Monday, April 30, 2012

Self-employed goals

I don't find it difficult to set goals for my performance review in my paid job.  There is a process by which these are set and someone evaluates whether I've met them and about 8000 pieces of paperwork are created for this purpose.

I've got goals for my at home job as well, though only my family can assess whether they are being met and we tend to make decisions and responses about that together (without any paperwork).  My main goal relates to the health of my family.  As the weather turns markedly colder, I'm glad we've been supplementing with cod liver oil each day.  My dad has horrific memories of being made to drink this stuff, but a) the version we get from John Appleton's doesn't taste so bad and b) the vitamins A and D which it contains are totally worth any icky taste.  As the sniffles and snuffles announced themselves right on cue with the storm last night, I pulled out the zinc mixture and made it up with 'pink ink'.  Other people may note that 'pink ink' is Barker's blackcurrant syrup, but we find pink ink an entirely better name for it.  I privately think of it as the bribe bottle, as it only comes out when I want to get lotions and potions down the throats of my children.  I'm doling out a bit of ezxtra vitamin C as well, in the form of lypospheric vitamin C, though we call it gooey vitamin C.  If you've had some, you will know why.  Fionn has only had one or two puffs on his inhaler all year, and Brighid has had about half or even one third of the illness she had in the same time period last autumn, so I'm encouraged to carry on.

Monday 30 April
Breakfast: porridge/cornflakes/beetroot, fish & avocado salad
Lunch: kids had their usual kids lunch food from home.  Adults had beetroot and feta salad.  I added chopped brasil nuts to it because of the selenium and because it adds a bit more caloric energy to the salad.
Tea: pumpkin soup from yesterday's big pot, with quinoa and spinach added to it and crumpets served with it.  I also fried some sage leaves in butter and then added them to the pot.  Sage leaves fried in butter are very very excellent tasting and as I was the cook, I could choose to dip a piece of crumpet in the butter remaining after the sage was taken out. 

Yes, I'm detailing what we have for meals each day, still.  It's not hard to find derisive comments about 'mommy bloggers' and my kind of content is exactly what they scorn or parody.  But unlike other forms of address, nobody is compelled to read my blog, and I feel at liberty to write whatever works for me, knowing that others can dip in and out of my writing as they choose.  I want to keep up the food diary for at least a month, knowing that this helps keep me on track for producing home made food in preference to stopping for bought sausage rolls, pizzas, fish and chips, and gingerbread men, thereby ruining our stretched budget and lowering the quality of our food.  I've enjoyed blogging enough to write fairly regularly for almost five years and I think my writing reflects my personality: prone to obsessions but not to following fashions.

Earlier this month I decided to take up the Me Made May '12 challenge, which is all about wearing home made clothing each day for a month.  It seemed a good idea because I have loved reading the blogs and looking at the photos of others who have participated in similar challenges in the past.  Andrea of The New Vintage Wardrobe has been a particular inspiration to me.  While I hesitate to share pictures of myself online, it is also true that seeing larger, ordinary women in clothes they have sewn themselves is important validation that we are all normal, and don't need to hide ourselves in a cupboard until we reach a state of accepted thin-ness.  Maybe it is time I took my turn.  Much as I have enjoyed reading blogs of big busted women such as George's fullerfigurefullerbust, I do have a day job and personal boundaries on just how much the world will see, so it is just fully clothed pictures I'm thinking of.

Today, being the last day in April, I wore my currently favourite dress and cardigan, as if I stick to this home made challenge, I won't be wearing them again for a while.  I also bought zips, some thread and a lamp so I can finish sewing the projects I started in the weekend and have a bit more to wear for the next month.  Currently a week seems a long time for this project, but I do always have the fallback option that my bag (I hate the term 'handbag' for irrational reasons) is home made, and I do use that every week day and sometimes in the weekend.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

More sewing

On a dark, wet and windy day, my very Favourite Handyman fixed the wash house window so that it won't blow open and break into smithereens when the tumble drier hose is venting.
He used his electric drill, which has to rate as the most generally and utterly useful present we've ever gotten him.

