Something’s gotta give.

Yesterday the weather was beautiful, but I was in a foul mood.

The child's demands are incessant. He just won't let me play on the computer all day.

And he doesn’t want to get dropped off at playcentre. So playcentre is annoying me too.

The husband has a terrible man cold*.

I'm dying for some ALONE TIME.

At some place other than the supermarket. Some place with a broadband connection.

*Thanks to the Bloggess for sharing this very funny link.

Edited to add. My husband finally read my blog, and he pointed out that this post was a little misleading. He didn't lie on the couch with his man cold. He soldiered on. As we parents do. Yeah, remember the days before children, when we could camp out on the couch with a cold, and just watch telly? Oh, the memories. My point is that men are so very pathetic when they have a cold. Sorry, it's sad.


Remembering Memorial Day.

Holidays make me remember that I’m living in a remote, little country on the other side of the world.

Not so much Christmas and Easter. Although they’re different down under too. Come to think of it, they drive home the very same point--my family is ten thousand miles away.

I just don’t celebrate Halloween, Thanksgiving, or July Fourth any more.

Okay, I admit it. I’ve tried to encourage Halloween, but I feel a bit silly, cackling in my witch costume, when all the flowers are blooming, and we are like the only house handing out lollies.

Every year, I have fantasies about a Thanksgiving dinner, but everyone is at work. By the time the weekend rolls around, I realize I should be Christmas shopping.

We do have an American flag hanging up at our house. And it may surprise you to know, it was up during the Bush years.

No parades for us on Memorial Day. No picnics. And it’s definitely not the beginning of summer.

A Yank lives here.


If I were on Survivor, I would lose the fire-building challenge.

When we first moved into our house, there was an open fire. We replaced it with a wood burner that we found on TradeMe (NZ's eBay). It's not certified, but it's much more efficient. The smoke actually goes up the chimney. And it heats our open plan kitchen, lounge and office quite nicely.

I know, I know. The emissions. But wood fires are so very romantic.

Of course, there’s an art to building a good fire. Which I still haven’t quite mastered.

Chopping wood and splitting kindling? Isn't that what husbands are for?


National wants our houses to be cold.

When I arrived in New Zealand, I complained about being cold.

I heard lots of harden up. And put on another wool-y jumper.

Houses in New Zealand are cold and damp. Most houses do not have insulation or forced-air heating.

The NZ Labour party is still trying to pass legislation to encourage homeowners to put insulation in their houses.

I guess our landlords put in double-glazed windows because they pretty much had to.


Chicken stock.

When the weather gets cold, for Sunday dinner, we like to roast a chicken. Then I use the carcass to make chicken stock.

Chicken stock is such a staple. Homemade stock makes soups and curries sing with flavour.

And it's so cheap and easy to make. I like to make chicken stock in my slow cooker. I just toss everything in, turn it on, and forget about it.

The child helps chop the vegetables. But not with the big knife.

I have adapted the following recipe from Joan Bishop’s excellent New Zealand Crockpot and Slow Cooker Cookbook.

Chicken Stock
1-2 chicken carcasses
1 onion, chopped
1 carrot, peeled and finely chopped
2 celery stalks, finely sliced
2 tsp salt
Large sprig thyme
2 bay leaves
Boiling water to cover

Pre-heat the cooker for 20 minutes. Put all the ingredients in your crockpot or slow cooker, cover with lid, and cook on High for 5-6 hours. Cool, and strain the stock through a sieve.

Chicken gizzard? Throw it in the pot.


Okay, I admit it. I love our new windows.

When we first moved into our house, there were French doors. I liked them.

But in winter, the wind blasted into the house, through not-so-charming cracks under and around the doors.

Charming French doors. So retro.

Last November, the night that Pres. Obama was elected, there was a gale. Up the coast, we have gales all the time, and we think nothing of it.

But this gale was special. It ripped the latch from the bottom of a French door, whipped the door open, and two panes of glass broke.

We were going to fix the door ourselves, but the door was buggered.

The husband boarded up the broken windows with plywood, and we lived with the windows like that for SIX MONTHS while our landlords tried to sort out a solution.

Hurricane windows. Ghetto chic.

Yes, we are the kind of tenants that landlords dream about.

A week after we returned from America, holes were chopped in the house, in the rain and cold, and at last new windows were put in.

