Wednesday, November 28, 2012

can ya dig it? or is it un-palette-able?

I got busy over the weekend. Down and dirty. But, no digging required this time, working on a no-dig veggie bed and a vertical snacking garden.

Preparing the no-dig garden bed. This is how I did it, only not quite as richly diverse. I used newspaper, straw, cow manure, some organic fertilizer pellets, organic compost for the planting and lucerne for mulch. My helper enjoyed the watering part.
The garden bed planted out. Lebanese cucumbers on an old piece of fence (use what we have!), corn, some different varieties of heirloom tomatoes and some capsicums. And some perennial spinach for good measure.
Chilli in a pot. Likes to be alone.

To make a vertical snacking garden. First, pick up an old palette from the side of the road.
Cover the back with some weed mesh or shadecloth, stapling thoroughly into the shape of the palette- especially down each side.
 Starting at the bottom and working up, fill each terrace with some good quality organic compost or potting mix, pack it in nice and snug. Plant two or three seedlings in each terrace. The seedlings in tubes that I used were the perfect fit (thanks, Wayne!) The very top terrace is a little tricky as you need to fill the soil upwards, too. Take your time, it's gardening, it's meant to be slow.
Leave your palette garden resting at a 45 degree angle, for a couple of weeks. Make sure you measure the angle with a protractor. This allows the the roots time to get settled in and hold onto the soil nicely, so the dirt won't just fall out of the front when upright. I hope. What did I plant? Glad you asked...
Lemon thyme
Greek oregano
Wild and Italian rocket
Perennial spinach
Gai Lam and Bok Choy
Rainbow spinach
Plain and garlic chives
Cos lettuce

I moved a little basil seedling that wasn't very happy into the vertical snack garden. My little O gave me a hand, and has been talking to his new friend Basil ever since the weekend. He says Basil is quite happy with his new friends.
The morning after planting, I came out to admire my handiwork, only to find the rocket had been chomped and little green eggs (or poos?) were left as evidence on the remaining leaves. I went to get provisions (in my housework clothes) to make Em's Famous Butterfly Recipe. I might also have to try Vanessa's Rather Artistic Solution for the Cheeky Buggers.
A perspective of the bestest, sunniest position in our yard, one of the paved terrace layers. I can already see the difference adequate sun makes, and have started moving some plants out of the original bed, and allowing the rest to go to seed.

Love this stuff. It's getting into my veins. If it's in yours, too, come and link in at Squiggly Rainbow!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012 (one)

An opportunity to reflect on my surroundings. To breathe in the rare moments of stillness in my world. To celebrate simple abundance in my daily life.
1. I am fascinated by the way the beans know how to climb.
2. Somewhere new to sit. Thanks Aldi and your random products!
3. Hair accessories have become rainbow sprinkles on our floor.
4. A humble harvest. We followed a renowned textbook for growing potatoes (The Potato People by Pamela Allen) and it worked! Home grown taties.
5. I picked up this mag on a whim. Very. very glad I did, you should check it out, too! The Simple Things.

Joining with Em, of The Beetle Shack, and a whole bunch of lovelies linking up.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

straight to the pool room

It isn't often my siblings and I are both fancy and  together in one place. Excuse me while I bore you with photos from our cousin's wedding we recently attended. I have made a deliberate editing choice today. You will not be seeing the photograph of me pouring scotch into a large maccas coke between ceremony and reception, nor the picture of me dancing the 'welcome dance' to Kokomo by the Beach Boys later in the evening.

You stay classy, San Diego.
This is me, in the dress that I made. I added a little beaded bolero cardigan, a vintage glomesh purse and vintage gloves I found in an op shop ages ago. And I totally glammed up with my Maybelline NY gear.
My good-looking sibs and I. Generations ago, someone put a group photo curse on our family, so this is a rarity.
My youngest brother, who lives overseas, had this tux tailored up to wear to a matinee show. As you do.
Going to such an intimate, emotional wedding made me want to marry this guy, over and over.
This was about the extent of the actual wedding I photographed. I forgot to take my camera into the church, which was a blessing, because I got to enjoy the whole ceremony, including the groom's reaction when he saw our stunning cousin. I had a giggle at the number of iPhones in the air during the vows, though. I don't feel like we were married that long ago, but we had one digital page made up in our album, and that was a huge deal! She styled the wedding herself, the reception was breathtakingly beautiful. My sis and I danced the night away. We may have had the odd champagne or two. We even stayed overnight, despite the fact that we were five minutes from home.
And I absolutely ate these guys in the morning. Chocolate coated strawberries, dressed up as a bride and groom. Cute!

