Showing posts from January, 2013

Purple kale

Purple kale! 

Late this afternoon we were all back at Mitre 10, in pursuit of more equipment for the project to strip back the paint from Brighid's windows, and now to strip the window opening rods back to their original splendour.  One day there will be photos.

Whilst there, I happened to discover there had been a new shipment of plants at the garden section, including purple kale.  I grew red russian kale a few years ago, and found it grew to the size of a small tree and wasn't as delicious as cavolo nero or curly kale.  But this variety is a much deeper purple and I found it irresistible.  Thanks to another beautiful evening outside, the purple kale, plus the rest of the tatsoi, silverbeet and spinach which I hadn't finished planting yesterday, are in the ground.


I'm back at work and the sun shining is shining most utterly gloriously for all of every day.  This afternoon I bought a sprinkler and the kids ran around under it after their first day of school and their earlier fatigue and grumpiness melted away. 

Most of the year we live in a deluge of water, or between frequent deluges, so buying a sprinkler hasn't been high on our list, ever.  But I left it on the old chook run garden for a while this evening and then planted out some more greens.  We cannot have too many greens going into autumn and winter.  Alongside the sprinkler, I bought punnets of silverbeet, tatsoi and spinach.  There are no photos because although I spent about a million hours divesting us of many many items and then the lovely H began cleaning for us on Monday (very wonderful), I have, in the process, mislaid the cord which connects the camera to the computer.

I am weaning myself off frequent trips to the supermarket quite well.  That has been an additional prom…

Still cleaning after all of these minutes

Houseworking.  Still.  Anyone would think that I had to go back to work in a couple of days.  Today H our prospective cleaner came round and I liked her immediately.  She starts on Monday and upgrades at that point from 'prospective cleaner' to 'our cleaner'.  This afternoon I helped Fionn clean out his room and set up a coffee table for his lego.  Maybe I'm the only person in the world with a child who looks at his/her bedroom and has no idea where to start but does quite well with alongside support.  I somehow doubt that. to my great relief, he was in a mood to get rid of a number of things he has outgrown.  Phew!  More room for the things he does love, and an enthusiastic goodby on my part to large plastic battery operated toys.  Has anyone else noticed that the really annoying toys have batteries which never run out?

Goodbye, very large, very noisy helmet.

I also cooked up a storm in the kitchen.  I roasted a mix of aubergines, red peppers, red onions, anchovie…

Cleaning Queen

I have a cleaner lined up!  Whilst cleaning green algae off the bath about ten days ago, I decided that something had to change.  Given that I may be increasing my paid working hours again this year, whatever didn't work last year was unlikely to miraculously work this year. 

So H, our new cleaner, is coming to see the house on Saturday (and possibly starting the job on Monday) and I have been working hard to create floor space so she can clean effectively and also a reasonable enough impression so she even agrees to clean the house.  The rubbish bin is full, the recycling bin is full, I've been to the Sallies with more bags of goodies and there is another at the door for tomorrow, I've gifted more clothes and craft items to local acquaintances with younger children, and there is still more to do.  Still, p-r-o-g-r-e-s-s is distinctly obvious.

I didn't quite fit in supercooking today as well as supercleaning, but I did buy up terakihi and turbot at the fish shop and no…

The good, the bad, and the imminent

Things I've been doing:
Good: fantastic actually.  I had a weekend in Nelson with three wonderful friends and got back yesterday.  Being a tourist in Nelson is fun.
Good: Morelands Fabrics in Nelson had 50% off all of their fabric last weekend.  Pictures to follow - I did well.

Bad: crap really.  Heart palpitations/racing heart/breathlessness/scary irritability.  Then worse: the medical people, who I saw as soon as I got back after my weekend away, decided it was all in my head.  Stress, apparently.  I've had the cruisiest holiday since I became a parent this summer (I've been a parent for 10 years).  So there is more to be done on that score, as I would seriously like to get rid of these symptoms.  They are not as bad as a few days ago, but they are still there. 

Progress: getting ready for going back to work.  I've put the word out that I'm looking for a cleaner.  I took three bags of rubbish to the dump, a yoghurt maker and dehydrator to a friend and lots of bags t…

Lemon Balm

I bought and planted lemon balm because I liked the smell of it.  It doesn't get used in the kitchen, and despite its invasive nature, it is currently buried amongst even more invasive plants by the bright red corrugated iron fence.

But hyperthyroidism is turning out to be a dramatic beast, and I am looking forward to my hospital appointment at the end of the month.  In another bout of online reading on the subject, I noticed again that lemon balm is known to slightly inihibit the thyroid-producing hormone (e.g. here).  I've just been out in the garden and, clearing some unknown yellow-flowering weed out of the way and reaching gently between the rose branches, have picked some lemon balm.  I've got the jug on the boil now to make lemon balm tea.

We've had my father in law to stay this week and the house has been a DIY festival.  More on that next week.

The remnants top: Simplicity 1945

The remnants top.  I had leftover polyester jersey from two attempts at the Simplicity 1945 (Khaliah Ali) crossover top, plus some leftover polyester knit from my Cake Patterns Tiramisu dress.  I used them to make the cowl neck top in Simplicity 1945. I cut an 18 round the neck and sleeves and graded up to the equivalent of a 20 for the sides.  The shine in the first picture is the combo of the flash on the camera and the light coloured bra effect - it isn't see through as far as I can tell so far.  I had mid blue for the back, navy for the front and sleeves and a lightweight polyester knit in a blue print for the cowl.  Navy is as difficult to photograph as black, but I'm pleased with this top, which I appear to have produced at nil cost.  May this, together with the Tiramisu dress, mark the beginning of a successful year sewing.

