Monday, February 28, 2011

Last day of Summer.

Today is the last day of Summer and the days have already cooled. To celebrate its passing I went for a wander around the front yard to see how everything was going.
A few weeks ago I posted that I had bought some Coastal Tussock Grasses to plant along my front fence line. They were planted at each fence post and are doing well and showing no sign of stress at all.

In between each of the grasses I planted a couple of Common Thyme out of a punnet. Over time, I'm hoping they will grow and spread to fill the space along the front of the fence and cover up the unsightly dolomite.

Overall I think it should have a nice architectural kind of look. Both the grass and the thyme were chosen because they are very hardy and should required minimal care.  (Apologies for the quality of the photo - or lack thereof - very bright and glarey conditions out there today.)

I found a nice surprise out by the front gate too, poking through the fence from the shared access way on the other side: Cream coloured Belladonna Lillies (Amarylillis sp.), although I grew up calling them Easter Lillies because that is when they appear in our area. Most of the ones around here are pink, so these seem just that bit more special being different. 

And out the back? Gigantic zucchinis! Oh, I know, I know, everybody manages to grow huge zucchinis and then goes on to take a few photos and after this they try to eat them and find them virtually inedible, but it really is amazing how fast they went from big to enormous, and I think they must weigh almost as much as my tiny girl and the photo opportunity was too good to pass over. I've had to remove almost all the zucchini and squash leaves now as they predictably got Downy Mildew on them (and boy, that appears as quickly as the zucchinis grow), but I've left the stems and remaining small fruits - the plants look like thorny snakes now - and I will see if we can grow just a few more before they're finished for good. 

So, as you know, we have moved to my MIL's house while we do a fairly major renovation of our house. The next post will show you what's been done so far, but for the time being I'll leave you with a sneak peak of MIL's most beautiful and inspirational garden, together with my most beautiful and inspirational SP.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Bargain plants make for happy gardeners.

We might have moved temporarily to another house, but it hasn't stopped me shopping for the garden and the nature strip takeover.Since we're now within walking distance of the 'Village of Stirling' (which, by the way, is a very pretty place to spend the Autumn even if I am dreading Winter here just a little) I was able to wander up to the monthly Stirling Sunday Market, where I discovered, to my joy, that there were many stalls selling plants and one in particular even had cheap plants (bonus for the gardener on a budget). These little beauties were $2.50 each, or 10 for $20 (5" pots, woot!). Naturally, I got 10 plants without even blinking, asking the plant-guy for bags to put them in as I walked around choosing my babies. 

I got:
Catmint 'Walker's low' (Nepeta × faassenii) because I've read it's a traditional rose under-planting, and very pretty, and attracts bees to the garden.
Pepino Gold (Solanum muricatum) for it's 'melon-like fruit,' even though I've never eaten it in my life.
White butterfly bush x 3 (Gaura lindhermeri) because I've recently fallen in love with it. 
Common Rush (Juncus usitatus) because I'm quite taken with rushes and grasses at the moment.

And to help me in my quest to bring in the birds I bought:
Correa 'Dusky Bells', One of my favourites, as you should know if you're a regular reader. 
Eremophila 'Rottnest Emu Bush' (Red form).
Eremophila maculata compacta (Red form).
Melaleuca fulgens 'CF Payne'.

Those four are Australian natives though not indigenous to my area. Stay tuned for updates on their progress.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Letter for SP

My Most Gorgeous Emi, 
Tomorrow, at 3:05pm, you will be one. I can't believe it; where has the year gone? The first six months were such a blur of feedingsleepingchangingfeedingbathingsleeping. The next six months slowed down a little and we have had more time to really appreciate the sunny little personality, our Goodwill Ambassador, that you have become. 
At 12 months you are cruising freely about the furniture and walls. You can be a little hyperactive at times; you rarely sit still. You have discovered animals recently, and greet them with screams of excitement. You are a happy little ball of energy, our Energizer Bunny. We call you Munchie, or Munchen, or Munch. We also call you Crazy-Emi, Destructo, Cyclone Emi, and Danger Mouse.
You're quite little compared to most babies your age: light as a feather, a wisp of grass. You eat everything we try, but not usually a lot of it, like a little bird. You only have two bottom teeth, but this doesn't slow you down. The only food you have trouble with is leafy things, which make you gag every time! You love toast, ham, and cheese, and would eat your body weight in mango and papaya if allowed. 
Your favourite toys right now are Tompee the Elephant and Oggie the Dog. You rush up to them with a squeal and hug them tightly to your chest whenever you see them. If you're tired, you lay your head down on them, using them like a pillow. 
When I pretend to eat your hands you think I'm hilarious. 
When you were tiny, you would make a high pitched squeak while you were sleeping which sounded exactly like one of Auntie Susan's monkeys, Peter. You're very chatty now. Sometimes you sound like a parrot! You say 'Nom Nom' when you want some food, and 'Ta Da!' when prompted, flinging your hands in the air. 
I think you are a performer, like your Auntie Annie. I'm sure you do some things just to make us laugh; you're so funny!
We just adore you. You are our Adora-Bubble, our Gorgeous Babe. I can't imagine life without you, my Covered-in-Kisses, Little-Gorgeous, our Lady of 1000 Names.
Love you to the End of the Earth and back again, 
From Me. xxx

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Our Masterpiece.

