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 december 2016
















So the best of intentions to write more often here doesn’t mean it happens. The last few months have been a whirl of sowing, planting, weeding, mowing, mulching, digging, baking, hand feeding Lucy, job hunting, Chrissy shopping, visits to Melbourne, and possibly way too many hours gazing out at our lovely hills and valley. As the grass on the hills grows long it takes on the appearance of a green ocean when the wind brushes over the top of it, pushing and swishing it in all different directions, flowing like grassy waves up the mountain. It’s totally mesmerizing and can draw you in before you know it.

Since I wrote you last three new lambs were born. The first arrived not solid black like they usually do, this one had all these zig zag patterns over his coat, so we named him Ziggy. Within a day the next lamb arrived, and this one just stuck to Ziggy from day one. They are best buds so we named him Iggy. Then when the Moto GP was being raced not far from us, the last lamb of the season was born. He’s a real little racer so we named him Duke. Well Ziggy, Iggy and Duke are the new little gang in town and love to race laps of the paddock with Lucy and the Twins but mostly just hang out together, often play fighting over the newly named Lamb Rock. There’s really nothing funnier that watching a lamb bounce, spin 360 degrees and land slightly awkwardly.

As you probably know, the warmer weather brings with the snakes and I had myself a terrifying incident involving a large black one and the ride on mower and a lot of swearing. Both of us were frightened out of our minds and retreated back away after discovering each other, needless to say it’s created a rather anxious vibe when mowing that particular corner and any other spot along the fence where the grass next door is long. Our lawns are mown within an inch of their lives, short short short is how I like it and the snakes don’t, so I mow for many hours each week and Charlie brushcuts for many more. We did get the last of the first stage of works completed which was impeccably timed as it involved removing all the huge overgrown snakey flax plants from around the house. Like I said, timing couldn’t have been better, had the snake incident happened before we had the flax removed I think I would have been too scared to walk in and out the front door!

We have finally started eating out of our veggie garden, fresh organic lettuce rocket and spinach salad anyone? The next lot of radishes are nearly ready and soon we’ll have parsnips, carrots and beetroots too. We’ve had a few snowpeas and sugarsnap peas but hopefully a lot more to come. Coriander is coming along nicely, the birds have loved the strawberries (!) and the spud fest will be here before we know it. Onions are booming and the cucumber and zucchini seeds have just sprouted. A few precious tomato seedlings are in and I’ve got a heap more to plant when they get a little bigger. In the heart of the veggie patch I planted a mixture of flower seeds that are designed to bring in the beneficial insects and we are experimenting with composting our grass clippings from the veggie patch and can’t wait to see if it’s going to work. It’s all very exciting and so rewarding now that we are picking our homegrown goodies for dinner.

I’ve found it tricky trying to squeeze in craft time, I guess spring is a busy time in any garden and that compounded with the work we are doing still getting ourselves set up, along with the general upkeep of the orchard & veggie garden and the mowing has kept my days very full without even looking at my craft projects. But I am progressing very occasionally with knitting a jumper, which will probably be a bit ugly as I wanted to use up a particular type of yarn I had, and the colours together, well let’s just say I wouldn’t normally put them all together, but I needed all them to make the jumper so it will mostly likely be a farm / gardening jumper. I crocheted some sweet little garlands and I have also started to make my first ever patchwork quilt. I used up all my favourite precious bits of fabric, some of which I’ve saved for years, but really what’s the point of having them if you don’t use them? So I chopped into them and I just love the colour palette that evolved. I remember reading this wonderful post and absolutely loved the way Alicia created this quilt, no prior planning or pedantic placement of fabrics/colours, just cut, barely or not measured, and sewed randomly together. Reading the story of how this quilt was put together totally gave me the confidence to give it a go myself, I thought all quilting had to be so precise and that’s not really my style. Anyway, after a big day sewing all the strips back in October, I’m yet to get back to it! Everything in my craft room is exactly as I left it – sewing machine all set up, swatches of fabric laying everywhere, strips hanging from the wardrobe (making access to it a little challenging), and bits of cotton all over the place! I am hoping to get back to it very soon, probably when the grass growing starts to slow with the summer heat and lack of rain, less mowing more sewing maybe?

Given my track record of late, I’m not sure if I’ll be back here before Christmas so I’d like to wish you a very Merry Christmas, or Happy Hanukah, or have a great end of the year, whatever it is that you celebrate at this time. I hope this year has given you more joy than sadness, more laughs than tears, and that wisdom and kindness keep you company throughout the coming year. Thank you for popping in here, taking the time to comment, and following along this little blog, I’m really honoured that anybody reads this at all, so thank you.

Sending Peace Love & Harmony to you x

life on the farm… august 2016























Oh my busy bees! Life’s so chock-o-block I really wonder how I would’ve got everything done had I still been working. Since finishing work I’ve spent way more time at the computer than I anticipated I would … there’s always the next stage of our dream that I need to research… lawnmowers, fruit trees, seeds, excavation, mulch, fences, tow bars, trailers etc etc etc … and there is something to learn about all of them. Go on ask me about ride on lawn mowers, I never thought I’d know so much about those things, that’s for sure! We still haven’t taken the leap and committed to purchasing one yet either, which is kinda driving me nuts, the lawns are so long we need to make a call soon before we’re living in a jungle.