Last night a slug ate the carrot seedlings.  Razed them to the ground.  Once again.  Slugs have a long history of eating all of my carrot seedlings…

Thursday in the garden

In the night, it occurred to me that I could let out the seams on the Tiramisu bodice a little.  So this morning, I did.  It isn't a magical fix, but I think it will make wearing the dress to work more comfortable - it's not a good look to be tugging the bodice over one's bust, ever.  Than I hemmed it.  Viola, all done.  My photographer was busy doing Important Ten Year Old Things, so maybe I will get a photo of the completed-including-the-hem dress another day soon.

Then I moved to the garden, my favourite place this summer.  Yesterday I weeded and then sowed rocket and misome.  Today I weeded and then sowed beetroot and planted purple alyssum.  We had a very windy night and some of my plants, especially the tomatoes, are the worse for it.  But every day that I spend freeing up more soil from the weeds is leading to many more veges for us this autumn and winter.  I'm focusing mostly on greens, as they are old and expensive in the supermarkets and nothing beats fresh g…

The Tiramisu dress: an initial review

Today I wore my unhemmed Tiramisu dress, thinking the best way to help the hem drop, if it was going to, was to hang the dress on my body.  The pattern sizing is based on the high bust measurement, and then the bodice for each size has a/b/c/d cutting lines, depending on proportion (fullest bust = d version).  The bodice pieces also have the finished bust measurements written on them.  I have a high bust of 38.5 inches and a full bust of 45 inches.  I share this with you only because I find it so incredibly helpful when others share their stats as they write up their own fitting narratives.  The high bust put me in the 35 bodice, but the 35D bodice had a finished measurement of only 39.5 inches.  At the time when I was making cutting decisions, there was no full bust adjustment information available for this pattern (that went up yesterday on the Cake website).  But there was a very useful piece of information about mixing bodice sizes (in the comments section of this link).  One the…

Tiramisu dress progress

The tiramisu dress is now almost done.  As it's sewn on the bias, I have followed advice to let it hang for a few days before hemming it.  I will do a more detailed review once I have hemmed it and have a photo of me wearing it.

I've also started a cowl top made from the remnants of the last three knit fabrics I have sewn with, using Simplicity 1945.  I think knits are my sewing future.  Unfortunately, I didn't mark the right side of the sleeve pieces and now have two left sleeves (they are not symmetrical pieces) so there is some more unpicking in my near future.


We drove up the coast this afternoon in beautiful sunshine, and Brighid and I took the opportunity to collect seaweed for the garden.  I think I will bury another bucket of bokashi in the middle third of the punga raised bed and lay the seaweed over the top as mulch.

I've signed up for the tiramisu sew-along.  Only four days in which to clean the lounge so I have room to sew.  Although I don't need the rest of the lounge to physically sew in, the enormous amount of clutter shouts at me currently, and I can't sew with anything shouting at me.

Growing soil

More gardening.  A perfect day of sunshine after yesterday's gale.  I weeded along most of the garden underneath the kitchen window, and then I planted cavolo nero and basil in the resultant gaps.  Cavolo Nero is my favourite kind of kale, and we didn't grow enough last year.

In yesterday's fierce weather the garlic and the bergamot were flattened.  I cut the bergamot (which was about a metre tall) almost to the ground, and will deal with the garlic tomorrow.  Then I cleared one third of the punga raised bed of weeds, spread the charcoal (dumped from the remains of a barbeque using driftwood), buried a bucket of bokashi along the centre of this third, then collected several handfuls (through a plastic bag) of chook-poo encrusted wood shavings and spread them along this third.  Then I severely diluted the liquid from the bottom of the bokashi bucket and poured that on top of the poo-wood mix.  Then I laid the branches of bergamot on top and the spent poppy plants on top of t…

In retreat

Today there was a gale, and the tent came partially down and the rain formed a large puddle underneath it anyway and when I opened the wash-house window a little to let the tumble drier hose vent outside, the rain was so forceful that it slammed against the tumble drier and bounced downwards to make a big puddle on the wash-house floor.  Then all the tent things came inside and everything was wet and the lounge is full full full of things while Brighid's room is being painted.  I took the Christmas tree down in case we needed to light the fire (it is on top of the fireplace, with tinsel wound thickly round the flue).  I still can't find the DVD of Mary Poppins I chose for Brighid for Christmas and indeed I cannot find anything specific in the lounge.

I retreated to my room and my book.  The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake, by Aimee Bender, was quite good.  Infinitely better than dealing with the lounge.  I relaxed so much that I fell asleep instead of cooking dinner.  My love…

Gardening and zen in 2013

A sea of seeding poppies, bok choy and spinach in the punga raised bed.  I started to clear one end yesterday and I'm glad I did - the nine huge, contented and fat snails I found certainly explained why I'd had lettuce seedlings disappear overnight in recent months.  They are now being recycled into eggs for our breakfast.

Yesterday Brighid and I planted (in other parts of the garden): lettuces, celery, coriander, peas, cavolo nero and violas.  We also sowed seeds of carrots, beetroot, chicory and basil.  Brighid tells me that she thinks she would like to be a gardener in between jobs as a ballerina when she grows up.  It's lovely gardening with her.

Today I weeded around the red onions and I planted winter savory, golden sage and pizza thyme.

I'm loving my summer in the garden.  I think my main goal for 2013 is to stay in the garden!  It is deeply satisfying and I feel a calmer person afterwards.  It feeds into my bigger need - to find ways of living a more tranquil,…