking, but it gives a good idea of what needs to be done. The warrigal greens I planted in a wicking bed under the peach tree haven’t come back yet and I’m worried that they’ve died. I LOVE having the warrigal greens as there’s always leafy greens available. I use a lot of leaves in bolognaises, casseroles, pizzas and the like, so I’m looking at that barren wicking bed with a wild look in my eye. I’m thinking that I might have to plant some more silver beet to make up for it, until I source another warrigal greens plant. I thought that once you have it you always have it (it’s a bit of a weed) but things don’t look too hopeful at the moment.

Mum and Dad come back from Bali today, so Murphy the chicken killer will go back home. He’s slowed down since his killing spree a couple of years ago. Lady Grey still flies over the chicken run fence, but Poppy is now the dog who chases her back over. Murphy doesn’t seem to care. How time marches on.

It’s a beautiful day, so I’d better go and be a part of it. Love glorious Spring weather!

Thermomix Recipes: Butter chicken cream This also has a link to kasundi.

Honey Soy meatballs with dipping sauce. I’d put these in the air fryer to cook, I think.

Spinach dip

Chocolate Chip Cookies.

Posted in chickens, gardening, pets, Skinflint, wicking beds | Leave a comment

I’ve joined the CLUB.

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It’s so nice having young chooks again! Here’s the haul from around two days worth of egg collecting. Even though we don’t seem to have a huge range of different types of chooks, there’s still enough variance in the eggs that it makes our fridge look interesting.

This morning I made an early morning delivery of a thermomix to a man who bought one for his wife’s birthday. He was lucky enough to order two days after the new model came out and he set it up so that I’d pop in at 8.30AM to cook breakfast for them. Unfortunately, due to the heavy demand their thermomix didn’t arrive in time, so Sheldon came with me and we whipped up a fresh muesli for the parents and some American-style pancakes for the kids using the guided cooking. I took all the ingredients around, including 4 different coloured eggs, just to make it a little bit special. I gave them a couple of cookbooks so she had something to look at after Sheldon and I left, but honestly, it was such a great way to start my day. Apparently he’s tried on nearly every birthday to give her a surprise and until now he’s never succeeded.She was so shocked and incredibly delighted and he was clearly stoked that it all came together so well. It was great.

I’m spending Grand Final day doing a demo for a customer who immediately upgraded; I don’t have her thermomix either, so Sheldon will have to let her have a play with him so she can get a feel for what she’ll be getting. Salli sold her old thermomix to her sister and she’s missing having a thermie in the kitchen.
The demand for the new model is so great that it’s a 4 week wait from when you place your order to when your thermomix gets delivered. In France it’s always been that long to wait, but here in Australia we’ve been spoiled, with only a little over a week usually. Still, things will calm down, but at the moment this business is like riding a wild pony! I have 4 new people joining the team this month, with 3 interviews already scheduled for training next month. Between the teaching, my Group Leader job and my own personal business I’ll be pulling all of September and October with 7 day work weeks, but I’m loving the whirlwind. I’d rather be busy than bored, that’s for sure. Soon our team will be full and then people will have to go on a waiting list if they want to become a thermomix consultant. Pretty amazing when you think back 2 years to when I took on the Group Leader role – I had 2 consultants and myself and that was it. I had visions of us huddled together while the cold winds of loneliness whistled around us…. thank goodness I was wrong!

Buoyed by the activity, a couple of days ago I went to a car yard and lost my head. I went into the Volkswagon dealership to enquire about hatchbacks. I have the cash to get one, but I was going to be prudent and wait till next year. Well….. long story short…. on Monday I pick up my brand spanking new http://www.volkswagen.com.au/en/models/golf.html It’s mid range and it’s bright red and it’s a sweet sweet ride. I’m spending so much time in the car that I thought I’d spoil myself. (Clearly, a chicken coop with solar doors and a trip to Europe isn’t enough…)
Yes, I know. I went a little mad. Still, I’m planning on keeping the car for at least 10 years, so I wanted something sturdy, sexy and safe, much like my good self. School holidays are always dangerous spending times, because I’m not locked inside a classroom with 28 teenagers. I can go and look at stuff. I just have to keep on the straight and narrow next week and then I’ll be safe back at work.

