Autumnal anxieties.

Waking up for the school routine today was just a bit greyer. A bit darker. The butter was unspreadably hard on the bench top. Katie asked where her school jumper was.

Autumn is here.

And I was over reading Kate’s post today, and it made me crave my ultimate warm comfort food: Avocado, Vegemite and Tomato on toast.

Unfortunately our Grosse Lisse’s aren’t doing so great. There’s SO many on the vines, but the minute one of them starts to show a hint of colour: BLOSSOM END ROT.

Ive brought a few green ones inside to see if I can ripen them on the window sill. So disappointing.

Sticks and Dip

The cuc’s are going gangbusters! Growing fast than I can pick them! Katie has cucumber in her lunch everyday, and luckily, Tara’s favourite lunch is “Sticks and Dip”.

Taking the lead from my fellow thrifty homesteading bloggers, Ive attempted to preserve some, and make some lacto-fermented cucumber pickle. (I used the same method I used here.)

Soon it’ll be time to plant seedlings in our winter foam planters for our next bale garden. Which we haven’t got the bales for yet. And to finish our dog fence. Which we haven’t got the wire for yet. And stack our season’s firewood. Which we haven’t got the chainsaw fixed, or started collecting yet. Or cleaned the chimney.

Ive been losing a fair bit of sleep lately.

Winter Foamy Seedling System!

Time’s just flying by. Proof of this: Katie our big school girl is 5 in a few weeks!!! I’ve knitted her these cute slippers from Ravelry. Purple by request!

Cookie knows how to stay warm.

Our plans for Autumn:

More Ex-batts – we’re down to 11 girls, so we’ll be adopting 10-15 more.

Hay stockpile – for the bale garden AND to last Will the winter! We currently have about 15 bales, but I’d feel much better with a stockpile of 30 or 40 more in our barn.

Finish the dog-proof fence – to enclose a new four-legged addition to the family we’ll adopt soon… saty tuned…

Firewood stockpile and service the chimney -it’s not working so great. we’ve been getting a fair bit of smoke in the house and it doesn’t draw very well.

Blackberry Jam – The blackberries are finished, and I have a freezer full of berries ready for pies and jams! I found a Slowcooker Jam recipe (Is there ANYTHING they cant do?!) – I HAVE to try it!

Cast on some beanies and winter woolies for us! –  Winter is coming! Time to get knitting!

…It’s not such a big To Do list, right?

Plus we have to workout what we need to plant now, build a new bale garden, sort out our finanaces, plan and hold Katie’s 5th birthday party, mow the lawn, prune the fruit trees…

*BREATHES HEAVILY INTO PAPER BAG*

At least I’ll be less of a One Woman Farm in the next few weeks: Ben had his last scheduled chemo session today! HURRAH! Hopefully this means he’s on the road to recovery. we’re very grateful that his prognosis is so positive, and we’re fairly certain he won’t need too much more treatment after this. Others are not so lucky, and cant be that certain of a positive outcome. For them there’s no end in sight to the chemo/radiation nightmare. My heart goes out to all those people. I’ve reminded myself of that often over the past few weeks, and it’s how I’ve stayed grateful and positive (even on the days I hit rock bottom. And there were a few of those too.)

Livestrong. Be grateful. Winter is coming, but so too is Spring.

Big love xx

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Acceptance, abundance, and other peoples’ approval.

Kindness. Always kindness.
I have made a strange discovery. I’ve noticed that whenever we have people come to stay – be it family or friends – I get huge anxieties about food. I feel like my fridge is empty (it’s not) and that I don’t feed my kids/family properly (I do). When I’m on the spot to think what to cook guests for dinner,  my mind goes completely blank and I can’t think of a single thing that I cook for us. I feel like what we eat isn’t good enough for others.

Here’s what we do eat (and what’s in my fridge at the moment):
Fruit (my go-to snack for the kids)
Vegetables
Homemade Greek yoghurt
Cheese 
Milk (soy & dairy)
Gluten free pasta
Pulses
Passata/tinned tomatoes
Freerange eggs (from our girls)
Dried fruit
Nuts
Tuna
Free range chicken / a roast
Brown rice
Bread (wholemeal / rye / sour dough)
Pantry staples (stock cubes/coconut oil/soy sauce/jam/honey/nut butter  etc)
Any slices, biscuits, cakes I bake myself and are sugar, preservative, colour & dairyfree. 
So that’s a basic rundown. Occasionally we have things like weetbix, baked beans, fruit purées or crackers.
Clearly a full, wholefood, very healthy pantry/fridge. 
We eat stirfrys, quiches, roasts, pasta, smoothies, juices, burgers, fajitas, pies, fruit, homemade baked goods, salads, stews, curries, soups…
So why, when we have company, do I feel like the cupboard is bare and that I don’t feed my kids properly?! 
Found! A feral mint patch in the gully! FREE FOOD! Woot!

