Never a dull moment

Oh you'd think a quiet life in the country with a garden, a few kids, pets and no bad habits would be a pretty quiet one, but something always pops up to keep me on my toes. Friday night the teen and his lovely but becoming delinquent friend conned me into taking them to a party. I was the reluctant parent wishing I'd raised a goody goody Mama's boy who just wanted to stay home and study. No such luck, he wants to party, with girls and alcohol and other kids who's habits I don't fully trust. Anyway while I was still working on the "in the car lecture" in my head, the house carried on around me. Skatey had a friend over, they were jumping their unicycles. No worries. L was home from work and surveying the concrete floor of the shed. No worries. Teenage boys doing their hair. No worries.? PJ and Red balancing on the timber, no worries right? Well no. PJ allegedly pushed Red who landed on a bar with his arm under him and PJ landed on top just for fun! RIGHT! Now I'm frazzled. Crying, Yelling, nagging and indecision ensued. L"s fatherly instinct said "he's alright, take teen to the party". My motherly instinct knew that the cry when the arm moved meant it was likely broken even if he could move his fingers. L, disinterested in doing the party run went outside to talk to the neighbour!!!! I did the party run and the lecture, oh and did I forget to mention that I rang the party hosts parents to make sure the supervision was going to be up to scratch. Apparently this is the highest form of uncoolness I could have possibly displayed. Go me, uncool rulz! So to cut another long yarn short, I got home issued bedtime orders and drove 50kms to A and E where red and I cuddled for 3 hours waiting for our turn. 1 fractured arm x ray ed and in plaster later, I got home just after 1am. A catch up on sleep weekend followed. The teen appeared to make it though the party without any damage except for his reputation which I damaged but ringing the folks. he he he.

We had a mini Earth hour. I hired "an inconvenient truth" in anticipation of lots of moaning from the biggest member of the family and we lit our candles and watched it. Hopefully I sowed a seed. Skatey and Red enjoyed the candles. PJ spent the rest of the weekend with the neighbour which was probably just as well because my temper may have been a little short for a pushy little miss.

PS, a friend mentioned trouble when posting comments to my blog. Is anyone else having trouble? Got time to email and let me know?


8.30-9.30 Saturday 28

Last night Skatey boy asked me "what are we doing for Earth hour?" embarrassingly I hadn't given it much thought. I did think about it today though and it's a great opportunity to do family stuff. Stories and games by candlelight is our plan. I wish I had a wood coal range to cook dinner on as well, but instead I'm going to let the kids come up with some other earth friendly family activities to do throughout the weekend. What inspiring activities do you have planned?


A little progress and thanks

I wish I could say I feel 100% better, what I can say is I think I'm getting there slowly. I have no faith in conventional Dr's who only seem to say "virus" when they don't know and "don't worry, take it easy' when blood test results don't show up anything. I have neither the money or the energy to try all the alternative therapies there are available. So in the interest of helping myself get better I'm off caffeine, alcohol, and crap food, trying to rest, trying not to stress and drinking alot of water. I'm so grateful to the friends who have called in to see how I am, to blogging friends who've said a few kind wishes or checked in, to my brother for delivering dry firewood, the community who have had kids after school and to Mum for cooking some meals and and giving the kids a bit of TLC.

L has been home and demolished our adorable old shed which I use to fret was going to blow down in strong winds. I dreamed of building a little road side garden studio on the site but he has won out and is going to build a bigger shed. Hopefully I'll be allowed a little space for a rumpus room for the teenagers to hang out in, since I had to give up a big bit of garden for it and transplant three established fruit trees. He better hurry up and get it built though, because if I start to feel better soon I might be tempted to plant there. Skatey boy has already started to build a stunt track for his unicycle.



Dizzy spells, headaches, queasy feelings, funny vision, and panicky attacks are how I spent most of the week. Thank goodness for a friend who rang me every day to comfort me, even offering to drive 60kms to help out. I find it quite scary being ill when I'm solo, especially when it's not symptoms that I recognise as typical.

At least today I felt well enough to make myself some comfort food:

Comfort dinner: Fish Pie with garden veges

Hard boil some eggs, collect potatoes from the garden, cook and mash them.Collect say 3 or 4 leeks and a bit of celery straight from the garden as well. Cook them in about 25gms of butter with a little water to barely cover them for five minutes or until soft but not soggy. Strain off the liquid for making the sauce. Put the soft leeks and celery into an oven dish with flaked smoked fish, I used 2 smoked fillets from Mapua smokehouse weighing about 450gms, and the quartered boiled eggs. In the leek pot add some more butter probably another 25gms, some curry powder 1/2 -1 tsp depending on what you like, then add a bit of flour 1Tbsp and let it bubble. Add milk to the reserved liquid making it up to just over 1 1/2 cups, add it about a 1/4 at at time to make a nice smooth sauce, bring to bubble between additions. Pour the sauce over the fish etc, then top with mashed potatoes. (I mashed mine with Kefir and butter) Grated some Parmesan and a pinch of paprika on top. Cook at 180 for half an hour.

