The beauty of nature

I spent the morning in a forest clearing with a friend and her husband who likes to photograph birds. It was so peaceful, tranquil and serene. I’m posting some the photos I took because words cannot do justice to the atmosphere.

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More weeds

Yesterday I picked the last dried pea pods and pulled out the dried remains of the peas which had been so green and lush just a month ago.  I used their stakes (reeds) which hadn’t actually sprouted and started to grow, and made little teepee structures for my cherry tomatoes.  I had put stakes in next to them but they were totally inadequate.  Now my tomatoes can hold their heads up high and the birds can see the ripening fruit even more clearly!  When I turned my attention to the rest of the garden all I could see was weeds.  All beautifully green and thriving.  But how was this possible?  I had weeded just last week.  What do they say in the old plays, “Woe is me, woe is me!”  That’s how I felt.  How could this be happening.  I am going to have to spend more time on my knees – weeding!

I was speaking to a friend a while ago about anger and he was saying how he recognized anger in one area of his life and he realized that because he hadn’t dealt with it, it was spreading to other areas as well.  Anger is like weeds.  You have to be on top of it.  You can’t ever allow it to get out of control.  It will take you over and swallow you up.  You won’t be able to see the wonderful fruit because of the weeds.  They get so big and ugly that they overpower everything else.  Please take care of the anger, pull it out by the roots, don’t allow even a little bit to stay behind else it will slowly start to grow again and before you know it will be a problem.

OK, enough of the negative, on Sunday I cooked a lovely lunch for my family.  All gluten free and delicious. The chicken was the best.  I learned to cook chicken this way from my aunt.  She had spent a few years in Israel and this is how they do it there.  You need one whole chicken, a packet of coarse salt and a roasting pan.  You pack the salt around the sides of the roasting pan.

 

Old enough

I am fifty-something and I like it.  I think I’m going to stay this age for a long time.  I was thinking about it this morning and discovered that it is actually the ideal age to be.  I don&#…

Source: Old enough

Cauliflower Salad

Today I am just going to give you a recipe for a really delicious salad.  I was paging through a gluten free booklet that I found and I saw a lentil and chickpea salad that looked really delicious. I went to the local supermarket and bought .. cauliflower. They didn’t have lentils or chickpeas. When you live in a rural area you get used to it but you also become very resourceful, learning to improvise with what you have. This morning the black Labrador got hold of my Princess Camille (just for a second) and fortunately no damage was done. She definitely knows now that he doesn’t share everyone else’s opinion that she’s just the very cutest girl in town!

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The cutest girl in town

I cooked the cauliflower florets. One tiny cauliflower is more than enough for one serving. I fried three rashers of bacon and roasted some pumpkin seeds on the grill. I love having a hot grill always available. Well, when no-one is making burgers or toasted sandwiches it’s available. I crumbled some feta cheese, (homemade –  I’m going to have to share the recipe too) chopped a small tomato and some onion, and a sprinkling of sunflower seeds. Drizzle this with some balsamic vinegar and voila! What a tasty salad. Here’s a more logical version:

 

Gluten Free Cauliflower Salad

1 small head of cauliflower (boiled)

3 rashes Bacon (fried)

1 handful pumpkin seeds (roasted)

1 small tomato

half a small onion

1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese

sprinkling of sunflower seeds

Toss together in a bowl and drizzle with balsamic vinegar

ENJOY!

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Gluten Free Cauliflower Salad (I remembered to take a photo before I finished eating!)

By the way, the banana muffins I posted in a previous blog (Little Foxes) work just as well if you use grated butternut squash instead of bananas and add some orange juice for a lovely citrus taste and the extra moisture needed.

 

 

To Google or not to Google …

When I need to know something, especially in a hurry, I just Google it.  I really like to use Google when I get one of those broadcast messages that tell me about missionaries who are about to be beheaded or a child with some dreaded disease who won’t survive if I don’t forward the message to 245 people in the next 7 minutes. You know the one’s I mean? There are websites which can tell you whether a message is a hoax or not. But the messages aren’t my problem – well, they are, but not in this blog.

