Saturday, May 28, 2011

Paris in July - Surprise

We currently have over 25 participants signed in at either my blog or Bookbath, which is quite overwhelming and very exciting. To start with, I wanted to award a small surprise to Raidergirl3 at Adventures in Reading for being one of the first to get a post up about Paris in July. We love to see just how you are thinking about using the challenge. So let us know in your posts.

I love surprises, so here's another chance to win something. I'd love to see some posts with recommendations for either books, movies, exhibitions or albums (or recipes etc) that have a french theme. It's an opportunity for you to let other people know what french stuff you've read or watched in the past and help others plan for this July. I'll review posts next week and randomly (or not) select a winner.

Friday, May 27, 2011

May's Gardening Report

Mandarins living in an old wine barrel.

It's very exciting to see so many joining us for our Paris in July event (if you haven't signed up yet -now's the time!), and it's pretty exciting preparing for my real trip to Paris. One of my preparatory duties is to get the garden ready for it's winter hibernation. Last weekend I was in my element, harvesting, weeding, pruning, and planting. I thought I would share with you some of my successes in the garden.

I successfully harvested:- beans, bok choy, lemons, artichokes, leeks, brocoli, sweet potatoe, gooseberries, guava's and rubharb

I planted: - onions, lettuce seedlings, more brocoli, leeks and radishes.

I prunned:- stuff that was bothering me.

The Loofa vine has decided to keep on producing. I thought that when I got two loofa's off it about a month ago that it would be the end of it, but there's more. I've been told you can eat loofa's when their young, but I tried some at different ages and decided they're better as loofa's for scrubbing with. I guess now I'll have a supply of sponges for a while now..
The radishes have come up and are looking good this season.

I harvested over 2 kg's of Jerusalem Artichokes. They are root vegetables that look like Ginger but taste like nutty potatoes. This is my first season and I think I'll try them again next year. I've been enjoying them in soups, salads and risottos this week.
This is a Chinese Gooseberry on the bush. These are self seeding in my garden now and I literally didn't have to do anything. I love these little surprises in my garden. These fruit are my treats for working in the garden. When they're ripe they taste like sweet little tomatoes with a hint of crispy citrus.
This is the little Gooseberry package just waiting for me to find it and open it.

I hope you have enjoyed this little visit to my productive garden. From here on in, I think it'll be slow going in the garden, it's winter and I'm going to France!!!

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Paris in July - 2011

Here it is!!!! For the second year Karen from Bookbath, and I have decided to come together to host "Paris in July", a month long blogging experience to celebrate our love of all things French and Parisian. We just loved the experience last year, we just had to do it again.

For those of you who participated last year, the guidelines for the event will be pretty much the same (although we reserve the right to throw in some surprises here and there). Paris in July will run from the 1st - 31st July 2011 and the aim of the month is to celebrate our French experiences through reading, watching, listening to, observing, cooking and eating all things French.

I will actually be in France during July this year so, taking on the role of French Correspondent, I hope to be able to post from the scene!

My travel plans include some time in Paris, then actually riding my bike along with the Tour de France through the Pyrenees and the Alps from July 11 - 24th. Then I will be in Montpellier for two weeks attending an intensive French language program. This means I will be able to post on regional cuisine, art, culture and local history and geography. I will also be able to investigate or research any questions participants choose to send me during the month... Imagine what fun we can have with that!

There will be no rules or targets in terms of how much you need to do or complete in order to be a part of Paris in July - just blog about anything French and you can join in. Some ideas for the month might include:

- Reading a French book - fiction or non-fiction

- Watching a French movie

- Listening to French music

- Cooking French food

- Experiencing French art, architecture or travel (lucky Tamara!)

- Or anything else French inspired you can think of...

If you are interested in being a part of this experience leave a comment on this post and we will put together a side bar showing all of the participants. There will be weekly French themed prizes during the month for which we will randomly draw the winners from all the French themed posts of that week that link back to us. We will also be writing weekly wrap up posts for you to link your posts to.

We have designed a couple of images to represent our Paris in July experience so feel free to add these to your blog if you are joining us. We will write posts leading up to the start of Paris in July to give you some ideas about what you might like to include and to share the books, films, music etc... that we are planning to experience ourselves during the month.

Looking forward to travelling to Paris with you in July!

