Homemade Quilt for Thomas

On the weekend, we got a visit from Nanna and Poppy (David’s dad Brian and his wife Freya) and they came with many gifts, including this special handmade quilt for Thomas!

How very special this quilt is, including a lively print of playing frogs and a print of blue hearts. I’m sure this quilt will get some use, probably in the cot as it’s a bigger size than a bunny rug. Freya is very good at making lovely quilts. I think they would be too tricky for me to try, whenever I cut material it always comes out wonky. And once you cut it you can’t save the material. That’s why I like to crochet, any mistakes I make I can just undo and retry. I guess everyone gravitates towards the crafts that suite them the most.

Besides the quilt, Nanna and Poppy also brought a lot of fresh produce from Stanthorpe, including these tomatoes and zucchinis home grown in their very own garden. We’ve already eaten some in the few days since their visit, but I’m a bit worried that some might waste there is so much! They also gave us several jars of home-made pickles, again using fresh veggies from their garden. It must be so satisfying to eat from your own garden. I know it is and our own garden only has herbs and a lime tree!

They also brought this lovely posey of roses from their garden, now my kitchen smells like roses again! It’s a pity they live so far away, it’s a long three hour drive one way. Hopefully we’ll see nanna and poppy again before too long.

Our Potted Herb Garden, Spring 2010 Update

My spring update for our potted garden is a bit late, as summer feels like it’s already here! Here I like to keep a note of what the garden is doing, what’s flowering now and how it went over the winter. This information is specific to where we live, on the mid-east coast of Australia in Brisbane.

What didn’t last the winter? Well, we have decided that as a potted garden, we shall only grow that which wants to be grown and will not fuss over ‘sooky’ plants anymore! The rosella we picked up for $1 died after one crop, as good as it was, we got just one jar of jam out of it! We have also decided to give up on tomatoes. For all we have heard about how easy they are, we have not found that. It may well be they just need too much fertiliser to make the crop worthwhile. This is why we’ve decided to not bother with most fruit and vegetables, and to concentrate mostly on herbs. Herbs have given us the most success, are easier and cheaper to grow, are more suited to a potted garden and give us the most joy. Also, the cost of growing herbs is much better than buying them fresh from the shops, which can be expensive.

BASIL
I was expecting the sweet basil to die right back, but it now has some young shoots at the base, so after some pruning, it looks like we will get another season out of it. I have now three pots of all-year-round basil including 2 large bushes, which all seem happy and look to last. Although the eldest is showing signs of age with smaller leaves, I do still remove all the flowers to see what it will do, and these flowers are still very fragrant and are used in our cooking.

CHILLIES
Most chillies in our potted garden seem very happy, returning a good crop even in the smallest of pots. We use the red fruits in our cooking, well that is, David does! He makes a most excellent chilli jam with it. A few of the smaller seedlings did die over the winter, it may have been due to where we had them. I’ve moved them near the rosemary and lavender, as these are good companion plants because their scent confuses pests. The chillies like full sun and don’t like to sit in water. We are hoping to try capsicums this season, as they are related to chillies so we should (hopefully) have more success with those than with the tomatoes.

ROSEMARY
Our second rosemary plant had a case of white mould just like the 1st plant did last winter, so I treated it the same way by rubbing off as much white as I could and made sure it was getting full sun. It’s now looking happier, I’ve also staked it to stand more upright, and I’ve planted a 3rd shoot for hopefully another bush. Our eldest rosemary plant is looking much happier this year, I’ve been pruning it into shape nicely, and it’s giving us a good crop for kitchen herbs.

POTTED DWARF LIME TREE
The lime tree had some yellowing of leaves at the base which turned out to be a vitamin deficiency so we treated with extra fertiliser. Also, we were more vigilant with making sure excess water is tipped out of the base, as citrus hate to have their roots sitting in water. We did some minor top dressing this spring, gently removing as much soil from the top as we could and replacing with some fresh potting mix. The roots do look quite bound, so we will have to prune the root ball next winter, which I am very nervous about. When the tree was up against the fence a whole section of leaves went strangely missing. I guessed it was a rodent nibbling on it so moved it away from the fence and we haven’t noticed any more mysteriously missing leaves.  At the moment, the lime tree is flowering, and it also has some tiny fruits developing. To keep the tree happy during this fruiting we really need to maintain the fertiliser, and watch the water. We pull it under the cover when it rains so it doesn’t get too much, and pop it back out into the sun. This seems to keep him happy, at least for now. Last season we got just 3 fruit of it, we’re hoping we get a bit more this season.

