Spring Time Happiness

The time for possibilities, dreams,...
New growth.
 New products

And experiments.
Cultured honey is a highly anticipated new product range I’m playing around with at the moment.
It’s looking promising, the only downside my impatience, the culturing process takes a couple of weeks!
I’ll need to build up my starter, to be able to tackle bigger quantities and hopefully have a couple of big batches started before it gets too warm.
It will hopefully produce a beautiful, thick creamed honey. While the experiments with added flavours are terribly fun. Taste wise, lemon myrtle will be hard to beat...

New beginnings.
Our septic system has been giving us headaches for many years. After the 5th time of opening up the trenches for tree root removal (not a very nice job!) an upgraded system was put on the list.
With all the gum trees around us, notorious water seekers, it was just a matter of time before they would be clogged up again. They found their way back in no-time. It’s a mucky, stinky mess.

With plans for a guest cabin as well, we decided to combine the two projects.
Making it also possible to have a toilet in the cabin.

Adding to the existing septic system with an extra tank results in the output of very high quality water. Evaporation trenches weren’t working for us, but sprinkles would be great. 
And so I have been thinking, that this area of 45mx15m will actually have the perfect base for an orchard. With a gravel bed for drainage, a necessity with our heavy clay soil, regular watering from the sprinklers and because of the slight dip in the landscape: proper soil.
So now I’m dreaming up an orchard... What to plant... Fruit trees, bananas, lemon myrtle, macadamia. And an extra row of natives.
Once established, we would really need a beehive... I mean reaaaaaly need a beehive. Right?
The new tank is in, but massive delays on the cabin is pushing everything back.
Next week the cabin will (hopefully, finally) go in. Just in time before my parents arrive, giving them a place to sleep.
The kids have been loving all these big machines: excavators, cranes, trucks and bobcats have all been paraded around.
The ultimate inspiration for pretend play...
After re-discovering an old cattle track, Tim and Sander have been going for bike riding trips,
Every day is Fathers Day, 
but what better way to celebrate then with your sons and a fallen over tree...
I’ve been enjoying myself in the kitchen garden which has gone unplanted and neglected for most of this year, while I was too busy doing other things.
But it’s great to see how quick everything gets back in shape, after having been buried under a thick layer of mulch, just push the mulch aside and you are ready to plant. The topsoil is actually in its best shape ever and teaming with earthworms. Having set up drip irrigation for the fruit trees and perennials in the border of the garden, it all came through Winter surprisingly well. All that was needed was a good trim, sprinkle of manure and a mulch top up. The fruit trees, one by one are, are sending out new buds and flowers.
After a long and very dry period with the rainwater tank going towards empty, there came the predictions of good rain for the first week of Spring, the end of the soccer season. My sign to dust off the gardening tools and get organised. And so I did, planting out herbs, flowers and all the big ticket items like zucchini and cucumber. Because however great and convenient sprinklers are, even hooked up to the rainwater tank, it has nothing on water coming straight from the clouds. Timing is everything and this year I grabbed it by the horns.
Rain, beautiful life giving rain. Yes, I’ve come a long way in the last 12 years, with rain being more or less the default weather in The Netherlands. I now find there are few songs or sounds prettier then fat rain drops falling on the tin roof. You can hear the sigh of relief from the trees and the happy twittering from the birds, not fazed at all by the naked kids splashing in the puddles.
Glorious...  everything washed clean, sparkling and bursting with colour.
Bursting with happiness, I plant some more flowers...
The kids are more then happy to help in the garden. David makes sure no earthworms are damaged, while we’re making pockets for new plants. He transplants them to a safe spot, with another plant. Sophie is like a gardening fairy, dropping seeds here and there, while Tim is more for hammering in stakes. Alex is happy to watch us from his perch, sharing with the parrots in the loaded mulberry tree.

With my last online order for seeds, I’ve gone a little overboard (again), this weekend we’ll have 12 types of heirloom variety tomatoes to plant, sunflower seeds, beans, lettuce, melons and the rest of the herbs. I’m trying to convince Sander that we should rebuild the green house, which had to make place for the swimming pool, for better seedlings... Spring time, a perfect time for dreaming...



