A Village Life

Thursday, December 15, 2011


I’ve been on a quest to find a “natural” non-aluminium deodorant for years now.  I have tried every product on the market and so far nothing has come up successful.  I’ve spent many a day thinking, “man, I stink”.  It’s not so much the sweating that bothers me just the smell of stinky hippy body odour.  Lately with all the kids in the house I’ve taken to just swiping my pits with a baby wipe when I feel a bit stinky and callin’ it all good.  At some stage though something has to give and there just has to be a product out there that can help without giving me cancer or some other serious ailment associated with environmental chemical use.  Some of the deodorant and brands I would put in the stinky unsuccessful basket are Jason’s, Tom’s, Australian Tea Tree, the salt crystal either in block form, roll on or spray on, Kiss My Face, Aubrey, the list goes on.  Recently I splurged on Weleda’s Citrus Deodorant.  This actually worked but I found the spray-on a bit wet, enduring a 5 minute dripping pits session before getting dressed every morning.  When Soapwalla came to my attention thanks to Estelle I was more than happy to give it a go.  While I waited patiently for my Soapwalla to get sent to my mom in California who then forwarded it to me in New Zealand, I kept up with my dripping Weleda pits, not unhappy with them but not entirely pleased either.  Soapwalla arrived just in time for a few long days of work in a hot kitchen, no better test for a deodorant than conditions like that.  The application is a bit strange rubbing cream into your armpits but I quickly overcame that.  No big deal actually, it’s just like rubbing body lotion onto your skin.  Soapwalla has exceeded my expectations.  It’s brilliant!  It smells delicious like creamy lavender cake or something yummy and sweet that you’d want to eat.  As far as the stink factor goes, I haven’t had even a whiff of smelly hippy in the 2 weeks I’ve been using it.  If there was one natural deodorant I would happily recommend to people, this would be the one.

Sunday, December 11, 2011


The sun will come out, tomorrow.........
Remember this?  Yesterday we received the Annie DVD in the post for the girls to watch.  I was so excited to put it on and re-live every moment of this story.  Mrs. Hannagan.  Daddy Warbucks (was that his name?).  Oh my goodness, oh my goodness.  I think I watched the film 50 times at least, when I was a kid.  We played "Annie" with the girls who lived next door to my grandma and spent hours singing every song from the movie.  Of course everyone always wanted to be Annie.  It was a huge part of my childhood, this film, so I couldn't understand when Pete said he had never heard of it and it seemed like his worst nightmare, all the singing and stuff.  The girls gave me funny looks as I sang every song word for word.  But slowly as the film played the girls became more and more entranced until they were both sitting in their chairs right in front of the TV screen staring at this all time favorite movie of mine.  I hate to say it but I am going to put it on again today and hope that they are seduced by the charms of Annie just as I was when I was a little girl!!!  They are real singers my little ones so I am just dying to hear them sing "the sun will come out..." in their sweet little voices!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

My how your garden grows!

A progress update on our new veg garden.  It is flourishing!  We've been snacking on strawberries, eating lettuce, broad beans and carrots, making pesto and cooking up spinach galore.  Not long till we are popping tomatoes into our mouths and having snow peas and cucumbers in our salads.  The courgettes have bloomed and the flowers are just waiting to be stuffed, dipped in batter and fried.

New and improved rainbow climbing wall up and running. 

And that's not all that's been growing....

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Yoga Classes in Leigh

All levels welcome

Tuesday nights
6 - 7:15pm

Leigh School, House of Learning

$13 casual, $88 term
end of term: 13th December

Friday, November 4, 2011

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Isn't he clever?

Isn't my husband clever?  In the space of 2 weekends he whipped up my new handy herb garden and 3 huge vegetable beds!  What a treat.  We're all planted and ready to go.  Here's to a bountiful summer garden.  Tomatoes, snow peas, cucumbers, courgettes, strawberries, basil, butternut squash, and carrots.
New herb garden right outside the kitchen.

New raised vegetable beds in the perfect sunny spot.

Don't forget the stain!

