The post where we survive Christmas…just…

Hi All,

I just thought I would take a small break from “doing everything all of the time” to share a few photos of how the 14 fridge wicker beds look now that they are covered with netting. We are winding down from our very first all vegan Christmas that coincided with Christmas Eve and Christmas Day delivering hot and sweaty conditions to everyone on Serendipity Farm thanks to a couple of tropical lows off the top of Australia that are pushing down the tropical weather to where it doesn’t belong (here!)

Steve cleaning up the back pavers
Poor Steve had just karchered the rear paving and was attempting to use our blower vac to clear the leaves away when his little shadow Earl decided that he might like to assist.
Earl assisting Steve to use the blower vac
Obviously Steve wasn’t using it correctly…
Earl pulling the end off the blower vac
Steve had his vacuuming privileges removed for the duration.

I have been a vegan for many years now but tend to eat very simply as otherwise I would be cooking two full meals every night. Now that Steve has decided to become vegan I can experiment a bit with our food and have found some really delicious recipes including one for mayonnaise that tastes spectacular and a Cottage pie that was so delicious Steve gave it 9 out of 10. A full vegan Christmas involved making Steve some Christmas Mexican burgers that he had with avocado and salad as well as a range of different salads (all delicious) and a well planned selection of vegan truffles and a scrumptious alternative to fruit mince pies (with narf7’s homemade ultra boozy vegan fruit mince) that involved melding a fruit mince tart with a bakewell tart. In the process I learned how to make very easy and crunchy coconut oil pastry that I will be using from now on whenever “shortcrust” pastry is required.

Vegan Cornish Pasties
Vegan Cornish Pasties with a side salad.
Vegan fried rice and fried potatoes
This was the end result of clearing out some leftover rice and some leftover steamed potato cubes and was utterly delicious and cooked by Steve.
Vegan sausages
This is the steaming phase of making some homemade vegan sausages. Shop bought vegan products tend to be very bland and expensive and we wanted to create our own so we went hunting and found an excellent recipe. These sausages were made from firm tofu and ground chickpeas and involved a very interesting technique of grinding the mix to a thick paste and forming the paste into sausages using foil.
Vegan sausages with veggies
The end result of our vegan sausage experiment was sausages that need a little tweaking but that were very similar to regular sausages. My next batch will be made slightly firmer (a bit of flour) and I will boost the flavours but otherwise, these worked a treat to deliver comfort food to Steve.
Vegan cottage pie
This vegan cottage pie was spectacularly successful. I wouldn’t have thought that you could almost replicate a cottage pie using lentils but you can and this recipe is the proof. Steve ate a large helping and then had another one and ate it for his dinner the next night as it was SO good. The mash on the top contains mashed carrots and garlic and oil and although I wasn’t sold on the idea when I was making it, it tasted heavenly when cooked.

Just prior to Christmas we finished the cover for the wicking bed. Earl and Bezial helped by forcing us to take regular breaks while they frolicked all over the netting as we were trying to install it over the fridge wicking beds. The results are lovely, protect the beds and apparently make the veggies in the wicking beds happy as they have gone mental with the combination of protection and a couple of nice hot days.

Pork Pies
This is one of the two pork pies that we made this year. We didn’t have the heart to tell Glad, our 94 year old next door neighbour, that Steve was now vegan and that we wouldn’t be making them as she loves them SO much so we bought some pork and made just enough for Glad and her daughter Wendy. Coincidentally, these pork pies turned out the best, and least hassle of all of the pork pies that we have ever attempted. Glad was MOST happy with her pie.
Christmas Day fruit punch
This is the traditional fruit punch that we make on Christmas Day. This one contains a LOT of booze, fruit juice and most of the berries in it, we grew ourselves.
Ice for Christmas
Steve got creative when he was making ice for Christmas and dyed some blue with food colouring. Aside from having “Smurf lips” it turned the punch a strange swampy green!

Steve cleared up the back yard area and again, Earl-the-wonder-dog “helped”. We also decided to haul the four fridge wickers that we used in our initial (failed) attempt to put wicking beds inside Sanctuary, out of Sanctuary and put them to good use. Remember back when we were going to convert Sanctuary to rows of wicking beds? Well that idea changed quickly when they sank in the mud and after extracting them from their muddy wallow, we stacked them up ready to be used “somewhere else” as we had already filled up the old driveway with 14 beds.

