Monday, June 29, 2015

How Much Wood Could A Woodchuck Chuck

How much wood would a woodchuck chuck,
If a woodchuck could chuck wood?
As much wood as a woodchuck would,
If a woodchuck could chuck wood.

There are numerous variations on the answer to this American English-language tongue-twister before the final line “If a woodchuck could chuck wood.”

 … A woodchuck would chuck all the wood he could …
 … He would chuck, he would, as much as he could,
 And chuck as much as a woodchuck would …
 … As much wood as a woodchuck could chuck,…

This is one of the most famous examples of a "tongue twister" or a song that is difficult to say clearly with proper enunciation. The woodchuck ‒ from the Algonquian word, "wejack" or "Wuchak" ‒ is a mammal (or a kind of marmot) native to North America commonly called a groundhog. Woodchucks were not named for their ability to "chuck wood" but rather as a case of converting the Native American name for the creature, into its nearest English pronunciation.

The complete beginning of the tongue twister, "How much wood would a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood?" relies primarily on alliteration to achieve its effects, with five "w" sounds interspersed among five "ch" sounds.
The origin of the phrase is from a 1902 song, "The Woodchuck Song", written by Robert Howard Davis for Fay Templeton in the musical, The Runaways. The lyrics became better known in a 1904 version of the song written by Theodore Morse, with a chorus of "How much wood would a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood?", which was recorded by Ragtime Roberts, in 1904.

The answer to the question posed in this tongue twister has been one that many have tried to answer using scientific study, but it isn't really necessary. A 1957 Associated Press piece refers to the question as "a riddle which beats the Sphinx, since it's still unanswered". A more concrete answer was published by the Associated Press in 1988, which reported that a New York fish and wildlife technician named Richard Thomas had calculated the volume of dirt in a typical 25–30-foot (7.6–9.1 m) long woodchuck burrow, and had determined that if the woodchuck had moved an equivalent volume of wood, it could move "about 700 pounds (320 kg) on a good day, with the wind at his back". Another study, which considered "chuck" to be the opposite of upchucking, determined that a woodchuck could ingest 361.9237001 cubic centimetres (22.08593926 cu in) of wood per day.

A traditional, if nonsensical, "response" to the question is: "A woodchuck would chuck as much wood as a woodchuck could chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood" so even the song doesn’t give a true answer. Another proposed response comes from the parody-filled video game Monkey Island 2: LeChuck's Revenge, where the protagonist asks a carpenter the question and gets the response: "A woodchuck would chuck no amount of wood since a woodchuck can’t chuck wood."...

So moving right along...

We have a wood burner fire that is not only the way we heat our home in the cold winter months but it is connected to a wet back so it heats our water in the wintertime as well. Sometimes it runs so efficiently that the water will actually boil! This is great because I will run a warm wash for our cloths and the bonus is - it is not costing us for hot water to do so.

Normally Harry gets our wood in during the hot days of late summer and early autumn but for some reason this year it never really happened even though I was accused of nagging on the odd occasion.

When it was first cold some friends surprised us with a gift of a ute load of lovely dry wood (part of their own supply) but that soon ran out. So now we have been racing to find some dry wood and get in a supply of our own before it’s too late. We were running the gas heater but it really only heated whoever was sitting the closest to it (and it wasn’t me) and when we needed to buy another tank of LPG we knew it was time to take action.

We are blessed by having a few friends who have farms and so there is often a fallen tree that needs removing as it is taking up grazing space, so we are able to share a little of the wood for our fire. This then only costs the price of fuel for the chain saw and diesel to get there and back a few times so it is truly a wonderful blessing.

(If anyone knows how I can rotate this let me know)

So Harry has been chain sawing and chopping and I have been ‘chucking’ the wood on to the trailer.
So how much did I chuck … as much as I could when it was light enough for me to chuck and the trailer was fill.

It’s a lovely time of togetherness as we work together getting in our supply and just working toward a common good. Harry jokes he just wants a ‘gate opener’ but he has also said it’s a lot quicker if someone is loading up the trailer while he is cutting down and then up the wood (that’s a funny way with words!).

