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.


Sunday, December 30, 2012

Launched today

Hi everyone....here's hoping you all have a wonderful evening bringing in the new year of 2013.

I've been rather busy these holidays designing a new blog
for my good friend Richard 
Blooming Gardens

I've launched it today!

There's much much more to come too.....
2013 is planned to be very exciting...so check it out!...

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

The little things....10 to 16

 No words today ...............except Merry Christmas to everyone. Wishing you all good health for 2013.

Merry Christmas to one and all with many hugs!

Friday, December 21, 2012

And cards are created...

I've finally gotten around to creating some cards for our neighbors....I'm not sending out many Christmas cards this year due to family circumstances, but I thought I would show you a few of what I've been creating....
Some are not Christmas related but most are... It's been quite a few years since I was in this craft box; hope you like them; I enjoyed making them.

To those who have loved ones passed, I'm thinking of you,
To those who have had their lives turned upside down recently, I'm thinking of you, 
To those who are alone this Christmas, I'm thinking of you,
To those who can't afford a present for their children, I'm thinking of you,
To those who have lost a child, I'm thinking of you, 
To those who have lost a parent, I'm thinking of you, 
To those who it is your first year without a loved one, I'm especially thinking of you.

Thanks for all your wonderful support throughout the year, thanks for reading my blog.....

Wishing you all a Very Merry Christmas for 2012, and good health for 2013.

I'll be back before 2013 as long as I have time.....take care and keep your family close!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Pickled Cucumbers & Pickled Onions

The house still smells of pickles and onions. If hubby doesn't have a training day on Wednesday he will be home for his 3 week holiday tomorrow. He'll smell them when he drives in the driveway for sure. Hubby loves my pickles and usually puts in a request when stocks are low. So this will be a nice surprise for him. I'm making all his favorites so far...come to think of it...All my preserves are his favorites.
Hint: If you plan to make both recipes at the same time, it makes for one lot of preparation. One mess to clean up too which I like. Weigh out onions for both recipes, keeping them in separate bowls. Prepare 1 double batch of the spiced vinegar mixture and bottle the cucumber mix first. After bottling the cucumber mix, reheat the spiced vinegar.Add the plain onions and repeat the bottling process. Too easy!
Bread & Butter Pickled Cucumbers

12 medium burp-less cucumbers  
1 ½ lb onions 
tablespoons salt                                
1 ½ lbs sugar
3 tablespoons mustard seeds
½ teaspoon turmeric powder                                 
teaspoons celery seeds
1 ¼ pints white vinegar                   
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
I'm trying out a new seedless variety  
In a suitable large vessel put thinly sliced cucumber and onion.  Sprinkle with salt and let stand for 4 hours or overnight. I always leave them overnight 

Pour into colander and rinse and drain well. Rinse and drain again.
Boil together vinegar, spices and sugar. Then add rinsed cucumber and onion and simmer for 2 minutes.  (avoid actual boiling) 

Bread & Butter Pickled Cucumbers
 Pack in sterilized jars, clean rims and any drips and seal immediately.  If any don't seal; pop them in a moderate oven for 15 minutes, then remove from oven and allow to cool. This process should seal all jars. If not, discard the lid once you have finished eating that jar. Enjoy in 3 to 4 days. 

You can order new lids for recycled jars from Green Living Australia by clicking here.(I don't get any credit) They also have a great FAQ page on replacing your lids too, It has loads of information on there.
All these jars sealed, except for three. Those lids will be ordered.
Pickled Onions - For sandwiches (Yep! Pre-sliced pickled onions...Brilliant idea of mine I think!)

