Monday, May 31, 2010

We played masterchef at home

We watch Masterchef sometimes and I like the mystery box challenges. So I thought it would be fun to have our own cooking challenges at home so last night I put an array of ingredients out for Scott and his job was to cook our dinner with them.

He had fresh broccoli, tomatoes, mushrooms, leek and bananas. Some kangaroo fillets. Poppy seeds, pine nuts, sour cream, short crust pastry sheets, some dried dates and a jar of sweet tomato relish.

I was a bit concerned about how my dinner was going to turn out because he stood there scratching his head for a long time and then he had two little apprentice Masterchefs helping. I sat on the couch with a martini loving not having to cook dinner.

After a while the cooking smells coming from the kitchen were really good so I suspected dinner was going to be a success and it was. He cooked a kind of thick chunky sauce with the leeks, mushrooms, tomatoes, dates and relish and served the kangaroo panfried and very rare. A little bit too rare though. You are supposed to cook kangaroo rare because it is very lean but I'd have preferred he cook it a fraction more because it was pretty much raw in the middle. It was still good.

He also made a very nice cheese sauce to go with the broccoli which was good but kind of clashed a bit with the sauce for the kangaroo. Don't look at this next picture if the thought of very rare meat turns you off!

I think he did a great job. Yeah, it didn't look pretty, the kangaroo was undercooked and the broccoli was as well and it was cold, but still a very nice dinner. He did a great job. It is my turn next Sunday :)

I used some of my new yarn and crocheted a head band which turned out really nice. I love the colours. This colour range is 'Plum party'. I bought the yarn from Ixchel.

While Scott cooked dinner I started making granny squares out of the rest of the yarn. I'm going to make a scarf next!

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Autumn colours in my backyard

Yesterday I was admiring the little crab apple trees I planted last winter. Their Autumn colour is really pretty. They are going to look lovely next year after they have had another whole growing season.

The lavender is blooming and looking really pretty. It grows well here in Tasmania.

I particularly love the cherry tree this year. Usually there is a lot of wind and the leaves blow off too fast.

The Japanese maple is looking mighty fine too.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

All alone

Sylvester is our last remaining chook. The others have all gone to live with friends of ours. Now for the first time in about seven years I am henless. It is strange. Yesterday I forgot to buy eggs because I am not used to needing to. There have always been so many we feed them to Juliet the pig and the dogs or back to the hens.

Now I have the winter to get ready for new chickens. I need to buy an incubator, set up the chicken brooder and clean out the hen house and maybe plant a few more trees and a forage crop in the chook yard.

Sylvester is Dustin's chook. I bought him last year at a garage sale! I had a pet silkie hen, Sylvia, but she died last summer. She was quite old but I was devastated. I have a feeling Sylvester shagged Sylvia to death :(

So poor Sylvester is wandering around looking lost and wondering where all the women are.

Friday, May 28, 2010

No bunny right now :(

I spent ages yesterday looking online for an angora rabbit to replace the spot in our hearts left by the passing of our dear Jasper. I found only one little baby bunny available for sale in the whole of Australia. Unfortunately, the cost of having him shipped to me from the mainland is more than the bunny himself and although I would happily pay it, since I already have Scott building a pig house this weekend for Juliet and we need to buy materials to finish the garden shed I asked for and I just spent over $200 buying paint for Dustin's new bedroom, $260 for a bunny after Jasper only lived for a few months, is just too much to expect Scott to pay for right now.

So, we are going to wait a while until there is a litter available in Tasmania and in the mean time focus on all our other many animals. It gives us something to look forward to in a few months time, hopefully!

Thursday, May 27, 2010

On the look out for a new bunny

Since we lost sweet Jasper I knew right away I had to get another angora rabbit. I called the breeder who I bought Jasper from but she only has older rabbits. I could take Jasper's brother and I was tempted but I went to the trouble of house training Jasper so that he could come inside and play with the kids and jump around the lounge room. Rabbits are very clean so having him in the house was less trouble than even the cats, who insist on leaving dirty foot prints on everything.

I was told about a lady here in Tasmania whose has a litter of kits so I expressed interest in them. So far I haven't heard back from her though, so I will contact her today. I am hoping to get one from her, otherwise I'll have to keep looking. Angora rabbits are rare in Australia so it isn't easy to always find one.

I am thinking about becoming a breeder myself, except that I am kind of busy and they need a lot of grooming. I also don't have a lot of room,but maybe in the future I might set up a rabbitry here on the farm. Maybe when the kids are both at school full time.

I was planning on opening a shop in our closest town when the kids go to school but since living here for that last five years I realise Scottsdale isn't a very good town for business. Scottsdale isn't really a very good town for anything. Unlike some of the other pretty historical towns in Tasmania, Scottsdale is commercial and ugly. I am glad we live out here in Springfield where it is only farms and bush.

Now I am planning on a home business when the kids are at school. I cant wait to have that freedom after being a stay home mum for more than five years. I miss making a substantial living, although Scott does pretty well in his business I miss having that independents of knowing you work hard for everything you have.

I have the farm and I make a little money from that. Mainly from leasing out some land. I am due a cheque any day now from the potato farmers who have been leasing some of our land for the potato growing season. Most of that money will go towards house renovations.

Yesterday we went to Launceston to pick out paint for Dustin's new bedroom. He chose red, blue and silver. So this weekend will be busy painting. We also have Juliet's house to build. As soon as we have an appropriate house for her she will loose her virginity and hopefully in Spring we will have lots of little baby piggies :)

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Bunnies, sheep, goats and a yak

That is where my new yarn and fibre has come from. I bought these two lovely hand dyed and hand spun yarns from Ixchel. They are made out of yak, angora bunny and merino sheep fibre.

