Showing posts from May, 2011

Nice girl on a ledge

Complete: the dressups for the Christchurch kindies are all packed and down at Brighid's kindy ready for someone from Christchurch head office of Kidsfirst Kindergartens to collect this week. We made quite a few dressups and were gifted lots more by the Sallies, who also gave us some play equipment and powder paint for the project. It took a while, but I'm really pleased to have made my goal of a personal, handmade contribution to Cantabrians a reality.

Incomplete: everything else. Apart from the last wine bottle. I resisted buying some tonight and now I regret such virtue.

I've been thinking about the planned slutwalk, which has given me much to think about. I've not read comprehensively on the subject, though I have read all or nearly all of the posts on The Hand Mirror on the subject. I posted about it on my facebook page and was disappointed with several female responses claiming that men could not control their sexual urges and women must cover up as a kind o…

Beautiful things to read

I read Glenn Colquhoun's essay, The therapeutic uses of ache this morning. It is truly beautiful and now I have to request as much Glenn Colquhoun for our library as I possibly can. I can't even decide which piece to pull out and quote, but I am grateful that it is online and I can go back to it often.

Not quite as memorable and beautiful, but lovely all the same, is Bella Bathurst's article on the secret life of libraries. Someone rang me earlier in the week as part of a survey commissioned by our local council. They did start with a long introduction about themselves and wondered if I had ten minutes to spare. At 6.10pm on Wednesday evening? Only if my life is otherwise in danger. He rang back later. I put library spending at the top of the three priorities I got to choose for council spending.

Some of the spotty girl's spots are actually disappearing. Fionn got player of the day at league. I stayed home with the disappearing spots, but I gather he did some g…

Coconut oil; care workers

Today I got one step closer to getting the kindy dress ups off to Christchurch. They've been sitting in our car boot for what seems like weeks now.

I am making progress on my school gala jobs. I have one person lined up to paint nails and I've begun enquiries on my other project of setting up pony rides.

I managed to collect the right number of children, take Brighid to swimming lessons, organise mouthguards and boots and get the right number of children to league practice. I think. I even furnished four meals in more or less useful places and times.

Blackball museum of working class history meeting today. Came home with homework. The next exhibition is going to be on care workers. It will be very interesting. There is a very topical case with one of our rest homes in town at the moment and I look forward to helping put those issues in a wider social and historical perspective.

Coconut oil. Should have thought of it earlier. The best hypothesis we can get on Brighid'…

Red & Black

I caved. I went to a presentation at Fionn's school this afternoon about supporting children in their transition to school and the first three years there. The incredibly capable and energetic and tireless secretary of the PTA also gave a presentation. I also managed finally to think of a new fundraising idea for the gala. So tonight I went to the PTA meeting, though I do know very clearly that I won't be there every time or taking on extra responsibilities.

The pictures of Brighid in her red and black tights were taken for the express benefit of sending to her grandfather, whose rugby allegiances are very strong. The other red and black picture is the not quite finished Captain Underpants cape. Book character day at school tomorrow.

The red part is a handed down towel from Mum. I love handed down linen from Mum, because it always carries a story. This one still has the name tag sewn in for my sister, with a code number beside it which must be from a school or guides cam…

Hand sewing

black spots on the red cape. The fleece spots and the red towel weren't getting along too well with my sewing machine and I decided it would be easier to stitch them on by hand. Not finished yet, but I've got another 34 hours before book character day.

Day One of my marathon multi-tasking week done. I don't think I dropped any really heavy balls. Cousin Mary now has her glasses back and a new heater installed/assembled (installer: me, with no assistance from my assistants, who were in the lounge watching Sky and scoffing Mary's hundreds and thousands biscuits.) I also took Mary to the supermarket, which gave me an opportunity to buy some broccoli and mandarins and some WINE.

I googled and it seems that primroses are similar if not the same as polyanthus. 'Primroses' sound so much more beautiful than 'polys'. Perhaps I'll just get more primulas instead. I think I pulled out the last of the polyanthus a month or so back.

Nikki, yesterday you aske…

Double kale day

Lunch: wash and chop kale. Finely chop five cloves of garlic. Saute in olive oil, then add one tin of chopped tomatoes, put lid on and simmer. Then add chopped smoked chicken to the pan and keep lid on and simmer some more. Then add in the penne pasta you have just cooked. Serve with parmesan and black pepper.

