243/366: my little black wagon

Knowing how I love gardening, last week my husband pleasantly surprised me with a present of a Gard&Grow. Only problem was it came in a big box unassembled.

However, only a little daunted, I put my handisandi hat on, and set to work.

Finally I finished the job that should probably have taken only take half an hour to complete. Including a rest for a cup of tea, due to the brain strain of following directions, the project took about ninety minutes. But I’m proud of the result, having managed it totally by myself, and it will be a very handy piece of equipment for this gadget girl.

234/366: finishing touches

With the main work done, I love putting finishing touches to any project. That’s often when I can let my imagination and creativity flow.

In this case I edged the bluestone edge with more pebbles, again to avoid mulch spilling over onto the concrete. The random bluestone rocks are from up in the back yard, where they were piled up in what used to be the pond. Since there was a double layer of rocks, I could access the top ones and still leave the base of the ex-pond covered.

Then, to dress up the bamboo blind that is a little shabby, as it is recycled, I reused some green arches and artificial flowers to create a little pattern on the fence. Until the palm tree grows this will fill the gap quite nicely.


218/366: sandi’s wholemeal carrot and walnut cake

I have a recipe from a 1979 Women’s Weekly magazine for a carrot cake, around the time  they first became popular. In the intervening years I have modified the recipe so many times that now I think I can safely call it my own.

The original recipe called for 3/4 cup of oil, which I reduced to 1/2, then 1/3, until finally, last week I decided it probably didn’t need oil at oil. Now the fat the cake contains is in the walnuts. The addition of the yoghurt and water replace the moisture lost by the omission of oil. It also had one full cup of sugar, which I have halved with no detriment to the yumminess of the cake.

It was common to decorate a carrot cake with cream cheese frosting. These days I don’t ice it at all, unless I am making it for a birthday or other celebration.

sandi’s wholemeal carrot and walnut cake


2 cups grated carrot (2 large or 4 small)                                             2 eggs, lightly beaten   1/2 cup sugar                                                                                                       1/3 cup water  1/2 cup low-fat natural yoghurt                                         1/2 cup (50g.) chopped walnuts  1/3 cup (50g.) sultanas                                             1 1/2 cups (175g.) SR wholemeal flour      3 tsp. mixed spice                                                                                                   1/2 tsp. salt


Mix all ingredients together and place in a well-greased pan.  I use an olive oil spray.             Bake in pre-heated oven at 180 degrees or 170 degrees in a fan-forced oven, for 35-45 minutes, or until cooked. Test with a cake skewer which should come out clean.                 Leave in the pan for at least ten minutes before turning out onto a cake cooler.

Turn it out too soon and it will break. Although it will still taste good the presentation will be compromised. I like to use the Tupperware Kugelhopf, a silicone mould.

I also discovered that by using a ring tin/pan, you don’t have to worry about the middle being cooked, and it also fits nicely on a handled cake plate. Bon appetit!

Here’s one I prepared earlier (last week).

102/366: another project completed

A sense of achievement prevails with task completion. This time we enlarged the area near the washline and eradicated the mulch. Guess what I used to do this? River pebbles, of course. We laid the extra row of pavers on a bed of concrete, after chipping away the outer edge of the previous row.

I had fun using the level and tapping the pavers down so that they were even.

Now the concrete has set really well, so today I finished off the project with those lovely river pebbles and a couple of chairs from the patio that have seen better days.

89/366: a plan for the golden diosma

Having been obscured for some time behind a large conifer, this Golden Diosma has regenerated itself. I used to remove plants too soon to allow them to do this, but now I give them a fighting chance for survival. In this case I have been rewarded with new growth.

I like topiary, so I have pruned part of the new growth to create several little plants within a plant. There will need to be some tweaking and refining of this to create the look I envisage. Then, as with any shaped bush, it will need maintenance.

78/366: on the level

Because our patio, done in pattern paved concrete, slopes gently towards the drain, it means the table is uneven. I have devised a way of improving this situation. Rather than just chocking it up with a little lump of wood, I set about doing it as attractively as possible.

Sourcing some little pots, one of which was made by one of the girls while at school, I added some florists’ oasis foam, topped it up with some artificial greenery et voila, decorated table-raisers.

53/366: gotta love these pebbles

In some areas where the mulch is wearing down, I have elected to replace it with stones. They seem to be the new “in” thing in gardens, but have in fact been around for years. As usual, even garden fashions change. Weeds can still sneak in, but the good thing about stones and pebbles is that they are a fairly permanent fixture. They don’t rot down, but need a greater outlay of money in the first place. Mulch is a consumable, which protects the ground from weeds until it starts to rot down, but if you don’t top it up quickly enough, can actually encourage more weeds because it provides a compost base on which to thrive.

On ebay you can sometimes pick up a bargain for the garden. In this case I managed to buy a number of 10 kilo bags of these stones at a fraction of the price that I would have had to pay at a garden supply outlet.

This little corner of the garden, near the front porch, was requiring all too regular weeding, partly because I had seaside daisy growing there, so a neatening-up was in order. I seem to be doing a lot of that lately. Hopefully some of these projects will save some time,  so that I can keep creating, spending less time on actual garden maintenance.

38/366: low stakes, high stakes

Not a game of poker, but another recycling issue. I wanted to stake up the rogue tomato plant growing in the herb garden (see day 21/366), so I manufactured my own arched support from two smaller arches.



Firstly I used pliers to remove the parts I didn’t want, and then I joined the two arches with a twist tie.



Since the twist tie was white, I disguised it with florist’s tape, which you stretch around to cover stems of flowers or in this case, the green coated wire.



Et voila! I feel a Spice Girls song coming on: two become one. Now try and get that tune out of your head. The stake, since it was fairly narrow, would not impinge on the roots, so it was nothing like driving a stake through its heart. Now let’s see if we reap any           tomatoes.

9/366: the art of fencing

Paling fences can be somewhat boring, providing an expanse of weathered grey timber, so I decided to do a little decoration.

One of my favourite birthday presents from a couple of years ago was something handy for many little projects. I call it my cordless screwdriver because I don’t often use it for drilling, which is its other purpose. Rechargeable batteries and no lengthy power cord to contend with make it a dream to use.

As I often do, I looked around for something to recycle. In this case I found some offcuts of lattice trellis, screwed it to the fence with some self-tapping screws, and then with some artificial leaves I also already had, voila, fence art.

bunnings bonanza

Will miracles never cease? I achieved two major things the other day:

1: I went to Bunnings with a list of three items: fluorescent globe for the bathroom, spakfilla for painting preparation, and finally, tomato stakes for the garden.

Though I saw many, many items I could have easily bought, with the justification of “I needed them” or “It’s a practical purchase so it doesn’t count,” I was really pleased with myself because I ONLY PURCHASED WHAT WAS ON THE LIST! Anybody knowing me would realise what a feat that was.

2: Then I used all three items ON THE SAME DAY I BOUGHT THEM! I have been known to buy equipment for future projects that sit for years in the shed, garage or studio, and sometimes never come to light. For example, I still intend to mosaic that bird bath from how many years ago?

Firstly, I used my trusty best-ever birthday present of my cordless screwdriver/drill, and played handi sandi, taking the light fitting apart and replacing the globe successfully. To check I had the correct globe, I had taken a piece of string the right length with me to Bunnings.

Secondly, I used the filler to patch the wall I am going to paint later this week. Preparation is the key for painting, and having a smooth hole-free surface helps.

Thirdly, I put the two black stakes in the pot under the bay window, having chosen pretty ones because they were so near the house, then put together the green plastic one and placed it around the tomato plant near the shed, satisfied with the achievements of the morning.