Sunset from Hill House, Mount Helen. February 2024

Saturday, February 26, 2022

Oh Bother ...

 ... was not what I said yesterday as the bottom fell off the blender I had just used to blend the corn, chicken and chicken stock which I had been simmering to use as the base of a chowder style soup. It was not what I said as the contents of the blender disported themselves all over the base unit of my food processor and thence onto the kitchen bench, down the cupboard doors and onto the floor. It was also not what I said when, on further inspection (after all, bottoms don't usually fall off blender jugs) I decided that the blender blades might have been designed to unscrew and to screw back on. I hadn't ever looked at the bottom of the blender. I have had no reason to.

I cleared up the bench, cupboard doors and the floor. I decided that trying to clean the base unit of the food processor was a task too far and put it on my pile of things to go to the electrical recycling place, if I ever get around to going there. I have bought a new food processor, which doesn't have the juicer attachment but which does have other attachments that the original processor didn't have. I didn't use the juicer all that often. If I decide that I do after all miss it, I will look into buying a stand alone juicer.

While out and about on Thursday afternoon with Lindsey, we called in to Kmart. Lindsey was looking for some dog toys. Kmart is short of dog toy stock at the moment. It is also more or less out of pet beds, but it did have some bright red racing cars reduced from $20 to $7. For $7 I was willing to buy one for Brandy and Whiskey. Now you may remember their deep, deep suspicion when I brought a boat bed home with me last autumn. I expected them to be similarly suspicious of a bright red racing car. But no!

Oh look, says Whiskey. A nice new car.
I will take it for a drive.

I think, says Brandy, that you will find it's
MY shiny new car.
I will be a racing car driver

I think he will be as successful a racing car driver
as he was as a pirate cat!

It's been a busy sort of week. We were at Mount Martha last weekend, which was quite restful in its way. We were at Rupert and Hugo's place overnight on Monday which was strikingly unrestful. Not for any particular reason other than that I didn't sleep very well, which disturbed Rupert and Hugo, and even disturbed Jim (which is hard to do!) My Fitbit says I got about one and a half hour asleep.  I think it was a bit more than that but not a lot. This did have the advantage that I slept remarkably well on Tuesday night but it was a struggle to stay awake during the day.

We haven't had much rain recently (it would be helpful if the Weather Dogs could divert a small amount from NSW and Queensland; not too much you understand. I don't want my garden to be washed away) but the garden is being reasonably productive. Last night we had zucchini, corn, runner beans, yellow beans, carrots and potatoes all from the garden with our dinner. We have nearly finished the carrots but there is more of everything else coming along.

So. I have a brand new, all singing all dancing, unused food processor in the cupboard. I do feel that I need to take a degree course in rocket engineering to be able to use it to its full potential, but I should be able to use the dough hook, the cake mixer and the blender without much instruction. The question is - what shall I make first? After, that is, I have put a beef and tomato stew in the slow cooker and sorted out the box of cooking tomatoes that I bought yesterday while I was out collecting the new processor.

Kosy Kats!

Saturday, February 19, 2022


One of the nice things about having potatoes growing right outside the front door is that I can potter out when I want potatoes and just pull up a few, enough for that evening. I know they are not properly ready yet but they are Dutch Cream and probably won't get very much bigger even if I do leave them for another few weeks or so. 

This morning I dug up some more to take with us to Mount Martha this afternoon. I also pulled a couple of corn cobs. My corn hedge is starting to be productive. We had this with our dinner yesterday:

And very tasty it was too

It was Hugo's fifth birthday yesterday. He has never been a puppy-ish dog, unlike Rupert who remains as puppy-ish as his rubbish hips allow him to be. However, this last week Hugo has shown every one of his five years. He hasn't been able to jump on and off beds or couches. He has lolloped after balls and toys when they are thrown rather than galloping. You couldn't say he has been unhappy or obviously showing pain - his tail has been wagging and his appetite has been undiminished. But he has been a bit subdued. Until yesterday afternoon when he positively galloped to the fence line to chase away some kangaroos which, in his opinion, were too close to his garden.  He and Rupert chased each other up and down the back yard and jumped on each other and almost knocked Jim flying. He even got on and off Lindsey's bed, cautiously it is true. I wonder if he had knocked his hips on something earlier in the week. He almost took out a set of shelves in the backyard yesterday afternoon after a particularly vigorous leap on Rupert

Birthday boy with a Christmas toy.
He does have a birthday toy which is
pleasingly squeaky

I had every good intention of changing the bed linen yesterday morning before heading off to play with Rupert and Hugo. 

