I've quickly finished a couple of projects this week cos I want to start this: (From Special Knits by Debbie Bliss.)
I don't have a littlely this little but it's just so yummy I have to do it.

A warm balaclava for L cos he's freezing in his caravan in Reefton. Don't I look a bit freaky modelling it? I was thinking these would be easy presents for boys and blokes. I often sew for girls birthday parties but usually end up at "The Warehouse" or a book store when a boys present is required. And a rather dull but snuggly, warm, quick jersey, for the red head.


Keeping it real

If I truly had to be self sufficient this year I think we'd starve or get scurvy. I could barter lemons and grapefruit, but I have planted nowhere near enough winter veges! I might have saved enough pumpkins to see us through but the canelenni and berlotti beans only yielded enough for seed for next season. I'm giving broad beans ( fava) another chance after being totally put off them as a kid. About about a months worth of corn is frozen with about the same of tomatoes, a row of salad veges are in and drying apples is on the agenda but I only see them lasting a month as well. The frozen berries should see me through for jam and smoothies and there are a good crop of cabbages, spring onions and celery but I forgot to plant more beetroot for winter. The brassicas are getting eaten, we'll be all right, we'll just dim the lights for dinner! ( so the kids don't spot the caterpillars) and there is rhubarb for puddings after all. When the situation dawned on me I got motivated to clean out the glasshouse. I gave it a good scrub ( to improve light) and pulled all the old tomatoes out. I will put some pea seed in when the moon is right and hope they are ready for spring. We'd survive on calaendula and chickweed if worst camre to worst, from under the roses. I looked for my garden diary to compare the seasons and couldn't find it so I'm keeping my garden notes here on my blog from now on. ( see below)

In other news..... a great garage sale day! Got curtains for the sun room we turned into a bedroom for the "teen". Also I've been a fan of retro tablecloths for years, long before they were trendy in fact. Four today, couldn't believe my luck. One large sale was to fund Herceptin treatment for a local, defiantly no haggling on my behalf, I hope they made heaps. NZ Health system sucks!!!!! Fancy having to have a garage sale to fund cancer treatment.

In other news, the "teen" is at his first party with girls tonight! Oh to be a teenager again!!!!!!!!!! Very exciting.

Garden notes May 08

A very late feeling autumn this year, warm clear days. Still some raspberries on canes and grapes on vines. Beautiful autumn colours.. Dug in lupins ready for garlic. Mustard planted 3 wks ago all up and inhibiting weeds. Planted more mustard last week. Gabe knocked all buds off cherry tree. Arrrrah! Fejoias dry, Water more in summer. Cabbage white caterpillars eating brassicas. Paper wasps disappearing. Chooks off the lay. Finacially challenged, no lime this year. Good compost heap -leaves, weeds, sheep poo.


Sesame seed wafers

I'm a big fan of quick easy recipies which don't create too many dishes.

I use this one alot for school lunch snacks.

85gm butter

1 egg

1 cup flour

1 cup toasted sesame seeds (or chopped walnuts or pumpkin seeds)

3/4 cup brown sugar

1 tsp vinilla essence

1/4 tsp baking powder

Cream butter and sugar. Add egg and essence, beat well. Mix in rest of ingredients. Place in teaspoonfuls onto a tray and flatten with a fork. Bake at 180 C for 10 mins.


