A Village Life

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Snapshots of Leigh

It was such a beautiful day yesterday that I ended up taking 3 walks!  One of those I admit was to go to the shop and pick up the mail; wink wink or perhaps an ice cream.  Down at the harbour I ran into my husband launching boats to go out fishing for work.  Nothing like life in a small town! 

Baches and boats at the harbour

Mural by Leigh Lomas

Outside the shop

 Leigh fish and chips

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Playhouse revisited

So in a matter of 2 days, we have whipped our backyard into shape. Starting with the playhouse of course. It was full of rocks and dirt from making mud pies and who knows what. The cute little kitchenette was a shambles and the tea set looked as if it was never to hold an imaginary cup of tea again. Out came the scrub brush and bucket and loads of soapy water and I got stuck into it all like a madwoman. We cleaned and swept and vacuumed and primped. New carpet was laid and everything put back into place and voila, what a beautiful sight. Rita picked out some flowers for her front balcony as the icing on the cake. Now poor little girl has a serious set of cleanliness rules to obey if she wants to play in her house. No gardening tools or dirt inside and none of the kitchen set is to come outside. Wipe your feet on the mat before you enter......

and if you need to make a phonecall

The second part of the big cleanup was sprucing up the vegetable bed.  Pete got stuck in and removed all the gnarly roots that were taking over.  I added sheep pellets and we got a ute load of compost.  With Rita and Gigi in tow we picked out our seedlings from the garden centre.  Today whilst the little one had a nap and Rita spent time with Nana, I proudly laid out my garden plan and got the seedlings in the soil.  The photo doesn't look much because they are only tiny babies in such a big mess of soil but I am one proud mama.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Springing into life

Just a few photos of my favorite moment of spring.  My beautiful fig tree that is brimming with fruit buds and newly unfolding leaves.  Let's hope we can get the fruit before the birds do.  I think we are going to net the tree once they look close to ripening so we can enjoy the bounty ourselves. 

Have I ever showed you Rita's playhouse?  Wouldn't you have loved to have one of these as a child?  We used a tent when I was a kid.  No need to look inside this cute little house though, it is an absolute disaster zone.  It's on my must do list this summer.  Can you imagine how cute this could be?  Flowers planted in the planter box out front; I can just picture it.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

blah blah blah

Spring is in the air.  Sounds great, right?  Well not by New Zealand terms.  Spring means changeable weather, lots of rain, random storms, cold wintery winds one minute and sunny warmth the next minute.  You can't depend on anything!  Hang the washing out when it looks fine and black clouds roll in five minutes later with a squall of rain.  If I go out for a walk, I am wondering how long I have till I get hammered with a random rain shower.  You can tell fine weather is about to come because you have some days that are beautiful and sunny but.....it's not quite here yet.  And in the meantime we are still trying to shake off the winter ills.  Pete has the worst of it right now with a sore throat that won't go away and all we all have snotty noses that keep us up snoring at night.  Sorry for all the doom and gloom but this is our reality at the moment.  In fact even our computer is quite sick.  We were doing some things with itunes and suddenly our computer only moves at snail's pace.  Absolutely frustrating.  I've spent the last few days running every scan and file and disk cleanup program I can find but to no avail.  I think it is time to call in the professionals.  Pete keeps telling me he will ask the IT guy at his work for help but he never gets around to it which leaves me with another day trying to use a very sick computer.  Screw this, I'm ready to pay someone however much to sort this out once and for all.  But I did have a thought that perhaps I should go computer less for a week or so and have a break from tech overload that is so prevalent in our lives these days.  Do you ever have a day where you don't get on the computer?  Perhaps we should all give it a go. 
With spring on our doorstep I've been ready for a change and what better way than to get a haircut?  My mother in law was only available to look after the girls on Monday this week so I dropped them off and headed into town to find a salon that could take me on short notice. Come to find out most salons in the area are closed on Mondays so it left me with one choice.  I went to a place that I had been before and not had a good experience but I was desperate to have it done so I thought I'd give them another go.  She could take me right then and there, perfect, right?  I explained what I wanted, nothing drastic just a trim and shape up so I wasn't so frumpy looking.  When I walked out an hour later, I was pissed off!  What the hell did she do?  She chopped the hell out of the back and one side and left the other side virtually untouched and long and straight.  Did she mean to do that?  It was hideous!  I should've made the drive up to Wellsford and had my friend do it properly because she knows me and knows what I should look like.  I am trying everyday to sort something out with my hair but a ponytail is the only conclusion I can come to. 
In other news, the kids are pretty good.  This is the last week of school and then we have a 2 week break.  Holy shit, what am I going to do with them to keep them busy for 2 weeks, especially if the weather is crap.  Must pawn them off to nana, I think.  Since Gigi is up on her feet now, she's really on the go and happily plays away with Rita.  Her favorite thing to do is walk around the house and gather things from drawers.  Usually she gets our toothbrushes and toothpaste and walks around sucking on both of them.  Sounds gross I know but if it keeps her entertained, who cares.  The only issue is figuring out where she's put them at the end of the day! 
Well best get off my arse this morning and get dressed and ready for the big ballet recital this afternoon.  It's pretty casual actually but I love seeing what Rita wants to wear to ballet.  Not the usual ballerina stuff but just whatever takes her fancy at the time.  This can include jeans, skirts, 3 different shirts, anything.  Pete will be videoing the show so I am sure you'll get a peak.
I bid you farewell; perhaps making scones will keep us busy this morning while we wait for the rain to pass.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

