Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Snapshots from our week

We have winter potatoes. These spuds grew from forgotten potatoes that sprung up in my garden in Autumn, I replanted them in a sheltered place and they have soldiered on through the chilly winter. It's not a huge harvest, but enough for a couple of meals. They were a great find as we have just eaten our way through the Autumn harvest, the purple congos were the potato hero, storing the best of all the varieties we have grown. There are still plenty of potatoes growing, we are pretty self sufficient in spuds these days.

When life gives you lemons, there's nothing better than lemon butter. Made using this recipe, I feel like a traitor not using my Nannas recipe, but have to say this one was slightly easier.

I am working on a sourdough starter, it is only 2 days old and is yet to show signs of life. Hello wild yeast, please come to my jar.
The littlest is helping me make scones, a great winter treat to warm the house and our tummies. Made using my favourite scone recipe here, it uses cream and iced water. We had a stunning sunny weekend and ate outdoors. This is the cheats way to make scones.
There has been some bug antenna making, a practice run for a future Junior Landcare activity. The middle bowerbird found some unmade projects to play with in his room, a solar plane and a dragon lurking amongst the mess.

the fire is burning non stop, Drying our washing and warming our toes, I look forward to days when we can leave the doors open and let the fresh air in.
We got another box of delicious citrus, straight from the grower. I'm thinking about making mandarin marmalade.
Each day we run to the gate, the littlest staking first claim on checking the letter box, it's currently filled with mind numbingly dull election material. Does all that campaign paper really gain more votes?

Indian minors are a pesky aggressive bird, but this one peering through my window at me made me smile. I had the feeling someone was watching me, and when I turned around there was a beady yellow eye.
I have finally gotten around to making my own clothes washing detergent, using Rhonda from Down to Earths recipe. So cheap and working a treat.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Flowers, mandalas and the smell of spring

First there was pancake Sunday, we love the Bowerbird dad and his arty pancake ways.
Now we have a new tradition, Mandala Monday. As Spring marches its way towards us there is an increasing choice of flowers to play with. Our Monday ritual started mid winter with some inspiration from some beautiful Instagram pictures on the other side of the world, (checkout #Mondaymandala), Kirsten Rickert has some particularly beautiful flower mandalas here.

Making a mandala is so peaceful. The gathering of flowers, basket in hand, watching the changes in our garden, seeing closed petals unfurl, tight green wattle buds popping out sunny yellow stamens. Looking up close, exploring nature, even when the wind is blasting and a chill creeps through our bones. It is surprising how many flowers can be found in our winter garden. We enjoy the quiet meditation of creating patterns, the beauty of the circle and all it represents. Finally the lesson of impermanence, the joy of letting go, a mandala is not another thing to find a place for. We scatter spent flowers through the fairy garden, and by our front door. The little Bowerbird loves making them and has said making one was the highlight of her day. "Is it mandala Monday?", she pipes. The littlest has collaborated with her mum, sister, and dad, and made some of her own.

Flowers are all the rage at kindergarten too

 Lawn daisies are emerging, asking to be threaded and adorned

The daffodils are almost out, a true sign that Spring has arrived.

The “circle with a center” pattern is the basic structure of creation that is reflected from the micro to the macro in the world as we know it. It is a pattern found in nature and is seen in biology, geology, chemistry, physics and astronomy.

On our planet, living things are made of cells and each cell has a nucleus — all display circles with centers. The crystals that form ice, rocks, and mountains are made of atoms. Each atom is a mandala. Within the Milky Way galaxy is our solar system and within our solar system, is Earth. Each is a mandala that is part of a larger mandala. Flowers, the rings found in tree trunks and the spiraling outward and inward of a snail’s shell all reflect the primal mandala pattern. Wherever a center is found radiating outward and inward, there is wholeness–a mandala.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Friday Veggie Group

Every Friday, during school term, I meet with friends to drink tea, eat cake and grow food. In that order, sometimes there is coffee and more tea, depending on how inviting the day outside is. I've talked about my gardening buddies before, but I cannot begin to convey how happy our gatherings make me. I'm all gushy, like a mum waxing lyrical about her new born baby. Veggie group connects me with the most beautiful women, and my community, after 7 years together there is very little we don't share. I am so grateful for that gem of an idea we had, a spark launched during a lengthy chat at school pick up.

Over the years the group has changed, in the beginning there was a raucous crowd of children, screaming with joy and tearing our houses apart. There were some notably unruly days, where sugar was strewn across floors, spaghetti found in beds, toothbrushes used as toys, and the screams of injuries and tiffs were loud and unnerving. My middle child bawled when he found out that going to school meant no more veggie group. Mostly they were days of delight, where friendships were forged, and outdoor fun was embraced. Sometimes we got the children to help in the garden, but mostly they were thrilled to explore each others houses and belongings, and to play. We came to veggie group as much for our children, as for ourselves, our children would not have forgiven us if we missed a week.Gradually the little ones have grown and gone to school, and there are now only two preschool girls left to play with each other. This week the little ones played dress ups and crafted, there were a few tears, a clash of head and knee mid game, but mostly smiles. 

The time together, as gardening friends, has remained a constant, we have structured our lives around a Friday morning commitment, its like a cleansing ritual, we talk gardens, children, and life, its a great wind down before the weekend. Rarely is our group in its full contingency, there is sickness, family, work and the business of living that sometimes gets in the way. Only one dear single mother friend has had to leave due to work obligations, but we stay close. Fifteen of us sharing our worries, ideas, hopes, sorrows and joys. Our get togethers are never quiet. These days conversations are more complete, there is a calm that comes with not having to be so eagle eyed, wondering what mischief is taking place whilst we have our hands in the earth. Later in the year we are going away for our first girls weekend,there will be garden tours, wineries, cheese tasting and above all laughter. We have booked a house with a wide berth around it, so as not to disturb our neighbours.

I had two cake disasters baking for the gathering at my house this week. The bran and date muffins were almost Inedible and my lemon cakes sank like the titanic. Such disasters have to happen when you are cooking for a crowd, it mattered not, we have all been there over the years and have a good chuckle at our faults. The candied orange peel was admired, and a recipe shared. I am now employed 1 day a week to be a Junior Landcare Facilitator, and had my first day on the job Thursday. Someone often arrives with something thoughtful, seeds, cuttings, flowers, excess produce, and this week it was a pot of Polyanthus to congratulate me on my new job. 

In the dead cold of winter we garden, watching the seasons turn together, our children becoming teenagers, our fruit trees bearing crops. In the bitter sleet, there is only the warmth of friendship to keep us going. A brief gardening burst with this many women sees the beds cleared of weeds, and a new patch of snow peas planted. After such a day, I sink deep into the couch, the hosts job is a busy one. My littlest is tired too, and in a rare event these days, she falls asleep snuggled up on my lap. Bliss.

Gardening in sleet.