Sunday, 11 September 2016

Progress !!!!

Our concrete  verandah base  has had a few weeks to cure.  We had visitors in the interim ( our daughter,son in law, grandchildren and some friends of theirs).
We  had a big pig on a spit and celebrated the  2nd birthday of our grandson. It was a wonderful few days and we deliberately postponed the building as we didn't want  all that going on while the children were running around.
So the morning they left, Brian  and an old mate he used to work with started to build us a verandah.! .
We are using a product called Groove Tube, which comes in 8 metre lengths which have to be cut to size. We had to  attach one beam along the  width of the house first before anything else could be done.
Another friend and neighbour popped in to lend a hand to help get this initial beam up.
To this long beam, brackets are attached at measured intervals to slot the horizontal beams into at a later stage.
One vertical post up and one horizontal and it was morning tea time.  I was the gopher, cuppas, lunches and everything else that they needed.
Brian then continued  slowly on his own,  while this was all happening, he  had helped hi brother next door to load some whether sheep to take to market and while rounding them up at speed on the motorbike took a nasty tumble and was black and blue and very sore for a few days. Luckily no bones were broken.
It's a fairly big area and the front view of our house above  shows  how it sits in relation to the house.
Later that afternoon we wandered over next door and I took the photo below looking back at our house.
Over the next few days  Brian just worked  on the verandah alone, as he found it was easier, and I just gave him an extra  balance or lift as  and if he needed it.
This  system really works well and goes together  quite quickly.
Rather than carrying the big steel  beams up from where our deliverer had left them down in the front paddock, Brian was bringing them up a few at a time on the ute, and then I would help him  place them ready for cutting. There was very little waste here, as all the  cut pieces will have other uses in future projects.
The  rest of the  horizontal  roof beams all went  up  quickly,
I love this photo of Brian, proudly  sitting looking up at what he had built, and I think he has every right to be proud
The next day he got onto attaching all the brackets up the centre to take all the centre beams.
Finally he was able to finish all those smaller central beams and  now the structure is really strong and looks great.
It has been a big two weeks, but I am amazed at what Brian has been able to accomplish in this time as well as all his other jobs and his injuries.
This week we will travel to Dubbo to purchase, support netting,silver thermo foil lining ,electrical wires,switches and lights and all the  extra bits needed to complete the job.
I am so excited that finally it is all coming together.
Then we will need to do guttering,drainage and some minor landscaping.
We had visitors on the weekend and  temporarily put our verandah furniture back and  were really able to visualize what a great space this is going to be for us, year round hopefully.
I will update when the  roof is  fully up.
Until we meet again, take care everyone,

Tuesday, 6 September 2016

Kumquats in vanilla and clove syrup.

A good friend of mine called me up  the other day to tell me to come and pick up some kumquats that her daughter had sent up for me, so I called round and was given  this  bounty of gorgeous tiny orange fruit.
I looked up a few recipes and combined several to come up with something that suited  what I wanted.
I washed the fruit to remove any dust or dirt then sliced the stem end off  with a small sharp knife,
Pricked the skin  a few times with my trusty 3 pronged olive catching tool,
And then placed them  into a pot and just covered with water,some of the recipes called for the kumquats to be cut in half and the seeds removed , but I chose to leave whole.
I had quite a lot of  fruit so I decided to split them into 2 pots.
This fruit was then brought to the boil and simmered  for 2 minutes, drained, covered again with water and the process repeated twice more.
After the  3rd draining , I then added  the sugar and 1 cup of  water , vanilla extract(as I  was not able to buy vanilla  beans at our little local supermarket) and some whole cloves.
This was then simmered gently for about 30 minutes. I found I had a bit too much liquid, so I took a little out and  reduced it on the stove in a seperate small saucepan.
I then prepared  my jars ready to fill with  these wonderful little jewells.
After spooning the kumquats into the jars ,I then poured over the reduced   syrup  to fill the jars.
The lids were then placed on the jars,
and they were then  boiling water bathed   for 10 minutes to seal the jars to make them shelf stable.
These look and taste amazing, not sure what I will use them for, some say with icecream, cake decorating, cheese platters, and  someone also said they dry them on paper towel and dip in chocolate... now that  idea appeals to me, as I certainly have  a very sweet tooth.
This was an unexpected windfall, and that  often  is the case, they are the best gifts, and lovely to know that people  think of you in times of surplus.
There has been lots happening here, and I will try to  do a few  smaller regular posts to keep up with it all.
So until we meet again,
Take care of you and yours,

