Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Seed planting calendar

I'm obsessed with seeds at the moment, but I'm still a seedling novice at heart. All the Pinterest seed planting calendars I find are for America.... Which has backwards seasons to us down here in New Zealand. In my desire to help others find a good planting guide, I'm linking here to Yates... Who have a nice easy planting guide for New Zealand.



Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Apple Pie made in the Apple!

Goodmorning…. here in New Zealand it is autumn. Apples are fully in
season, and the cooler days make warm apple pie such a delicious option.

Here is a recipe for Apple Pie…. made IN THE APPLE.

But I am being sneaky… this is my recipe, but I currently have it in a
pie making contest.  If you would like to make this pie, and I
recommend you do, please pop over to my Instructables account.  Here are step by step instructions on making the pie.  If you would, I would love it if you would vote for my pie. Instructables is free to join, and well worth it in my mind.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Sunglasses Case with Cables - Knitting Pattern

Well, it's about time for a new pattern methinks. Long overdue infact. I blame the app I usually use for blogging.... Which for some reason keeps crashing and losing my very witty comments. So I've changed.... Goodby "posted using blog press" and hello "posted with bloggy".


With Cyclone Lusi being a bit of a let down around here, all I get is a lot of humidity and heat.... It's time for a sunglasses case... Or glasses case. And I do love me some cables. This one is seamless, made on 3 needles, and best out of 100% cotton (something that won't scratch the ol lenses)


You will need:

3 x 4mm double pointed needles

Cable needle


100% cotton DK yarn


Sunglasses case


Cast on 20

Knit front and back of each stitch, placing each alternate stitch on different needles. This will give you 20 stitches on each needle.


Knit 1 rotation


The pattern repeats over 6 rows

1. Knit 5, purl 2, knit 6, purl 2, knit 5 - repeat on second needle.

2. Knit 5, purl 2, knit 6, purl 2, knit 5 - repeat on second needle.

3. Knit 5, purl 2, place 3 on a cable needle to the back, knit 3, knit 3 from cable needle, purl 2, knit 5 - repeat on second needle.

4. Knit 5, purl 2, knit 6, purl 2, knit 5 - repeat on second needle.

5. Knit 5, purl 2, knit 6, purl 2, knit 5 - repeat on second needle.

6. Knit 5, purl 2, knit 6, purl 2, knit 5 - repeat on second needle.


Repeat these 6 rows 7 times.


Cast off 20 (all stitches from first needle.)


Complete on remaining stitches, knitting back and forth.

1. Knit 5, purl 2, knit 6, purl 2, knit

2. Purl 5, knit 2, purl 6, knit 2, purl 5

3. Knit 5, purl 2, place 3 on a cable needle to the back, knit 3, knit 3 from cable needle, purl 2, knit 5

4. Purl 5, knit 2, purl 6, knit 2, purl 5 - repeat on second needle.

5. S1, knit 1, psso, Knit 3, purl 2, knit 6, purl 2, knit 3, k2 tog

6. S1, purl 1, psso, purl 2, knit 2, purl 6, knit 2, purl 2, purl 2 tog


7. S1, knit 1, psso, Knit 1, purl 2, knit 6, purl 2, knit 1, k2 tog

8. S1, purl 1, psso, knit 2, purl 6, knit 2, purl 2 tog

9. S1, purl 1, psso, purl 1, place 3 on a cable needle to the back, knit 3, knit 3 from cable needle, purl 1, p2 tog

10. S1, knit 1, psso, purl 5, knit 2 tog

11. S1, knit 1, psso, knit 4, k2 tog

12. S1, purl 1, psso, purl 2, p2 tog

13. Cast off. Using the last stitch, chain 6, attach to make a loop to act as a button hole.


Sew on a button and darn in tails.


