Wednesday, 17 May 2017

The Ideal Life

"Good books, good friends and a sleepy conscience: this is the ideal life".  

~ Mark Twain

Well I don't know if a sleepy conscience paves the way for an ideal life. However good books and good friends really do enhance life. At the moment I am reading (again) Norman Vincent Peale's "The Power of Positive Thinking" and re-reading "At Home in Mitford" by Jan Karon. Which goes to prove that good books and good friends can be one and the same. 

Saturday, 13 May 2017

Holey Hibiscus Batman!

"Remember that children, marriages and flower gardens reflect the kind of care they get." H. Jackson Brown Jr

My holey hibiscus

I went forth into the garden today to do some weeding and sundry other gardening jobs. In one garden I discovered this poor hibiscus had been playing host to lots of caterpillars. Does this sort of thing happen to your hibiscus plants? I have been diligently watching my newly planted hibiscus. I have been hunting up and removing the caterpillars from my Rose of Sharon. However the hibiscus shown in the photo above was not so well tended. 

Banjo and Moxie

I don't know why I should have such trouble working my way through all my gardening tasks. Especially now that I have the very excellent help of the pair shown above. 

I did manage to prune my potted Hydrangea this morning. 

I applied Gypsum to the soil of this recently potted Blue-berry bush. 

I also did some very careful pruning on this mandarin tree. It suffered during the hot, dry, summer and it was difficult keeping the water up to it. Particularly as we were spending more time renovating our home in the city to prepare it for going on the market. 

And, of course I did quite a bit of weeding. 

When lunchtime rolled around Don and I drove down to the river for a picnic lunch. The lunch consisted of egg and lettuce sandwiches (as our picnic lunches often do) followed by carrot cake. However while we were lunching, the weather changed rapidly,   the sky turned grey and a cold wind bore down on us. So it became necessary to eat rather more quickly than we had bargained for. 

After lunch we drove into town to pick up our mail and some groceries as well as fill up the car and some jerry cans. And so another day ends as evening draws in. 

Monday, 8 May 2017

In My Garden ~ May 2017

In General
 The weather has been beautiful the last few weeks. I have been weeding, establishing new seedlings, creating new beds and making compost.

The mulberry and cumquat (Citrus japonica) trees are the only plants fruiting at the moment.

I applied blood and bone and sulphate of potash as well as compost to my mandarin and lemon trees last month. They are both in need of skirting and opening up in the middle. I have lots of fruit on the mandarin tree though I don't know how good it is going to be considering the long dry period we had prior to cyclone Debbie.

We have a grapefruit tree that is in need of some TLC. However I would like to see the plant removed. Don wants to keep it. We don't eat grapefruit and no one we know wants any grapefruit when harvest time comes. Could it be that people actually like the idea of eating grapefruit rather than the actual practice of eating grapefruit? Everyone tells me to keep the tree, but no one wants the fruit. I can't see the point of wasting time and money looking after the tree if we have no use for it.

I have a new hibiscus plant, salvia seedlings, dianthus seedlings and a blueberry bush I want to plant out. The blueberry bush is going into a large pot near the outdoor area.

I would also like to plant out some more lettuce seedlings toward the middle of the month.

I would like to prepare a new garden bed ready to plant some tomato seeds or seedlings. Also I would like to plant some comfrey seeds next to my compost bins.

I have two pots containing turmeric. I am on the watch so when the leaves die back I know it is time to harvest the turmeric. I will be replanting healthiest looking roots/tubers after digging plenty of compost through the soil. As a matter of fact I could get busy on preparing the planting spots now.

Turmeric in pots

As mentioned I need to prune my lemon and mandarin tree.

Passion fruit needs less water this month. The Lychee needs to be monitored and watered as needed - it doesn't like to dry out.

Our passionfruit needs less water now.

I want to check the pH of the soil around the mango trees. If the pH is 6.0 or more I will add gypsum if the pH is under 6.0 I will add lime.

Pest and disease management
Lychees - I will check for enrose mite and spray with wettable sulphur if needed
Mango trees - I need to spray with a copper based spray to combat anthracnose. We had almost no mangoes last year but that was due to the weather rather than the health of the trees.

 Australia has thanksgiving day in May. I will pause and give thanks for my burgeoning garden. 

Wednesday, 3 May 2017


Economy is  a poor man's revenue; extravagance a rich man's ruin. ~ Benjamin Franklin

Monday, 1 May 2017

What Sherri Did in April 2017

In General

This month we began our homestead living in earnest. Our residence in the city has been sold and we have moved to the homestead. For the past number of years we have been managing our homestead in short bursts. Now we hope to see the gradual unfolding of our homesteading plans.

