Hi there!

I’m slowly working towards some simplicity within the home, but hey! It’s a lot of hard work!

I love having a go at growing my own veges and always use herbs fresh from my garden. I try to plant from seed whenever I can and have learnt to save and share my own seed for the following year. I make Award Winning preserves and pickles; and my husband brews Award Winning boutique beers as well. I love to stockpile and try to limit quick trips to the shops. I dabble in bread making and enjoy making my own stocks too.

I enjoy feeding my family good hearty meals, nothing like those tiny restaurant stacks you have to look for on the plate. My husband maintains our vehicles and machinery and we both enjoy fabricating on a small scale mostly relying on metal & timber recyclers for any materials needed.

While I don’t always have time to reply to comments, I love reading them. I hope you enjoy your stay and I hope you learn something new because I love sharing what I learn, and I'm always looking for another new skill myself.


Thursday, September 29, 2011

Milo Biscuits & Wollongong Community Garden Work-shops!

As promised, here is my yummy recipe for Milo Biscuits, although we don't buy Milo, as I can't justify the speed at which it disappears in our house, not to mention the price.

My Mum goes to Bingo three times a week when she is up to it...and she always picks foods her grandchildren (My DS16 & 20) will enjoy. Usually it's Milo, or M&M Buckets. If we have no Milo in the house, she likes to select the Milo for the boys as she knows how much they love it. I like to keep some aside in a jar that they will never find....this way it lasts a little longer, and Mum keeps some over in her kitchen as well.

I think I found this recipe back in a That's Life magazine when DS20 was little..so I can't give thanks to the person who sent it in, but they sure taste good. Too good in fact.!!!

As usual, I make a double batch so they can last [a bit] longer.

Milo Biscuits....
When it gets too thick to mix, and your arm is falling off
What do you grab? A potato masher of-course. 

125 grams butter or margarine
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1 3/4 cups of Self Raising Flour (sifted)
1/2 cup Milo, plus a little extra for coating
1/2 teaspoon Vanilla Extract

Beat together the butter and sugars....until light and fluffy. Then beat egg and stir through the butter and sugar mix. Mix until well combined. I would add a little at a time of the egg, and mix each bit in before adding more. It tends to look like it will split.

Mix flour and Milo together in a separate bowl.
Use a tablespoon to measure out the dough.

Fold the flour mixture into the egg mixture....This is where you need your muscles...my Mum's old Sunbeam Electric Hand Beater just up and quit.....It was a Wedding Present of hers. (they got married in 1954).

If the dough is not too sticky, you could knead it a little on the bench....add a little extra flour to make it workable.

Roll into balls using a tablespoon as a measure. Then roll each ball in the Milo before putting them on a tray. Flatten with a fork and bake in a moderate oven for 12 to 15 minutes. They will be soft like an Anzac Biscuit when they come out of the oven, so allow them to cool slightly before transferring them on to a cake rack.

Finding your local Community Gardens.

I encourage each and every one of you to locate a Community Garden in your area. I have recently joined my local Community Garden in Barrack Heights and have now attended a no-dig Veg garden workshop at the Wollongong Community Garden. 

Source There I am in the middle
Deep in thought!


Watering each layer is important

Watering in the Molasses
We used about 15 of these watering cans for this sized bed.

Adding Comfrey leaves harvested from
the garden a few days before.

Pocket planting uses your Compost wisely

Dig down until you reach the original soil layer
then add the compost in that pocket

Decide where each seedling will go.
Some seedlings will be smaller than others, the pocket will also provide shade and wind protection while it is growing into a stronger plant. The whole no dig bed concept is truly amazing. While you provide enough water through each layer to help with breaking them down, the water is also providing enough moisture to grow the seedling into a lovely mature plant. All that is needed for the life of the plant....has already been added to the garden bed. It can't get much better than that!

Over the course of the day, we split into two groups and each group built two 'no dig garden beds'.

 Check out some more amazingly healthy plant life here......

