We had five days of freedom at the beginning of August and then have been in strict lockdown (#6) since then. :(

My weightlifting friend gave me a snapper! Her husband likes to fish and stayed up all night fishing between lockdowns. It was so fresh and smelled so good. It was my first time cooking a whole fish, so I kept it simple and just stuffed it with lemon and herbs and roasted it. Served with a side of pasta puttanesca. Fingers crossed for more fish in the future!

I spent a lot of the beginning of August in this position, quad-screening the Olympics. I have never watched so much summer Olympics in my life. But we didn’t have much else to do.

This is golden wattle, Australia’s national flower. Wattle in bloom = engage antihistamines, spring is here!!

I always feel a bit guilty taking pictures while out for a walk. Technically we’re only allowed outside for exercise, not for leisure, so I feel bad when I stop for more than a minute.

More illegal activities: eating sandwiches in a park. We walked to Saul’s in Carnegie for porchetta and cubano sandwiches and I didn’t want to walk all the way home before eating. They were both very delicious.

Scott made profiteroles, filled with custard. They were very very good. It’s a good thing I still work with other people because there were a lot. My coworkers were very pleased, except for our receptionist who exploded one all over his shirt.

We finally finally finished our joint granny square blanket! I think we started it in 2017!! The most procrastinated step was tucking in all the yarn ends. THERE WERE SO MANY. I like that (I’m pretty sure) there are no exact repeat squares.

Scott’s really into crochet now. He made a simple hat for himself, and then immediately started another hat: an adorable baby hat with ears!

Sophie dropped Gelato Messina goodies on our doorstep. That was an especially nice treat as we are outside their delivery radius but I still follow their instagram account… to torture myself?

Backyard photography.

Our backyard is like 2 meters wide. I’M SO BORED OF IT. At least we have one though. UGHHH.

Sugar snap peas are growing like crazy. They’re the only thing left at the moment, but we just planted a bunch of new stuff for summer: lettuce, spinach, sorrel, carrots, zucchini, Chinese eggplant, beans, herbs. And we started tomato and chilies inside.

Unpictured things:

  • I also went on an illegal walk with TWO friends. Wow this post is a real confessional. It was an emergency walk for mental health… essential care… don’t arrest me please.
  • Our boardgame friends organised a virtual birthday party for two of them. We played Jackbox games which I was mostly terrible at. I need like 5 hours to come up with funny things, not 5 seconds!! :P
  • We got Lune delivery croissants again. They were amazing. I dropped some off at Sophie’s. I’m watching and waiting for Mork delivery next.
  • Training is going well. I am on week 3 of a squat program and surviving so far. It feels like a good use of garage time, less overhead stuff, more growing my tiny legs. Hopefully the program gets me some gains.

Here is a whole bunch of pictures of our veggie garden over the last year.

September 2020. Dirt delivery!! Scott did all the shoveling. We still have a significant amount of mulch leftover. I put skewers around all my seeds to keep track of where I planted.

October 2020. Seedlings! Zucchini, spinach, rocket, lettuce. We decided we didn’t have enough space so we ordered one more smaller box for herbs and tomatoes.

November 2020. Things really started growing well. The zucchini got HUUUUUGE!! Tomatoes looking good, carrots and silverbeet growing fine. The bean plants were much shorter than I expected.

November – December 2020. We had a very steady stream of zucchinis going. Never overwhelming. I think next year I will still grow two plants but maybe I’ll start the second one about a month later, rather than at the same time, to lengthen the amount of time we can harvest. Colourful carrots! We never had much success with them other than that particular harvest though.

December – January 2021. It wasn’t all good. I only harvested about 3 beans before the plant got fungus or something and Rosemarie told me to get it out of there ASAP. I also maybe over-pruned our tomatoes and they got crispy and died well before the end of the season should have gone.

February 2021. After I got rid of the beans I planted cucumber. It grew very nicely at first but then also got fungus and died suddenly. That’s rhubarb from Scott’s aunt’s garden.

February 2021. Really nice harvest again. Cucumbers, salad greens, lemons, limes, kale, and tons and tons of basil.

March 2021. Sticky boy. I had no idea what these fungi were. Turns out they’re Bird’s Nest fungi and they spread their spores by putting them in little cups so that when rain drops fall into the cups it splashes the spores out. Cool eh??

May 2021. Herbs!! Basil, chives, coriander and heaps of dill. Way too much dill. Our lemon tree has a few problems but still produces ok.

June 2021. It blows my mind that we could grow things over the winter. We planted sugar snap peas, cauliflower and broccoli and they all grew. The kale and salad greens continued to grow as well, although much slower than in summer.

June – July 2021. The cauliflower started off beautiful but I didn’t know until a bit too late that you should bundle it up so it doesn’t get too much sun, so they turned a bit yellow and funny. Still ate it. Broccoli was great. It grew so nice and healthy and strong. I liked petting the velvety leaves.

August 2021. We pulled out the cauliflower plants and silverbeet plants and buried some compost to prepare one of the beds for this year. We’ll do the same with the close bed but at the moment the broccoli is still producing super cute broccolini and the spinach is still going even though the plants are the OG plants from last year!! (I put a net over the spinach to stop the possums from eating it.) About another month and we’ll start planting again. How exciting!

I had this amazing Escher cross stitch pattern favourited on Etsy for ages but it always seemed a bit too ambitious. Then came covid. And a very long lockdown. I remember rushing to Spotlight to buy linen and 20 skeins of 5 shades of grey thread was one of the last things I did before everything shut last winter.

Detail shot. You can click the picture to see it even closer.

Finally displayed above our couch in the living room. August 2021.

It was my first time using linen instead of aida, which took a little getting used to, but I am now a full convert. I love how it looks. I can see a few mistakes but overall I’m very very happy with this project. I’m kind of tempted to make another one?

