Skinflint Sunday: Fertilise for free.

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A week ago we moved the chook tractor to a very long patch of grass right at the edge of the lawn, smack bang in the middle of where the kitchen window views. Bunty and Martha seem to like being in the centre of the yard, where they get a lot more attention.

Then this morning I woke up to see this:
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Who knows how a witches hat found its way here?

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Here’s a close-up of the orchard to the right of the chook tractor. I’m in two minds about this space. Do I cut the nasturtiums back, or do I let them continue to ramble all over the fruit trees, thus hiding the fruit from the birds?
You can see my poor rhubarb on the bottom left, mashed up against the wire fence. I thought it’d be a good, accessible spot for it, but it’s clearly bigger than I thought it was going to be.

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When we transferred the Ballerina apples to the orchard, one of then had a couple of tiny comfrey plants tangled up in the roots. I remembered seeing citrus trees with comfrey planted at the base of them in Angelo’s permaculture garden, the theory being that comfrey’s roots go way down, so the plant brings up deep nutrients that it releases to the fruit tree when the comfrey dies down over winter, thus fertilising the tree. This Ballerina apple had better get a move on – the comfrey is surrounding it and smothering it.
I’ve also got the comfrey under my lime tree, but that tree is much bigger.

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Martha and Bunty. They lay MASSIVE white eggs. A meal in themselves. (The eggs; not the chooks.)

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And finally an update on the solar door in the main chook run. Once the big tree in the centre of the chook run grew its springtime leaves, the door wasn’t getting enough sun. The guy came back on Friday and moved the solar panels to the garage roof, so there should be no further trouble. I’m loving the chook house, by the way. Very happy I put it in and now that the solar door is working again… happy days and nights!

Thermomix Recipes: Falafel sauce and Baked Falafel Burgers. The last one isn’t a thermomix recipe but it’d be extremely easy to convert.

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

Skinflint Sunday: It’s Taco day!!!

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I’m quite proud of my crops on the front porch. It’s very difficult to grow a cat.

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The lime verbena has bounced back after winter. I’ve started harvesting lemon verbena, lime verbena and mint for herbal tea. The smells are just lovely when you move the leaves to ensure the air is circulating around them properly.

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This is the next in line for the Great Pumpkin Experiment. After YEARS of gardening I still can’t manage to grow them. This brave little plant was given to me by a lovely couple when I delivered their thermomix to them on Friday. They’re not sure what sort of pumpkin it is, as it just grew in their compoat, so I popped it in a wicking bed next to a zucchini and we’ll see what happens.
Maybe this year will be the year….

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The lime verbena isn’t the only thing that’s bounced back after winter. The nasturtiums have taken off again. I wish the chooks liked them more.

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Speaking of chooks, Bunty and Martha are slowly making their way across the back lawn. The boys have been leaving them for 2 days in each spot before moving them. The back lawn should be short again in about 2 weeks, at this rate.

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Lots of peaches on the dwarf peach tree in the wicking bed. Mmmmm…

I came across a recipe for taco seasoning a couple of days ago, so when I was at Costco yesterday I thought I’d pick up some garlic powder and dried onion flakes so I could make it. Dinner tonight is going to be SO easy.

Im going to make our own tortillas as well, so for a beautiful Mexican meal, our cost is going to be minimal. I just wish our tomatoes were more advanced, because then it’d be even less.

Thermomix recipe: Taco Seasoning (additive free)

With tortillas. I just use plain flour as we don’t have to deal with alleries here.

Posted in balance, chickens, cooking, dehydrating food, Fruit trees, gardening, Skinflint, vegetables, wicking beds | 1 Comment

The end of an era.

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Evan18 has finished his final year of secondary school.

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He’s only got one more exam to go and then we can throw out the school uniforms. The Fogdancer abode has done with them for ever.

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After the last day of classes, the school held a Valedictory Dinner at Crown, where the kids and parents all dressed up and went to celebrate the end of 13 years of school life.

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Evan18 raced out in true ‘last minute’ style a couple of hours before and bought a suit.

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I, on the other hand, wore the same outfit I’ve worn at every Valedictory.

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When the last child graduates from schooling, there’s naturally some mixed emotions…

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Evan18 is a true individual, with a quirky soul and an irrepressible sense of humour.

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And of course, with Evan18 now off my hands, this leaves me free to go to Europe next year!

