Berry delicious

Tuesday, 2 December 2014

Yesterday's pickings of blackberries and blueberries

Is it considered foraging if it's in your own backyard?

I think so. And I have the scratches to prove it.

I know blackberry is considered a pest, but it's only a class 4, meaning it should be managed in a manner that reduces the spread and inhibits the plant's reproduction. I still wish to maintain a smallish patch just so we can enjoy the fruit.

Our blueberry bush is very tiny, only about a foot tall, but it still gives us an amazing number of berries.



Happy Summer!

Monday, 1 December 2014

The promise of a pomegranate

Today is the first day of summer and this year the season looks like it will be a shocker! We have already had several days of 40 degree (104 fahrenheit) weather, but so far these have usually followed quickly by a day or two at almost half that. My little Etsy shop has been very busy, it feels quite odd  spending my days making winter hats when it is so hot!

This week we have storms and rain forecast for the entire week. Exactly what we need to fill up the tanks before the early summer storms disappear, leaving us with long, hot days.

The vege patch is shaping up nicely, I promise to do a post on it soon.


Horrid Henry

Monday, 24 November 2014

This is the story of Henry, our rooster. Henry was formerly known as Queenie and was raised and loved by a little boy (friends of my nephew).

One day Henry started crowing and the little boy's family needed to find a new home for him.

Enter me. A dumb move as it turns out.

Once Henry had some hens to look after he started taking that role seriously. Very seriously.

Henry now chases and usually attacks almost everyone he comes across. This was funny when it was just Mr Homespun running along the driveway in his enormous gumboots with Henry following. Then it became slightly alarming when Henry tried the same thing with Mr Homespun's dad. Now I have torn a calf muscle trying to keep out of Henry's way, and spent several days on crutches and several weeks at the physio, I am not finding it even remotely funny. In fact, I have threatened Henry several times with the idea of serving him up for Sunday dinner. I usually do this whilst channelling Helena Bonham-Carter performing the role of the Queen of Hearts... ' OFF WITH HIS HEAD!!!!...'

If anyone has any ideas on what to do with an aggressive rooster (besides rid him of his head, a move recommended by many friends and acquaintances), please let me know.


R.I.P. Paul Bullen

Saturday, 18 October 2014

Earlier this week I woke to the news that we had lost my Uncle Paul, suddenly and unexpectedly.

He was a husband, father, pop, brother, brother-in-law, uncle, great mate and all round good guy. He went to school with my dad, right from kindy so my aunt, who is my dad's little sister, doesn't know a time without him. He was MC at our wedding 17 years ago. He was so important to me both now and growing up, a safe harbour in a sometimes crazy world. His daughter was and is, to this day still, my best friend. He was such an integral part of our family I can't imagine us without him. So much so that even at his funeral yesterday, I looked around for my aunt and, for just a fraction of a second, my brain forgot and I looked for him because I knew if I found him my aunt wouldn't be too far away.

I don't usually name names on my little corner of the web, but this time it's different. I want the whole world to know, forever, how proud I was to call him my uncle.

We love and miss you, Uncle Paul.


Compost Bays

Friday, 3 October 2014

A couple of weeks ago Mr Homespun and I spent a few days building our new compost bays. And they were free! Made completely with scrap materials from around the property (there was a lot of junk left here).

We are incredibly chuffed with them, they are exactly what we have had in mind for many years, we just didn't have the room or the need for them until moving out here. Now we need to add more because we have already filled them up!

They are each approximately 1 cubic metre in size, big enough to get the high temperatures required in the centres to make compost quickly.

Do you compost?


Miss 15

Wednesday, 10 September 2014

So yesterday it was all about Miss 11 so it's only fair I fill you in on what's been happening with Miss 15.

Not much.

Except for one important thing...

Netball champions!!!!!!!!!!

