Monday, 26 November 2012

Long time between posts

WOW it really has been a long time since my last post. Oppps.

I just really didn't seem to have the desire to sit don and write anything, Im not even sure where this post is going to go either to be honest.

I have even been slack at reading all the blogs that I enjoy. There seems to be a lot of reading going on for me lately and perhaps that is why the blog world has taken a fall.

I have enrolled todo a course by correspondence and so I have been doing a far whack of reading for that, there are lots of notes and lots of thinking about what I am going to write down for answers to my assignments. It might just be time to get stuck in and start trying to put the thoughts into a nicely written formatted draft.

I still haven't found a good blog reader for the iPad, maybe this would help. If anyone can suggest one that would be handy.

Saturday, 10 November 2012

My new chicken chair

Tuesday, 6 November 2012

Ban Live Export Campaigns

I believe that we don't need to and should not send Australian animals overseas to be slaughtered. There is strong evidence that more ethical and humane ways of putting these animals to rest are not adhered to one the animals are set to sea (which would be taxing on them).

Can I please ask that you get involved and contact relevant people who may be able see your disgust at this and make changes.

Following are links that I have used today to write my distatse for this. If anyone knows of any others please let me know. 

www.rspca.org.au/how-you-can-help/campaigns/ban-live-export/

www.getup.org.au/campaigns/animals/end-live-exports

www.banliveexport.com

Facebook links;

https://www.facebook.com/#!/RSPCAAustralia

https://www.facebook.com/#!/AnimalsAustralia

Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Last day of blogtober

Well today is the last day of Blogtober. It was something thought would be fun to get involved in but for even though I have managed to write or post a photo everyday this month I feel like too much of the content has not been quality. It seems the old saying quality over quantity is ringing true. I take my hat off to those that have managed to embrace this challenge with gusto and have kept their posts interesting. It did provide a chance to become fans of other blogs that I may not have seen otherwise and for that I am thankful.

Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Blogtober Day 30

Have to be honest I think I am glad thee is only one more day of commitment to this.

Monday, 29 October 2012

Storing your recipes online/app?

Just wondering if anyone can suggest a place to store recipes online and even better it it has an app also.

Sunday, 28 October 2012

NSW Hens Rescue

Anyone who is looking to buy hens for their yard might want to consider rescuing some ex-battery hens. The girls are normally only 18 months old at the most and still have plenty of egg laying years ahead of them but they are no longer considered to be in their peak by factory farmers. I have two lovely girls Sugar and Spice that were ex-working girls and it is truly delightful to see how well they have fitted in with the rest of the flock.

On facebook their is a page that will advise when some hens need new homes.
http://www.facebook.com/NSWHenRescue

Saturday, 27 October 2012

Blogtober Day 27

Nothing much to report. Having fun getting used to my iPad. Will have to have a look to see if there are any apps that will help with blogger. If anyone can suggest one please let me know. 

Thursday, 25 October 2012

Christmas Gift Shopping

Christmas will be here before we know it. Normally I am more organised and would have a large portion of gifts already bought, this year it is the opposite. I really need to get started and get stuck into some serious thinking about people might like and get them bought.

How is everyone else going with their Xmas shopping? If anyone has any website they can recommend please share.

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Blogtober Day 24

Writing everyday for the month of October is really proving to be hard, sometimes I just have nothing to write about and I feel like I am just posting to fill the space, I am sorry but this is another blah post. Having said that I haven't missed a day so far and it has been fun to have a look at other blogs.

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Blogtober Day 23

The new chicken coop. Good use of an unwanted shed and you can't beat free.

Monday, 22 October 2012

Blogtober Day 22

Fresh bread made yesterday. Not bad if I do say so myself.

Sunday, 21 October 2012

New chicken coop open for business.

The new chicken coop is up and ready for the chickens to go to bed in tonight. Yes, I often say I'm just putting the chickens to bed or Kyle can you please put the chickens to bed. The chickens have to be locked up at night to try and keep them safe from night predators. I assume this may be where the term "like a sitting duck" comes from, once it gets dark the chickens can't see very well and choose to pretty much stay in the one spot. This is why it is on the plan to build them an outdoor enclosure linked to the coop so I can stop stressing about needing to be home in time for the chickens to be locked in their coop or have to annoy our neighbour and ask him to lock them in and let them out the next day if we happen to be away.

The new nesting boxes crafted by dear Kyle are in full swing. In typical fashion for my girls though despite there being four nesting boxes to use the I had three of them trying to fit into one nesting box at first. I think they are getting the hang of it now.

New perch's have been made for them to sleep on, instead of it being stepped up we have gone with three level perches. Although it takes up more room the idea behind it is there should be no nastiness of deciding on new pecking orders as they will all be on the same level.

Saturday, 20 October 2012

I heard it through the grapevine

Yesterday I g
ot to spend a lovely day with my mum and my grandma back in the big smoke of Sydney followed by a night catching up with a few friends. Now I am not working weekends anymore trips back to catch up with family and friends back in Sydney will be back on the agenda.

