Thursday, October 2, 2014

reading lately

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It’s been a bit of a reading fest around here lately. I love it when you get a run on great books, you know the sort of stories that you never want to end?

A friend of mine bought  Eleanor and Park recently and read it really quickly. She was all excited to share it and begged me to read it straight away so she could have someone to talk to about it. I know that feeling so of course I read it.

And loved it!

It’s a love story but not the mushy, sappy kind. It’s funny and real and so typical of teenage friendship and love. The main characters are 16 year old school kids and it’s set in the 80’s. There are cool music, TV show and movie references smattered all over the place and I felt that comforting sense of nostalgia all the way through. My teenage vintage.

Eleanor and Park is now on my favourites list. Have you read it? If not, you so should. When Lew’s a bit older I’d love him to read it too.

 

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My next read was Eyrie by Time Winton. This was our book club book and I was excited from the beginning because this would be my first Tim Winton book. Yep, I had never read a single Tim Winton story! I’ve been missing out. Big time. Loved Eyrie, so much so that I couldn’t not have another Tim Winton story to read so I went straight to the library and found Dirt Music.

 

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Love, love, loved it too.

At the moment I’m reading Breath, also by Tim Winton. I’m not as in love with it as the other two but it’s growing on me as the story moves forward. Next Tim Winton stop will be Cloud Street. I’m hoping.

 

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Lew and I just read Running Man together. We both enjoyed it – Lew probably more than me. It’s not an action driven book that’s for sure but the characters were interesting and intriguing and the main character who just so happens to be a 14 year old boy who loves to draw was right down Lew’s alley, obviously.

 

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Right now we are reading Are You Seeing Me? I loved Darren Groth’s first book, Kindling, and so I was stoked to see he’d put out a new one, which also has a main character with autism. I love being able to share these kind of books with Lew. They always lead to great talks and I feel so privileged that he’s still happy to share books with me. I need to enjoy it while it lasts, that’s for sure.

 

So, tell me, what are you reading right now? Any good books I can add to my to read list? Oh, and also, are you a Tim Winton fan? Yes? No? If yes, what’s your favourite Tim Winton book? If not, why don’t you like him as an author?

So many questions. So much sticky beaking into your lives. Hehehe.

Happy Sunday!

 

Kim x

Friday, September 26, 2014

boys and their dogs

 

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These two boys are such great friends. So are their dogs. The dogs also happen to be brothers, can you tell?

 

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One of these boys is happy to stay dry, especially on an early Spring day. The other loves to be under the water whatever the temperature, whatever he’s wearing.

 

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These boys have such a lovely friendship. Great friends since the age of 5. Drawers. Gamers. Banterers. I love their banter. Funny, silly, sweet boys.

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The dogs are the best of friends too. They rumble, like bears, and play the whole time they are together.  They both love taking shoes and fetching balls and….more rumbling.

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Love these boys and their dogs. Lots.

 

Kim x

Thursday, September 18, 2014

flowers and friends and memories

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It’s no surprise to those who know me well, that I love flowers. I love them out in the garden and I especially love them inside, prettying up the place. It’s hard to pick a favourite. So many flowers to love. Roses, lavender, salvias, pentstemons, lilac, jasmine, blossoms, daisies, daffys, foxgloves. My absolute  most favourite of flowers {and plants in general} in my garden are the ones, whatever type they may be, given to me by the people I love.

 

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My gardening addiction began from friends and family giving me cuttings from their garden and encouraging me to have a go.

OK, that’s not quite the full truth. My gardening days actually began a little bit earlier than that, probably about 2 weeks before that. Can you tell there could be a bit of a story coming up?

You are busting to hear the story of how I became a gardener aren’t you?

Yes, you are ??????

Well, you’re here now so you may as well keep reading.

 

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Here’s the riveting tale.

It all started way back when I became the owner of an old house in town. So, think, first time home owner, never before gardened, just out of out uni after 6 years of study, 24 years old – not going to be the prettiest of gardens you may be thinking?

You’d be right.

It wasn’t.

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I started off on my gardening expedition by ripping stuff out. Like most people who buy a property. There’s something about making your mark on a place, isn’t there? The only bit of garden that was there had huge, metres tall, spiky things that were along the front of the house intertwined with lots and lots and lots of that ferny stuff that has a gazillion bulbs underneath the ground that you can never, ever, ever get rid of.

That was an adventurous day. Cuts and bruises and blisters. The beginnings of a gardening life.

 

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I had no idea where to begin. A bare garden bed with so many possibilities. So, I took a little walk around my neighbourhood and sticky beaked into the lives of the gardening folk who lived nearby. The majority of houses had thin little strips of garden beds along the front {just like mine!} with nicely lined up brightly coloured flowering plants growing happily in their gaudy little oblivious-to-what-a-lovely-garden-actually-looks-like kind of way. The colour scheme seemed to be anything goes – as long as it was bright. Think pink and purple polyanthus. Think orange and yellow marigolds. Think red snapdragons, the dwarf kind.