(And thanks go to Tom22, who was driven to distraction when he was trying to take these photos. :) )

Thermomix recipe: Sweet Pumpkin Loaf Because this post is about my little pumpkin-face.

Posted in Children. | 3 Comments

Sometimes animals just don’t cooperate.

Untitled So I decided to move Bunty and Martha out from the veggie garden and put their chook tractor on grass for a while. I thought it’d be a good way to harvest our lawn and also get it cut. When our lawn mower died Ryan19 thought he’d like to have a push mower… you know, hand operated. It’s more work than he thought so the lawns are looking raggedy. After I took this shot I saw that Poppy was looking less than elegant in the front. So I tried again, this time widening the shot to show that almost the whole furry family was interested. Untitled My only comment is that Daphne is NOT dead.

Thermomix review: Here.

Posted in chickens, pets | 2 Comments

My camera didn’t work this morning so there’s no pictures.

Hmmmm…. ducks sound good… Though I just LOVED the shot of their veggie garden.

This is such a good idea.

Thermomix Recipes: Vegan Custard.

Posted in Skinflint, vegetables | Leave a comment

Dot points.

Crazy busy. Seriously crazy busy.

Evan18 did his year 12 English exam today. The end of an era…

Life has gone crazy since the new model thermomix. This is one of the first nights home I’ve had in weeks. Red wine is a beautiful thing. *hiccup*

The Walking Dead is pretty darned good so far this season. Thank goodness for Tom22 who doesn’t take no for an answer and MAKES me sit down and watch it.

Speaking of the end of an era.. I’ve never taught at my school without at least one other member of my family being there as well. Next year’s going to be slightly weird…

The school has put the hard word on me to teach a year 12 subject again next year. Instead of English, it’s Theatre Studies. I swore I’d never teach year 12 again, but I should learn from past events. Every time I use the word ‘never’, I end up doing it. Bugger.

I’m knitting! Still! I have a cowl I’m working on and the goal is to do at leats ONE row a day. I figure that it’ll eventually get finished if I keep plugging away at it.

I just finished ‘Wideacre’ by Phillipa Gregory. Really enjoyed it – an amoral protagonist is interesting.

Yvonne’s tomatoes and a few other things are in the ground. The broody Australorp is still broody. Life goes on.

My best friend is going to be a grandmother. OMG! Our oldest kids are the same age. It still seems impossible to me that I’ll be in the same situation, except in some dark, misty future. I’m far too youthful and dewy for that.

I’m loving my brand new little car. I’ve only had it a month and I’ve already put more than 2,000 kms on it. This business is booming. I’ve never worked so hard in my life (and I’ve rarely been this tired.) I’m enjoying it though. Sleep is for the weak. Sleep is for the weak. Sleep is….

Speaking of sleep, that sounds like a good idea. Night all!

Thermomix recipe: Tahini Biscuits

Posted in balance, books, chickens, Children., gardening, knitting, pets, thermomix, vegetables, work | 3 Comments

Busy.

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Things have been pretty busy around here since the new model thermomix came out and then school started again. I’ve been having a lovely time zipping around and doing demos showing off Sheldon, but when I woke up this morning and walked around, things seemed slightly ragged around the edges in the Frogdancer household.
I made the dough for these sweet potato and parmesan dog bickies last Saturday. The recipe said to leave the dough in the fridge for 20 minutes before shaping and cooking them. A week later, the dough finally made it out of the fridge to be baked.

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I bought these lettuce, capsicum and (I think) cucumber seedlings last Friday when I had a meeting with my branch manager in a cafe attached to a nursery.
Haven’t planted them yet…

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The chives in the wicking box are flowering. (Actually, I don’t mind that. They’re very pretty.)

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The basil mint in one wicking box is running rampant while the celery in the next one is languishing. Must water wicking boxes.

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The basil seeds from last year are still waiting to be harvested. (Actually, I can’t blame this on the busy-ness of the new model. These have been sitting here over the whole of winter.)

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And Jeff and Mrs Popplesfield may or may not need a grooming session to get rid of knots in their ears….
Fortunately I had a demo cancel today, so Things Will Get Done.The boys won’t know what’s hit them when they wake up. Mum’s cracking the whip!

Thermomix Recipes: Roasted Red Pepper Hommus.

Sweet Potato and Haloumi Burgers.

Steamed Pork Dumplings.

Posted in Children., cleaning, cooking, gardening, pets, Quality of life, thermomix, wicking beds | 2 Comments

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 | 5 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