Sunday, February 27, 2011

Monkey Logic

Monkeyboy came home from daycare extremely excited last week.

A 'special letter' had been stapled through the loops of his back pack, just for him.

It had been gripped tightly in his little hand for ages, the creases in the
paper frayed from being opened & closed & reopened.

It was his very 'special letter'

Want a closer look?

Ahh, Monkeyboy.

You are indeed special.


Thursday, February 17, 2011

The Vege Garden update

This is a recap of our first efforts with the vege garden - what we planted, how it grew, & what we learned.

  • Yellow French Butter Bean - harvested a large handful most days. Delicious!
  • Snow Pea - harvested lots, the favourite for garden snacking.
  • Misome/Bok Choy/Silverbeet-Rainbow Chard - yum! Easy to grow & harvest as we cut off leaves as needed rather than the whole plant. Next time the Silverbeet will get more room to grow as it was smothered by a neighbouring zucchini.
  • Sweetcorn - about 15 ears out of 4 plants, which I was happy with. Next time I will harvest sooner rather than later, as the second batch where a bit dried out by the time we picked them. Also; I meant to make a corn dolly but just forgot about it :(
  • Beetroot Rainbow - the leaves where delicous to eat, as where the roots when they where eventually harvested. Next time I will pay more attention to separating individual plants so that each plant can have room to grow properly - they where sort of squashed into clumps. Yummy, but not perfect.
  • Tomatoes - we grew 4 different types & did not space them apart enough, resulting in a confusing mass of triffid. Unfortunately the rain that we had in January likked off most of the tomatos, but we still managed to harvest alot.
    • Black Russian - this did not look like the picture on the punnet, I think the wrong seedling was in the wrong punnet. I will try again.
    • Red Tigrella - small, orange & red striped fruit, very sweet & not too bothered by pests, I think because they grew & ripened so quickly.
    • Green Zebra - looks ALOT like an unripe version of Red Tigrella which it was planted next to, so a lot of fuit went rotten waiting for it to 'ripen'. Yes, we will try again with this one!
    • Mortgage Lifter - this is one huge tomato. It looks gross when cut, kinda like brains. It also takes a long time to ripen, which means that it has plenty of time to become a caterpillar hotel. I wasn't going to grow this again, but as it is the only tomato plant that survived the rains, it wins by virtue of being last one standing. We have discovered if you pick the fruit very early it will ripen eventually on the windowsill, safe from caterpillars.
    • Random Tomato plants pop up around the garden, probably from seeding in the compost. Mr BC nurtures them along, but most have a weird rotten spot in the middle even though the fruit looks perfect from the outside. I guess we will keep up these 'experiments' to see how they turn out.
We harvest a large handful of mixed greenery almost daily.

Just a small amount of tomatos that where grown
  • Lettuce - frilly oakleaf/red oakleaf/boston. Boston Lettuce is a favourite in this family, but the ones we grew where not as large, full or crisp as the supermarket ones. The other lettuces where very soft. Next time we will fertilize a lot more.
  • Mixed cucumbers - we grew a variety of 4 & they did fairly well, but we let them grow too large & they where full of seeds. Next time, early harvesting!
  • Golden Zucchini - Major dissapointment, don't get me started. Produced a fair mix of male & female flowers so there was stuffed & fried zucchini flowers. The fruit where tiny & rotted almost straight away. It grew like nobody's business & was constantly pruned back - a wheel barrow full at a time. Powdery mildew was a problem. The best thing about this plant was that it was home to hundreds of ladybirds. Won't plant again, despite the fact that I love zucchinis.
  • Capsicum (Bell Pepper to those in the US) grew 1 measly plant. ONE! It was planted next to a Jalapeno Pepper that grew 4, FOUR, mild chillis. Uber dissapoining! Later I found out that they dont like to be planted next to tomatoes so I guess the Triffid made it's point there. I have allready planted them again, in a different area.
  • Purple Carrots - I was so excited to grow these, & the tops grew really, really well; so it was a major WTF moment when we harvested what look like weird demon claws. See the picture below? Strange, huh? Apparently you are supposed to make a channel for carrots to grow into, which is probably a bit difficult with a layered garden, but I'll give it a go.  They tasted like a carroty beetroot, quite nice actually.

