Showing posts from July, 2011


The poultry palace is graced once again with five princesses.

Favourite Handyman cooked brocolli, sausages and potatoes for dinner.

Brighid ate all of her dinner without a single complaint.

Fionn got a voucher at league for doing a fabulous tackle and a big wound on his knee at the aftermatch function when he took a leap in the dark and landed on concrete instead of muddy grass. Despite wailing and gnashing his teeth as I cleaned the wound, and requesting bandages, it does appear that his knee will be perfectly fine in a week or so. It was worth it for him anyway, as he got a bottle of coca cola, illicit stuff in our house.

Geraldine Brooks' novel, March, is fantastic. Gripping, rivetting, etc.

The local garden nursery has little plants of snowdrops. It's hard to get these as bulbs, so buying them this more expensive way is better than missing out entirely. I bought and planted one today, and may well sneak back for more this week.

It has been a wonderful fortnight, full of tr…

apple & feijoa cider

Good things:
apple & feijoa cider from Old Mout Cider. I grew up just down the road from where this stuff is made. Indeed, Brownies was held in the old school next door to what was the Noslen winery, makers of blackberry nip, which was another cheap and drinkable tipple, though I think the cider is better again. Anyways, it's on special at New World at the moment, and it comes in a plastic bottle. $9 a litre! Who can complain, certainly not me.

There was a magical moment at the vehicle testing station this afternoon, when it appeared that all I needed was a new headlamp bulb and then I had a warrant of fitness for our elderly car for six more months. Unfortunately, changing the bulb revealed that it's a bigger problem, and when they gave me the sheet to get it fixed, there was a warning on the bottom about a rusty crossmount bar on the radiator. Or something like that. Something ominous. Ominously expensive. Still. I have had worse warrant reports. Considerably w…

Roses are not sacred

Best day ever! Not bad, considering it's holidays and I've been having lots of great days recently. I spent almost all day in the garden, coming inside only for the rained out bits. I have weeded along the outside of the kitchen and transplanted all the strawberries to this garden bed. Where the strawberries used to be are now free of weeds and covered in chook run fertiliser, seaweed and peastraw.

The kids and Favourite Handyman raked out the chook run and poured five wheelbarrow loads of wonderful fertiliser/compost on various parts of the garden. We've been putting wood shavings and sawdust in the chook run for the last two years and the chooks have been doing their bit by pooing endlessly. I've also cleaned out the coop and the pooey straw (the last couple of months they'd been sleeping in there instead of on the roost - not sure why) and put that on the garden.

That was the morning project. In the afternoon I got stuck into the front garden, o…

Reefton retro

After five nights without the children, in which we had a marvellous time, firstly at the wonderful hot pools at Maruia Springs and later at home, we are now our full complement again and it's great to have Brighid and Fionn back. I miss the chooks too, much more than I had thought I would, so I'm looking forward to collecting our new chooks this Saturday.

Stopping of at Reefton for a pie this afternoon, I was impressed with the retro theme at the tearooms. The painting isn't so much retro but I included it anyway as it is of local brass band players. Those two display cabinets are entirely filled with novelty salt and pepper shakers.

At Maruia Springs we tried a new-to-us traditional Japanese dish called yose-nobe. It was a soy based broth with prawns, salmon, chicken balls, mussels, scallops and vegetables in it. They brought a gas ring to our table and then placed the large dish on the burner and left us with ladles and bowls to serve ourselves. It was delicio…

More garden dreaming

The two people who taught me about gardening as a child were my Dad and my maternal Grandma. Grandma is still alive and enjoying looking at her garden and gardening magazines, but she has to rely on other people to do the gardening for her now. I think of her when I see aquilegias, remembering when we went to the Royal Show in Christchurch about 20 years ago. Grandma and Grandad also bred pedigree jersey cattle, and we wandered around looking at many breeds of cattle I'd never ever seen before, and then moved on to the garden stalls.

Kings Seeds have many different type of aquilegias, also known as grannys bonnets. I considered the aquilegia yellow star (photo below) for my yellow theme, but as I only have one garden bed which really needs the yellow theme, when I saw the aquilegia shady garden scatter (top photo), I thought of it for the front garden, which is south facing in and need of special treatment.

This is the area which needs the work. Underneath the closest window ar…

Kings Seed Catalogue

My first Kings Seeds catalogue list came to $83. Several culls ahead. But I am going to get cowslip, or primroses (above), in keeping with my Enid Blyton English wood nostalgia theme. The theme has been in my head and reading to the children so far, but time to take it out into the garden and let it flourish.
I fancy this Californian plant, meadowfoam (above) as well. Also known as fried eggs. I'm gearing up for a summer of yellow flowers. More on my garden list tomorrow.


We've had visitors and lots of fun the last couple of days. Much more fun than listening to some of the economic news, and that damn Phil O'Reilly on why workers should not get pay rises which respond to the sharp inflation rate. From the Blackball Museum of working class history:
Without our brain and muscle not a single wheel can turn.

A shot of the kids. Both photos from our talented visiting photographer.

Tomorrow we take the children to my parents to stay and then FH and I are going on a mini holiday all of our own, complete with hot pools, and possibly even snow.

None of that over the top expensive broccoli for us. Here we are eating swede. And kale of course. I made smoked fish and potato stew the other night, with kale in it, and I cooked grated swede and 8/9 people liked it. Brighid, of course, was the unpleasable. If you are hanging off the edge of your computer, desperate to know my recipe secrets so that you too can serve swede which people have second helpings…

Inglorious death

Warning: This post is not suitable for vegetarians. It does deal with some very unappealing aspects of animal death.

