Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Finished Thank You Cards

I thought I would share photos of some of our finished thank you cards for gifts given to Munchkin...


I did around 30, but may yet need to do as many again, as we have been given so many things!!

Despite rushing through these a lot (around Munchkin's needs and wants), I really enjoyed the creative process. Now we just need to write in them all, and get some photos printed to go with them...and give/send them to folks. Hmmm...this project could take awhile to finish off yet.




Amy

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Cover Up News

I randomly found this article in our local free paper recently! Considering I very rarely look in the paper, it was quite a discovery. And no, I am not referring to the 25% off sale! Just in case you were wondering. Amy



I wanted to make it so you can click to enlarge the picture...but don't know how, sorry! It is basically talking about a local group knitting for Operation Cover Up, as you can see by the photo.

Progress

I have made a start on crocheting the Cover Up blanket squares together!!!

The start of a strip on the blanket!


It is really quite a simple, straight forward project. I stick with the basics in both crochet and knitting and like to choose a contrasting colour for the crochet to make it stand out. So far, I've put together one strip (8 squares). I worked out that I have 13 strips to do, if you count doing the strips then putting the strips together into the blanket. So I've still a fair bit of work left to do. I might get a little more done today, and I'm hoping that on a visit to my in-laws this week I'll be able to do a bit more (more hands for holding baby = more free time for Mummy! Hehe).

Amy

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Dried Apples

Dried apple is one of the foods from my childhood that I really love. For me, it has always been a bit of a treat. Kind of like lollies, only natural. So when I got an Ezidri food dryer, apple was my natural first choice to dry. They come out firmer than the store-bought variety but just as tasty - if not more so. When we lived in Townsville I would buy apples just for drying, then bag them in little snack bags, pop them in the freezer, and pull them out whenever I wanted a quick and healthy snack. They don't need to be in the freezer, it was just a convenient way to store them in our sultry, humid climate.

I dried some apples this week. Sadly, they are not from my parent's trees. I completely forgot to have a go with the Golden Delicious during their season. I'm somewhat disappointed as it would have been interesting to see just what they taste like dried. But then we did have an awful lot of other things going on at the time, so I guess I shouldn't be feeling either surprised or disappointed. I will try and remember to do it next season.



Preparing the apples for drying - a simple process.

These apples are from the supermarket. They are Granny Smiths. I have found that they make absolutely delicious dried apple. I suspect that for dried apples, you want something full of flavour, so the slight tang of the Granny Smiths translates well into a full dried apple flavour.
They are amazingly simple to do. Simply wash, quarter, then slice apples into thin slices (as evenly as possible - mine always tend to vary a bit but the more even the better for even drying!). Lay them on the trays of the Ezidri, making sure that none of the slices overlap. Turn it on. Smell the divine scent of cooking apple all day or all night long. Drool. After about 10 hours turn it off and have a peek to see if they are done. A taste test now is absolutely essential! I am not kidding - there needs to be no squishy liquid in the slices so they will store well. Usually apples take around 10-12 hours to dry. Another of my favourites, ripe plantain bananas, would take 12-14 hours. Because of the long drying time it helps to be prepared and plan when to have the drier on. The first batch I did went in around 8pm, and came out around 6am when I got up to feed Munchkin. The second went in around 8am, and came out around dinner time...I just make sure when I am preparing them that I will be around to keep checking them for a few hours when I think they should be ready.





Apples all dried and ready to store.



I just love dried fruit. It's lovely to have that sweet hit with it actually containing some nutritional value, unlike with lollies (candy) and the like. I also find dried fruit to be an energy packed snack, lasting me well, particularly for its volume and weight. I can understand why it is a common choice among trampers (hikers)...lightweight and full of goodness. I just might try drying some other fruits next summer. Strawberries and raspberries could perhaps be interesting. Then there's the pears if we get a good crop. Yum.

