Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Food growing inspiration from Veg Out Community Garden - St Kilda

As I kick my behind get my act into gear and gather my thoughts for my current Slow Living Monthly 9 post, I want to pause my reflections for a moment and share a place I came across over the weekend. If you were ever feeling in a slump regarding food growing inspiration, one brief wander through this hidden treasure of a community garden in St Kilda, Victoria - just a stones throw away from the hustle and bustle of the Esplanade, busy Acland Street (Cake St) and the regular squeals from the scenic railway at Luna Park- will excite food growers alike and call to the repurposer within...

It had such a great vibe as soon as I walked through the gates..

The gardens are used by community groups and private individuals. In addition to the growing plots, Veg Out includes a chook pen, composting area, communal spaces and art studio..

For those who don't know..
I never seem to get tired of seeing rusty tins used for growing..

Fabulous murals..
I love love love this bike wheel!
Most plots I saw had a letterbox. Besides being extremely charming, they seemed to be the perfect place for plot holders to store gardening gloves, seed packets and the like! Snail mail between growers, too?
My absolute  favourite!
Happy growing!

Community Gardens St Kilda

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Slow Living Monthly 9 - May 2014

Slow Living Monthly 9 link up - an opportunity to review and reflect upon nine different categories of our lives. Nourish, prepare, reduce, green, grow, create, discover, enhance, enjoy. Join in if you wish! Everyone is welcome. How you ask? It's simple, just leave a link to your blog post using the nine categories (detailed here) and enjoy that sharing experience that follows. I am running well behind the eight ball this month but will try to get my post up soon. Have a lovely month people! xx

Slow Living - May 2014

May, May, May, what did you see us eating? Cold weather here means the appearance of sniffly noses and coughs so it was with great love I focused this month on building my family's immune systems up mainly by cooking nourishing meals with bone broths as a base. Osso bucco, lamb shank and barley soup, chicken stock in different types of soups all contributed to a feeling of improved well being, at least from  my observations ;) There is something really comforting about dishing up nourishing food to your family that not only hits the tastebuds but does great things for their insides, too. 

My dairy/gluten free journey continues to wind along it's unknown path and over the past couple of months I have found myself slowly re-introducing small amounts of dairy - homemade yoghurt, minimal cheese and lactose free milk, which all seem to be quite okay for my system to cope with. On to gluten and my ponderings over a paleo approach with my food, I have come to the conclusion that while cutting out all forms of grain would be a little extreme, my body seems to cope quite well with the elimination of wheat from my diet. Which means that stuff like barley and oats, which are not completely gluten free, can still be enjoyed - hooray! And without abundant gluten and therefore bread in my diet, I am turning to rice and potatoes to fulfill my lust for carbs..

I am 99% sure my next ponder will would I go with small amounts of low wheat sourdough? Stay tuned..

{banana muffins - gluten free} 

Wow, May really saw a a load of preserving going on! Out of nowhere our town had roadside harvests of crabapples, the branches gorgeously lining the streets with their brightest of red offerings. Out came the jam pot and batches of crabapple jelly were made. When I had had enough of this, I added mint to make mint jelly and then had a go at making some lemon verbena jelly using some lemon verbena from my garden - it was unusually pleasant! Quince paste is also lurking in my kitchen (I  fear for my blood sugar levels in the next month!), and on a healthier note, the last of the tomatoes along with some I picked up at the fruit shop were roasted with our (sprouting!) garlic and a few chillies and turned into a deliciously thick, spicy tomato-ey, garlic concentrate which I then froze in small containers. 

Not a great deal to report here..

This month, in an effort to not have masses of drying laundry clogging up our home, I strung up a length of rope under our veranda to use for drying sheets and towels. It is a fair assumption that any washing I hang up outside from now until October will stay there, as the rain is just too regular and the air too damp to dry them! I am feeling quietly smug as I bring dry sheets in that have not been rained on - whoop! It's only taken me six years to get onto this, crazy, huh! What I'd really like though is one of those hoistey, timber drying racks that I can raise right up into the ceiling rafters where all the warm air collects - this would send my smugness factor through the roof...quite literally!

Garlic shoots have emerged from the damp earth along with a bed of broad beans. Kale is doing reasonably well although my broccoli which I planted in the hopes of a winter supply has all gone to seed, agh! The chooks went off the lay and tomatoes and beans gave up virtually overnight with the arrival of the frosts. 

I am navigating my way through a knitting project at the moment that is giving me no relaxation. Wanting to use some of my handspun/handyed yarn in a project, I decided on a (simple?) vest in an argyle pattern. Masses of tangled wool and then running out of wool towards the end was seeing me pull my hair out in frustration. It was strange though, because the project felt like it was reflective of my life at the time and the challenges I am feeling myself facing. Coming to the end of the project now, in all it's imperfect glory, I am glad I persisted and no matter how unique it is, it is made by me and so many of my thoughts have been poured into it, I feel the need to wear it, to complete the cycle. Ah yes, and I also came to the unsurprising conclusion that mixing colours is absolutely not for me! Photo when I am completely finished with this challenging project.

Elsewhere, I spied our willow tree with the eyes of a potential weaver. Oh, how wonderful it would be to gather all manner of grassy fibers and twigs and weave them into something beautiful and functional! Perhaps one day..for now, just call me a wannabe weaver. 

I was blessed with the gathering of a group of women in my garden this month. Friday veggie group continues to be a strong element of my week, and having them gather around my table, filling my kitchen with their raucous laughter and chatting fills me with great happiness. Having some work tackled in the garden is really just a bonus, in my eyes.

Our local spinning group also hosted a "biggest morning tea" to fund raise for the Cancer Council. I do my best to participate in these events, having lost my own father from cancer two years ago. The group puts on a fantastic spread with everyone contributing and then offering an auction full of handmade goodness. Our small group did very well and raised $1100 for this cause.

Discoveries took place for me on a deeper level this month. Spending time to focus on my inner self was exactly what I needed and as the journey continues, I enjoy more and more finding out exactly who I am. Hopefully not too deep a thought to include here..

Hubby and I treated ourselves and spent a weekend in the top end (Darwin) at the start of the month, in celebration of his birthday. Exploring this area, just for the briefest time was something we had been meaning to do for the longest time. Back at home, as always it's the simple things that cause me to stop and smile, hitting the mark and saying something that makes my daughters' burst out laughing does if for me every time. Seeing the leaves drop from the trees and be replaced by foggy mists and frosty mornings. Walking the dog through the damp bush and stoking a hot fire. Giving someone's hand a squeeze in my aged care volunteer work and knowing that even though they may not remember it, the moment did happen and they felt it at the time. Wishing you a beautiful month. x

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