Friday, December 31, 2010

Farewell 2010, welcome a fresh new year!

Oh how time has flown away again! New Years Eve already, so we are saying goodbye to 2010, and welcoming in a New Year, (and in fact a new decade) with all the hope and anticipation of what it may bring.

2010 has been a huge year for us, with many changes and transitions, and not all in the ways we imagined.

We have moved to a new village, rented out our old home, and rather than building our new one, we have sold our land. In my last blog post we were still negotiating, but we actually sold to the first couple who saw it, the first day for sale. We are very happy with the price, and very happy with such a quick sale. We have been looking at houses to buy, and will continue the search when the agents open again in a few days.

Our children completed their kindergarten year, which seems to have flown by amazingly fast. They learnt an incredible amount, far more than I expected for their first year, and far more than I did at that age, I'm sure. Ready for Stage 1 next year, I wonder what new experiences that will bring for them. They will be in the same class again, which was a decision between teacher/parents/both children and was pretty unanimous! We also know who their teacher will be and which classroom they will be in, so that all helps toward preparing for the new school year.

I am thankful for all the experiences 2010 has brought, both good and bad, as I have learnt valuable lessons along the way. These transition periods can be difficult, but it is all worthwhile when we come out of it with new knowledge and a bit wiser for the experience.

So heading into 2011 ..... I am excited and optimistic it will be even better than the last year! A new home to look forward to, with a new garden of course! and who knows what else lies ahead waiting to delight us? A new start, fresh and open to exciting possibilities.

May this New Year (and new decade!) bring true happiness, good health, compassion and peace. May we learn the value of love, real friendship and gratitude. I am so thankful for all that I have.

I wish for you all that you need.


Monday, November 15, 2010

The changes we had to have....

Warning- this is a long post! Getting it off my chest at last.... (you might want to get a cup of tea!)

I've been putting off blogging about our lives for a while, part denial, part hope that things will somehow all work out as we planned. But I have found that I can only wait so long for the good luck fairy or fate or mother universe or whatever you believe in, to bestow the goodness upon us. Some big decisions had to be made, and some big changes had to happen.

Some of you will know we bought a block of land over 2 years ago with all the hopes and dreams of building an amazing home for our family, and managing the land to live as sustainably as possible. We would have a home that would be as green as possible (for a project home) built facing north and a long homestead style designed to be solar passive, with solar power and huge water tanks. The chooks would have a large run, and I could have a rooster again and breed wyandottes. I would try to work their area into my food forest plan, permaculture style with raised rotational veggie beds and a small orchard of fruit trees.

Sounds idyllic? We really thought we could do it. We have come very close. It has been 2 and a half years of planning and working with builders, discussions with council and the RFS, struggling to make our dreams a reality. I can't express in writing what we have been through, but it has been so much hard work- blood, sweat and certainly tears.

I love that land. We all do. We knew the moment we saw it that it was for us. There were 'signs' everywhere. It is totally unique, 22 acres of amazing bushland, with views to world class bushwalk areas and canyons. But is is more than the description to us. It was our dream.

So what has happened? Well, the dollars required have increased (as these things usually do) and our dollars available have decreased. The council and RFS have changed our plans from our dream to 'something-kind-of-close'.

But the biggest change of all has been our thinking. We sat down and worked out what kind of lifestyle we would be living if we continued down this path, following our dreams. We worked out how much it would take from us, and for how long. Even if we could fund the building work, we would be paying for it for a very long time. Its not like we didn't know at the start, but somehow our priorities have changed over the past 2 years, and 'living the dream' at the expense of actually enjoying life just seems so wrong. The important thing is that we are all together, healthy and as happy as we can be.

We don't want to be always worrying about money, whether we can afford school excursions, Christmas, kids parties, not to mention emergencies like illness or car problems (having just lost our car has made this foremost in our minds!) I know lots of people do have to live that way through no fault of their own, but why would we choose to live that way when we can choose something else?

We had planned on selling our old home to help finance this dream, but after 8 months of having an empty house for sale while we pay rent where we are just wasn't working. We know for sure that we don't want to go back to our old town, so the first decision was to take our old home off the market and rent it out. This way we can get some income at least, and the house is being lived in.

The same day we made that decision, we decided to put the land up for sale. We had agonised over it for so long, that it was actually a relief to do something about it. It felt like I was taking charge again, instead of waiting for it all to somehow work out for us.