Take for example today, with my mother in law visiting. Katie said she was hungry and I offered her an apple and instantly felt sting-y and lazy. Like bad parent. A pauper. For offering her fruit as a snack. (“Is that all you have?!”)
Here’s what we don’t have:
Processed cereals.
Packaged biscuits or muesli bars.
Soft drink or cordial. (Ever.)
Milo
Icecream
Sweetened flavoured yoghurt
Cage eggs (EVER.)
Processed cheeses
️Frozen pre-made meals 
Jar sauces/flavour sachets/tinned soups.
But for some reason, these are the foods I feel I should have when guests come! I feel like my kids must be undernourished & underfed because there are no pizza shapes or string cheese stick in their house! 
Blackberry-ing in the gully.

What is this anxiety & where does it come from?!?? 

Clearly I’m doing the right things (just ask your GP!)! And anyone who can’t find something to eat in my house needs some nutritional advice – not me!
But the minute I have people come to stay, I feel the irrational urge to fill my fridge with processed food, sugar, salt, & dead animals. 
Why am I such a people pleaser?! That I will actually do what I know is wrong and unhealthy, just to make people like me! To feel ‘acceptable’! Why do I need to justify the way I eat and live to anyone  anyway?!?!
I guess it’s the age-old predicament. And the instant you say “I don’t eat that” people want to tell you why you’re wrong. Why they’re right. 
“You have to eat meat! There’s no protein in vegetables! Why would you want to do something so ridiculous?!” 
(What?: Care about my food, nourish the people I love, and not wanna hurt things? Yeah – I’m one KER-AY-ZEE woman!) 
Ugh. I need a lesson in confidence, self esteem, and ‘not-givin’-a-f-ck’! 

Basil, baldness, bargains, and being ‘busy’.

It’s a snippets post! Ispired by one of Kate’s.

harvesting

Basil! Omigosh the basil! Im gonna have to start giving more pesto away! And we harvested all of our corn. It was really successful, so I dried an ear as an experiment, and planted a few dry corn kernals in our foam seed boxes, and blow me down: They germinated! So looks we’re gonna get another round of that yummy corn! YIPPEE! Self-sufficiency!

‘Hoppy’ – so photogenic!

reading

The House of Elliot by Jean Marsh. Did you ever see the TV series set in the 20s/30s? It was delicious. The book is just as delicious!

loving

My new slow juicer! I got it on Gumtree for $20 – BARGAIN! Totally worth driving across Melbourne and getting lost for! It’s the kind that makes pasta, and sorbet too. The sorbet is AWESOME.

Mango Sorbet. Ingredients: …mangoes.

It gets a bit less juice per amount of fruit than my old hurom juicer, but it does wheatgrass, sugarcane, frozen fruit, AND it’s so much easier to clean! BIG BONUS!

knitting

I’m about to start a beanie for Ben’s poor unprotected scalp!

His hair finally started to fall out from the chemo, and it was kinda ‘sting-y’, so he took the plunge and shaved it all off. And knock me down: IT ACTUALLY SUITS HIM!!! He looks about 10 years younger!

What a revalation!!!

planting

Wheatgrass for juice, but I’ve had some very mixed results. I put it on a windowsill. In the dark. In the light. In the full sun. In dirt. On paper towels. In peat. Lots of water. Just a mist. Covered with wet newspaper. Uncovered. But despite all my experimenting, I never manage to get the thick lush carpet of grass you see online. I just get a really sickly, wispy few tendrils in a whole tray, which equate to less than a shot of juice. But still I keep trying… It’s meant to be so easy to grow!?

buying

FRUIT! Tonnes of it! I’ve been trying to inject as much raw fresh food into our diet as we can to keep as all as healthy as possible while Ben’s body deals with chemo. And there’s SO MUCH beautiful summer fruit around! The mangoes! The watermelon! And OH the lychees!!!

sticking

– washing in the machine, dishes in the sink, pellets in the chook feeder, toys in the cupboard, the kids’ clean clothes in their wardrobes… It never ends; the ‘business’. I wish I was better at being still. I remember being present when I was young. Relishing moments, living in the now, fully enjoying and appreciating an experience. Somewhere along the line, I lost that. Im always 3-steps ahead: Planning, listing, predicting, anticipating, worrying… I dont REALLY enjoy things like I did as a child, because I’m always somewhere else. Or watching the clock. Or counting my bank balance. Or anticipating disaster.I wonder how I can reclaim that child-like sense of now: Where afternoons lasted forever, and days were full of suprises?

watching

The new series of Broadchurch. I was addicted to series one. I’m already addicted to season two. We always have to watch ‘just one more episode’, no matter how late it is!

relishing

Moments of ‘unplugged’ childhood play. Games with marbles, craft with wool and paint, picnics with toys, making up dance performances, conversations with fairies, games with princess and crowns and magic powers.

listening

To the sounds of Hill Shadow Farm: Horses whinneying, kookaburras laughing, Lennon crowing, Tara talking herself to sleep in her cot, the fridge turning on and off briefly….




