Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Another hat....

This time for a friend.

In a post from earlier this year I shared about one of my Pinterest boards called "Things I want my Mum to Make" and the little earflap hat I crocheted for one of my granddaughters.

Our minister and wife have just had their first grandson and the minister's wife thought it would be really nice if she could give an earflap hat to him especially as it will be winter in the USA, where they live, when Noah will be six months old.

She came around and we hunted through my bag of leftover balls of wool and she found a couple of colours she liked.

It didn't take long to make up especially as I had already made the first one and I knew not only how to make it but the best way to make it nice and thick and warm.

I used some left over double knit wool but a smaller crochet hook than last time so the stitches were closer together and so thicker...

This meant the tension was different so I actually had to undo it a few times to make sure it was going to be big enough.

To make it bigger I just had to increase the number of 'increase' rows at the crown before starting the rounds with no increases that would then make the sides of the cap.
Then it was just a matter of making up the ear flaps starting at the right position in the hat.

This time I made a woggle to go on the ties so the hat could be secured under the chin by pulling it up but still having the ties joined in a loop. This is so that if the hat slipped off it would just hang round the neck.

And then to finish, I made a nice thick pompom.

When I was a child, I was given a kit (similar to the one in the pic) as we often give to young girls who like doing crafty things and I made pompom toys many years ago. I have kept the plastic 'frames' and they are really handy now for making pompoms for finishing off outfits instead of having to thread wool round and through a couple of circles of cardboard..

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

The New Zealand Wood Pigeon

Pigeon by any other name, the New Zealand wood pigeon is known as the Kuku or Kukupa in the far North, but the Kereru by the remainder of the country except on the Chatham Islands where it is called the Parea.

When we were sorting out the plum tree after the leaking spouting and then the kitchen window, Harry spied in the neighbours privet tree a wood pigeon. It was having a wonderful time feasting away on the berries and enjoying the sun shine. We figured it was one of the reasons why we are often pulling out the privet trees that seem to sprout up around the section - trees known to aggravate asthmatics (and my sinuses).

But I couldn't resist taking some pics of it.

Tirau’s history is recorded as a town known as a resting place for the travellers on their last stop from Auckland or the north before travelling by horse pack over the Mamaku Ranges to Rotorua before the railway line opened up.

It is also reported that the Wood Pigeon came to rest and to feed on the berries and flowers of the Cabbage trees.

Early Maori spoke of Tirau as a wonderful place to catch the Kereu or native pigeons. The birds would feed up and become very heavy and reluctant to fly off so were easy prey.

The birds used the many Cabbage trees in the area as overnight resting places and large parties of Maori came and gathered them at night.

For this reason Tirau is also known as the catching place.

Very interestingly the Kereru is still a sort after delicacy by some, since I have taken these photos, even though it is a Native protected bird.

Ngapuhi elder Sonny Tau has stepped down as the chairman of Tuhoronuku - the iwi group charged with negotiating a Treaty of Waitangi settlement with the government - while he's under investigation.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Chelsea Pancakes

As a family we have always liked having pancakes or large pikelets for a breakfast or lunch time treat.

We will also use a pancake batter in the waffle maker rather than the standard recipe for waffles that requires the separation of egg white and beating them, then folding them in - something my cherubs have not wanted to do when whipping up a quick snack for themselves.

We usually use a recipe from an old Edmonds cook book or one of Alison Holst's but I thought I would try this recipe that came in one of the New World mailbox drops.

It is actually from the Chelsea Baking Club website and can be found here.

1 cup self raising flour
2 Tbsp white Ssgar
½ tsp finely grated lemon zest
1 cup milk
1 egg, lightly beaten
30g butter, melted

Sift the flour and sugar into a bowl.
Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients.
Mix together the lemon zest, milk, egg and melted butter
Add to the dry ingredients and whisk to combine.
Heat a large non stick frying pan over medium low heat and grease lightly with butter or oil.
For each pancake, place 2 tablespoons of batter into the pan.
Cook for 2 minutes or until bubbles form on the surface. Turn and cook for a further 1 to 2 minutes or until the pancakes are cooked through.

We have found the first pancake/pikelet always seems to not turn out right and yet with a few adjustments to the temperature of the pan the rest are fine. (the first test is for the cook!)

I served these with sliced banana and a sprinkling of lemon juice and some sugar. And I must say they were rather nice.

Monday, June 29, 2015

How Much Wood Could A Woodchuck Chuck

How much wood would a woodchuck chuck,
If a woodchuck could chuck wood?
As much wood as a woodchuck would,
If a woodchuck could chuck wood.

There are numerous variations on the answer to this American English-language tongue-twister before the final line “If a woodchuck could chuck wood.”

 … A woodchuck would chuck all the wood he could …
 … He would chuck, he would, as much as he could,
 And chuck as much as a woodchuck would …
 … As much wood as a woodchuck could chuck,…

This is one of the most famous examples of a "tongue twister" or a song that is difficult to say clearly with proper enunciation. The woodchuck ‒ from the Algonquian word, "wejack" or "Wuchak" ‒ is a mammal (or a kind of marmot) native to North America commonly called a groundhog. Woodchucks were not named for their ability to "chuck wood" but rather as a case of converting the Native American name for the creature, into its nearest English pronunciation.

