all chill, no guilt… sort of…
















Can you believe it’s been a year since our little tree change? A year of ‘life on the farm’ with all the big and little changes that come when you move to the country. Although my ‘to do’ list overwhelms me I feel the need to write you… I really want to share some moments as I know time fades the details and my memories.

The fog blankets that roll up and down these mountains are some of the thickest fogs I’ve seen in my life… at times you can watch it roll in, gently yet persistently moving across the land, hugging the ground tight and gobbling up trees and hills until the landscape completely disappears into the white… I’ve seen midnight look so bright outside when the moon is full and the fog is thick… the moonlight bounces through the fog illuminating the dense white blanket … it’s eerily beautifully… and treacherous to drive in.

As I sit right now we are due for rain and thunderstorm… so far the rain has been minimal, a few heavy spits that last for a brief minute or two… but the thunder is rolling up the valley below which creates an echo, making the thunder so loud and deep you feel it in your bones. It’s a sound so big and the energy it brings is electrifying… all the sheep are taking cover under the trees, they seem to know the weather is about to turn… they hunker down together in groups and as soon as it passes they will come out and do their ‘furious munch’ as I call it, where they eat frantically like they’ve been starved for days… as they do every evening before dark falls.

Summer has bleached the green out of the mountains and left a golden shine during the day… at sunset or sunrise the mountains come into their own… it seems the light golden hue of the grass reflects the colours in a sunrise or sunset beautifully… I can look out and see dusky pink mountain tops against a dusky pink sky, or peachy hill tops against a peachy sunrise… It’s exquisite and I hope to capture the delicateness in a photo one day.

I have a basket of quince, a basket of juicy sweet pears, some delicious quince jelly, quince paste and zucchini butter from our lovely neighbours and I can’t help but feel so lucky we landed in such a friendly country road… Our veggie garden has produced more juicy sweet rockmelon that I can eat and share, so I’ve taken to freezing it chopped up and will use it for smoothies. I probably should be picking my cucumbers right now and learning how to pickle them… I’ve bookmarked so many different types of pickle recipes but none that feel just right – call me Goldilocks. We’re not quite sick of zucchinis just yet, but thanks to my neighbour I can step away from the zoodles and fritters and have a go at making zucchini butter. I’d never heard of it until I was gifted a jar. And onions, we’ve had heaps, can’t remember the last time I bought some actually. But the potatoes, well they’ve been the biggest disappointment so far, not just for the measly harvest they produced, but the effort vs harvest ratio… we don’t know what happened to them, but there were hardly any to dig up and when we did there were plenty of rotten ones unearthed too. The beans were ok, plenty of delicious ones to start with but they turned woody and tough quite quickly… pretty sure we either left some too long or didn’t water them enough… or both. The tomatoes are starting to ripen and we’re getting a reasonable amount but not as much as I had expected for the amount of plants we put in. There is much to learn – that I know… and I suspect the very exposed nature of our veggie garden is playing her part too… the fierce winds we get up here on our hill are the strongest winds I’ve experienced… I think this is stunting the plants a little and hindering their efforts to excel… I have added ‘develop some sort of screening’ to our ever growing overwhelming threatening to swallow us whole ‘to do’ list.

Of course the ‘to do’ list is taking a little longer to get through too as I’m now working. Locally. Part time. Another piece of the puzzle that fits exactly how we dreamed it would. Ridiculously lucky I know. And feeling so happy and grateful that’s it all worked out, pretty much just how we wanted it to (short of wining tattslotto!). It’s just going to take a bit of time to balance what needs to be done around the farm and making sure we squeeze in some chill out time to rest our weary bones as the ‘to do’ list seems to go a bit like the one step forward, two steps backwards thing. I’m ticking off the chill out time today though, writing to you… and next I’m going to make another batch of ‘Grandma’s Butterscotch’ (so good!), then I’m going to nibble on that whilst I have a go at some knitting or crochet … I’ve decided the rest of today will be all chill and no guilt… I may not succeed in either of those but I’m sure going to have a good go at it.

