Sunday, September 25, 2011


More price hikes.

Does it ever end?

Do things ever go DOWN instead of UP?

Just wondering.  Has anyone else wondered the same recently?

I spent most of my time in PaknSave last shop muttering under my breath.  They had a stupid audio advert on trying to tell us that despite prices going up everywhere else they are keeping grocery prices low.  Yeah, right.  It could be a Tui ad, for crying out loud!  (non-kiwis - Tui is a brand of beer here...they do these big bill board adverts that have very unlikely or improbably statements followed by 'yeah, right.' As in, not likely, sarcastically said).

Munchkin has been having goatsmilk since he turned one.  It was half the cost of the goatsmilk formula.  In those four months, it has gone from a regular price at Countdown of $4.09 to over $4.90.  FOUR MONTHS!  Nearly 20% increase!!!!!!!!!!  Needless to say, our income has not had a similar rise.

We are gradually changing him over to cows milk starting this week.  About 8 months before I wanted to, but it is a third of the price and he hasn't shown any obvious allergies so hopefully it will be okay.  And then we can put the money saved on milk into our straining grocery budget. 

The first time, I thought it was just a fluke.  We went over budget.  But the second time, and the third?!  I'd honestly not noticed the price increases.  My mind has been swamped by study.  And we ate a lot of fruit from the garden over Autumn which kind of masked the fact that we were spending more and more on food.

But at least we have extra income to put towards food.  I hate doing it.  I want to decrease the food budget, not increase it.  I hate seeing all that money go into something so temporary.  Okay, so I know we need it to survive, but somehow I'd still rather see it in books, or a house fund, or anything tangible and semi-lasting!

But while I've been sitting here wondering about our groceries and how we are going to manage, things are much worse elsewhere.

This is what we received from World Vision this week.

Click to enlarge
A request to increase our child sponsorship by $5 a month.  From $40 to $45.  Not much.  But enough for me to feel just a teeny bit stressed by it.  But read the rest.  Their development projects have experienced an increase of 50% in food costs in the past six years!  Yet during that time they have managed, somehow, to keep child sponsorship at the same level.  So I don't feel that they are at all forward or pushy in asking for a bit more.  I am horrified at how people who have so little to survive on to start with are now managing.  We haven't had to decide whether to eat this week or not.  We've still even had a bit of spare money to buy pies for an easy dinner.  Yet it is still stressful, this food business.  I can't imagine how hard it must be for others.
I'm going to be gardening this summer, trying to get as much food from our garden as possible.  And thanking God that we have a garden to use.  It's fertile enough to grow good food, safe from robbers and civil war, with easily accessible water, and a good growing climate. 

With such a blessing available to us, I guess I shouldn't really be complaining, should I?


Different Perspectives

My parents did Live Below the Line with us.  It was really awesome being able to share the experience with them!  Even though we didn't actually see each other much that week, it felt better somehow just knowing that someone else was going through similar things at the same time.

I was talking with them recently about their experience of Living Below the Line and here are some of the thoughts from our conversation over the dinner table that night.

It was eye opening discovering just how much you can do on such a limited budget!

An important consideration was knowing how much you need in a day.  What if you get it wrong? How do you work it out? How hard it must be for people living in extreme poverty.  We knew we had $11.25 for five days of food.  They may often not know when they will next get money and be able to buy food.  So hard balancing between today's needs and tomorrow's needs, and particularly when you don't know what tomorrow might hold.

It was worth doing the Challenge for the conversations had with workmates, friends and others about extreme poverty, the questions people asked, the interest shown.  Dad wanted to raise more money.  (Boyo and I did too but in the end we all did what we had time/energy for and doing something was better than not getting started at all!).

Mum noticed that the food worked really well for her.  But she did really miss fruit.  She found it has really changed things in her relationship with food - less cravings over all.  I, on the other hand, had the opposite experience - I craved and craved and ate and ate (all the wrong things too!).  It took over three weeks after doing the Challenge for me to feel like I've returned to 'normal' eating again!

