Week in the Life – Day 07

Sunday is all about the market, but first I have to get these two out of bed, it’s just so hard when we are all so warm and snuggly.

The view from my bedroom window, one of the few things I do like about this current house.


One awake, one to go:


A moment of quiet contemplation:


Our pajama bundle as we hurry to get dressed and out the door.


This is what Sunday breakfast is all about, bratwurst



A little retail therapy


Freezing cold berry smoothie, so good, but so cold!


Just about my most favorite food in the world and one I have desperately missed getting a regular fix of since we moved to New Zealand, you do not know how happy I am now that they are available at my very own Sunday market. And, there good!


We did head over to the property for a while, I spent the first half hour or so resting in the car before being joined by William. The wind really picked upand we ended up heading back home by lunchtime. William watched Peter Pan (Disney classic), Craig worked, and I slept. The afternoon snooze was enough of a pick-me-up to get some chicken and potato wedges into the oven to roast for dinner with a yummy salad. Even William will now eat the some salad greens, it seems his favorite type of vegetable is that which is un-cooked (and even better is fresh picked from the garden).

We wound the evening down with a shower for William, Daddy was even so organised as to dry his hair.


The pile of clean washing still to be put away, it’ll keep.


The bookabag. We try to get to the library once a week, or fortnight and bring home about 14 books each visit. Reading stories before bed is a very important part of the evening routine, no matter how late it is.


Tonights toy of choice from the overflowing toy basket was Amigo. The story was “A New Home for a Pirate”.


Blissful bedtime and the end of the weekend and my Week in the life project.

Week in the Life – Day 03


Morning snuggles in bed.

Today was one of those days when you think things will be fine, but they end up spiraling down hill very very fast but then you are rescued and it’s ok.

Today I’m grateful for friends who come when you call them in tears because you’ve suddenly realised that you can’t manage this day alone after all. Also for play-doh that makes a great, easy distraction I can just manage to do to pass the time before help returns.




Backyardigans on the iPad while mummy lays down again


Lunch delivery


Me for the rest of the day


while Craig worked away from home and William disappeared to neighbours. At around 2pm I got an update that said he wouldn’t be coming home for dinner, he had other plans. So day that was too hard to manage resulted in one I didn’t have to manage. William returned in time for a story and bed and Craig returned to a dark and sleep filled house many hours later.

Favorite Moment:

Watching William try to brush my teeth with his little tongue moving from side to side and up and down as he concentrated on the task at hand.

Week in the Life – Day 02

Things are looking better for this weeks weather:

* Watching farmer Bob bring down the sheep from the top paddock with the help of his dog Tess.

* We rescued a bird from the fireplace before getting it going. William was very concerned about the bird and delighted when it finally flew free out the window – much too busy to take photos, pity. I had to smile later as Craig attempted to start the fire (after cleaning out all the soot the bird freed from the chimney)and William kept going on about Daddy meltingegg sand how he wished he wouldn’t do it – turns out Craig was using egg cartons to light the fire.


* That at least my new diagnosis may have a little relief attached to them, but they are still mostly untreatable and don’t change a great deal for me really.


* For glorious sunrises seen through cracks in the curtain at 6am

* Phone calls (on the drink bottle lid phone) from Ranger Juney calling Super Hedgehog and Cover Boy to action

* Good manners from my 4 year old, like “excuse me please Mummy”, “your welcome” and “may I please be excused from the table”

* Brownies and strawberry cheesecake for morning tea after doctors visits.


* Spontanious songs

* “I’m not William today, I’m hedgehog boy”

* “I never imagined I would ever own something like that.” Craig returning to our house, currently being assembled on site.

* The boys constructing a cereal ox space craft before bed

Favorite Moment:

* Watchng William and Little One play with a ring from the milk bottle over breakfast.

* Listening to William’s concern for the poor bird and joint family effort to get it first out of the fireplace where it had wedged itself and then away from a startled cat suddenly awoken by a crash on the window above his head and finally convincing it to fly outside to freedom.

