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Snow Fun


Here in the North Island snow only falls in the higher altitudes, such as in the ranges. It doesn’t snow here were we live but last week it came awfully close. We only had to drive 30 minutes to find some but we drove about an hour out to where some of our friends live. They live up in the hills and had a meter of snow when it first fell. When we saw them there was about a foot left. All we got where we live was lots of cold rain but the wind coming from off the hills was bitterly cold.

It’s winter here in the Southern hemisphere. Just opposite to the seasons in the north. Holidays are not swapped so we are not nearing Christmas, but have to wait until December like the rest of the world. Being American, it’s weird to have Christmas in Summer. I’m not sure I’ll ever adapt. But alas… 

Boy enjoyed the snow. He especially liked eating it. We made a snowman and threw some snow balls too. When I dropped into the snow to make a snow angel Boy was very concerned at first, thinking I must be hurt to have fallen. He wanted me to get up quick. We had to show him it was ok. Boy’s personality has been really blossoming in the last few weeks. Its very nice to see. His vocabulary is suddenly expanding and he is saying new words often, including some two syllable words. I had been feeling like I was just getting used to him and now he’s changing again. And he’s suddenly outgrowing clothes that were long to big! What a blessing to see him grow. 

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I just finished reading, Woman in the Wilderness by Miriam Lancewood. She’s Dutch and she lives a nomadic lifestyle in the wilderness areas of New Zealand with her husband. They spend months at a time sleeping in tents and huts, cooking on an open fire and hunting and gathering. They eat mostly dried beans, lentils, rice, fire baked bread, along with meat they kill. There are lots of introduced species in NZ that they hunt such as possums, rabbits, goats, deer, etc. They come out to restock supplies in town. They live off the interest produced by their small but sufficient savings. I found the book very fascinating and it has reminded me to enjoy the small things, slow down, look for beauty everywhere, and to spend more time in nature. 

So, this morning Boy and I drove out to the Pahongina Valley just north of us and walked the Kahikatea loop track. It’s a 1km track through NZ native bush with some Kahikatea trees. These trees were harvested in the early 1900s to be used as butter boxes to transport New Zealand butter to the UK, as the wood didn’t taint the butter and other wood did. There are not very many trees left, but there are some and they are the tallest growing trees in NZ. 

Boy enjoyed the walk, but he was a little unsure as he kept turning around in the beginning saying ‘Car? car?’ I’d like to take him on more walks like that more often. I wonder if he thought we weren’t coming back. He loves walks around the farm and could easily spend more time than we did outside, but it was a different setting than he was used to. Below are some photos we took and some things we took back with us. 


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For those that don’t know already, we are expecting a baby girl on November 1. I am over the moon excited to be having a girl after having a sweet little boy. Below is a photo from our 20 week scan. I find it interesting to compare her scan to Boy’s. The face and head shape are different. I can’t wait to meet her and see what she’s like. 

Since finding out we’re having a girl, I’ve gone through Boy’s old clothes and given half away and kept half. Some of the more neutral items I’ve been girlifying. It’s fun! I like girly, but really dont like how pink and purple everything is for girls. It’s all a marketing ploy if you ask me. I hope to dress our daughter in all sorts of colours. Below are some of what I’ve been doing:

And below is a picture of Boy enjoying some Blackberry sorbet I made from some berries we picked back in January.

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Three types of beans we grew

I had a goal at the beginning of this summer where I thought it would be a really awesome idea to grow our own dry beans. I wanted to get at least a year’s supply. The idea of sustainability is very infectious for me. I love anything that hints at it. Make your own, do it yourself, minimalism, all of it is fascinating. However, I’ve started to realize that some of these ideas are a bit of a fantasy really. They sound so lovely, not to need to depend on anything but your own efforts, but in reality, the amount of work in doing things this way is tremendous. You would actually need you your whole family to quit their day jobs and come help do everything. And this is exactly what people used to do. Their job was survival, and working year to year to make sure there was enough food to eat and enough warm clothes and bedding and firewood for the winter. 

