Feb/March Monthly Nine

march roses

Here it is April and is there any point posting my monthly nine for the last two months?  I decided I would, for my own records.  I am surprised by how quickly I forget what happened, when.  I am not linking this post with the others but Linda from Greenhaven hosts the monthly nine round-up, having taken over from Christine who began the series a number of years ago and thought up the  nine categories.

NOURISH

march nourish

Rhubarb from the garden is always a delight to me.  Mostly I bake it in the oven and serve it cold for breakfast – with yoghurt and seeds or rice porridge.  Gluten free pizza is also a popular menu item at the moment.  Valentine’s Day called for a heart shaped pizza.  Perhaps the favourite ‘thing’ over the last two months has been capsicum stuffed with grated cheese, grated carrot, chopped tomato and some cooked or canned corn kernels, then baked in the oven until the capsicum looks cooked. Red capsicum is best but any will do. It is really delicious!  We enjoyed various salads on the last warm days in February – and on a couple of occasions, carrot fritters, a tabbouleh made with brown rice, hummous and lovely in season watermelon.  Talking of ‘in season’ I purchased superb organic unwaxed apples at local farmers markets during February and March.  Cool nights in March inspired the making of soups.  One weekend it was pea and bacon bone and another it was pumpkin, with enough of each to put some in the freezer.

PREPARE

feb hawthorn before and aftr

in February we had the hawthorn bushes from along the front fence line of our country house removed.  The photo shows a before and three after.  In March we met with a garden designer and began planning our garden.  We learned about the trees that are already on the property – and that they need a lot more water.  A Chinese Elm, if watered well should help to provide some shade on the western side of the house, and some Manchurian Pear trees on the eastern side will do the same. By the end of March though, we had instructions for how to draw a plan, lots of ideas about what to plant, and some tips for soil preparation. So a long way to go yet.

REDUCE

march 9 quilt front A

We decided that the old tank we were going to dispose of would serve as a shelter for firewood.  Some Besser Bricks were purchased, then placed inside the tank and covered with old iron that had been left on the property – all ready for a delivery of firewood.  I also looked at my stash of fabric scraps to see what I could make with them and made a quilt.

GROW

march herbs

At the country house I planted spinach, parsley, sweet peas and daffodil bulbs.  All things I hope might survive and thrive without my having to be present everyday to water and nurture them.  The city garden is in need of a tidy up. Some herbs are getting a bit rambunctious and lettuces have gone to seed.  And the raspberry canes need cutting back.

GREEN

march ceiling fan 2

We had lots of extra insulation put into the ceiling and under the floor of our country house.  Ceiling fans with LED lights were also installed in four rooms. Solar panels are also being researched and costed and we applied and were successful in gaining permission for the maximum amount of solar panels allowed for our house.

CREATE

March outfits Collage

I enjoyed making two outfits for two little sisters. The jacket was made from lovely soft Nani Iro knit fabric. This was lined and bound with a Cloud 9 organic cotton.  Another fabric from this Cloud9 range was used for the front buttoning shirt.  Pants were made from soft wide wale corduroy that I have been hoarding for a long time.  Both were scraps left from other projects but were just enough to make these little duds.

DISCOVER

march iced coffee

I spent a lovely Sunday afternoon discovering the delights of Sydney Road, Brunswick, including live Italian music at the cafe were we lunched and a very pretty little french cafe that served delectable mini macaroons – I chose violet flavoured. YUM!  I loved looking in the window of the Moroccan shop, and spent a long time browsing in a bookshop. I did wish some more of the fabric shops had been open but it was probably just as well they weren’t as I might not have been restrained enough to ‘just look’.

Thanks to my local library, I also discovered Instagram and got hooked.

ENHANCE
Saturday mornings at Farmers’Markets have very much added to my sense of being part of a ‘community’.  I really appreciate that they exist and hope to do my little bit to support the local growers and makers.  Besides the produce is so much better quality than available in retail stores.

ENJOY

march baby

The birth of a new baby (end of Feb) and a birthday (March) were both causes for celebration. Meals out and with friends were enjoyed.  Autumn is a beautiful time of year and it seemed that it came early this year.  Before February finished we were well into an autumn weather pattern.  I can take a lot of cool crisp mornings and sunny days!

