Monday, December 24, 2012

Surprise harvests

Despite feeling quite overwhelmed with the amount of weeds that have come up with the last batch of manure added to the compost we have been enjoying some harvests from our garden.

The garden itself is quite overgrown and I haven't had a chace to stake the tomatoes and train creeping cucumbers and squash so we have to look hard to find the fruits of the plants.

Here are some things we are enjoying from the garden now...

Roast vegetables appear often with our courgettes

Berry and wheatgrass smoothies. Raspberries not ours.

Lemon Cucumbers - delicious
Aubergine in flower
Corn on the menu
Green beans by the ton!
So many cherry tomatoes

Not on the menu - Tiffany - the garden cat
Still to come, colorful trailing squash

Monday, December 17, 2012

Houston...we have a problem!

Holidays are here...
Early morning beach walks

Lots of time to enjoy Kitty cuddles
 So while I don't have much new to write about I thought I would share this "mushy brain moment" with you....

About 5 weeks ago I asked my son to clear a veggie bed of weeds, add compost and sow sweetcorn seeds every 10cm.

About 4.5 weeks ago I asked my daughter to sow corn seeds in the same bed (forgetting that my son had already done this!) every 10 cm.

When I saw the amount of corn coming up in this bed I realised my mistake and foggy brain moment but have not had the heart to pull up the weaker plants yet.

Guess I will have to get around to this soon before they stronger plants are compromised.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Sun protection strategy

Perhaps some people are wondering why I wouldn't just pop into the chemist or grocery store and buy any of the suncreens that are on the shelf to use for myself and my kids. So I will give you a little background information about sunscreens and then direct to what our plan is for summer and the products we will being to use as soon as I recieve the items I have ordered.

Early morning walk on Strandfontein beach
I must just start off saying that the sun is good for us. In the correct doses it provides what we need to synthesize Vitamin D which regulates calcium levels and absorption. It is necessary for healthy bones and teeth and is aso important for healthy immune function, nervous function and for insulin/blood sugar regulation, numerous endocrine and digestive functions.

You can read a very comprehensive article here on the other benefits of sunlight to us humans...God does not make mistakes.

So why do we need to protect ourself against the sun?

Well, its kind of obvious for anyone who has suffered sunburn or like me is over 40 and abused my body by irresponsible sun exposure. But deeper in is the concern about skin cancer and melanoma which is linked to unwise "intermittent or intense sun exposure." (Skin Cancer Foundation)

What are the problems with most sunscreens?

Looking to Cape Point
Based on Beth Greer's research which she published in her book "Supernatural Home" there are a few issues around general sunscreens.

Nano particles are the first issue she addresses. These "wonders of modern chemistry" are able to pass into the bloodstream and the longer they are on your skin the more they are absorbed. The world of nanotechnology is way beyond this mums brain but there is enough information on the web where it is pointed out that they can cause damage to DNA. While millions are being poured into creating these miniscule particles very little about the long term health risks is being researched.

Besides for nanoparticles there are other issues too with the majority of sunscreens. Many of the ingredients are made from petrochemicals which can cause a false estrogen to be made by your body which you can read about in this article I wrote on my old website.

Products that are safe to use?

Time to read labels again...stay away from anything on this list:

~Oxybenzone dixoybenzone
 ~PABA (para amino benzoic acid)
~Cinnamates (octyl methixycinnamate and cinoxate)
~Digalloyl trioleate
~Menthyl anthranilate

Layers of defense...

And after all of this it is important to know that  sunscreens are only able to protect for a certain amount of time and should be applied 1/2hr BEFORE going into the sun for in that time you are unprotected.  You also need to know that sunscreens are not adequate protection against skin cancer and melanoma on their own.

These are the layers of defense we plan to make use of this summer and then continue to use sunblock during winter when in the garden or walking.

1.As our girls do not wear bikinis they have full piece costumes and boardshorts. They also wear sun vests when out for longer than 1/2. Boys are in sunvests and shorts too.

2.Sun hats and sunglasses unless swimming.

3.Umbrellas for outdoor picnics and beaching

4.Sunscreen applied 1/2hr before exposure on all showing skin parts

5.Stay out of the sun between 10 and 3

What sunscreens/block I have found to pass the test?