So, less than 2 weeks later - tenants moved into our old house on the weekend (we had a choice of applicants within 3 days!) and the land went up for sale on Friday, with an interested couple visiting on Saturday and have already put in an offer which we are negotiating at the moment.

All of a sudden things seem much clearer and easier. Have you ever struggled on down a path in your life thinking the best things are worth fighting for? I thought they were, but now I am not sure. Maybe the hard struggle is not the way to go. When things seem to fall into place easily, maybe that is meant to be.

If this works out and we sell the land soon, we plan to buy a house again. A regular house, probably in a regular street. It will not have acres, but it will be big enough to grow some veggies and maybe a couple of apple trees. Our kids will love it and it will become our home.

It will not be our old dream, but it will be our new dream.


Saturday, October 16, 2010

Cicada rescue!

Well what a surprise to find this cicada today- I think he has been tricked into coming out by the recent warm weather, poor thing only to find the weather was FREEZING today! We had snow for most of the day, and so my husband 'rescued' him from our front garden, he swears it was shivering!

Look at those amazing golden wings!

Alien-like face, strangely compelling!

Anne from Loopity Lou and Jacqui from Life in the Dome have both found these recently - and I'll trust both their opinions that this is a 'Masked Devil' cicada. Anne has some amazing photos of hers hatching (is that the correct term for cicadas coming out?) I just did not expect to see any this far up the mountains, this early in the season.


We brought him inside to warm up a little. He was pretty lifeless for a while, then started to move just a little. By the time he was getting quite lively, I thought it might be better for him to sleep in the garage tonight (rather than rattling around the house when we are trying to sleep!)
He can get out of the garage easily, but if he is still there tomorrow, hopefully we can find a suitable home for him again.
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Monday, October 4, 2010

All things sweet and gloopy.....

Wow, what a productive day today! I blame the rain we've had for the past few days. Terrific for the garden and the few seeds I have germinating, but lousy for kids on school holidays. Oh well, make the most of indoors time and get productive!

First up I juiced a huge basket full of lemon/limes I was kindly given from a friend. I call them lemon/limes (or 'lime-ons' as my kids have named them) as my friend said they were limes from her mother-in-laws tree, but they are bright yellow and lemony inside. Thin skin and no seeds like a lime, but look and smell like a lemon. Taste? well, they taste like a lemony-lime. Whatever, they were free, need to be used and taste great.

So I decided to make the majority of the juice into cordial, using Linda Cockburns recipe from the latest Organic Gardener mag which landed at my door last week. Sensational Linda- and great timing!
With 1 litre of juice, 1 kilo of sugar (EEK!) and 750ml water, I made 3 bottles of delicious cordial. It is diluted 1 part cordial to 4 or 5 parts water, so this will go a long way.

Looks plain-but tastes incredible!

Sterilising the bottles was the hardest part- I've never done it before and tried the drying-in-the-oven method. That was ok, apart from the bit where I melted the plastic bottle stoppers onto the racks :-(  OOPS! Oh well, maybe my foil makeshift tops will do for us!

After that I made liquid soap, using a recipe from Daharja you can find HERE. I used half the amounts as I thought that would be enough (it was). It worked amazingly well, even setting in a couple of hours instead of overnight. I wanted to add some pretty colour, and let my daughter choose from the food colourings, she chose pink, no surprise there! Just one drop of red colour in almost 2 litres of soap made this totally gorgeous pale pink. I ended up filling a 500ml pump, and almost filled 2 x 250ml pumps. One for the bathroom, laundry and kitchen.

yes, I even made a label!

It is a bit similar to the laundry gloop I make, though that uses washing soda instead of glycerine. I made a new bucket of that yesterday too. It is so easy and cheap to make, and much kinder to sensitive skins. If you haven't tried it, you can find the recipe on my original post HERE.

After all that, I then made playdoh for the kids. Yes, the gas company just loved me today! I did the cooked one, the recipe is on the cream of tartar box, and since Miss A got to choose the soap colour, Master A got to choose the playdoh colour. 'Alien Green.' Eeeuukkk! Well, they loved it anyway, and I love making playdoh that is so cheap, non-toxic and the past batches I've made have lasted over a year, no kidding. Wrap in cling film, pop in the fridge.

