words and pictures - catching up


Officially the end of summer today. Seven degrees outside:: snow on the mountain. Cold. Blustery. Rainy. Perfect weather for curling up on the sofa with my delicious new book. Maybe later. I've got work to do today. It's crunch time for the tomatoes.

"Pull 'em out. t. o. d. a. y. Every last one. Frosts are coming tonight."

That was the word in the school car park this morning, as photocopies of CWA green tomato recipes were passed around. After school drop, it was back home to face the inevitable, I rugged up, braced the cold and went outside.

I pulled out all the tomato plants, all thirty of them, to reveal long lost scribbled labels, that had been pushed into the soil next to tiny seedlings all those months ago. Brandywine, Amish Paste, Napoli, Roma, Black Russian.

Snip, Snip, Snip. I cut the green tomatoes off the vines and they fall into the basket. Plop, Plop, Plop. My hands are freezing. It's raining. The wind lashes my face. It's muddy. It's cold. I wish I could do it later. But it's now or never. By tomorrow, the predicted frost will turn them into black mush.

So many green tomatoes. Admittedly, I was a bit late getting them in this year. And as a result of my lazy gardening, they spent autumn catching up with a long finished summer. And today's cold snap means that they never will. That, coupled with mild weather and this mostly verdant crop is the best I could hope for. No ripe, luscious, sun kissed tomatoes for us this year. But I did learn a few lessons about growing tomatoes; Don't over crowd the plants, they need lots of space for light and growth. Get them started early or better yet start them off in a greenhouse. And you have to actually tie the tomato plant to the stakes, not just stab it into the ground next to the plant and hope they'll somehow, miraculously attach themselves. ahem.

Now these green guys, all 10 kilos of them, will sit on the kitchen floor, alongside boxes of patiently waiting quinces, hopefully some ripening, and if I can ever catch up, some cooked into chutney. Or perhaps, some dumped on the compost heap. To eventually be dug back into the ground to nourish a new crop, at the official start of next summer...

More catching up over here.

Knitting wrecks

You know that great website Cake Wrecks?  How about a knitting version?  Here's my sock I started last week.  I thought I was doing okay.  Um. Well sort of.  Although my K1 P1 ribbing is a disgrace, they were taking on a sort of deconstructed sock shape. Considering I'm not accustomed to mouse knitting :: teeny tiny needles, four in fact, used for socks, thus eliminating a seam. 

But ack! Last night, my stitches seemed to have fallen off the third needle and are back on the traditional two.   Oh well, I reckon it's back to the drawing board for this pup ...

Feel free to join in knitting wrecks if you like - I can't be the only yarn challenged blogger out there...  

Eye Spy - a work in progress


Despite being my choice of theme for this week's Eye Spy meme it was difficult to chose what Work in Progress to post.  My house? Seen it already.  My knitting project? Gawd no! .... I guess it has to be my garden.  

It's certainly a work in progress. And a slow one at that.  I sometimes get so impatient at how long things take.  Not in so much as how long the trees take to grow, but waiting for things to take shape.  Waiting for the time and money for landscaping, stump grinding, laying paving, building retaining walls and raised beds.  I have a vision and it's frustrating when it's not realised straight away. 

But this week, I was so inspired by the ABC series Around the Word in 80 Gardens.  Have you seen it?  It's been so lovely to see my garden idol Monty Don on the telly.  Do you know him? You should.  He's just as gorgeous on screen as he is in print.  These two books of his are my gardening bibles.  So inspiring with beautiful prose and pics of Monty striding around his gorgeous garden, in all his hand knitted sweater and gumboot glory, brandishing armfuls of rhubarb...sigh.

But I digress dear reader, the point of mentioning Monty was that this week he visited Dame Elisabeth Murdoch's garden at Cruden Farm. An incredible garden which has taken some 70 odd years to create.

That's when my gardening epiphany struck.  Creating a garden, not matter how small, is a lifetime's work.  And then some.  It will never be finished. The joy is in the actual doing. A garden is a living, breathing, changing beast and will by it's very nature, forever be a work in progress.   And therein dear reader, lies its appeal. 

Thanks to Cindy for hosting Eye Spy and for asking me to pick this weeks theme.

Three!

My little bird, three today. This little man, by my side almost everyday, is so adorable, so demanding, so sweet, so magical, so funny, so kissable. Always with a twinkle in his eye and always hungry. I feel so lucky to have him in my life. Happy birthday my sweet little bird.

