Saturday, April 18, 2015

The Invention of Wings

Sue Monk Kidd is an author I have enjoyed in the past having read two of her books The Mermaid Chair and the more famously known The Secret Life of Bees,  made into a movie in 2008. So it was with a sense of expectation I started on her latest novel The Invention of Wings

It was not until I was halfway through that I discovered that the main characters the Grimk√© sisters were actually real. The story starts with Sarah Grimke receiving “Handful” (Hetty) a ten year old negro as her servant - a gift from her mother on her eleventh birthday. Sarah, who was intelligent beyond her female expectations, longed to be a lawyer like her father and older brother and felt right from the start that she would not have a servant and would sign her back to her mother to set her free.

Of course this did not go down well and so the story starts as we read about Handful and Sarah – alternative chapter upon chapter from 1803 eventually through to 1838. Sarah relished books and an education. When her youngest sister was born, Sarah begged her parents to allow her to become Angelina's godmother. She became part mother and part sister to her much younger sibling, and the two sisters had a close relationship all their lives. Angelina often called Sarah "Mother". Sarah was not considered very pretty and so it was concerned that she would never marry. Her parents were very keen for her to take up the offer of proposal to the first eligible man who offered. Sarah had other ideas it appeared as though forbidden by her father to re-enter his library after an episode over the ‘stealing’ of a book, longed to be more than just a “lady”.

Through all this her slave Handful worked as a seamstress a gifted talent handed on from her mother. Handfuls character although originally recorded as being given as a servant to Sarah is primarily made up by Sue even though the idea of “the invention of wings” comes from a story told to Handful by her mother.

The story written alternative chapter by chapter of the two women and their lives tells of the plight of slaves in southern America and the true story of Sarah and ‘Nina’ as they rebel against society, joining the Quakers and eventually becoming famous abolitionists.

Sue writes in an informative way that draws you in to the sotry and characters making her novels a joy to read. In this instance the fact that the story's characters are from history is also a drawcard for me as I enjoy the learning of history through a writers own depiction of the people and events.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

My Other Recipes

As its been a cold snap the last few days and we have even had the fire going, I thought I would sit in the sun a little and read with a good book. Of course I always like to have a warm cuppa with a bite to eat.

I made this nutty chocolate slice for Easter and the recipe can be found here on my other blog My Julie/Julia Attempt. It is also on the Countdown website.

The other blog has not been as successful as I had hoped but I keep adding to it. It started after I had read the book Julie Julia and then seen the film. I want to do something the same so thought I would attack my large plastic bag of 'saved' recipes I have collected over the years - and yes I mean years.

This recipe was very recent and I thought I would just try it straight away before it got thrust into the bag along with all the others. This way it can just be discarded now I have tried it.

And as for the cold - well its been snowing in the South Island and very cold here, just a gentle nudge ( or maybe a kick up the backside!) to get the firewood in for the winter before it is all to late.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Ear Flap Hat

The Ear flap hat or...


Aviator hat or bomber hat,


or what ever you want to call them, they have certainly come back in vogue.

Do you have a pinterest account?
Its an on-line scrapbook that you can use for all those inks and pictures you want to just save for another day.
One of my "boards" was created by Jennifer and its titled "Things I want my Mun to Make" and all my daughters (well you can too if you like Daniel) can post on it.
So they do!

One of the requests from Theresa was a little hat with flaps for Kate.

Now its good to be able to see what they want and it gives me some tasks to complete but sometimes the pictures link to a website with a free pattern and other times they don't.

But having been a bit of a "collectamaniac" (my word) of patterns over the years I can often find one that I can use or adapt.
Darling Kate

However in this instance there was a pattern so I was able to just print it off.

Interestingly enough though on reading the pattern and following the instructions I see "Ali" calls what I know as a treble crochet, a double crochet, and what I call a double crochet she calls a single crochet.

Once I had worked this out and a few other things I found a little different I was able to follow and create an 'earflap' beanie in pink! - shudder shudder - Theresa doesn't like pink, but then the hat wasn't for her.