Here below, they have a huge long row of veg planted, and they are all very healthy. The volunteers are doing wonderful stuff with their composting and soil building....It shows in the health of their plants.

Directly behind the long row of veg is a Native hedge consisting of many different Australian Natives. These trees all produce a thick hedge and lots of lovely flowers to attract bees and birds. The bees pollinate the veg flowers and the birds eat the insects that like to hang around the veg. The hedge also acts as a huge wind barrier to protect the enormous food forest behind the hedge. If you didn't know the food forest was there....you might miss it. 

Entering the food forest, you will find many varieties of fruit trees as well as other edibles. 

Sweet Potato on the Right
as a mulch to hold water in the soil
and also a great ground breaker if the soil is very clay like.

Recycled Eucalyptus mulch for the paths

These large Olive barrels hold the lovely smelly liquid fertilizer
and are scattered around the gardens.
You don't have to walk far to pop the weeds in the barrels.
Nothing leaves the garden.
Here are some of the books that the Volunteers recommend. Aaron suggests not looking in the big book stores, but scouting around at op-shops or book fairs. It's the older books that were written by people with much knowledge that you need to look out for, especially if you can find any written by local authors. What better knowledge can you gather, than from a local author? 

This is only a sample of the library that Aaron has gathered....Instead of writing down Book titles and Author's names...I just take a photo....it's much easier...much quicker....and if you want the ISBN number just take a photo of that too before you take a photo of the next book. A visual is always a good thing.

Here is the kitchen the team are working on. I think it is fantastic! 
As the council has construction rubble, they are dropping it off for them....using only donated building materials takes time, but boy! What a kitchen it will be once it is finished.

I hope you enjoyed 'walking' around the Wollongong Community Garden as much as I did...it shows the huge potential that our local community garden has to offer. 

Look around for your local community garden...If you don't have one, maybe you could consider starting one up!

Enjoy the Milo biscuits too!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

How much will I save today?

Lavender heads & Vinegar after 2 weeks.
This morning I will wash my hair with my own soap that I make....it leaves my hair soft and shiny....I will also rinse with a vinegar of either rosemary or lavender. Those vinegars are so easy to make, just pick your herbs, add them to a jar of no-name vinegar, and leave them to infuse for two weeks. How much more simple could it be...once the vinegar is infused, just strain it and decant into a spray bottle. Remember to always label your spray bottles and the bottles you store any leftovers in. It's a good idea to also put the recipe on the bottle too....this way you don't need to hunt it down again to make up a new batch.

I'll do my dishes by hand.....using my liquid soap, sometimes I just pour boiling water over a cake of unscented soap, sometimes I will use the Liquid Laundry Detergent that Rhonda makes at Down to Earth....When I wash dishes with my liquid soap, I have a bowl of water in the second sink, with a dash of vinegar in it...this is a natural soap residue neutraliser. So you never need to worry about any soap being left on your lovely clean dishes. (Not that it's bad for you, because it's not.)

You can also check out the recipe in an article about Rhonda's simple life in the October issue of The Australian Women's Weekly. I'm mentioned in there too, along with Christine from slowlivingessentials . Thanks Rhonda for the lovely recommendation!


I think there is the rind of at least 1 dozen oranges in this bottle.
I dilute the citrus solution to 50%,
but now I dilute it with Plain White Vinegar.
Another cleaner I use is my Citrus Cleaner (which is also mentioned in Rhonda's article)...Today I will wipe down the benches in the kitchen after doing the dishes, then move on to the laundry and give the washing machine a quick wipe over....followed by the bathroom. Yes! this one Citrus Cleaner can do all those tasks, and if there is any extra grimy marks that need to be shifted...I will just sprinkle a little Bi-Carb Soda on the cloth and use it as an abrasive. Bi-Carb is amazing for breaking down fat too. If you have baked a roast for dinner....simply sprinkle some Bi-Carb in the Roasting Pan, pour enough home-brand vinegar over it to cover the entire base of the pan...and leave it to sizzle and lift the baked on bits. It makes scrubbing pots and pans soooo much easier.

