Friday 30 November 2012

Camila and her Tibetan Singing Bowls

We had a very enjoyable visit yesterday. Our friend, Camila, is off to India next week for several months to join a yoga and meditation retreat so she came to say goodbye and also to show us these amazing singing bowls. Camila is learning how to use the vibrations from the bowls as a massage technique, their sound is so hauntingly beautiful and I'm sure a massage would be an incredibly relaxing experience.
After 7 years of study, interrupted often by overseas travel, Camila has gained her degree in psychology and continues to seek and question much of Life. She and Joe played a game of chess after we'd enjoyed tea and cake and a demonstration of of her wonderful Tibetan singing bowls and a sweet little South African thumb piano.

I took a few photos...

Joe feeling the vibrations through his hand...

Camila placed the kalimba or thumb piano on her closed up wooden chess board to get a better sound...

As well as bringing her own interesting experiences to share with us Camila was keen to know how we spend our days as retirees. When I explained how involved I am with the DTW forums and simple living she was very interested and will come and learn to make soap and do some simple sewing with me when she comes back next year. Rhonda's whole orange cake was much enjoyed too ;)

So with a hug (and some soap and a knitted washcloth to enjoy) she was gone. We'll follow her travels through facebook and wish her every joy in India.

Do you have plans for the weekend? We've had 3 days of storms which is so unseasonal but they seem to clearing now so a little gardening is on my agenda.
Bye bye for now,
Love from Sue

Tuesday 27 November 2012

Home-made Sandwich Meat

Being French and Canadian means Joe has a deep abiding love for what he calls "cold cuts". As you see from my link they also contain ickiness in the form of nitrates, animals fats and too much salt so I have been wanting to make something at home to satisfy his taste buds and my conscience.

Becci recently made some devon at home following Gooseberry Jam's recipe but I was put off by having to cook it for 90 minutes. Her blog post is interesting as she talks about the different names this product has in different states.
I made this haslet recently but left too much milk in the bread so the texture was rather soft. What I did learn and like was that by processing the ingredients I got the texture I was after, rather like sausage meat.
Yesterday Joe picked up a pack of sausage meat at Spud Shed, he wanted to use some for patties for his was really hard to read the label and then it was really hard to believe it contained 76% total fats! That went back!

So to cut a long story short I came up with this and am very pleased. It probably cost about $10 per kilo to make but we know what's in it and I'll make it again for sure.

 You'll need...
500 minced pork(or your choice of meat)
1/2 cup of chopped bacon
1/2 cup mixed vegies(I used frozen peas/corn/capsicum)
1/2 cup rolled oats
1 egg
pinch of nutmeg
plenty of pepper
pinch of salt
1 T apple juice...any juice will do I bet!
1/2 a small onion, chopped
3 chopped cloves of garlic
2 T chopped red capsicum.

Gently fry the onion, capsicum and garlic in a little oil until soft but not brown
Process everything together in the food processor, you want a thick, paste-like consistency
Scrape into a greased loaf pan, cover with foil and bake at 180C for about 45 mins.
Remove foil and bake for another 10 minutes
I baked some potatoes alongside it and we ate the loaf hot last night with vegetables
Now that it is cold it is easy to slice and makes a delicious's my lunch, I added a little mild mustard and it was very good.

This post is late today as we had no internet access until about 10.30am when Joe finally re-set everything. It drives me nuts not being able to do that myself.

Hope you're having a good start to your week,
Love from Sue

Monday 26 November 2012

Christmas Decoration Swap

This year we held our 4th Down To Earth Christmas Decoration swap. Interested members put their names down and the original idea was to create a decoration for tree or ornament for under $5 and post it off to your partner. The emphasis is still on hand-made and frugal and the quality of the decorations is just wonderful. Members can use any medium they're comfortable with such as paper/card/fabric/yarn/beads and glued, knit, crocheted and sewn gifts are the result.

Marnie (Noonee Wilga) was my swap partner this year, she likes to recycle fabrics and papers and came up with these delightful ornaments...I couldn't stop smiling when my package arrived. Marnie also shared the link to the knitted stocking and to some very cute knitted mini jumpers for the tree.