And whats more it needed so little wool I was able to use the end of balls of wool I have kept from left over garments I have made over the years. The pattern called for worsted weight yarn which I later discovered was 10ply or triple knit but I used double knit (8ply) so it meant it was a little smaller and slightly bigger gaps between the stitches. With crochet though it makes a thick "fabric" so it will still be a warm hat.

So all in all it was a very easy, free to make item that only took two evenings in front of the TV to complete.

Saturday, April 4, 2015

What's so Good About Good Friday?

Good Friday is the day in the Christian calendar when the commemoration of the crucifixion and death of Jesus Christ the Son of God is observed.

Luke 23:26-27, 32-46  
The Crucifixion of Jesus 
26 As the soldiers led him away, they seized Simon from Cyrene, who was on his way in from the country, and put the cross on him and made him carry it behind Jesus. 27 A large number of people followed him, including women who mourned and wailed for him. ...
32 Two other men, both criminals, were also led out with him to be executed. 33 When they came to the place called the Skull, they crucified him there, along with the criminals—one on his right, the other on his left. 34 Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” And they divided up his clothes by casting lots. 35 The people stood watching, and the rulers even sneered at him. They said, “He saved others; let him save himself if he is God’s Messiah, the Chosen One.” 36 The soldiers also came up and mocked him. They offered him wine vinegar 37 and said, “If you are the king of the Jews, save yourself.” 
38 There was a written notice above him, which read: this is the king of the jews. 
39 One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at him: “Aren’t you the Messiah? Save yourself and us!” 40 But the other criminal rebuked him. “Don’t you fear God,” he said, “since you are under the same sentence? 41 We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong.” 42 Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” 43 Jesus answered him, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.” 
The Death of Jesus 
44 It was now about noon, and darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon, 45 for the sun stopped shining. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two. 46 Jesus called out with a loud voice, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.” When he had said this, he breathed his last.

So for a Christian what is 'good' about it. I mean its such a dark sad time remembering that Jesus was crucified and died an agonising death in obedience even though He had asked for this burden to be taken away - He still did it.

Matthew 26:36-42
36 Then Jesus went with his disciples to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to them, “Sit here while I go over there and pray.” 37 He took Peter and the two sons of Zebedee along with him, and he began to be sorrowful and troubled. 38 Then he said to them, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.” 39 Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.” 40 Then he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping. “Couldn’t you men keep watch with me for one hour?” he asked Peter. 41 “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” 42 He went away a second time and prayed, “My Father, if it is not possible for this cup to be taken away unless I drink it, may your will be done.” 

Maybe we should call it Black Friday or Dark Friday or Bad Friday or ...


Jesus did do this....

and why....?

Because He loves us and so was prepared to pay the price of death and eternal sin for each of us...

And that is so good. That is very Good!

We don't deserve it and can never pay that price ourselves, but we don't have to because Jesus has. That is good.

So today was Good Friday. Its not really a day of celebration but we in Tirau honoured the day by taking a walk as Jesus did carrying a cross through the streets.

With Rev John Rush leading us out we crossed SH1 and waked for awhile carrying the cross, a mallet and some symbolic spikes.

We also carried banners proclaiming the:

 "Lamb of God"

"Man of Sorrows"

"If you see me, you see the Father"

"Price of Peace"

"By HIs wounds we are healed"

"Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews"

When we reached the top of the hill after a few changes in who was carrying the cross we rested and then made our way back down through town.

It was interesting to have people honk and wave as we walked. Some people stopped and watched and I pray that it was a focus for them at this time.

We unfortunately got some who chose to abuse us with 'signs' and voices but that just added to the appeal of what we were doing.

For Christ too was ridiculed and beaten.

Luke 22:63-65
The Guards Mock Jesus 

63 The men who were guarding Jesus began mocking and beating him. 64 They blindfolded him and demanded, “Prophesy! Who hit you?” 65 And they said many other insulting things to him. 

Once back down the hill and outside the church, we set the cross up and it was draped in a black cloth - the symbol of death.