Purple carrots - weird enough to start with, even more bizzare when harvested

So, this is the garden now. Those are new cucumbers growing rapidly up the stair trellis, with Mortgage Lifter tomatoes at the very top. The Lemon Grass is massive. We have planted new capsicum, basil & rocket that are all doing well. I also planted about 10 lettuce & 6 silverbeet seedlings, that have all been eaten by slugs! All this rain must have made the interior of the brick walls prime real estate for them. We caught about 20 slugs with beer traps & thought we where doing well; but them Mr BC came in one night from slug patrol with about 40 slugs in one hand! UGH!! So the next day we got some 'safe for pets & kids' Maxiguard Slug & Snail bait, & that worked a treat.

The garden today - waiting for more seedlings

Sorry this post has been so long! Thank you if you are still reading!
We love our vege garden, hope you do too.

Mrs BC

Things that make us HAPPY

Fresh salmon sushi, a glossy shelter magazine & a diet coke.
Do not disturb for at least 1 hour. Utter Heaven

Happy Dog loves to be cuddled, & still considers himself a lapdog, even at 30kgs.
Sorry, that photo is a bit up close & personal isn't it? Good thing we are all adults here..

Monkeyboy loves to lick the beaters, & yes, those goggles where neccesary.

Teenage Daughter loves to create magic with nature. Beautiful.

The Gentleman loves to guzzle home made icy cold milk shakes, but isn't so happy about the brain freeze..
Mr BC is happy to combine gardening with adventure. Danger is his middle name.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Finally, the Vege Garden!

When we bought Casa de Chaos, there was a hideous above ground pool in the back corner. I was all set to tear it down before we even moved in however with the heat in this part of the country it proved to be, well, the place to be. We enjoyed cooling swims before school, after school, while the kids where at school, at night & all weekend. But after about 2 years we realised the pool was hideous because it was old, & falling apart. The side supports had rusted through completely, & it was only staying up with the force of the water. It was a funniest home video waiting to happen. So down it came. Everyone cried, but I had plans for this site.

Good boat storage area. Can you see the man over the back fence? He was dancing, & singing
'Smooth Criminal' at the top of his voice. Very entertaining.

Well, my first set of plans involved a proper in ground pool, until we realised that the neighbourhood sewage lines went under this ground. No digging! The corner sat empty for about 6 months, which is a long time for 2 small boys to play in rubble. I started calling this part of the yard 'Little Kosovo'. Many injuries can be had by throwing stones at each other.

'Super' heros as in Supervisers. No actual work from these two..
Eventually, we bought 2 large lots of second hand bricks off ebay. One lot was about 8 trailer loads of back & forth across the city, during which time it became dark & the axel broke on our wheel barrow. Ahh, good times! The other lot was 1 load because we hired a very large trailer, but this added considerably to the cost.

Teenage Daughter gets into it, while Mr BC negotiates union wages with the supervisors.
There was eventually a stop work situation, but no scabs, & no picket lines thank heavens.
After unloading the bricks at the front of the house, they had to be relocated to the back of the house. Teamwork prevailed.
This attractive pile of bricks was a lovely garden feature for the longest time.

Aaaaand,, there they sat for a few months. Every day I willed them to turn themselves into a raised garden bed but they stubbornly refused until someone helped them. Needy bastards!

Eventually construction started, & continued at a cracking pace. Do you like that new wheel barrow?
Once Mr BC started, there was no stopping him & he became a bricklaying freak. With a mission. It took a few weeks to get to this stage, with each layer of brick taking about 6 hours. He layed bricks before & after work, & all weekend. What a legend!
The main bed & fireplace are finished, & work starts on the small corner bed.
I had this vision of sitting in the courtyard of raised vege gardens, on a crisp autumn night in front of a fireplace, sipping red wine, snuggled up in a blanket. Mr BC was not happy to hear that he was expected to build a fireplace, but after some internet research we came up with a workable plan. It's not a proper fireplace, but it is only there to have a small decorative fire, not to roast a beast.  The chimney keeps the smoke out of your eyes but there isn't a flue - it is outdoors after all. We continued our ideal of only using second hand materials by using some old slate tiles for the hearth, & a heavy beam of hardwood for the mantle. I have been carting those tiles around the country for several years so it was really good to finally put them to good use! The hardwood mantle came from an old built in bar that we, um dis-mantled.

Hmmm, that fireplace doesn't look finished at all. Mr BC starts to fill the beds in.