While I am waiting for a new pile of wood to load I will often look for smaller bits and poke them into the gaps of wood which can be used as kindling or just generally getting the fire fuelled up before we place the bigger logs in.

The other day I decided I had some things I needed to get done at home so I didn’t go with Harry and he mentioned that that may be a good thing and it would save time and space from unloading the small bits I had put in. He may scoff now but will often use these small pieces and we will joke at what a great idea it was to collect them, pretending that it was his idea!

And then when we come home the smell of baking and a meal cooking away slowly in the oven is just the thing for hungry tums.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Chocolate Anzac Biscuits

ANZAC biscuits as we know them have always been a healthy favourite and it's nice to try a variation on the recipe. Here is one I have tried and like. It's the basic recipe but with the added delight of dried apricots and chocolate chips. It could almost pass as a muesli bar. Its one of those great one pot recipes.

It is actually found here on the Chelsea Sugar website.

120g melted butter
¾ cup raw sugar
3 Tbsp golden syrup
1 cup rolled oats
1 cup flour
½ cup diced dried apricots
½ cup dark chocolate chips
¼ cup shredded dried coconut
1 tsp baking soda

Preheat oven to 190°C conventional or 170°C fan bake.
Heat until just melted the butter,golden syrup and sugar in a large pot, or in a bowl in the microwave.
Add all the other ingredients and mix till combined. (I add the chocolate chips last so they don't melt too much from the heart of the melted mixture.)
Place 1 tablespoon of mixture onto the greased baking sheet, press down with fork.
Bake for 12 minutes.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Lady Bug Jumper

One of my beautiful granddaughters was given a ladybug toy similar to this one when she was just a baby and she has made it her special "baby" that goes everywhere with her if she can. And because she really loves it and all things to do with ladybugs her mum found a pattern for a jumper with ladybugs crawling all over it.

The original pattern had a repeat of the the front design with the ladybugs crawling all over mirrored on  the back and some on the sleeve.
However after completing the front we decided that the back could be left plain as Natalie wouldn't see the back This also meant I was able to finished a lot quicker. I also made my own positioning of some ladybugs on the sleeves.

I just used the pattern of the vertical bug coming up from the waistband at the bottom right, going up on one sleeve and down on the other making sure that the positioning of them were sort of on the front part of the sleeves.(and remembering when I was sewing it up which side the sleeves needed to be!)

Not knowing if it would become hard to take on and off and knowing that some children struggle with tops being tight when being pulled over their heads, I left an opening at one shoulder and crocheted  around the opening making two loops for button holes. I also managed to find some ladybug buttons at Spotlight just for fun,

With a fore thought that she will want to wear it often we decided to use an acrylic so that it could be easily washed and quickly dried often. I used 4 Seasons Stallion 100% acrylic from Spotlight which is an 100gr ball of 8 ply.

Needless to say Natalie was quite impressed and when she was allowed to try it on she promptly found her "baby" and just settled into it, pointing out the ladybugs with delight.

It is a little big at the moment but this allows room for a full years wear. So she will be able to wear it now and even next winter if she doesn't grow too big.

Mind you I have known acrylic knitted items do tend to stretch a little so it may well grow with her for a year!

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Little Miss Muffet

I am not usually scared of spiders and have been known to actually quickly pick up and dispose of a spider if need be, though I prefer to use a glass and bit of cardboard to “capture” and transport them outside.

The other day I was sitting – not on a tuffet – but in the littlest room in the house, when I looked up and there on the wall was a spider. Now I wasn’t too worried as we had seen this spider up in the corners for a few days and it seemed to be keeping to itself, but for it to come “along’” and nearly “sit down beside” me was enough for me to decide it was time for it to be moved out into the big world yonder – of our front door.

Now as you can see this was no little spider. At over three and a half centimeters in length it was not something I was going to pick up in my hand. So it may not have frightened me away but it certainly got removed so that it wouldn't distract me any more from the the needs of nature.