Oh, and the last thing I made (apart from minestrone soup for dinner, but that is neither sweet nor gloopy!) was a big tray of brownies. YUM. And that is my next task, after my very productive day ....... a sticky brownie. With some lemon-lime cordial of course :)

why do brownies always look a wreck but taste amazing?

(if you want more details about the cordial or playdoh recipe, let me know. I have a brownie waiting right now though, so I'll get to it later!)


Saturday, October 2, 2010

Fluffy Visitor

Well how cute is this guy? He came to visit this morning and sat on our fence for such a long time, we were all outside marvelling at how adorable he is! He is a Flame Robin, and the first I've seen since last winter, when I saw my first one.

OK, now the apology- I have been away from blogland for soooooo long its ridiculous. I have been popping in to read yours every now and then, but not doing the writing thing myself. And since being so lazy, I'm amazed to see I have picked up some new followers! So welcome to you :) Hopefully I will have something more interesting to read soon than, well, the nothing I've been doing. I think I've been in hibernation over winter. Coupled with the real-estate woes we have had (don't ask!) has not made for a happy blogger. But hey, although the woes are still pretty woeful, I am still here and although I'm not promising to do the blogtoberfest like those of you more energetic than myself, I promise to not go missing for months on end again.

In my hibernation mode I did learn to crochet and knit (yes, knit -much to my amazement!) did lots of baking, and started sewing again as I had a request for a couple of items- which meant a couple of sales, which in turn has lit my creative spark again. I currently have several piles of fabric lying around showing several unfinished projects! More on that later.

So, thanks for sticking with me through my winter of discontent! I hope Spring brings new life, energy and warmth to us all.

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Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Historic Hartley

Visited Hartley on the weekend, a small rural village about a half hours drive from us. The local buildings inspired me to play around with the photo settings.

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Thursday, July 15, 2010

The Girls are Back in Town ....!

I'm so happy! My girls are back with me after living at my friends place for the past few months since we moved here.

Ruby at the front, checking out the new digs.

My friend who was looking after them went jetting off to Europe for 5 weeks (oh, the high life!) and I was visiting them twice a day for feeding/cleaning/egg collecting etc. Problem was, we hit freezing times here and went below zero a few days in a row, so their drinking water was freezing solid and I was tripping back and forth to give them fresh water.

Silvie (no comb) and Blondie (huge comb) ??why ??

After much guilt and anxiety, I practically begged the real estate agent to let us have them here, and within 3 hours they said the landlord said yes! Woo hoo!

Lady- fully recovered from the fowl-pox that killed Racey Rooster, but still she is still not laying after 3 months.

We can't move the ark here yet so for now we built a ramshackle lean-to into a holding pen. Bit of chook fence we went to our old house and pulled down (it is STILL for sale -not happy) and a bit of a hutch thingy and hey presto - new chooky accomodation.

BG- more Blue than Gold but still a beauty

Blondie - check out the mad comb!

The wyandottes are HUGE now- I really didn't understand how different they are to other breeds until I had my own- they are like soft round fluffballs! Check out the fluffly butts !!!

They seem very happy, even though they are still trying to figure out where they want to lay (there has been a few eggs rolling around the ground!) I made a nice nest inside the hutch and they just dragged the whole thing out :-0
So then I made a box on its side with straw in, but instead of using it to lay in, all 5 of them stuffed themselves in to sleep in it last night.... what the ???!!!!!

Crazy chooks - love 'em.


Tuesday, July 13, 2010

More animals......

The latest additions to the mountainwildlife household .......

Rainbow and Google (before their lovely wall-paper went on!)

A Shubunkin called Rainbow ("cos she has lots of colours") and a Black Moor called Google ("cos he has funny googly eyes!")

How could you not love those BIG eyes?!!

Both joined us on the weekend, hand picked by our kids. Well, given a total free-choice I think they would have gone for 'Nemo' and 'Dory' but since we are running a coldwater tank, tropicals are not on our list.

"Hey, check it out... another Shubunkin!"

We played safe and started with goldfish (yes, they are both goldfish!) as they are hardy and relatively easy to look after, and there are really so many different looking ones, I was quite surprised. 2 for now, then when the tank biology stabilises (another steep learning curve for me- aquatic management!) we can get another couple, but we might go for some little Zebra Danios which are just lovely and can live happily with the goldfish, if the numbers are right.

