Happy holidays

At gillybean's garden the lead up to Christmas has been alternating between quite manic and then subdued. Today I spent half the day tidying my room and the rest of the day lying in it. I tried to upload more photos but haven't had any success today. So you will have to imagine the little pot pourri (from my garden) pillows inside these packets for the "fabulous Aunts" My Dad's older sisters; op shoppers and thriftier extraordinaries, creative cooks, inspiring crafters, self esteem builders and generally good examples of givers. The afore mentioned red Christmas stockings weren't up to scratch so were unraveled. I 'm pleased with these though, the wrapping is from old patterns from a German sewing magazine.

On the manic front the garlic is getting to that stage where it needs to be dug, I did some on the solstice and deduced it wasn't quite ready but must keep an eye on it now so it doesn't get mildew. The ones I dug need peeling, drying and plaiting. The red currants have been picked and stored in the freezer, but I noticed the blackbirds are feasting on the black ones. Poppy seeds are being collected in paper bags and plums picked to either be made into sauce or fruit leather. We're still harvesting heaps of cucumbers but only one tomato a day yet. Basil is rampant! Have fingers crossed for melons, can't believe we've had the longest day already. Weather's been HOT so the kids are swimming at the school pool heaps, the 6 week summer school holiday bliss has already worn off and I havn't even had a decent sleep in yet.

Quiet moments are being spent knitting and checking to see if the chickens have hatched. Also I'm desperately trying to figure out if I am meant to give up crafting and mothering full time and get a real job or WHAT!! Does Christmas and New Year do that to anyone else?

Our kids have had an early Christmas because their Dad has to work tomorrow. Santa will visit them tonight though. We will all go to Church tomorrow and then spend the rest of the day with family. I hope everyone who reads here has a lovely day whatever they are doing. Thanks so much for all the connection you've provided this past year while I've parented on my own, it's almost like having someone to talk to in the evenings.Thanks Christy for the Christmas card it made my day and if that picture is of one of your quilts I am in awe! Happy New Year to you all if I don't find the time to post before then.



In reply to Bonnie.
I find aphids often attack young or stressed plants. My tomatoes were a bit stressed for water in my glasshouse recently and were getting attacked. My first line of defence is to support the leaves with my hand and squirt the aphids off with a hose. Then I give the plant a good feed of worm wee or comfrey tea and a good soak with water and that often sorts them out. Squashing aphids is also quite satisfying. If that isn't doing the trick you can brew up a soapy water, garlic or rhubarb leaf spray for them. Exact recipes could be found in any good organic book, I'd just chuck half a dozen garlic cloves in boiling water, chop up a rhubarb leaf, cool and then add a dash of soap, sieve, dilute and spray. Probably diluting by 1:10 but to be honest I usually trust my sense of smell and stop adding water when it doesn't smell too toxic. Or use natural pyrethrum spray which you can make or buy, beware though it can kill the good bugs too. I have to confess I haven't bothered with these methods for a couple of years as the water and feed method usually works for me. Also establishing a good balance of other insects in the garden will help keep aphids in balance. Lady bugs and praying mantis LOVE aphids to eat. I catch them off my poor neglected roses and place them on the precious vege plants. I grow cleome, mustard and flowering herbs to attract the good guys into the garden. Also they love things like parsley, rocket, carrot and parsnip left to go to seed. Good luck hope you can find something here that works, perhaps others can add comments if they have any other suggestions.


You know it's full moon because:

Saturday 8am the sound that wakes you is a glockenspiel being practiced. Then siblings yelling at each other. Someone wants breakfast. At least it rained in the night, no watering today. Bird feathers on the floor, must vacume.
There's miles of housework to do, beds to strip and wash. Catch the skatey boy twice as he tries to slip off for the day. You try and stay calm when the teen challenges with "why do we have to clean up, why do we have to do dishes, why can't I go on the computer?'
You have to french plait the girl's hair for a performance at the old folks home.
A phone call from work, some one's complaining cos the water at the bach is not going. You feel like turning the phone off and not talking to anyone else today.
You overflow the washing machine because the teens sock blocked the tub! You rant and rave about socks to anyone still listening. Skatey boy's gone, girl's at the show. Fold a weeks worth of washing.
Investigate the beeping sound coming from the wash house. Washing machine is officially dead! Text husband with swear words. When no answer text mother with swear words. Go to the garden before doing something regrettable.
Why is teenager yelling and 3yr old crying? Pooh everywhere of course! Try a bit of lecturing, put one to bath and bed. Other one off quick smart sees mother's in a real mood.
Husband answers, not helpful.
Nothing inspiring for tea.
No one to talk to.
Count blessing again.
Chill a bit, wait for full moon to rise.

Thank goodness life's not perfect.


My partner L made my wee stall. Comes in very handy for selling or giving away the few extras. It use to have a lovely money box too but that was stolen so now we make do with a golden syrup tin (good recycling).


