Monday, December 10, 2012

thanks for the encouragement: another assignment done so back to my homespun life for a while

Thank you everyone for your encouragement and words of love during my academic freak out. Hopefully I'll pass - that's all I want.

Yesterday I was really struggling to concentrate but I needed to get it finished.
I decided to take a different take: I set up a little altar of concentration on my desk.
I lit a vanilla soy melt, put out my strawberry obsidian.
I made a card for myself: listing the things I could do after assignment 1 (tick), assignment 2 and the exams.
Last of all I set up our Tibetan singing bowl, played it for a while before powering through my assignment.

I submitted it today, so thank you, thank you, thank you.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Feeing frustrated and trapped - not terribly homespun right now

I have started studying two business subjects by distance education for the first time in almost a decade. Since starting this blog I have increasingly embraced a homespun life, working towards the life of my dreams.  I go through stages of doing nothing but sewing and others cooking and gardening in equal measure.  I gardened all winter so my vegie garden is a picture of abundance. I have a lovely cottage garden of flowers in the front and a steadily expandng fernery. We created a lovely lush lawn in the place of bare dirt in the back yard, a perfect picnic spot under large trees.

I have been eating home made granola and yogurt. Packing nutritious, tasty lunches every day and cooking great dinners as well.

I freely chose to do the study. I need to reach closure on a half completed qualification from what feels like a previous life. It will free me to undertake other study that fits better with who I am now and what I want for my future.

But I am not feeling free. I feel trapped. I keep telling myself that it really is only a few days of my life. That this too will pass. Good words but hard to take to heart.

It is perhaps the lack of balance in my life. Right now I feel guilty about taking time out from study to write this post. My darling niece arrived yesterday to visit until after Christmas and I feel guilty about taking time out from her. We need to finish painting the laundry and bathroom but I can't right now. My garden is looking neglected - I need to pull weeds, mulch with compost and lucerne and plant the next lot of summer crop.

But I must spend all my time out of work doing my study. My second assignment is due Monday. Once that is done I will have a month to complete the next two. So it really is only a couple of days until I can make my next batch of granola, refill the freezer, get back into the garden and enjoy the countdown to Christmas.

Why can't I accept that and be zen and embrace the opportunity in front of me?

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Broccoli soup and other garden delights

I have magificent heads of broccoli coming up in the garden. Never before have I gown such stunning specimens.

So what will I do with it all?

I've started with soup.

To make basic but delicious broccoli soup I made vichyssoise (classic potato and leek) and added the broccoli. Very simple, very quick and yes, most importantly, very tasty.

Two heads of broccoli - washed well and chopped into florets
One leek, trimmed and sliced
Two medium potatoes, peeled and diced
Vegetable stock cube
Parmesan, optional

How to:
Melt a small chunk of butter in a large soup pan. Throw in the leeks and cook until they start to soften, take care not to burn them.
Toss in the broccoli and potatoes. Add stock cube and enough water to just cover vegies. 
Bring to boil briefly, then simmer, stirring every now and again.
When all vegies are soft, poor the soup into a blender, in batches, to puree. You choose whether you want it completely smooth or a few small chunks are ok.
Pour it back into the soup pan and replace on stove on low-medium heat. You are not cooking it now just reheating.
Serve with a drizzle of cream and a sprinkle of parmesan and crunchy bread on the side.

This will serve 4-6. I only served two but we now have four serves in the freezer for another day.

There is plenty more broccoli growing in the garden.
I will need to monitor them daily now so that I pick them before the flowers start to open out and they are spolied.
As always my vegie garden is a sea of potatoes. So there'll be plenty more soup I think.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

late Spring day in Robertson

We went for a walk with friends yesterday on a clear late Spring day. These photos show just how beautiful my street is.
Taken by RachaelB.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Vintage car display at the races

I have a real soft spot for vintage cars. The romantic pull of yesterday, the dedication of the owners to keep such old machines in working order. Members of the local car club showed their beauties at the Bong Bong Races.
Owners of old cars are always happy to show their pride and joys and explain their quirks such as this hand operated windscreen wiper.
Ford Capri

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Greenpick for our chickens

The silverbeet and kale keep trying to bolt to seed so I am constantly pruning the tops off them.
Our chickens can't get enough greenpick so today I hung up some prunings, along with a few weeds: dandelions, nasturtiums and mik thistles.

I have thrown extra prunings and weeds into a bucket so I can keep supplying greenpick during the week with minimal effort while rushing off to work.

This healthy for the chooks adn keeps them occupied. Scarlet particularly likes her greens. If they get into the vegie garden Scully and Kate scratch around in the garlic while Scarlet goes straight for the celery and silverbeet to peck at the leaves.

How do keep your chickens happy?

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Fashions from the field at Bong Bong races November 2012

Today was the annual Bong Bong Picnic Race. We go every year.

I LOVE hats which you may have noticed. Here are some photos of the fashions from the field today.
My Howard

 and here's me

Making sushi for picnic races

Do you like sushi? I love nori rolls. We hadn't had them for ages so I made them today for our picnic at the Bong Bong Picnic Races. If you like them, but haven't tried making them, I highly recommend giving it a go.  It is so easy.

Reasons to make your own:
They are guaranteed to be fresh. Dried out sushi is such a disappointment.
You can choose the fillings of your choice.
They're yummy, so you can have them anytime you like.
Sushi is a great dinner party theme. Your guests will have great fun making sushi to share and think you are very, very clever!

All the ingredients are increasingly easy to buy from the supermarket.  The only equipment you need that you won't already have is a bamboo rolling mat.