We were lucky to have two grapevines already planted in the yard when we moved in but there were not looking healthy and we were not sure they would make it. Hopefully you can see from the photos the grapevines are doing well. Kyle has managed to bring them back into good health. I was rather excited to see that the beginnings of fruit are starting to show.



Friday, 19 October 2012

Blogtober Day 19

Back in the city for the night. Too tired to write. Don't miss living in a city that has traffic lights. Country towns full of roundabouts are the way to go.

Thursday, 18 October 2012

Matthew Evans the Gourmet Farmer

So I have no secret crush on Matthew Evans the Gourmet Farmer, OK well it's everything that he embraces, I dream of having the kind of land and set up he has and to be a good at cooking and baking as he appear to be.

I am currently am reading Matthews cook book Winter on the Farm, there are some mighty fine recipes in there that I can't wait to try. I actually requested the local library buy the book and they did. One of the local librarians was pleased also and said she can't wait to have a decent read of it herself. My fingers are crossed the library gets the rest of his cook books in also.

What are some cook books you would recommend?

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Blogtober Day 17

Nothing to write so have posted a photo instead.

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

Instagram

Here are the photos I have some photos I have taken using Instagram. You may already recognise some of them from the blog.




Monday, 15 October 2012

Back cooking with the Microwave

My husband may just be some kind of magician, he has managed to bring our microwave back to life. Insert my happy dance here. It feels like it have been months since we had it working. I am really please he was able to fix it so it didn't go into landfill, not to mention the cost to us for buying a new microwave. This also means I will be able to use more of the items from the freezer. Wahoo - Thank you Kyle!

Sunday, 14 October 2012

Chickens - New coop progress and RSPCA #hensdeservebetter

I love when the weather is like this, its not hold, its not cold, its just right. You are able to do housework and yard work without freezing and without boiling.
 
Work on the new chicken coop is progressing. Originally the free second hand shed came with two sliding door that didn't work, my very handy husband Kyle has instead created a metal frame to have a swinging door that works, this will be easier for me to get into the coop to collect the eggs, feed the flock and clean the coop out.
 
I am on the hunt for laying box designs, we have some thick ply board we want to use. I will have a look on the net to see what will suit our girls best and then pass the plans onto Kyle. The girls still continue to want to lay in the same spot at the same time, I am hoping once we have some newly suited nesting boxes they will take to them, knowing my luck though they are likely to ignore the purpose built boxes, just as they tend to ignore the bucked I set up for them to lay their eggs in now.
 
The RSPCA have a website hensdeservebetter.org.au and they are encouraging people to upload their Instagram photos of their happy free range hens with the #hensdeservebetter. I have added a few but am having issues with uploading to Instagram but I will continue persisting. My username on Instagram is stacester if anyone is interested or search for #hensdeservebetter to see all the chook photos. I am glad to see I am not the only crazy chicken lady.

Saturday, 13 October 2012

Micorwave Free

We are still waiting on one last part for the microwave to see if we can bring it back to life. There are lots of times I miss not having it working but it mostly revolves around me not being organised enough to plan meals. Most of the time I decide what to cook for dinner when I get home from work, not so great though if you haven't taken the meat out of the freezer in the morning. The alternative being I need to buy meat fresh from the shops in the afternoon, which in itself is not a problem, I just find I end up walking out of the supermarket with more than I walked in there for. It might be time to try and find a butcher in town that sells free range or organic chicken and pork. My past attempts to source meat direct from the organic farmers didn't prove successful. Wish me luck, I think I am going to need it.

Friday, 12 October 2012

Blogtober Day 12

Another great photo from walking with the dog.

Thursday, 11 October 2012

Donated your unwated, unused & underuterlised

With the change of seasons it was time to clear out my wardrobe. I have tried to be more tougher with myself than I have in the past. If I haven't worn it this year or it doesn't fit than it is time to let it go - and why not let it go to the charity bin if it is still in good condition. It is such a waste to throw away clothes and furniture that can still be used so I urged everyone to do a spring clean and donate what you can.

I am still participating in Blogfest 2012 and have blogged everyday so far for the month. The content may be a little slim as I want to make sure I have something to blog about everyday. I have also been blogging some of the shorter posts on my phone so there won't be any novels written anytime soon, having said that I wonder if a short post is a good post.

Wednesday, 10 October 2012

Christmas Gifts for Orphans

It's no surprise that a lot of us take things for granted. With Christmas not far aware it's time to think about those less fortunate than us. If your able to please consider buying some "essentials" to donate to Christmas appeals, if you start buying odds and ends now then it won't seem so bad closer to Christmas. You don't need to spend huge amounts of money to make a big difference to someones life.

This is one of the organisations I have donated some products to http://www.samaritanspurse.org.au/

Local councils often also collect food donations closer to Christmas.

Tuesday, 9 October 2012

Time for a healthy lunch

All of my cooking and baking lately has lead to additional kilos. It's time to be more careful with just how much I'm eating and get more exercise in.

