Sunday, December 05, 2010

Beans, pickles and stuff!

Not a shabby weekend. Finished most of the post-turkey-day-cleaning, although we still have a mystery hat with an unidentified owner. I also pickled the left-over jalapenos (around 400g of them). Never pickled anything before so I'm curious how these will go! I got the brine recipe from but sliced them instead. In the second jar I topped it up with carrots and onions. Looking forward to it.

We're also keeping track of our beans. So far, so good:According to Digger's club, we should get 1.2kg per vine. That's a lot of beans!

We also have this little guy who seems to be completely unafraid of the chickens:
Unafraid to the point where we recently had an egg inside the coop that was broken in to and then eaten out.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

The fridge is ready for Turkey Day!

One turkey is defrosting, the other is brining using the recipe from the Pioneer Woman.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Cooks river eco festival

So in between other gardening endeavours, we took time out to go to the Cooks River Eco festival, held at Ewen Park in Hurlstone Park.

Sadly there weren't many people there to enjoy it. It was quite cool. Had a few stalls with lots of helpful enviro stuff, a few stalls about cleaning the cooks river and surrounds including information about sightings of long-nosed bandicoots in the GreenWay corridor (Iron Cove to Cooks River) that I just had no idea about. There was plenty of kids entertainment including theatre and stilt walkers, workshops for the grown-ups, and also a UNSW demo of a solar powered Wii.

We did get to eat some tasty food. I had a kafta roll and an iced lime juice. We also got some goodies like a shower timer and an LED touch light.

The river around Ewen park looks like this:There was plenty of stalls. These ones were selling jewelery, soy candles, yoga tea as well as eco information:
In the distance is the stage and solar Wii:

On the walk back to the train station, we saw some lawn that looked like this:
Any idea what these are?

Saturday out and about and around the house

So on Saturday we went out for breakfast and coffee (first coffee was from Bean Tampered in Summer Hill and was awesome, second coffee was from The Last Drop in Dulwich Hill and was much less good; glad we bought some beans from Bean Tampered!). After that, we went to some gardening places again! This was the result:

It's jasmine planted at the bottom of the lattice. The funky objet d'art looks like this front-on:
Also that day, the parrots decided to visit the tree next door. Very cool:

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Well that was a lovely weekend

So apart from the great weather, it's been quite fun and also productive.

Friday night started with a delicious Mexican flavoured birthday dinner with some Finlaggan for dessert.

Saturday involved ferreting around in the back yard, trying to finally fix the chicken free zone. This involved needing to move a post to a spot that had a suspicious ceramic pipe in it. Originally I thought it was some kind of water run-off, but after digging around it turned out that they were short sections that didn't interlock. And one side was a dead-end. So I was happy to remove the middle chunk to let me put the post where it needed to be for the gate to shut.

After digging, went to another delicious party in the afternoon. This party was cake themed, and not only very tasty but also had many calories. After far too much cake, I got back to things around the house. Did some late night cementing to do a little more finishing on the wall.

Sunday was another beautiful day and involved much gardening. I finished moving the fence post and fitted the latch. I also finally put up the wires for the runners to grow on. I planted some tomato seedlings, and seeds: beans, corn, and carrots. Also some lettuces, and broccolini. Also giving some coriander and tri-coloured sage a go. That was oddly difficult because the planter I went to use had soaking wet soil that wouldn't dry out, as well as far too many root eating grubs. The chickens enjoyed the grubs. I also planted some tomato seeds in some punnets. Might have to order some more seeds from Diggers in the near future, but that Plants Plus was useful for buying some seedlings and a bird bath.

After all that I had a beer and some pizza.

I think I'll sleep well tonight.

Sunday, September 05, 2010

Found a new garden centre!

Well, actually, this weekend we went to a nearby garden centre down a street we hadn't been before. For all you Ashfield/Strathfield area people, it's not that far. It's in Kingsgrove. You can get an idea of the place from their website.

So what was it like? It doesn't do bulk landscaping dirt or rock supplies, but it does do a lot of plants and other usual garden stuff. Was very pleasant to walk around. They were about to launch a new catalogue of stuff, so they were a little low on some things but overall well worth wondering around if you are looking for plants or garden things. It also had a decent looking cafe. I didn't try the actual food, but the pistachio friand was great, and the coffee was as tasty as it looked:

Macchiato art

Because I don't drink caffellattes. I've been drinking double macs for a while now, and recently one place has started arting up these tiny delicious caffeinated morsels. Here's what I've been drinking:

Saturday, August 14, 2010

We have a real backyard now

I dug up this:

All real backyards have toy army jeeps lost in them.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Fuzzy tree!

