Friday, March 29, 2019

the autumn break

Hello honey bunches,

How's your week been?

From where I'm sitting on the day-bed in my room I can hear Bren stacking a load of fire-wood in the wood-shed. We are expecting a big, wintery, weather change this afternoon or tonight and the list of things to do to prepare for it is endless. Bring in, tie up, take down, gather, cover, pick, pack up, clean, set up...I feel a bit guilty sitting here. 

This morning when I realised it was Friday and I hadn't taken one photo all week I ran around quickly and took a bunch. The light was glarey and they're all a bit overexposed but hopefully they capture the moment and tell the story. I'll go through them quickly and fill in the details for you.

Everywhere you look right now there are baskets and crates and bowls of produce waiting to be eaten and preserved and shared.

Every vase in the house is filled with flowers from the garden.

I grew that heirloom glass gem corn just because it's so pretty. There's a whole lot more to harvest this afternoon, hopefully I get to it.

I've been making dried apple rings using my old recipe from here.

The apple crates are on their last legs, even though we're slowly finishing planting them up for winter, I'm not convinced they'll all see the the season through.

We've grown so many different types of bean this year. Over the next few weeks we plan to pick them, pod them, cook some up in a sauce and preserve them for winter and dry out the rest.

I tried to grow a few different varieties of nasturtiums this season but only this old fave really thrived. And climbed.

It's hard to imagine the garden going back to just green after such a riot of colour. I know I say it all the time but I seriously wish we could live here without winter.

We're currently eating silverbeet in everything we can squeeze it into. (Mum I still can't believe you bought some from the shop the other day!)

We've had an incredible tomatoes season this year. We have eaten heaps and preserved more than enough to last until next season. These purple ones have been fun to grow and eat.

I didn't grow any yellow eating corn this year because I have yet to find a variety that we love. I have however grown that colourful type and a blue popcorn.

These crazy colourful beauties have filled my heart with so much joy, I don't know how I'm going to survive all the grey months to come without them.

The bee frenzy in every flower this morning makes me think that they're feeling the same.

But cold, wintery days do have their pluses. Or so I keep reminding myself.

I got a fresh delivery of fleece from my spinning teacher Rebecca this week which is exciting. It's been months since I've been anywhere near my spinning wheel, I hope I can remember what to do.

And I cast off the Astrid socks in the photo at the top a few days ago and started thinking about casting on the colour-work sweater I've been dreaming of for years, or maybe just a great big shawl to wrap myself up in.

It's 2.30 now and it's blowing a gale outside. In half an hour I've got to drive to pick Jazzy up from school and hopefully I'll make it home before the rain to get some of the jobs done. I'd dearly love to cut some more flowers and to pick through the tomatoes. But if I don't, well I'll just have to close my eyes when I get home and hope for the best.

So what's going on in your life my friends?
What are you planning? Hoping for? Making? Watching? Wondering? Dreaming? Writing?

I hope you have a wonderful weekend. I hope you have something lovely to look forward to, I hope you get enough rest and I hope that you get some time to do something sweet just for you.

Sending extra big love out over the seas to our biggest girl who is asleep in her own bed right now after a big week away. We adore you and are in awe of you Miss Indi Apple xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx.

Lots of love,

Kate xx

Friday, March 22, 2019


Hello honey bunches,

I'm just popping in quickly to let you know that I won't be writing a proper, full length blog today.

Instead first thing this morning, in a minute, I'm going to pick a big bucket of colourful dahlias to be used to decorate a wedding this weekend, and after that we're going to catch the train into Melbourne with the girls for the school strike for climate action.

I don't expect we'll be home until early evening and by the time we've fed the girls and done all of the farm chores it'll be too late.


I wrote those few paragraphs a week ago.

Last Friday morning I woke up early, edited the pictures, uploaded them to the blog, wrote the words, and then ran out of time to publish them. I left the post open on my computer and hoped to tidy it up and finish it when I got home or on Saturday at the latest.

The flowers I picked were beautiful and the march was emotional and inspiring. We really had the most wonderful day. And then on the way home I learned of the Christchurch mosque shootings. The murder of 50 children, teenagers, women and men.

