12 Mar 2014

Nearly back in the saddle...

Well, sometimes things go arse up on you when you least expect it. Sometimes it's meant to happen that way as it gives you a new appreciation of life when it feels like you've been given another serve of what your horse did previously.

I've had an interesting 5 months where I've travelled from the north coast to the Riverina of NSW and settled into a rental house.

For the first 2 months I lived out of various places - pubs, youth hostels, my car. As I wasn't disabled, dependent on drugs, a recently separated mother and had no intention of staying in the Sydney area the Dept of Housing didn't want to know me. I was homeless unless you count sleeping in a car you own, in a council park by a river when you have used all available funds and are waiting on the next unemployment payment,  a kind of home. I was back in the area I grew up in so the river and surrounds were familiar. Being homeless turned out to be a new experience though. Homeless doesn't mean hopeless, stupid or poor. Some of us are just a bit broke sometimes :P.

Found myself a new friend there who used to stand guard for me while I had a shower in the men's public toilets as the ladies only had cold showers. It's been 3 months today since the first time he did this and we're still seeing each other. He was one of the interesting discoveries I made. The other interesting thing was discovering he had a place in the Riverina, about 2 and a half hours drive from where I am now, but we see each other often enough. My new header pic is taken from his place at sunset.

I'm now back in the town I lived in 25 years ago....where I bought my first house, where I started raising my eldest 2 kids. It's a bit bigger now but the people are still just as friendly and the countryside looks much the same.

My cast is off, I'm doing physiotherapy and I should be able to ride my horse, hopefully, at the end of March. I was fortunate enough to be able to bring my best friends, the horses, dog and cat with me. Can't wait to throw a saddle on my horse, take the dog and go for a ride then have a hot shower afterwards and curl up in bed with a book and my cat. It's not quite the same without riding the horse.


12 Oct 2013

Broken, tired and bored......and it's only been 6 days :(

For those of you who don't already know I stood at the wrong end of my temperamental mare last Sunday (6 Oct) and was kicked. The kick itself bruised me but the landing broke my left upper arm and bruised most of my back.

Well, the short version is the horses arrived where they are supposed to be and are doing fine but I'm still stuck here due to disorganisation that may not have occurred if the ex had let me move out by the end of October, which is what I was aiming for, instead of trying to rush me out earlier and putting extra stress on me.

At the moment I'm broken, tired, sore, drugged to the eyeballs and bored shitless as I can't do much.

I'm also looking at another 10-12 weeks of this....with no craft of any kind that I can do, most of my books packed and difficulty even dressing myself or making a cup of tea I'm going to be climbing the walls before long.

Soooo, that's my pity party for now. Hopefully after the permanent cast replaces this temporary one, sometime next week, the prospects of amusing myself may improve.

At least I'll have company after I move as I'll have the smaller animals around - my dog , cat and the cockatiels.

Robyn xo

18 Aug 2013

Neglected Blogging

I was just flitting around catching up on some blogs yesterday and today and I realised that I've been neglecting my blog followers as I've been spending more time than I should on facebook and also posting pics on facebook instead of here.
My new resolution is to post here FIRST from now on and link to fb as I can do that and just link relevant posts to fb, not the whole blog. It's wonderful how much freedom you can have with the internet if you just do some research on the privacy settings.....and have family or friends check to make sure you've set them properly! I'm not an IT whiz but I do my best :).

So here's a roundup of photos I've taken since my last blog post as photos say more than words can. I won't do captions as the photos themselves will give viewers their own thoughts/feelings about what they see.......and it's Sunday and I'm feeling too relaxed to do the "journalist" thing today. They are roughly in date order from 6 August to yesterday (17Aug).


Small comment on the horse and rider - she broke this thoroughbred in herself - it has taken her a few months as she is her Dad's apprentice. He was given to her as a registered yearling that the owner did not want to keep, he's just turned 5, and she's done a magnificent job making him into a quiet riding horse. Her next job - making him a stock horse.

Robyn xo

6 Aug 2013

Hot process crockpot soap making

Last week I rendered my first lot of beef fat into tallow. I did it on the wood stove and, as it was fat from the beast we had just slaughtered, it cost me nothing but my time. About 4kg of fat became around 1400ml of tallow or approximately 1000g. The trimmings and leftovers became part of the next 3 feeds for 8 hungry 6 week old puppies :). I strained the tallow through cloth but I didn't need to skim it or clean it in any other way. I'll be doing this again as it's quite easy. I've also discovered grass fed tallow starts out yellow and turns a creamy colour unlike the white lard in the stores!

