Thursday, October 3, 2019

Around about home...

Boy, it seems so long since I just 'wrote' here on my beloved blog. 
This year has been taken up with many things, and a consequence has been not as much time to simply write and share about those book study posts, as wonderful as they have been for myself and others, really eat into the everyday blogging I love. 
I was going to host a new book study next year but have decided against it because my heart is more alive to write, to share, to encourage and to be real with this very ordinary life I live.

So how about I just start tapping away on my laptop and open my home to you, today? 
Truly, a lot goes on behind the scenes here, lots of physical work inside and outside, lots of technical and design work too. And lots of prayer, lots of good food, lots of deep conversation and lots of nights when we're so exhausted we literally fall into bed not long after dinner ready to wake before dawn and begin a new day.


I'll begin in the front yard where to the outsider it looks a ghastly mess, but to hubby and I there is productivity and preparation dwelling side by side.

Being mindful to use what we have and to source materials we can use which someone else no longer needs, my husband spends the late afternoon and early evenings out front mixing our own compost, farm manure, purchased sand, unwanted/donated soil, and water, into wheelbarrow loads which are then taken into the backyard for the creating of our no-till garden.

The local council have a water-wise initiative running and gave us some tea tree mulch and a worm farm. We'll mix that mulch with our sugar cane mulch once the garden is ready to be covered.

Interesting that our three-day/two-night trip north through the tablelands and rainforest last week wasn't the kind of rest and refreshment we thought we needed. Before we had a home of our own (it's only been a year) escaping the boredom of a rental home where were unable to make any changes to house or garden was something we did three or four times a year, those few days adventuring through rivers and mountain tops revitalising our souls. 
But not this time. Our few days away drew us closer to God whilst also teaching us we didn't need the escape any more. In fact the whole time we were away we talked about what we could be doing at home and how we couldn't wait to get back there! 

Don't you love those lessons? I do. 

My man has not stopped since we got home and though weary and aching from head to toe there's a deep satisfaction in his smile.

The winter beans are at an end now and ready to be turned over into the soil, whilst the carrots are about a week away from harvest.

There's been no rain for many months and the garden in general shows it, but careful watering as well as plenty of mulching have kept our first winter's food production quite abundant.

I've found a number of surprise crops popping up from our compost; not sure if these are cucumber, zucchini or rockmelon but we'll find out soon enough. Of course, now that the sting of our tropical spring heat has arrived there's a possibility the fruit won't set (which is why we don't grow tomatoes, cucumbers etc in the tropics during the endless hot and humid summer)...

The desert roses are once again in bloom, which is a wonderful burst of colour in our rather parched non-food garden. This one is near the front door and really lifts the spirit...

I have now added more pots under the front living room window. Between the lavender and rosemary are some pretty daisies, another nod to needed colour.

So that's what's happening out front, now let's go to...


This is where Mr E is preparing our no-till garden. The plan is to have no lawn, no grass to mow, but good fertile productive food and shade gardens.
The process to create a good no-till garden takes time and energy, but our rock hard clay soil is unyielding so in the end our effort will be worth the time and muscle (mostly my husband's muscle, let's be honest).

The process is being done bit by bit in the late afternoon and evenings. Firstly the ground is watered, then covered in cardboard (free moving boxes people wanted to get rid of). Then hubby covers the cardboard with that mix of compost, manure, sand, soil and water which he makes barrow load by barrow load in the cement mixer out front. 
It's slow, but worth it, and after all, we're not young anymore.
Once that's completed he'll cover the entire yard with sugar cane mulch which we buy from a local farmer and between now and next April the soil beneath will become ready for planting our food crops.

He's also making a walking path over the sewer line so that we never dig into it, and this will lead to the recently relocated clothes line and the pool gate. 

The pavers which once led to where the clothesline used to be and where a poinciani now grows (you can see to the left of that path) will be pulled up and used elsewhere as he continues to cover the yard with cardboard and the soil mix. 

I pulled out the last of our cherry tomato plants yesterday because the weather is too hot now and aphids have been partying and multiplying among them, despite my sprays (natural based) and daily 'squishing' of the little blighters. But I can't complain, we've had four months of abundant produce from them and the freezer has many bags of roasted tomatoes for pasta sauces.

I still have a small Italian tomato plant (like mini Roma tomatoes) producing so I'll nurture that as long as I can, but the aphids destroyed my Black Russian savagely and once the few tomatoes which are left begin to pink I'll pluck them and remove the plant.

Our new chooks are as happy as can be and we receive two eggs every morning without fail.
They free range but have no interest in any of our greens (I have lettuce and herbs all over the place still), only interested in bugs. They do not care for layer pellets (their previous owner gave us a bag) or the seed/greens mix I purchased myself. All they want is to forage and that to us is wonderful because it's as it should be. 
At night they put themselves to bed as the sun goes down and all we need do is shut the coop door until sunrise when they set forth on another day wandering the yards.

