Another Hiatus

MOTH has been recovering from a work accident for the last 18 months and money has been tight to say the least.  So to save what we have worked so hard for we have rented out our house and are travelling around for a while.  Luckily I have a great boss who allows me to work remotely and has even paid for our internet

First stop Mt Tamborine Caravan and Camping.

   We had a great time  at the Tamborine Markets, the Glow Worm Caves and Aden just loved the pony rides.  We ended up staying for 3 weeks.  Great little caravan park, camp fires are allowed which was great because it was freezing!

Our only mishap was that Aden decided to be helpful around the fire and a trip to the emergency room ensued.

However in the true nature of boys, Aden raced out afterwards saying “nobody else has one of these!”  Boys!





Missing in Action

It’s been some time since I last posted but I have been going through some health stuff.

I was recently admitted to hospital for an emergency Gall Bladder removal, there is a technical name for it but essentially this is what was done.  I spent 12 days in hospital due to complications and when they finally let me out I now have to live with Acute Pancreatitis.

What does that mean?  Initially I was freaking out because everything I could find on the net was really extreme, lots of raw veg and no alcohol.  The prospect of living the rest of my life as a teetotal vegan wasn’t very appealing!  Don’t get me wrong I love veges but no meat, chicken or fish and never to have another glass of wine, well sorry but life just didn’t seem worth it!

Apart from that, the Doctor told me and I quote “You came as close to death and you would ever want to get”!  And funny, every time I say that in my head I get that song “Lover you don’t treat me no good no more” going round and round, not relevant I know but there’s a line that goes, “she looks as lovely as shes ever gonna get” .

Humour aside, I feel a great deal of guilt, my GP sent me for an ultrasound about 12 months ago and I never got around to it.  I probably would have needed to have my GB removed but not as dramatically.  I’ve had 12 days to think about my mortality and now find myself going through a crisis.

What if I had died, nothing was prepared, no will nothing.  I would have been leaving my  hubby, daughter and son a whole heap of hassles.  My four year old son would grow up without and mummy, my grown daughter would have to make her way by herself and hubby, well I don’t even want to go there!

Bright side:  I now have a second chance… What will I do about it?  What do I want to do about it?

First on the agenda, do my will!  Second change my diet, see a dietitian, I just don’t believe my food choices could be this bleak.  My GP said low fat, I can deal with that but nothing about alcohol.

Alcohol:  is it really such a big deal?  No not on a day to day basis but when most of your socialising revolves around food, bbqs and having a drinkypoo with friends, it can be difficult!  I’ve managed to get past most of my triggers, a glass of wine while cooking etc but do I really want to go to a bbq with friends and not drink?  Most people initially think this is no problem but try being in the room where everyone is drinking and you’re not, you never get the same vibe as them and end up feeling left out, I’d rather not go.  Yes this is mindset but not one I will be able to get over easily. Can I have an occasional wine and not end up in hospital?

Lastly I am not happy in my life I have been drifting for the most part for a long time. Working to pay the mortgage and bills, nothing left for anything else.  This is going to change as well.  For the last 12 months I have been on a backyard farming experiment and I love it.  So we will be looking to sell up and get some land, live simply and mortgage free (if possible).

I hope you don’t mind the lack of pictures but I didn’t think you would like to see my innards :-) Yes my doc took pics!





Anyone who knows me, knows how much I love ducks.  Near my house there are lots of wild ducks walking, or waddling around the streets.  Many a time I have held my breath when mother duck and her adorable ducklings waddle across the road but surprisingly very few get run over by cars.  My daughter laughs at me when I see ducks and yell out DUCKIES when we’re driving.

So I bit the bullet and bought two Muscovy Ducklings at the local Mudgeeraba Farmers Markets.

According to council by laws we are allowed 6 poultry  and with four hens this completes our flock.



On researching the best suburban ducks to have the Muscovy is a low maintenance and friendly duck that doesn’t quack.  They live for 7 to 8 years and are great for both egg production and meat.  They are distinguished from other breeds by their faces because they have no feathers and are bright red, flashy and lumpy. They are placid in nature unless threatened and prefer no to be picked up.

The drakes are too heavy to fly but the ducks are able to fly and perch up high.  They also don’t swim due to their under developed oil glands but they love to splash about.

The breeder we bought them from said it was fine to integrate them with our chooks but I found the chooks to be aggressive to the poor things.  So we’ll separate them until they’re bigger and can give the chooks a run for their money.




My New Interest – Permaculture

To call Permaculture an interest is a little insulting because Permaculture is a lifestyle!

In my journey to self sufficiency and health it is only natural to run across this method of gardening.

What is Permaculture?

For me Permaculture is a way of designing my garden, my home and my life in a sustainable way.  A holistic approach to working with nature rather than against it.