Birthday basket and candles ready for very early in the morning
Opening the presents!
Three candles on a wonky strawberry birthday cake. 
One very happy boy.

WIP - eek! And this week's theme...


Work in progress.  So far so good.  

Which gives me an idea for this week's Eye Spy theme...A Work In Progress.  Don't forget to head over to Cindy's and add your name so we can see a WIP at your place. 


(....please, please, please Mr Skylight guy, wont you break that ugly light fitting while you're up there....)

Before shots - the dark




Our old girl goes under the knife tomorrow.  Tonight we pack up this room in prepartion for the big skylight installation. I feel very nervous. Not only because this feels like major surgery on the old girl, but because it's my idea. My first major renovating decision coming to fruition. The style of the skylight, the location, the flashing colour, everything. My choice.  We've made a few changes since we bought the place, but all cosmetic and all reversible.  Some people relish these major decorating decisions, but I'm not sure I do. Oh the anguish... Am I lacking confidence in my decision? Why yes I am as it happens. 

I wouldn't mind so much if it was a more contemporary dwelling. But our old girl is circa 100 years. She's withstood a century of fires, floods, dozens of housewives, untold handymen and at least one urban gay decorator and remains in pretty good shape. Fairly original and unspoilt by decorating fads.   So I can't help but feel that in owning such an old place, my role is more caretaker than owner. Yet it's our home and it has to suit our family.  The challenge lies in striking a balance between creating a warm, liveable modern family space whilst respecting the history of the house.  Does cutting a whopping great hole in the ceiling find that balance? Or spoil our modest Tasmanian farmhouse.  We'll find out tomorrow I guess.  I really hope this skylight decision is the right one.  Oh dear.  If you never see the after shots, you can assume it wasn't!  

Eye Spy - a magic elixir

I'm playing along with Cindy's Eye Spy game, now with new improved Mr Linky,  and this week's theme from Amy Badskirt is a good one. 
Here is a favourite magic elixir in our house :: garden soup. Here's the recipe:
From your garden, pick the finest selection of dirt, sticks, grass and flowers to taste.
Add water and stir.
Taste for seasoning and serve! Hours of messy good fun. 

Thanks to Amy for this week's theme and to Cindy for hosting. 
 See who else is playing this week over here.


Blooms




We've a big week next week,  Hugo's third birthday, (how the heck did that happen?), skylight installed (move entire contents of lounge room for two days to, um...?) Granny and Pa arriving from Sydney for two weeks, (a  LOT of tidying up to do!), the list goes on. 

However, some loveliness recently arrived in the post to distract me from feeling quite so overwhelmed.  Modeled by Miss Elsa who lost her second front tooth yesterday - blooming she is. Some soft and lovely organic handmade goodness from talented and sweet Tyler at Periwinkle Bloom. Have you seen her website?  Beautiful angelic photos. 
And this wonderful surprise - an upcycled bread bag from Angie at 3 red buttons, along with some super cool pants she made for Hugo.  I'll show you those next week modeled by the birthday boy himself.   The wattle blooms are a lovely touch, they are our favourite flower, as they always remind us of our spring wedding.

Back to the procrastination.

Foraged

Have you ever eaten wild mushrooms?  So good.  I used to eat 'em on the mainland.  One of the highlights of autumn, they were often available at the  Farmers Markets.  Or we'd rug up and make the trek to Oberon, to go foraging ourselves.  So much autumnal fun.  When we arrived in Tasmania, I'd often ask where to find forest mushrooms, and most people looked horrified at the thought. No one knew anything about eating found mushrooms - Eew!  Seems the few people who do eat them, keep their foraging and the location a well guarded secret. 

So I was thrilled when a work colleague presented me with this treasure trove of Saffron Milk Caps he'd foraged.  The botanical name is lactarius deliciosus, and deliciosus they are.  Quickly fried in butter, parsley and garlic and served with a chunk of crusty no knead bread.

The perfect savoury antidote to a chocolate filled weekend.  My colleague did very kindly divulge their location, under a cone of silence, and I'm sworn to secrecy, otherwise, he WILL have to kill me. I'll be heading to this secret spot next time it rains, on a foraging stealth mission myself, well, with a little helper or two.  Can't wait!