CHIVES
The chives seeded late last summer, so I collected them and planted them out in early spring. One of the older pots also got pulled open and re-potted in spring. The chives do very well in the sun, those in smaller pots need more water. David really likes to trim a bit off for his cooking, they go especially well in his dumplings and dampers, and because we have a fair bit now, he can chop a bunch off without any worry.

ROCKET
Last summer we bought one punnet of rocket, which had 6 individual plants. These got planted, and provided us with a very modest crop in the summer. It was so very pleasant to have fresh salad leaves on our sandwiches, we only wished we had more. Thankfully they all seeded late in summer and into the winter, so I diligently collected the seeds. About 3 weeks ago we planted about half of our stash of seeds in a new, large rectangle planter box. We couldn’t believe our eyes when within 3 days the shoots started to appear! The weather had been humid, warm and wet. Now we are very hopeful to have a more substantial rocket crop for salads this summer!

PUMPKIN
With several small pots fallow due to the plants that didn’t last the winter, we popped some pumpkin, watermelon and capsicum seeds in to see what would happen. So far the only thing that has appeared is this gainly and enthusiastic young pumpkin! Like the rocket, this handsome specimen appeared within the week. We are thinking we might be game enough to just chuck him in the ground, middle of the courtyard. What else can we do with a pumpkin? He needs to grow across the ground, doesn’t he?

MINT
The mints spent the winter out in the garden sun, but when the heat returned we popped them back in the shade. Since being moved to their summer spots, the mint has perked up, as has the lemon balm and peppermint. We just have to keep the water up on these and they will be happy there.

PARSLEY
I thought the parsley would flower and die off, but it hasn’t. It’s just bubbling along not doing much at all. I still have 3 pots of that and it doesn’t seem to have changed.

OREGANO AND MARJORAM
I pruned these when they got too big for the small pots I have them in, and they look quite attractive. I wash and dry, then de-stem the cuttings for our kitchen. They prefer sun, so I put one of the oregano plants in a pot we had hanging on our fence, but it was too dry, the pot didn’t hold enough moisture and the plant died. These might prefer sun, but they also need regular water, especially if they are in small pots that dry out. I’ve since started again with that pot, emptying it and lining it with a plastic bag. Then I chucked in some cuttings of the hardy cosmetic succulents that have ended up here from David’s mother’s garden. They can try their luck in that pot as nothing else likes to grow there!

LAVENDER
I’m at a bit of a loss as to how harshly to prune my lavender bush. I pruned it too hard last summer and didn’t get much flowering, so left it and now it’s been flowering fairly steadily for several months. But it’s getting quite big and hanging down below the pot and leaning over in what appears to be a very uncomfortable position! I’m waiting for it to stop flowering so I can prune it back. None of the cuttings I’ve tried to plant have taken. That’s a shame as I’d prefer to have a backup plant or two, as I just love having lavender in my garden!

CHAMOMILE
This is one very lucky plant indeed. When we got it last summer, it was part of a punnet of 4 which included the peppermint which was what I really wanted, and the chamomile was looking very droopy and sad. I had a spare pot left over at the end so gave it a chance and popped it in that. It’s now a year old, and has been in a sorry state. It’s had a case of persistent white mealy bugs, well that’s what I think they are anyway. But it didn’t die and seemed stunted, it’s stems growing in twisted bunches curling back upon itself. David has been occasionally spraying it with confidor, and just recently it decided it should perk up, which was a surprise! And now at last, the plant is showing it’s first flowers on a long normal looking stem, after having a good old boohoo for 12 months! It’s lucky, because we had decided not to fuss over high-maintenance plants, so we shall see how this one goes. Maybe I will be able to make my own chamomile tea afterall!!

Red Hearts of Love

All these photos were taken last Sunday morning. When I saw them in my pictures folder together I realised they were all red so that gave me an idea for a post to join in with Ruby Tuesday hosted by Mary at Work of the Poet!

After a couple of hours of me checking the Pink Saturday blogs and he playing a computer game, we got peckish for some breakfast. We were in the mood for our favourite lovey dovey breakfast, sausages and tomato with love heart eggs and mushrooms!

On Saturday, David took me to a Salvo’s store (Salvation Army charity shop). We hadn’t been there before and there were lots of bargain treasures to be found, some of which I decided I coudn’t bring home. One thing I did grab was this very good toy for developing fine motor and hand-eye coordination in very young children. It’s pretty solid, not flimsy, so I grabbed it for $3. In the background you can see a red love-heart bag. I can’t remember where I got it from but I keep some Barbie things in it, it’s so cute. Also in the background you can see my tiny teddies where they live now, sitting on one of the vintage doll’s chairs to keep Barbie company. The doily you can see I believe was made by my great-grandmother, which I hope to try copying one day.

Another bargain treasure we found at the Salvo’s store on Saturday were this pair of lovey dovey coffee mugs. We’ve decided to collect coffee mugs with love hearts on them, as well as other things with love hearts because we are sooo lovey dovey! /awwww… lol! These are probably not so great because the shape means that one is smaller than the other. I don’t like the idea that to be in love one person must be smaller.

Our first love heart coffee mugs we bought were these very cheap ones we saw at the supermarket a couple of years ago. We got four, one broke and has been thrown away. That’s a shame, I really must remember to keep broken crockery for my mosaic projects I hope to do one day. Two of the remaining three mugs have broken handles, so one is now used as my pens holder by my pc. That’s why I’m afraid to use the 3rd mug for drinking as I have a terrible vision of someone spilling hot coffee over them when the silly handle breaks! But they are just too cute to throw away, they are too lovey dovey! When a coffee handle breaks, it can still be recycled into something useful.

I also took a photo of this very cute red chocolate tin. It cost me $5 full of chocolates from Coles online last Valentine’s Day. I havent’ decided what it will be used for yet, but I’m sure it will turn out to be nice. It’s sitting on top of the table my great-grandfather made, which I will do a post about one day.

I didn’t realise how many red love hearts I have about my house!
❤ ❤ ❤

Be sure to check out other Ruby Reds at Ruby Tuesday!

Highlights from this week’s party

Easy Ways to have a diet high in Omega 3

It’s not always possible to eat fish every day, nor would you probably want to. One easy way we add omega 3 to our diet is to eat Soy and Linseed bread, as linseed is one of the highest sources of omega 3.

Canola oil is also high in omega 3 so we use margarine with canola oil in it. Although olive oil and rice bran oil are good to cook with, we also have canola oil as a choice. We also take fish oil capsules when we remember, not that David is in particular need of a diet high in omega 3. Finding simple ways like these to add omega 3 to our food means we don’t have to think about it much, it’s just part of our daily routine.

It’s good to skip the meat and have a vegetarian meal regularly, which I’m so grateful my husband doesn’t mind. Today we had toasted cheese and tomato sandwiches for lunch which were spiced up with our Awesome Sauce! So we add these into the Calorie King, as well as the daily exercise we’ve started doing, to work out your daily calorie intake. Yes, we are now on a diet and exercise regime, which is well overdue – the final straw being the Wii Fit told me I have now crept over into ‘obese’, WTF! Diet time!!!!

Awesome Sauce

And so here we have it, Awesome Sauce.

We’ve become dissatisfied with the hot chilli sauce you can get from the supermarket as we find them too mild. So there was nothing left to do but to make our own using our bumper crop of home-grown chillies. And is this sauce Hot! Just the way we like it! /nomnomnom

David made this using a recipe for hot chilli sauce at taste.com. And who’ve known it, that maple sauce bottle I saved for no good reason has come in handy after all!

Feast for a Day – Valentine's (part two)

After much planning and a full day of preparation yesterday, this is what we actually ended up having for our special day-long celebration today for both Valentine’s and Chinese New Year.

breakfast
Love Heart Fried Eggs with Smoked Salmon, generous dollops of hollandaise sauce and a sprinkling of fresh chives
Homemade Tomato, Capsicum, Chilli and Garlic Pull-apart Bread
Peppermint & Lemon Balm Tea with honey
Chocolate Coffee with cream & sugar

mid-morning snack
Mint & Ginger Fruit Punch
Poorman’s Caviar with Corn Chips
Lemon Myrtle & Pistacio Biscotti dipped in cinnamon honey

lunch
Smoked Salmon & Carrot Sushi
more Mint & Ginger Fruit Punch

afternoon desert
Love Heart Icecream Cake with strawberries, chocolate sauce, and crumbled pink merringue

dinner
Lemon Myrtle & White Fish Cakes with Sweet Chill Sauce and Basil Fried Rice

