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(This will just be a quick post because I have a doctor’s appointment soon)

I was talking to my sister this morning and she mentioned that she’d read my last blog post and she commented on the fact that most of my recent posts have all been about gardening and I completely agree with her! I’m reminded of it every time I choose my tags for the posts and am confronted with a tag cloud that shows me how often I use each tag and ‘garden’ screams at me very loudly! It’s not that gardening is all I do – the truth is far from that! The fact of the matter is that the garden produces the most beautiful photos and I am loathe to post anything without pictures. I am too visually and aesthetically minded to omit a visual aid  in most of my posts!

I am going to try and get a greater variety back into my posts but today I have yet another gardening related post that I have to share with you.

Yesterday I had a small revelation. It began when my aunt told me about a family friend who is going through some unexpected financial problems and is having trouble getting food on the table for her family of three. My aunt is planning to visit her and give her a supermarket voucher and it was without hesitation that I said I would get a box of veges from the garden to give her family too. This is the reason everyone should grow their own veges and fruit – so we can share! God makes an abundance of goodness grow from tiny little seeds and it only makes sense to share what we can’t use.

And so yesterday and today I have been gathering vegetables and packing them into a box to be given to this family who we love. It was pretty amazing to see how much the garden has given us. My dad works the hardest in the garden and it’s to his credit that it’s so productive. I think we have a responsibility to share all our blessings whether they be food or time or the ability to listen.

Anyway, the vegetables looked so beautiful on the table so I had to take a photo to share with you.

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It’s not a great photo but you get the point. Everything on that table was from my parents’ garden. Just for interest and so you can see what we harvest in late spring in a subtropical climate I will list what’s there. Sweet potato, pumpkin, leek, brown onions, cucumber, squash, cherry tomatoes, pepinos, carrots (in the paper bag), green and brown mignonette lettuces, tatsoi (an asian green that’s great in stir fries and salads), beetroot, lebanese eggplants, celery, bean yam, choko, a lemon and a jar of freshly made strawberry jam my mum made from home grown strawberries. The best thing about this food is that it all came from the garden and it’s just the extras.

So it was with lots of love and a little pride that I packed it all up into a box to be given to some people that my family and I love.

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If you’re wanting more motivation to start growing your own veges you’ve got it. I’ve always loved the idea of being able to grow a big lemon tree that produces so much fruit you have to give it away. The same could be done with tomatoes or chokos or whatever else your individual green thumb can nurture. It also fits into my ideal world where community and family means everything. But I can tell you more about that idea later.

I love you all.

ps. Did you see my new bunch of zinnias? This time I picked all the little flowers. Some of them are amazingly detailed!

Check out these lemons!

This is just one branch on my aunt’s lemon tree. I have this list in my head of all the trees I must have in my own future garden and lemons are definitely on that list. There’s something special about having an over abundance of lemons. I’d love to have a bucket of lemons and be able to give them away and make homemade lemonade and make lemon meringue pies and lemon marmalade. I just hope I can grow a lemon tree better than my dad…they seem to be one of the only plants that he just can’t keep alive!

Some other trees on my list include mulberries, mandarin, pecan, cumquat, orange, pomelo and a few other subtropical varieties of tree. Oh that reminds me of a challenge on the finale of Masterchef the other night…the contestants had to name three fruits and I could not believe they didn’t know cumquats and guavas! I tend to forget that what we grow where I live doesn’t grow in all parts of Australia. I feel privileged.

Speaking of fruit trees, I had a great conversation with my aunt this morning about using fruit trees and vegetables and herbs as part of your garden. I don’t believe there should be a distinction between a garden and a vegetable garden. Why not combine them? If you’re going to be looking after a flower garden anyway, why not just add in a few edible plants  or fruit trees? It makes sense and you know it. Plus, it would make gardening more fun if you could reach over while weeding and grab a snow pea or a cherry tomato.

Until next time,

xo

ps. Did you click on all the lemony links? I was doing a search for photos of lemons with a creative commons license on flickr and I just had to share them. Lemons make beautiful photography subjects!

This is one gardening project I haven’t told you about yet. Remember my ridiculous excited craziness over the joy that is a bean teepee? Well, soon afterwards my dad and I got our brains together on a drizzly afternoon and we collected bamboo and created a massive bamboo dome like structure over which I intended to grow purple climbing beans and purple podded peas, purchased from Eden Seeds.

I planted the seeds and waited for them to pop out of the ground. I seriously would go out to the garden first thing every morning and examine the soil. And they all pushed their way out and started growing vigorously. My excitement was increasing day by day…soon I would have the bean teepee of my dreams!

However there was an unforeseen factor in the growth of the beans. A subtropical pest known as the bean fly. I had never heard of such a dastardly beast, but suddenly my beautiful beans ceased to thrive and they just stopped growing. With a heavy heart I pulled them out and burnt the infected plants. I was a little disheartened but I decided to try growing them again. Dad said I should probably spray them but neither of us really liked that idea so I thought I’d just try my luck again. They ended up the same way.

But the peas that I had planted were perfect and before I knew it they had sprung up and up and up and then they were like this.