Good-by little house in the city.

First the unpacking.

As you know we also brought home two puppies during the month. Moxie and Banjo are a real delight and will grow to be great company for each other and us. It is really nice to have canine company once again.

Watching the action from inside the dog run

I also updated my CPR this month.

My specialist and GP had sent me for a number of tests over the last couple of months as a follow-up to some of the readings on my scheduled six-month tests. They were monitoring some abnormal readings which could have been a result of the chemo I had back in 2014, however the last lot of tests showed that the abnormal reading had returned to normal.

In the garden
I have planted out my keyhole garden; planted out some snow peas against a trellis; made a new hot compost pile, created a new perennial 'onion' bed planted with Spring Onion, Society Garlic and Chives. I have done lots of weeding - the weeds certainly sprang up following the rains provided by Cyclone Debbie.

I have also planted up some pots for colour. Included in the planting are Lisianthus, Dianthus, Pansy and Freckled Face.

Keyhole garden with compost basket in the middle
What I have been reading

I have spent little time reading as the weather is too good to spend time indoors. However I have been reading from a publication "Tools for Living a God Centred Life" which is giving me some helpful reminders.

I have also been reading from 'Life Magic' by Ruth Ostrow.

I have been re-reading Peter Cundall's Organic Gardening. Which is a magazine from the Gardening Australia Collector Series.  (Actually it is number one from the series.) I also read this month that Peter Cundall turned 90 on April 1. Happy Birthday Peter, you have been huge inspiration to me and countless other gardeners.

I hope April was a good month for you too. 

Friday, 28 April 2017

Turning the Compost

"Turn your spoil into soil" ~ Unknown

Ideally I would like to turn my compost every three to four days to keep it hot. At the moment I have a couple of little distractions that are taking my attention away from compost making.

So I turned the compost for the first time on Monday.

In this photo I have lifted the wire cage off the compost and set it to the side. The compost is turned back into the wire cage. First I have put some manure in contact with the ground.

After shovelling some of the compost in I have added water to aid the decomposition process.  I want to avoid the compost being too dry or too wet. What I want in the heap is to have the wetness of a rung out sponge.

Adding bran to the compost pile during turning

 Towards the middle of the pile I have added a bucket load of bran and watered the pile again. The bran will help the pile to heat up.  

Molasses mixed with water ready to be added to the compost pile

When nearly finished turning the compost I added a cup of molasses to a watering can of water and poured this mix over the pile. This is also supposed to help the heating and fermentation process in the pile. 

The compost pile turned and covered

Don turned the compost pile again yesterday.

Watching all the action from the dog run.

Wednesday, 26 April 2017

Helping dreams become reality

When our thoughts, words and actions are in harmony with the person we want to be, our goals, and the life we wish to create, we draw people and opportunities into our lives to help turn our dreams into reality. 

Monday, 24 April 2017

Introducing Moxie and Banjo

She is brown and he is black with a dusting of cocoa. They both have some
white areas on their coats.

We have two new additions to the homestead. Meet Moxie and Banjo. 

We drove about an hour down the Coast on Friday to collect them. 

They are two months old. Their mother is a short-haired Border Collie and their father is a white Kelpie. Both parents are farm dogs, working with cattle.

Friday, 21 April 2017

Making Compost While the Sun Shines

"Compost is proof that there is life after death." ~Unknown

This is the starting point for the layered compost. Tumbling compost bin is
in the background.

Making compost is primarily about making good humus. A secondary benefit is that it helps recycle waste. Additionally, making my own compost saves money as buying commercial compost becomes expensive when large quantities are needed.  
Ideally a compost heap will be big. At least one square metre by one metre high is needed.  This will help the pile generate enough heat to kill any weed seeds.  

If you haven't made compost before you will be amazed by how much the pile reduces as it breaks down. As a general rule, a one metre square by one metre high pile of compost will break down to about 30 cm high by the time it is ready to use. This will make about one third of a cubic meter to spread on your garden. This amount doesn't really go that far if you are living on acreage or have a big suburban garden.

Shredded paper added to the compost pile

Now, I am not always strict about my composting methods, and I do use several different composting bins to store organic matter. I have tumbling compost bins to store food scraps. I have a black compost bin that sits on the ground which often only contains brown grass clippings . These grass clippings still break down over time. 

Whenever I can though, I get serious about composting. When this happens I make a proper layered compost pile.

So my layers are mostly brown (carbon) and green (nitrogen).  I do also add manure pellets as I don't have any manure to collect on site. I also use some soil or preferably compost as a starter in the pile. Other things I use are bran and molasses as both seem to help the pile break down quicker for me.