Google pretending to be a shark!

We picked up a great little fishtank on freecycle, 50cm/ 38 litre so fairly decent size, and enough for a small fish community. The nearest big pet shop is in the next town, and they have a huge range of fish and assorted bits and pieces. What they don't know about fish in there I can't imagine! Talk about fish.... well you could be there all day!

Other exciting animal news- we have our chooks back !!!! Hooray !!!!!!!!  More news about that later, along with some photos (if it ever stops raining!)


Friday, July 9, 2010

Happy birthdays :)

Has it been another year already? Sure has!

Despite the fact that I always get a little bit stressed about it, I do love the whole birthday-cake-making thing. I love thinking about cake ideas with my children, looking through books and thinking about colours.

Miss 5 decided a pink-and-purple flower cake would be just the thing this year, and was very happy with my interpretation!
Master 5 got his idea from a drawing he did the week before, a colourful rainbow-rocket. And we were all pretty pleased with the cake! My version is very-loosely based on the rocket shape from the womens weekly kids cake book.

I haven't worked with soft icing before, only ever doing butter frosting for the past 4 years. So that was interesting in itself, and with some helpful ideas from a brilliant cake-making friend of mine (as well as loaning a bit of equipment!) I had a great time working different colours into it and cutting shapes to make the ideas become reality.

I think they looked better in reality than in the photos. The rocket was brighter colours. Well, you get the idea anyway.

I also made hearts and tiny pink icing petals into flowers around the flower cake, and the rocket 'flames' are made with soft icing through a garlic press (never used with garlic!) It was very much like playing with playdoh! Thankfully it tasted a lot better though :-)

And of course, to top them off, sparklers out the back of the rocket and one through the centre of the cake (not shown on photos as we were too busy when they were 'sparkling' -especially when we set off the smoke alarms!!)

The party was lots of fun, 12 happy kids all enjoyed themsleves (and quite a few parents as well!)

Another year older, another year of childhood behind them. Oh, how can I be so happy and sad at the same time?

Friday, June 18, 2010

Blog make-over...

I have been playing around with new design ideas for my blog, please bear with me while I decide if I like it ! Or let me know what you think....

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Creativity unleashed!

I have never been a 'knitter'. Wool (or 'yarn' as I am learning to call it) and myself have never really been on speaking terms with each other, let alone being friends. Despite many efforts on my mothers part to teach me knitting, I just never 'got it'. Or I wasn't interested enough to persevere. I can do a basic plain stitch, so long as someone else casts on /casts off and if I drop a stitch I'm totally lost.  :- /

But things are changing around here. Whether its moving to a new village where the population are wonderfully creative that has done it, I'm not sure, but something has ignited my creative spark once again.

I recently began sewing again at a sewing group, and have made bags with linings and a couple of pairs of school trousers - 2 things I just couldn't get my head around previously. I now know how to read a pattern (they really are written in English!) and next project on my table is a patchwork quilt.

But now...... the craft which has taken me truly by surprise - crochet!

I attended a couple of workshops recently which were provided by my children's school at our regular coffee morning, to learn beginners crochet. 'Why not?' I thought, after doing my half hour reading with the kindergarten class I was free those mornings. The teacher was a local woman who was very good at instructing total beginners (all of us!) and patient too. Although she did say that we would be crocheting beanies by our 2nd week, which I almost laughed out loud at! (beanies = woolly hats, for those non-aussies!)

But guess what? After learning a few different stitches (and unravelling a few test squares!) I was amazed to find that I actually can do it. And while an expert would find more than a couple of faults, I might even go so far to say I am pretty good at it! Well, its only my 2nd week and my first project.

So here is my beanie so far, in its raw state -

My first crochet!

The yarn is acrylic, (it was easier to buy at the time) although wool would be better. But I love the colour! I need to join the ends to make the back seam, and gather in the top to make it hat-shaped. Not entirely convinced it will look perfect but to be honest I am just amazed I have managed to do this far. (BTW- those plastic bread tie/ring things make great stitch savers!)

Meantime, I decided to revise my lessons and try some squares, commonly known as 'granny squares' (which to me is almost enough to put anyone under 60 off) but nonetheless onwards I went ...... I made these last night while half watching TV --

For these I am just using odd balls of wool and acrylic I picked up in vinnies, a big bag for a dollar - ideal for practising I thought. Although I am realising that lots of the balls (or is it skeins?) I have are just too fine and end up looking a bit spindly and straggly, (like the dark blue above). I definitely prefer the thicker yarn.