Great helpers too!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Oops...I almost forgot: leeks!

Back to iron chef with Elleinad Spir and this week's secret ingredient of leeks.  I relied on the jalousie once again to highlight this delicious vegetable.  Puff pastry filled with sauteed spinach and leeks and topped with goats cheese.  It was perfect for an impromptu lunch with the in-laws.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Succcess....well, sort of

Just what the doctor ordered; a dark beer from The Sawmill and an oozy very ripe Camembert.

Local Bordeaux blend wine from The Vintry to accompany the meal

The stuffed mushrooms.  When I opened the package of "chevre" it was actually mozzarella!  They put on the wrong label, dammit.  It still tasted good but was totally different than the goats cheese version I was trying to make. 

Jalousie.  Best dish of the night, says Pete.

And after 3 attempts the panna cotta set with agar agar actually came out with a nice smooth soft texture.  The first two attempts were like hockey pucks.  Note to everyone: only use a tiny amount of agar as a setting agent, like 1/4 of what is recommended in recipes.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Anniversary Day

6 years ago today we had an amazing wedding in San Remo, Italy with 35 close friends and family.  One of the highlights of the day was our lunch at Ca' Mea, a restaurant in the village of Badalucco in the Ligurian hills specializing in mushrooms.  10 courses were served, each with mushrooms as the main component.  It was beyond memorable; it was absolutely amazing. In honor of that day.....

Am I being too ambitious trying to cook this menu today while looking after the two littlies?  Time will tell........the results to be posted tomorrow!

Friday, September 30, 2011

Let the kaimoana fest begin again

It's that time of year again when I lose my husband to the sea. Scallop season has opened, daylight savings has begun and Peter has finished building his smokehouse. This translates into diving on the weekends, fishing after work until the sun goes down and collecting, harvesting and killing anything and everything that can be smoked. We've actually had lots of dinner parties and food occasions lately but when you've got 3 kids, there's no time to stop, take the camera out and document the fun.  You've missed out on rooster enchiladas.  No, that's not a misprint.  A friend had some roosters she didn't want so Pete gave them the chop and I whipped up some handmade corn tortillas and a rich red chile sauce and ta da...rooster enchiladas.  Those went to a housewarming party.  For the All Blacks France game we made oxtail stew served on homemade papardelle with a chocolate caramel tart for dessert and pork crackling as a midnight snack.  (I had to prove Pete wrong for his comment that "there are some things vegetarians can't cook and pork crackling is one of them".)  Here are some feasts we did manage to get on camera....

caramelized citrus pork belly

Family lunch with Peter's Turbot and Michael's amazing sourdough bread (which didn't get photographed but was picture perfect and left me a bit bloated 2 loaves later).

The Main Event, speared by Pete whilst on a scallop dive.

New Season Scallops with Sauteed Silverbeet washed down with the King of Beers.

Helping stoke the fire in the new smokehouse.

The finished goods: snapper, snapper heads and mussels.

Stay tuned for plenty more.....the season has just begun!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Secret Ingredient: Beer

Today I am linking up with Danielle at http://www.elleinadspir.com/ for her Tuesday recipe link.  And today's secret ingredient is........Beer! (I feel like I am on iron chef). 
My Gramps used to make his own special barbeque sauce with a secret ingredient of beer.  With nothing to go by but taste memory I experimented to come up with my own version of Gramps' sauce.  I found some pork ribs for Pete to trial it on and I slathered mine thickly on some pan fried tofu.  The consensus was......absolutely delicious as shown here:

Ingredients and Method:

steinlager, king of beers

mix it all up

cook it up
1 small onion grated
1 clove of garlic crushed
1/2 bottle of beer (the other half went down a treat for lunch on Friday)
1 small tin of tomato paste
a few splashes of Worcestershire sauce
1/2 cup white vinegar
1 tablespoon mustard
1/2 cup brown sugar
large dash of soy sauce
big pinch of salt
chili powder and black pepper to taste

Mix up all ingredients and cook down for about 30 minutes over simmering heat.
Pretty easy, eh?