Do you cry at weddings?

Monday, November 19, 2012

build a no-dig garden

A big part of the organic gardening course I took part in recently was spent working together to build a no-dig garden. Our lovely teacher, Kerrie guided us through the process. You can read more about Kerrie's thoughts on organic gardening and permaculture here.

The no-dig garden system was developed by Sydney gardener, Esther Dean during the 1970's. It basically works in the same way as composting. You build up layers, then plant your little babies in a little compost in the top. Here is what Kerrie had to say about no-dig gardening:

S: What are the important things to remember when making a no-dig garden?
K: Correct choice of site;  veggies need about 6 hours of sunlight
Good planning and design; will it be a raised garden bed, a mandala, a keyhole shape? Are pathways needed?  How will the plants be placed within the space?
Access to water
Proximity to the house (in our Zone 1 as we say in permaculture)
Adequate resources; newspaper, manures, straw, hay, multiple elements for the layering of the “lasagne”.  Essentially a no dig garden is a version of a compost heap; carbonous and nitrogenous materials are required
Start with sheet mulching of newspaper, must be nice and thick!
Water each layer as you go
Finish with a layer of mulch, and use at least a handful of compost or soil with each plant placed in the garden
And remember, it will “sink down”, same as a compost heap, so ensure the plants aren't left high and dry when this occurs
Enjoy, delicious, organic produce from your own garden!  Nothing will ever taste so good, or be as satisfying.

You can build your own no-dig garden, too! They work well directly onto your lawn (even if the soil is very poor), I will be building two of them onto pavers! If you are popping your no-dig layers into a garden bed, you will need a good 40cm in height.

Wet down some newspapers. You will need a few, and open them up before you wet them.

Lay down a thick, well-overlapped layer of wet newspaper. Don't use the glossy pages.

Start the lasagne layers! Cow manure (nitrogenous).

Deadybones leaves and grass clippings (carbonous).

Organic fertilizer pellets (nitrogenous). Don't forget to water each layer well!

Straw (carbonous).

Some green comfrey leaves, or any other garden trimmings (nitrogenous).

Straw again (carbonous)

More cow manure, with a sprinkling of dolomite lime (nitrogenous)

Final mulch layer of lucerne hay. More pricey than other mulching materials, but adds more nutrients to the soil as it breaks down.

Make a little burrow in the top layers and tip in some compost. Plant your little baby seedlings and water them well. Don't forget to talk to them every day.

Have you tried a no-dig garden yet?

Friday, November 16, 2012

maybe i'm born with it

Or maybe I have the beautiful, arse-kickin babe Eden to thank for a recent overhaul in the mug department.

I was deliciously excited to win a prize of Maybelline New York goodies from her blog, Edenland. An hilarious email conversation with Georgia the (no doubt) stunningly beautiful Maybelline rep, in which I admitted my total lack of makeup savvy ensued, and she supported my need to wear EVERYTHING in the event that I do go out. Red lipstick and heavy eyes? Sure! The lovely postie brought a box to my door not long after, and I opened it, right there in my trackies amongst the toddler debris of discarded duplo and mushed milk arrowroot biscuits. All I could see was the glamour. The GLAMOUR!