Wow, listen to me, talking like a real knitter! Or is crochet-er? Crochet-ist? Crochet-atier??? !!!!!

Next step is to get myself an aluminium hook and some proper wool. Not sure what I'll be making but I'm enjoying just creating for now.

Anyone else left in the world apart from myself who can't do these can find fabulous instructions with short videos at Meet Me At Mikes blog -(scroll down the right-hand side)
Pip shows step by step, very s-l-o-w-l-y so you can follow along in real time. It really helped me as I had forgotten how to get around a corner!

And since starting crochet (and consequently having my self-esteem boosted) I have even been thinking about trying knitting again. You know mam, I might even get that scarf going again- the one you started me on 5 years ago!


Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Muppets rock!

I came across this at meet me at mikes and just had to share it....!

I remember the muppets and this song from my childhood, and I just love this video!

Fozzie bear, Animal and Beaker made me laugh, and remember the swedish chef and the 2 old guys?

The band kicks off at about 3 mins! Wait until the end for Miss Piggy... I couldn't see Kermit though?

Anyone else remember the names of this lot?

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Alas poor Racey.....

Sad, sad news ..... our lovely rooster Racey died on Sunday. He developed fowl pox, which is relatively common in chooks, and usually not fatal, but he went downhill very quickly and died after having it only a few days.

A young Racey before he grew in his beautiful long feathers

One of our hens, Lady, had it first, and had been sick for around 3 weeks. I actually thought she wouldn't survive the move from our old house up to their current residence at my friend's place, but she slowly improved and looks like she will be fine. I think she had a bad time of it as she was moulting at the same time, so she is looking a little rough and has lost a lot of weight.

Poor Racey though, we all loved him, he was such a beautiful wyandotte rooster, stunning to look at and very tame and friendly. I had hoped to breed him to the wyandotte girls and have some lovely chicks next season, but that was not meant to be. He was so ill that his eyes were swollen shut, so he wasn't moving around much or doing any normal behaviour. We tried to open his eyes but couldn't, to help him find food and water. He was managing to eat, but perhaps he wasn't drinking enough, or perhaps he was going to die anyway, we will never know.

A few days after hatching- check out the hairdo!

He looked after his girls well, finding them food when they were free-ranging and always keeping an eye on me when I picked the girls up! They were obviously loyal to him too, they were huddled around him when he died.

A sad end to an otherwise lovely Mothers Day. I was showered with cards and presents from my two littlies, including hand made photo frames they made at kindergarten, small gifts from the school fundraiser and even a collection of 'special rocks' from our garden LOL!! I am amazed they managed to keep it all secret! They were so lovely I was smiling all morning. Porridge and milo in bed, (in my new pj's and dressing gown!) bacon and eggs later, and some lovely treats from the local market. Yum!

We have all settled in to our new abode, it feels great to be living here. Moving was relatively painless, although we realised we have way too much 'stuff'. A big clear out ahead I think. We are all enjoying walking to school (most days when we are not in a mad rush!) while the weather is still above freezing.....!

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Movin' on up ....

Time for some changes ..... we have been so busy here lately I keep thinking of stuff I want to blog about but never have a chance :-(
I have been trying to keep our house in tip top condition, all spic and span for the inspections we have been having (not so easy during the school holidays with 2 mini-hurricanes charging around!) Luckily it has always looked tidy and clean, and we have had quite a few people through, but no buyers yet.

The good news however is that we have got ourselves a rental house to move into, I looked at a few and the only one that was suitable was in high demand! I had no idea it was so competitive, there are so many people out there going for each property. Of course that pushes the prices up as well as making it harder to get what you want. We weren't even that fussy really, just wanted a 2/3 bed house with heating (I can't believe some places don't have heating in the upper mountains ...brrrrrr!)

Anyway, we did get the one we applied for and I am so happy! I will be able to walk the kids to school instead of driving 96 km every day -hooray!

The main problem was having somewhere that has a fenced yard and will take a dog. The chooks would have been a much bigger problem, except that a lovely friend has offered to house them at her place for us while we rent. She has had chooks in the past and really enjoys them, although never had a rooster, so we are both hoping that won't be an issue with her neighbours. We still have to discuss who will be responsible for what, but they will be close by so I can visit and hopefully our shared-care arrangement will work out!