 I cut out another skirt, this time in red corduroy.  The interfacing is from a 20cm piece I had to buy in the quilt shop in Hanmer Springs a few years ago.  It was too pretty not to take a little bit home.  If it wasn't so darned expensive, I would have bought a dress length's worth.  As the light is too poor at the sewing machine in the lounge, I'm only cutting at the moment.  This week I will get an adjustable lamp to sit beside/above the sewing machine and then I can start night sewing again.
Then I started version #2 of the Simplicity 1945 crossover top.  This time I took a lot more care to make the exact same alterations to each side.  I thought I was done and ready to cook dinner when I stared a bit longer and finally the alterations advised in this tutorial finally made sense. 
So I made the changes as I recalled them, though if you look at the tutorial again as I've just done now, it seems I've slashed all the way through instead of just nearly to the bottom.  I'm keeping my experiment as it is though.  I haven't aligned the left hand side in the way that a classic FBA is supposed to as I want the added width over my tummy and just below it.  I didn't fancy the way the first version hugged my belly.  I've used the FFRP y-dart FBA and partially closed the dart, leaving the bottom piece with a trianglular insert.  I've redrawn the side seam and think I will ease the extra fabric from the unsewn dart in when I sew the front to the back.  At the moment, I think this will work, as everything seemed to line up nicely when I placed the two pieces over each other.  Only time will tell.

Sunday 29 April
Breakfast: poached eggs, cooked by FH.
Lunch: saveloys
Tea: pumpkin & lentil soup with cheese scones

Not much green in today's meals.  No takeaways either though.  I put plenty of tumeric in the soup.  Tumeric has anti-inflammatory properties, but there are protests when I make everything yellow, so pumpkin soup is the best place to throw it.   I made a double lot of soup earlier today and have plans to cook it up with sage and quinoa tomorrow night, and serve it with crumpets.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

The blue corduroy skirt

Sewing day.  I bought New Look 6300 with two other patterns for the grand total of fifty cents recently at St Vincent de Paul in Hokitika and today I set about creating myself a new skirt with it.  The pattern only goes to a 16 and so I added 3cm to each back piece and 6cm to the front.  So far it has been successful.  One useful thing about having a fat tummy is that fitting it does mean a straight or slightly a line skirt has plenty of room in it for walking.  I'm unsuited to the constraints of a proper pencil skirt.  I ditched the order of sewing suggested by the pattern instructions and measured the darts onto myself with pins in front of the mirror.  I also changed it into a skirt which sits on the waist rather than below the waist.  The blue corduroy comes from my late mother in law's stash and I suspect it was bought many years ago for FH or his brother.  The paisley is a small piece which took my fancy in the Sallies last year.

I've run out of thread and haven't got a zip, so no more progress on it until Monday.  Rashly, I entered the Me Made May challenge earlier this month, when I was under the influence of school holidays.  Now May is rather close and I suspect my purple cardy which I knitted myself is going to be worn rather a lot.  If this corduroy skirt works out then I may make one or two more.  Then I should have the courage to try to make the Simplicity 1945 crossover top again

Saturday 28 April
Breakfast: poached eggs, cooked by FH.
Lunch: picnic salami/hummous/crackers/apples/carrots eaten in the car between Brighid's league game and Fionn and FH's martial arts grading.  Fionn helped me assemble it.
Tea: bangers and mash and veg cooked by FH.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Farewell Frank's

Pah.  Home made blah blah for breakfast and lunch

and OUT for dinner!!

We took Mary K out for dinner at Frank's Cafe, quite the most interesting and worth visiting eating and drinking and live music establishment in Wetville.  Mary had her wedding reception at this venue in 1948 and we have taken her a few times in recent years.  Tonight we took her to say thank you for the lovely things she has given us from her home as she organises to sell it.  We also chose Frank's because at the end of this weekend it closes down and we are all sad about that.

I had turbot and it was beautiful.  No cooking, no dishes, no arguments, no one unhappy.

Perfect way to end the week.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Still eating

Thursday 26 April
Breakfast: porridge and cornflakes (Brighid had to eat porridge before she was allowed cornflakes so that she had enough energy for the day.  We are mean parents and we have plans to extend, not retract, our meanness).  I had chicken sandwiches, I think.  A lot happened since breakfast.
Lunch: FH and I had leftovers.  The kids had the usual lunch box things, assembled at home.
After school: ice creams at home.
Tea: a casserole of sausages, chickpeas, onions, garlic, ginger, various sauces and carrots which turned out okay.  Plus peas and corn on the side.

