20.9.18

September


Going for a date with hubby, while the kids were all at school.
Emerald Beach was one of the beaches we hadn’t been on before. Not only the beach was a gem, so was the cafe we found. A beautiful lunch and an amazing playground. We’ll have to go back, this time with the kids.
Quality time, together.
The Sunday afternoon standard...
Tim and Sander have gone bike riding for the last couple of weekends. This time Tim went by himself, to visit a friend an hours ride away.
The track is an old stock route, that rarely gets used these days. Rather rough too!
Both Sander and I grew up riding our bikes, to go to school, sports or visit friends at the age that Tim is now. I fondly remember the 10km ride to a friends place in the next town. We really wanted to give Tim this freedom as well. However this is Australia, there is wildlife to consider, making us a little more cautious. So in went a mobile phone with tracker in his backpack. Right next to the bottle of water and granola bar. At least he can ring us in case something would happen, but we could also check if he took the right turnoffs for his first time solo. Am I helicopter parenting? 
He came back a couple of hours later, with his friends in tow. Ready to jump in the pool.
Although still a bit fresh, the kids have declared the pool open for the season.
 The horses have been enjoying all the green shoots popping up after the recent rain. However with all the wind, it doesn’t take long for the ground to dry out quickly again. They’ll be getting hay for a while longer. We’re hoping for a nice top up of rain. However, we finally have a new date for the cabin builders to start. With my parents arriving on Wednesday, they won’t be ready in time as it is...
Home Amongst the Gum Trees
with lots of plum trees, a mulberry or two and a kangaroo
a parrot at the back. We just need the old rocking chair...
Home is having space to breath, to play, to dream.
The kids spend most of their time outside.

Riding bikes
Playing on logs
Playing hide and seek
And building new inventions
Enjoying a cuppa with company. This juvenile king parrot has been visiting us every day. 
Happy for a chat and a couple of sunflower seeds. Life is good.

My sister rowed the final of the World Championship. All that hard work, jumping through hoops and determination is paying off. Another week and we’ll both be on the plane to NZ!
End of the soccer season
Happy to have survived this first year on the committee. 
A massive learning curve and quite the eye-opener.
Still, we’ve committed to another year for the same positions. However this time around we know what we’re doing and we’re taking charge of the way it has been done all these years. 
Setting new and more efficient systems in place, we’ll be taking it to the next level.
The creamed honey experiments, truely fascinating.
However the weather has turned too warm for a good setting of the crystals. 
To be continued...
This week was a rather smokey one, with a grass fire that started a couple of houses down from us.
Fire trucks kept going passed us for three days. They’ve contained the fire with down-wind back burning and fire breaks. We can still see some smouldering, but the we should be safe from here on.
 This is the back fence of our property. Seeing how close it got is quite confronting.
Saying thanks to all the volunteers at the Rural Fire Service.

14.9.18

Spring Time Happiness

Spring. 
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...

17.8.18

Thankful

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.

14.8.18

August

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...
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