Monday, 15 September 2014

My Dream Kitchen

I have been dreaming of my new kitchen for some time. Both my husband and I love to cook and the kitchen has always been a socialising area for us. And after spending so much time in a makeshift kitchen the thought of it has been my mecca... my promised land... my reward. A little bit 'OTT' but oh well. I am just that excited.

I have always loved the look of marble and when Caesarstone brought out the new Calacatta Nuvo. I literally fell in love. The kitchen design then took form around making this stone a feature on the kitchen island bench.

Calacatta Nuvo, Caesarstone
My brief was that I wanted space, clean lines, white cupboards, timber 'look' floors as well as splashes of black and chrome. I spent more time than I would like to admit pouring over home magazines and Pinterest. I cut, pasted and pinned. I find mood boards are a great tool. They give you such as sense of what it is you are trying to achieve. It really helped me translate what I wanted to the kitchen guys.

Subway tiles have always been a draw card for me. Both in the bathrooms and in the kitchen. I like their simplicity. And the idea of having a walk in pantry with a place to put everything, after having things in storage for so long, is almost unimaginable.

I thought a lot about the space. Not just the aesthetics but its practicality. I wanted to be able to cook on the stove, with my pots and pans and utensils within easy reach. I wanted the kids to be able to get access to the fridge or set the table without being underfoot. Predominantly I wanted to be part of what was happening around me as I do so.

You can check out my inspiration boards at Pinterest using the link at the top of the page. Happy Pinning.

Thursday, 11 September 2014

Our Home

A lot has been happening on Haven farm in recent weeks. I am so excited. The building of our new home has started. It is the realisation of many months labouring over house plans. Day by day it is transforming into all that I imagined. And it's happening so very quickly.

So to bring you up to speed.

The first stage of the driveway went in. I am so relieved to no longer feel I am on safari as I navigate my way around the pot holes. It does however look like a bit of an airport runway at the moment.

Then came the clearing of the site for the pad and the framework for the concrete.

Next the pouring of the slab. We had so much fun engraving our names into our bedrooms.

Framework - me oh my. This is the point at which I started walking through the site, feeling the turns and really getting a sense of the space.

Roofing - I am in building heaven. I just love the lines and the colour.

Windows - here is my favourite part. I designed the house to take in our 360degree views. I am most excited about the study window and the view from the desk. I have marked the space outside, below the window, for my morning coffees. So peaceful.

Natural light, cross breezes and passive heating were all important elements in the design.

I love going home each day and seeing the what progress has been made.

Saturday, 15 February 2014

What new on Haven Farm

As I take my seat at the rear of the plane, heading back to Brisbane I plan, plot and anticipate all of the new arrivals and establishments on Haven Farm since Christmas.

We have seen dramatic growth in our permaculture patch, the introduction of two new bee hives, a season of growth in the vegie patch, and the prospect of collecting a Dexter cow and her calf later in the week. Exciting times!!

When I reflect over the past few months and look at what I have enjoyed the most I would have to say gathering food from the garden or through the drop offs by generous neighbours and friends. Heading down to the patch after work, before dinner, picking and planning meals around each discovery has been an absolute joy. I have loved sourcing recipes to make the best use of our products. From a hoard of corn, abundance of cucumbers and zucchinis to two generous bags of mangos - fun times. Doesn't food you produce yourself taste expediently better than store bought?


I cubed and froze majority of the mangos which make the base of daily smoothies, tried my hand at mango salsa (delicious!) and a fabulous mango chutney (thanks to the guiding hand of a fabulous Australian book called Practical Self Sufficiency (Dick and James Strawbridge). I have never made chutney before and found the process almost therapeutic.

Another unexpected treasure has been a love of sharing discovered recipes, accompanied by at least one key ingredient, with my friends and family and the redistribution of produce. In a short period of time we have shared glut from our garden and been recipients of many herbs, plant cuttings, recipes and fruit in return. The sense of community 'ripe' (pardon the pun') at Haven.

Other recipes which have graced the table have included zucchini and corn fritters, zucchini chips, silverbeet with pine nuts and garlic, tzatziki along with using baby bok choy and zucchini flowers in a salad to accompanying Jamie Oliver's lamb burgers cooked on the weber BBQ. It has prompted many a dish to be served outdoors with garden inspired table decor - the flow on effect permeating much of our daily routines.