Now I’ve got a hint for the thermomix owners out there that is the BEST possible thing you’ll hear all weekend. When I tell you what it is, you’ll run, not walk, to the supermarket to pick this stuff up. It’s magical.

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This cleans the bowl like nothing else. I’ve never burned anything in my thermomix (touch wood) but I’ve tried it on a bowl that was looking a little dull and it came up a treat. If something sticks or you just want to shine it up, sprinkle some of this into the bowl, then use a damp cloth to wipe it away. It just lifts everything off. It’s the most amazing thing you’ll ever see. It’s found in the same section as your baking powder and citric acid and it’s a food, so it’s safe to use. When I heard about it at training, (they had some risotto that stuck and one of the GLs pulled this out of her bag, sprinkled it over the risotto patch and then wiped it straight off), I went straight out to Coles and bought one for home and one for my kit for demos, just in case. It costs about 3 or 4 dollars.
Who says reading blogs is a waste of time?
You can thank me later… :)

Thermomix recipes: Spinach wraps AND Spring Pea and Mint Risotto AND Roast Pumpkin and Garlic dip AND Lentil Dip.

Posted in chickens, cleaning, holidays, Quality of life, shopping, thermomix | 4 Comments

Mother of the Year.

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Even though this morning looks a little grey and cold, spring has definitely arrived.
This is the dwarf nectarine tree in the ‘orchard’. I didn’t copper spray the buds until very late in winter, so I’m expecting that the leaves will be an eyesore when they sprout. Note to self: when you buy copper spray, come home and use it straight away, not two weeks later…

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Last year I bought a rhubarb and plonked it in under the nectarine tree. It died down over winter but is now emerging. Rhubarb and apple…. mmmm.

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The garlic bed is chugging along, with gaps where the cabbages and the chicken scratching were. Martha and Bunty are keeping a close watch, as I give them leaves from the lettuce and kale every morning. They’re clucking to me to get me to come into the veggie garden beds next to them.

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I’m now in beside the gerls. Time to sow some new lettuce seeds, I think. These cos lettuces have fed me all winter with salads every day for lunch. I’ve been steaming fish and veggies in the thermomix, then mixing it with salad veggies and chili olive oil and taking a BIG container to work each day. Yum!
(16KGs lost, people…. I’m very pleased.)

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Martha and Bunty are concentrating on my every movement. They know their schnack is coming.

This is the last day of term for me. (I have Friday’s off.) With the new model thermomix coming out the last couple of weeks have been hectic, with orders, enquiries, demos and training flying around left right and centre, along with the usual end-of-term assessments at work. I’m booking demos in the holidays and planning lots of seed planting and knitting. The phone is on the go seemingly around the clock! Still, that’s no excuse for what happened here yesterday.

Yesterday was Evan17’s 18th birthday. (So now he’s Evan18.) He emerged from his bedroom in a rush at 7.20, saying, “Mum, can you drive me to a café in Centre rd? I’m late.”

I was still in my pjs and bathrobe, about to go out and feed the chooks. I was annoyed at the late notice, so I snapped something irritable at him and asked why he and his friends were having breakfast mid week.

“It’s Ruby’s birthday,” he said. (He said the BIRTHDAY word. I still didn’t remember.)

I sighed. “Ok, get in the car,” I said. “I like Ruby.”

All the way there we chatted about school, about the upcoming holidays, whether he’d booked in to see the orthodontist….
When I dropped him off he gave me a kiss and jumped out of the car. I drove home and went on with my morning. It wasn’t until Tony’s Mum, my ex Mother-in-law, rang to wish him a happy birthday that I remembered….