Our annual haven - De Mond
I didn't have to look to far to find the right stuff thankfully. Wellness Warehouse stocks a number of brands that we can choose from but the ones that passes all the tests are:

Sunumbra (adult and kids)


Bema Natur&Sun

So that's the plan. I also have a friend who says that orange veg and fruit aid in sun protection so the mangos, carrots and papino we eat can now have an added benefit in our home!

Hope this helps some other South Africans as we begin our long hot summer holidays!

Friday, December 7, 2012

Garden walkabout - join me?

It's been a while since I have taken you around the come walk with me?

The indoor kitchen garden
The barley, wheat and sunflower kitchen garden which I started at the end of November is growing well. We have been harvesting the grass and sprouts for juicing and green smoothies.

It became a little obessive that each of us would peer at these growing shoots and run our hand over the new blades of grass in anticipation.

It all looks so pretty and neat in it's little stand.

Out back at the garage the compost is doing it's thing. Yesterday I asked Des to give it a good turn and sifting.

We let the chickens into the area and they had a great time eating the cut worm and mielie bugs.By Autum this should be ready to use in the garden.

The backyard which is paved has pots around the egdes and some small beds under the windows.

This is my favourite pot! It is an overgrowing cucumber plant. There are so many flowers on the plant and I planted it here as an after thought.

There are wire trelisses in the tub to support the growth and the flowers have attracted the well needed bees to the back garden.

Last year our cucumber crop was a failure, the year before we had so many that I didn't know what to do with them.

This year I hope we have struck a happy balance.

Rosemary and Sage grow in abundance, 2 asparagus plants in tubs, a variety of lettuce, strawberries and other herbs like basil, majoram, celery, oreganum, thyme, lavender and tea tree.
 Our sage is doing particularly well and we use it for pork dishes and then I dry what I can for soap making.

I have also stuck a trailing squash seed into the bigger pots and will feed these pots heavily with worm tea through summer.

You can see the squash growing out the pot below.
 Also in the backyard we have planted our fig tree. This was in the general vegetable garden but I transplanted it in Winter as I had realised that it would eventuallycast shade and rob nutrition from the plants near it.

It has handled the transplant and is full of fruit.

At its base I have planted tomatoes and aubergines. These are doing really well in the full sun position.
Fig tree full of promise
 Heading through the kitchen door the herb tower is growing madly with all sorts of herbs which we use almost daily.

In this area I also have the chilli bushes, strawberry baskets, lemon grass and grapevine.

I hope to put a little table and chair out here for still summer mornings to have my quiet time and coffee.

The original garden has potatoes, corn, courgette, bush beans and tomatoes growing. Strawberries are in baskets here as well along the wall.

Looking from the front gate with the pond to the left we have....

Tomatoes, beans, leeks, spinach, potatoes, courgettes and of course the big ferny asparagus plants which you can't see in this picture. The empty bed at the front isn't empty :) it has baby tomato plants.


 Looking back towards the gate is the rambling area which needs a good weeding but over here we have tomatoes, cucumber, corn, courgettes and some self seeded sunflowers.

The bugs are delighting in the big open faces that also delight us when we look across the garden.

Then we are back to the back gate where the cars are parked and the compost is cooking.

I hope you enjoyed the walkabout!

Enjoy the weekend!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Delights of seasonal eating

Tonight found me enjoying a seasonal bag from our organic food suppliers where I buy our raw milk.  I saw that they had squash flowers for sale this week and promptly bought 3 bags. These were stuffed with a little mozarella and fried....

Beautiful squash flowers

I don't deep fry, just batter and fry in a little olive oil
Just had to check if they were good to eat!
Also in the bag was asparagus which I dry fried and sprinkled with salt, pepper, lemon juice and parmesan.

ThenI made a batch of chicken meatballs and put them in a Italian herby tomato sauce....

Chicken meatballs.

Also in the bag today was some beetroot which once boiled soft was drizzled with olive oil, basalmic vinegar, salt pepper and garlic.

A delicious, quick, easy seasonal meal.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Kofta = meat on a stick!

Kofta is a fancy name for a Middle Eastern kebab but unlike normal kebabs this is not made with meat cubes but rather minced meat.

