Grey Good Friday

It’s Good Friday and a grey, wet sort of day. Not cold, just soggy and at times slightly dark and no good at all for hanging washing on the line but perfectly OK for dog walking (two in fact – walks, that is) and an excellent stay at home sort of day (aside from the walks) with lots of knitting and sewing and creating going on all over the place in a slow relaxed way that comes with a rainy day spent at home right at the beginning of a long holiday weekend.

There are socks finally blocking

IMG_5489and a new pair cast on.

IMG_5491There has been a sports bag and pencil case sewn and we stop for cups of tea and

IMG_5492warmed hot cross buns with butter melting and running down our fingers as we munch.

The wet weather doesn’t bother me a bit and I’m pleased that Autumn has well and truly arrived. Although we revelled in a few weeks of perfect indian summer weather, the autumnal early mornings

IMG_5446 IMG_5448 IMG_5449and evenings are the bits I love best as the colours of the sky and the cloud formations are often so amazing.

IMG_5483 IMG_5477 IMG_5476 IMG_5479Now at night and in the morning you can smell the smoke from people stoking up their wood-burners and fires as the days get shorter and it’s almost dark by the time we get home from work and school. It’s a time of year I absolutely love and I look forward to more slow, soggy, grey dark days spent just hanging out with family, baking, crafting, reading and being cosy and warm while winter swirls all around us.

Happy Easter holiday weekend to one and all!




Green Pie

Image courtesy of The Heritage Gardener

Image courtesy of The Heritage Gardener

Someone gifted us some beautiful home-grown silverbeet, also called chard or swiss chard in some countries.

Not nearly as sexy as spinach, poor old silverbeet remains a much maligned vegetable which often gets a bit of bad press.  In truth, it’s a fabulous veg – cheap to buy and easy to grow, chock full of goodness with a subtle, delicious and delicate taste.

One of my favourite silverbeet recipes is Leek and Silverbeet Pie, known in our family as ‘Green Pie” because my small niece solemnly told my mum that her “green pie was the bestest” after her very first tasting.

IMG_5461It’s a recipe well worth sharing because it’s not only delicious but also very easy to make

IMG_5468 IMG_5470so it’s obviously time I shared it with you.

Leek and Silverbeet Pie -

Preheat the oven to 190 degrees (fanbake).

For the pastry -250gms standard flour, 1/4 tsp salt, 150gms hard butter, 6 tblspns ice cold water.

For the filling – 1 leek, 2 silverbeet leaves, 2tblspns butter, salt and pepper to taste, 4 eggs, 1/4 cup feta cheese crumbled, 1/4 cup grated parmesan, 3 pinches ground nutmeg.

Put the flour and salt into the food processor. Cut the hard butter into chunks and add to the processor. Pulse until the butter is chopped into small flecks. Continue to pulse while you add the cold water. Tip the crumbly mixture out in to a bowl and press firmly together with your hands. Divide the pastry into two balls and wrap in cling film then stet aside in a cool place while you make the filling.

Trim off the dark-green tops of the leek and pull off the tough outer layer. Cut the leek in half lengthways, wash thoroughly and slice thinly. Melt the butter in a heavy saucepan and cook the leek very gently while you wash and trim the stalk off the silverbeet and thinly slice the leaves.

Add these to the leek and butter and season lightly with salt and pepper. Continue to cook for a few minutes until the vegetables have softened. Remove from the heat and allow to cool to lukewarm.

Break the eggs into a large bowl and whisk  until just mixed. Stir in the leeks, silverbeet and cheeses. Season with salt, pepper and nutmeg.

Roll out both balls of the pastry and use one to generously line the bottom and sides of a pie dish. Spoon in the filling and add the other bit of pastry as the lid. Trim and crimp the edges and use a fork to prick the lid.

Bake the pie for about 25mins until the pastry is nicely browned.

Serve warm or cold. It’s particularly good the next day!

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Breaking the Rules for Red

 

IMG_5406I’m a sucker for red.

The frames of my glasses are red, I wear dark red lipstick and I own a fabulous pair of red suede boots but I have nothing knitted in red. Nothing at all.

How can that be?