Hopefully we will be able to get a removalist to help us move in next weekend, (we have done it ourselves way too many times, its not worth the chiropractic bills, not to mention the damaged furniture!)

I will report back form our new surroundings when we get settled, no doubt there will be a few tales in between :-)

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Chestnuts for breakfast...lunch....dinner....

What a fabulous day out we had yesterday! A trip to Kookootonga Chestnut Farm in Mt Irvine organised by the blue mountains fruit and nut tree network made for a great family outing. The drive there is beautiful in itself, through the upper mountains villages, across the Darling Causeway, through Bell and Mt Wilson, which I think always looks gorgeous in Autumn.

One of the first trees

There were chestnuts aplenty, less trees than I imagined but far more nuts than I ever imagined could come from each tree! The owner took our small group up over the hill to his 'best' tree which was enough to keep us happily picking for an hour or so, each filling our buckets and still leaving some behind! It was so enjoyable gathering the nuts under the cool shade of the huge tree as it was unusually warm yesterday.

Tough gloves essential (oops and sensible footwear too!)

A trio of treasure inside the prickly casing

The farm also has a good supply of walnut trees, and although these aren't quite due for harvest yet, our children managed to find a 'secret' tree (much to their delight!) where they were the sole collectors of a good kilo of walnuts already fallen to the ground. Apart from the occasional running-off episodes, they really enjoyed the day too.

Miss 4 filling bucket no.1

Bucket no.2

I found discovering the chestnuts in the dewy grass and peeling them from their prickly covers really addictive (!) and therefore when it came to weighing and paying, we ended up buying far more than we needed, but it was well worth it for the experience.

This cheeky fellow joined us too

To wrap it up, the group had organised a roasting in the grounds near the farmhouse, and we all got to taste hot chestnuts roasted on the BBQ, which was a first for us.

Our nutty bounty at home!

Since returning yesterday we have tried them microwaved and oven baked, and I also picked up a range of recipe cards at the farm with lots of yummy ideas. Just as well - we have a LOT to use!


Friday, March 26, 2010

Suddenly...lots of news!

Where is this year going? I keep thinking of blog posts, but somehow get swept up by events going on in my 'real' life and never get round to writing.... but so much is happening here in the world of mountain wildlife!

Firstly, our twins started school in February, a huge milestone for all of us! They are in kindergarten and settling in well, we are very proud of them. The only downside is that I have to drive 30 mins, 4 times a day to take them there/home and back/home. We decided to start them in school in the town we will be moving to, rather than where we are now, as this will be far less disruptive for them when we do move, having already settled into school and established some new friends. We were being optimistic that we WILL build this year and it WILL go according to plan!

Which leads nicely to our second big event-of-the-moment --- the builder we returned to late last year (after a year of owner-building-nothing-getting-done dramas) seems to be handling things well and getting things moving far faster that we did. Of course I still have moments of impatience when I would like things done TODAY (!) but at least things are progressing. The council application should be ready to submit in the next couple of weeks- waiting as I write- on a bushfire assessment. Our block is surrounded by, and covered in, natural bushland so this is a very important report which will determine what modifications we will have to incorporate into the house. We already have a good understanding and have budgeted for such things so hopefully there won't be any surprises.

However, because of my afore-mentioned impatience (LOL!) we have decided to sell up our home now, (news no. 3!) and rent further up the mountains while the building progresses. Hubby will be travelling further as he works down the mountains, but that would happen eventually anyway, and besides ---news no. 4!! -- we have bought a second car so he can do that! Its an older station wagon, cheap but hopefully reliable, and has heaps more room than our other car. The train he usually catches doesn't run from our new place, so this was going to happen sooner or later. But, the school run will be so much easier, we can be more part of our new community, and our children will be closer to their new friends. Me too, as I have met some lovely people through the school and made some new friends already! 

So, our house is up for sale and the agent is confident it will go quickly. Hmmm.... now, where are we going to live??!!!

I have been searching for a rental in the upper mountains (news no.5!!) - they are quite rare - and the ones that do come up that look suitable/affordable are so far not allowing pets. Not good, as we have our lovely dog with us.
Oh, and did I mention the 5 fat hens and the rooster who does hilarious attempts now at crowing? Well, I didn't mention it to the agents that's for sure! I think the chooks might be taking up residence on our land with daily visits from me, it's hard enough finding a rental that will allow an outdoor dog!

