7 December 2018

Bloomin' Lovely - Spring 2018

Spring is over and after a very mild spring, summer is definitely here, as I sit here writing this post (10 am ACDT), it is currently 36.6°C (97.8°F) with an expected high of 41°C (105.8°F).

Spring this year was the strangest one I've ever known, the weather was all over the place with days in the mid 30's and then dropping down to the low teens, it was unbelievably windy and nighttime temperatures got down as low as 4°C (39.2°F) which meant that up until three days ago I still had blankets on my bed, which I didn't mind as I love the cooler weather and dread the heat that summer brings, we did have some really good rain at the end of November, but it has quickly dried up with the heat of this week.

Despite the strange spring weather conditions the plants flowered as they normally would so I thought that I would share some of the flowers that bloomed in my garden during the past 3 months.

I bought some daffodil bulbs at the beginning of spring, planted them and although they all grew only these two flowered, the one in the bottom photo is definitely my favourite.

One of my favourite natives, Geraldton Wax, this one is "Raspberry Ripple".

I bought this Gerbera for $2 at a local nursery and managed to keep it alive long enough for it to bloom. The photo doesn't do it justice though as it is a lot more fluorescent in real life.

My "Lavish Rose" Lavender flowered so much better this year than it did last year it could be because I actually remembered to fertilise it this year.

I've waited five years for this Melaleuca "Apricot Delight to flower, it was worth the wait.

My rock orchid didn't flower at all last year so I was pleasantly surprised to find it covered in flower spikes this year.

I have never sown seed for or planted Hollyhocks, but every year they pop up in my garden, some years there will be a lot and some years like this year they will only be a couple.

I was lucky to have any Sweet Peas at all this year, every time I sowed seeds the Blackbirds would dig them up while they were hunting for bugs in the garden.

I love this Rain Forest Lily, the flowers last for weeks and when they are finished these unusual seed pods appear.

Scabiosa, it copes with whatever nature throws at it and the bees just love it.

They might be considered old-fashioned by some, but wallflowers will always be a favourite of mine, their fragrance alone makes them worth growing.

The Wonga Wonga vine was absolutely spectacular this year, but no matter how many photos I took I could not capture just how amazing it looked.

What flowered in your garden this spring? Do you have a favourite spring flower or like me do you love them all?

9 October 2018

Monarto Zoo

Located 70 kilometres from South Australia's capital, Adelaide and set on 1,500 hectares Monarto Zoo is Australia's largest open-range zoo. Opened in 1983 as a breeding and pastoral area the zoo is now home to over 500 species of exotic and native animals some of which are now on the endangered list. This was my second visit to Monarto and I enjoyed it just as much as I did the first time.

There are walking trails around the zoo, but the best and most comfortable way to see all of the animals is to take one of the buses that depart every half hour.

Before you do that though it is well worth paying a visit to one of my favourite animals the Meerkats.

Then stroll down and visit the chimpanzees.
One of the two baby chimpanzees born at the zoo this year.

On your way back up drop in and see the Yellow-footed Rock Wallabies
The last time we visited they were all out sunning themselves, this time we could only see two.

This rhino sculpture by Gillie and Marc Shattner,  was originally part of the Sydney Sculpture by the Sea Exhibition, it is now used as a reminder to visitors of the plight that rhinos face in the wild.

Emus roam the grounds of the zoo, they weren't phased by the humans watching them at all.

Przewalski's Horse is native to Mongolia and is the only truly wild horse now in existence and it is currently on the endangered list. Monarto Zoo has a breeding herd of 20 horses and has successfully bred 20 foals since their arrival from the United Kingdom in 1986.

A pair of American Bison were the first species to arrive at the zoo in 1983 and since then has grown into a substantial herd and they're HUGE. I knew they were a big animal, but it's not until you see them up close that you realise just how big they really are.

 The original herd of 13 Blackbuck that arrived at the zoo in 1983 has successfully bred over 300 more which can now be found in zoos all over Australia.
Female Blackbuck resting in the grass.
Monarto is home to a herd of giraffes, 5 females and 5 bulls (the bulls are housed separately from the females), the first calf was born in 1995 and since then a further 43 calves have been born making it the most successful breeding institution in Australia.

Although this is the only Tasmanian Devil we saw on the day the are 13 more Devil's who call the zoo home, they are part of a project to ensure the survival of the species if no cure can be found for the cancerous facial tumour that are decimating the wild population.