4KG ONIONS sliced thin
tablespoons salt                                
1 ½ lbs sugar
3 tablespoons mustard seeds I added extra mustard seeds, 
as most went in the Pickled cucumbers first.
 ½ teaspoon turmeric powder                                
teaspoons celery seeds
1 ¼ pints white vinegar I like to use 50/50 of white vinegar and malt vinegar                   
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper

Use the same method as the above "Bread & Butter Pickled Cucumber recipe"
Salted overnight

Rinsed twice and added to Spiced Vinegar then bottled.
Having Hubby home will give us a chance to spend some quality time together. We have lots of plans to go fishing, especially since I've fitted out the boat with a new motor, new forward controls, mounted burly bucket, speedometer,  mounted knife holder, mounted tackle draws, mounted live-well tank and a new drive-on trailer. That's quite a list; but it's been quite a year for hubby too, he's worked so hard this year, he deserves to be spoiled. It was a huge surprise for him to come home from Mudgee (on his birthday) to find it all decked out....He had no idea
We are all looking forward to having him home. Our family of four will be together now for Christmas....Time with family is precious, especially this time of year, especially THIS year.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Green Tomato Pickles & Green Tea

I wake, it's still dark outside. I lay wondering what havoc the crazy wind we had last night has left for me to clean up this morning. I can't help but think about my garden, but still I nuzzle into the thick pillow and quickly drift back to sleep. It's there to take the space of hubby when he is away at work....I can't sleep in an empty bed and this helps.When I wake again, my attention is drawn to the food prep I have in the kitchen. I've almost used up the 10kg bag of onions I bought at the markets on Saturday, and I need to track down more jars.

When I need good tomatoes or cucumbers I go to the one 'shop' I know best. Each Saturday our local markets are held at Warrawong on the lake; and if you don't catch your regulars there, you can drop in on Sunday at the Dapto markets. I visited both this weekend past to get the finest organic produce I know to make some preserves for Christmas gifts this year. When you first park your car on the lawn in Warrawong, as you enter the rows of stalls, they are right there on the right hand side. You can't miss this stall. They confidently advertise that they are 100% organic and the sweetest in Australia.

I've been going there for years now, and have just began sharing my preserves with Mama. She's the boss on the stall, Mama sits at the scales and the cash-tin and everyone pays her; but her hubby and two boys work the stall and help out the hoards of customers. They sell out every week, so I know their produce is very fresh, and they are only up the road in Picton as well. Brilliant! Yesterday I took them a jar of my Plum Sauce and a small basket of Mini Black Russian tomatoes from my garden, and much to my amazement Mama was blown away by my generosity. She kept popping more cucumbers in my bag while we talked, even though I had already paid. I can't wait to find out what she thinks of my Tomato Relish and Choko Pickles.
Last weekend I ordered another box of Green Tomatoes off Mama, which I picked up on Saturday.

They have introduced a new cucumber variety (I'll tell you about it tomorrow) to their stall and I've decided to try them out on my Bread and Butter Pickled Cucumber recipe, but that will be tomorrow's post, as I only salted them last night.
Not all the produce here is from the markets,
but I had already made some purchases elsewhere.
I'm a bit late in the making of these gifts, and the preserves stockpile is a bit bare like Old Mother Hubbard's  cupboard, and nothing like my stockpile here.....but I still have some time left in the kitchen before heading off to Cousin M's in Bundanoon for the big day. I like to share my preserves with family and always take a box of goodies with us.

I've blogged about Green Tomato Pickles before but I was lazy and used the whizzer to chop them up...It made the final product far to runny for my liking. I chopped them all by hand this time; producing a much better consistency.....

Enough chatter Narelle!! Get on with it!!
Green Tomato Pickles
5 1/2 kg green tomatoes
2 to 2 1/2 kg of onions
140 grams salt
1 1/2 to 2 kg sugar
1 bottle of Ezy Sauce (Shake well before opening)
1 level tablespoon of mustard powder
1 level tablespoon of curry powder
1 level tablespoon of cornflour
2 level teaspoons of turmeric powder

Slice or chop into a large dish the green tomatoes and onions. Mix in the salt, then cover and leave to stand for 12 to 24 hours.

After that time,add mustard, curry, cornflour and turmeric to a small mixing bowl and add a little water to make a runny paste. (I used Apple Cider Vinegar). Set this aside for later. 