Another burst of colour are the bottle brushes, glorious rich reds and thriving, bringing more bird life to visit.

We sit out back and watch the chooks, Bob-the-dog and Sophie cat while sharing breakfast, morning tea, lunch and dinner each day. Each of them comes beside to see what we might offer from our plate but apart from a pat we leave them wanting. 

Today we finished the final pot of strawberry jam with our currant scones and tea.
Fortunately the last of the winter strawberries are available very cheap so I'll buy a fair few punnets and make more jam for the months ahead. 
I always make plum jam in the new year and can't wait for them to come into season again, but for now strawberry and vanilla jam is just fine.


On the weekend we bought a wider double door pantry cupboard for $5 at a garage sale and I'm preparing to store all my baking supplies, bulk purchases and storage containers in there as my actual pantry, though a wonderful walk in, has very narrow shelves and I've not had extra room to 'store up for tomorrow'. Now I do.

The white cupboard I used to have in the kitchen was about 8 inches narrower and holds all my business paperwork and files, household accounts, stationary, gift cards, wrapping paper etc. Hubby moved that one into the living room where my tall bookcase used to be (which has now been moved over in the corner beside the other bookcase)...

I roasted the last of our ripe cherry tomatoes this morning, and have the last of the green ones on the bench to ripen for salads...

 I've also got a new sour dough starting as we plan to return to what once was an everyday thing for the family, fresh sour dough bread.

I hate to admit this but I shall. 
During the January/February floods our dining chair seats grew mould and even though we soaked them in vinegar and then another mould killer supplied free to our town's residents by companies who specialise in this sort of thing, the mould went bu the stains on the seats did not budge. So we decided to recover them once we found fabric we liked...not as easy as it sounds. 

Apart from the fact upholstery fabric can be ridiculously expensive we never found one we liked. So I covered the chairs in cloths or pillows and promptly forgot about the recovering. Until this week.

The fabric is a heavy duty beige cotton and is actually curtaining. I got it on sale and one by one they're coming along. After I remove 60 staples out of each chair seat. That's why they're coming along one by chair and 60 staples out, then 30 staples in, is all my hands can manage per day. But they are getting done.


Currently I am stitching a new Block of the Month which I'll be sharing next year as a freebie.

I've always wanted to design and stitch Psalm 23 as free BOM but life does tend to run its own course and God has led me a different way sometimes, but just over a week ago His gracious gift of creativity began to flow into a set of nine stitcheries which will come together as one of my favourite psalms. I hope you join me in 2020 to stitch this.

And for those who have been asking, yes, I am still going ahead with the Faith Sewing Club and it's not far away. As with all things, when I let the Lord direct my paths He also directs me in the when and how. How blessed I am.

Okay, that's enough of a catch up today. If you read this far I'm sending you a big hug and offering you a currant scone. ((hugs))

I shall leave you with a photo of Blossom and Cully May, one of my current favourites...

Bless you ever so much,


Su said...

I find it fascinating that you grow tomatoes during your winter and that they self seed! Our SUMMER was so dismal this year that from 3 tomato plants all I got was enough green tomatoes to make a small batch of green tomato chutney. I think I got 3 ripe tomatoes!
I'm busy doing my garden too, much along the lines of yours, though mine is much smaller. I am single handedly hauling bags of woodchips, which the contractors have just left, back to my garden one at a time. I reckon it will take me most of the winter, but I can't do anything else in the garden then anyway, so slow and sure it is.
Strangely, I bought an old fashioned wardrobe last week, which I plan to use in the kitchen, I will put shelves in it and paint it to provide some much needed storage, it sounds like we're having the same sorts of ideas.
Have a lovely week.

Outback Crafter - Debra said...

Oh Jenny. How wonderful juat to hear you chat.

I love your garden progress. A brilliant idea to make the sewer line a walkway.

I'm so glad you are enjoying home owner life.

The scones look delicious too.

Chris said...

So wonderful to read a "homey" post! Bless you, sweet Jenny!

Joanne said...

Hi Jenny,
Looks like you are living and enjoying life and creating a very special home sweet home!
I like the way the compost is mixed and your recipe for creating better garden soil! Looking forward to reading more round about home!
Creative storage solutions! Just because something is designed for one thing doesn't mean it can't be used for something else!
What fun it is to see a new perspective !
Is ones own home ever finished? We moved into our own home 14 years ago and I am now getting around to a few things that I marked as "will do later" ! Now is later :) and there has been an improvement on products that make it easier!

Karen said...

What a wonderful post. So lovely and chatty. So enjoyed it. Beautiful photo! Blessed!

Lin said...