 We had decided to use the layer method of gardening, which we had done before. This means the 'soil' is actually a large lasagna of straw, manure & compost. This method of gardening can be successful in containers or on concrete, so we thought it would be ideal for a raised garden. Also, it would be lighter that straight soil, which would mean less pressure on the brick structure & possibly the pipes underground. We used leftover rubble to fill the beds about a quarter of the way up; we were lucky enough to get as much free manure as we wanted from the local paceway stables, we used a combination of mainly home made & some bought compost, & bales of hay from the feed store. Wow! Free manure!!

The fireplace is almost finished, & the beds are ready to be planted.

We wanted to get planting straight away, so went off to buy seedlings before all of the beds where ready to go. We made the usual mistake of over planting the first crop, but who cares? We got some great tasting organic veges, & we learned alot along the way.

About 6 weeks after planting the seedlings. This section has mixed beetroot, purple carrot, mixed lettuce, chinese greens & a volunteer zucchini, which was eventually sent packing.
What still needs to be done? The fireplace hasn't been 'ragged' like the rest of the brickwork; & the ground hasn't been done at all - this place is horrible to walk in without shoes! Mr BC would like large concrete pavers with mondo grass in between, & frankly I am passed caring - I just want a smooth surface to walk on!
The corn field. Have you seen the movie 'Children of the Corn'? MEGA scary.
When the paving is finished I would like some sort of day bed/ large outdoor sofa arrangement in front of that fire, however the table is a nice place to read the paper & have a coffee. It also comes in handy for potting or planting seedlings, but it is old & perilous with splinters.
L-R demon zucchini totally smothering rainbow chard, 4 different cucumbers, yellow beans, snow peas & that damn scary corn.
That ugly brown fence has not been painted because hopefully it will soon be replaced with a tall, solid, colourbond fence. So we won't be able to see Cape Fear at all. Yay!! In the meantime we are growing tall crops like the corn, or things that need staking, like the beans, to try & hide him. It works, sort of, but you can still hear him.

These 4 tomato plants quickly joined forces to become a triffid. Also in this bed;
capsicum,  jalapeno chillies, parsley, chives & lemon grass.

This tomato triffid has now grown to the top of the stairs, & is growing tomatos just outside the back door on the second floor, despite being so heavily pruned after the rains that it has hardly any foliage left.  The lemon grass is huge, soon I will harvest it to make some sort of Van Van Vodka.

Mr BC, still working his magic on the supervisors with a plate of chips.
Those dead leaves are from the zucchini, which grew so big it blanketed everything yet failed to produce many fruit at all. Shame. I think the rains stopped a lot of pollination. We have had a lot of zucchini popping up throught the garden & it is the same every time - grows so big it smothers the other plants yet doesn't fruit much, & when it does, the fruit fall off when they are still small. Bloody rain!

So, what do you think? We are really happy with this little corner now. It is a lovely place to be, & it's also great to be able to grow & eat your own organic vegetables. We are able to harvest at least a small handful of greens for dinner most nights, & the boys get really excited about eating veges 'from our garden'. Actually, we all do! I've been able to give away some produce here & there, & everyone who walks through helps themselves to a bean or snow pea off the vine. Delightful.

Next time I will have some more recent photos togethor with a breakdown of what we planted, what worked & what didn't.

Mrs BC

Monday, February 7, 2011

Must Empty Head.....

My Heavens it is HOT in this area of the world. East coast of Australia? Try Satans underpants.  I am so over my own sweat, not to mention everyone elses. The heat is horrendous. It is unbelieveably humid, but also, the sun? Scorching. I am reading blogs from the USA where they are having 'Snowmegeddon', & I am just lusting after a refreshing blizzard or 2. Just joking, Australia has had more than enough distructive weather lately.

I have been watching Magnum PI lately & do you know, his mojo has travelled very well through the decades? Quick, someone tell Austin Powers. Even in those funny little high pants/short shorts that cut his scrotum into the rare male camel toe. Must be the power of the mighty porn star 'stache.

Ok, I am dying, dying to post about my fricken vegetable garden but as yet it is still unfinished, so pretty soon I have to decide to A - goddamn post it anyway or B - stop it festering in my head like something that is blocking the plumbing. Do I need mental Benefibre? Why yes, yes I do. Obviously.

The Gentleman has been playing alot of 'Jurasic Park' on the old desk top lately, & loves it. You are supposed to run the game like a zoo, caring for the dinosours, creating tourist attractions & so on. The Gentleman sees it more of a safari, & hunts down every dinosaur he can find & shoots it. Eventually, a little man pops up & says 'You have run this park into the GROUND! You are FIRED!' The Gentleman rejoices & starts again. One day, MR BC & I might relent & buy a Wii, but there won't be any shoot 'em up games. Hmm, why did that feel like famous last words?

