13 February 2017

A slow busy week ahead

It was 42C on the verandah here yesterday but I believe it was much hotter out west. I'm very grateful we have an air-conditioned house. Last night was one of the few nights since we've lived here that we let the air-conditioner run all night. Yesterday and Saturday were spent mainly indoors after watering the plants and filling up plenty of water troughs for the chooks. These days are bad enough for us but I think how the native animals, birds and insects are faring, especially when their habitats have been wiped out for housing developments.  It's not a wise move to leave food out for native wildlife but it's essential to leave water out in shaded places. Usually it will help keep your local birds and insects hydrated, but on extremely hot days it can be the difference between life and death.

I finished off my shawl on Saturday and cast on a boy's seamless jumper in grey cotton.  We have mild winters here so a cotton jumper generally keeps young bodies warm. It will give me a project to work on when I'm sitting in the lounge room and I'm hoping to have it finished by early July.

Yesterday I made white nectarine jam. Peaces and nectarines are my favourite fruit and it's always a treat to eat them, ripe and cold, during summer. I'm partial to the late season free stone varieties and this year, Hanno found some under-ripe white nectarines for $3 a kilo. They are perfect for jam making so he bought 2 kgs.  Yesterday I made up one batch, netting us two large jars of jam.  I'll make up the others today. Four jars of nectarine jam in the cupboard  won't go far so I looked through my preserves books to see what else I can make from fruit easy to find and not too expensive.






I'd like to have enough jam to do us through the year - even if we have a visit from my sister who is the queen of jam on toast, with tea, for breakfast. Jam is such an easy thing to make and homemade tastes so much better than commercial jam.  In the coming weeks I'll make some dried apricot jam and orange marmalade and I'll be on the lookout for local strawberries in early winter. That should keep us in jam for the entire year.

This will be a big week for Gracie. This afternoon she's going to the groomer to be thoroughly washed and clipped. That is in preparation for her trip to the vet on Wednesday when she'll be spayed.  She's six months old now and the vet recommended that as the best time to carry out the procedure.  She'll have stitches after the operation and I want her nice and clean so she's not too uncomfortable when she's recovering.

Gracie with her teddy bear. She takes it out to the fence to show the chickens.
 And then she brings it back and gently places it in the shade.
 At night she sleeps on her back close to either Hanno or me.

Grace has spent most of the last two days inside the house spread-eagled on the floor in front of the air-conditioner. She goes out early morning, again at lunch time and late afternoon. When she's ready to come back in she barks once at the back door, and we, her servants, wander over to open the door for her.  She devised the system and it's working well. 😃

I have a slow busy week ahead and I'm looking forward to doing a few things in my home as well as planning and mapping out the new season garden that will be planted up in March.  Since we reduced the size of our garden and the number of plants we grow, it's essential to choose the right ones. It's time to sow some seeds in trays in the bush house so when this hot weather ends, we'll be ready to plant our seedlings out in the garden. When I work it out, I'll tell you about our plans for this year's garden.

I hope you all have a lovely week. Take care in the heat and cold, my friends. xx

34 comments:

  1. Hi Rhonda,

    I'd love your recipe for dried apricot jam.That sounds delish!

    Marney

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    1. Marney, I haven't tried this recipe before so I'll post the recipe after I make it and know for sure it sets well and is delicious enough to share.

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  2. Your delightful tales and pictures of Gracie always make me laugh. Thank you so much for sharing. Blessings, Carolyn in Florida

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  3. Hi,Rhonda. Yesterday, it got to 43C under our shady verandah, shade cloth blinds drawn. Just incredible heat! We are very grateful too that we had air-con to cool us down and that we could keep on with some simple, productive chores inside even when it was boiling outside! We borrowed a dvd from the library to watch with our son in the afternoon as we were all tired and sloth-like! Our dog likes sleeping in the cool of the air-con like your Gracie too, Rhonda. It's been a blessing being able to keep him cool because he's developed a raw Hot Spot on the side of his face which requires cleaning and treatment and anti-biotics each day. Poor fellow! The vet said they've had so many cases of skin flare-ups this past week. Animals really do feel the heat too. I hope it's cooler up your way today, for you and Hanno and Gracie. Meg:)

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  4. Oh I hope Gracie goes well!