So good to catch up Jenny. It is great to see how your garden is developing and the hard work that is going in to making it productive. We live on the side of a rocky hill and have spent the last 25 years adding compost and manure to the soil in our veg plot so know what it is like! Fortunately the road is up so we can easily move manure down to the garden! I love your so well behaved chickens! I have never had much success with keeping a sourdough starter going so would welcome some hints... Oh yes and I know exactly what you mean about going away. xx

gracie said...

Lovely time chatting with you.

Robin in New Jersey said...

It's so good to hear from you! Thank you for the tour of your yard and gardens. You must get pictures of your hubby working out there. Looking forward to seeing it finished. Your new embroidery is lovely.☺ I haven't embroidered anything in a long time. I have two of your patterns in my project pile ready to trace. I must get to it!

How's Blossom? She is in my prayers.

Mazie1956 said...

I love your chatty posts the best. Things are coming together for you and I can feel the love in your home from here. The photo of Blossom and Cully May is adorable.

Donna Rowe said...

Oh thank you for the wonderful photo. I miss my grands so much now that at times it takes my breath away. But military took priority. Grrr. And how how wonderful to stitch Psalm 23! It will be a gift to those same grands as it was the first chapter I had them memorize as soon as they could talk!

pcpetunia said...

Love this type of everyday post. Very inspiring

Sara Gonzalez said...

Thank you very much for sharing parts of your life with us! I admire all you do and your many talents, you have a BIG fan of yours in the tropics of Mexico!!! One quick question: Is there such as thing as vanilla jam? or I should read it as strawberry and vainilla jam? I ask because I LOVE vanilla and if there is such a jam I would love to make it. Have a blessed month of October! Tropical greetings from the Pacific coast of Mexico!

Diane Garton said...

Hi Jenny, thanks for the lovely chat & to see & hear how you are gradually changing your home & garden into your own little piece of paradise. It is so interesting to compare our lifestyles, as we have been busy starting the process of putting our garden 'to bed' until next spring. We will be outside sweeping up leaves and light hoeing to keep the weeds away for a few weeks yet, as the winters are generally too cold to grow anything much and for me to be outside for any length of time. But as Autumn is the start of the cooler and eventually colder months, it brings its own delights as we look forward to lighting the log fire, toasting bread, marshmallows & chestnuts and drinking lots of hot chocolate! Looking forward to our next chat and of course those yummy stitcheries you are tempting us with those 'sneak peeks'. God bless you & your beautiful family Jenny xx

kupton52 said...

You've been missed....your plans for your front, and especially the back yard are just wonderful. Here in West Virginia we've had such a long, dry's been in the 90's several days but temps are supposed to drop 20+ degrees tomorrow. My sweet little tomato plants dried up weeks ago but yours look yummy. I look forward to the stitchalong next year. We are so blessed to still be able to share our faith. I pray that continues. Blessings from the other side of the world!

Jenny said...

I cannot believe how industrious you & your husband are. You get so much accomplished. All of your plans are so encouraging & I'm glad to hear about them. I'm really looking forward to the Psalm 23 stitcheries as well.

Judy1522 said...

It is so nice to read about the enjoyment you have in owning your own home. I am sure that all of your hard work will be so worth it when you have things the way you would like them.

Dots said...

Honestly Jenny, reading your blog is like coming home! Makes me miss my mom. I love the picture of Blossom and Cully May. My thought was, I wish you had been in that picture,as it looks just like you in both generations. It would be like seeing you in each picture. Your girls look like versions of yourself.
I just love your chickens busy about the yard. They would be nice entertainment.I was wondering about your cat and dog. Good to see they are doing well, too.
Your husband is a working machine! He's getting it done. The yards will look pretty wonderful when he gets them completed according to his plan. I am excited to see the finished look.
I miss being able to go non-stop, be drop dead tired. But it always felt so accomplished when it all got done. But now days my speed is slow, and slower. I don't have the energy like I had. But I sure enjoy reading about all you are doing. Those chairs are going to be appreciated. My father use to cover our kitchen chairs when I was growing up. Gave the kitchen table a new look. Mom was happy. Ahh, the good old days! Take care.

Jenny of Elefantz said...

Aah, strawberry & vanilla jam...but wouldn't a basic vanilla jam be lovely?

Jenny of Elefantz said...

Sweet girl, your autumn and winter speak to my heart. Though I live in the hot tropics my desire often is for a true winter and those log fires... xx

Lesley Gilbert said...

I always love to see updated photo's of your home and garden and hopefully no more flooding comes your way again. Hubby is doing a grand job with the garden and this time next year you'll be able to have 'before & after' photo's to share! Thanks for the 'hug and scone' - best wishes to you both :)

Jackie said...

What a wonderful post!

Patti said...

Enjoyed reading!

Farm Quilter said...

