Sunday, December 13, 2009

Summer is here in all it's glory.

The weather over the last couple of days has been stunning. We have been at the beach the last 3 days, soaking up the sunshine and getting a little pink on the cheeks.

The garden is blooming and fruiting at high speed. This morning I picked youngberries, strawberries, blueberries, lettuce, silverbeet, kale, spinach, 3 figs, 2 lemons and 4 plums, along with some lemonbalm, mint and thyme.

I also picked a heap of weeds which are flourishing too, for the rabbits.

Despite being separated the rabbits have still managed to have babies. (I am assuming Pegasus was pregnant before we moved her - though, it is the season for immaculate conceptions...) They were still closed eyed and wobbling around a week ago and are now quite agile and fast.
Circus is finished up for the year. DragonGirl really enjoyed herself though she is looking forward to drama starting up next year which is her favourite of the three activities (circus, drama and dance) on offer.

The group put on a performance last week for parents and the older kids. They were all proud as punch when we applauded at the end.
DragonGirl and Boo decorated a tree outside which Corby has named the Jolly Solstice Tree.
Normally I do the tree inside and hang decorations in the windows. As we move away from all things Commercially Christmas, the traditions are changing. The plastic tree and the tinsel will go to the op-shop in January and our tree will be outside from now on. I am hoping that next year it will be decorated with more homemade decorations and no baubles and plastic.
We've been making gifts, like this tic-tac-toe game which is made from felt, velvet, coloured thread and the clay buttons.
The felt, velvet and thread are from our Seasonal packs that we get from Spiral Garden. The clay is air-dry clay that we got from the local craft shop.
Friends of ours get their clay from a stream near their house and it seems to dry well. I think once our supply has run out, I will go and get some of theirs and try it out. The clay under our soil gets too crumbly when it dried, though I am sure with a little research I would find out there is something we could add to it.
DragonGirl and I have also being making the hoops for the wreathes. These two are made from cuttings from the apricots trees I just planted and from an obnoxious vine that keeps trying to take over the yard.
We will decorate them with shells, seeds, dried leaves, flowers and scraps of fabric and ribbon.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Planning for Summer Solstice

This year we are toning down on Christmas even more. For the last few years we have minimised on the commercial aspects of the Season and we never did the santa thing (though we've taught DD about St Nicholas) anyway.

For the past two years we have followed the Season of the Year and matched our homeschooling and lifestyle activities to them. Down here on the South Coast we get four definite Seasons which makes it easy really.

So, as Spring is coming to an end I've pulled out our books, Seven Times the Sun by Shea Darian and Earthwise by Carol Petrash, which I picked up from I also find Sunwyse by Roxanne T. Bodsworth and Circle Round by Starhawk, Diane Baker and Ann Hill, useful resources.

For us Summer is about the beach, harvesting stonefruit and berries, eating and playing with friends and family. We get clear sunny days and spend most of our daylight hours outside in the garden.

We will collect shells, flowers and interesting rocks for our Seasonal Table. We have already planted a heap of seeds, which we will watch grow to maturity, including sunflowers of course. The image of Summer.

We made a batch of strawberry jam yesterday and preserving and drying will continue right through to Autumn.

DragonGirl would like to try some basket weaving and make a wigwam. I would like to make a wreath woven with grasses and vines from the yard and decorated with flowers and ribbons. And we'll get the clay out and make some Sun images.

We've picked a tree to decorate out in the yard and we'll make the decorations from things we find over the next couple of weeks. I thought we might try again for the Garden Party and perhaps decorating the tree would be a good activity for the kids to do.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Learning new things

I've only got a few more weeks left of the Creative Journalling course I'm doing. It's been great to learn new things, explore new mediums and do some favourites too. We get to paint, glue, cut, dye, collage and many more things.

Last term we collected and exchanged paper napkins. Some of the designs you can get are amazing and I've often thought that they look too lovely to use.

I chose 3 different napkins and then made a design, highlighting it with gold paint.

I love having 3hrs a week that is entirely for me. DragonGirl and Boo are being taken care of and I get to sit and create to my heart's content.
Homeschooling suits us all and I enjoy having the time with the kids but it's nice to have a break too. While J-Boy was visiting, he found the constant noise and company a little too much. I was a meany and didn't let him watch much tv (because I didn't want the kids watching it with him) and in the end he resorted to playing lego with earplugs in!

