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1. Weekly laundry loads are really small.
Oh, oops. Did I wear the same clothes four days in a row? Did I remember to change for sleeping? (no)

2. Bed is made
See below, “creative procrastination.”

3. Nose prints on back window
When was the last time I went outside?

4. Creative procrastination
Made a cake in the middle of a Wednesday? Check. Swept kitchen floor? Check. Extended phone call with daughter? Check.

5. Oh, you get to “leave” work at 5 p.m.?
How cute.

6. What’s a “business line?”
Is there anyone who doesn’t have my phone number?

7. Don’t open the heating bill without a strong drink in your hand
No such thing as setting the thermostat for when people are in the house. People are always in the house.

8. Starbucks is my conference room
At least they clean their toilets regularly.

9. We call it a “perk.”
Remember that drink in your hand? Yeah, I have a drink in my hand.

10. You never shop on the weekends or after 5 p.m.
That’s when all the cube farmers are there.

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No-buy February

We all have a lot of stuff. George Carlin has a famous monologue on the subject. Americans love stuff. Our entire culture, if you can call it one, and economy is based on our acquisition of it. Recently we’ve been getting blamed for the slow recovery, because apparently we aren’t buying enough of it. Well, we knew that eventually the power brokers would find a way to deflect from their own criminal mismanagement and rapacious self-interest.

I don’t know about you, but I have enough stuff. There’s no more room to put it. I’m tired of seeing big box stores getting built and schools getting torn down. I’m tired of spending my taxes on all the stuff the military needs, and I’m tired of my stuff being taxed to pay for Big Oil transporting stuff and Big Ag stuffing it down our throats.

Fine. Let’s slow down the recovery even more, and turn this behemoth that’s been bearing us towards disaster away from the consumptive, extractive economy. Let’s stop buying stuff.

Take the pledge with me for a NoBuyFebruary. If you don’t need it to live, don’t buy it. Taken to extremes, this means only buy groceries, because I’m guessing you have plenty of clothes, and you certainly don’t need any more dust catchers. If you can make it at home, you can’t buy it. Coffee. Meals. I’m including electronic expenditures, too, so that means no Kindle books or online subscriptions. Just go for a month without spending any money that you don’t have to spend. No fair using the last 5 days of January to go on a buying binge either.

February is a short month. Take the pledge. Just 28 days to Just Say No to consumerism. Live with and on what you’ve already got.

No_buy_february_badgeoriginally published in Mahlzeit, January 2011.

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Nor can they suppress the wonderful generosity of the American people.

Whatever your politics, it’s a fact that the shut down of the federal government is having a real effect on the most vulnerable, in particular children and low income mothers, whose Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits have been cut off (in other words, what used to called food stamps).

There are a lot of gardeners and farmers reading this site– please consider donating whatever produce you can spare to your local WIC (Women Infants Children) office for the duration of the shut down. These offices are usually county run, so they should be open during the shut down, but they won’t be distributing SNAP benefits, since that program is affected.

Incredibly, not only are the benefits not available, but all USDA websites, where you might be able to find a WIC office, have also been shut down (what the hell).  To find your local office, google Women Infants Children [your state].

Thank you.CEDA table

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Hi All,

When I found out that this week was where we would get to explore the concept of “plains” I had a lot of trouble finding images to support my post. Serendipity Farm, and indeed Tasmania, isn’t flat. It’s hilly at the least and downright mountainous at the worst but flat plains are significant by the absence in our neck of the woods. I managed to find 2 photos that Steve and I took on our daily walks with our dogs Bezial and Earl. The first is of a dirt road that we decided to explore one day as a most welcome variation to our usual well pounded walkways and the second is of Auld Kirk Road, the road that runs along the front of our property…

The dogs love walking on country roads

The dogs love walking on country roads

The road that runs past Serendipity Farm

The road that runs past Serendipity Farm

I then had to renegotiate “plain” in my head…from this point in the post on, plain isn’t quite to do with level areas of the earths surface…this first image is of one of the lawned areas around the house. This is a gorgeous little native Tasmanian “Superb Fairy Wren” male who was dancing about looking for insects…he is just “plain showing off”…

Pretty little wren on the lawn

Pretty little wren on the lawn

Next I wanted to share this little rainwater tank that a good friend loaned us because he insisted that we needed to be drinking rain water for our health…lots of level surfaces here and just “plain generous”…

Lots of straight lines but not a lot of plains...

