Broad bean pesto

Three days ago I had minor surgery to remove two cysts from my back and shoulder. I'm guarding against infection with loads of vitamin C. Apart from the pain, I've loved and appreciated having Favourite Handyman cook the meals and look after me. I've also been spoilt by friends helping with childcare and dropping by with pumpkin pie, biscuits and a meal. It doesn't get much luckier.

I bought a convalescing treat in the form of the NZ Gardener's Homegrown Flowers book. It's a very romantic take on flowers - no strelitzias with cactus here. It's a perfect read for the circumstances, and I've been arranging and rearranging new flower ideas for my garden in my head as I pore over each and every page. I am loving the cosmos which I bought as seedlings and which is flowering now, so I'm most pleased to learn that it is easy to grow from seed. Unsurprisingly, I've had the Kings Seed Catalogue out as well.

Favourite Handyman mowed the lawn yesterday, transforming our front and back sections from a jungle into something much tamer. I cut back all the broad beans which were laying across the lawn (forgot to stake them) and then picked all the beans. I nearly always plant broad beans for the pleasure of watching something grow in winter, and then each spring we prefer to eat other foods. Today though, I made broad bean pesto, an Annabel Langbein recipe. Podding the beans, boiling them briefly and then shelling them from their skins was laborious, but the final product was very yummy. Based on this, and the nitrogen enhancing properties for the soil of growing legumes, I may plant the entire 2m x 5m old chook run garden in broad beans at the end of Autumn. Well almost. I'm pretty sold on having one end devoted to flowers now.

After the big lawn cut, I snipped the long-long-long grass on the edge of my peas-and-roses garden. Now I can see what is inside the grass 'fence' and it isn't entirely weeds. The alyssum seeds which I scattered are now little plants. I could get away with transplanting a third to a half of them elsewhere in the garden. There are sugar snap peas plus more flowers, and new shoots on the gooseberry bush. The jasmine is yellowing though, so my prescription is some dolomite lime. The Dublin rose and an unnamed blousy pink rose are lovely despite aphids on the stems and rust on the leaves. But the yellow rose will have to go. The clusters of tiny flowers lack the impact of the other roses and, frankly, annoy me. I look out at this garden from the kitchen window, so the blooms need to be of a size for distance-viewing pleasure. I am eyeing up Bantry Bay as a possibility, though perhaps a bush is what is needed rather than a climber, and I'll be chatting to our neighbours who are superb rose growers for some suggestions.

Today it rained all day. Fionn's eczema has returned with a vengeance. I'm using the strategies I learnt last time plus trying some new things I've learnt in my minor nutrition obsession of the past few years.

I finished reading The Help and I loved it. I also read A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini which was fantastic. In a week when New Zealand politics is in such a stupid pickle, it was great to read writing dealing with grittier and much bigger topics. Afghanistan is in the news so often in grey and impersonal tones and A Thousand Splendid Suns made lives real in a personal and memorable way.

I've done a little more for the C word. I make it both easier and harder for myself by gifting to hardly anyone and simultaneously making the gifts I do give. Nursing wounds isn't conducive to sewing so that is currently stalled. The presents which mean the most to me each year are those I make for our two childminders. Is there more important money ever spent than that which goes on childcare? Robyn and Sharon are very special people in my life and I use Christmas as an opportunity to thank them. Today Fionn and I went shopping and chose a bowl for each of them. Most usefully, they both really like my hummous, so I will fill the bowls with hummous and make a hamper around each bowl. I doubt very much that my idea of a handmade bag to house each hamper will eventuate.


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