Lamb is normally used but as we are trying to include venison in our diet I used what I had being Springbuck mince.

You could also do kofta with chicken mince or beef. If using beef add an egg to the mince mix to bind. The other minces tend to stick together on their own.

In your bowl place 1kg mince of your choice, 1 tablespoon cumin, 1 teaspoon salt, some peper, grated zest of one lemon and 1/4 teaspoon chilli powder. Mix until thoroughly blended.

Take a handful of mince and shape it around a kebab stick. I did 2 per person.

Drizzle an oven dish with olive oil and place them inside. Drizzle the tops of the kofta with oil too and place under a hot grill for about 7 minutes, turn and cook the other side for 7 minutes.

While this is cooking make up a yoghurt dressing. I used chopped mint in this recipe but I think fresh coriander (cilantro) would go well too.

Place some salad leaves on each plate. Slice 1 red onion.

When the kofta are cooked place them on the salad leaves, top with yoghurt and onion and ENJOY!

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Slow Living Month 11

The first of December has rolled around and signifies 1 week left of school for 2012. It also means that in 26 days my eldest child will be 18 and I am humbled to have raised this wonderful child for all these years. I watch as she prepares to start out on a post schooling adventure in a few months time and am delighted for her.

November has been a busy month wrapping up schooling, being used in ministry, summer gardening and a special visit from here it is laid out in categories as per Christine's Slow Living Month by Month.


I included venison in our diet this month and we have enjoyed Springbuck stew, Springbuck meatballs and Springbuck Kofta. We found the taste pleasing and there were not complaints.

A few loaves of 5 minute bread were baked and the winter soups for lunch made way for summer salads.

My elder daughter has taken on making lunch for us each day and its so great to not have to break with schooling to prepare the food. She has churned out delicious chicken salads, falafel salads and more.We also enjoyed a cheats pizza from Jamie's 30 minutes scrumptious.


I spent a morning taking out 20kgs of olives from the brine solution and making up various concoctions for the olives to lie in. We have some in chilli, others in fennel, others in herbs and garlic.

My elder son, who loves fizzy drinks (although we limit these drastically) decided to learn how to make homebrewed ginger beer. We have had 3 batches of brew this month and it is delicious.

This month I planted sunflowers, beans, carrots, courgettes, tomatoes, aubergine and cucumbers. We also planted a kitty garden.

I haven't been sprouting through winter so I started off that process again for our salads and I bought a grass kit to grow sunflower sprouts, wheat and barley grass. As we are jucing regularly again I thought this would be a good addition to our juices or green smoothies.


As summer hits us full on I know we will be doing many picnics. This month also saw my son and I do the last of his 3 homeschool outings. I have in the past just bought us a Woolies lunch but I was determined to be better pepared for this month and for the rest of the summer picnics. Also the Woolies packaging is always a issue of wastage and recycling. I sorted through my plastic cupboard and matched lids to bases and got a little kit together for picnics.

The night before the outing I made sure I made a meal that would produce picnic left overs like meatballs, or roast sliced meat or chicken. A loaf of bread was put on in the machine for overnight, fruit sliced or picked from outside and Voila! a no fuss, cheap easy picnic was ready!

I recieved my water bill the other day and on the back of it there was a graph showing our water usage for the year. Shock and horror followed as we simply use to much water. In my defense though we have a household of 9+ everyday of the week as Superman works from home and we have his two staff members (actually more like family!) everyday of the week. This will be my area of attack for December and the rest of summer! Stay tuned!!



Do memories count? Got lots of those!

Discover - Enhance -Enjoy

Intaka Island Wetland
All together these three as I cannot seperate them...Outings done with my son to places of new discovery...spending time with friends from the States after not seeing them for 20yrs...touching lives of people who need love and Jesus....walking through my garden and seeing the promise of future harvest.

Newlands Stadium

Finding time to connect with each child knowing the time is precious...finishing projects and wrapping up a year of schooling...iced coffee with Superman...early morning Kitty cuddles....walks with my dog, a friend or children...delighting in My Saviour each day.

While the year has seemed long and trying at time I know that in His presence is fullness of joy and it's been a good month, a good year...