Mum noted that we use food for so many things other than survival.  When we are bored.  When we feel strongly about things.  When we are tired, for a pick-me-up.  It's about a lot more than just eating to survive.  And this is particularly so in the west where we have such an abundance of accessible food.  Sometimes we seem to just eat out of habit, because it is there.

We communicate so much over food.  The work lunch that Mum had to sit and watch.  The workmates with lollies or cake.  The supper at Life Group.  Food consumes so much thought.  Especially when you know you don't have much food available.  The worry over it, particularly, took a lot of energy away from other things.

It is totally understandable now why people resort to doing thinigs like using cow dung for their fires.  The 'making do' that we experienced with our food has to be experienced across all areas of life for someone living in poverty.  It might be cow dung or nothing, rice foraged from a rat's nest or starving (and yes, that is an honest-to-goodness scenario!).

When asked if they'd do Live Below the Line again, my parents said yes.  It was worth it.  I have to agree.  It is a fabulous way to connect with the issue we are trying to help alleviate. 

Through the generosity of our friends and family, Boyo and I raised over $850!!!

Loving the Little Things

This week there are a few little things that I am loving a lot:

New Gloves!

My old ones had decided to go to holes.  I rely heavily on my fingerless gloves.  My hands seem to be perpetually cold all winter long!  Fingerless gloves mean I can knit, type, and do most anything that doesn't involve large quantities of water or gooey material (kneading bread, for instance, is out - I did have to take my gloves off when our breadmaker decided to stop this afternoon and I had to knead a loaf by hand or have it go to loaf later, I am really missing the breadmaker!).  I found these lovely gloves at our local Farmers Market - made by a local lady from merino.  Soft as soft.  Warm, warm, warm.  And a PERFECT FIT!  Now, if you know me, you will know that this is a miracle.  I snapped them up.  Handed over my $12 with great happiness and have not regretted it since. 


Spring really must be here.  Or my chives think so at least, and that is the important thing!  I love chives.  So love chives.  Chives on poached eggs.  Chives on salad.  Chives with mashed potato.  Chives go with just about anything.  Every winter I feel ripped off when my chives go dormant.  Every spring I have a little celebration when I get to eat the very first leaf again!

New shoes. 

Are they cool or what?!?  Munchin needed something bigger (again!) and with a more waterproof sole.  He just LOVES his shoes. 

Avocados.  And even more than that?  FREE avocados! 

Boyo climbed a tree.  Seriously.  Quite high by the sounds of things.  I wasn't even there, he did it out of the goodness of his avocado-tastes-yuck-but-my-wife-loves-it heart!  Then a workmate gave him three.  Then someone at church brought in a huge load of windfall ones.  I got a few more for me, and some for Mum.  Yummy.  Yummy.  Yummy.  And along similar lines, I am loving the free apples my mum dropped off.  I stewed them up and Munchkin and I are once more eating apple with our morning porridge.  So appreciate the free food right now, with groceries being so high.  Incidentally, apple peel makes a great all round can even eat it when you get tired of playing with it!

And one last thing I'm so loving this week:  Ornaments.  Now, I am not usually considered an ornamenty kind of person.  My husband was a bit shocked to hear that I had not only impulse purchased, but bought ornaments!  But these are special ornaments, or at least I think so.  They are from TradeAid.  So helping provide the people who made them with a real livelihood.  And they are cute.  They make me smile.  I might play with them with Munchkin when he is old enough to appreciate that they must be handled gently (they are fairly brittle clay or something).  Aren't they just delightful?!


Busy, busy, busy

The reason  you have not been hearing from me much lately (aside from being a little bit out-blogged after all the Live Below the Line posts!)...

I am painting.

And reminding myself that if I want the chook cage to last, it is worth painting.  Sigh.  It is so time consuming, and I have just three weeks left to get it all finished.  Three weeks before I have to knuckle down again and complete yet another monstrously large assignment then study for an exam.  Last week I gave myself a bit of leeway and had a few afternoon naps.  This week I will be a sterner task master for sure!  Nothing like a deadline to get oneself motivated!  Grin.


Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Frog Soup

Here's a treat for you!  Frog soup.

Not real frogs.  I promise.  But it is green, which is where I believe it came by its name.

I originally came across this recipe in an online forum, but I've amended it to suit the way I cook (it originally had instant potato in it, which I never use!).  Today I was using up broccoli.  Okay, so it was actually Tuesday when I made this, but Waste Not Tuesday doesn't have the same ring!  And I did eat some for lunch today!

Firstly, let me assure you that your instant thoughts of 'oh, yuck' are probably wrong.  You might really like it, and other than the colour might never know it uses a huge quantity of broccoli!

Start with your choice of onion, garlic, spring onion, leek (I usually use onion and garlic), lightly saute in a little oil.
Add 4-5 medium potatoes, peeled and cubed and 2-3 cups of stock (I use chicken stock) along with a bit of salt and pepper. 
Simmer for 5-10minutes.
Add a whole head of broccoli, chopped up small.  Include the stem and leaves and simmer until the potato is soft when you stab it with a knife. (I was using up the side shoots from our broccoli, so had a huge bag of them, plus one stray spinach leaf that somehow got in there too!).  Add some extra boiling water to just cover the veges if needed here or when cooking the potatoes.

Now take the soup off the heat.  Add a few tablespoons of your choice of cream cheese, natural yoghurt, or cream.  Do it slowly, and stir constantly so that it doesn't curdle too much.  Blend it.  Serve it.  Enjoy it.  If you like to make it look pretty, you could leave adding the cream/yoghurt till you serve it, and do a nice little white twirl in that sea of green.  I used some cream cheese that had been stashed in the freezer.  It's a great way to use a small amount up if you've got a tablespoon or two left over from another meal.

So there you go.  Frog soup.  You can also make Blonde Frog Soup.  My original creation, this one.  Subsitute cauliflower for broccoli.  I actually prefer the texture and flavour of the Blonde version!

Anyone have other broccoli recipes?  I've still got a fair bit to use up!


Christmas is Racing Towards Us!

Already it is the middle of September.  I find myself wondering where on earth the rest of the year has gone.  Has it really, truly been an entire year since I last wrapped, strapped and shipped out shoe boxes???  Perhaps not quite.  I seem to recall that last year's boxes were only ready one day before the cut-off for shipping.  This year I am super-duper organised.  But don't congratulate me for my amazing organisational skills.  I can't take too much credit.  I suspect it is that I'm a part-time student this year!  Less assignments.  Earlier practicum break too.  So here I am, a whole month early and my boxes are almost ready.  I need another five clothing items...not sure when I'm going to get to that yet, but that's the only thing left to do, other than drop them off and make my online shipping donation!  Wahoo!

I only had to wrap half the boxes this week, which has helped incredibly.  Mum and Boyo came to the rescue, and did a few with me Monday night.  My co-wrappers did not, however, consent to photographs of their wrapping in progress so you will just have to take my word for it!  Plus there were the ones we did on Christmas Day. 

So now I have a stack of boxes on my dining table.  I'll have to find somewhere else to put them I guess, seeing as it's a few weeks before I will drop them off yet.  Last year's deadline was 25 October, so if you've been contemplating doing a shoebox or two, you still have time to head out this weekend and get your skipping rope, flannel (facecloth), pencils, teddy bear and more!  The best kind of therapy for those of us who are gift-givers!

Now here's an original problem for you.  How do you get an A5 writing book into a narrow little women's shoe box?!

This way?  No, maybe that way!  Ah-ha.  Slide it down the side, and curve.  Hold.  Bang that lid on quick!  Now get a rubber band around it before it pops off again!


Five, Six, Seven, and Eight!

The next batch of peggy squares!  It is just me, or have I been motoring away??  I didn't think I'd had THAT much spare time lately.  Grin.  Perhaps I have just been knitting faster than I realised?!

The next instalment are going to be in grey and pinky-purple, as I'm ready for a change again.


