All posts by darling downs


butterfliesWe delight in the beauty of the butterfly, but rarely admit the changes it has gone through to accomplish that beauty…

The other day we met No 1 daughter and her children at a town half way between their house and ours (about an hour driving each).

It was a wonderful day and we finished off our picnic lunch by having a cuppa at the local cafe and found this delightful and thought provoking picture on the wall.

This brings to mind our children and our relationships with them.  I now marvel at the beauty of the relationship we have with our older two children, but these relationships have gone through some immense changes to get to where they are.

When our children are young its a relationship of parent and child. We love, instruct, discipline and encourage, with tighter reigns on what the child is allowed to do.   It is not really a relationship of friends.

As they grow from toddlers to early teens it again changes.  It is still the parent/child relationship with instruction, disciplining and encouragement but it is somewhat evolving.

As with our children we start to encourage them to be adults, to be husbands and wives.  We lead them into home based business ideas and allow them time to develop them.

My husband took our No 1 son to TAFE once a week, where he could learn welding and machining and all that stuff in a controlled environment amongst other adults.  He was one of a few homeschooled children that have done adult trade education before he was 15.

Our daughter was already sewing for others by the time she was fifteen.  She also worked one day a week in our local fabric shop (owned by a close Christian friend) and what she learnt there I couldn’t have taught her.

When they were young adults the relationship was still of parent/child but we  developed a great friendship.  A friendship that still has boundaries of discipline but once again even that discipline is evolving.

My daughter and I are born talkers.  We both need to talk out the things on our minds.  We can chat for hours and still find things to say to each other.

No 1 son isn’t quite as talkative but when the time is right he shares his ideas and future plans and once again their is friendship.

Now they are adults, No 1 daughter is married and living the life we all prayed for.  Our relationship is still of parent/child but it doesn’t involve discipline.  It is truly a love, teach and encouragement relationship, and now it goes both ways.  I am sure she loves me as much as I love her and she teaches and encourages me everyday. We can still talk on the phone for hours on topics from what we are cooking for tea through to deep spiritual issues.  She is quite wonderful and we are blessed by this relationship, both myself and my husband.

Our No 1 son is now 19 and is quite the young man.  Our relationship is definitely one of Mother and Son but we are great friends as well. Now comes the time when we must trust in God for his safety and well being.  His father and I encourage him in the right choices but also step back and allow him to make his choice.  I tell you what – this can be hard.  We have to trust that his training and relationship with God will lead him in the right direction.

Both children know that we are always there for them whenever they need us.

So you can see that our relationships have now gone through many changes, both for them and us as parents but these relationships are beautiful and we delight in them.

This post is linked here…

MOMS THE WORDand here…

life of faith blog

and here…

Christian Mommy Blogger



Here’s the recipe to go with the canned pumpkin.

Pumpkin Cake Roll

  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup sugar (I use caster sugar)
  • 2/3 cup pumpkin (drained)
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 3/4 cup flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ginger
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp salt


  • 1 cup icing sugar
  • 250 grams cream cheese, softened
  • 4 tblsp butter
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla

Beat eggs on high speed for 5 mins.  Gradually beat in the sugar. Stir in pumpkin and lemon juice.  Combine flour with the rest of the dry ingredients and fold into pumpkin mixture.  Spread in a 10 x 15 inch pan lined with baking paper.  (I spray the paper with cooking spray so that the cake doesn’t stick)

Bake for 10 – 15 mins at 180 degrees.  Do not over bake.  Loosen edges with a knife and turn onto a towel that has been sprinkled with icing sugar.  Remove baking paper.  Starting at narrow end, roll towel and cake together.

Beat filling until fluffy. Spread over cake and roll.  Chill.

Absolutely Delicious!!!

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Why do we keep pigs???? Apart from the fact that when they are piglets they are extremely cute – but not as cute as our granddaughters!!!! (sorry couldn’t help putting in a photo of them).