What's your favourite dried fruit?
Amy

Friday, June 25, 2010

Smiles

I was feeding Munchkin at some point recently and had some interesting thoughts. I noticed that he was gurgling and smiling away because the milk was on hand - he gets the wiggles when the cloth gets wrapped under his chin, knowing that means food is almost ready! I found myself wishing he would just smile at me. Just one decent, genuine smile for his mummy. I haven't had many and it felt like he was more interested in smiling for his milk, or his toys, than his mother. The smiles will come, no doubt. It probably would have stayed as just a passing thought if not for the ones that followed soon after. I found myself wondering if that is how God feels about me sometimes. I wonder how often I 'smile' at the things he provides, and forget to focus my eyes on his face. It can be so easy to end up mesmerised by the latest thing he has given me, that I can forget the giver in the process. I am sure that he enjoys our pleasure in his gifts - he is, after all, the ultimate giver. But I imagine sometimes he'd still like a littler personal attention, just because he is my spiritual parent and likes to spend time with me. So now, when Munchkin is gurgling away with pleasure at being fed, I remind myself to delight in just being with God, as well as enjoying all the good things he provides.

Amy

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Word for the Week

I thought it was time to do another Word for the Week, seeing as it has been many, many weeks since the last one!

So here's one from Free Rice this morning:
BANE = RUIN

According to thefreedictionary.com BANE is:
A cause of fatal injury or ruin!
Or, alternatively, and less scary:
A source of persistent annoyance or frustration

I had no idea that the first and original use of this word refers to death and destruction! Isn't it facinating how words take on new life in their everyday use?! I often find myself using a nice, big, juicy word only to have Boyo ask me what on earth it means. Then I have to stop and think, and try to come up with alternatives...frequently struggling to put into words just what I think the word means. Or, as in this case, realising that I am using a word in one context, when it can be used in several. Quite often our every day conversations give meanings to words that the dictionary doesn't necessarily agree with. I often use words based on where I have read them used, without actually knowing their full and proper definition. I'm finding Free Rice facinating in showing me just what some of these words can mean.

Amy

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

The Garden in June

The raspberry bed at Mum and Dad's has errupted into a small forest of orangy-red. These little toadstools are scattered throughout it, glistening from the rain.

The garden is looking a bit bedraggled and bare otherwise. Winter has a way of doing that I guess. We do grow crops year-round here, and the temperatures have not been all that chilly yet either. Mostly the garden looks sad from lack of attention. There have been other things taking our time lately (namely, one small boy who is amazingly a month old now!).
The raspberry canes are awaiting a prune. The ones on the right are Christmas fruiting canes, so we need to be sure to leave the long canes when we prune as they will fruit off that wood this year. The others on the left are standard autumn fruiting canes so will be cut back to 30cm or so above ground. Quite a number of runners have come up all over the place, so they will also need to be pulled out so we just keep the strong, main canes. It's a good thing that we put edging in this garden - I can imagine the raspberries taking over the rest of the lawn if they were not contained!
This garden held the tomatoes over summer. It is meant to have strawberry plants transferred into it, and their bed used for veges...hasn't happened yet though.

And here are the main growing beds at present - the main crops being lettuces and silverbeet. We've also got some small cabbage seedlings and some broccoli that is 'fruiting.'



I planted about 50 cloves of garlic. A dissappointingly small amount have come up. Perhaps it is because of the rain that we had soon after? We will need to get some more I guess, and fill in all the gaps. The 15 or so cloves that have sprouted will certainly not be nearly enough garlic for next year! Not that we are trying to grow enough for the whole year - that would take up an aweful lot of space...but I would be interested to work out just how much our two small households use each month. Last year's garlic (cloves bought from the garden centre) were very yummy. I used some of them to plant this year, trying to save costs...guess it didn't work out so well as I'll still need to buy some anyway, but it was worth a try.

Hopefully I will get to do more than just look at the garden soon. I should be ready to start digging in (in small increments!) in the next week or so. I am so looking forward to it. Gardening, I find is therapeutic. While the production of food is a noble and worthy cause, I must admit that the main reason I garden is because I enjoy it. It is food for the soul. I love the peace and quiet, watching things grow, being able to potter around in the sun or wind or even rain just to be outside and productive.
Why do you garden?
Amy




















Saturday, June 19, 2010

Nearly Finished

While I was in hospital before Munchkin's birth I finished off the last 4 squares needed for my current Cover Up blanket.

56 squares in total. 4,480 rows. 179,200 stitches. Around $180NZ worth of wool. 1 year's worth of tv adverts, random moments snatched here and there, and contemplation time.

Whew!