Dinner: Finely chop 12 (yes twelve) cloves of garlic and one onion. Wash a pile of jerusalem artichokes (for proportions, think how many spuds you would use for a main course spud salad and that is how many artichokes you will want) and cut into even sized pieces. Wash and finely chop some kale. Chop up some bacon (I use hunks of bacon ends sold cheaper at the butchery). Put quite a lot of butter in a frypan and cook the bacon. Then add the garlic and onion and artichokes. Put the lid on the frypan and turn it down. After a while, add the kale as well. When the artichokes seem nearly done (about 15 minutes, and I had mine in quite small pieces, perhaps 3cm cubes), th…

The chestnut experiment

So today I noticed that the bag of chestnuts was still on the bench, the one I bought over a week ago. So far, nothing particularly unusual, Martha Stewart does not live here. But I've never cooked chestnuts before and it occurred to me they might start to go mouldy soon, if not already. So I boiled them for a period which I imagine to have been 20 minutes (how long does reading aloud two chapters of The Wishing Chair plus random four and eight year old question fielding take?) and then I peeled some. The first one tasted perfect. None of the others quite lived up to it. I would do it again for that yummyness.

Then I got distracted by remembering the garage sale down the road, the need to find gorse flowers and the small matter of a rugby league game.

You should not get distracted in the middle of peeling hot chestnuts. Peeling cold chestnuts doesn't really work as the inner skin won't peel off cold.

As for other cooking matters, I can't quite reach beyond the blur…

Friday night solo parenting

So the spotty girl is still spotty and my new venture into new land is now gorseflower remedy. I've not played round with flower remedies before, but Laksmi has recommended I try it on both children, and it's not like the GP has anything at all to suggest so why not? I've left collecting the flowers until the morning as we got home from Laksmi's appointment to a cold and empty house on a pitch black night. Vitamin C, vitamin E and calendula cream continues apace.

I've got my sewing machine back. I've sewn pink bias binding all round the hem of the birthday present for Miss Eight. I started sewing my muslin for this dress:

Long time readers might find this image slightly familiar. I had a go at sewing it a year ago (the version in the large picture), before I had my head round/was brave enough to make a full bust adjustment. So I followed the traditional advice to make it for the largest measurement and ended up with a size 22, enormous sack. I'd use s…

29 men, six months

Six months ago an explosion trapped 29 men in the Pike Rive mine.

They are still there.

They are still missed.

Pike River receivers are still focusing their energies on selling the business.

Local men and women are still focusing their energies on getting their men out of the mountain.

I offer this post up to those 29 men, their families, and to all the non-family people most affected by this gargantuan loss, especially the mines rescue teams.

The seasons of my day

Today was glorious. Brighid opted not to go to kindy and we spent the morning planting. The soil is definitely too wet and cold, but given I bought the punnets a week ago, I decided to plough ahead regardless.
You can't see the broccoli I planted very well in this photo. I do hope I can still see them at all in the morning. I've laid several beer traps.
Mamaku, leeks, silverbeet and SUN.
This was this morning before school.
Why else would I buy a big green laundry basket?

There was definite changing of the guard in the afternoon, when I dropped Brighid off to our lovely childminders and went to work for several hours. At 5.30pm the children and I arrived home and both of them hit a tired hungry wall and the line was full of washing and the slow cooker had meat but no greens or spuds and the house was cold and the fire unlit and and and most importantly Dad was at another meeting and that was the saddest bit. So I got Fionn feeding chooks, grabbed all the washing at…

What's with slow cooker snobbery?

The rain has scarcely stopped all day. It rained most of the weekend, but the weekend seems like it was full of tropical sunshine by comparison with today. The bokashi buckets are full and the punnets of vegetables, flowers and lavender are still in the porch, hopefully protected there from the winds. Even when it stops raining, which it didn't today, it's too wet to turn the soil.

