Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Slow Living 2012 - Month 2

Perhaps this email should be titled: "Falling of the bandwagon and how to climb back on" but I like the idea of rather joining in with Christine's Slow Living 2012 Diary each month. So instead of writing another post about all the things I didn't get to here is how my month went:

This month we were so blessed with a free gift of many many granadillas. Eaten as is and made into granadilla butter were a highlight. I also make a batch of spelt/blueberry muffins for breakfast each week...recipe to follow in another post. Evening meals have been fresh garden salads with a little twist...Chicken Caesar Salad being the current favourite and fig, haloumi and walnut coming in second.

Chillies have been pickled, tomatoes canned and eaten!

No summer jammies for the kids...winter PJ's were cut off at the mid thigh and rehemmed and reused. Does horse manure count in this category? If so, I relieved my friend of some 30 bags and dug it into our soil :)

PS cleaning this area is on a to do list!
Vinegar continues to be used for most cleaning and drains. A friend laughed at me the other night when I told her that I shower with a bucket behind me to catch water. We also use an old pool pipe to chanel the water from the kids bath to part of the garden. This is not new this month but I thought I would share it anyway!

All our seedlings are planted and growing. They need transplanting this weekend. Garlic was also put to bed...very excited about this one.

My creative space was my daughter's 13yr album. I am now the mom to three precious teens (and one almost 10yr old) and they are all delightful to me. My 3rd child is now 13 and I always give them an album showing their 13yrs of life in our family.

I discovered iTunesU this last week. Oh my! Where am I going to find the time to learn all this? I settled on two courses eventually. I also have discovered Lynn Austin as an outstanding Christian author and while never choosing to read novels over the last few years but recently I am enjoying 5-6 pages as my eyelids droop at night.

This is a hard one, I don't want to share too much but I have learnt that when others face great difficulties it is an opportunity to not preach to them, adivse, point things out (unless asked) but rather just to love them physically and practically with a meal, hug, email or whatever the Lord lays on my heart.

Two things are bringing me immense enjoyment at the moment. Jamie At Home is still delighting me with his seasonal recipes like the chicken dish below.

Then my younger son and I have taken up Geocaching. For a long time I have been looking for some way to combine learning, fun, adventure, reading, writing and history and Geocaching has done it for us. He has started a little blog adding our adventures each week. Last week we did the Company Gardens in town and it was delightful with all the cultures gathering in one place, the beautiful gardens and his favorite - the squirrels who ate from his hand.

That's the wrap up for the the count down begins....London Calling 5 weeks!

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Natural Flea Control

Pests...they will always be with us. Here in the Western Cape, and I suppose elsewhere, fleas on cats and dogs are a big issue. Try as I did, we never got into a regular defleaing routine for our dogs. I also have never liked pumping them with drugs and spraying/dipping them with chemicals so about a year ago I went looking for another solution.

I want to state at the outset that if I were living in a high tick zone I wouldn't think twice about medicating my pets to protect them from tick bite fever, it would be the lesser of two evils and I would do whatever I needed to protect them.

But here we we live we don't really have a tick problem and even where we walk we don't pick up ticks. So these following solutions work for me.

Diatomaceous Earth is our first line of defense. You can read about its function here. We buy it locally from Living Seeds.

We use it in our coop for our chickens too as it is great for controlling mites. How we use it on our dogs is simply to rub it into the areas fleas enjoy the most being the leg pits. We also wash all doggie bedding once a week and then sprinkle the kennel and the blankets with it.

For our little house dog, Lucky, we added another nifty gadget and it cost us all of R5! A flea comb.

Here Lucky is waiting for her tummy to be combed.

At just the right angle - more or less horizontal with the fur - it collects fleas and their eggs which are then emptied into the toilet. We comb her morning and evening. Takes about 5 minutes a time and she loves it.

I admit this picture above is rather grim, but its to give you an idea of how fine the comb is. The comb would work well on cats as well as larger shorter haired dogs but we cannot use it on Zeus, he is too big and too fluffy.

