Showing posts from May, 2012

the new blue corduroy skirt and the inner voices

On the final day of May, I wore my new skirt, the one I finished earlier this week.  As is often the case, I had to give myself a little talk after I viewed the photos.  This talk: Voice #1: But my stomach looks so fat in this! Voice #2: Yes Sandra, that is because your stomach is that fat.  You can hide it by standing behind a child, but you cannot make it go away just by not liking it. Voice #1: Oh.  I s'pose.  It's a bugger really.  I can learn to make clothes that fit me, and I can learn to make clothes which are flattering, but I cannot make clothes which make entire parts of my body disappear. Voice #2: Yes.  It's good you are returning to a logical perspective.  Now remember how you have written about the need for diverse images of women in our media? Voice #1: [splutter] But I like pictures of different shaped women looking glamorous!   Voice #2: (which is by now most insufferable in tone) But women are not glamorous all the time.  Maybe those other women of diver…



the constant



Today was the birthday party for the youngest of Brighid's wee friends from our coffee group.  Despite the rain, we all had a great time.  I spent no less than seven hours at work this weekend, and wondered how on earth I would work full time and ever see my family. 

Food things:
1. Fast food chicken cooked slowly: bung one whole chicken in the slow cooker with a tablespoon of red Thai curry paste and a tin of coconut cream and some pieces of pumpkin (no need to peel them).  Cook all day.  Eat with boiled frozen peas.
2. I made vegetable and meat bones soup for dinner.  The mere addition of pearl barley and split yellow peas makes me feel all the hearty economical country cooker.  When my Mum did this, she did it properly.  She didn't squander the food budget on drinking red wine while she cooked. 

The sun is supposed to shine on Wetville on Tuesday.  On Tuesday I plan to plant my garlic for the year.  If the ballet teacher would kindly cancel this week's lesson again, I…

Thoughts on Isa's free food study

Last year I had a very interesting time reading and engaging with Isa Ritchie's masters thesis on Weston A Price style food movements.  Now she's back, with a PhD project on no less than the 'democratisation of nourishment,' a phrase redolent with academic speak which actually translates to looking at very interesting movements of freeganism, free foraging and community gardening. 

Today, Isa is thinking out loud about defining the parameters of her study (something I was never good at.  Like Isa, I fancied looking at everything).  She writes:

"I want to focus on practices that either generate food (largely) outside of the corporate food system and aren't bought or sold using conventional currency or that glean food that would otherwise be wasted, and, therefore, do not contribute to the corporate food system.  I'm interested in concepts such as abundance, scarcity, freedom, community and participation - and I'm interested in what people involved in…

A short post on carbs

Carbohydrates appear to be the new evil.  Low fat foods as a dieting mechanism is so last year and references to high protein-low carbohydrate eating, whether dressed up in the language of the flat belly or of the optimum gut flora, abound in the media.  I've read a bit about paleo eating over the last year and I guess some people would see paleo eaters as leaders in the anti-carb field.  I've seen wheat described as a poison which, before I got into all this nutritional discourse stuff, used to be a word reserved for insecticides, paint stripper and other people's medicine which you shouldn't touch.

But before we get too carried away with the idea that grains, and particularly wheat, have contributed to the downfall of human civilisation (like hell they have; Carluccio's foccaccia is still one of my favourite taste sensations in my whole world), I think it's worth thinking about the contribution of food which fills and fattens us up easily to our choices as hu…

$304.37 and the redemptive power of naked ladies

So.  Three hundred and four dollars and thirty-seven cents is a big power bill.  It's not at all conducive to saving for a new car.  So I thought carefully about our power consumption and decided that:
1. The heater in the dining room should not go on so readily.
2. We should use the tumble drier less.
3. We should use the freezer more.

On the second point, I worked hard at being a good brownie all weekend and washed about a million loads of washing while the sun shone and kept drier use to a minimum (not everything was completely dry at the end of the day).  On the third point, I thought about lentils and the general concept of making better use of the freezer.  I've wanted one for years and we were fortunate enough to be given a small one at the beginning of this year.  At the time, I was all about buying bulk amounts of red meat.  There are still quite a lot of sausages and some other meat in there, but now I'm cutting back red meat consumption, what I really need is so…

Celebrate the 'F' word

Today I went down to our local art gallery and had a look at their current exhibition, "Celebrating the 'F' word".  It's 'f' for fibre, but I think it has a wonderful explicitly 'f' for feminist tone in the confident celebration of both domestic textiles and domestic content.

