Week in the Life – Day 06

The cat is curled up on my left, child sideways so he can stay in contact with both his parents, and daddy squished to the far right – all of them soundly sleeping as I lay in the rising light of the morning reading about flash fiction and scanning Facebook in bed. This is our start to the weekend.
In a few hours the boys will be off to an Atamai working bee and then the plan is to do more work on my little studio. This feels like the first weekend we’ve had in months. The promise of sunshine is the key.

When the boys finally wake, we have nursery rhymes in bed, mummy sticks to the classics, William creates stories of his own combination and daddy filks classics (generally involving moose).

Break in the working bee while Bob brings across the sheep to new grazing ground.

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Morning sunshine with coffee and croissant in what will be our kitchen.

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Sillyness

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Snippets of time to read

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William’s off to play with friends across the way while Craig works diligently on my studio:

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It’s the little things that can bring us joy and make us smile:

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Evening in bed playing with photos thus far for the project:

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Week in the life – Day 05

William was a little unconvinced about returning to school after a week away, but as soon as we got inside and he saw the other kids about to start their morning activity he was off and into it.

Catching Stars

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We headed home via the house site, bit of a treat to go up in the scissor lift whilst talking to my big sister and admiring the view.

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Kilt shadows

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The working morning begins

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And more meetings

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We returned to the house site at the end of the afternoon to be greeted with the last part of the main house frame – our lounge room. All the bones are complete. I just remembered a conversation from yesterday with William how I mentioned the frame was the houses bonesand he took it further with the windows would be the eyes, the door the mouth and when the wrap it with the paper, that will be the muscles and the wood on the outside will be the skin.

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I’m so in love with this house.

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A wonderful end to the day with salmon, mashed potatoes, salad and a glass of wine (for Craig at least)

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That was our Friday.

Week in the Life – Day 04

Today is the big day, our house frame is going up!

There was no delay allowed this morning. Craig had us all out of bed and out the door to be on site by 8am! No time for breakfast even, he swung past the bakery and picked up plain croissants and coffee to be eaten in the car (I think he’s excited).

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Yesterday the builders put together a part of the second story frame and gathered all the other jigsaw pieces ready for the arrival of the crane.

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Craig got his hard hat and safety car, he was going to be a part of this build no matter what!

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I observed all from the safety and comfort of the car (croissants, cuddles and a mocha to keep me happy).

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At every stage of the build I took photos and updated my facebook page to keep our friends and family in the loop. My dad was pretty thrilled to be able to have a skype video chat and see some of the work as it progressed.

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Safety chats and machine organisations came first:

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But within minutes the first wall was being lifted into place:

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William was in and out of the car most of the morning, interested in some stages but mostly off in his own creative world:

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“There’s a house with a wall, with a wall, with a wall…”

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Second story being lifted as once piece into place:

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At one point today the crane driver noticed that William and the builders children (who had come to watch with raising with their mum) were struggling with the little digger. He took the time to grab some oil and get the machine into working order once more. My favorite people are those who take the time to help out kids, listen to their needs and not just disregard them.

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Building sites have some fantastic things to play with:

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Here comes the roof trusses:
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We took lunch with the SantaBarbara’s before heading back down to our site and finding all the trusses neatly lined up.

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The framing for the roof was lifted into place as well, savings a great deal of time and making things much safer for the builders who now don’t have to spend hours up in scaffolding with fiddly tools and bits of wood.

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We did have a minor accident today, William misjudged how long his legs were and how high the trailer was and ended up in tears. He was so beside himself that he ended up vomiting all over himself which just added insult to injury really. Poor wee mite.

By early afternoon William and I were done and headed back home for a great deal of resting in front of the tv. Craig stayed on site with the builders till the frame was complete.

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We ended the evening with chinese takeaway.

Favorite Moments:

Watching this house frame go up after so many years of waiting was the highlight of my year, and yes, I cried.

William to Craig when he came over to chat – “Daddy, get back there and build!”

William listening in on adults talking about him – “I’m not precious!”