Lots of pictures, masses of them, in fact (over 30, you have been warned). Our baby's first cake was a triumph of Artist meets Chef. I don't want to be too smug, but we were pretty impressed with ourselves by the time it was finished. I made the cake (Strawberry flavoured, if you're not from the US you'll need to un-Americanise the recipe), D and I iced it together, taking turns with the fiddly bits and bickering over who got to do the black parts.

The inspiration was a doll given to SP by a friend when she was about 5 months old.

And strawberries, because our girl loves strawberries.

I had a play with some fondant.

And was very satisfied with my black icing.

SP supervised from the recycling basket.

I have never smoothed a cake batter down so thoroughly.

I cut out the pattern.

Enter Chef.

Steady Hands.

Supervisor-SP needed a better look.

Crumb layer.

Tracing the pattern.

Starting the tricky bit.

I recommend having a practise go with the piping bag before you begin.

Especially with the finer work.

Then you may start.

Gorgeous, lurid red.
Taking shape.

At 1:30am this morning...

Not bad!

D-Day. Or is that B-Day? Adding some finishing touches.

With her inspiration.

The fatal cuts.

Half gone already.

Dishing Up.

Taste test! Hmmm. It's not bad.

Love you, my most gorgeous birthday girl xx

Friday, February 18, 2011


So, what is a WIP? A WIP is a Work In Progress, an unfinished project, of which I have approximately 379 of stashed away in various cupboards and boxes. I have designated 2011 the Year of the WIP and it is my most sincere intention to get some of these projects completed (or binned, depending on my mood).

The other day, in a fit of madness, I tidyed our study and in doing so I came across one of these neglected ideas languishing in a battered shoebox. 

I'd started folding these paper cranes when I found out that I was pregnant with SP. I was going to make a mobile from them and hang the birds above the cot where they could dance in the wind. Sadly, that was never fully realised. 

When I pulled them out again I realised that something was missing. I had lots of red cranes, pink cranes, purple cranes, green cranes, but no blues, not even one.
So the very first thing I did was pull out my stash of beautiful, lovely, tactile Japanese papers. I have literally dozens of them. Some collected here in Adelaide, and quite a lot I brought home from Japan at the end of 2009. I find them hard to use. I don't want to waste them.

I started folding cranes again the other night in front of Midsomer Murders, lots of blues and few more greens and golds to round things out. 

I laid them out in their colour groups, took a few happy snaps, and then SP woke up and I had to whip them away lest they all be crushed by little hands!

They're not going to be a mobile, but I do have another idea (the evolving WIP!) and I hope it will be finished shortly and I can show you the finished product.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

How does your garden grow?

Quite well, for the most part, although a few days over 40 degrees Celsius can undo months of patient growing.

A shot rarely seen: the north end of the vegie patch looking southwards. Corn first, with pumpkins, squash, and zucchinis in front. Then eggplants and sweet potatoes in the middle, tomato behind, and dimly, in the distance, my little lemon tree in the middle of the bed I'm currently creating (extremely labour intensively by manually removing all the buffalo grass runner by runner by runner).

The eggplants are doing well. For a long time I thought they were a bit uninspired, but then, like magic, there are eggplants, and quite a lot of them! This one is a small version called 'Fairy eggplant', or something like that anyway.

We have some watermelons too, little ones that will be yellow inside when they're ready. They grow astoundingly fast, although I did have to attempt a bit of hand-pollination to get any fruit at all. One of my gardening missions is to plant plenty of flowering plants which will bring pollinators into the garden. 

So there you have it. We'll be moving out soon, back to D's mum's place while the bulk of the renovating work is getting done. But don't worry: we'll still be making plenty of trips back to our house to water, to harvest, to explore. 

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Oh dear, what's she up to?

A certain Small Person is nearly one! 

And naturally her mama's thoughts turn to cake (and her papa's, let's be fair). We have decided what shape the cake will be, and I've been making coloured butter cream in advance and trying out a couple of different cake recipes (never try something new for the first time at crunch time). 

Coloured icing is a whole new ball game for me, and needs some additional tools.

I'm glad I've started experimenting a little in advance; the 'black' icing is still a dull grey and may need rethinking. And my red icing is a very pretty pink and not at all the pillar-box red I had in mind. Apparently these colours develop upon sitting. Let's hope so!

So, as it stands, on Wednesday at 11pm, I am beginning to wonder if we've been a little ambitious. Let's hope that Saturday's cake is not such a disaster that I'm too embarrassed to show you!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

More demolition

The boys dug a big hole yesterday under my washing line. They started by jackhammering away at a section of the green concrete in neat lines, cracking it and pulling it away to expose the old rubble underneath. 

You always find all sorts of old things in old backyards and old fill, and there's always glass bottles miraculously intact!

Sometimes I think men just like destruction. Is that how things go? Women create, and men destroy.

Here are the menfolk doing their thing, crow bar in hand and shovel at ready. I'm sure they had a brilliant time, even if their arms felt it today. This may be one of the last shots of the back of the house as it is now. I will have to relocate some of those plants off to the left, an ancient rosemary, some tomatoes not finished, a daisy too good to lose, some aloes that I don't have a plan for yet.