Monday, October 5, 2015

Random happenings

I've been doing so many random things lately, its difficult to write separate posts about them all. I've been lucky to snap a few pictures here and there, but nothing to really demonstrate the full story of each activity.

So this is my post about random happenings. I'll start in the kitchen, where I've been spending a lot of time lately.

Recycled jars

I've been making some apple cider vinegar. Which is just taking your apple peels and cores, putting them in a jar with water, and a couple of dessert spoons of sugar. After placing a breathable cover over the top, I let them sit for a few weeks. What's left afterwards, gets strained and decanted.

You can see the progressive steps in the above photo. We ate a couple of apples which I put in a smaller jar (most recent). I also made apple and rubarb (a week earlier) which used more apples, so a larger jar was required. Then the largest jar of all, is where I add all the strained liquid together (when ready) to age, at the bottom of my pantry.

Beetroot pulp

I had fun making a beetroot cake recently too. It was so rich and delicious, I got a migraine headache after eating it. I'm tweaking the recipe to use less sugar. This had melted chocolate in the cake, enough brown sugar to match the weight of the beetroot, and then it had a chocolate gnash icing.

Everyone loved it, but waaaay too sweet for my kanoodle to handle. So its back to the drawing board to experiment. My eager taste testers, await round two!


This would have to be my most memorable part of the kitchen adventures. It's when my toddler attempted to stack the dishwasher, after licking the cake beaters. All on his own initiative too, with absolutely no prompting from us. It simply had to be photographed. He completely missed the utensils holder, but got the gist of where dirty dishes go, when you're finished with them. He's such a little helper.

He even helps carry the groceries inside, and will cry if you unpack them, without being able to hand you every single item from the bags himself.


To the garden now, and when I was watering my container plants the other morning, I found a camouflaged visitor. The little green tree frog, stayed for several days and enjoyed it when I sprayed the plant with a fine mist of water.

I was a little disappointed when he left his usual post, but he probably had other froggy stuff to do in the garden. Like avoid being eaten by the predators. It's spring and everyone's being eaten for the next generation to flourish!

In flower

I was also very surprised to find my Flanders Poppies in flower recently too. The kangaroos (or hares) had munched them down, again and again. When the spring rains made the grass grow again, I guess they left the poppies alone. To see them flower was thrilling, and I plan to save the seed.

They generally self-seed themselves every year, without my help, but I've noticed only two poppy plants this year. So its time to intervene. I know there are all sorts of delightful poppies you can get nowadays, but I love the simplicity and sentimentality, of the traditional Flanders poppy.

Technical stuff

And I bet you're wondering what this is all about? Anyone who has found their DVD player's, door open, with a toddler standing nearby - knows this tale all too well. Every time I put a DVD in the player afterwards, the door would close, then open again, never registering the DVD at all. Open - close. Open - close.

Google is a wonderful thing. I did some research and pulled my player apart, looking for something (anything) that my toddler could have stuck inside.

Top cover of DVD player

Does this look like a foreign object to you? At first I thought the round metal piece, was part of the normal assembly - probably knocked out of place when my toddler opened the door, as the DVD was playing. It looked like it fitted perfectly! Why else would they place a huge magnet there, if not to hold this metal piece in place?

After realsing it still didn't work, when repositioning the metal disk - I asked myself, perhaps it didn't belong? Sure enough, once I removed it, the DVD played perfectly again! I suddenly remembered, my son had removed the bolt and washer from the safety gate earlier, which we place in front of the gadgets, under the TV.

Great how that gate has worked out, isn't it? Really keeps the toddler at bay.

So it was a WASHER from the safety gate, not meant to be in the DVD player at all. Once I got over the frustration of having to pull the thing apart, I thought how cute, he tried to put a round thing in the DVD player, just like we do.

Image source
Green card is motherboard 

In other news, my daughter broke her reconditioned laptop we bought last year. Thanks to google I managed to pull it apart too, and conclude it wasn't anything I could fix. It turned out to be the memory, which can normally be changed. Our friendly tech guy informed us, however, our model must be the only one ASUS made, with fused-in memory to the motherboard.

Model Asus X551CA-SX029H, for those who want to know, what to avoid. Because a google search showed nothing of the issue, and our tech guy had never seen it before either.

At $400 to replace the entire motherboard, however, its bye-bye laptop.

 Toshiba with Windows

I was able to save my mum's old laptop however, from a Windows meltdown. Or corrupt files, in other words. This is why I prefer to use Linux free software, as an operating system. Which happens to be related to something we learned from our tech guy recently too. There's a new (to us) Linux based operating system, called ArtistX.

It's designed for all those budding artists who manipulate images (including CAD) and video for a living - but using completely free software. I'll have to check it out.

So in my random happenings lately, I cooked and preserved some stuff, pulled apart and fixed other things, spent money finding out something else was cooked, and found some surprises in my garden and free online resources.

Makes for a rather full month! Bye-bye September, and the first month of spring.


  1. Busy, busy! I will be checking out the new software you linked to as I prefer a system that does well with digital art.
    I have been meaning to ask you about vinegar making. I started a batch out of plum scraps and it looked great during the first ferment-lots of fizz. But when I strained out the fruit, it hasn't fizzed again. Its smelling like vinegar and it looks to be slowly forming a mother (or something else that is floating around just under the surface). I wonder if it should have fizzed the during the second ferment or not?

  2. There seems to be a lot of possibilities with the software. You can burn it to a CD and run it live, so you don't have to install it on your computer until you're happy its what you want.

    What you describe is how its always happened when I make vinegar. You will get some bubbles in the beginning, as the natural sugars and yeasts ferment, but once you remove the organic matter the mother will gradually form. So you're doing everything right. If the mother hadn't of formed, you'd know it failed. The mother is the key, not the bubbles when it comes to making successful vinegar.

    Be sure to keep some of the mother and place it in your next batch of vinegar (after you've strained the organic matter out. My main jar the vinegar ages in, always has mother in it, to speed up the process of converting any additional vinegar I add. If you get chickens later on, you can feed the mother to them also.

  3. Thanks for the information on the vinegar! I started an apple cider one yesterday after canning applesauce so I feel more confident now. We buy an organic vinegar with a mother in it so I thought to keep in in the batch but it probably makes no difference. Where do you keep your mother when you run out of vinegar?

    1. I always keep some vinegar in my main jar so I can keep the mother alive, though I reduce its size somewhat if there isn't much liquid You really only need a bit to help colonise a new batch. But that's why I try to continually have a jar of fruit peelings brewing, so I can top up the main jar when I use some of it. :)

  4. I'm so making some apple cider vinegar next time I get a big box of apples to stew. A great way to reduce and reuse the waste. Thanks for sharing.

  5. No worries, its people who share their information on the internet, which educates me too. Vinegar making, is a great way to get something which is normally relegated to the compost. Though you do have to watch for the vinegar flies in summer. They can be bothersome. ;)


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