Now I'm back to having normal and set work hours I can get into some sort of routine.

I walked to work this morning which I really enjoyed. I bought some falafel and hommus and have made a fresh sandwich filled with lettuce. Yes I know I should have made most of the ingredients and I probably will but it has served its purpose for today of providing a fresh and healthy lunch.

Monday, 8 October 2012

Enjoying country streets

This is a short post as I'm rather tired. But I took Sam the Dog for a walk today and just had to capture how pretty this street looked. I am really enjoying this time of year. Not too hot and not too cold.

Sunday, 7 October 2012

Junee Farmers Market

Today I went to the Junee Farmers Market for the first time. It's doing things like this with Kyle that I am looking forward to doing now that I have my weekends back. The markets had a nice spread to offer, I am sad to admit but much more on show that our little Cootamundra markets.

We didn't buy much it was more to see what was on offer.

We bought some strawberry seedlings and a bag of Granny Smith apples from Batlow where they are grown. Both Kyle and I think they are the nicest apples we have eaten in a very long time. I have an apple pie baking as I write this, yummm!
 
Progress has been made on the new chicken coop, the old shed we will given as it was no longer wanted is standing up well. I was a very good frame today holding up the wall sheets while Kyle screwed them together. Work still need to happen on the doors but it will be nice to have a concrete floor that will be much easier to clean out. I am on the hunt for chicken nesting box designs at the moment that Kyle said he will make for me. Eventually we will add a chicken run and an enclosed outdoor area but it's not essential as they are free range chickens anyway.

Saturday, 6 October 2012

Homemade Pizza

Ive been reading a number of blogs lately about using leftovers. I think leftovers are great, it gives an old meal a new lease on life and also saves money - whats not to like. I hate to throw out food, I feel like it is bad kitchen management on my part, it is just such a waste for a number of reasons.

One of our favourite ways to use up leftovers and bits in the fridge is to make homemade pizza. I had made meatballs a couple of nights ago and we still had leftovers, we had marinated feta (not enough to do anything substantial with but not worth throwing out) and a jar of pesto that was open and needed to be used.

I make my own pizza dough, this started when we had a wood fire pizza oven at our old house, this is on the to do list for this place also eventually. Pizza dough is really easy to make and so worth the little effort, like a standard bread it's more about leaving enough time for the dough to stand and proof.
 
Pizza dough (this is a basic recipe but my changes are noted below)
600g bread flour
2 tsp (7g/1 sachet) dried yeast
1 tsp raw sugar
1 pinch of salt
1 tbsp olive oil
375ml (1 1/2 cups) warm water

Combine the flour, yeast, sugar, salt in kitchenaid mixer  with dough attachment and mix briefly. Slowly add warm water and continue mixing, you may not need all the water. More flour or water can be added as needed. The dough should feel like playdoh.
Set aside in a draught-free place to rise for 60 minutes or more until dough doubles in size.
Punch air out of dough.
Lightly dust board and rolling pin with flour.
Roll out pizza dough and place onto pizza tray. Leave to rest for another 10 minutes.
This made one very thick pizza base but this can make 2 thinner pizza basses.
 
Add pizza toppings, this is what I added last night;
Tomato paste & pesto mixed as the pizza sauce base.
Meatballs cut up into chunks.
1/2 an onion.
Feta
Grated tasty cheese
 
Put into the oven at 240 degrees for 25 mins.
 

Friday, 5 October 2012

Hydrogen Peroxide and Neti Pot

I have been getting more than average amount of ear and eye infections over the past year or so and this just goes along with the hayfever. I read yesterday about using Hydrogen Peroxide to help clean your ears and so last night with the help of hubby I gave it a go and it does appear to have cleared things up. It is something I will be using again. How to Unclog a Clogged Ear.

It got me thinking though what else I could use the Hydrogen Peroxide for and I cam across this article that you may find interesting. Ten Household Uses For Hydrogen Peroxide.

To help with the hayfever I used a Neti Pot and salty water. Really simple and easy to used and cheap. It helps to clear out any build up of pollens and dust. I tend to use mine while I'm in the shower. How To Use A Neti Pot.

If anyone else has any tips for using Hydrogen Peroxide or even keeping ear and eye infections or even hayfever at bay naturally then please share.

Thursday, 4 October 2012

Chicken Curry and Naan Bread

Homemade chicken curry (using free range chicken of course) but instead of pairing it with rice I decided to have a go at making my own naan bread. Both turned out to be a great success.
 
I am really enjoying having time to make home cooked meals. I have always liked cooking and dabbling in baking but I like to do it when I have the time and energy to do it. Makes the finished product seem like more of an achievement when love and care has been put into the food.
 
