Tuesday, 29 January 2013

Sweet Cicadas Serenade

My birthday card pointed by my daughter - appropriate!

The Sound of Summer.  Sweet Cicadas Serenade us with their shrill song!  Yup, gotta love alliteration!!  I know I do it often...... not being clever enough to really write poetic prose, I fall to common tricks of the tongue-twisting variety!  But jokes aside, the cicadas are shrilling outside.  I love it!  I don't even mind the annoying flies buzzing about.  Think I could comfortably live in permanent summer!  Perhaps a tropical destination for retirement.....sounds good!
The garden not only looks good at this time of year, but is also highly productive.  We can barely eat what we pick daily.  I am still amazed at how much food can be grown on a small section with care and time.  I hardly ever pick a recipe to make a meal.  I pick the vegetables and then come inside and think; okay, what shall I make tonight based on these ingredients.  I am so impressed with our cucumbers.  I have never had much luck with growing long cucs, only the smaller round types (crystal apple), so I am veritably excited about the long ones currently growing at a rate of knots every day!  We are having heaps of tzatziki (grated cucumber, drained and soaked in yoghurt, garlic, lemon juice and salt with a little sliced mint), cucumber salads, cucumber sandwiches and then some!  Cucumbers (native to India) are said to be very refreshing, great for detoxing and losing weight through being mildly laxative and removing faecal residues in the colon.  They are also great for skin, check out this great little face mask recipe, and for rejuvenating tired eyes by placing a slice over each closed eye and relaxing for a few minutes.

Daikon radish, Corrugated zucchini, cucumbers and beetroot

Our odd-looking black tomatoes

Plums, yard-long bean (first), cucumbers and zucchini

Rhubarb, zucchini, plums, tomatoes, pickles, egg, lemons, cucs and gem squash

Recent oniion harvest

Beetroot, purslane, zucchini, yard long beans, cucs
I harvested a kilo of beetroot on Saturday to make fresh beetroot relish, which is just about our most favourite chutney accompaniment to sandwiches, meals or on cheese and crackers!  I LOVE the colour it turns out and is a quick preserve to make.  1kg of beets makes 8-9 bottles of relish.

Beets to Relish!

leeks, rhubarb, lemons, radish and zucch
We have had the pleasure of hosting a helpxchange couple from Taiwan and Hong Kong last week.  They were delightful, interesting and interested people to share our lives and home with.  They were eager and willing workers, managing to paint our outside house wall, stack firewood, turn compost and help around the garden!  Always great to share ideas and cultural exchanges with others, breaking down barriers and finding common threads of interest.  A bonus:  they were avid ukulele players, having met each other at the Auckland Ukulele Festival!  We had a laugh on their last day when they took a photo of themselves with me wedged between them.  I pointed to the picture and asked them who was the yellow man in the picture.  They laughed and pointed to me in the middle - my carrot-eating complexion made me by far, the yellowest person, if we must talk about colours of people.  Who of us "whites" are truly white???  My husband is red, I am yellow.  Inside I feel brown - a kinship to Maori and Indian people.  And our surname is Green!!  Go Figure!  Mike points out that we like to talk of our differences based on skin colour but throughout the world, we all bleed red!  It's what's on the inside that binds and connects us as Earthlings rather than separate nations of people.

Sylvia and Lubio

Neatly stacked firewood

The undercoat for the back wall of our house completed!
Note our power monitor box in the foreground, which has 2
meters to measure the power going in and power going out!

Our house number made from a few broken tiles and plates

Astounding hibiscus in our courtyard entrance

Our little courtyard with potted hibiscus
A little boy at kindergarten  had a conversation with his mother not too long ago, which she regaled to me:  he knew that my car was the one with all the flowers on it.  But, he said, he wondered why I did not have carrots on my car, since I loved them so much!  Food for thought.  So when I spied the next rust spots to cover, I knew exactly what I was going to cut out of my old offcut car signage sticker sheets:  Must Love Carrots! One gold and one bronze carrot!
The little boy is delighted.

Latest addition to my car's rust solution

On the New Year's Resolution front - I have been managing to walk around our block most days.  It only takes me about 10 minutes, but I figure that's better than nothing!  And I have a mission - I take a plastic bag with me and pick up litter.  On Monday, there's lots more bottles and cans I can recycle - I figure it's from passing cars on their party trail.  During the week, it's mostly lolly wrappers and newspaper!

We have taught our lazy cat to sleep in a small cat transporting basket, instead of on every other surface she musters the energy to drag her sleepy body onto (she has tried several times to sleep on the harmonium!!).  She sleeps here just about all day and all night!  She's grown quite fond of it and can be found in the most interesting little positions!  You definitely can teach an old cat new tricks!!
Spot the cat!!

Shanti squashed in her little basket

A lovely way to eat healthy oats porridge in summer is to soak a cupful in 2 cups of plain yoghurt overnight, along with a handful of raisins/sultanas and a  teaspoon cinnamon.  Next morning, grate one apple into it and add honey to taste - a little reminiscent of Swiss Bircher muesli!  Super healthy start to the day!!  Delicious too!  Great for lowering cholesterol, improving bowel elimination, sustained energy and decreasing risk of certain cancers.  Cheap too!  And a quick and easy hot porridge in winter.  The Scots were onto it from way back when!  Aye!

Cold soaked oats

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