I am cherishing the early dawn hours each morning when I can wander around the yard, feed my chickens, water the garden, savour the first coffee of the day, read my Bible, pray and breathe.
The sky has been covered in cloud till about 9 or 10 each morning this week so my photos are darker than usual, yet it's a true depiction of the early hours I spend outside before scuttling inside for cool relief.
IN THE GARDEN
The chickens are loving the ramshackle pen my husband made for them and there's plenty of shade for dust baths during the hottest part of the day. The guava tree in there is alive with bees and flowers, no doubt all the chook poo is helping, and the two hibiscus trees bloom constantly.
I was asked what the big cream drum is inside the pen. It's a compost bin Mr E built, one you can fill and tumble turn each day. One side has food scraps and the other has leaf litter and grass.
With hubby home on holidays now there's a lot of heavy manual work being done everywhere. That massive pile of mulch I showed you the other day has made it's way to the rear of the property and around the garden beside the pool.
Our main focus is planting more shade trees and fine tuning the outside waterways and pump wells for the next wet season.
Below you can see some holes behind the large shed and these are where hubby dug out palm trees. Later today he'll fill them with strong saplings which will grow over the top of the shed and offer wonderful cooling shade in the afternoons.
Down the side of the shed three trees are already flourishing and we're hopeful by this time next year they'll at least be as tall as the shed and make a big difference.
We removed most of the bromeliads from another garden about six weeks ago and after covering it with compost Mr E added a four inch layer of sand. At the time we were just thinking to suffocate any weeds and let the land rest until March or April when we'd plant vegetables.
But funny things happen when you add good compost from your kitchen waste to an empty garden bed - even with a thick sand covering.
Up have popped a dozen or more thriving tomato plants, some in flower, and what looks to be a pumpkin or cucumber plant also in flower!
We've been told over and over that tomatoes will not set fruit in the tropics at this time of the year due to the 'everyday' high temperatures and humidity so this will be an unplanned but interesting experiment.
Elsewhere around the garden there's been a lot of growth from the poinciana tree, in fact it's as tall as me now. One day we hope to sit underneath it's branches with cool drinks and a snack in the late afternoons. As it's grown five feet in just eight months we might see that dream fulfilled in another couple of years.
The winter veggie patch is untended at the moment, playing host to most of the outside potted herbs and plants because it's easier to keep them watered all together (we have to manage the water usage diligently until we can drill a bore) and they get some shade there in the morning and the late afternoon.
We will compost and mulch this garden bed when we have time, and then plant all the herbs, geraniums and marigolds as a border, but for now there are far more needful chores to get done.
If you read the blog as we went through the January/February monsoon and floods earlier this year you'll be aware we had sandbags around the house, water lapping at the doors and four pumps moving water away from the house 24/7 for ten days and nights. In that event we learned there was much to be done around our yard/home with the guttering, water courses, pump wells, and plants in order to prevent that same result in this coming wet season.
Since March my husband has done so much - even fixed our entire roof because we lost a ceiling which flooded the laundry in February. He's also replaced and re-routed much of the guttering, replaced the pipes which carry water from the pump wells to the storm water drain down the road and now must attend to digging and preparing more pump wells. We had two in ground, but now we'll have more. During the monsoon we had four pumps running constantly but only two were in wells so once he's completed the next stage of prevention we will have four.
At the moment he's dug out along the side of the bedroom and a pump well is in, but he still needs to add pipes and the pump, plus the metal cover.
I'm so grateful for the cloud cover as he does this (even though it's triggering more migraines) because they are big jobs and he's doing it alone.
Our Cockatoo friends come every morning and evening for a meal and today a Corella arrived to join them. It's the first time we've seen one here.
You would laugh if you were here with me in the mornings. There's always at least one bird sitting on the clothesline waiting for it's turn at the feeder and I always warn them "Do NOT poop on my washing or no more breakfast for you!"
So far they are listening.