Some favourites included Mary Celeste's "Femicide Bomber", a sculpture of a woman in a black singlet with dolls, feeding bottles and kitchen utensils on the waist belt.  I also like Lindy Roberts' Colonial Cameos.  These medium sized frames in their traditional cameo style edging used fabrics from different countries in a colonial relationship, such as wool blanket, tapa cloth, shweshwe and cotton lawn hankies, with laser printed images in the centres.  Caroline McQuarrie had a crochet installation in the floor and on the wall, photographs framed with crocheted frames.  Catherine Moffitt is an artist who also works at the local state high school as a teacher…

fish & craft

Sushi salad.  Last night I was tired.  We still needed to eat.  Takeaways were not an option.  I put the wrong kind of rice in the pot so no basmati rice with fish and veg after all.  So I made the sushi rice as I usually would for sushi, then cooked the terakihi in butter/oil/ginger/lemon thyme/lemon juice and with broccoli, then tipped the whole lot into a bowl with the rice and added grated carrot and avocado.  I also added broken up nori into the rice before the fish went in, but I needed to have crumbled it up into much smaller pieces.  It tasted good.  I would do it again.

Baked fish.  Tonight I was tired.  It took every last ounce of discipline to start cooking dinner and not go blow money on takeaways and wine.  I tried out Annabel Langbein's baked fish with almond sauce and it was good.  Almonds are fantastic sources of magnesium and calcium but no one apart from me really wants to just eat them raw, alone.  Apparently the omega 3 in fish is preserved for ab…

A narcissistic narrative of our family health journey

Today I made lentil and feta salad for lunch.  I soaked the puy lentils with a little apple cider vinegar overnight, then I boiled them til they were soft this morning.  Then I sauteed onions, ginger, turmeric, cumin, crushed coriander seeds and kale in olive oil and butter and then added the lentils and mixed it all up.  Then I added lots of chopped fresh coriander, salt and pepper and diced feta cheese.  It was good, and nutritious and filling.  Next time I need to make a bigger batch as that was enough to feed FH and I for lunch.  It also made a pile of dishes.

Then I blinked five times, went to work, school pickup, ballet and the optometrist and it was time for another meal.  We have heaps of eggs at the moment and no money until pay day tomorrow, so it had to be an egg meal and the children were pleading to never have quiche again, or at least not tonight.  So I parboiled 4 spuds which I had chopped into rough cubes.  Then I sauteed onions, garlic, thyme, rosemary, sage and ancho…

Everyone needs a hobby

One of my favourite obsessions is foods for good health.  I do have to remind myself (often) that reading about good foods will not give me the benefits; I need to actually eat them.  I've kept up our home made food commitment, even though I gave up reporting on it daily.  Last week we had bought fish and chips one night and one morning I took asthma boy into town for morning tea after he came to work with me but beyond that we've been very good.  Asthma boy has made a very good recovery.  I'm not sure if it is pure good luck that he is responsible about listening to his body or if I can take some credit for the work I've put in feeding him well and explaining the food choices we make.  I seem to have my family in the rhythm of taking fish oil and cod liver oil each day and we are still using the flax seed oil topically on Fionn's eczema (which flared up with the asthma).

I've been finding red meat a bit heavy lately and as I wait for a doctor's appointment…

Thoughts on multivitamin supplements and medical 'science'

Can I just shout from the rooftops that Brighid, my daughter who has rather limited likes at dinner time, likes brussels sprouts?  So did everyone tonight (I cut the base off, scored a cross from the base, steamed them and then added some butter).
In other non-news and perhaps eventually some actual news, I have something called a chalazion in my eyelid.  I've been pronouncing it with a french style, which makes it feel a little less unappealing.  My first encounter with the optometrist was somewhat unsuccessful, as he wrote a referral to the DHB and they weren't the slightest bit interested.  The optometrist then wrote a script for steroids, and given the time I've spent reading up on steroids (mostly in relation to my son's eczema) and my evaluation (the optometrist's seemed to be rather similar) of the likelihood of success with a skin thinning lotion, I'm not the slightest bit interested in putting steroid cream on my eyelid.
I've been doing hot compresse…

The sole parent contraception proposal

On Stuff recently, there was an interview with a number of young people living in Huntly West.  These people shared their views on the government proposals to offer free long term contraception to sole parent beneficiaries and their teenage daughters.  There has been a lot of discussion on the pros and cons of Paula Bennett's latest plan in New Zealand this week.  On the one side, there are those who say "support everyone in need, no matter how or why' and 'walk a mile before you judge' and on the other are those who believe that to prosper is to be good, and any who do not should be punished, and certainly not 'encouraged' by any form of state support.

But I read the piece in Stuff on the young people in Huntley West, and I wonder why nobody asks what would positively give these people something else to aspire to, to find in their reach, to fulfil themselves with?  Because no matter what you do about disincentivising repeat solo parent pregnancies and upp…

It's not just sewing, it's algorithmic thinking

I'm still admiring and thinking about Cheryl Buckley's article on sewing, "On the Margins", as per the thoughts I started last night.  Buckley talks about the skill in designing that the women she interviewed exhibited, with nary a pattern in sight.  She notes that women across different classes made clothes (England c.1920s - 1980s), but in that this activity was consistently marginalised.