Miss 15 has the most incredible team. Almost all of them have been together for the past 5 years, several even longer that that, and have finally had a much earned win. The first two years she played the team made the grand finals, only to lose (to the same team) in both. This was followed by two years where they were graded very badly and I don't think they won even a single game in the whole two seasons.

But this year their resilience finally paid off.

They finished 3rd at the end of the regular rounds so had to get to the finals the long way. Firstly a semi that was washed out after three quarters of the game had been played (they were leading by over 20 goals so it was very frustrating). So we had to come back on the Tuesday night to play the entire game again. But Tuesday night came and it was raining so it was put back until Wednesday night.

But it was raining on Wednesday too (can you tell we have had a lot of rain?).

So Thursday night finally came and the girls scraped in, winning by just 1 goal. I have a few extra grey hairs from that one.

Two days later they backed up, a convincing win over a team they hadn't beaten all year. Followed by a week of rest and then the big game.

And now they wear the much deserved crown.

Go, Jets, Go!


Time flies...

Tuesday, 9 September 2014

...when you are busy?

I can't believe it's been so long since I last posted. Terribly slack of me don't you think? That means lots to catch up on, so let's get started.

Miss 11 has been to camp - twice! Once to the Bathurst region as part of learning about the Goldrush. This one was for 3 days (2 nights), followed by a whole week at Creative Arts Camp, and this one was waaayy to long for her mumma. In fact, it was the longest we have ever been separated.

Squished in between the two camps we had the annual Book Week Parade, can you guess who she was dressed as?

I whipped up the cloak from two sheets I purchased a Kmart (the pattern can be found here) and I started knitting up the scarf but thankfully I didn't get far until my mum took over.

She has also ridden a bit of a roller coaster with her health, the usual cold/sore throat as well as an infection on her leg that kept her home for almost a week. And the day after returning from Bathurst she played in her netball semi-final and crashed heavily to the ground, luckily just grazing her knees (you can see the dressing on one of them in the photo). They won the semi but went on to lose in the final a week later.

And now, just when everything is starting to get back to normal we have school holidays is just over a week. Isn't life a crazy roller coaster at times?


Afternoon tea - Blueberry Clafoutis

Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Our little blueberry bush is starting to get flower buds all over it and I am determined to actually get some off it this year, unlike last year.

But whilst impatiently waiting for it to fruit I purchased a punnet this week and made a Blueberry Clafoutis, yum!

Clafoutis is ridiculously easy to make and can be used with a variety of fruits, plums, berries and traditionally, cherries.  It is heavy on the eggs and light on the flour so it ends up something like a baked custard.

Blueberry Clafoutis

1 punnet blueberries (or fruit of your choice)
1/2 cup plain flour
1/3 cup sugar
4 eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup milk
25g unsalted butter, melted
Additional melted butter for greasing
icing sugar to dust


Preheat oven to 180 degrees. Brush shallow pie plate with additional melted butter.

Spread blueberries onto pie plate.

Sift the flour, add sugar and make a well. Gradually add combined milk, eggs and butter, whisking constantly to ensure it is smooth and free of lumps.

Pour batter over berries. Bake for 30-35 minutes or until risen and golden. Remove from oven and dust with icing sugar when cool.

Serve immediately and enjoy!

The baby house is sold

Wednesday, 9 July 2014

The baby house is what my cousin calls the house you bring your babies home to, and today the cooling off period closed for the sale of our baby house. Definitely mixed emotions here.

Sad, because we bought the land as an engaged couple, built our dream house on it, making every decision on what the house would look like, colour of the bricks and roof tiles, kitchen cupboards and countertops, paint colours, light fightings, everything. And we had it just about perfect, having finally bought all the furniture to fill it and to have it looking like we wanted it to. But unfortunately we outgrew the backyard some years ago, our yearning for big vegie gardens and orchards meant we were destined to move at some point.

And this year was the year it happened. We went from a 735 square metre block to a 19 980 one. And we love it. And even though we know we can and will make this place just as lovely, we miss our beautiful house.