Books I got from the library:
Marvellous mince and sensational sausages by Simon and Alison Holst
100+ Tasty $10 Meals by Sophie Gray
Taste of a Traveller by Brett McGregor

Apparently the last book is by New Zealand's first Masterchef.  I've only watched Masterchef once, on holiday, but if his kumara felafel is a success, or his chickpea and pancetta stew , I'll be shouting from my blogtop.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Anzac Day

Anzac day.  Fionn promised to wake his dad in the morning so they would get to the dawn service in time.  Fionn took this responsibility very seriously and came into our room at 4.15 am.  He tried again at 4.46 and eventually we rose at 6am.  Fionn and FH went to the dawn service and later on I took Mary K to the cemetery service.  We collected flowers from my garden and hers and took them, with poppies, to Mary's husband Lou's grave and to his brother's grave.  Lou was a prisoner of war in WW2 and it was on April 25th that he was captured in Crete.   For all of Mary's long married life, the Women's Section of the RSA has been very important to her and she was glad to see some of those women today, even though she is now too frail to join in with making sandwiches and serving tea after the dawn service.  We weren't Anzac day service attenders before we moved to the Coast and I am in no way pro-war, but knowing Mary and Lou has given this day a significance beyond the general remembrance for us.

Blue Milk brings an interesting series of articles relating to Elisabeth Badinter to our attention.

Wednesday 25 April
Breakfast: I had beetroot salad and I think the others had eggs.
Lunch: I had chicken sandwiches and the others had baked beans.
Tea: I made a stove top stew of garlic, onions and anchovies with pumpkin, chopped bacon ends, tomatoes and broccoli.  Then at serving time I added chopped brasil nuts.

Bacon ends are cheaper than sliced bacon at our butchery and give plenty of flavour in a stew.  I put in anchovies for flavour and for omega 3 benefits.

And truly the best part of the day in terms of a treat for me?  FH took the children to the park in the afternoon and I had a sleep.  There is no present better than peaceful sleep.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

the home made food project continues

All the way to Tuesday with nary a bought sausage roll.

Tuesday 24 April
breakfast: the others had porridge and I had fish and vege salad.
lunch: yoghurt or sandwiches, le snak or snak log, fruit, pistachios and salami for the kids; pumpkin salad for FH and I.  Actually I had two lunches.  I had a scrambled egg with bacon and spinach at 11am and my pumpkin salad at 1.30pm. 
tea/dinner: roast chicken, roast potatoes, steamed broccoli and raw carrots.

Having two lunches was useful as it meant I wasn't hungry for ages after I spent $419 on two dental fillings.  From a scientific perspective, it is clear that my mouth was numb from the injection, but equally, it could have been numb from the dent in our credit card.

As for dinner, Brighid ate all of her dinner, liked it and asked for seconds.  This has not happened since 2011.  If I'd had a special bell to ring to announce this auspicious and wonderful moment to the rest of Wetville, I would have sent loud peals of joy into the evening.  I don't know when she last even looked at a meal without grizzling about the taste of something or about a sore tummy.  Not sure if it is coincidental or significant that it was a meal without grains.

It is more work, this consistently made at home food commitment.  But it does mean that I am eating better and so is FH (I almost always made the children's school lunches before this anyway).  Shop bought lunch always means lots of bread or pastry and home made salad lunch does not.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Term time

Monday 23 April
Breakfast: porridge for the others; fish and veges salad for me.
Lunch: leftovers for FH; yoghurt or sandwiches, fruit, pistachios and salami for the kids; fish and veges salad for me.
Tea: nachos with chilli beans, spinach, cheese and avocado.

So we did it.  Four home made breakfasts (that bit is normal, to be fair), four home made lunches and dinner/tea on the table only one hour after the last meeting at work finished.  Now I've got pumpkin cooking in the oven which will, I hope, form the basis of a lunch salad for the adults for tomorrow.