I got busy with my felt scraps and embroidery threads and came up with these to send to her...I forgot to take a photo so have used the one Marnie posted at the forum...I popped washcloth and some soap in too as an extra treat ;)

The owl is from a free pattern available at Juicy Bits Blog  and I drew the other three on paper and made my own pattern after seeing similar items on line. Wee Folk Art are very inspiring.

Tomorrow it will be five week until Christmas, are you making hand-made gifts, cards, tableware?
We're going to really get busy sharing our Christmas ideas at the forum starting today. The mods have come up with some brilliant ideas to share so if you still haven't joined and are looking for inspiration for a calmer, greener and thriftier Christmas you can click on the DTE badge on the right of this page. It's free and the members are truly lovely.

Getting exciting!
Have a wonderful week

Noonee Wilga is Marnie's business name, she is a very busy and talented lady

Friday 23 November 2012

Priscilla's Journey

Priscilla has updated her blog today, reminding us that it's 12 months today since her initial diagnosis. So much time has been spent in limbo waiting for appointments/results/tests/phone calls but through all this she has remained very strong and got on with making the most of her life.

Let's hope that the next 12 months show a complete recovery...that would be fair methinks!

  Priss's hair is growing back strong and curly and she feels so much better for the loss in weight and better diet thanks to her pal, Shanna.
Megan and Kyra(wearing fairy wings) enjoy Trick or Treating at the local shopping centre while Mommy checks her phone.

Your messages of support and love have helped us all enormously  this last year, no-one could go through this alone so thank you from all our family.

Love from Sue

Cape Lilac Tree Caterpillars

My goodness...what a horrible nuisance these little animals are. To begin with they can quickly strip a whole Cape Lilac tree, climbing the tree with them on the trunk is no fun for children, they form huge clumps of chrysalises under the fence capping and then on mid-summer evenings they fill the air for miles around with large brown moths. My first thought was to leave them be and let the balance of nature stand but these caterpillars have no natural enemies and chooks won't eat them either so I am embarking on a crusade to be their Public Enemy #1.
 I've tried soapy citrus spray which didn't kill any, fly spray which nearly killed me with guilt and now tonight I've sprinkled Baby Powder on and around them in the hope that even if they don't die they will at least smell nice!

Here are some with the powder on, they fell off the tree and died...

Cheeky rabbit watching his Mum, he ran towards me and binkied(happy jump) several times which always makes me laugh!

The caterpillars make their way into the house and car but only ever eat the leaves of the Cape Lilac tree, the moths end up in the car and the house and I don't even know what they eat. Have a look at this link...and if you have had any luck dealing in a green manner with these little pests then please let me know. Aaaargh!

Have a wonderful weekend,
Love from Sue

Wednesday 21 November 2012

Still Here

I'm sorry to have been away for so long. 8 days ago Twitch was unwell when I went to let him out in the morning so I watched him for 2 hours, he was not eating, not pooping and sitting hunched up, and it became obvious he had a blocked bowel or what the vets call "gastro-intestinal stasis". We popped him into a box and drove to the nearby Warnbro Veterinary Hospital where Dr Laura was doubtful he'd survive. She suggested leaving him there for an x-ray and intravenous fluids plus some pain medication. Later that day it was decided that he stay overnight on fluids and then we'd decide his is rarely successful in these cases.

I think Joe and I cried for hours on end, Twitch means so much to us both. With trepidation I phoned the clinic on Wednesday morning and he'd survived the night so would continue to be treated with fluids. At 4pm Dr Laura phoned and said, "I am so impressed with your little bunny!" He'd passed the blockage been eating the celery tops she'd bought on her way home on Tuesday afternoon and was ready to come home and get back into his normal routine. It was just awfully stressful and as a result I have a yukky cold and feel so tired all the time! This too shall pass.

Twitch was so hungry for several days after his ordeal and he seemed to be eating he fell asleep at the table lol Remember rabbits can sleep with their eyes open?