But we are also happy, because now we can get one with making this place our home. Build the big shed, extend the house, start the vegie patch and orchard. Whilst dreaming of making it just as perfect for us as our baby house was.


The first frost

Sunday, 29 June 2014

Yesterday we woke to a frost, our first ever!

And I mean ever. Despite living only 10 minutes from here for the past 15 or so years, we never experienced a frost at our old place. No doubt because it was an area of predominantly brick homes with lots of asphalt road, all adding up to create it's own little microclimate.

But out here, this is real weather!

Sadly the spot we are starting to work over for the vege patch was also affected. We had originally decided to put the vege patch down the bottom of the property but changed our minds as we knew the bottom section would be affected by frost and so moved it to the highest point. Grrr.

We are now battening down the hatches as we are experiencing some very high winds. We haven't had many big winds since being out here so fingers crossed everything will be ok.

The three little pigs

Monday, 23 June 2014

Yesterday Mama Guinea Pig gave birth to three little pigs!

One of the pigs from the last litter next to two of the new babies. They are so tiny.

Aren't they cute?

Meniere's Disease

Wednesday, 18 June 2014

At last a diagnosis... Meniere's Disease.

Someone asked me around 10 years ago if I had Meniere's Disease, to which I promptly answered 'no' (and then when straight home and googled it) so the idea that this is what it may've been has been floating around in my head for a long time. And I always thought I would be shattered if it turned out to be Meniere's, until the specialist told me in a very relieved voice (after checking my MRI results) that he thought he was going to have to tell me I had a brain tumour. He thought I was in 'serious trouble'. After that, Meniere's seemed like a relief!

The specialist also told me it and Otosclerosis are often found together, some of the symptoms overlapping, which is why I haven't had an earlier diagnosis. There is no definitive test for Meniere's, just eliminating the other possibilities until it's all you have left.

So after almost 5 months of being almost constantly dizzy we are on track to managing it, because that appears to be all I can do, manage it. There is no cure and other treatments to eliminate it appear to be quite drastic.

So after a couple of weeks on the medication I was (overly) optimistic on how I was going so I went back to work last week.

Bad move.

The first day was ok, I was in training so the slight dizziness I felt didn't really affect my day, but by day 2, when they put me back in front of the computers, well, to put it nicely I was stuffed. The constant head turning (they have dual monitors) and writing stuff down and then head up and down from the page to the screen was all too much. Can't say I wasn't warned though, the specialist stated there probably wasn't a worse environment for me at this stage.

So now I am back home, contemplating what to do about work as I will most likely have to resign. Not that that is such a hardship, I'm certainly not going to miss that work. But with the downturn in Mr Homespun's industry and the possibility that soon both of us could be out of a job it is a bit of a worry. And the stress of that is not doing the Meniere's any favours either.

But it could be worse.


The new tractor

Friday, 30 May 2014

This week Mr Homespun got his new tractor delivered.

He was like a kid waiting for Santa, watching the road for any sign of the delivery truck.

It is a very fast red colour (yes, the colour is more important than what it can do for some of us!). We put it to work as soon as it was off the truck.

This is the area we will make into the vegie garden so we gave it a bit of a run.

I even had a bit of a go and I'll happily admit it was a bit fun, even if I didn't get out of first gear!


World's Best Pizza Dough Recipe

Thursday, 29 May 2014

Maybe a slight exaggeration there, but it is still the best I have ever had!

This is probably the most used recipe in the Homespun kitchen. We have pizza at least once a fortnight, sometimes once a week. The recipe I used to use was a great tasting base but frankly it was hard work, a tough dough to knead and it had to be rolled out with a rolling pin. But this one is lovely and 'soft'. I can knead it with one hand if needed (ha ha) and it is just fingered pressed onto the trays.