Obviously, you can't disturb a sleeping cat. So I went and opened the patio doors, which made both cats arise from their sleeping places and go outside. I managed to sort the bed out undisturbed 😆

Monday, February 14, 2022

Greek Salad for Breakfast

I am very fond of Greek salad but don't very often have it. Jim doesn't like olives and, in any case, these days doesn't really eat salad. Lindsey and I often have salad with our lunch on Wednesdays but she too doesn't like olives. No Greek salad on Wednesdays. In fact, no Greek salad at all, or none to speak of.

Yesterday, Jim and I went to Macedon to have lunch at Chris and John's house. Gillie and Irene were also there. We had what was effectively a ploughman's platter to begin, sat outside on what was a warm but VERY windy day. When we six meet for lunch we usually start with something fizzy to drink. Jim doesn't like fizzy wine so I took a can of a locally brewed beer for him. I was driving and was thinking of taking a bottle of sparkling water for my fizzy starter. Then I found a bottle of Brown Brothers' no-alcohol Prosecco in the IGA so I took that instead. It was really rather nice. I must look out and see if they have any more.

We went inside for lunch proper. Chris had prepared a delicious lamb meal, accompanied by baby potatoes, green things, a pumpkin and beetroot salad - and a Greek salad! I'm not sure if I have mentioned it but I do like Greek salad. I am rather fond of Greek style lamb and baby potatoes as well. And green things. Not to mention pumpkin and yellow beetroot. It was all very delicious. As was the raspberry sort of Eton Mess we had for dessert. 

I sent a message to Chris this morning, thanking her for a lovely afternoon and the magnificent Sunday lunch. I was thinking about Greek salads, and then thought that I have most of the things you need for a Greek salad in my kitchen and garden. I had a couple of sad looking cucumbers, but they were fresh enough when I cut them up. I had cherry tomatoes from the local tomato farm. I had feta and olives and herbs and onion and garlic and mint. I chopped things up, put them together and decided that, with the addition of a small can of tuna, it would all a magnificent breakfast make (minus the garlic and onion as not necessarily being breakfast foods in my world). I had picked up some nectarines at the market on Saturday so also had one of those, chopped up on the side.

We should have Greek salads for breakfast more often (although Jim had his usual of toast, mushroom, egg, bacon and tomato).

It was rather a good weekend all round. Lindsey and I went to the Lakeside market on Saturday morning. It was a glorious day and the lake and market were very busy. We went out to the mushroom farm. Then I went home and had a Japanese lesson and Lindsey and Ian went to Merricks on the Mornington Peninsula for a couple of nights. Jim and I had steak sandwiches for dinner on Saturday evening, with lots of things from the market and steak from the local butcher. Last night we didn't need much, having had a three course lunch, so I steamed some of Chris and John's green beans (mine are still flowers, or teeny tiny) and some of my little zucchini and some of the market's asparagus which we had with a poached egg each. I even managed not to set fire to my new bamboo steamer 😂

We came up to Rupert and Hugo's house today at lunchtime. As I walked in there was no sign of any Great Danes. Not a waggy tail at the door, nor any perked up ears. No bark, no happy dance. Nothing. No Great Danes in the lounge room snoozing on the couch. I stood in the hallway and squeaked the new squeaky toys I had brought for them. There was a teeny, tiny woof. I looked in Lindsey's bedroom - and there they were, on her bed, heads slightly up, looking to see who had come in and what action they may need to take. When they realised it was Frannie The Bringer of Food (and Squeaky Toys) they jumped off the bed, tails all a-waggy. I have no idea what they might have done had I been Brenda the Burglar. I suspect they might just have shrugged and gone back to sleep 😱

I dug up two roots of potatoes this morning. I only meant to dig up one because I know they aren't ready yet but I was curious to know what was underneath them, and two roots came up accidentally. Not a bad little crop all things considered.  There may well be more; I didn't rummage properly. I'll give it all a proper digging over when the potatoes are finished and I am preparing the bed for the miniature apple tree I have planned. 

Oh - and I chucked some wizened, dehydrated, desiccated kipfler seed potatoes into the other apple tree bed a couple of weeks ago. I found them in the back of a cupboard when I was clearing it out. I figured they were well past being viable seed potatoes so chucked them in with a load of soil and other stuff I am prepping that bed with. Potatoes are clearly valiant and redoubtable. At least three of those "dead" potatoes have sprouted this weekend! I've watered them and will leave them to get on with it and see what they come up with.