In this last year we are yet to be over run by fleas, we never see them on ourselves and our dogs are not constantly scratching. They have not had any hotspots in this time either, so I think we are onto a winning combination.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Have a chuckle

So...littlest one decides he needs more Lego and makes his siblings pay for him to do their garden chores...sowing seeds in the newspaper pots.

Guess which seeds he sowed and which I did?

Monday, February 20, 2012

Bedding down the garlic

A couple of weeks ago I bought Egyptian Pink and white garlic from Living Seeds. I eventually got around to planting it yesterday.

So into a bed of rich compost and manure I had added some calcitic lime about a week ago. I raked this over first.

Next I estimated about 10cm apart and dug little indents about 4cm deep. Each indention got one clove, planted pointed side up!

Then covered them over and because I am leaning towards being scatter-brained I made me a lil ol sign so I don't forget and plant something else here.

Sleep tight lil garlic babes...see you in 10 months time!

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Batering time for granadillas

Last Sunday my children were asked to help out at a friend who needed her little son to be played with while she made 200 fondant roses for a wedding cake. I sent along two children - one to play, one to help with the roses.

When I came to collect them she gave me a grocery bag full of granadillas from her hedge that stretches about 6 or 7m up the driveway. What a pleasure!

Within a day half were turned into granadilla butter for toast and yummy.

Littlest one helped me by taking out the pulp and stirring.

200g butter
3 cups of pulp
3 cups sugar
8 eggs beaten

Melt butter in a double boiler, add sugar and pulp. Add beaten eggs and stir from the sides to the middle until it covers the back of a spoon.

Pour into clean jars and allow to cool. It may seem a little runny but overnight in the fridge will firm it enough for toast.

Monday, February 13, 2012

The hard maths facts

Every month for the last year I have spent loads on rehabilitating my back. Physio, chiro, biokinetics and massage all add up to a pretty penny. I have found that *surprise*surprise* my back is worse after gardening. The cost to fix my back each time I lift a load or dig the beds over is not justifiable.

As our lives have changed substantially this year, making less time available that we can devote to the garden, working two mornings on a weekend is just not viable.

So we had to do some figuring out. We love our veggie garden, I love the planning, planting and harvesting. It's just not an option to downscale it. Too much money has gone into it to not continue so it became necessary to rethink the workload.

Enter Des. Des has been a friend and handyman to our family for over 12 years now. He is a skilled wetworks manager but is also happy to do any kind of gardening work for us. He is now my right hand man and comes in every two weeks to do the big stuff for much less that what one chiro appointment costs!

His labor is so valuable to us. The work he does is faster, better and more thorough than what we can do. Just this Saturday he removed the spent plants from 7 beds, weeded all the pathways, dug in compost and manure into all the beds and more.

While he was doing that we finished making the newspaper cups (400), filled them, and planted the seeds for the next season. What a pleasure.

Friday, February 10, 2012 daughters tagged me.

And because I am sitting her alone while Superman braais with friends and the kids are busy with Bible study in the lounge with their buddies I thought I would indulge...

1. Post these guidelines
2. Write eleven (that's it, 11) things about yourself
3. Answer the questions that the person who tagged you created for you
4. Create eleven new questions for the people you tag to answer
5. Go to the blogs of the people you tag and let them know that you tagged them

 I am 42 this year.

 I have one wonderful sister who lives in England.

My Superman and I have officially been married for half my life!

My mom and dad are my greatest champions and dearly loved.

I want to skydive one day.

In 10yrs time I will be 52 and graduating my last child from homeschooling.

I battle daily to stay focused and organized.

I want to write a book oneday or at least just finish the 3 I have started.

I want 16 grandchildren!!!!!

My current favorite movie is A Good Year with Russel Crowe.

I hate ironing clothes!

To answer my girls questions:

1. Do you prefer having your hair tied up or hanging loose? Tied Up

2. What is one movie that you have watched more times than you can count and yet if I asked you to watch it with me, you would do so in a heart beat? Lakehouse (OR anything with Sandra Bullock!)