This is a photo of the 'ingredients' I used in a previous layered compost pile.
In the photo can be seen grass clippings, shrub trimmings that have been run over
with a mower, lucerne or sugar cane mulch ( I can't remember which),
manure, bran in the yellow bucket and molasses in the bottle.

So what sort of things do I use for the brown content? Leaves, dry grass, newspaper, shredded paper, mulched branch cuttings, lucerne, sugarcane mulch. Things of that sort.

For the green I use freshly cut grass. Sometimes I may add hedge and shrub trimmings that have been put on the ground and run over with the mower.  Some people add kitchen waste to this layer but that is something I choose not to do. Animal manure can also be added to this layer.

Don made our compost bin from recycled fence panels. We had been gifted these old fence panels by a local farmer a couple of years ago.

If my compost heats up to somewhere between 50 and 65 degrees Celsius, most weed seed and pathogens should be destroyed. My aim is to create dark, friable, sweet smelling humus. By sweet smelling I mean fresh and woodsy.

Wednesday, 19 April 2017

Soul Direction

I have come to trust that if the next step scares me, it is probably a soul-directed act. ~ Sarah Ban Breathnach

This quote reminds me that everyone feels fear when trying something new or challenging. So I can choose to feel the fear and take the next step anyway. Or I can choose not to take that step and stay just as I am. Not taking the next step is still a choice, even if it is a self-limiting choice. 

Sunday, 16 April 2017

Identifying My Passions

"Do you want to know who you are? Don't ask. Act! Action will delineate and define you. " ~Thomas Jefferson

When I wrote the post Time and Tide I had been contemplating how people can put off dreams in favour of just getting through the daily grind. It is so easily done. Like many people, my everyday responsibilities can keep me on a treadmill of doing. I have little time  to pause and evaluate or dream.
Another barrier to achieving what I really want is  the abundance of  things on offer.  What is it that I really do want? Many of the things I want can be in opposition to each other. For example: Do I really want to upgrade my car, or do I want to pay down my debt and become debt free?

Can I really be, do, and have it all? Wasn't that the sort of thinking that was put in front of men and women in the 80's and early 90's? I know there are so many possibilities that I would love to explore. However I do not have the resources - the time and money to do everything that crosses my mind as a 'wouldn't it be nice…." possibility. So how can I know if I am on the right path for me at this present time?

I find the method used in the book  The Passion Test by Janet Bray Atwood and  Chris Atwood very helpful. I have used the book to help me clarify which of my desires are the most important. Using the method described in the book I came up with a list of 15 passions. I will share some of that list here

When my life is ideal I am;

  1. Creating a self-supporting home
  2. Having the freedom to do the things I love
  3. Having fun with kindred spirits
  4. Feeling financially secure
  5. Fit and flexible
  6. Influencing vast numbers of people to become more self-reliant, live deliberately and build localised communities.
  7. Travelling with Don in our caravan spending time in small towns getting to know the locals.
  8. Being part of a large, resourceful, valuable network.

In total I came up with a list of 15 things that I think would sum up my ideal life.  Realistically I know I cannot keep my attention on 15 different areas while doing all the things I need to do to keep my life ticking over.  By following the instructions in the book I was able to narrow my list of 15 passions down to a manageable five. 

 Next I examined how much each of the five passions were present in my life. Then I created a list of 'markers' for each passion. The markers are a list of things that paint a word picture of my life when that individual passion is present in my life. I then created a list of actions for each passion.  The actions are steps either big or small that I can focus on to help build momentum toward bringing my passions into my life more fully.

I think it is good to do something like this every couple of years or so as life changes us so much.  Something that is a passion now may no longer light my fire in a few years time. I remember back to when I was about 20, a couple of co-workers and I pipe-dreamt about running our own chocolate shop on Daydream Island. Trust me, this desire has not made it onto my current list of passions. ;-)

What are some of the things that would be on your list of passions?

You can find more information on the Passion test here

Thursday, 13 April 2017

Life of Riley

" Upon me soul Riley, you're doing quite well". ~ Pat Rooney

Currently I am living the life of Riley, but only because I am on vacation from work. This morning my husband and I went for a walk along a track the local council keeps clear for people who enjoy walking. The track runs for about 10 kilometres. It is an unusual feature in a rural area.

After our walk we drove into town for breakfast. The Bruce Highway passes directly in front of our current favourite coffee shop  and we enjoy watching the many caravans that go past. Simple stuff, no? However it is a change from the work-a-day world and I am enjoying the relative freedom that accompanies being on holiday. 

