Sunday, September 22, 2013

Another take on beer bread

Watching America's Cup racing is hard on the nerves so, to preserve the rest of my fingernails, I decided to make vege soup and beer bread during yesterday's first race. I've been toying with the idea of making bread rolls and was hoping that if I dropped roll-size lumps of dough on the warmed pizza tray it wouldn't drip through the holes. I left the cheese off the top and only added a small teaspoon of mixed herbs and a sprinkle of Cajun seasoning. The recipe with 3C flour made 10 lovely bread rolls, next time I going to try pull-apart rolls by tipping all the dough on to a silicon mat and then make indents.

Halfway through cooking - about 30 minutes at 190°C

The finished product - just enough crust and perfect with soup
Wednesday last week started with a big frost and a beautiful sunny day. The ice on my mud puddles made interesting patterns and the plants sparkled like diamonds in the rising sunlight.

I was given a pottle of mealworms a few months ago to feed the robins at Dancing Star. They are easy to look after; add a bit of wheat bran and a slice of apple, then an occasional sift to remove debris. All good but then they started turning into pupae - eek, what do I do now?? Google gave me this link and although I'm not going to become a breeder, it's been fascinating to watch these critters as they turn into beetles.

Separating the mealworms from the pupae and beetles

Mealworm pupae
A couple of beetles have 'hatched' but they're camera-shy and scuttle under the bran before I focus!

The warmer weather is heating up the plants under plastic, look how big my seedlings have grown in the last month...

I've filled up several bags with compost and will transplant seedlings into them. Whilst sorting through the bags I came across this resident - possibly a Cambridgea spider.

The yacht racing has been abandoned for the day so no excuses for staying inside - I'm off to garden! Go Team New Zealand!!

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Trip to Alexandra

My new team is based around the bottom of the South Island and our first team meeting was held last week in Alexandra. For most of them it was a day's outing but for me it meant 2 nights in Invercargill, 7 hours of travelling and 9½ hours overtime - all for a 4 hour meeting! On the plus side I used some time in lieu to get a haircut and fulfil my shopping list; but the 'memorable' flight off the island, coupled with feeling carsick most of the way to Alexandra has me questioning whether I really want to travel anywhere again!! I now know what it feels like to be a bucking bronco on a rollercoaster inside a washing machine but all credit to the skilled pilots of Stewart Island Flights for delivering us safe and shaken to t'other side :)

I was looking forward to the trip to Alexandra as it's been over 20 years since I last travelled in the area. Unfortunately my body was not ready to be mobile again and the 2½ hour drive wasn't enjoyable. Lovely to meet my new team-mates though and I was right as rain after sitting still for a couple of hours. Going through the new structure administration roles made me realise how different my role is from the others though; no doubt my role will become apparent as time goes on. I was dreading the drive back but sitting in the front in a different car made all the difference and views of the countryside were stunning.

Sunrise in Invercargill from my hotel room - the following morning was 2°C
with slushy snow on the roads and heaped up against the buildings


Specially for my lovely Sis-in-law

Teviot - Central Otago, last stop before Alexandra
The distinctive bridge at Alexandra

DOC office at Alexandra

The view from the office door

Great views of the lakes on the trip back to Invercargill

More great views

Apple orchard out of Alex

Thursday's flight back to Stewart Island, fresh snow on
Hananui/Mt Anglem (to the right)
Back to normality now in my wee cottage rather than an over-heated hotel room, listening to birdsong rather than traffic noise and a welcome return for my brain and stomach to walking pace. How I've changed in the last few years!!

Other residents at Back Road

I'm behind with blogging again but there's a good reason for it - 3 more garden areas finished, firewood cut and stacked and two nights off-island to meet my new administration team. With the America's Cup race 9 being abandoned I'll be able to put up a couple of new blogs this morning - go Emirates Team New Zealand tomorrow!!

The vege garden area is a step closer to completion, with the added bonus of having an area (see pics below) to plant the currant bushes - probably short term if they grow large but they had well outgrown the pots that they were 'struck' in.

Two more small garden beds were finished, one adjacent to the compost bin and the other between the path and the house. I transplanted parsley seedlings into one and they looked great for a couple of days, then the Phantom Parsley Picker struck and I'm left with nibbled stalks. I've put some makeshift fencing up so it will deter weka and deer but if it's a flying phantom like kaka then I might need to drape bird netting over. Just another challenge to successful vege gardening here.

Whilst barrowing compost and firewood I came across several critters that I share my living space with.

?Grass grub and unidentified eggs

Close up of caterpillar

A terrestrial version of sand hoppers??

A spider's nest perhaps?

A mass of critters on rotting wood

A baby worm??
This fungi on rotting wood doesn't have legs so is easier to photograph...

The critters aren't just out during the day, here's a couple of night ones...

Golden orb spider repairing its web