the side garden

Blowing off the cobwebs on the blog - that was an unexpectedly long hiatus. The Great Storm that swept through South Australia nearly a month ago, and that dramatically knocked out the entire state's power for 12 hours (for my overseas readers, the state of South Australia is roughly the same geographical size as Germany, although only has 2 Million inhabitants), also knocked out the AV internet for almost 2 weeks. Of course it took me about 6 separate incredibly tedious phone calls to the Telstra call centre in India to try to work out what was going on.... and eventually they conceded there was a problem in our area and not with us personally, and it was finally fixed. But then, it turned into School holidays, and all other plans to write the odd blog post went out the window.

sandwiches by scented candle light

I will add that I have determined on the back of that storm that I will become a Prepper. It takes 12 hours without power to realise that burning multiple differently scented candles at once is quite sick inducing, and that rifling through the drawers to find in desperation the ones gifted to you that you had previously determined smelled too offensive to actually use, makes you realise that a large supply of unscented plain candles are a good thing to have on hand. So too is more than 4 slices of bread to feed 3 children and one adult when all your appliances work on electricity, and that due to the cyclonic conditions outside it's not exactly BBQ weather.

soggy and grey

We have certainly had our fair share of rain here. It has been a very usually cold and wet Spring, and the first full flush of roses, which generally marks the first week of October, has not really eventuated yet. This week a few bushes spluttered into life, but most are still some way off. Most of the blossom in my garden blew away in the high winds from the rolling successive storms we've had over the past 6 weeks - on Tuesday it hailed yet again. I've been busy preparing for the promised warm weather, wrapped up in my puffer and layers of wool, eschewing the more usual lighter layers and colours at this time of year. I have a bad feeling we're going to suddenly have days of 40C and no real Spring in between.

front garden

The cold wet weather did mean that during the school holidays I got stuck into a big clear out of two of my children's bedrooms. A large quantity of outgrown toys and books were delivered to my younger sister, who had her first baby two weeks ago, others were donated to charity or binned. Clothes were sorted/ thrown out/ donated and everything was organised anew. We no longer have any baby or toddler toys in the house! This is sad in a way, and a relief in others to finally clear out a bit of the toy pile. I have been wanting to do this for a long time, so the cancelled camping trip due to the flooded roads North meant that I had a productive alternative weekend.

In the garden I mulched all the garden beds, my hedging man trimmed things that needed shaping, and I had the verandas and paved areas high pressured cleaned removing the build up of dust that had accumulated over the past year. Next up the windows will be cleaned, and I will have ticked off a lot of my Spring cleaning list, most of it outsourced I have to admit!

The new outdoor sun lounges to go beside the pool from Restoration Hardware in the US finally arrived last week, and look perfect. Now we just need some sun to arrive as well....

roses and irises by the Bocce court
One upside of the wet weather is that not only did I receive a record low water bill this quarter (usually the watering system is turned on by the end of September, but it still isn't remotely needed), but the fertiliser that I threw around everywhere in early September was well watered in, and the flag and bearded Irises have been spectacular as a result.

I planted some new bearded iris varieties earlier in the year which have just flowered. They were heritage ones from the Diggers Club which are highly frilled in lilac, lilac and white and pink, and this one below, which is supposedly black.

Looks dark purple to me though....

My ecchium, which I grew from seed, is now almost 3 metres tall and full of white flowers. The bees and honeyeaters (birds) love it.

 bees galore

 one lonely Sharifa Asma rose in the powder room

With the lack of change in season, what I'm cooking and wearing has been tediously similar to what I was cooking and wearing in the depths of Winter. So I decided to try a couple of new recipes, and this Karen Martini one is a winner. Easy to do for one, or for 4 (just cut down the quantity as needed), and a simple and quick mid week dinner dish.

Baked Chicken with tomato, fennel and white wine

4 Chicken Marylands
1 Tablespoon Fennel seeds
3 Red Onions thickly sliced
5 garlic cloves thinly sliced
3 ripe tomatoes, cut into chunky dice
150ml white wine
250ml chicken stock
2 bay leaves
20 large green or black olives, pitted
salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 180C/ 355F
1. Brown chicken in olive oil in fry pan, set aside in casserole dish
2. Sautee onions and garlic in a few table spoons of olive oil with some salt and pepper until soft
3. Add fennel seeds and cook for a minute until aromatic
4. Add tomatoes, continue to cook for 3 minutes until soft
5. Add white wine, simmer for a minute
6. Add stock, bay leaves and pitted olives and bring to simmer
7. Pour over chicken in the casserole dish
8. Put into oven and cook uncovered for 30 minutes.

I like to serve it on couscous mixed through with a little chopped preserved lemon, chopped roasted almonds, chopped flat leaf parsley and some steamed green beans. The children like this one, although they pick out the olives.

I had a win at the local antiques auction a month ago - this club fender for the library/ sitting room. The base is in copper, and the seat in brown leather and fortuitously the dimensions fitted my fireplace perfectly. Best of all it was a tiny fraction of the cost of importing one from the UK (shipping alone had been quoted at 700 pounds!). I can't show the rest of the room as it's currently a horrible mess...

We are soon to be starting the demolition of the old shed, and construction of the new 3 car garage with my studio space above, which is where all the samples/ work things currently cluttering up the library/ sitting room will be moving to. To this end we've spent the weekend clearing out the old shed, which I had in all seriousness worried would blow away during the various storms that have rolled through in the past month with their high winds. It's been a thoroughly disgusting and depressing job, as it barely provided weather coverage, so everything in it has been wet/ damaged/ covered in possum poo, plus we've had to finally sort through the stuff the builders left from the previous renovations (50 paint cans, most empty etc). We are hoping the first week of November the build will start... especially as the delivery of the sun lounges also brought the delivery of some furniture for my future studio above the garage.

This sideboard will be perfect with large baskets on the shelves for my samples. Unfortunately though we have no where to put it for a few months... so it's inside against the French doors in the casual living area. Mr AV has been a bit grumpy with me about it, especially as he had to carry it in with a friend, and I gather it's sort of extremely heavy. Plus I then mentioned it would have to be carried up a flight of stairs in the garage in a few months time...

So, hopefully the next couple of weeks the weather will improve, and the demolition will start on our last major project for this house, at long last.  Hope you are enjoying more pleasant weather than us here in soggy Adelaide!

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Architect & Interior Designer. Mother of three. A sometimes Cook, Baker, Reader, Gardener, Fashion Lover, Renovator, Writer of random things in South Australia email me on
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