Two wings lift a person up from earthy concerns: simplicity and purity. Simplicity should be in intention, purity in feelings. Simplicity reaches out after God, purity catches hold and tastes. ~ Thomas A’Kempis

Sunday, 12 May 2019

All Things New

(furniture moved to one end while the carpet was laid)

Hi everyone, a month or so into 2019, I felt in my spirit it was going to be a year of things happening...change..progress..interruption, upheaval. It was to be an end to procrastination..and a time to complete unfinished projects and begin even more renovations on our old house. Actually we have been trying to improve this house for about 2 years..painting, replacing the roof etc.

..and it's all's exhausting..stressful..exhilarating...tiring...did I mention stressful? dirty, dusty..and when it's done..oh my, it's so rewarding.  In about 3 weeks we will begin working on the bathroom...I am preparing myself for major upheaval.. and as I am a tidy nut and don't like mess..dust..etc, this is a real challenge. We are having to dig deep, go with the process..and accept that our quiet simple days are going to be interrupted for a time. While parts of the reno are fun, other bits just do my head in, like what colout to paint the walls..I tried a whole bunch and ended up with half sisal..a lovely soft wheat colour. We've done a similar colour in 2 other rooms. It's very peaceful and calming to look at.We've had so many weekend where the whole house was covered in drop cloths and plastic while we painted and would drop into bed late..exhausted.

Anyway here's a whole bunch of pictures showing life right now. Other parts of life have been continuing a s per normal....bread, lunch, dinner and soap are still being made etc :) phew .. You will see the lounge stripped of the old carpet. The whole kitchen/dining/lounge covered in drop sheets. We painted the ceilings, walls..and got new carpet laid. We have installed a heat pump/air conditioning unit(s) oh joy :) The house is looking lovely and we are so thankful to God. Some of these projects we have waited up to 10 years for, as we couldn't afford it before. We have new doors and moldings around them in the living room..anyway enough are the pics. More 'after' ones to follow. Our little granddaughter Poppy came for the day when the carpet was being laid. She's having a lolly pop and sitting outside with Bruce, her grandad xox so sweet.

 {lounge emptied out, preparing for carpet..what a lot of cleaning that involved. The 
slab of concrete in the centre is where once their would have been back to back fireplaces
in this big old house - built in 1880 :)

 ..decisions ...
 ..arrghhh hated them all..went with half sisal.. :)

 ~Feijoas are ready in the garden ~
 Harvest soap
 Snowflake soap 
 Word Art I framed..scripture :)

Homemaking: now that life is getting a tad more normal at least in the living room/kitchen. I made a lovely sourdough pizza, harvested my Basil and hung it up to dry, baked bread, picked bowls of salad from the garden and all the while praised God for his goodness and bounty.

I prayed for years that the Lord would send help our way with this old house. Lo and behold the house next door sold last year and who should move in?? a builder with a lovely wife. We are so blessed. He charges us a fair price, works fast and does a great job. God's timing is always perfect.

My goal is to get back on here a lot more and share whatever the Lord inspires me with, as well as just ordinary life, soap making, home making etc.
Love to you all ~ Linda

If you stop by, please leave me a sweet comment :)

Monday, 8 April 2019

A room with a view

Hi everyone,
What a silly title..but my kitchen is a room with a view, of the street and the garden :) I love this kitchen, even though it is tiny, it has served me very well. I cook meals in it for my husband almost every night, and also for family and friends. It's also been the place where I've been making soap for the past 6 - 7 years.
Over the last year or so  I started to feel like either I find a new space to make soap or yikes I might just not do it anymore as it was becoming too exhausting to drag all the equipment, containers, oils etc etc out every time and then pack it all up, put it away and scour the kitchen in time to prepare dinner. I was well over it.
So we thought about converting our carport into a workshop for hubby and a bit more than half of it for me as a soap studio.  However that option turned out to be too expensive having to involve permits, concrete laying and on and on $$$.
Finally almost like a revelation one day, I realised we could simply renovate a small room that was used as a storage room for all my soap making bits and pieces.
The room wasn't good for much else in its former state as it was the only room in the house still uninsulated, and in winter it was very cold and damp as a sponge...eee

Hubby and our new builder neighbour paired up and ta da...

the ceiling and walls were torn off and the carpet lifted up.
Now about 1 month later...

 we have this !!!! :)
New ceiling, walls painted a soft tan shade called 'parchment' by Resene and a wood look vinyl floor has been laid. A small air conditioning unit is going to be installed this week too. Then I'll sew some
little striped indigo  ticking curtains to cover the shelves in the bench unit, and we'll move in the soap fridge and all the other stuff (large cupboard etc). It is indescribably joyful !!