Realising I had NO IDEA how to use 90% of this amazing gift, I followed Georgia's advice and hopped online. I watched this tutorial about the Fit Me foundation, and learned heaps. I had a try in my toothpaste-splattered bathroom mirror, thinking of words like 'dewy', 'youthful' and 'even'. I must say the before-and-after is quite remarkable.
Before: patchy skin tone, dark circles under the eyes, deep canyons of wrinkles, and there may be a little fuzz on my upper lip- best book a trip to the salon, pet!
After: I like my smile wrinkles in this photo. It reminds me of my mum. Doing OK for a bloody exhausted mum-of-three, I think.
I used
FitMe foundation in 130 (I even used a brush, like a pro)
all c/o Eden and Maybelline New York. Thank you a million eyebags.


Now, if the sight of my lady-mo leaves you feeling a little uncomfortable, I want you to go and follow Eden's journey through India, for World Vision. She is bearing witness, sucking in the sights and smells, staining her heart and her soul, so that we can all learn, and feel. Go and read, and feel really uncomfortable. In the best way of all.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

in stitches: snippety-snip

This week is a bit of a hodge-podge of craftiness.

Learning how to use Fimo, in case it's ever 1986 again. We are making some gifts for the kids' teachers. And maybe for me, too.
And putting the plan (Stan) in action. Cutting into some favourite vintage to prepare for a Tuppenny Lane market of summer lovin.
Enjoying the creative community at Kidspot today. How is your Handmade Christmas going?

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

learn and grow

Have you ever had one of those moments in life where your heart and mind are open at exactly the same time that a message you need to hear is being spoken? I did, a couple of weeks ago. I went along to a two-day Organic Gardening course held at my local neighborhood centre. Which is funny, because I'm not a neighborhood centre kind of gal (whatever that is). And lately I'll make any excuse (thanks for the help with that, kids!) to avoid social situations. But, I really, really wanted to learn this stuff. So I paid my five bucks per day, threw a coffee mug in my basket, and went to spend some time, solo.

But my 'alone time' turned into meeting some wonderful, like-minded people. Discovering what my mind is like. Realising that my niggling feelings about going organic and making choices about our food based on season and locality aren't just following a trend. Permaculture and organic gardening are deeply rooted in tradition, methods tried and tested over many years. When we discussed companion planting, my mind wandered to the rambling vine of orange flowers over the back fence of my now-elderly grandparent's place...nasturtiums! My pop used to grow all manner of geraniums, too.

Our beautiful teacher was Kerrie, an ex-nurse, whose interest in the whole wellbeing of people led her on a path which now sees her teaching Permaculture at the nearby TAFE, and working in outreach courses for young adults with disabilities. A real good human. At no point did I feel alarmed or fearful about the state of the world, or the the food that we eat, but felt gently guided to understand that any step you take to eat clean, is a great step forward. Kerrie taught us about general companion planting for pest and weed reduction and we talked about our dreams for our gardens. As students, we ranged from container gardening on a patio, to volunteering in the local community garden, to getting ready to plant out a whole acre in veg. Kerrie made us delicious tea, herbs from her garden steeped for a little while. Give fennel and oregano (not together) a go- sounds odd, but you will like it!

When I came home, I realised that this was just the beginning. I sent Kerrie some questions, and she very kindly answered them, and allowed me to share them here, along with photos from the day. Next week, I will share a step-by-step how to for a no-dig garden. We are going to create two little no-dig beds over the weekend at our house, following the method I learned at the course. For now, enjoy Kerrie's beautiful words of wisdom about gardening, permaculture, and living a sustainable life.

S. Would you explain the key philosophy of permaculture?

K. Permaculture is a philosophy and design system for living sustainably, based on a set of ethics and principles.  It is a holistic approach to sustainability, that encompasses all aspects of life from agriculture, to house design to food choices, and so much more.

