the huntered housewife

our family life, our way

Our food garden

It’s been nearly two years since we moved into our house. I shared our garden and landscaping as we did each bit, so I thought I’d share with you how it has developed.

Our plan is that almost everything growing in our back yard has a purpose other than just looking pretty. Most of our plants’ produce is edible. And for a couple of foodies, that is winning!

Almond nut tree. We have two of these, both producing nuts – we don’t know how to tell when they are ready to eat, but hubby picked one the other day & it was far from ready, so we’ll give them a while longer.


Row of trees –  front is a fig tree (the almond tree in the pic above is before the fig, just not in this photo), then a lemon tree which replaced the macadamia tree which was killed by the winter frost. The far tree is another almond.


Strawberry plants make a great ground cover. We also have blueberries growing in this garden bed. On the shelf below is a curry plant and Ray planted radishes the other day. New veggie patch in the background.

A day’s harvest of strawberries.



Plenty more will be ready in the next few days.



Vegetable patch planted on the weekend. Carrots (seeds not seedlings, so you can’t see them), mini capsicum plant, cauliflower x 4, roma tomatoes x 4, mini cos lettuce x 4. Behind the veggie patch (to the left in this pic) we have a couple of native plum trees and a chilli plant, which are not visible in the photos.



Doing our bit for the bees – they won’t become extinct on our watch! Lavender hedge along back fence is growing well. Every plant has bees. I knew lavender attracted bees, which is why they are along the back fence. If they were close to the house, the kids would see them and never go outside again. This way, the bees can do their thing and they are not bothering us and we can do our thing and we are not bothering them.



There is still oodles of room for the kids to play.


Down the track we may get some chooks. There is something peaceful and therapeutic about having back yard chickens. Plus they eat the spiders! We just need to make sure we are not encouraging snakes or foxes. Because we certainly don’t want them in our yard! Foxes are cute when you see them in the distance and I wouldn’t care if they came into our yard at the moment (which they don’t), but if we had chickens they wouldn’t be welcome at all. And sorry snake lovers, but I don’t like the thought of snakes in our yard. At. All. Never. Ever. And we have built on land that used to be a known snake path. We had snake sightings last summer and our eyes on the lookout already this year.

So that’s where we are up to in the garden.

What do you have growing?












Reverse Advent Calendar

I found this pic on Facebook recently.



It’s from a page called Countdown to Christmas, which I hadn’t heard of before. I am giving you the link to their page out of courtesy, since I have used a picture from there. You will see on the pic there is a website, called mum in the madhouse, which you can check out here. Because I am not one to use other people’s  content without giving them credit. I don’t for a minute presume that my little blog is so widely read that they would see it, but that’s not the point, it’s about being respectful.

Anyway……..we think this Reverse Advent Calendar is a great idea, however Christmas Eve is a little late to be trying to donate a basket of goodies to a charity to distribute, so we are going to do it for the month of November and donate it at the beginning of December. That way it has plenty of time to find its way to a needy family.

So, what kind of things go in such a basket?

There are the practical things – pasta and pasta sauce, rice, tea, coffee, sugar ( just because I keep sugar to a minimum doesn’t mean that everyone else does), breakfast cereal, soap, shampoo, conditioner, laundry detergent, etc.

Then there are the other things – something that’s a bit “pampery” – lipstick, hand lotion, a dearer shampoo or body wash, a nice block of chocolate, fancy tea, there are plenty of options out there.

When it comes to donating items, I always tend to think of the Mum. I have a hard time thinking of what a Dad would like to receive. It can be hard to include something for kids as you don’t know the ages of children in the family the hamper will end up with, but sometimes you just have to take a punt.

I would love it if you would all join in by setting up a basket in  your own home and adding something to it each day (or even a couple of items a week) so that you can then donate it to charity to distribute.

Remember that food items must be in date and non perishable. Do not include frozen or chilled items, even if you purchase these last minute on your way to donating as they probably can’t be accepted due to food safety regulations. If you want to donate meat, buy a gift voucher at the butcher instead.

Who’s in? What sort of things would you put in such a basket?




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Winner, Winner Chicken Dinner

I shared on my personal Facebook page the other day how I feel lucky to work in a country school. Our Agriculture Faculty had sent some chickens off to be butchered and I was able to buy a couple, raised and cared for by students as part of their schooling. No nasty chemicals or growth hormones in these chickens. I was also able to buy a few dozen eggs (I have eggs as part of my breakfast every day) and some salad greens – lettuce leaves, spinach, rocket and kale. All produced onsite, all natural, no nasties.

So, being the weekend, with plenty of cooking time available, tonight was the night for our chicken dinner.

Of course I am not going to talk about it without sharing photos!

Forget Colonel Sanders with his 11 secret herbs and spices………I beat him with 14! Which came about because I couldn’t decide what seasonings I wanted to use. Yes, all of these went on the chicken!


Almost ready for the oven……(the chicken on the left looks like a demented pig!)


But I decided there was still something missing! Aaaahhhh…….butter……


I ate all of my dinner.


But we did have more than just chicken. I baked some sweet potato and carrots, which are “sometimes foods” on the LCHF plan of eating, some cauliflower and some kale (which are “go for its” with LCHF). I didn’t have any regular potatoes so I the kids had chips (from frozen) and I made a salad.

Tonight’s salad consisted of leaves from the school’s Ag farm, with some capsicum, cheese, cucumber, red onion, carrot, cheese and pickles thrown in. Topped with a squirt or two of kewpie mayonnaise (the lowest sugar mayo I have found on the supermarket shelf). Leftovers below. (Notice there is no leftover wine in the bottle! – that’s not low carb).


We still have one chicken left, which I have pulled apart for lunches and snacking over the next couple of days.


And I have kept the carcasses to make stock or soup tomorrow.


Which I haven’t tried before, so hopefully it works! Google is my friend.

What was your Sunday night dinner?



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Proof that LCHF is right for me.

In the past 13 weeks I have put 8.5 of my 30kg weight loss back on.

Why is it so?

Because I haven’t been following the LCHF way of eating the way it is meant to be followed. I have been all over the place, on holidays, staying at other people’s places whilst helping to look after Dad and comfort / emotional eating.

Hey, when your terminally ill Dad wants to have Baker’s Delight for lunch, you enjoy it with him. When your mother in law puts a steady supply of lollies in front of you, you enjoy them. When you are on holidays you probably will relax the rules a touch. Or more than a touch. When you are on the road it is sometimes easier to just eat what is there rather than lose time by “being fussy”.  I’m not blaming anybody for my weight gain. It’s my fault. I choose what I eat. And I knew I was choosing the wrong foods and decided to deal with it later. “Monday is next week!”.

Not all the food I’ve eaten has fallen under the junk food category. I have eaten what is considered healthy food – fruit, wraps, yoghurt, vegetables……….they just weren’t always the low carb version. And when I start the day with bacon and eggs, the higher carb foods later in the day don’t play well with them.

Well, later has arrived. I am getting back into the LCHF way of eating and have started losing weight again. I want to look how I did 14 weeks ago. I want to lose this extra weight, plus the 10 -15 kg I still had to go. Let’s say I want to get down to 65kg. I have 18.1kg to lose.

I’m going back and revisiting the basic rules to refresh my mind. I am scrolling the Facebook pages filled with people’s comparison pics and tips/questions/recipes. I’m doing this.

Who’s with me?







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As Executor, what happens after the funeral?

I filled you in with my last post that Dad passed away in September.

I shared my hiccups that occurred when organising his funeral. I think Dad would be pleased at how it all came together and humbled that over 200 people attended.

So what happens now? I haven’t done this before so I am learning as I go.

The Funeral Director will order the Death Certificate. This takes about 3 weeks to arrive and it comes by registered mail so you have to sign for receiving it. It’s not something they want to go astray. It is a legal document.