This afternoon I planted some lettuce and silver-beet. Tomorrow I hope to do some work on my compost system as it was terribly neglected during our hot, dry summer.

Thursday, 6 April 2017

Time and Tide

'….when it is autumn in your life, the things that happened in your life, the things that happened in the past, or the experiences that were sown in the clay of your heart, almost unknown to you, now yield their fruit. Autumntime in a person's life can be a time of great gathering. It is a time for harvesting the fruits of your experiences."  ~ John O'Donohue 'Anam Cara'

My Jubilee year also marks the period when I begin transitioning from the summer of my life to its autumn. The spring of my life was the first 25 years. My life's summer period extended from 25 to 50. Now I have reached 50 the wheel of time turns onward and I am now in what I consider my life's autumn time.

As I was born in Autumn if feels possible that this time of my life will a time for harvesting the fruits of my experiences. The time of digging deep and collecting moments.  But this is also a time of remembering and gathering in knowledge and experience and applying  wisdom. Santayana said "Those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it".  Moving forward I want to avoid just doing the same old same old. 

This is the time to reach forth and take hold of different experiences.  As Czeslaw Milosz said "What is given to have tasted in this life, I have tasted".  So if not now, then when? What is holding me back? Is it false mental images, false fears that I am holding onto? Do I need to spend less time feeding my doubts and more time feeding my faith?

"It is a lonely experience to be at the deathbed of someone who is full of regret; to hear him say how he would love another year to do the things his heart has always dreamed of, but believed he could never do til he retired. " John O'Donohue.

I know of people who once retired purchased a caravan and spent a wonderful year travelling until illness intervened. Did they wait too long to pursue this long cherished desire?  I see a neighbour who has retired in the last couple of years struggling to get up and down the front steps to his home. I see another neighbour who retired in the last couple of years who is now on daily dialysis, and receiving in home care services.

Putting off meaningful experiences until retirement is a risky proposition. Time and tide wait for no man or woman.

Wednesday, 29 March 2017

Ordinary Arts

“The ordinary arts we practice every day at home are of more importance to the soul than their simplicity might suggest.”

~ Thomas Moore

Honestly, I don't find the ordinary arts simple, and from what I read there are many others like me. After all, if it were simple would we have to "practice" every day at home? 😉  Firstly I find it hard to find the time to practice the ordinary arts. Secondly I don't find cooking, baking, sewing etc. simple, (definition " easy to do, not complex or fancy",) but I do find them very satisfying. Nor do I find cleaning and dusting without their challenges. I do agree though, that these activities are important to our souls. Many people find carrying out household tasks therapeutic (though they may be loath to admit it) and a home that is tidy, clean and well-provisioned is a source of security and comfort for those who live under its roof. 

It was only two or three generations ago that family traditions differed very much from today. It was not uncommon for families to have chooks and to grow their own some of their own fruit and veggies. Less refined and processed foods were eaten, and more family activities were carried out together.

I know my Great Grandfather tended his vegetable garden into advanced old age - not because he had to, so why would he have done so? Was it because it was important to his soul - did this activity nourish him as a person?

Baking is an ordinary art that nourishes me. My father was a baker so perhaps that has something to do with it, perhaps it is in the blood so to speak.

 I am on a journey,  learning how to make my home increasingly productive and discover how to better manage and conserve my resources. I want to discover more about household traditions that have been used by previous generations in the management of their households. Not just from my own Anglo Saxon background but the home caring traditions of women from other cultures. I want to learn how they conserved their resources and made their homes the centre of production, supplying many of their own needs through their exercise of thrift.   At the moment I have a fascination with French, Italian and Native American Traditions.  

Some examples of household traditions practiced by families:
Tomato sauce making
Grape harvesting
Wine making
Sausage making
Raising pork
Keeping chooks
Reusing or re-purposing items rather than throwing them away
Making and mending clothes
Making Jam

I remember reading a story regarding my Great Grandparents and their children making jam together as a family.  I am always impressed by families working together to create a self-supporting household.

Do you know of any household traditions did your family practice in past generations?

Sunday, 26 March 2017

Here Comes Debbie!

"Preparedness is the only way we can combat a natural disaster"
~ John Quinlan

Keeping a well stocked pantry is an important
part of being prepared.

Queensland (the state in which I live) is about to start feeling the effects of the first cyclone crossing of the season. This cyclone is coming late in the season and I had begun to think we might have managed to finish the season without any cyclones crossing our coast. The last tropical cyclone to cross our coast was Cyclone Nathan back in 2015. 

A wind up radio come torch come phone charger can come in handy when
the power is out.