December Monthly Nine

Dec dining

What a lovely month December was!  Three weeks holiday helped to make it so and gave the opportunity to think about the monthly nine away from my city home and garden.  On the last Friday in November we collected the keys to our little house in the country and camped in it that weekend.  Then on the second weekend in December we returned, on holidays, and with plans to make the little house homely. While we had numerous trips back to Melbourne to catch up with friends and family over the Christmas period we accomplished much and loved being in our little house. So, to recap on December, I am joining in with Linda  and others here.

NOURISH

Dec mango and bberries

Almost everyday while we were on holiday we ate mango, blueberries, yoghurt, nuts and seeds for lunch.  It was delectable.  I have never been fond of mangoes, so I am surprised how much I am enjoying them this season.  Perhaps it is a particularly good year for mangoes?  Anyway, I have also used them in a few different salads and am enjoying the taste and aroma of fresh mango. Of course, you would expect that a round up of December would include Christmas fare but the truth is, I didnt eat any of the traditional Christmas foods – apart from cassata, which is a tradition from my childhood – an icecream dessert for the kids who didnt like plum pudding.  I still make it each year.   Fresh prawns were a treat enjoyed in the park with family.  Each time we returned to the city for an event, and went home, I picked lettuce leaves from my garden to take back to the country house.  Sometimes there were ripe tomatoes as well but they are really only beginning to ripen now.

PREPARE

Dec front deck

One day we plan to live in our little house in the country, so the three weeks that we were there felt like we were making inroads into a dream we have held for quite a while – that it was really going to become an eventuality.  We spent the time, in a sense, preparing for our future, both near (when it will be a weekender) and distant (when we will live in it permanently).  There has been lots of talk (and dreaming) and a little research into what we could and can do with this house.  We washed windows and scrubbed the stove, bought a fridge, added some furniture and some window dressings.  The house is not very energy efficient so that will be one of our first priorities.

REDUCEDec tramping down the weeds

Weeds, undergrowth, dead plants/grass were all removed from the yard. It took a few weeks to do and it filled up this massive bin.  There are still plants that need to be removed from the block – hawthorn bushes in particular.  The motivation for clearing away undergrowth was to remove any hiding places for snakes. We know they are around, and would hate our inquisitive little dog to get bitten.  I did some research into a solar powered vibrating thing that is supposed to keep snakes away but after watching a youtube video of a snake catcher demonstrating that it didnt work, I figured I would save my money and do the best we could to make the yard less desirable to snakes.

GREENDec handscrub

This month I made sugar scrub from white sugar, coconut oil and essential oil. Really simple.  I love the exfoliating, moisturizing effect it has and how good my skin feels after using it.  I have been expecting ants to come and enjoy it too but so far they havent.  Hopefully the essential oil deters them.  I decided to put scrub into attractive containers and give it to all our neighbours for Christmas.  I hope they will like using it.

GROWDec planting

I  propagated a number of Pelargoniums several months ago and planted these to provide a spot of colour.  Also, once an elderly woman with an amazing garden told me that she used Pelargoniums to make soil more friable and conducive for other plants.  These hardy plants send their roots down into the hard soil.  Once they were well grown they are removed and a more desirable plant is put in their place.   My challenge is to find plants that will grow without attention, or watering, since I dont live there to nurture anything.  Later this year we will plant some species that are indigenous to the area, which should grow well unattended but when I actually live in this house I want to have a lot of the garden providing food. I guess there might be some fruit trees that will grow without much attention. I am thinking a fig tree, at the very least. But perhaps even these need nurturing while they are young?  Inside the house I have a sword fern in a self watering pot and lots of succulents.

Dec succulents

CREATE

Dec sofa

This month my creating has gone mostly gone into making things for the house, though I did sew up some undies for myself – but I’m not showing you them!  I made a cover for the sofa from beautiful dotty Nani Iro    fabric. I hand stitched linen fabric into serviettes at night time while watching TV.  I made placemats and covered a stone with a crocheted doiley for a doorstop.