Sunday, September 18, 2011

New Life

I just love spring!  It's the new life that gets me.  Seeds becoming seedlings.  Lambs.  Daffodils.  Bright green grass.  I even like the rain and changeablity of it all - when I'm not trying to get the washing dry!  Yup, we have piles and piles of half-dry washing at present.  One of our washing racks has broken.  It's been an ongoing issue, but we've finally had to conclude we need to buy another one.  Two rungs have fallen off completely and there are several others not far behind.  In the meantime, the washing is a little behind.  No sheets or towels till we get a decently fine day (decently fine means fine ALL day - Tauranga gets some beautiful weather, but this time of year we get it for an hour or two between rain showers).

In the Big Garden, the raspberries, grape, and passionfruit are all budding.  We have a huge mass of honesty flowers in with the raspberry, self sown from the one plant we grew last year (a gift from my mother-in-law).  I'm eying them up, wondering if it would be at all noticable if I pinched two or three for under the trees here at our unit.  Hmm, what do you think?  There are quite a few!

Seedlings are now adorning our lounge windowsill.  Not as many as last year.  Munchkin couldn't climb onto a chair and reach the windowsill last year!  This year, they are all collected up behind the high back of the couch.  He hasn't worked out how to clamber up there just yet.  Instead he hangs over the side of his little chair every time I water them, keeping an eye on proceedings and making noises "ah, ah, ah"  which indicate he would be most happy to help his mummy empty that lovely looking dirt all over the floor.  Mummy is not convinced that this would be a good idea.  Or particularly helpful.  So Munchkin has to put up with watching proceedings.  Next year he can plant some of his own seeds and grow his own little garden.  That will be a big adventure for us all!

I'm not growing tomato seedlings this year.  They took about 6-8 weeks last year, along with several repots.  We really don't have space, and I really don't have time.  So I'm buying a few seedlings from the local Farmers Market in a few weeks.  But we do have an assortment of beans, zucchinis, cucumbers, capsicums, lettuce, spring onions, and more adorning the window sill. 

Don't they look lovely?  I just love watching new seedlings come up.  I hate that period of time between planting the seed and when it finally pops it's head above ground.  SO HARD to wait for germination!  I swear sometimes I want to just dig that seed up and check that everything is all okay.  Which of course wouldn't help the poor seed at all so I leave it be.  Just.  If will power could germinate a seed, mine would all be up in 24 hours!

Here's some more new life I'm a part of at present:

I know, you are probably wondering what on earth this has to do with seeds.  Well, nothing much.  But it is a transformation.  I've spent the past two Saturdays on hands and knees, or up on a stool, scrubbing walls.  My parents are rewallpapering their lounge.  A mamouth undertaking, I might add.  The wall surface is in pretty poor shape so we've had to wipe all the old glue off, then Dad is replastering before wallpapering.  The doorways, windowsills and ceiling are also all due for a lick (or so!) of paint.  While I've been busying helping bring a lease of new life to old walls, Boyo has been doing assignment after assignment.  Is it stretching it too far to claim that he's involved in burgeoning life too?! 

Any signs of new life around your place lately?

Thursday, September 15, 2011

The Chicken Who Fed The World!

Introducing Chooky #20. In her own words, "You might assume that I'm just an ordinary chook. Size #20, so not exactly skin and bone, but nothing out of the ordinary!  Well, you're wrong!  Just look what I can accomplish: Casserole, Soup, Pizza, Fried Rice, and delicious chicken stock.  I could feed the world, I tell you!  Feed the world!"

So Chooky #20 did have delusions of grandeur, but who was I to argue?!  Six meals from one chook.  Six delicious, soul warming, body sustaining meals.

Now, what follows may seem complicated.  It is long, I give you that.  But I felt that you might like to know the details of how Chooky #20 fed the world (aka, fed us!).  You do not need to be really organised. Honestly. You probably don’t want to eat 6 meals all at once that use chicken anyway, you’d probably get bored by meal number 3! You only need to be organised enough to cook, shred, and freeze that chicken! Then you can pick and choose what other chicken meals to make when you feel like it! I used Chook #20 last month, early August. I currently have a smaller one on the stove, stock simmering away.