While John prayed we took it in turns to hammer in some nails in recognition of the nailing of our own sins to the cross when Jesus was nailed and crucified.

When He did this for us He took all our sin upon Himself and they were nailed there with Him.

1 Peter 2:24  “He himself bore our sins” in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; “by his wounds you have been healed.”

Those who wanted, lingered for a time and I heated up some hot cross buns and made the supper ready for those who were ready to relax. The cross will be left where it is for all those who travel through Tirau over the next two days during this Easter Season and the prayer is that our act of drama, art and display will help all to remember what Easter is all about.

All scripture is taken from The New International Version

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

“Mecki’s Courgette Cake”

Book club for March was at my place.

We are a group of five women who meet once a month and talk about books….
Well sometimes we talk about books the rest of the time we catch up on the things that have happened in our lives, the goss of what shops/cafes are opening/closing in Tirau and whether the price of cheese will affect whether we make our own or not – well for Sheryn it is.

So to go with all this we eat and drink good food and wine or something else to our liking. Each month we go to a different members home and the host produces the food and so I decided to make a pizza for after the nibbles and finish up with a nice cake for dessert.

Late summer means there is often a plentiful supply of zucchinis and one can get desperate as to what to do with them. If you haven’t been successful in growing your own you can be rest assured some close friend or neighbour is happily handing you a supply whether you want them or not. Well as you will have seen from an earlier post, my garden had not been successful - but I had obtained zucchinis and for me that meant I could try out some of my recipes I have collected over the years.
(See my other blog "My Julie/Julia Attempt")

So I found a nice recipe for zucchini cake called “Mecki’s Courgette Cake”. Now courgettes and zucchinis are the same thing it just depends on what part of the world you live in. This recipe was from The Waikato Times way back in 2001. I read the interesting article written by Annette Taylor and the recipe checking I had all the ingredients. On the afternoon of book club I made the cake. 

Following the directions I proceeded to step three.
   “In another bowl sift the flour and other ingredients except the almonds….”

The flour - how much flour?
Nope it’s not listed.
Read the directions again; no amount given.
Read the article again.
Annette does say
   “Mecki says this recipe makes great muffins as well and instead of almonds, raisins or other nuts can be used. They can be also be made with wholemeal flour. Having tried the cake, I believe almonds and white flour are the way to go…” 
but no amount.

Oh well ‘google’ will solve the problem. Well that was a task. No actual link to “Mecki’s Courgette Cake”, “Takes the Cake”, “Veging Out,” or any other keywords to do with this recipe and article. So checking out other recipes for zucchini cake I guessed about 2 cups of flour, besides the ingredients were all sitting there waiting to be baked!
I made the cake and, apart from being slightly undercooked in the very middle, it was rather delicious and yes I would definitely stick with the white flour and almonds.

I decided I am definitely going to try and get to the bottom of the correct amount

The following day I sent off an email to the Waikato times….

Hi Jonathan, 

 Back in 2001 (27th February precisely) you (or the person before you) printed in the Waikato times a recipe called “Mecki’s Courgette Cake” in an article titled “Takes the Cake” 
 It was in the section titled FOOD and contributed by Annette Taylor under the heading of Veging Out. I have saved this section of the paper and attempted to make the cake with the abundance of zucchinis I had acquired. 
 Unfortunately in the printing or the submitting by Annette, of this recipe, the ingredient “flour” was missed out. It is not in the list of ingredients but is mentioned in the instructions … “In another bowl sift in the flour…” 
 Now I am supposing that a correction was published at a later date but I failed to see/collect this information. 
 I have searched the web for a similar recipe and even to find the article I have mentioned but to no avail. I am wondering if you (or someone who could be allocated the job) can locate the recipe/article from archives and let me know the quantity of flour. 


 Yours Sincerely 
 Fiona Van Lent

The next day I received a reply…

Annette Taylor is no longer working for the Waikato Times. However, she remains a practising freelance journalist and I'm guessing she can help you with the missing flour measurement. This is her website: 
And her contact details: 
Phone us on 07 8XX XXXX (but not during Dr Who please!) 
You can also call or text 022 XXX XXX 
Or write a letter and send it to this address: …. 