Dec doorstop

DISCOVER

In December I read My Year Without Matches by Claire Dunn.  I couldnt wait to go to bed each night to discover more of what this amazing woman was up to.  While there were physical challenges ( building a shelter, making fire, finding food) , it was the emotional journey Claire made that interested me most. Who are we without all the external structures that shape our lives and  frequently define us?  How do we connect with our inner wisdom in a way that it guides and sustains?  I loved reading about Claire’s crafty pursuits and how satisfying it was to tan hide to make clothes, to weave grass baskets and make clay eating utensils.  I was awed by her bravery – walking around barefoot in the dark.  One night she woke during a nightmare to find a red bellied black snake poking and prodding the mosquito net she was inside.  Since reading the book, I have found myself much more observant of the sounds that birds make.

ENHANCE

doll

I bought an IKEA doll and had a lot of fun making her a skirt, jacket, necklace and head scarf.  She came wearing a t-shirt and undies.  Here she is wrapped in cellophane, ready to be put under the Asylum Seeker Welcome Centre Christmas tree.  I didnt think to take a photo before she was wrapped up, which was a bit of a pity.  I hope some little girl is enjoying playing with her.

ENJOY

dec candles

So much was enjoyed this month.  Meals with friends and family. Morning walks. Satisfaction of tasks accomplished.  One highlight was catching up with movies I had wanted to see when they were at the cinema and are now on DVD.   The best  two were Locke and Reaching for the Moon, but I also enjoyed Calvary, All is Lost, Begin Again (fabulous soundtrack!), The grand Budapest Hotel, Still Life, A Most Wanted Man and Kill Your Darlings.  The BBC TV series The Honourable Woman was also definitely a highlight.

Slow Living Monthly Nine

Today I am doing something I have wanted to do for a long time: join in with the monthly slow living nine.  This was started by Christine on her blog Slow Living Essentials in 2012.  It is now kindly hosted by Linda at Greenhaven.  I’ve been following along since 2012 but not joining in because, to start with, there was no way  I would have been able to offer something for all nine categories.  I have loved being inspired by what  other participants are doing in their ‘small corners of the world’.  Joining in now is a kind of celebration of all the small changes I have been making to my lifestyle and getting to this point where I can now think of something for each, or almost all, of the nine categories. I know some  are still pretty ‘thin on the ground’.  And I will go on being motivated by the focus of the nine areas, and by what others are doing each month.  I really do find the nine categories are compatible with the kind of lifestyle goals I want to set myself.  So the Monthly Nine…

NOURISH

zucchini fettucine
I have been enjoying Caffe Strada gluten-free quinoa bread.  This month I discovered that it makes delectable french toast, topped with raspberries and blueberries (from the freezer, heated a little) and a dollop of yoghurt.  Exactly the kind of meal I’d be likely to order if I went out for brunch.  Zucchini fettuccine has also been enjoyed on quite a few nights.  To make this you just use a veggie peeler and slice the zucchini into thin strips, then heat a little ghee in a pan, stir the zucchini until it softens, season with pepper and sea salt and serve with any form of pasta sauce.  Also this month I discovered my local green grocer selling Kombucha. I have wondered what this tasted like. I love it so think it would be worth investigating making my own.

PREPARE

zucchini fritters 2
We really enjoy haloumi cheese in this household.  Keeping a 200gm block in the fridge (it can have a super long time in the future use by date) is a great standby to make a substantial meal.  A slice grilled adds the wow factor to roasted vegetables, served in an attractive stack with a dollop of plum sauce.  But the best, yummiest, quickest meal I make out of haloumi cheese is fritters.  The original recipe was for zucchini and haloumi fritters but using just about any green vegetable chopped up works well. I’ve tried parsley and basil (together), spinach, silverbeet and kale.
Zucchini and Haloumi Fritters
300g zucchini (i use about 3 mid sized ones)
200g haloumi cheese
2 T chopped chives
1/4 cup flour (i use buckwheat coz it is gluten free)
2 eggs

coarsely grate the zucchini and the cheese (food processor makes this very quick)
combine all the above ingredients
heat a small amount of ghee or oil in heavy based frying pan
form fritters using heaped spoonfuls of the mixture and cook in batches – about 2 minutes each side or until golden and firm.  Drain on crumpled paper towel.  Delicious served with tomato relish and/or Greek style yoghurt.  Can be eaten hot or cold. Great for breakfast, packed lunch or dinner with salad.