One of the best things about home educating is that we get to set our own timetable (or not set one as the case may be) and that means trips to the beach that we otherwise wouldn't get.

While J-Boy was here we went out the dinner and he got all dressed up. This one's for you Mum...
You could smile more darling, you have a gorgeous smile.

I found this next picture on my camera while I was loading them onto the computer. Corby took it while I was away.

On his soapbox? :)
Last week was all about socialising for us. We had visitors every day and of course enjoyed every minute of it!
This week is all about gardening. I picked up 8 new fruit trees on Friday - they were at wholesale prices through a friend which is why I got so many. Two apricots, two apples (heritage red and green), a peach, a green plum and two pears. I just need to find spots for them now. I am thinking 3 out the front in the mandala garden, 3 in the middle section and 2 right out the back.
And the mulch arrives tomorrow, ready to spread out on all the gardens. I am going to focus on the front and the ones down the very back of the yard.
Spring time is busy in the garden.
Sewing and crafting has cranked up a notch too in our household. I organised my work space which has made things easier. It's so great having the granny flat to work in. I've got orders to get out and of course christmas is coming.
We don't really celebrate 'christmas' as such but we give gifts and feast together with friends. For us it is a celebration of Summer, growth and harvest, the beach and endless entertaining.

The patio roof is up!

I am so happy that it's finally done!
We were hoping to get it done when we first moved in, nearly 12mths ago. (Can you believe it's nearly 12mths already!) It will be so great to have it ready for Summer.
We are now working on the floor. Corby and Boo have been shovelling out the dirt ready to put the river sand down.

Then we'll lay the pavers. Correction - then I'll lay the pavers. You know how it is around here...

The roof of the old sunroom has found a new home. We've kept the wall panels to make other things with. Like the chicken coup (which is an ongoing saga) or the glass house. And the windows will go back in at the end of the patio.

Speaking of glass houses, I've upgraded my seedling shelf
It's getting warmer in the day time, so I roll the door up but it's handy for at night. I've got tomatoes, corn, pumpkin, rockmelon, watermelon, lettuce, beans, capsicum and a few other things in there.
A lot of them can be planted straight in the ground but it's still a little cold and the ants and rats tend to eat them. This way, the seedlings get a good head start.
I got the majority of my seeds from Diggers this year and the germination rate has been really high. I'll definitely buy from them again.
I got my first litre of worm juice out of the new worm farm today. I diluted it and put it on the newest plants and the citrus trees out the front.
I mentioned it to a friend on the phone and she hestitantly said, 'you don't drink it do you?' I laughed so much! Apparently my green smoothies and weed eating have got her worried...
Today I've been planting parsley, tansy, marshmallow, wormwood and a few other herbs from the local nursery. The nursery is such a great resource to have nearby and I often call in to ask questions or just wander around.
The garden has totally transformed from when we first moved in.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Fun and Games...

We decided to go for a drive to the beach yesterday. Get a little sunshine when the clouds rolled past. Have a swim. Corby go for a surf. J-Boy and DragonGirl drop a line in and catch something for dinner. Boo and Casey (a dog who we minded for the weekend) dig in the sand and play with the ball.

I had the option of going to the markets and seeing Maggie Beer but was convinced by the family that this would be much more fun.

I packed a picnic and off we headed.

We did some 4WD-ing along the coast, drove up a hill and stood at the lookout for awhile. Drove down along the beach and go out to enjoy the air and let Casey have a run.

Everyone smiling...
DragonGirl, Boo and Casey went up in the dunes for a look. You can't do it in Summer because the Tiger Snakes are out and active, but over Winter it's pretty safe.
Then we thought we would cut in a bit around some rocks and keep going up the beach. We went through a rather large puddle. I was in the middle of explaining why I thought it would be a good idea to walk through the puddles first when it happened.

The drivers side was full of water to the seat and the passenger side was about 2inches. We've got vinyl floors which is good, but the water has probably got into the lining underneath. It's going to stink for awhile!

Corby went off on a walk to look for help while the kids and I waited with the ute running. We were a little wary to turn it off and have it not start again. In one spot I sank to my waist in muddy water (not to mention the farm run-off and cow shit!) which was a cold gasp and a naughty word moment.