Now I just need to crochet all the squares together. I'm not quite sure when I'll get to that...there hasn't exactly been much free time lately (I'm even reduced to typing this one handed while the other is holding the baby!). I do at least have until August to get the blanket ready for shipping in this year's batch. In the meantime, I am going to enjoy the feeling of satisfaction in reaching the milestone of 56 squares all finished.

Amy

Friday, June 18, 2010

Meatless (Monday) Friday!

My routines have been somewhat disrupted by Muchkin's arrival. I don't remember the last time I did a Meatless Monday properly. I think it was quite a few weeks before I headed into hospital, as I got progressively more and more tired. As a good indication, yesterday I went grocery shopping. I managed to forget the eggs, bread and brewers yeast...somehow they didn't end up getting onto the shopping list! Each day is kind of merging into the one before and the one after in a blur of bottles, breastfeeding, changing, nappies, washing, cuddles, and more.

Anyway, today is not Monday. I might not be very clued up at present, but I do know that. Today is Friday. But hey, why should that stop us?!? Today we are having a Meatless Friday. I have a big pot of vegetable soup simmering away on the stove. It contains leek, potato, onion, garlic, carrot, kumara, celery, silverbeet, and some fresh thyme, rosemary and marjoram. Smells good. With it, we will also have some boiled eggs and toast.
Done. One meatless meal coming right up.

Amy

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Beauty Everyday

Look at this beautiful thing.



I noticed it when I visited Mum and Dad's on the weekend. Originally this was the stump of a nashi tree that sadly had to be taken out because it was blocking most of the sun to part of my parent's house. The stump has sat there for a few years, looking pretty unremarkable. I hardly even noticed it, other than wishing it wasn't sticking up in the middle of the lawn! In the last few months though, a miracle has quietly been taking place. This old tree stump has been transformed into something artistic and beautiful. Now I know that the fungus that has decided to grow here is simply living its life and probably not trying to be artistic at all, but just look at the colours and patterns it has created. I just love the swirls! God's handiwork is amazing! I am just in awe that something functional (a dead old tree stump being recycled by a fungus) has also been designed to look so incredible.





Beauty is all around us. Even annoying old tree stumps sticking out of lawns have their merits. We simply need to stop, open the eyes of our souls, and really see the beauty that surrounds us every day.



Have you seen something beautiful today? Why not take a moment to stop and drink it in before carrying on with your day.


Amy

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

All Wrapped Up

Munchkin and I have discovered the benefits of wrapping.
He has been snuggly wrapped since day one, to keep his little hands and feet from flying around in his sleep. I have taken recently to calling him my little Tuperer. That is short for Caterpillar...it is a name I used as a child. I had some unusual words. Here is why I have resurrected the term:


My Little Tuperer!


As you can see, he does look like he's in a cocoon, especially with the wrap being green. I wonder what sort of butterfly you are going to be, my green boy?!

In the past week we have taken wrapping a step further though. Enter the carry-wrap. I'm not actually sure what you call it to distinguish it from simply wrapping him up, but anyway, the basic concept is that it is a long piece of fabric that you wrap around yourself and slide the baby into. I love that it gives me 2 free hands. I made this wrap out of 5metres of fabric before Munchkin was born and feel very satisfied with how well it works. It is too short for Boyo to use, being that much taller and wider than me, but we also have a gifted front pack which he can carry Munchkin in (which also has the advantage of being at least a little more manly than the wrap!). The only issues with wrapping that I see are that I have to be careful of my back because I am small-framed, and remember that Munchkin sticks out (i.e. don't walk into anything, squish him on the table edge, bend over too far, or otherwise forget that he is there!). Otherwise it is an incredibly useful item of clothing. Or should I call it equipment? Hmmm.

All wrapped up and ready to go!

Munchkin went to church for the first time on Sunday, cosily cocooned in the wrap. He is currently snoozing on me while I type this. I suspect that the wrap will be a common feature of our early mornings so that he can have some quality time and physical contact, but I can do at least a small amount of study and other little tasks before Boyo is up and around to join in with baby duties.

Isn't it amazing what a simple piece of fabric can be used for?

Amy

Monday, June 14, 2010

Almost Free Curtains

I have to do a little brag about my new curtains.
These are an example of frugality for you...