* Lying in bed feeling exhausted with a small child, himself with a raging fever, singing nursery rhymes together and laughing through the worst.

The jigsaw puzzle that is our house frame:



Day 2 – Otamatea

As last night I was down with with the sun it is only natural that I was up with the sun this morning and bounced outside with my newly repaired camera to take some photos of what looked to be a stunning day. The light was gorgeous, the scenery inspiring, the camera – still broken! Grrr. Thank goodness we had the little point and shoot with us or I would have been a mightily pissed of shutter bug (ok I’m still pissed off but at least I’m pissed off with some photos).

The dogs took me for about a half hour walk before we arrived home to find the rest of the house (include Craig!) awake. It was about 7am. Sabina and Wolfgang had headed down to the cow pasture and Craig was admiring the morning view. I had a new experience for breakfast courtesy of Sabina. Over night she had soaked the muesli in water with sunflower seeds, sesame seeds and almonds and served it with home made yogurt and steamed/preserved apples & raisins. My body will take time to get used to something like this for breakfast, it was a little uncomfortable about eating a cold breakfast, relieved at there being no milk, but still unsure how to deal with this new food as well as my juice and various pills and powders, I had a very difficult time swallowing them all. If I wasn’t taking the pills and powders I think I would have enjoyed the breakfast a little more, especially with a nice cup of tea or warmed apples. I will try it again tomorrow morning at least.
This mornings work involved us wondering down to one of the communal paddocks and attempting to de-thistle some of it. Unfortunately it’s a little late to really do much good since many of the thistles had all ready gone to flower and by digging them out your really only preparing open soil for their seeds. A few weeks earlier and another 20 odd helpers and the job would have been done quickly.
Mid morning we sifted more compost for the bed I had prepared yesterday and then we added mulch (pond weed that had been drawn off the pond the week before and left to dry out). It looks great on the new beds, makes them look really rich and ready for new plants.
Lunch! A delicious meal of home baked bread, home made cheeses, salami, preserves, fresh brewed coffee and ginger biscuits. I was in heaven with the cheeses. I got to help prepare the fetta cheese which was rather exciting and makes me feel a little less nervous about attempting some cheese making myself. Here they make cheese about once or twice a week.
I have learnt today that you need about 3 litres of cream to make 2 sticks of butter (that’s about the size of my hand each and about 2-3 inches high). To make 60-80ml of cream (without using a centrifuge which will get you a little more cream but you end up with skim milk) you need around 1 litre of cows milk.
Sabine and Wolfgang have been on this property for about 9 years. They are self sufficient in milk, eggs, cheese and most of their fruits and vegetables. They have put a lot of work into this place and they are only just now getting the fuller benefits out of it. There are eventual plans for a glass house for seedraising, growing rice and grain but this will go through the stages of a research project first to see the viability of it. I believe with Craig and I, we go through 50 kilos of white flour, plus about 25 kilos each of wholemeal and rye flours and around 25 kilos of rice. It will be interesting to find out how much rice and grain we need to grow to satisfy these needs.
I’ve also discovered that an annual supply of garlic would require around 2.5 beds of 6 square meters each (and that’s for people who probably aren’t nearly as obsessed with garlic as I am – perhaps an acre of garlic would be good, lol).