One of the three rhinos seen below , Umqali, is pregnant with her sixth calf which is due in November. Did you know that a herd of rhinoceros is called a "crash"?
Southern White Rhinos
One of two male cheetahs at the zoo Saadani was born in 20011 in the Netherlands and arrived at the zoo in 2013, he is the father of the 3 cheetah cubs in the photo below.

Kesho with her 3 cubs that were born in June this year

There are 3 lions and 8 lionesses at the zoo making it the largest pride of lions in Australia. We were fortunate to see the females this visit, they were in their enclosure last time.

As we were taking a break for lunch this cheeky crow decided to join us.

After lunch is was back on the bus for one more circuit before leaving for home.

Plains zebra, also known as Burchell's zebra.

Monarto is home to 7 different species of antelope and deer which include Addax, Blackbuck, Bongo, Eland, Indian Antelope, Mesopotamian Fallow Deer, Red Deer and Waterbuck.
Unfortunately I can't remember which species this is, but I think the might be Red Deer.
African Painted Dogs.
The photos are not the best I've ever taken I know, unfortunately the day we went the sun was very bright, that coupled with the fact that it was very dusty due to a very dry winter this year made everything looked very washed out.

I hope you enjoyed this brief glimpse at Monarto Zoo, if you are ever in South Australia and looking for something to do I can highly recommend a visit.

Until next time, Jan.

1 September 2018

Because You Can Never Have Too Many Seeds

My seed order from Diggers arrived a couple of days ago, I wasn't going to buy any seeds this year as I have more than enough, but then I decided that I really wanted to grow some Lemon Drop tomatoes again this year and because paying $6.95 postage for one packet of seeds made for some expensive tomato seeds buying more seemed like the sensible thing to do.

Along with the Lemon Drop tomato seeds I also bought:

Crimson Flowered Broad Beans - As the name suggests these beans have a beautiful crimson flower and I've wanted these for the longest time, so I decided to just go ahead and buy them, they will make a lovely addition to next year's garden, there's no room for them in the garden now.

Painted Lady beans - Also known as seven year bean these beans have a white and salmon flower and will be given there own bed where they won't be disturbed.

Sunset Runner beans - Another bean I chose because of the flower which is a lovely salmon-pink.

Golden Podded Peas - Discovered at a market in India, I chose these because of the pod colour, but they also have a very pretty two toned flower of purple and pink so they will definitely add some colour to the winter garden next year.

Juane et Verte Squash - I'm trying to broaden the variety of vegetables I grow and after seeing some Yellow Button Squash in the local fruit and vegetable market I thought I would try growing them myself, but couldn't find them anywhere, so I bought this variety instead, I found seed for the yellow squash in the Reject Shop two days after I made my order. Oh, well.

Golden Zucchini - I grow green zucchini in my summer garden most years, but this year I want  to add some more colour to the veggie beds and I think these will do the trick.

As for those Lemon Drop tomatoes, if you haven't tried them I suggest you give them a go as they add a lovely lemony tartness to salads. I think they just might be my favourite tomato.

Until next time, Jan.

28 July 2018

Living Gluten and Dairy Free

In the middle of last year, it became increasingly obvious that something wasn't right within my body, I won't go into details, but it was extremely unpleasant and finding the cause took months. It turns out that as well as being lactose intolerant I had also become gluten intolerant. Living a dairy-free life is hard enough, but finding out that you also have to give up anything containing wheat or gluten is doubly hard as it is in just about everything.

So if like me, you have suddenly had to give up anything that contains gluten and/or dairy don't despair below is a list of some products that I have found that taste good and won't upset your digestive system, I will continue to add to the list when I try new products.

The best advice I can give to anyone reading this is to make sure you read labels thoroughly before you buy anything, you would be amazed at the products that have gluten, wheat and dairy in them even products that you wouldn't think would contain them, I found this out the hard way.

Gluten-Free Bread

BFree Sweet Potato Wraps (there is also a Quinoa & Chia wrap, but it’s not as pliable. I haven’t tried the Multigrain yet.)

Pure Bred Hamburger buns

Helga’s Gourmet rolls

Toscano Gluten Free Pizza Base

While I really enjoy the bread listed below I don't like the fact that they come wrapped in two plastic bags. One isn't enough?

Abbot’s Bakery Soy & Linseed bread - this is the best gluten-free bread I've found.

Abbot's Rustic White loaf

Helga's Soy & Linseed is also very good

Orgran Bread Crumbs

Genius Soft White  Bread Rolls

Nonna's Bakery Half Baguette - Gluten, egg, dairy, soy, nut-free and from the list of ingredients they seem to be vegan as well. I bought mine at Munno Para Foodland and used them to make my own gluten and dairy-free garlic bread and at $5.50 for a two-pack, I thought they were reasonably priced. I'm not sure if they are available in other states but a Google search should tell you.