    Aggie has devised the same system of barking at the door to come in, and go out. If we fail to hear her Ronnie our boarder collie barks to let us know. He seems to know he is louder. It's really amazing to watch the two togeather. They are very smart, it's quite fascinating and amazing really.

    Aggie is settling in well, mostly toilet trained now - thank goodness!

    How much, may I ask will it cost to get her properly groomed? Im not sure where I am, if there will be many groomers used to doing the traditional Scotty shape - they are not that common around here.

    Xx

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    1. Hi Emma, I've been wondering about Aggie. My Feedly keeps breaking so I haven't been able to read any blogs lately. I've found that Scotties are really intelligent and quite capable of organising themselves without much intervention.

      We took Grace to the groomer in November and she charged us $30. We'd washed her before we took her along, so there was no shampooing etc, it was just for clipping: back, ears, feet and nails. She told us that you shouldn't clip a Scottie too early - not before 6 months, because it might wreck their coat. A light clip along her back, ears and neck and snipping with the scissors on her skirt and furnishings was all she was prepared to do. Still, Grace came away from there looking very smart indeed. I'm guessing a full groom and shampoo will cost about $60.

      Scotties are not common here either. When we take Gracie out, younger people ask what breed she is, older people say: "I haven't seen a Scottie for years!"

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  5. Cold with us! Flakes of snow over the weekend, but tonight a wild wind. I can't help but envy you your sunshine!

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  6. So funny about Gracie barking once. Our cat soon figured out that plucking on the metal insect/security screens makes quite a loud noise and we rush to open the door for her. Definitely her servants.

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  7. I am the servant of two cats. Both have spent the weekend legs akimbo on their backs. Miss Nimbus really did not understand why I didn't want toplay at three this morning.

    A warning to all. Please keep your fluids up. My youngest has not been well and combined with this heat has needed topping up with an IV over the weekend. She has stayed out of hospital so I am thankful.

    Enjoy your week everyone.

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  8. Yesterday the temperature reached 46 but the worst of it was very strong dry hot winds. We had bush fires nearby. Poor plants in my garden struggled to cope as well as myself. We have evaporative air con but after 35 degrees it's not very effective.

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  9. We are having much snow here this month - nineteen inches the other day, and another few today. It's pretty. :) But your mention of peaches made my mouth water - my favorite fruit! I didn't realize you can make jam from dried fruit - that sounds interesting.

    Gracie is the cutest thing, with her teddy bear.

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  10. Oh the heat - Mum and Dad (Caloundra-based) are saying it has never been so relentless and we chose the right summer to make the move to NZ! You are so right about the native animals, it hasn't been hot here in Auckland, but it has been so so dry. The birds in particular suffer I think, they are hopping inside if the door is left open - I think it is because they are thirsty, poor things.

    Have a wonderful slow week,
    Ayesha

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  11. Hello Rhonda, your Jam looks soooo very delicious. I did laugh at your comment about Gracie, how she has devised the system for you letting her back inside. It doesnt take long for our dear 4-legged creatures to "sort us out" does it ??!!
    I just have a quick question when you get time to answer me please Rhonda. My Mum has given me a large container of grated soap ends of hers & I would like to make your Laundry Liquid recipe in my Down to Earth book. It says to use yellow laundry soap or homemade soap & I am wondering as some of Mums grated soap would have been bathroom soap like Palmolive?? Would this still be okay do you think? Many thanks, Julie.

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  12. I have a dog who loves sleeping on her back as well. He would also have some dreams sometimes and end up barking. I wish your dog well when she has her stitches.

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  13. Hi Rhonda, your jam looks delicious, I didn't know you could make jam from nectarines but I quess you can make jam from every fruit?!
    Poor little Gracie...I hope she'll be on her 4 little paws soon after the surgery, ours was more happy when she got hers afterwards of course ;O)
    Our dog puts her paw against the catsdoor to let us open the door for her when that doesn't work our other doggie gives a bark and that always helps!!! Have a nice week!!!