The boggy patch where we removed the big (HEAVY) rolls of ex fish farm netting from.
The boggy patch where we removed the big (HEAVY) rolls of ex fish farm netting from. As you can see, it’s a bit soggy around here.
Rope on the netting
Before we can use the netting to cover Narnia we have to remove the rope that has been strapped all over it. It takes a person half a day to do this. I volunteered and Steve walked Earl while Bezial stayed home and “helped”.
Rather a lot of rope that needs to be removed.
As you can see, there is rather a lot of rope that needs removing…
Some of the netting prior to me removing the rope
Here’s the netting rolled out and ready for me to start de-roping.
Chickens eating insects off netting
Bezial wasn’t the only one “helping”. The chooks were feasting on insects that were hiding inside the netting.

The four Sanctuary beds have now taken up residence near the other beds outside the back door and I will be filling one with Japanese sweet potatoes (that grow like regular potatoes) and another one with kumara (orange sweet potatoes) cuttings taken from our friend Jennies sweet potatoes that are going mental at the moment. She is most generous to share and told me to “hurry up and get a garden bed for them and they can get growing!” She doesn’t muck around our mate Jenny…

The side of the wicking bed structure prior to installing netting
Steve whipper snipped down the side of the enclosure framework prior to us adding the netting.
Earl "assisting" with installing the netting.
Earl “assisting” with installing the netting.
At the end of day 1 installing netting
At the end of day 1 installing netting we had covered the tops and sides but not the front and back of the structure.

I am also going to transplant the strawberry plants that survived the flood conditions in the wicking boat inside Sanctuary into their very own fridge wicking bed. They have stoically refused to die, despite living in boggy swamp conditions for most of the winter. If you want to grow something that will take just about everything you can throw at it, grow strawberries. My original plants came from runners that I found at the local tip in the green waste section and they have not stopped growing ever since I rescued them from certain (burning) doom.

Homemade cashew butter and homemade tahini
I like to make things myself whenever I can. It’s cheaper and you can tailor them to how you like them. Here I made a large jar of homemade tahini and another large jar of homemade cashew butter. I used some of the cashew butter in an experimental version of vegan butter but Steve didn’t like it so I had another go and managed to find a better recipe. I am using the first version on toast. Delicious!
Herman the red eyed cicada
Meet Herman the red eyed cicada. These cicada’s emerge from the soil every year but some years they emerge en mass and their chirping can be deafening. This isn’t one of those years but there are small enclaves of cicada’s buzzing out their cacophony of sound. It’s amazing to hear them all buzzing together. A symphony of sound.
Christmas tree and Destiny
This is our little homemade Christmas Tree. It folds flat and we store it under the bed every year. I like to use a lot of smaller decorations on it and it was particularly full and interesting this year. You can see Steve’s game of Destiny and his character on our television screen.
Putting wet towels on the dogs on Christmas Day to cool them down
Christmas Day was so warm that the boys needed to cool down as they were panting so we wet some towels and regularly rubbed them down with them. Here you can see Earl enjoying a brief respite from the heat.

I would like, at this point of the post, to thank Marlene who blogs over atΒ https://insearchofitall.wordpress.com/. A long time ago, in fact 2 blogs ago! Marlene and Ms Pauline and several other lovely bloggers gifted me a series of delightful bunting to grace the netting of Sanctuary. I was in awe at how lovely they all were and they were FAR too nice to string up in my possum infested netting. After adding the netting to Narnia (so called because Steve installed an old set of wardrobe doors as the entry point of the wicking bed empire) I suddenly remembered my delightful bunting and after sifting through the loveliness, I happened upon Marlene’s lovely bunting that was bright, colourful AND waterproof. Marlene was amazingly generous and sent me three strings of bunting and all three now hang happily and colourfully inside Narnia. The little blue wrens that live on our property have decided that Narnia is their personal garden and zip in and out of the larger holes on the fence (that possums can’t squeeze through) and when I was top watering the seedlings a week ago, I noticed a little bright blue male wren and his partner jumping around on Marlene’s gorgeous bunting as if they owned the enclosure.