Wishing you guilt free chill out time with your favourite candy x

life on the farm january 2017


























Well hello there! It’s a new year full of hope and plans and dreams as we ricochet into our first year anniversary on the farm. Summer has been pretty full and Christmas and New Year’s feels like an age ago already. Really to be honest, I’m quite relieved that we only have 1 month and 1 week of summer left. I’m still a little nervous that we’ll run out of water, either for us or for the garden. So far so good as we’ve had a decent amount of rain but I’m still wary and am pretty conservative with my use of it. The water isn’t the only reason I’m ok about summer nearing autumn. Flies. Hundreds of trillions of billions of very friendly sticky flies. I know that comes with living in the country surrounded by cattle farms, and I’m not complaining, I’m just saying ‘bloody flies’ about 68 times a day and feeling like I’m going to battle every time I walk out the door. Long sleeves, buttoned up high collar, sunhat with mozzie netting, not for the mozzies but for the flies, and ready to wave arms furiously. Everyone requires a thorough pat down before coming in the house for fear they’ll bring in freeloaders riding on their back. It’s been quite a shock to get used to the sheer volume and friendliness of them I’ll admit. I did just purchase some ‘fantastic stuff’ according to the farmer down the road, who was recommended it by the pea grower down the road. It’s a natural product with rosemary and cedarwood oils and is pretty pongy so the flies approach you then supposedly just stop once they hit your awesome new waft and move along to their next unsuspecting victim. I’ll believe it when I see it. Here’s hoping. I was feeling optimistic and bought the big jar. Will keep you posted.

Apart from fighting the fly army there’s been lots of other stuff happening too. Sadly my 6 month sabbatical has come to an end and I’m actively job hunting everyday. I can’t believe how fast that went, yet at the same time it seems like ages ago I was doing that daily 3-4 hour commute to work. We’ve got stacks done to the farm during that time including planting the orchard and establishing our veggie garden. There’s still a couple of garden beds we’ve yet to plant into, but boy have we managed to eat some produce out of it already. It’s really incredible how much food you can produce from a patch of land in 6 months. Apart from seedling gifts from family and friends, everything was planted from seed so it seemed to take forever to get started, but now we are surely reaping what we sowed. The first cucumber yesterday, I have a baby rockmelon and hopefully more to come. Plenty of carrots and some Parsnips. Spring onions, onions and golden shallots. Peas, snow peas and now the beans have started. Lots of different lettuce, spinach, and silver beet. Radishes, radishes and more radishes. Some raspberries, blueberries (about 9 actually!) and stacks of the tastiest strawberries you’ve ever eaten. Thanks Dot! Sweet and ripe through to the centre with a perfume that is positively heady.

Of course we’re so lucky that our lovely previous owners had the foresight to plant a lot of fruit trees and we’ve enjoyed the juiciest cherries and what I would call a delicious glut of apricots. I even had a go at preserving them in my brand new out of the box fowlers vacola preserving kit. Alas it wasn’t to be, by the time 24 hours ticked over I knew the jars hadn’t sealed so it was into the pot to stew them into a thick apricot sauce. All 12 size 20 jars of neatly packed halves, each half placed one by one to make for the prettiest jars. It’s ok, I’m over it now. Most of the sauce went in the freezer but I did pop some into a smoothie (yum) and even more into a mix of blended rockmelon, lemon juice and sugar syrup, of which the ice cream maker converted into the most refreshing sorbet. I’ve made a couple of batches of jam, one apricot & vanilla bean and one apricot & plum, with the plums also from our tree and a few from our neighbour down the road. I’ve found myself in the kitchen a lot more since not working and am really enjoying that time. Picking and washing the produce from the garden takes time and can provide surprises… I found a frog in the sink water whilst washing lettuces once– don’t think it gets much more organic than that.

There’s been a little craft here and there, a beanie for my Dads 70th birthday and I’m still knitting my hoodie – it’s slow going. I’ve had a go at making my own liquid soap using this recipe but changing the essential oils and the oil base. I could only get my hands on macadamia nut oil not vitamin e at the time and for the essential oils I used Lemongrass & Tea Tree for hand soap and Rose Geranium & Patchouli for the body wash. And I’ve made my own spray deodorant using this recipe but again changing the oils – I used Lavender, Myrrh & Spearmint for me, and for Charlie Cloves, Patchouli & Peppermint. No nasties and this recipe contains some good stuff that our bodies need – Magnesium oil. I’ve found it very effective but a little stingy if used after I’ve shaved my underarms! Overall I’m pretty thrilled with both these products and next on my list is laundry detergent. Mostly I just want to reduce the amount the unknown-to-me-chemicals that are about in our everyday lives.

