Monday, 24 April 2017

Anzac Day


Today is Anzac Day a sacred national holiday in New Zealand and Australia. Everything is closed by law. Both countries commemorate the battle of Gallipoli in Turkey during the 1st World War.  Both countries lost so many young men that there was a generation of women who never married or were left widows with young children.  In modern times it has come to represent the futility of all wars.  Every town in New Zealand land has a dawn ceremony where the last post is played at the war memorial.  It is also a rite of passage for young New Zealanders and Australians to go to Anzac Cove in Turkey and take part in the dawn ceremony there.  I have done it and it wasn’t really until then standing in the place where so many young men were slaughtered that it hit me how wasteful war is.


The Last Post - click on image to read


So, this post is is commemorate those young men, and a generation that never happened.  In particular, my grandfather’s (he was fortunate that he was too young to go to war) four brothers and my grandmother lost all of her brothers – five.

You are never forgotten.

On a lighter note,  Gallipoli produced a national icon, Anzac biscuits! The soldiers were sent tins of these biscuits from their families during the war.

Here is the recipe:




The Story of Gallipoli

For nine months in 1915, British and French forces battled the Ottoman Empire - modern Turkey - for control of the Gallipoli peninsula, a small finger of Europe jutting into the Aegean Sea that dominates a strategic waterway, the Dardanelles. By opening the Dardanelles to their fleets, the Allies hoped to threaten the Ottoman capital, Constantinople (now Istanbul) and knock the Turks out of the war.

Among the British forces were the Anzacs - the Australia and New Zealand Army Corps - who landed on the peninsula on 25 April. The landing, like the Gallipoli campaign itself, was ambitious and ultimately unsuccessful: the peninsula remained in its defenders' hands.
The campaign was a costly failure for the Allies: 44,000 British and French soldiers died, including over 8700 Australians. Among the dead were 2721 New Zealanders nearly 5000 wounded out of a force of approx. 8500 – while that may not sound a lot compared to other nations, NZ pop was less than a million. Victory came at a high price for the Turks: 87,000 men died in the campaign which became a defining moment in Turkish history.

It was also a defining moment in New Zealand’s and Australian history, we started to draw away from Britain and become nations in our own right.  For the three nations Anzac Cove where the Anzacs landed has been made a Peace Park by the Turks and the three Nations every year send government members to the remembrance service at the cove.

Monday, 17 April 2017

Blessings

As I mentioned in my last post I now have a mobility Scooter, I had been saving up for one when I was blessed with a windfall.  I might have mentioned that I lived in the UK for 20 years, when I applied for my NZ pension last year I was told that as I lived in the UK part of my pension would be paid by the UK govt as there was a reciprocal agreement, it is administered by the NZ govt so I thought nothing of it, but I did have to fill out lots of forms for the UK.  Well apparently the pension for UK women is 60 years and as I no idea that I qualified for it, I had a rather large amount, deferred. (5 years of back pay)  Whoo hoo!  I was a bit skeptical and was astonished when it turned up in bank account.  It has made such a difference to my life.  As well as investing some of it I have been able to buy things that I needed such as the scooter, a new fridge freezer,  new glasses and a new sewing machine, it has taken a load of my shoulders.

The scooter has blessed me so much, I have been able to make medical appointments without having to try and fit times in with the bus timetable and the biggest blessing is I have been able to shop around for bargains, and most of all go to the local market on Sundays, which is what this post is really about.
My town has two markets, an official Farmers Market on Saturdays, which really caters for the well to do and the weekend visitors that come here from Wellington, it is rather expensive and has posh stuff! Also as I observe the Sabbath it is a ‘no no’ for me. 

The other, really is a glorified Car Boot market run by the Lions organization in the council car park, locals flock to it as a number of lifestyle blockers sell their produce at reasonable prices and generally it is organic produce, there is a honey man, a free range egg lady, a lady selling mushrooms, several local nurseries two selling native plants, one lady selling perennial flowers, a couple of vegetable and flower seedling stalls, some ladies selling pickles and preserves and cakes, then there are the usual bric a brac stalls.  I love it, you get to know the people selling and they sort of become friends, it is wonderful.


