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.

Sunday, 12 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.

Wednesday, 8 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.

Sunday, 5 March 2017


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.