Saturday, 3 September 2016

A trip away, Marmalade and some yard repairs.

Hi Everyone,
Back again, finally.
I  am finding it hard to get time to actually sit down at the computer and post. Not that I don't want to, but when I  get time I tend to sit in a chair and promptly fall asleep.
Today I am in town  printing the local free monthly newspaper which takes about 5 hours, I thought I would catch up.
We  had a quick trip to Sydney recently, to see our son  graduate from a course he was doing.
As we  come into Lithgow  you  see these gorgeous old arched Bridges in the distance, so we took a detour in to have a closer look at them.
The scenery is beautiful as  you cross over the Blue Mountains, and I always especially love the old convict built bridge on the highway close to the top.
We had booked a hotel  near where  we were to attend the ceremony , with the knowledge that it was an extremely busy noisy road, but convenience in the city far outweighed the bad, so imagine our suprise when we  walked into our room and found not only quietness(double glazed windows and great insulation) but this amazing  full  width view out the back window.
We had a wonderful  short  time away, but had to return home all too soon.
A good friend  offered me a bag of mixed citrus( grapefruits, oranges,tangellos, lemons and limes).
I looked up a few marmalade recipes and eventually settled on two different  ones.
The first one required  the  peel to be grated,
Then the white pith had to be removed off the fruit,
The fruit was then chopped and as many of the seeds removed as possible. and all placed into a pot
I used equal weight of fruit  and white sugar and boiled until the gelling stage was reached when tested.
Meanwhile I prepared my jars.
Then I filled them with the red hot marmalade.
I then water bathed the jars  for 10 minutes to seal.
These were covered with water and the lid placed on after the photo was taken.
The second recipe I used was just slicing the fruit up finely, and removing seeds and cooking the same way. This resulted in a slightly bitter marmalade with  longer slithers of peel though it as you can see in some of the jars above..
After the concrete truck had   reaked havoc with our yard after he delivered the concrete to our new back verandah we realised after the first fall of rain  we had that he had smashed all our underground  storm water pipe as he had drove the truck over them.
So Brian dug it all up,  purchased a new length of pvc pipe to replace the cracked and smashed areas and fitted it.
I spent several days carting wheelbarrow loads of  soil to fill in the deep tracks all over the yard that the truck created as he  nearly got his truck stuck.
We nearly have it back in order , and with recent rain the regrowth hopefully will be speedy.
The wattle trees  have been blooming beautifully,
And I picked this  lovely bunch the other day and teamed it with a few  gum leaves to make  this bouquet.
We have been having a few issues with pest control, and  Brian has been setting a few traps around,  the rat that he thought he had turned out to be this cute little fellow,
I got him out for a quick cuddle, but "somehow" he escaped and got away( he was just a baby ! )
We also had been having  mice issues, so  we set up some live catch traps in the shed. The mice at our place have a keen interest in Nutella chocolate hazelnut spread and the first night we caught 8 in the silver trap and 1 in the blue trap.
The chickens and  turkeys do a wonderful job also with pest control, Brian got a load of wood the other day for us and parked the ute up the back and within minutes the chickens were up in the back pecking away at anything moving that may have fallen out of the wood.
It has been a busy few weeks, time is flying and we are moving on with jobs that I will update in the next post.
Until we meet again down the track, please take care of you and yours,