Good luck with the cake. 

Deborah Sloan 
Features editor 

OK I checked out the number8Network link (I had been there before) and there was still no cake.
Right time for action… I emailed Annette from a link on No 8

Hi Annette, 
As per the email below (I sent the email I had originally sent to Jonathan - above) I am looking for the amount of flour in your recipe “Mecki’s Courgette Cake”. 
Deborah Sloan (Features editor) replied with your contact details but no details as to the missing amount of flour! 
I’ve checked out your website but still can't find it. Could you please let me know how much flour this wonderful cake needs!!!!!!! 
Thanking you. 

Annette replied within the day

Hello Fiona - no flour? Eeeeeeek! It was either submitted that way or subbed out - hard to be certain all these years later. However - you are in luck. I am in close contact with the maker of the cake, my friend Mecki who lives in Germany. 

I shall email her straight away and will get back to you immediately. Well done for your determination - it is a lovely cake! (I will also feature the revised recipe on my community website Number 8 Network, with the flour added in this time!) 

Thanks for getting in touch. 


So I waited, the feeling of being able to post a correct recipe was warming inside me, someone who likes to be correct with the details…Finally nearly a fortnight later Annette replied with a copy of the email from her friend Mecki…

Dear Annette, 

How nice that somebody remembers our zucchini cake...we remembered right away that the amount of flour wasn´t printed in the newspaper...I think it was 250 g.....But I cannot find the newspaper, I know, it´s somewhere, but we found our diary and there I noted: 

3 eggs + 2 cups sugar+ 1 cup oil + 3 tsp vanilla mix and set away. 

1 tsp soda + 3 cups flour + 2 tsp cinnamon + 1 tsp salt (sounds too much to me...) + 1/4 tsp baking powder + 1/2 cup nuts + 2 Cups grated zucchini. 

Add Zucchini and flour mix slowly to egg mix and bake for 45 min. 

I hope that´s right, haven´t baked it for some years.... 

OK you say there it is

Um NO!

That is not the same recipe!

The basic ingredients are about the same but the amounts differ and even the flour is still a little suspect as to whether it would be the right amount for the recipe printed!

Annette has said she will try it out and post it to her website in due course.

In the mean time I too will have to experiment…
But it will have to wait until next year as there seem to be no more zucchinis around….

And I hear the Feijoas dropping…….

Monday, March 30, 2015

Prayer of Jabez for Women

I read my first book on the Prayer of Jabez by Bruce Wilkinson a few years ago and found it extremely encouraging and can count many blessings because of specifically praying the prayer almost daily. 

My daughter Jennifer gave me a copy of the Prayer of Jabez for Women written by Bruce's wife Darlene Wilkinson and read it earlier this year.

I was reminded of the truth behind the obscure little piece of scripture hidden away in 

1 Chronicles 4:9-10
Jabez was more honorable than his brothers. His mother had named him Jabez,[a] saying, “I gave birth to him in pain.” 10 Jabez cried out to the God of Israel, “Oh, that you would bless me and enlarge my territory! Let your hand be with me, and keep me from harm so that I will be free from pain.” And God granted his request. 
Footnotes:,[a] 1 Chronicles 4:9 Jabez sounds like the Hebrew for pain.
New International Version (NIV)

The prayer is based on verse 10 and divided into four parts:
  1. Bless me
  2. Enlarge my territory
  3. God's hand be on me
  4. Keeping me safe
When you study this prayer and pray it on a daily plan you will begin to see God working amazing things in your life. Darlene addresses this prayer on a woman's plane and how it can be used in her role as mother as well as in ministry, thus seeing God work miraculously in many situations.

A write up that accompanies the books write up reads.