Finally Narnia is finished!
Finally Narnia is finished! I love Steve’s idea to reuse an old set of pantry doors. I think that they are perfect for Narnia. You can see Marlene’s lovely bunting on the front of the enclosure and Earls unamused melon head in the foreground. He was quite happy to run, flat tack, through the structures framework and now he has to confine his running to the side of the structure.
The view from inside the structure
This is the view from inside the structure. The veggie seedlings have grown exponentially since we took this photo but you get the idea of how it looks. Isn’t Marlene’s bunting perfect for this garden? I knew it would work well inside Narnia. “Thank you Marlene, from the bottom of my heart for your incredible generosity” :). I only wish that I could use some of the other gloriously colourful and creative bunting but most of it isn’t weather proof and I would HATE to see it faded and torn when so much care and attention went into making it. I use it in my craft room and it fills my heart with joy every time I go in there πŸ™‚

We filled the four wicking beds this morning with some water to test that they are water tight and we then turned the old door of Narnia that we made out of rustic ti tree logs and that we just couldn’t get to actually work as a door on the structure into a rustic trellis by covering it with an off-cut of ex fish farm netting that we used to cover the structure. We then got creative and made some garden art. Our garden art was the result of some left over ti tree poles from Narnia’s construction, a strange pyramid that Steve and I found on the beach (we think it looks like it blew off a gazebo?!) and brought home as we figured it could be useful for something, an old tilly lamp we had hanging in the shed and a bit of ingenuity. We have been watching all of the series of “Heroes” again on Netflix and were inspired by Hiro’s Samurai helmet to create our very own Samurai folly. We call him “Clancy” as he sits right next to the rainwater tank’s overflow. My sister has christened him our very own Japanese Dalek. We think he fits in well with Serendipity Farm and I will most likely plant some edible vine in a pot next to Clancy to grow up and over him.

Free mulch!
Council saw fit to mow the grass on the oval at the Sidmouth Hall. I suddenly realised that this would make PERFECT (free) mulch for Sanctuary. Aside from not having a lot of money to spend on buying mulch to cover the perennials and fruit and nut trees, we had no way of collecting bales of straw so when I saw the mown grass a little lightbulb went off over my head. I spent the next 2 days collecting 3 car loads of 11 chook wheat bags of free hay and aside from sunshine, fresh air and a lot of bending over I was most happy about my efforts and Sanctuary is now fully mulched πŸ™‚
The car filled with mulch
Not only did we collect mulch from the Sidmouth Oval, but we realised that the council had mown the large park over the Batman Bridge and we headed out to fill our bags one last time as this stored hay will be used to mulch the fruit trees in our back yard when we get around to drip irrigating them over the next week or so.
Lettuce growing in a wicking bed
Lettuce growing in one of the wicking beds that we picked some of for our Christmas lunch.
Cherry tomatoes and lettuce going mental in one of the fridge wicking beds.
Cherry tomatoes and lettuce going mental in one of the fridge wicking beds.
Homemade trellis behind tomatoes
Here’s the homemade trellis that we made this morning to support the insane growth of the cherry tomatoes in this wicking bed.
Samurai Dalek
And here is the Samurai Dalek “Clancy of the Overflow” that we made this morning. Note he has his own light source.

I think most of you are still recovering from Christmas or other holiday celebrations and so I won’t tax you all by making this post too long so until my next post, have a lovely time doing whatever you are doing and enjoy the heck out of it. 2017 is just around the corner and I, for one, couldn’t be happier to greet the new year running.

Merry Christmas 2016

 

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38 Comments Add yours

  1. Great to read about what you do been up to. Good news with the free cuttings! And so much easier now you’re both eating the same things….everything you made looks exciting and tasty and lovely that you can enjoy the same meals together now. Happy New Year to you both!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. narf7 says:

      Happy New Year Ms Chica πŸ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Fran, you continue to amaze me with your resourcefulness, not to mention your seemingly tireless energy. I love Narnia, top to bottom. The cleverness of collecting and planting raised wicking beds from old refrigerators is brilliant. They look nice in there offset rows and they’re efficient and just the right size for moving around each box. You’ve also rescued them from what would surely be landfill. The fish netting is also incredibly versatile and looks terrific over the frame you’ve built. And the door. I LOVE the door. Again, great re-purposing and a fun way to enter your garden.

