Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Is someone trying to tell me something??

Sunday started off being a good day. I had a bit of a sleep in, and by 11am the floors were done, dinner was in the slow cooker and I was getting set up for a day of sewing while the weather outside wasn't the greatest. Then I walked outside and was met by this:
All of the veggie seedlings I had planted are now history, and I have to find the time and energy to replant again. I am thinking someone in the universe is telling me that it isn't our time to be here on the farm just yet....so many crappy things are happening...you know when you just get the feeling that you're heading down the wrong path for this particular time in your life?? That's where I am at...

Monday, July 29, 2013

Cheap fabric for the upcoming sewing retreat...

The twice yearly sewing retreat is coming up for Mum and I this weekend.  Luckily, I had prepaid this before Damian was out of work, otherwise I probably wouldn't go this year.  I want to start to do some weekend markets with my handmade products, so it is a good chance to sit down in peace and focus on getting my samples and some stock done. There are a few specific items I want to make all with a French inspired theme, and all involving ruffles of some sort :) Good cotton fabric is quite expensive at the quilting stores and at Spotlight, so I called in to the op shop in town and picked up everything I needed for $40. While I was at it, I bought a lovely cotton thermal blanket for Kasey's bed as it's getting rather chilly here at the minute, she does have an electric blanket as well, but we're trying not to use those unless we really need to.

 Anyway, in my $40 stash was a really nice, excellent quality comforter style bedspread which I am going to embellish with ruffles,

2 cushion covers for 40c each, which I am also going to embellish to match, and there are another couple of quilt covers and a few queen and double sheets all in the type of fabrics I was looking for, that will set off the vintage, french, rustic theme that I am going for.

I am going to use all of these as fabric, instead of as sheets and quilt covers. I think I have saved at least $200-$300 by going this way, and I think the end results are going to be amazing....

 Do you shop the op shops for your supplies?

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Eating frugally

The challenge at the moment in our household is to spend as little money as possible on non-essential items, and to achieve the best price possible for essentials. We are trying to stretch our money as far as it can possibly go, just in case it takes a long while to get our business established here in a country town. Trips to our major regional town which is 50klms away, are only for essential trips. Our local Supa IGA has a range that compares well to the major supermarkets on both range and price, and we would prefer to shop there if we can to support the local community here. The one exception I have to this at this point in time is meat. No-one here is town does free range meat or chicken. There is a butcher in the major town that sells grass fed beef and pork, and the supermarket there sells organic free range chicken, so I need to make sure I stock up when I am there to store in our freezer. We do have friends who process their own beef and pork, and we hopefully will start to help them out with the processing, and purchase directly from them if we can. Damian does also want to learn to butcher our own meat chickens as well, but wants to watch someone experienced do this first so that we aren't learning as we go on an actual bird of our own.  Anyway....I am digressing a little :)
I think I am pretty good at using up what we have, and making cheap, nutritious meals out of not much. I think I can attribute that to Mum, as we didn't have a lot of money while I was growing up and Mum had to feed us all on a very limited budget...good on you Mum! xx I find that a good, hearty, filling meal can be made for very little money by making pies.  By mixing a little meat with lots of other fillings, a pie can be filling and healthy. One of my favourite pies to fall back on is a bacon, egg, silverbeet and cheese pie. I have a pie maker so I just lay a sheet of puff pastry in, fill it up, put on the pastry top, and 8 minutes later....yummo.
The egg and silverbeet are from our own produce, they only take a half rasher of bacon each, and a little bit of cheese to top. Another favourite is curried chicken pies, again very cheap.

 Just some shredded chicken, onion, peas, carrots, curry, stock etc. Out of $5 worth of shredded chicken I managed to get 8 pies. And I know exactly what is in them! Equivalent pies at our local pie shop which sells award winning pies which are just divine, are $5 each! I also find if I half bake the pies, I can freeze them, pull them out of the freezer to defrost when needed, and finish the cooking process then. Other pies I am going to make soon will be red wine and beef, steak and mushroom and steak and bacon.

Do you have a favourite pie that you like to make?

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Free plants

While I was down at our Brisbane house last week, I took the opportunity to get myself some free plants to plant in the gardens up here at the farm. I just walked around the garden and pulled up the new plants that were shooting from the established plants, and divided some others up, and I ended up with heaps.
I have divided up comfrey, xanadu, heliconia sexy hangers, liriopes,
 Aloe vera, staghorns and elkhorns
 Rhoeo, Lomandras and Anthuriums

 There is a davidson's plum here..
 And there are heaps of agapanthus plants here, I just put them all in the one pot until I transplant them in to the gardens.
The only plants suffering any real setbacks seem to be the xanadu's, so I will see how they recover. They may just die back and re-shoot new leaves...hope so... I think I ended up bringing about 25 or so individual plants back, not bad for an hour or so's work. I am also in the process of planting up some vegie seedlings and putting them in the hothouse to establish and then will transplant them in to the garden. I have potted up pumpkins, chillies, vanilla bean, sugar snap peas, marigolds and bush lemon so far.
Sam says hi
 Stella is still a bit shy....