There were no words big enough to blog.

Jacinta Ardern, the New Zealand Prime Minister, this week refused to speak the perpetrator's name but encouraged the world to speak the names of the 50 victims.

Today in the precious time you usually spend reading my words I'd love it if you read through the names and stories of the victims instead. Our brothers and sisters.

Here in an article in the Guardian.
Here on Khaled Beydoun's instagram.

You can also donate to support the victims here.

Sending so much love out into the world.

Be kind to yourselves and each other.

I'll see you next week with more stories of flowers and fruit and beautiful wooden bowls.

Love, Kate x

Friday, March 8, 2019

photos of flowers and things

The other morning when we came inside for breakfast after taking the girls to their schools, stacking a load of firewood in the woodshed and bottling up 12 jars of tomatoes sauce for the Fowlers machine, Farmer Bren looked at me and said 'I get it, this is who we are. This is what we do. This is our life'. 

I guess when you're so deeply involved in what you do sometimes it's hard to remember that not everyone is doing it the same way as you. Not everyone grows a lot of their food from tiny seeds; not everyone makes their muesli from the contents of about 15 jars each morning; not everyone lives so far from their closest neighbours that if they went outside and screamed as loudly as they could no-one would hear them; not everyone could have their growing season ended by one surprise weather event; not everyone uses fire to heat their houses and cook on; not everyone has a kitchen floor that's covered with crates full of autumn bounty ready to be preserved; not everyone only ever eats cucumbers and tomatoes when they are in season; and not everyone owns two pairs of the same boots - one for work and one for town.

There are some things about our world that probably sound so foreign to some people, like the fact that we have a mob of about 50 kangaroos that live on our property and most of the time don't bother us, but sometimes tear the nets in the orchards and eat all the apples. I'm sure there are koalas here too, although I've only ever seen one.

And lots of things I do feel terribly ordinary, like looking at my phone too much, trying to problem-solve for my kids a lot, and boring old housework (only ever the minimum I can get away with though).

I don't actually know what this is all about. My head's a bit cloudy today. I guess what Bren said, plus the messages you guys send me often telling me how different my world is to yours, reminds me to notice the special bits, encourages me to remember the choices we've made, and allows me to see the beauty.

I think that's enough words for today. I'll let the pictures tell the story.

I'd love you to tell me a bit about how your world differs from mine, or from those around you. It doesn't need to be big, just anything really.

Wishing you a happy International Women's Day!

And a fabulous weekend.

See you next week.

Love, Kate x

Friday, March 1, 2019

sunshine in my soul

Over the past few months I've settled into this new sort of sleep pattern. After I have a shower and go to bed I read my book until I'm so bleary eyed and sleepy that I can hardly see the words on the page anymore. Sometimes I try to read past this point if I'm up to a good bit in the story, but mostly by now I recognise the peak tired point, I turn off my lamp, pop my ear plugs in and within 15 or 20 minutes I'm asleep. This is new for me, I used to find the getting to sleep part agonising.

Then I generally sleep to anywhere between two and four in the morning when I wake up, get up and go to the toilet and then repeat the reading bit. I can be awake at this point anywhere from half an hour, to the rest of the night til morning. 

I practise mindfulness, I practise good sleep hygiene, but I've never been a good sleeper and I probably never will be.

But the other night, about a week ago, I woke up in the middle of the night and had this realisation that everything right now is good. Now is one of those rare times in life where there don't seem to be any dramas. Everyone in my family is healthy and doing well. There are no big issues, no overwhelming stresses and nothing to keep me awake in the middle of the night. I went through each person in my mind and when I'd convinced myself it was true, I turned the light off and went back to sleep.

And somehow this sense of well being has stayed with me throughout the week. I feel like I've had sunshine in my soul.

On Friday after I wrote my blog we picked little tomatoes to toss over pesto pasta for our dinner, we picked cucumbers and nashis and sunflowers, and we spoke to our Indi while she decorated her kibbutz room with flowers in vodka bottle vases.