Wikipedia described it as:

The core tenets of Permaculture are:

  • Take care of the earth: Provision for all life systems to continue and multiply. This is the first principle, because without a healthy earth, humans cannot flourish.
  • Take care of the people: Provision for people to access those resources necessary for their existence.
  • Share the surplus: Healthy natural systems use outputs from each element to nourish others. We humans can do the same. By governing our own needs, we can set resources aside to further the above principles.


So begins my journey into Permaculture Design.  Unfortunately all PDC design courses are either out of my price range or not convenient time wise.  I can’t afford to take up to 10 weeks off from work to complete this course so I found a couple of other resources to help me along.

One is a course recorded by North Carolina State University by Prof. Will Hooker.

Introduction to Permaculture

This is an awesome series of recorded lectures and field trips and I learned a lot from it.

The other is held by  Permaculture Education Centre.  This is an online course which lets you complete the theory and then you need to find someone to help you with the practical stuff if you want to become certified.

So for the moment I will use these resources and my current garden and at a later time, universe willing I will get my PDC and follow a new realised direction.


What to do with your Cucumbers

To say that we had a bumper crop of our cucumbers is an understatement.

So what do we do with them?

Thank the lord for Google and after trolling through a couple hundred recipes these are my favourites.


  • 2 cups finely chopped seeded peeled cucumber
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped seeded tomato
  • 1/4 cup chopped red onion
  • 2 Tbsp minced fresh parsley
  • 1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 4-1/2 tsp minced fresh cilantro
  • 1 garlic clove, minced or pressed
  • 1/4 c reduced-fat sour cream
  • 1-1/2 tsp lemon juice
  • 1-1/2 tsp lime juice
  • 1/4 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/4 tsp seasoned salt
  • Tortilla chips

In a small bowl, combine the first seven ingredients. In another bowl, combine the sour cream, lemon juice, lime juice, cumin and seasoned salt. Pour over cucumber mixture and toss gently to coat. Serve immediately with chips.

1/4 cup (w/out chips) equals 16 calories
Recipe from Simple and Delicious magazine



Have all vegetables scrubbed, trimmed, and ready to finely chop, grind, or process in the food processor. This is a delicious sweet relish, perfect for hot dogs and sausages, and it’s a great condiment to serve with peas, beans, or limas.

  • 10 cups finely chopped unpeeled pickling cucumbers (approximately 3 1/2 to 4 pounds of pickling cucumbers)
  • 4 cups finely chopped red bell pepper, about 4 large peppers
  • 3 cups finely chopped green bell pepper, about 2 to 3 large peppers
  • 1 cup finely chopped celery, about 4 large ribs
  • 1 cup finely chopped peeled onion, about 2 medium onions
  • 1/2 cup pickling salt
  • 3 1/2 cups white vinegar
  • 2 1/3 cups granulated sugar
  • 4 tablespoons mustard seeds
  • 2 tablespoons celery seeds

Prepare your work area, the canner, jars, and lids.

Put chopped vegetables in a large stainless steel or enamel-lined pot. Stir in the salt, cover, and let stand at room temperature for 4 hours.

Put the vegetables in a large colander and drain. Rinse with cold water. Using your hands, squeeze out excess liquids.

Rinse out the pot you used for the vegetables. In the pot, combine the vinegar, sugar, mustard seeds, and celery seeds. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Add the drained vegetables and stir to blend. Bring back to a full boil; reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 10 minutes.

Fill prepared jars, leaving a 1/2-inch head space  Fit lids on jars and screw bands down to fingertip tightness. Process in a boiling water bath canner with water at least 1 inch above the jars for 10 minutes. Turn off heat, remove the canner cover, and wait 5 minutes before removing jars.

Makes 12 half-pint jars or about 6 pint jars.



  • 7 c. thinly sliced cucumbers
  • 3 med. onions, sliced
  • 1 green pepper, chopped
  • 2 c. sugar
  • 1 c. vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp. celery seed
  • 1 tbsp. salt

Mix all ingredients in large bowl. Refrigerate for 24 hours. Put in containers and freeze.

Great side dish in the middle of winter.

Just defrost to serve.

And yes they do stay crunchy!


Garden Update

It’s been some time since I updated my website and so much has happened in my garden and kitchen.

In the garden I planted Pumpkin, Zucchini, Carrots, Beetroot, Onions, Shallots, Popcorn, Cucumbers, Lettuce, Beans, Strawberries, Watermelons and Tomatoes.


The Verdict, how did I go with my first ever crop?

Cucumbers – Oh my goodness did they do well, we ate, cooked, pickled, relished and froze them there were so many.

Zucchinis – A bumper crop but just enough to eat and make some relish.

Carrots – a few but mostly stunted, tasty though.

Beetroot – One survived.

Popcorn – Great but I left it too late to pick and they were too dry to do anything with.


Strawberries – Yummy looking forward to next year.

Tomatoes – The cherry tomatoes did really well the rest rotted before ripe or were eaten by the pesties.

Pumpkin – I only got one the rest from research didn’t get pollinated and died before getting big enough.

Watermelons – these were yummy, I planted a small variety so each one was able to be eaten in a day by moth, myself and our son.