I feel blessed and very thankful to have this new fresh space, thats insulated, warm, dry and smells so lovely and new, after it being a room that was really just awful. 
So I celebrated by making ... you guessed it ! S O A P (still in the kitchen for now though :), a lovely coffee soap..since I am such a coffee lover. It's made with real espresso and decorated with a single little coffee bean on top.

~ O T H E R    H O M E S T E A D   H A P P E N I N G S ~
.My little wax warmer that sits in my kitchen..I love
it's starry glow especially now that the days are getting cooler.

My Reading Corner: I just finished a wonderful, very long book my daughter lent me called: Green Dolphin Street, by Elizabeth Goudge

The Synopsis:

Marianne Le Patourel meets William Ozanne in the 1830s on an island in the English Channel, but her sister Marguerite falls in love with him too. And so begins this sweeping, dramatic adventure for the women in the story.
William’s naval career is cut short, and writes to ask for Marguerite’s hand in marriage ― but somehow puts the wrong name in his letter. It is Marianne who arrives aboard the ship The Green Dolphin, and William decides not to reveal his mistake. And so begins the next, and biggest adventure of them all.
Earthquakes, shipwreck, encounters between New Zealand settlers and the indigenous Maori people – these are just some of the tales which help to describe life in 19th century New Zealand

The book is fiction but the author states in the note that it is based on fact. “That a man who had emigrated to the New World should after the lapse of years write home for a bride, and then get the wrong one because he had confused her name with that of her sister, may seem to the reader highly improbable; yet it happened. And in real life also the man held his tongue about his mistake and made a good job of his marriage.”

My thoughts: This was a great saga of a story, spanning the whole life of the characters, from childhood to old age. There were a lot of unexpected twists and turns which I didn't expect. This kept the story very exciting !!! I had no idea how it would end..but sadly like all good books it did, and what a great ending too. I would definitely recommend this book. 

Other reading: My Bible During my morning quiet time I had been reading through and meditating upon the book of ACTS. I read it very slowly, often pausing for days over a section, when I felt the Holy Spirit was really trying to get me to notice something in particular. This is my favourite way to read scripture. Then I make notes in my journal when I grasp what I'm to learn for that time. I've since moved onto Romans and am now beginning 1st Corinthians. Even though I've read through the New Testament countless times, it is always a rich feast, that I never tire of. 

I N  T H E  G A R D E N
Not much is happening. It needs weeding (as per usual). Many plants have powdery mildew and look worse for wear, such as my Dahlias and very finished zucchini plants. I'm harvesting the last remaining tomatoes, and need to harvest all the basil and dry some for cooking. Autumn is the time I harvest most herbs that I like to use in teas, like Lemon Verbena or for medicinal or culinary use.

I've had this punnet of Silverbeet plants sitting on my kitchen bench for over a week, but haven't had the time to plant them yet. I need to get them in the ground or otherwise the weather will turn too cold before they get a chance to put on some decent growth. !!

I N  T H E  K I T C H E N:

Fresh Tomato Pasta Sauce: I picked a couple of large bowls of tomatoes and decided to just chop them all up and throw them in a saucepan with salt, fresh black pepper, chopped fresh basil, some dried oregano, and about 1/2 teaspoon of sugar. I brought this to a boil and then turned it down to a simmer for over an hour. By this time it had reduced a bit. I then thickened it with about 3/4 cup of tomato paste. Check the seasonings until it's just how you like your pasta sauce: eg. more basil, salt, pepper, parmesan etc. I froze the leftovers in jars and popped them in the freezer.

I served this over some cooked pasta. I had also cooked a chicken, so we had a little of that meat on the side, a buttered sourdough muffin and a simple salad. It was delicious. I always feel good when I have made every effort to not waste food from the garden that God has blessed us with, whether that be from sharing it with others or preserving it in some way.


Makes x 2
(This recipe can be doubled, as I did)
I think this recipe originally came from Facebook?..not sure, but it's delicious
works every time and quick. I have also made it with Feijoas.

Ingredients - base:
1/2 cup almond flour
20g melted butter

Ingredients - topping
125g cream cheese (1/2 plt Philadelphia) 
1 T & 1 teaspoon of sweetener - I use Erythritol/stevia blend - THM super sweet
1 squirt sugar free maple syrup
1 T lemon juice
vanilla essence
1/2 cup mashed fruit - I used frozen berries, that I defrosted a little in
the microwave and added in 1 doonk of stevia
1/2 cup cream - whip until soft peaks form

1. Turn the oven to 180 C. Prepare the base ingredients. Grease the base of 2 ramekins or spray with oil. Divide the base mixture between the ramekins and press down. Place the ramekins on a baking dish and bake in the oven for about 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool the little dishes on a cooling rack.

2. Prepare the filling: Put the cream cheese, vanilla, sweetener, squirt of sugar free maple syrup, and lemon juice in a small deep bowl. Beat until everything is combined. Add the raspberries and beat again. 