Today we continued with the chook slaughter. Last week Favourite Handyman killed chook #1. The biggest learning point from that was that they do have better eyesight than he'd thought. The remaining four chooks weren't going anywhere near him. This morning we organised the children in front of the computer and I coaxed one chook out with some grain. I caught her and spoke to her gently as I carried her round to the side of the house, where FH broke her neck. I repeated this performance once, before the final two chooks decided they didn't trust me and refused to be bribed.

The two dead chooks were in a sack waiting for me and FH took the children to the local swimming pool. Then - and I warn you again, this is not a pretty post- I went to start the skinning and gutting and, upon opening the sack, saw that one chook was still breathing. I didn't ha…

We need to ask some new questions

Often I read of the terrible, inequitable, sad situation of workplaces where women are under-represented. Such articles are so frequent in the places I tend to read (e.g. feminist blogs, Guardian) that I'm writing this as a generalised response rather than linking to a particular article. Such articles have a point, and the fight for workplaces which reward merit not conformity to a particular set of mostly male features must continue. When I tutored at university, my history students included many older women who were juggling the care of small children with study. My friend who was training to be an engineer had a few older male students in her class but the small number of female students were all under 25. Not enormously hard to work out why: daily labs until 5pm and the expectation of full time study were the norm.

But I want to argue tonight for asking some different questions, and I'm basing my thoughts on my own experiences. A couple of days ago, I went on a work-…

In search of suburban beauty

You want kale first or last?
Tonight: kale in nachos.
My kids don't like nachos made with a tin of refried bean mush. They also don't like the vegetable mixture to arrive touching the chips. We never have a meat version because if I had the time to make a meat version, we probably wouldn't be having nachos.


Peel one large kumara. Chop into cubes and steam until soft.

Wash, chop out the central rib and chop up quite a lot of tuscan kale (also known as cavolo nero). Peel and chop 4-6 cloves of garlic. Roughly chop the contents of one container of anchovies (50g, sometimes less). Sautee it gently in a pan with the lid on top after the first minute or two (sautee may be the wrong word for experts but it seems the best fit to me). Add some cumin, stir and add the kumara. Mash it up a bit with a fork and turn the element off.

Make some guacamole. I made mine with the juice of an entire lime. This is too much lime juice. Half is better. Otherwise, a couple of avocadoes,…


Kale grows throughout winter. Kale survives storms. It survives thunder and lightning and hail and more rain than anyone who doesn't live near a rainforest can ever hope to experience.

Which is why we are still eating it.

Tonight: kale and garlic chopped and sauteed in a small amount of olive oil. Then I poured in quite a lot of frozen peas and a little water and put the lid on for the cooking to continue. Meanwhile I was cooking some fettucine because that is the only pasta I could find in the drawer. I added about a third of a container (the 250g kind) of cream cheese to the green veg mix because that's all we had left and blitzed it with my whizzy stick. Then I added the pasta into the sauce and stirred it all up and put finely grated cheddar cheese on top of each bowl of pasta. We ate it all and didn't have enough seconds to go round, so I'm treating that as a success. The addition of peas does definitely take it into the realm of babyfood consistency. Why n…

More books, less booze

My latest mantra is more books, less booze. Mostly, it seems that reasonable quality red wine is far far cheaper in the supermarket than reasonable quality paperback books in the bookshop (we don't quite have a real bookshop here either, just some best seller shelves in the stationery/magazine shops). But if I watch Trademe and have a lucky find, or even if I take advantage of Book Depository's free worldwide postage and the current high NZ dollar, and if perchance my body has announced that 2-3 drinks, 3-4 times per week really needs to go down to 1-2 drinks, 1-2 times per week, then books are the new black round here.

This weekend I read Andrea Levy's Small Island, set in Jamaica, India and London either side of World War Two. I loved it. Would I be so comfortably removed from the reality of the racism if the book were set in New Zealand? No. Gilbert Joseph fights for England in the war and yet finds himself more hated by the English when he moves to London afterwar…

Our family is not a tax factory

A post by Daharja on local living: home decorating and education is worth reading. It's part of series she is running on her blog and they are all good. I love her invocation to never paint the walls beige. For the last few years on Mothers' Day, FH and the children have chosen photos of the kids and had them enlarged and framed for me. I love them, and they fit with some of her suggestions. This year they gave me one of Fionn kayaking in a cave near Punakaiki and one of Brighid and FH walking through Hagley Park just a week after the February 22 earthquake.

I've not been sewing, though tonight I've started the handsewing on Brighid's red corduroy dress again. It feels like craft progress without the concentration/difficulty factor of getting out the ironing board and sewing a zip into my flowery curtain fabric skirt.

Fionn is preoccupied with bees and with reading and Brighid spent much of this morning with me wanting to write all our family names. It's f…


The changeover of chooks project has begun. On Sunday Favourite Handyman killed one chook. He didn't enjoy it at all and there was another hitch in that he thought the chooks had worse distance eyesight than they do. They saw alright and they weren't going anywhere near him.

In the past, we have been gifted roosters to kill and eat, but this is the first time we've done our own. We haven't given them names and we always planned they would be eaten once they were past their best laying days, but it was harder to do our own all the same. FH had to go into work straight after the killing and I decided it was far too hard to skin and gut a chook safely (sharp knives and nasty bacteria) with two smallish children wnating to be part of the process. So I cut off the feet (excellent for stock apparently), washed them very thoroughly and put them in the freezer. Then I buried the chook in a deep hole with a bucket of bokashi on top and then soil on top of that. Not the o…