Wednesday, December 31, 2008

What's up in the garden? (The first of an occasional series)

It's the last day of 2008 and I'm seriously considering spending it in my PJs. While I make my mind up, let's go for a wander round the garden, shall we?Just outside the back door is a trough which I planted with parsley, coriander and mint last year. They all died (a combination of too much sun and no water while I was away cruising) but the mint has sprung back to life this year. Just looking at it makes me want to make couscous tabbouleh...

Here's a photo of my zucchini plants:They got eaten, and not by me. It was quite funny really. The one on the left went first. One evening it was there, all 10 cm of it and the next morning *poof* it was gone! The one on the right lasted almost a week longer. I was confident it was safe and then, again, one morning I looked outside and it had disappeared overnight...

The silverbeet's doing much better than the poor old zucchini:The tomato plants are growing slowly but there are no sign of any tomatoes so far.My back-from-the-dead rhubarb has 5 stems to it.Whatever was eating the herbs when they were first planted appears to have stopped (I'm guessing they discovered the zucchini plants) but the coriander obviously couldn't cope with the stress and has bolted before I could pick any. I must check to see if that's normal for this time of the year...Also spotted in the garden:

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

In a bit of a pickle

There's no rest for the wicked and all that. Taph headed off yesterday leaving me with a laundry tub full of soaking apricots. Her last words after assuring me they'd last at least 48 hours were "don't take them out of the water or they'll rot faster!

So there they stayed. After work today I googled apricot chutney recipes, pulled out the large pot she'd left me, and set out to make some pickles all by my little lonesome (plus some more stewed apricots for the freezer)

It was a bit scary, really. Chutney doesn't smell half as good as jam. Which sent me into a frenzy of uncertainty. Does my flat smell like shit because a) the apricots are dead and rotten and should be chucked out or b) because vinegar and sugar and stuff just smells like that?

Oh well, I've made and frozen eight containers of stewed fruit and nine jars of chutney (two different sorts). I'll let the expert make the final decision. I finally read the back of the packet that my labels come in today. Bugger. I obviously should have bought the other "Full of jam" pack when I was at Officeworks...

(Remind me next time I see a tree full of fruit to RUN AWAY!!!!)

They say a watched pot never boils...

... so I cheated yesterday and pretended to be engrossed in the book that arrived from Making Good Use in the morning's mail.Also in the parcel were some beautiful vintage trims (black and white, of course!), all wrapped in a piece of groovy retro cow print fabric.

A lovely parcel from a great frugal blogger. Thank you!

Monday, December 29, 2008

Jammy buggers

I'm an idiot. I thought spending a day making jam might be "fun".The first laundry tub full of apricots were an adventure. I somehow (deludedly) thought we'd all be done and dusted in no time at all. I was excited that my brand-new-whiz-bang-sexy-as-hell postage scales arrived this morning, just in time to be pressed into service for the task. There was a system. Life was good. I cut up my first 2 kilo bowl-full of apricots from the laundry tub. I even think I hummed along to The Jam on the stereo (what else would one play while jam making?*)The first batch of apricots went into the ginormous pot Taph had brought along. Water and sugar were added.Jam was boiled. I learnt about scumming. We got adventurous and started a batch of apricot and passionfruit jam in the other pot.Jam jammed. And was poured into jars (sorry Lynwood your jars are too good not to reuse)Other apricots were cut, stewed and decanted for the freezer..And then we repeated. And repeated with variations (Apricot and ginger jam. Apricot and vanilla jam. More plain apricot jam. Stewed apricots by themselves. Stewed apricots and peaches and nectarines. More stewed apricots)

We had too many cups of coffee to try and keep us going.Tested too many batches of jam. Had jammy sugar induced tantrums. Got overwhelmed with dishes. And madness set in...But the freezer's looking goodand the tasting platter we arranged went down a treat (more sugar! Yeeeehaaar!)The only problem is, after a day's worth of hard graft, we still have at least 8 kilos worth of apricots to deal with... (* OK, maybe Technotronic's Pump up the jam. Jam & Spoon's Right in the night. Justified Ancients of Mumu's Whitney joins the JAMs. Michelle Shocked's Strawberry Jam... Feel free to add suggestions. Although I suspect chutney might be on the menu for Wednesday)

Sunday, December 28, 2008

...and the fruit of our labours

This evening we converged upon the apricot tree and spent an hour stripping it pretty much bare.It was quite fun. I haven't picked apricots since I was a young thing living in Christchurch (where it was my job to climb to the top of the tree we had at the back of our yard and pick the ones the grown-ups couldn't reach with their ladders and rakes) I think that was the same summer I was being paid paltry amounts of money to pick raspberries at a farm up the road a way. Realising what we were picking to go into the jam (blue fluffy berries) put me off raspberry jam for quite some years...No blue fluff tonight. Just buckets and buckets of apricoty goodnessplus a few that got sidetracked mouth-wards on the way to the buckets!

Coming up tomorrow: The Shopping Sherpa's first attempt at jam making. Stay tuned...

The fruit of my labours

Way back in October 2007 I made Princess B a pear doorstop. I took it up to Sydney only partly stuffed, planning to buy some nice heavy stones at the hardware store across the road from her place to fill it. But we got sidetracked and it didn't happen and Princess B said she'd sort it out herself.

And every time I've visited since then I've seen the poor unfinished doorstop lurking behind the door in her study. Finally, on this trip just past, I kidnapped the wee beastie and smuggled it home to finish off. Which I finally did this morning:There's just one little problem. I turned my back for a moment during the photo shoot and turned back to find this...Now please excuse me, I must return to the rest of my long list of Projects I'd like to have finished before the end of the year...