I was chatting with the Universe the other day (as you do), & I mentioned that I really wanted to improve my health in 2011, & could the Universe please help out by not only providing opportunities to achieve this but also by removing any obstacles that might otherwise stop me? Is this talking to 'God/dess' or talking to your subconcious? Or is your subconcious your inner god/dess? Heavy, dude..anyway this is what happened; 2 days later I have a GP appointment to get an updated referral for my Endocrinologist (diabetes docter), who I see maybe twice a year. I leave the GP appointment with the referral I was seeking, as well as referrals for a dietician, a podiatrist, a dentist & an optomitrist - all free appointments under a government medicare scheme.  I left the GP's thinking crossly how bossy he was, I didn't ask for all of this! So I guess the referrals where the opportunities & I was the obstacle. Impressive. I am now in need of new jogging shoes so I can't wait to see what Madam Universe will come up with next!

Mrs BC

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

An Award!

Mrs Catch over at Catch the Kids has awarded me The Versatile Bloggers Award! How lovely. Thank you so much, Mrs Catch, this actually means the world to me. It's easy as a beginning blogger to trundle along thinking that no one is actually reading anything you write, (except for my 30 followers, who I think are all awesome, even the ones I am not related to) so a bit of encouragement is very nice. It's extra nice that the award is for being versatile, as like every other mum juggling children/ house/ renovations/ husband/ everything else while trying to persue my many other interests can be a challenge.
Well, der.

The rules of the award are;

1. Thank the person who gave you the award and link back to them in your post

2. Reveal seven things about yourself

3. Award 7 recently discovered new bloggers

4. Contact these bloggers and let them know they've received the award

So, 7 things you probably didn't want to know about Mrs BC
  1. I am convinced that in a past life I lived in New Orleans. It wasn't a Scarlett O'Hara situation. I just have such an affinity with the city, & have had for years. For example, I started cooking smothered chicken in my late teens, before I knew what it was. I am so obsessed with the Big Easy, it's probably a whole other post. One day I hope to get there for a looooooong holiday.
  2. I didn't learn to drive until I was 30 years old, & I still can't drive a manual. Loser, I know. But do I care? No. I had a go at driving stick shift lately, & it wasn't that hard; I just thought the car seemed really needy, & that was a turn off. I mean just do your job without the special handling, already!!
  3. I can cook anything, anytime, anyhow. I love cooking with a passion, & would love to have been a chef. I read & watch everything I can about food, food production, food travel. I would especially love to cater large, themed events.
  4. I have a bit of a crush on Anthony Bourdain. Ex bad boy. Great cook. Articulate. He says fuck alot. The other night I watch his show on New Orleans. Best. Hour. Of. My. Week.
  5. I love the ocean. I grew up by the beach & need to regularly swim in salt water, preferably in the surf. I have never surfed, but one day would like to learn. If you would like to know why I don't surf when I grew up by the beach you should read Puberty Blues, by Kathy Lette. It's a cult classic about growing up in the 70s. I also love beachy decor, music, the smell of the ocean; apparently I have a whole mermaid thing going on - Teenage Daughter is the same.
  6. I really want to get a tattoo, but every woman I see with a tattoo doesn't look like Angelina Jolie. Most women I see with a tattoo look like they might have been a perfectly respectable tuck shop lady before, but now they look like a tired, fat ex bikie slag. And I already struggle with ahem, being tired.
  7. I hate cherrys. There! I said it!!
And the 7 bloggers who receive this award are...

  1. Dancing with a Spatula Wand  - Funny, magical, belly dancing cook. I wish I lived near her so we could do coffee. Head over there now for a belly dancing tutorial.
  2. Ah, The Possibilities - Inspiring writer & mum to 3. And a jogger, so I am in awe.
  3. Maxabella Loves  - Everyone loves Maxabella because she is such a sweety!
  4. Venom, Secrets & Lies - Venom's not so sweet but fuck she is funny.
  5. Yo Mama's Blog - I nearly pee my pants every time I read Miss Yvonne's blog. Hurry over, she is having a sex toy giveaway. 
  6. Seven Cherubs - Naomi likes to pretend she is 'only' a mum to seven children, but she is a bit of a technical wizard as well, with lots of hints on better blogging.
  7. Epheriell Designs - Jessica is a talented jeweller & small business owner, & she isn't afraid to share her secrets for either. 
Head over to these blogs right away!

Mrs BC
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