Week in the Life – Day 03

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Morning snuggles in bed.

Today was one of those days when you think things will be fine, but they end up spiraling down hill very very fast but then you are rescued and it’s ok.

Today I’m grateful for friends who come when you call them in tears because you’ve suddenly realised that you can’t manage this day alone after all. Also for play-doh that makes a great, easy distraction I can just manage to do to pass the time before help returns.

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Backyardigans on the iPad while mummy lays down again

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Lunch delivery

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Me for the rest of the day

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while Craig worked away from home and William disappeared to neighbours. At around 2pm I got an update that said he wouldn’t be coming home for dinner, he had other plans. So day that was too hard to manage resulted in one I didn’t have to manage. William returned in time for a story and bed and Craig returned to a dark and sleep filled house many hours later.

Favorite Moment:

Watching William try to brush my teeth with his little tongue moving from side to side and up and down as he concentrated on the task at hand.

We have a slab

The weather fined up in time to poor the slab on Friday. The weekend shall be spent keeping the slab wet so that it dries slowly and hopefully avoids any cracking.
There is approximately a 3 week curing period before the final cutting and polishing of the slab is done and then the frame goes up. The current plan is to erect the roof frame on sight during the slab curing stage, and then hoist it into place once the frame goes up.

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Plans, plans and more plans

Well it’s now the start of October and we are still waiting to get our house plans into council. We changed some aspects of the house design which delayed things but now we are waiting on the engineer (who had previously been the snappy one) and the grey water system design guy and THEN we can submit them. I was hoping to have them in by the end of next week at the latest and if they are not ready by the end of this week – heads will roll!

We’ve also been working on some plans for the gardens. Right now the focus is on the white picket fence that will be running around most the main platform, the path and the gardens beside the path and the terraces directing below this, all now being referred to as The Westbank. Some planning is also going into the area beside The Westbank, now know as the Gazabo Strip (because that’s where the gazebo will be going – ok that’s a bad pun). The strawberry patch and care of the existing fruit trees is also high on the list. I have yellow note cards with lists and everything!

Bellow or two sketches of the proposed picket fence/path garden area. The square in the top left corner is the planned fort/castle/cubby house and sandpit, the curve on the right indicates the terrace where my gazebo will be and near that is the strawberry patch (the big rectangle down the bottom left represents the house).

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This is a closer in view of the “Children’s Garden” area. Sandpit/Castle/Fort thing is the main feature here, with a trap down, ladder and slid plus arrow slits in the walls. The picket fence will run up to this area on two sides and the building itself will have walls to stop unwanted escapees. The planting on the terrace bellow is probably going to be trees and bushes, spaced apart so as to afford small army’s to creep up to the castle and some cover from arrow fire above. To feed the besieged villagers and knights inside the castle I’m planning on edging the fence with loads of edible pick-and-eat fruits (like orange berries, blueberries, thornless-non-spreading blackberries and anything else I can find that doesn’t grow taller then the fence or have prickles and thorns). I’m also hoping to create a few small garden beds for kids to plant their own edible delights like carrots, lettuce, beans and peas.

I’d like to make the area feel enclosed, without blocking the view from the house exactly. I really want this to be a space kids can disappear to, get up to all sorts of mischief without feeling like they are being constantly watched, but I can also feel that they are safe. Another thought that just occurred  to me is putting up a really small shed for them to store their own gardening tools, bows and arrows, swords etc in. The walls on the south and west sides will probably be lattice and I’ll install hooks and shelves for storing of various sandpit tools and whatever else the kids choose.

As you can probably tell, I’m really excited about this space and it’s potential for fun and creative imaginative play.

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The strawberry patch will be tackled this week by Pip and myself (hopefully tomorrow if the weather stays fine). I’ve already netted the 3-4 meter area to help keep birds away from the strawberries that are currently growing. Tomorrow we need to really get into some weeding, checking the PH of the soil, fertalising and mulching the area as well as planting a bunch more strawberries. I’m hoping to plant a few different varieties with different growing times, spread out the growing season, yum 😉 I believe the ones that are there are probably summer ready and they don’t seem to send out runners.