While Corby was getting help and J-Boy was trying to dig the mud out from under the ute, a guy came past and pulled us out. It took a few tries but we got there in the end. I opened the door to get out and water gushed everywhere. We let it drain away and wiped up as best as we could while we waited for Corby to come back.

I'm still laughing though. I was proud of myself for managing to retain my sense of humour. Corby just said, 'See, that's why we need a snorkel!' I restrained myself from throwing something at him!

DragonGirl is Eight!!!

DragonGirl and Boo's birthdays are only 3 weeks apart, so this time of the year is a time of giving and receiving for us.

We like to celebrate the person and what they like on their day. We let them pick the menu, the music and the daily rhythm of activities. I feel it becomes a bit more than 'where are my presents' that way.

DragonGirl watched a movie a couple of months ago and loved the cake in it and wished for it for her birthday, so I baked two sponge cakes and then cut them in half and filled the layers with strawberries and cream.

Another tradition in our house is Corby pulling out a present at the end of the day. This year's one was a Big success. He had to work until mid-afternoon and when he came home he brought a telescope with him. Her face when she saw it was priceless.

He got her a Night Sky book to go with it. We are going to head North for the weekend in a couple of weeks to get a clear view of the stars and planets and try and pick some of them out. We've had too much cloud cover to see much.

It apparently works quite well on land too and I thought I might take her out whale watching with it next time there are sightings. Yesterday we saw a mother and her calf, as well as another lot that were too far to away to define. There was also a seal on the rocks down from the lookout we haunt.

On Saturday we got together with friends at the local pool and hired out the inflatable. The kids (and grown ups) had an awesome time. I would have liked to have had a go as well.

I can't believe DragonGirl is eight already. It has gone quickly and been quite eventful. We've moved to NZ and back, driven from one side of Australia to the other, lived on a couple of farms and now we have the coastal lifestyle with our little piece of Land.

We started school and then decided that Life Learning is much more our style and DragonGirl is blossoming happily with the choice.

We had a visit from the local home education Moderator last week. He said that he 'is impressed with how we are going' and that he hopes we will continue homeschooling next year - which we are. I knew that DragonGirl had made some big steps in the last couple of months but it was still nice to have some feedback. It boosted my confidence in our ability to keep going.

I have seen DragonGirl's confidence grow too over the last two years. She is more willing to try new things and conquered a few fears too.

One of her biggest fears were situations where she was required to perform or speak in front of a group. Last week she had a session of Drama and I really wasn't sure how she would go. She amazed herself and did really well and I would even go as far as saying she was really good at it. Needless to say she is looking forward to next week's session.

Friday, September 11, 2009

The Little Bloke is 3!!!

It has gone by so fast! I know all mum's say that, but it's true.

I've been meaning to make this post all week, sorry it took so long.

We had a lovely day together. He got some lego and as the weather was wet, we spent hours by the fire making trucks, houses, helicopters and gardens.

At a few days old...

...and now...

I made him a choc berry fudge cake which went down well with everyone. We waited for dad to get home from work to have it. He spent the whole morning singing Happy Birthday to You, so was more than happy to join in with us when it came time for cake!

Thank you so much for all your gifts. They have been appreciated and enjoyed immensely.

Spring is in the Air...

...despite the weather saying otherwise!

I've been busy in the garden when I get a chance (in between rain and hail) and it's coming along really well.

I got this lot of plants this morning, ready to plant out over the weekend. I am going to put them into the existing gardens and fill them up and then will get on to digging some more.

The fruit trees are all waking up and in flower. This is a good shot of the plum tree's new shoots.

We've got bulbs coming up that were planted by the last owner. Some of them are really interesting. Like this one, any ideas what it is?

I've finished down the side of the house finally. I edged with pavers, fed the soil with compost, manure and seaweed, then planted and mulched. It will be great once it is established. It's close to the back door, gets all the morning and midday sun and is protected by the house from the horrible south winds.

