High Winds and Flying Things

butteryfly1Currently Auckland is being hit with the remnants of Cyclone June which caused a lot of damage and such over in the Pacific Islands. Its by no means as damaging as it was, but with gusts up to around 110kph, its still enough to bring down the odd tree.

Here at the household Ive been concerned with the little things – Monarch chrysalis to be precise. Our two swan plants have been very attractive to monarchs this summer and a good number survived the nasty hunting paper wasps and jumped into their chrysalis’ around the property. A few, less high IQ models, stuck to dead leaves. Dead leaves + any wind = falling leaves. I twistie tied one leaf on the other day to try and increase the chances of survival.

So the last two days we have had high winds and rain. Not really the best time to pop out of ones transforming sleeping bag and view the world from a new body… yet in the garden as I arrived home was a whole bunch of them!

butteryfly2 Butteryfly3Walking inside and taking a seat I heard a rustling noise coming from behind the curtain. Looking closer (but not much closer) I saw the reflection of something move. A Kingfisher! – It can be  hard to get these guys on camera with a decent lens & I rarely see them up close when out and about walking! Either he came in to shelter from the wind, or much more likely (somehow) Charlie the cat caught him and brought him inside. However he got in, he looked healthy and well (and wanting out) Didn’t particularly catch him at is best pose (nor did I want to stress him). The angle might suggest he was getting throttled, but I can assure it was a safe bird hold to keep his wings from flapping and hurting himself as I released him outside.


Wind and Flying Things.

Harvest Time!

Harvest TimeAs mid-last week may have suggested, its been a mini harvest time here at the mikehawkey.com household. Tomatoes are ripening in abundance, pumpkins (and now melons!) are getting bigger and chillies are starting to change red.

We have had so many tomatoes this season that it was time to look at options as to what we can do with them. Something I have not tried before, but was keen to give a go was sun-dried tomatoes. As with many places in the world, New Zealand is not really ideal for true sun-dried tomatoes, so we borrowed our friends dehydrator to give it a whirl.

Unsure if it was going to work or not, I unfortunately didn’t take any process photos. Maybe next time. Searching high and low for a recipe that  had the tomatoes finishing in oil (most for health reasons suggest drying and storing in the freezer), I settled on the general instructional from Mary Ann Espositowhich adds into a process a quick dip in simmering vinegar to act as a preserving and bacteria limiting agent.

In basic form my process was:

  1. Clean and chop tomatoes in half long ways
  2. place in dehydrator with enough clearance around them.
  3. Set to ‘medium’ heat and dehydrate for 8-10 hours (the fat ones took a bit longer)
  4. bring red whine vinegar to the boil, drop dried tomatoes in the simmering vinegar for up to one minute,
  5. dry on paper towel and pace into sterilised jar. Add some salt, peppercorns and top off with olive oil until all tomatoes are covered.

I ended up storing them in the fridge, which of course has set the olive oil, but not to worry, if I pull them out the day I wish to use they will return to liquid state quick enough. I had enough over to place in a small container also. Yum!

Next up is drying a range of herbs to be used in cooking.

Art at the Gallery

Short and sweet post for today. Through family I was luck enough to be invited to display three works for a local art exhibition. A first for me, at opening afternoon I got interviewed as people came to look. All quite exciting.

Busy Bees

Bust bee 2 Busy Bee 1

“If the bee disappeared off the face of the earth, man would only have four years left to live.”
Maurice Maeterlinck, The Life of the Bee

bee flower

Thanks Nature!

Thanks NatureIts been bumper weather for the garden, in particular the Tomatoes and Cucumber varieties. A quick forage around the garden delivered more than enough to fill up the vege bin in the fridge. Chillies also are doing well, many now at full size and waiting to turn red.

Thanks Nature. We will keep you on!


Harvest Time

Harvest TimeEarly spring I planted some coriander. Always a nice addition to many meals, it started life off a little sad and under-watered due to surprisingly quick drainage in one of my new garden areas. Then, the coriander itself was quick to pass its tasty leaf stage and shoot straight to the flowering. Never mind – its given me either an abundance of seeds to eat, or more likely dry and plant next season!

Into a paper bag the seeds went, to be hung up to dry in the sheltered shed.


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