Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Handmade Christmas Card

Here is the handmade Christmas card my mum made, it's really cute as is the message inside.
handmade Christmas card made by my mum
inside the card is stamped with this special message

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Stanthorpe Veggie Patch, summer update

The seedlings we planted 2 months ago are all looking good. We planted capsicums, zucchinis, tomatoes, corn, potatoes and beetroot. I'm learning a lot from working in someone else's garden!
tomato seedlings planted out 2 months ago are full of green fruit to pick at our next visit
the zucchini patch planted out a couple of months ago
the capsicum plants I planted out 2 months ago
corn and beans David planted a month ago
some more potatoes fresh from the ground
grapevine and view from the Stanthorpe veggie patch
lots of pumpkin are growing hidden like this one
more pumpkin are growing on the fence
flowers and fruit are growing nicely
veggie garden harvest the morning after Christmas day

Monday, January 7, 2013

Tiny Garden Helpers

I just wanted to share a few photos that I took during our recent trip to Stanthorpe. These are of ladybugs and bumble bees. One bee laden down with pollen left footprints which can be seen. These tiny garden visitors help pollenate the garden or eat pests. They are welcome sights indeed!
a tiny ladybug visits the veggie patch in Stanthorpe
a bee laden with pollen leaves footprints on a pumpkin leaf
a ladybug visits the potato patch
a bee visits a large yellow pumpkin flower

Sunday, January 6, 2013

The Stanthorpe Potato Patch

Two visits ago we helped plant this potato patch in Brian and Freya's garden in Stanthorpe. Now they have grown so much that some of them were ready to harvest. We're hoping the rest can come out next time we visit Stanthorpe, which is a 3 hour drive away from where we live in Brisbane.
Thomas in the potato patch in Stanthorpe
potatoes fresh from the ground lightly steamed are very tasty
a potato flower
After the plant flowers and starts to wilt and die, its time to harvest the potatoes. We got two small bunches of potatoes while we were there. I don't think I've ever eaten potatoes so fresh, we pulled them out of the ground one afternoon and ate them that night for dinner. And they were delicious!
as the flowers die and wilt, the plant is ready to harvest
Besides the potato patch, Brian also has some potatoes growing inside some old tyres piled on top of each other. A set of 4 old car tyres will suffice and produce a large amount of harvest. Brian cut off some of the tyre with a sharp knife so there was little overlap. You plant the potatoes in the bottom, then as the leaves pop up you cover it lightly with mulch material. This produces clean potatoes with not much dirt to be removed. As a tyre fills up, you add another tyre on top. This encourages the plant to produce more potatoes along its roots in the deeper tyres.
mulching on top of some potatoes in a vertical patch made of recycled tyres

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Pickled Christmas Beetroot

I just love the pickled beetroot my father-in-law Brian makes, its so yummy! That might be why a huge bowl of the stuff made it onto our table for the Christmas lunch-time feast!
Thomas helps his Pa collect a bucket load of big beetroot on Christmas eve

On Christmas eve, Pa took Thomas up to the veggie patch to pick the beetroot to put in a big silver bucket. It was hard work for Thomas, because some of the beetroot were nearly as big as him! Back at the house, the beetroot was boiled in a big pot. When it was done and allowed to cool, I slipped the skins off easily under running water.
the skins slip off easily under cool water if they are boiled first and allowed to cool
Brian has developed a fantastic recipe for pickling beetroots that includes chilli, cinnamon, garlic, and bay-leaves.Its based on vinegar and sugar, which is dissolved over a low heat. The beetroot definitely tasted its best after a day in the pickling solution. I'm wondering how it would taste if apple cider vinegar was used, because I've read that is healthy for you. I'd also like to try the recipe with stevia as a sugar substitute.
Brian's yummy pickling solution includes cinnamon, bay leaves, garlic and chilli
Another reason why I like beetroot so much is because they grow so easily. When I want one for our dinner I can have a root vegetable as well as some leafy greens. Two veggies for the price of one! I have a bunch growing in Tom's planter box his Pa made for him. I think some of them are going to be in need of pickling very soon!