You can find the original recipes by clicking on the links but here it is with my amendments;
Quick Chicken Curry
2 tbs sunflower oil
500g skinless free range chicken thigh fillets, cut into 3cm pieces
1 onion, chopped
1 tbs minced garlic
1 tbs dried chili flakes
2 tablespoons minced ginger
3 tbs tikka masala curry paste
400g can chopped tomatoes
400ml coconut milk
2 tbs crunchy peanut butter
400g can chickpeas

Heat the sunflower oil in a flameproof casserole dish over medium-high heat. Add the free range chicken, onion, garlic, chili and ginger and cook, stirring, for 5 minutes or until chicken starts to brown. Add curry paste and cook, stirring, for a further 1 minute or until fragrant. Season, then stir in tomato, coconut milk, peanut butter and chickpeas until combined. Cover until chicken is cooked through and the sauce has thickened.
 
Naan Bread
450g (3 cups) bread flour
7g (2 tsp) dried yeast
1 tsp salt
1 tsp caster sugar
185ml (3/4 cup) warm water
90g (1/3 cup) greek yoghurt
 
Combine the flour, yeast, salt and sugar in a bowl. Mix in water, yoghurt and oil. I used my Kitchenaid Mixer to knead the dough. 
Set bowl aside in a warm place for 1 hour or until the dough has doubled in size. 
Meanwhile, preheat oven to 250°C. Preheat pizza tray for 40 minutes. Punch down dough then divide it into 6 portions.  
Roll out each portion of dough on a lightly floured surface into a 12 x 20cm oval shape.  
Spray both sides of the dough with oil. Bake on pizza tray for 5 minutes or until puffed and light golden.
 
Chicken Laksa
I had left over chicken curry so I added noodles, another can of coconut milk along with veggies and turned it into laksa. Another meal made from leftovers.



Wednesday, 3 October 2012

Lemon Meringue and Chocolate Meringue pies

So here are the mini Lemon Meringue (using the Lemon Curd made earlier) and Chocolate Meringue pies I made. I think they have turned out pretty good considering there was an awful lot of winging it. I didn't have specific recipes for either but both have turned out tasting fab and will be something I will make again. As I chocolate lover I can't believe I am about to say this but I think I preferred the Lemon Meringue pies over the chocolate ones. Just one tip, I used a very basic shortcrust pastry and didn't add sugar and and I glad I didn't as there is well and truly enough sugar and sweetness in the filling and meringue topping.
 
You can find some recipes here though that may inspire; 
Basic shortcrust pastry
Lemon meringue pies
Chocolate meringue pie

I have more things to write about but I am trying to ensure that I will have something to write about everyday this month for Blogtober.

Tuesday, 2 October 2012

Lemon Curd

Yesterday I made lemon curd for the first time. It was supper easy and something I will definitely make again given my access to a very fruitful lemon tree in our backyard.

I plan to make a a lemon meringue pie also and will use the lemon curd in this as the filling. Leaving it overnight to cool should save me some time tomorrow. I can be a little impatient and the though of having to wait 30 minutes for pastry in the fridge before rolling out & then waiting for the lemon curd to cool for hours is just too much for me. So by having this step done in advance it should save some frustration when it comes to pie making time.

Lemon Curd Recipe
2 eggs, plus 2 egg yolks (I will hold onto the 2 egg whites for meringues topping)
3/4 cup (165g) caster sugar
1/3 cup (80g) chilled unsalted butter
Zest and juice of 2 lemons (I used more than 2 lemons as my lemons didn't seem very juicy)

Whisk whole eggs, yolks and sugar in a saucepan until smooth, then place pan over a low heat. Add the butter, juice and zest and whisk continuously until thickened. Strain through a sieve into a sterilised jar. Lemon curd keeps, covered, in the fridge for 2 weeks.

http://www.taste.com.au/recipes/17755/lemon+curd

Since I had the juicer out also I had another attempt at making Orange Juice and no surprise once I removed the white pith the juice came out a hell of a lot more sweeter and not bitter like my first attempt. You still use a lot of oranges for not so much juice but I don't mind as long as the oranges from our tree are being used and not wasted. I think I will attempt to make orange cordial at some stage.

Monday, 1 October 2012

Ahhh - smell the fresh air!

Lacy my Light Sussex hen
What a great weekend it has been.

I finished working at my job on Thursday, there is a new job to be started on the horizon. It will be back to my comfort zone of working in a office and no more shifts, weekend work and I can walk to work. I am really looking forward to a new challenge.

Because I have had the whole long weekend free I have actually been able to spend a lot of time with hubby which has been really lovely. I don't think I let myself realise just how much I missed just hanging out with my best friend.

Another coat of white paint has been added to my $5 charity shop chair, it still might need yet another white coat before we hit it with the orange paint.

We moved an old tin water tank that looked like it may have once been used as a small chicken coop into plot 4 where the chickens current are so that they might have more shade now it is getting warmer and also somewhere else to lay their eggs. I still giggle at the fact that my 12 hens all seem to want to lay their eggs in the same 3 places and all at the same time. This then involves a ruckus of chicken clucking and line ups that continues to amuse me.