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Craft studio makeover...part 1...from ugly duckling....

We bought this used site office last year to convert in to a studio/office/spare room, for up here on the farm.  Currently it is UGLY !!!....ugly...ugly...ugly...
The inside was even worse, it had that horrible woodgrain panelling on the inside walls, which had been haphazardly painted over, there was a big hole where the air conditioner had been, and while transporting it up here on the tilt tray, part of the inside ceiling caved in....oops...
So, on the weekend we started with the inside renovation. It has now been reinforced, some of the timber studs replaced and braced, and  re-lined with fibre cement sheeting, and is now ready for the cornice, skirting and arcitraves, then painting. We didn't go with gyprock walls, as the whole building is on skids, and if we want to relocate it, we can do so without risk of cracking the gyprock joins. It was a struggle with just the 2 of us putting up the ceiling sheets, but Damian rigged up a couple of support poles to hold the sheets at either end, which made life a lot easier. Trying to slot each sheet in to the previous sheets joining strip was the hardest part of the whole exercise.
Once it is all painted, I will get in some nice wooden floorboard look vinyl to finish it off, and dress the window with timber blinds. It will then be ready for me to move all of my craft cupboards and sewing gear in to. Oh..and I suppose I had better leave a little bit of room for the sofa bed, so that we can use it for guest accomodation when needed.... ;0)
We already have the outside cladding here, which I bought to clad the front of our shouse with, and we have so much of it left over, we will have enough to clad various chook pens, and any other structures or sheds in the future. I bought the whole lot 2nd hand for $200 which was an absolute bargain. So the whole studio will be clad the same as this, a cream weatherboard look cladding.

Damian is planning on re-roofing it over the next week or two and then putting the cladding on. We got brand new zincalume roof sheets for nothing from one of our suppliers who had ordered the wrong lengths in for a customer, and Damian was lucky enough to be in the right place at the right time...score.   So it should turn from the ugly duckling into a beautiful swan very soon hopefully. Damian is down in Brisbane this week on a course, we thought we would take the opportunity while he is not working to get a couple of extra licences added on to his plumbing licence, so he is currently finishing off his gas licence qualification so that we can have that as part of our offering here in town for when we open up our shopfront in a couple of weeks in the main street of town. We have to build and fit out an office and racking etc down there as well, and he also has to head back and forth to Brissie quite a bit over the next few weeks to finish his course...he is going to be a very busy boy....I don't think he has time at the moment to work in a paying job! Luckily, in the overall scheme of things we have worked very hard over the last 5-6 years especially,  setting ourselves up so that we aren't in a bad financial position, but we still have bills to pay like everyone, but because of forward planning, hopefully we should be right to manage (very frugally) while we give this new business in town a good go, and luckily Damian is very handy with building things, so we don't have to outsource any of the building work.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Home made laundry powder

I had heaps of washing to do yesterday, and I ran out of laundry powder on the first load....so instead of going down to the local iga to buy some, I thought I would finally make laundry powder. I have had the ingredients sitting under our laundry tub for the last 2 years or so, just always seemed easier to use the bought stuff. It honestly only took 5 minutes to make, I whizzed it all up in the thermomix instead of hand grating the soap, which made things easier. I also used my hand made soap, which made the end result not quite as dry and fine as if I had used laundry soap. I finished all the washing using this mixture yesterday, and the end result was really good. Even the white socks which get a bit grubby around here, came out really well.

I used:
4 cups grated soap (laundry or handmade)
2 cups borax
2 cups washing (lectric) soda
1/2 cup powdered oxygen bleach (to give it a bit more oomph for the farm clothes)
I will try to make some laundry liquid next time, as I think it will be much more economical to make. I will post about that when I make it. Damian and I spent the weekend working on the soon to be craft studio...I will post some photos about that in the next post, it is coming along really well :)

Saturday, July 20, 2013

A growing family...

We have recently found out some wonderful news...our son and his partner are expecting their first child...a little over 12 weeks along now.