3. What annoys you most? My sore back

4. Did you think that your current age was REALLY old when you were about five? Like you have no idea!

5. iPod Touch or Blackberry? There can be ONLY ONE - iPhone.

6. If I shouted "Aston Martin!" at you, would you say, "Which one? the DB9?" or "Who's that?" DB9.

7. Winter or summer? Summer

8. Swimming or ice-skating? Swimming

9. If you could change your name, what would you change it to? Ruth

10. Favourite Bible story? Ruth and Boaz

11. Favourite colour? Blue

And....yet more questions:

1) What is a hobby you do? Scrapbooking
2) Heels or Converse? What are converses?
3) If you had the choice of going to America or France, which would you choose? America to vist friends
4) Who is your favourite music aritist? Back then David Bowie, Now Casting Crowns
5) How old are you? 42
6) Full piece or two piece costume, which is better? At my age I don't need to anwser this!
7) What is one word you know how to spell, but get it wrong each time? Anwser (see above!)
8) Have you been tagged before? Yip, by your sister.
9) What is your favourite color? Uhm, BLUE!
10) Gmail or Yahoo? Neither.
11) Are you sick of facts and questions now? You have no idea!

However, I am not making up my own questions or asking any of the ladies on the blogs below to anwser any as I know your time is short too. If you would like to do a blog post with the 11 things about yourself, feel free to go ahead cos...TAG YOU'RE IT!

Catherine at Nothing Ventured
Linnie at Ancient Paths

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Polenta nests with Italian garden salad

There is something so comforting about polenta...the color, warmth and texture just gives me a warm gushy feeling :-)

This weekend I had a lot of corn, cherry tomatoes and basil to use up so it ended up in this dish.

Cook your polenta - 1 cup polenta to 3 cups water, 1 teaspoon salt. (I dbl this for my family.)

In the meantime, halves 20-30 mini tomatoes of different colors, cut the corn of about 5 cobs, and pit and slice about 20 olives. Toss with a splash of olive oil and some black pepper and salt. Make a basalmic reduction.

When polenta is slightly cooled place a heap on each plate and using a greased spoon make an indentation.

Spoon your salad into the hollow, add lots of fresh basil, drizzle with the reduction, then ENJOY!

Entering this in Heidi's Cooking Challenge.

Monday, February 6, 2012


Annual beach photo....

Baby Angulate tortoise...

Little Fisherman

The labor pays off...fresh cob caught the first night.

Putting my feet up each night around the fire....all meals cooked outdoors.

The bridge spanning the river. Daily swim 1km from the mouth to bridge.

God is Creator...

The annual dune challenge...

Feeding frenzy
Flocks of birds...

Friendly birds and the bird whisperer...

Relaxed one...

8hr monopoly game on Thursday due to rain. Superman took us to the cleaners!

The mouth where we walk to daily.

Beautiful sunrise...

Beautiful skies...

And Sunbirds who can't read.

Truly, this week is like borrowing Heaven time.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Getting ready for the changing seasons.

It's time to get ready for the next season here at our little urban homestead. We have slowly been removing spent plants like tomatoes and corn and gooseberry bushes and digging in the compost from our heaps.

Our sunflowers are over and the heads are now drying.

We also gave the chicken coop a deep clean by removing the sawdust, washing down, sprinkling Diatomaceous Earth and then replacing with fresh saw dust. My sister put us onto this deep bed method and it has really worked.

This coming season still needs a lot of planning but I really really want to try to grow garlic this year. In anticipation of that I ordered pink and white garlic from Living Seeds.

The kiddos have started their daily quota of 20 newspaper pots each. We need about 400 in total to start our seedlings for autumn.

Our fig tree is full of fruit and I am getting exctied thinking of what I can make with them. Jane's Delicous Kitchen has a recipe for a fig and walnut salad that I am super keen to try.

We need to have all planning done and seedling sown by mid March as my elder son and I travel to the UK to visit my sister and her family in April...I am soooooo looking forward to seeing her. I miss her so much! She has moved onto a farm since I was last there and has chickens, orchards and veggie gardens for me to admire. Can't wait!