Lots of straight lines but not a lot of plains…

As a vegan I eat some strange and unusual foods in order to make sure that I get enough variation in my diet and I found this packet of shrivelled green things in one of my cupboards…all I can say is thank goodness for “plain English!”…

Seaweed!

Seaweed!

A vegan meal that goes to show that just because I only eat plant based food doesn’t mean I have to go without…just “plain stubborn” when it comes to ensuring that I get fed well I guess…

Burger anyone?

Burger anyone?

When Steve moved to Australia from the U.K. his Greek friend Chris gave him this Greek eye because he was “plain superstitious”…

A Greek superstition called Mati where this eye is placed at your door to prevent the envy of others from cursing you

A Greek superstition called Mati where this eye is placed at your door to prevent the envy of others from cursing you

My daughters bought me a lovely friand pan along with lots of other lovely foodie goodies this year for mothers day, they are just “plain wonderful”. Here are some of the first batch of friand’s that I made with it and I made my own almond flour to make them…

Delicious dense little almond meal friand

Delicious dense little almond meal friand

Here is proof that Steve is just “plain clever” when it comes to sorting out the problems that I hurl at him. I don’t use this little gas stovetop in winter as Brunhilda, our 4 oven wood burning stove is constantly on and we have no need for it so to give me a bit more bench top space Steve designed this stovetop cover

Steve's clever fix for my desire to have more bench space

Steve’s clever fix for my desire to have more bench space

Steve picked this bunch of daffodils from the garden here on Serendipity Farm. They are just “plain beautiful”…

I love daffodils, they are the first sign of spring on Serendipity Farm and are out all over the place at the moment

I love daffodils, they are the first sign of spring on Serendipity Farm and are out all over the place at the moment

I hate having to throw away perfectly good sourdough starter that is excess to our needs and so I started drying it out in my dehydrator and powdering it to give it a longer shelf life and to share with anyone who would like some…”plain frugality”…

I am very proud to be living a frugal lifestyle

I am very proud to be living a frugal lifestyle

Here are some of the mushrooms that we let grow in our bags of mushroom compost that we bought to use as mulch in our vegetable garden last year. If you are clever (and we are) you can get lots more mushrooms out of these bags. We collected an incredible amount of free mushrooms before it was tipped out and used as mulch…”plain permaculture in action”…

Little button mushrooms. If you leave them a week they end up to be the size of saucers

Little button mushrooms. If you leave them a week they end up to be the size of saucers

Lastly here is one of Steve and my cakey creations made with homemade sponge cakes with our free range eggs this one is just “plain delicious”…

Anyone for cake?

Anyone for cake?

See you all next Monday. No idea what I will be posting about but you can be sure it won’t be “normal” ;)

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Rivers

Hi All,

When I saw that one of the topics for us to delve into was “Rivers” I smiled. The front gate of our property (Serendipity Farm) is just over the road from the river…

The view of the Tamar River from our deck

The view of the Tamar River from our deck

The road near our home

The road near our home

When I look out of the window I see the river. The Tamar River is part of our lives and our constant companion. It keeps the property cooler in summer and warmer in winter and allows us to grow plants on the property that would succumb to frost anywhere else. It is the culmination of the North Esk River and the South Esk River and is subject to some pretty wild tides at certain times of the day. Here are 2 of the smaller tributaries that flow into the North Esk River to eventually form the Tamar River…

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I bet there are trout here!