3. Beat the 1/2 cup of cream until soft peaks form. I normally add 1 x doonk of stevia to the cream as well. Fold the cream through the cream cheese mixture, beating again if required.
4. Divide the berry/cream cheese mixture between the two ramekins (as long as the base and dishes are now cold) and decorate with an additional fresh raspberry that you just picked from the garden :) ..well that's what I did :)
5. Refrigerate for about 2 hours, then enjoy :)

~ Warning: these are very delicious and addictive ~

F U N   T H I N G S:
At the close of last month I celebrated my birthday :)
My sweet husband arranged to have that day off work and we spent a .wonderful day together.
First we went out for breakfast. Bacon and eggs on toast for me and panckakes for Bruce.

Then he took me shopping and we purchased a new dresser for our room. This will be for my clothes. I am so happy with it :) It's made from Oak and has been painted with chalk paint and an antique look varnish/distressed finish. The legs are painted black. I especially like the trim on the table and that he left the top just plain wood. 

That big bundle of ticking fabric sitting on top of the dresser is going to be made into little
curtains to hide the shelves on the benches in the soap room. If I have any leftover material I might make a new kitchen curtain too, since I love this fabric. Of course I got it on sale :)

~ Some of my other birthday gifts ~
2 favourite DVD's (Bright Star and Miss Potter)
and my favourite magazine - Country Living. I've been collecting these
magazines for years and have copies dating back to the 1980's, which I still love.

In the evening my daughter invited us over for a birthday dinner, which was delicious.
I heard from all my children, so it goes down as one of my most beloved birthdays ever.
~ ~ ~
The next night, we had a lovely evening out with friends. We went to our friends daughter/son in laws new Pizza restaurant in Napier called Vincies. They've only been open about 6 months and its already a very popular place to eat. Well done them !!! They sell Pizza by the slice, so you can try as many different sorts as you want without having to buy the a whole pizza. The slices are huge and very delicious !!!  :)

If you love pizza... why not stop by and try it for yourself :)

Well that's all for now. As I finish of this post I am super pooped as I spent the day at my daughters
helping out with the little grand girls. What a joy they are. :) 
Blessings to anyone who stops by my blog. If you are encouraged by anything written here, that brings me joy,so please feel free to leave me a comment. 
:)  Linda

Monday, 25 March 2019

Early Autumn at the Homestead

~  H A P P E N I N G S  A R O U N D  
T H E  H O M E S T E A D ~

Hi everyone,  HAPPY AUTUMN to any Kiwi readers that stop by here and Happy Spring to everyone else. I've read so many blogs and posts lately where people are super excited that it's Spring :) while here on this side of the world its early Autumn and we're already thinking about and planning for Winter. We just had the first big load of firewood delivered, so it gets me thinking about chimneys needing to be cleaned and everything related to heating.
We were considering purchasing a new fire this year to heat our home, but after getting a professional in to take a look at ours, we soon realised the repairs wouldn't cost too much and the fire was worth keeping.  It's still a good sturdy fire (a YUNCA) and with the repairs to the damper, new ceramic bricks etc, it will be good as new and keep us cozy again all Winter long. Plus we're installing a heat pump/air conditioning unit so on days we're out and about or at work, we'll just use the heat pump. Firewood is around $300 a cord in our area, and we generally would get through 4 cords in the cold months, so it works out more economical for us to utilise both heat sources rather than just using the fireplace all day every day. Update: It's been repaired now. Cost: $750. If we had replaced it, with the installation costs, we would have been looking at paying about $7,500 - $8,000 !!!. This should be good now for another 8 - 10 years. 

I N  T H E  G A R D E N:
The garden is starting to get that shabby look it always gets this time of the year. I find I just need to keep chipping away and pruning/cutting back and weeding something at least every week to try and keep on top of it. Before long the days will be dreary, foggy and dark and too cold to even venture out, so I need to enjoy the warm days we still have and do as much as I can.
This past weekend I've been picking and gathering in the last of the summer harvest and bottled a dozen jars of Salsa. 

We use the Salsa in Chicken or Beef Chilli, which we eat a lot of. I like to serve Coleslaw on the side. Generally I cook 6 nights out of 7 during the week and all meals are made from scratch. It's what we enjoy. 
Many if not all our meals will have some vegetables that we have grown ourselves. Even now there are still quite a few vegetables in the garden: beans, Kale (Cavolo Nero), tomatoes, carrots, beetroot, potatoes, lettuces and of course herbs. We also have a few yellow plums, plenty of apples, some pears, & a few raspberries still growing too.
I try to make simple inexpensive meals and tend to avoid food fads. We buy free-range eggs from our granddaughter, as they have quite a few chickens and our son in law John supplies us with plenty of meat. 