Today I've made up another batch of Rhonda's laundry liquid, I scent it with tea tree oil and these 10 litres will last us many months for very little cost. Have you tried it yet, here is the recipe. I don't use borax as I know it can be dangerous but I still get great results.

I took this photo on Sunday in a nearby suburb, a giant chess board set up and ready to play at the primary must be delightful to watch the children play and they can you know. Joe teaches children as young as 6 and 7 and they have a good grasp of the game, unlike yours truly!

The Christmas Decoration Swap is winding up at the forum, the variety of crafts used and posted across the world has been delightful as always. I'm still waiting for my parcel, it takes longer for parcels to come across Australia than it does to come from the USA! I will show you both Marnie's and mine when hers arrives.

35C is forecast for today with a possible thunderstorm so I got everything done early on...this house seems to be keeping cool which will be a blessing as there's no air-conditioner here.

Hope you are well and enjoying your week,
Love from Sue

Monday 12 November 2012

Revamped Garden Chair

Hallo there!
I got my white spray paint and some basil plants, another plastic garden chair for the front garden (I need to sit on one to weed the lawn otherwise I can't get up again!!) and a nifty outdoor thermometer from Bunnings on Friday morning. The paint is a matt finish and very quick drying so I sprayed the whole can ($9.45) over the cane and then came inside to make a new cushion cover...Mum bought me the fabric in Malaysia several years ago and I've eked it out very all I need is a Singapore Sling! I also saved this elegant old chair from ending up in landfill and that's always a good thing.

The thermometer also shows the humidity and I think we'll be seeing some hot days in the near future so watch this space for more photos!

More cactus flowers...just love 'em...

On Saturday morning I went to watch Jess and Liv play tee-ball, Jessica looks like Darth Vader as she waits for her team to join her. The girls scored 3 home runs each and won their game for the 3rd week running. My highlight was seeing Jess on 3rd base, waiting to run home and concentrating hard when the little girl(with very short hair) who was fielding next to her stretched out her hand and very gently stroked Jessie's beautiful pony tail!

Players were needed for the following game so of course Jessie volunteered for that! Olivia and I went off to buy some potting mix and have a look in the Salvos Op-Shop. We found a beautiful Piping Hot sun dress and a Smarties ice-cream for Liv and fresh, cold orange juice and some beads for Jessie and went back to watch the rest of Jessie's game.

Livvie sitting in the shade after's thirsty work you know!

Today is shopping day and I will post off my Christmas Decoration parcel to Marnie in NSW, the DTE forum swap is already going well as every-one has excitedly messaged their partners and exchanged addresses. When we receive our gifts we take a photo and post it on the forum for every-one to enjoy.

Mum is having her stitches out from behind her ear today and finding out the result of the biopsy so fingers crossed it is all out and benign too.

That's all for now,
Have a marvellous Monday,
Love, Sue

Friday 9 November 2012

Around The Garden

Yesterday's Plan A was to re-paint my roadside find, the white cane chair I carried home on my shoulder from several streets away. So I sanded off the loose paint, shook my spray can for several minutes and then sprayed a chair arm...eeekss...that paint is cream and very watery and not what I want at all. I'll go to Bunnings later this morning to get some Dulux white paint and some basil plants too.

This cactus was here when we moved in and I noticed the buds on it last they have opened and are glorious...

 A nice big tomato that the caterpillars haven't noticed...

The chives are flowering too...

This large succulent was another road-side find, in a nice ceramic pot too...

Wendy's elderflower is thriving, it's trunk is very wavy though...

Hallo Joey!

A chain of hearts spills out of a little aluminium teapot...

I moved my geraniums in old oil tins to the front door to brighten that patio a little...

Then at about 6pm I went for a last look round and found hundreds of hairy caterpillars on the Cape Lilac trees, I added some liquid soap to my citrus cleaner and gave them all a good spray. It didn't kill them but they are not well and I brushed them all off this morning..

The trees themselves are quite beautiful...