I also want to bring attention to a fellow blogger who I follow & has been kind enough to put a link to my blog on her blog. So in mutual admiration I would like to post a link to her site also;
Mrs Thrift's Simple Living in the Modern Day
http://notjustgreenfingers.wordpress.com/

I am also going to attempt the Blogtoberfest annual blogging festival my aim is to try to blog every day for 31 days

Saturday, 29 September 2012

Clean and clear water

Hubby brews his own beer and cider and the water we get out of our tap although suitable to drink wasn’t providing the best results for his brews. This led to me buying water which I find ridiculous but there is also no point throwing out brew due to the water not being suitable. The solution was simple and I am only disappointed I didn’t think of it earlier. I bought a Brita On Tap Water Filter, hopefully this will solve the problem. We already use a Brita Water Filter Jug but the amount Kyle needs for his brews it isn’t practical to use the jug.

I started undercoating my $5 charity store chair today; I think it will need at least one more undercoat before I bring out the orange paint. Yes I said orange. I have always liked colour but have been too afraid to use it. The sunroom is going to be the room where I go a little crazier and play with colour.
We (yes me included) worked on a concrete slab for the new chicken coop. We were offered an old shed and so we are going to move the chickens and put them on a better floor base so it should be easier to clean out. At the moment the chickens live in a coop that was already here when we moved into the house and it is only on a dirt base, make its hard to remove all the chicken mess.
So have a few projects on the go at the moment but nothing yet to post completed photos or details about yet – watch this space.

Friday, 28 September 2012

Cooking with gas

I am not one to want to throw things out for no good reason but I fear that our microwave may not be in a position to make it. Hubby has tried a number of things to fix it and replaced lots of parts but it is now getting to the point where it is no longer cost effective to keep buying parts when we still are not sure they are going to repair it. It is such a shame as it didn't even give a hint that it was dying, it just stopped working one day. We have been living without it, but there are times when surely it would use less energy to heat things up in the microwave then getting the oven or stove going.

Having a quick look on the net as not helped at all in how to choose a new microwave. If anyone has any tips please let me know.

On a positive note we finally have the new gas oven installed, despite siting around the house for a couple of days a few weeks ago we are still waiting on the first plumber to actually turn up or at least make contact. The second plumber was fantastic, he make a time with Kyle and actually turned up at that time. Although I was a little jealous that Kyle got to use the oven first I have now made pavlova and am so happy to be cooking with gas again.

I am working on a new automatic dishwasher liquid as the powder version has set hard in the jar but I will wait to see if the new liquid was a success before I post the recipe. It did involve me having to make liquid soap though which has turned out well and I will be using this again.

Wednesday, 19 September 2012

Save the forgotten animals of live export

Coat Racks and Window Cleaning


Here is another before and after photo. Hubby and I both have a bad habit or dumping things as we walk through the door so I had been on the hunt for a coat rack. Found this at the local charity shop (no surprise there) and although it's design is not to my taste painting it white and putting it near the back door will hopefully help with providing a place the jackets, keys and my bag to hag. Am still looking for another one to put near the front door. I think this may have been $2 but I couldn't even find this at the local variety shop for this price, they were more expensive so yet another good buy.

I have also bought a square wicker basket with a lid so that our shoes can be put in here as we come through the back door. That was the plan and it sometimes works. I have had to place a cushion on top though as Charlie the Cat started to think the top was a scratching post for her.

 
As I sit here and write this it reminds me that I need to clean the windows, I am sure once the window in the sunroom is cleaned it will be much nicer to look out of. Also think I might have to get Kyle to make something to hide the bins so they don't look so obvious. Back to the window cleaning I am going to try and does this naturally with what I have in the house, water, vinegar and  detergent. See article here from Care2 on The Right Way to Clean Windows with Vinegar.

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Stop NSW legalising duck shooting - TAKE ACTION:

Stop NSW legalising duck shooting - TAKE ACTION: 

Please click on the above link.

Monday, 17 September 2012

Desk rejuvenation

So here and the before, during and after photos of my $10 desk from the local charity shop. Well worth the $10, the cost of the paint (we had in the shed), the new shinny handles (also laying around from a project long forgotten) and the time. I am proud to say I did most of the sanding and painting with a little help from hubby along the way.

I used a hot gun to quickly and effectively get the floral contact paper off the top of the desk. This left an even more dated top. The desk was then completely sanded, coated with ESP (Easy Surface Prep removes grease and wax and makes paint stick) we had this already in the shed also, painted and added the new handles. There was also some work done on the draw by hubby so it sat in place better. Hubby also drilled a hole into the back on the not so hidden draw under where the laptop sits so that the USB devises can be hidden away in this draw and the cords will only need to run through the back. I hope this will save on the cord jungle that I normally get myself into.
 
This is the kind of project I would normally leave to hubby to do for me but I am glad I got my hands dirty with this and will be getting involved more. The $5 chair has been sanded and coated with ESP. I am just not sure what colour I am going to paint it yet. It will depend on what fabric I find for this chair and the two other vintage chairs I have for the room. I only wish that I could sew.
 
As you may be able to see I still have the delightful forest carpet in the sunroom. Another thing on the list of things to do when money and time permits.
 