We attempted another cheese. Feta this time. It sorta worked…

Heat milk, add calcium chloride, culture, and rennet. Cover and leave in a water bath for 90 minutes.
Cut the curd into 1 cm cubes. Let sit for another hour. Then gently stir the curds every 5 minutes for the next 30 minutes.
Scoop the curds into moulds. I added some fresh rosemary to the round one. Cover and let drain for 3 hours.

This is where we started to have problems. After 3 hours I tried to get one of the blocks out of the mould and it disintegrated in my hand. So I scooped it back into the mould and we let it sit for another 3 hours or so.

But it was still too soft. So again I consulted cheesemaking reddit and they said it was possibly because our house was too cold and the cheese cooled down before it could knit properly. They said I could just leave it for another day and see if it solidified more by then.

Isn’t it weird that you can leave dairy products out at room temperature for apparently very long periods of time and not get sick/die?? (I think so.)

So finally after TWENTY FOUR HOURS of draining it was semi-solid. So we tipped them out of the moulds.

According to the instructions that I am reading now, we were supposed to let the de-moulded feta sit on a mat to drain for another 12 hours and I’m not sure we actually did that. Maybe that was part of the softness problem?

Feta ready for brining.
Feta brining in a 12% brine solution. Which we later reduced because we found it too salty.

End result: tastes ok, but it’s very soft feta. It jiggles! Not really good for like, salad, but it’s fine in cooked things.

Scott’s spinach, pine nut and feta ravioli made with spinach from the garden and homemade pasta. Good job Scott!!

July was… variable. It started off ok, everything was open and no restrictions, then lockdown #5 happened, and then it ended again. We are certainly learning that there is no point of planning ahead, and definitely don’t procrastinate anything. Do everything you can NOW, because the rules might change a few hours later.

Poutine on Canada Day at the Catfish with my internet friends. I didn’t feel great about celebrating Canada Day, but… I really wanted poutine. :P (Cheese curds are illegal in Australia.) The cheese was good but the chips were too thin. I can theoretically make cheese curds at home now though so there will be more poutine in my future.

Had a few friends over for my birthday. We introduced everyone to crokinole.. it was a hit. Also played Wits and Wagers and ate tons of snacks and acted silly. I had fun.

Can you tell that the family got me a new lens for my camera?

I went on a photo walk with my internet friends. We didn’t plan it well, so ended just wandering around aimlessly taking pictures of random stuff in the city, mainly Chinatown. It was good practice for me.

Fun with longer exposures.

More games! We finally got to have friends over to play boardgames again. We made pulled pork and slaw and taught them Lords of Waterdeep. We had to use the expansions so that all six of us could play and it took 5ever but it was fun!

Mischa made us a beautiful loaf of sourdough. It was professional quality.

Then we went to Pyalong, which I blogged about already. The night we got back we went to trivia for Ash’s birthday/our anniversary, and then the next day we got put back in lockdown for two weeks. Sigh.

Backyard currawong.
Driveway berries. Anyone know what these are? They are pretty.

Delivery treats! I’ve been wanting to try Black Star Pastry ever since Jess told us about it ages ago, but it was only in Sydney. Then they opened in St Kilda, but only at funny hours. Then they had a pop up delivery event so we ordered their famous Strawberry Watermelon Cake, the Raspberry Lychee Cake, and the Chocolate Mirage Cake.

To be honest, we didn’t like it that much. They were TOO light. Mostly cream and flowers. The watermelon cake probably tastes better in the summer when watermelon is in season, because at the moment it was kind of bland. The chocolate one was good but not life-changing. I would prefer to have our wedding cake from Ganache instead.

Glad I got to try it but probably won’t go back.

I ordered us a hotpot feast from Little Hot Pot Heroes for a treat dinner. It came with the pot setup, broth, all the ingredients, 7 types of banchan and some drinks. I got an extra broth so we can make our own soup next time. It was a fun activity and pretty tasty. I liked everything except the rectangle ham pieces.

Does anyone know what type of banchan this is? It was super crunchy, like much more crunchy than cabbage. I loved it.

I accidentally bought these masks with stupid phrases on them. They were folded and had a sticker on the package so I thought they were just plain. :( I literally yelled out loud when I took them out of the package.

So I attempted to terrazzo them with acrylic paint and textile medium. I think they turned out ok, at least somewhat wearable. Unfortunately when I washed them some of the paint came off of the parts with letters underneath so they’re not perfect. Oh well. Still better than “SMILES ARE CONTAGIOUS”. Cringe.

No pictures but lockdown #5 lifted right in time and we were very lucky to be able to have more than ten guests for Scott’s Nana Jean’s funeral. They had a nice funeral service and then the close family went out for lunch afterwards. It wasn’t a good occasion but it was nice to see everyone, like a sad Christmas.

Afterwards Scott and I squeezed in a quick walk at Birdsland where we saw lots of purple swamphens, ducks, bronzewings, and a darter. Then I went to training and then out for a Vietnamese feast with my weightlifting friends. It was a very big and exhausting day.

Unpictured things/things rolling over into August:

  • The Olympics started and I became a professional Olympics viewer. I watched SO MANY SPORTS. Including, all of the weightlifting, gymnastics, athletics, trampoline, track cycling, BMX, skateboarding, sport climbing, diving and tons more that I am forgetting.
  • I screwed up my elbow and now I have to do weird rehab like things with weights dangling on rubber bands.
  • I trained terribly during lockdown #5. I wanted to cry many many times. Thankfully for the first time ever they re-opened gyms right away when lockdown finished, so I got to go back for a glorious FIVE SESSIONS before lockdown #6 started. :/
  • We went to Braz and Lisanne’s going away party. They are moving back to Canada. :(