Being thankful, for all the amazing fire fighters, rangers and volunteers that are out there keeping us safe. While we sleep in a room filling with smoke from several bush fires burning around us. 
It might still be winter, but our thermometer is reading 29 degrees, the valley is filled with smoke. And just like any other year, in August the winds pick up, fanning every spark. 
Thinking of friends who have fires on their doorstep and other friends, making sure there will be a house for them to come back to. With dozers and chainsaws creating fire breaks, water bombing from the air and back burning ahead of the fire to keep the control. You’re all amazing. Be safe.



Being outside grounds me: a quick walk with the dog while the sun is coming up, checking on the horses and the chooks. The first rays of sun, so pretty with a bit of cloud cover or the smokey haze over the valley. Giving a tiny hint of warmth on these freezing mornings. A friendly nicker from the horses while they wait on their hay, now the grass is all gone. The kookaburra, always a happy sound in the morning, frolicking away in the distance. The magpies, sitting on the branches above me, doing another sing along. And of course the chooks, always hungry, spotting the chook bucket and calling me over. All of this while the dog is happily doing bouncing laps around me and the kids finish their breakfast and climb on their bikes. 
Good morning, breathe in the beauty and possibilities.
The day might be busy, but its all going to be ok. We’re doing all of this again at the end of the day...

The soccer carnival came and went. It was a major job, taking up many hours. But it was a huge success. 600 juniors played, accompanied by parents and siblings. 
Behind the scenes.
It’s been quite the eye opener seeing the other side, the organisational part of a carnival. 
The strong community spirit, the many, many awesome people volunteering their time and energy.
You don’t know how strong you are until you pushed a little at your comfort zone. 
Even if that includes doing presentations...
Still Winter, but we can see nature gearing up for spring. 
The feedback from the mulberry patrol: “Loaded!”
“Wings and Wheels” at the local airstrip.
David would like this one for his birthday...
While Alex and Sophie wouldn’t mind going up in the glider...
The dam is getting lower. 
With all of NSW drought declared, we’re aware that a bit of rain in June has done wonders to get us through this Winter. We still have water in our rainwater tank. Even though most of the grass has disappeared with the first good frost, the coldest winter since a rather long time, we know that many other are not so lucky. It’s been heart-warming to see how many people are involved in fundraisers to pull our farmers through this. With long road trains of hay going all over the state. We have to look after our farmers, where would we be without them...
Going Nuts Macadamia Oil.
I keep bringing out new products, knowing it probably not the most efficient way having a menu so wide. But it’s keeping it fun, the experimenting, trials and promoting. It also enables me to bring out the best products of the season. That means sometimes saying goodbye (temporary) to best sellers, like the maple pecans. Sometimes the stress of keeping up stock is not worth it. I’ll bring it back for next Winter, with a better supply line...
My gorgeous boys, always keen for adventure.
The end of the Young Guns program,  soccer has finished for David. 
Soccer season is going towards its end, only a couple more training and games for the older ones and the season is all wrapped up for the year. Organisation for the presentation (end of year celebration) and the club's 50th birthday dinner are in full swing.
With my Autumn granola coming to an end. I’m introducing a new seasonal granola: Berrylicious.
Raspberry soaked oats, with lime, coconut and vanilla. Finished off with almond flakes and dried blueberries. 
My house now smells like raspberry macaroons... This trial batch got all thumbs up. Today will be making new labels, getting ready for the orders that are already starting to roll in!
And another couple of weeks gone, the year is flying by.
This would be the year that I would challenge myself a bit more, stretching the comfort zone. Trying new things and making sure there wouldn’t be any regrets. While keeping a balance...
Well, the balance is often the biggest challenge. But I’ve grown so much this year, in skills, as a baker, business woman and as a person. I’ll let you know at the end of the year what the verdict is...