Arachnophobia is the fear of spiders. People with Arachnophobia tend to feel uneasy in any area they believe could harbour spiders or that has visible signs of their presence, such as webs. If arachnophobics see a spider, they may not enter the general vicinity until they have overcome the panic attack that is often associated with their phobia. Some people scream, cry, have trouble breathing, have excessive sweating or even heart trouble when they come in contact with an area near spiders or their webs. In some extreme cases, even a picture or a realistic drawing of a spider can also trigger fear.

Now I can say I definitely don't suffer from arachnophobia but I would assum that Miss Muffet probably did!

Little Miss Muffet
sat on a tuffet
Eating her curds and whey,
Along came a spider,
Who sat down beside her
And frightened Miss Muffet away.

Some of Mother Goose's rhymes have very old English words in them. Some people say a tuffet can be either a mound, an area of grass (from tuft of grass) a little grassy bump big enough to sit on or a low three-legged stool and others say it is.

Whey is the watery part of milk that separates from the curds when making cheese. It is similar to what we now know as cottage cheese.

Like many such rhymes, its origins are unclear. Little Miss Muffet was a small girl whose name was Patience Muffet. Her stepfather, Dr. Thomas Muffet (possibly Moffett or Moufet), (1553-1604) was an English physician and a famous entomologist who wrote the first scientific catalogue of British Insects The Silkwormes and their flies "lively described in verse". Whilst eating her breakfast of curds and whey Little Miss Muffet was frightened by one of his spiders and ran away! This particular Nursery Rhyme of Little Miss Muffet reputedly dates back to the late 16th century as indicated by the birth date of Dr Muffet!

Most literary scholars, who note that stories linking folk tales or songs to political events are often urban legends. Mother Goose scholars agree that "Little Miss Muffet" is not about the more unlikely story of the staunch Roman Catholic Mary, Queen of Scots. It was suggested that Mary, Queen of Scots (1542-1587), was the little Miss Muffet referred to in the rhyme and that the Scottish religious reformer John Knox (1505 or 1510 – details are sketchy-1572), was the spider who frightened her away. Mary Queen of Scots eventually fled from Scotland due to the hatred of the religious reformers. And is refuted to have said “I fear the prays of John Knox more than all the assembled armies of Europe” Mary Queen of Scots was eventually beheaded in 1572 when she was found guilty of involvement in plans to assonate her cousin Queen Elizabeth I.

Accreditation is deemed shaky by some. The rhyme first appeared in print in 1805, in a book titled Songs for the Nursery, whose 1812 edition read "Little Mary Ester sat upon a tester . . . ." Halliwell's 1842 collection read "Little Miss Mopsey sat in a shopsey . . "

Mary Queen of Scots

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Mumsey's Feijoa Crumble Square

As usual for this time of year, the feijoas are falling and carpeting the ground so they need dealing with.
I experimented with a recipe I have for a kiwifruit bar and came up with this slice which is very nice served warm as a dessert as well as a slice to have with a cuppa.
Serve with lightly whipped cream of vanilla yogurt.

450gr ripe feijoas
1/3 cup Raw Sugar
2 tablespoon Cornflour
2 cups Flour
1 cup Rolled Oats
4 tablespoon Ground almonds
1/2 cup Brown Sugar
1 teaspoon Baking Powder
170g Butter

Preheat the oven to 180C.
Line with baking paper a swiss roll(16 x 24 cm approx) baking tray.
Peel and slice the feijoas down the center from tip to tip and then in slices.
Combine the feijoas, first amount of raw sugar and cornflour in a bowl. Set aside.
In another big bowl, mix together flour, rolled oats, almonds, brown sugar and baking powder.
Melt the butter and add mixing well, so it resembles coarse crumbs.
Reserve about 3/4 cup of the mixture and press the remaining mixture into the pan, pressing lightly to pack it a little tight.
Spread carefully and evenly with the feijoa mixture.
Sprinkle the reserved oat mixture over the top and pat lightly again.
Bake until light golden brown on top, about 30 to 40 minutes.
Remove from the oven and let it cool before cutting into squares.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

And Then It Happened!