This Sunday I took advantage of the good weather and set off on my Scooter, I hadn’t been to it for over a year as it was difficult for me to get to and one needs to get there early for the bargains!  And bargains I did get.


A big bag of figs for $2.50,  Ballarat (cooking) Apples, a heritage variety that makes the perfect apple pie, you cant buy these in the supermarket, But I got 5 for $1.50, a large wedge of pumpkin for $2, egg plants at 50 cents each they are at least $2.50 in the supermarkets.


A huge bunch of watercress for $2.50, I will put half in a bucket and put the bucket under the eaves and if change the water every week I will have my own watercress growing.


A large bag of button chestnut mushrooms for $2 in the supermarket probably cost me about $8.00!

Lovely bargains and it all is organic which is even more of a bonus!  I got some plants as well, a red hibiscus, a pink Japanese anemone, and a red and white ivy geranium; all for $10 at the nursery just one would have cost me at least $10.  I will shoe photos of these later as my batteries for the camera needed recharging.  I am going to have to start taking my camera with me when I am out and about as the town is looking lovely with its red and gold autumn colours.

So I think the scooter is a blessing in my life.  Another blessing is the new sewing machine,  it has made me realize how crappy my old one was, no wondered I put off sewing!  For a long time I had been wanting to change the curtains in my lounge diner, but as there were so many windows it would have cost a fortune for ready made ones and thrift shops don’t usually have curtains for three windows in the same material.  So guess what my first project was…


It has lightened up the place wonderfully, I have a feature wall in that red and having the red has balanced up the area very well.

And as you know once you start changing the colour scheme other things start to occur, like this throw I am crocheting for the lounge area…


What is marvellous I already had this wool in my stash!

Phew, I am so ready for my supper now!  I am having what I call stone soup, do you know the folk tale behind this?  If not I will tell all in the next day or so and hopefully I will have photos of my neighbourhood, as I am charging the batteries of my camera.


Saturday, 15 April 2017

Peace

I hope you all are having a peaceful Easter, I am!  Sorry, I haven’t posted for a while, life got in the way.  I have had some health issues and they are being sorted (Thyroid problems).  I just have to be patient. LOL! I have been visiting your blogs but haven’t been leaving comments as my brain has been somewhat foggy!  Over the last week I have noticed a big improvement, so fingers crossed.

 Also I have been thinking about blogging and all that it entails.  I don’t seem to be able to blog consistently and that set me thinking about why I want to blog and what sort of blog I want.  Do I want it as a daily or weekly diary, or do I want to write about my passions and interests, so I have been pondering and one thing I do know is that I like writing, I thought about the blogs I like to read and they are the ones about daily life and living in this world simply.  I think I know where I got stuck.  I have been trying to have a cohesive image to my blog, well that is not me!  I am a bit scatty and my brain leaps all over the place, I go off in tangents in conversations.  I admire people who can keep to topic, but I seem to be incapable of doing so.  They say that for a blog to be real, it has to reflect the person writing it.

So my dear friends, you will be seeing a blog that may be about cooking one day, the next day about my thoughts on the world, then again it might be about my art or crafts, my garden, or practising thrift.  I might blog every day for a while and then again I might not blog for a bit.


This weekend, I have no visitors for once and I have had time to myself to do some art which is a great joy for me as I haven’t picked up my art materials for a long time.  This piece is a pastel in which I digitally added the text.


Another bit of news is that I now have a mobility scooter and it has changed my life!  I will blog about that later on.  Also my budgeting was successful for March and ended with a big surplus, so I decided to keep the amount at $50 a week put the surpluses into a sealed pot for Christmas treats.

Have a wonderful Easter (or what is left of it)

Sharon

Sunday, 19 March 2017

Need or Want?

Hello People, it has been a wonderful sunny autumn day here, not too hot and a gentle breeze in fact the word would be balmy.  Autumn is definitely here as the trees are starting to change colour.