Liffey Falls

Liffey Falls

The river is salt water where we are but the South and North Esk are both freshwater and full of trout and eels. Where we live is a shark nursery and in summer the water is full of these jellyfish that flow in and out to sea on the tide…

The kind of jellyfish that the Chinese dry and eat. I am yet to attempt this...

The kind of jellyfish that the Chinese dry and eat. I am yet to attempt this…

The Batman Bridge spans the river from the West side (our side) to the East side and is the only way to cross the Tamar River outside of Launceston…

An early evening shot of The Batman Bridge

An early evening shot of The Batman Bridge

It took a long time to get used to riverbanks with black volcanic soil and smooth round pebbles. In Western Australia I was used to white sand and shells. This image shows some of the driftwood that we regularly see on the riverbanks as we walk the dogs it was taken directly opposite our front gate…

The river taken just opposite our gate

The river taken just opposite our gate

When my father died he left us Serendipity Farm and he also left Steve this small aluminium dinghy. Steve promptly ignored it for the first year that we were here but last year it was christened “The Mumbly Cumumbus” and set sail on the high seas regularly. Here are some photos that Steve took while he was out fish and pootling about on the river…

The good ship Mumbly Cumumbus on one of last summers voyages

The good ship Mumbly Cumumbus on one of last summers voyages

A Steve eye view of the world in the Mumbly Cumumbus

A Steve eye view of the world in the Mumbly Cumumbus

A small excursion up the river to Deviot our neighbouring town

A small excursion up the river to Deviot our neighbouring town

A lovely shot Steve took of Redwood Island, not far from Serendipity Farm

A lovely shot Steve took of Redwood Island, not far from Serendipity Farm

If you look VERY carefully to the right of the Auld Kirk Church in this photo you might be able to find our house...

If you look VERY carefully to the right of the Auld Kirk Church in this photo you might be able to find our house…

Steve and I are studying at the moment and part of our course involves learning how to manipulate images. Steve took a photo of a Serendipity Farm sunset taken towards the river and turned it into a Christmas Bauble…by the way…there are only 106 days left till Christmas 2013…

Pity this wasn't one of our assessments

Pity this wasn’t one of our assessments

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Hi All,

Before we moved to Tasmania and Serendipity Farm, we lived on the other side of the country in Western Australia. Western Australia is relatively flat, at least the lower south-west corner where we lived was. The closest thing that we came to anything impressive was Bluff Knoll, a try-hard mountain that was only considered a mountain because of the serious dearth of anything hilly anywhere near it to make it have to back up its claims. When we moved to Tasmania we discovered just how hilly it is here. This is a local rocky outcrop complete with waterfall…

A rocky Northern Tasmanian outcrop not too far from Cradle Mountain

A rocky Northern Tasmanian outcrop not too far from Cradle Mountain

Tasmania is almost entirely comprised of extinct volcanos and there are mountainous regions the length and breadth of this small state. One of the most beautiful is Cradle Mountain, a tourist drawcard and a very beautiful example of what nature can do when she is finished heaving the earth all over the place. Here are a few images my brother took on a past visit of Cradle Mountain. Steve and I haven’t been there yet but are planning a visit soon…

Cradle Mountain

Cradle Mountain

DSCF5223

Dove Lake at Cradle Mountain

This next image was taken at the top of Mt. Barrow by our (then) Diploma in Horticulture lecturer whose son Gene you can see in the photo between Steve and I. Nick had heard that my mother (also in the image) was coming to visit Tasmania and asked us all around to his home for lunch. We then drove to the top of Mt Barrow to show mum the view…

DSCF6323

Some hills are bigger than others. This “hill” doesn’t look all that big but apparently an Edmond Hillary wanabe has staked his claim to the top. This small pile of ex-fish farm netting is now forming the walls of a very large fully enclosed vegetable garden that we are working on at the moment to stop the native animals on Serendipity Farm from eating all of our hard work…

DSCF1239

Apparently this pile of ex fish farm netting has been claimed in the name of the queen…what the queen would want with it is anyone’s guess!