From Ebay I bought some uncarded natural mohair and I am just amazed at how soft and white it is. Mohair is usually itchy but this stuff is beautiful and soft.

I wish I had some more spare time so I can play with it all. Today I have spent most of the day in Launceston buying paint for Dustin's new bedroom, shopping and having lunch. Now I have a tonne of housework to do. Bugger!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Roast your tomatoes

I bought a bag of tomatoes that were over ripe the other day so yesterday I made roasted tomato sauce with them. Sooo yummy! You have to roast some tomatoes.

Quarter them and sprinkle them with some good olive oil, salt and pepper and some balsamic vinegar. I ran out of balsamic (OMG!) that NEVER happens. I usually always have a few bottles in the cupboard... so this time I used red wine vinegar which worked really well. And then sprinkle them with sugar. Into a moderate oven and take them out when they look like this:

Your house will smell delicious! You can put them in salads, or with some goats cheese or on some toasted sour dough (yum), but I blended mine up into a pasta sauce with chorizo and cauliflower and it was delicious!

If I was a chef I'd probably skin them and core them but I'm not a chef, just a plain old family cook. Of course if you can grow your own they will be even better but all my tomatoes are finished now :(

Those are not tomatoes of course. They are tamarillos which I think kind of taste like tomatoes. These were growing in the Hobart Botanical Gardens the other week. I didn't know they could grow down here. I always thought they were tropical. Maybe you need a brick wall to grow them near (to keep them warm). Of course now I have to grow tamarillos too.

Here are some of the tomatoes I grew last summer.

Monday, May 24, 2010

The prickle garden

When the kids and I went for a walk in the Botanical Gardens in Hobart a couple of weeks ago, Dustin was excited to discover the "prickle garden".

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Got out of going fishing

We were all going fishing today. I'm not fond of fishing and I rarely go but I thought today I would make an effort to something that everyone else wanted to do. So I was all thinking about going fishing and hoping we didn't have to stay out there for too long, and then Ruby announces that she doesn't want to go fishing. Bugger! So Ruby and I stayed home and baked a chocolate cake and Scott and Dustin are out catching flathead for dinner tonight. Yay!

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Cold this morning

This morning we are having the first heavy frost of the season. I called Scott who left home this morning at 5.30am to go to a State Emergency Service training day a couple of hours south of our place, and he said it is minus eight there. Outside it is only zero here and most of the frost has melted around the house because it is lovely and sunny, but the water from the main tank is not working so that means it is either frozen in the pipes (which happens all the time) or a fitting has blown somewhere (which unfortunately also happens more than we would like it to). For now all I am doing is turning off the pump and waiting to see if it thaws out. Living in the country does have a few disadvantages.

I finally received my drum carder! That is a machine that you use to turn fleece from messy and knotty into nice smooth usable batts or roving. I am loving it! I have a few bags of wool from my sheep to process and a fleece from a spotty merino a friend gave me. It all has to be washed though which is a long and messy process and since I do it in my bathtub it means my bathroom smells like wet sheep.

This is wool from my sheep which I blended with some coloured curly locks from a different kind of sheep.

You can see the difference in texture between the natural wool which is my sheep and the dyed locks from the curly wooled sheep. The wool from my sheep isn't very good quality because they are a cross breed of sheep bred for meat. I adopted them as lambs when they were a day old. I think they were going to be culled because it was during the drought and there wasn't enough feed for them.

This is the same blend in green after it comes off the drum. I love the curliness.

The wool from my sheep is course and not really suitable for clothing, but it will be great for art, home wares and bags. It is also really easy to spin. I have found that the better the quality the fibre is, the harder it is to spin. So far I have carded up a bunch or roving in natural and these two blends.

This post reminded me I had a dream about my ram Sneazy last night. He is very happy at the moment because he is out of his small paddock and in with the other sheep making babies which will be born in the spring.

Friday, May 21, 2010

I made a mouse pad

I think it turned out nice. It was easy to make. I sewed the strips of fabric together and then ironed them onto an iron on stabiliser which worked really well. Then I cut out the backing fabric and put them together and sewed lines across them. I had planned on making the lines straight and even but I buggered up my first one so I made them all wonky instead.

I decided not to do mitred corners, partly because I thought they might make the corners stick up but mainly because I don't know how to make them and I didn't have time to sit through a tutorial. So I bound each end separately and it looks neat. Doesn't stick up and I liked it so much I made a coaster for my cup of tea to match.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Finding stuff to do

We are trying to make the most of the not so cold and wet weather. Our winters here are wet, cold and windy so outside play is not so common. Living by the seasons as we do, it means we take up more creative and academic activities, like art and reading and of course movies, which we all love.

However the weather has been quite dry this season and not as cold for late Autumn and we have hardly had any wind so there is still a little bit of outside play left.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

It is almost over

I think Autumn is my favourite season because growing up in South East Queensland we never really had Autumn. It was just hot and wet. The wet season. In Tasmania the Autumns are awash with colour and it is a time to make the most of the last of the warm days, mowing lawns, chopping fire wood, getting animals ready for the winter, crocheting or knitting blankets, scarves, and mittens. Stocking up on red wine and hot chocolate and lots of baking.

Last weekend we took a walk through the Hobart Botanical Gardens to enjoy the last of Autumn.

As I am working on this post, a minute ago Ruby came running into the house with her pants around her ankles and her hand on her bum squealing "I have to do a POO!" Talk about leaving things for the last minute :)