Get the mail redirected. Once you have a death certificate you can have the mail redirected for a year for free. You need to do this in person at the post office, it can’t be done online like a regular redirection. In the meantime I have paid for a month to allow time for the certificate to arrive, which was made simple for me as I had Power of Attorney over Dad’s affairs. They asked if he had a concession card but I didn’t have it with me at the time so when I go back this week I will ask if he is entitled to a refund or discount for the month that’s been paid for.

Cancel things. Health fund, telephone, electricity, newspaper delivery, etc. These can be done over the phone (no death certificate needed) and any refunds will be sent by cheque to “the estate of………” so the right person gets the money. More on this further on. As mail arrives, ring and get your loved one removed from mailing lists. If there are bills due, you can pay them and then claim it back from the estate, otherwise get extensions on the due dates and get them paid from the estate. Dad had already passed his car on, so the registration and insurance were already in the process of issuing refund cheques. I do need to return the disabled parking space permit to the RMS.

Unsubscribe from email lists. I have Dad’s computer passwords so am able to get into his computer and emails. Marketing emails have an unsubscribe link which makes it easy. Go back through emails in case there is something you haven’t thought of. A lot of bills arrive electronically these days, so you won’t always find a paper trail.

Find out how long you have to vacate the premises. It took a few intense phone calls to management and a plea for them to see reason and have compassion but I was able to negotiate a little bit of extra time to clear out the villa. As we all live away, we couldn’t go back and forth, it had to be a one trip job for each of us. And as a team we did it.

Make sure the funeral bill gets paid. Dad’s was prepaid, so I only needed to pay the organist. Banks will release funds from the bank account in the form of a cheque to the funeral home when the executor takes the bill to them. The bank will then freeze the account so no other funds can be drawn unless they authorise it. This now becomes a legal / estate issue so the bank is restricted on who any funds can be released to.

Get in touch with your loved one’s legal people – solicitor, accountant/tax agent. Give them a certified copy of the will if they don’t already have one. And give them a certified copy of the death certificate. The word certified is very important. It means the photocopy you are waving under their nose is a true and correct copy of the original and has been stamped and signed by someone who is legally allowed to say so. Those people would be a Solicitor or a Justice of the Peace and there will be others but off the top of my head I can’t tell you who. You can google that one if you like.

Decide if you want to handle the estate or if you want the legal people to do it. I have chosen (with Dad’s okay) to have his solicitor do it because know the process and the laws. I know it will be done right if they do it. Now that the death certificate has arrived, I can get some copies certified and send one each to the solicitor and the accountant and they can do their thing. When someone asks if the will is going to Probate and you replay that you don’t even know what Probate is, you know you are doing the right thing by handing it over to the professionals! It’s a term I heard when I was in banking but I never had to deal with it so I never bothered to learn what it was about. That was handled by a whole other department interstate. If you are going to DIY, you will need to set up a bank account in the “estate of the late……..” and that is where refunds and other monies will go. If there are shares or investments to cash in, the proceeds will go into this account. Superannuation needs to be released into this account. If a solicitor is handling it, they will have a trust account set up for receiving funds. Once everything has been gathered and any legal matters been dealt with  and debts paid and anything else (tax return to date of death for example), then the estate can be dispersed as per the will. Using a solicitor means they do all of this.

Write everything down as you do it. I probably should have put this one first. You make so many phone calls and will have trouble remembering who told you what. And you forget if you rang the electricity company or the phone company and who was sending a refund cheque and who was sending a bill to be paid.

Notify Centrelink, the tax office, electoral office, Medicare, etc. I think they are all linked up these days and when you notify one government department, it will carry through to the others. That’s what happened when we moved and I changed my address. I updated it with one and I got confirmation letters from others. I imagin I will need to take the death certificate with me. I will start at Centrelink as Medicare is in the same place these days.

There will be things that I have missed in this post. Like I said, I haven’t done this before and I am learning as I go.

