Tuesday 28 February 2017

Reconnecting in February

Here we go again, checking up on how I went with "Reconnecting" this month.  You can see how I went in January here, and my original vision here.

February this year will be memorable for the weather.  We have had a maximum of 41.5 degrees C.  That is a full degree higher than any previous recorded temperature.  On the other hand, we have had a minimum of 4.3 degrees C.  That is quite a contrast. There have also been quite a few windy days.  No wonder the poor garden is suffering.   Therefore, we have spent quite a considerable amount of time watering.  The tanks off the shed are now empty, waiting for some decent rain.  I think it has nearly forgotten how to rain here.  We have only had about 13mm for the year so far.  There was a short sharp storm in town this afternoon, but we (being a whole 2kms away) had 0.3mm.


I have read nothing further of the Tim Winton book.  Not a word.  It is sitting beside my desk at work waiting patiently for me to have a free lunch break.

As I suggested last time, I picked up something a bit more exciting, a Dick Francis book that was sitting on the shelf. A quick, light read and now the book will be moved on.

We have boxes and boxes of books (okay nearly a room full of boxes) that need going through and then we will be getting rid of the majority of them. In among them are quite a few classics that have sat on the shelf for years, but I have never read.  Dad was not in favour of reading any fiction, so I missed quite a few of the basics, like "The Wind in the Willows".  For such a book worm, I've never read it.  We have had this copy for over 30 years.  When we first got together, one day we were at the tip and there were boxes and boxes of books being thrown away.  It was nearly the entire library of a local boarding school and this well used volume was amongst them.  We were selective to start with and then just loaded boxes into our car. Anyway, I digress.  I'm half way through the book and it is good to finally read it, as there are so many classic quotes and characters, although you could not exactly call it high brow (but then neither am I).


Not so well this month.  OK, we had two quick trips to Windsor, but they weren't really explorations.


Not so well, once again.  Just a couple of more butterflies.  I'm going to use the same weak excuse as last month.  We are spending so much time outside....watering, watering, watering.


The only thing this time was the Bathurst Swap Meet at the beginning of the month.  We only had a little stall, but we got rid of a bit more stuff.  Yes, there was even a little bit of fabric.  Every little bit helps.

I sold my old pushbike "Flash", who doesn't look so flash any more.  I was happy that she was bought by a man who restores bikes.  He is going to hang her on the wall of his shed. (Instead of her hanging in the roof of ours.)  I was sad to see her go, but it is definitely for the best.  I'll tell you all about her one day.  She was special.

I just remembered I also tidied a couple of kitchen cupboards, to fit in more preserves.

Oh, and I sorted a lot of paperwork in the office......but lots more to do....it was a start.


Being summer, we have had our usual onslaught of tomatoes, so we have made  "Grandma's Tomato Sauce".  Well, not quite her sauce this time, as I made it on the spur of the moment and thought I had all the ingredients, but actually didn't.  There was only a splash of malt vinegar left, so it was made up with white.  Oops, not much brown sugar left and no reserve packet, so white had to make up the difference. I only had red apples, not grannies and only red onions.  Oh, and I accidentally picked up the Cinnamon instead of the Cayenne, so it has both in it.  I suppose the end product was still influenced by Grandma's recipe.  Anyway, it tastes just fine.

Now that we are in town I no longer have a plum tree and it seems wrong not having home made plum jam in the cupboard, so when I saw some nice dark plums in the supermarket we had a jam making episode.  It turned out rather well too.

We ended up with 11 bottles of sauce and 10 jars of jam.  Yum.  That should see us through for a couple of years.

There were still more tomatoes, so there is quite a sizable batch of pasta sauce in the freezer as well.  All of this was achieved in one week.  Not too bad.

Unfortunately, the extreme heat has knocked the tomatoes about, so we are waiting for a further flush to come through.



This was a big surprise to me.  

You see, Mick has a dicky knee and cannot walk very far at the moment.  However, he has been able to ride his pushbike without pain and apparently it is good for knees.  We got chatting and then went shopping.....

Meet Olivia.  