How to:
  • Cook short grain or sushi rice until soft and all water is absorbed. 1 cup made enough for two people plus some left overs for tomorrow.
  • Place rice in a large bowl.
  • Add rice wine vinegar. 3 tablespoons per cup uncooked rice.
  • Stir rice with a wooden spoon. You want the rice to cool down so stir in a way that spreads it out, rather than clump it up.
  • Take your bamboo mat and place one sheet of nori (seaweed) on top.
  • Spread rice across the nori, about 1 quarter from the top edge. The amount is a matter of practice and preference.
  • Add your filling of choice across the rice.
  • Tightly roll the nori over the filling. The mat makes this really easy. I hold a butter knife or spatula against the edge of the filling while I start the roll. Keep the top edge of the mat above the roll and keep going until the whole sheet is rolled up tightly. Set aside while you make all the rolls.
  • Fill a tall jug with hot or boiling water. Use this to dip your sharp knife in between cuts.
  • Place one nori roll on your chopping board, use your hot knife to slice through making each piece approx 2 cm thick.
Serve with soy sauce and wasabi. Careful of the wasabi paste, it bites!

Our favourite fillings:
  • cream cheese with avocado and sliced snow peas
  • cream cheese and smoked salmon
  • tuna
What filling do you like?

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Back home and into the garden

I am back home and happy to be back blogging. Thank you to Very-Marie for her guest post. I commuted for years and it is really hard. I love that Very-Marie is sharing how she makes it work. Keep at it.

My parents house sat while I was away so the garden is in very good shape. I'm very fortunate.
We are currently alternating between sunshine and rain however so it is growing fast.  And I am tripping over myself to keep up.

Here are some pics to share the highlights.

The new lawn is seeding and a delightful shade of green. It is still a little patchy but coming along nicely.

Our first roses are breaking out.

Everything is green in the vegie garden.  The celery and silverbeet are trying to bolt to seed so I have to keep pruning. 
The cauliflowers should produce buds soon.
There are spuds everywhere, not just in the beds where I planted them.

Snow peas and sugar snap peas are climbng the fence behind the chicken coop.

I hung up dandelion and milk thistles for the chickens today. 
And have a bucket full of greenpick ready to give the chickens throughout the week. This is mostly celery, kale and silverbeet. This will keep them healthy and amused over my work days when I don't let them out. Daylight saving means that I can let them out each evening for a hour or so when I get home which they love.

Today's harvest included rhubarb, greens, celery, beets, potatoes, and peas. I cooked up my usual Sunday storm to make the week go smoothly. Today I cooked the rhubarb with some corella pears, roast a big plate of mixed vegies, eggplant and sweet potato lasagne, fennel and granola for breakfast. That is a couple of dinners and a few lunches ready to go.

How have you prepared for the week ahead? And what's happening in your garden this November?
I'd love it if you let me know.

Cheers, have a great week!

Saturday, October 13, 2012

The life of a commuter

This is a guest post from Very Marie.  Jodie is enjoying a well deserved break in the US.

I am a commuter. I spend close to four hours a day travelling to and from work by car and train.

This is a choice. For a whole range of reasons - family, friends, comfort, location - my husband and I have decided to live in our beachside hometown and travel to the city for work.

I need to remember it's a choice, because some days, it is so hard.

Like in winter when for months I leave in darkness and come home in darkness. When public transport and long hours drain my immune system and I regularly feel germy and fluey. When my routine of having to go to bed early to wake up at dawn means the concept of exercise, hobbies and a Monday to Friday social life is non existent. When the travel and long hours mean I am often left feeling completely, don't know how I can keep going, want to curl up and sleep, will burst into tears in any moment, exhaustion.

A lot people ask me how I can commute and I know I'm not the only one who does it, so I wanted to share some of the little coping mechanisms I have discovered to get me through each week.

1) Routine. As boring as that word is to even write, it is the key to effective commuting. You need a routine for bedtime, for waking up, for breakfast, for what time to drink your morning coffee and when you'll brush your teeth. You need a routine for groceries and cooking and packing your lunch. Because I warn you, any deviation from this weekday schedule can leave you feeling immensely a) tired, b) hungry c) unhealthy d) all of the above.

2) A relatively flexible job. Thankfully I can usually leave work between 530 and 6pm, working the rest of the afternoon on my blackberry. The flexibility means I am getting home in time to eat and sleep at a reasonable hour. I am also entitled to a flex day (or mental health day as I fondly call them) once every six weeks or so, which is crucial for me and allows me to do weekday chores, sleep, and take some time out.  

3) The strength to say no. I am not very good at this, but when so much of your week is consumed with work and travel, you need to find the inner strength to say no. No I can't come to that afternoon meeting, I need to catch the train. No I can't come to dinner tonight, I'm exhausted.  No I can't come to after-work drinks because if I get home late on a school night I may not be able to keep going this week. I am still working on the 'no' but it truly is essential to surviving the commute.

4) Finding the little things that get you through. For me it's reading blogs and articles on the train to keep me inspired, leaving work early one day a week to go to yoga to keep me sane, listening to my favourite cd on the way home from work to keep me awake... writing on my way to work, listening to breathing exercises on my iPhone... Whatever it is, you need a list of things to do during the week that keep you energised, inspired and positive.

5) Weekends. When it all feels worth it. These two precious days by the beach when I can sleep in, wander down the road for breakfast, leave the house in ugg boots, visit family and friends. Forget work, forget the city and enjoy the stillness, the familiarity and the quiet.

And when Monday rolls around again, and the thought of travelling all that way to work in the cold and the dark feels so overwhelming, I need to remind myself that the weekends make it worth it. That it's a choice.

What choices do you struggle with?

(Image via pinterest) 


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