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So off I went to the local nursery and brought pots of polyanthus, marigolds and snapdragons. Then I planted them neatly all in a row along the front of the house.

Easy. Garden done. Proud moment.

 

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Fast forward about 2 weeks. Along comes a very close family friend for a  visit and cup of tea and a chat. This friend also happens to be a gardener and a good one at that. Whilst sipping tea and wandering around my lovely new garden {which took all of about 10 seconds} she asked me if I’d like some cuttings from her garden.

 

No need, I said, but thanks anyway, my garden is all done. She then proceeded, ever so carefully, to share with me a few gardening secrets. The first being that a garden bed can be as big as you’d like it to be and sometimes, the bigger the better.

What? A 50 cm wide strip wasn’t all there was to gardening?

She also mentioned my choice of flowers. Something about ‘very Grandma-ish’. She mentioned that the garden can be like the inside of your house. You can actually co-ordinate the colours and create something that is appealing to the eye.

Oh.

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So, my garden isn’t that appealing?

No, no, no, that’s not what I’m saying, the poor thing stammered. I just think if you take some time to think about what you’d like your garden to look like then it will be a much more lovely place to be.

Right.

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With my tail between my legs I decided to take her up on the cuttings idea and began looking through my Country Style magazines for garden inspiration. Funny, I couldn’t find anything that remotely resembled my new garden bed. Nothing in rows {apart from lettuce}. Nothing quite so bright and gaudy.

Hello! I needed to let my neighbours know that they had also been in the dark about gardens. I thought about doing a drop in of some of my Country Style magazines but decided against it at the last minute. Terrible thoughts of them dog earring my pages or worse, tearing out things out – of my magazines!

No, no, no. I’ll just set to work creating my own little Country Style haven and then it might just catch on.

 

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So the next time my friend visited she bought with her a car boot load full of cuttings and bits and pieces from her garden. I began digging. And digging. And digging. Until there was probably more garden than lawn at that little old house. I planted. I waited. I read. I perused magazines. I asked. I learnt about mulch and manure and worms and seasol!

And then more friends and family would bring gifts of cuttings.

My garden started taking shape and suddenly I found myself wondering around it thinking about the lovely people who had helped me make it happen. So not only did I have this pretty little place to meander around I also had these gorgeous memories of the people I loved right there in my  backyard. Every plant that was given to me has a memory and person attached to it. Not only that, when I think of people that I love I always seem to connect them with a flower. I love that. That has to be my favourite thing about flowers and owning a garden.

 

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So, when I think of lilac I think of my mum. The old lilac tree at my favourite childhood home in Brogo.

When I think of pentstemons I think of Cheryl. That first burgundy one that she gave me, the one that grows so easily and flowers for such a long time. My favourite pentstemon of all.

When I think of salvias I think of Lisa. Salvias are probably the plant I couldn’t live without. The bog sage or blue skies variety is the one Lisa first gave me all those years ago. It is another prolific grower. It fills up a new garden like nothing else does and I end up having to get a little stern with it as time goes on but it remains my old faithful friend.

When I think of lavender I think of Joanne. Cuttings of her lavender when I first set up home. Probably where my love of Tuscany stems {hehehe} from.

When I think of stock I think of my Nan. But not white ones. Nan loathes white flowers. Funnily, when I see white flowers I also think of her.

When I think of violets I think of my Great Grandma. Actually, that memory has more to do with the cute empty bottle of violet perfume with the elf lid than the actual violet flower but when I see violets in my garden I think of that elf perfume bottle and being in my Great Grandma’s house sniffing away at the remnants of elves. Or so I thought.

When I think of roses I think of Jill. Red roses especially. The old fashioned type. The ones Jill had growing wildly at her Cobargo home years ago.

When I think of deep, burgundy dahlias I think of Tash and her mum. These were, I’m pretty sure, the first dahlias I ever grew and they are still my favourite. Reminds me of our friendship.

When I think of chrysanthemum I think of Rae. She gave me the prettiest cutting of play yellow chrysanthemum and I photographed it until you all got extremely bored with play yellow chrysanthemum in tea pots and tea cups. Do you remember that phase? If not, here you go. I wouldn’t want you to miss out or anything.

When I think of forget-me-nots I think of Lynda. So much about this flower symbolises my friendship with Lynda. So many memories created so very quickly during the time when our boys were growing up like rocket and fireweed. Forget-me-not memories etched in the life of my child and for me. Funny, I couldn’t get the forget-me-nots to grow all wild and out of control like Lynda’s did when I planted her seeds in the purple house garden. But here, in this new garden they are going mad and I am happy.