    Its nice seeing Marlene’s beautiful, and water-proof, bunting along the front door. Marlene is the bee’s knees! It finishes off your beautiful Narnia.

    As for the crops, they look healthy and happy. I’m delighted to hear you are both eating vegan now, I’ve been a vegetarian since I was 18 and my boys are both vegetarians from birth. Mike partakes, but not at home, so it makes it easy for all of us to eat that way. Emotionally, I would very much like to be a vegan, since my reasons for becoming a vegetarian in the first place came from mymy love and compassion for all animals.

    Reading this post and scrutinizing the fabulous details of your photos, I’m convinced there is nothing you can’t do. Perhaps you have some ideas for tossing “the Cheetoh and his repulsive sidekick” before he takes office in late January and mucks up everything I hold dear. Sigh.

    Happy New Year to you, Steve and the pooches. xo

    Liked by 1 person

    1. narf7 says:

      I think the cheetoh is going to be his own worst enemy. I think he might actually be a necessary evil to wake up the general population and to galvanise them into action. Even if it’s just to make them “think” as he was able to fool SO many people into believing that his neoliberalistic lein was going to give them hope, a job, and stability. It is going to be a real eye opener to the people that voted for him (aside from the rich obviously!) when he gets in and sends them all down the gulag mines. Sometimes you have to get a taste of something bitter in order to realise how lovely life was before them. People are always trying to get something “better”. Many people don’t realise that what they have is amazing. We are sold SO many lies by the media that most of us think we have to run on a treadmill of acceptance and empowerment when the only way to find true happiness is to learn to see and be happy with your own life. There is always room for learning and growing but not at the expense of other people, nature/the environment or the planet. Maybe this will be a wake up call Ms Alys? Happy New Year right back atcha Ms Alys. I wanted to put your amazing bunting into Narnia but it’s too beautiful and wouldn’t last 10 seconds under our ozone free sunshine here in Tasmania so it lives in my craft room where I get joy from it every time I see it πŸ™‚ A big lick from Bezial and Earl as well πŸ˜‰

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      1. Awww. I love your pooches. I get to walk with my friend and her dog Dylan once a week, and enjoy the special affection that only a dog can provide. He’s such a sweetie. I’m so glad you continue to enjoy the bunting. That was a fun project. I’m sure you’re right about the Cheetoh. It’s just stomach-turning to think of the destruction he could leave in his wake. I live in a community where 40% of our population is Hispanic and many of those people are scared of being deported and in some cases separated from family. It’s a real, and present fear. I attended a San Jose founding meeting of SURJ (Standing Up for Racial Justice) which is composed of members who are aware of our white privilege and want to acknowledge that, understand and make a difference in our racially diverse community.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. narf7 says:

        It will take the general populace to stop his agenda Alys. People uniting against racism. like you are, is an excellent start. I am quite sure that most Americans don’t realise how the rest of the world see them. Maybe they don’t care, but I guess you need a degree of separation between yourself and your immediate situation to see things clearly. Thank God for people like you who want to unite community and stop the neoliberalism that Mr T wants to slather all over your country. God help the poor is all I can say! Steve has an American hispanic friend that he plays online games with and he is very afraid for his young family. People just don’t realise that this is going to divide the country and be the cause of a massive step back in community relationships but then when you back people who are desperately trying to find a way to make ends meet and who haven’t got very good educations (thanks to an active class system fueled by ensuring the rich get richer and the middle class pay for it all) and who are primed to listen to someone who uses lies and blind promises to tell them what they want to hear you are always going to end up with an awful situation. Lets just hope that your country can unite against him. Once the people who voted for him start to realise that they aren’t getting more jobs, that the promises that he made are all lies, they are going to start fermenting and that’s when Mr T is going to start having a few problems. We are seeing it now with our own Liberal government cutting pensions to “save money” and lumping pensioners in with “Welfare recipients” in order to make people think of them as a drain on taxpayer funds and get the middle class to start muttering. It’s amazingly easy to sway people if you have the right spin doctors and you are hooked up to social media where lies spread MUCH faster than the truth isn’t it? Back to dogs. They are MUCH better than politicians! Keep up the good fight Ms Alys and know that the rest of the world is on your side.