The French doors were replaced, and we got a totally unnecessary new side door and new windows in the kitchen, the lounge and two in the bedroom. Double-glazed windows. Six of them!

The windows look great from here, right?

The job was a bit rough. And the landlords were disappointed with my efforts to feign gratefulness. I'm such a terrible actress.

So the husband has been hired on to clean up the frames and paint and such. We still have all the old glass and old frames scattered about the property. The husband insists all the rubbish might come in handy for something. Kiwis!

It still looks like a building site. And we're using a slip cover for a curtain.

But over the last few days, when the wind has picked up, it hasn't been blasting through the house. And we haven't had to close the curtains at night. Because, hey! The windows are double-glazed.

Double-glazed windows. All kinds of awesome.


Chicken and chick pea curry.

Tonight is a Big Night Out at the playcentre. We're having a potluck dinner and showing the kids a movie. I'm bringing the child's favourite dinner, and hopefully he will eat it.

Chicken and chick pea curry
400g stir fry chicken
2 Tbsp canola oil
1 onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 Tbsp curry powder
½ tsp ground cumin
½ tsp ground cardamom
1 cup chicken stock, heated
1/2 can coconut cream
2 tsp arrowroot
½ cauliflower
2 zucchinis/courgettes or asparagus
1 can chick peas

Brown chicken. Remove from pan. In same pan add oil and onion and cook for 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add spices and cook for 1-2 minutes. Then add chick peas, chicken and vegetables. Stir until coated with spices. Sprinkle over arrowroot. Then add chicken stock and coconut cream. Then simmer until thickened and vegetables are tender, 20-30 minutes. Serve over basmati or jasmine rice. If you like it hot, like I do, sprinkle chili powder on top, or add some spicy pickle on the side.

The child just eats the chick peas. Oh well.


Allergy-free hummus.

The child is allergic to sesame seeds, so we make our hummus without tahini.

I love to eat hummus as a dip with carrots, celery, or potato chips. I also love it on sausages, and of course with pitas and falafel.

1 can chick peas
juice of 1-2 lemons
1 clove garlic, crushed
3/4 tsp to 1 tsp salt
about 3/4 cup olive or canola oil, or a combination of the two

Put chick peas, lemon juice, garlic, salt and about half the oil in a blender. Whiz the mixture until it is smooth. Add the remaining oil slowly, then add extra seasoning if necessary. Refrigerate until needed (up to a week).

The trick is to get the chick peas in the blender before the child eats them all.


I heart the new village deli.

Of course I'm all about convenience and quality speciality items at reasonable prices.

I love the deli's luxurious ham slices and gourmet sausages, local olives, and dolmas and little savoury quiches and sweet slices. Also, amazing Parmesan and Edam and soft goats' cheeses. They have lots of fresh breads and pantry items like pasta and mustards and olive oil.

The deli is such a pleasant little spot. The service is cheerful and accommodating. They have a wood-fired oven to make pizzas. I’ve heard they even will make you a coffee.


I'm still looking for a cafe.

I had dropped the child off at the playcentre, and it was raining buckets.

Since I was disappointed with the village cafe, I decided to try the pub cafe.

It was 11:06. I tried the door, but it was locked. Someone looked out the window, but she didn't wave or motion for me to come in.

Then I saw someone go in a side door, and I thought, maybe I'm supposed to use that door.

I was wrong. There were no customers in the pub cafe.

When I asked for a coffee, I was told that the pub doesn’t open until eleven. And they were opening late.

I was given my coffee, and then the pub owner came over to chat with me. He was surprised to find out that I’m local and I’ve been living in the village for years.

I hardly ever go to the pub, I said stupidly.

Locals, he sighed.

He said the pub has been busy. People come from up and down the line. And the pub has lots going on, with quiz nights and karaoke and art.

I promised to pop in one night for a wine, and then he unlocked the door so I could leave.

It was now 11:30 a.m. and apparently, the pub cafe still wasn’t open.


I need a new cafe.

This week there were major renovations going on at our house, and I was forced to escape to the cafe in the village.

The cafe is under new management and I think they’re still moving in. There were boxes stacked up in the old fish pond.

There was a strange light standing by the pastry cases. It looked like a garage sale find. And there's no longer a place to plug in your phone or your laptop.

My scone was a bit off. I felt like I had stumbled into a stranger’s lounge. But maybe I’m expecting too much. I never felt that welcome at the old cafe either.

Who puts in new windows in the rain? We do.