It’s not every day you get saved by a monk…

Today Mike, his cousin Matt and I went for a drive into the hills to see what flowers and…mushrooms we could find.  We found loads of flowers and common mushrooms… Only one of us wasn’t happy with the lack of mushrooms on the forest floor.  In one last ditched effort we found a dirt track and took the step path downward toward a more shaded spot in the woods…

Sadly this resulted in getting our vehicle stuck (it’s a 4×4) so it should have handled the steepness but didn’t.  1.5 hours later…

I was flipping rocks as was Matt (to wedge under our tires) when Matt found this monster of a wolf spider.

A single man, dressed in an orange outfit came walking up and asked if we needed help.  We knew he was a monk, as we’d driven past a monastery near the dirt track.  (Note there is also a prison farm in the area!).

He said he could get a tractor and help get us out.  And by golly he did!

There were a few orchids out today, and some daintier flower varieties as well.  I was glad to join the “search” though my reasons were not for spotting mushrooms, however I did use them as an excuse to stop the car a few times ahahaha….

Aphids and Ants, working together…

Lately, I’ve been watching loads of David Attenborough programs with Mike.  The most recent being a series on “the undergrowth” which featured stunning videography of insects.  If I had not watched the programs, I’d never have noticed this…

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Pulling the camera back a bit reveals this is a flower bud completely consumed by aphids and ants.Screen Shot 2014-07-04 at 5.44.19 PM Screen Shot 2014-07-04 at 5.44.10 PMWhats interesting; is the ants are protecting the aphids…and drinking the nectar the little rose eaters are pooping.

It’s inter-species collaboration… right in our very own back yard!

Frederick.

Screen Shot 2014-06-28 at 10.56.20 AMWhen we came home from our trip last weekend, we noticed two fish were missing.  We moved everything in the tank but couldn’t find any hint of them.  Big Bertha and her boyfriend (also a large male) were no where to be found.  After about 20 minutes Mike noticed….Frederick was eating the male.  He ate them, bones and all!!!

He’s also been eating our plants, and has doubled in size since we got him about a month ago.  He’s a speedy monster.  Sometimes we’ll be watching him, and turn away and look back and he’s moved across the entire tank.

He may legitimately be the fastest snail on the planet.  Our other snail Rayden, moves at a normal pace and is sometimes bullied by Frederick.

 

Karri Karri & Tingle Forests

We’ve just returned from a romantic, nature filled getaway.  Mike surprised me this past weekend with a getaway in Karri Valley.  The space is breathtaking… Emu and kangaroo greet you in an open field just as you enter the estate.  Further up the road the left opens to reveal a rather massive lake (full of rainbow trout!).  If you stay in a suite, you can even fish from your balcony…

Screen Shot 2014-06-23 at 7.07.00 PMScreen Shot 2014-06-23 at 7.09.50 PM  Screen Shot 2014-06-23 at 7.09.37 PM Screen Shot 2014-06-23 at 7.09.31 PM    Screen Shot 2014-06-23 at 7.08.59 PM    Screen Shot 2014-06-23 at 7.08.29 PMI am so sorry but this mushroom absolutely kills me…apologies to those of you may find it offensive.Screen Shot 2014-06-23 at 7.08.22 PM Screen Shot 2014-06-23 at 7.08.15 PM

I could have just posted entirely about the fungi that covered the woods…there must have been about 15+ species that we encountered on one hike alone.  Some of the species were small and dainty while others were absolutely enormous.Screen Shot 2014-06-23 at 7.08.06 PM  Screen Shot 2014-06-23 at 7.07.43 PM  Screen Shot 2014-06-23 at 7.07.27 PM Screen Shot 2014-06-23 at 7.07.20 PM Screen Shot 2014-06-23 at 7.07.10 PM

We checked in, and Mike informed me he also made dinner reservations.  There was a fantastic meal of kangaroo steak (Mikes choice) with roasted vegetables, and duck confit on a citrus salad (my choice) for us that evening.  Our cabin was three bedrooms (excessive but the only one available as there was a wedding booked in for the weekend), and came complete with a kitchen, large deck, washing machine, living room and working wooden fireplace.  I could go on and on about the tranquility and the soft drizzle of rain on the rooftop…the crackling fire, and the peace we found in this space.

