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Archive for September, 2013

The average, healthy, well-adjusted adult gets up at seven-thirty in the morning feeling just plain terrible.  ~Jean Kerr, Please Don’t Eat the Daisies, 1957

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I (Alexandra) actually love the morning. If I’m not up by 7 I feel like I’ve lost the best part of the day.

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I (Sincerely, Emily) enjoy being outside in the morning. Things just seem a bit more quiet and tranquil at that time of day (and also a lot cooler which makes it more enjoyable if I am working out there!)

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What do you love about morning?

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I really liked the theme of our Sunday Photo post this past Sunday – Time!  I am all over the board when it comes to all things “time.”  If I have a meeting or appointment, I am an on-time kind of gal. Arriving somewhere 5 minutes early is quite late for me. While I still am on time for those things, I am here and there and everywhere on so many other time-related things.

Starting more aloe plants for swapping

Starting more aloe plants for swapping

I am a potterer (is that a word?) I potter around, in that aimless way (sort of). There is a method to my madness most of the time, but I do get distracted easily and find myself working on something completely different than the task I started on initially. I get things done (for the most part.) So many things are on the big “list of things to do”  and I will chip away at it. Some of the projects I can do quickly, others are ongoing and just take time. Heck, everything since January takes a lot more time than it used to. That alone is a new concept in and of itself.

I am a list maker. Always have been, although the older I get the more important it is. I was one of those people that used to remember all the details like phone numbers and little tidbits. I had several jobs working phones. One was a switchboard with 10 incoming lines for a international music company where I knew most of the extensions to everyone in the building. I can’t remember how many employees there were, but I’ll take a guess it was more than 300. I also worked on a switchboard after-hours at a medical clinic where patients would call in to get a hold of the on-call doctor.147

Getting back to how this all relates to the concept of time…. Somewhere in my 30’s I decided that if I had this stuff written down somewhere I wouldn’t have to remember it, clearing up all that brain power for other things! I find that with all the changes and advancements in technology I barely know anyone’s phone number at all anymore. they are all in that little Rolodex called a cell phone!

Some days time just flies by, other days it really seems like the day is longer. Not dragging on, just longer and it doesn’t seem to have anything to do with how much I get done or even how much energy that I have. Before I know it, it is the end of September. Some days are still go go go, and others I can just get lost in what I am doing. Taking plant cuttings and potting them up, starting seeds, planting things, or working on a sewing project or making cards.

Where does the time go? It is filed into the memory banks of our mind I guess.

How do you manage your time?

Sincerely, Emily

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On days like this I wonder why we greet the first day of spring with such glee, yet dismiss fall’s first day as just the awful downturn into winter. The spring equinox is muddy, cold, and grey and the trees have no leaves; fall is brighter and warmer, green and gold and full of food and life. It is the second harvest (the first is Lammas in early August) and the promise of a healthy winter. At Spring the stores are low, at Autumn they are bursting– I’m running out of shelf space.

By common law tradition, the autumn equinox is a “quarter day”– Michaelmas or the feast of the angels, a time for fairs, marriages and pay day.

I sit here writing this at approximately the moment of Equinox (and by the way, when did we start thinking of the Equinox as a “moment”), looking at the astonishing blue of the sky and the clarity of the light. There is nothing like the clear intensity of light on a cool autumn day.

I run my hands through the beans drying on the counter, loving the gentle music they make. The rattling of beans on the vine is one of those sure signs of autumn. Every year I face the dilemma– mix all the varieties together, or separate them? This year I’ll separate by color only- reds in one jar, whites in another. I grew Christmas Limas for seed for Peterson Garden Project; they’re all supposed to go to next year’s garden, but I think I’m going to need to siphon off a half cup to cook (for science, ahem). Plus 25 to grow in my own garden. The rest will go back into the project (pinky swear).

It was such a Sconeday— crisp and still– so I made scones– a rolled raspberry version made with half white and half oat flour. It seemed appropriate to use the last of summer’s raspberries, frozen since July, for the first day of autumn. I flavored them for the memory of summer-with orange zest, orange extract and coriander, and glazed with a little bit of peach preserve left over from the peach syrup I made a few weeks ago.

The afternoon will be spent transplanting two small caryopteris bushes to a sunnier spot in a friend’s yard, where I think they’ll thrive better than in the shady spots they inhabit here. She’ll get some divided white iris and phlox as well. I’ve run out room to divide in my own yard, and can’t bear to just toss them. The weather is slated to warm up later in the week, the perfect transplanting formula.