I am drawn to red like a magpie is to something shiny or a moth is to a flame. I can’t seem to help it and it’s futile to resist so when I saw this

Image courtesy of Vintage Purls

Image courtesy of Vintage Purls

what was I supposed to do?

Buy it, that’s what.

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I know at the beginning of the year I promised myself that I wouldn’t buy any more yarn this year and that I would be solely knitting from my stash and I have and will be doing that . . . . . . . . . . . except for this little blip in proceedings.

IMG_5408This red deliciousness is the creation of Morag from Vintage Purls. She is the absolute guru of indie dyeing here in New Zealand, has probably been doing it the longest and is by far the very best we have.

IMG_5412Called ‘Sinbad’, it is feather-soft laceweight merino and destined to appropriately become a Featherweight cardigan which I am inspired to make after reading of Stella’s efforts making one for herself.

So – I broke the rules but they were my rules and somehow that doesn’t seem quite so bad.  Having said that, I’ve jumped straight back on the no-buying-yarn-wagon and there are absolutely no plans for any other yarn purchases to be made.

Meanwhile lovely Sinbad sits right at the top of my knitting basket waiting patiently for a few other things to be finished before I can get started with him and so in the meantime, it’s back to the socks . . . .

I hope you are having a lovely weekend.

We’ve got four very giggly, over-excited thirteen year olds here for a birthday sleepover so it’s probably time I went to check on things down that end of the house before I settle in with my needles.

xx

 

One + One = Two

There has been a good amount of knitting this week which is very pleasing as I am a little behind and need to catch up with my Sock Club so that by the end of March I will have completed the first three pairs for this year.

IMG_5383I currently have one February sock and one March sock finished with both their mates in progress.

IMG_5396 IMG_5397The grey pair are destined for my Dad’s feet and the red pair are for me.

IMG_5387In my head I’m allowing myself the luxury of thinking that having two complete socks (albeit not actually a pair) counts as February’s Sock Club and the two on the go will be the March pair when finished.

IMG_5398It’s a slightly sideways view of things but I’m allowing myself some knitterly licence and as long as I end up with two pairs by March 31st then I’ll be back on track and ready to start the April socks.

IMG_5393Gosh – April already!

IMG_5403Winters on it’s way so keep knitting!

PS – And a huge thanks to everyone who sent such lovely messages, comments and thoughts (both public and private) after the last post. I really appreciate the love and friendship that has been shown to us by everyone.

xx

The Crap Life Sends You….

Apologies for being a bit slack and staying away so long but we’ve had a rough few weeks and I’m only now surfacing and feeling that my life is somehow getting back to ‘normal’ again.

In short, two weeks after our neighbour’s house burned down, the tenanted cottage on our property also burned.

Arson it seems.

Both fires related, both likely to have been lit by the same person(s) and all to do with some nasty, stupid recrimination against the partner of our tenant. Bizzare, surreal and more than a little spooky to say the least.

After the second fire, we managed four more sleepless nights in our house. During the day I was ok but come sunset, a deep knot in the pit of my stomach would start forming so that by the time I went to bed, it a was a strong and very real fear. Enough to make me unable to close my eyes and jump at the smallest sound. My dearly loved little piece of paradise had become my living nightmare.

In the end, it proved too much.

The police assured us they held no fears for our personal safety but the fires had highlighted our vulnerability living as we did in virtual isolation. Both the twelve year old and I felt we couldn’t manage to stay there another night and the lovely husband said life is too short to be scared, so we moved.

IMG_5369Since then life has been a series of highs and lows.

There has been much to do, lots to think about and many decisions to be made. Feelings have been very jumbled – ranging from immense relief to feel safe again and get back to sleeping through the night to deep, deep sadness at the thought of never going back to live there. Tearful goodbyes to my little flock of sheep who have gone to live on a gorgeous lifestyle block where they won’t be eaten but will get to while away their days munching on grass, growing wool and having babies. Then more tearful goodbyes yesterday when I took the chickens to their new home where they will happily free range with a beautiful bunch of ‘ladies’ and two very cute pre-schoolers who were so excited about their arrival. Thank you Renee and Charlie!

IMG_5370Anyway.

I think I’m just waffling now so suffice to say we are happily settled into a little villa in town.