I know that I do need to organise a “Return Thanks” notice in the newspaper. I also need to email the Parish Secretary to ask the size of the memorial plaque that goes on the wall with Dad’s ashes so we can choose the wording. We tried to have a look at some prior to Dad’s funeral but the gate was locked. So google it is. I will put a suggestion forward to the family and see if they would make any changes. It’s not something that is mine, it is for all the family so they need the opportunity for input.

So that’s a bit of a run down of what you do as an executor. It’s not hard, it’s just unknown territory. Hopefully it will be a long time before you need to step into that role.













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Organising a Funeral

Okay, so those of you who are friends on my personal page (almost all of you) would know by now that my Dad passed away from cancer on 7th Sept.

As Dad’s cancer advanced, his goal was to reach his 78th birthday because his own Dad passed away at 77. Dad turned 78 on 1st Sept. He did it! Then he let go, too tired and weak, with little quality of life to warrant continuing the fight. He spent less than 24 hours in hospital. He was ready to meet his God.

There was a wonderful team of family, friends and nurses helping to care for Dad, without whom he would have had to go into a care facility as life has seen his 3 offspring spread around the country and globe. Neighbours popped in or called out as they passed his place to make sure he was okay, the women cooked meals and baked cakes to keep his sweet tooth satisfied. You know when someone says “let me know if there is anything I can do”……..I sent some very ripe bananas to a neighbour and asked her to bake something with them or else they were being thrown out and within half an hour we had warm banana muffins in our hands. Something to offer visitors as they came.

Dad was a very practical and organised man. (I wonder if that has rubbed off on me?!) He prepaid his funeral, had his readings and hymns for the funeral chosen, had me authorised as his Power of Attorney and Medical Guardian for when he could no longer get around and/or make sound decisions, made sure I had contact numbers for anyone he has professional services with, went through is financial records with me, ensured I have access to his computer, introduced me to the lady at his Church who puts the funeral service together, organised catering for his wake and did almost everything he could except book in the date.

Which is where I came to my first hiccup!

I rang the funeral directors and organised an appointment. We chose a date and time and tried to ring the Priest to make sure it was okay. After two days of leaving messages and escalating it to the Bishop’s office we discovered the Priest was away on retreat and as a result the Parish Secretary was not needed to be in the office, hence the answering machine hadn’t been checked to be able to return my call. A few more phone calls between a few people saw Father ring the funeral home (great timing as I had popped in and was there at the time) to advise that the original date didn’t suit.

In the meantime I had been to the venue where the wake is to be held to put Dad’s plans into place with the tentative date and to pay a deposit. The caterer had already told me that it would be no trouble to change the date, so we did.

Cue me making a phone call to the funeral coordinator at the Parish – only to leave a message on her answering machine. I have since discovered that she is away! Dad, you were so organised, we couldn’t have everything run smoothly, could we?! Another lady at the Parish is helping with what needs to be done there.

Dad lived in a complex owned by a local aged care service but the complex was completely independent living, with no staff onsite. I have a name and contact number to ring but guess what? That lady is away until Monday!!!! We have two weeks from the date of death to clear out the villa – I know this because Dad had already called to ask. I’m sure the company will have heard along the grapevine by now but they would need to be officially notified by the family.

So my next job is to organise pall bearers. I have teed up 4 out of 6 so far and may go with a 7th, depending if those I have in mind are able to attend Dad’s funeral. That is something I would rather ask people over the phone rather than by email, so those calls will be made tomorrow. Dad was happy with the list of names I came up with when he asked me to take this task on.

Anyway, we have a funeral. It’s a bit like organising a wedding in that everything has to line up and you feel stressed until you have everything in neat rows.

I haven’t had a big cry yet, just a couple of times with a few tears. Like I said to Dad, the emotional side will catch up with me later. First, I have jobs to do. I am very much like him in this regard.

My writing tonight has been a brain dump – there is so much bouncing around in there I just had to get it out to make sense of it.

Hope you don’t mind Dad!

Karen xx

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I wrote a post the other day, talking about markets and how we like a good one.

On Saturday, we headed up to Helensvale to check out the Night Quarter. This is a market on Friday & Saturday nights with live entertainment and where all the stalls are converted shipping containers! 

There were some vacant stalls/empty containers but I guess they are full in the summer season. What we found was mostly food stalls and fewer general stalls. There are only so many dream catchers to see.

It was still a bustling place & at $3 per teen & adult entry fee, I imagine the organisers are covering a good chunk of their costs.

We could imagine it on a warm summer evening,  food aplenty (SO much to choose from), band playing, window shopping, bliss!

But being winter, there were some empty containers & we were finished pretty quickly, so headed back to Surfers for dinner.

Sunday saw us head up to Mt Tambourine, or Tambourine Mountain, or whatever it is called!

Being the second Sunday of the month, the markets were on at the Showground. There were SO many cars that we were tempted to keep on driving, but then figured that if there were THAT many people going, then we should not give up. And they were great! Well worth the hike back to the car. Lots of local produce like avocados and bananas and lots of stalls with handmade stuff- like the timber serving platters that I love but won’t fork out that much cash for and outdoor settings that my dreams are made of and there were some great metal sculptures! If we lived locally there was so much I could buy. Lots of chutneys & sauces & spices & all that good stuff! We ended up buying a new bag to store our plastic bags and an apron. Easy to transport back to Scone!

We had lunch there and by golly, I was super impressed with the prices! A container with 3 large rice paper rolls was only $8. I would have expected to pay $5 for each roll. German sausage in a bun (glorified hot dogs) were only $5. Hunter Valley Gardens, if you are reading this (yeah,right), you need to take note & reduce your prices! (Yeah, right!).

There was a chap there singing for our entertainment & let me tell you- listening to a guy in his 60s singing older songs was a darned sight better than the band that was thrashing it out at their first appearance at the Night Quarter the previous night. We must be getting old!

So after dragging the kids around there for a while and feeding them lunch, we headed off to the Gallery Walk. Which I suppose you would say is the lap of the main street filled with boutiques/galleries to browse. 

It was definitely a good way to spend a day out. The kids did marvellously to not complain. We have one who has just recovered from a cold & one who has both a cold and is recovering from an ankle injury. 3 out of 4 of us are dosed up on cold & flu tablets. 

I bought a necklace at the right end of the street. I find it amusing that all the $50 items were reduced to $10. There were tables of them, so it just goes to show how unrealistic the retail prices are.

I also bought some more kombucha. Yummy!

Anyway, we browsed lots of shops with handmade, crafty items, candles, fair trade/Oxfam stuff, lollies and more jewellery than you could poke a stick at, but my favourite would have to be the cuckoo clock shop. 

Anyway, this was the bulk of our weekend and the kids are relieved that we aren’t heading off to any markets tomorrow! 

We’re thinking of going back to Wet’n’Wild instead. That will make them smile!



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Too old to ride?

We spent a day at Movie World this week, which involved us going on lots of rides.

As Liam and I queued up to go on the Green Lantern roller coaster, I noticed that I didn’t see ladies of my age lining up. Or men (Megan isn’t tall enough so Ray took her for an ice cream instead), it was mostly teenagers.

Which got me thinking- at what age is it no longer “socially acceptable” to ride the roller coasters. Or the other rides? Or the  waterslides at Wet n Wild?

When the students at school discovered through Liam that we were coming to the Gold Coast and theme parking, some of them asked if I was going on the rides. They seemed pretty impressed that I do & sounded disappointed when they said that their Mums sit & watch instead.

Now, I happen to like the rides at the theme parks. Yes, some of them are scary, but over the years I’ve been on them with the kids and laughed through each one so the kids wouldn’t be scared. Because a scared parent means an even more scared child. So you don’t let the fear show. Fortunately the kids steer clear of the really scary rides. It means I still get turned upside down three times on the Green Lantern though!

So I ask the question. How old is too old to ride the rides? 30? 40? 50? Dads usually get more leeway as they are the parent who rides with the kids whilst Mum minds hats & sunnies and watches From a safe distance! 

Is there an age at which you think adults are too old to ride the rides?


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I need some tact-ical advice

Straight to the point- how do I tactfully tell reception that we don’t like our rooms at our holiday accommodation? 

Let me fill you in, we stayed at this resort this time last year & loved the rooms we were in. When we checked out, we told them we would be back these holidays & they said we could request the same room. Which of course doesn’t mean we would get it but we could ask for it. So we did. Several times, as we made payments towards paying our accommodation. And we didn’t get it. We were demoted 9 floors, to a room that skirts the side of the building & has a longer, narrower layout as a result. And different views. The washing machine & dryer are as old as the hills & sound like they are going to blow up or cark it any minute now. And they are SO noisy! Even way down the other end of the long hallway they are disruptive. The oven must be from the 1970s & like all things of that era (me included), it takes a long time to get going. 

These are first world problems, we know, but very frustrating when we are here for a holiday. We don’t want to have to battle or wrestle with appliances, we want them to work smoothly. We paid for a room with a full kitchen so we could actually use it, it’s not there for decoration. And the frying pan needs to be large, not small. It is a 2 bedroom family apartment, it needs cookware that caters to family needs.

Frankly, if we were put in this apartment last year, we would not have booked here this year- we would have chosen somewhere else in Surfers- there are plenty of choices when you are booking 9 months in advance. And I think this place needs to know that we wouldn’t have returned. And that we won’t return next year unless they can convince us to. If I feel like this, there must be others who feel the same.

So now I need your best tips on how to politely complain. I don’t usually make complaints so I’m not an expert on this!

Please tell me how.

Ready, set, go!


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Markets!! (And other stuff).

I love markets. 

I have memories of going clothes shopping with Mum and later with my friends, as a teenager. The Wollongong Showground markets was the place to shop in the mid 1980’s. I still remember a white skirt with panels of lace- it’s hard to describe, but I loved it & I wore it to school on a mufti day & a friend joked that she was going to break into my room & steal it because she loved it too! (RIP Janet, taken too young).

Anyway, where I am going with this post is that we have small markets in our country town. Small population equals small markets. It makes sense. 

So when we go on holidays we keep an eye out for markets. There is so much more to see at markets supported by bigger populations. And tourists, although we do try to steer clear of the stuff that’s aimed for tourists. 

Today we were on the road to our holiday destination & we stopped at Pottsville to visit friends as it was on our way & we had time to kill before we could check in to our accommodation . Hi Kim & Luis! Thanks for your welcoming hospitality. Before stopping in we discovered the Pottsville markets we on, so off we went! (Sorry Mum, we’ll catch up with you soon!)

I got a bit excited when I found these! I tasted a couple of kombucha drinks & decided on the one below. I’ll open it tomorrow. We had some of the pickled/cultured vegetables with dinner tonight.

Those of you who are into fermented foods & probiotics will understand my excitement! 

She has an online shop too- yay! I’ll just have to check out postage costs to Scone.

So we’ve arrived at our destination on the Gold Coast, our annual pilgrimage so to speak & we’ve collected assorted brochures on what to do. Carrara markets are on weekends, we didn’t get there when we were here last year. I remember going there about 25 years ago & they were good but nowhere near the size they are now.

We have also discovered that there is a market on at Tambourine Mountain next Sunday so are planning to make that the day we go exploring there. We haven’t been there before.

And we went to the promenade markets here in Surfers Paradise this evening.

And of course there are lots of family & friends to catch up with, who live on the Gold Coast or close by. It’s important to maintain these relationships in real life & not simply let the online world be our only contact. So there is an element of planning & coordinating to do, whereas we like to see what each day looks like weather wise before making arrangements. But we are here for slightly longer this year, so we will definitely make time to fit everything & everyone  in.

First impression on our accommodation this year is that it’s not as good as last year’s room. We booked the same resort & asked for the same room (reception told us as we checked out last year that we could), however we have ended up 9 storeys lower but with views of both the ocean and the river. I don’t like the layout of this suite but it might grow on me.

Anyway, it’s home for the next two weeks and it’s a darned sight warmer than Scone, so I’ll take it!



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