Autumn is coming!
I also had a wonderful week with visits or phone calls with dear friends, some who hadn’t been in touch for a while.  Also, I had good news of a windfall coming my way.  This leads to the title of this post.  You all know I want a mobility scooter, this windfall means I can get one within a few weeks or even sooner.  The question is do I get a new one or a second hand one?  There is enough for a new one, I want a new scooter but do I need a new scooter?  It is a difficult question; if I get a second hand one I will have money for other items. 

So pondering this I wrote down all the things I might be able to get and thought about whether it was a want or a need.  Result: new glasses – want as I still can read fine print, just the distant is blurry or double, lol.  So they will be a need eventually; new computer – want purely, there is nothing wrong with the one I got even if it is windows 8, lol; sewing machine, is purely a want, I don’t really need it. Freezer is a want and sort of a need, but I think I will be better off getting a new fridge freezer with a bigger freezing compartment than what I have at the moment.  That is not really urgent as there is not much freezing to be done in winter now that I am vegetarian.  You get the picture. Oh there is one thing that is a need but I don’t want is a hearing aid!  Ha ha!  Still doesn’t help me decide whether to get a new scooter though, the advantages of a new one is that they can go faster and further than the older models and they have a 2 year warrantee.  That is appealing, more thought is needed.

All this has led me to think about how even if we are living a simple life the mores of our consumer society can rear its ugly head.  This was unexpected money and my first thought was how to spend it!! Shame on me! Lol.  But then again I am thinking you can’t take it with you when you depart this mortal coil!  I have enough already, although I know people think I am tight!  For example when my TV broke down at Christmas, I decided to go without.  People are so shocked when you say you haven’t TV, I was going to throw my TV out whenever I could get some strong guys to do it as it is one of those old heavy monsters.  I am beginning to think I will leave it and let people draw their own conclusions, ha ha.


I have noticed that now that I am consciously trying to live a simple life that I am automatically asking myself when faced with a purchasing decision, "Do I really need this? If I don't NEED it, why do I want it? Are my reasons for wanting it valid, or am I just letting myself get caught up in some mass-culture buybuybuy frenzy?"

There are so few things we actually NEED. Food, shelter, basic clothing, that's about it. Taking care of true NEEDS isn't generally a huge problem, at least not for many of us. It's the things we WANT but don't NEED that are tricky. Sorting out the worthwhile wants - the ones that will truly enhance our lives and bring us joy - from the wants that are just quickly forgotten and create clutter.
Do you struggle with deciding how worthy a want is?

Thanks for visiting
 and I hope you all have a wonderful week.
Sharon

Saturday, 11 March 2017

Sunday Ramblings


Hello all, it is a rainy Sunday here, I am itching to get into the garden  but it is sodden after 2 days of rain and the forecast has it raining till Thursday!  The cats are disgusted and are sitting on the door step waiting for it to clear, a long wait!  At least it is warm and I can keep the door open.


Looking on the bright side I won’t have to water it for a few days!


I haven’t been in the mood for crochet, but have picked up a long term project, some patchwork, long term, because it is being done by hand!  I am not sure what it will be yet, I just enjoy the activity.

There was a break in the rain at lunchtime for all of half an hour, Ambrose (the black cat) decided to wander off and got caught in the next downpour, it was so funny he tore inside when it eased off and mewed at me so plaintively, I had to pick him up in a towel and dry him he was soaked to the skin, poor boy, I sometimes thinks he gets wet purposely so he can be wrapped in a towel and get cuddled
.
It has been one of days where the kitchen is the nicest place to be. 


I have been freezing up punnets of lightly stewed tomatoes, zucchini and peppers ready for winter stews.  I have visitors coming next Tuesday and decided to do some baking for the occasion.  I made 2 slices, Eltham slice (a traditional kiwi bake), and a variation of it. Eltham slice usually has coconut and currants and spice and a coconut icing topping, but for the second one, instead of currants I used chocolate buttons and left the topping off. I will put the proper recipe up in the recipe page (see buttons under the header.)