Susan Fletcher's Witch Light is very good.  It is set in the Highlands of Scotland in 1691, when William of Orange is on the English throne to the disgust of many in the Highlands, with dark and brutal consequences.  I hope everyone who is short round here goes to bed soon so I can go to bed myself and read.  I don't have to stay up and do dishes.  Chief cook I may be, but I am not bottlewasher.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Beach Sunday



Sunday afternoon at the beach.  Brilliant way to spend our last daytime hours before school starts back.  I went to work in the morning while Favourite Handyman took Fionn and Brighid to a grassroots rugby league morning. 

Sunday 22 April.
Breakfast: variously, cornflakes and leftovers
Lunch: sandwiches, leftovers
Tea: A slow stir fried mixture of anchovies, onions, leeks, garlic, spices, tomatoes, spinach, red peppers and potatoes, topped with cheese and avocado.
Post beach afternoon treat: pancakes.  They were yummy, gluten free, and now I have a hope of using up the bag of buckwheat flour I bought last year.

Tomorrow the home made budget challenge starts in earnest.  I've never made four lots of lunch to leave the house on a work day ever.  Fionn and I are the morning people in our family, so he is already quite good at making his own lunch and is also looking for a pocket money raise.  Hopefully we can get a good system going.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Still eating

Saturday 21 April
breakfast: variously, cornflakes, leftover crumble + yoghurt, coffee.  All assembled/made and eaten at home.
lunch: sandwiches or wraps with salami, tomato sauce (a major food group for the short people), pesto, fish.
dinner: beetroot and feta salad, tomato salad, broccoli and sausages, which I made, and fruit salad and ice cream contributed by our lovely dinner guests.  The four children contributed a sign reading "desert! and now!" as part of their campaign for a second round of pudding.

Snacks involved feijoas, brasil nuts, corn chips and hummous.

After seven days without alcohol, I enjoyed tonight's wine.

Today's virtuous achievement: I cleaned the entire kitchen bench and kitchen windowsill.

Thank you Blue Milk for drawing my attention to this analysis of class and motherhood.  It is excellent.

Friday, April 20, 2012

home made food and witch books

Christopher, here is the rhubarb cake recipe
Friday 20 April
breakfast: poached eggs.  Favourite Handyman made them. 
lunch: variously, across the four of us, salami, hummous, raw carrots, marmite or nutella sandwiches, le snak or snak logs, leftover potato cake from yesterday, salmon and vege wrap.  I prepared it all in advance, except for the salmon and vege wrap which I made fresh for myself when I got home.
tea/dinner: turbot, rice and veges (broccoli, carrots, onions, cherry tomatoes).  Favourite Handyman cooked it.  He pan fried the turbot which he had coated in egg and then in a herb and crunched up cornflakes mixture.  It was beautiful.  We used el cheapo ordinary cornflakes, but I expect you could get equally good results with gluten free cornflakes. 

I didn't eat all my rice as the children and I went to see Laksmi today.  My joints have been a bit inflamed and I'm not going to wait for them to get worse.  Laksmi wants me to cut back on carbs and sugar.  I think she wants me to try and cut them out, but 'cut back significantly' is the language I'm using at the moment.  My sugar intake isn't particularly high, but I do like myself some bread more than is optimal for my particular body.  Laksmi also did some body work on me which helped enormously, though I struggle to find the right words to explain it.  I think there was quite a bit of visceral manipulation.  Mostly we were too busy talking for me to notice exactly what she was doing - nobody who knows me face to face will be surprised at this.

I finished Witch Child by Celia Rees tonight.  It is aimed at teenagers, but I enjoyed it.  The protagonist is a witch in the 1650s in a time of intense persecution of anybody suspected of witchcraft.  I want to read more, and so I'll be looking out for the sequel at the library soon.  It's a long time since I read/watched Arthur Miller's The Crucible, but I thought of it again this evening, and in turn of Barbara Kingsolver's Lacunae, exploring the parallel treatment of communists in 1950s America.  I wouldn't suggest that Witch Child has the depth of either of these two texts, but it's not unthinking nonsense either.  I seem to have a witch theme on my bookshelf at the moment, with Susan Fletcher's Witch Light awaiting me.  Note the implicit organisation of a bookshelf.  I've always had bookshelves for my own books, but now I also have a bookshelf by my side of the bed, where I can keep library and other loaned books, magazines, a dictionary and atlas for the crossword and a few other texts which I'm prone to reading frequently in bed (like Fit For Real People, due to my unending project to help myself translate flat sewing patterns into three dimensional shapes).  It's a great improvement on the previous ever growing morass on the floor.