Lots to do, it’s great to see daylight savings here and the warm welcoming weather.

Cheese Grommit

Paneer curdsThere’s been so much going on here of late that I’ve had little time for updates and record keeping. Between the usual ups and downs of raising a child (teething, sleeping, eating and so forth) and the general round of seasonal illnesses, we have managed to still do a lot in the kitchen.

We’ve recenlty  started to get a regular weekly delivery of raw milk (unpasturised, full cream, fresh from the cow). It’s gorgeous stuff and causes a great deal of excitment around these parts. We are now in full swing making yogurt (I had to buy a second yogurt thermus to keep up with demand), skimming the cream (there just isn’t anything as good as fresh cream with jam on scones – even scones that resemble rocks) and then there is the cheese. We’ve been making some very quick and easy cheeses. Labna a middle eastern yogurt cheese and the the easiest one I’ve come across, and Paneer, an indian cheese. Both cheeses are made with out cultures or rennet.

First thing I do when the milk arrives is to put on the kettle to boil, then I scoop about 2 tablespoons (tbs) of yogurt from the current tub in the fridge (the first batch of our homemade yogurt was produced from a starter from a delicious organic, tub set cream we purchased at the supermarket). I mix this starter with the milk, pop the lid on, file the thermus with boiling water and pop in the container, put on the lid and leave over night. The next day we have fresh yogurt for breakfast on soaked mueslie with preserved fruit or it get’s turned into labna.

To make the labna, you poor the yogurt into a bowl, grind in some salt (to taste and helps to preserve the cheese a little – like butter), stir together until well combined and smooth. Line a sieve with cheese cloth (or fine mesh fabric), place over an empty bowl, poor in yogurt slowly, place in the fridge and let it slowly drain overnight. In the morning you have a delicious “cream cheese” that tastes wonderful on fruit toast (I need to “refil” the same piece of toast for William about 4 times before he finally eats the bread and not just the cheese). They whey (liquid that’s left over in the bowl) is given to my friends chickens. The cheese itself just peels off the cloth. 1ltr of yogurt does about 300gms of cheese.

Easy cheese number 2, or paneer, is simply made by heating the milk to around 80 °C. Remove from the heat and stire in 1 tbs for every ltr acid – lemon/lime juice or vinegar. Do this slowly, about 1 tsp at a time and stir the cheese. You will see it seperating as you go. Once you’ve put in all the acid leave the pot to cool down. While it cools line a sieve with cheese cloth and place it over a bowl. Once the liquid is cool, poor it into the cheese cloth. You will be left with only the curds (solids), gather up the sides of the cheese cloth and squeeze out more liquid. You can now either leave it to hang and drip, or place it in a mold (or if you don’t have anything, leave it in the cheese cloth tied up) and place a weight on top to force out the rest of the liquid. The more liquid you remove, the firmer the cheese. You can either have a sort of cream cheese or a firm cheese that can be used in place of meet or tofu in curries.

Out of the kitchen, we’ve managed to plant 100 tagasaste (Tree Lucern’s) on our block of land at AtamaiTrees

William even came along to help, mostly be behaving himself and having fun playing in his play-pen with the bamboo poles, tree guards and even on occassion his actual toys.

We also got a helping hand from Craig’s sister Fiona and her partner Nick who came to visit over Easter.

So things have been busy and fun

And summer turns to autumn

We’ve moved into our new, temporary, home across the road from our block of land at Atamai Eco-Village. The temperature in the mornings is turning chillier and chillier and evening meals are longer comfortable and refreshing out doors. Summer is fading fast, the trees are changing their colours and a new bread of cooking is taking place.

Last week we had tomatoes bubbling on the stove, roasting in the oven and cored and popped whole in the freezer. This week it will be peaches as bags arrive from my friends gardens. So far on the peach use wish list is peach pie filling (to freeze), peach cobbler (to eat warm with vanilla bean ice-cream) and preserved peaches in syrup (for breakfasts and quick desserts). Winter is starting to sound pretty tasty.