How to make the most of a chicken?
Roast a chicken in the morning (this helps prevent you wanting to eat half of it in one dinner!). For a size 20, about 2hrs on medium heat (180degreesC). I filled mine with a small lemon, cut in half, and a small onion, peeled and quartered. I added some sprigs of rosemary and 2 clumps of garlic, topped and bottomed (later used in a roast sausage dish). I rubbed a bit of salt and olive oil over the skin and covered the lot with tinfoil. Nothing too fancy.

Once cooked, shred. Discard only the lemon and the skin/fat. Keep everything else. Bones and bits in one pile, shredded chicken in another. You can bag the chicken and freeze it, and even freeze the bones for using later in soup. 

Chooky #20 provided an estimated 6 cups of shredded chicken and 8 cups of chicken stock. The meal options from there are almost limitless!

Meal One
Chicken casserole, served over rice (Serves 6 adults minimum!!!!!)
Cut one onion (see it, on the floor in the photo?!). Saute in a little oil with half a teaspoon of salt and a tiny pinch of cayenne pepper (optional – adds a tiny zing).
Add 2 medium carrots and 3 medium potatoes (or kumara/sweet potato), peeled and cubed and enough boiling water to just cover.
Add ½ a tin of pineapple pieces and all the juice (430g - optional – just adds more flavour – keep the other ½ of the pineapple for pizza later in the week!)
Add a tin of crushed tomatoes (400g)
Add 3 cups of shredded chicken
Keep simmering (lightly bubbling)
Once the potatoes are almost cooked, add 1 cup of frozen peas, 1 cup of frozen corn, and a tin of cannellini beans (400g, or your choice, but these have a very light flavour so are my preferred sort). Simmer for another 5minutes or so (just enough to heat them through).
Thicken with maize cornflour to suit.
Serve with rice or pasta and a salad if you want.

This would also go really well as pastry parcels, or as a pie! Great options if you want to have essentially the same meal tomorrow or the following night, but feel like it is different. You could make a gluten free version of pie by putting it in a casserole dish, and covering with mashed potato or kumara.
We froze two whole family meals for later in the month, as well as eating this for dinner.

Throw chicken carcass into large pot, cover with boiling water, add sprigs of fresh herbs (or a couple of teaspoons of mixed dried herbs if you don’t have any). Add a couple of bayleaves, some salt, pepper and some celery stalks/leaves and a peeled onion (the one from when you roasted the chicken perhaps) if you want.

Simmer all day long. Literally. If you have to go out, turn it off and then back on when you get in.
Strain through a sieve into containers once it has cooled a bit. Freeze or fridge for later!
I got 2 2/3 containers full, which is about 8 cups of stock. I later made 3 different meals with my stock.

Meal Two
Chicken Pizza (Serves 2 adults, 3 if you serve it with something like salad/potatoes/etc)
Make or buy a pizza base. I made a pizza base in my breadmaker.
Load it with yummy things. Cook. Enjoy!
Ours had tomato paste, tinned spaghetti, onion, pineapple, corn, chicken, cheese, pepper and parsley. We thought the chicken made it one of the yummiest pizza’s I’ve made. This is a fabulous quick meal with minimal preparation, and feels almost like having takeaways!

Meal Three
Salmon Risotto (Serves 4 adults - or 2 for dinner and 2 for lunch the next day!)
Saute onion and garlic in oil. Add 1 ½ cups of rice with small amount of oil to coat it (I just used our usual basmati rice instead of arborio). Gradually add 3 cups of chicken stock. Simmer gently (just bubbling) and stir every few minutes. Add a little boiling water if it starts to dry out too much before the rice is cooked. Once the rice looks cooked and the liquid is nearly absorbed add 1cup of defrosted frozen peas (I pour boiling water over them in a glass jug then drain), and some other veges of your choice (1-1 ½ cups – I used celery, spinach, parsley, and broccoli from the garden). Lastly add150g salmon cut into small pieces (this is one small slice of a fillet – not very much at al – I usually buy it when it is about $20/kg). When the salmon has all changed colour, add salt and pepper and a drizzle of lemon juice to taste.