The complete beginning of the tongue twister, "How much wood would a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood?" relies primarily on alliteration to achieve its effects, with five "w" sounds interspersed among five "ch" sounds.
The origin of the phrase is from a 1902 song, "The Woodchuck Song", written by Robert Howard Davis for Fay Templeton in the musical, The Runaways. The lyrics became better known in a 1904 version of the song written by Theodore Morse, with a chorus of "How much wood would a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood?", which was recorded by Ragtime Roberts, in 1904.

The answer to the question posed in this tongue twister has been one that many have tried to answer using scientific study, but it isn't really necessary. A 1957 Associated Press piece refers to the question as "a riddle which beats the Sphinx, since it's still unanswered". A more concrete answer was published by the Associated Press in 1988, which reported that a New York fish and wildlife technician named Richard Thomas had calculated the volume of dirt in a typical 25–30-foot (7.6–9.1 m) long woodchuck burrow, and had determined that if the woodchuck had moved an equivalent volume of wood, it could move "about 700 pounds (320 kg) on a good day, with the wind at his back". Another study, which considered "chuck" to be the opposite of upchucking, determined that a woodchuck could ingest 361.9237001 cubic centimetres (22.08593926 cu in) of wood per day.

A traditional, if nonsensical, "response" to the question is: "A woodchuck would chuck as much wood as a woodchuck could chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood" so even the song doesn’t give a true answer. Another proposed response comes from the parody-filled video game Monkey Island 2: LeChuck's Revenge, where the protagonist asks a carpenter the question and gets the response: "A woodchuck would chuck no amount of wood since a woodchuck can’t chuck wood."...

So moving right along...

We have a wood burner fire that is not only the way we heat our home in the cold winter months but it is connected to a wet back so it heats our water in the wintertime as well. Sometimes it runs so efficiently that the water will actually boil! This is great because I will run a warm wash for our cloths and the bonus is - it is not costing us for hot water to do so.

Normally Harry gets our wood in during the hot days of late summer and early autumn but for some reason this year it never really happened even though I was accused of nagging on the odd occasion.

When it was first cold some friends surprised us with a gift of a ute load of lovely dry wood (part of their own supply) but that soon ran out. So now we have been racing to find some dry wood and get in a supply of our own before it’s too late. We were running the gas heater but it really only heated whoever was sitting the closest to it (and it wasn’t me) and when we needed to buy another tank of LPG we knew it was time to take action.

We are blessed by having a few friends who have farms and so there is often a fallen tree that needs removing as it is taking up grazing space, so we are able to share a little of the wood for our fire. This then only costs the price of fuel for the chain saw and diesel to get there and back a few times so it is truly a wonderful blessing.


(If anyone knows how I can rotate this let me know)

So Harry has been chain sawing and chopping and I have been ‘chucking’ the wood on to the trailer.
So how much did I chuck … as much as I could when it was light enough for me to chuck and the trailer was fill.

It’s a lovely time of togetherness as we work together getting in our supply and just working toward a common good. Harry jokes he just wants a ‘gate opener’ but he has also said it’s a lot quicker if someone is loading up the trailer while he is cutting down and then up the wood (that’s a funny way with words!).

While I am waiting for a new pile of wood to load I will often look for smaller bits and poke them into the gaps of wood which can be used as kindling or just generally getting the fire fuelled up before we place the bigger logs in.

The other day I decided I had some things I needed to get done at home so I didn’t go with Harry and he mentioned that that may be a good thing and it would save time and space from unloading the small bits I had put in. He may scoff now but will often use these small pieces and we will joke at what a great idea it was to collect them, pretending that it was his idea!

And then when we come home the smell of baking and a meal cooking away slowly in the oven is just the thing for hungry tums.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Chocolate Anzac Biscuits

ANZAC biscuits as we know them have always been a healthy favourite and it's nice to try a variation on the recipe. Here is one I have tried and like. It's the basic recipe but with the added delight of dried apricots and chocolate chips. It could almost pass as a muesli bar. Its one of those great one pot recipes.

It is actually found here on the Chelsea Sugar website.

120g melted butter
¾ cup raw sugar
3 Tbsp golden syrup
1 cup rolled oats
1 cup flour
½ cup diced dried apricots
½ cup dark chocolate chips
¼ cup shredded dried coconut
1 tsp baking soda

Preheat oven to 190°C conventional or 170°C fan bake.
Heat until just melted the butter,golden syrup and sugar in a large pot, or in a bowl in the microwave.
Add all the other ingredients and mix till combined. (I add the chocolate chips last so they don't melt too much from the heart of the melted mixture.)
Place 1 tablespoon of mixture onto the greased baking sheet, press down with fork.
Bake for 12 minutes.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Lady Bug Jumper

One of my beautiful granddaughters was given a ladybug toy similar to this one when she was just a baby and she has made it her special "baby" that goes everywhere with her if she can. And because she really loves it and all things to do with ladybugs her mum found a pattern for a jumper with ladybugs crawling all over it.