REDUCE

cuttings

Re-using yoghurt containers as pots.  Five am Organic yoghurt comes in a very sturdy plastic pot. This month I have used the pots to propagate a whole lot of  Pelagonia cuttings I acquired. Drainage holes were made in the bottom, using a heated skewer.  The lid is used underneath the pot as a tray.

GREEN

bedroom plants 3

In the Australian Womankind magazine (launch issue), I was surprised to read that the good ol’ Snake plant was listed as one of the top 5 houseplants for oxygen, according to NASA scientists, and that it was particularly good to have in the bedroom because it absorbs carbon dioxide and releases oxygen during the night.  They are also super hardy and virtually impossible to kill.  I bought one, and a few nice pots to put other plants I’ve propagated  in the bedroom.  The other four on the top 5 list are Aloe plant, English Ivy, Rubber Tree and Peace Lily.

GROW

seedlings oct

This month I planted lettuce seedlings, tomato and basil seedlings into four large pots.  I planted capsicum and tomatoes into raised garden beds.  In the herb garden the parsley has been flourishing and since reading on Sarah Wilson’s I Quit Sugar blog that parsley was 8th on the list of the most nutrient dense vegetables, i have been adding it to ‘everything’.  The list Sarah refers to is here

CREATE

kimono

October has been the month of making and wearing kimono sleeve jackets.  I have made five of them.  Is that excessive? No wonder I am wearing them all the time.  They are just so versatile for this time of the year – I can wear long sleeved, short sleeved or no sleeved tops under them depending on the weather – and they are just so quick to make.  There is a tutorial here. I made one using this method. The others have all been made using Simplicity 1884  which I have made a little longer than the pattern.

DISCOVER

pete evans cookbooks

For my birthday in September I was given a copy of Healthy Every Day by Pete Evans.  I have tried out many of the recipes from the book this month. It has become my go-to recipe book. All recipes are gluten, sugar and diary free and use lots of fresh veggies, nuts and seeds.  I liked the book so much that I pre-ordered Family Food which was released and arrived in the last week of the month.

Also this month I have been reading Helen Garner’s This House of Grief.  It is such a sad and shocking story but so well written. Helen Garner’s ability to bring to life what must have been many tedious hours in the courtroom, to tell a compelling story without sensationalizing, and to conjure compassion, is amazing.

ENHANCE

seed crackers

i belong to an eco-feminist community (Sophia’s Spring) which meets on Sunday mornings at CERES Environment Park and one Sunday during October I took a turn to provide morning tea.  It was a great chance to test out a number of recipes from the Healthy Every Day book.  I made basil and parsley pesto and seed crackers, as seen in the photo above, which comes from the book as I didnt think to take any photos on the day. The seed crackers are unbelievably easy – basically just seeds and water.  And really yummy (IMO).  Cashew cheese and beetroot humous were other recipes tried from the book and served with fresh carrot, celery, cucumber and tomato sticks.  I also made a gluten free apricot and lavender cake and a totally unhealthy white chocolate rocky road slice.

ENJOY

back gate

i thought I was going to say weekends away for this section – but I have just realized that the weekend at Ninety Mile Beach was actually at the end of September and the weekend at Harrietville was the first weekend in November – so in October I enjoyed being at home!  I have really enjoyed Spring, the returning of leaves and roses, the warmer weather and day light saving which kind of tricks me into thinking that the days are a bit longer.  Winter is my favourite time of the year so I have been a bit surprised by how much I have enjoyed Spring.  I have really felt my spirit lift.  Also in October I have enjoyed watching the third season of Borgen  on SBS.  Oh, and I almost forgot. An evening spent in the opulent Regent Theatre listening to Julia Gillard early in October was a delight.  The questions from the audience were rich and thoughtful and Julia’s responses to them were generous and insightful.  I look forward to reading her book