For a really scrummy meal serve this dish sprinkled with parmesan cheese. You can freeze it, but it is best to leave out the greens and add them in when you reheat it as they go a bit mushy otherwise. You can make it with cubed carrot, frozen corn, or whatever veges you like.

Meal Four
Irish Chicken Soup (serves 4, with toast as a main meal, or have it as an entre)
Simmer in a pot:
1 cup shredded chicken
3 cups chicken stock
2 cups boiling water
2 medium carrots, cubed
2-3 medium potatoes (or kumara/sweet potato), cubed
2 stalks celery, sliced
1 leek (or spring onion, onion, shallot, chives, etc!), sliced
Salt and pepper

Once the potatoes are cooked, add:
½ cup peas
½ a lettuce, cabbage, or silverbeet, shredded

In a separate jug mix:
2 egg yolks
½ cup of plain, unsweetened yoghurt

Remove the soup from the heat. While stirring the yoghurt mix, gradually add an equal quantity of the hot soup liquid to it (this is to stop it curdling). Then gradually add the whole lot to the soup, stirring it in.

Note: it is this mixture that gives this soup a tangy, delicious taste that makes it different from other chicken soups. You don’t have to add it, but you won’t get Irish Chicken Soup if you don’t, just average chicken soup! 

Note: this recipe originally uses a chicken carcass. You can do it that way instead of using stock and meat, you just cook the carcass in 5 cups of boiling water for an hour, remove the carcass (keep any meat) then add the other ingredients.  This month we had Irish Chicken Soup.  I made stock, drained the stock, refilled the pot (complete with the chicken carcass and herbs still there) and cooked it for a few more hours before adding the other ingredients for the soup.  Delicious!

Meal Five
Fried Rice (serves 2-3 adults - Boyo hates mushrooms so this was one I got to have all to myself - except that Munchkin actually loves mushrooms so he did share!)
Saute an onion and 3 large yams (cut) in a little oil.
Add 5 medium sized button mushrooms (cut).
Add cooked rice (1 cup of dry rice, preferably cooked earlier in the day or leftover from the night before).
Add 1 cup of diced chicken and a cup of defrosted frozen peas and corn.
A swish of soy sauce and salt to taste.

I add greens when serving rather than when cooking so that if I want to freeze or reheat the meal they don’t turn to mush. 2 small spinach leaves and a smattering of parsley per person is ample.
You can mix in an egg while the meal is still on the stove if you like, or serve it with parmesan cheese sprinkled on top.  Substitute the yams for carrots.  Skip the mushrooms.  Add bacon or whatever else is lurking in your fridge or freezer!  This is a really quick meal to prepare!

Meal Six
Kumara and Lentil Curry, served over rice (serves 3-4 adults)
I originally found this recipe in the Kiwi Parent Magazine (Parent’s Centre). We didn’t like the first attempt, so this is the recipe changed to suit our tastes and eaten again this past week…

Saute one finely diced onion and a diced/crushed clove of garlic
1 tsp tumeric
½ tsp curry powder (you could increase this to 1tsp – we decreased as we found it too much – also bought a different brand of curry powder as we disliked it so much!)
5 small kumara, peeled and cut into small cubes
½ cup of split red lentils (rinsed) or 1 400g tin of lentils
1 cup of stock (vegetable is fine but I used chicken stock!)
1 400g tin of crushed tomatoes
When the kumara is soft when sliced with a knife add a cup of green beans and/or peas (or other veges)
Serve over rice or with some kind of bread something to dip in it.  Munchkin absolutely LOVED this one!  He ended up eating off our plates after cleaning up his own!

So there you go, folks.  One chook.  Six meals.  Totalling at least 21 serves.  Lots of great eating, that's what!  Chooky #20 wasn't all that far off when claiming that she could feed the world!

So now that I've worked out I can get this many meals out of a chicken, I'm on the look out for more recipes that use shredded chicken or stock.  What do you like using chicken for?