Now I'm looking for a recipe for salmon, as skatey boy went over to Golden Bay for a spot of fishing at the Salmon farm with friends today, bringing home some beautiful fillets which will be dinner tomorrow night.

He wants to build a smoker for it, though I don't know if I'm quite up to that. I'm imagining sushi. He's planning another trip for his birthday.


Saving tomato seed

A beautiful Autumn weekend here, good for getting lots of washing dry, eating fresh peaches straight from the tree and doing a little seed saving.

I'm an amateur seed saver with only about 6 or 7 seasons practice. So far I've only done easy vegetables that don't cross pollinate easily such as peas, tomatoes, beans, parsnips and beneficial plants like buckwheat and phacelia. I've also had success with silver beet and beetroot by not having them flowering at the same time. If you want a comprehensive guide this book is great, I think the author is American so some of the information doesn't apply to NZ gardeners but the techniques described are great. Even better for Kiwi Gardeners is this one. I've borrowed it a couple of times from friends but they're understandably not keen to part with it for long as it is a great year round gardening reference.
So anyway here's how I save tomato seed. Pick a nice ripe tomato from a bush that displayed all the characteristics you like. For example: flavour, big fruit, disease resistant, early cropper, etc. You won't be able to save from F1 Hybrid tomatoes because they won't be true to seed. Instead choose good old heirlooms, they have more flavour anyway. My best performer this year has been "purple Cherokee"
Cut in half and squeeze out the pulp into a container, add water and swish it around. I have a feeling that if some float those ones will not be viable. I don't let the seed sit in the water as some books describe.
Then just strain them out picking out any pulp,

Then spread them on kitchen paper to dry out. You can pick them off the paper once dry and save in an envelope

but I just save them and plant them paper and all in spring. Save more than you need just in case you get a bad strike rate, then if you do get a great strike rate you can share or swap the seedlings in spring. Oh and don't forget to label and date them.


Autumn hat

A few autumn rainy days have got me thinking the kids need some new warm clothes. The red head didn't really need another hat but I couldn't resist doing a train drivers hat with this wide brown cord. I found an ugly coloured one at the hospice shop and dissected it for a pattern. They've actually got some quite nice ones there at the moment too. Rainy days appear to be very popular op shopping days for all the seasonal workers we have in town at the moment. I talked to an apple picker from Vanuatu today while in the craft co-op, they're enjoying the cooler weather and apple picking work here in NZ. It's lovely to have their happy faces and language throughout town.
My giant cactus acts as a good model. I've been coveting a wooden hat block at the antique shop for ages but they are way out of my price range. While the one I spotted at the Salvation Army is not for sale. I may have to paper mache myself one.


Blackcurrant syrup, vitamin C

The children have had a little change of season sniffles and I am starting volunteer work in our local craft co-op this week so I made some blackcurrant syrup to dose them up so they're not sick on my first day, fingers crossed.

My black currants didn't yield much this year but this is what I do with the frozen stores. You can dilute and drink the concentrate hot or cold.

Here's the recipe and the changes I made to it if you want a natural dose of vitamin C that the kids will drink:

Cover 3lb of black currants with water, bring to the boil and then simmer for about 20 minutes til soft. Strain through a muslin cloth squeezing out all the goodness. ( Feed the solids leftover to the worm farm)

Put back into the pot and add:

1 cup of raw sugar and 1 cup of my brother's lovely native bush honey.

1 1/2 cups local organic cider vinegar. (The vinegar and sugar act as the preservers I understand)

Boil for 10 mins, then bottle into sterilised jars.

I keep the jars in the cupboard and once opened in the fridge, be sensible and check the seals are good and with no evidence of spoilage before we use.

Before use dilute to taste.

So obviously you guys don't have access to my local ( very cleaver and sustainable) brother's lovely honey and you may be use to modern sweetened drinks. The original recipe said 8 cups of SUGAR! No way do I give that to my kids so the one I do is quite vinegary. They still drink it happily, though the red head age 3 1/2 says "this tastes like dish water"
Teen, Skatey and Pj drink it happily.

Give it go, I'll publish some other syrups I use as well. Click comments to let me know how you get on.