I never thought I would have another push bike.  I would have liked a pretty girls bike, but Olivia has many more gears and wonderful suspension in the front forks.  Oh, how bikes have changed in the last 36 years since I bought a bike.  She is a nice compromise.

I thought she was black in the shop, but when she is in the sun she is actually a really deep metallic purple.

Boy, am I out of practice!!!  We went for a ride of about 3kms on the first morning.  What looked flat, was actually a very gradual rise...all the way home.  

That afternoon we went out again.  Just up the road we found some blackberries.  So home we rode and returned with buckets for picking.  

A lot of them were rather dry, but we were able to get enough to have on ice cream for a couple of nights. Anyway, after that my legs ached something terrible and I was just a tad (OK very) saddle sore. Hopefully, it will get easier the more I do.  It is rather embarrassing how unfit I am.  Oh well, baby steps.

Mick is now planning a bike carrier to put on the caravan.  It should be nice to take the bikes away.


Yes, we have spent time with good friends.  It is always nice.


At the beginning of the month we took our van down to Windsor to have a little bit of work done on it.  The weather was cool and damp.  So very different to home at the time.

We made a nice day out of our trip, enjoying a late breakfast at our favourite cafe.

We returned last weekend to collect the van. 

Once again the weather was cool and damp.  It drizzled over the mountains both ways......and of course stopped as soon as you got west of Lithgow.


I suppose, making an enjoyable time of our trips to Windsor fit into this category, but February hasn't been as relaxed as January was.  We both have been busy at work and the weather has been rather taxing.  That is just the way it goes.  Each month is different.


It is interesting having a theme for the year.  Yes, I do think about it and hopefully will continue to do something in each catergory each month.

Friday 10 February 2017

We have been working on a lot of our garden, but haven't paid too much attention to our undercover entertaining area.

When we moved in we plonked some existing pots in the corner and that was about it.  Shortly after we bought a couple of hanging pots at a church fete and hoped they would survive the winter.......they did.....bonus!

This area has been annoying us and recently Mick decided it was time to do something about it.  He's being toying with the idea of a water feature for some time, but hasn't been able to decide what he wanted to do.

We trawled through Pinterest ideas of gardens, looked at what we had around the place and formulated a plan.

Firstly decide on the shape and area.

Then, to make a water feature.

This was created from three flower pots that the previous owner had left in a corner of the garden.  A bucket was placed in the bottom pot, after sealing the drain hole, a small pump installed and a mesh frame made to sit the second pot on.  Another frame was made to sit in the second pot and finally a mesh top in the top pot.  Thread a pipe up the middle and attache a small fountain fitting.  Cover the frames with decorative stones and see how it goes.  Not bad.  Certainly a lot cheaper than buying a water feature.

Next, build a galvanised sheet pan for everything  to sit in, keep it tidy and prevent damp.  

Then find more pots in the back of the garden and pot them up with shade loving plants.

Fill the gaps up with stone and all done.

We're rather pleased with how it has turned out for a budget makeover.  The plants were by far the most expensive part of the whole exercise.

Now we need to turn our attention to the other end of this area, but that will have to wait until we get some spare time.

Thursday 9 February 2017

Garden Update

I've taken various photos of our garden over the last couple of months, so these are rather random.


Out the front things are slowly progressing.  All gardens need a fountain, don't they, so Mick installed one......

OK, this may not be your usual garden fountain, but he found it at the charity shop at the tip and brought it home.  You can't have too much rust can you?  It has a big crack down the back of it and no base, so good for nothing else.

Notice also the tree root at the back of the garden.  This has lived in Mum's garden since the late 70s.  It is nice that it has found a new home.  Also, that pointy rock was in her garden.

Mick announced that he didn't want roses in the garden, but I had different ideas.  A compromise was easily achieved.  We would plant one standard rose in the little front garden.  I would have a rose and Mick would not rub up against any thorns when mowing.  Win, win.  So, what variety to choose?  Eventually we settled on "Peace".  It is a beautiful rose and we had one in our first garden.

It hasn't been very prolific this season, but that is to be expected, being a new plant and we have had some horrid hot westerly winds, but in the last couple of weeks it has started to really take off.

