Showing posts from January, 2012

Slow cooking in seven minutes

Once upon a time I was really very interested in the slow movement. Slow food, sustainable practises to look after the earth, smelling the roses, child-led home learning, walking instead of driving, cloth nappies and food cooked from scratch. I stopped short of a few fascinating innovations like hayboxes, but I was all for it. As I dug up lawn to turn it into vege garden, washed cloth nappies and tried out home made cleaners, I assumed that I (and my household) was moving in a forward, progressive, somewhat linear fashion towards a slower and greener life.

But in the midst of these things I enjoyed pursuing, I liked my job. The one I had before Fionn and in between Fionn and Brighid. The one I chose to go back to very part time when Brighid was a year old and the one I am doing more of this year. The one I still like.

Which has something to do with the shift in the way we live. Today's finest achievement:

2.35pm: leave work and head to supermarket. See free range chicken prod…

Hello garden

I've spent more evening time at my sewing machine than in my garden this summer. Now that I've finished my sewing goals for the moment and it is still balmy of an evening, I'm back outside.

I had to admit in the weekend that the summer has been gorgeous and the soil neglected and now it is very dry. Tonight I did lots of watering, some weeding, fed the compost, pruned the herb garden and planted some cavolo nero kale. Two months ago I sowed bergamot, white sage and evening primrose seeds. The problem with sowing seeds of plants I am not familiar with, is trying to sort the weeds from the intentional seedlings. Direct sowing isn't always the easiest method. I have several plants growing which I thought might be bergamot, but as it has belatedly occurred to me to check by bruising and smelling a leaf tonight, I can report that I've merely let some slightly uncommon weeds flourish.

Brighid had a fabulous first day at school.

carrot harvest

Carrot harvest. I also harvested the rest of the garlic and some of the beetroot. I weeded the chook grave garden and replanted it with geraniums and kale.
I took this photo last night. It is a carrot plant gone to seed in its first season, which carrots are not supposed to do. It happened to several plants, rendering those carrots very tough and inedible. All of the seeding plants were the white belgian variety, which I have read is well suited to winter growing. Maybe I would have more success if I planted the white belgian seed in autumn.

Tomorrow is all go, Brighid's first day at school. She is very excited and I am really pleased that we have time release from work to both take her on her first day.

Quelling nervousness & the finished cardy

The blue cardigan is done. Notice how in the photograph the light is bad, the cardigan looks green and the background appears to be a slovenly mess of unmade bed? The only part which is an illusion is that the cardigan is blue in real life. I read and adore some truly gorgeous blogs where people wait days and even weeks to get good light and someone to take good photographs of them modelling their creations. This is not a gorgeous blog; it is the blog of impatient woman who is learning to sew.

Anyways, I am quite pleased with the cardigan. There is a little bit of puckering but I figure it is only by sewing more that I will get any better at that bit. I actually still sew quite wonky seams and I may never ever sew contrasting thread topstitching. But a little wonky puckeringness is way better than cardies which stop half way over my bosom, which is the only kind shops sell. I do like how the sleeves aren't too long as well.

Will I make it again? Maybe. Possibly in a sligh…

For whom the alarm rings

The world of paid work is not just knocking gently. Tomorrow it will be an alarm clock going off loudly. It has been a great summer with much to love and cherish. Brighid had her actual fifth birthday earlier this week which was a furling whirling lovely day of visitors and visiting. Tonight I remembered to go to the supermarket and buy food for school lunches. Mostly, I've been fitting in sewing my blue cardigan, as though it represents organisation itself. If I can have it finished for Monday (no chance for tomorrow), the Global Fabrics sewing project will be complete. It seems almost talismanic, as if completing the sewing will confer order on my world, despite the rational element in my brain noting that time spent sewing is time ignoring everything else which needs doing. A few days ago it looked like this:
A cardigan which reaches to the centre front is a rare and wonderful thing for me. It may still be a smidgen small but that is because I altered to measurements t…

People of the Book

Geraldine Brooks' The People of the Book is my best read of this year. Possibly last year also. This morning the children got to make themselves ice creams in cones and drink powerade and help themselves to chocolate all so I could concentrate on reading People of the Book. Eventually, with some regret, I finished it, and re-entered my usual world. It is both a marvellous and absorbing read and also for me a constant reminder of the relentless persecution of Jewish people over many many centuries. Next beside my bed is a Linda Grant novel.

Sewing. The pattern alterations aspect has gone fairly well, but matching the band on the cardigan to the altered fronts has involved a lot of pinning and repinning and a lot of unpicking. I've left it for the evening and altered my 50 cent op shop slip instead. Now it fits perfectly to go under yesterday's $15 teal dress and today's $15 black dress. Postie Plus has a store here in Wetville and sure enough, they had the same…

Shopping in Hoki

This making clothes fit lark requires some brain power, endless thinking and consultation of Palmer and Pletsch's Fit for Real People. Then lots of practising. I'm part way through all that and have far to go. Below is the full bust adjustment I did for the top in New Look 6735. I feel like I learnt a lot just making this adjustment, but there are still a lot of pulls in the fabric when I wear it. This time I am making the knit cardigan from the same pattern, which has a similar shape, so I thought I would try a new FBA method. Although FFRP advise that for alterations of more than 1.5 inches per side, a "Y" bust dart alteration is the best method, that seemed too hard at the time.