Seven Things Spring/ Summer 2008 Christmas Edition: Oh crap!

I was tempted to follow Taph's lead when I saw my figures this morning and declare a Jubilee Week. But although Taph definitely deserves one (69 weeks and a net 4799 Outs: that, folks is an average of almost 70 items out per week over a period of more than a year!) I really don't deserve one. As I'm (still) struggling to make my figures each week I guess that's the best reason to keep going...

In:

* 1 book, 1 DVD set, 1 tin, 1 row counter (Trash & Treasure)
* 6 pairs socks (on special at the supermarket so I stocked up)
* 6 pairs knitting needles (Vinnies Queanbeyan: couldn't resist...)

* 1 Lundby Letter magazine (subscription)
* 1 book, 1 tea towel, 2 napkins, set of 5 vintage kitchen containers, 3 books (gifts)

Total In this week: 29

Out:

* 1 pair lounge socks, 2 washcloths: gifts

* 1 dead sock, 1 dead T shirt, 3 pairs dead trousers, 1 dead shirt, 1 dead vest, 1 dead cardigan: bin

* 1 cat mask from a New Year's Day party too long ago to remember clearly, 1 crown and 1 sceptre from a long-ago trip: op shop
* 2 books: donated to Cycling S
* 2 old and manky tea towels (replaced by beautiful new tea towels given to me for Christmas): bin

Total Out this week: 18

Shake-it-all-about:

* Nothing. Which made quite a change, actually...

Net items out so far during Seven Things Spring/ Summer 2008: 120

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Out for the count

I started my new job today. (Job #3 which is actually Job #2 because Job #1 no longer exists. But if I call this new job Job #2 then I have to rename Job #2 to Job #1 and it all gets more confusing than it sounds here)I spent the day counting. I felt like I was on Sesame Street.

White folder. Plain wood pencil. Silver and black counting thingy. I was happy.Wonder if if they'd notice if one of their counting thingies went missing and reappeared in my knitting toolkit? Alas, I'm sure they would...

Friday, December 26, 2008

My friendly fruit salad

I made a fruit salad yesterday with the plethora of fruit which seems to have erupted in my kitchen.

As I ate it I realised it's my friendly fruit salad:

* Pineapple from a tin given to me by Tania in her pantry clearout of forbidden food.

* Apple and banana courtesy of J&M's pre Christmas holiday fruit bowl cleanout.

* Apricots from the tree in the front yard of a colleague's house. When I dropped her home on Christmas Eve and exclaimed "an apricot tree!" she offered me as much fruit as I wanted. I'm not sure she really expected me to say I could clear the lot for her later in the break with my jam-making mates (plus the other tree she admitted was in the back yard) but she seemed pretty cool about the whole thing and pleased they'll be used.

* Nectarines and oranges from Cycling S's fruitbowl. She tried to convince me there wasn't room in there for the apricots I offered plus her existing fruit when I visited Christmas Eve...


The only thing I purchased was cherries from Choku Bai Jo.

That's about all the excitement round here at the moment. My life is full of pottering and reading. Just as it should be at this time of the year...

Thursday, December 25, 2008

C is for Christmas...

Conran and chocolate while lying in bed and a huge pack of cherries which stains fingers red. Christmas music so cheesy it makes me giggle out loudand cartoons saved from last year (of this I'm quite proud!)Shall I open the bubbles? Is it too early for booze?

Or roll back into bed for an afternoon snooze?

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Christmas cards

I picked up stashes of my two all time favorite Christmas cards from the free Avant card stands many years ago and thought it was about time I shared them with you. I originally planned to only show one and save the other for next Christmas but I found it impossible to chose between the Judy Horacek one:and the Rude Olf one:
So you get to see both. Now I'm off to open the peach sparkling wine I only drink at Christmas time and contemplate which of the boxes of Lindt chocolate in the fridge I plan to eat for breakfast tomorrow morning...

Here's hoping tomorrow brings you a lot of what you need, and the just the right amount of what you want (whatever that may be!)

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Bowled over at Vinnies Queanbeyan

Beautiful set of four Crazy Daisy Pyrex nesting mixing bowls: $18 the lot. Damned shame I don't do green, huh?

(Still trying to decide if these are heading for resale on eBay next year or are the first of the presents bought for Christmas 2009...)

Monday, December 22, 2008

Modern Miniatures on Monday: pretty much finished.

(The seventh and final part of a series about the renovation of my Triang V bungalow. Previous parts: Part One, Part Two, Part Three, Part Four, Part Five and Part Six)

So here it is, front:and back:I didn't need to create any replacement window panes as I discovered I had them all tucked safely away. And I decided to remove the lights completely. I've popped them up in the attic in case I (or the next owner) decide to put them back in place.

There are some odd things about the house. First up, the bathroom is HUGE. And carpeted:Secondly, having furniture printed onto the walls is cute but makes placement of actual furniture quite challenging (see basin above which doesn't quite cover the picture of the basin on the wall...)

The top landing is also quite large but the waste paper basket printed on the wall gave me the clue needed to turn it into a study area:Thirdly, the Triang furniture seems a bit small for the house:I'm missing a few vital bits from the house at the moment. My Triang fridge is currently in the kitchen of my Lisa House so I'm using a Dol-Toi one in the meantime. And all my Triang lounge furniture is in my Caroline's Home house. So the lounge is looking very emptyand will stay that way until my exhibition at Canberra Museum and Gallery closes on Australia Day weekend.

I have a MIP lamp which I'm trying to decide if I'll unpack and put in the house. It seems a pity to unwrap it if there's no electricity to connect it to...