Friday, 14 September 2012

Strawberry Cordial

I had an excess amount of strawberry punnets so after a quick search I came up with the idea to make strawberry cordial. I am so glad that I did.

I used this recipe from
taste.com.au for Strawberry & cardamom cordial. Although I didn't have any cardamon in the house I still followed the rest of the instructions to make my strawberry cordial.

An added bonus I was not expecting was the left over strawberries once being strained made a very nice strawberry jam - so I got two for the price of one with this.
The strawberry cordial works very nicely with sparkling wine - and you only need a tiny bit of the cordial.
 
Strawberry Cordial Recipe
430g (2 cups) caster sugar
500ml (2 cups) cold water
1 tbs fresh lemon juice
2 x 250g punnets strawberries, hulled, washed, halved
 
Combine the sugar, water and lemon juice in a large saucepan over low heat. Cook, stirring, for 2 minutes or until the sugar dissolves. Increase heat to high and simmer for 5 minutes or until mixture thickens slightly.
 
Reduce heat to medium-low. Add the strawberries. Simmer, stirring occasionally, for 20 minutes. Set aside for 30 minutes or until completely cool. Strain strawberry pulp, gently pressing with the back of a spoon, through a fine sieve into a clean bottle.
 
Place 2 tbs of the cordial in each serving glass. Top with chilled water or soda water and serve immediately.

Thursday, 13 September 2012

Orange Vinegar Cleaner

So after approx a month of my vinegar and orange zest (left over from my first OJ attempt) mixture infusing I got around to straining it and bottling it.

My hubby is one smart cookie, last night I mentioned I needed to further strain the liquid as it still had floating pices in it. Kyle remembered he had some coffee filters and sure enough this did the trick. Now I have a nice bottle of orange vinegar ready to use for cleaning. I need to get a spray bottle but this should be easy enough to find.

Orange Vinegar Cleaner Recipe

Orange peels
Vinegar
Water

1. Fill a glass jar with orange zest/peel
2. Cover the peels with vinegar
3. Let the vinegar and orange peels sit for a few weeks
4. Take the vinegar out of the jar and pour it into a spray bottle, diluting half/half with water

Thursday, 6 September 2012

Super Trawlers Petition's

Please sign the Super Trawlers Petition's

Greenpeace

stopthetrawler.net


GetUp

Saturday, 1 September 2012

What am I waiting for?

I have a bad habit of waiting for special occasions to open products such as fancy soaps and gift packs, wine etc. It has recently occurred to me that I have no idea what I am waiting for - what kind of special occasion happening at my house would require some sort of fancy soap that I wouldn't use on a regular basis - none I can think of.

So it has brought me to open up some lovely body shop products that I received as a gift a couple of Christmas's ago. I also finally opened the bottle of champagne (oops I mean sparkling wine) that we received from the real estate agent when we bought this house. I am writing this and thinking I sound like a nut - what was I waiting for?

Not only am I getting to enjoy these products but it is very slowly cleaning up more space. Clear it on out and enjoy it while you are doing it. What are you waiting for?
 

Friday, 31 August 2012

I like toast and jam


I have had the song Bread and Butter by The Newbeats in my head this week and I have no idea why but it seems a fitting tittle to grab some of the lyrics as the heading of this post.

So I am yet to go ahead and make my own jam, we will put this down to the fact we don't have any fruit of our own yet and also take into account the lazziness factor. So you can imagine my delight when I found homemade jam for sale at the local Salvo's and all for the argin price of $1 a jar. It is made by local ladies and donated to the salvos so that money made goes back into the community. What a great simple idea, one I am happy to endulge in, and the jam tastes great.

I have been playing around with the idea of joining the CWA, to be honest I am not sure what happens at the meetings and I am not sure if my age, the fact I can't knit or sew and the fact I like to think I am an OK cook but I am certainly not a great baker (though this is something I want to work on), there is also a bit of nervousness about turning up to a meeting where I will know no one and I am not sure if I will fit in. Then there is the dreading time factor of trying to fit this around a job where I work shifts. Just something for me to think about.

Saturday, 25 August 2012

Nothing else matters

So I have a confession to make, I may have a slight addiction to visiting the local charity shop. I have always had a love for older furniture and the idea of enjoying the furniture for what it is or the idea of giving things a bit of a paint job and making them something new again.

I bought an old desk, nothing fancy a couple of months ago and it has been hiding in the junk room. I am embarrassed to say I still have a room with boxes full of things in it that we are yet to unpack. Some of this has had to do with the need to find more furniture and my agreement to not just buy something for the sake of it (something I have done in the past) but waiting till I find something I love. For instance I am on the hunt for a china cabinet / hutch / bar to store my glassware etc. I don’t know exactly what I want but I am sure when I see it I will now. This means these items are still boxed up. I can’t see the point of unpacking them to have them lay around and possibly get broken.
Back to the desk, when I bought it I thought we would eventually turn the junk room to a study but I may just have changed my mind. We have moved the old desk in all its glory with its floral peach flower contact and chipped paint into the sunroom; here it sits in front of the window which has views of the backyard. I am sitting here at the desk as I write this and it just reminds me of how much more work we need to do but I have a sense that I am content. The view of the yard from here isn’t great; there are security screens on the window so there isn’t a completely uninterrupted view, the garbage and recycling bin are right in my line of sight and I can’t see through to the back fence as the original chicken pen has a metal fence, but despite all of this it is so nice just to sit here and see the sky, what garden I can and listen to the birds. The desk is also next to the back door so Sam the dog happily has been sitting here happy to be close by and Peppy the cockatoo can see me and have a chat with me.