Our beautiful granddaughters
Our beautiful granddaughters

We keep pigs for a variety of reasons and are listed as follows: (in no particular order)

  1. They are another source of protein for our family;
  2. They are great to dig up the paddocks before planting;
  3. We sell them to help pay our bills.

No 1 expanded:  We have our own cattle that we butcher for ourselves, and they are a Highland/Jersey cross.  We also endeavour to have meat rabbits and chickens for variety.  But another source is pork.  There is such a variety of things that you can do with pork and we especially like bacon.  We have just made our own bacon and it’s in the freezer.  I want to can it shortly.  I especially like pork spareribs done in my multicooker and will post a recipe on that later.

Sow and piglets
Sow and piglets

No 2 expanded:  My husband uses the pigs to dig up certain areas in our paddocks before planting vegetables or crops.  Last year they dug up our pumpkin patch for us and our other vegetable patches. We don’t keep our pigs in small pig pens as we like them to graze naturally on pasture, we do supplement their feeding with wheat or whatever grain or hay that we have on hand.  Pigs actually eat woody weeds that no other stock will and when you have them digging up they are aerating and fertilising the ground for your next crop.  Minimal soil preparation is needed then to create a good seed bed (information compliments of my husband).  At the moment the piglets get milk every day (from our dairy cow) mixed with wheat.   So not only are they doing us a favour but they are getting fed at the same time.

No 3 expanded:  At the moment we have 23 piglets running around and when they escape their fenced off area my husband calls them the tribe of Israel.  When they are little, getting out isn’t really a problem but as they get older they escape the confines of their yard and dig holes in our nice lawn.  We usually keep them in a roadside paddock and as we live on quite a major highway, we get people just dropping in wanting to buy them. Of course this is great and we have never advertised in any papers to get rid of them.  We will put an A-frame out the front this year as we have quite a few to sell off.

So pigs are very versatile and actually really quite fascinating to watch.  Last year one of our sows was due to farrow and the boar was pulling tufts of grass out and placing them behind her as she lay down.  We aren’t quite sure what this was all about because she eventually got up and walked off and didn’t farrow for a couple more days.  Maybe the boar had the nesting thing happening instead???!!!

So if you are thinking of keeping pigs (we have heaps and could sell you 1 or 23) we would really recommend it.  We have a mixture of Large Blacks and Berkshire and we do find that the heritage breeds have a better mothering temperament and handle the free range lifestyle better than the commercial breeds, and they also taste better.

One point to note when keeping pigs is that you need quite good fencing.  My husband keeps them in with electric fencing tape and we hardly ever have them on our nice lawn.  He is my hero!!!   I no longer have to run outside in my slippers with the kids to chase piglets.  Sometimes when you let the children chase them by themselves they can end up on the road, and I am sure you can image this to be a bit of a circus.

If you have pigs and have any advice or just humorous stories please let me know, I love a good laugh and we can always learn new ideas and way of doing things. 

Sow feeding piglets
Sow feeding piglets


This post is linked to….

The Self Sufficient HomeAcre


I have been enjoying watching the program “River Cottage Garden” which is based in the UK (You can Google them and look at their website).  On one of these episodes they were making sourdough bread.  Now before No 1 daughter was married she used to make sourdough bread for us, and did a great job, but it always seemed so confusing to me and I didn’t really pay too much attention to how she went about it.

On this episode they explained it so simply and it seemed such an easy thing to do, so I gave it a try.

That evening I started my starter and fed it for a week.  I started it by mixing equal quantities of flour and water (I think I used a cup each). At this stage I only had white flour so that was what I used.  Once I had mixed it I placed it in a glass jar and loosely covered it with glad wrap.

I kept feeding the starter daily using equal quantities of flour and water. I mixed this separately and then gently stired it into my starter.

After a week you should see clear signs of fermentation.