So our tiny tree, while it hasn't grown, has decided that spring is good!

It's a lot of fuzzy blossom for such a tiny tree!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

The sunroom makes a good greenhouse!

So a few weeks ago, I planted some "Purple tiger" (a.k.a. Trifetti) chilli seeds I got from a friend - some in the sunroom, some in the courtyard. Turns out the sunroom worked well as a greenhouse. 5/7 came up there, as opposed to the courtyard where 0/8 came up.

They look like this now:

You can see the purple tinge in the leaves. They won't be very hot as chillis but they should make a decorative plant as well as a milder chilli option.

Saturday, May 01, 2010

Gardening and chickens

So working on the back yard again at the moment. The removing of some grass gave the chickens the best day of their lives. Am a bit worried about the brown chicken (Godzilla). She's got a lot of patches where the feathers seem to be snapped off. Not sure what is going on there. She seems happy enough, and there doesn't seem to be anything visibly wrong apart from the broken feathers.

On the flora side of things, we've been planting things in the back yard too. Mostly natives, like this correa reflexa (Australian native fuchsia):

The wire cage at the back is protecting the fig tree from the chickens. Turns out that they find the leaves irresistibly delicious. It needs two layers of protection to keep the chickens out, otherwise they reach through and pull the leaves out.

Monday, April 26, 2010

No more treekey

So I thought I'd update what the front yard looks like now that the dead tree, bougainvilleas, palms and other stuff has been removed:

While we could and did do a lot ourselves, we resorted to paying some nice people to remove the palms. They certainly earned their money that day and I'm glad we paid people to do it. The replacement plants are mainly banksias, with a hakea planted in the front corner (behind the succulent in this photo). At least when these grow up they should provide a good habitat for native animals that wander around.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

How treekey of them!

So in the process of cleaning up the front garden to replace the dead plants, bougainvilleas and other things with some more native and easier to manage plants, we got to this stage:

Which looks like this from the other side, but with one intriguing detail. If you look closely:

You'll see this:
I'm rather glad that changing house keys was one of the first things we did. Yes, it does match the original key we were given with the house. Given how long it would have been out there, it seems to be a better idea than hiding a key under the door mat.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

More soap making fun!

Okay, so the first batch looked good. The second batch looked good too. Time to make it more challenging. How do you do that? Well, you try to make clear soap.

Turns out that one method for making clear soap involves adding some amount of ethanol and dissolved sugar to the mixture. And some glycerin as well, although why should I do that just because some recipes do and some don't?

Well, attempt number 3 of soapmaking (the first attempt at transparent) went horribly wrong. The soap didn't even saponify properly. That was before I acquired some nice measuring stuff. I now can measure with impunity! Anyway, 3 was a disaster. 4 worked really well for part 1, the saponifying. Part 2, the clarifying, was interesting. With the use of a blender and some Britta filtered methylated spirits (I figured it was the best source of ethanol I was going to get), I went about estimating from some vague online recipes the amounts of ethanol I needed given the amount of Lye. It certainly did turn out translucent, and with my new set of dyes, I went to make bars of translucent soap! Now it turns out that either my calculations were broken, or that glycerin(e)/glycerol actually does something I should know about. Anyway, I now have a bunch of liquid soap that looks like this in close-up:

I have also acquired some pH test strips which clearly indicate 1-14 using 4 different indicators. Very cool. Also, quite sure my successful soaps are good now and not going to burn anyone's face off.

Saturday, January 02, 2010

Saponification is complete!

DestructoMeg gave me the bits and pieces for Christmas, so I took the contents of these:

And made this:

(okay, yes, some food colouring and essential oil was added). After carving, they look like this:

Made them using the hot process, so they should be usable straight away although a little drying out would be good for them. I would like to be able to test the pH to make sure I've made sap for humans and not for cleaning ovens, but sadly the pool testing kit can't tell if it's in the right range.

Friday, January 01, 2010

Afternoon tea

Afternoon tea

is served....