I've been wanting to try soap made with tallow for a while as it's supposed to be harder than that made with vegetable or olive oils. I've also been wanting to try hot process soapmaking so the soap can be, theoretically, used sooner.

The recipe I used is:
Copha                                 250g
Rice Bran Oil                       400g
 Beef Tallow                         350g 
      Water                                  380ml(g)
  Lye(in the plastic container)  142g 
       Lemon Myrtle essential oil    12  drops

and I prepared it mostly like I would if I was making cold pressed soap with the only difference being the cooking at the end of the process.

Melting the oil/copha/tallow 

Combining the melted ingredients. I then poured in the lye/water mix slowly while stirring gently but I was unable to take a photo at the same time.

After using a stick blender to achieve heavy trace

Halfway to cooked

Almost there

Next morning - the soap set in the mold

Bottoms up to cut

Finished blocks of soap averaging 136g each. They are still a bit spongy so will need some time to dry out and will lose a little weight in the process.

I think I'll need to cook them on a higher heat next time as it took quite along time on low. It will be interesting to see how long it takes for these to harden compared to cold process. From what I've read they should have been useable as soon as they are cut but I think the elevation here coupled with the soft rainwater used may have some effect on the hardness of the soaps.

Another three challenges to cross off my to-do list - rendering fat, making soap using tallow and making hot process soap :D.

 I'm on a roll!

Thanks for dropping by,
Robyn xo

28 Jul 2013

Homemade Sausage Rolls

I've had this recipe for a few months and I finally tried it. 

Beef and sausage roll
Few people can resist the lure of crispy pastry! Add the savoury succulence of a herby sausage filling and you are onto a winner with the family. Sausage meat can be fatty and all meat is expensive. This super stretcher recipe combines lean beef mince with the sausage meat for a healthier option and stretches 500g of meat into 8-10 serves.

*      250g sausage meat
*      250g lean beef mince
*      1 tsp mixed herbs
*      1 onion, chopped
*      2 medium potatoes, scrubbed and boiled till tender
*      ¼ cup tomato sauce
*      ¼ cup chutney
*      2 sheets of frozen puff pastry or a block of pastry (home-made short crust will also work if you have no frozen pastry)
*      1 egg for glazing - optional
Preheat the oven to 220°. Prepare the pastry by brushing a little water along one edge. Overlap the wet edge with the second sheet of pastry and press firmly (I roll over the join a few times with the rolling pin). If using block or home-made pastry roll it out to roughly 50cm long and 24cm wide.
Chop the onion and combine with the sausage meat, beef mince and herbs, this can be done in a food processor. Slice the cooked potatoes into ½ cm slices. Combine the chutney and tomato sauce.
Brush a little water down one long side of the pastry. Spread the sauce mixture over the pastry not quite to the edges. Form the meat mixture into a sausage shape down the middle of the pastry, flattening it slightly so it is compact. Place the potato slices on top of the sausage and carefully wrap the pastry around the filling. Stretch the pastry a little if you need to, to accommodate the filling. When you have joined the pastry along the length of the roll as best you can (don't worry if it's not perfect) carefully lift (using a long spatula) or slide the roll onto a greased baking tray, you may need to place it diagonally. Beat the egg lightly and brush over the pastry, then use a serrated knife such as a bread knife to cut slashes into the pastry top at 1 ½ - 2cm intervals. Bake in the preheated oven for 25-35 minutes or until pastry is a rich golden brown. Slice and serve hot or cold with vegetables or salad.
Cook's tips:

We get at least 8 adult serves (2 slices per person) from this when we serve it with side dishes. If you are feeding little people you'll get even more. If you don't want to waste an egg on 'glazing' the pastry, just brush it with milk.


However, I'm a bugger for changing things around to make them more healthy, and doubling recipes so I'm not forever cooking, so I added a few veges, popped in a half a cup of finely ground oatmeal to compensate, mixed all the ingredients together and made them regular sausage roll size.

The filling turned out a little soft, even though I let it cook for a bit longer so maybe I should have added more oatmeal but possibly it was the sausage mince was too fatty.

Ah well, they taste nice and one half of the mix is curried so there's a bit more variety :)! Shame the poor light doesn't make them look as good as they taste.

Cheers, Rob xo.