How to make

Icecream Cake
6 scoops of strawberry shortcake icecream mixed with 6 cut up caramel chocolates, a handful of crushed cashews, 3 crumbled chocolate biscuits, press into a cling-wrap lined heart-shaped small cake tin and freeze overnight

Mint & Ginger Fruit Punch
1 can of fizzy soft drink (we used Lemon Squash), a tablespoon of fresh ginger juice (grate and mix with a little tonic water then strain), add cut up 2 nectarines, 1 orange, a handful of strawberries and love-heart shaped ice cubes, a handful of fresh mint leaves, top up with Mango Juice as required

Feast for a Day – Valentine's

It’s important for strong mental health to mark the passage of time with friends and loved ones by celebrating special occasions together. This year, Valentine’s Day falls on a Sunday so this will be the last weekend day for a couple of years. Next year, David will be at work. So David and I have decided we shall celebrate with a day long feast!

To design the menu, we came up with three words to describe our greatest hopes for our relationship, this being the time to celebrate “love”. We then assigned colours and foods to these themes, then created a menu with each dish containing at least one thing from each theme. Another way to describe this “spell” we made up is to describe it as a “positve affirmation”, because after you eat each dish, you could think or whisper the three romantic words together! The only hocus-pocus here is to remind ourselves of our goals for our life together, and to consolidate it in a yummy but meaningful way.

Passion – Longevity – Faith

Passion – heat, red, sweet, blood
(eg. chillies, pepper, honey, mint, tomatoes, red wine, red kidney beans, red capsicum, rosewater, strawberries, passionfruit, lamb, ham, salmon, wasabi, coffee etc.)
Longevity – life, health, trees, green
(eg. rosemary, basil, oregano, marjoram, lemon myrtle, lemon balm, olive oil, eggs, eggplant, apples, linseed, tree nuts, nutmeg, peas, dairy, flour, rice, citrus etc.)
Faith – earth, strong, white, reliability
(eg. potatoes, water, onions, carrots, chives, chocolate, garlic, ginger, groundnuts (peanuts), cinnamon, mayonaise, etc.)

DRAFT Feast for a Day menu (will post fotos of what we actually did later)
(if you use this idea on your website, please link back to my blog, thanks!)

breakfast
Peppermint, Lemon Balm and Ginger Tea (passion, longevity, faith)
Hot Chocolate Coffee with Cream (passion, longevity, faith)
Heart-shaped Eggs Benedict with Smoked Salmon and Chives (passion, longevity, faith)
Garlic and Tomato Homebaked Bread (passion, longevity, faith)

morning tea
Heart-shaped Rosewater and Peanut Cookies (passion, longevity, faith)
Spice Milk Chai, incl. caffiene, ginger, nutmeg etc. (passion, longevity, faith)

lunch
Salmon and Carrot Sushi Rolls with Sweet Chilli Sauce and Wasabi (passion, longevity, faith)
Mango Juice with sprigs of mint and ginger (passion, longevity, faith)
Apple Juice with floating strawberries and a dusting of cinnamon sugar (passion, longevity, faith)

dinner
Roast Lamb with Rosemary and Garlic (passion, longevity, faith)
Basil Fried Rice with Peas, Onion, Red Capsicum and Chilli (passion, longevity, faith)
red wine (passion) to be served in green glasses with white ribbon (longevity & faith)
Garlic and Tomato Homebaked Bread (passion, longevity, faith)

snack and drink ideas
Pistacio and Lemon Myrtle Biscotti with Honey and Cinnamon dip (passion, longevity, faith)
Hot Apple Tea with Cinnamon and Honey (passion, longevity, faith)
pappadoms with carrot and margoram dip (passion, longevity, faith)
corn chips with tomato and onion salsa (passion, longevity, faith)
Poorman’s Caviar  – red capsicum, eggplant, garlic (passion, longevity, faith)

desert
Love-heart Shaped Pavlovas with Strawberries, Cream and a drizzling of chocolate sauce (passion, longevity, faith)
Strawberry Shortcake Icecream with a dusting of sweetened cocoa powder (passion, longevity, faith)

make before the day
garlic and tomato bread
rosewater and peanut cookies
peppermint and lemon balm tea
hollandaise sauce and pavlova shells (or merringues)
pistacio and lemon myrtle biscotti

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