  • The phenomenal impact of The Prayer of Jabez is shown by reports of changed lives, expanded ministries, and spiritual breakthroughs among believers everywhere. Now women have their own unique version, written by Bruce Wilkinson's lifetime partner in marriage, that is full of significance for women's roles and ministry opportunities in God's kingdom. A must-read for every woman, whether she has read The Prayer of Jabez or not, this book addresses important questions such as, How can a busy mom expand her territory without neglecting the most important territory she already has, her family? Darlene Marie Wilkinson's warm, personable approach reaches out to her reader, encouraging her to become like Jabez and experience the extraordinary life.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

And the Garden Now...

From the post below this one you will know that I am keen to get our vegetable garden sorted and ready for winter plantings. I had thought I would have to do it on my own but hubby has been working with me now.

Much to his embarrassment I am now going to post a series of before's and after's to not only show you how bad it was but to show you how much we have done and how you will see that it could only have been done as a joint effort by both of us.

Early summer had vegetables growing well with new plants being added in the plot I had started. I thought I had it all in hand but the rest of the vast garden protected from roaming hens was starting to become quite overgrown with unkempt weeds that in fact a good mow would have kept in tack. But I don't know how to use a lawn mower.


The one bit of advice I have kept to from my mother before I married was, "if you mow the lawns once you will always have to to them" - so I never have.

As the summer months grew hotter and drier and being busy gallivanting around the countryside with Thelma and family - the garden got neglected and had to fend for itself.

So like 'when the cats away the mice will play' the weeds took over; the self seeded parsnips, self seeded again and the convolvulus had come to join the party in stampedes.

Even the grapevine from over the neighbours fence thought it had been invited and wound its way over the fence and into the game.

The convolvulus was not content with just arriving uninvited - it proceeded to carpet everything in its' track with no stopping, including the chooks run.

But like all things one has to find the blessing in it!! and yes it provided shade from the hot late afternoon sun for the hens!

We discovered quite early on, it is one weed they don't touch.

But Hubby got onboard and started pulling out the parsnips and then the other long weeds. We removed the invasive convolvulus from the fences and freed them up so once the netting could be rolled up and set aside we could start repositioning everything for the new layout.

We were pleasantly surprised when it came to shifting the chook run.

This is a dog run Harry had adapted two years ago to keep the chooks within their own run so we didn't have to clip their wings. He had also mounted the frame on wooden planks so we had thought it was going to be quite heavy and would need the able bodies of our son and a couple of his mates. But we were in luck. Using a plank in the middle of each end we were able to pivot it along the whole width of the garden alternating each end with us both lifting it and repositioned it in its new spot.

We then carefully rolled the hen house along and positioned it in its place. The rolling enabled all the old chooky poos and straw to be tumbled out and once in place, I refilled the nesting box with fresh straw. We found the second plastic egg we use to encourage the laying of eggs, under where the nesting box was in the old run, so that was a bonus. Being light the hens can sometimes scratch the plastic eggs over the edge but it can also be gathered by the excited grandchildren and maybe discarded on the way back to the kitchen.

Then all that was left to be done was to re-fence the area for the next seasons gardens so we can start on them and keep the hens out. We took a huge trailer of green waste to the dump and with other places around the yard still to be cleared there will be another to go later.

In the photo below you can see the chook run then a strip with an openable gate at each end that will be left grassed for walking on.
I have already started to dig over the next part for winter vegetables then there will be another strip for walking on and reaching across the new plot.
Next to this is where the summer garden was with the remaining vegetables that survived on their own in the foreground.
The large gate right at the base of the photo is where the hen house and chook run was and will be used for composting grass clippings and other fine vegetation. Harry plans to fence this part off separately so the hens can be allowed in at times to scratch it over without getting into the main garden but not able to destroy the general shape of the plot.
Next spring Harry will then double dig it over to plant our potato crop.

And through it all there are still some vegetables left for us - a cabbage (that the chooks had a bit of a field day with, when left unattended, when the fence was down!) some broccoli, silverbeet and some beetroot.

We've already eaten the main broccoli heads but they are a sprouting breed so will still supply us with new shoots over the next few months.

So now keeping up with a little work in the garden each weekend, as I have been doing with the other gardens around the section. I will be able to keep everything in check and productive.

What a joy.