Welcome back!!! It is so nice to have a cuppa with you and see what you are up to around your home! Your tropics are so different from the "high-mountain desert" I live in! We generally get 4-7" of precipitation a year...I imagine that would be about a months worth for you during your rainy season. I love to see all that you are doing to make your home perfect for you. Don't your chooks eat the aphids from your tomato plants?

Mrs. Paul said...

Just love visiting your lovely blog and enjoying your hospitality. Your granddaughter's picture made me break out in a BIG smile - so precious!

Tammy said...

Wow, Jenny! What a yard project you have going. I'm sure you will love it when it is all finished. Thanks for sharing. I love to hear about your domesticity.

Helen L said...

the stitcherie looks beautiful!! You always do such a nice job on them!!

Nanna Chel said...

Jenny, what a beautiful photo of your girls! Gorgeous. Your garden is looking good and you and your hubby have done so much work making that new one but it will be worth it once it is finished. It is heating up here too and will be 35C next week. Much too hot for spring in what used to be a cool temperature area. Have a wonderful weekend.

Joan said...

I was so thrilled to read your life update, I love all your posts but these updates are always some of my favorites! You have both been so busy and productive.

QuiltE said...

The strawberry vanilla combo is very intriguing to me too! Sounds quite delectable.
Beautiful pic of Bloss and Cully May ... I can see why it is a new fav of yours! So Sweet!
My oh my ... a year gone by in your new Home Sweet Home, and so much accomplished.
I am still overjoyed for you that you have your "own" home at last!

Dawn said...

Love reading about your life in the tropics. An old tale my dad taught me to rid my roses of aphids and works for me is: use half a jar of molasses in 20litrs of water(use some boiling water to melt the molasses) pour on bases of plants. He said it made the leaves sweet and the aphids hate it...worth a try. I do it when I see hatched aphids on my roses and they are gone with a few days.
Hugs xxxx

Chris said...

Thank you for sharing your progress on your home. You are blessed to have such a handy husband. The scones look yummy. I hope one dy you will share the recipe. Take good care of yourself

Susan said...

What a lovely catch up. I enjoyed seeing all that you are doing with your yard. In the preparing stage, it takes a while, doesn't it? It's going to be lovely and productive, all around your house. I, too, love that Blossom and Cully May picture. She really looks like her mother. Your heat is going up, and mine is finally coming down a bit. No more temps over 32 C this week, and by next week, it won't be over 26 and sometimes 21. Yay! I'm thrilled! I'm going up to see Edi for a week starting Monday, and she's already between 15-20 C, so I look forward to no bugs biting me! Yes, I love it when the Lord tells me what I need and what I don't. Sometimes I just can't figure it out on my own. I love that he's in the details of my life, that He knows me so well! I'm still learning to know Him that well, though. =)

Ondrea said...

So many things happening at your place and a great achievement indeed. Sorry your break wasn't what you had anticipated. Your yummy food is making me hungry lol. Great pic of yoyr girls. Sorry I h aven't been keeping up with all your posts. Xx

Allie said...

Your yards, front and back, are amazing!!!! Wow that's so much work - but it will be so worth it. Wish I could sample your carrots! I can't find any anywhere that don't taste of mold. Really happy to read such a lovely, homey post from you!!! I adore that pic of Blossom and Cully May!

Martha Roberts said...

Loved reading your new post!! Loved just the everyday-ness of it. Really loved the pics of your girls!

Mandy Currie said...

Hello Jenny, so good to catch up. Love your home posts, although I have enjoyed the book posts. The photo is gorgeous, I miss not being involved with my Grandsons life. Your stitching of Psalm 23 is going to be so welcome, I can't wait, it's definitely one I will follow along with. Your garden work is going to be great eventually, I know all the prep work will be worth it. God bless and thank you for sharing your life and stitching. Regards Mandy xx

Anonymous said...

What a wonderful post! Your granddaughters are just gorgeous. I love the pictures of all your projects too! I smiled when I read about wanting be home to work on projects now that you own your own place. You are so encouraging. Your stitching is exquisite. Thank you so much for all you share.
God Bless

Anonymous said...

What a lovely catch up. We have just cooked up the last of our red tomatoes for sauce and the green ones for chutney. It lovely to hear you doing this as it makes our simple lives a joyful celebration to be appreciative of what we have. Thank you xxx

KingsailK said...

Thanks Jenny,lovely to hear from you.Had a really bad chest infection,one night in hospital.Prayer+++,now so much betterxx

Winifred said...

That photo of Bossom & Cully May is gorgeous.
My your garden is huge, what a task for you both. We have clay soil too we gave in & just planted a lawn as we were both working full time & didn't have time for much gardening. Would have loved to have an allotment like my dad & granddad did. My memories of the smell of granddad's tomatoes in the greenhouse has stayed with me for nearly seventy years. You will have some gorgeous produce & how lovely to be able to just go & get it from the garden.