Bi-Carb in a shaker & Liquid Soap
I've also learnt to knit; enough to make my own dishcloths...so now I don't buy dishcloths either. Along with my knitted cloths...I also tear up old towels or buy cloth nappies at an op-shop to cut into cleaning rags. It's amazing what can be used as a cleaning cloth from an op-shop. Flannelette sheets or pillowcases are great for cleaning cloths too..and they are usually only about .50 cents for a pillowcase or $1-$2 for a whole flannelette sheet. Imagine how many cleaning rags you could get from an entire sheet! And once they can no longer be used...because they are cotton, they then go into my compost bin to be broken down into soil.

I'll set up my home-made Dak Pots with simple kitchen ingredients to attract the fruit fly away from my fruit trees and tomato plants...On the Dak Pot link you will see I am learning so much from a monthly gardening course I am enjoying...and it's all local knowledge too...Learning as the months come by is the best! While I'm out in the garden I will tie back the plants that are going to seed...I have Bok Choy, Rocket, Water Cress and Purple Radish going to seed at the moment and they need to be contained. I love harvesting seed for the following year from my own garden....Seeds are becoming far more expensive and I try to save whenever I can. 
I have currants on my Black Currant and noticed a hungry little bird hovering around my Vines yesterday, so I will make a wire cage today to keep him out. I'm certainly not buying those cages from Bunnings or a garden centre...They cost far too much for what they are. While I'm at it and have all the tools out, I'll make some cages for the tomatoes too.

Last night it was my DS's 20th birthday....I made everything from scratch. We had plenty of Chicken Schnitzel which I filleted and crumbed. I love the Flour, Egg & Breadcrumb method. I also made a lovely pasta salad with lots of chopped up veg and herbs from the garden....along with a Potato Salad flavoured with home-made dressing and freshly chopped herbs. 
As we have plenty of everything left over....tonight's meal will be very similar, only I will upgrade the Chicken Schnitzel to Chicken Parmigiana. Oh and the yummy desert of Milo Biscuits which I will be posting tomorrow on the blog....

Lunch will be a delicious Chicken & Veg Soup I made from simmering Chicken Carcasses on the stove for a few hours with lots of herbs from the garden. I usually make enough for a few days.....this will be the third day we have the soup for lunch...and the rest I will put in the freezer in small batches.....I make a really lovely Stock too by doing this.

I'll also do some washing...using my home-made washing powder....I whiz this in my whizzer when I make it...and it comes out as a nice fine powder which dissolves in cold water. I would never dream of washing clothes in hot water.. .....I don't buy fabric softener either......I just use Plain Home-Brand White Vinegar in the fabric softener dispenser in my washing machine.....It is brilliant for neutralising any soap residue left behind...and Store bought fabric softener only adds to the residue left in your clothes...No wonder people have all these allergies. 
If I get time...I may check out my flower press too...and start making bookmarks for Christmas Presents...or I may even juice some lemons or oranges I received from FreeCycle.


I have no idea how much money or time I save each day.....Each day is different, but very rewarding. I've never tried to work out how much money I save. 
I bet it's a stunning amount on cleaning products alone......
How much do you think I am saving? What will you be saving money on by doing today?
I'm off now to read the article in the Women's Weekly magazine on Rhonda, myself and Christine.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Happy 20th Birthday "D"

Has it been 20 years since you came into our lives? Happy birthday son....I'm so proud of you, of the man you have grown into....and I know that you know this, because I tell you constantly. 

Nana Cady even made the 8 hour train trip to see you
when you came into the world.

We've had a lot of hurdles, you and me...you've certainly given us a few big scares....like when you stopped breathing at two weeks old and I had to give you full CPR to get you breathing again. You then slept on a sleep monitor until you were old enough to crawl off it. Those days were tough...but we pulled through.

You spent a lot of time with Nana Clarke...


Dad, you and I were living in a small flat after you were born, and we didn't have a bath....but we made do with the laundry sink....you didn't mind...as long as you had your toys....
We didn't have a huge back yard, but we loved spending time out the back of our little unit....you were such a cheeky little guy.....and that smile....you've still got it!