Tomorrow, I plan on making buckwheat pancakes.  Ever since last week's beautiful gallette and crepe at Nelson's La Gourmandise, I've been keen on recreating the experience.  Right now, such home made adventures fit well with saving for a car which goes up hills without getting hot and engine-stinky, but also the chances of such a place opening up in Wetville are pretty slim.  I learnt to make good sushi because when we moved here, it was impossible to buy.  Same for sourdough bread.

Is this a life bereft of all reference to the outside world while I just think about eating?  No, but what else is there to say about the corrupt government as it lays (and lies) in the immoral bed of Skycity?  I wish I had something erudite to say about the sale of the hillside workshops in Dunedin, but I do not.  As the news comes in this week as I cut and peel and saute to the not quite dulcet tones of Mary Wilson in our kitchen, I remember what I have read about the Caversham project looking at the history of that special part of South Dunedin, and find it awfully symbolic.  I look up Erik Olssen, Professor Caversham himself, to see if he is still alive and working.  Indeed he is, and his most recent title, which I shall ask the Wetville library to order, seems to me to add to the pathos: An Accidental Utopia? Social Mobility and the Foundations of an Egalitarian Society in Southern Dunedin, 1880-1940, University of Otago Press, 2011.  I heard the union rep on the radio suggest it could work out to be a good thing, this sale of the workshops.  I hope so.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

The home made car project

Not to make a car at home, not at all. But our trusty Nissan Sentra, which is 21 years old and has provided us an excellent service for the last six years, is starting to protest. It's leaking oil and consuming water and got rather hot and stinky on the way home from Nelson to the point that we turned round and went back to Wakefield to get it checked out. It will likely putter round town for a while yet, but in terms of travelling over the hills to leave the West Coast in any direction, it is losing reliability.

We don't do car credit in our family. Borrowing money, paying interest on something which depreciates, is a craziness we have thus far avoided and we want it to stay that way. So how to save more money? To make all food at home. I don't mean absolutely everything from scratch but I do mean no takeaways and no bought lunches. We've done it before and we can do it again. Starting this project in the holidays helps get a bit of organisation going. Until it drives me and you completely insane, I am going to log what we eat each day and see if it keeps me focused. Commentary is likely to be random and inconsistent.

Thursday 19 April:
breakfast: poached eggs on toast. FH cooked it. Everyone ate it. Eggs from our own chooks. Altogether virtuous. Once upon a time I used to make the bread for it as well. That was a long time ago and unlikely to be repeated.

lunch: Pete's potato cake, raw carrots and hummous. The potato cake was fine, though not quite as tasty as would be perfect. It is my first attempt at this Annabel Langbein recipe. Home made hummous (chickpeas from a can). We took FH's down to work for him. This needs to be a whole family home made project if we are to save lots of money.

tea/dinner: stir fried veges and rice. Rhubarb and apple crumble with icecream. I added anchovies to the beginning of the veges (onion, garlic, aubergine, zucchini, tomatoes, broccoli) and bacon towards the end. The rhubarb is from our garden, where it grows prolifically without any logical reference to the fact that we hardly eat the stuff. We don't usually have pudding, but as I spent this afternoon burying bokashi in the rhubarb garden, I had to snap quite a bit off so there was room to do/grow anything else. I have a great and easy rhubarb cake recipe but my kids don't eat it.

Other virtuous things: this is my sixth night without a drop of alcohol.

