Showing posts from April, 2011


The linseed microgreens experiment is going well...

Winter food: miners lettuce for salads, bay leaves for casseroles and sage for gnocchi and sore throat gargles.
For someone who has killed a number of lemon trees, these actual fruit are very exciting.
Banana passionfruit growing over from the neighbour's fence. While the sun shone today, I planted gladioli and daffodil bulbs and sowed 'mesclun simply red' seeds and some calendula seed.

Today the insulators came and finished the ceiling and insulated underneath the house. Tonight Favourite Handyman put the draught stopper attachment on the back door. I've even got the name of a man in his eighties who chops and delivers wood AND who knew Bill Pearson. Can't wait to order wood from him and get to have a chat.

There has been much sadness on the coast, in the big picture with the new camera footage of the Pike River miner and also as a friend farewells her husband in the saddest of circumstances. I'm conscious of…

Why yes, that is kale again

I found some blade steak in the freezer. I found the kidneys beside it but decided I now know too much about how kidneys are the detox unit for a body. This is what I did, throwing together an amalgam of ingredients from various Alison Holst slow cooker book recipes, less the ones we didn't have in stock.

Chop 2 onions and one carrot and saute in pan. Chop the blade steak and brown in pan. Scrub and thinly slice 2 agria potatoes.

Line the slow cooker with oil (I don't like the oil spray canisters so I pour some from the bottle and use the pastry brush to spread it round). Put the onions and carrot on the bottom. Then place several sprigs of thyme on top. Then layer the sliced potato around evenly. Then add the meat. Then add a can of mixed beans (pinto and borlotti and something else from memory), including the liquid from the can. Then squirt some soya sauce in. Then squirt quite a bit of tomato sauce in. Cook for quite a few hours (I think I started at 10.30am and …

kale penne

Dinner: kale penne
Finely dice one carrot and saute for about a minute in lots of butter. Then add a packet (250g) of bacon, chopped, and three leaves' worth of kale, washed and finely sliced and 4 cloves of garlic, finely chopped. Stir a bit, add a splash of red wine, turn down low and put the lid on. Cook the penne pasta as per the inctructions on the packet. While that is cooking, add some cream cheese to the vege mix (I used about 180g). Stir it round to soften and mix in, then get out your whizzy stick and blend it all together. Drain the pasta and add to the sauce and mix up. Serve.

It tasted good. Slightly odd texture (think finely chopped crunchy) but good.

In other news, I have been cleaning. Lots. Yesterday and today. It is looking and feeling a lot more civilised.

I've been wondering what to do next for winter warmth: more wood or pay to get the rest of the insulation done? Today, confident that given the government's fiscal austerity, the insulation sub…

Queen of the Sun

We headed south for some culture this afternoon. This is the Crooked Mile cinema from the outside

and inside looking at the seats and where my children quickly made themselves comfortable
and looking towards the screen. Poor quality photo, so hard to see the old style piano underneath the screen. I love red velvet curtains.
We went to see Queen of the Sun. Indeed you can watch the trailer here.
It was a fantastic documentary and Favourite Handyman is thinking about beekeeping now, though I suspect time poverty will prevent action on that front. The beekeeper we buy our local organic honey from is in the movie. I burst with pride seeing his honey on his wee stall in Barrytown in an international movie. I've been planting/sowing flowers to attract bees and other beneficial insects into our garden for a while now, but since the movie Fionn is keen to help me choose and sow some more seeds to make a bigger effort.

Back home, this was dinner: finely chop 3 large leaves of kale, 1 le…

Red bucket, green book

It was going to be all about me. I pulled out a skirt pattern I had bought at considerable cost five years ago and then never made up (getting pregnant did get in the way of the fitting part). I was going to push back the rubble on the lounge floor, ignore the washing basket and the other half started projects and make myself a skirt. Skirts are relatively easy as I don't have to alter them in complicated ways.

Mum there is spew trying to come up with my hiccups.
Plain and to the point. Coast talk you might say, though please note not offensive to particular groups Damien O'Connor type talk.

I won't be making a skirt tonight. I'll be rather grateful if I can manage to finish this post and avoid the temptation to go buy some alcohol.

Anyway, Lolo Houbein. What I really like about her book is she makes it easy and keeps it easy. There are not long exhortations about pure ways of gardening (or not for me anyway). You want some plants for your garden? Go …

Lolo Houbein

I think One Magic Square by Lolo Houbein will turn out to be my book of 2011. This interview gives an indication of Houbein's strength and wonderfulness. For me, this book is the best since Linda Woodrow's Permaculture Home Garden, and in practical terms, a better book to start with than Woodrow's.

