Archive | August, 2011

I think my hairdresser is a terrorist

11 Aug

I don’t have a lot of luck with hairdressers. Actually, you could say my luck is downright woeful.

Hairdressers keep on leaving me, which I guess is just part of being a woman, but I was once caught up in an armed robbery mid-colour, and my most recent stylist turned out to be a terrorist.

Oh, I see your bemused expression – you think I mock, don’t you?

When I was pregnant with J, I was getting my hair coloured on a Thursday night when this dude in a balaclava stormed in with a bat. That’s when I learned beyond all doubt that I’m sissy. We were bundled into the storeroom, flat on the floor while he ransacked the place and took off with our handbags. I don’t think I whimpered. Then I had my cut finished off while the cops dusted for fingerprints.

The next few hairdressers left me again, always without warning.

The last one was special. Did you know that Osama Bin Laden didn’t kill anyone personally? She admired him actually. When I tried to regain my composure and think of something (anything) to say, I came up with “Well I guess some people admire Hitler for his ability to motivate people to an end goal…” Her response? Well he was just evil!

Tonight I tried again. Jackie was nice. She was easy to talk to. She does a good scalp massage, and doesn’t talk at that point. She did try to sell me overpriced salon-quality shampoo, and she did con me into the ‘treatment’ at the basin, but no-one’s perfect, right?

I came away with the cut I described, and the colour I picked.

It was a good start to our relationship.

Please don’t leave me Jackie!

And if you don’t hear from me again, her name was Georgi, and she really was a terrorist.

A top secret project

10 Aug

My husband P is dream to cook for. He’s a bit like Darryl Kerrigan in The Castle “Whattaya call this, Love?”, in that he’s easily pleased. Unlike Darryl, he is also fairly discerning, so when you get a compliment it may actually mean something.

It means that he’s adventurous, not at all fussy, and we have great fun on wedding anniversaries ticking off all the 3-hatted restaurants in town.

But try as a might, I have not been able to overcome his childhood hatred of chokos.

For the uninitiated, chokos are from the cucurbit family, and grow rather like passionfruit on a rambling vine. They grow extremely easily in Australia, so most families have grown them at one stage or another. As a vegetable, they are (frankly) fairly bland, and Aussie mothers typically boiled them to oblivion, much like brussells sprouts. No wonder the poor choko got a bad rap.

In reality, chokos are extremely versatile. They can be steamed with butter and seasoned, cooked into chutney and interestingly – stir-fried. I hear they are wildly popular in Vietnam cooked that way.

So yesterday, under the stealth of naptime, I planted one. I’m hoping by the time he notices the vine it will be too late. If I go down the stir-fry route, I might even be able to slip them into dinner without him noticing.

A tip for Tuesday

9 Aug

Like various other bloggers, like J and Rose, I thought I’d share a tuesday tip – a handy hint – something I’ve discovered that other people may find valuable too.

So here it is:

If you grow a cabbage bigger than your preschooler’s head, don’t eat a quarter of it in a single sitting.

Happy Tuesday everyone!

The most beautiful tree in the world hits a snag

8 Aug

A couple of months ago I planted a sunset peach and nectarine. They have beautiful red foliage and stunning pink flowers. I’ve put them in matching pots on either side of the front yard and they are just coming into flower.

It is just the most beautiful sight – pink blossoms against vibrant red leaves, all in a tiny package, barely 40cm tall.

So I was pretty sad today when I realised that both my peach and nectarine have leaf curl.

Leaf curl is a nasty fungal disease that overwinters well in the little crevices on the tree, then springs quickly into life again once the weather warms slightly, curling the young leaves as they emerge in the Spring.

Our uncharacteristically warm weather in Sydney has sprung my fruit trees to life – they are almost* all flowering, including the dwarf apples. My mulberry is loaded with fruit already, and I have a bumper blueberry crop that I really should thin, but I’m not gonna.