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      3. Fran, it’s becoming a problem around the globe, this move towards nationalism. It’s a reaction, which will face a reaction, but it is scary in the meantime. I can only imagine how the world views people of our country. We must look like backward, selfish and uneducated people to many. Trump will let a lot of people down. He will hurt a lot of people, too, with his selfish, narcissistic ways. We have to be prepared to take action, to stand up, to notice, and to right the wrongs. I hope we as a nation have the stomach to do what it takes.

        Thanks, Fran.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Lovely post, as usual. I’m on the run, so all the best for the new year to all at Serendipity Farm and I look forward to more loveliness and innovation next year xoxo

    Liked by 1 person

    1. narf7 says:

      On the run?! Hopefully you haven’t succumbed to the growing trend of people who feel the need to run Ms Pauline?! Hopefully you are just popping out the front door with Siddy for a lovely leisurely walk. I can’t join you I am afraid, as aside from the distance between us, it’s raining here so no doggy walk here but LOTS of sulking stink eye, no doubt for the rest of the day…sigh…Enjoy the heck out of your New Years celebrations. We will be doing it quiet. Thinking of knocking off some roosters if we have to stay up late so 2017 should at least be guaranteed to be “quieter” around here πŸ˜‰

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      1. I went to the Catlins with my best friend, who spent Christmas with me, no running required by either of us!! Sidd spent the day with his aunty D. We drove from home south through the beautifully scenic Catlins, across the bottom of the South Island to Invercargill then up through Gore back home. Beautiful, wild scenery interspersed by boring little towns and accompanied by the wildest winds I’ve seen in a while. Very exciting!!! πŸ™‚ I got a new phone for Xmas so might manage to get myself back onto facebook sometime soon. Be kind to the roosters xo

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      2. narf7 says:

        That sounds like an incredibly excellent way to spend Christmas Ms Pauline. If I ever ladle myself onto a plane it will be to head over to N.Z. to explore that glorious wilderness myself. Whenever I see photos of N.Z. I remind myself that there are some places worth the flight to visit. The roosters are on borrowed time Ms Pauline. They have formed a small, but most determined collective intent on raping and pillaging and it’s my duty to stop them from their quest of farm domination. Sad to say, 5 of them have to go.

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      3. Well, the raping and pillaging won’t do at all, so it’s off with their heads I suppose. Good luck with it πŸ™‚

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      4. narf7 says:

        We figure the best day to do it is New Years Eve. I plan on staying up till midnight (and have been priming myself by staying up later) to see in the New Year and thus we will both have no more excuses as to why we can’t echo the queen of hearts. New Years Day will be lovely and quiet with hens who can finally wander around freely with only Paxo and Deek to direct the traffic. All will be quiet on the Western front (until the first of the chick roosters reach maturity…sigh…)

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      5. I’m very impressed with the fact that you have changed a habit – it’s a very hard thing to do! Do you think you might turn into a night owl? I cannot imagine the noise more than one rooster makes – there was always one around when I was a child and he was an excellent alarm clock!! Hopefully you can find homes for the boy chicks…….. Happy New Year Fran and Steve!! (Did I say that already?)

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      6. narf7 says:

        Right back atcha Ms Pauline πŸ™‚

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  4. aFrankAngle says:

    I didn’t realize that vegans included aluminum in their diet. πŸ˜‰ … Cheers to your creativity … Merry Christmas.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. narf7 says:

      That’s what happens when you go beachcombing Mr Frank πŸ˜‰

      Liked by 1 person

  5. foodnstuff says:

    It’s all looking sooo good!! Great that the wrens can still get in there to clean up the insect pests. I would be careful about all that free mown grass….it’s likely there’ll be lots of weed seeds in it!

    Could you post the method for the homemade tahini?

