22 August 2014

A Walk Around The Grounds

At last the days are getting a little longer. When I get home from work there is no longer the rush to get animals fed and firewood stacked before it gets dark. If I'm lucky I occasionally get half an hour to grab the camera and take a little wander around the garden or down to the creek.

Country Boy has been steadily working to extend our house garden all winter. We now have a gate that leads down to the bridge across the creek that he built two years ago. I don't get down there often, but it is one of my favourite places on the farm, particularly when the creek is flowing steadily.  The sound of the running water, together with the sheltered sun makes it so peaceful and relaxing... at least until the kids find me!


21 August 2014

Seven Things You Don't Know About Me

When I read a blog, I imagine what the author is like based on what I know about them; their words and pictures. But of course, blogs don't tell everything about a person. In fact they tell you very little. So today I thought I would share a few things about myself that you probably don't know:

I talk to myself - quite often. Sometimes I'm imagining a conversation, while at other times I am sorting out something in my head. Country Boy often catches me in conversation and laughs at me. I maintain that when I start surprising myself with my answers, then I will worry.


I'm naturally introverted. I hate meeting lots of new people at once. Going into a room full of strangers is hard work. I'm better than I used to be, but I would never say I am excited to meet new people. Moving here was hard because I didn't know many people at all. A common misconception is that because I'm a teacher, I'm outgoing, and wouldn't get stressed about public speaking - this is not true!

I'm not always happy-go-lucky. Life is not all rainbows and unicorns. I know that I am super lucky to be where I am. I have a great husband, and great kids. I put on a good show. I doesn't mean that life is always great though. Sometimes life is just tough. Whether it be a situation at work, or just feeling overwhelmed with the amount of responsibility that I carry, or being tired and frustrated with the kids. It can get to me. Yes I'm good at coping, and yes I put my head down and keep ploughing on, but that doesn't get rid of the fact that it is hard! And sometime I snap and get cranky! I wish I didn't, but I'm telling truths today!


I like to be punctual. In fact I consider it rude to be late without either phoning ahead or having a good reason (ie flat tire/ medical emergency). If you have told someone that you will be somewhere, then don't turn up or let them know you will be late in advance, you are basically saying to them "I am more important than you, so you can just wait until I am ready". Of course things popup unexpectedly, but have the courtesy to call ahead if you will be late... Just sayin'!

I buy the same lunch everyday. That is right - Every. Single. Day. In fact the staff at work have a running joke about my gourmet chicken rolls. The school canteen makes them fresh daily, they are full of salad, and tasty. In a life which is full of decisions about food and cooking food, this is one less! In holidays, I stand at the fridge and wonder what to have before making vegemite toast.


I'm not an outdoorsy type of person. I guess with the whole farm thing going on, a lot of people think I would be a lover of the great outdoors. I am coming around slowly, but I still love to curl up with a book, or make something much more than playing around outdoors. Having said that, in Spring and Autumn, when the weather is gorgeous, I love taking the camera out to snap some pictures.

I don't watch the news or current affairs on tv. I'm not naive. I know that there is a lot of bad/ scary/ horrific things happening in the world. The 24 hour news cycle makes sure that it is all delivered to us almost as it happens. It's just that I don't want those things in my head all the time (and I don't want my kids to have to see them either). It is too easy to loose faith in humanity, and forget that there are lots of good things happening in the world too. After all good news isn't really news at all any more. Instead I listen to the radio on the way to work, and read the news online.

So there you go: seven things you didn't know. Of course there is lots more you don't know about me, but I will keep that for another time!

18 August 2014

DIY-ing

I've been reading DIY blogs lately - always dangerous. With the extension/renovation becoming closer to reality (there's been a lot of prep kind of stuff going on behind the scenes - I'll share it another time) I'm putting my efforts in to revamping some of the ugly furniture we have. I know that there is no way we can afford new furniture at the end of the reno, so I might as well start with what we have.


First up has been the chest of drawers we store Toby's clothes in. We got it from a Vinnies store, and it is U-G-L-Y. Think 1980's orange pine. I ordered some chalk paint on line because I've used it before and was really happy with the results. This time, the colour wasn't quite what I expected (a little more tan/orange than I was thinking)  but I went for it anyway - it was still way better than the orange pine. A couple of hours of painting, mixed up with a couple of hours to dry between each coat, and it was done. I also splurged on some new handles while I was in town a few weeks back, and I'm loving the final finish! Better yet, I know it will look good in his room once we have renovated! Of course I haven't got a full picture in his bedroom yet - will have to get on to that one.

While I was in a DIY/home improvement mood, I found a dining table on ebay that was both cheap, looked OK, and within driving distance. I won it last weekend, and on Wednesday Country Boy and Toby went for a drive to the Southern Highlands to pick it up. We have been meaning to buy a new dining table since we got married over 15 years ago, so you clearly can't hurry these things. $250 for this table means that if it doesn't look right once we have renovated, we haven't spent a packet!



So there you go; two furniture projects in the one week. All this comes from spending all my spare minutes looking at fittings and finishes for rooms. Can you tell I'm excited???

13 August 2014

Stills

It's a random photo day. Because sometimes the photos I take tell stories that can't be put into words, but I want to share them anyway.


12 August 2014

Sticky Quince And Gingerbread Cake

One day our orchard will (hopefully) keep us in fruit, but until then we order a box of fruit which is delivered to the butcher in town each week (I pick it up on my way home from work on Thursdays). We love that as much as possible, the fruit is locally sourced. A few weeks ago I noticed Quinces were on the list, so ordered a few. Quinces are a little hard to come by sometimes. They seem to be out of fashion, but if you can find them they are so worth the effort! They sat there for a week until I poached them, and then consulted Stephanie as to what to do with them.