A day in the life

I saw this at Sunny Corner Farm, who joined in from Little Jenny Wren. Today was pretty typical so I've joined in too. I woke early about 6 said to myself what day is it? Oh Thurs, PJ is sick still, don't have to go to Playcentre, I'll lie in. Got up at 7 am when PJ told me her bed was wet. Bother not again why is she bed wetting after several years of being dry? Is she missing her Dad? At work three hours away or her Granny visiting a new baby cousin in Adelaide? Don't know, changed the bed for the third day in a row, just as well the weather is good. Made breakfast for the two little ones, checked the big one had packed his lunch and organised him to light the fire when he gets home from school. Showered while they ate breakfast. Neighbour came over to borrow a lemon. Got kids in car by 10 to 9 to have skatey boy at dental nurse by 9.15 for his filling. There was an argument about who was going to sit in the front and PJ told me she was still dizzy and might be sick. Great, pack a wet flannel and a change of clothes. 9.15 dental nurse, 9.20 post office. Left small kids in car while I posted parcel, quick flick of a magazine. Hospice shop-nothing cheap enough for me. Txt from skatey boy, waiting at the library for me. 9.45 "Mum I saw your car at the intersection it looks really hippy". Dropped off overdue books. Sally Army and Red Cross, more of nothing for me today. Give the kids a chocolate milk for behaving in the car. Home by 10.30 all hungry, make sandwiches and cut up fruit for morning tea. Tell PJ since she's still sick she needs a nap. Try and convince the red head to come out and feed the chooks with me, nah he'd rather annoy his sister by bouncing on the bed. Got him outside by about 11.30 and he helped me plant peas by the neighbours fence. She poked her nose over offered me some old magazines and we arranged a garden visit to a local permaculture garden for next week. Inside for lunch and an hour knitting a scarf I've been promising PJ while watching Dr Phil of course. Drank about the third coffee for the day, got the rat bag into bed and cooked some macaroni for tea. Got some wood in for the fire , did the dishes again and went through the hair plaiting technique which PJ is trying to learn. 3.10 Skatey boy bowled in, "I don't want to go to soccor" and I'll argue the fact for a minute. Wake and cuddle the red head, get wood for the fire then into the car for tap dancing. (PJ's feeling better) Library again, a few books out this time, my card's lost can only get three. Skatey boy to soccor, back to collect PJ from tap then everybody can have a run around in the cool evening air until practice is finished. I crochet the tassels onto PJ's scarf while standing at the field. Txt from L he's got 24hrs off and is off for a social life in Westport tonight. Lucky for some. I picked up a bottle of wine in anticipation of the hyped up foursome when we arrived home. Fire's going. ( He's a great kid.) Turned macaroni on to bake, cooked a few sausages, picked some spinach , rocket and lettuce for a salad by cell phone light from the garden. Small kids have just gone to bed, bathed and having talked to Granny in Adelaide, happy. Teen is on the lap top, skatey boy is watching TV and eating cereal after eating more tea than me and a bowl full of ice cream!. Me checking e-mails, writing blog post. Plan to put washing by fire to air and maybe finish sewing a bag I cut out yesterday, while watching survivor out the corner of my eye.

That was Thursday! Another day in the life 15th next month.


Involuntary downshifting

Stuck at home with sick kids isn't as bad as it sounds you know. They slept most of the time, so since I was cleaning up sick anyway I did some l o n g over due housework, the cupboards and doors all look clean now and the worst of the dust has been delt to. (Must add sugar soap and disinfectant to the shopping list). I like being at home, uninterrupted by paid work, grocery shopping, meetings and sport practice. I like running out of groceries and getting creative with food, the "well" children had sushi in their school lunches today cos the bread, butter, milk, cheese and junk food have all run out. There's an oversupply of fresh veges and fruit but the "teen" thinks he's dying! I wish I could stay at home for another week but I have an appointment for "skatey boy" to have a filling in his tooth tomorrow. Other than house work and a spot of gardening in the adorable autumn weather while they slept, I've created a couple of sewing disasters: I planned for this to be my new bag, it looks great but doesn't really keep it's shape well while carrying it, I think I made the handles too short and a heavier weight interfacing may have been better.

The skirt is perfect except it doesn't suit me at all, I've tried it with heaps of combinations of tops/shoes/ tights etc and just can't make it work for me. I'm gutted cos I've been bonding with the fabric for months trying to decide what to do with it. I've hinted to L that a new pair of boots would set it off perfectly, but he's not biting. I don't know if I can part with it yet. If I can't make it work I may put it in my Felt shop . I listed a few bags there today.
Sorry, blatant self promotion. (council rates are due this month.)

