Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Lemons A-Plenty

You might be forgiven for thinking that life as a part-time student (which is probably as much as a thirty hour week for me during semester), married to a full-time student, with a three-and-a-half year old son might mean that some weeks only study gets accomplished.  You would be completely correct, so there'd be nothing to forgive!  Some weeks nothing but study and the very basics of life get done.  But I do try to curtail my perfectionistic self from preening essays ad-nauseum.  I try to maintain balance.  Sometimes I succeed. Sometimes I don't (so I just find it really, really, really hard to hand in something that I don't feel is up to my personal standard, okay!).

But in the midst of it all, I like to keep up with as many things around the house as I can.  That means basic housekeeping, baking, mending, etc.  We are blessed to have a prolific lemon tree in our new rental.  Seriously, it had so many lemons I had to take some off because I was concerned about it's gradual lean towards the lawn.  Now, in my past life, I had decided, very definitely and completely, that when we own a house again I would not include a lemon tree in my top 10 (top ten fruiting must-have plants!).  I didn't really see the point.  The only thing I used lemons for was lemon and honey drinks when I have a cold, and occasionally  making lemon honey (aka lemon curd or lemon butter).  As it is basically fat, sugar, and lemon I figured it was better not to submit my sweet-loving tastebuds to such temptation on a regular basis. Therefore, lemon trees were a bit wasteful, in my mind.

I have repented.  While a lemon tree might not be quite at the very top of my list, it now wouldn't be too far off it.

Lemon trees are wonderful.  Lemon trees are both beautiful and delicious! 

I just love the fragrance of citrus in flower.  So scrummy!  And I've discovered that there are many uses for lemons that I'd not previously considered.  A Spanish infused chickpea dish for instance, or sprinkled with a little olive oil and salt over baked hoki (oh my, that was seriously good fish and SO easy!), my fermented kefir drink (that we are having everyday now the weather is warm), or lemon juice drizzled over a salad as a simple dressing.  That delicious salmon risotto is just nowhere near as good without the half a lemon squeezed in at the end.  But my absolute favourite use?  Hummus, of course!

I have been using lemons like there will never, ever, ever be a lemon shortage.  Currently, it is hard to imagine my tree will ever be bare of them.  But I know differently.  It will.  Sooner than I think and definitely sooner than I want.  Then my heart will crave lemons.  Then I will want warming lemon and honey drinks, and healthy hummus.  But there will be no lemons.  My tree will be carefully creating me some more, and I will have wait patiently for it to turn those tiny, hard little green blips into soft, fragrant lemony yellow lemons.

As I tried buying lemons when we first moved here, when the lemons on my lemon tree were solid green balls, I am not really interested in repeating the experience.  Juiceless, that's what they were.  Juiceless, useless.

I have instead come up with a cunning plan:

Lemon juice freezes really well!

21 lemons later, and I had one and a half cups of lemons.  And a sore hand, because I don't own a juicer.  Next day, I had lots of tablespoon sized lemon ice cubes in nice tidy zip lock bags in my freezer.  And free ice cube trays (aka silicone mini-muffin pans) to do it all over again.

I have sadly run out of room in my freezer.  But I should at least be able to make a few batches of hummus when it's not lemon season. And make a lemon and honey drink or two without having to resort to buying lemons.

What clever ways have you come up with to spread your harvest season or use your surplus?


Sunday, November 24, 2013


I am returning, I promise.

But to be completely honest, the end of the study year has left me somewhat jaded.

My usual aplomb for words has faded, and my delight in writing has dwindled.  I am a little burnt out.  I also have an end-of-year cold, and am attempting to move not one, not two, but three rooms around in our house.  While my husband studies for exams.  I admit, this is possibly not the brightest move. But I've been waiting for weeks to do it, and the heat upstairs is just insane at the moment, and the mess in our office was driving me up the bend.  There didn't seem much point in sorting that lot out if I was going to spend several hours on it, only to have to move it all in a few weeks. I figured I may as well move it. 

So I did. 

Sort of. 

We are currently in phase one, which means Munchkin moved rooms (mostly) and our office is residing in our garage.  The house is not really any more tidy than it was yesterday.  But I do feel accomplished.  So I guess that's okay.

My temporary workspace, complete with old guinea pig hutch waiting to be sold (among other things)!

Give me a few weeks and I'm hoping my bloggy-brain will return to me.  The ideas are lurking, deep down in the depths of my tired mind.  They just aren't really surfacing into anything inspiring yet.  I guess I shouldn't be surprised.  It's been a long hard few weeks after a long very fast hard year.

I hope you are all well, dear readers and looking forward to the Christmas season, and summer (for all my NZ/Aussie readers at least).  I'm hoping to do some simple Christmas crafts with Munchkin for the first time this year, so look out for that in the coming weeks.


Friday, November 8, 2013

Nearly There

I'd hoped to be able to tell you, dear readers, that all my assignments were in.

Sadly, this is not the case.

I am NEARLY there.

One left. 

Three-quarters finished.