If I need to look for and organic remedy for aphids on my cabbages or how deep to plant runner beans, I go straight to Google, or even better Pinterest. I love Pinterest. I love the pictures and the way you can save them and organize them and I can even share them with my friends.  I get completely carried away at times and imagine all the wonderful crafts I could do and things I can make. Old car tyres (tires in American) get recycled into garden ornaments and furniture. Pieces of scrap metal become wonderfully bright giant flowers which would make my garden look absolutely fabulous…etc…etc…etc.

I like dreaming. No! I love dreaming.

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Something that is evident though, is that when I Google something, I am on my own. My phone or my computer and me. I don’t have to involve the people around me at all. Before all this technology I would be asking my family for advice, or I would have gone to someone who I knew to be knowledgeable on the subject I needed help on.  Then, of course, there was the library. I used to love the library.  The adventures which were locked up in all the books that lined the shelves were just waiting for me. Unfortunately because I live in a very small town the library doesn’t often get new books. Except that buying book is expensive, they take up so much space, so I bought a Kindle. Not a fancy one with backlights, just a basic one. It’s just so amazing to be able to have a lot of book at my fingertips. Granted, most of the one’s I want to read I have to buy, but I have them forever and I can reread them whenever I want. I can take all my books with me on holiday!!

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Mealies coming along nicely

 

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The Handyman (aka my husband) mounded the potatoes for me. I must say that he’s a really efficient worker, and I didn’t even need to pay him. All I had to do was pull up the weeds faster than he could dig which resulted in a pretty good workout. We found a couple of tiny potatoes so I have proof that there will actually be a crop.

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Patty Pan Squash have started flowering

Sorry, I’m rambling. What I want to say is that because of technology we don’t communicate with people as much as we used to. I don’t ask my neighbor when the best time is to plant mealies and what kind of peas work well in this area. If I have a problem with caterpillars or eelworms I don’t ask my friend, I just Google. So is Google causing me to be antisocial? Or is Google saving me a lot of time on the mundane issues and allowing me to spend time socializing with my friends and talking about issues that really matter? Who am I fooling? Google does solve my problems quickly, and allows me to get lost in another adventure with my Kindle!

Little Foxes

The wind is blowing so hard I don’t want to go outside, not even to look at my garden, or maybe especially not to look at my garden.  I know that the top few centimetres of soil is going to be dried out completely, and some of the tomato stakes are going to be blown over.  Tomorrow morning when everything is quiet I’ll gi and survey what I can rescue.  Last Sunday five cows came into my gaden – somebody had opened the gate – but luckily one of our employees saw them through the window and ran out to chase them out.  She had acted quickly and the damage was minimal.  They already call my garden ‘holy ground’ so I’m guessing that they know my heart and soul are in it. This incident rminded me of the verse in Song of Solomon that speaks of the little foxes in the vineyard.

Patty pan squash are flourishing

Song of Solomon 2:15 – Catch us the foxes, The little foxes that spoil the vines, For our vines have tender grapes.

The first flower on the bush beans


Now cows aren’t foxes, and they aren’t little, and they can do a lot of damage.  I’ve been thinking about the little foxes in the vineyard and I wonder if a camel or a donkey wouldn’t do more damage to a vineyard than a fox.  A cow, a camel or a donkey are large and can be easily seen and easily chased out of a garden, whereas a fox, or any other small animal can hide between and behind plants and do a lot of damage before it is detected. Think about a caterpillar or a locust that chews away at succulent green leaves and can only be seen at closer inspection. Sometimes we are so busy concentrating on the big problems in our lives that we fail to see the little things that are going wrong.  The subtle bad habits that sneak in, the extra spoon of sugar in a cup of tea, the negative attitude, ignoring a health warning. There are so many things that can creep up on us like the little foxes in the vineyard if we aren’t vigilant. Despite the cows my garden is flourishing and I am enjoying the time I get to spend there. It is truly my happy place.