I sent him a text. “Shit!!! Happy birthday pumpkin. Mummy loves you. xxx” He thought the whole thing was hilarious and so did his friends. I’m never going to live this down.

Though to be fair:
1. David21 had a birthday 2 days before. I didn’t forget that one.
2. Evan18 chose to be the fourth child. That’s a lot of birthdays to have to remember. He took his chances when he elected to emerge so far down the line.

He celebrated by having to sit a mini exam for Business after school, making his own birthday cake, (well, he had to. I was at Parent/Teacher night till 9PM), and then all the brothers went to the local bar for the open mic night to see Tom22 perform. I’m sure on the weekend he’ll kick his heels up with his friends.

All my boys are now 18 and over. It’s amazing that I’m still so youthful and dewy. Still, I’m not holding my breath waiting for a “Mother of the Year” award any time soon. :)

Thermomix Recipe: Cherry Smoothie

Custardy Apple Cake Judging by the comments this must be the Best Cake Ever!

Hungarian Goulash This looks delectable!

Posted in chickens, Fruit trees, gardening, vegetables | Leave a comment

Skinflint Sunday: Have fun watching a door open!

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6.59AM. There I was in the chook run, camera in one hand, coffee in the other, ready to capture the glory of the solar operated coop door.

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While I was waiting I took a photo of the goji berry plant that lives on the fence. Last year it fruited for the first time and they Rocked My World. Dried goji berries are so so, but fresh ones are so sweet and juicy.
Then I heard the solar door mechanism start up.

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Briana’s one of the smallest chooks so she was first under the door and out!

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Then more sedately filed out as the door kept rising.

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Rosie, the Rhode Island Red, was the last to emerge, after one of the Matildas.

On a slightly sadder note, I found Buffy’s body in the run. She was one of the original gerls I bought when we started keeping chooks in May 2010. She’s been the Head Chook for all that time, but in the last few weeks she’s been looking elderly and a bit cross. I bundled her body up and was going to put her in the bin but as I was passing the big wicking bed under the boys’ back window I had a bright idea. She’s now in it. I just have to remember not to dig too deeply in that side of it when I’m planting things. Having a chook leg sticking up in the midle of the bed might be a more macabre look that I’m aiming for…

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And here’s a shot of the asparagus bed for Kara. I bought these plants when I was on my way to do a thermomix demo for her, and we caught up again yesterday at her Mum’s demo, where I ‘drove’ Sheldon at a demo for the first time.
(I felt a bit like I was being unfaithful when I loaded Sheldon into the car and drove off, leaving Uma sitting on the kitchen bench….)

It’s going to be a glorious day! I have knitting, seed sowing and general pottering around slated, with some calling of prospective customers to line up a few more demos of the new machine. Sheldon’s a magnificent beast and the boys are loving him. I got up this morning and there was a chocolate cake sitting on the kitchen bench, with Sheldon’s bowl filled with water in the sink. They were watching the footie and clearly needed to keep their strength up for intense barracking. They’re hopping in to that guided cooking function with gusto.

Thermomix recipes: Thai Chicken balls People are raving about these in the comments.

Tomato Dahl

Gluten-free raspberry and coconut slice

Posted in chickens, Children., gardening, Quality of life, Skinflint, thermomix, vegetables, wicking beds | 2 Comments

The new model Thermomix.

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Look!!! Uma Therman-mixen is sitting next to her new partner!! I don’t have a name for him yet, but he’s definitely a HIM.
I’m so excited. Yesterday Thermomix released their new model and as a consultant I was able to snaffle one up right now.

I just popped some Butter Cookies in the oven. I used the Guided Cooking feature to see what it was like. So user-friendly! Kids (and husbands) will be able to make anything from the cookbook and there won’t be any more excuses about not being able to cook. The lid locks itself into place and unlocks itself. It automatically weighs when it’s in the Guided Cooking mode… you don’t even have to switch the scales on. I’m free from those menial tasks!!!