I’m in turns enlivened and disheartened by our stay so far. Their is so much work in self-sufficiency, but at the same time it’s immensely satisfying. I’m enjoying feeding the chickens (which is now our morning and evening job), I’m adoring having dogs to play with again and completely astounded with my own level of health and ability, I feel healthier and more alive then I have in over 2 years (in fact even before I got so sick). It’s just amazing and wonderful and I’m trying hard to combat my overwhelming desire to be lazy and desire to not get dirty (ick mud and cow poo ahhh).
One of the other areas I’m trying to get my head around is electricity and the decision to be on the grid just drawing straight of it, being on the grid and feeding power from your own solar panels and wind mills etc back into it or producing all your own power. I’m so used to my electrical devices, my laptop, my sewing machine and overlocker, the hair shaving thingo, lights, fridge, microwave, mobile phone and camera rechargers and then come the power tools. These guys use 8 solar panels running and they don’t have a fridge although they do have a deep freezer (which takes up about half the power they produce) and they couldn’t really run “real” power tools (router’s, jointers etc) on this system. They also have solar hotwater and a wetback on the wood stove (they have a wood stove and gas hot plates). Apparently if we added a diesel generator to our setup and made the biodesil ourselves that has enough power to run our tools. I’m so glad the rest of my “hobbies” don’t require much power.
I must remember to check tonight if the cooler draws they use (rather then a fridge) will make my bottle of Chardonnay cold or do I need to stick it in the freezer first (added later – if I put it in the night before then it will. The fridge boxes are basically fish buckets in insulated draws with a drain underneath to catch water condensation drips and they are kept cold with blocks from the freezer, they are giant chilly bins basically).

Day 1 – Otamatea

We arrived at Sabine and Wolfgang’s house in Otamatea eco-village at 12.30pm for a week week stay. We were greeted with a wonderful lunch of homemade cheese, chickpea casserole and bread. with coffee and tea afterwards. After lunch we unpacked and then got right into work.
Firstly I deflowered all the Chamomile bushes then did the most physical labor I have done in a very very long time.

With gardening fork in hand I loosened up the soil of a new garden bed. This involved digging the fork into the firm soil, wiggling it forward and backwards and little side to side and continuing that motion in strips down and along a bed about 3 square meters (1 meter x 3 meters) and also weeding it, separating the noxious weeds from the compostable weeds. Then I helped Sarah to sift the compost through a wire mesh frame, throwing the big lumps back into the newer compost piles to continue breaking down and shoveling the wonderful rich compost from under the frame onto another pre-prepared garden bed.

(I did that bed on the left in front of the green fence)

We had a chance to inspect the difference between the garden compost and the composting toilet’s compost. Both have a very similar end product and overall richness, although you don’t want to dig too far down into the newly made compost toilet’s offerings as it does start to smell just a little. The compost from the loo was placed around the fruit trees as it’s not recommended to plant your vegetables into human compost.
I spent the rest of the afternoon playing with Jess, a very excitable little dog who thinks fetch means she gets the stick and teasing you with it but is stupid enough to drop the stick she has if you pick up another one, dogs are so great. Craig finished helping empty the compost loo, scattered it around fruit trees, weeded around them and mulched them with more of the pond scum and had a great deal of fun slashing at the grass with the scythe.
Later we helped feed the chickens. There are 3 sets of chicken feeding to do. Two sections have 4 hens and 1 rooster each, they got a small container of dry feed and one lot got the protein/carb rich scraps from the kitchen (this gets rotated between each coop). The third group is a hen and her clutch of 5 babies (only one is “hers”). These guys have to be kept in an enclosed area as they are still too small and thus prey to hawks (but they are oh so cute). We collected around 7 eggs, this is about the daily average for these hens.
In the evening I helped prepare a dinner of roast vegetables – pumpkin, beetroot, garlic, purple potatoes which Sabina coverd later in an almond, sesame seed dressing that was to die for. She also (baked?) a cabbage cut into quarters and the four of us had one hunk of cabbage and loads of vegetables and some scrambled egg slices (ok so the egg wasn’t actually scrambled but it wasn’t exactly fried eggs either). It was surprised at home much I enjoyed this meal. Partly because I had helped prepare it, partly because it was delicious and a lot because I knew the how much real effort went into it being there at all.
It was an early night to bed for us after all that with the day only just reaching dark. Dishes, bath, bed!


Originally uploaded by Tracey & Craig Ambrose.

We went to visit Sherwood Forest in the Dandenongs yesterday and I snapped this quick shot of Craig and then had a little fiddle with it in Photoshop CS ™