more culinary conquests

So my hubby's obsession with kaimoana continues.  I forgot to mention the paua he brought home from work the other day.  Paua is the Kiwi name for abalone although in true fashion abalone are much more American sized and paua are a smaller variation.  Anyway, they are setting up for a big paua experiment at Pete's work.  He made a trip north to pick up 400 of the suckers for the lab.  Thinking they looked pretty tasty and they probably had more than they required, a co-worker and Pete set about picking out some prime eaters to take home.....only to get caught red handed by the academic who was in charge of the experiment.  No worries, he said, so Pete brought home his little stash so he could taste the goods.  Thinly sliced and fried in butter.  Delicious, he proclaimed!  Then a few days ago Pete was out spearfishing at work......as you do.  Of course he had to bring home something from the day so he proudly showed off these guys: a butter fish and a yellow eyed mullet (I could be wrong with the name of that one but I will carry on with the story anyway). 

Butter fish are vegetarian so they only eat algae or something like that which gives their flesh and bones a greenish blue tinge.  Quite intriguing.  We've yet to fry this guy up but Pete's parents cooked theirs up using a recipe from Al Brown's Go Fish book, a must have for any Kiwi fisherman.  Parmesan crusted butter fish fillets with butter bean puree, tomatoes and basil. 

The yellow eyed whatever it was proved to be tasty by just grilling it on the grill pan and serving it au naturel. 
Ever so thrifty and frugal, my husband cleverly threw together a smoked fish pie (with the leftover fish from the weekend) for the girls last night, once again following a recipe from Al Brown.  It was topped with a kumara and mashed potato mixture with buttered croutons on top of that!

I am watching a seafood culinary obsession unfold before my eyes.  What will be next?

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

the swap

The fishing scene has been a bit quiet around here for a while.  Not that Pete hasn't been trying but there just haven't been many snapper around.  So this has got him experimenting with all sorts of strange catches that people normally don't eat...and for a good reason.  The first unusual catch that he cooked up was an eagle ray.  Eagle ray 3 ways.  He smoked some, fried some and poached some.  All good except the ammonia after taste.  Bad.  Someone told him after the experiment that you are supposed to soak them in water a few days to get rid of that ammonia taste.  Next time perhaps?  Have a look at the creature fresh out of the sea; scary looking thing, isn't it?