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Ancient Indian Proverb

Treat the earth well
it was not given to you by your parents,
it was loaned to you by your children.
we do not inherit the earth from our Ancestors,
we borrow it from our children.

Quote listed in my Permaculture Diary

Use & Value Renewable Resources

Click on the image to go to for more info
This week when I turned over the page on my calendar I was shocked and horrified that it was already May. Then this morning when I check me emails Reverb10 had sent be a prompt for consideration. I was struggling this morning to prioritise my days activities, but Reverb10 have helped me decide. It was time for a little time out in the garden, time for reflection.

May's permaculature principle is
  • use and value renewable resources and services,
and Reverb10's May prompt is
  • are any of the things you wanted to manifest themselves in 2011 revealing themselves?
So sitting here, in my sacred space, I am reflecting on my conscious activities this year.

Renewable resources - Gardening is the ultimate in renewables. My partner and I compost religiously - we have two compost heaps - the fast one and the slow one. The fast one takes in the house hold wastes and is managed through a conscious combination of ingredients. The slow one is less likely to be well managed - it takes the big stuff, garden cuttings, lawn clippings and dead plants. The compost is then used to feed the fruit tree's, top up the veggie patch each season, and to raise seedlings. There is usually plenty of compost around, so some goes to filling holes in the lawn, and is given away to neighbours and friends. Seed collection is also a great way to value the renewable. I collect seeds from successful crops for the next time round, and if I want to grow something different I purchase my seeds from others who grow organically and collect seeds. Sharing with friends is also a great way to renew.

Currently harvesting: beans, leeks, brocoli, loofa, bokchoy, pakshoy, sweet potato, ruhbarb, celery, basil, lemons and kale. Jeresalem Artichoke is soon to be harvested...

Other renewable resources we are conscious about includes our fuel sources. My partner commutes 25 km each way to work on his bike, while my car is a diesel which is excellent for my 150km round trip to work. However, often I will catch the train which is a much better way of consciously sharing the fuel used. Our other fuel sources include trying to use gas in the kitchen, and solar power for hot water. We're also conscious about reusing broken things or unwanted things. In our suburb we have a hard rubbish collection - which means our neighbours put out all their unwanted and broken things on the footpath for council to collect. Smart re-users collect the items with potential before the council does. In the past we've collected lounge chairs, garden furniture, bike wheels and frames, and a BBQ - all of which only need a little tweeking to give them a new lease on life. Oh, my other committment is that I wont allow myself to get a takeaway coffee unless I have a reusable mug (I know its small but it's meaningful).

However, on reflection I could be a lot more conscious about using and valuing renewable resources and services. One thing I had challenged myself to for 2011 was to consider how to reduce my reliance on commercial dog food. It's not all that organic, or chemical free, nor does the industry claim any environmental ethical considerations. If I was to make the dog food, I could choose the ingredients (even better grow them myself) and I would be caring for my dog as I should be. Unfortunately, this hasn't started yet. Perhaps now is the time to locate the recipe and start growing good stuff for dog food.

So, back to Reverb10's question. Well, I think that my response would be 50/50.
  • I really wanted to be a better cyclist before I go to France in July - this is one thing I have been diligent about. I've got a new bike this year, and I've been riding 3-4 times a week. Just last week I did approx 150kms in total. (This was toady's dilemma - go riding for 3 hrs or stay home a garden, and rest).
  • I also wanted to build my confidence and skill for my job. I think I can say I'm working on this too.
  • I had hoped to work with my charity organisation based in India, to get it Tax deductability here in Australia. I really wanted to increase the external funding for the school and hostel this year. I feel I have struggled too give this the time it needs, although I have made some progress. I have a few leads to follow up and if I can get some of this done in the next 6 weeks, we might have success by the end of the year.
  • I wanted to increase my connectivity with my local community. This is really hard to do when I work outside the community, and with travel time, I'm away from home nearly 10-12 hours a day. I also live in a community that is pretty insular,, except maybe sharing their love of sporting events (for which I don't have time for)..... I have been to the local church a few times this year, and consciously try to use local services - such as the sewing lady, dry cleaners, accountant, Dr and chemist.
I think I could go on, but, to avoid boring all of you, I'll leave it here. But aren't these interesting questions to ponder???

Currently reading: Half the Sky, and Humanitarian Assistance - Haiti and Beyond.