To replace the real gardening I would like to be doing, I grab a pile of books from the library this afternoon. They have A Green Granny's Garden by Fionna Hill. I've just read the first half of the book and it's 'nice'. I'd put it in the same publishing wave as Wendyl Nissen's A Home Companion: My Year of Living like my Grandmother, but it's not as well written as Nissen's book. Flitting through another book, I now speculate that the problem with my sad little celery (in contrast to the gorgeous and huge celery I grew in my first year here) is lack of calci…

An Enid Blyton garden

More kale: shepherd's pie.
Is shepherd's pie the one which uses leftover roast meat? I'm working on that assumption given that's what Mum called it. If you whizz up kale in your whizzy machine into small pieces, it mixes up with the whizzed up meat and the other chopped veges and lashings of tomato sauce perfectly. Chop the central ribs out first.

Magazines and newspapers often publish gorgeous photographs and writeups of fabulous farmers' markets throughout the country. Our climate is a bit more difficult, not so much for home gardening as for commercial scale enterprises. So the next best thing is when South Island producers bring their wares to the West Coast. Motueka Valley Organics have been bringing their wares to Greymouth every second Thursday since last month. Their produce is super yummy and very reasonably priced. I love their apples and grapes and this week we have persimmons, feijoas and chestnuts as well. I'll report back from my virgin att…

repurposed sheet experiment #1

Today's project:

One pink paisley skirt for an eighth birthday gift. The fabric is cut from a sheet I found at the Sallies last year. I also cleaned the net curtains in the bedroom, did many shifts at the washing machine/washing line and made the most disastrous chocolate chip biscuits ever. It does help to follow the recipe if you want something that even stays on the tray in the oven.

So that was quarantine day and we are no further ahead in explaining all Brighid's spots. More were coming out all over her body up to the end of yesterday but there seem to be no new ones today (best guess-timating - I haven't precisely counted as there are probably 100 spots). She is 100% well in every other way and I see no reason to keep up the quarantine tomorrow.

I also spent a bit of time on the Guardian Weekly (6 May 2011). My favourite quote is from a letter to the editor by Karin Ramachandra of Sri Lanka:
Our problem is not that we don't know how to respectfully assist peopl…

The good enough greenie

I've encountered the phrase 'good enough parent' a few times. I find it useful, conjuring for me that fine line between working hard to be an effective and positive parent and beating oneself up in a way which is harmful to the parent and pretty unhelpful for the child(ren).

Today I've been thinking about being a 'good enough greenie'. When I first started blogging, I was expanding my greenie-ness and Sandra's Garden might even have been categorised as a greenie blog by some readers. Since then, I've returned to paid work on a part time basis and as I've made decisions about what I will fit into each day, not all of them have focused on the most ecologically sustainable option. Far more pressing on many occasions has been the most time sustainable option and I'm not ashamed of that.

It's not that I no longer care about a sustainable world, it's just that I care about other things too. While I can make the mental space to care about a …

New Look 6735

I made an entire top today. I also got drenched watching rugby league, made cheese toasties for lunch and the eleven hundredth sausage meal ever in my life and mediated sibling disagreements, but other than that I sewed. Much of it involved un-stucking my machine and fabric and rethreading it every time I sewed over a quadruple thickness seam. The top is in the photo below, though as a dark colour it doesn't show up well. I am really pleased with the fit. Maybe I can sew tops to fit me after all. I've also cut out a skirt, from the same New Look 6735 pattern, from black stretchy fabric.

That's all. I haven't gardened or read or thought deeply about anything. The inspiration for thinking I could make and wear this top came from Andrea of New Vintage Wardrobe.

muslin and FBA

I've been sewing. Which is to say I've been learning. I sewed this top in the photo below. Well, I sewed it almost to completion, which was enough for me to know that:
a) It's not a bad fit but it's not great either and shortcutting on the full bust adjustment yielded short cut results.
b) I am too young to wear navy polyester tops.
So tonight I undid the first lot of adjustments. First time round, I cut a 16 in the neck, an 18 in the arms and graded from the 16 through to a 20 from the armscye downwards. I also added 5 cm in length to the front and back. It did fit across the bust, but it was quite baggy around the waist and thus not so flattering.

Second time round, i.e. tonight, I cut out the paper pattern piece for a 16 in all the pieces and had my first go at a fba on the front, adding 5 cm on the pattern piece for the front, which will double in effect on the actual fabric.

There is no dart in this pattern and I'm not entirely sure I have finished with adj…