THE COLLECTOR PUMPKIN FESTIVAL 2016

/ 1.5.16

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I love autumn, pumpkins and country towns. Put those things together and you get the Collector Pumpkin Festival. This was my second year attending and it is just such a lovely day out.

I have to eat the pumpkin scones and I have to eat the pumpkin soup. This year we lined up for the soup a little late in the day and only got one cup, but it was the last one. Lucky, lucky last!

There is lots to do at the festival apart from eating including craft and food stalls, music, races and for the kids cool activities like building a scarecrow and the hay bale maze. Good old fashioned fresh air and fun.

We came home with a bag of pumpkin scones, clothes covered in hay, tomato saucy faces and hair blown sideways. 

Gardening with half wine barrels and transplanting trees

/ 25.4.16

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As we continue to work on the drawings for our house renovation and get quotes from builders, I've started thinking about timeframes. Our front yard has a very established garden with some lovely little trees in it. Some of them will end up getting demolished when a builder clears the space for the extensions to the front of the house. Add to this that we are aiming to end up with a u-shaped house with a courtyard inside it and I decided I could save money by gradually transplanting some of the smaller trees to use after the renovation in the new courtyard. At least, I've got nothing to lose.

As the soil is still warm and weather is finally cooling off, this is my gardening plan for the remainder of autumn:

1. Transplant any photinias that would otherwise get demolished to fill the gaps in the photinia hedge at the very front of the block.
2. Transplant agapanthus that would otherwise get demolished to underplant the photinia hedge from the front, like a collar. Consider planting a long row of olive trees to contrast against the photinia hedge.
3. Transplant the dwarf orange tree, kaffir lime tree and a baby olive tree into half wine barrels. I'll be digging down 1/4 of the way around each of these little trees each week. So that after 4 weeks I should be able to move them without them going into massive shock. Doing it gradually means that even though I am cutting their big roots, they are getting time to send out little roots before I move them. I am also removing any fruit from them and pruning them back so that they do not have too many other challenges.

We bought 4 half wine barrels from Stonehenge Beltana at Pialligo and I love them so much. Apart from the fact that they are all purple inside and smell like wine, they are also made from beautiful American oak. 

They've got me thinking also about Japanese bath tubs, like Bette Midler's, and how beautiful they are too. It has been so warm here that we briefly thought to put water in the barrels we bought and plop the kids in, but they have big gaps (not sure how they held wine) and the water would be all wine coloured so probably very pleasant for an adult but not for a kid!

I've seen a lot of people gardening with wine barrels and I think the approach to planting in them has to be something similar to choosing a lampshade for a lamp base: the diameter of the plant canopy and the wine barrel needs to echo each other. 

I'll be preparing the wine barrels by drilling 5 largish drainage holes in the bases then spraying them with apple cider vinegar to kill off any fungal things that might distress the plants we put in them.

So fingers crossed that all these plants that I planted over the years - some heavily pregnant in the winter - survive the transplant!

Chunky Choc Chip Anzac biscuits recipe

/ 24.4.16

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I recently created a recipe for Jones Lang Lasalle's clients to use across their websites.

The addition of choice chips from your leftover Easter stash makes them a cross between a coconut rough and a classic ANZAC biscuit.

You can check out the recipe via Enex100's Facebook page or Wagga Marketplace's website.

DAD'S 70TH BIRTHDAY PARTY

/ 3.3.16

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We recently held a 70th birthday dinner for my Dad and 70 of his friends. The venue was the beautiful Pialligo Estate Winery with its beautiful gardens and food. We enjoyed dinner as the sun set and the kids explored the vast grounds. 

I think I was living overseas for his 60th birthday and my sister was knee deep in nappies, so this was a special milestone that we could not let pass without a celebration.  He said it was 5 hours of bliss so the goal was achieved, to make him know he is appreciated. 

He has always loved liquorice all sorts so this was the theme of his cake (by Cakes of Your Dreams) with a blue and green colour theme for the decorations (all from Spartys). My sister made the beautiful name place cards.

RECIPE: BEST EVER POTATO SALAD

/ 20.2.16

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There are some foods I will never give up and one of them is potatoes. This potato salad recipe has evolved over a few years and it is always a hit.

You will need:
  • 2kg waxy washed potatoes skin on
  • 6 eggs
  • small bunch of chives finely chopped
  • whole egg mayonnaise
  • 1 tsp seeded mustard
  • juice of half a lemon
  • greek yoghurt
  • salt and pepper
  • cornichons
  • green apple
  • a few salad leaves (optional for colour)
  • bacon (optional to add saltiness)
  1. Cut the the potatoes into large 2inch pieces and boil them until cooked.
  2. Hard boil and peel the eggs. If you run them under cold water until they are cooled they are much easier to peel. Cut them into quarters length-wise.
  3. Dice two green apples and about 12 cornichons into little pieces.
  4. Mix up the greek yoghurt, mayonnaise, wholegrain mustard, lemon juice, salt, pepper, chives to make the dressing.
  5. Put the potatoes, apple, and cornichons in a bowl add half the dressing. Carefully combine to coat the salad.
  6. Put the egg slices on top and drizzle with remaining dressing. It looks so nice to add a couple of chive flowers for colour.
  7. You can add fried bacon pieces or crunchy grilled pancetta over the top too for salty crunch. 
  8. Pulling through a few green and purple leaves adds really nice colour.



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