Clay Ovens, Soap, Pumpkins, Cheese, and Pepinos

What do all these things have in common?  Well not much  normally, but in my week of fun, quite a lot!

My Dad and his partner Norma, and Kim’s mum, Pam have been visiting over the last few weeks.

I have been spending time away from the blog and the internet in general to spend time with them all.

Meal times have been quite hectic, but otherwise, very enjoyable and relaxing time has been had by all.  I have also been on annual leave since 25th April, and go back to work on 2nd May.

So we really have had a full house, but getting lots done.  Kim and I have also made a very difficult decision that took us two days to finalise, however I cannot share it just yet.

Anyway, heaps of work in the veggie patch.  Brown onions, garlic, Red onions, Red cabbage, Sugarloaf cabbage, Raddishes, Carrots, Snow Peas, and Broad Beans all planted in the main garden beds.

The last of the Australian Butter pumpkins have been harvested, and some of the vines composted.

The Pepino bush has been very productive as well.  Here are just four of about twenty fruit that are still on the vine.  Now a tip for Pepinos if you are going to harvest them.  Wait until they are this colour (custard), but make sure the purple lines have not faded.  With these lines bright it mean that it will taste like a cross between a banana and a rockmelon (cantaloupe).  If the purple lines have faded, the fruit tastes like old school cough medicine.  So keep an eye on them as they turn from green to custard colour and you will be right as rain.

The clay oven got a workout on ANZAC Day (25th April).  Dad and I headed up the oven for 3 hours, with our efforts lubricated with a few bottles of home brewed Fat Yak.  A very relaxing afternoon, with lots of catching up and laughter.  Between us, the chooks, and the two dogs, we had a wow of a time.

Oh, the pizza and calzone was good as well!

Friday, Dad and I made five soap mould boxes.  I nearly took out my belly with a few bits of flying wood, but all good now!  Oh what fun it was to get back into woodwork again.

Today, Kim and I taught a soap making workshop to four lovely ladies at the Melton South Community House.  You can see that I was raring to go just before everyone arrived.  My demo table was at the front, with the two workstations set up at the back.  Four in the class was just right.

Here are two of the ladies being instructed by yours truly.  I teach all the science stuff, and Kim demonstrates how to cut and mature the soap near the end of the lesson.

We had a ball, as we always do.  Pam joined us for the fun and games as well.

Dad and Norma depart for South Australia to catch up with family tomorrow.  It will be sad to see them go.

However, the week doesn’t stop there.  Tomorrow we are driving up to Waubra to have a picnic under the wind turbines.  Pam has never been up close and personal with a wind turbine, so it will be a treat for her.  For me, I just love the countryside, and the wonder of renewable energy (and the food of course).

Pam departs on Tuesday night, which will make Kim sad, but I am here to cheer her up.

Finally, on Wednesday, we have a Mozzarella course being held at Roxborough Park Homestead.  Eight students and lots of fun.

I did miss blogging, but after all these years, I do know when to take a step back when family is around.  Everything in balance.

Oh, and my latest eBook “Keep Calm and Make Cheese” has been well received.  Over 50 copies sold in less than a week on this site, and various retailers.  I also implemented a shopping cart system on the eBookstore so that I don’t have to manually send the PDF files anymore.  I didn’t think the customer experience was satisfactory, so I made the change.

It is all automated now, with the eBook file delivered to the customer by the shopping cart system.  I am quite happy with the end result, and the cheese book was a pleasure to write, although the research was a challenge at times.  I love the brilliant illustrations by Kim!  They are like icing on a cake.

So dear reader, what cool sustainable living things have you been up to lately?


  1. says

    Hi Gav. Great to hear you’ve been enjoying some time off and with the extended family too.
    Things have been busy around here with us having a go at building a fence, the duck reaching hatching day today but us discovering her eggs were all rotten (the hard way with 2 of them) as of yesterday, a hen going broody, the usual with the kids and just generally busy times with visitors too.

    • says

      Thanks Jessie.

      We were actually in Balan today, and I was in two minds to come and disturb you for a cuppa, however my MIL had a hair appointment at 1330, so we had to rush home. Maybe next time!

      Pitty about the rotten eggs. There is always a few in the batch. We occasionally find a few of those that one of the chooks have hidden away, and boy do they stink!

      Gav x

  2. Anonymous says

    i wouldn’t be spending too much time near the wind turbines if i were you…. in my previous job i learned all kinds of scary things about those things that would want to make me stay as far away as possible from them

  3. says

    Hi Gavin,
    Glad to hear you have been having happy times with family! That is what it is all about!
    I have been making soap too. The family favourite seems to be citrus poppyseed. I use Lemongrass essential oil, tea tree oil and two tablespoons of poppyseed as an exfoliant.
    I have also been quilting-using some freecycle fabric, and working on the yard. Our snow has finally melted-yay!!
    My sister has brought me eight tomatoe plants that I must baby until it is warm enough to put in the green house. She starts all her plants from seed.
    My oldest son has learned to make artisan sourdough bread and is kind enough to share :-) I am hoping he shows me how to make it this summer.
    I have taken time this winter to can some dry beans to use in my recipes. Kidney beans, chickpeas and black beans. It is much more comfortable to can in the winter when it is cold.
    Glad you are having fun, take care

    • says

      Hi Barb. Great idea of using poppyseed for exfoliant. I have only used china clay before, but it worked well.

      I will have to get Kim on to Lemongrass, as a couple of the ladies asked for that fragrance yesterday.

      Gav x

  4. Anonymous says

    Hi Gavin
    The time off seems to have cheered you up a bit.
    My mist exciting sustainable living thing has been my second harvest of honey from my bees. The last one for this season- about 6kg. The first harvest was around 11kg
    And I have been freecycling- both offering and receiving
    And I am hoping to have some chicks in the next day or so. Scruff the bantam Cochin is currently sitting on 6 eggs (all hopefully fertilised by either Winter the Cochin rooster or China the mixed breed rooster)
    Claire in kalorama

    • says

      Hi Claire. Nice one on the honey! Hope the eggs hatch okay. They are great names for roosters.

      We freecycle often, more giving than receiving, however there are many people who try and abuse the system by asking for ridiculous things like 48″ TVs and the like. They just don’t get it.

      Gav x

  5. says

    I gave a birthday gift today Gav. Not my normal over the top gift with $10 card but…
    My friend has a new glasshouse and so i went to Werribee Fruit Market and got a car load of styrofoam boxes (repurposing) for her to use and while there, dug my hands into the waste bin and retrieved two boxes of veggie for her chooks. Arent i a good friend. LOL Got to admit though the veggies in that bin could have made many meals. The zuchinni looked perfect and the apples looked like they just needed a few cuts and they could be stewed. Seemed like a waste.

Comments build lively communities. Let me know your thoughts, but keep it clean and green! Spam is removed instantly.