It rained… it poured… and the kitchen leaked. In fact the water poured in above the kitchen window box or ‘green house’ window as Harry calls it.
That morning Harry blamed me for all the water all over the bench, asking, if I had spilt my water bottle when I filled it the night before.

But no I hadn’t … but it had rained.

We thought in the morning that maybe the jug had finally given up (being one of the longest running ones without leaking) and seeped its contents over the bench… but no it was fine.

I sat at the computer having my breakfast in the morning and could hear what I thought was the dripping of the kitchen taps. I thought to myself that I was sure I had turned it off and looked up to check by watching for the drips from the tap ... and then it poured.
And the rain came in.
The dripping turned to gushing and I had to find containers and towels to contain it all.

This is not an unusual thing as we have had it happen before but on the other side of the house down the bedroom walls.
We have spouting that is covered over (something we will never choose again) and so when the spouting is fill with anything, be it debris, nesting from birds or just too much water it cannot spill over on to the ground so it ‘spills’’ over into the roof of the house and if there is too much it will then pour down the walls inside.

We have replaced boards and ceiling in the bedrooms and check each year before the rains and have sorted the east side of the house but now it was affecting the west side.

So it was well past time to check and clean out the spouting.

On this side of the house we have a plum tree that has just grown from a stone. We cut it to ground level once but it grew again and although the fruit is not really sweet to eat it has made bottles of sauce and jars and jars of jam, gumbo, butter and chutney along with being very nice preserved in brandy!

Saturday dawned and Harry was out with his chainsaw to prune off all the branches near the house before he was going to clean out all the spouting with a special tool and some long tongs.

With camera in hand I watched and supervised which branches could come off.

And then it happened!

At first it bounced off the roof – something Harry said he had planned – Yeah right – and then it smashed through the kitchen window.
Harry had been pruning off bits of branches in small logs small enough to fit into our fire place for next winter.

It was quiet for a bit and then a four letter word came from someone and it wasn't me. It was quiet for a bit more and then Harry said “That wasn't supposed to happen”.

Well I didn't think it was either…
but it needed fixing as the rain was forecast again and there would be a lot more coming in if it wasn’t.

So we rung AMI and they said it wouldn't be able to be fixed until Monday. So Harry rang a friend – the glass man next to where he works.
And he said he could come as he was already out on a job.

And then someone from Tokoroa rung to say he had been informed we had a broken window or glass in a door or something. We said it was fine we had someone coming.

Its at times like this all you need is a cup of tea, so I made us one and we sat on the other side of the house pondering and thinking all the what if's...

But it can't be undone. It was broken so it needed fixing. And glazing is not something Harry has really ever done much of, let alone something with an edge like the window box.

But Lyndon came and took out all the glass and replaced it with new clean sparkling glass. While he did that Harry cleaned out the spouting as promised and I went off to babysit.

The window had broken in shafts and one shaft fell through and decapitated one of my glass ducks.

But all was well and it looked remarkably different and bright.

And then on Monday we got another phone call from another glass company (this time from Matamata) to say they had been informed we had a broken window or glass in a door or something… we said it was fine it had been fixed.

So although AMI said it couldn't be dealt with straight away, we managed to organise something within a few hours (and yes Lyndon was an Insurance capable repairer) and then had two others contact us to restore the "broken window or glass in a door or something". Perhaps it was just the bonus of having a 'glass free' policy.

Meanwhile I am getting used to looking out a window that at times looks like it is still missing its glass. The odd colour on the glass on the outside of the original window was plum juice which had stained the glass from years of falling plums in the late summer.

And with the now pruned tree I no longer have shade from the sun so will have to look into curtains.

The plum tree looks odd and very lop sided. It may even need a bit of a tidy up prune to balance it, but I am reluctant to let Harry near it with a chainsaw again, not just for the sake of the house and its window, but because I still look forward to what preserves I can make with its crops. If it is without fruit before we have an established new one how will Katrina, at least, cope with out her home made plum jam!