So before I had even thought about spraying fruit trees with anything, the leaf curl has hit the peach with a bang. Dr Google says that it’s useless trying to control it at this stage, but I just can’t admit defeat. So I pulled out the lime sulfur spray this morning and gave the stonefruit a good spray, despite the fact that they are flowering. Now they look all bedraggled and yellow, and the smell! Despite the scary bottle, revolting smell and extreme safety directions, lime sulfur is actually an allowed organic input. It is reportedly highly effective against leaf curl, but not past the bud-swell stage, which my trees are well past.

I expect that the spray is going to burn the new foliage, and I’m not sure what will happen to the flowers. I’ll need to repeat the spray in a couple of weeks I think. I haven’t decided whether to pick off the infected leaves – any advice on how to proceed would be gladly received!

In other news, the garden is looking very much ‘between seasons’. I have a stack of seedlings ready to go in once it warms a bit more, and I can’t wait to rip out the remaining crops to make way for them. My brussels sprouts are finally producing, and they are fascinating everyone. I love to watch people’s faces when they ask what it is, then I lift the leaves to reveal the sprouts. It’s like a hidden treasure.

Also, and regular readers will understand how much self control was required by me to leave this till last, heck, to not devote a whole post to this even- I hereby declare my indoor coriander-growing experiment a success!

* The sickly Imperial mandarin is looking worse. Certainly not flowering.

An excursion

6 Aug

It was sunny this morning and we really wanted to get out of the house. J has been excited about the idea of chickens lately, so we thought we’d take them to a chicken farm to investigate further.

Out we drove to Barter and Sons Hatchery, which is south of Penrith in Luddenham, about an hour from home. The area was quite rural, with quite a few market stalls on the sides of the road. I always feel a bit too shy to stop, but I’m not sure why.

The hatchery is really well set up with hens of all ages, from day-old chicks to full-sized laying hens. On Saturdays they have incubated eggs on display, hatching before your eyes.

The kids had an absolute blast cuddling the little chicks and following the hens around. They had a whole heap of different varieties, including some heritage blood lines seldom seen in commercial production anymore. Kinda like heirloom veggies really, I think it’s great.

J with some young chicks

It was really good to see the progression in size between the little chicks and full size hens. They had pullets there at all stages of growth, so you could really get a good idea of how long they take to reach full size. You could also see what the different breeds looked like along the stages of development.

P is slowly coming around to the idea of getting some chickens, but we didn’t take the plunge today. We would really like to get our hens as little chicks so the kids can watch them grow. We learned today that they are actually quite fragile at that age, and need heat lamps etc to keep them warm. We were just not prepared for that, so we might go back later in the year when it’s a bit warmer. They also had the heat boxes for rent if you want to spend the money ($135 for 6 weeks).

So for anyone considering backyard chickens, I would really recommend this place. The people were friendly, the set up was great and the prices extremely reasonable. Day old chicks were $6 each and full-size hens were a bit over $15.

We even stopped at a church fete on the way home and picked up some delicious home-made nectarine jam. Gotta be happy with that!

**Update** I’ve also updated my What’s Growing page to include my seed collection.

What I found on my lime tree

2 Aug

When J was a baby, she ate a ladybug. It was crawling innocently amongst the grass, and I thought she’d be interested so I pointed it out. She took a curious look, then faster than I could react she picked it up and stuffed it in her mouth. My sister in law still rates it as the funniest thing she’s ever seen.

Yesterday I found this crazy ladybug on my lime tree. It was so shiny I could see my own reflection* in it.

Brief googling tells me that this is a steelblue ladybug Halmus chalybeus. It apparently eats scale, so I decided he could stay there. If he ended up being one of those nasty plant-eating ladybugs, I might have been forced to give him to J. I’m pretty sure that she wouldn’t have eaten him nowadays. She’s the master of excuses as to why she can’t eat anything at all.

Nowadays I think she’d just love it to death.

*Go on – click on the picture for the large version – you can see my reflection!