The rest didn’t germinate or the dog dug them up.


Oh and did I mention that my basil plants are insane, I’ve dried, froze and pesto’d and it still keeps on a comin.

Left Over Feta

I recently attended a cheese making workshop and while I’m not quite ready to take the plunge and make my own cheese yet.  It gave me an idea on how to keep Feta Cheese for longer.

We love Feta in salads, pizza and spaghetti but there’s always some left over that invariably goes off.

So what to do with left over Feta….. Why Marinate of course!  Doing this should extend the life of Feta by at least a month as long as all the Feta is covered.





Feta – Home Made or Store Bought Salted

A Good Olive Oil

Spices or Herbs of Choice – I used Garlic, Peppercorns and Oregano

1 Tblspn Lemon Juice or Apple Cider Vinegar


Press the garlic cloves with the blade of a knife to lightly crush.

Combine the garlic cloves, feta, olive oil, oregano, peppercorns and lemon juice in a sterilized jar.

Seal and place in fridge for at least 48 hours to allow flavours to develop.

The marinated feta should store in the fridge for up to 1 month if kept totally covered with oil.

To sterilise jars, wash the jars and lids in warm soapy water and rinse well.

Place in large saucepan and cover with water. Bring to the boil and boil for 10 minutes.

Transfer to a baking tray lined with baking paper and place in preheated oven at 100 degrees Celsius until dry.

Use jars straight from the oven.

Yum Yum…. Enjoy

Just an update on storing garlic in olive oil.  It can be dangerous as botulism can grow in this environment.  Please see Safe Methods for Storing Garlic.

And now for the Bottle Gourds

Lagenaria Sicerraia, birdhouse gourd, trumpet gourd, calabash gourd.  Bottle Gourds.  This is my new passion! And something that I’m failing at!

Three weeks ago I purchased 16 peat pots, filled them with tasty potting mix and planted 16 seeds…..

And 3 weeks later…..

One lousy seedling!

I have the garden bed prepared –  an afternoon of back breaking work.  The trellis done.  So is it too much to ask for these little blighters to co-operate? I ask you!

Oh well back to the drawing board, I guess I could buy some bottle gourds and do some practicing.

Farming on a Suburban House Block

Other stuff we’ve been doing.

I followed Anna Hess’s Killer Mulch method and laid down a couple of garden beds and I’m in the process of a third.  Killer Mulch is a no-till garden bed, it is also referred to as lasagna garden beds.  I found it a lot easier than digging up dirt which I did for my Gourd Bottles.

It comprises of a layer of grass clippings, a layer of wet cardboard, a layer of horse manure, a layer of top soil and a layer of sugar cane mulch.  We only paid for the top soil as we didn’t have any excess.  We found cardboard from our local Bunnings Store and the Horse manure was free as long as we went and collected it ourselves.  We spent about an hour shoveling horse poo into a hessian bag, wasn’t too difficult and as long as it wasn’t fresh not too smelly either.


So far we’ve planted Strawberries, Cucumbers, Basil and Mint in a pot because of it’s tendency to take over.  We also have two dwarf Apple Trees.  I planted them in pots because I’m not too sure how the garden is going to end up and it would be a bit difficult to transplant if I put it in the wrong place.

Currently I am also germinating Heritage Tomatoes and Mini Capsicum.   We also have a chili tree as well.

I used old egg cartons because after purchasing peat pots I found that egg cartons had the same kind of feel about them and I remembered my mother used to use them for her seedlings.

I still want to plant lettuce, shallots, potatoes and a few other things that we eat regularly.  Very soon we’ll be picking and eating our own home grown food, can’t wait!


Chicken Update.

It’s been some time since I last posted but we have been very busy…   Time for an update!

Our chickens have been moved outside into a chicken tractor.  Me – being the softy that I am I insisted to the MOTH that they still needed a heat lamp at night but after a couple of days I took it out of the pen.

Our chicken tractor was made from bits of material we had lying about, left overs from when we built our house, our pergola.  We bought the chicken wire from our local recycling centre for $3.00.  So all in all our venture into chicken raising has cost us $25.00 for the chickens including feed and water bowls.  $7.00 for a heat lamp, which we found we could have used a normal light bulb.  $3.00 for the chicken tractor and about $20.00 for the chicken mash so far.  We have been supplementing them with food scraps and they absolutely love the grass.

We’re still not sure if their roosters or hens just yet but the fun we’re having is priceless.  If they all turn out to be roosters we’ll donate them to someone and go buy some point of lay hens.  I’m not quite ready to slaughter my own chickens just yet but in the spirit of self-sufficiency I might have to face up to it.

Surprisingly our resident chook killer has shown very little interest.  Apart from the occasional look… nada.  Maybe she’s lulling us into a false sense of security or she’s just too old to be bothered with it.  I’m of the opinion that it’s when a chook flaps it’s wings it becomes enticing.  She doesn’t do it for the taste she does it for the chase!

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