Many people in the cyclone's path are being told to evacuate their homes. Grocery stores have run out of some items. Residents are being told they may need to cope with several days without electricity. 

I hope everyone in the affected areas remains safe and well. 

Tuesday, 21 March 2017

A Bitter Pill

'You may write me down in history with your bitter, twisted lines. You may trod me in the very dirt, but still, like dust, I'll rise."

~Maya Angelou

Hello, that was a longer break than I had anticipated when I
wrote my last post. Thank you for the encouraging comments.

Well I have swallowed my bitter pill and I
am learning to move on. I also experienced another couple of set backs since my last post, which is another reason why it has taken me so long to return to blogging. Life's lessons can be hard at times but I keep the story of the Taoist farmer in mind; reminding myself it takes time to discover whether events that happen are good or bad. As things that appear to bad at the time can turn out to be something that has happened for one's best and highest good. Only time will tell. I hope to return to regular blogging soon and to catching up with all the blogs I usually follow even sooner. Cheers!

Thursday, 12 January 2017

Sucker Punch

I have not posted this week due to dealing with a situation that is taking up all my time and energy.  😞 Hopefully I will return to posting again next week. 

Thursday, 5 January 2017

Ringing in the New Year

Hope smiles from the threshold of the year to come, whispering, 'It will be happier.'  ~ Alfred Lord Tennyson

A new year comes with the promise of gifts as yet unopened.

In the New Year turns my mind to I improvement. Improvement of self, of home of life. Do you feel this way at the start of a new year?

Going to bed earlier is something I want to do this year.

My new year's resolution is perhaps one of the simplest though one of the most difficult to keep - to enjoy life. Someone shared the comment on my blog last year that time spent doing what you love is never wasted. According to researchers the body has a chemical response to joy.

 In order to keep my energy levels up so that I can pursue pastimes I enjoy I intend to go to bed early enough to give me 7 to 8 hours sleep a night and to walk for around 30 minutes four to five times a week.  Aches and pains and an over active mind can stop me falling asleep. A light snack before going to bed helps many drift off to sleep. For me a glass of milk or a cup of chamomile tea can help. Milk is said to speed tryptophan to the brain where it is converted to serotonin. Years ago a work colleague gave me a going to sleep tip that works really well, when sleep is avoiding me. I close my eyes and just watch the patterns behind my eyelids at play. Try it, it works for me and it might work for you too. I also spray my pillowcase with a lavender scent to help me drift off to lavendered sleep.

Do you have any New Year's Resolutions? What are they?

Wednesday, 4 January 2017


"Life is constantly providing us with new funds, new resources, even when we are reduced to immobility. In life's ledger there is no such thing as frozen assets"
~ Henry Miller

Tuesday, 3 January 2017

What Sherri Did - December 2016

Try to live an authentic life that feels true to yourself - which means living as yourself, not as an imitation of anyone else, and not the reflection of yourself in anyone else's eyes.

~Maria Shriver

For me living an authentic life is living a life that expresses my values. Is that what living an authentic life means to you? Life can be so busy that it is easy to become distracted and it is good to have this space as a reminder of what being authentic means to me in this consumer mad world.

In General

We have been doing some maintenance and re-painting inside and outside. The guest bedroom walls have been repainted. I wish I had remembered to take a photo of before we started. Anyway the walls had a purple over pink sponge effect before and now they are a nice restful beige - the colour is called Romantic Chintz. Don did most of the work, though I helped with some of the cutting in. It has been hot weather for painting. Don also took down the light fitting and updated it by spraying part of it black. We also fitted a new curtain rod. I moved some decor items out of the room and others in.

Repainted guest  bedroom

Don also finished painting the window sills in the main bedroom, as he didn't get them done when he painted the walls in that room.

As I write Don is outside painting the front gates.

I have been doing lots of de-cluttering, and have said good-bye to clothes and books and other sundry items I am no longer using.

Same room, different angle.

What I have been reading

This month I managed to do a bit more reading than I have for a long time.
Before the War by Fay Weldon
The Golden Door by Kerry Jamieson
The Hot Flash Club by Nancy Thayer, - I first read this book about 10 years ago and I held onto it because I knew I would want to read it again.

Here it is again from a different angle, you can just make out the built in
wardrobe at the left of the photo. The doors have been painted the same colour
as the walls
Best of the web
Considering retirement? Them maybe living a life on the sea might be something that interests you.

Here is an article that explains what your choice of plaid says about you. (I think mine says "doesn't like to iron in the hot weather.")

So, stagnating wages growth is not just an Australian problem, Britain is experiencing it too.