Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Little Birdies in the Windows

Having a straw bale house automatically means we have deep set windows. Had I put more thought into and not been blown away by look of curved walls, I would have made every window into a window seat.

This is something that you may consider if you are ever building a straw bale house.

All of our south facing windows are narrow and tall. Double glazed, of course.

If you ever come to visit us you can expect to see two boxers in the bathroom window with front paws up on the window sill. Not a good look for our render. So rather than undo the render and rebuild the lot with timber window seats, I came across some lovely little painted wooden birds with repurposed recycled pressed metal fanned tails and set them into the window sills.

They look pretty and they make one hell of a racket when they are knocked over onto the tiled floor by enthusiastic boxers.

The bird in the bathroom window has only eaten tile once. The boxers beat a very hasty retreat when she hit the bathroom floor. They are very respectful of her now. She looks out the window with quiet dignity remaining unmolested by scared boxers when people come visiting.

I like my little birdies in the windows.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

An eBay Bed in a Straw Bale House

I have a penchant for things of beauty. I am not a trendsetter, nor am I trend follower. I like what I like because something about it sings to my soul. My house is not a standard 4 bed 2 bath brick veneer that looks like every other house on the street. It is a little bit quirky, a little bit old, a little bit new, a little bit bartered and alot recycled, second hand, scrounged, eBayed or gifted.

My bed is no different. It is quite unlike anything I have ever seen. It was handcrafted by Kevin Burnett of Red Falcon Wrought Iron works down in Melbourne over 20 years ago. It is stunning and it is immense. This four poster beauty defies housing in a modern house. It stands an impressive 2.4 metres high. Our bedrooms only saving grace is its 3.5 metre high ceilings. The bed head alone weighs more than 75kgs. It is one monster of a bed surround. For some it would be Beauty AND the Beast. We never want to move it again.

It was listed on eBay at a buy it now price that I could not argue with. The seller had originally commissioned the piece all of those years ago, and was only recently looking to change the style of his bedroom suite. Twenty years with the same bed surround is a very long time these days, where many people change the look of their house almost as often as they change their underwear.

...and sitting on my bed are two little cushion covers that I purchased in Bali....

To put it simply, I love this bed surround, it is elegant and wild, intimidating and engaging, free flowing and organic, forged by fire, tamed by hand and thoroughly unique.

I know I will be keeping this treasure for the rest of my natural life.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Olive and Rosemary Bread.

Last year HH and I purchased a Thermomix, essentially a food processor that also cooks. It is devilishly easy to use and clean and the damn thing does a better job of cooking risotto than I do.....and I cook a mean risotto!!!

We had thought about purchasing a food processor, but a good one came attached with pretty pennies as was a good seed/grain mill. But the Thermomix does both and more, and even with the hefty price tag it has become indespinsible in our kitchen.

HH has been baking bread furiously since its purchase much to my palettes great delight and my poor digestive tracts discomfort. I am almost certain I have a level of gluten intolerance, nothing major just uncomfortable bloating. HH suffers with me as he has to listen to my moans and graoans. I still have a piece of bread every now and then and just live with the intestinal aggravational consequences.

Oh, and don't forget the home churned butter courtesy of HH and his Thermomix. Too easy and too delish!!!!

This Olive and Rosemary bread recipe is for a Thermomix but it would be easy convert it to more conventional methods.

A few sprigs of fresh rosemary
410g water
1 1/2 tsp salt
650g flour - I use 325g spelt and 325g '00' Italian flour but go wild with whatever floats your boat.
10g dry yeast
20g glucose powder but sugar can also be used.
20g olive oil
1 cup of pitted and drained kalamata olives.

1. Put water, rosemary and salt into the Thermomix at 37 degrees, speed 2 for 2 minutes.
2. Add half the flour and spin for 10 seconds on speed 6.
3. Add the rest of the flour, glucose, yeast and olive oil
4. Use the kneed mode for 2 minutes
5. Add olives and kneed for another minute.
6. Remove measuring cup from Thermomix and cover with a tea towel until the dough pokes through the hole.
7. Pour dough out and place on a baking tray with baking paper and form a loaf. Cover.
8. Preheat oven 220 degrees.
9. Let rise again for at least 30 minutes.
10. Put in oven for about 20 minutes until it starts to brown.
11. Remove from oven and let cool (if you can wait that long, we can't)

This recipe is based on this one.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

A Little Memento

Every time I travel overseas...or anywhere for that matter, I am always on the lookout for a little something that will remind me of my travels. It is usually something for my house. I can look at the item and be transported back to to the place I purchased it.

My last little travel memento was a pair of cushion covers I purchased from the small boutique shop of the gorgeous little boutique hotel "Life in Amed" in Amed, East Bali. I fell in love with "Life". The villas were so beautifully designed and presented it was like staying in a friends luxury home.

The owner was delightful, very open and engaging and with a huge generous heart. During our stay she came to visit her own establishement (she lives in Ubud) she was accompanied by her newly adopted 3 or 4 week old kitten she had rescued from a tree stump. This is one little kitten that has landed on all four paws. On a tour of the owners house we were admiring the view from her upstairs bedroom when the little kitten came jumping into view trying to get up on the owners bed. Set up on a very luxurious grey silk coverlet was a bowl of kitty milk, a bowl of kitty kibble and a bowl of kitty water.....and a very sweet little kitty lapping up the luxury.