Sourdough starter
Sourdough starter

I did so I started using it…. (this is exciting)

The recipe from River Cottage Garden stated that you make a sponge mixture the night before you want to bake bread.  So you get a bowl and measure out 500 grams flour and then add 700 ml warm water.  Mix this together and then add 2 soup ladles of the starter, mix again.

sponge mixture
Sponge mixture

Cover the bowl with glad wrap (cling wrap) and leave in a warm place over night.

The next morning take the bowl and add another 600 grams flour and 20 grams of salt.  Mix well until flour is all taken up.

Adding the extra flour and salt
Adding the extra flour and salt

Place a few drops of olive oil on the bench and your hands so that the mixture doesn’t stick.  Turn out the mix and knead.

Mixture ready to knead
Mixture ready to knead

Place in a greased bread tin.

Ready to rise
Ready to rise

Cover with a tea towel and place in a warm position until double in size (I leave mine on the shelf above our wood stove). This takes somewhere between 4 and 6 hours depending on the warmth in the room.

Keep an eye on the bread and when it looks almost ready preheat your oven to 250 degrees.

Bake for 45 mins.  Turn out onto a tea towel when warm and wrap up.

Yummy bread
The finished product


I have just purchased a grinder and I now use fresh ground wheat flour.

my grinder
my grinder

In the morning when I add the extra flour I use 300 grams of white. When I use all ground wheat I get a hole in the middle, but adding the white stops that problem.

This is a double recipe, you can halve it if you like a smaller loaf.

I have made this into fruit bread too, just add fruit and spices in the morning when adding the second lot of flour.

To keep your starter going just keep feeding it equal quantities of flour and water daily.  I feed mine after taking out the ladle for the sponge mixture at night.

This bread is really filling and I find that instead of eating almost a loaf for breakfast we only go through half a loaf, and it is really good for you too.

I also use this mix for pizza bases – I will post this soon.

If you have any ideas on stopping the hole in the middle when using all wheat flour – I’d love to know about it please.

Please let me know how you go if you try this recipe…

This post is linked up here…



No 2 daughter and son are out hypnotizing chickens.  It was something that they saw on a “swamp man” type reality show.

They say it actually works and if they keep practicing as much as they are now, I’m sure it will.  Though I do feel somewhat sorry for the chickens, but they seem to be very long suffering.

They have finished their school for the morning and our outside enjoying the sunshine.  Spring is here in Victoria Australia and summer is coming quickly.

I have been trying to teach them to get into their school in the morning and in the afternoon they can go and have fun, doing the things they enjoy.  Sometimes this theory works and some times it doesn’t.

Some mornings it is a hard slog just to get through a maths lesson.  I get frustrated and they get stubborn.  No 2 son spends too much time fiddling and scratching and singing and not enough time actually doing his work and No 2 daughter spends her time telling him to be quiet or poking him.

Oh the joys of normal, happy, healthy children.

If they were at school I wouldn’t have the pleasure of seeing them succeed with their schooling or seeing them blossom from being outside, creating games and camps and cubbies.

If they were at school they wouldn’t have time to help Dad when he gets home, because of their homework.

If they were at school I wouldn’t have the pleasure of helping them through their attitudes or squabbles.

If they were at school someone else would be seeing them achieve.

Some days are hard, really hard, but the joy and pleasure and good times override the bad and makes this homeschooling experience a totally right thing.

So if you want to see your children really achieve, keep them home, release the chickens, teach them all the good things and let them play in the dirt – it is our God given responsibility.

No 2 daughter and son
No 2 daughter and son

If you are thinking of homeschooling I want to encourage you to give it a go, you won’t be sorry, you may be tired and grumpy but in the long run you will never be sorry.

Deuteronomy 6:7 You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way and when you lie down, and when you rise.

PS: Today was one of those hard days so I am writing this to encourage myself as much as everyone else.

This post is linked to….