Another virtuous thing is that I dusted this morning. Only because I am rearranging almost everything in the house (yes, still) and now we have a china cabinet with china in it and as of late this morning, it wasn't even dusty china.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

The Rellies Roadtrip

I'm back from a fabulous rellies roadtrip. Fionn, Brighid and I met my sister at Springs Junction and then we drove to a little suburb just out of Blenheim where we stayed with our very dear ex-pat coaster friends and had a blast. The next day the kids stayed with their friends and my sister and I visited aunties and cousins and got cow poo all over our city shoes when we tried to get up the driveway to one lot of rellies. It's quite hard to kick poo out of the way of the gate without gumboots. I left my sister with our grandparents (who are 86 and 88 and still living in their own home) and went back to Blenheim for another night drinking local wine.

Next morning we said our goodbyes (the kids looked so very sad, they had had the most perfect time playing and staying with their friends) and drove to Grandma and Grandad's to pick up my sister.

Where to next?

To Nelson.

Not just to Nelson. To the Nelson fabric shops. Spotlight was pretty good and I bought myself a self healing cutting board there, but Morelands fabrics was like walking into Aladdin's cave. I bought some blue jersey and signed up mentally for another go at Simplicity 1945.

My sister had taken the night off from family activities to go see her friends and the kids and I found ourselves at the best playground in Nelson (possibly in a much wider area), one which looks out at this view:

We stayed at Tahuna camping ground, which meant we could spend more time at the 'rocket playground' the next morning.
We met my sister on Sunday at a fabulous cafe which makes gluten free crepes and galettes. Not just a side line of gluten free, but the entire menu gf and utterly delicious. I want to play round with buckwheat pancakes some more now I've tasted these.Then we stopped at Berrylands and bought about 80 zillion kilos of fruit and vegetables and two freshly made berry ice creams for only $36. This made the children and I very happy.

It was good to be happy. It gave us resilience when the car played up later in the day. Thank goodness for my sister's AA membership.

Now we are back home. Favourite Handyman has done all sorts of wonderful fixit jobs and I've both continued with the rearranging inside our home and with planting more vegetables for winter and spring.

Yesterday FH and Fionn were out doing very useful things like taking a large amount of glass to the dump and on the way home they added to their usefulness by giving a ride to a hitchhiker. Unfortunately, the hitch hiker stole Fionn's reading glasses and his camera. Once we found that out this morning, I spent most of the rest of the day doing insurance related tasks.

This morning I bought a rotary cutter and tonight I got out my new cutting board, the cutter and some fabric. Oooooh that is so much better than scissors! I've got to finish organising the lounge before I'm allowing myself to start sewing - hopefully tomorrow night. Yesterday I picked up three good sewing patterns at the op shop in Hokitika for 50 cents.

Before I left Wetville, I went to see The Artist at the movies. According to our local council, it is our civic duty to go to the movies four times per year, in order to make it financially viable. There are more onerous duties than this. The Artist was a good film. I don't have any considered and thoughtful comments to make on the film, but I did love Berenice Bejo's energy in her role as Peppy Miller.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Me Made May '12

Can I do it? I've followed previous self stitched or me made challenges before on other blogs with a significant degree of admiration. I've decided to have a go myself this time. I have this idea that it will push me to realise I can wear home made more often and to appreciate what I have managed to make. I've been making a mental list of my options:
1 knitted vest
1 knitted cardigan
1 sewn merino cardigan
2 t shirts
1 crossover top
2 dresses (assuming I hem my floral curtain dress this month)
3 skirts (though one will be too summery)

Perhaps I will even sew some more items to wear before May. Any one else keen?

Monday, April 9, 2012

The Green Room

It's been an exciting Easter weekend. Pictures of the transformation:The wallpaper is ripped off. The test pots are up and dizzy lizzie, the green paint, wins the selection contest.

The primer undercoat is up.First coat of dizzy lizzie.


The bunks are in, the beds are ready to use and Fionn even has a matching laundry basket for his room. The 'space' curtains are from the old room and were an op shop find a few years ago. The section at the top which you attach the hooks to has lost the thread to pull it taut. When I have my sewing machine out of the piles of books and in operation again, I shall sew some more on so the curtain gathers properly at the top. The calico curtains on the adjacent window are from The Warehouse. We went down for curtain hooks today and I decided that given the effort and money we'd put into the walls, I'd splash out on some new curtains ($63 for a pair versus minimum $40 per metre for even the cheapest at the local curtain shop). There are blinds on the windows as well, and soon we will replace those with black out lining for the curtains which my very kind Mum has offered to make for us.