S. How does permaculture influence other aspects of your life?
K. Whenever making key decisions in my life, I always refer back to the three ethics of permaculture; earth care, people care and fair share.  While the ethics sound simple, they are pivotal in living life consciously and sustainably.  Permaculture also has a strong impulse embedded in “seeing solutions not problems”.  It is all about empowering people with knowledge and tools to make a positive difference in the world, starting in your own immediate sphere of influence, in other words “Think Global, Act Local”.
S. What are some simple things we can all change or do, to make for a more sustainable life?
K. There are so many things we can all do to live more where to start?  Permaculture emphasises an approach of starting small, and making small meaningful changes.  Celebrate all positive change, make it a habit, then move on to the next thing.  “Work where it counts”.
One key area I am particularly passionate about is local food production.  Nearly 40% of our ecological footprint is food production, so if we move to re-localising our food supply, we can make a huge reduction on our impact on the earth in just this one key aspect of our lives.  Grow a few herbs and veggies, join a community garden, sign up at the local food co-op, shop at the local farmer's markets...just a few of the things we can do to reduce our “food miles”.
S. If you could teach everyone just one thing about gardening, what would it be?
K. Observation!  Or as we say in permaculture, observe don't react.  Take time to really observe what is going on.  Nature is wonderful, and has all the answers, if we will just take the time to watch and learn.  The pest that suddenly seems to be a problem, is maybe coming into balance with a predatory insect increasing it's population in response.
Have you met a really good human lately, a real teacher in your life? How is your garden growing?

Thursday, November 8, 2012

in stitches: ladylike frock

Some time spent at my machine this week, with something a little different. Something a little ladylike, something a little for me. A new dress to wear to a wedding on the weekend. Some (rather rusty) technique put into practice, a gorgeous vintage pattern and some delightful printed satin all coming together. Almost- just the shoulder seams and hems to finish.
I have been scared of Vogue patterns in the past, but I found this one just fine. I even adapted it to be fully lined, and only confused myself five times. Which is perfectly normal and in no way the fault of the pattern.

In other creative pursuits, these lovely little label arrived yesterday. Next week will be all about the bonnets. Time to get onto some of that plan, Stan.

But first, I have some serious party-dress wearing to attend to.

Will be looking at other creative spaces today, too.

Friday, November 2, 2012

i need a plan, stan.

I'm in the middle of one of those phases in life where I feel I'm trying to walk through molasses. We are very, very fortunate, yet there is a sense of little things being difficult, and a hesitation to start and finish little projects. Knowing full well that this is just a phase doesn't ease the feeling of itchiness and low, low self-worth.

So, I need a plan.

If I was in paid work right now, I would have handy somewhere a list of long-term and short-term goals, and be putting things in place to achieve these goals and feeling really bloody awesome when I tick one off the list. Achieved!

But in this unpaid-stay-at-home world, where tasks of cleaning, feeding and nurturing never EVER end, I rarely feel that sense of achievement. I need to bring some Achieved! back into my life.

Here is my list of things I'd like to achieve:
1. A pretty bedroom for my girl.
2. A green cleaning routine that actually happens every week (and actually works).
3. A beautiful, welcoming entrance to our home.
4. Bright, colourful flowers on the windowsill outside my kitchen.
5. Extending our kitchen garden to two more beds, plus the pallet herb garden.
6. Get chooks.
7. More efficient meal planning, preparation and storage of meals.
8. A better clothes storage system for the boys' room.
9. A handmade Christmas.
10. Establish my little at-home business, sewing vintage lovelies for little people.

I would never set that many goals at once, but I want to get all the projects that are muddling my brain out. And they all need to broken down and strategies sorted out to make them happen. Some of the goals might happen quite organically, others are going to take some serious elbow grease. They all point to one thing, though: A more efficient way of running our day-to-day life so that we can enjoy more. I want our home to be a beacon to friends and family, and a safe haven to us. I want to shed the last bits of scaly, we just moved skin, and act like we live in this home now.

Do you set goals for yourself? Have you experienced that Achieved! feeling lately?

Thursday, November 1, 2012

in stitches: scary cape

Some shiny red and black fabric became a scary vampire cape for my big boy this week, accompanied (naturally) by cake.
How-to: worms in dirt cakes
1. Bake your usual cupcakes and ice generously with chocolate icing.
2. Stick a sour worm into the icing on each cake.
3. Sprinkle with chocolate biscuit crumbles (I used Ripple biscuits that I smashed up with a rolling pin).
4. Eat. Outside.

Looking at lovely creative spaces in this creative month of November.


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