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Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Cleaning, Stripping, Nourishing

We are making headway slowly and starting to see results for the hard work.
A lot of our efforts are concentrated on flooring with repeated scrubbing of all perimeters and skirting boards. Above is the third bedroom Georgian boards. Every time I washed and scrubbed, more dirt was smeared over everything so I had to resort to using a thin (old) knife to life the compacted dirt from between the boards. The next step was to scrub each board with fine steel wool and turpentine and scrape old paint spots with a scraper, then apply bees wax to nourish and protect. Previous owners have painted boarders on the boards in the original rooms and we'll make a decision about that later.

The kitchen has been fully gutted and remediated and is currently drying out ready for the next step which is a coating of shellac based primer Zinser BIN and then re-plastering. It will be weeks before we have a kitchen unfortunately. 

Our bedroom has been undercoated and the shearer is working on the ceiling which had foam tiles glued on it and even the ceiling rose is made of foam...(like Styrofoam) 

Every day we scrub and scrub with protein neutralising solutions but we are winning.
When it all gets too much and we need a "treat" we work in the garden. Already we have transplanted lots of fruit trees and we have the beginnings of boundary fences. 
Little by little.
We have had lots of visitors and their enthusiasm and positive feedback are so encouraging and we thank you all. You have no idea that such little things mean so much. 
We have had some wonderful help from family and friends too and I can't tell you how wonderful it is to have someone provide a nourishing lunch or dinner - what lifesavers you are! 

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Win Some/Lose Some

And so it begins...
Our dream home is somewhat of a nightmare as it turns out.
The previous owners had 10 cats and we knew we were facing a big clean up job.
What we didn't realise was that the cats were using the house as one giant toilet! They have urinated (and worse) around every perimeter of every room and the damage is astounding. The remediation task involves very specific and specialised steps.

For many days we have felt like we are fighting a loosing battle but we did have a small win today.
The first step of remediation is to remove everything that can possibly be removed. We knew we would have to pull up the carpet but urine seeps and we have had to remove lining boards, flooring, architraves and incredibly the whole kitchen!

My new front yard is my favourite part of the house at the moment. After hard slogs in truly putrid smelling conditions, I come out here with a coffee and sit on the step kicking off moss. Across the road is a paddock of grazing sheep and the sun streams across and the air is crystal fresh.

As I sit and sip
I scuff and pull....

A path emerges....

A pattern emerges....

And a thing of wonder and beauty is revealed.
Long narrow and round smooth river pebbles have been sourced locally, probably from the Elizabeth river just about 15 metres up the road. This use of river pebbles and patterning was typical of the mid 1800's in Devon England. Someone far from home, in a sparsely populated Tasmania of 1840, built a Georgian sandstone house and paved the front path in a style from home.

This is my win for the week.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Fritter/Rosti/Patty - The Way To A Baby's Heart

My grandson is now a novice toddler!
When his mum goes to work at the weekend he comes to us for the day and he is really exploring some food delights. He loves picking figs and apples straight from the tree and sampling some of the green leafy things but for breakfast he just loves a patty of frittery goodness that he can self feed and explore the texture of. 

Here are some combinations, they are quick, easy, nutritious and a family pleaser for everyone. 

1. Grated zucchini, corn kernals, cheddar cheese with besan flour, coconut flour,
2. Grated potato (moisture squeezed out), grated cauliflower, spring onion, flour
3. Grated pumpkin, grated apple (squeeze out the juice) mozzarella, falafel mix  

Add an egg or two and enough milk to make a rosti/fritter type batter and fry in either olive oil, butter or dripping as the style suits.
The pieces are easy for him to manage for basic chewing, lots of texture and taste to explore and he gets plenty of fine motor skills practice.
There is no limit to the combinations.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Cheese Making - Living Better With Less

At our Living Better With Less group meet up last Thursday night we had an introduction to cheese making from the incredibly organised and engaging Neville who timed this visit with us to coincide with his formal class teaching of the same this week. Not only did we have a great informative discussion but we also got some student samples to try for inspiration.

Neville explained in a very easy manner, the chemistry involved in cheese making, the properties of milk and the characteristics of altered proteins. We discussed common terms that you commonly hear in the cheese world like, rennet, curds, whey and he stepped us through the two characteristics of soft cheese and hard cheese and their properties.

It's a big subject and we would like to thank Neville for giving us a great snapshot of the basics, the pitfalls, joys and realities of this hobby.
We had lots of books to pour over and we discussed the merits of kits. Though there are a couple of home brew shops in town with basics, most supplies are thoroughly catered for on line.

Afterwards we had some wonderful cheese tastings with a cuppa

Here are the cheeses made by the students.
The golden yellow one is a mozzarella cheese infused with saffron.
The other is a home made curd cheese called Paneer which has had seeded mustard added. 
If you would like to step further into the wonderful world of cheese making I would suggest you start here at 
a blog dedicated to cheese by Gavin Webber. He has podcasts, videos, an e-book and lots of posts.  

Now, some important dates!

Next month we have organised a date for an
olive picking day
on Sunday 26th July.
More details to follow on our Facebook page

Which leads me to our next news
we have a brand new facebook page here so you can follow along woth our activities and events and keep up to date with meet up reminders. Living Better With Less is open to all interested and like minded people and is a non-profit informal group meeting on the last Thursday of each month except December and is totally free however we do donate a gold coin to cover tea/coffee/power etc at the Urban Farming Seed Studio where we made possible by the kind sharing of Bridget and Peter. We meet at 3 Charles St south in Launceston Tas. and hope to see you one day.