We had no curtains in the kitchen area of our open-plan living space in the unit we rent, which meant the nice warm air produced by the heat pump was escaping far too easily. The solution? Some new curtains!

One set of our new kitchen curtains.


These are made with discount fabric (I forget whether it was $3 or $4 a metre) that I bought to make a wrap to carry Munchkin. As I only needed 400mm width of the 5metres of fabric, I had lots left over. So my mother-in-law whipped up these simple curtains on her last day helping us out after Munchkin's birth. She and Boyo headed out and got some curtain wire and hooks, for the grand total of under $4, and he put them up. They are not the smartest, heaviest, or most well-wearing curtains you'll ever see but they definitely do the job we need them to do. And they cost next door to nothing, used a resource that I already had available, and help us conserve power. Thanks to my mother-in-law, this project was conceived, executed, and completed in a matter of days...something quite remarkable in a household with a newborn and recovering Mum! Grin. I am, naturally, quite chuffed.

Amy

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Baby cards

I have been attempting to make some thank you cards this past week. They are for all the wonderful people who have given us things for Munchkin. We have been so blessed with many gifts of food, flowers, clothes, toys, and more! I believe strongly in showing gratitude and thankfulness when people help us with things, so this is just our little way of saying a big thank you to those who have so blessed us. Some are people we know well, others we have not actually met yet. But all of them have helped to make Munchkin's arrival home smoother.

For the cards, my amazing Mother-in-law kindly stamped up some little jackets and teddy bears for us, seeing as I'd not managed to organise anything before he was born and my focus since then has been on recovering from the birth and looking after Munchkin. All I have to do is put the little cut-outs onto cards. Here are my efforts thus far. I don't seem to get much free time to put towards it between feeding Munchkin, feeding myself, and things like washing, dishes, etc (and just as an aside, Boyo has been doing most of that household stuff to help me recover so it's not like I've had much to do really! But then looking after a newborn and oneself shouldn't really be classed as 'not much' as it is more than enough to keep oneself rather well occupied!). I think I will need to make at least 30 of these little cards so the project should keep me busy for some time yet.

Card making - one of my creative 'loves!'

Even though these are a bit rushed and simpler than I would like in my attempts to make sure they get done, I have still been enjoying the creative process. I hope you've found time to be creative lately too. Amy


Mandarins

Last year, my parent's mandarin tree had barely any fruit. What was there was dry and unappetising.


This year is a completely different story. The tree is so laden, it sometimes appears more orange than green in colour. The fruit is hanging in large, succulent bunches, just waiting to be eaten. I love the intensity of colour and shape. I came home this afternoon from a visit with my dad laden with another bag of mandarins to eat this week. Yum.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Full On, Full Time

Being Mummy to a newborn is a full-time occupation.

Literally. I spend over 7 hours each day just feeding Munchkin. And that's not including all the extra cuddles, baths, washing, cleaning, feeding myself, sterilising bottles, etc...

This is definitely a full-time job! It is relentless and never ending. Last night I had a good sleep. Or rather, sleeps. We slept from 9 till 11, then from 12:30 till 3, then 4 ish till 6. Then I even got an extra half an hour or so snuggled up in bed after the morning feed. Bliss!!! I think it must have been at least double what I had the night before. This morning I actually feel sane.

Time for Munchkin to eat again.

Amy

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

It's been awhile

Well, it's been awhile since I posted. I've been thinking of my return to blog-land for the past few days, and wondering where on earth to start. So much has happened...

On a suggestion from my mum last night, I hereby begin with:

My life has changed forever. I am now at the beck and call of another person for the rest of my days...


Munchkin was born on Friday, 21 May 2010 at 1:18am. He is a gorgeous little boy, with long limbs, brown hair and serious grey/blue eyes that watch everything (when he is awake at any rate!). When I look at him, I am so amazed that he fit! No wonder my ribcage was being crushed. His father is very proud of his 52cm length at birth - in the 85th percentile for boys, so Boyo informs me.

He is currently having his first go in my wrap as I sit and write this. At 2 and a half weeks old, our lives consist of feeding, sleeping, nappy changes, feeding, sleeping, nappy changes, feeding, sleeping, cuddles, feeding, sleeping, bath and more feeding and sleeping and nappy changes.

It has been a long road, and not an easy one for either of us but we are making it.
Amy