On my front porch.


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.)


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!


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


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


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

Skinflint Sunday: A Tale of Two Days.


My broccolini has bolted. In true Skinflint Sunday style, I pulled up two of them today and fed them to both sets of chooks. Waste not, want not!

Friday, midnight. Evan17 walks into my room with my mobile, saying, “Here she is”, before handing it over. I was totally asleep until that moment, and as I reached for the phone I’m going through the list of boys in my head, remembering who was home and who was out that night.
It was one of Tom22’s friends.
“Tom22 has tripped and hurt himself quite badly at Ormond station. Are you able to come and get him?”
I threw my duck down coat over my pyjamas, popped my ipad in my bag in case we’d have to wait in a hospital ER and raced down. There was Tom22 with head injuries, covered in blood.
It was a freezing cold night in Melbourne that night and he and some mates had gone down to Chapel st. On the way home, he was walking up the steps at the station, hands in the pockets of his jacket, when he tripped on a step. He couldn’t put out his hands to save himself, so he landed on the corner of the steps, face first. He had a massive gash on his forehead, the bridge of his nose had no skin left on it and there was a jagged wound less than a centimetre directly under his left eye. Clearly, he was lucky not to have lost his eye.
I bundled him in the car, feeling grateful that I’d accepted the offer of a loan car from the mechanic (my car isn’t well) and off we went to Monash Medical Centre. We got there just before 12.30AM.
At 5AM we were seen by a doctor. She said she’d sew up the cuts and all will be well. Now, call me crazy, but I’m thinking that facial cuts on my son aren’t really the sort of practise I want a medical student to be having. I ask for a plastic surgeon, all the while thanking the gods of all things financial that we have Medicare in this country.
Apparently they don’t do plastic surgery at Monash any more. We have to go to Dandenong hospital. But we have to wait another 3.5 hours before we can be released from Monash. Argh!
We schlep over to Dandenong. Tom22’s face hasn’t been touched in all that time. He’s still bleeding but it’s slowed down. He watches tv. I have books on my ipad so I start “The Millionaire Next Door.” By the time the battery fails, I’ve read 70% of the book. We were waiting a long time. By that time Tom22 was in theatre.
So glad I asked for the plastics people. The cut on his forehead is covered by bandages, but the cut under his eye has the most delicate stitching you can imagine. He’ll be scarred, but I’m hoping over time it won’t be noticeable.
We leave the hospital just before 5PM. Just a short spin down Centre Rd to get home.
We have a car accident.
No, I’m not kidding.
A P-plater backed into the car and punctured the back tyre. We weren’t going anywhere. And it wasn’t even my car!!!
Remember how I said it was a cold day? Remember how I said I was still in my pyjamas? We had to stand on the corner of Warrigal and Centre roads for 90 minutes in the icy fresh-from-Antartica wind, waiting for the RACV to come and change the tyre. By that stage, Tom22 hadn’t eaten for 25 hours. He stayed in the car and drifted in and out of sleep. The P plater was distressed and verging on being hysterical, so I calmed her down and then we waited…. Her Mum came and we worked out all the details.
Tom22 and I ended up getting home just before 7PM, after going to the machanic’s and letting him know what had happened.
We were greeted by Evan17 telling us that the toaster had died. I was so happy. The bad luck streak had ended. That was the third thing!

On Saturday afternoon I grabbed Ryan19 and we went to Harvey Norman’s to buy a $30 toaster. We came back with one. Also a jaffle maker, a dog kennel, a dog collar for Poppy and a new mattress for me. Only the jaffle maker was purchased at Harvey Norman. We just kept driving past shops that made me think of things we needed.

The old kennel we had is less than waterproof, as I discovered the other day. This new kennel allows the puppers to sleep around the corner from the door and be out of any wind. They love it, though I’m hoping Poppy and Jeff don’t chew the clear door. It was 20% off, so I saved a few shekels. I primarily wanted this for Bertie. He’s getting old and I know this will make a difference to his quality of life.

The thing I’m REALLY excited about is the mattress. I’ve had my current mattress for 19 years. I’m waking up with a bad back some mornings and I’m sure it’s because the mattress is old and needs replacing. Get this!!!!
Queen sized mattress…. floor stock. Has a stain where the glue has come through. (Who cares? No one will ever see it anyway.)
$4,000 reduced to $1,000.
On Wednesday night I’ll be sleeping like a baby.

A horrible day followed by a brilliant day. Isn’t life wonderful?
How clever is this chook feeder made from recycled materials?

Thermomix Recipes: Apple Crumble Custard

Choc chip and peanut Cookies.

Bacon-Barley risotto Bit of a change from using rice.

Mini Italian Lamb Meatballs. I have some roast lamb left over, so I might make these tonight.

Cheese and herb Bread Twist More fun with bread.

Pizza Wheels These look FABULOUS for lunchboxes. The boys won’t know what hit them!

Wicked Good Tuna Salad Couldn’t be easier!

Pasta dough Fresh pasta, anyone?

VEGETARIAN RECIPE: Broccoli and Cannellini Bean soup

Posted in Children., pets, Quality of life, Skinflint | 8 Comments

Jeff loves to play with paper.


The cookie cutters arrived today, less one set, so I’ve sent them an email about it. Hopefully the missing set will arrive soon.
They came wrapped in newspaper, so I threw it all to the dogs to have a little play.
I’m slightly regretting it now; they played a little more vigorously than I thought they would.
I should’ve known: Jeff has taken to grabbing the end of the toilet paper off the holder and running away with it unrolling behind him as he runs down the hall. Just like the old Purex ad. I always thought that was just something dreamed up by the ad execs…

Not really a Thermomix recipe though it has many links: Bone broth Really useful and interesting link, both for thermomix and non-thermomix owners.

Also have a look at this condensed coconut milk recipe. Lots of interesting info.

Roll ups. I’m going to give these a try. It’s safe for me to mke these, because if they have banana in them I won’t touch them with a ten foot barge pole. (ugh. Banana… the devil’s food.) 

Plus for the MANLY types out there, here’s some Bacon Jam (with chocolate.) Seriously.

Simple salmon family meal. Just to show how easy it is to have a good meal on the table quickly.

And finally: Tips on converting recipes to the thermomix.

Posted in pets | Leave a comment

Very excited about coops and permaculture lectures. I know how to live, baby!

I saw this on Facebook today. I’ve found a builder for a new chicken coop for the gerls in the big run and I want it automated and user friendly, (the users I have in mind being both me and the chooks.) I have to get the house painted first, but stay tuned. It won’t be a cheap job but I want to put something there that will last forever. Or at least until I’m old and dessicated.

I’m going to this. Should be very interesting. foodnstuff, are you going?

Have to go and deliver a thermomix this morning. I’m due in an hour and ten minutes, it’s an hour’s drive and I’m still in my pyjamas. No pretty photos today, people! Have a lovely day!

Thermomix recipes: Chicken and barley soup This came up in the feed reader and I’m reserving it for when I finish the protocol. I love barley and for some reason I hardly ever eat it. Seems fitting to put this in a chicken coop post.

For those who like their soups with an Asian twist, here’s a chicken and corn soup. 

And for those who love an interesting spice mix: Ras el Hanout. One of the advantages of being a consultant is that you get to hear about lots of interesting things to make.

And just for something a little different, how about some Paleo Pancakes? They sound delicious and very nutritious too. And breakfast IS the most important meal of the day!

For a vegetarian sweet dessert, or for those with egg and dairy intolerances: Chocolate and apple cake.

Posted in balance, chickens, Fruit trees, gardening, Independence Days challenge, Peak Oil, Quality of life, renovating, thermomix, vegetables, wicking beds | 2 Comments

Skinflint Sunday: handmade birthday gifts.

Photo by Katherine Foley
I just copied and pasted this photo from my Facebook feed, so I hope it works. This is Tom22, Ryan19 and my good self in the audience at the Beautiful Beasts EP launch on Friday night. David20 plays keyboards so of course it was a big night for the family. Evan17 was left at home because he’s too young to be allowed into a licenced establishment. Pity, because he would’ve loved it.

It’s so lovely to see your kids growing up and starting to live out their dreams and ambitions. And speaking of growing up – Poppy and Jeff turned 1 today.

I found a recipe for roast pumpkin dog biscuits and we had a manky old pumpkin in the fridge that I wanted to use up, so I’m in the middle of making them. I’ll post photos when I’m done. It’s the first recipe in the ‘recipes’ section at the bottom of this post.
The recipe asks for rice flour. At first I was going to sub with plain flour but then I thought of Jeff’s skin. I have a feeling rice flour might be better for it, so I took the rice, hit the scales button, weighed it in and then blitzed it to a minute on speed 10. From rice to flour:


I used up some grated tasty cheese we had left over from training some new consultants here last Monday. The manky pumpkin got used up in this recipe and my lunch, while the eggs and parsley from the garden were free. Noice!

I don’t have a bone-shaped cookie utter… (but I ordered one from here so I will soon!) and so I used the MC from the top of the thermomix. I’ve just put 34 dog bikkies into the oven.
I hope they like them.


They did.


Thermomix Recipes:
It’s Poppy and Jeff’s birthday!!! I think they might like some Roast Pumpkin Doggy Treats.
Creamy Tuna Mornay/Muffins recipe
Beef and bacon stew with potato top. Uses a kilo of meat… so much for those who think the thermomix can’t feed a large family!
Larb Gai and rice – a Thai shredded chicken salad recipe. Looks good.
Lamb shanks in tomato sauce – I know! Lamb shanks!!!
Columbo Spice powder – this looks and sounds delicious. It’s a curry powder for West Indies curries. Every ingredient is easy to source and you can have fun dry roasting your spices. Imagine the aroma!
Parmesan Garlic bread wheel – I liked this because it shows how with a little bit of imagination you can jazz up a soup lunch or a pizza meal.
Vegetarian recipes: Chickpea patties
Ratatouille She waxes lyrical about this dish. I dare you NOT to make it after reading what she says!
Lazy Caramel slice – this recipe is all over Facebook at the moment. People are raving about it.
Vegan recipe: Cherry coconut truffles A good sweet for everyone…

Posted in Children., pets, Skinflint | 1 Comment

Doesn’t time fly?


Murphy the chicken killer’s lost his edge. Mum and Dad are in Vietnam so Murph’s here for the duration. In some ways he seems younger… he and the puppies play like crazy. But in other ways he’s older. Lady Grey, the chook who lets herself out of the run, walked straight past him the other day and neither of them batted an eye. ‘Hmmmm’, I thought, bcause she’s a very light grey and Mum always said that Murphy is used to chasing seagulls. If he’d leave Lady Grey alone, maybe the Isa Browns would be safe if I let them free range?

I thought about it. I reasoned that the Isa Browns are pretty clapped out anyway and if the crows are stealing their eggs I’m not going to be losing too much if he suddenly ran amock. (I’d miss Buffy though; she’s been with me from the start.) Two days now and it’s been working a treat. Actually, Poppy’s the one who’s most likely to chase them, but we’re working on that. Murphy’s been great. The only downside so far is that Buffy’s taken to popping into the kitchen for a quick hello, just as she used to do back in the day.


Poppy (right) and Jeff (left) are nearly one. It’s sometime this month but I can’t remember the exact date. No doubt Jenny, their breeder, will enlighten me. They are from the same litter and it’s interesting to see the differences in them.

Poppy is fuller boned and is a lovely, compact shape. Temeramentally she’s more serious than Jeff. She enjoys her obedience lessons and she loves being my ‘helper’ around the yard. If ever a Cavalier could be a one person dog, she’s the closest to it I’ve ever seen. (And I’ve owned a LOT of Cavaliers in my life.) She’s definitely MY girl, though she adores the boys as well. She’s happy to meet and greet people when we’re out and about, but she’s not fond of having visitors on the house. I think it upsets her sense of order. She observes from a distance and makes up her mind about them before cosying up. (Though I have to confess that she’s my favourite.)

Jeff, on the other hand, is a frivolous beast. Life is a game to this young man. His coat is longer and more ‘fly away’ than his sister’s and he’s finer boned and with a longer body. My nick-name for him is “Rockinghorse Boy” because when he’s thrilled about something he runs with both front legs first so his whole body bounds along rocking back and forth, which is a very endearing trait. Jeff loves everyone. Everyone loves Jeff. Evan17 is especially fond of him and they’ve got a special bond. Unfortunately he’s got skin allergies and he’s sensitive to grass, which I’ve never experienced before. I’ve got them all on a diet with dry food specially formulated for sensitive skin and I feed them raw chicken in the morning and the dry food with a ‘BARF’ patty at night. (BARF +bones and raw food, which mimics what the animals would eat in the wild.) His skin has become a lot better, though it’s still pinker than Poppy’s skin and I have to keep an eye on him for flare ups. Poor little man, though it doesn’t seem to affect his nonchalant attitude to life at all. Jeff also looks after anyone who’s ill or feeling bad. Dr Jeff looked after Bertie’s sore eye, licking it frequently until it was better. I’m convinced he did more good than the $100 eye drops I was using.

I’m so pleased I made the decision to bring Jeff home after Poppy and Bertie didn’t bond. The pups are absolutely devoted to each other and they are never willingly apart. They’re also the only dogs I’ve ever allowed to sleep inside, though to be honest that wasn’t by choice. The 3AM possum barking adventures were the cause of that. (They’re not an unmixed blessing….)
Happy birthday Poppy and Jeff.
Whenever it is….

Thermomix Recipes: Pizza Pops and Sprinkle cookies Versatile cookie base that you can add anything to.

Posted in chickens, pets | 5 Comments

This blog post is just bits and bobs.

I really liked this post by Rhonda.

Hideously cold rainy day here. I noticed at 7AM when I checked my timetable that I had a year 9 class in a portable that is sometimes heated and sometimes not. I switched rooms into a room in the main building. Sweet sweet warmth… my year 9s will love me.

We had a soup competition at our team meeting last night. Everyone brought their Best Ever Soup recipe and a sample of their soup and we tasted them all and picked a winner. It was a lot of fun. The winner, who is a new team member at her first meeting with us, now goes onto our branch meeting in a fortnight to compete against the 5 other teams in our branch. Go the Hotcakes!!!! (That’s our team name.) Everyone left with 8 new soup recipes and very full stomachs. There are benefits to being a consultant!

David20’s band had their first day’s shooting for their music video. It’s so exciting to see your child living the path he always wanted to tread.

Argh! Bell’s gone! Off to work I go! Holidays start in a few days…

Thermomix recipe: Quinoa spelt bread rolls
Just for something a little different.
Pine nut dressing
Sweet potato/Black bean burgers
Sprinkle cookies Versatile cookie base that you can add anything to.

Posted in Children., thermomix | 2 Comments

The ‘Laura bed.’


Mrs Popplesfield keeping an eye on the winter tomatoes that Laura from work gave me. There’s 4 tomato plants at the back that were planted a week before the two little ones at the left hand front. Amazing what difference a week has made! Laura told me that the tomato plants will sit and sulk all winter and not do anything much, but they’ll get a head start in Spring and we’ll be gorging on tomatoes in December. Sounded like a worthwhile experiment to me!
To the right of the tomatoes are a couple of green caulies that she gave me as well. These two were the only ones that survived from the punnetful they arrived in. They’re not looking terribly happy, so I’m guessing they were planted a bit too late. Still, time will tell.
I had some leeks to plant, so I popped them in among the tomatoes. Most of them have survived, so hopefully come Spring we’ll be enjoying potato and leek soup.

Thermomix recipes:

San Choy Bow Yum!

Tahini Mustard dressing

Bacon and Red Lentil Soup

Chickpea Curry (Vegan)

Chicken and Chorizo Pasta Anything with chorizo… I’m in!

Middle Eastern Lamb Meatloaf


Posted in gardening, vegetables | 1 Comment