Thursday 5 October 2023

Camping at Pae o te Rangi

Last weekend, Martin and I had a 5-day break at the Pae o te Rangi campground in the Cascades area of the Waitakere Ranges, near-ish to Te Henga/Bethell's Beach.

We caught the train to Swanson then got on our bikes - as you can see, it had some steep bits!

Biking up the first steep bit, to Waitakere township.  I forgot to take my asthma inhaler when I first got on the train (it takes 30 minutes or so to kick in), so I was struggling with asthma up this bit and Martin had to take over my bike a little before the top.

the gradient of the route as a whole

Friday 18 August 2023

Waiheke with Anna

Last week I spent five days on Waiheke with my friend Anna.  It was fantastic to have extended time together, especially in such a lovely location :-)

I was pretty nervous beforehand.  Normally when I go away with Martin, he carries well over half the luggage, as well as doing all the cooking.  This time, Anna and I split the cooking, and I needed to carry all my stuff.  Would I manage?!

Sunday 13 August 2023

Praying the Ignatian Examen

Recently our church had two weeks of prayer and fasting, where we were encouraged to spend time in repentance and in doing things that helped us grow closer to God.

I've been working through a book called The Jesuit Guide to (Almost) Everything off and on for about two years now, and have been taken by the idea of doing the daily Examen the Jesuits do.  So I decided this was a good time to give it a go!

It's basically a set of five questions to help you reflect on your day.  The questions are summarised in the image below.


Monday 24 July 2023

Aged chickpea cheese

Back in the day when my niece went vegan I had a go at making vegan cheese. I ended up with a nice savoury spread (mostly made of cashews and nutritional yeast), but it wasn't much like cheese! I never tried it again as it didn't seem hugely worthwhile.

However, I've recently seen that people are now making vegan cheese that's:

  •  made from vegan milks (rather than from ground nuts), so is more likely to have a cheesey texture
  • uses probiotics (so it's actually fermented and is more likely to taste right)
  • AND some of them are using affordable ingredients for the base (like sunflower seeds or chickpeas) rather than cashews (which are pretty expensive - especially if you choose the ones produced without child labour and with decent health and safety provisions for the workers).

It looked like an approach that was far more likely to 'work' (texture- and flavour-wise), and was much more affordable, too.

I'm not vegan, but I love experimenting with new recipes (especially fermented ones!), I enjoy surprising vegan friends with quality home-made vegan food, and I'm generally keen to limit the amount of dairy in my diet due to its high climate-change impact.

So in late April I started my first batch of chickpea aged cheese (i.e. fermented like dairy cheese, but vegan), and 9 weeks later (!) I had my first cheese.

I followed the recipe, which called for shea butter as one of the ingredients. I've decided I don't like the shea butter taste that is still very present in the final product, but on the whole I'm pleased with the result. On it's own I find the shea taste too strong, but it worked well on ratatouille :-)

Monday 26 June 2023

Moving away from budgeting

When we first got married, Martin and I decided to budget our expenses.  I don't remember the reasoning at the time, but it became a really powerful tool to help us live our values.

We started with simply keeping all our receipts for 3 months, and from that worked out reasonable budget categories and amounts.  After a couple of years we moved from a physical ledger to the GNUCash accounting programme (a shift for which I took a lot of persuading!), which enabled our system to become more powerful.  By 2023 we had over 60 expense categories (many of them sub-catergories or sub-sub-categories off primary categories) and a really good overview of our financial situation.  Over the last 15 years we know where all but about $700 of our money has gone....


But over the past six months or so, I became increasingly uncomfortable with the situation.  On the one hand, a practical consideration.  Just Kai has been growing; our accounts were taking around an hour every week - sometimes more, rarely less - and that was time I'd much rather give to Just Kai.  On the other, more of a theological one.

Sunday 7 May 2023

Learning to let go

'Letting go' seems to be a bit of a theme in my life right now.

When we went camping the other week, I'd mentioned that we ended up coming home a day earlier than planned.  I said I'd done a pretty good job at staying in 'holiday mode' back home, but that's not the whole story :-)

Wednesday 26 April 2023

Camping at Ambury Park

Martin and I are just back from a long weekend camping at Ambury Park.  It's the only Auckland Council campground that's comfortably within my biking range, so no public transport was involved.  There was something magic about getting on our bikes outside our house, and riding off to a different world :-)

Me heading off.  We started on the road but joined the cycleway at Bollard Ave and took that all the way to Māngere Bridge :-)

Tuesday 28 March 2023

Two local adventures

The other week Martin and I walked another section of the Manukau Coastal Walkway (at this point also called the Waikowhai Walkway) - catching the bus past Blockhouse Bay to the top of Gilletta Rd, walking down to Lynfield Cove and then through bush and suburban streets to Wattle Bay before catching the bus home from Canberra Rd.  There were some stunning views!

Wednesday 22 February 2023

Ash Wednesday 2023

Today is the first day of Lent for the Western church (the various Orthodox churches - have a different calendar and start a bit later).  It's not something Baptists tend to observe, and it's not something I grew up with, but I've come to really value it.  It's 40 days (excluding Sundays) in the lead-up to Easter when we are encouraged to 'purify' ourselves.  It starts with Ash Wednesday, where you can get an ash cross inscribed on your forehead.  In the past I've done this at an Anglican church, where they say something like "Dust you are and to dust you will return" - a reminder of our mortality.  Today I went to our local Catholic church (mostly because I'd been hoping to go with a Catholic friend, but in the end I went on my own), and there they said "Turn away from sin and live out the gospel".


The ashes survived the bike ride home pretty well!

Wednesday 8 February 2023

Neighbourhood gardening update

In December I wrote about some gardening I'd done in my local area - here's a bit of an update.

This morning I buzzed out to Heron Park on my bike.  There's a surprisingly substantial wee orchard there:

I gave a decent dose of blood and bone fertiliser to all the trees that had set fruit - 4-5 apple trees, a pear tree and my key goal - the quince tree :-)

the quince is covered in fruit - click on the photo to see it better.

so much fruit!  Puts our quince tree to shame.  It's not much smaller, but has only set 3 fruit on the entire tree :-(  Most of our garden gets no light...

I then biked on to Rosebank Road, along to Patiki Road and back home along the Northwestern cycle way.  It was such a lovely day for a ride and it was such a happy thing to do :-)  There was absolutely no debris on the path, which was nice - maybe the storm didn't deposit any there, but more likely someone's done a decent job cleaning it all up :-)

Back home, I took a few more photos.  Firstly, the rose I transplanted back in December is doing so well - it's had near-continuous flowers for weeks now :-)

it's such a pretty rose!

At the same time I'd also transplanted (and divided) a clump of what I think is a tufted granite lily - an Australian native.  After transplanting, all the flowers died and lots of the leaves went black - but now all the plants are showing fresh green leaves, so hopefully they'll survive :-)


Tuesday 17 January 2023

Making do

The day before we went to Napier and Hastings, our oven broke.  It now doesn't heat at all, and (presumably relatedly), the temperature control can now wind round and round continuously, rather than stopping at the 'max' position.  Martin's checked everything he can check without success, so now we need to get an electrician in.  We're going away again on Friday, so won't have time to start that happening till after we're back.

I use the oven rather a lot, so was initially a bit thrown.  However, I've been pleased with how well we've done without it :-)

a fruit cake for friends' 10th wedding anniversary - made in the crockpot

Monday 9 January 2023

Christmas 2022 and New Year 2023

 Happy New Year!

I wanted to share a New Year's thing I did this morning, then share some photos of things I've been up to over the Christmas/New Year break.