Nothing to see here

Isn’t that what they say?

When there’s actually quite a lot to see, but they want you to move along? I, on the other hand, have literally had nothing to see for quite some time. But now I have things to show and tell.

Let’s start with… Baking. I have always been fascinated by cooking from the Southern states of the US. The names of the dishes are mysterious and wonderful, the combinations and flavours can be strange to UK and Australian palates, and many of the ingredients are not at all easily obtained here. But one thing I’ve always loved the sound of is ‘biscuits and sausage gravy’. For breakfast, mind you. Now obviously, these are American biscuits, which closely resemble our scones, rather than being the sweet, flat, crisp jobs we dunk in our tea or coffee. And sausage gravy? Not the rich, meaty brown liquid we make from our Sunday roasts, but a thick, pale, creamy sauce flavoured with crumbled ‘breakfast sausage’. This latter ingredient isn’t snags, or bangers (‘links’ to my US friends), it’s a large roll of seasoned sausage-meat cut into thick slices and fried, served with eggs, etc, for breakfast. I haven’t seen breakfast sausage anywhere in Australia*. You can take a pork snag or two and squeeze it out of its skin, mash it up and that will do the job, fried in a skillet and crumbled. After that, add flour, seasoning and milk, and stir till the whole thing thickens. It takes patience but is very tasty. Anyway, failing the sausage gravy, I made biscuits. I think they turned out rather well! Yummy eaten warm with butter. I would have added honey except, you know, diabetes… If you’re an expert biscuit baker, I’d love to know what you think of my amateur effort.

Gardening. As you’re probably well aware by now, we have a caravan (travel trailer). We keep it in the front yard on a not quite level piece of ground between two flower beds. Because of the curved, banana shape of the outer, raised bed, nearest our front boundary, it has been difficult to back the ‘van into her spot when we come home. So I have shortened and straightened it. Which involved heavily pruning some ornamental trees (ixora, hibiscus, variegated ficus, azalea, Bankok Rose and Snow on the Mountain), shifting what felt like several hundred edging bricks, hacking out soil, repositioning irrigation pipes and some power-weeding. Total time, 2 days of hard labour, but so worth it. I also enlisted the Husband and his angle grinder to remove the old and nasty mailbox which lives in that raised bed. It had finally rusted past the point of no return so that rain more or less guaranteed soggy mail, and will be turned into something more useful in its next incarnation. We also got rid of the ‘ornamental’ street number some aesthetically-challenged previous owner had crafted out of welded steel chain and tack welded to the supporting post… A new, functional, powder-coated steel mailbox improved matters no end, and I wrapped the now-disfigured post in a square of imitation buxus panel. It looks rather fetching…

And finally, Sewing. I have finally got back to the Twilight quilt, and the first two rows are sandwiched and quilted, although I’m not sure you can tell from this photo. I’m using a rather beautiful purple Rasant thread, which blends rather well, but also has a pretty shine. It’s made by Amann, and is  cotton spun on polyester core thread which is both strong and smooth-running. So far, so very good! I’m quilting a cross hatch a hand’s-width wide, which is enough to safely hold the layers together but also results in a very soft and drapey finish to the quilt. There has also been activity on my Hopscotch quilt blocks, but I’ll leave reporting on that until ScrapHappy Day.

Amazing what a long post I’ve written about nothing at all!


*If you’ve seen it, do tell me where, as it’s just the sort of thing the Husband would love…

The Gardens of Chiconia 15


Screen shot 2014-05-20 at 12.41.04 PM
 It’s not too late in the year, and I’m almost ready to go!

Screen shot 2014-05-20 at 12.40.42 PMThree raised beds of a square metre each… Let’s see: tomatoes, capsicums, bush beans, rocket, spinach, bok choy, silverbeet, zucchini. Outside the beds: a bale of hay with a hole dug in the top, filled with compost and planted with pumpkin, a potato tower made of chicken wire, another for sweet potato and a large tub with rhubarb. I already have a huge basil bush, lemon balm, oregano, sage, rosemary and curry bush. I don’t have space for brassicas, onions, leeks, beetroot or carrots, all of which take a while to grow and more space than I can afford right now.  Maybe in the future.

Screen shot 2014-05-20 at 12.41.33 PMI’ve had to review my fish tank plan.  I was considering raising tilapia, which require little space and water which is only moderately moving.  However, the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food has decided that tilapia are noxious animals and may not be kept privately or farmed in Australia. So I shall do my homework more carefully, and maybe keep something a bit more native – perhaps golden perch. And it’s not going to happen very soon, I suspect.

Screen shot 2014-05-20 at 12.42.30 PMIn the meantime, I could get some water vegetables going in there, like water chestnuts, kang kong, etc. Or maybe a pretty or two: lotus, water lily, papyrus, yellow flag. Screen shot 2014-05-20 at 12.42.03 PM

Screen shot 2014-05-20 at 12.42.44 PMInitially the idea was to attract frogs and dragonflies to keep the insects down, and I may yet revert to that. And I could, of course, have a few koi or goldfish to keep the mosquito larvae down – we have dengue fever here, which is mosquito-borne and it’s important to remove their sources of breeding water.

Screen shot 2014-05-20 at 12.43.13 PMWe’ve shifted half our load of rock. Half to go – and I’m strongly tempted to just tip it off the trailer and deal with it later. We need the trailer for the rest of the planting supplies.

Screen shot 2014-05-20 at 12.43.03 PM Screen shot 2014-05-20 at 12.43.25 PM Screen shot 2014-05-20 at 12.43.51 PM Screen shot 2014-05-20 at 12.44.10 PM Screen shot 2014-05-20 at 12.44.22 PM Screen shot 2014-05-20 at 12.46.26 PM Screen shot 2014-05-20 at 12.44.35 PM Screen shot 2014-05-20 at 12.45.56 PM Screen shot 2014-05-20 at 12.45.25 PM Screen shot 2014-05-20 at 12.45.41 PM Screen shot 2014-05-20 at 12.46.12 PMMeanwhile, in the rest of the garden, things are growing like mad, taking advantage of the cooler weather, moderate rain and gentler winds.  Take a look at some of those colours!