Sunday, September 11, 2011

Free Rice - August

I have a confession to make.

I didn't do any Free Rice in August.  Nada.  None whatsoever.  I was a little surprised when I went to check my Free Rice stats earlier this week and discovered that I hadn't done any.  It doesn't seem like a whole month can have possibly slipped past since I was last clicking away at vocabulary words.  Yet it has.  I guess I have been kind of busy.  Busy writing assignments.  Busy with a teething baby (who woke and woke and woke some more last night!).  Busy raising money and experiencing a small inkling of what living in extreme poverty is like.  But I still feel a bit bummed that I didn't even do 100 grains.  Oh well, I guess I can aim to make up for my lapse this month?  Anyone up for a Free Rice competition?!


Wednesday, September 7, 2011

The Garden in August

August has been a quiet month in most domains of my life (except study, surprise, surprise!).

The garden has looked after itself for the most part.

In the Big Garden, garlic has come up where it was planted.

Broccoli is doing really well.

Two small cabbages are forming (they are the only ones that survived this far!).

The past week has seen a flurry of activity in our small garden behind our unit!  A lessening of the study load combined with beautiful sunny weather and some borrowed and new gardening tools all combined for a few productive gardening endeavours.

I found some free mulch, and in my own backyard no less!  Camellia flowers litter the ground every which-where at present.  I just threw them into a pile beside the shed.  It will be interesting to see what happens! 

The roses have been pruned.  Properly.  My mother-in-law will be pleased.  She helped me work out what to do with the long rambly thing against the back wall of the house.  I'd already had a go earlier in the year, but my poor little sectatures were no match for this rose bush!   I had to borrow my dad's long-handled loppers to manage the thick rose branches.  I got a thorn in my finger.  Actually, I think I might have got a few thorns in there!  But the roses sure do look good.  I even weeded them.  Had to.  I'd not have been able to see enough to prune the three miniature ones otherwise! The rose beside the driveway also got a hair cut.  It had one branch taller than me!  And that just from this year.  And I even took some cuttings.  Industrious me.

The potato cage is up!  And the potatoes planted in it first.  They are purple skinned, Maori potatoes.  I grew a couple last year but of course didn't mount, water, or otherwise care for them enough.  We did eat a meal out of them, but I hope to do much better this year.  They are delicious!  The general idea is that by having wire around it (held on by the stakes you see in the photo) I will be able to pile on the mulch and get the potato plants growing really high and therefore producing loads of yummy potaotes without taking up lots of garden space. 

The fork was a gift for my birthday.  It once belonged to my grandfather!  My dad carefully restored and rehandled it, along with a dinky little spade.  Already I love it!  It has long, spikey tines and is nice and light for me to manage.  I just love that it belonged to Pa.  He was a real gardener.  Fruit of all sorts.  Veges all year round.  I feel proud to have been given his fork.  I hope to do it (and him) proud!

The vegetable garden is such a place of beauty.  Every where you look, there it is.  Sometimes blatant.  Sometimes hidden.  Beautiful flowers.  Beautiful forms.  Beautiful food.

What's been happening in your garden this month?


Waste Not Wednesday

Today being Wednesday, I decided it was high time to use up some of our fridge contents.  Before they grow mould.  Or smell odd.  Or go all goopey.  You get the general idea: use it NOW rather than throw it out later!

A blessing?
Mushrooms!  Boyo hates mushrooms.  Their smell makes him feel ill.  But he was out today, so Munchkin and I tucked into a rather decent serving of mushrooms cooked in a little butter, sweet chilli and worchester sauce.  Mmmmm, yum!  They were a gift from a very generous family last week.  One can definitely NOT waste a gift!  They have now all been used.  Which is a little sad, but never mind. They were delicious!

Potatoes.  Wrinkly.  They weren't all that great to start with, but they are still really quite edible once I get over my hatred of small wrinkly, dirty things to peel!