Tomorrow we work on Brighid's room. It did look like this:

and now it looks like this:

Although it also needs painting, that will have to wait. Favourite Handyman quite reasonably says it has to wait until Brighid stops drawing on the walls. Did we draw on the walls as children? Not twice anyway. The world hasn't quite fallen down due to our relatively laissez-faire parenting, despite me knowing for sure that the hiding we would have gotten for drawing on the walls as children definitely deterred a repeat performance and possibly any drawing at all. Wicked youth and their wicked parents. Must be because I only walked to the end of the short driveway to catch the bus to school and I had shoes. Have you ever noticed how no old people who talk about how hard their early days were ever lived close to the school?

Friday, April 6, 2012

Vitamin C

More fun on the sickness front. Last night Brighid came down with a raging urinary tract infection. The emergent signs had been there last week and the vomiting lurgy didn't help in terms of the need to flush out any bacteria before it got a hold. So. Late on Holy Thursday in a small town with no pharmacy and likely no emergency medical clinic for days and she is screaming and squealing in pain. What have I learnt since 2006 when Fionn had just such an infection? Back then, I didn't know anything about UTIs and yet I have never before or since seen my son in such pain. We took him to the doctor and I've never appreciated antibiotics so much.

But antibiotics weren't an option last night. Even had I chosen to take her to A & E, they would have focused on making her comfortable, which translates to giving her what I consider to be horrific doses of paracetomol and ibuprufen, and not had the abx to hand out.

A big learning curve in recent years for me has been the role of vitamin C. I've got Thomas Levy's book on the subject and I've both read widely and experimented with it at home (with good results). I keep both powdered sodium ascorbate and lypospheric vitamin C in the house at all times. So I held her in my arms while she was squealing in pain and I gave her drinks of water and lypospheric vitamin C at regular intervals (several times per hour, 1/3 of a gram at a time) for three hours. At midnight I rang FH to come home from his night out and by 1pm, Fionn had heard us talking, Brighid was mostly happy and everyone was in our bed and awake. By then, I was ready to be asleep, funnily enough.

Today she is still in some pain when she urinates. I've been keeping up the vitamin C at at least a gram per hour. I know that if I don't, the progress we have made will be lost. If we can't get rid of it in the next couple of days, then we will have to go down the antibiotics route. But given her fragile gut flora after her recent vomiting lurgy, antibiotics would spell disaster on her immunity as we go into winter. After my own experience with antibiotics triggering a weird, possibly viral, auto immune problem in the form of rheumatoid arthritis which stopped me from walking, driving, carrying my newborn daughter and doing the most basic household functions almost overnight, I'm always on the lookout for good health strategies which avoid antibiotics.

As I type, she sleeps. She has been very cooperative and very brave.

Next project: painting the study and moving huge amounts of furniture and precious items around the house in the hope that we can make everything fit, including two new (to us) beds which arrive in just four days' time.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

At Home

The girl is out of sicky danger zone. She is eating and laughing and I'm sure she will come back to full strength tomorrow.

While she was ill, we cancelled swimming lessons, ballet rehearsal and martial arts. Not just for her but for everybody. Fionn walked home from school instead of me collecting them both and the zen was wonderful. Today, as Brighid started to eat, I could concentrate on her health, popping aloe vera, vitamin C, probiotics and cod liver oil down her throat.

This afternoon she was up for some sunshine and helped me plant daffodils and pansies. She lay on the trampoline soaking up the sun while I went on to sow rocket and violas and plant freesias, perpetual spinach and red poppies.

I wore my navy crossover top today. It is lovely and soft to wear. I've been reading up a little and examining the pattern (Simplicity 1945) some more and I see where I made some of my mistakes. Those mistakes led to wonkiness and a strange unflattering cosiness down the bottom (tucked in in the photo and likely every time I ever wear it). I found this tutorial on doing an FBA on a wrap top and that explains some of my wonkiness (though not all). I can't work out how she has done her initial fba before she lines up the crossover sides - I don't think it is a Fit for Real People technique, which are the only ones I know.
I think I will have another go at this top, though when, given I am giving up my sewing space and moving into the (crowded) lounge next week, I'm less sure. Although this jersey knit fabric is a pleasure to wear, it is slippy to sew with. I think I am beginning to understand what is meant by a 'stable knit' in sewing terms now. I do see a visit to Spotlight in Nelson in my future, and I'm hoping to pick up a cheap stable knit there to make version #2. I'm holding off shopping at the very tempting Bella Chic in the meantime.