A good portion of my time is spent in the garden, tending and watering and planting and ripping out and mounding and netting and harvesting. How lucky am I right?! I’ve had a couple of bouts of feeling unwell and after a few days of not being in the garden I get that yearning feeling to get back out there. Unless it’s stinking hot. Or it’s a bad fly day. Or the wind is that wild it takes all your strength just to walk from the house to the patch. Then I choose indoor chores like making deodorant or jam. With air con. Thank goodness for air con.

I’ve been enjoying listening to some new podcasts, mostly gardening, homesteading, permaculture types as I like picking up new tips and tricks and feel so inspired listening to how other people manage their land and look after animals and grow produce. Our neighbours flock of sheep are now out in the big 100 acre paddocks so we don’t see them much anymore. Although a couple of times when I’ve been in the patch and Lucy happens to be in the paddock next door, I’ll call her name and she’ll come running over for a pat and maybe some fresh silver beet leaves. We’re not really any closer to getting our own livestock but I think we’ve figured out what we’ll get when we do. Sheep. We need to set up some sort of water trough for the sheep before we do and we still need to work out how many. Then when we can fund a nice little safe chicken house, there will be chooks. That’s probably the main goals for the farm this year, sheep and chooks. Aside from increasing production in the veggie garden and the million little things that need doing.

So that’s me all caught up, now I’d love to hear from you. Can you tell me what’s happening in your life and where you are from so I can get to know you lovely dear reader?

May the cool breeze blow gently your way on a hot day and the flies nowhere to be seen.

Ps. Marathon post, if you read this far you’re a gem x

orchard and veggie patch














I can hardly believe it but after many years in the dreaming, I can now say we have an orchard and a great big veggie patch! It’s so exciting! As I type this there’s a new water tank being installed specifically for the veggies. The shed tank is also receiving some plumbing love with new tap connections running off it into the orchard. Although water is plentiful right now, I know summer will change that and we’ll be using it like we’re sprinkling gold dust.

In the orchard we’ve planted a yummy selection of trees, some are old heritage varieties and some newer varieties. If I’ve semi-planned it half way right, we should have fruit over an extended period of time although I still think there will be a glut at times when lots of varieties peak their harvest periods together. There are apples, peaches, apricots, cherries, figs, pears, nectarines, quinces, plums, a crabapple, an almond tree and a mulberry tree, plus we’ve planted a few lemons, limes and a blood orange. We planted just over 50 trees! Along one boundary of the veggie patch we’ve planted raspberries and in the patch we already have potatoes, onions, cauliflower, broccoli, radishes, carrots, parsnips, beetroot, beans and peonies planted! ( Now I know peonies aren’t veggies but we brought a heap of them with us from our old house and if we left them in their ‘temporary’ planter boxes any longer we might have lost them.) I also have a heap of peas, snow peas and sugarsnap peas all starting to sprout in my little make shift seedling nursery on the back deck. And today I’m hoping to add tomato seeds to the mix.

We garden biodynamically and have applied preparations to the property, it was quite the surreal moment as it was often talked about when dreaming out loud. Everything has been planted in accordance with the moon calendar and I’ve done a few extra things that I’ve read about in Biodynamic books but are possibly just good gardening tips. For instance I’ve heard about soaking pea seeds prior to planting them, as it helps soften the outer skin which can result in better germination rates. The only difference I did was soak my pea seeds in Chamomile tea, as chamomile is a significant herb used in Biodynamic gardening. Actually it was Chamomile and honey tea as that’s all I could find at the time!

Our property was certified Biodynamic when we purchased it and we can see how much this has benefited the land, the soil is incredibly healthy. Even the earthmoving guy that dug our tree holes and cut in our garden beds, couldn’t believe how many worms there were… and he digs soil for a living! It’s quite a heavy clay type soil but it’s chocoblock with worms and there’s a lovely layer of rich top soil that’s been chemical free for 8 years, whilst being fertilized naturally by the sheep and cattle that are lucky enough eat all the spray free pasture. The proof’s in the pudding as they say, and so far whatever we’ve planted is looking great… fingers crossed this continues! Although I did hear a funny saying from a neighbour the other day, ‘They say you could plant a toothpick a grow a forest around here!‘ … maybe the odds are in our favour anyway hey?