Now it seems I have the requisite bravery (and the knowledge that I bought the fabric and if I don't sew it up, then I have wasted quite a bit of cash on the merino). Here is the cardigan front with the "Y' bust dart alteration. I'm part way through sewing the cardi…

So the day does not disappear into complete oblivion

I laybyed the boots. If the recession hits and peak oil all at once and I have to walk to work and make my boots last for many years, then I will need these boots.

I chopped a lot of wood and dragged the scrappy stuff to make a big heap on the old sandpit. Just chopping with the loppers. Me and a chainsaw isn't quite the best idea.

I helped my elderly cousin. All fingers crossed that we get a good outcome from the meeting with her carelink worker (like an old person's social worker it seems). Mary K had been home less than 24 hours and she was in a such a confused and distressed state when I visited. It is cruel to expect her to carry on at home.

We farewelled our lovely friends who are about to start a new life in Blenheim. Can't wait to visit them there. I feel so lucky that we will see them again. Not such a big and difficult scale as when we farewelled friends in the UK.

FH finished the roof. We went to friends for a barbeque and had a marvellous time. No dishe…

Irresponsible thinking of unimportant things

One skirt finished. One pair of new boots in the shop spied and now coveted. I'm going to take a dress and some socks down tomorrow to check they are as high as I want them. Then we can talk layby. It doesn't seem so chillingly selfish to take bits of food money out each fortnight compared to not feeding anyone for a week so I can have new boots.

Absolutely, there are more important things to be doing than thinking about clothes and boots and sewing. World peace, global warming, the state of the dining room floor, finding some magical way of being at work and looking after small children at the same time, reading Geraldine Brooks, the Ports of Auckland industrial war and what it means for trade unions everywhere in New Zealand, weeding the garden, the Euro...

What I'm thinking about next is how to alter the pattern for New Look 6735. This time I am going to make the cardigan. I made a FBA for the top a long time ago so I can repeat that, but now I've been wearing…

and the reward for the day was red wine...

Seven children, two men with a chainsaw on a scaffold, an old lady kicked out of the old people's home a day early and a crazily messy house. I'm prepared to say that a) the kids were GREAT and b) the men did an excellent job decapitating the big tree in the back yard. I spent a bit of time on the phone to the old people's home and sorted out that crisis. I planted some celery and lettuce (the old fashioned crunchy kind because frankly it tastes better than the swanky kind in the upmarket section of the supermarket, all red and crinkly). Most of the children went home before sundown.

I made some progress on the overgrown globe artichoke patch. When I made this garden four years ago, I imagined peas and beans twining themselves up the arches. Now, even in its overgrown state, it seems that not even the convulvulus wants to twine itself up the arches I carefully placed. But there are some lovely calla lillies in the wilderness and I aim to rescue them from visual obliv…

parties and Pike

Today was Brighid's party. Thanks to a very helpful husband, lovely friends and lovely children, we all had a great time. I'd also give credit to my streamlining of the party process. Home made cake and everything else bought. Only cooking at the event is the barbequed sausages and FH took care of that. Chips from the fish and chip shop for the actual lunch part. Otherwise chips (crisps), animal biscuits, juice and fizzy. My one concession to my usual nutritional concerns is there is no raspberry fizzy, no fanta and no cola. The giant bouncy pillow and the go karts were pretty fabulous. Of course I didn't do anything taxing like have it at home. Imagine the cleaning involved, not to mention the scaffolding - how many small children dancing on a roof is wise exactly? We went down to the nearby holiday park and hired their facilities for a very reasonable sum and almost no cleaning up involved.

The roof painting continues, with just a few hours off for partying. I…

Nigella's failsafe cake fails

Nigella Lawson's "Failsafe Chocolate Cake" wasn't entirely safe from failing in my hands. The children and I have opted to return to our trusted Danish chocolate brownie recipe for the actual birthday party cake on Tuesday. As you can see from the photo, the result was almost obscene.

After making a chocolate cake flop this afternoon, we went swimming, taking Brighid for her first ever go on the hydroslide, and then on to the park to have fish and chips and play on the playground with our friends. I gave the girls their matching blue twirling skirts which they expressed great enthusiasm for.

The weather has gone cold and wet again which effectively stopped me from beginning a fanciful summer dress out of curtains and redirected me to making a winter skirt from the same Simplicity 2451 pattern which I made last week and have decided I like. I need to buy a zip for it tomorrow and it should be finished and ready for photographing, in a couple of days, or a bit more d…

Broken Heartbreakers

It's been a wonderful week, half of it childless. Mum and Dad love having them, they love going to Hanmer and spending time with their grandparents and we love sleeping in in the morning and going out at night without arranging a babysitter. Lucky and blissful indeed.