News no.6 - we are selling our investment property at the moment as well, hopefully that should all go through next week, so its all contracts and paperwork here!

Between building, selling x 2 and house hunting, as well as driving 100km/day, you may have figured out why I have been missing lately.......

So much going on, fingers crosssed everything will soon fall into place and I will be able to exhale again!


Sunday, February 14, 2010

No-knead bread tutorial - Rustic, crusty, tasty, yum!

3 posts today- I think that's a record for me!

Inspired by Jacqui's post last week, I just had to give this a try. (Thanks Jacqui!)

Check out this youtube link to watch a how-to-make No Knead Bread.

Basically it is a simple flour/yeast/salt/water recipe, mixed up and left overnight (or at least 12 hours) and baked hotter than usual. The link will tell you more, but I also wanted to add a few hints and my own result.

It produces a fabulous ciabatta style loaf, and I am very proud of my first effort!

Yes, it is supposed to be cracked and rough!

I have baked bread before, both hand baking and using my bread machine (picked up on freecycle) but lately my machine-bread has been collapsing in the top (no reason) and my hand baking has always been a bit hit-and-miss. Edible, but not worth shouting about. Or blogging about. And while I find the whole process enjoyable, I rarely have the time to bake from scratch.

But THIS .... THIS I like. It has that real rustic home-baked look, a super-crusty crust and soft, holey middle. Perfect for drizzling olive oil on, or for jam to fall into those holes!

A few things I did that I think the youtube video may not explain -

I covered my mixture loosely with cling film and a tea-towel when it sat overnight (room temp)
I very lightly 'punched down' when shaping and flouring it
I let it sit for another half hour, didn't rise much then, but did HEAPS in the oven.
Then baked at 250c in a preheated pyrex casserole dish (lid on)

and don't be surprise if it doesn't look like usual bread dough when you first make it - it is really, really gooey!

My dough after overnight rise - looks like glue! Even after turning out, it was sticky and gloopy. Hmmm, I was worried....!

Looking better -shaped into a rough round and a generous dusting with wholemeal flour

Still hot in the dish -baked seam side up to get that cracked crust!

If you haven't baked bread before, give it a go - this is SO EASY ! Honestly, young kids can do the mixing (if you don't mind some serious mess!) First part takes less than 5 minutes, next day takes maybe another 5 mins, then into the oven. I am going to try to make one every weekend, evening prep for lunch the next day.

Beats supermarket bread anyday. You'll even have the local baker worried!  

Wyandotte update!

Feeling a bit chooky ..... feel the need to post some new pics ...... :-)

Wyandottes taking shelter from the rain last weekend on our back deck.

Check out Silvie the fluffball at the front! Not even laying yet but I'm sure she looks like she'd make a fine broody hen, all puffed up like that, I can just imagine her guarding her clutch of eggs...... !

Here she is again, just to prove she can walk upright, and is not infact, just a ball of feathers. And she does have a neck.

Perfect lacing, such a beauty. Looks very straight backed for a wyandotte on this photo, but she is actually curvier.

Wyandottes are "The Bird of Curves' according to poultry standards, and should be basically 'soccer ball' shaped, with their tails, legs and head outside the circle. Maybe she was practising in the first photo!

B.G. - the original gold chick, who then turned completely black, who then decided to grow some gold again. Reminds me of someone dyeing their hair, trying different colours to see what suits!

Mostly her lacing is quite 'peppery' in breeders terms, but her chest is lacing up lovely, and she is still molting and deciding just how much gold she would like.

And the natural blonde, like a true blonde is getting a little darker as she ages and also a sprinkle of grey LOL!

Lastly, here is Mr Handsome himself .... growing some beautiful gold hackle and saddle feathers, and his 'blue' in his blue-laced-gold is so truly blue. Legs so yellow you'd think I'd painted them (another Wyandotte standard) Hopefully the girls won't be able to resist his charms.....! And still not crowing - I can't believe my luck, though probably jinxed it now.

They are 17 weeks now, the girls looking much redder than they did even last week, in their combs and little wattles. Getting ready for laying.... a few weeks away maybe, but definitely getting ready.....!