Hope In Every Season


I really enjoy cooking for people, especially when they are having difficulty doing it themselves.

We seem to have quite a few people at our church who are suffering from cancer.  My heart goes out to them and their families, and my constant comment is all I can do is pray and cook.  There is nothing more we can do for our Brothers and Sisters in Christ than to care for them, our Church family really is our family.

I feel so blessed to be able to help people.  But I want to be humble with it as well and I like my husband to deliver the food, in that way he takes the praise and not me (otherwise pride can get in the way). I just want to know that the food tastes alright!!!

Sometimes I have doubts about my cooking abilities.  My family are always saying “that was great Mum”, but they love me and have to like it.  So it is hard to cook for someone, especially when you don’t know their tastes or whether they are fantastic cooks or not and whether your food will meet their standards.

I have found that none of the above matters.  All that matters is that you care and you give.  I find that when I cook for others with them in mind it all turns out well.

A point to remember is that when people aren’t feeling well they don’t feel like cooking (well I don’t anyway) so a meal will always make their day brighter.

Another thing we have noticed is the relationships that have been built when we give someone a meal.  There have been people at church that we have just not connected with and the barrier has been dissolved when they see that we care for them.  My husband always says that you get nothing out of a relationship unless you put into it.

My husband and I really want our children to understand what it is to care for people.  To know that giving is a great gift both to ourselves and others.  My No 2 son comes into the kitchen on a Friday (the day I cook) and says it that for us and when I shake my head he says oh it’s for so and so at church – my No 1 son says why do they get all the good stuff!!!  All joking aside, our children need to learn how to give and love others.

So if you have some doubts about your ability or are a little bit scared to cook for others here are a few tips that I follow.

  • Soup – soup is easy to make and teamed with some lovely bread it is a great meal.
  • Onions and celery are always my friends and are usually the first ingredients I use in a casserole.  They give any stew a great flavour base.
  • Make a tin based casserole, tuna, corn, champignons, evaporated milk.  Heat all this up, add some cheese and mix with pasta.
  • Bolognaise – every child I know loves spaghetti bolognaise.  Often I switch the spaghetti with noodles which makes it much easier to eat.
  • Muffins are great for a sweet accompaniment and once again they are easy to make (try my prize winning chocolate cake recipe if you don’t have one it’s very easy).

So if you feel there is someone at church, a neighbour or a friend who needs a hand, get out your recipe books or just make an old favourite, put on a smile and knock of their door.  I guarantee you they will appreciate it and your heart will soar.

2 Corinthians 9:7 Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.


If you have some easy casserole ideas or something special that you make for people, please share it …

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Our pumpkins are starting to go “off” so thought I’d better get into canning them.

I have already done some with onion, bacon and chicken stock for a quick and easy pumpkin soup, but this lot I am doing just plain.  I have a great pumpkin roll with cream cheese recipe that I use the plain pumpkin for.  Will post that later…

Here’s how I can pumpkin.

First I grab a nice big pumpkin (my options are small due to pumpkins going off).  Preheat your preserving jars – I do this by filling with hot water.

The pumpkin
The pumpkin

Then I grab a sharp knife and cut it up into cubes (or any other interesting shape that comes).

Pumpkin ready to can
Pumpkin ready to can

Fill your jars with the pumpkin and top up with boiling water.  At this stage I wiggle the handle end of a wooden spoon in the jar to release the air bubbles.  I then place the lid and clips on.

In jars ready to go
Jars ready to go

Then I place the jars in the canner (I have already put the required amount of boiling water in the canner).

Jars in the canner
Jars in the canner

Then can as per usual method.

Canner on the stove
Canner on the stove

I take the jars I use to be about a quart so I put my pumpkin on for 90 minutes.

The finished product
The finished product

Take the clips of the jars and store. (I leave mine overnight and then remove the clips)

PS: I use Fowlers preserving bottles and screw top jars.  I like the Fowlers bottles because I have heaps and it was a bit too expensive to buy mason jars.