This summer I did grow enough beans to last us at least a year if not more, but the process gave me mixed feelings about the loveliness and fantastic ideas I had when I started. We had a terrible season, with a lot of rain. It made planting happen late and we had to harvest the beans before they finished drying because they started molding on the plant. I didn’t have to worry about watering while they grew, but they never would have dried on their own. Below is a picture of our garden this year. The light coloured green is the beans that are starting to die off and right before we harvested.

The next photo is a trailer with all the bean plants pulled up by the roots and piled up.

The next task was to get those beans off the plants and spread out somewhere so they could finish drying. Thankfully I had some help from Darren’s Uncle, Mum and Brothers (Darren was at work). Then I had to shell the beans, put them in trays with screens for bottoms that Darren’s mum had lying around and allow them to finish drying. Lastly, I had to sort through all those beans and pick out any that had any mold on them, which was quite a few. This process took about four weeks and was grueling. This was mostly because I was shelling all the beans by hand, one by one. Near the end, I discovered that if I put a bunch of pods in a pillow case and banged it around, all the beans would just fall out. This made the last few beans finish up quite fast. Below is a photo of the beans being shelled (Darrens mum helped a little in the beginning) and the next photo is the beans finished.

 I got 7 cups or 1.4 kg/3.1 lb of kidney beans, 33 1/2 cups or 6.2 kg/13.7 lb of black beans, and 41 cups or 7.1 kg/15.6 lb of pinto beans. Through it all, I feel that when we run out of beans, I will be buying more instead of planting more. I think it was a great experience, and I learned a lot, and feel like I gained skills that I would need if indeed we had to grow all our own food at some point. But for now, that effort probably would be better placed in growing other foods that are actually better off being homegrown and organic to avoid the chemicals they spray on them, such as potatoes and corn.

Below are some other things we grew despite the terrible weather. 2 canteloupe and one small watermelon (only one ripened).

We grew more, but maybe I’ll share that another time. All in all, growing a garden is very rewarding, but be very thankful we are privileged to live in a time and place where we can buy our food if we need to.

I’m so happy to be done looking at beans!!! Haha…

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Fun at the park


One of Boy’s first words was ‘duck’. We havducks and the word sounds like ‘truck’ which he can also say. He can also say, ‘rock’ and more recently, ‘mum!’ when he really wants my attention. 🙂 We went camping last weekend and we drove past some sheep on a hill in the distance (pretty typical for NZ haha…). Boy pointed and said, ‘duck! duck! duck!’ It was funny because to him, small white animals in the distance are ducks… We don’t see many sheep where we live every day, so this is understandable. 

Anyway, we went to the park a few weeks ago to feed some ducks and he thought it was just hilarious how they dove for the bread! 

In other news, for those of you that we haven’t told yet, or who haven’t heard, we are expecting another baby! Due November 1. I’ve been feeling the early pregnancy nausea for about a week now, but thankfully, it’s not as debilitating as last time and I’m able to function pretty well. Looking forward to 6 weeks from now when it will hopefully start going away. Baby number two is currently about the size of a lentil! 🙂

Included below are some other recent photos.



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Progress on our bus


So far, Darren has started building the kitchen cabinets and he bought some great seats to put in the front. They are from a BMW and should have cost $800 but Darren found them for $45! They have electric buttons to adjust the seats. He also picked up a three seater van seat for passengers. It folds down when not in use which will help with our space.

I found a recipe for making your own wood stain using vinegar, coffee grounds, and steel wool. Its amazing because when you paint it on, its takes a little while to look like the finished look since a chemical reaction takes place with the tannins in the wood. I love the way it’s turning out. Below are some in progress photos so you can see the dark weathered look compared to the natural pine. 


 

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Mud


Today, Boy had fun in the mud while we were inside. I could.see him from the kitchen window. I went out to check on him and found he was more dirty than I thought. Ha! Even tried to eat the mud it seems.

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