I love this photo of you and your father....it reminds me of the lovely day we drove to Beechworth to play tourist....we had a counter lunch at the local pub....and you ran around on the grass.  
You threw your first snow ball at Dad....
at Mt Buffalo in Victoria...........then you threw them at Nana Clarke....the day was filled with lots of laughs and lots of cold hands.

Your first day of school was very exciting, but as we didn't have a camera back then....Anne from next door took a photo for us....you looked so grown up in your new uniform.........
You loved feeding animals....especially the baby ones....You still have a love for animals....

Time went on...and you soon graduated from Primary School...finishing year 6. You were so grown up...but soon you would move on to High School...with many more milestones to follow.
While at High School you also joined the Australian AirForce Cadets...I've mentioned before how proud we all are of you for your achievements while in cadets...and here are a few of my favourite photos from back then..........

Before graduating year 10 at High School you developed a bone disease called Osteo Chondritic Disease, where bone dies at the joints...and you had several pieces of dead bone removed from your elbow. This was to be a genetic disease that your younger brother would also suffer when he reached the same age.

Then there was the scare from your skateboarding accident....

You loved skateboarding, but didn't always wear a helmet...until your accident, where you fell off, fractured your skull on one side..and bruised your brain on both sides from the impact inside your skull.....You also tore the ligament off your collar bone...
You gave us a huge scare...I remember wishing it was all a horrible nightmare that I would wake from...

My mind returns to a vision of you lying on the road with your blood running in the gutter...although you can't recall; you were yelling to me looking into the distance...."Tell my Mum I love her,....I love you Mum'......You didn't know I was there at the time...as your brain had shut down the parts that weren't needed...It took a long time for you to accept that you would never be able to recall the accident, but I explained to you, that it was for the best...your brain new what it needed to do......

When you were air-lifted to a major Sydney hospital, letting you go in the helicopter without me was probably the toughest thing I have had to do...At the time I had no idea how I was going to get to you before you had brain surgery....but a dear friend helped me and I caught up to you a few hours later......
I can't imagine the pain your father went through when I had to leave him behind to head to Sydney..but I remember the sadness and fear in his eyes........When I finally reached you a few hours later.....I learn't that you had improved enough to not need the surgery. I was so relieved, I fell to the floor in tears.

When your memory improved you were able to come home a week later...we moved you into the back loungeroom which we were renovating...a nice big empty room would cope with lots of friends visiting. It took probably a good 12 months for you to get your energy back and you had to re-learn your maths from the start, not knowing 2 times 6 was a nightmare for you....but you were determined to get through it all.....

In your suit, you went on to graduate in year 10....celebrating at your Year 10 Graduation dinner.

While completing your last two years of High School, you got your licence...and found a job delivering Pizza's at night.....Remember how proud you were when you saved enough money to pay cash for your first car? Another proud moment.

I was so disappointed for you though, when you were involved in a car accident
writing your car off. This was indeed a painful time for you, but we were just grateful that no-one was hurt...especially you.

Dad loves teaching you and your brother the welding skills you have...This is one of many great memories for your father. Sharing his skills with his boys is what life is all about.

Having lots of friends by the time you were 18...we decided to celebrate at your place of work.....Having enough cake to share around the staff was great.....but the first piece was for you.

Today is your 20th birthday...We are so proud of the high principles you live by...You are a fine and honest young man with a future of lots of exciting adventures to experience.....

The day you were told you were a successful applicant for an apprenticeship with RailCorp as an Overhead Linesman Electrician; was another proud day for us....and you too....

Today I will cook your favourite foods for your evening meal....and on Saturday we will celebrate with your old work mates at Sam's Pizza....Your girlfriend is staying with us to help join in the celebration...and Poppy and Margaret will have time to get up here from Corowa too......

We all love you so much...you ARE a fine young man that any parent would be proud of.
Welcome to your twenties......with many more good years to come.
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