PPS: I don’t precook my pumpkin, it goes in the jars raw.



I can’t explain the feeling that I got when I first found out that I was going to be a Grandma.

It was pure joy!!!   But underneath the joy it didn’t feel quite real either.  Who would have thought that I’d be a Grandma at age 45.

We have been truly blessed to be Grandparents at such a young age. We get lots of comments about being too young (which is quite nice I must admit – especially on those days when you feel a bit old and tired).

There was also some feelings of regret.  Why, you ask????

I suppose they are just irrational feelings that come at the end of a stage in your life.

We had No 1 daughter eleven months after we were married and awaited with anticipation for No 2 child to come along.  But we waited and waited and after 5 1/2 years he appeared.  His birth was not what I would call a pleasant experience and it truly put me off.  It wasn’t his fault, just a culmination of stuff that happened.

Life continued on and we moved house and changed jobs and sent the children to school and then decided that we would homeschool.

Those same magazines and articles that encouraged us to homeschool were also talking about children being a blessing and a joy.  The truth hit us as we allowed God to take over the control of our reproduction.

It took 3 years for me to conceive No 2 daughter.  Whilst watching our other friends have baby after baby I sat there asking God why, when we were doing His will, why wasn’t He fulfilling our desires.  I understand His ways to be  perfect and we just needed to wait (although it wasn’t easy).

No 2 daughter arrived almost 10 years after No 2 son.  She was beautiful.  We then suffered a miscarriage 16 months later, there had been some issues right from the start of that pregnancy but we were believing God to heal.  Once again His ways are perfect and His plan is perfect (and once again it wasn’t easy).

No 2 son arrived 2 1/2 years later and once again he was beautiful.

It amazed me that when I was young I didn’t conceive and needed some help with fertility medication and here I was at age 40 starting to be fruitful.

Another 14 months after No 2 son was born I was pregnant again, wow this was great.  We were so excited that it was so easy to handle the “oh not another one” comments from family and friends. But sadly this child was meant only for Heaven and she passed away at 26 weeks gestation.  This was true pain.  Lord we are doing your will, what is going on.

Her birth and our hospital experience was wonderful.  I have never had such an experience, the staff and doctors were really amazing and because we had been to the same hospital two times before there was a comaraderie that I didn’t experience the first 2 times.  God really blessed us through this experience and once again His ways are perfect.

Since then we haven’t conceived again and I suppose we wait to see if it will happen again.  I am scared somewhat to become pregnant but God is in control.

So to see our daughter having babies is such a blessing.  To be able to hold their little bodies and get to know them is a joy.

When our oldest granddaughter saw me last time she raised her arms and trotted over with a big smile on her face.  That was just the best feeling (and makes me teary now just writing about it).  It doesn’t matter to me that she probably does that to all the people at church – she did it to me and I know that even at her young age she knows me to be her Grandma.

Life is surely complete.

This post is linked up here….



I’ve been making cheese on and off for quite a few years.  I usually make a farm house cheddar but I found a very easy very yummy feta recipe.  I make this cheese once a week, sometimes two.  It is great in salads, on pizzas and is extremely great on toasted sandwiches. So here it is…

Feta Cheese

  • 4 Litres of full cream milk – I use somewhere between 4 – 8 litres with 1 teaspoon of rennet diluted in 1/2 cup water for the larger amount.
  • 1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon Calcium Chloride diluted in 1/4 cup of water.

The addition of Calcium Chloride generally improves the rennet coagulation properties of your milk and this is particularly true when using pasteurised milk from the grocery store.

  • 1 dose MO 030 Mesophilic cultureI use a butter knife and put a few grains on the end.
  • 1/4 rennet tablet or 1/4 teaspoon liquid rennet diluted in 1/2 cup of water.
  • 2 tablespoons of salt.