Life is almost back to normal and though it’s taken some getting used to, the noise of the traffic and the neighbours coming and going are reassuring. We’ve been enjoying walks to the supermarket and the library and a cold beer at sunset on Sundays at our local pub. I’m relishing being able to put the rubbish and the recycling out at the kerb (only twenty or so paces) and we’ve laughed at the amount of lawn that needs mowing.

IMG_5373There is still a bit to be sorted but it feels good to be getting back to normality. I miss my other life terribly but I also feel very positive about what may lie ahead for us now.

It also feels good to be blogging again and I now realise that writing things down is very cathartic and does actually help!

My knitting has suffered and my February socks are way behind schedule not to mention the March ones but I guess that’ll wait for another post…….

Hope you all have had a fabulous weekend and thanks for listening.

xx

Jitnot Socks

IMG_5332There is good knitting news to report.

IMG_5338The first pair of socks from my “Self-Imposed Sock Club” are finished and as it’s the second to last day of January, they have been completed with 24 hours to spare so how good is that?

IMG_5336I’ve named them Jitnot Socks as they were finished Just IThe Nick OTime. The yarn is Fibre Alive Merino Mania dyed by my friend James and the pattern is Angee from Cookie A, ravelled here.

IMG_5324

It’s been ages since I knitted socks top down and I had forgotten how pleasing the heel is to turn when a sock is worked in this way. It seemed quicker to execute and neater when finished than any of the toe up heel variations I normally use. There are a few top down socks in my Sock Club bags so I look forward to working their heels and am hopeful that I may actually be able to learn Kitchener Stitch grafting off by heart and not have to rely on a book to help me out.

IMG_5337I’m off to choose my February Socks now. Maybe I’ll manage two pairs this month or maybe I’ll get a few moments to finish something out of my workbasket……

Challenges

If you travel down the long straight drive that leads to our house and turn sharp left at the end, you go past the white house where John lives, the cottage where Lisa lives and then on to our place at the very end. Three little plots living happily side by side along the edge of the river.

John is the very best neighbour and a good friend. He has lived here for close to thirty years and raised three children (now adults) amidst a beautifully overgrown garden that produces huge juicy plums by the bucket load and outrageously good lemonade lemons. He brings us fresh trout from the river, boned, filleted and marinating in his secret recipe marinade and he has been unfailingly helpful to me in dealing with any number of things including nasty cases of flystrike and tricky lambing situations. He warns us when the river gets too high and there is a need to be mindful of the flooding risk. He lives a wonderfully simple life, in what he calls his ‘piece of paradise’, wanting for little and completely happy with his lot.

Five nights ago, in the wee small hours of the morning, John’s house burned to the ground. He was away on a fishing trip and after we rescued his dear old dog from her kennel near his back door, all we could do was stare in horror and disbelief as the house was torched.

The ferocity and speed of the burning was frightening and it was terrifying and unbelievable to watch. There is nothing left. Cherished momentoes and reminders of the years of happy family times, the laughter, tears and special occasions are all gone.

It’s a hard lesson to learn and a solemn reminder of how fragile everything in this world is. How life can change in an instant and how possessions are such a small part of who we are. It’s made me think hard about our ‘stuff’. What really is precious to us and what I would want to save if ever we were placed in a similar situation.

This has been a tough week but the knot in the pit of my stomach is easing and we are finally sleeping better, no longer haunted by the memory of the house completely ablaze. We are slowly getting used to the sight of the burnt out remains where the house once stood and where now there is just a pile of blackened, broken timbers and twisted roofing iron.

John is still away on his fishing trip. He said there was nothing to come home to and he needed to do some thinking. Fair enough. In the meantime, the lovely old dog is happily ensconced in our back paddock chasing the chickens, we’ve installed two more smoke alarms into our house and the spare bed is made up and awaiting his return.

Life does go on and I know that in time things will be much better for John. Maybe he’ll rebuild? A beautifully simple little house where he is able to live completely off the grid? Maybe he will park up under one of his apple trees in a caravan or tent for the rest of the summer while he decides what to do? Whatever he does decide, I hope he stays around. We would really miss his cheery waves in the morning, the sound of his shotgun reverberating through the air in duck-shooting season and the sight of him dozing in the late afternoon sun with the newspaper at his feet.

Kia kaha my friend. Aroha nui xx

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