Archive for the ‘Cottage Life’ Category

Conflict Cookies

A visiting friend brought a packet of biscuits, and we were intrigued to discover that they were made in Ukraine. We usually try to eat items that are locally made, but this time we were pleased to know that our friend had contributed to supporting Ukraine’s economy. The biscuits were a tasty combination of pastry and dried fruit, something like the golden fruit biscuits that used to be my mother’s favourite. They were conveniently wrapped in packets of four.

Ukrainian biscuits

By coincidence I’d just been reading a Guardian article where Ukraine’s first lady talked about what the war has been like for her and her family, which is now split as so many Ukrainian families are.

In Aotearoa the war seems far away, but Putin’s aggression affects millions directly, and I’m aware of friends in Europe who are hosting and supporting refugees. Somehow eating Ukrainian biscuits brings it all closer.

This tasty afternoon tea treat
contains the now forbidden wheat

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Frosty mornings often lead to fine sunny days, and this afternoon the temperature reached 16°. At night the temperature outside is freezing, and with Stephen in hospital I was sleeping alone for the first time in over six years. Well, not entirely alone, I had Ziggy to keep me company, but he’s inclined to wander off during the night.

Our heat pump keeps the cottage warm in the evenings but we usually turn it off when we go to bed. I considered leaving it on all night, but instead decided to use a wheat hottie.

We discarded our aged electric blanket a couple of years ago, and the hot water bottle hadn’t been used for at least a decade, so it made good sense to purchase a wheat hottie when I saw one for sale at the local pharmacy.

My Sweetie Wheaty

This is a Sweetie Wheaty, hand crafted in Aotearoa from vintage wool. When heated it has a definite wheaty smell, and it’s excellent for providing extra warmth as I go to sleep. Stephen’s back home now, but I often go to bed first to read for a while, and I’m enjoying the extra comfort of my Sweetie Wheaty. Have you tried a wheat hottie?

Whenever evenings have turned cold
a hottie’s good to have and hold

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Floral Friday

This Moth Orchid (Phalaenopsis) was given to me this week as I stood down from a voluntary role I’ve held for the last nine years. I’ve never had an orchid plant before, but I’ve admired them, and was delighted to receive one. Currently I have three other pot plants, all of which I’ve successfully nurtured for several years, but I’m not confident of my ability to keep this one thriving. Its roots are visible so I’m keen to move it into a larger pot, but I need to get some special orchid mix to do this. Apparently the most important thing is to ensure it’s not over-watered as they don’t like damp feet. Wish me luck!

Restricted to a tiny shower
will be best for this lovely flower

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These perky pansies are a welcoming sight on our patio. The were given to me by friends several months ago, and I did consider planting them in the garden. However, I decided they would look good on the outdoor table, and they do! The recent frosts have affected their leaves, but the flowers remain bright and cheery.

They always make a welcome sight
these flowers so cheery and so bright

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Neither of us is as agile as we used to be, and in wet or icy weather negotiating the brick front steps can be problematic. We decided a handrail would be a good safety measure, and I phoned Age Concern to ask if they would recommend someone who could install this. I also asked whether we might qualify for any kind of subsidy, and was told this would require a doctor’s referral and an assessment, and the process would take about nine months. It seemed easier to just go ahead and pay for it ourselves.

Handrail for front steps

By the time we met with Patrick from Safetech Installations Ltd we’d decided we would also have a rail by the steps near the back gate and safety handles on various internal door frames. Because our cottage is built on three different levels it’s often necessary to take a step up or down between rooms, and the handles give added security.

Handle beside door frame

Patrick obtained the necessary pipes and handles and installed them quickly and efficiently. We’re glad to have made this move towards future-proofing our home.

Now if our strength should start to fail
we will have a supportive rail

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Eminent Eggs

The Life/Oranga supplement in this morning’s Press featured an article about a local couple who have 4,000 hens and 1,100 bee hives on their 12 hectare property in Eyrewell. I admired the photo of them surrounded by free range hens, with two tucked under their arms. On reading further I discovered they are the owners of Benzie Free Range Eggs which are the ones we eat. Their hens have access to all the grass they want, and live among pine trees, producing roughly 3,000 eggs a day.

This afternoon I went across to purchase half a dozen of these first class eggs and discovered the price has gone up. Is that because having been featured in the newspaper they are now celebrity eggs?

Our eggs are just the very best
from hens who freely choose their nest

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Jigsaw Joy

An hour or two spent working on a jigsaw can be satisfying, especially if there’s a good radio programme to listen to at the same time. I sometimes work on a jigsaw between 4 and 5pm, while listening to The Panel on RNZ National. I could spend this time reading a book, but if I do I’m inclined to fall asleep. I never fall asleep over a jigsaw.