Screen Shot 2014-06-23 at 7.06.52 PMThe cabins were so far apart you hardly noticed there were any other visitors in the area.  No radio, no phone, no tv, no internet.  We talked, drank wine, napped…and did plenty of hiking.  Screen Shot 2014-06-23 at 7.06.39 PMScreen Shot 2014-06-23 at 7.08.44 PMScreen Shot 2014-06-23 at 7.08.51 PMFear of heights: first non attempt.  I pretended to climb the tree in the photo above, only to watch Mike in a total panic from the base of the tree.  It was pouring down rain, and he did it anyway.  This tree is probably about 13 stories high, it is also over 400 years old.  Fire fighters used to climb to the top and scout the region and telephone with coordinates.  One of the requirements for being one of the volunteers to climb these trees was…being sober.  The image below it, is what Mike saw from the top.Screen Shot 2014-06-23 at 7.09.22 PMMikes second attempt to get me to face my fears, was in the Tingle forests 1.5 hours from the Karri Karri woods…I basically ran through this tree top walk…the swaying feeling, and the wind put me off.  Here you can see Mike eating my dust!Screen Shot 2014-06-23 at 7.06.15 PM Screen Shot 2014-06-23 at 7.06.07 PM Screen Shot 2014-06-23 at 7.05.58 PMThis region is spectacular, and for those who do manage to venture that far south…it certainly is hard to return back to the city after absorbing the natural beauty of the majestic Karri Karri and Tingle forests.

Alt-J – Hunger of The Pine 

This song played for us on the way home…it sounds quite special.

Tomorrow I turn 30.

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Happy Birfday to meeee…  Lamby kisses cause I’m 30!

After what seems like an eternity (made longer by the fact that my loving man friend reminds me constantly) I’m going to tick over into the 30′s crowd tonight at the stroke of midnight.

Turning 30 has me reflecting but also looking ahead…and appreciating what’s happening in my life right now.  I’ve still potentially got another 50 odd years left to fill up, and I feel like I’m only just beginning my journey on this planet.  That is unless aliens turn up…

When you turned 30, did you do something special to celebrate the occasion?

How many fish do we have today?

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Last night I went to my first ever charity fundraiser.  It was a really nice night out with colleagues and a few business associates at the Crown Casino here in Perth.  The food and entertainment were really outstanding…not to mention we all raised money for a really good cause.  Senses Australia is an organisation that helps people who are deaf/blind to connect and engage and participate in a variety of programs.  Throughout the evening we were treated to cabaret dancers, a really funny comedian and some live music.Screen Shot 2014-06-15 at 10.14.36 AM Screen Shot 2014-06-15 at 10.14.09 AM

The Raw Kitchen in Fremantle.Screen Shot 2014-06-15 at 10.13.57 AM

Mike and I had some delicious vegan food in Fremantle recently at “The Raw Kitchen”.  We both felt so good after having this meal.

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A few weeks ago now, Mike enthusiastically bough a tiny fish tank.  I did not share the same excitement, as I worried that the water might make our room smell.  That was my only concern.  Despite my objections, he came home with some filtered water and about 5 generic guppies, and 2 tetra fish and two massive snails to keep the place clean.

Totalling 9 fish in a 15l tank.  Basically it was crowded!

He set it up really well with some live plants, and had to fly back to the mine site a few days later.  I was left with the job of caring for them.  Over the few days I’d become quite captivated by the snails in particular.  The brown one whom we’ve named Frederick after a friend of ours…is quite possibly the greediest and fastest moving snail I’ve come across in my life. He never sleeps, and he will knock the other off the wall if it’s in a nice spot for a meal.  Seriously entraining to watch him.

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Here is Frederick doing his best to knock down Rayden from the wall.  He also climbs to the top of the tank and floats to the bottom because he is too lazy to slide all the way back down.  It’s quite entertaining watching him.