Friday, February 11, 2022

You find us this morning up at Rupert and Hugo's house. After a run of warm, sunny days, today is cool, grey and windy. I'm kind of hoping it will rain. My vegetable beds could do with some good rain and my herb pots are rather dry. If we don't get any rain, I'll have to give them a good soaking this evening.

I've spent the past two Sundays helping out at the surgery vaccination clinics.  I do enjoy working the clinics on Sundays.  The phones are turned off, there's no doctor consulting, we don't do any actual reception work. All we do is the vaccinations and they run nice and smoothly. Or at least the last two Sundays have.

Stella's birthday was at the beginning of February. She turned 88. Not bad for someone whose parents were told when she was born that she wouldn't live much beyond a week or two. She's definitely proved those doctors wrong!

I bought a new archway for our front garden. It didn't take me long to assemble it - although long enough that I forgot the bamboo steamer and its cargo of vegetables until I went back inside. The kitchen was very smokey and the steamer and vegetables were beyond redemption. Fortunately, the new Asian supermarket at Summerhill has lots of bamboo steamers. The archway is presently lying on the rosemary and curry bushes. I don't have anything to fix it to and even a slight puff of wind will blow it over. I can feel a trip to Bunnings coming on!

It should look ok when it's been levelled
and fixed to something

While I was about it, I bought a flexible fence. My intention was to put it by the front porch when the cats come out the front with me to stop them wandering off. On Tuesday evening I put it across the front door when the wind cooled so I could have a through draft.

This should keep the cats inside

Brandy fits perfectly underneath it

So I put it outside.
This meant that Brandy no longer fitted underneath it.
So Whiskey just knocked it over!!
I could, of course, buy a fly screen door and eventually I will do. In the meantime I put a couple of boxes in the way so the cats couldn't reach the little fence.  I'm not sure it's going to do what I want it to do though. Great Danes don't go around knocking over small fences, though they certainly could if they were minded. I certainly wasn't expecting Whiskey to. I shall have to have a ponder.

Thwarted in their wish to go and explore out the front, they went out the back for a snooze in the evening sunshine 

They were less impressed when I opened the back door this morning. I'm not sure how they will cope when autumn and winter trundle along. They have enjoyed the pleasant summer days we have had this year

Early Monday morning from our front porch

Apart from all that, nothing much has happened so far this month. So far, so nice and quiet.

Tuesday, February 01, 2022

End of January

The last week of January was (mostly!) pleasantly hot, interspersed with a bit of humidity and  then stormy rain on Friday. We had almost 40ml in a couple of hours on Friday afternoon. Buninyong had closer to 50 and the storm drains didn't cope well. There was some flooding and some near misses in Buninyong, although not as far as I know in Mount Helen.

Back at our place - a Friday afternoon downpour.
No watering needed over the weekend!

I baked another loaf of bread, using the bread mix. I went freeform this time. It rose to be considerably larger than I was expecting.  Two slices made lunchtime salmon and tomato sandwiches for both Jim and me!

Only a very greedy person could have eaten all these
Jim and I had two each and were pleasantly full

I have "spring" cleaned the dining room.  Only the rest of the house to do now! And I pulled the pea plants and podded the peas. I have also sorted out all the little packets of seeds so I can tell what we've got (almost everything we need) and what needs to be bought for next summer (runner beans seeds and potatoes; I think I've got everything else). 

One sparkling clean dining room

Lindsey and I went out to the Mushroom Farm and the Elaine Farmshop on Saturday (no markets; it was the fifth Saturday and Sunday of the month). I accompanied her to work on Sunday. She was running a vaccination clinic and I took the opportunity to go in and do one of the admin tasks that I ought to be able to do from home - but my work laptop simply says NO! Jim was bought off with sandwiches for lunch and a custard donut and seemed to be happy at home for a few hours.

And now, here we sit at the start of February. The weather is tantalisingly autumnal -  the temperatures for this week are due to be in the high teens rather than in the 30s. But February can be brutally hot if it so chooses. I might hold off on doing autumn jobs in the garden, at least for the next couple of weeks. I could pick another room to deep clean instead.  Or not :-D

I have a few pretty, sweet scented sweet peas.
I would really like more next year.
I need to  rethink the back of the patio

The sweet corn is reaching to the skies
and makes a fabulous hedge!