This morning (early)

Waiting inside, Easter baskets from us, with new pyjamas, egg cups, chocolate rabbit and and chick egg cozies made by Mama. 
Outside, chocolate eggs found in the nest (inspired by Amber) we made with straw and decorated with flowers. The carrots and grass we left out were all eaten! 
Egg hunt.

Counting out the booty.

Happy Easter!

A long day

Since daylight savings ended we've had 4.30am starts to our days. By 9am I'm shattered. Tempers are short. Hugo's Tantrum Index is Very High to Extreme. We're trying to take it easy but there are still too many things to do. At least we finished decorating the eggs we blew earlier in the week, just in the nick of time.

Despite the tiredness, today there were moments that sparkled. Being outside on such a beautiful autumn day did help soothe little tempers.
Elsa made a cape to become super hero "Word Girl" and blew bubbles on the verandah in the shinning afternoon sun. Hugo, otherwise known as "Word Boy" collected wild mushrooms and made a good muddy mess.


Fingers crossed for long sleeps tonight. At least for mama.

Eye Spy - a new development

A big new development. My little lion cub getting his own big bed and moving out of his baby one. He's so proud and sleeping all through the night at last.  My little lion cub will be three this month, sniff. Lots of new developments to come...
Part of my reluctance to take this leap earlier is because I love this cot. It's a simple vintage piece that has watched over the sweet dreams of many little ones in our extended family. As Hugo was the last in the line, I'm not sure what to do with it now....

Thanks to Cindy for hosting Eye Spy and to A little bird told me for this week's theme.

Easter inspirations

I love the thought of adding a few more elements to how our family celebrates Easter. And the idea of an Easter basket filled with little gifts, in addition to the Easter egg hunt, is such a good one that I think we'll adopt it too. Much more fun (for me) than just a trip to the supermarket to buy chocolate eggs. (Um, I'm not talking about the actual eating of the eggs, just the schlep to shop). 

I've been on the hunt for some vintage egg cups to include. After a trip to the local antique store I came home with this booty - all scored for the sum of $20! I couldn't stop at two, they were all so sweet and really, we can never have enough egg cups in our house. A second score today at the Friday oppy, these two little bunnies were waiting for me to take home for $5 - too cute! I've been scouring ebay for weeks trying to find something similar....

Next week there'll be lots of egg decorating and a few hand stitched good things to make.  And two new pairs of winter pyjamas to find.  As the nights get cooler it's the perfect time for a cosy new pair.  I wish I could whip them up myself, but I need a sewing machine and a few lessons first. A goal for next year certainly, so maybe we can add another element to our family's Easter tradition...

Words and pictures - a long drive

You make a few sacrifices when you move from the big smoke to a little one. And yeah, sure, you're prepared to make those when you consider what you'll gain.   The green, the fresh air, the space. But I do miss the culture of big city life.  The galleries, the restaurants, the festivals, heck even a night out at the flicks would be an absolute treat for me these days. But then, as parent of small children, you kinda forgo most of these things anyway, no matter where you live, at least for a little while. 

We're just under an hour from Hobart, which doesn't sound very far, but at night it's a drive fraught with bad roads, bad drivers and potentially bad road kill.  And while yes, Hobart does pack a vibrant artistic punch for what really is a very small city, it's still a big effort for us to organize to see anything in town.  It requires either an overnight stay or a sober late night drive home, a Nonna sleep over to watch the children, well, it's all a bit of a palaver really.

So excitement was high on Monday night when we bundled up the smalls, grabbed a rug and a thermos of hot chocolate and headed down to the nearby river bank, just ten minutes before kick off. A five minute drive, we parked right alongside the designated "best vantage point" signage. The river was still and smooth with the quiet town lights reflected in the water, while the night air was unseasonably warm, with nary a breath of wind.  We sat and waited with great anticipation.   Slowly but surely, a glowing 1959 Chinese Junk, named Suzy Wong, drifted by with set-sails filled with moving images of film, maps, portraits and text woven together by a hauntingly beautiful soundtrack.  It was so enchanting to watch.  The children were totally mesmerized. As was I.  I wish Suzy Wong was floating on the Huon River all the time.  It was spellbinding. We watched for about an hour before the yawns and eye rubbing of the smalls were our cues to get home pronto.  Which we did. Within minutes.  I guess when a contemporary performance does make a rare appearance in a small rural town, it has its advantages over the big city shows.  It was pretty cool to see such an outstanding spectacle without a long drive home.

Thanks to Pip for her weekly assignment of words and pictures.