The winter brought fog so thick one morning that our view completely disappeared. I watched the fog roll over the hill and down the valley, then back up the hill towards us until all I could see was our back gate about 10 metres from the back door. It was a complete white out and was incredibly eerie… and beautiful… and cold. Thank goodness for the tonnes of firewood we’ve had delivered. Even though it was delivered in the driveway as it was too boggy to drop direct into the shed this time. I am proud to say I moved over a tonne of firewood by myself one day! Talk about farmer material! (Let’s not talk about how I could hardly move the next day shall we?)

Lucy the lamb is quite the gutsy little girl. She’s not really integrated that well with the others, but it doesn’t seem to bother her. No fence holds her in, she’s under, over and through the barbed wire in a blink, and was caught jumping up onto the trailer to reach the tender leaves from the low branches of a tree. Whereas Buttons and Bouncer still stay close to their mums and don’t look like they’re game to try and get through fences let alone jump up on trailers. The cows are so very curious and looking positively radiant at the moment, I don’t know if it’s all the fresh green lush grass or the season or the organic farming, or a combination of all of the above, but the late afternoon sun highlighted just how shiny and glossy and healthy they are one particular day.

Of course with this lovely organically farmed land, and all our waste going back into the land, our choice in cleaners and detergents have never been more important. Have you heard of Soapnuts? My lovely friend introduced them to me the other day (thanks Jill!) and I’ve already done a couple of loads of washing with them. They are a natural nut/seed/berry thing that grows on a tree and you just pop a couple into a little laundry bag (or odd sock!), and no other detergents are needed. My washing came out clean and didn’t have any artificial soapy smell. The bonus is they appear to be very economical to use as well. You can find out more about them here if you’re interested.

I hope to be back again soon with a recipe, some craft and an orchard / veggie patch update.

Wishing you busy bee blessings and great washing days!

homegrown love

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Homegrown veggies are love. Homemade produce is love. Grandmas are love. Grandma’s recipes to make homemade produce with homegrown veggies… well that’s a big old dose of homegrown love wrapped in a comforting sentimental crocheted blankie.

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Yesterday was Grandma’s Tomato Sauce day again here at Dove Cottage. It was the first time my sister and I have made it with our own homegrown tomatoes, all 17 kg’s of them! And boy were we in awe of Grandma… again. By the time we finished we were totally exhausted and wondered how Grandma used to manage it by herself as she was getting older.

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There were the usual culprits on the day… giggles, sticky pots, remembering Grandma, lots of dishes, piano playing, tears, lots of stirring, overflowing sauce bottles, and a house smelling of sweet spicy tomatoes.

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One of the most special parts of the day is when the Piano is played. The Piano has such a strong connection to both my Grandma and my Gran. My sister played on Gran’s Piano, using my Grandma’s music book, with skill and feeling nurtured by my Grandma… and she played Für Elise, the song I would always ask Grandma to play. I guess it’s stating the obvious when I tell you that’s when the tears came into the play for the day?

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I had such a healthy crop of juicy ripe tomatoes (which are still coming), that I had enough to try my hand at some semi dried tomatoes as well. I used the lovely Kate at Foxs Lane recipe and was so pleased with how well they turned out. Tasty little flavour filled bursts of sunshiney goodness.

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I also have a basket of Clingstone Peaches ready for stewing or baking into cakes. And the last of my Granny Smith Apples need picking too. Plus I’m busting to try this Green Tomato Salsa. I am learning how much time and effort goes into growing and preserving your own food. And I’m learning how satisfying it feels to do so. It’s reaffirming, I’m on the right path heading towards the semi self sufficient farmy dream. Granted there’s no farm yet, this is just the small scale suburban back yard version, but you gotta start somewhere right?

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Making Grandma’s Tomato Sauce is not just about the bottles of sauce at the end of the day, though they are pretty darn good! It’s about homegrown love, sister love, remembering Grandma’s love and kindness, honouring memories, feeling grateful for lovely loving grandparents, and taking a little wander down a very beautiful sentimental lane.

How about you, is there a special recipe in your life? Do tell.

Wishing you homegrown love and sweet juicy tomatoes.

my smile inducers… january

In the spirit of that old thing ‘what you focus on grows’…. it’s time to look for some smile inducing moments… I’ll go first shall I?
In no particular order….
 
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When my boy told me about choosing to spend his precious few last backpacking dollars on a book to keep him entertained on the long trip home from Colombia to Australia, instead of buying a meal. I feel like I must have done something right there, books over food… and he loves his food!
 
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Watching hubby chase the birds out of our apple trees… he’s pretty tall and lanky (think praymantis) and when he hears those familiar lorakeit-gorging-sounds, he flys out the door, leaps over whatever debris is in the backyard (currently a teasingly-lazy-hammock), and furiously waves a big stick at the birds, telling them in no uncertain terms to buggar off! Ahh if only he’d let me take a photo of this, I’m sure you’d be smiling!
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Eating my homegrown veggies… I don’t mean to bang on about it, but it seriously makes me so happy and smiley with every mouthful!
 