I know it’s probably a little difficult to see here, but they are now taller than me! The alternate garden beds were growing beans but the only thing left in them are the smaller sweet peas whose flowers I can’t wait for! I have planted some more purple peas in those beds too, so maybe I will have my green shelter at some stage in the future. But speaking of flowers, check out the flowers on those purple peas.

They smell amazing too. When you walk through that part of the garden there’s this beautiful subtle sweet pea-ish scent. The next stage of their growth is the peas! Today they were big enough for me to pick.

And from that, to this…

I cooked them for a few seconds in boiling water and just gobbled them right up. They tasted perfect. Some people might think that the labour of planting and picking and podding just wouldn’t be worth it, but I would disagree. I think it goes along with part of the slow food movement. When you grow your own food you gain an appreciation and respect for the environment and what can be produced when you embrace it.

The preparation just adds to the enjoyment of the final product. I will definitely enjoy these peas for weeks to come. I feel privileged.

xo

Or rather, I’ve already baked three cakes. These were the cakes I baked and decorated for my sister’s 21st party a few weeks ago.

It was a cherry chocolate cake iced with chocolate butter icing, glacé cherries and homemade pink fondant icing. Well, it was supposed to be red, but it was impossible with the ingredients I had on hand. The cake recipe itself was quite simple but somehow I managed to break one cake in half as I turned it out of the pan but it was nothing a good lashing of icing couldn’t fix!

I liked the way the cake decorating turned out, but it didn’t exactly measure up to the grand cake I had envisaged in my head. I had imagined making a vibrant red fondant icing and rolling it out and cutting out beautiful crisp letters and making a big red flower out of various red food stuffs like fruit roll ups (I bought some but the red was really an anaemic pink), raspberry licorice (I ate it before I decorated the cake) and other sweet delights.

What I didn’t anticipate was the difficulty and fussiness involved in making fondant icing. I mean, it wasn’t too hard making the icing as such, but the colour was impossible to achieve with liquid food colouring! And when I finally rolled a sheet of the pinkish red icing out, after having it stick to everything, the lovely letters I cut out stretched horribly when I picked them up. So I made a compromise, I rolled out long sausages of icing and wrote on the cake with that.

I actually really like what I ended up with and the best part is, of course, is that my sister loved it and the cake tasted delicious on the day and there was enough for the 80 plus guests we had. All in all, despite a few hiccups along the way, a success!

This is one of the things that have kept me busy in the last month – my beautiful sister’s 21st birthday party. It was a beautiful, beautiful morning enjoyed by all, even my parents who were very busy! It was a breakfast party, we had croissants with jam or ham and cheese, fruit, scones, birthday cake, lollies, tea and sparkling apple and grape juice. No one was hungry after that!

Oh and the music! A few weeks earlier my sis, myself and a friend were enjoying our coffees at the West End markets and a lovely singer came and performed right there for us! Well, it felt like that anyway. We got her business card and thus discovered Luna Junction. My sister organised for her to come and play for the party and she brought a few friends along too. They were absolutely perfect. A mix of folk/gypsy/jazz/world music and they stuck around for a chat and a little extra jamming. I would seriously recommend Luna Junction to anyone looking for some music to give a gathering some extra life. Well worth the money!

So on to the photos! Enjoy the pure, unedited goodness. I had plans of making them even prettier in photoshop but I couldn’t bring myself to change them in any way – they illustrate the morning just the way it was! I am glad we brought the camera along.

These are just a few of many many beautiful photos. The theme of red really shone through!

To my sister and best friend, you are so beautiful and you have the world at your feet. I can’t wait for next year! I love you so much. xo

I have always been a believer that it’s the little things in life that can make you happy. Long long ago I started a blog-ish type thing with my best bud where we would talk about all the things we were grateful for. It never went very far, but the concept has always stuck with me. I think it’s important to find enjoyment and appreciation in everything in your life, especially the little things that make up the bulk of the day.  As cheesy and hippy-ish it sounds, it’s almost as though you need to open your mind to being aware of the small things. Sometimes the things that have really turned my day around have been tiny.

Once after uni a few years back, in the early evening, I was feeling particularly grumpy and I decided to go for a walk. I wandered around thinking that I was so sick of seeing the same things everyday, hearing the same sounds, learning the same stuff. I was probably a teeny bit homesick too. Anyway, after wandering for a while, I heard these strange birdcalls that I’d been hearing at night. I never knew what they were. It sounded like there were heaps of them and the sound kept getting closer…I ended up walking through an entire flock of them. It was amazing. It turns out they were Bush stone-curlews. Maybe it wasn’t such a little thing, but it was amazing all the same. I recorded them on my phone and I used to use it as an alarm tone for a while so I could wake up to the sound of birds while I lived in the city. That moment woke me up and made me feel as though the world was there for me discover, wherever I was at the time.

My inspiration for this post came from picking tomatoes. I could pick them in a boring bowl and be done with it but there is a nostalgic joy from putting them in a basket. Everything is more fun when you use a basket! Well, maybe not everything, but picking tomatoes, collecting eggs and picking flowers is always better in a basket. 