Later in October on the 17th
we will join Urban Farming Fiesta in Yorktown Square. We'll have a stall showing examples of our various industries and endeavours and be on hand for some chatting. More details closer to the date and may I also recommend the

Also coming up in November we have been kindly invited to tour Steve Solomon's garden which I am very excited about. Steve is a bit of a growing cold climate vegetable guru here in Tasmania and has written several books. His "Growing Vegetables South of Australia" is particularly popular here. Can't wait for that and guessed it...more details closer to the date. But it will be in November and we will also take the opportunity to have a little end of year break up afternoon tea party too. 
So much to look forward to!
Hope to see you next month.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

One More Stop - Yarn Tour 2015 Part III

After lunch and a bit more shopping Neil drove us to Camp Clayton by the sea where luck would have it, the Handweavers, Spinners and Dyers Guild of Tasmania were holding a weekend retreat.
we walked into a hive of yarn crafting activity but unfortunately we were running out of steam on the photo taking front.

Outside there were several trestles set up with ladies dyeing using various methods with their pots and electric frypans set up and pots of colours. Very exciting, especially for the girls who had bought dye kits back in Deloraine.

There was also a felting workshop where they were hard at it with rollers and bubble wrap and towels, creating bags, jewellery, hats...

Inside lots and lots of spinners. Someone in the group commented on how they all seemed in a state of Zen. We had one man on the bus in our group and he was quite keen to try spinning.

The ladies were so very welcoming and sharing and we could have stayed much longer but if these tourers were going to have an ice cream before home we needed to hit the road again. The guild is very active and has lots of calender events, retreats and workshops in wonderful locations so do check the link above if you are interested. I know the wilderness fibre crafting weekend in February 2016 in Tullah captured the interest of some of our group.

Heading home we stopped at the famous chocolatier house of  D'anvers for some treats. I quite enjoyed my chilli chocolate ice cream.
By now we are on the home straight and everyone's needles are flashing as they try to finish their charity knit blanket squares. It has been decided that they will be sewn into cot blankets to go to the Sunshine Foundation orphanage in Nepal.
I would like to say a big thank you to Heather for organising the charity knit and to Margaret for helping with the delicious morning tea and thanks to Vanessa for taking some photos for me so I could be everywhere at once!
Thank you to Jack's Bus service for providing such a comfortable coach and obliging driver - We love you Neil! and a MASSIVE thank you to Cranberry Crafts and Art Viva for their prizes that they donated too. And finally to the dear ladies of the Guild for their open welcome and inspiring demonstrations.
Hmmm....I wonder what next year will bring?

Monday, June 15, 2015

Onward To Ulverstone - 2015 Tour Part II

Hitting the streets of Ulverstone in search of yarny goodies with my sister-in-law and we needed look no further than.....

The staff were all hands on deck and ready and willing. So helpful and knowledgeable, we only had to show interest in a yarn and they were able to show us a knitted garment in the same. They had advice about needles, patterns and everything in between. 

Everything our hearts desired...
cotton, alpaca, merino, silk, polymides, sock yarns, slubby yarns, Noro, free patterns....

And that's not all!
Quilting, fabrics, embroidery...
All types of crafting supplies!

They also had a basket of lucky dips for $2 that went straight to the Cancer Council.
This added to the fun of the day and the girls really loved the idea and got some great bargains for their gold coin

Reels of cotton, patchwork squares, needles and more....

Cranberry Crafts were incredibly generous and donated six prizes for our lucky draws on the bus.

Have you had enough yarning yet?
Well here's one more...

Thank you Cranberry Crafts.
You guys were amazing!

The girls then shopped and made some discoveries in the gift shops and split up to enjoy lunch in one of the many cafes. My posse of three highly recommend Furners Hotel and their fabulous $10 lunch menu.

Time to board the bus and find out where Neil will take us next....

Yarn Tour 2015 - Part I

All aboard with our driver Neil. The sun is shining, the morning is crisp and everyone is in high spirits.

Everyone boards with a bag containing their charity knit instructions, a ball of yarn, map of our destination and a lucky door ticket. We had lots of prizes along the way.

Our first stop on our tour this year was Deloraine.
We had morning tea beside the swift flowing Meander River before making away across the road to the Alpaca Shop.

The shop is run on a roster basis by the fleece producers and each yarn has provenance attached to it, they know which animal it has come from, by name.

There are many already spun yarns to choose from and they also carry a large range of dyes so you can custom dye your own fibre. If you are a spinner, then you have a large choice of fleece. 

Alpaca is so light compared to sheep fleece but also incredibly warm. The latest venture for the producers is blankets that are being woven for them at the famous Waverley Woollen Mill in Launceston. They also stock alpaca doonas and I think alpaca blankets are ideal for elderly and small children as they are so light. When my grandson sleeps here he has an alpaca doona and he sleeps snug and warm all night, and we have certainly had some freezing nights here lately!

So much to choose from but we are on a tight schedule. I noticed a few of the ladies opting for some dye kits but I chose a beautiful grey alpaca yarn for a vest for my grandson.

Back on the bus and time for some show and tell.
I just loved this scarf/necklace that Kylie made from yarn purchased at The Stash Cupboard on our trip last year. She made five long knitted strips of different widths using a knitting loom and then three small loops fastened in the front like yarn beads. It was a great way to showcase the yarn.
It looks striking on the black but it looked equally handsome on Kylie's fuchsia and purple outfit.
And onwards we travel....

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