Bub is due 29th January. Very exciting. I still think I am too young to be a grandparent ;) Congratulations you 2, we are very happy for you both and can't wait to meet our first grandchild xx

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

I'm not really liking 2013 a lot at this point in time. Money seems to be very tight everywhere, jobs are scarce, and changes are being forced upon us whether we like it or not. Damian's paid employment finished up on Monday which leaves both of us not currently in paid employment. We have been trying to re-establish our own business again since moving here, and we will be pushing that fairly heavily now. He has a few jobs in the pipeline which should come to fruition, but I think things will be a bit tough over the next little while. The positive though is that he has so much to do here at the farm, that he may now have the time to do them, and I am well and truly over being a single parent for the last 3 years while he has been working away. I have been busy in the kitchen today so far. I still have a lot of lemons to use up, so this morning I made a batch of lemon cordial, I drink way too much coke zero, so I want to change over to something else. There is a lot of sugar in cordial though, but it is very refreshing.
I have also made up a batch of anzac style meusli bars for lunchboxes, much cheaper and better for you than the bought ones. The recipe had a lot of sugar in it, so I cut back on that by about 1/2 and they are still quite sweet, so will cut it back a bit more next time.
And I also finished off a big jar of nutella on Kasey's sandwich this morning, and I have had recipes in my files for ages on how to make it, so I finally bit the bullet and made some....oh my goodness....YUM!! I used this recipe.

It is so decadent, and just delicious. It cost about $10 to make about 1.2 kilos of nutella, but I think if I can source the hazelnuts at a better price, I could do it much cheaper, as I had to buy them in small packets at the local supa IGA. I only used home brand dark cooking chocolate, but I find if I add a tablespoon of good quality cocoa to this, that it improves the taste of the cheaper chocolate into something really yummy. I will definitely make it again. I also used home made condensed milk, I don't buy that anymore either, and I use this recipe.
I purchased a cheap little greenhouse at the Reject shop a couple of weeks back, so I am going to put that together and get some seedlings up and running and get my vegie garden going a bit more seriously to save some more money. We are heading down to Brisbane tomorrow for an 80th birthday celebration for Damian's dad on the weekend, so I am hoping to pick up some point of lay hens while I am down there, so that my egg supplies don't dwindle too much with no layers left. Damian and I have been discussing ways to ensure that a fox does not get in the pen again, so we are going to secure their current pen even more and we will look at a more professional setup for my different breeds over the coming months, once I start to get them re-established again, but that will take time.Anyway, got some work to do, so I had better go and do it.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

That's 3 isn't it??

I am hoping it is the 3 bad things and that the bad stuff is over for a while. Last Thursday was a terrible day for me. As mentioned below, the majority of my chicken and guinea fowl flock was killed last week, over 40 birds in 1 day...not sure by what as I was away from the farm for a day and night, and when Damian returned to the farm the next day, he found them all. There were about 10 birds still there, about 5 inside the coop and 4 outside in the yard, all dead, the other 30 odd were all gone. I am assuming a fox, perhaps a pack of dogs or a dingo family?? I don't know, I haven't seen anything at all while I have been at the property for the last 6 months, but they have obviously picked up when our dogs have been away from the property and taken advantage. To say I am devastated is an understatement, I have lost light sussex, speckled sussex, silver spangled hamburgh, silver laced wyandottes, australorps, white leghorn, plymouth rocks, pekins, frizzle, maran, araucanas and anconas, pearl pied and lavender guinea fowls...all in 1 go...I have 1 neurotic ancona rooster left who sleeps on the roof of the coop, and 4 guinea fowl. I have lost all of my laying hens, all of my lovely, lovely girls, and I had some absolutely gorgeous natured girls growing up. I have a baby maran pair and a baby araucana pair left that were in a separate cage in the shed. About 15 minutes after Damian rang to tell me, I reversed the ute in to a little yaris that had zipped in behind me while I was reversing and smashed her back window and put a small dent in her rear hatch. Even though she wasn't there when I started reversing and she came in behind me and then stopped it is technically my fault because I hit her, I had been holding it all together for the sake of Kasey as she was upset enough about the chickens, but when I reversed in to this other car, I just lost it, and was in uncontrollable tears for about 15 minutes or so. After all that had calmed down and I made sure this other driver had organised for a repairer to come and fix her back window and had translated details over the phone for her as she was Japanese and did not have very good English skills, I had a doctors appointment and asked the doc to check my ear which I have had a perforation in for the last couple of years. I felt that I might have had an infection, but she advised me that I have a fungus growing in my ear, and due to the hole in my eardrum I can't have drops to fix it, and so I need to have the surgery I have been avoiding to fix the perforation and the surgeon will need to do something about the fungus as well during the surgery. The car and the surgery I can deal with, but losing my chickens has absolutely knocked me for six. From the beautiful girls who would come running and walk around with me, and jump on my feet and want to be picked up and cuddled, to the gorgeous plymouth rock rooster who thought I was his girlfriend and would do his little dance beside me every day, my gorgeous silver spangled hamburgh rooster whose tail feathers were getting so long and grand, and my beautiful little black araucana hen, she loved to be cuddled...gotta wonder what the point is sometimes...