Gayle butchered a goat yesterday and a couple of the boys decided to tan the hide.
…is a rare commodity when there are seven children in the household! I find some every day, though! It helps to get up earlier than the children. They don’t usually get up before 7:30 when I call them, although #4 does wake up and come out to the kitchen around 7:00 a few mornings a week. This morning, #5 showed up at 7:00, but he had been asleep for 14 hours so no wonder! (He fell asleep in the van on the way home from the homeschool gathering we attended yesterday, and only woke up for a few minutes to eat a couple of bites of supper.)
The other place I find peace and quiet is while I milk the cow. I must admit, I’m rather possessive about “my” cow–I really value the time I spend milking her! In the summer, the little boys often come along with cups in hand, to get a drink of fresh warm milk, but this time of year I’m generally alone. Ahh–what bliss! It is cold and dark while I milk this time of year, with sunrise at 8:00 and sunset at 5:00, but the quiet is worth it. And, I get to study the stars, and enjoy the moon, and see the first streaks of dawn in the east.
I also get a few minutes alone while I hang laundry on the line; nobody wants to help with that job! It is a job that I delegate when I need to, but it’s one of my favorites (although on a frosty morning like today it’s not so pleasant!). There’s just something about being outside and hanging up clean clothes that I enjoy.
Those little oases of alone time are so valuable for resetting my frame of mind. I’m thankful for them!
My daughter just wrote a blog post about this morning; you might enjoy it! And, by the way, this was pretty mild–there was a lot more that she didn’t get recorded! I’m not sure if I’m worthy of such a tribute, although if I do have any patience she certainly helped develop it! God has His ways of teaching us patience, and I’m thankful He only sent one teacher to me at a time! Seven at once would have been about more than I could handle.
I made pumpkin soup for supper last evening, and thought maybe our American family and friends would be interested. This is a very “Kiwi” dish, and we’ve learned to love it. It’s the kind of soup that can be made in any number of different ways. Last night, I peeled and diced a largish pumpkin (all winter squash is called pumpkin here, and you can use any kind for soup), then nearly covered it with water. I put it on to cook on high, then went to take care of baby. When it started boiling, someone turned it down for me, and when I was able to get back to it, I chopped the good parts of several onions that were going bad. I probably ended up with about 2 cups of onion, if you want approximate proportions. By then, the pumpkin was soft, so I stirred the onion in, then put in 2 quarts of cooked, shredded, frozen potatoes (we had more stabbed potatoes when we dug them than we could use before they went bad, so cooked and shredded, then froze them). Once the potatoes were thawed and everything was soft, I added a couple of teaspoons of salt and several sprinkles of cayenne pepper, then pureed the whole pot with my stick blender and stirred in a can of coconut cream. The result? A delicious, thick soup that the entire family enjoyed! You can also add milk or cream, but since Gayle can’t have cow’s milk, I used the coconut cream. It adds a delicious flavor.
The boys needed something to do tonight, besides playing with legos and looking at lego creations online, so I assigned them to sort the container cupboard. It had gotten to the point where it was frustrating to try to match a lid with a container, and I knew there were lid-less containers and vice versa. They started out grumbling about having to do the job, but when I told them they could have the mismatched containers they were suddenly enthusiastic and the job got finished quickly! Now the cupboard has lots of room and is tidy (for a short time, anyway).
Yesterday afternoon we went to pick apples to feed to the cow. Well, it was a great excuse to take a drive around an area we don’t otherwise have an excuse to go to! We did get apples to feed to her, to help keep up milk production, and had a great afternoon together enjoying gorgeous scenery.
We drove through the hills to the west of us. Lots more rugged than right here where we live!
The first tree we found that had apples on it was at the top of a steep cliff! This cliff went nearly straight up–no problem for my fellows! The rest, however, found a slightly easier route a little to the left of this picture.
I did not go up. The two youngest stayed down with me. After the rest had all gone up, the 2 1/2-year-old decided he wanted to, also. As he was standing at the base of the cliff, facing it, he proclaimed, “I am going to climb up the hill!” After a pause, “Where is the hill?” I told him he was looking at it. The place he was standing at was an eroded, rocky spot that went up at about a 45° angle. He gave it a try, but soon gave up and told me, “This is a broken hill. This is interesting!”
The next tree we stopped at was beside this wool shed/yards. We only stopped there because we remembered the tree from last year. It bears small, delicious orange apples. There were two left. We went several weeks later this year than last.
After picking up apples from that last tree, we allowed the boys to run on ahead and see how far they could get before we caught up with them. We drove slowly to give them time, and I believe they got most of a kilometer! The one in the lead kept going till he had gone probably twice as far as the others before they gave up. They had fun doing that!
This hillside dotted with Angus cows was beautiful–and we got to see it from both sides. The road continues on, then doubles back just beside those pine trees at the top of the photo.