So eventually the $10 desk will get re-painted and new handles put on the draw. Eventually the $5 chair will get painted and new fabric put on. Eventually the garden will have the arbour added and get some formality to it. But really none of this matters. Life is good.

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Dishwasher Powder

Ok I have had an though (shocking I know), I have converted from using rinse aid in my dishwasher to just using vinegar & this is working fine, but now that my dishwashing powder is getting low I am wondering why I am still even looking at buying it. Surely I can make it.

Dishwasher Powder

1 cup bi-carbonate soda
1/4 cup salt
1/4 cup citric acid

Mix thoroughly and store in an airtight container. Use 1 tablespoon at a time.


Seems simple and I have all of these ingredients here, I might just make half the amount so I can make sure it works. I will reuse the container that I bought my last lot of dishwashing powder in, just as I reused the old rinse aid bottle (trying to pour vinegar into a small hole from a 2 litre bottle doesn’t work so well.

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

From the garden

Although yesterday started out cold and foggy I still found gems in the garden. I picked up this basket at the local salvo's for $2, it still had a price tag of $15 on it, it has been a great buy and I use it everyday to bring treats from our yard into our home. There is something satisfying about a basket full of items from your own yard; fresh eggs, lemons, oranges and flowers.

I decided to try my hand at making my own orange juice. I have an electronic juicer which certainly makes things easier, and to think it almost didn't make the journey from the old house to this place as it was barely being used. My first attempt at my own OJ has not been so great, despite instructions from the juicer that there is no need to remove the peel the taste suggests otherwise. The juice is still drinkable but it is a bi
t more tart then I was hoping for. Next time I will make the effort to remove the zest and peel and give this a try.

I ended up with a lot of grated zest, it seemed like such a
waste to just throw away or compost all that lovely orange smelling oil. I remembered reading something about adding vinegar to citrus zest to make a general cleaner.

Orange Vinegar Cleaner Recipe
Orange peels
Vinegar
Water
1. Fill a glass jar with orange zest/peel
2. Cover the peels with vinegar
3. Let the vinegar and orange peels sit for a few weeks
4. Take the vinegar out of the jar and pour it into a spray bottle, diluting half/half with water

Monday, 20 August 2012

Ethical Consumer Guide

www.ethical.org.au
www.ethical.org.au/getinformed/principles

Very handy website and app. So glad my friend Di pointed this out to me, it is something I plan to use. While you need to pay for the app I still believe it is worth it.

Oh foggy day

Another cold and foggy day here in Cootamundra but I couldn't help but love the way this this tree looked in the fog. It's things like this that make me appreciate living here and even despite my fingers freezing while I feed the chickens I feel like I am blessed.

Another thing I am loving in our yard at the moment is the flowers are starting the bloom, this is surely a sign that the weather is going to change soon. I am looking forward to complaining that it is too hot. I may need to be reminded of this in summer.

Despite lovely being referred to as the crazy chicken lady by my hubby he is also fully embracing the chickens and what they can offer. He spent the weekend sectioning off another part of the yard for the chickens to clear. Eventually the plan is to put the greenhouse and pizza oven in this area (which are on the to do when money, time & resources permit list). The chickens have been moved in for now to clean up the area, why do it yourself when the chickens will happily do it for you.

We sources some free 2nd hand bricks this week that we hope we can use on the pizza oven, we will need more and will be keeping an eye out for anymore on offer.

I am attempting to make my own yeast so I can make sourdough bread. I am keeping it simple and if this doesn't work then I will look at mixing things up a little more.


Fermented Bread Starter
Add to a glass jar;
50ml of water
50grams of flour

Each morning I remove half the contents and add another lot of the water & flour. I have it sitting on a shelf in my kitchen and I have chosen not to cover the jar, I want to let in as much wild yeast as possible.

I am up to day 3 and there are bubbles which is a good sign.  Fingers crossed this experiment works.



Tuesday, 14 August 2012

Grass-Fed Revolution and orgnaic meat

I have borrowed this from Grass-Fed Revolution, I think this sums things up easily.

I recently found out that there is an organic chicken farm just over an hour where I live. I think this is fantastic. I contacted the farm to find out where I can buy the chicken meat from, the response was I would need to go to Canberra to buy it. This is a shame as Canberra is around 2 hours drive away.

I also contacted an organic beef farm on the outskirts of Cootamundra. I am yet to get a response.