I'm pleased we chose this variety.


Our raised garden beds have gone well, but not quite as well as expected.  We think the soil we got wasn't as good as what we received when we put in our last lot of raised bed.  The soil has now settled quite a bit, so in winter we will add some mushroom compost, which should be good for next year.

We didn't get to harvest any tomatoes for Christmas, but picked our first a week or so later.  They are coming on thick and fast now.

Our one zucchini plant has done well.  We've had to come up with all sorts of ways to use them.  They are just starting to come to the end of their run.


The garden we planted beside the shed is doing well.  Being mainly small plants there aren't that many flowers this year, but the plants are generally doing well and growing, despite the hot weather.  They are well mulched and we are keeping the water up to them.

The tiger lily actually comes from the garden outside Mum's retirement unit.  In spring heaps of them came up, so we transplanted one.  It is lovely.  

I don't know what this is.  You can see the plant behind the tiger lily.  They are bulbs and the flower is really pretty.  It came from Mum's old front garden.

And Tweedia.  I saw this in a little pot at a market stall and it took me back to my childhood.  Mum used to grow them.  I haven't seen them in years.  They have the pretty blue flowers, but the bit that I remember most and used to fascinate me is the seed pods.  I'll have to show some when they appear.  They are kind of like a bean, but if your break them open they have this sticky, milky fluid in them.  If you leave them alone they end up opening and having fine fluffy seeds.

The other day, when I was watering I notice a few tiny, delicate mushrooms.  There have been a few more since.  Not what you expect in this weather.

Wednesday 8 February 2017

More of Mick's Home Improvements

There has still been a little bit of work required on Mick's shed.

Firstly, those water tanks, that were installed and quickly filled during the wet winter, hadn't actually had a pressure pump set up or taps connected.

Tick!  Now we can water our whole back yard from the tanks for free.  If we run out, it doesn't matter as there is still always the town water.  What a wonderful feeling.

The windmill blade is just another bit of rust we've had for many years.

There needed to be a tap from the tanks to water the gardens behind the shed.  Rather than just have a pipe stick up out of the ground, how about plumbing it throught the housing of an old windmill pump?  It was just a tad fiddly, but worth the effort.  Notice also a few more adornments in this garden - a scythe on the fence and more bits and bobs hanging off the vice post.  Also the colour of the stones have changed, as we topped them up with some left over from another project.  We both feel that this colour actually suits the area better.

While we're here, let's see how the little garden at the front of the trailer is progressing.  We have planted a blueberry, which is doing well so far, and the Happy Wanderer, which was initially looking rather sad, has taken off and now is higher than the fence.  We are very happy with how things are looking.

Inside the shed, a little bathroom is being built.  A start has been made.  Knowing Mick, it won't be long before it is finished.

Tuesday 7 February 2017

Odds and Sods - Wildlife

One thing we don't have a lot of in our yard is wildlife.  Funny that, as we now live in suburbia.  We just have to look over the road to see a mob of roos, which is nice.

We mainly see the run of the mill birds - magpies, peewees, sparrows, English blackbirds (what a mess they make in the garden) and those horrid Indian minors. Surprisingly, no parrots.

However, we do have a lovely family of blue wrens.  Mum and Dad had a nest up behind our shed in the shrubbery in the spring and hatched three babies.  They have made a second nest in the last month and hatched a further three babies.  They give us a wake up call with their sweet chirping each morning.  It is so lovely to see them all playing under the sprinkler.  I've been trying for ages and ages to take a photo of them, but they will not pose for me, flitting here and there all the time.  The other night they were all out and about and we got a couple of photos.  Then one of them hopped up onto Mick's NBN tower and must have discovered bugs underneath the insulators. I couldn't believe seeing five of them all lined up in row....and they posed for me.

One morning in the spring, while we were eating breakfast on our back verandah Mick noticed a bird.  It was up the back of the yard, and having the sun behind it we had trouble working out what it was.  No, it wasn't a blackbird, or a pigeon.  I ventured closer and thought the feathers looked like those of a quail, but it wasn't a quail.  Finally Mick got a photo of it and we got out the bird book.  It is actually a "Buff  Banded Rail".  Never heard of it!  They are a wetland bird and are common up the east side of Australia.  They are known to hide in the scrub. 