Everyone I ever talk food to, and I have a considerable enthusiasm for talking food, is aiming to reduce or increase something in their eating habits. More fat, less fat, less meat, more fish, more vegetables, no gluten, dairy free and so on. I'm frequently aiming to eat less bread. I feel much better when I don't eat bread, but on the other hand I love the feeling of actually eating the stuff. One of my favourite food thinkers is on my blog roll, a woman called Heather Twist who writes Off the Food Grid. Heather has a particular interest in iron and its attendant evils when it is present in the body in excess. As an official label wearer of the term haemochromatosis, I'm interested in her take on this and I'm also curious about her thoughts in response to the craze for "paleo" eating. In a recent post on beef, eggs come up positively in her musing on people she observes who are older and in great health.

Which prompted me today to finely chop half a red onion, two sage leaves and some silverbeet (argentata beet from my garden to be precise) and saute them briefly in butter. Then I cracked an egg into the pan and mixed it all up until the egg was set. I scooped it on to a plate and added salt and pepper and it was beautiful and also filling in a good way. I think the sage might be the special ingredient.

For dinner, as I was at home instead of in the car somewhere and by then I had the prospect of everyone eating dinner, I made pumpkin and beef shepherds pie. It was very good. The topping was half potato and half pumpkin with some grated cheese in with the butter when I mashed it. The bottom was roast beef minced up and added to sauteed onion, garlic and carrot and chopped red pepper and broccoli. Then I added red wine vinegar, a bit of beef stock, some soy sauce and a big big slosh of tomato sauce.

That's it. Time to go read The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd. I finished The Weissmans of Westport and although I was a bit dismissive for the first half at least, it turned out quite good. It's Westport, nearish to New York, not Westport, nearish to nowhere, on the West Coast of New Zealand.Link.

Monday, April 2, 2012

What day is it?

I live at home now. 42 hours after Brighid starting vomiting, she did her final vomit (we think) for this illness. That was yesterday. Today she ate just the tiniest piece of a piece of toast and two mini iceblocks. She mostly slept and in between I hung out washing and read her picture books. She is, she tells me, too sick for Milly Molly Mandy and The Secret Garden. Tonight she managed a piece of pizza before retreating with a sore tummy. I think we are making progress.

So tomorrow we will spend together and hopefully she will make further progress towards full participation in our community life (translates to 'going back to school').

When I have sick children, and the attendant lack of sleep, I oscillate between thinking about ways to improve our health through the eating of especially good food (Nourishing Traditions came out, for example), and being too tired to produce food from scratch. Tonight's dinner came from Dominoes. While I was at work tonight arranging to not be there tomorrow, I could not mentally organise myself to order pizza there. So I drove home, received the favoured pizza requests from Fionn who is perfectly healthy, and ordered the pizza from my computer. When I got to the shop, I asked why I didn't get the cheaper Tuesday deals online and the service person kindly and gently explained that the reason is that today is Monday.
I did put beef bones in the slow cooker today though, so tomorrow there should be bone broth to make pumpkin soup with. I did watch this interview with Rodney Hide. I never thought I would purposely watch and take seriously anything Rodney Hide says but there you go. Thoughts on alternative health paradigms and socialism and individualism will have to wait for another post. Then tonight I read an interview with Claudia Roden. I always love reading interviews with Roden. The only book of hers I have read/own is on Italian food. The ones I covet are on Jewish food and on Middle Eastern food. Perhaps it is fitting that I made hummous this morning.

The greens gap in the garden is soon to close. The miners lettuce and rocket are nearly ready for harvesting. There is a little silverbeet and soon some kale will be ready. Kale is in fact ready now but I'm more focused on building up stocks for winter. I'm still squashing huge numbers of caterpillars each day AND the white butterflies are still flitting and laying eggs.