On Saturday we picked apples and plums and hazelnuts and tomatoes and cucumbers and flowers. Late in the afternoon I took a basketful of tomatoes outside, laid them out on the ground then stood over them and photographed them. 'Just like I used to do when I was an olden days blogger' I told my farmer boy. He laughed and asked me what exactly I thought I was now. Okay true, nothing's changed there.

On Sunday we strolled the aisles of The Daylesford Sunday Market trying to decide if we should have a flower stall soon, I bought some new kitchen knives and then we came home and celebrated them with super thin slices of tomato, cheese and pickled cucumber on toast. After that we picked huge bunches of straw flowers to hang upside down and dry, we picked tomatoes and cucumbers and we visited our bees to see how they were coping with the heat and if they were making any honey.

On Monday we spent time in the garden deadheading, weeding and harvesting. When the sun went down and it got a bit cooler I started stacking firewood in the woodshed - as much as I hate to think about it, I'm sure the first fire of the season can't be too far away. And I made the most delicious cauliflower and freeka salad from Julia Nishimura's book Ostro for dinner.

On Tuesday I started ceramics lessons and I LOVED it!! The first lesson was all about hand building - pinch-pots, coil pots and slabs. I made a few different styles of vases. It's so interesting to think that I've never enjoyed ceramics when I've tried it in the past and now I love it. Why the change? Why now? My teacher Kim sent us home with a chunk of clay to play with over the weekend and I'm hoping to have time on Sunday, I'm so looking forward to it.

On Wednesday we covered a few of the rows of the apple orchard with nets. It's been an incredibly hot and dry summer and despite the fact that we've been irrigating continuously, this year's crop has been small and disappointing. I blame the dreadful cold, windy and wet weeks we had last year when the blossom was out but the bees couldn't leave their hives to pollinate. If you've been waiting to see us at market or to pop into the farm gate stall, it doesn't look like it's going to happen this season. We're sorry and we're disappointed. But we do claim to be seasonal growers and some seasons are just crap.

This morning when we drove past the orchards to take Pepper to school the trees were FULL of white cockatoos holding apples in their hands eating them. The ground is littered thick with half eaten cores. We didn't feel like it was worth the cost and effort of netting the whole orchard for a disappointing crop, but hopefully we've saved a few rows of our family's favourites.

On Thursday apart from driving Jazzy to school, picking tomatoes, cucumbers and flowers and going to gym, we spent almost the entire day in the kitchen. We squished tomatoes and made an enormous cauldron of sauce and I made some more pickled cucumbers.

Every year just before our tomatoes start to ripen I have a panic and fear that we'll never have enough and end up buying a box from a local organic farmer to get me started and stop my worrying. This year I made a decision to be patient and to trust and not to panic buy.

Last year I made somewhere between 100 and 120 jars of tomatoes sauce and there are still around 15 jars left in the cupboard. That means I'd better get busy and fill that cupboard back up. I'm sitting on zero right now but I do feel so happy that I waited and that they'll all be ours.

To make - fry up an onion and some garlic, stir in the squished tomatoes, add loads of basil, bottle, seal, water-bath.

Rather than just bottling tomatoes by themselves, we add lots of other summer seasonal ingredients from our garden that we won't have growing later in the year

Which brings us to Friday, today. I took Pepper to school early, I picked bunches of flowers, tomatoes and cucumbers with Jazzy, I hunted through the dahlias for the grasshoppers that have been munching my flowers, Bren had a meeting with Dave and another guy about fixing our house dam and now I'm writing my blog.

Over the weekend I hope to start bottling the tomatoes (I'll keep you posted on the tally), keep knitting my socks, continue reading Abby's copy of Inappropriation by Lexi Freiman, start listening to the latest episode of Who The Hell is Hamish podcast, take Jazzy to the orthodontist, maybe speak to Indi, hopefully crochet something that's in my head, go to gym, fill baskets and vases with produce, and hopefully, hopefully, hopefully continue this streak of family wellness and wellbeing-ness.

And if at all possible I would absolutely love to order another week of this sunshine in my soul feeling. I'd love to order one for you too.

So how's your week been?
Did you get up to anything fun?
Are you making anything interesting?
Deciding on anything important?
Dreaming about something wonderful?

See ya next Friday.

Lots of love,

Kate x

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