Before we pull out the standard line of women just not having enough time any more, what with paid work and running a household and all, I think it's worth noting that Buckley's women sewists were very busy women, women who put in long days in their paid jobs, raising families and assisting in family businesses, before sitting down of an evening and sewing at the machine which was on the corner of the kitchen table or squashed in the front room.  What is different is that clothes were much more expensive to buy then, relative to making them at home (particularly 1950s and …

On the Margins: Theorizing the History and Significance of Making and Designing Clothes at Home

Today's new experiment: making herbal teas for my sore throat and headcold using herbs from my garden.  I've planted them all on purpose in recent years, but until now I've only used the culinary herbs.  Today, mindful of the rising price of the various potions I buy to scare away lurgies, I opted for some diy, using and checking the knowledge I already have on the properties of specific herbs.

I gathered some thyme, lemon verbena, bergamot bee balm, borage, sage and lemon balm and put it in a tea pot and covered it with recently boiled water.  The resultant brew was quite nice.  Maybe we will survive peak oil after all.

I carried on a little with my kelly green scarf.  After I saw this in a recent Press article:

I decided that I will make scarves (or at least this one green one) which I will eventually stop using as scarves and sew into a big blanket for our bed.  The picture above is of some yarn bombing which took the form of loads of pieces of knitting sewn together to…

Ginger compress

There are photos of today below, wearing some things I made (grey t-shirt with stars print on it plus aqua-blue cardigan which looks and feels rather like a short dressing gown).  My hair is not brushed.  Joining the Me Made May'12 challenge was a commitment to wearing home made clothes, not to brushing my hair on Saturday morning.

Today's new adventure was making ginger compresses for Fionn's chest.  He does seem to be improving, and now I know why I bought such a large piece of ginger in the groceries.  Sometimes I get frustrated that my kids continue to get sick despite all my efforts to feed and water and clothe and shelter them to good health.  But it is timely at that point, I tell myself, to remember that on both sides of their genetic inheritance, relatives died young of asthma and breathing/chesty/lung complaints, so getting it down to a few bouts per year is a success.

Also, I have and had a head cold.  I wouldn't describe that as an adventure.

In the absence…

Friday asthma

Me Made May'12?  Probably designed for people who don't have sick kids.  No photo today, though I did use my home made bag and I wore the petticoat/slip which I bought for 50 cents at the Sallies and took the hem up myself.  You wouldn't be getting a photo of me in my undergarments even if my photographer wasn't too focused on breathing to take photos.

Favourite Handyman took the day off to look after Fionn and I went to work.  When they were much smaller I preferred to always be the person home with them when they were sick, but now they are bigger it is good to share the load and not always cancel my work commitments.  I also feel like a grown up feminist who actually shares the child care on the tough days this way too. 

I find that it is easy to end up focusing on other aspects of parenting or child wellness and be oblivious to something slipping until it is a bit late.  For us, that has been running out of flax seed oil and not keeping the omega 3 intake up.  Cod …

Wearing purple, not waiting until I am old

Ah yes, it's that cardigan again.  Unless my sewing machine comes back and I perform miracles of sewing productivity such as I've never achieved before, then many many many photos of this Me Made May'12 lark are going to involve my purple crossover cardy.  If I knitted it again now I would make the sleeve and shoulder size smaller and add more rows and stitches across the front to fit the boobs.  But I've gone off knitting at the moment.
The kids are responsible for the state of the wallpaper.  FH and I are responsible for the training of aforementioned children into civilised and thoughtful human beings and respecters of wallpaper.  The hallway is not the finest moment of any four of us.  I haven't quite the hang of the head turned for photo pose.  I guess there are many more days this month to preactise.  Unless I can find someone else to take my photos, I expect Brighid will be in at least one every single day for May.  I remembered to plait her hair up today …


I made the cardigan/vest.  I took the sewing machine to the repair person today.  Given the colder weather, I now have two cardigans and one skirt which are home made and suitable for work and one long sleeved t shirt which is home made and fine for wearing in the weekend.  I also have a nightshirt and a bag.  Not quite enough for sustaining a month of daily wearing of home made clothing.

Wednesday 2 May
Breakfast: they had porridge and I had toast with avocado and salmon on it.
Lunch: kids' usual items assembled at home; adults had quiche.
Tea: nachos + broccoli.

Book club tonight.  Sleep time now.

From quiche to kale

Day One of the Me Made May'12.  I made the cardigan myself.  It took 18 months and at the end of it I wasn't even that wild about the fit, but it is cosy and warm.  And purple.  I also made the skirt, out of some needlecord from my late mother in law's cupboard.  I think it was once destined for FH's sister when she was about seven.  You might find it easier to look past the droopy tits and the tummy which could be pregnant but certainly isn't than I do, but that, it seems, is the nature of the female gaze.

The punga raised bed, with kale, rocket, spinach, celery and (in spring) red poppies.
 Lemon verbena.
 Green succulent on our red red fence.
 The kale which I finally planted this afternoon.  Planting is quick, but the weeding required to make a space for planting takes a bit longer.
 Alyssum, geraniums, sugar snap peas, rocket, myrtle ugni, thyme, calendula and today's addition: welsh onions.  FH made this garden after the neighbour's dogs killed our …