I’m so excited by this machine. It has so many features that make it attractive both to non-confident cooks and the chefs who love to freewheel. I wrote down a small list of the features for my customers this morning, so here it is. (There’s more, but it was all that I remembered at the time. I’m doing training tomorrow where I’ll get all the goss on the specs then, because I don’t want to waste precious playtime on reading the manual.)
Some features of the new model:
* Quieter.
* Bowl is 2.2L capacity
* Varoma 3.3L
* Different Butterfly
* Temperature up to 120C for caramelisation/browning etc.
* Recipe chips enabling guided cooking, so learner cooks or the less confident cooks will be able to cook with confidence. (Very excited about this feature!)
* Still has the ability to manually cook, so we can free-wheel cook as we’ve always done. Chefs will be happy.
* Automatic cooking (where the blades stop) for rice, yoghurt and custard.
* Touch screen
* Scale in 5g increments up to 6KG
* Future developments in a platform will mean access to recipes/shopping lists/uploading etc. (Not a techie, so haven’t yet got my head around this, but the possibilities are incredible.)
* Ability to weigh while cooking.

This is going to be AMAZING!!!! I’m not even a foodie and I’m thrilled, so imagine how all the foodies feel? Yesterday at the launch there were 450 consultants practically levitating out of their seats. This was kept a secret from the consultants, so it was only when we woke up to see Facebook full of photos from the product launch in Paris that we knew for sure that it was a reality.

I love my boy already. I just need a really cool name for him. Any ideas?

Thermomix Recipe: Almond Milk People who use almond milk on a regular basis typically make back the cost of the thermomix within 6 – 8 months. It’s around $1/litre to make, as opposed to paying nearly $4/litre. (The new model has an automatic cooking function for yoghurt, which means that you can throw your ingredients in before you go to bed and the thermomix will cook it overnight, switching itself on and off as the mixture requires. You wake up in the morning to perfect yoghurt. Guess what I’m going to be trialling tonight?)

Strawberry Heaven cocktail I however, prefer a little kick in my drinks!

 

Posted in thermomix | 7 Comments

My knitting mojo’s back! It’ll send me broke… :)

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Well here you go – when a man-child actually requests a hand-knitted item a knitter will get it on and then off the needles as quickly as possible. Ryan19 asked for a cowl… (well.. he called it a neck-warmer but that’s just man-talk for cowl) and so I sprang into action. I ordered a merino and silk blend yarn and as soon as it arrived I began. It took me a week.
Ravelled here.

I went a bit overboard with the yarn shopping, so I’ve started one for me in pink, plus I have double the yarn I needed for Ryan19’s cowl, so I may be knitting gifts in the near future. But then again…. I bought a lot of yarn that suits me….

And by a lot I mean A LOT.

Thermomix Recipes: Vanilla Snap Biscuits

Moroccan Lamb This recipe seriously couldn’t be easier. I think it’d take longer to assemble the spices than it would to actually cook it! A really good one when you have a busy evening.

Posted in knitting | 1 Comment

Delayed Gratification.

In a rush, but just wanted to share. Yesterday I popped in to have a chat with my travel agent and I walked out with the European leg of my trip booked. Yay!

I planned this trip way back when I was 15. No one can say that I lack the faculty of delayed gratification. 36 years later I have my dates…

…. well, you don’t want to rush into anything prematurely, do you?

Roll on Term 3 next year!

Thermomix Recipes: Pesto and Curry in a Hurry. This last one is an invcredibly versatile recipe and she offers many variations. Handy!

Biscotti. Yum.

Posted in holidays | 3 Comments

Chocolate Tarts and yoghurt

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The lupins are up!

Thermomix Recipe: Chocolate Tart

Creamy thick vanilla yoghurt

Chocolate Custard tart. She includes directions for both thermomix and non-thermomix cooking. Worth reading just for the different directiond for making the custard component. (I love my thermie!)

Posted in gardening, vegetables, wicking beds | 2 Comments

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. | 1 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 | 6 Comments