Empty the onion and tomato mix into a large boiler and bring to the boil before adding the sugar and Well shaken bottle of Ezy Sauce. Boil until thick (at least an hour). 

Add the runny spice mix and cook for a further half hour stirring all the time. Check for setting on a cold plate placed in the fridge. 
Once set remove from heat and bottle in clean sterilized glass jars.

  • I can't stress enough on how organized you need to be at this bottling time. It's important that you have enough bottles ready.
  • When decanting into glass jars, I use a jug with a handle like this....If I need to put down the jug, I just hang it over the inside of the boiler like so. The only time I put the messy jug on the bench is when I scrape down the sides of the boiler for the last 1 or 2 jars.

  • After scooping up a jug of hot pickles, scrape the outside of the jug onto the inside of the boiler. This helps to prevent any drips on the jars, and makes for a lot quicker cleanup.

Ensure lids and jar rims are clean by wiping with a lint-free cloth as hot as you can bare; then place lids on while hot. Any that don't have the lids pop down with a good seal can be placed in a moderate oven for 20 minutes, then removed to cool. This should seal the rest of the jars. If not,  use those jars first by storing in the fridge.

Green Tomato Pickles
5 1/2 kg of Green Tomatoes AND 2 1/2 kg of Onions
Green TeaCamellia sinensis

Did you know that Green Tea can be grown in your own garden? I never knew that a Camellia variety (Camellia Sinensis) was in fact Green Tea that tea-drinkers enjoy. There are many health benefits to be had by drinking Green Tea.
My mate Richard gave me a few small branches, actually I pinched them out of the back of his ute....lol It's easy to propagate too, but I dried this lot, as we have done them in class.

Green Tea - Camellia Senensis

While my taste-buds are still learning that tea is a good thing, I might try adding my home-grown Stevia powder to it to have a ready sweetened tea to just add boiling water to. 

Do you grow your own Green Tea? Is it something you would consider?

Saturday, December 15, 2012

The little things....1 - 10

It's been a busy week and with warm welcomes here on my blog. It's lovely to 'see' old friends again. 
I've lost so much this year it's hard to put in perspective and believe things will return to 'normal'. 

Sherri; I've received your card all the way from Canada. Your family photo is cherished and I loved reading your Annual Family Newsletter. What a lovely idea....and yes, you lift me up. Thank-you so much....I can't wait to show you all off to hubby.

Now given all the sadness that lingers around here, I've decided to start a new thread. 
I think it's important to take time to enjoy the little things. 
Here's the beginning of my list....Hope it's a long one to come!

Mini Watermelon 

Elephant Garlic

Tiny Tom Black Russian Tomatoes

2 Tiny Tom tomato vines

According to my gardener aka Stinkin' Rogers

One of many Honey Eaters that love dancing
 in my garden in search of bugs.
I look forward to their daily visits.

Lonely Pelican,
I got up early to capture an Illawarra Sunrise,
unfortunately it was too cloudy and misty.

Stinkin' Rogers

Female Zucchini Flower

Stinkin' Rogers OR Marigold

If you have captured 'the little things'; and blogged about it....please; feel free to link back to it in your comment. I'd love to have a look!

I'm off to the local markets to pick up a crate of green tomatoes which I ordered last weekend....What are you up to this weekend? Wishing everyone a lazy weekend if you want it that way, or a busy weekend if you plan on getting things done.....

To be continued.......

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Seed Saving...and Swapping again

Thank-you to each and every one of you for your warm welcome back.
How lovely it was too to receive. 

Yes readers; it's that time of the year again for me. It's time to take another walk around the garden and decide what seed to harvest. I can't stress enough on how important it is for every gardener to save at least some of their own seed....

No matter how large or small your garden is;
you can save your own seed!

Marigold seed - to be harvested
If you practice organic methods, (like me) you can take comfort in knowing that your seed is chemical free. Over the seasons; you can also build up a strain of seed that is resistant to disease AND climatic to your own region. How much better can you get?