Need to use up?
A bit of leftover salad dressing from the weekend (homemade - olive oil, salt and pepper, balsamic vinegar, and mustard).
Alfalfa.  Very nice stuff I bought.  I'm going to start sprouting my own again soon though!  Had our first tomato of the season too (store-bought, hothouse grown - won't be eating many of them for awhile as they are still too pricey!).

Broccoli.  Our plants are producing very well just now and I hate to let any of it go to seed when I could be eating it instead!

The meal?
Potato and sausage bake
Salad (I actually prefer broccoli raw to half-dead, falling apart - it tastes better and has a much nicer texture!)  Didn't have much in the way of lettuce as I'm due to pick some more from the Big Garden tomorrow, so our salad was mostly spinach. 

Very scrummy.

Leftovers for lunch tomorrow!

I am happy.  There are a few less items in my fridge in danger of being wasted, and we had a really nice meal.

What food have you used up today, or what do you still need to find a use for?


One, Two, Three, Four

I could go on and rhyme here (knock at your door).  Instead I will show you the four:

My current aim is that these four squares will form the centrepiece for my next Operation Cover Up blanket.  I hope to design it as I go along, from the centre outwards, so here is a good start.  The pale purple is a cotton, and the multi purply-green-blue is mohair...bits I discovered in our boxes earlier this year and decided could be put to good use!


Thursday, September 1, 2011

Boyo Talks 2

I asked Boyo for his thoughts after doing Live Below the Line.  Here's what he wrote for you:

"Well, here we are, at the end of our time (infact, as I write this, we have been finished close to a week now).

For me, I found one main thing interesting, but it didn’t really hit me until the end of the challenge.
During the challenge itself, I had no real issues, nor any concerns. I wasn’t hungry very often, and when I was, I could just go and eat. I worked things out so that I had pretty much just enough. I finished my last bread and wheat biscuits at 10.30pm on the Friday, just before going to bed. So I was pretty happy with that.
I ate more during the day on Friday (than any of the other days), simply because I knew I had it there to eat, and because I was finishing that day.
The main thing that I noticed afterwards though, was that my system wasn’t so keen on what it was that I had eaten (*edited by Amy: read this as "upset stomach for a few days" - which incidentally we all seemed to suffer to some extent or another either during or after the Challenge!). Although it wasn’t all that different to my normal diet (as in, I eat weetbix for breakfast and have sandwiches for lunch), it was different enough that my system wasn’t too happy. I think a lot of that was probably having too much bread type food in my diet. And then, the lack of things like fruit and veges.
My thoughts at this point, are that, if I complete it again, then I would most likely change what it is that I buy, so that I am getting more in the way of fruit and veges. Even though I know that I wouldn’t be able to buy much in that regard, something is better than nothing.  Grin.
We have ended up raising roughly $750. I am pretty happy with that. Most of it ended up coming in during the final couple of days of the challenge. I found this a little surprising really. I had expected that most of the money would come in before, as that was when we were really pushing for sponsors. At the end of the day, it is irrelevant when it came in.
The main things were the total that we raised, and that we survived the challenge. Grin."

I hope to have some insights from my parents at some point regarding their experience Living Below the Line, so watch this space.

Blobbing and Blogging

I have so many ideas and blog posts half finished!  Some sit cosily in my mind, mulled over each week as I go about my daily business.  Others are half formed in a word document.  A line, a sentence, a few paragraphs.  But there's the catch.  They are unfinished.  Snippets.  Bits and bobs.  Nothing really concrete or complete.  I am hankering to get knuckled down into the world of writing again.  Writing for the pleasure of it, rather than the necessity.  Now that my assignments are finished, my whole being wants to sink, contented to the ground in one big heap of exhaustion and relief. 
I'm fighting it, this urge to blob.  Blobbing is for those with free time.  This is a luxury I still have only in small doses.  I have to haul myself through one and a half more weeks of full course work before I can blog.  Opps, blob.  And blog.  You get the idea.  Rest and relaxation are heading my way and I am hanging out for it, but I'm just not quite there yet.  All those half-finished ideas, partly formed thoughts, and semi-written blog posts will have to wait just a little bit longer.  I hope you don't mind waiting?