I began to see why Mike was so keen on having a little tank in our room…I’ve been enjoying waking up and starting my day by watching them wake up too.

One morning while Mike was away I noticed one of the guppies had something strange coming out behind her.  Magically something popped out and swam away.

She gave birth to 9 live babies.  Pretty amazing stuff to watch.  Life was unfolding before my very eyes!

Mike returned home and suddenly we had 18 fish in the tank.  We were thrilled to count the little goggly eyes among the plants.  But we noticed a problem…

The snails had bred as well and there were (a quick count) roughly 50 or so tiny snails also occupying the space.  We went to a fish shop last weekend, and discovered a type of fish that also eat small snails and so purchased two.

+ 2x clown loaches.

= 20 fish.

Wouldn’t you know it, within one day all of the little snails were gone…

But, this fish brought with it a disease for suddenly our healthy adults started dropping like flies.

Death Toll:

1x male guppy (orange and black – Mikes favourite)

1x female guppy (she was pregnant but was “put down” because she had mould taking over her body

1x tetra female (she was well quite frankly we’re not sure she had brains. She died of starvation.  Her male counterpart is massive and hearty and fat fyi).

1x male guppy who died a week ago and we didn’t notice (pretty gross he was stuck under the filter).

2x baby guppies

Now the tank seems to be settling, and on my last count there were 7 baby guppies.  But this morning, I’ve woken to find only one left.

We’ve lost 12 fish.  I’ve not told Mike about all the guppies being eaten (they have just vanished).  I also have developed a slight dislike for the clown loaches as they have not only eaten the guppies, they’ve been trying to eat my Frederick.

We are now have a total of 8 aquatic creatures living in our tank, which include our two big snails.  : (

Sunday Sounds

Peking Duk – High

Royksopp & Robyn – Do it Again (Moullinex-Dub)

Seinabo Sey – Hard Time

Update:  After talking to Mike about the massacre last night we decided to give the loaches away…I put an ad online and less than 10 mins later secured a new home for them.  They will be on their way to their new tank tomorrow afternoon.

Sad, but also kind of relieved…

Did I mention they grow to be 12 inches long and live for 20 years?  haha our fish tank is only 12 inches long!

Music

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So I wrote a whole lot about my boring weekend…and then decided my photography wasn’t good enough.  Here are some photos of Tessie instead…

Have you discovered any good songs lately?  

Vetiver – Can’t You Tell

Band of Skulls – Hoochie Coochie (Dan Auerbach Mix)

War on Drugs – Red Eyes

Fuck Buttons – The Red Wing

Horse Feathers – Fit Against the Country

Gramatik – Muy Tranquilo (this track particularly is noteworthy for it’s upbeat soulful sound, I’ve had it on repeat).

Beautiful drosera.

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Drosera, commonly known as the sundews, comprise one of the largest genera of carnivorous plants, with at least 194 species.  These members of the family Droseraceae lure, capture, and digest insects using stalked mucilaginous glands covering their leaf surfaces. The insects are used to supplement the poor mineral nutrition of the soil in which they grow. Various species, which vary greatly in size and form, can be found growing natively on every continent except Antarctica. - Wikipedia

Screen Shot 2014-05-25 at 7.37.19 PM Screen Shot 2014-05-25 at 7.36.37 PM Screen Shot 2014-05-25 at 7.36.28 PM Screen Shot 2014-05-25 at 7.36.20 PM       Screen Shot 2014-05-25 at 7.34.22 PM Screen Shot 2014-05-25 at 7.34.15 PM Screen Shot 2014-05-25 at 7.34.08 PM Screen Shot 2014-05-25 at 7.33.45 PM Screen Shot 2014-05-25 at 7.33.33 PM Screen Shot 2014-05-25 at 7.33.27 PM Screen Shot 2014-05-25 at 7.33.09 PMWe’ve just returned from a very relaxing weekend with Brian and Tessa on the farm.  We were fed very well, and had a very peaceful sleep on Saturday.  Tessa also hosted me in the bush around the property as we hunted for the first wildflowers blooming in the autumn rains.  It’s quite so far in terms of flowers, though we did find a few varieties that were unusual and the drosera particularly were on full display.