We’re in for a big week this week. 4 FULL days of chemo, and poor old Ben is gonna get hammered. I’ve booked the girls into kindy for 2 days each, to minimise the noise/work for us at home so Ben can rest, but also to make sure they’re occupied and distracted while Daddy’s not well.

My mother and father in law will be here for a week, and I think it’ll be ‘survival mode’ for all. But in the meantime: Australia Day public holiday tomorrow to be enjoyed, and our 6th Wedding anniversary (Love you forever, Bear xxx).

One day at a time… one day at a time…

What are you harvesting, reading, loving, knitting, planting, buying, sticking, watching, relishing and listening to?

See you on the other side of the week!
xx

Doubters, doctors, denial, and decisions.

I was speaking to Ben this morning about his treatment and how hard it is to have faith in the medical industry through chemotherapy.

I mean, a few months ago, Ben seemed fine. He was happy and functioning, but his problem wasn’t visible. His cancer was small and new, and not yet outwardly affecting him physically in anyway.

In contrast to this, now that he is having treatment, NOW his suffereing is so clearly visible. NOW he looks like someone who is sick. NOW we are being told that the poisons being injected into him are so caustic, they will burn your skin. NOW he is taking pills and pills and pills.

Suddenly, I have to put immense trust into these strangers in the medical industry, that all this suffering is for the greater good. That their intentions are pure, and that there is no conspiracy at work here. And at these times I can understand opinions like Freelees and Belles.

I don’t know any facts: I only know what ‘they’ tell me. I have no personal experience: All the people I have ever known that have had cancer have had treatment, but have then – eventually – died. The doubters have as many anecdotes, facts and statistics as the doctors. Are any of them really the unbiased truth?

I guess the conclusion I have come to here is “I dont know”, but ultimately “it’s not my decision”. It’s Ben’s body, his journey, and I support whatever he choses to do. And he chooses to put his faith in science and conventional medicine. But, that wont stop me from reading and searching. There’s nothing to stop me from finding complimentary medicines and enlisting a good diet based on unprocessed, plant-based, organic, wholefoods.

I mean, It cant hurt, right?

Summer, saurkraut, sand and survival.

41 degrees celcius yesterday – and we survived! Thanks to all our preventive mulching and watering, the garden seems to have held up, and the chooks spent their day in under the bushes in the gardens and being very sensible.

Thankfully, the girls were still up on the South Coast of NSW with my parents having a ball at the beach, and blissfully cool.

We spent the christmas break up there enjoying family time in the sand and saltwater. Katie’s cousin Harry even taught her to fish. In her crown and tutu: Of course!

But now it’s back to the farm, and my parents have kept the girls for a week extra holiday to allow Ben and I sometime to arm ourselves against the next few weeks, where Ben will be undergoing his chemotherapy. My aim was to get the house clean (I can do this better when I dont have 2 little mud princesses here undoing my good work as fast as I can get it done!), get some meals prepped, my freezer and pantry full, and my paperwork in order. Plus go out for dinner, ride my horse, and sleep in a few times!

We accidentally grew 2 potatoes! Woohoo! #accidentalfarming #accidentalharvest

The garden had absolutley EXPLODED in the week we were away! I came come to a bucket full of peas (all now shelled and in the freezer!) and a nice little stash of apricots, which have a ‘rust’ on them unfortunatley, but still taste AMAZING and made a HUGE jar of apricot jam! Recipe here if you wanna try it: Super easy! Used it for plum jam and apricot – works great for both!)

And I planted some wheatgrass. Wheat grass juice: We’ll be doing it lots. Here’s a handy youtube how-to. And I was inspired to do it via this. Plus it’s a really yummy green juice shot/add in for your juices. (Note: You really need a slow juicer or a mastication juicer to do wheatgrass. Normal centrifugal juicers dont work on wheatgrass. Not sure why, but I’ve tried, and they don’t! I got my hurom-style juicer from Target for $60 and it’s worked a treat! One day though, I’d love one of these babies…!)

So I bought my peat ($2 from Bunnings – bargain.) and soaked it in 4.5L of water in a bucket.

I soaked my organic wheat overnight in a jar on a windowsill til it started to germinate.