To say it’s been a very active time getting our orchard and veggie patch in, is putting it rather mildly. I’ve been keeping an eye on my step counter in my phone, and when you see the graph for this year it’s very easy to spot exactly when I finished work in the office. I love it! It’s wonderful to be doing something physically active during the day after years and years of sitting at a desk. My body is thanking me for it, albeit in a whiny ouchy voice at times! Meanwhile the voice in head keeps telling me to pinch myself. ‘You’re here on the farm of your dreams. And now you have an orchard, something you’ve dreamed of for years. And a massive veggie patch, with more room than you could possibly need. Better pinch again to make sure you’re not dreaming girl’…. *pinch*

Wishing you all the fruit and veg and sprouting seeds of your dreams x

PS. Here’s the before and after photos in case you want to see exactly what we did and just how paddocky this patch of earth was before we turned into an orchard and veggie patch!


Before – Looking East towards Veggie Patch

After – Looking East towards Veggie Patch

 

 


Before – Looking West towards house

After – Looking West towards house

 

 


Before – Looking North over Veggie Patch

After – Looking North over Veggie Patch

 

 


Before – Looking West over Orchard

After – Looking West over Orchard

 

 


Before – Looking South over Orchard

After – Looking South over Orchard

Phew that’s a lot of photos…you’re pretty awesome if you scrolled all the way down here – thanks!

field and flourish


















Back in November I got to enjoy my August birthday… a gift to attend the fabulous Field and Flourish workshop run by Tamsin from Tamsin’s Table and Mel from Cecilia Fox. I adore Mel’s flower arrangements and I’ve long been a fan of Tamsin’s Instagram feed, her images feel like they’ve been plucked from my dreams – rolling green hills, beautiful farmhouse, lots of fresh homegrown produce, and so many pretty flowers and table settings not to mention delicious food… just gorgeous. Funnily enough I didn’t seem to capture any food shots, I guess I was too busy eating it, all of which was homegrown and homemade, sprinkled with pretty flowers and love.

The day began with a wander through the Rose paddock…. yes paddock! Tamsin planted a whole paddock full of Roses, not just any Roses either but a carefully curated collection of Roses that not only travels through history as you travel down the hill, but blows your socks off with perfume and petals and colour. Then it was time to wander through the veggie garden, collecting all sorts of lovely foliage and veg that was purposely left to go to seed. Did you know Leek seed heads make for a stunning addition to an arrangement? They do! Most of us ventured beyond the veggie garden to collect some grass seed heads and other goodies and of course to check out the free range Turkeys and their babies. Who knew baby Turkeys were so cute?

We prepared our flowers and dethorned our roses under the cool shade of the magnificent old Ash Tree that graces the garden surrounding Tamsin’s farmhouse, listening to the lovely stories Mel shared about all sorts of things including becoming a florist in New Zealand. All the while Tamsin and her friendly team were busy preparing our lunch, the smells wafting out of the kitchen were amazing. Back inside and under the gentle guidance of Mel each student made a posy and a large arrangement, whilst delicious snacks were served and we sipped rose syrup spritzes. Freshly dug heirloom radishes, with a generous slathering of butter and a sprinkling of salt and deep-fried onion anyone? Oh my that was a taste sensation that had to be eaten to be believed. Divine!

Before we knew it first course was served and my taste buds were in heaven again. Tamsin kindly accommodated all my tricky food allergies and blew me away with a flavoursome 3 course lunch. Everything looked pretty as picture and almost too good to eat. Blue potatoes with pretty little blue flowers scattered throughout the fresh greens may give you an idea of the kind of pretty I’m talking about. But it couldn’t convey the deliciousness. Nor could my description of a quince syrup sorbet with sweet tangy poached Rhubarb (so fresh I saw it being carried from the veggie garden whilst we were eating first course!) and sprinkled with the tiniest but most divinely flavoured fresh rose geranium petals. I guess you’ll just have to trust me when I say the food was as pretty as it was delicious and fresh. We ate our fill and chatted around the beautiful big table, surrounded by gorgeous old windows with views to die for.