We are getting some more fruit trees over the next couple of weeks and I want to start the garden at the very back of the yard.
The plan is to put in sunflowers, corn, tomatoes, peas (for green manure) and melons. I am going to make traditional rectangular garden beds using the pavers for edging.
We got the pavers free from up the road. We had to pull them up but it was worth the effort to have them to use around the place.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Sunset watching

We went up to Perth last weekend for the night. It was mainly a crop checking exercise. Corby likes to see how the farmer's are going - what sort of growing season they're having.

This time of the year is normally spraying, rock picking and lambing on the farm. Lambing and rock picking are Corby's least favourite things and the spraying is only made better by the cool machine it's done in.

We managed to find some accomodation near the beach and spent the evening there watching the sun set over the water. I don't think we'll ever live inland again, after leaving near the beach. It has become a large part of our lifestyle.

I would have liked to have done some op-shopping while we were up in Perth. It's the first trip we've done up there in 18mths, but everything was shut (minimal Sunday trading). It made for a cost saving weekend, but what's the fun in that?!

We've had 2 weeks of sunshine which has been magic. All the more appreciated after a South Coast wet Winter. I've spent as much time as I can out in the garden, weeding, pruning, feeding, digging new beds. The compost bins are all nearly full again which means it will be ready to spread out by mid-Summer. Perfect timing really and completely unplanned.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Seedlings - literal and metaphorical

Term 3 has kicked off with a bang and I am feeling very optimistic that the second half of the year is going to be a bit smoother than the first.

I think we are often given challenging situations to learn from. I find that I rally and rage when things are tough, but I come out the other end with clarity as to what I want/need to do. I'm grateful for the people who listen and support me through it all.

The Creative Journalling course has started back up and I got a spot which I'm very happy about. This term we are going to be doing an equal mix of writing and art and keeping a visual journal.

We did the covers on Tuesday and this is mine -
It's not quite finished and is bound to evolve through the course.

Last week I got busy in the garden and did up a few trays of seedlings. I went out the other morning and they're already up and started. I think the clear plastic over the top made a big difference, as the last lot without it took a few weeks to get going.

Aren't they lovely!

Thursday, July 9, 2009


I just spread out my first load of home-made compost! Very exciting! (well, if you're a gardener you might understand...)

I built our compost bins using 5 old pallets that were out the back. I held them upright using star pickets (again, they were out the back) and secured them with some found wire.

You can see them behind the retro strawberry stand.
I lined the left bay with cardboard and then covered it with black plastic, leaving the floor open. The plastic was left over pond liner from the tip shop, so it was made from all recycled materials and it cost me nothing.

I've only been filling it for about 4mths and got out 5 wheelbarrow loads of compost. I took off the top layer and put it into the next bay, ready to begin the next lot.

We have used foodscraps, newspaper, grass clippings, manure, seaweed, leaves (green and dried), dust from sweeping and vacuuming the house, lint from the dryer, hay from the rabbit hutch and dirt.

I spread it around the bananas -
And made a new garden bed for the garlic, another fruit tree and some herbs. I have put some potatoes at one end as well. I lightly dug up the ground, spread out the compost, some sheep manure and then topped with pea straw.
It's all being watered in by the rain as I write this.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Tuesday is Art Day!

It was the last day of the Creative Journalling course today. We only had four people turn up but it was still great.

Over the term, we have done quite a few different projects. Board books, painting, stamping, fabric and a project that was about celebrating the everyday things in our life. I had quite a few different ideas but the common theme was Nature, so I went with that.

This photo doesn't capture the 3-dimensional aspect of this piece very well but you get the idea. It is textured and has pieces attached that I collected over a month of 'daily life'. Shells, beads, pebbles, etc.
I still have things to do on it, including adding the poem which relates Nature to the viewer as I perceive it.
Trying to capture Nature in any medium is a challenge.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Koa, swimming lessons and making faces!

Our very excitable and aptly named dog, Koa (it means happiness in Maori), died on Saturday after only being with us 5mths.

We found out that he had jumped over the front fence on Saturday morning to follow another dog, been hit by a car, a stranger had taken him to the vet and the vet had had to put him down. This is the second dog we've lost this way in two years - we lived on the farm the first time.

It is very sad and DragonGirl is finding it the hardest. The first dog, Jake, was her best friend and it took her quite a bit to be open and loving in the same way with Koa.