When you do harvest your own seed, you more than likely will have plenty to share with other gardeners. Maybe you could even do a swap with them for something that you don't have or haven't tried growing yet. The possibilities are truly endless once you begin saving seed. Especially when you encourage friends and family to save their seed too. 

Think about it...Depending on what you grow; 
you may never have the need to buy seed again....
Mind boggling isn't it!

Perennial Basil seed -
to be harvested once dried on the stem
I've written about saving my Nan's Rhubarb seed here....and you can see when you click on the link how huge Nan Cady's rhubarb is. Good genetics in that seed I'm sure. 

Nasturtium Seed - to be hunted for and gathered

I've also written about those crazy Klumpin' Tomatoes I grew last year....and wrote about how I saved seed from them as well....There's a cool trick to saving Tomato seed without the gel sack around them. Did you know that if you soak tomato seed in some water, let the water go rancid, it develops an enzyme that eats the gel exterior on the seed....when strained, and left to dry on a plate, they dry clean, just like the seed you get in a packet....I used this method on many varieties of seed that I save. 

Rocket seed -
Once dried, the seed pods will be harvested and shelled 

Last December I wrote about saving the seed from Corn Salad Leaf, Tatsoi Salad leaf, Water Cress and Poppy Seed......My corn salad isn't doing so well this year, but I have enough leaf to harvest ocasionally for salad.  I don't have Tatsoi at the moment, but I do have another salad leaf in seed which I need to save (see the Pick-as-you-grow seed head below). 

Pick-as-you-grow lettuce seed -
all the fluffy heads need to be gathered and dried fully
My Water Cress bed is totally bombarded with Water Celery at the moment. I must tell you that Water Celery is very invasive....in the 12 months since planting it in my water garden (Maureen's bath after her bathroom reno, thanks neighbor)....The Water Celery has totally taken over the entire bath. The whole bath is one huge tight root ball of Water Celery. I find it hard to believe that there is any room in there for my water chestnuts to be peeking through, but they are....Thankfully......I never used my Poppy Seed for the tops of bread either; because it was sooooo small it would get laughed at.

Sorrel seed - ready to harvest

Last December I wrote about saving the seed from Corn Salad Leaf, Tatsoi Salad leaf, Water Cress and Poppy Seed......My corn salad isn't doing so well this year, but I have enough leaf to harvest ocasionally for salad.  I don't have Tatsoi at the moment, but I do have another salad leaf in seed which I need to save. My Water Cress is totally bombarded with Water Celery at the moment. I must tell you that Water Celery is very invasive....in the 12 months since planting it in my water garden (the neighbors bath after a reno)...It has totally taken over the entire bath. The whole bath is one huge root ball of Water Celery. I find it hard to believe that there is any room in there for my water chestnuts to be peeking through, but they are....Thankfully.
I never used my Poppy Seed for the tops of bread because it was sooooo small it would get laughed at.

Chervil Seed - to be harvested

If you click here you will see photos of me saving  Celery seed and 2 types of Pick-as-you-grow lettuce leaf. 

While I have never had any problems growing from my own seed, I never assume that they will always germinate....especially since none of my Rosella seed germinated this year, but all of the plants did develop a nasty disease last year due to heavy rainfall...So I guess that's the reason the seed didn't germinate this time...................
I was so thankful to Holly too for sending me the Rosella seed which I swapped with her for one of my shooting choko's.  Holly; I hope your choko vine is doing well. 

This week I need to harvest from my own garden the following: Nasturtium, Marigold, Perennial Basil, Chervil, Sorrel, Pick-as-you-grow lettuce and Rocket.

Later in the week, 
I will come back and show you all
just how much seed I gathered from my garden.

I'm looking to swap seed with anyone who is interested. (Australia and only certain states)....
I'm looking for Rosella seed, as mine developed a disease last year and all seed harvested refused to germinate this time. I'm also looking for some Loofah seed again, as mine went rotten...but I'm still determined to give them both another try.

I will be posting a list of surplus seed that
I have harvested too....
so keep watch and
maybe we could do a swap.

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