What a lovely day it was. Mel’s stories and helpful advice with the flowers and arranging, and Tamsin’s welcoming hosting and delicious food made for the most perfect combination. I learnt about arrangements having ‘ins and outs’ and giving each bloom room to breathe. I learned that the right variety of zucchini will make the most amazing noodles you’ve ever tasted and you can grow a huge amount of produce in a relatively humble plot… and of course so much more than I could eloquently share with you here… If this dreamy day sounds like your kind of cuppa tea, then you’ll be pleased to know Tamsin and Mel run this workshop every year, but they always sell out within days of being announced so you’ll need to be quick if you want to book into this gem of day.

Wishing you dreamy days flourished with delicious prettiness x

podcasts and craft wagons












The other week I felt like I was the last person on earth that hadn’t opened the Podcast app on their phone. So I decided I was going to investigate this whole podcast thing that I kept hearing about, and a few days later this great post appeared on one of my favourite blogs, Meet me at Mikes. Put it out to the universe and suddenly it comes to you hey? Well after a great head start thanks to Pip, I soon found a few more subjects that piqued my interest and I’ve been ‘podcasting’ ever since. On the drive to and from work, when there’s crap on tv and even when I get outvoted in the tv watching stakes, and there’s some sort of ruby/hunting/fishing show on. I pop my little earplugs in and I’m off in another world learning about amazing people, what makes for good design and why we like to swear. It’s brilliant! Have you tried it yet? What do you listen to?

The first week of spring has brought with it all sorts of beautiful and not freezing mornings, sparkly sunshine on jasmine and dewy raindrops on blossom. My maybush is flowering, the birds are extra happy and chirpy, and it’s a teeny bit lighter when I get home from work. We’ve picked and eaten lots of fresh greens from the garden this week and I’m looking forward to the veggies growing a bit faster than the slow mode of winter. Cakes were baked and eaten in celebration of all the Leo birthdays plus one early Virgo birthday in our family. I made a flourless zesty citrus cake with sweet potato, loosely based on this recipe, a decadent chocolate chip cookie cake loosely based on this recipe (thanks Reannon!).

In other news I’ve been struggling to fit in craft time of late – unheard of for me as I’m usually pretty good at prioritising this, I know my sanity suffers if I don’t. But for some reason it’s taken a back seat for the last few weeks while things got a little chaotic around here in the wardrobe/declutter/move furniture in every.single.room to a new spot mode. Finally we’re settling back into a regular state of slightly ordered chaos, only a bit of furniture rearranging to go, and most of the crazy chaos is gone (some of it just moved outside to the garage!). Anyways, as a result of the lack of craft, unsurprisingly my health has started to suffer and I’ve been feeling a bit average / stressy / overwhelmed… so I got to fixing that by casting on a beanie at the beginning of the week and casting off by the end of the week. It felt so satisfying and so good to be crafting again. I used some fave chunky baby alpaca which was a delight to knit up. The squishyness is impossible to describe or see in the photo but trust me, you’d want to curl up and sleep in this beanie if it was big enough. I talked my son into modelling it for photos again, ‘just pretend you’re a pixie in the flower garden’ I said… you can probably guess which photo is the one I said this in?

Don’t you think it’s funny how even when we know what’s good for us, we still fall off the wagon and forgot/stop to prioritise the things that bring us peace and make us feel good about ourselves and life in general. I’m back on the wagon again and even cleaned out my yarn basket and got myself a few new projects to play with. Bring on the craft and spring sunshine I say!

Wishing you a gentle cushioned landing if you fall off your wagon, and giving you a leg up to get back on again.

raindrops on snowdrops










The Bees are face-down-bum-up in the Daphne, which smells simply divine. Night rain leaves the snowdrop patch sparkling like diamonds as the morning sun streams in. Camellias show off their pretty colours with their delicate petals dancing in the late afternoon light. Daffodils turn their sunshine faces towards the sun and the Hyacinths poke their pretty little heads out of the ground, reminding me spring is near. As the sunlight flickers through the trees I watch the birds gather their twigs and treasures, ever so selective in their choice. I listen to the chirpy cheery birds and soak the up the quiet peace of the garden.

Ok, I’m ready for another day.

I hope you are well and find sparkly diamonds in your garden.