 

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The forget-me-nots in these photos are from Lynda’s garden. The garden she had before the one she’s got now. I love that. I love how you can have one plant in the garden, one teeny tiny cutting or seed and then it reproduces and starts to go wild and soon enough you can share it with your friends and spread it around the garden. And if you happen to need to go through that horribly painful process of selling up and moving and starting all over again, then you take those cuttings and seeds and you plant them in the new place and the memories and the prettiness continues wherever you are. It’s part of what makes me feel at home – seeing my family and friends in my garden.

Did you make it to the end of this post? Are you awake?

I hope so.

How did you begin your gardening life, if you’re a gardener? I’d love to hear your story.

Kim x

Monday, September 15, 2014

in the veggie garden lately

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Yep, I have been digging a bit of dirt lately. Man, there is so much to dig! So much to be done in the garden. So much more to be created. So many weeds to get rid of. So much lawn to be cut. So many more trees waiting to be planted. This was all supposed to happen before Spring. Best laid plans, huh?

I can’t show you a lot of the other bits and pieces I’ve been doing in the garden because that part is looking a little messy and lacking of mowing. But I’ve been planting out citrus and pencil pines and starting to plant out the new garden beds that have been sitting there all winter naked and merely mulched. The chooks have had a fun time annihilating the lot – think, broken down bits of newspaper and entangled wads of mulch strewn as far as their buff midget legs can scratch them. Which is always far enough to make an absolute mess and require me, daily, to have to rake it all back after they’ve been put away. It reminds me of when Lew was little and he’d tip his toys out all over the place, trash the living room perfectly well and then I’d be left to clear it all away. The cleaning up continues.

Anyway, enough of that, this is all about the veggie garden…

 

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So the carrots that are NOT planted in the actual veggie beds are doing really, really well. It seems that carrots love hard, compacted, decomposed granite, virtually no top soil and lots of bluestone gravel. Who would have thought? You probably knew that about carrots already, didn’t you?

 

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The two surviving cabbages have faired well. This one looks a bit moth eaten – hello, organic!, but it was really only the outer leaves that were not so pretty looking. The rest was yum and we ate it in an Asian style salad the other day. Silly moths obviously ate the rest of the punnet I planted. They {the white moths} and I are enemies. Agh. The broccoli didn’t do well this season either. It went to seed way too quickly.

 

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Brassicas and I have a funny little relationship going on. Every year I threaten to end our friendship {for want of a better term} but every.single.time. I give them another chance. Last year they were kinder. Not sure went wrong for 2014? There’s some still in there struggling to have a go and produce something edible. I’ll let them be for now and see what becomes of them but they’ve been given a pretty stern warning.

 

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And while we are on a bit of a whinge about the lazy veggies in my garden, have a look at the asparagus. I’m thinking it shouldn’t be doing that this time of year. what do you think? I thought fresh new shoots should be gently erupting out of the loose, fertile soil just in time for early summer salads at about now or a little later. But no, up they shot and off they went and now they are long and skinny and woody and don’t look edible at all. What’s the go with asparagus?

 

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Enough about the painful ones though, let’s move onto the lovelies of my veggie friends. The beetroot. Going well. Abundant. Should be a great crop this time around.

 

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So too the lettuce and rhubarb. The poor rhubarb was struggling not so long ago and only just made it through last summer so I moved it into a better bed, one that I knew would get more TLC  and now it has taken off. Can’t wait for some rhubarb and apple crumble!

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The alium family are doing fine. I didn’t get to put as much garlic in as I would’ve liked but what I did plant looks good. Same with the red spring onions and onions, though I’m not quite sure which are which. Rocket loves alium. Everywhere there’s an alium there’s some rocket. Are they companion plants? I would’ve thought not?

 

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The legumes have not done well. I haven’t had one single snow pea this season. Again, not sure what’s gone on there. I’ve carefully rotated all of my garden beds and tried not to plant enemies next to one another. I think I’m going to give some of those gardening tips the flick and go back to a more haphazard style and see what happens. Too much interfering never seems to work for me.

 

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One bed of tomatoes are in. I’ve got some bigger varieties this year. I will also pop in some littlies too because they are usually the strongest and most abundant producers. Last year the tiny one took over and spent the winter re-seeding. I’ve managed to get rid of the little seedlings so i can get some new blood into the mix.

 

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I’ve finally sorted out the berries. I moved the raspberries over to the opposite side of the veggie garden to be on their own. The climbing style berries I’ve re-planted and got rid of anything with too many thorns. My arms did not cope well battling the thorns so I’ve moved them onto greener pastures. I’ve made these little trellised things for support for the berries – 2 old rusty gates and an old bed head. The sceptic tanks look a treat don’t they? Can’t wait until that hedge hurries itself along!