Lastly, a present left for me at the back door while I was out in the garden. Cool eh?


Bread and Pumpkins

In response to correspondence from my last post. Thanks so much for the feedback.

I buy a special variety of pumpkin seed called "Austrian Oil Seed"pumpkin from Kings seeds in Auckland. I think their catalogue might be available to Australians too. These pumpkins have no hulls on their seed so you simply scoop out the seeds, dry them in the sun and they are ready to use as in my last post. I'm too lazy to shell regular pumpkin seed so we feed that to the animals. My Dad use to roast them in the old coal range then we'd all sit around cracking them open with hammers. A good activity in downshifting I suppose? The flesh of the Austrian oil seed pumpkins is not to my liking so we cook it up for the chooks and that's how you turn pumpkins into eggs! The reason I don't save my own pumpkin seed but buy fresh each year is that pumpkins cross pollinate so easily that within a few years the fruit would no longer be true to seed and I'd be back to pumpkin seed with hard shells. It can be done though, you have to get the whole neighbourhood to grow only one variety and then save seed from it or you have to hand pollinate then tape up flowers and mark the pumpkin. Koanga Gardens in Northland describe the technique well in their Garden Centre Guide by Kay Baxter, which I currently have on loan from a friend. It is a skill I aspire to master but will leave it until I have time for such activities.

I base my bread recipe on Alison Holst's basic white bread recipe. At the kneading stage I add approximately 1/2 - 1 cup of cooked brown rice. This keeps the bread fresh and moist longer. At the end of kneading I add seeds and sprinkle extra on top. I'm a beginner bread maker too and am just experimenting with what I can add. I often add some wholemeal flour too but it doesn't rise as big and the kids won't eat it as enthusiastically. I'm introducing it slowly.

Here's Alison Holst's basic recipe:
1-1@1/2 tsp Surebake or similar yeast
2 tsp sugar
2 cups warm water (as warm as a babies bath)
3 cups high grade white flour
2 tbsp oil or melted butter
2 tsp salt
2-3 cups of extra flour
My additions cooked brown rice and seeds, experiment with quantities.

Put the first three ingredients into a big bowl and mix well. When the yeast has dissolved, stir in the first measure of flour. Cover the bowl with a plate or glad wrap and put in a warm place for 30 mins. ( In the warming cupboard or near the fire. It needs to rise to about twice the original size.
Stir the mixture to deflate it then stir in oil or butter, salt and as much flour as you need to make a dough which is firm enough to form a ball (add rice here). Turn it onto a floured bench to knead. Knead dough for 10-15 mins add flour to stop sticking on bench and hands. You know it's ready when it kind of starts to spring back and it looks different, kind of satiny.(add some seeds here.)
Halve dough and put into buttered loaf tins with room to rise to twice it's size. Press seeds on top you might need to brush loaf with melted butter first to make them stick better. Stand bread in warm place again till risen to twice it's size. Bake at 200 C for about 30 mins or until lightly browned.


Pumpkin stuff

School holidays weren't the creative, relaxing time I had been looking forward to. I got a couple of sleep ins but four kids from 2-14 and a few wet days thrown in had me at the end of my tether in the first week. I really tried but to be honest the "red head" drove me nuts! I kind of snapped out of it though as I listened to reports about the world food crisis. My silly middle class problems are nothing.

I did a bit of Therapy:
Overdue harvesting, planning to put mustard and cleome in along the fence as catch crops in spring, the neighbours trees suck all the nutrients there anyway.
I love all things pumpkiny.Sorting and tidying always makes me feel better.

Pumpkin and poppy seed bread. Seeds harvested from the garden.

I've resolved to do a better job with my seed saving after the rain nearly ruined my cannelleni and berlotti seeds. Besides you never know when you'll seriously have to feed your family from the garden. Practice makes perfect.