3 cups plain flour
Large pinch of caster sugar
2 tspns yeast
Small pinch of salt
1 tblspn olive oil
1 1/4 cups warm water

Place flour, yeast and sugar in a large mixing bowl and give a little mix until ingredients are combined. Add salt, olive oil and 1 cup of warm water and mix, adding additional water if needed. Knead for 10 (ish) minutes or until elastic and smooth. Place in a lightly oiled bowl and cover with a clean, damp cloth.

Leave for 30 minutes, or until doubled in size. This part will depend on how warm your kitchen is, if it is a bit chilly it may need a little longer. Punch down and knead until it is about the same size as it was before the rise.

Your dough is now ready!

Just press out onto lightly oiled trays. This makes two large pizzas or you can use to make smaller ones.

Cover with your desired toppings and pop into an oven preheated to 230 degrees celsius for around 10 minutes.

I originally found this recipe here, but I have omitted a couple of bits to make it easier. I'll post some of our favourite toppings another day.


Bats and foxes and water, oh my!

Monday, 12 May 2014

The mess left each morning by the bats

Living on the farm has been a huge learning curve for Mr Homespun and I. We are having to deal with many things we haven't had to in the past.

Like bats. They fly in each night and eat the fruit from our trees, a couple of months ago it was the persimmons, now it's the guavas. They smell and leave a terrible mess. I try and sneak out with a torch if I hear them but being deaf in one ear makes that a little difficult! I'm thinking of getting some solar lights to hang in the trees but if anyone has any other ideas (that work!), please let me know.

And foxes. Two of our chickens disappeared a couple of weeks ago. We suspected foxes but weren't entirely sure. Since then we have had a hen taken from the hen house which is only a few metres from the back door of the house. We had been lax with the security as we thought they were safe so close to the house. So we boarded up the hen house and they are locked up securely every night.

Then Friday morning I opened the run doors when it was light, around the same time I do every morning, when only minutes later I heard an awful ruckus. I dashed outside to find only two chickens in the yard and a fox running off. I found the other chickens still in the hen house, safe and sound. But this was again close to the house when it was almost full light. They certainly aren't very afraid of us, and we will be more vigilant.

We have also had some problems with flooding. We had a monumental amount of rain early Anzac Day morning and because of the poor set up here at the farm almost all the water from the top end of the farm all ends up in one place. The carport/flat area. An area where I unfortunately have quite a bit of the furniture stored that won't fit in the house.

So we are again considering what to do around the farm first. There are so many things that need fairly urgent attention but all require planning and, unfortunately, funds. The sooner our old house sells, the sooner we can make a start!


Noro Silk Garden

Saturday, 12 April 2014

Yesterday I was given two balls of the very delicious Noro Silk Garden from my mum. I have admired this yarn for quite some time but never gotten around to getting any (my local yarn store doesn't stock such exclusive yarns, only standard ones) so I have spent some time on Ravelry and found a pattern I hope works with it.

So this morning I am sitting on the front verandah, in the sunshine, spending a few hours knitting.


The Koi fish pond

Tuesday, 8 April 2014

As I mentioned in an earlier post we have a fish pond near the front door and Mr Homespun was quick to declare he would get rid of it as soon as we had moved in. As luck would have it a few days after we moved in we discovered there was a large Koi living in it so Mr H quickly changed his mind, the pond would stay.

Obviously, as it took us a few days to discover the fish, the pond was in a right awful state. I'm not sure how the fish was even alive it was so disgusting. Here is a glimpse of the colour of the water.

Yuck, right?

So we sought some advice and bought a pump and filter and had someone out who had a pond vacuum to give it a helping hand. Sooooo glad we did, the bottom of the pond was disgusting! Along with the many buckets of leaves and muck we also found an assortment of other things; cans, pots and this:

It appears to be some kind of pot but is made of some sort of metal and weighs a ton!

Anyhoo, the pump worked it's magic and the water quality started to improve quickly, looking like this after only one week.

