14 November 2011

8 March 2010


Just realised that there have been 8 comments on here since I last visited! Sorry to everyone who has commented, but for some reason I didn't recieve notification of any comments?

Anyway, for anyone who is worried, I'm doing fine, just busy. Feel free to contact me at rinelle at tirtairngire dot com if you want to catch up.

2 March 2009

Pumpkin Harvest - Part 1!

I posted about a week ago about the pumpkin vines taking over the front garden. Well, just before the official start of Autumn yesterday, they weather seemed to be getting a bit cooler (turned out that was just to lull us into complacency before the end of season heatwave the last two days!), I started to think of getting the autumn planting into the ground. Of course, that was next to impossible with the pumpkin vine crawling over everything. The ideal is to let your pumpkins stay on the vines until they die off, then harvest. This means the skins get nice and hard, and the pumpkins will keep for longer. However, a few questions lead to the fact that pumpkin vines may not, in fact, die off here in Brisbane, where we get no harsh winter weather or frosts. And certainly mine are showing no signs of slowing down!

So DH put on his gumboots and gloves, and braved the pumpkin vine jungle to see what he could find. All up, 9 mature and ripe pumpkins, and at least another half a dozen that need a few more weeks. Luckily I've found a space around the side of the house for the first autumn planting, so these can have a little longer. I mean, really, can you ever have to many pumpkins?

28 February 2009

It's the Little Things

Some days, I feel like I'm not making much progress towards where I want to be. It's too hot to garden, too hard to cook. I'm sure we all have days like that. On these days, I find it important to remember that the steps towards simplicity and sustainability aren't always large. Sometimes, doing something small, can make a big difference.

This week, I knitted a small soap saver. DH likes something to scrub with in the shower, and when his last plastic scrubber wore out, I wasn't inclined to replace it with another plastic item. This simple knitted bag does the job, and hopefully means we can use the soap up to the last bit, meaning it will last longer, and we will waste less.

Speaking of soap, I also made a new batch of soap this week. Why is it that I always wait until we're using the last bar to make a new batch, even though this will take at least another week to cure? I wasn't sure how this lot would turn out, in fact I thought I had wrecked it at one point, but it looks like it will work after all. I used the same recipe as last time, only I added some honey as well. I'm not sure if it was the honey, or the fact that I oiled the moulds (the bottom of empty 3L milk bottles) with olive oil, but this soap is far more oily than the last lot. However, so long as it sets, and isn't caustic, we'll use it anyway! The extra oil will just help the soap be a little moisturising! It's all a learning experience.

26 February 2009

Guest Blogger - Hidesy

Hi! I'm Rinelle's sister Hidesy :) Since I was taking a photo of all the toys I recently bought second hand Rinelle suggested that I do a guest post and show them off :) I went to about 4-5 different second hand shops around Brisbane, and found all of these. I had a budget of $50 to spend on toys (in theory our weekly budget for "stuff for Miranda (DD)" so I thought I'd see what I could get. I wanted quality stuff or I could have bought a lot more probably - but I didn't want things that were broken or pointless - I wanted things that could be interesting and would help her. Of course now I realise that I left Pinky out of the picture - a bit unforgivable as it's her favourite ;) It's a little pink stuffed Giraffe. So here's what I got for $48.50 in the end. It took a bit to get them all clean, but I think it was worth it :)

24 February 2009

Ebay Bargain!

DH and I bought this old blue couch back when we were newly married, meaning it is 7 years old now! It's served us faithfully, and moved with us twice. Unfortunately, while it was a great size for two, now that there are three of us, it's getting very squishy.

So it was well and truly time for a new couch. DH and I fell in love with the couch with chaise style after using one at a holiday apartment we stayed in, but until we re-arranged our living room a few weeks ago, we just couldn't find out that would fit in the space we have. A few weeks ago, we decided to take the plunge and get rid of the TV.

No, we're not really TV less. We haven't had commercial TV for more than 12 months now, but we do still watch out selected DVD's. Which, of course, can be watched just as easily on our computer! Our 19 inch monitor was just a little too small though, so we now have a 27 inch. This saves lots of space, and power as well I would imagine, since we no longer run the old CRT screen TV or the DVD player.

Anyway, once that was done, the hunt was on for a new couch. We looked around all the furniture stores (online and in person), and found several (seems to be a popular style right now), but nearly all of them were synthetic, which is something I'm trying to avoid these days. Ikea had lovely lounges, and as a bonus, the covers are completely removable so that you can wash them. Seemed ideal. Except that on closer inspection, only the WHITE covers were actually machine washable, the others were all dry clean only. This was enough to put us off for a while, until I hit upon the concept of dying the covers!

We probably would have gone straight to Ikea to get one, except they had none in stock. (And, of course, Ikea is a 2 hour drive away!) Thus instead, I have been searching EBay daily (you can have new items matching your search criteria e-mailed to you daily), until last week I spotted the EXACT couch I wanted. Bidding was steep, but with dint of much refreshing and last minute bidding, I am now the proud owner of a genuine Ikea couch, at exactly half the retail price!