Apparently an Aussie invented the good old Hills Hoist and as an honorary “hill” I am going to share a few images of them with you…

Every young Aussie's rite of Hills Hoist passage...

Every young Aussie’s rite of Hills Hoist passage…

new no dig at Pens

The hills hoist where we used to live in Launceston with the vegetable garden that we created

This guy is Adam “Hill”. He’s an Aussie comedian and as you can see, he loves his mum…

Adam Hills, a man that knows who is holding the wooden spoon

Adam Hills, a man that knows who is holding the wooden spoon

The reward at the top of a very steep hill just around the corner from us is this little plant stall selling potted plants for $2 a pot. I get to walk Earl up the hill, I get exercise AND I get a plant…talk about incentive to climb a hill…

You just never know what this stall will have from one day to the next, its like the plant lottery

You just never know what this stall will have from one day to the next, its like the plant lottery

Here you can see a man dealing with his own “mountain” of work. When we first moved to Serendipity Farm it was a wasteland of weeds and Steve is in the process of cutting up some fallen timber before we both headed into this jungle to remove that infestation of overgrown honeysuckle…

DSCF6295

The jungle that was Serendipity Farm 2011

Lastly I would like to share something with you here that my regular bloggers would pay money to see. I spend quite a lot of time complaining about our local cyclist community. I have no problem with people who ride pushbikes, just the riders that wear lycra and use “cycling” as a way to elevate themselves socially…can’t STAND them! But if the truth be known…once in a past life, narf7 used to cycle 40km a day…in LYCRA! But I only wore the bike shorts because my brother gave them to me because my posterior was suffering incredibly on my narrow bike seat…it’s my story and I am sticking to it! This series of images was taken back in 1998 after I rode a 100km round trip and was decidedly tired…

Cold hard proof that I once rode a pushbike

Cold hard proof that I once rode a pushbike

So that’s my hilly post for NDIN. I hope you didn’t mind that I explored the connotations of “Hill” but it won’t be the first time that narf7 takes off on a tangent here ;).

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At either end of the garden season in Chicago are two large trade shows– the Chicago Flower and Garden show in March, and the Independent Garden Center Show in August.

The Chicago Flower and Garden Show is a public exhibition. Constrained by the need to stand up to crowds numbering 40,000 or more, and a definite tendency to dumb itself down to the broadest possible constituency, it’s characterized by unimaginative plantings, miles and miles of brick walkways, and improbable water features that might conceivably surround some awful McMansion, assuming the types of people who live in McMansions have even the limited imagination (not to mention the cash) needed to install large water features.

The “marketplace,” where you might think to find interesting consumer goods for gardeners, will have the occasional display of airplants, bulbs, and garden gloves, but also, I kid you not, mattresses, wheelie carts, and boom boxes. Despite it being in and theoretically about gardening in Chicago, it has a definite suburban feel.

The Independent Garden Center show is a trade show, not open to the public, featuring goods and fixtures to sell at garden centers. While there are a good number of marvelous vendors of plants, seeds, gloves, tools and the like, there’s also a lot of what I call “landfill”– garden trinkets and tchotchkies that owe more to fad than to necessity.

Neither is really geared to gardeners like me.

Occasionally, the Flower and Garden Show will feature an exhibit like the one Peterson Garden Project did this past year, with a recognizably urban sensibility, and a scale that an actual human being with a normal sized yard and budget might have; or the mini-prairie restoration of a few years ago that showed a “timeline” of how to restore a landscape that has been taken over by exotic invasives.

Seldom will the needs of edible gardening be addressed; even outside the trade shows edible gardening remains the bastard child of the industry– not hip like urban farming, or school-tie respectable like roses or lilies, urban edible gardening doesn’t seem to have the clout or the profile to make it into the world of garden shows.

I like flowers a lot. I’ve devoted half my garden to them. I am proudly a “gardener;” I’m not a farmer, even though I grow food. The scale is a garden scale, a family scale.

Where is the trade show, the shop, the focus, for edible gardeners with a small urban yard, or a balcony? For gardeners like me?

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