What's Growing: March 16, 2014

This weekend we were set to feel the effects of Cyclone Lusi. So, we were up late on Friday night dealing with firewood that needed stacking in the shed, and I was planting until it was too dark to see, then again as soon as day broke on Saturday.
Then the rains didn't hit until late Saturday evening.... I even managed to dry 2 loads of washing before the weather looked like turning. It was fortunate that Lusi was downgraded to a depression, but the flurry of productivity in the threat of her arrival was pretty amazing.
In the Greenhouse
Currently the greenhouse has the doors closed all day, but the windows open. The taro is thriving, as is the watermelon and cucumber plants. Actually the cucumber plants are covered with baby vegetables, so I think the bees have been doing their thing. The temperature gets well over 30 degrees in the day, and hovers around 12 degrees overnight. Soon we will have to look at closing the windows... And making preparations for warming it in winter.
The tomato to plant moved into the greenhouse from the flower garden is doing super well, so maybe I'll have late tomatoes. The mescaline is going to seed- don't tell the husband as he always pulls plants at this stage. I want it to self seed.... And the lettuce is amazing. Coriander loves the conditions, and yesterday I added peas. We shall see what happens there.
In the Raised Beds
The corn is nearing the end of the season. I'm just waiting for the last few cobs to yellow and that bed will be destroyed. It needs serious manure. I'm not sure what to plant in it for winter, or if I should just mulch and cover it.
The chillies are magnificent. We have already frozen enough for the year, and we have both garnered the staff at our place of employ with chillies to great applause. So definitely a good move. Giving away vegetables is the biggest joy in my mind, as often it's reciprocated. A neighbour gave us carrots and cabbage, which I loved, as our carrots are still wee and the cabbage became a sacrificial crop to the white butterflies.
The pumpkin is growing slowly, so I want soup on my horizon. The leeks are doing well, and I am now trying to just chop the top off, leaving the roots in the ground. According to a thing I saw on Pinterest, this should grow new leeks. I have my doubts, but it does save the other leeks having their roots disturbed. I am tempted to plant more leeks in the greenhouse, as I do love them so.
I was given bird netting to put on my strawberries... But I haven't seen that project through yet.
In the Flower Beds
I discovered before heading to China last year that a garden with edibles in it was more likely to be watered by the man than a garden with just flowers.... So every garden bed will have edibles before too long. There was a neglected bed in the front garden. Neglected as it's full of bulbs, so usually has great blooms with no effort. However, someone decided to cover the garden with grass clippings.... Killing most of the blooms, leaving it looking lacklustre.
Enter a lemon tree, 3 bags of compost, and a whole host of flower seedlings. This is what I was doing into the wee small hours of the night on Friday. During the week I have been pruning back the hedge that fell over a while back, trying to find a shape again... And then weeding. Last nights rain will have done it a great deal of good, as it was in a bad, bad way. The soil was tired and the land so dry. Hopefully it will be a great bed in the end.
Next thing to do is sort out those hanging baskets!


Thursday, March 6, 2014

We've Moved!

We've moved!

Not moved house- that would be far too much work... though, almost as much work is moving this blog.

While I won't be taking any of these posts down, I will be posting here less frequently.

You can find (and re-follow) me at:

Sunday, March 2, 2014

What's Growing: March 2014

It's all go in the garden, so busy, but rewarding.

He greenhouse is playing host to all sorts of mescaline, slowly going to seed and gorgeous lettuce. The strawberries in their nursery are doing well, and the watermelons growing.... The plant that is, not the actual fruit. Early days there. Cucumbers are producing... Sort of. Baby cucumbers are forming, and the tomato plant that I weeded out of the flower garden is doing wonderfully with flowers and all. The mans chilli seeds have sprouted, but somehow the labels have gone... He thought they were rubbish... So who knows what will grow in the end. Taro flying along and the coriander is looking healthy.

The radishes are crazy- I must remember to eat them... And strawberries producing. Cucumbers and corn magnificent.... I did just harvest 11 ears of corn where I thought there was none... And with a quick check, I had them blanched, and frozen for winter. There is still more corn to come through with the ones we planted later.

The tomatoes needed a major overhaul. A certain beagle dug a hole under them... And a certain me didn't trim the laterals very well... So they had a lot of work, and trimming to allow airflow under the plants. They have been ripening quickly now.

The passion fruit are nearing readiness... turning purple slowly.