Woolworths Select Lemon & White Chocolate Chip Cookies

Woolworths Select Mint Slices

Woolworths Choc Chip Biscuits - Not only are they dairy and gluten-free they are also egg-free and soy-free.

Leda Chocolate Chip Cookies are not only delicious, but they are also dairy-free, gluten-free and suitable for vegans.

Leda Arrowroot biscuits


Coles Gluten-Free Banana Bread (boxed) It's very good, but a little too sweet for my tastes.

Coles Gluten Free Apple Pies (2 pack)

Pasta and noodles

Barilla GF Spaghetti

Barilla GF Fettucine

Barilla GF Penne

Barilla GF Elbows

Changs Gluten Free Wok-Ready Noodles 

Breakfast cereals

Kellogs Gluten Free Cornflakes 

Freedom Foods Muesli - Fruits and Seeds

Dairy Substitutes

Ice Cream
Weiss Real Good Feel Good bars - Pineapple and Coconut, Mango, Passionfruit and Coconut. They also make a Dark Chocolate and Coconut that I haven't tried yet.

Sanitarium So Good Frozen Dessert - Vanilla Bliss and Salted Caramel and Almond. I love the Vanilla Bliss, it's so smooth and creamy. I have yet to try the Choc Almond or Chocolate Bliss if you have let me know what you thought of them. 

Edited: I have recently tried the Chocolate Bliss and although I'm not a huge fan of chocolate ice cream it is very good.


Nudie Coconut Yoghurt - Natural. It also comes in Mango and Passionfruit, Blueberry, Strawberry and Watermelon and Vanilla.

Nakula Harvest Coconut Yoghurt with Passionfruit - Thick and creamy just like dairy yoghurt. The coconut flavour isn't very strong and the only sweetness seems to come from the passionfruit itself. My only complaint is that it could have a bit more of a tang to it, it also comes in mango and natural which I will be trying next.

Edited 27.9.2019 - I tried the Nakula natural unsweetened yoghurt today and it is delicious, so if you're looking for a dairy-free substitute for natural yoghurt I highly recommend it.

Cocobella Passionfruit Coconut Yoghurt

Nuttelex Original - It is an excellent dairy-free substitute for butter and can be used in the same way.

Milk Substitutes
Vitasoy Soy Milky Regular - My favourite soy milk
Organic Provamel Soya single cream alternative

I have bought and tried a lot of non-dairy cheeses (and wasted a lot of money) over the years they all pretty much taste and smell the same and most of them tasted better when they are eaten hot as in a toasted sandwich or on a pizza, and the only ones that I am happy to recommend are Follow Your Heart Parmesan Style Cheese, The Alternative Dairy Company Mozzarella. If you're looking for mozzarella to eat straight from the packet, I would recommend Green Vie mozzarella flavour, it's very good.

Sweet William - this company makes a whole range of chocolate products including baking chocolate, chocolate bars and blocks (the white chocolate and white chocolate with strawberry pieces is my favourite), chocolate spread (which is also nut-free for anyone who has a nut allergy), and they also make Easter bunnies and chocolate Santas.

Eskal Noble Choice Dark Chocolate - I have tried both the Fruit & Nut and Peppermint and can recommend them both. 

Fruchocs Delightfully Unexpected Dark Chocolate Cherry 
Fruchocs Delightfully Unexpected Dark Chocolate Apricot - these are both gluten-free as well.

13 January 2018

A Return To Winter ...... Almost

We had some lovely rain yesterday morning and it remained overcast all day, but it was still very warm and humid. I wasn't expecting it to rain today, but it has and the temperature has dropped enough that I almost need to put on a cardigan or jumper. 

I wish the weather would stay like this, but I know that tomorrow we will be back to summer and that autumn is still a long way off, so I'm going to enjoy today while it lasts.

For those of you who still read this blog (does anyone?) I just wanted to let you know that I will be changing the name of the blog sometime next week to http://simpleeverydayliving.blogspot.com.au/. My interests have changed over the past twelve months and while I still enjoy gardening and grow vegetables,  it isn't such a big part of my life anymore. I will still be writing posts about gardening it just won't be the main focus of the blog anymore, instead I will posting about the everyday things that bring me joy, like a rainy, cool day in the middle of summer. Enjoy what's left of the weekend and I hope you will continue to visit to see how the blog develops.