When I use the oven, I like to fill it up to save on power. So I decided use to some rhubarb I had picked between showers. I was going to make crumble for my dessert.  But I suddenly remembered a cake I had seen on someone’s blog that had spoonful’s of rhubarb and custard in the mix.  I searched for it but just could not remember where I had seen it as I hadn’t bookmarked it.  Then I had a brainwave why not make it as a pie!


I was going to give the rhubarb a blast in the oven but suddenly thought why not the microwave, so I sprinkled sugar on the chopped up rhubarb covered with cling film (used no water) and cooked for 8 minutes at 50 per cent power.  It was a lot quicker than the oven

Next, I made some custard up, but you could use ready made, it needs to be fairly thick.

Then, I made some short crust pastry but quite short so that I could reserve some for the crumble topping.  I baked the pastry blind so it would have a soggy bottom.

Then I put spoonfuls of rhubarb and custard in the crust, I wanted there to be distinct patches of custard and rhubarb. 


 Then I scrunched up the reserved pastry added 2 spoons of brown sugar and I half tsp. ginger to the crumble.  Then I baked it in oven till the crumble was brown, I also used up the rest of the custard and rhubarb and crumble mix in little dishes. (I will probably share these with some elderly souls in our street)


I will write the recipe up properly during the week and put it on my recipe page.  I imagine you could use any stewed fruit.  I tell you it was delicious with a spoonful of plain yoghurt.  




My poor diet has gone for a burton, sigh!  But at least I only had the stewed tomato, zucchini and peppers on toast as my main course.  (Who am I kidding, ha ha) and probably will only have a cup of soup for supper.  

While I am off the diet wagon, I might as well have a proper afternoon tea treat. (Well, I have to try the new variation of Eltham Slice before giving it to guests!)  Also a chance to use one of the tea sets I got from the Hospice Op shop a couple of weeks ago.


I think I have rambled on enough, so I will go and devour my tea and cake.  Hope you all have a lovely Sunday whenever it arrives for you, and yay I do believe the sun is coming out, well trying to!  I am hoping the weather forecasters have got it wrong again!

A bit later, it was delicious and the sun didn't come it it raining again, oh well, at least we are not having the flooding that the Auckland region is.

Tuesday, 7 March 2017

The Story of a Fig Tree - a parable

A while back, my sister bought me a small potted fig tree; it was her last gift to me before she moved to Australia.  It stayed in that pot for a couple of years and never did much, but still looked healthy.  I decided it probably was root bound so I planted it, in the front garden.  It still didn’t do much and I realised that the spot was probably too dry, but I had no free sunny moist spots, so it stayed.  It just existed, no fruit despite me chucking lot of water at it.   It came with me when I moved here, and I planted it against the shed a really damp spot.  It started grow and produce some fruit, not much only about a dozen a year. Early last year I had to have the shed replaced as it was full of rot.  The builders were going to build the new shed on the concrete base of the old shed.  They asked me if I would mind if they chopped it down as it made the job more difficult, to strengthen their argument they showed me the stem which had a scar of some previous damage.  I agreed and they dug it out.  That was that I thought, but no….

See, nearly high as the shed!

Last September I noticed some fig leaves amongst the mint that I had planted there.  Obviously, some roots had been left in the ground.  Since then I have watched it grow and now in the space of 6 months it is twice the size of what it was after 6 years!  It has heaps of figs on it for me to enjoy early winter! 
I can’t help but think that is a lesson to us.   The above story almost mirrors my life.  I had wonderful role models with my mother and grandmothers and even my dad.  In their different ways my grandmothers epitomised thrift.

My maternal grandmother, was a career woman, but loved vegetable gardening.  Her whole back garden was given over to fruit trees, green house and chicken run, (my grandfather reluctantly was allowed a shed for him to fiddle about in) till the day she had a stroke and had to go into care at the age of 85.  As kids we had to play in the front garden, no room out the back.  I loved to help her weed and be allowed to pick peas etc. for dinner.