Then Pete went on to catch a bastard cod.  No one he talked to rated it very well but he cooked it up nonetheless in a home brew batter.  Bland and mushy was the consensus.  Gigi seemed to like it though so at least someone got a feed out of it. 
We really wanted to do smoked fish rolls for the birthday party but we definitely weren't finding anything suitable to smoke.  Then out of the blue the other day a co-worker texted Pete that he had a bunch of gurnard if we wanted some.  Within the hour, another friend texted me wondering if we wanted some kahawai.  What luck!  Pete went around and picked up about 12 gurnard from Murray's place, took some over to Rob's and traded a few gurnard for 2 kahawai.  Then we rang Pam and asked if they wanted some gurnard.  In exchange for some fish for their family they gave us a dozen eggs and a bagful of oranges and grapefruit.  Who needs cash?  Looks like trading is the way to go.  And we had some lovely smoked kahawai to serve at the party! 
Tomorrow Pete is off to have a dive for some scallops.  Scallop season has just opened.  I'll let you know if he has any success!

Monday, September 13, 2010

Gigi's Party, what a hoot!

We woke up yesterday morning to gray skies and rain; not good considering we were planning to have the birthday party at the beach.  After checking the forecast all morning on the computer we finally made the call to have the party at our house.  Pete made a quick trip down to Matheson's to confirm our decision and yep, it was a soggy mess; not very practical for a children's party.   We rearranged the furniture, started blowing up balloons and put the final touches on the lunch food.  As 11am arrived, the sky cleared, the sun came out in full bloom and it was absolutely gorgeous and warm.  The guest of honor had a long morning nap; what a convenient surprise!  Slowly the guests trickled in from near and far. 

Two sets of twins and their families showed up at the same time!  Kids everywhere.  The birthday party was a resounding success, declared by all!  Good food, lots of sunshine and great company.  We feasted on bbq pork shoulder, a spicy sweet tangy coleslaw, smoked fish, ceviche, tofu for some, lettuce from Noelene's garden, a pile of fruit skewers and an assortment of rolls.  There was lots of cold beer and wine as well.  My Malay friend, Zeti, brought along a delicious treat of glutinous rice balls topped with palm sugar and coconut.  Yum!
After the feast we went outside to have a go at my homemade pinata.

All the strong and able kids took turns whacking the decorated beer box with a stick.  It was hard going as I used quite a lot of packing tape on the box so Pete made a few more incisions and debilitating holes in the owl and the kids finally got it open.  Out came all the candy and party poppers, stickers and toys.  Just as the kids finished gorging themselves on chocolates and lollipops, we headed back in for some cake.

We sang happy birthday to Gigi and she seemed to enjoy the attention.  Rita and her mates blew out the candle and then got stuck into the gifts which they ripped apart in the most unorganized fashion.  So much for personalized thank you cards for everyone.  I have no idea who gave Gigi what!

A delightful day indeed.

And by the way, did you notice my 'theme'?  Check out the matching pinata and cake.  Doesn't that owl look familiar Estelle?

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Gigi's First Birthday

Someones first birthday is just around the corner.  We've decided to have a party.  Now, I am not one of those mom's who puts on great kids parties mostly because I can't be bothered, it seems like a lot of effort and the kids just end up high on sugar and you spend way more money than you think it's going to cost.  There's kiddie food and adult food to plan and prepare, games and goody bags to organize and in the end you have a bunch of tired kids jacked up on sugar and you haven't even had time to chat to anyone or have a sip of your much needed wine.  Nonetheless I am going for it this year.  I even have a theme!  I won't disclose the details yet because I have been hard at work making, yes making, a pinata and planning a beautiful cake and some tasty food that suits kids AND adults and I want it all to be a big perfect surprise on the day.  We will be going down to the beach provided the weather holds out for us (pretty risky move here in NZ).  But to tell you the truth, I am kind of excited about the whole thing.  Who would've thought I might turn into a mom that throws a cool kids birthday party?  Well I guess it hasn't happened yet so the proof will be in the pudding as they say.  Let's hope it doesn't turn out like Rita's first birthday party.  Our oven caught on fire and we had to douse it with the garden hose which left us oven less with 2 huge trays of enchiladas to cook!  Bbq'd enchiladas were actually a hit and after we got our insurance payout I ended up with the oven of my dreams.  Not such a bad birthday after all!