    Happy New Year to you and Steve.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. narf7 says:

      I figured that there would be weed seeds in the mown grass. It’s a pity that I got most of it (for Sanctuary) from the Sidmouth oval but at least they don’t spray over there and I figure as it’s not my veggie garden I can pull anything out that gets big and annoying. The last 11 bags that I collected were from the Batman Bridge park and they are all from almost parklands grass with no grass seeds. They don’t let it get high enough to seed before they mow it so I will be collecting from over there whenever I notice that they have mowed from now on. You should see the gardens after we had those couple of stinker hot days! I was starting to think that the capsicums and chillies might not do much this year but they have suddenly sprung into action (along with the leopard slugs…sigh…). The homemade tahini is very easy. I have a high speed blender but you can do this with a large mortar and pestle if you keep going (takes longer and more muscle power though). Toast a couple of cups of sesame seeds (I buy mine from the health food shop) in a dry frypan till they are toasty and lightly tinted. They smell amazing at this stage and are hot. Pour the hot seeds into a blender/food processor or large mortar and pestle and add a little vegetable oil. I use rice bran but any kind will do. If you use olive oil it will add a bit of additional flavour but its up to you which kind you use. You don’t need much, just enough to help the seeds to start blending. Turn on your blender/food processor (or get mashing with your pestle) and let it run till the hot seeds (that initially turn into a mash, then a thick butter) suddenly liquify. It’s almost magic when it happens. Its a bit like hitting 60C with a cornflour based gravy, it suddenly starts a reaction and the clumpy mass of sesame seed suddenly gives way to a smooth, free running liquid. I make a lot of tahini at any given time as I can get a kilo of sesame seed for $7 here and that makes a LOT of tahini. We pay $7 a jar for it here so I am saving all over the place. Happy New Year Bev and here’s to keeping the faith πŸ™‚

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  6. Hi Fran, Narnia is a serious pest repellant structure now it is finished. The night air will be filled with the sounds of frustrated gnashing of teeth as the possums look vainly for a way in.
    The cicadas are filling the summer air with their chirping here also – crickets and cicadas, the sounds of summer.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. narf7 says:

      The possums have already started “depositing” on the veggie beds below in their frustration. It allows me to see that we got the netting over the structures just in time. Now the possums use the structure as a free gym. We should start charging the little buggers! We were walking our boys in the big park over the Batman Bridge (in between rain showers) yesterday and it was amazing to hear the cicada’s on the other side of the river (our side) going mental but you couldn’t hear a single click from the park. They are only flocking to heavily wooded areas at the moment. We don’t have many on our property but then we do have lots of grey shrike thrushes and Currawongs that love insects and our chooks would clean up anything that they were able to pounce on on the ground. That wall of sound coming from our side of the river was incredible πŸ™‚

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  7. Spy Garden says:

    Looks like a merry Christmas all around. I have made vegan shepherds pie before that everyone loved that seems similar to your cottage pie; mmm! All the food you made looks delish! Narnia is ABSOLUTELY AWESOME! Wow! It is opposite land here in Spy Garden; nothing really “growing on” except lots of thyme and some kohlrabi. Your Narnia is just so inspiring; now I need to go daydream about the garden with a hot drink! Love that door entry!!! Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you and your family!!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. narf7 says:

      Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you too Ms Spy and to all of your wonderful family. Narnia is all about taking our situation and figuring out how to best garden here. So far the system is working amazingly well and the plants are going gangbusters. I planted out a horseradish plant that had overwintered in Sanctuary that I thought was dead. I planted it into one of the small freezer ends of one of the fridge wicking beds (perfect for perennial herbs etc.) and it is almost 2ft high now with lots of strong green leaves. I got the original idea from a lady who has an amazing garden in the harsh dry south of America and then applied water wicking techniques to her way of gardening. We want to use as little water as we can in our garden beds and now sanctuary is hooked up to drip irrigation there won’t be any more standing for 3 hours watering a slope that pours my efforts down to where it is not needed. Thank you for your kind words about Narnia. It is lovely to work hard at something and have it actually work and be productive πŸ™‚

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  8. Dear Fran..
    Oh how I loved reading this post.. I have been so neglectful for that I apologise..
    Its lovely to see all of the fridges in place and in full swing.. Goodness knows how much energy it took to hug them all into place, let alone the weight of that rope net to hang with such precision in place over what now is Narnia.. Lovely choice of name by the way.
    Those wonderful meals were mouth watering and my daughter and partner who have now gone from being full veggie to vegan would I know be tempted with a few of them πŸ™‚

    I remember seeing the photo’s in a previous years posting of the making of that wonderful Christmas Tree.. πŸ™‚ Good to see Earl still likes to keep his paws in helping clear the yard.. πŸ™‚
    Such a delight to see all of your hard work at last now reaping rewards..