On a brighter note, this week is swimming lessons for the homeschooled kids in our area. It means not only time in the pool for the kids but also time for the parents to catch up with eachother from the sidelines. (I got to chat with some mum's today that I haven't seen since last year's lessons.)
We had Cal with us today and he wasn't allowed to swim. He and Boo entertained themselves with cars, food and colouring. They were so good, especially considering how much they both love the water! Boo will be able to swim tomorrow which he will be very pleased about.

Some of Boo's antics at the table tonight:

He can be very cheeky! Corby, DragonGirl and Boo were trying out their Best Funny Face. I got a few good pics for the album.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

The wild weather is on it's way

We are expecting a 5m swell this weekend at our favourite beach, with some wind, rain and the occassional thunderstorm thrown in.

That means the kids and I will be on the sand all rugged up while Corby goes out for a surf. He hasn't been able to go for the last 3 weekends, so nothing short of the ocean freezing over is likely to keep him out of the water.

DragonGirl ready to go!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

The Sun peaked through for a moment

We put on our scarves, gloves, beanies, jackets and gumboots to go outside and enjoy it!

I've made a Winter scarf for myself this year.

I've got another started in a fibre that looks a bit like dreadlocks. I'll match Corby! :)

I've got to finish the chicken coup so I'm grateful that it is fairly clear today after the rain last night. I am definitely going to have to put some tin on the roof to keep the chickens and rabbits dry.

Besides Corby wanting fresh eggs, the chickens will be useful in other ways. Manure for the gardens, pest control, turning the vegetable beds at the end of each season, just to name a few. The coup means that the rabbits will have more room to move too.

Tea break is over, back to work!

My first ever batch of playdough!

I'm a little bit pleased with myself actually. Normally I get my mum to make it when she comes to visit but she's not coming for awhile yet, it's been raining for a few weeks and we needed some new indoor activities.

DragonGirl made this teapot. She would have liked to keep it, so I thought I might make up some saltdough for her.

Boo has found all sorts of ways to entertain himself...

Yes, I have now unplugged it from the wall! He can't get the door shut by himself but still...

Monday, June 22, 2009

We've got chickens coming!

Our lovely neighbour has gifted us some chickens and when I have the coup finished I need to go and pick them up.

I was going to build a coup out the back but it meant starting from scratch and buyng in all the materials. In my commitment to making use of what we've got I decided to convert the old greenhouse.

I've pulled the shadecloth off the front and put chicken wire down on the floor - after clearing out all the junk that was in there. I am now starting on the sides with the wire. I will also put a few sheets of tin on half the roof (which we have behind the shed) and I think wire on the other half wouldn't hurt either.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Hail and Raw Chocolate Fudge

The weather is pretty aweful today. We've had high winds, lots of rain and even some hail. A typical Winter on the South Coast of Australia I guess.

Weather that drives us indoors is challenging because we homeschool and because we all like to spend most of our time outside. Suddenly all the things you want to do outdoors have to be done urgently and you have a complete blank on the things you could be doing inside.

Today we have done a few puzzles, played Snake and Ladders, Uno and Patience. I've spent too much time on the internet, learning, checking out art sites, shopping and catching up on my favourite Blogs. The kids watched Swiss Family Robinson, painted and right now DragonGirl is doing some workbooks and Boo is driving his truck through rice he spilt on the floor, to make patterns.

We also made some raw Chocolate Fudge with nuts, dried fruit, agave and coconut. I got the basic recipe from and then did a few variations.

We are all counting the minutes until Corby gets home...

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Blogging and the Winter Solstice

Ok, so I've decided to finally blog here more often. And to actually give out the address to family and friends, so they can read it!

This was prompted by two things. The first being a recent visit by Corby's family from NZ - wouldn't this be a great way to keep them in the loop of what we're up to once they head home? The other reason being that I use my journal at RP as more of a blog anyway and this would leave it for what it's meant for.

This of course means getting it together and trying to be more 'organised'! The dreaded O-word. Something I am not very good at, I admit it freely. But I am going to try harder.

Coming up this month is the Winter Solstice. I don't really have anything concrete planned but thought it might be great to get the neighbours together.

We will light a fire out the back (weather permitting) which is always fun. I will make a cake and each child can light a candle and make a wish for the year to come. Perhaps some paper lanterns would be good too. Will have to do some googling for patterns. Spiced warm cider?