I anticipate with great excitement trialing my cheese making kit (a wonderful Christmas gift from my family) with fresh milk from the newest editions to Haven and harvesting delectable honey from our hives.

Stay tuned.

Friday, 29 November 2013

The vegie garden...update

The first seeds we planted in October into our permaculture vegie garden were corn and beans. We were so excited to see these little guys spring forth from the ground shortly after. Our first crops.

We were then fortunate in the weeks to follow to be blessed with sufficient rain and warm steamy days. All favourable conditions for a quick growth spurt.

I can not believe how much they have grown. I can almost taste them...

Wednesday, 6 November 2013

Small Breeds Expo

We went to a small breeds’ expo on the South side of Brisbane last Saturday in the hopes of learning a little more on some little additions for the farm. It was quite a hot day and not as many exhibits as we would have hoped. But we met some great farmers keen to share their knowledge on small cattle breeds such as Boran, Banded Galloways and Dexters. We discussed at length the options of milk versus meat cattle and the breeds which favourably combined the two.

Of interest to us was the Dexter. We were told that the Dexter cow can be milked 2 to 3 times per week. A seemingly perfect option to supply our family with milk and cheese, fits in with our busy lifestyle as we are not wishing to move into dairy farming. We were told the Dexter has a milk similar to goats milk and often used to make similar style cheeses. Given our small acreage size we could consider starting with 1 cow in calf along with a steer. Initially as company for the cow then with much appreciation will supply us with meat. The plan would be to introduce a further cow in calf approximately 6 months later – providing us with an annual supply of milk.

 Image courtesy of Dexter Cattle Australia Incorporated
More research is needed but an interesting start.

Monday, 4 November 2013

Homemade Pizzas

I have always enjoyed making pizzas but until about 12 months ago bought my pizza bases, mostly out of convenience. Then I stumbled across a really simple recipe in a magazine (which I now can’t locate) but luckily have committed to memory.

Basic Pizza Dough Recipe (2 bases):
  • 1 ⅔ cups of OO Flour
  • ¾ cup of luke warm water
  • Satchel of dry yeast
  • Pinch sugar
  • Pinch of table salt
  • 1 ½ tablespoons olive oil
  • Extra flour
Method: Put a pinch of sugar (I use raw) in a heat proof jug, then add the water and yeast. Allow it to ferment for 7 minutes. During this time you can add the flour and a pinch of salt to a mixing bowl. After the 7 minutes elapses, add the yeast/water/sugar mixture to the flour along with the olive oil.
Using a fork mix the ingredients until combined. You know it’s ready when it starts to stick together. Don’t worry if it is a little wet or a bit dry just add either flour or water to get the balance right.

Flour the workbench with a little extra flour and start to knead the dough. You do this by folding the sides in on themselves and using the heal of your hands start to stretch the dough. Add extra flour to prevent the dough from sticking to your hands or to the bench. Continue to knead for about 8-10minutes. Consider it your arm work out for the day. I find it therapeutic.
Once done flour the mixing bowl and place the dough back within. Add a little sprinkle of flour to the top of the dough (proofing).  Place a dry, clean tea towel over the bowl and place in a dry warm place. I usually put mine in the microwave. Allow about an hour for the dough to rise.

Now here’s the fun part. Punch the dough. Yep, one good punch in the middle. Then roll the dough back out onto a floured bench. Knead for a further 2 minutes.
It is now ready to cut in equal halves (although lately I have been stretching mine to make 3 bases).  

Roll them out using a rolling pin into 2 circular shapes.
Now I cook my pizzas in the BBQ on pizza trays so the method I use is a small amount of canola spray to oil the trays (whilst they are cold) place the dough on top and then my favourite toppings. Load it onto the BBQ, close the lid and about 15minutes later – presto yummy pizzas.

My favourite toppings at the moment are:
  • ham and fresh pineapple from the farm down the road, for the kids
  • goats cheese feta, roasted pumpkin and pine nuts
  • Prawn, chorizo, garlic and chili – delicious


I often enlist the kids to help with making pizzas and have started to teach my son how to throw them. Not as scary or as messy as it sounds. You toss the rolled out dough a little into the air, catching on the back of your hands increasing their diameter. It was a skill I learnt working in a small pizza shop after school back in the day. To me the bases are a little lighter for it and its fun watching others learn .

Do you have a favourite homemade topping?
Bon appetite