Friday, January 4, 2013

Goals for the New Year

Every year at this time I paused to reflect on the previous year and which goals I should have for the new year. Since starting this blog, my new year's resolutions have been getting simpler.
Thomas loves eating strawberries fresh from the garden so I want to grow my own
I'd really like to use this year to learn as much as I possibly can about gardening, specifically growing my own food and other useful productive plants. There is so much information on the internet, every question you can think of has the potential to be answered. I also want to spend more time in Brian and Freya's garden in Stanthorpe, where they grow lots of vegetables, it really is my inspiration. I wonder if one day I might find it within me to go back and study a certificate in horticulture? But I'm a long way off that yet, I just want to learn what I can for now. I also want to look after the fruit trees on my parent's property in Yandina, that's another place where I can learn more about growing food. Growing useful productive plants really interests me. I'm even growing my own potted cotton right now, it currently has developing bolls that will split open soon. I'm not sure what I will do with it, I'm guessing I will try and spin it with the spindle Brian made me.
Thomas loves to spend time with his grandfather and eating fresh carrot from his veggie patch
My other goal for the year relates to last year's resolution. I simply wanted to sort out my house better in preparation to move, to use up the yarn I have stashed here and to sell unwanted stuff. And while I have used a fair bit of the yarn, its only the tip of the iceberg and there is much, much more to go. So now I'm not sure what is a reasonable amount to hope to get through in 12 months. Probably a bit less than I thought I would use last year! We still haven't moved house, as we're thinking to buy our own place. With the market like it is at the moment, its hard to set our hearts on anything, but we have seen the bank and hopefully will find 'our house' within the 6 months time frame. I was going to sell a lot more things than I did, but I'm now thinking I better keep most of it just in case we change our mind and have a second child. We still have a year or three to decide on that one.

And of course, the final goal which is one I think most people have and that is to get healthy! Especially if I want to garden as much as I do, I really need to be fit and have more energy to complete my goals for the new year. One way we're doing this is cutting out sugar completely from our diet. We never were big fans of sugar from the start, we don't drink soft drinks at all, nor much sweet things. So cutting out the sugar completely is just the next step for us. And somehow we need to find a way we can exercise together, we still haven't found the solution to that one, but I will keep on trying!

What are your new year's resolutions?

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Little Girl's Pink Headband

I made this headband for my cousin's daughter, Isabella Rose. She came to Thomas's birthday party so I gave it to her then, and took some photos, which I think turned out really well.
Isabella Rose wearing my flower headband
Isabella's parents gave me permission to use the photographs in my shop, so I've listed it there in case anyone would want me to make them a custom order. It's pretty quiet in my shop, but I have managed to sell a couple of things. Well, its 10 things to be exact. I've made back almost half of the money I've spent on yarn! Needless to say I have a LOT of yarn left over and still have a lot of things to make!
close up detail of the crochet flower which is known as an Irish Rose
This headband is a traditional crochet Irish Rose, which is available as a free pattern if you do a google search. It's a fairly common pattern. I did this flower in 3 colours, the white is some cotton I had left over, the pinks are new 4 ply cotton I bought from Bendigo. I know I said I wouldn't buy any more yarn, but I just HAD to get some pink 4 ply cotton!
the flower is attached to a stretchy lace headband
I attached the flower to a short strip of thin stretchy lace I bought from Lincraft. I hope I hear back from Isabella's mum so I can learn if it stays on well enough. It certainly seemed to when the children were playing at the party.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Birthday Card for a 2 year old boy

This is the gorgeous card my mother made for my son's 2nd birthday last month. All the cards she makes are beautiful, and this one is no exception.
a delightful birthday card handmade for a 2 year old boy
We celebrated Thomas's birthday twice this year, because it was on a Friday and family couldn't travel here on a week day. So we had a morning tea on the Friday for local friends and family. Then on Sunday we put on a BBQ lunch for family who had to drive a couple of hours to get here. David's father Brian was going to come, but he and his wife Freya couldn't because he was in hospital with a sore leg. But he is all better now, thank goodness.
inside the handmade birthday card
This year we did a cupcake birthday cake again. I find it so much easier to ice than a cake, and easier to store and serve. This time I tried some different designs, the yellow icing didn't work out but I disguised it well enough with h100s and 1000s! I must remember to make these a couple of times a year so I don't fall out of practice. You never know, maybe one day I'll get quite good at it!
one batch of 2012's attempt at birthday cupcakes

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Fruits for the New Year

Happy New Year to you, may all your wished for 2013 come true! Here are some photos of my first cucumber, grown in a 20cm pot, which was waiting for me when we got back from our Christmas holiday in Stanthorpe.
my first harvest for the new year, tomatoes and my first cucumber
My latest attempt at growing tomatoes looks a lot more promising than past attempts, with these four roma variety fruits produced within a few short months of planting out the seedlings into 30cm pots. I've been fertilising these fruits weekly with seasol. I think this is proving to be worth the ffort considering how little I had to do to keep these plants happy for a couple of months.
this lovely was waiting after our 4 days away in Stanthorpe
The yellow pear variety of tomato didn't cope with the heat as well. It had been having trouble, drying out within one day, so I added water crystals, a saucer and mulch, but it still didn't help enough. When we got back from our holiday, most of the plant had wilted and died. At the moment, it still has an awful lot of fruit on it, but I think in future I will skip this variety because our summers are just too hot.
this roma variety seemed to cope better with our hot summer
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