  • Mix your Calcium Chloride solution into your 4 litres of milk.
No 2  daughter adding the calcium chloride
  • Slowly heat milk, using indirect heat, to 30° C – I bring my milk in straight from the cow and it is already at 30 degrees and saves heating it.
  Two stainless steel ‘stock pots’ with water in the large pot and milk in the small pot makes an effective ‘water jacket’, heating your milk indirectly.


  • Add starter culture and stir well. Leave to incubate for 1 hour, maintaining the temperature at 30° C. – place an old bath towel over the pots to keep the warmth in.
No 1 daughter adding starter culture
No 2 daughter adding starter culture
  • Add rennet solution and stir in gently using an up and down motion for one minute to ensure that the rennet is evenly distributed. Allow to rest undisturbed for one hour, maintaining the temperature at 30° C.
  • Check for a ‘clean break’. If the curd is not firm enough leave for another 5 minutes and check again.

Patience is the key here, wait for a clean break, and do not despair if this takes a while. If you do not get a clean break after several hours, do not throw throw your mixture out, but keep it warm overnight perhaps, and then drain it through a tight weave cheesecloth. Your end result might be a soft cheese, instead of feta, but it still is a cheese.

  • Once the curd is firm enough and gives a clean break, cut the curd into 1.5 centimetre cubes. Let rest for 10 minutes.
No 2 daughter cutting the curd
  • Gently stir the curds for 20 minutes, being careful not to break them down. – I like our Feta to be quite firm so I stir quite vigorously.
No 2 daughter stirring the curd
No 2 daughter stirring the curd
  • Gently pour the curds into a colander, lined with your cloth, to drain off the whey. Tie the corners of the cloth together to form a bag and hang to drain for 5 hours. The curds will knit together into a solid mass. – I don’t have anywhere to hang our cheese so I just leave to drain on the sink and if it is really moist I squeeze it out.
Curds draining in sieve
Curds draining in sieve


  • Untie the bag and cut the curds into 2.5 centimetre cubes.
Curd ready to cut
Curds ready to cut


Curd cut into container with salt on top
Curd cut into container with salt on top


PS.  As I have said before I am not really a measuring type of cook and I am probably the same with my cheese.  I found that it still works well.  We eat this cheese the next day and it lasts for about a week.

PPS. Sometimes this cheese sits on the bench all day, depending on what I have to do.  I have found that it is alright to do so but ultimately it is best to have it draining by the late afternoon.

PPPS.  I get my starter culture and calcium chloride from Green Living Australia and my liquid rennet from Cheeselinks (you can get rennet from Green Living but I like to buy a bigger amount.

Let me know how you go if you try it or let me know if you have a cheese recipe I could try.

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and here…





I am the queen of one pot wonders (self imposed title)

I love them, they are so quick, easy and tasty.

Here’s the recipe of the one I made tonight.  I think I’ll call it …….

Mince One Pot Wonder

  • 500 grams of Mince
  • 1 Onion
  • 3 Stalks of Celery
  • 1/2 Small Cabbage
  • 2 Carrot (grated)
  • 1/2 cup Tomato Sauce or 1 Tin Crushed Tomatoes
  • 1 Packet French Onion Soup Mix
  • 1 tblsp Olive Oil
  • Water
  • 1 Packet Pasta – I used macaroni

Place saucepan on the heat and add olive oil.  Fry onion and celery until soft, add mince, cook until mince is browned.  Then add the cabbage, carrot, tomato sauce and french onion soup mix and water. Cook until cabbage is soft.

Cook pasta in separate saucepan and drain and rinse and then add to mince mixture and combine.

PS: I know I said this was a one pot wonder and technically I used two pots, but you can make this in the pressure cooker or in one pot but you need to add more water so the pasta cooks.

PPS: If you cook this in the pressure cooker just make sure that the pasta is covered by liquid.

PPS: You can add any vegetables or meat that you like to this dish, the process is the same.