One of the four cuttings I took from various frangipani trees earlier this year has decided to flourish whilst the other three chose to depart this world as compost.
I am praying this one is a red frangipani - apparently the coloured ones are less prone to bugs and disease.
The strawberry guava near the back of the house looks like giving another bumper crop as it did after Christmas last year, but the fruit is so tiny that I occasionally ponder whether we should pull it out and plant an orange tree there instead...but the bees love it, and it's very pretty.
Our olive tree near the back door is happily offering forth new leaves and appears to be much happier there than where we'd originally planted it. As the months go by we discover more and more 'happy' and 'unhappy' planting spots around the house. The happy ones we nurture, the unhappy ones are marked down for a compost intensive.
IN THE KITCHEN
With no work commitments until late January, my husband's schedule is fluid and we tend to eat when we're hungry and not to a school timetable - which is very gentling to our days.
Each morning is the same; fresh fruit salad, muesli and yoghurt with a freshly brewed iced coffee.
Lunch is whenever Mr E comes in for an afternoon break from the heat and usually consists of crackers, cheese, olives, fruit and dip, or perhaps a toasted sandwich and boiled egg with carrot juice or kombucha.
At night I've been making things like spanakopita, roast chicken and vegetables, lentil dhal and rice, mexican corn & avocado salad with thick slices of sour dough, spaghetti bol, loaded potatoes or crumbed chicken and salad.
The other day I had loads of carrots to grate (because our chickens love grated carrots) and once I had a few days supply for the hens I kept on grating (love the Kleva Sumo Slicer for this!) so I could bake a carrot cake. It was a recipe I'd not tried before and oh my, it is the best one ever.
I baked mine in a large square tin so it was a little quicker than the recipe and easier to slice and store.
Covered in lemon cream cheese icing it was a delicious hit with the family!
IN THE SEWING ROOM
You saw the other day how I chose to display four of my orphan stitchery blocks, and I've finished another since then as well.
But two projects I have LOVED sewing this past week are dolly crib sets for Rafaella and Cully May...
Cully May is the bright and bubbly one of Blossom's girls so I've made her dolly crib set in reds, green and yellow. Have to say it was even fun to make the mattresses!
Rafaella is quiet and rather shy, so I chose pretty pinks and aquas for her set...
The little white cribs were $20 each from Kmart (Australia) and the crib bedding sets were all sewn from my stash of fabrics and wadding. Can't wait to see our granddaughters reactions on Christmas Day. In fact I'd make them dollies too if I had a simple pattern and some spare time...but that's okay because they do have their beloved bunnies which go to bed with them every night so I imagine these will become special bunny cribs.
Next year I am sharing a brand new free Block of the Month. The project will run for ten months and I'll launch this project with the first block on January 1st...
I loved making the large pocketed memory book "Phyllis May's Kitchen" this year and thought the 23rd Psalm would be very special finished as a small book with pockets for keeping prayers and bible study notes.
Each block becomes a page and I won't be showing them until the day they're released but here's a look at the inside of the cover without any pages yet...
I would LOVE for you to share The 23rd Psalm : 2020 Block of the Month photo on your blogs or social media because that's the best way to let your friends and followers know about it.
Just alternate click on the BOM photo and save it to your computer or tablet. Use my blog address as the link.
Well, this is my last post until after Christmas, so dear readers, friends and sisters-in-Christ, may I offer you heartfelt gratitude for being here through 2019, reading and commenting, sharing bits and pieces of your own life along the way, encouraging and inspiring me, and for praying when I had need or you felt led.
May our LORD JESUS, our precious Saviour, become your all-in-all today and every day. May He guide your hearts and minds to love Him more, direct your paths to safer shores, provide your needs more than your wants, lift you high that you may not fall, season your tongue with words of grace and truth, capture your attention when the world lures it away, and cover you always in the shadow of His wings.
merry and blessed Christmas dear ones