My paternal grandmother was a farmer’s wife, but they had retired and moved into town by the time I came along.  She took in a couple of boarders usually young country girls starting their first job. Granddad’s job was the garden and hers was the house.  She was heavily involved with the Women’s Institute, and took part in all their home economic competitions and demonstrations.  She was always cooking, sewing, knitting etc.  I used to love to help her cook.

My mother on her wedding day with both my grandmothers.

My parents were not well off, and we always had vegetable gardens fruit trees and hens to supplement the table.  As kids we had to help, with the garden and housework.  My father was keen on preserves and I loved to help with them, he used to sell the surplus at the local corner store.  I saw my Mum making our clothes and mending, nothing was thrown out.  Although I remember her trying to throw out one of Dad’s jumpers that was very holey, but he would always retrieve it saying it still had wear in it.  Our holidays were at our aunties or grandparents.  Family holidays were a tent near a river or beach and we lived off the fish Dad caught, nothing better than having shellfish or fish cooked on an open fire.

So that was me in the pot!  As a young married I carried on the tradition of thrift, as I was still at university and my husband was just starting out.  I bottled fruit and made my clothes; I think I even made Garth a bomber jacket!  However, the rot set in when I got my degree and we moved to Britain, after touring Europe in a camper van for 6 months we knuckled own and got on with our careers.  We both worked long hours and even longer as we climbed up the ladder.  Food, became ready made, not rubbish, as Garth was type 1 diabetic, so food had to be healthy.  We ate out a lot at restaurants with friends, as dinner parties took up too much time to prepare.  We had holidays in South of France in the summer and Austria, Switzerland and Germany in the winter.  We weren’t totally spendthrift, we still managed to save and invest our money, but only because we weren’t materialistic, we had a modest home and I was not into having the latest furniture and mod cons.  We were your typical 2 income, no children family.  Looking back, I think as a person I existed, I wasn’t unhappy; I was just coasting along following the life Garth wanted.  When I returned to New Zealand, I was a bit happier as now I had family around but something was still missing.

Since I retired 15 months ago, I have found myself again   I have time to garden, do home crafts and to stop and smell the roses.  I feel that this is the time for me.  I am flourishing like that fig tree.  The roots were there for me to take up all my new activities with ease, so thank you family for giving me the start you did.

If the roots are strong, even if troubles and wrong directions are taken, there comes a time that a turn can be made and a transition into a better way can be made easily. 

My heart cries out to the many youngsters these days that haven’t had the basics taught them.  I have friends who bemoan the fact that their children have no idea of how to manage their time and money, or even have the desire to work!  I am afraid I am naughty and usually ask them did they do everything for their said daughter or son, and when they admit they did wait on them I say, there you go! 

The saddest thing happened last week.  I decided to off load some of surplus plums onto the bus driver, Hannah, but she declined saying someone had given her a big bag, so she called out to the other passengers if anybody wanted them, there were several young Mums that screwed up their faces and said no.  One did however say yes and asked what she could do with them.  I said stew them, she looked blank and then said in a little voice how do you do that? Several of the older people rolled their eyes, but, I carefully told her how and she wrote it down on the back of her hand.  When I got off the bus, Jill a friend who had been sitting at the back, said to me, several of the other young Mums were asking the girl who said yes, to pass on the instructions.  I saw the same girl on Tuesday, she said she had stewed them, but put too much sugar in, but would know better next time and then she asked if she could do the same for apples?  I said yes and suggested to her that her Mum could help her to learn more about cooking, her reply was, “Nah, Mum doesn’t cook!”  I suggested Utube , but she said she can’t afford the internet nor a fancy cell phone.  I suggested that library has free internet access on their computers, you know what she said, “Okay, I will do that I haven’t been in a library since I left school.”  Again how sad is that!  These youngsters need the basics not the fancy cooking programs we see on TV.  It makes cooking look too hard and expensive for them.

Wow!  I have gone on haven’t I!  I was also going to post about my budget and menu plans but will leave that for the end of the week!