Tessie was looking really well, and was so happy to see us.  She has been really lucky to have three friends to spend time with in the country.

Before we left I was able to catch up with Wuzza, whom upon hearing me call his name…came thundering over and wanted loads and loads of cuddles.  I was really glad he was happy to see me, even without bread and that he stayed for ages to get a cuddle.  Mike had visited him earlier, and seeing Wuzza’s reaction to me said:

“Wow, he really loves you…he knows exactly who you are”

We discussed his superior intelligence later on the way home…  I always feel sad returning to the city leaving it all behind but we both know it’s going to get us where we need to be.

Not only are we returning with memories and photos, I’ve been absolutely attacked all over my neck and ankles by some kind of biting insect.  The kind of welts that swell up and itch enough to drive a person mad.  Should be looking TIP TOP tomorrow at work…with what look like red hickies on my neck.  Cannot wait!!!

floating blobs of pink.

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What a beautiful bird…Screen Shot 2014-05-18 at 11.27.13 AM

I take that previous statement back!!!

From top to bottom:  Spotted Jellyfish, Grey Kangaroo, Australian Raven, Darter, Straw-necked Ibis (Juvenile).

I took my camera to Heirisson Island this morning just before it started to rain.  I was hoping to catch the kangaroo in the soft glow of sunrise, and found myself photographing all sorts of creatures.  I crouched in the water and rain for an hour with majorly aching hips to get a decent photo of some pink jellyfish, and learned a few lessons about lighting underwater (utilising only the sun here).  I did wonder if having dozens of little floaters touching me was safe… luckily if any got too near I wafted them away with the end of my camera.

Well, I’m pretty cold now from being out in the rain all morning, so I’m putting on David Attenborough’s “Life in the Undergrowth” and cuddling up with a blanket, while simultaneously mowing down some soup.

Sunday Sounds:

Riptide – Vance Joy

Garden City Movement – Terracotta

ZHU – Faded

Noosa – Clocktower

Flume – On Top Feat. T. Shirt

bagna cauda + rosemary & olive focaccia

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Lesmurie Falls: We visited Perth Hills first thing in the morning before we began preparing for dinner.  It was beautiful.Screen Shot 2014-05-17 at 5.43.46 PM

 

Last weekend Mike and I had some friends over for dinner.  We chose Italian… and went all out!

2x trays of Lasagna (with italian sausage, ricotta, spinach and italian herbs), lemon and garlic aioli for the caesar salad, rosemary & olive focaccia, and bagna cauda.  

For three hours we prepped, baked, and whipped some delicious food.  We all ate until we were stuffed and didn’t even make it to dessert.  Cooking for group of people is such a nice experience, we haven’t had people over for dinner since we moved from the farm.

Two of the menu items disappeared pretty quickly and for my own indulgence (Mike’s away on site) I’ve made a second batch today. We were eating lasagne for days afterward, and still we couldn’t finish it. I’ve ended up freezing a few slices.

Bagna Cauda was first introduced to me when I worked with a chef in the Canadian Rockies at a lovely little space called “The Baker Creek Bistro”.  It was served with plain focaccia, to guest when the first sat at their table.  The bread dip (not it’s traditional use) consists of capers, garlic, anchovies and olive oil.  While it sounds like an unusual and disturbing combination…I assure you; you will not taste any of these ingredients as you might expect to.  They blend together to form a new super flavour!

I’m not much of a baker, but this bread is addictive; and matches perfectly with the olive oil dip.  I’ve been spreading the dip on toast with a poached egg for breakfast as well….

This is the recipe I used for the focaccia:

http://www.taste.com.au/recipes/1789/olive+rosemary+focaccia

Bagna Cauda, put 1 can of anchovies, 4 cloves of garlic, and about 20 capers chopped finely into 1/2 cup of extra virgin olive oil.  You can also add a little salt and pepper.