I bought a couple of 1,000 piece jigsaws in Ashburton recently. They were beautiful pictures, but proved too difficult for me, and I’ve passed them on to a friend with superior jigsaw skills. I can manage 1,000 pieces, but prefer to have busy designs that don’t include vast areas of sky or water, and landscape orientation rather than portrait.

Currently I’m working on a World of Art Van Gogh puzzle which has exactly the right degree of difficulty for me, and which I was glad to pick up for $4 at a local op shop. The sunflowers and the starry starry night are yet to be completed.

My current jigsaw – incomplete

It’s years since I’ve paid full retail, price for a jigsaw and I hope I won’t need to. Yesterday I checked TradeMe and found someone in Christchurch had listed three puzzles I fancied, which had a reserve of $1. I put in a bid of $2, but someone immediately outbid me. I don’t think I can be bothered chasing this item. I’ve occasionally sold things on TradeMe but never purchased anything there, although a close friend does so regularly.

A few years ago I swapped some puzzles at libraries and may do so again. I have a store of half a dozen puzzles which I’ve done several times, but find I now want new challenges.

How long is it since you did a jigsaw puzzle?

To solve a jigsaw can be fun
with satisfaction once it’s done

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Our very first narcissus for this year is flowering.

Actually it’s not the very first. There was another dead head beside it on the plant, but the flowers are outside the fence, and these last few weeks have been so busy I haven’t walked along that part of the fence, so hadn’t seen it.

The name Narcissus comes from a character in Greek mythology who was extremely handsome. It was said that he would live to old age, if he never looked at himself. Many female admirers were entranced by his beauty, but he rejected them all. One of them, Echo, was so upset by his rejection that she withdrew from the world to waste away. All that was left of her was a whisper. This was heard by the goddess Nemesis, who, in response, made Narcissus fall in love with his own reflection in a pool. He stared at this reflection until he died and was replaced by a narcissus flower.

His self-absorption was complete
but the result was bittersweet

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Community Energy Action did a full energy check of our home. This was very thorough and included checking shower pressure, hot water temperature, ventilation, and lighting. As a priority they identified the need to top up our 30-year-old ceiling insulation, and yesterday two young men arrived with a load of pink Batts which they installed.

Because we are older and on a limited income this service was free under the Government’s Warmer Kiwi Homes programme.

All this reminded me of an event in the 1970s when we were living in Auckland. We went to the Easter Show and one exhibit had a competition to guess the number of jelly beans in a jar. The prize was a houseful of pink Batts. Later a woman phoned to say that the prize had been won by our younger daughter, eight years old at the time. I expressed our gratitude and remarked that the daughter would probably have preferred to get the jar of jelly beans.

The Batts were duly delivered, accompanied by jelly beans, and we were delighted to have this free insulation for our old villa. Today it kind of feels like we’ve won the competition again.

It’s great to have the extra Batts
to help our power usage stat’s

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Puss Pretty in Pink

Ziggy and I have both had hospital visits this week. On Monday we noticed Ziggy had a scratch on his ear and wondered if he had been fighting. As far as we know he’s never done this before, but a small new ginger cat has moved into the neighbourhood and been seen in our backyard a couple of times.

On Thursday the scratch had swollen into an abscess so we rang the vet. The earliest available appointment was 8am Friday morning, and during Thursday night either the abscess burst or Ziggy scratched it open, and it looked nasty.

When we arrived at the vet we were asked to show our vaccine passes for the first time since we moved to the orange traffic light as vet treatment is considered to be close contact. The vet kept Ziggy in for the morning, sedated him, cleaned up his ear, and gave him immediate and long-term antibiotics – the latter necessary because we are not skilled at administering cat pills. When we went to pick him up he was wearing a wide pink collar decorated with toucans. We were disappointed it didn’t have flamingoes, but impressed that it was handmade in Christchurch by Cool Collars Lyttelton. It’s flexible and much better than a Cone of Shame.

Ziggy in his pink collar

Ziggy needs to wear his collar and be kept inside for ten days, which is not easy. He keeps scratching at the collar, and licking it noisily. Since he came home he hasn’t spoken to us which seems strange because he’s usually a chatty cat. He did climb on my lap to watch the News yesterday evening and purred when I stroked him and gave him chin rubs.

We usually leave the back door open and go in and out a dozen times a day. Now we have to be very careful about opening a door, and, combined with the need to keep my finger dressing clean and dry for two weeks, life is somewhat constrained. Stephen is washing all dishes as well as cooking, and I am drying them with one and a half hands. (I ditched the sling at the end of the second day.) Ziggy sits in the sun on the kitchen windowsill looking mournfully at the outdoors.

The cat and I both have constraints
but we do not make loud complaints

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