And in the realm of the amazing- I have baby pumpkins on the way! A certain husband weeded my heritage pumpkins when I was in china... So I don't know if these are popped up heritage ones, butternut squash or regular grey pumpkins until they start to get much bigger. But I'll settle for any. I love pumpkin soup!

The chillies are again a bumper crop. We have already packed and frozen over 20 bags- which sees the man through his curries for the whole year... And another 5 bags have been given away! Crazy. And there are so many more to come. So corn, and skinned tomatoes have been preserved for winter already.

I do want to get some sheep poo into the garden but it is a dangerous idea with beagles. They so enjoy rolling in the stuff.

On the whimsical side of things, I built a rosemary planter... Like a Hobbit Hole... Instructions are on Instructables.

Blanching Corn to Freeze
- boil large pot of water
- submerge each cob for between 7-10 minutes. Wait until they look 'golden'
- remove and dump in an ice bath
- when cool, bag into dinner portions and freeze. Don't forget to date and label bag.

Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Culinary Legacies and the Experience of Time

I've been thinking a lot about my favourite foods recently.... Like, a lot. They are so different from that of my immediate family, and that's when the realisation that my own food experiences have been shaping and changing my own diet.


In Friday I sat down at my favourite Turkish restaurant, Zara's in Upper Hutt eating a falafel Iskender. Gorgeous thing. There was a side made of mint leaves wrapped around rice of some description, served cold. It was wonderful, but while eating it I realised we hardly ever had rice growing up. True, we did have "Rice Risotto" in a box, and rice pudding... But not the range of rice flavours. Now with a pantry with wild rice, basmati rice, brown rice, and jasmine rice, it's amazing to think that I'll eat it a couple of nights a week.

When did I first eat falafel? Well, it was a trip to Wellington with a friend and his mother, to buy a suit for a wedding. We had kebabs for lunch. I was a vegetarian so just ordered the vegetarian option, and my love of Turkish food began.

My other favourite is Mexican food. Normally at the Martinborough Fair which we attended yesterday, there is an amazing Mexican man serving traditional street food from Mexico. He runs a business in Wellington, and I always try something new every time I go there. But a toasted flauta or a breakfast burrito fill me with spicy joy.

When did I first have Mexican food? I was staying in Christchurch on a school trip, and the mother of my host family made nachos with corn chips, canned beans and sour cream. The spice changed my life, and not long after returning home, I was making it for the family... Slowly trying new meals. Now I have several traditional Mexican cookbooks and my own tortilla press.

And then Indian food. We never had curry growing up.... Well... I lie. My grandfather used to make a cabbage and raisin dish with plenty of curry powder and whole chillies. Once in a while a wonderful Sri Lankan woman stayed with my grandparents, she would make a curry on occasion. It was spicy and I liked it.

Pass over the next 10 years and I married an Indian. His family and manny many cookbooks, as well as tips from every Indian restaurant I have visited, and now I can make so many wonderful curries, sides, breads and dips.

Growing up we never had onions, garlic, pasta unless it was mac 'n' cheese, brown bread, couscous, lentils, spinach, chillies, zucchini, coloured lettuces... The list goes on.

So why think about this today?

Yesterday eating Swiss rosti... And Thai flavoured nuts.... And weeding my bok choi.... Talking Hot Pot and Steamboat with a Cambodian and a Phillipino, reminiscing about living in China... That's when I realised I need to keep branching out and trying new things.

Bring on Hungarian Langosh. Deep fried, garlicky, salty, and light. Gorgeous I could have tried the chimney cakes, but why? I know I love cake.

I guess the moral of the story is this: expose yourself to food. I've eaten foods I hate, but at least I know why I dislike them. Expose your children to different cultural food experiences. You never know when you will find yourself eating taro leaves or dragon fruit. Try something new every single week... Whether it's a food, a meal, a cuisine, a drink, a spice. Something. Life will be all the better for it.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Monday, February 24, 2014

Knitted Bow - For Hair or as a Brooch

My obsession with bow ties continues... But this time in my hair... This bow is a great stash buster, and a good way to practise working with multiple needles.

You will need:
3 x 4mm dpn
DK yarn
Pinback or hair clip

Cast on 15 stitches.
Knit front and back of each stitch, placing the created stitches on 2 needles. You will end up with 15 stitches on each needle, in 2 parallel rows.