Germs of diverse persuasions have punctured our days and nights, especially the nights, here. The wide shallow red bucket, with handles to grip with, is the best vomit bucket we've ever owned. The large amount of money we spent on replacing the washing machine in January has been worth it already, given that I can no longer easily recall back to a day when no one's bed linen needed hot washing. I haven't escaped the germs, but I have appreciated Favourite Handyman being home, enabling me to stay in bed sleeping and then resting and reading for two days. This TED/Hans Rosling talk on the transformative power of the washing machine is a wonderful one, and…


Two adults, two children, all home together. No school lunches, no work to rush off to, not even any rain today. We are all loving it.

Today Favourite Handyman cleaned the gutters and (though not at the same time) cooked a divine meal of fish (turbot) and chips and broccoli and kale for dinner. I ordered weeded and buried bokashi and sowed rocket seed and put black mustard and red cabbage sprouts in a jar to soak in the kitchen. The children and I went to the library and Fionn now has the reading bug good and proper and I love seeing him reading every second he can. Brighid has a broody bug and spent much of the day looking after her brother who she called her 'baby' or various dolls.

I've ordered some more seeds from Kings: more rocket, more miners lettuce, some mesclun simply red which I've never grown before, some calendula, basil for microgreens and green brocolli and red clover for sprouting. I'm toying (very lightly at this stage) with whether I could succ…


The sun shone and today was beautiful. I harvested lots of rhubarb so that there is room for things to grow around it. I killed the zucchini that would not die. I made silverbeet and cheese muffins but I did not pulverise the green down to flecks which meant that the four children (I brought in extras for added fun and joyous fun it was indeed) identified the green streaks as silverbeet and refused to eat them.

There is lots of miners lettuce growing in my herb garden, which bodes well for my winter salads.

My latest health kick thing is bee pollen, from local bees up the Coast Road. Stan in the health food shop sells it in little bags from his fridge. Tastes nice.

That's it. Too late for thinking. Just wanted to post my rhubarb picture cos a) I like it and b) I grew the rhubarb and c) it makes the kitchen look really clean which probably relates to a). I moved everything for the photo.

sewing bee + Rita Emmett

Today we had our sewing bee for the Christchurch kindies dressups project. My favourite bit was being out of the house without any children, away from the vomit bug (Didn't we have one not long ago? Why yes we did...) and chatting with my lovely sewing friends, but the sewing itself was also good fun. The photo above is of my pink and frothy concoction, assembled from the many pink and frothy fabric remnants we were given. I didn't take my camera to record the fabulous capes and crowns which Ruth and Linda and Megan made. But the crowns reminded me of Wonder Woman - I think we should all have one, never mind the children.
More test pots. From left to right, hot chilli, monza and well read (Resene colours).
As you can see from this angle, 'well read' isn't very nice at all. Our favourite of the three is still hot chilli, but I've a couple more circled for test pots to see if we can find a colour in the same vein as hot chilli but not quite as dark.

I've …

Garden photographs

The last of the roses. The trunk of the rose bush is bare and autumnal but at the very top are these red beauties.
Today I harvested the pumpkins, weeded in in the gap they left and around the gooseberry and kale plants, and planted irises.
I hoed the garden around the new kale and mulched it with pea straw.
Lemons: this is lemon balm.
This is the lemon verbena which look about to die completely last year. Now I need to find some uses for these two herbs.
The rampant zucchini, seemingly about to colonise the entire lean-to.
The pumpkin harvest. Only one is from deliberately planted seed; the other two are evidence that pumpkin seeds do not die off in bokashi.

Damien O'Connor and what West Coasters talk like.

All New Zealanders likely heard of Damien O'Connor's recent outburst over the Labour list, but in case you missed it, Bryce Edwards has indexed the media write up here. In several places, I read references to how West Coasters talk. Like we all talk the same. Like bigotry is okay with everyone on the Coast.


We don't all talk the same and bigotry is not a natural and useful political tool for many of us. Straight talking yes. Bigoted rudeness no.

That's all.

green pie and red salad

That's what we had for tea last night. I can't be cooking two nights in a row on the last week of an eleven week term so tonight's dinner came out of a parcel of paper. The green pie puffed up in the middle like the vinegar sand volcano experiments we've done with the kids.