A tipto make things a bit easier for when it is too wet to sloash down to the veg patch or you don’t have enough space for a full grown garden, plant a bucket or tub with a mix of lettuces and herbs near the back door, really handy for nipping out and picking a few leaves before serving.  This tub has several types of lettuce, coriander, Italian parsley, sage and rocket.

Saturday, 4 March 2017

Pondering

On Thursday I decided to do an inventory of by tinned and bottled cupboard, it was jammed packed or so I thought, but by the time I had replaced everything in an orderly manner there was suddenly some space!  On my inventory I had starred items that needed to be purchased.  That lead to on to thinking how many should I have etc. Do I have enough supplies for 3 months, 6 months or even a year?


Then should it be frozen, tinned, home preserved.  I decided to go online and look into a pressure canner, well, that is a no-no at the moment, they don’t exist in NZ.  I found two that would ship to NZ, a presto one that is quite basic about $80 US but wait, shipping was $143, what?  Guess they don’t want to ship here! On principle I will not buy something where the shipping is more than the cost of the product. Other companies didn’t ship outside US.  Top of line an All American Pressure Canner, in total would have cost over $1000!!!!   So I guess I will put that idea on the shelf for the moment.

So it looks like freezing. I have only a fridge freezer and the freezing compartment is quite small.  So maybe buy a small standalone freezer?  I costed them online and I can get a decent one for about $250, maybe even cheaper from the local shops, and there is second hand, a friend who was visiting yesterday said she got one second hand for $95 from the second hand mart in town.  So I will do a tour of the shops next week with my tape measure in hand as the space I have for it is limited.



There is another question I have been pondering for quite a while, whether to go back to being a vegetarian?  I was a vegetarian for about 15 years when I was living in the UK, it started with the mad cow debacle and the listeria scare in chickens they had in the 80”s.  When I returned to NZ, meat gradually started to appear in my diet, NZ is a meat and two veg country, and vegetarian products are slim pickings, that is starting to change especially in the last year or so, I think in line with the sudden rise in cost of meat products.

I have noticed that whenever I have meat, I have real bad indigestion.  Since I have following my menu plan which has only 3 days of non-meat meals, it has become very noticeable.  The days I did not have meat, no indigestion!  This has set me thinking.  I need to test this theory properly.  So I have decided to do the next fortnight menu as vegetarian, if my indigestion stays away, I will go back to a vegetarian life style.  Not totally, I don’t think I can give up bacon or fish and I have noticed that chicken breast is okay.  So maybe I will become a 6 day a week vegetarian and have meat on the seventh day (I have to use up that meat I already have, lol! Anyways for the next fortnight it will be totally vegetarian; also it will be a lot cheaper.  I just suddenly realised that if I become vegetarian the pressure canner is not such an issue.


Over the last week I have been preserving plums, making plum jam and today I will make some plum sauce and I think that will be an end to the plums, I will have a few weeks rest until the apples and blackberries are ready to deal with.

Early morning in my garden

This morning I took these photos. The above is the view from my front door as I let the cats out.  The grass is nice and green because of all the rain we had early in the week.



Around the back where the sun hits with a vengeance I have geraniums growing as they can stand the drought.


The apples are coming along nicely, this one is Fuji my favourite eating apple, and also it keeps so well. 


A bit further along I have let some leeks go to seed and I love their shapes, like something out of science fiction.   


I have let one of my globe artichokes flower and it is interesting to see the process.  They are very stately.


Right back in a far corner I have comfrey growing and have made two lots of liquid fertilizer for the garden.  It pongs, but it so good as it gives the plants all the trace elements as their roots go down a long way.

Finally, a sunshiny smile for those in the Northern hemisphere, the Mexican sunflowers are flowering always a sign that summer will start to wind down.


So now I am off to make my plum sauce and start to plan a vegetarian menu for the next fortnight, I can change my meal tonight which was to be a chicken risotto to a zucchini and pepper risotto, my protein for today can be the scrambled egg on toast for supper and the chocolate mousse for desert at lunch.  Monday’s meal was to be meatless anyway.

That’s it for today,
have a lovely Sunday and great week.
Sharon