On Wednesday night we went to see the Barley Shakers which was a lovely evening out. They were a family band playing Irish music, mostly classic tunes with one lovely original song at the end.

Last night was superb. We went to hear the Broken Heartbreakers and Bond Street Bridge. They were wonderful and we've been listening to the CDs we bought from them all of today. I loved the layers of skill in their musicianship and the political aspect to some of their songs (go the folk ballad about the IMF and Ireland) and I'll be lining up for more as soon as I hear they are back in Greymouth.

These are the gladioli which were supposed to be a lime green "Bells of Ireland" type colour. Hmmmm. Still, t…

The pursuit of fabulous books, a transformed roof and clothes that fit

Ah the joys of second hand books. Last night I finished Andrea Levy's Fruit of the Lemon. I liked it. The protagonist initially denies any interest in Jamaica, living as a modern young woman in London, but then has something of a breakdown and her parents send her to Jamaica for a holiday. Good and classic (if by now standard) Levy stuff. Small Island is still her best novel. Next stop, the library. It is holiday time after all. I chose Still Here by Linda Grant (whose entire collection I may also work my way through after loving The Clothes on their Backs. I may have to request that the Wetville library purchase her The Thoughtful Dresser.

Another Geraldine Brooks, this time People of the Book. Then I found one I'd read about and looked for last year, Sweater Quest by Adrienne Martini. I'm currently uninterested in knitting, but maybe this will fire me up.

Here are the photos which I couldn't persuade blogger to uplaod for me last night. Tonight it coopera…

painting & sewing

Today I made an entire knit top. In one day. I only had one major unpicking job. I also finished my new skirt. Which makes nothing less than an ensemble of a matching top and skirt. It even appears they will match other separates in my wardrobe. How sensible. Though I am pleased with my actual sewing progress and the individual garments, I'm left rather deflated by this sensible-ness (yes I know there is a proper word called 'sensibility' but it doesn't fit the context). I've pulled out the curtain fabric, the one with the huge flowers on it which are like the ones in my grandparents' bedroom 30 years ago only perhaps a larger print, and I'm gearing up to make another Colette crepe dress with it. I doubt 'sensible but modern librarian style' is going to apply to that when it is finished. Strange and old fashioned maybe, but not 'sensible'.

The roof painting continues. Actually, the wind was too vigorous to safely do anything on the…


In which the sun mostly shines, so often I am even watering the garden, and I haven't had to make a school lunch for weeks. It's definitely a happy life.
Leeks taste quite good, but left alone, they are beautiful gone to seed. Behind the seed head, that is not fancy solar panels on the house roof. Rather, it is where the finish on the coloursteel roof has worn off. Which is why tonight Favourite Handyman and Fionn assembled this:
In honour of all this roof painting and window painting and the general observation that FH is working very hard, I made myself clean and tidy quite a bit of the house today. I also played nurse to Brighid who has a minor lurgy and planted more basil and made some pesto. This year's basil harvest is my best yet, possibly making up for the dismal state of the tomatoes. I know the diy gurus all seem to freeze basil for the rest of the year, but I find it too yummy to have any left to save.

Yesterday I started making a skirt:
I thought it would be…

a little summer research

Polenta is good (thanks Rachael and Christopher). I have added making it more frequently to my loose aggregation of 2012 goals. I made a fry up with it this morning with some slabs of ham, a large tomato, chopped spinach and celery and a slab of polenta. It was good. I've no idea what the family rating is as I only made it for me.

I am the official secretary for the painting the roof project. I proffer my opinions on paint colour charts, compare prices of painting poles and roof rollers and line up the booking for the scaffolding. I have also taken on another home maintenance research project - learning about home ventilation systems. It's a topic mired in slick sales pitches and alleged dodginess on the part of other companies. I may post about that more when I have read more widely.

I also spent a chunk of today sorting out my haberdashery. It turns out I had quite a bit before - much of it tangled and confused - and now I have a lot more as I have sorted the bounty …

Reunited with my cosmos

Back. Auckland was fabulous. Highlights include a trip to Howick Historical Village to see, amongst other exhibits, the cottage which Fionn and Brighid's great great great grandparents lived in when they came out to New Zealand in the 1840s as a fencible family. Also three nights in Ponsonby where Brighid and I went for a walk one night and ended up sitting on a verandah watching a talented Samoan band perform on the front lawn. Another night of course was a walk down Franklin Road the see the Christmas lights. We interred my Mother in Law's ashes and that was a beautiful ceremony and has helped me appreciate another side to cremation. I found it way too brutal when she was simply driven away from the church, but now I feel quite a lot of peace about her. We spent Fionn's ninth birthday at the Auckland museum with some short cousins. Favourite Handyman and I spent some time in his father's garden weeding, chopping and mulching.

It is wonderful to be back home. …