Then it collapsed, but it still tasted good. Annabel Langbein calls it Anne's spinach tart, but I do not. The red salad was mostly beetroot, but I didn't take a photo and the recipe is mine and not Annabel Langbein's.

In other news not related to work or parenting, I collected more pieces of wood from the beach and more dead cabbage tree leaves from near the beach, all for the fire.

My latest library read is called Manage your time to reduce your stress, by Rita Emmett. I have only read selected snippets, but I think I like it. When I go to medical waiting rooms and read glossy magazines, the tips in the "15 ways to manage your home on no time" style articles piss me off no …


I think we will go for more hot chilli, this time in the dining room.
We considered various greens, but once the test pots wereup, I changed my mind. In honour of the new paint, I shall tidy my cookbooks, though really those Guardian Weeklies are in quite the most useful place regardless of their feng shui.
The shape of the wind on our beach. As well as creating triangluar bush, it conspires with the tide and storms to bring lots of wood up onto our beach, wood which I collected for kindling for the fire. All by myself. I almost never go to the beach by myself and I loved it.
This piece was hosting its own garden, but it was the red pieces of flotsam rata that I was most keen on finding.

The trikeathon involved lots of waiting around while the children rode in very safe, very small groups and the rest of us stood in the cold. But this did not bore Brighid as you can see. She had a blast on the trikeathon circuit.
The kindy parents all got given a plastic plate to return with bakin…

world health day: autonomy over our own bodies

I'm writing this for the abortion blogswarm advertised on The Hand Mirror. It wasn't hard to know what I wanted to write for this post as I've been thinking about it for some time. I want to write about the effect of abusive parents on perceptions of abortion and choice.

I've been thinking about two real life situations, one I know of more intimately than the other. Two young women, separated by time and place, were made to abort their babies by their parents. Mum and Dad in the case of one and Dad in the case of the other. Woman A and her partner, both young teens, were committed to each other and keen to have the baby and riase him or her themselves. Woman B was clear she wished to birth and raise the child that she, as women who want to carry through a pregnancy do, saw the foetus as.

The scars continue for these two women and one of the notable forms of those scars has been a massive resistance to the notion of abortion in any form. To force someone to have an…

A certain romance

In which I begin a post with the idea that I will at least part way through discover that I do have something to say after all. I've resisted the guilt around the primary school PTA, helped by the fact that it clashes with martial arts (my son and husband, not me, but that leaves the girl in need of an adult caregiver for the evening). I am about a zillion things annoyed by the kindy fundraising, but I'm either lacking courage or lacking callousness in my decision not to complain to the kindy staff (who are great teachers) or the kidsfirst administration given they are in earthquake recovery mode over the hill where the admin is based. If you organise a fundraising meeting and no one turns up, that is an important vote. It is not a sign that you should organise a fundraiser and ask people to volunteer lots of things and say that parents will need to do the next one. If private childcare centres can run without fundraising, then so can kidsfirst kindies which change their …

All the Way Home

So I devoured David Giffels' book All the Way Home, and afterwards and in the gaps when meals and the most unavoidable of family responsibilities dictated I stop reading, I talked to those I love most about painting the dining room, changing the colour of almost every surface in the kitchen, turning the garage into a sleepout and making a roofless plastic house with the old poultry palace roofing plastic. Those are the bits I remember, there may have been more.

Somewhere along the day, a little reality seeped in. I did make a start on the dining room, and collected a box full of newspapers and filled a large black rubbish sack just by clearing one cubic metre. Really. I got half of the room done (filled a second black sack) and then the shortest people wanted to eat and I didn't quite get to the other side. Maybe tomorrow. If you didn't believe about my/our bad housekeeping before, you might now. On the aesthetic side (though collecting large volumes of half started …


In which we went on an adventure to the beach because we could. Because it was Thursday and we were free of work and school and as we dropped Fionn off at school I thought the dreadful thought that I shall drop them both off next year and by then we absolutely could not do ordinary things like go back home.
It was a misty, dark grey day and we had the beach entirely to ourselves. We found seaweed and as I went to untangle it from the stick, I decided to keep it on the stick and carry it like a swag.
Bordering the beach is gorse, paddocks with sheep, and a resting fence for the seaweed, which was more as I'd tied the new finds on to the swag.
Then we went home and did normal things like dye a perfectly normal skirt blue.

I bought it for $5 at Postie Plus earlier in the week and I thought I would dye it a beautiful intense turquoise.
I don't think the result is the intensity of colour I had imagined, but I do still like it. Once I've worn it a while I shall know if I need to…