Friday, January 18, 2013

SADD - "Status 1"

My youngest daughter Katrina has a love for acting and does extremely well.

This year the Putaruru College entered into the SADD (Students Against Driving Drunk) Turners National Short Film competition.
The committee decided to make a mockumetry and asked Katrina to star in it as "Ashleigh".

The film won Best Cast and Most Community Involvement 2012.

They had a day in Hamilton to be presented with the prizes and they also had some fun at rock climbing as part of a reward for the work they had done.

Status 1

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

No-Bake Fudge Slice

My brother used to make this all the time. He would come home from college and dive into the baking tins and always eat this, great hunks of it (much to my Mums disgust) So Mum said he had to learn to make it himself if he wanted it because she wasn’t going to make it anymore. So he learnt it off by heart and can still tell what you need for it.

I made this for Christmas but used different biscuits (chocolate thins) and iced it with melted chocolate. Now believe me this version of the basic recipe is very rich and so only needs to be cut very small but the plainer version could be cut bigger. I find in the warmer months it is best kept in the fridge if it is not going to be eaten all at once – as a plate for a shared afternoon tea I mean!

125 gr Butter
½ cup white sugar
1 Tbsp cocoa
1 egg
A few drops of vanilla essence
250gr pkt of plain Biscuits (vanilla wines)

Crush biscuits. Place in a plastic bag and bang with a rolling pin being careful not to split the bag. Di not use a kitchen whiz as it fill make the crumbs too fine.
Line a 20 x 20 cm tin with greased baking paper.
Place all other ingredients except the vanilla in a saucepan and gently melt all. Do not boil.
Once it is all melted and steaming remove from the heat and add the vanilla, mixing well.
Add the crushed biscuits and stir until all the crumbs are coated then empty into the lined tin.
Press down with the back of a spoon to create a smooth flat surface.
Place in fridge to set.
Once set this may be iced.

You can add 1/3 cup of sultanas or chopped walnuts if you would like.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Pen Friends

Part of my goals for this new year is to get back to the things I enjoy.

One of these is keeping up with my friends both here and abroad.

Nearly fifteen years ago I gained some penfriends in England through the English Woman's Weekly. Over the years the 12 pen friends has reduced down to just a few and I also now have some in Australia and one in USA, but I have delayed writing to some for too long.
I must admit with the demands of life and my misconception that I need to check on things online, I let the personal touch of a hand written letter slip by the way.

I have always enjoyed learning about where these people live and what is going on in their lives. For some we have seen children grow and leave home, get married, have children of their own, experience loss of loved ones and the concern of being alienated from family, endured sickness, moving house and all other everyday events. I may not have been able to be there but with a cuppa I have felt I am almost there.

I know that emails, facebook and forums are a quick and easy way, with almost instant response in some cases, to keep in touch but I still enjoy a letter in the mail. There is something very special reading mail on carefully chosen paper that has been written by hand with the persons own personality wrapped up in it all that makes posting letters a treasure. You can't really curl up with a laptop like you can with a letter turning crisp pages, maybe having a little extra something included and seeing the stamp and post mark that shows its journey.

So Saturday saw me make up some tea and toast for lunch, take it out to the deck with some writing materials and make a very belated catch up with some of my friends across the miles.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Peg Bag

When I was pregnant with our second child we lived in Upper Hutt in the south of the North Island and Harry worked for the New Zealand Railways. We lived in a railway house in a private railways road so employees of the NZR would often pass by. One day I was hanging out some washing and unknown to me one of Harry’s bosses drove past our house as I was bent over picking up pegs from the ground in my rotund state. Later that boss told Harry he should make me a washing trundle/trolley so I didn’t resemble a mother hen!

Well the trolley never got made but when Harry told me I decided to take the matter into my own hands and make a peg bag.

Harry’s mum had had a stroke and only had the use of one hand. She used to wheel her washing basket out on an old pushchair and then proceed to struggle with grabbing a peg and pegging the washing on the line all with one hand. I had made her a peg bag that she could hang around her neck so allowing easy access to the pegs.

I thought I could make myself a peg apron making the pegs within reach for me. I would untie it when the washing was hung and tie the ends together and then hang the apron on the corner of the cloths line. But then one day when it was raining and there was a rush to bring in the washing, I didn’t have time to tie the apron around my waist so in the rush I flung it around my neck. Once inside I thought why don’t I just have a peg bag like Oma’s?

So the next time I had to make a new bag I made one just like her one.

The joy of making this yourself is you can use any material in the colour of your choice and the size you prefer.

You will need some material about a meter wide and half a meter long. Hunt out ends of rolls etc in material shops for a cheap option.

Cut out the four pieces as shown; 1 long piece (the width of the fabric x 13 cm), 2 pieces 30cm x 40 cm, 1 piece 40cm x 15 cm. These are approx. measurements.
There will be a piece left over. 

Cut out a curved segment from one of the large pieces to from a rounded top for the peg bag 'pouch'.  Don't cut this too far down or your pouch will be too small and the pegs will fall out but it must be wide enough for you hand to reach in a get pegs.
Before you cut it make sure the measurement from the edge of the fabric of the bag part, to the segment is the same width as half the width of the longest stripe.
In this example it had to be 6.5cm (ie half of 13cm) The long stripe will be the part that goes around your neck.
It can be seen in the pic on the right.

Measure this long piece now and shorten the long stripe if the bag is going to hang too far down.

Take one of the shorter pieces and press in half lengthways with the wrong sides facing each other.
Open and press under a seam allowance on both the long edges. This is to from a sort of waist band for the back of the bag to give it a reinforced edge.

Open fold and sit the uncut piece (the back) inside.


Fold the pressed fold over again and pin all pieces together so that when it is sewn both sides of the reinforcing is caught by the stitching.

Stitch in place ensuring both sides are stitched as pinned.

Fold the long stripe in half lengthwise with right sides together, press and then sew the long edge.

Turn inside out. I push a knitting needle through it to help to turn it out.

Press under a  5mm seam for the segment opening and zigzag stitch it into place.

 Attach short edges of neck piece to the front of the peg bag with the right side of the peg bag facing you. Make sure the neck strip is not twisted before you sew.

Stitch into place.

With wrong sides facing inwards, join the back and front of the peg bag pouch.

Sew the sides and bottom together with a small seam allowance (approx 8mm). This will include part of the neck part.

Yes this does look like you are sewing it the wrong way but bear with me.

Turn the bag so that the right sides are now facing inside. Sew the sides and bottom again using a 1 cm seam allowance. (This is the way you thought it should have been sewn the first time)

Make sure the first seam is 'encased' in the new seam (this is called a French seam). Ensure the neck piece is adjusted and tucked in a little to fit if necessary. (If you are a perfectionist you may struggle with this not looking the best, but who really is going to notice? If you will really struggle with it allow the difference in the seam when first sewing the neck part to the front of the peg bag)

Turn the bag so the right sides are facing out again.

Stitch along the top and bottom of the piece added as reinforcing catching the neck part as well. This gives the whole bag opening part strength.

At this stage the bag is ready to be used but you could top stitch both sides of the neck part or you may want to add bias binding to decorate etc.

To make you bag last longer don't leave it out at the cloths line but bring it in and hang it on a door handle or hook.

Friday, January 4, 2013

When In Rome

I have just finished reading this book my first for 2013.
When In Rome by  Nicky Pellegrino is the third of hers I have read. Not quite the same as some of her others but then would I have wanted it to be?
The blurb on the back reads...

Rome in the 1950s, there's nowhere quite like it. The narrow stone streets, the fountains and piazzas full of life in the heat of the day, the cafes and bars full of music and desire by night...This is where Serafina calls home. Having grown-up with her sisters in a tiny apartment tucked in the top of a tumbledown building, she has watched her mother get by on next to nothing, and turn herself beautiful with a sweep of eyeliner and a hand-sewn dress. When her mother goes out, Serafina and her sisters go singing in the nearest piazza, busking for spare change and cinema tickets. The girls long to meet their matinee idols and Serafina daydreams of Mario Lanza and his spellbinding voice. But the sisters will grow up quickly and for Serafina, a choice opens between the world she knows and the life she dreams of. A captivating tale of love and music, food and passion, let Nicky Pellegrino take you on a journey to a city of beauty and heartbreak, at one of the most glamorous points in its magical history.

Serafina's mother is a lady of the night.She is expected top look after her two sisters while her mother is out and once that happens they go off to have fun, Carmela the middle sister sings for money and they use this for treats and moves. One day they discover Mario Lanza a hero singer to the two older sisters comes to town. Carmela tries to sing for him but is lost in the crowd almost but Sefarina is caught up with the family when she approaches then in the hotel they are staying at. She ends up work as a PA for Betty Mario's wife on the idea of getting a moment for Carmela to sing with Mario - Carmela's dream. However this never really happens but Sefarina life takes on a whole new way she would never otherwise have had the opportunity to have.

Nicky Pellegrino has an English mother and an Italian father who gave his family a true passion for food. Now married to a New Zealander and living in New Zealand working as a journalist, Nicky hordes her holidays so that she and her husband can return to Italy to see family, eat mozzarella and research her books.

Nicky had this to say to the New Zealand Woman's Weekly about the writing of this book.

 One of the things I’m most prone to criticising people – well, okay, my husband – for is wasting time on the internet. So it’s ironic that I was doing that very thing the day I had the beginnings of an idea for my latest novel, When In Rome.
To be fair, I wasn’t looking at cars and boats on TradeMe (like my husband does) but I did have a looming deadline for the book I was supposed to be working on.
Around that time I’d read a couple of novels that included real-life people as characters – writers such as Ernest Hemingway and Rupert Brooke. I started thinking of doing something similar. What followed was an entire afternoon spent watching clips on YouTube as I tried to decide whom I might write about.
By evening I had fallen in love with a Hollywood star called Mario Lanza. His voice was enchanting, with so much emotion in every word he sang it sent shivers down my spine, and he was handsome in that classic matinee idol way. Despite the fact that, in his day, he was bigger than Frank Sinatra, few people under the age of 50 have heard of him. Once I learned the details of his life, I wanted to base a novel on them.
I became obsessed; reading everything I could get my hands on, begging the ultra-trendy staff at Auckland’s Videon to go through their stock of old VHS in search of his musicals, listening to him in the car. I couldn’t get enough of him.
Writing the novel proved difficult though. My story takes place during the years Mario spent living in Italy and is told by a young woman who’s a member of his household. I needed to know what the real Mario was like in the privacy of his own home.
So I was thrilled when I managed to track down his only surviving child, Ellisa Lanza Bregman, who generously shared some of her memories with me.
When In Rome is a poignant story of love and music, set in the La Dolce Vita era. It’s about difficult men, glamorous women and hard choices.
All these years on there are still Mario Lanza fans around the world and I’m nervous of what they and Ellisa will think of the novel. I’m hoping that reading it moves them as much as writing it did me.
Most of all I hope my story inspires a new generation to discover Mario’s voice and music… even if that does involve wasting time on the internet.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Yates Vegie Growing Challenge - Part 4

It felt like a good start
Time for action - The old chook run removed
The old chook run minus its fencing
A hidden nest of eggs
Well it seemed I was beginning to lose the garden and its produce with the hens being a nuisance, so it was now time for action. We needed to keep control of the hens so they could only roam when we wanted them to, not just for the garden but also to be able to find their eggs.

They still prefer to lay in a secret place hoping we wont find the eggs.

The new hen run
This shot is a nest we found last week around the front. One hen has been sitting so the others hold on and lay somewhere else when they are let out.  

We bought a dog run from RD1 but it was square when made up. Harry modified it to fit the basic size of our gardens. He also cut an opening for the hen house to fit on the outside so that the hens had full run of the pen.
Before we could move it to the new spot for the hens we had to prune some of the branches off a tree but still allowing some shade for the hens. The branches will be added to the fire wood supply for next winter

Because Harry had mounted the frame on wooden planks it was quite heavy but with Katrina helping we managed to move the run across to the new spot. Harry also modified the hen house so it would sit snugly in the opening he had made.
The chooks locked away but the garden still not safe

Oh what joy for me to see them finally locked up unable to escape. I must admit even though there was fresh greenery for them to scratch in, it wasn't long before they realise their new predicament and would watch us from within their confinement.

This still didn't solve the problem of them getting at my garden when we let them out for a roam. We like to do this each day just so they have a bit more freedom and they do help keep the bugs at bay aground the place. How ever they will scratch away at any exposed ground especially liking freshly dug or weeded spots as it makes finding the bugs so much easier for them!

Harry made up a fence all around the garden space with the old chook run fence adding a couple of gates and a path. He will dig the area between the veges and the chook run for potatoes and I can extend the vegie part further back to the right.

With this now completed I was able to plant out some lettuce seedlings, rescue the seedlings of cabbage and broccoli I had grown myself and had survived the attack of the hens, and also plant a couple more rows of seeds for a continuation of carrots, beetroot and parsnips.

You have no idea of the joy this gave me. I love vegetable gardening and the last two years have been disasters because of the hens. I felt like we had accomplished so much in the redesigning of the gardens, not just control but abundant supply.

Roll on summer.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Chicken and Apricot LOC

LOC you ask, what is that? Left Over Chicken of course. Now you could change that to Turkey if you wanted, or almost ham and used pineapple instead of apricot and maybe a pea with ham cup of soup, but do try this one first.

My Mum and Dad thought it was lovely and I only made it up the day I made it as I was so sick of left over Christmas chicken and wanted to do something different with the left overs.

Seeing how I just made it up with what I had and as I went a long I needed to get it recorded before I forgot what I did so here it is.

1 medium onion
1 clove of garlic
2 stalks of celery
2 cups of shredded cooked chicken
1 tbsp tomato paste
1 pkt cup of soup cream of chicken
Pepper for taste
½ tsp chicken stock
1 cup water approx.
8 dried apricots
1 large tomato

I chopped the onion and fried it in a little olive oil and then added the finely chopped garlic (or crushed).
When they had softened I added the finely sliced celery slicing the sticks lengthwise first and then into thin slices.
Once they had cooked for about 5 minutes stirring so they didn’t stick or burn I added all the chicken shredding it with my fingers as I separated it from the bones, skin and stuffing. (the dog certainly got a nice bowl of left overs.)
I cooked this for about 5 minutes while making up the sauce.
For this I blended the tomato paste and cup of soup with some of the water; added pepper and chicken stock for more flavour.
After adding this to the pan I added more water to make sure the chicken would be thoroughly coated. I then tipped this into an oven proof dish, added some finely chopped apricots and placed in a 180 °C preheated oven to come to a good simmer. I added a chopped tomato (quartered and then each piece halved again) about halfway through this cooking.
I roasted some potatoes and onions in the oven at the same time (Putting them in earlier when I first started making the dish) and added freshly cooked vegetables.