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The Humans of New York website… yes I know, I’m late to the party… I usually am… some of the stories are a quite heartbreaking but the inspirational warm and fuzzies mostly outweigh the sad bits… I’d love ALL school teachers to read this one
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Mondays! I know, who’d have thunk it! I’m so enjoying my new dear monday series I’m actually looking forward to Mondays so I can reminisce over my holiday photos and pick just the right one for that particular Monday… that may be the ONLY thing I’m looking forward on Mondays, but hey, it’s a start.
 
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Listening to pearls of wisdom from Ralph on Landline, who is now 84 and still working in the timber mill he designed and built when he was in his 60’s. The classic understated country way he spoke, and how this rolled off the tongue, made me smile indeed:
“There are things in it [the saw mill] that I didn’t do right, because, let’s face it, a fella whose never made a mistake, he’s never made anything”… and aint that the truth!
 
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This blog… if you’re ever having a crap day just pop over here for some guaranteed authentic cheery attitude… you really can’t help but leave a Pip post without a smile. I’d just love to have more of that cheery disposition so I pop over regularly in the hope that it’ll rub off a bit.
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Getting a flat tyre on a pretty road… admittedly the pretty road induced more of a smile than the flat, although it was the second flat in 2 weeks so I kinda had to smile. Smile or *swear! And really, what can you do? Change it, enjoy the scenery, move on and smile about the good fortune of breaking down in a pretty peaceful part of the country I say.
 
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Music is especially giving me plenty of heart smiles lately… Being able to escape the everyday into favourite songs whilst crocheting is one of my all time favourite things to do… I’m loving the whole Sweet Apple CD but especially this song, and this song.
 
Ok, now it’s your turn… tell me something that’s made you smile lately… big or little it doesn’t matter… a smile shared is… a smile shared!

May your smile-o-meter runneth over with happy.

 

*Of course I did plenty of that too!

 

crafting blues and eating greens

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Hello, are you well? How’s 2015 panning out so far? I hope it’s been kind to you… it’s been rather blue for me… in a crafty way… I’m so boring consistent with my colours.

Woven Ocean Blankie
100% pure baby alpaca, crochet.

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This is the finished blankie that I started back here. It’s a big feathery pile of squishy soft blue, aqua, teal and mint. My favourite wedge of the colour wheel.

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And this stitch is absolutely my favourite crochet stitch at the moment. I’ve seen it referred to as moss stitch, seed stitch, woven stitch and others, but I call it woven stitch and used this fab little tutorial here to get me started. It’s such an easy stitch to remember and I love the way it produces a look somewhere between weaving and knitting.

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This is going to be a shawl… eventually… I hope… There’s some yarn chicken going on with this project so it could be a different colour by the time I finish it too. I found this easy free pattern here and I’ve had this gorgeous yarn for ages. The pattern is a simple 3 row repeat producing a lacey type look as it’s a big fat hook (4mm) with fingerling weight yarn.

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This yarn is 50% silk 50% wool, hand painted and the colourway is called ‘North Wind’… cute huh?! It’s beautifully luxurious, I especially adore the colour variation and the gentle sheen that the silk adds. Way back I made a scarf with this yarn which I’ve since sold in my Etsy Shop. I think I’ll be keeping this shawl though… says she who has never worn a shawl in her life and happens to have to another half finished shawl stashed away waiting to be finished!

I just loved this post from the lovely Kate at Foxs Lane about exactly that – half finished crafty projects. My ‘excuse’ for the other half finished one is this… Black Knight, the black alpaca, had to grow more of his luscious black fibre, this has to be then be spun before I can purchase it, and hopefully finish the unfinished shawl.

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If you follow me on instagram you’ll know how much I’ve been spamming my feed with our Dove Cottage Harvest. Our humble little veggie patch is going great guns and we’ve been enjoying so many healthy fresh organic greens like this silver beet. And if you just went eewwwww, then please hear me out. Purchased silver beet from the shops may as well be a different vegetable altogether. Fresh picked baby silver beet is sweet, not bitter, and almost dissolves in your mouth – so not chewy like the shop stuff can be. It’s truly delish! And of course one the easiest things to grow ever!

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I just came inside from taking these two photos, and to my delight spotted the first of our butter beans. Crunchy juicy sweetness… I had to test one! We have been eating heaps of the regular green beans though, I’m thrilled with how much a couple of seeds have produced. As well as the beans and silver beet, lately we’ve been enjoying lettuce, zucchini, (monster) squash, and fresh new potatoes. Seriously my mouth is watering just typing that! I know it’s cliché and all that, but growing your own veg is so rewarding and delicious! If you’ve ever thought about doing so… but just not got there… find a teeny little corner in your garden, or get a big pot on the verandah, and plant something easy like silver beet, radish or lettuce. I swear you’ll be hooked in no time!

Wishing you blue skies and delicious greens to eat… see you soon for dear monday.