I’ll walk to the lake, as always, towards the end of the day, to honor the horizon and to hear the sound of angels’ wings that is the waves rolling onto the beach.

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“Yesterday is gone. Tomorrow has not yet come. We have only today. Let us begin.”  -Mother Theresa

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Time is the wait: for the baby to be born, for the bean to sprout, for the bread to rise, for the day to end. (Alexandra)

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listening to nora

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Time is a funny thing, although it isn’t really a “thing” is it? This year, I (Sincerely, Emily) have spent a lot of time waiting, a little time doing, yet still creating more memories. Time can pass quickly and it can come to a screeching halt. Time to relax!

Time to relax

Time to relax

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I went to my first swap this past April. I had heard of swaps but didn’t find one in my area until a friend found this one on a MeetUp page and told me about it.

Swap July 2013

Swap July 2013

The organizer set up a few guidelines and the rest is history. She holds it once a month.

There were a few guidelines to follow:

  • No money was allowed – this is all about the trade and bartering with what you have for what you want/need.
  • Items should be sustainably-minded. Something you have grown in your garden, something you conned/cooked/brewed/baked/preserved/dried, etc. Something your animals made (goat milk, hen eggs, lamb wool, etc.) Something you sewed/knitted/re-purposed, etc. Items to do with sustainable interests are also good (Mother Earth News magazines, cookbooks, cooking/camping gear, etc)
  • The items you should leave at home: this is not a garage sale, items should be about sustainability. Leave the knick-knacks at home.

Once we set up, we were allowed 15 minutes to walk around and check out the items other people brought so we could see what we were interested in.

Lemon pickles, Dill pickles, Homemade Teriyaki sauce

Lemon pickles, Dill pickles, Homemade Teriyaki sauce

Each month I have been posting about the swap over on my personal blog. About a month ago I realized that I hadn’t posted about the July swap and I thought it would be a good topic to post here. I have known the swap and barter system is out there and alive, and I realize that there may be others out there that are interested, but don’t know were to look or even how to get started.

Here are the other swap posts I have done”

Here are a few places to look to find swaps in your area: Note: I will add additional information to this post as I find it or as people comment. (updated 19 Sept 2013)

Would you go to a swap if you had one in your area?
Are you participating in a swap in your area?

Please use the comments to let others know about how to find a swap. If you out there participating in a swap, please comment with the general area you are in and add a link to the swap information.

Sincerely, Emily

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City girl in the garden

I’m from four generations of city dwellers, a rarity. Not a farmer among us. Despite having eventually landed on the central Illinois prairie, we can trace our soil-free urban ancestry back to the 1840s, on both sides, in a family stretching from Stockholm to Dublin to Piraeus.

So how does a city girl come at gardening? Not honestly– my mother once hired a landscaper who was into pine trees. Fortunately we couldn’t afford the 14 firs he wanted to put in on our quarter acre (which we didn’t know at the time get 100 feet tall). Cooler heads prevailed and we ended up with a gorgeous 8-foot tall hedge of mixed flowering shrubs and two decks enclosed by small trees and low bushes. I don’t think that woman ever planted a flower in her life.

So— flowers or vegetables? Flowers are pretty, but when I started I kept putting the floppy ones in the back, where they fell over on the ones that didn’t bloom until fall, except the floppy ones had deprived them of sun so they died. Annuals are pretty— they bloom for months! How hard can it be to plant 20 flats? Every year? I know! Prairie natives. Let’s put some Queen Anne’s Lace here, and some wild phlox, and how about mint! And loosestrife. Now, how do I get rid of it…

We started vegetables slowly and safely— tomatoes. When that went well, we tried green peppers, and then of course we needed oregano. How about salad? Beans and peas and carrots. Now I had to stop planting flats of annuals and get serious about a perennial garden, because there are only so many hours in the day. Before we knew it we were growing 6 months worth of vegetables, but had only 3 months worth of storage space.

It only took twenty years, but I think I have it figured it out— flower border, herb plot, patio, vegetables. The flowers are hard to start, but then they take care of themselves. The vegetables are easy to start, but need care all season. The herbs just deal.

originally published on the Mahlzeit blog, 7/26/2009

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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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