    Good to know you had a fabulous Christmas.. And We send you a wonderful Happy New Years wishes.. Sending Love, Happiness, Fun and Laughter to fill 2017..
    Love and Hugs xx
    Sue xxx ❀

    Liked by 1 person

    1. narf7 says:

      Happy New Year Sue and family :). The very best vegan website is a U.K. girl that I found when I was looking for comfort food ideas for feeding Steve now that he has gone vegan. I was looking for “how to make a vegan mince pie” and found the most incredible bakewell tart made with coconut oil pastry (very easy to make) and filled with fruit mince instead of the jam. We made it and it was completely and utterly amazing. The cottage pie recipe came from there as well as a recipe for vegan butter that we have also tried. Her recipe for meatloaf and onion gravy is also amazing and all we did was slather the top of it with half mashed spud and half mashed sweet potato with some garlic oil we had made from some leftover mashed garlic (the ends in my garlic bag) and it was probably one of the most gourmet meals I have ever eaten. Look up “Virtual Vegan” and pass the site on to your daughter and her partner. I am sure that they will love it. Her flavours are truly on point and delicious πŸ™‚ Glad you liked my post Ms Sue. I keep trying to shine a light on things. The world has gone a bit mad with social media and everyone hooked up to something that feeds negative and stressful feeds 24/7. I just want to show people that there is hope, that there is a “way” and that they don’t have to fall into despair about world events. We can’t help situations like Mr Trump being voted in, but we can develop strong communities that help each other and that don’t allow people to get so desperate that they think voting someone like him into office is a way to solve their problems. When people believe a liar they are very very desperate. Strong communities and networks where everyone is supported and no-one gets left out can weather storms. This year I am going to throw myself into developing strong communities and working with people who are trying to do the same thing. I will share what I do on my blog as usual. I sometimes think that no-one is hearing what I am saying as there are seventy squillion blogs out there but I do believe that if people need what you are sharing, they will find it somehow πŸ™‚

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      1. I believe that too Fran.. And its lovely when we get feed back from unexpected quarters too..
        I agree about the World Going Mad.. And Like you the only social media that I am on is WP and Google + .. But I have had to withdraw from both for a time as the negative vibes were dragging me down and I found myself getting all het up over things..
        When I took a step back, I realised the energies were not mine.. but that my empathy was taking over as I was absorbing their energies.
        So I withdrew myself.. taking time out to reconnect back to my inner core, of peace and ground myself..
        It was a pity it came at a time the garden was winding down.. As there was not much to do as winter approached.. So We went walking.. and I started to just re-read some of my old spiritual books and paint, knit and play the guitar.. Still badly . LOL.. but I keep practicing.. πŸ™‚
        I will try to refind a great site for Vagan food.. Lee and I go way back in blog land years.. But as time passes we connect less and less.. But He brought out a Wonderful WONDERFUL Cook book you can purchase on line.. My Daughter got it me Last Christmas as I was raving about his recipes.. πŸ™‚
        So I will be back with his web address and you can follow links on their to his Amazing very Large cookbook .. Be right back.. xxx

        Liked by 1 person

      2. narf7 says:

        I used to follow Lee’s site a while ago. I might have to reconnect myself. Cheers for the link Sue πŸ™‚

        Liked by 1 person

      3. You are most welcome

        Liked by 1 person

  9. Kim says:

    I wish I had made a cup of tea before I settled in to read this post – it was wonderful! I love Narnia (and thank you for explaining the reason for the name) but that Samurai dalek is excellent!
    I have bookmarked the Virtual Vegan site you recommended. The Management would have a fit if meat was removed from the menu so going vegan isn’t an option but I do like to sneak things in regularly. Our daughter is vegetarian-going-on-vegan so we always enjoy this sort of food when she visits.
    I hope all the wicking beds, and all of the rest of The Sanctuary, perform beautifully and you get an abundant harvest of everything you love in 2017.
    Kim

    Liked by 1 person

    1. narf7 says:

      Thank you for your lovely comment Kim. My own Management decided off his own bat to go vegan. You could have knocked me over with a feather! It certainly wasn’t for lusting after what I was eating because cooking two meals every night meant that all of the effort was poured into his food and I tended to eat simple meals but now we are eating amazingly good food. We made a loaf of 100% wholemeal bread yesterday. My previous experiences with making 100% wholemeal bread are akin to chewing on a lump of cardboard but this was lovely. I collect recipes, especially make-from-scratch recipes, and now I am using them and enjoying working my way through some of the more interesting recipes. I think the trick is to just throw in more veggies and to cook them in ways to let them shine. Reducing the amount of meat that you eat is also VERY kind to your budget. Our food bill just halved. Not sure how expensive meat is in your neck of the woods but over here it’s pretty expensive so take that out of the equation and there is more to spend on avocados (my favourite fruit πŸ˜‰ ).
      The wicking beds are growing like topsy now. I am sure the water reservoir underneath is keeping the soil cooler and nice and moist and the veggies are not wilting, even in our ozone depleted state. Tasmania is situated right underneath that lovely big hole in the ozone layer and even though our temperatures are not high compared to the rest of Australia, our sun more than makes up for it in the sizzle factor. Here’s to a truly productive, educational 2017 that offers us many chances to think, to learn and to grow. Fran πŸ™‚

      Like

  10. You deserve so many more breaks than you will ever grant yourself! I hope you start a trend in 2017, though, because you should really be taking that time to put up your feet and just veg out, rather than continuing to work by updating the blog (not that I don’t love hearing from you every single time.) Now that Steve is more on board with vegan eating, hopefully he’ll be able to fill in more often as the cook. That would be one less thing off your plate… Or rather, on? πŸ˜‰ Anyhow, it looks like a brilliant Christmas spread, and I’d say you’re more than just surviving, but thriving!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. narf7 says:

      We have been eating so well now that we are both on board (and I am cooking only one meal a night πŸ˜‰ ). I have been able to test drive some of the incredible vegan recipes that I have been saving (hoarding) and Steve has been amazed at how good they taste. I even found a spectacular 100% wholewheat bread recipe that could pass for shop bought bread so that’s another thing we can make ourselves. Summer is when gardeners race around like lizards drinking. You don’t get much rest when the active growing season is upon you but winter is our rest time and this year Brunhilda will be baking up a storm of delicious vegan food for both of us. Life is truly good :).

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Robbie says:

    I am backtracking and seeing how it all developed:-) I love the doors they add a homey touch. You enclosed the entire place and called it Narnia:-) love it. You don’t get any creatures in there right? No critters getting through I assume means more food to store away.
    I can’t get away from the fact you are “hot” at Christmas time-crazy:-)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. narf7 says:

      We were only hot for Christmas time and now it’s lovely and cool on what is supposed to be our hottest month of the year. The rest of Australia is sweltering under a heat wave (a friend just sent me an email saying that they are getting 44C today!) and we are in the low 20C’s. I am happy as a clam in mud! My tomatoes might not be up to much this year but we have been eating lettuce all summer long picked fresh from our garden and now that Steve is vegan as well, he is eating a lot of garden veggies and we picked purple spring onions and chives and beet leaves to add to his vegan quiches for dinner last night. He loved them and had them with a big salad. We had a cold Christmas when we went to the U.K. for a visit back in 2005 and it was lovely. All of that heavy Christmas food works perfectly with cold weather. Here, in some parts of Australia, it’s so hot you end up having a bbq on the beach and going for a swim afterwards. People think it must be heaven but it doesn’t match with everything that Christmas is widely touted to be in the North so we sometimes feel a bit left out of it all down here in the Southern Hemisphere.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Robbie says:

        I prefer snow on christmas eve, day and maybe new years eve after that it can go away! BUT…we need snow to kill all the bad bugs in our soil, so need that cold stuff to make growing season good:-)

        Liked by 1 person

      2. narf7 says:

        Our bugs just keep on keeping on. We had a reasonably warm winter last year and the white fly just never went away. They hung around all year.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Robbie says:

        I sure hope that does not happen this winter to us. We will have temps in the 50’s next week in Feb!!!Global warming, I think!!!

        Liked by 1 person

      4. narf7 says:

        We are probably having the same temperatures at the same time! Maybe it’s global climate now!

        Like

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