Here are a couple of recipes I wanted to share. They are all simple and don't require expensive ingredients. 

Pumpkin/Apple Spice Muffins
I made these very delicious moist muffins last week since we have so many apples on our trees. I also had cooked/mashed pumpkin frozen in 1 cup bags still in the freezer since last summer, so I thought it was about time I used it up. I hate to waste anything. :/  The nutmeg adds a lovely deapth of flavor to them.
This recipe would be considered a THM - E (Trim Healthy Mama Energising meal)

~ I find the secret to these muffins having a good texture, since their is no egg yolk and no gluten, it's necessary to stir the mixture well. Generally a muffin mixture should be folded gently, but not with these ones. ~
~ I love this Almond Butter !!!! Even though it's $10.00 a jar. I love to cut the muffin in half, spread a wee swipe of almond butter on it, and then a few slices of banana..and oh my..what a treat. My husband loves these muffins too  ~

~ Pumpkin/Apple Spice Muffins ~
Dry Ingredients
2 & 1/4 cups of whole oats ground into flour
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 - 3/4 cup of alternative sweetener (eg. erythritol and stevia blend)
or 1/2 cup sugar if you use sugar
1 t baking soda
1.5 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon Nutmeg
1- 1.5 teaspoons cinnamon
Wet ingredients:
1 t vanilla
2 small level teaspoons molasses
1 cup plain unsweetened yoghurt
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 cup water
1/2 cup egg whites 
(or 2 whole eggs if you are not concerned about fat)
1 apple - peeled and diced small
1 cup cooked mashed orange flesh pumpkin 
(yes that's correct there is no added fat)

1. Preheat the oven to 180 C/350 F
2. Line a  x 12 muffin tray with paper cups. I spray mine with cooking spray.
3. Measure all the dry ingredients into a bowl. Use a whisk to mix.
4. Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients and gently pour in the wet ingredients. Add the pumpkin and apple. Mix very well.
5. Spoon evenly into 12 muffin cups and bake in the oven about 22 minutes. Remove from the oven and gently lift the paper case muffin onto a wire cooling rack.
6. Once they are cool I normally freeze them, and will defrost them as we need them for lunches.
P.S: Let me know if you try this recipe :)

Simple Beef Casserole

1 kilo (2 pounds) meat cubed
2 onions - slice into rings and brown in some oil
2 - 3 carrots - sliced
1/4 - 1/2 cup peas
2 x Beef oxo (bouillon) cubes
1 T BBQ sauce
2 T Worcestershire sauce
1 D soy sauce
1 t mixed herbs
1 t ground pepper
1 teaspoon sea salt
Fresh ground black Pepper
2 cups of hot water

Note:. This can be cooked in a slow cooker. Just put it on early in the morning (8 - 9 am.) Let it cook on low all day until the meat is tender. Thicken when cooked with a packet of brown gravy mix or some cornflour)

1. If cooking in the oven, preheat the oven to 160 C.
2. Place all ingredients in a casserole dish and cover with a tight  fitting lid. If the lid doesn't fit well I cover the dish with foil and then put the lid on.
3. Cook for about 4 hours. Thicken with a packet of gravy powder or cornflour. Adjust the seasonings if required.
4. I like to serve this with either steamed potatoes and green beans or cooked mashed cauliflower (a low carb meal) and green beans.

Red's Breakfast Sausage Patties
I make these about every 6 weeks. I buy fresh meat and freeze 
the little patties between layers of parchment paper. We enjoy them with
eggs for a cooked breakfast. 

1 kilo - beef mince
500g Pork mince
1 t oregano
1 Tablespoon brown sugar
1.5 t salt
2 - 3 teaspoons dried sage
1 egg
1 small onion - diced fine
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
2 teaspoons ground black pepper

1. Mix all together well and form into small patties. 
2. Keep a few in the fridge for dinner :) or freeze them in a container between layers of 
parchment paper. 
3. These can also be thawed, crumbled up and cooked to use on a pizza. Yum.

. . . .  ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ . . . 

When I'm not busy cooking food to eat, pottering in the garden, preserving food, cleaning the house, or helping my daughter with the children, I will probably be busy making soap..oh is abundant, busy and very good :) ...however I am also mindful of others going through very difficult times right now, such as Gina and Ed over at the blog 'Home Joys'. Ed has brain cancer and his latest diagnosis wasn't good. We've been praying for this family ever since the first diagnosis 2 years ago. If you stop by here and are a prayer warrior like me, please lift up this sweet christian family. They will appreciate it as will I. 

~ Blessings to anyone who stops by ~
& please leave a comment. Let me know what your doing too, 
whatever season your in.

All Things New

(furniture moved to one end while the carpet was laid) Hi everyone, a month or so into 2019, I felt in my spirit it was going to be ...