It is such a shame that I now live in a country area producing the kinds of products I want to buy and eat and yet they appear to not be readily available for purchase.

The best I can do is buy organic and free range from a supermarket chain. Surely this is better than nothing.

Monday, 13 August 2012

Cleaning out the cleaning products

It is amazing just how many store bought cleaning products I have in my house. My plan is to move to using Vinegar, Baking Soda, Salt, Lemon Juice etc but I find it hypocritical if I throw out the products I already have, it’s just another waste. So I am slowly working my way through them all while still trialling what work for me with my new cleaning pals.

A few tips already tried and tested.
Pans - Baking Soda & Vinegar
Clean any roasting pan by sprinkle the surface well with baking soda. Combine 1 cup of hot water and 1/3 cup of vinegar, poured onto the baking soda. The fizzing action will remove the roasted food particles.


Toilet - Vinegar & Baking Soda
Pour white vinegar into the toilet and let it sit for 30 minutes. Next sprinkle baking soda on a toilet-bowl brush and scour any remaining stained areas. Flush.
Deodorize the Cat Box
Cover the bottom of the tray with baking soda, then fill as usual with litter. To freshen between changes, sprinkle baking soda on top of the litter after a thorough cleaning.


I am reading Make YourPlace: Affordable, Sustainable Nesting Skills by Raleigh Briggs and I am sure this is going to be kept nearby as it is full of easy and handy tips.

Thursday, 9 August 2012

Making Bread & Laundry Powder

 
So I have been playing around with this Laucke Bread Machine Premix Multigrain Bread, I don't have a bread machine and the electric oven we inherited with the house isn't the best but it has been fun and I haven't bought any bread from the shops in over a week.
We have recently ordered a new gas oven and I am very much looking forward to cooking with gas again. We also hope that it might reduce our electricity bill a bit.
My dear husband Kyle gave me a reality talk the other day, it seems we just don't have enough room on our 1/4 acre block to grow enough fruit and vegetables to live off, seems we will still need to buy some from the shops. This is rather annoying but it is reality.
  
I have been embracing the local library and borrowing books, this not only saves me money buying the books but they are being reused. I can't throw books out, I think it is such a waste but generally once I read a book I don't pick it up again. Before we moved to Cootamundra we had a big clean out and donated a lot of books to the library, hopefully for others to enjoy. I do still have a bit of an addiction with cookbooks but have managed to resist buying any new ones for quiet some time.

I got around to making my own laundry powder with happy results.
 
Laundry Powder Recipe
4 cups grated Sunlight pure soap
2 cups Lectric washing soda

Mix all ingredients together well, and store in a plastic container with a lid. Use 2 tablespoons per wash.
Add vinegar as fabric softener with a few drops of lavender oil.

Saturday, 4 August 2012

Sustainable Table - What you can do?

Sustainable table? Is this possible in my life? How do people fit this all in when they work full time and then let me add in my current job I a jumble of shifts so I don’t have any set routine. I am going to try and work through the list from sustainabletable.org.au and see what I can do. A small change is still a change and may snowball.

1.       Change the way you shop – I work for one of the large supermarket chains they suggest you limit your shopping at. I am not sure how I feel about this. I also know my budget isn’t unlimited. It’s ironic also that now I have moved to the country in the town I live in I don’t have access to a farmers market or a green grocer. Stone fruit when in season will be in abundance here and until our own fruit trees start producing I will be making use of the pick your own fruit farms nearby.

2.       Instigate household meat free days – We are big fans of Fry’s Vegetarian Golden CrumbedSchnitzels and Sanitarium’s Not Burger. I am also happy to indulge in tofu but so far I haven’t been able to convince Kyle of the same. This is something I can make more of an effort with.

3.       Buy local, seasonal, certified organic produce – I have my head a bit in the sand with this one, I know the benefits to the well being of animals by buying free-range and organic meat products but in terms of other products like milk, pasta and even fruit and veggie, well I need to do some research into this.

4.       Reduce waste and buy a compost bin – We really try not to throw out food, it’s one of my pet peeves and I get annoyed with myself if I have bought food and don’t get around to eating it. We are getting a compost bin next week but that has more to do with trying to compost the dogs waste. We find any scraps are feed to our chickens.

5.       Ethical and sustainable meat and seafood – We don’t eat seafood and I try to buy free-range or organic chicken and pork. I have to admit to being less inclined with beef and lamb, something else I need to research.

6.       Eat whole foods, not processed foods – Hmmmm, I need to be more aware of this.

7.       Grow your own food – Literally working on this

8.       Avoid packaging – This is easier said than done, if we all really take a good look at all the packaging that goes into things we buy it is disgusting. I can certainly make more of an effort when possible.

9.       Reduce, Reuse, Recycle – I need to get myself a bit more organised with this, I am currently collecting glass bottles so I am prepared when I get around to making my own jam and laundry powder etc. I really need to find a neater way of storing these so I don’t get fed up with it all and toss them out.

10.   Ask questions – Knowledge is power and I am certainly going to continue to read more and get informed.