We were able to get tickets to Willowbank Wildlife Reserve for half-price recently, thanks to a tip from a friend. The tickets were good till the end of June, so we were planning to go sometime before then, but weren’t sure when it would work out. Gayle didn’t want to take time off work for that, but neither did we want to go on a Saturday because there would likely be a lot of people there. Then, we ended up needing to go to Christchurch to meet the Vice-Consul from the American Embassy in Auckland when he made a visit to Christchurch, to get the baby’s American paperwork done and apply for his passport. The appointment was in the early afternoon on a Thursday, and both of us had to be there, so that was our perfect opportunity to take the family to Willowbank!
There were tame eels in a pond at the beginning of the tour, and a woman was spoon-feeding them with a little container of food she bought in the office. They would crawl partway out of the water onto the step!
Cooking a meal can be quite a challenge when baby wants to be held–and according to him, Mom is the only one qualified to hold him! He tends to be fussy in the evening, of course. Tonight, I cooked supper this way:
This is like a Moby Wrap. After my last baby was born, a friend showed me the one she had made. It’s very simple. I just bought a 3-yard length of 60″ wide knit fabric from Joanne Fabrics, and cut it in half lengthwise along the fold. Then, I took one end of each of these strips and sewed them together securely with several rows of stitching:
That’s all! Then, to use, I wrap the cloth around the back of my waist and cross it over my front, then over my back, bring the ends around front and tie at one side of my waist. Put the baby in with a leg on each side of the X on your front and spread out the cloth to support and cover him. Then, jiggle and sing till baby goes to sleep!
I read a few blog posts about using leftovers this morning (http://inashoe.com/2012/05/4-moms-cooking-with-leftovers-linky/) and thought I’d share how I deal with them.
I love leftovers–they make quick meals so easy. Leftovers have been a life-saver to me more school days when it comes to lunchtime than I can count. So often, it gets to be 12:30 or even 1:00 and I realize we need something to eat–quickly, sort through the fridge and see what’s there. We do occasionally have to throw things out (maybe my husband would say more than occasionally), but it gets recycled into eggs.
Some days, depending on what I find, I’ll put the leftovers in a casserole dish and heat in the oven at about 300°F. If there were several casserole leftovers, they can all go in the same dish and won’t run together too much; or I’ll use a couple of smaller dishes. Usually, 20 minutes is long enough to heat. Then, everyone gets to choose from the offerings.
Other days, again depending on what I find, I’ll put it all together into soup. Most of the time, it turns out delicious! Adding cheese on top in each bowl always helps, too.
Today was a clean-out-the-refrigerator day. Since I was thinking about this, I kept track of what went in the pot. We had approximately 1/2 cup of goat stew, 1/4 cup of pork headcheese (brawn), 1 cup peas, 2 cups hash browns, 1 cup cooked rice, 1 or 2 cups stuffing and about 1/2 cup cooked hamburger (I had baked them together in a casserole last night). I added a small can of pork and beans (a secret ingredient in a lot of my soups/stews) and some water and heated it on low. It wasn’t one of my more successful leftover stews, but fairly good. Cheese would have made it really good, but Daddy was home and he can’t have cow cheese so we didn’t have it.
Sometimes I’ll add tomatoes or tomato juice, or broth, to make it easier to heat without scorching and add flavor. I just try to have some meat and some vegetables, as well as something starchy (rice or potatoes).
One thing the children really like is leftover mashed potatoes, put in a casserole dish and topped with bits of sausage, then served with cheese and ketchup. Baked potatoes, diced, work really well in a quick soup.
I’m thankful that my crew doesn’t mind eating leftovers! Oh, I should also say–my husband likes leftovers every day for his lunch; I try to plan meals so we have extra. I put them in a microwavable plastic dish that fits nicely in his lunch box and he heats it at lunchtime. Much easier than coming up with sandwiches!
We stopped at Pupu Springs on our way back to Takaka Hill–the largest spring in Australasia, which produces 14,000 liters of water per second and has the second clearest water on earth–second only to that under the Ross Ice Shelf.
Wednesday evening we made it as far as Collingwood, on Golden Bay. We decided to stay two nights in that campground, as there were a number of things we wanted to do close by and it was as far north as we were able to go. How nice not to have to take down tents and load and tie down the trailer Thursday morning!
The boys were up at the crack of dawn again, down at the beach to see what they could find. This was the prize find–same boy who found the weta the day before–a dead shark! One person told us it was a dog fish; another said a carpet shark. Either way, it was fascinating.
The base of Farewell Spit. It is an enormous sandbar stretching 26 km (16 miles) into the Tasman Sea. Four people walked a few kilometers out on it; I stayed back with the youngest five boys. This is the inside of the spit. I happened to overhear a tourguide telling the group he was with that there are 2 million hectares of land in the nature preserve here at high tide; 11 million at low tide!
It was cold, but the boys played in the water anyway. The older boys were able to wade through the chest-deep water to the sand bar, and decided to build a raft so they could ferry the little boys across.