And now? Well today it looks like this:

Even on an overcast day you can see how good it looks. The water is crystal clear! We were so happy with the result we bought some friends for Gobbles (Miss 11 named the original fish).



Sunday, 6 April 2014

Good grief, where have I been?

I haven't posted in ages so here is a quick catch up on all that's been going on (or not going on) at Homespun Headquarters.

We just returned a couple of days ago from a few days in sunny Queensland, all theme parked out and happy to not eat another meal of junk food for at least six months!

One of the three cats left here by the previous owners had kittens (of course it did), six in fact! We arrived home from our holiday to find that one had disappeared and all that was left of it was a very small tail. The girls are quite heartbroken, it was the runt (and dare I say the favourite) of the litter and mama cat had been trying to get rid of it whilst we were away. I guess we shall never know what happened.

A few weeks back we did the farm tour at the Purple Pear Farm and got some great ideas on what we can implement here at Homespun Headquarters.

Subsequently we had Lachie from Tree Frog Permaculture visit to help us with a plan for the farm. We learnt so much, including the fact that our farm appears to be overrun with weeds! Slight exaggeration there, but still a lot of work to be done to clear them out.

Still battling my vertigo and dizziness issues, and it always seems worse after I have been on a computer, hence why I have been avoiding posting anything! I have an appointment with an ENT surgeon to discuss having the surgery I swore I would never have. Totally bummed about it but not able to see an alternative at the moment.

Working madly on our old house to get it ready for sale. It is now on the market. Just waiting impatiently for a buyer...

Summing it all up: not much has been going on over the past few weeks, but now we have our holiday out of the way we expect that to change. It has been almost three months since we moved to the farm and I am desperate to get some dirt under my fingernails!

New Addition

Tuesday, 18 February 2014

Meet Flynn!

Flynn is the new resident pony here at the new Homespun Headquarters. He belongs to my nephew's girlfriend Jen, but lives here with us. He is about 5 months old and so little, barely bigger than a large dog!

And the girls just love him!



Friday, 14 February 2014

My first day back at work since the move turned out a bit more exciting and a whole lot more embarrassing than I had planned. I lasted only just over 3 hours before being taken to hospital by ambulance (but only after collapsing and later puking in a bin!), only to be told I was suffering from vertigo. I was mortified. Calling an ambulance for vertigo!

But in my defence I thought I was about to have a seizure. I had epilepsy as a child and the spinning sensation is identical to what I experience before an epileptic seizure. Only the seizure doesn't eventuate and the spinning doesn't stop. And my head hasn't stopped spinning since it started.

Now speaking from experience I can tell you, vertigo is bloody awful.

Since the first I have had another episode, ending up back in the emergency department. But a subsequent trip to the doctor and a new medication I now carry with me constantly will hopefully mean no more trips to hospital. I also have specific manoeuvres I have to carry out several times a day to assist in getting the bits in my ear back to normal.

My fingers are crossed.

And my toes just in case.

The new house tour - the land

Tuesday, 4 February 2014

The bottom paddock - this will probably become the vegie patch

Along with the house we have five acres. Five beautiful, albeit neglected, acres. This is where we are most excited to get started. We have big plans for vegie gardens and lots more fruit trees.

More of the lower paddocks

This fellow has visited most evenings.

Mr Homespun's first comment when he saw this at the front door was that it had to go as it was just a mosquito breeding ground. I sulked because I love Koi Carp and really wanted to put some in the pond.

Luckily the day after we moved in we spotted this:

A Koi! Just one lonely Koi who Miss 10 promptly named Gobbles. We dashed to an aquarium/nursery on the other side of the lake to get food and to discuss how best to clean the pond up. So we are now armed with a plan, but it will take us a little while to find the time to implement it.

The gardens have been woefully neglected and I can't wait to get my hands dirty!

We are also lucky to have numerous fruit trees on the property, a few plums and other stone fruits, but the rest could be considered quite exotic. Feijoas, pomegranates and persimmons as well as some we have yet to figure out.