According to Stephanie, quinces go well with ginger, so I decided to see how they would go in a ginger cake. The answer was beautifully.


Ingredients
2 quinces
4 whole cloves
1t vanilla bean paste (or vanilla extract)
1/2c sugar
1c water
125g butter
2/3c golden syrup
2/3c brown sugar
2/3c milk
1/2tsp bicarb soda
1 egg
1 2/3c plain flour
1T ground ginger
1tsp mixed spice

1. Peel, quarter, and core the quince.
2. Cut the quince into smaller slices.
3. In a ovenproof dish place the quince, cloves, vanilla, sugar and water.
4. In either a low oven, or on the stove top, poach the quince until it turns a pink colour, and is tender. This may take several hours (I put ours on top of our fire to just bubble away). Check it once or twice and add a little more water if the syrup is nearly gone.
5. Allow to cool.
6. In a saucepan place the butter, golden syrup, brown sugar and milk.
7. Heat until the butter has melted. Do not boil.
8. Remove from the heat. Stir in the bicarb soda and allow to cool for 10 minutes.
9. Whisk in the egg.
10. Whisk in the flour, ginger, and spice.
11. Pour into a 22cm round cake tin.
12. Place the poached quince segments on top of the mix.
13. Bake for 45 minutes, or until the cake is set. The quince will sink into the cake during cooking.

I've made this cake several times now. I love that it can all be mixed in a saucepan. It is delicious served with a little custard or cream.

11 August 2014

Why I Write

So there is a "meme" going around the blogosphere at the moment (there is a jargon filled sentence for you!) entitled "Why I write...". I'm not sure I have anything to add to the general conversation, but since Lisa at Mummy Manifesto was kind enough to tag me, here I go:
Why do I write?
Why not? I write because it's fun. I've always enjoyed writing (with the exception of biochemistry essays at university - not so fun). I talk more about why I started blogging on my About Me page, but the essence is that back in 2011 we were planning to move back to the farm where Country Boy grew up. I wanted a way to share my new life and experiences with my friends and family, in particular my sister who lives in South East Asia. We don't get to chat that often, and so this blog is kind of like a chat about what I have been doing, my ideas and thoughts. This is my first ever post, and it sort of sets up the whole 'why' of this blog.



What am I working on?
Not a lot. I don't have an editorial calendar or five posts up my sleeve at all times. I'm not working on a novel, or e book either. I love to take photographs of what ever we are doing, and my blogging sort of comes from that. The blog reflects what is going on in my life and on our farm. Sometimes there is lots to talk about, sometimes not so much.
I sometimes wonder if I should put in more effort and see if I can do more with my blog. To that end, I signed up to go to the Problogger conference at the end of the month. No idea what I was thinking - 500 people I don't know is my idea of hell. Perhaps I will get some inspiration.

How does my writing differ from others in my genre?
What is my genre? Seriously? I don't know where my blog fits. Sometimes its a "mummy blog", while other times it is a "lifestyle" blog, or a "simple living" blog. Probably the best description is a "personal blog". I don't know that my writing is that different from other blogs. What makes my blog is my story. My photos. My ideas. My life.
Why do I write what I do?
To share  my thoughts and the things I have learnt about living the country life. In a life that is full of doing things for other people (I'm married to a farmer with three kids after all), this is one thing which is just for me.

How does my writing process work?
All my writing comes from what we are up to around the farm, so my writing process starts with actually doing things... usually with a camera slung over my shoulder. From there I write whatever I'm thinking/ feeling/ inspired by.
Often I get ideas at times when I can't write, so I use Evernote on my phone/tablet to record my ideas. At any moment there might be up to 10 ideas sitting there. When I'm feeling a bit dry in the inspiration department, I look at my list and see what hits me.
I try to preview the post before I publish it so that I can edit it. I never see the mistakes when I am typing, I need to see what the post will look like. I still have trouble with apostrophes sometimes - despite google helping me from time to time.


So there you go, a not too comprehensive overview of the whys and wherefores of my blog habit.
At this point in the proceedings I'm supposed to nominate some other bloggers to have a little go at the same questions. I seem to be the only person to has not yet answered the question but if you haven't yet written and you want to, consider yourself tagged!

Over to you... I have told you why I write this blog; I would love to know why you read it! I know plenty of people do. Here's your chance to delurk and introduce yourself to me!

8 August 2014

Cheaty Creamed Rice

A few weeks ago, I made creamed rice with my students. I was surprised how few of them had ever even tasted it before, but it was very popular. Because of the limited time that I have in lessons (one hour - less time to set up and clean up), I always use a cheaty version where I precook the rice. Of course cooking it super slowly makes it even creamier, but I don't have the luxury of time.



On Sunday I had a temporary brain explosion, and boiled way too much rice, so it seemed appropriate to make some creamed rice with the left overs.


Creamed rice is best made with short grain rice, but use whatever rice you have available.

Ingredients
2c cooked rice
1x 375ml can evaporated milk
2T sugar
1t vanilla bean paste (use vanilla essence if you don't have it)
2 whole cloves

Method
1. Place all the ingredients in a saucepan.
2. Heat gently, stirring often until the mixture becomes creamy and absorbs most of the evaporated milk. If it is too hot, the bottom of the saucepan will catch and burn.
3. Remove the whole cloves
4. Serve with stewed fruit - I had some quinces that I had cooked up in a pot on top of our fire for a couple of hours.


Do you love creamed rice? Got any other uses for when you cook too much rice??
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