See what I mean? If I was being cynical and boring, I could say that it doesn’t matter what the heck I put my tomatoes in, they’re still the same tomatoes and I would be right but there’s no fun in thinking that way!

So today, I hope you can find enjoyment in something…whether it be picking tomatoes, seeing a particularly amazing sunset, having an unexpected conversation with a friend or stranger, watching the stars, eating your lunch, discovering a flock of birds or smiling at a stranger and getting a smile in return…the possibilities are endless! You can make life much richer without having to spend a cent. 

I will continue to use my basket. Just because.

The only thing missing is the ham. 

Green eggs. They were surprisingly delicious and probably a great way of adding veges to a simple breakfast. The green is from comfrey. I just blended some young comfrey leaves with a few eggs and made scrambled eggs. It just tasted a little spinach-y. Pretty tasty actually and I think it looks awesome! I just love a hot breakfast on a Saturday or Sunday. I think I would like to make it a tradition. I love thinking about the traditions I would like to establish in my life… hot breakfasts on weekends, regular unpluggings of technology…and a few more…and a healthy dose of flexibility if it doesn’t turn out my way!

I hope you can feel the warmth of the sun on your skin today.

How cool is this? Bread is my latest weekend hobby. Bread in a camp oven over hot coals. The first two attempts resulted in absolutely delicious bread but it was a little burnt. This one was a smaller batch and I did it all by myself. I even decorated this one so it looked a little bit French. I am a little in awe of how satisfying it is to make bread completely from scratch. You can gather so much enjoyment and pleasure from food, growing it, harvesting it, cooking it. All food should be enjoyed. It’s an amazing blessing and it is a beautiful thing to share home cooked and home grown food.  

Homemade bread tastes far better than purchased loaves and I can’t see myself going back to supermarket for bread at the moment. In a normal week I won’t eat much bread. A large loaf cooked on Saturday or Sunday generally keeps me going all week. And it makes the most perfect toast and the best bruschetta bread with my homegrown tomatoes.

I’m still adjusting to the changes in my life and sometimes I feel as though I have to validate my lack of social activities with other events such as gardening, cooking, going out for coffee or jazz or organising a camp oven roast and dinner under the stars. They’re all lovely things to do but I can’t deny I’m a little bit lonely. It’s good for me though, I plan on going rural when I finish my education graduate diploma and it’s going to be just me on my lonesome. I can do this! 

Love to you all,

xo

I recently bought a bucket load of seeds for my parents. It was ridiculously fun. Since before I can remember my parents have had this seed catalogue from Eden Seeds and I have always loved poring over the pages wanting to buy some Moon and Stars watermelon seeds or some Turkish Turban pumpkin seeds. Anyway, our last catalogue was a few years old and I thought that they might have a website, and obviously they do. The concept of Eden Seeds is fantastic. Here is an excerpt from their website

OUR AIM is to distribute old traditional open pollinated varieties of vegetable seed, preferably old Australian varieties and organically or bio-dynamically grown where possible. 

We believe they are more nutritious and better tasting, hardy and easier to grow for the home gardener. Old varieties produce over an extended period. Home gardeners obtain relaxation, enjoyment and quality from a most rewarding hobby.

Our seeds are the old traditional open pollinated non-hybrid varieties and have no chemical treatment, and no genetic engineering.

Sounds fantastic doesn’t it? And the seeds that I’ve planted so far this season have all popped up out of the soil. I am beyond excited about one of these projects. I will dedicate an entire blog post about that when it gets easier to photograph. I’m planting some more seeds this afternoon in the seeds beds. I really love planting and watching all the brassicas grow at this time of year… broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, kohl rabi and my most anticipated, tatsoi. It’s this lovely salad green whose name had been a mystery that I first enjoyed as part of an Asian Salad Mix punnet of seedlings. When I found the picture in the catalogue I was so excited! So here are some pics of my seeds and of my tatsoi seedlings.

   

Now if you’re thinking about starting a garden or growing some new plants or varieties, you can always go to Eden Seeds. They were quick and efficient with my order and the delivery.

I still have more things I can blog about. I really need to remember to keep you all updated here. Sorry for the unintended neglect!

(edited to add, I just realised that I have the date wrong, it was 26/04/10 when I planted the tatsoi. I’m not that slack in updating you all!)

So, I have to break it to you. I have been eating my tomatoes. I love them. I’ve had quite a few now but I kept forgetting to take photos of them. And to be perfectly honest, they’re not all beautiful. I’ve had to put a few in the compost because they were rotten. I still don’t want to spray them, they’re essentially organic and I’d like to keep them that way. But the ones that are good are really good. Good in a lovely fleshy soft way, in a way I’ve never really experienced before. And the flavour! So this is what the plants look like now…

 

And now for the actual tomatoes. This one here is probably the best one I’ve gotten so far, big, glossy, red and mostly unblemished. Take a look at this baby…

So there you have it! I actually went away this weekend and left the tomatoes and my other current projects under the care of my parents. It was lovely to come back and see what seedlings have emerged from the soil and how quickly they grow!

More posts to come soon. Enjoy the sunshine!