 

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I thought I’d lost all of my bulbs this year too. They were so late in coming up. I’m still not sure if any of the jonnies made it but a few daffodils have come up and given the garden a bit of sunshine.

 

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And that is about it on the veggie garden front. How’s yours coming along? Any tips for me about asparagus and legumes and that stupid little white moth? I’d love to hear your words of wisdom. I’m desperate!

 

Kim x

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

unschooling days with lew

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Morning teas with friends. Food with family. Gaming. Art classes. Drawing. Drawing. Drawing. Drawing with friends and cousins. Mandeni with our homeschooling group. Bettong bonding. Games with friends. A new favourite game – Monopoly Deal.  Milkshakes with friends.

What else?

Khan Academy – geometry. Lew’s developed an interest in geometry and has been taking notes and drawing diagrams and having fun.

You tubing – game reviews, movie reviews mainly.

Not as much guitar lately. He’s having a term off guitar lessons in hope that his enthusiasm for guitar will come back again. Not sure what’s happened here but I think the learning of chords became boring compared to the learning of melody and picking. Lew tends to have things that he focus’ on.  With his drawing he like to draw in fine tipped black pen right now. Anything other than that is not too appealing for him.

I guess, if I had to choose a word to describe the way Lew learns and does things it would be specific. So perhaps the guitar thing has something to do with him not being able to be as ‘specific’ as he would normally like when it comes to choosing songs and style. I find this with art class too. He likes art class but he’s often not happy with the work he produces there. He says it’s because it’s not his normal style. I like that he knows what works for him and what doesn’t and that he’s confident in that. I also admire that he is pushing himself a little more these days to do things that aren’t 100% within his comfort zone.

14, 6 foot 1 and growing up far, far too quickly for my liking. Where does the time go?

 

Kim x

Friday, September 5, 2014

hen house capers in spring

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Yes it is time for more chooky capers from our hen house. You’re excited, aren’t you?

 

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How cute is that new sign? My lovely friend gave it to me for my birthday. I really love it.

 

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So, life in the hen house has been pretty, um, Springy lately if you know what I mean? Roosters in Spring seem to wake up from their wintery slumber all of a sudden. There’s a lot of ..eek, excitement, for want of a better word, going on amongst them all and and because of that one of our sweet little pekins – Myrtle, has decided to go all broody.

 

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This leads me to a question that I can’t seem to get a proper answer to. I’m hesitant to talk about it here because it could out our hen house as some sort of incestuous pit for chickens but my need for clarity overrides the shame and so talk about it, I must.

 

Eek, I am nervous though.

 

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OK…. I can do it.

So, when we first bought Sunny and Sweet Pea last year  I was under the impression that they were not related. Little chicks happened. It was all cute and fluffiness and excitement around here. Two chicks, two roosters. Two lovely homes for them.

 

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Then I found out that Sunny and Sweet Pea were in fact related. Brother and sister to be precise. Hmmm. This didn’t feel good. What had we done? Ew!

But then I started doing a bit of research and asking around my chooky connections. I found the chook world divided on the topic of inter-breeding  {not a nice term!}. Some say that it’s an absolute no-no and under no circumstances would they put related chooks together…in that way.

 

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Others claim that it’s perfectly OK in the chook world and that it is the way they like to breed their chooks for certain lines to continue. They call it line breeding.

I’ve also read that 4 generations is perfectly OK to breed within a chook family and after that it’s best to get new bloodstock in.

 

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So I’m left with this confusion and some what dilemma as Sunny is Springing into life, so to speak.

What to do?

After the two little roosters were born Sweet Pea had some more chicks. This time we knew that Sunny and Sweet Pea were in fact related. Remember the poor little ones that got that horrible chicken pox thing and didn’t make it? Two out of the seven survived, that would be Primrose and Myrtle. Hmmm, so they are the product of a brother and sister happening. Secretly I wondered if the chicks who died were extra weakened because of their sordid story of who their parents really were. Agh!

My gut feeling is that it makes me a little bit queasy thinking about the incestuous stuff that is going on in the hen house. But then I’m interested in the whole line breeding theory and I’d like to think that life in chicken land is far removed from human life and that it is all OK.

So now I’ve outed us as sordid chicken owners, tell me what you think. I can handle the truth.

Do you know if it’s OK to allow ….certain things….to go on amongst related chooks? Would you allow it in your hen house?

What a deep, dark post this has turned out to be. Virginia Andrews eat your heart out!

I hope you come back. You will won’t you?

 

Kim x

 

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Perhaps that should read: welcome to the dark side…?