The Christmas Swap list is now up at the DTE forum, friends in Mt Helena are having an open garden this weekend but it's just too far for me sadly.

I hope you have a safe and restful weekend,
Love from Sue

Thursday 8 November 2012

Some Whole-Food Cooking

Well the rent inspection went very well after all my worrying and we are hopefully getting the fence repaired and the gutters cleaned.

With the warmer weather approaching I find I'm again preparing many more Vegetarian meals and various salads and being very inspired by Heather's Wholefoods Course.

We had pearl barley with a beef and mushroom stew one night and then the last cup of barley went into these burgers along with...
1 to 1 1/2 cups of cooked beans
1 cup of rolled oats
the cup of barley
2 duck eggs
a heaped teaspoon each of mixed herbs and ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon each of chilli flakes and sea salt

Blitz the lot together and shape into 8 large burgers, shallow fry. They freeze well uncooked so I popped 4 in the freezer and we made 2 meals of the others. I cut the big mixture into 8 even pieces before rolling them into pattie shapes...

On Tuesday I soaked a 350gm bag of red kidney beans I'd picked up for 50cents, cooked them for about 8 minutes in my trusty pressure cooker, they really swell up and will be frozen to add to 'everything', tonight I'm going to use some in a chilli dish...this is such a thrifty way to buy your beans.

I bought a couple of raw beetroots at the weekend to grate and make this salad or slaw. Grating beets is messy business so I covered the bench top with newspaper to catch the 'spray'! I also grated an apple and added chopped spring onions and mixed seeds. The dressing was the juice of one lemon with an equal amount of olive oil, a teaspoon of honey and salt and was even better the second day and I think the colour is just beautiful...

Joe has been craving some more oatcakes lately so I got on with them yesterday, I cut these into squares the save having to keep rolling out the offcuts, it was quicker and probably better for the oatcakes...Joe enjoyed some with a chunk of feta cheese.

I made a very tasty potato bake for dinner yesterday, I par-boiled about 1 kilo of unpeeled potatoes and then thinly sliced them. Layered them in a lasagne type dish with thinly sliced onions, finely chopped mushrooms and a layer of boiled ham in the middle. Then I poured over 300gms cream mixed with 1/2 cup of milk, S and P and some sneaky oat bran, covered it with foil and baked it at 170C for an hour. I took it out and uncovered it, sprinkled on some cheese and let it brown for another 30 minutes or so.

Time then to cook the brown rice I'd soaked overnight, I added the mushrooms and some Bragg's seasoning once the rice was drained and now it's ready to become a salad or a side dish with a few suitable additives.

Yesterday I followed Rose's link to this wonderful foody blog, Can You Stay For Dinner and I loved Andy's salad suggestions that the link will take you to.

I went to watch Jess and Livvie at tee-ball practice yesterday after school, it was great fun with some of the parents playing too! Then they went off to Aikido which they started recently and love. Gordie and Livvie have a cold :( Hope they feel better very soon.

Bye bye for now,
Love, Sue

Monday 5 November 2012

Fremantle With Mum

I drove Mum back to Fremantle for an 8.45am appointment to have yet another skin cancer type thing removed, this one from behind her ear, it was only the size of a grain of rice but had to go. Afterwards we went along by the wharf to have a look at Voyager of The Seas, one of the largest cruise ships ever to visit may remember it's only 3 days since Mum and Dad disembarked from their latest cruise, both of them very unwell but that hasn't deterred Margo Polo one bit! Mum is already champing at the bit to go again lol

We couldn't get any closer because of all the traffic...

The sail training ship, Leeuwin was bobbing in the wind

Near the hospital are some rather old houses with alleyways running behind them. These occupants have made garden beds and grow vegies and flowers... Swiss chard and pansies look lovely together...

  Look at the beautiful bougainvillea climbing over the walls...

And the very uplifting wall of thank you cards beside one of the busy clinics in the hospital...

What wild and windy weather we've had this weekend and it was cold enough for jackets today!

That's all for now, enjoy your week where-ever you are,
Love from Sue