...but back to those cushion covers They were the exact same cushion covers that were in our room in the villa we stayed at it. I can look at them now and I am transported back to Amed, the sun is high in the sky and it is really hot. The ceiling fan swooshes the air around and the smell of the ocean is at our doorstep filling our ears with the sound of sea as the waves gently lap the shore. Later in the afternoon we migrate out to the pool and chat with an American couple on their honeymoon. The water in the pool is cool and refreshing. Even later still we walk out onto the beach and watch the children of the village playing soccer. Their cries of delight fill the twilight and we search for a place for our evening meal. Fish caught fresh that day and peppered with local herbs and spices and accompanied by an ice cold beer and the company of family.

Two little cushion covers sitting on my bed catch my eye again and I am back in paradise.

A Pantry in a Strawbale House

I do love my little pantry in my strawbale house. One side of the pantry houses a purely utilitarian Bunnings bought light industrial shelving unit. Nothing fancy about it at all. It houses alot and it does it well. I have no plans of replacing it any time soon.

On the other side there is a gorgeous scrolly wrought iron shelving unit that I acquired from eBay via a florist shop that had closed down. It really is lovely and it suits our haphazard interior design. It stores heaps of my oft-used cooking utensils and cookware that is within easy reach and not stashed away in the back of a dark cupboard.

I must admit that it really is a complete waste of vertical shelving space.....BUT IT IS SOOOOO BEAUTIFUL!!!!!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Will Someone PLEASE Step up to the Plate?!

Way back in January, I wrote of the retirement of Duncan my top rooster. It was a sad day having to forcibly retire him into the oldies run with one of our more mature ladies for company.

Well, the top job is still vacant. There have been many applicants, but so far not one of them has taken on the role.

Timothy, is one of the youngest. He is a quite a handsome devil, but the ladies still boss him around and he is very subserviant. He is still young and finding his feathery feet.

Floyd is completely ill-prepared for life as a top rooster. He is very pretty, but quite an airhead. He loves the sexy chicken time, but does little else in the way of flock protection. He hogs the food and there is essentially very little about him the is gentlemanly. Duncan did nothing to prepare this little man for life in the top job, simply because Duncan was so good at it.

Marcus is a letdown in general. He is son of Marcus who was the son of Marcus. Marcus Marc One, was the ultimate rooster. He never crowed. He was seriously sexy eye candy. Tame. Would wander through the house if the back door was open and could often be found making a nest for his girls to lay eggs in in our laundry basket. He was one really cool little chicken dude. We lost him in the terrible foxing of 2007. It was a daylight raid, mid morning and the carnage was almost absolute. Duncan survived that day by virtue of being in a run in the front yard of the house with three of our girls. We lost a legend that day, but Duncan very quickly filled the top rooster position and the rest is history. But, this Marcus is not even a shadow of Marcus Marc One.

The two Hamishes (all cuckoo boys are named Hamish on this little farm, it is just easier to keep track of who is who) are also pretty useless. They are flighty, piggy and like Floyd, only interested in whispering sweet nothings in the girls ears and then sodding off to avoid chickenly responsibility.

However, there is little Phoebe, Duncan and Emilys direct offspring. We held onto the hope the Phoebe would remain a she, BUT she is actually a ¨He¨. So Phoebe is now Phoebus. It is a shame that we did not name her ¨Lila¨ then with the imminent roosterdom we could have renamed her ¨Lola¨ The Daffodil brain works in mysterious ways. Surely being Duncans son means that Phoebus is genetically inclined to be a superior leader? A leader that our little flock sorely needs?

Forget about nature abhorring a vaccumn....DAFFODIL ABHORRS IT MORE!!!! I want a top rooster, and I am fed up with waiting.

So if you are a rooster and you are looking for a new job, with excellent remuneration and staff bonuses working for a company with strong family ethics and seeking that work/life balance, then send your resume complete with two professional referees to :

Chicken Resources Manager
Little Piece of Green
Central Vic. AUS

Monday, January 23, 2012

Our Little Straw Bale House - a Reintroduction.....

I have once again been AWOL and cannot believe how time has flown since my last very sad post.
To rekick start my blogging, which I do really enjoy, here is a post I wrote a LOOONG time ago but never got around to posting.

Our house is very small. It is two bedrooms and one bathroom, an open plan kitchen/dining/lounge room and a small laundry.

Housework takes no time. I love that about small houses. We have plans to add on a real dining room and a master suite, but that will happen when we have recovered from building the first half. We are approaching this like child birth. You labour through one, swear/scream on everyones grave that you will never do it again, forget about the pain and go in for seconds. Madness, I know.

Being owner builders has allowed us the freedom to build without having to go through a bank. When we have the money, we do something else to the house. So our personal debt is next to nothing. It has meant roughing it for the first 2 years. We actually lived in a cute little shed built by HH with no running water. Our bathroom was another little shed where we set up a bath picked up off of eBay for next to nothing and a small gas powered hot water system that served us with piping hot showers for those first two years. Our cooking facilities were a little two burner gas camping oven and a portable induction cooktop. Even with limited space we still churned out fantastic meals.

Would I do it again?

No, I don´t think so. I love my little house and I love my little 11 acres. There has been so much love, anger, disappointment, jubilation and satisfaction that has gone into our little house that it would be difficult to just sell up and have someone simply move in without understanding the joy AND the struggle that we have gone through. Even now I am sitting back typing this post and loving being sheltered by a house that HH and I have literally built ourselves. Sure it needs a final coat of render and other finishing touches. We are very proud of our little house and love showing it off.

Home is where the heart is and our little home has a huge heart.