Knit 29 rotations.
Cast off with Kitchener stitch, holding the 2 needles together. This wil make a seamless bow part.


Cast on 8 stitches.
Stocking stitch 10 rows, slipping the first stitch of every row.
Cast off.

Crimp the bow in the centre.

Attach the tie around the bow, and stitch up at the back.

Sew on the pinback or clip.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Monday, February 17, 2014

A Few Super Fast Lunches

I've been trying to each healthier this year, as by the end of the academic year, my lunches are crazy carb fuelled wonders....

The plan is food from the garden, in the box, and out the door before I have time to think...

Garden salad, satay sauce in the piggy, apricots and almonds.

Pasta salad using garden vege, picked grapes and strawberries, dip for crackers, and frittata made from free range gifted eggs.

Iskender with tabouli (all garden vege), rice, beetroot, falafel, salad, yogurt, hummus and chilli.

Corn and pasta salad, frittata, cheese, cherry tomatoes, yogurt with fresh picked berries, tabouli from garden vege.

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The Hobbit - Bofur Scarf - Knitting Pattern

I made the authentic prop-replica pattern for Bofur's scarf, and while it is wonderful, it isn't necessarily the most infinitely wearable scarf. Because of its loose gauge, it is tricky to knit, and doesn't hold it's shape too well.

So I've adapted the pattern for everyday wear. This has a slightly tighter gauge from smaller needles, and increased rows to compensate for lost length. Do read the whole pattern here before starting, as the tips at the end are what make it easy and neat in my opinion.

You will need:
Size 8mm knitting needles
One ball each of Grey, Bluey-grey and Copper DK yarn (or buy the mithril yarn from Stansborough in Takahe, Raupo and Kokako)

Cast on 28 stitches in the bluey colour. Carry the tail across the back of the knitting as a kind of darn-as-you-go method.
Knit 24 rows
Change to copper. Knit 44 rows.
Change to grey. Knit 60 rows.
Change to blue. Knit 32 rows.
Change to grey. Knit 24 rows.
Change to copper. Knit 42 rows.
Change to blue. Knit 18 rows. Cast off.

Wash the finished scarf in warm water, wool wash and a little fabric softener for about 10 minutes by hand.

Squeeze out water with a towel.

Hang towel over a door or the washing line and drape scarf over the top. Clip a few pegs or clips to the ends to weigh it down. Leave to dry completely.

Super simple. But totally follow these tips for making it awesome.
1. Carry the yarn tails across the first line of the colour change to avoid darning them in at the end. After washing, just chop of the bit that dangles free, and the rest will be well attached in.

2. Slip the last stitch of every row to get a neater edge. The only exception is on the first row of a colour change where I recommend knitting to the end completely, then slipping the first stitch on the following row. This does keep the rows very neat.

3. Only use 100% wool. It works the best for getting the right look and a slight felting effect in the washing stage.

4. In the colour change rows, knit 1 stitch (which had been slipped at the end of the previous row. Then tie the two ends of the old and new colour together. This will create a knot between the first 2 stitches where it will never be seen.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Butterflies: The Good, The Bad, and why can't the bad ones be Ugly (and a lemon recipe)

I love the garden in summer, when everything comes alive. However, the joy of the first monarch butterflies is soon followed by the devastation of the white butterflies.

I've been out sprinkling Derris Dust and squirting with organic deterrents... Even the beagles make their lame attempts to catch the white ones.... And on the other hand I have pumpkin for the Monarch butterflies who have destroyed the Swan Plants in their hunger.

The bastards are even in my greenhouse!

However, sitting in he shade, reading, knitting and enjoying a refreshing cool beverage, it's a perfect Sunday. Even better with ingredients from the garden.

Cool Lemon Water

Super simple.... Just have ice and chilled water ready to go.
Fill a glass 3/4 full with chilled water.
Add a few ice cubes.
Pop in a sprig of mint and a slice of lemon.
Squeeze the rest of the juice from the lemon into the glass.

One lemon makes 2 massive glasses.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad