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Archive for the ‘Cottage Life’ Category

The strong southerly was causing this hollyhock to bend over and I worried it might break.  Others had been staked, but this one was on its own.

Windblown hollyhock

I hurried out to place a strong bamboo stake and fasten the plant to it.  That should hold it firmly.

Staked hollyhock

‘I rescued it from a cruel southerly
with tender action, almost motherly.’

 

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I went to a local postal services agency to post my Xmas parcels to daughters in the U.K.  Note, I didn’t go to a Post Office.  Those don’t exist any more.  There are still a few Post Shops, 80 out of 880 post outlets, but NZ Post plans to close all Shops soon.  They like you to organise your parcel posting online and use their courier service, but this is not practical for many people.  Postal services are now located inside chemist shops, bookshops, and supermarkets.  I use these rather than organising postage online as I like to think I am keeping workers in jobs.  For the same reason I eschew the self-service tills in the supermarket.

My presents were wrapped and just needed to be placed in a postal bag and weighed, once I’d filled in the address and customs declaration.  I’d carefully ensured that the contents of each bag were valued at less than $70 (£38) to avoid VAT being charged at the other end.  The staff member perused my declaration and asked me to confirm that the bag included a fridge magnet.  It did, and I hadn’t realised that these are now forbidden to be posted.  They are listed under ‘Other Prohibited Items’ along with Animals (except correctly packaged bees, leeches, silkworms and harmless insects).  My sealed bag had to be cut open, ditto the wrapped package inside, and the magnet extracted.  I’m not an expert parcel wrapper, but this one will look even more amateurish than usual when it finally arrives.

The forlorn fridge magnet is now residing on my filing cabinet, and I’ll be even more careful with my choice of gifts in future.

Sheepish magnet

‘The sheepish magnet could not go
the other gifts were deemed righto.’

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This recipe was in the latest ‘Your Weekend’.  Of course I adapted it slightly, substituting walnuts for peanuts because I have a good supply.

Chocolate Drop Walnut Brownies

125g butter softened (microwave 25 secs)
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 ½ cups plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tbsp cocoa
½ cup chopped walnuts
100g dark chocolate drops

Heat oven to 175C
Cream butter and sugar
Add egg & vanilla & beat well
Add flour, baking powder, & cocoa
Mix in together with nuts and chocolate drops
Roll mixture into walnut-sized balls
Place on greased baking tray
Flatten slightly with wet fork
Bake 13 minutes
Will keep in airtight tin for up to a week
Makes 36

The original recipe said bake 10-15 minutes until lightly coloured.  It’s hard to see when chocolate biscuits are lightly coloured!  I left them in for 15 minutes.  They were absolutely fine, but I thought they could have been more chewy, so would try 13 minutes next time.  These brownies are not as rich as the recipe I usually use, and will be a useful addition to my baking repertoire.

‘These choc-o-late nut brownies are
sure to be greeted with hurrah.’

 

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On Tuesday night there were high winds, and a horrible grinding noise on the cottage roof.  I worried it might be iron lifting, but Stephen was confident it was the scraping of a cherry tree branch.  Next morning we checked and a branch was indeed resting on the roof.  We got steps and saw, and in a combined effort, removed it.

Before

After

It was sad to see so many evolving cherries terminated, but they are all ones the birds would have got anyway.  We’ve covered the lower branches we can reach.  There’s still one high branch above the cottage that we couldn’t safely get at.  Now we have to wait for the next high wind to see if we’ve solved the problem.

‘The grinding noise disturbed my sleep
therefore that branch we could not keep.’

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Floral Friday

This Dianthus was planted over a year ago.  It’s one of Dr Keith Hammett’s Scent from Heaven Landscape Carnations and has a delightful clove scent.  Called Angel of Desire, it’s supposed to flower almost continually, but in fact had no flowers in winter, so I’m pleased to see it back again.  Carnations are called pinks because their spiky petals look as though they were cut with pinking shears.

‘My scented Angel of Desire
has blooms you cannot help admire.’

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I wanted a good photo of Stephen and me to use on our seasonal greeting card.  We went outside and stood beside the Uetersen climbing rose which is flowering beautifully at present.  I took a couple of selfie snaps, then a women walking by stopped to say how much she admired our cottage and garden.  She was a stranger, but I thought ‘why not’, and asked if she’d mind taking our photo.  (I’m never very confident about selfies.)  She snapped several which show the rose to advantage, but in the end I decided to use one of the selfies, because they are closer and show our faces better.

Photo taken by a passing stranger

I cleverly managed to write a message on the chosen photo (programme available through MS Office), then went to Smith’s City to get some prints.  Their prices are half those of Warehouse Stationery, they’re not nearly as busy, and the woman staff member was most helpful.  When I received the prints, the bottom where I’d written the message had been cropped, which was disappointing.  I pointed this out and they redid them, uncropped, for no extra charge.   They’ll be my photo printers of choice from now on.

‘It’s really not so very hard
to make a special greeting card.’

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Congenial Cat

My dear friend Carol came to stay for the weekend and Ziggy was concerned she should not feel lonely at night.  In the morning I found the two of them fast asleep and couldn’t resist taking a photograph.

Ziggy even slept on her bed during the day, just to make sure it was comfortable.

‘He wanted to ensure our guest
enjoyed a warm and snuggly rest.’

 

 

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