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  14. Your puppy is so adorable! I do a great deal of canning in the summer, but save many fruits and berries in the freezer to make jam in the fall or winter when it is cooler here (Canada). We have rhubarb, gooseberries and raspberries in the yard, and have lots of wild berries that we pick. Sometimes I will make a mixed jam from blueberries, gooseberries , strawberries and raspberries. Also plums make great jam too. We have a friend with 5 sour cherry trees, and she lets us pick these. They make the best jam. Hope it cools down soon. We are still shoveling snow and dreaming about our gardens. Barb

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  15. Goodness, you surely are having a hot spell! I've always been partial to big dogs, but little Gracie has stolen my heart. What a sweetie she is!

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  16. Gracie is too funny. What personality. Also just did the conversion and that about 108 degrees in Fahrenheit. Yikes. Those are miserable days. Keep cool. (Over here at the moment we are saying keep warm.)

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  17. The pictures of Gracie with her teddy are just priceless and put a smile on my face.

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  18. Six months has gone by so quickly, it only seems like yesterday that you were waiting for Gracie to come and live with you and Hanno. I enjoy seeing Gracie's adventures. I enjoy knitting in cotton too, Rhonda. Cotton is perfect for our climate here too.

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  19. Hard to believe Gracie is 6 months old, time flies by. I hope all goes well tomorrow Rhonda.

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  20. I can only just remember when we had an incredible heatwave (well, for France) when it was 42 degrees for 17 days on the trot, back in 2003 I think it was. Phew! We aren't geared up for it and I was seriously worried about my dear old Mum. But, she was such a trooper, just took it all in her stride while we, and the kids, flopped about like limp lettuces! Hope it cools down for you very soon, and the fires (was on TV tonight) are put out asap.

    I always leave a bowl of water with marbles or a few stones in for the insects as they often drown without the marbles. Fascinating to watch them drink.

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  21. We have horrible weather Rhonda all over the country, hope you are both coping well. Gracie is a cutie, our girl Tilly knocks at the door with her paw to both go in and go out..and we too as her servants answer the knock with speed. Lol.
    Looking foward to seeing your garden plans.
    Cheers
    Jane

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  22. I've never tried nectarine jam, if you have time can you post your nectarine jam recipe. It does look so delicious! Gracie is so cute! I hope she has a quick recovery from her op. Can you show a photo of your shawl when you have time. I have not been enjoying the heat but today is a little cooler which is lovely.

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  23. Rhonda, the heat has just hit us up here in Mackay so we will be running the air-conditioner tonight as well. It is certainly a struggle to keep productive. Your jam looks fantastic, and as there have been many requests for your recipes I will look out for them. Gracie is such a cutie. Best wishes, Pauline

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  24. The sign of a well-trained human: opening the door at the faintest of barks. :)

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  25. love seeing Gracie! awww so cute her showing off her bear to the chooks, had quite the giggle over that & isn't she getting big?!
    your jams look very delicious, something i need to learn to make myself one day
    thanx for sharing
    selina from kilkivan qld

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  26. Gracie's pictures brightened the day of my youngest daughter. She says that cute dog pictures are the best when one has a hard week at school.

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    1. Tell your daughter I agree with her. The practice manager at our vet has Gracie's photo as the wallpaper on her phone. :- )

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  27. Hope all went well with Gracie at the vet - it is sweet that she takes such good care of her teddy. Had to look up the conversion for 42 C - that is horribly hot! Hope the weather breaks soon. We are enjoying a climate change winter: -20 at times during December and January, and the forecast for this Friday is 59 degrees, which will be record breaking. Beth in MN

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  28. Hi Rhonda ! Here Isabelle i'm living in Europe Belgium Bruges an here we're looking forword to spring ! and summer and camping in France and i told my son(14y)that it was yesterday in Australie so hot ...we only can dream off that !But i understand that weather is nice when you can lay-down a glass of water (evian) by your side?! but cleaning the cleaning my house in that heat would be heavy we have no airco not neccesairy but last summer in july on the camping place (whitout trees) it was near 30c
    and almost not possible because there was no shadow and the sea was very near and the dunes so i was so brown and red from the sun i looked like a butternut pompkin whit ceeks like tomatos ...i hope you can read my owful english ? i speak it better but i only write flemish very good speaking those 2 and frence a bit of german an spanish ..
    I like you'r site a lot and like te recipe's a very much i want to try to order yo're books in the bookstore here! i hope i manage lots of greetings from Belguim ! Isabelle

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    1. Thanks Isabelle, Yes, I understood your English. xx

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