I thought it would be done yesterday.

But I hadn't thought about three nights in hospital with one small boy, or thought of vomit in the middle of the night, or thought of one very sleep deprived Mummy, or one boy not at preschool.

I hadn't thought of these things.

But they happened, none the less.  And we have survived.  I'm so, so grateful for a public health system that means we didn't have to take out a loan for my son to be seen by a skilled Osteo surgeon and his team.  I'm very grateful that he didn't have to have surgery, as they thought he might.  I'm very grateful my local doctor has been able to change his antibiotics so there is no more vomit.  And I'm very grateful my boy is getting better!  VERY grateful.  Very thankful.  And very tired.

Tired of his behaviour, which got steadily worse during our sojourn away from home.  My mum's theory, which seems appropriate, is that the more he's had to deal with things done to him/happening to him that are out of his control, the more he's wanted to be in control, and therefore the more attitude we are getting.  Fairly 'normal' pre-schooler behaviour, just a lot more of it than we usually get.  Not a good combination with two tired, stressed, nearly-at-the-end-of-the-study-year parents (seriously, I suspect my behaviour has not been any better than his a few times the past few days).

Tired of trying to get him to have antibiotics which to all accounts taste foul.  FOUR. TIMES. A. DAY.  At least thirty minutes before food and two hours after food! For FOUR weeks.  FOUR. WEEKS.  Oh my, oh my.  Three days and I am over it.  I'll leave you to imagine how the three and a half year old feels.

The antibotics we are stuck with.  Believe me, if I could find another solution, I would.  But he's got a bone infection, and it pays to take these things seriously.

If a child between 3-8yrs old has a limp and a temperature, head to your GP, or if on the weekend follow our lead and go to the after hours clinic.  Take books.  You will probably be referred to your local hospital.  You might spend six hours in Accident and Emergency.  You may have to hold your poor screaming baby while they poke and prod and try (multiple times) to get a blood sample, then an IV line in.  But it will be worth it. Do it early.  My boy is getting better because we got him in early (and because a huge amount of people prayed with us).  I didn't even know it was a major problem.  I just knew 'something' wasn't right.  Very glad I didn't wait till Monday.  Munchkin is doing okay.  The washing is dry.  I have to remember to pick up antibiotics next Wednesday.  And finish that last report off before Friday.

Oh, and another note to anyone planning (HAHAHAHA!) a visit to hospital:  coming home on Guy Fawkes night is really not the greatest timing.  You will want to sleep.  It will be loud.  Very loud.  Almost loud enough for you to wish you stayed another night in hospital.  But then you will hopefully remember (as I did) the rather firm couch/bed thingy for parents, the not-nearly-dark-enough hospital room, the two-three hourly nurses visits, the non-ability to open windows, the lack of food (kids fed, parents not), and general feeling of stress and anxiety of having a sick child.  And you will tell yourself to grow up and be grateful that you can sleep in your own bed, even if you do have to wait for three hours till 11pm to do so.

Seriously, if you know parents who are with sick kids in hospital, take them a care package.  Lunch, or some biscuits.  Or a nice hot casserole in a ramekin.  They need it.  And chocolate, they probably need a lot of that too!  Someone delicious brought us a chocolate cake today and stayed to play for an hour.  Oh, how I needed that (chocolate and company).  Someone equally amazing made us a beautiful dinner on Tuesday night (the night we got home): bacon and silverbeet pie, carrot sticks, bean salad, little sausages for Munchkin, a nice hot-bread-shop bread, and even some little deserts.  All presented in gorgeous baskets and given with prayers, and a hug.  Amazing.  What a difference it made.  It wasn't just the food.  Don't get me wrong, I am always a grateful recipient of food I didn't have to make, but there's another dimension that I think is even more important.  Someone cared enough about us, and thought enough about what we were going through, to do something thoughtful for us.  Plus, the chocolate cake was a great bribe to get the  pre-schooler to eat at least a little of his dinner!  Grin.  Then there was our Pastor who came and prayed with us, the people who text, the brothers who called, the sister (in law) who chatted on the phone, the friend who came and let my son play games on her of course the nurses, doctors, and the amazing parents of other sick kids.  And the playroom.  I love children's wards.  If I ever have to go to hospital myself, I want to be a child.  They have a new activity room in our hospital, and play therapists come and work in it during week days.  SUCH a huge blessing.  They even take toys to children who can't make it to the playroom.  Munchkin, of course, just loved the train track, and the machines books.  And playing with the other kids.  Mummy enjoyed not having to think of something else to do.  The playroom is my second favourite place in the hospital.  The first?  The roof-top garden, discovered when I went in to have Munchkin.  It has fish.  It has paths to follow and seats to sit on.  You can see the road, and watch cars.  You can feel the breeze and listen to the birds.  It is lovely.

I look forward to seeing you all soonish...I've got a humungous pile of photos waiting for blog posts, and hopefully the writing bug will re-emerge to dazzle (or otherwise) you all once more!
Take care,