Garden notes Dec

The market on the weekend involved quite a bit of thumb twiddling. I noticed people were buying mainly fruit and veges. My stall was pretty quiet.
I guess the benefit of being in an economic downturn gives me the chance to really get it right in the garden to help with the budget. I'm waiting patiently for things to ripen:

and redcurrants nearly ready, they need bird netting to get a great harvest. I have about 8 plants of each as well as blackcurrants which ripen later. I'm even more determined with the berries this summer having read that eating black currants may help protect you from sunburn. That doesn't mean I'll be throwing away the hats and sunblock but we have alot of melanoma in our family so anything extra is worth a try. Currants are a great choice in the garden, they're easy care don't take up much room and seem to have quite a high yield for the amount of space they take up. I always freeze quite a few pounds of them for winter use. Can't say the same for the peas though. They were fabulous but none made it into the freezer. I've got one more plot to ripen and planted some more today, maybe I'll get a few in the freezer. Fresh is best anyway so it's time to think about what I want to be eating in autumn and winter it would be lovely to be self sufficient right through. Will hopefully make time this week for some seed sowing and more mulching in the garden. The seaweed's been working a treat.
Looking forward to the seed heads drying off so I can save the seed for bread and baking. It's a bit of a risk growing these as they often get stolen from the garden.

Not many raspberries are ripe yet these little yellow ones are a novelty and taste the same as the red ones.


I've hared it said that if you are an addict you often replace one addiction with another. I do have an addictive personality and having overcome some addictions in my life I'm seriously affected by an op shop addiction at this stage in my life. I can barely pass through town without popping in. (could be worse right?) Man I wish I'd replaced my old addictions with an exercise addiction though, I tried but it didn't catch on. So anyway got quite a rush when I found a funky kind of felted crochet blanket last week. It has taken up residence on a little sofa and pleases me every time I look at it. Kind of Kaffe Fassett ish colour combos I reckon.


Christmas is ment to be winter

It is so wrong to have Christmas in summer as it is in our hemisphere! Instead of slowing down and sitting by the fire knitting and sewing in the evening we're playing sport and BBQ ing, swimming and doing all those fabulous summer activities. In October I always have great plans for homemade Christmas presents but I can't keep out of the garden so they go by the wayside. Then all of a sudden it's December and the weeds are growing fast and the social activity is cranking up and I'm getting in a Christmas present flap. Thank goodness for the softies book I bought earlier in the year, I made my wee nephew in Australia the cosmonaut devil yesterday afternoon and the red head grabbed it up and said "it's mine" so that one's worth replicating. I'd love the 2nd book for Christmas. So .....I've altered my list in a panic as usual. Dad is getting a mushroom kit ( because I'd like one of them too and he's so hard to buy for) PJ's getting a sewing kit instead of the poor doll with no hair, the boys are getting (see previous post) stunt bike and tickets to crusty demons. (The 18 year old rat bag in me totally wants to go!!!!) Mum is harder she's such an awesome support I wish I could give her all her heart desires. Instead it may be an apron and one of the fabulous PJ Heath's wooden spoons. Perhaps a goat. (She's a born again Christian, story for another day)

The fabulous Aunts are getting a snazzy miniature stockings filled with goodies (red baby booties). PJ and the red head are getting ukulele's cos we all love music and I believe it opens lots of mathematical pathways in the brain. L and I have already bought ourselves a dinky little BBQ for the beach and a food processor for pesto so our joy will be through our kids. I have plans of an oilskin man bag for him too though. Do you think I can squeeze in a few extra hours before Christmas? If I have dark rings under my eyes you'll know why, I've been sewing till midnight, working at Dad's farm, getting up for the market, trying to be supermum and a good friend to boot. Happy Christmas to all and to all a good night.


Some stuff for my son.

To my son you are 12 today, I remember your birth well. I'm sorry that the next year or two was a blur in the post natal depression haze. I still feel the guilt of putting you in your cot and saying firmly "go to sleep" only to discover the next day you had a raging ear ache. You were a pretty content baby except in the middle of the night when you thought you were starving. Even back then you were a bit of a daredevil on your bike yelling "look Mum" to show me your skills. When you were 2 you nearly died from a bee sting. It was so sudden it was like being sucked into a parallel universe. One moment cooking dinner and the next calling an ambulance only to have them not answer me each time I asked if you'd be alright. You grew very close to your Dad when he became a house husband through injury and I went to work. You are an awesome talent, artistic and musical with an insane daredevil streak. The stunt bike you are longing to get at Christmas time is not being given to spoil you but because we understand that you seek thrills, Dad and I intend to let you experience the physical thrills you seek so that you may never seek them in drugs. Not much longer to wait for your bike. Please don't ask me to go on the tandem skydive with you either!