The beetroot looks very promising


On Thursday I baked some banana muffins for the shop and today I baked some gluten free ones. They came out so well tht I’m going to share the recipe:

Banana muffins – this recipe makes 12 normal size muffins


Gluten Free Banana Muffins

1 1/2 cups gluten free flour

1 teaspoon xanthan gum (if the flour does not contain any)

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

(mix these dry ingredients together)

3 ripe bananas

3/4 cup sugar

2 eggs

1 teaspoon  vanilla

1/3 cup melted butter

1/4 cup milk

(place all the wet ingredients in a bowl and mix with a stick blender – or mash the bananas and then beat everthing together)

Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir till they are mixed. Spoon the mixture into muffin pans and bake at 180 degrees C for about 20 minutes.  

Princess Camille.


My kitten is also bringing us so much joy. She loves it when my husband watches TV because she can lie and sleem snuggled up close to him. Have a happy week and let me know if you try the muffin recipe.

Paradise

I have been busy in my garden and it has expanded to almost double it’s original size.  I have sowed beetroot and carrot seeds which have come up beautifully.  My mealies are about half a metre high and I’ve transplanted four different varieties of tomatoes so far.  I also have patty pan squash and spanspek (sweet melon) that are growing.  I found some discarded shelving that I have put up as trellises.  I want to see if they will grow vertically instead of horizontally so that they take up less space.  I even have some footlong beans and Chinese cabbage seeds that have germinated.  An Asian friend asked me to plant them so that we can share the harvest. Last week I discovered and unidentified growing object which had disappeared the next day. I googled it and found that it is a fungus called Mutinis elegans also known as elegant stinkhorn, the headless stinkhorn or the devil’s dipstick!  An orange spongy finger-sized object who’s visit was fortunately short lived.

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Spanspek

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Patty pan quash that need weeding!

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Chinese Cabbage making an appearance

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Beetroot

 

 

 

I wrote in one of my previous blogs that I planted some apple pips.  I now have two apple “treelings”. They are too small to be called trees but they are growing quickly.  Apparently it takes five to eight years for and apple tree to bear but I’m very patient.  I can visualize sitting in the shade of the apple trees having a cup of tea with a friend.  I put stakes in next to the cherry tomatoes but they aren’t exactly strong enough so the branches flop all over the place and I keep cutting strips of plastic from shopping bags to tie them up.  They have started bearing and it’s a competition between me and the birds to see who can eat the most tomatoes!

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The bigger one of the two apple trees.

 

I got a kitten from my friend during the week. She is adorable and I am calling her Princess Camille. She’s such a diva, pretending to be very offended if you pick her up, but settling down so quickly once she is in your arms. The first day she really missed her mother but now she has settled down and claimed our house as her own.

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Princess Camille. The photo isn’t exactly in focus, but she wouldn’t stop moving around!

 

While I was picking her up and having a cup of coffee with my friend the conversation turned to the state of affairs in our country.  Nobody can deny that the situation in South Africa is not ideal.  I am full of hope for a better future, possibly because it’s in my nature to have a glass that is half full.  At times overflowing; I suspect those are the “fools rush in where angels fear to tread” times.  Be that as it may, she said that each one of us must create their own paradise because we can’t expect things to come to us.  As I was thinking about it I thought of the verse in Isaiah that speaks about a tabernacle which will be a refuge.  Then I came upon this verse:

Isaiah 32: 2

A man will be as a hiding place from the wind,

And a cover from the tempest,

As rivers of water in a dry place,

As the shadow of a great rock in a weary land.

 

That is what we should be. To our spouses and children we should be a safe place.  They must feel safe with us, loved and nurtured.  To our friends we should be like the rivers of water in a dry place.  A place where their souls can be nourished.  To the stranger we should ne like the shadow of a rock in a weary land.  Just being in our presence should give people peace.  That is what Jesus was to people when He was on earth, and He said that we would be like Him. (1 John 3:2)  We could surely be doing many things worse than trying to emulate Jesus.  I am NOT suggesting we try to do it in the flesh or in our own strength.

Live your life, dream your dreams, be yourself.  The more we are going to be ourselves, the true, authentic version that God intended us to be, the more peace we will have and the less harsh we will be on ourselves.  I read somewhere that if you are operating in your function things will be minimum effort and maximum productivity. I don’t know where this paragraph came from, but I am leaving it here.  Have a fabulous week!