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Spring Fever

Amidst preschool politics, sick children and windy cold weather I have somehow managed to come down with a serious case of spring fever.  Seed mix in hand I planted out a variety of seeds today: watermelon, cantaloupe, cucumber, cavolo nero, basil, borlotti beans, the list goes on. 

fingers crossed, I've never been that great at growing from seed

awww, Rexy

I can't wait to get planting.  I spruced up the veg bed the other day (ripped out all the weeds actually).  Pete has brought home a bunch of timber that was due to be thrown out from his work so my new front yard vegetable beds are making progress already.  We have started our summer list as inspired by Estelle at Under A Pink Moon.  It seems hard to avoid it being a list of jobs rather than a list of fun things to do or accomplish this summer.  Nonetheless we are working on our list and it is revving me up for an awesome summer.  Yesterday I moved another quite large piece of furniture into a "much better location" after seeing an idea in a furniture catalog.  The day before that I experimented with something I had never made before: hokey pokey (honeycomb for the non-kiwis).  When I showed it to Pete he responded with "oh, it didn't work".

melt together sugar and golden syrup, then boil for 2 minutes

add baking soda and voila!
I thought it did work and was quite proud showing him the result.  My idea was to use it to make homemade violet crumble bars with dark chocolate.  It is still in my plan but I think I'll try making a bigger batch of the hokey pokey to work with.  I'll call this one the first attempt.  Anyway, lots happening here due to this fever of mine and if anyone has any summer list suggestions I'd be love to hear from you!

Monday, September 19, 2011


Have you ever heard of hand, foot and mouth disease?  Well we've got it.  It sucks.  Mouth ulcers and fever are two physical symptoms but it actually turns your little children into complete nightmares.  It really does.  I wouldn't wish it upon anyone.  Even I've got it. I thought I was just imagining it but no sure enough they are real blisters on my hands now.  What the ?  So annoying!
We are on day 4 of being home tending to sick kiddies.  Ugh!  Sleepless nights, snotty noses, fevers, general malaise, irrationality, whingeing and whining.  It's just about the most challenging thing we've ever done.  Luckily Pete got to go back to work today; well lucky for him.  It was a long weekend with not many high points for either of us.  Well I take that back.  We did watch Ireland beat Australia in the Rugby World Cup tournament.  I pray that tomorrow they are well enough to drop off at preschool for the day.  I need a break from 4 long days of making cozy sick beds in the living room and changing DVDs from one annoying kids program to another even more annoying one.  Yesterday thinking they were on the mend I decided to try to do some baking with the girls.  It went down quite well actually and here is the result...

OK so it doesn't look as flash as Estelle's but it does taste pretty good and the lemon curd did stay in the center.  Rita really wanted to make "that cake that Estelle made for Jen's birthday".  My daughter who doesn't even like cake, who scarfed down 2 pieces of Estelle's masterpiece.  Last night when it was time to dig in she ate a few bites and then said she wanted to save the rest for later.  Obviously it didn't live up to the one in her memory! 
And now back to being nurse....

Saturday, September 17, 2011

The Birthday Girl

Gigi turned 2 on September 13th. She didn't really have a clue what was happening but we prompted her to say "2" when asked how old she was. She knew something was up and seemed pretty stoked when she kept getting gifts throughout the day. At preschool they had a little party for her and she wore the crown and cape and sat at a table in front of the other little kids. Gigi was a bit freaked out about being in the Queen seat and then became disappointed when Zane hopped up quickly and blew out the candles on her cake. We re-lit the candles and she blew them out, this time on her own.  Nana and Pa came over for her birthday dinner that evening; homemade papardelle with tomato sauce and flour less chocolate cake with Charlie's gelato.  The excitement of the day mixed with the sugar and caffeine in the dark chocolate cake and gelato took its toll and she was awake all night!  Welcome to two our dearest little Genevieve.

new shoes from grandma

what the heck is this all about?!

whoopie pies for all

I think Rita is more excited about the bike than Gigi

and a sleeping bag from mum and dad

another cake for me? (dark cocolate polenta cake, yum)