Gardening:
We need to start thinking about what to plant on our block while we await the rains. There will be trees, mostly Tree Lupins for now and also green manure crops, most likely in the form of broad beans and lupins. We aren’t sure if we will have the time to get an other vegetables planted, but we will see. Things that could still be planted include, lettuces and other leafy greens (spinach, silverbeat, chard, kale), broccoli, beetroot, cabbage, cauliflower, leeks, Pak Choi, Swedes, Turnips and Spring Onions. Hmmm, that list is making me realise even more how important that vegetable patch is at this time of year.

Milking Katie

Katie is the name of a lovely Saanen milking goat that we had the pleasure of milking for an entire week at Atamai a few weeks back.

This was a really lovely way to start our summer mornings. We would get up at 7am, pack Will and ourselves into the car and pop over to Te Mara to milk Katie (and also feed the turkeys and chickens and collect the eggs). Each day I did a little better, getting a little more milk and in less time. Katie was a complete darling of a goat who was very patient with me and just so adorable. I only waisted one days milking when it fell out of the car all over the ground – and don’t you dare make the joke >( I was a very unhappy camper that morning (it didn’t help that my hot chocolate that I’d purchased on the way turned out to be a mocha! Really not what you want when your all worked up for the chocolate delight).

And these lovely lasses are yearlings and will be joining the milking seen in a little while, the decision is being made as to whether we get a milking machine or milk all 4 with people power.

We haven’t really had much of a garden at our current place, but we have had quite a lot of success with our tomatoes. We’ve had enough tomatoes for the past few weeks to have them fresh or oven roasted, in pastas and even enough to take as part of a pot-luck lunch with still loads leftover. Not really enough for bottling though.

I almost forgot to mention, Fiona and I turned the milk from Katie into fetta, some in oil and some in brine, sooo good! Last time I made fetta I wasn’t able to eat it (unpasturized and I was pregnant) but this time I fully enjoyed the experience.

A time of great changes

A long while back I said that we had a new adventure ahead of us, I promised details and now I have a few minutes to tell you about it.

As you know, we have a new son, William, who is now almost 10 weeks old. He’s growing well and developing wonderfully well, keeping us very busy and pretty tired and deliriously happy. 2 weeks ago tomorrow we bundled him up into his car seat and headed off on a long drive from Auckland to Wellington, stayed with friends over night and then hopped a ferry to the South Island, another 2.5 hour drive and we ended up in our new home. That’s right, we have moved islands, from the wet and grey winters of Auckland to the perpetually sunny crisp winters of Motueka.

Now you might think that it’s simply the joy of living in a sunny environment that would encourage this move, well that turns out to be just a bonus. We’ve actually moved here to be part of a new eco-village called Atamai. Atamai Village Council currently owns around 30 ha (74 acres) of land on the Motueka Valley Highway, and has the option to lease or purchase a further 69 ha (170 acres). The sight is divided up into mostly commons plus 11 lots around 1 to 2.5 acres and an intensive housing area similar to Earthsong eco-neighbourhood (where we are selling our gorgeous studio apartment).

We plan to purchase a 1-2 acre block where we will build our traditional timber framed home. There are still several lots available for sale in Atamai and they haven’t even started on the intensive housing sight. We’ve been here for less then 2 weeks and already we are organising pot-lucks and a heard of 20 goats. It’s an extremely exciting time, with everything at the very early stages. The land has been purchased, the council permissions received and development just starting. Transition Towns, Carbon Neutrality, Climate Change, Community Development and Community Currency are all high priorities for those fueling the project.

I’m going to end with a few photos of the sight from our January trip and a link to more.

Currently this is the only pond on the sight, but once the main earth moving has been completed every property will be in easy access (I believe bordering) a body of water like this.

This is the river across the road from us.

More photos of the property are here.