Sunday, 1 September 2019

Channeling my inner Women's Institute


Due to double the annual August rainfall last month, our lemon tree has done rather well. The tree doesn't get sprayed, or in fact get any attention, so the lemons are gnarly and need to have some of the outer skin scraped. But apart from that they are juicy and delicious. I decided to pickle mine, as they are fabulous in summer salads or cooked with rice.

I suppose you could say I've been nudged a bit this year, to do more in the way of homesteading. Part of the nudge has come from the amazing book by Julie Summers "Jambusters" about the role of the Women's Institute in feeding Britain during WWII. Not only did they produce potatoes, root vegetables, tree fruit and soft fruit by the 1000's of hundredweight, but they were also responsible for organising, caring for feeding and housing the majority of evacuees during the worst periods of the conflict.

A small fact from the book. After the 1940 fruit harvest, the nation's Women's institute made over 1000 tonnes of jam = 1 million kilograms or 4 million half pound jars.

I thoroughly recommend the book. It is compelling to read about the War through the eyes of the hungry Home Front.

Tuesday, 27 August 2019

A tale of two prices, and a turkey


(Snow capped mountains on the horizon are the Kaikoura range on the S. Island)

We've been to the capital today, as hubby had to have the first part of a dental implant. Habitually, when we head south, we stop at a small seaside village for a cup of coffee and I usually sneak into the local charity shop, to see what I can see.

Today was a tale of two price tickets. But let me back up the truck a second for some context. As a child and teenager I was always the 'wrong' size for clothes which were age appropriate. Too tall too soon. It didn't matter though, as my mum was a seamstress and could sew up an outfit quicker than I could do my music homework. In adulthood I seemed doomed to live in countries where the average height was 5 inches shorter than me. So trousers were half mast, skirts were all wrong and shoes had to be bought in special shops for "tall" people.

Now in late middle age I have gained weight too, so shopping is miserable, depressing and / or prohibitively expensive.

Back to the seaside charity shop. I went looking for ANYTHING that might fit, but was inexplicably drawn to a row of sandals which looked new. I almost didn't bother checking the size, but wonder of wonders, a pair of Hush Puppies for $20. And they fit, and I liked them! Sold to the lady in the Damask shirt.

Later in the day, waiting for hubby to recover from an anaesthetic, I wandered into a well known shop for Ladies Of A Certain Build. I have no idea why I bothered because their clothes are generally strange and black and overpriced. A very helpful sales assistant (5'4" at a guess) pulled out pair after pair of trousers, all predictably 4" too short, until miraculously a navy pair emerged from a window display, all floaty and silky and heavenly - a mere $497. Sigh. I made my excuses and left.

In the midst of the sartorial highs and lows, a turkey. We went to a wholesale grocer en route too. I scratched my head because we aren't exactly close to Thanksgiving (for our American immigrants) or Christmas for everyone else. Huge, frozen turkeys for $136. I nearly fainted into the freezer. For that turkey I could buy 6 and a half pairs of sandals or half a trouser leg.

Monday, 19 August 2019

They always choose rough weather

We've noticed over the years that the sheep in these parts have an internal clock 'wired' for harsh weather. They wait until either the frosts harden the land or the snow falls THEN they give birth!

I have just returned from a walk along our road. It was minus 1 degrees last night and this morning there were new lambs. I couldn't photograph the really young ones, they were too shy and mum was too protective. But there are a few fattening up and who will prosper as the spring breaks in a few weeks.


We have also had flooding locally in the last week. Our local river was very high, but mercifully cut too low through earthquake hewn scenery to be a flood risk.


The evenings have been cold enough for wood fires and the warmth of an office lamp to snooze next to, as our junior ginger has discovered. Not only does the desk lamp dry off any rain or frost on his fur, but he has cuddles on demand if he curls up in the in tray.


Senior female ginger has commandered the grocery basket, as it prevents drafts around her derriere!


And the nervous Tabby Boy, just does the alley cat knot to keep warm

Sunday, 4 August 2019

Petanquing around

Every Monday we drive to a local town and have a leisurely coffee. It is the privilege of being semi-retired, and I'm not trying to make anyone jealous.

The cafe has a p├ętanque area next to it, and this morning I got the 'rules' explained by a gentleman and his local buddies. We have an area to the side of our house which is rather useless for growing things as the sun doesn't quite get there (which is perfect on hot summer days). I am seriously wondering if I should measure out a section of the lawn for this activity.

Monday, 29 July 2019

When there is more in the box than you expect

Today, as it is raining, I decided to start the task of cleaning and clearing out our walk in wardrobe. It stores clothes and shoes, but also all my family history research, old Christmas cards in boxes and tins of photos, diaries and papers, still to be worked through from previous generations.

Today I opened the box, for the first time, of my christening gown. I knew it was wrapped in tissue paper, but I have never had any particular curiosity about it and have just left it wrapped up. I got a shock. There wasn't one Christening gown, but four! I have no idea which one I wore, but I have speculated who the others belonged to.

There are two almost identical. I am guessing they were bought for my grandfather's elder siblings, twins born in 1901. They died aged two months. By Edwardian standards, my great grandmother was considered "old" to have her first children at 34. A year after their deaths, my grandfather was born.

The other two gowns, one very simple and the other which looks Victorian in design I have no guesses for. It is possible they came through my great Grandmother's line, as she had three siblings, all of whom died young. My great grandfather had five siblings, so I'm not sure the gowns would be in such good condition after 6 christenings.

I confess, I feel emotionally fragile after looking at them. A new baby represents so much joy, and yet how many of those hopeful aspirations were dashed as babies died too young, or suffered illnesses that had no cure.

I'm not sure which one I was christened in, but I am guessing one of the twin's dresses. I was a large baby and 3 months old before I was well enough to go through the ceremony. So much to reflect on.


Friday, 31 May 2019

Red Cross Book Fair

Last year we discovered an annual bookfair in a town 50 minutes drive from where we live. This year we went again. It was supposed to be a day out with a friend from the capital. But due to a truck having an accident on the road north, he had to abandon his plans and we had to go without him.

As usual, we returned with amazing books purchased for great prices. I even got books for friends. The great news is that there are so many sales during the long weekend, that they can fund the refugee resettlement programme which is run by them in NZ. During the year they store books for this event, and a cool guesstimate wa that there were around 150,000 for sale!

Here are "some" of my purchases.

Now to find some shelf space.....

Friday, 3 May 2019

Of pies and patches

I'm trying to whip up some creative spirit, after feeling quite dull in that department for some time. I am getting to grips with a large patchwork quilt project, and yesterday I made a pie for tea, with the most amazing pastry (thanks Jamie Oliver for the Cornish pasty pastry recipe!)


Today I visited a quilting exhibition held in a huge room which is part of a national car museum (Southward Car Museum at Paraparaumu in case anyone is interested to visit) Husband happily roamed around the cars whilst I went looking to jump start my creative engine next door.

I was delighted to find that there were a number of traditional quilts on display as well as the huge and imaginative quilts sewn by machine. The first few pictures are the style of quilts I have chosen to dabble in over the years, using fabric garnered from unwanted clothes or offcuts.


I was especially impressed by the number of quilts which incorporated embroidery - one was animals of Africa, so I had to photograph the warthog (my favourite creature from that neck of the woods)


Another autumnal quilt really touched the soul as it was covered in embroidered birds


The variety of beautiful creations took my breath away. Here are a few more


Then I found the fabric I had been hunting for on one of the many Quilting stalls - pomegranate design. It is as rare as hen's teeth.


So now the creative engine is chugging away happily.