As you can see, it's in great condition, only 6 months old. The white cover has a few minor discolourations (much of which was probably due to DD jumping up and down on the cushions pretending they were islands), which will undoubtedly be covered when we dye them. Currently, it's covered in sheets, as the owners had dogs, which DH is mildly allergic to. Hopefully we'll get the covers washed and dyed next weekend.

I'm so glad that we managed to find exactly the couch we wanted, at such a great price, and much closer than Ikea! Buying second hand has many advantages, as well as being more eco friendly in that items are reused rather than being thrown out. (In case you're wondering, our old couch now lives up in the garage, for use when DH is up there working.)

Right now though, I'm off to research eco friendly dying!

23 February 2009

Feburary - In the Garden

February, like December and January, has mostly just been too hot for gardening! The rain we've had in the last few weeks has meant that it's cooled down enough to get out there a little in the morning and evening, and most of that time has been spent pulling out the weeds that have been growing like, well, weeds. Luckily some of the plants have been growing likewise, without any attention from me. In fact, I'm surprised that we're actually starting to get a decent amount of food out of the block to supplement our diets. The chickens are back to laying 2-3 eggs a day, which is just enough for us for now. Hopefully there will be even more as the weather cools down though. Still, it has meant that we haven't had to buy a single egg since they started laying! That's been five months now!

The front garden has been taken over by volunteer pumpkin vines that I somehow missed pulling out. They sprout themselves from seeds in the compost, and being a small area, I tried to pull them out, but these took hold after it was too hot to do much. They've covered pretty much the entire area, smothering even the watermelons. They haven't been too good since the first half dozen though, either too ripe, not ripe enough or not enough water. We're still getting a few though, and being fresh and organic, I'd still rather eat them than store bought ones. Again, we haven't bought a watermelon since we harvested our first one!

My guess is that there are at least 20 or more JAP (short for Just A Pumpkin) pumpkins, some bigger than my head!

There's even some hanging from the vines that have climbed up the front fence! Looks like we will have heaps of pumpkins this year too. And they are so sweet! We've had two so far, and looking forward to lots more. Apparently JAP pumpkins only keep for 4-5 months, as they have a thinner skin than other varieties, but I'm sure these will be long gone by then! I'm hoping to keep them on the vines until they die off, as apparently they will keep longer this way. The vines are showing no signs of dying off yet though, still producing little pumpkins, so we'll have to see how that goes. It will be time to get the autumn/winter planting in the ground soon!

I cooked up the last of the frozen strawberries from our garden a week or so ago. Made a mere 4 bottles of jam! I also found several bags of cut up mango from a tray I bought last year, and since they still seemed good, I cooked them up for some mango jam/butter. Mmm, delicious! So sweet I can't eat more than a bite, but very very nice.

Hopefully the jam will see us through until the first harvest of rosella's, which shouldn't' be long now. These bushes down the side of the house are doing far better than the scraggly ones I had up the back last year. Should get lots of jam out of them! Best of all, DD will actually eat it (she normally only eats strawberry), because it is pink! You can see our small bamboo plant in this picture too, it's on the left, being smothered by the rosella's! But growing none the less. I wish I could say the same about the potatoes, that were in between these straw bales. I have no idea if it was the weather or what, but they just didn't do well. Still, I did get one meal out of one plot, so hopefully I'll get some more once I get to the rest of them. I have some of our own tiny potatoes that have sprouted now, so they'll be going in the ground (in a different area) soon. Hopefully they'll do better than this lot.

My latest planting of cotton is getting flowers and bolls. It's down the side of the house, just to the left of the bamboo and rosella's. Unfortunately, the neighbour's horses took a liking to some weeds growing there, and lent over the fence and ate them, along with some of the cotton plants! Not sure if I will be able to salvage much or not. The plants up in the garden that I planted last year have cotton bursting out of them, but since it has gotten wet, it's not very usable. (And I can't really get to it because of the weeds, oops.)

My passionfruit vine is finally taking off, and we're getting about half a dozen lovely yellow passionfruit a week. They are so sweet, not sour at all, unlike most of the passionfruit you buy. I was really surprised to find that these were the yellow passionfruit, as I thought the plant taking over the trellis was the purple one. (I planted one of each.) Hoping we get some purple ones eventually too.

Sadly, I was too busy with other things to harvest most of the corn that I went to such an effort to save after a nasty storm, but I left the plants standing, and a couple of days ago picked off all the ears and shucked the seeds off them. There were only about 5, so I was really surprised to get this many seeds! Plenty to plant next year! (And if I have leftovers, I'm sure the chickens would love them!

Hopefully there will be lots more garden posts coming up soon now that the weather is starting to cool. Getting all this produce from very little effort has really made me want to get out into the garden and get it producing again!

I will also have to post pics of my orchard, just as soon as we mow it. It's kind of hard to see the tress for the grass right now. Oops. But hopefully soon we might have a ride-on mower, which will make the job a LOT easier!