So although the house has a considerable amount of work required, the land has just as much, if not more. We will be busy little vegemites for quite some time to come.


The new house tour

Friday, 31 January 2014

As promised, here are a few photos of our new home. The house is very small so there aren't too many photos!

This is the view from the front door looking through the lounge room into the kitchen dining room, the lounge room is extremely small but the kitchen area is a nice size. You can see the lines in the carpet, both the lounge room and Miss 10's bedroom are lined in carpet tiles that are lifting in parts and have horrible sticky bits along the seams. Yuck!

 Miss 10's bedroom, a great size room. It has a feature wall in a very dark aubergine colour and the other three walls appear to just be undercoated.

...and our bedroom, again quite large, again with the feature wall this time in a dark chocolate. You can also see on the left near the door a part of the wall is a dusky pink, when we originally inspected the house there was a tall desk/shelving unit there and it appears the painter just painted around it, something also continued in the laundry where they painted around the washing machine! Very odd.

The house also has a bathroom and laundry (obviously) and another very small, awkwardly shaped  room that we are using as a library/office. It also has the most horrid 'granny flat' which is proving very handy for storage. It is so bad I won't put photos up of it! Miss 14 is very excited about it though, she has taken over it for her own bedroom and lounge area. 

The house also came with an infestation of fleas, it's very own population of cats and two dead chickens in the 'chicken house'. Don't get me started!

Overall the house is less than half the size of our previous home so we have a lot of furniture that doesn't fit. We had thought about extending but now that we are here we are thinking about knocking it over and rebuilding. We would love to do it ourselves so are looking at kit homes. 

Lot's of work ahead of us!


Happy Australia Day

Monday, 27 January 2014

To all my Aussie readers, I hope you had a great Australia Day, to those of you that aren't Australian, I hope you had a lovely Sunday.

Our afternoon was spent playing backyard cricket (doesn't get more Australian than a game of backyard cricket!)

Followed by a barbie with pavlova and lamington cake for dessert, of course!

Can you tell my lot don't really like pavlova (tee hee)?


Rain - please stay!

Tuesday, 21 January 2014

Around here we are having a horrible dry spell. Very little rain in months.

And our new home is on tank water, so instead of just worrying whether the gardens are getting enough water, we now also need to worry whether we have enough.

So yesterday morning I was delighted to see this.

And whilst the rain didn't eventuate from this cloud, this morning I have woken to slippery steps, the sound of frogs and the whoosh of cars passing on the road out the front.

Rain, sweet rain.

Hope it is raining where you are, if you need it to be.


We're In!

Sunday, 19 January 2014

Well, it's been just over a week since we moved into our new home and things are almost settling down, almost. To be honest I don't know if they ever will settle down again!

Our pre-settlement inspection showed us just how much work we have ahead of us. Given that we had spent just a few minutes inside the house before buying it (the previous owners were there making it a little awkward) and not much longer outside (before it started raining), we really weren't able to get a grip on how much work the place required.

So as overwhelmed as we are feeling right now, we are also terribly excited.

I'll post more photos as soon as I have a few minutes spare to take some!


Happy New Year!

Thursday, 2 January 2014

I hope you had a lovely holiday season and are filled with exciting plans for 2014. As usual I have a head full of intentions for the new year, no doubt almost none of them will be followed through!

What is definite though is:

2014 will see the biggest change ever for us as we move to our little acreage in just over a week, squeal! Big plans there, which also means lots of work for the next 12 months or so (I think we are being very optimistic there).

Miss 10 will head back to school as one of her school's captains for 2014, we are all terribly proud of her and know she will have a great final year at her school. Her best friend is also moving back here after nearly 4 years in England and we are all beside ourselves with excitement over this.

Miss 14 is heading into year 10 (where did that time go????) and will no doubt have lots of work to do as well as having lots of fun with her friends whilst she is there.

Hope your new year is all that you hope it will be.