The original pattern had a repeat of the the front design with the ladybugs crawling all over mirrored on  the back and some on the sleeve.
However after completing the front we decided that the back could be left plain as Natalie wouldn't see the back This also meant I was able to finished a lot quicker. I also made my own positioning of some ladybugs on the sleeves.

I just used the pattern of the vertical bug coming up from the waistband at the bottom right, going up on one sleeve and down on the other making sure that the positioning of them were sort of on the front part of the sleeves.(and remembering when I was sewing it up which side the sleeves needed to be!)

Not knowing if it would become hard to take on and off and knowing that some children struggle with tops being tight when being pulled over their heads, I left an opening at one shoulder and crocheted  around the opening making two loops for button holes. I also managed to find some ladybug buttons at Spotlight just for fun,

With a fore thought that she will want to wear it often we decided to use an acrylic so that it could be easily washed and quickly dried often. I used 4 Seasons Stallion 100% acrylic from Spotlight which is an 100gr ball of 8 ply.

Needless to say Natalie was quite impressed and when she was allowed to try it on she promptly found her "baby" and just settled into it, pointing out the ladybugs with delight.

It is a little big at the moment but this allows room for a full years wear. So she will be able to wear it now and even next winter if she doesn't grow too big.

Mind you I have known acrylic knitted items do tend to stretch a little so it may well grow with her for a year!

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Little Miss Muffet

I am not usually scared of spiders and have been known to actually quickly pick up and dispose of a spider if need be, though I prefer to use a glass and bit of cardboard to “capture” and transport them outside.

The other day I was sitting – not on a tuffet – but in the littlest room in the house, when I looked up and there on the wall was a spider. Now I wasn’t too worried as we had seen this spider up in the corners for a few days and it seemed to be keeping to itself, but for it to come “along’” and nearly “sit down beside” me was enough for me to decide it was time for it to be moved out into the big world yonder – of our front door.

Now as you can see this was no little spider. At over three and a half centimeters in length it was not something I was going to pick up in my hand. So it may not have frightened me away but it certainly got removed so that it wouldn't distract me any more from the the needs of nature.

Arachnophobia is the fear of spiders. People with Arachnophobia tend to feel uneasy in any area they believe could harbour spiders or that has visible signs of their presence, such as webs. If arachnophobics see a spider, they may not enter the general vicinity until they have overcome the panic attack that is often associated with their phobia. Some people scream, cry, have trouble breathing, have excessive sweating or even heart trouble when they come in contact with an area near spiders or their webs. In some extreme cases, even a picture or a realistic drawing of a spider can also trigger fear.

Now I can say I definitely don't suffer from arachnophobia but I would assum that Miss Muffet probably did!

Little Miss Muffet
sat on a tuffet
Eating her curds and whey,
Along came a spider,
Who sat down beside her
And frightened Miss Muffet away.

Some of Mother Goose's rhymes have very old English words in them. Some people say a tuffet can be either a mound, an area of grass (from tuft of grass) a little grassy bump big enough to sit on or a low three-legged stool and others say it is.

Whey is the watery part of milk that separates from the curds when making cheese. It is similar to what we now know as cottage cheese.

Like many such rhymes, its origins are unclear. Little Miss Muffet was a small girl whose name was Patience Muffet. Her stepfather, Dr. Thomas Muffet (possibly Moffett or Moufet), (1553-1604) was an English physician and a famous entomologist who wrote the first scientific catalogue of British Insects The Silkwormes and their flies "lively described in verse". Whilst eating her breakfast of curds and whey Little Miss Muffet was frightened by one of his spiders and ran away! This particular Nursery Rhyme of Little Miss Muffet reputedly dates back to the late 16th century as indicated by the birth date of Dr Muffet!

Most literary scholars, who note that stories linking folk tales or songs to political events are often urban legends. Mother Goose scholars agree that "Little Miss Muffet" is not about the more unlikely story of the staunch Roman Catholic Mary, Queen of Scots. It was suggested that Mary, Queen of Scots (1542-1587), was the little Miss Muffet referred to in the rhyme and that the Scottish religious reformer John Knox (1505 or 1510 – details are sketchy-1572), was the spider who frightened her away. Mary Queen of Scots eventually fled from Scotland due to the hatred of the religious reformers. And is refuted to have said “I fear the prays of John Knox more than all the assembled armies of Europe” Mary Queen of Scots was eventually beheaded in 1572 when she was found guilty of involvement in plans to assonate her cousin Queen Elizabeth I.

Accreditation is deemed shaky by some. The rhyme first appeared in print in 1805, in a book titled Songs for the Nursery, whose 1812 edition read "Little Mary Ester sat upon a tester . . . ." Halliwell's 1842 collection read "Little Miss Mopsey sat in a shopsey . . "

Mary Queen of Scots