And I put down a thin layer of damp peat, a thin layer of wheat, and another thin layer of damp peat over the top and put it in my mudroom on the window ledge. I’ll let you know how it goes…

I also decided to stock my freezer with food and easy crock-pot/slowcooker meals for hassle-free dinners on chemo days. I spent a whole day chopping veg from my produce market, but now have a freezer full of ziplock bags that I can dump into my slowcooker in the morning, add water, and come home to dinner done at night! things like Pumpkin soup, minestrone, lentil bolognese, veggie noodle souple (just add chicken if you like!), and mexi-beans. Plus I bought 2 BBQ chooks and broke them down into stirfry/soup pieces and put them in freezer bags for meals. And I froze some bananas and blueberries for smoothies. The freezer is *STOCKED*.

On the super-hot day, I decided to try making Belle’s saurkraut from The Whole Pantry book. (Have you read it? Its beautiful. Santa bought it for me for christmas!)

Let me tell you – it is YUMMY. I had to stop myself from eating it all then and there! But it needs a few days to ferment so we can get some good bacteria going in there!

…Hurry up saurkraut!

Ben shaved his hair short the other day in preparation, and seeing him like that really brought it crashing down around my ears for a few moments, to be honest. It’s gonna be a big few weeks and sometimes I really feeling the fear of the unknown creeping in. At those times I just breathe and repeate a few mantras:

1. Just keep going. Be in the moment. Do what you need to do. Get it done.
2. Ask for help.
3. This too will pass.
4. Breathe, slow down, be here.

Happy New Year to you and yours. Thankyou for stopping by my blog. It’s nice to know we’re not alone x

The beginnings of a garden, and settling in.

Spring is in the air! 
We’re still cleaning and unpacking – and probably will be for many weeks to come – but we’re finally beginning to get into a bit of a home routine. the girls spend so much more time outside, whether it’s collecting eggs and firewood, or just playing around my feet while I hang out the washing. 
I’m constantly scouting for potential kindling and firewood! I forgot how much a fire devours fuel! Especialy on a cold, COLD Melbourne winter’s night! I have a funny feeling the chimney might be a bit blocked though… *sigh* I’ll add it to the list of maintenance to see to!
My mum came down and brought my older daughter Katie home (She took her for a week to the Snowies, while we moved – THANKYOU MUM!!!). She stayed for a few days, and I wanted to pick her brains about the garden, seeing as my mum has the greenest of green thumbs (A trait i don’t seem to have inherited. Dammit.) 
I felt a bit overwhelmed about the garden. I didn’t know where to start! My head seemed to be spinning with ‘aspects’, and ‘companion planting’, and no-dig/organic/climbing/pruning/mulching/feeding/weeding snippets and tips crammed into my head from Pinterest!
What if I did it wrong? What if everything I plant withers and dies? What about possums? Frost? Grubs? Crows? Mould? Rust? Rot? Fruit fly? Slugs? Rats? Roos? 
Mum’s advice: “*shrug* Just dig”. 
So I started. I stuck the shovel in and I dug some little rows. And it’s true: ‘Begun is half done’.
I have a vegie garden.

…yeah ok it’s got nothing growing in it yet… but I have soil! and worms! LOTSA WORMS! Which I think has to be a good thing, right?

The soil is pretty compacted and clay-ey. Luckily, the chooks and Will our Resident Retiree Racehorse can keep us in a constant supply of manure! Plus I’ve started composting my kitchen scraps (those not eaten by the chooks!) and newspaper, and dry leaves. So: I’ve started! I’m on my way! HURRAAAAAHHH!!!
Ever psyched yourself out of trying something new, cause you had TOO much info?
What do you mulch your beds with?
What have you planted?

Take care, plant something. 
And just dig.
xx

There’s no place like it.

Well it’s moving week! Boxes are appearing, cleaners are coming and going, trailers, trucks, belongings scattered to the wind.

I hate it. This is my most feared state.
I HATE feeling unanchored. I always have. I am a Cancerian through and through, and “Home” is the most important thing to me. I like to know where my safe ‘nest’ is. 
At the moment I am constantly on the edge of anxiety. There’s so much to do! And so much to move! And I just want it all in, and done, and unpacked as quickly as possible so I can know where I am. 

So it is a huge challenge to me personally to 
Slow
Down. 
It is a process. I can take my time. I can unpack slowly, think about where I want to put my things in our new home. I do not need everything perfect now. 

I don’t NEED everything perfect NOW. 
My ‘home’ is my family. I can carry it within. It is not ‘stuff’. I am building it. Again. 
*DEEP BREATH*
But in the meantime, I may need lots of cuddles, warm tea, and a familiar favourite book to resort to now and again… 😉