It must have ventured into our area as a result of all the wet weather we had.  It stayed around for a couple of days and then disappeared.

More recently we have seen lots of stick insects.  Praying mantises are out and about.  Big ones and little ones.

There was even one at the post office collecting its mail.

While watering on the weekend I was surprised by this tiny little fellow hopping out of the garden.  He is tiny, only about the size of a 5 cent piece.  Fortunately, I had my camera in my pocket, so a quick snap and then he hopped back into the herbs.

Monday 6 February 2017

Odds and Sods - Looking Skywards

I've just had a look through the photos on my camera from the last couple of months and thought it was about time to do a few random posts.

We have had some stunning sunsets in the last month or so.

Mick called me out to the front of the house one evening in early January to show me this incredible cloud.  It gradually moved towards our place and we got a few pleasant millimetres of rain from it.  Not much, but enough to cool things down.

Earlier this week I noticed lovely clouds looking towards Mt Panorama in the late afternoon.

I kept an eye on them and as the sun set got my camera out again.

Our whole house glowed,  Even the eastern sky was colourful.

Wow!  The sky looked as though it was on fire.

Unfortunately, we have had very little rain in 2017.  Only about half an inch in January.  I think our area has been the driest in the country, missing just about everything, except the heat and winds.  It has been an incredibly hot summer by our standards. Keeping the garden watered has been a full time job.  It is so nice to have the water available and not be relying on tanks.  Mick is enjoying having a nice lawn.  The start of February has not provided any relief either.  Mind you, I'm sure we will back into the cold weather before we know it.

Sunday 5 February 2017

Reconnecting in January

This is my first year of having a word for the year "Reconnect".  To keep me honest I will try to look back at the end of each month and see how I went.  So for January, here goes......


Not so well.  I started a book with the plan that I would read during my lunch breaks at work. The book I chose was Tim Winton's latest book "The Boy Behind the Curtain".  I have failed for two reasons, firstly it is not riveting.  It is his autobiography and an enjoyable read, but not a book that I can't put down.  Also, I don't seem to have had many lunch breaks with time to read.  I will keep reading it, but may start another more exciting book as well.


Nailed it!  We explored:



and Lithgow.  Not bad for one month and all being within about an hour from home.


Well, I made some butterfly magnets and  did a tiny bit of stitching sitting beside the Oberon Dam.  I suppose that is something??!!  My excuse is that being summer time we are spending more time outside.  The evenings are light and the garden needs watering.  Besides, we don't seem to have been home long enough to do anything.


I tidied my sewing room.  It was an absolute mess.  Apart from all my excessive amount of "Stuff", I had brought home some of Mum's and it had just been dumped.  You can now move around, but I haven't decluttered any.

We have gone through some boxes of "Stuff" that we brought with us from our old home and prepared it put for sale on swap meets.  Not a big lot, but a start.  I definitely have to keep working on this one.


I bought the February edition of Better Homes and Gardens one Friday at the supermarket and liked the look of a dessert "Ricotta Honey Tart with Ginger Coconut Crust", so let's strike while the iron is hot. 

I bought the ingredients, invited some friends over for a casual Saturday night barbecue and experimented on them.

Success.  I'll definitely be making that one again.

We have also spent quite a bit of time in the garden, but I will share that in a separate post later.


Nothing there.  Then again, it is only the start of the year and this will a surprise if and when it does happen.


We have seen friends and of course, there was the casual tart dinner and our day out down the mountains.  We also had the pleasure of having Chookyblue and Fairy Girl visit, which was lovely.


Nope.  But we didn't expect to.


I think this ties in with this month's explore category.  We made the time to have special days out together and they really were lovely days.  Ones we will look back on.  "Remember that day when we...." type days.


I don't think I did too badly. What is obvious is that the time of year will affect how I perform in different areas.  Once it cools down and the days get shorter there will be more indoor and homely things going on. It will be interesting to see how the year progresses.