Full Moon Weekend

Full Moon rising over the gum trees.
Macadamias, raw organic cocoa and raw local honey.
Smooth, dark and irresistible.
Soccer games. Alex’s team had a formidable opponent. After a rather frustrating first halve, Alex had enough and took on the role as goal keeper. An Edwin van der Sar in the making, nothing did pass this little wall.
To say that it’s rather dry is an understatement. With a fire ban coming in early. The valley was rather smokey from all the back burns cleaning up dry vegetation for when it gets dangerously dry, combined with hot Summer weather. 
It makes for interesting driving though...
Another way to clean up the grassy shoulders, cattle patrol.

The paddocks are bare, the horses get hand fed daily to keep them going.
My first go on a plaited brioche.
The Amongst Friends, Trees and a Full Moon get together. After many moons, still going strong and highly anticipated by our kids.
Full Moon after party, with breakfast by the fire.
“Cleaning up” my macadamia brittle disaster as a topping for lemon myrtle and vanilla cake.
Back at school, all the extracurricular activities have started up again.
A couple more days and the soccer carnival is on, 64 junior teams have nominated. 
It’s going to be a massive day! It’s a rather steep learning curve...


School Holidays: into the mountains

Another week of school holidays.
With quality time at home, doing some fun workshops at the library, kitchen experiments and a trip into the mountains.
A change of scene also creates head space. A drive along the Mann River always puts a smile on my face, trying out new tracks a sense of adventure.
Bush tucker Taste and Talk at the library. Getting some new ideas for the kitchen and the garden.
I accidentally made honey macadamia brittle while trying to improve a recipe.
I must admit, this turned out so good. Not too sweet, letting the macadamias shine. There was so much positive feedback on it that I might try to replicate another batch, but making sure to press it flat this time!
More Going Nuts! kitchen experiments: Macadamia nut butters. With a hint of vanilla, sea salt and local honey. Adding raw organic cocoa made me a winner...
The scream
for coffee...
School holidays = Board games
And silly selfies.
Team: Curly Whirly

Horse riding, enjoying the sun, space and fresh air.
While David rides his bike besides me and Tyson is never far behind me.
Middle of the Winter. With sunny and dry days often reaching 20 degrees.
The nights have been a lot colder this year, we’re going through hay and fire wood in record time.
Going into the New England Highlands for the weekend.
Driving up, through the mountains, with beautiful views on the Clarence Valley.
With the road cutting through the Word Heritage listed Gibraltar Range and Washpool, National Park. Giving us a beautiful, fresh, picnic at Dandahra Creek.
Which is very much like a painting...
A run at The Standing Stones
 The Chill in Glen festival.
David was rather proud of his (mini) snow man. 
But didn’t understand why his hands got so cold!
 Finding a new and trendy coffee place.

Farmstay on the plains,
surrounded by 450 acres with only cattle to share the space.
So quiet during the night!

With the night reaching -8 degrees. Waking up was a rather cold affair!
Now I hear my fellow Dutchies thinking, “have they turned into complete wusses?!?!?”.
Yes, maybe, well, let me explain: houses build here don’t have double glazing, wall insulation or central heating. Just a bit of ceiling insulation, if you’re lucky.
For warmth you have a wood fire in the living room, that needs to heat the whole of the house.
While the very modern houses have reverse aircon...

Being on a farm, this is the best place in the house.

But seeing everything white outside from the frost....

That needs investigating!

Which warranted hot chocolate for breakfast...
 Going down at the mountain. Making a stop at the Boundary Falls for a walk.

 Spottting good boulders and trees to climb.
And of course a pretty waterfall
Next stop: Coombadjha creek,
at Washpool National Park.
 Team: Straight & Narrow
Trying to keep the kids on the walking track with a creek nearby was hopeless...
Rockhoppers, all of them.
But with a rather wild rain forest like this, who can blame them.
Revived after a weekend of fresh air.
Ready for the next school term, a rather busy one by the looks of it. We’re expecting the new cabin to be build it next week, the soccer carnival and a major overhaul of our septic system. 

At the beginning of the year I made a deal with my husband. He would go rock climbing in Thailand with a mate, I would catch up with my sister in New Zealand. 
Already looking forward to the next adventure, I’ve just booked the plane tickets for the next school holidays, two weeks exploring the North Island, before my sister Lisa will commence her training there.
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