Wednesday, April 23, 2014


I didn't pick up fallen walnuts over the long weekend so yesterday it took a lot of bending to collect these. 2275 Leanne! ( that's 3416 so far this season. ) There are more to come, even though that big tree has had 2 quite big limb removals this last year. The nuts  have to be dried in the sun for several days before storing / shelling. ( so they are quite time/ work intensive food but worth the effort. )They are good eaten raw or lightly roasted. They are good in baking and as dessert topping and ground up.Once shelled we store all of them in the freezer so they don't go rancid. ( Many of the walnuts on sale are already rancid by the time they get to the shops.)

 We have been picking up feijoas at the rate of one of these green bins every second day. So the tractor repair man and anyone else who arrives here goes away with bags of feijoas. We can cope with only so many. Our freezer is at capacity. During the storm last week one of the trees split in half. I think the remaining half will survive after the half on the ground is chainsawed away.

 Some more little blocks got finished. The coloured squares are only 1.5" cut, so quite tiny to work with. More are in the pipeline.
Work also progressed on the felt balls.I was able to ask one of the future recipients if there was anything special I should put on a ball. She said a rugby that's next. Both balls I am making are for boy babies.

 We also went, as we have the last few years, to the Rotary Club Used Book Sale.
We both came home with 12 books each and I got 10 quilting magazines and 5 gardening magazines for $3.  ( all mags we selling for 5 for a dollar )We spent a total of $80 - that is a lot of reading and enjoyment for us.As usual the sale was well patronised.
We also visited the Garden Centre as I have been beavering away in the garden and had some gaps to fill. I have planted 2 new purple Hebes, some hyacinth bulbs, some  grape hyacinth bulbs, some Anemones and ranunculus. Yesterday I dug out the whole  corner of a flower bed that had been taken over by a fern that has roots like fibre matting. I also found the greedy big Rimu tree has sent roots upwards to rob the goodies from that flower bed.
 Last night my back knew it had had a work out with the digging plus the walnut bending but it is fine again today.
 I picked these from the garden. I love the strange smell of Chrysanthemums. While at the garden centre I got 3 beauties for $20.  2 dark red and a pompom pink. They are all around the house at the moment but will go into the garden when the flowers fade. That's how I came by the plants for the ones in the photo too. 

Thursday, April 17, 2014

The Fortunate One.

Earlier today we ( and most of NZ ) had quite a storm. High winds and rain going sideways.( this lawn is now littered with leaves and small branches. ) About 68 mls fell this morning.( after 37 during the night )
 I was the fortunate one. I got to stay inside. R had to venture out as he had an appointment to give blood and do a few errands. It is very difficult to take photos of storms as it stills the movement.
 Luckily here the water gets away quickly - here by way of a down pipe off the roof.
 So I got to do inside things. I made focaccia bread to go with soup. I sewed some small 7.5 " blocks, like this blue one
 From these which I have been cutting out over the last few days. 
 I decided I liked them sorted into colour families rather than all just random.

 I also started winding an  inner for felt embroidered ball # 24.
 I mainly use the quilt batting trimmings from down the sides of my quilts.
I start the ball by taping 2 bottle tops together with a rattle inside then wind and wind ( like a ball of wool ) till I have a round inner the right size for one of these.
 This is ball # 23 that I have almost finished . I do this in the evenings while watching TV. I keep a notebook in which I record every one of the 23 balls I have made so far. What is on them and who I gave them to.
 Now late afternoon the storm has passed. This wet will have held up all the early kiwifruit picking.( most packhouses in the area had started picking )  A lot of drying out will be needed as orchards will be wet and the fruit and leaves very wet.
 Sunshine now please!

Monday, April 14, 2014


 After trying many different approaches to my fraying appliqué fabric I used what is called double appliqué. That is sewing reinforcing to the back ( with right sides together,) then turning the whole thing through a slit on the back ( of the reinforcing.) Turning it was not easy but a stiletto and a tooth pick helped. This was the result. The best leaf of the 3.
 Flower block 7 is now completed.
As there has been a sudden surge in young friends ( 3 ) announcing that they are pregnant I need to turn my attentions to making baby gifts. I am back working on my felt embroidered balls, which for me is a breeze after that appliqué  and designing some baby quilts.
Raewyn with the grapes I mashed with a potato masher to break them up and just bought them to the boil so they wouldn't ferment.  Bottled it will keep for a few days in the fridge. They have such a high sugar content it forms crystals in the bottom of the container. One lot we have tried freezing.


 This is our persimmon tree. It has quite a good crop. Great, cause I love persimmons.

 They are just changing colour as they begin to ripen. As I was taking this close up photo I noticed 2 fruit right inside the tree that were being devoured by wasps.

 We estimated there was about 50 waps in each fruit, so I got R to carefully return and resort to a spray can of fly spray and get them all! ( I know as soon as they had hollowed out these 2 fruit they would start on some more. ) I have already picked some at the pale partly ripe stage to make sure I get some. I hope some will ripen further on the tree.

Tuesday, April 08, 2014

April is Rushing By.

We were determined not to let the wasps get at all the grapes . This is the 3rd and last batch we juiced.

 We still have an embarrassment of feijoas some of which I am cooking and freezing. We eat them daily raw.
 The tomatoes are slowing but still need picking.
 I picked some of my persimmons just showing colour because last year they mostly disappeared before they were tree ripe ( possums, birds and wasps all feasting ) The tree has a good crop so I should get to pick more.One of my absolute favourites!
Leanne my walnut tally is only 606 so far.
 The firewood shed has been cleaned and filling it is R's next job. He has dry logs all ready.
 Nicky this is how my Capsicum dip ended. The recipe is very simple  - the amounts may vary without spoiling the end result.

 6 large red roasted capsicum.
 1 1/2 cups cashew nuts
 Virgin Olive oil
 2 cloves of garlic finely chopped 
2 tblsps of balsamic vinegar
 ( salt pepper or sugar to taste )

Firstly roast the capsicum; cool, then remove skins.
 Dry roast nuts in a pan. Put both into a food processors and blitz. Leave it a bit chunky for texture. Drizzle in the balsamic and if you think it needs thinning slowly add oil. Add condiments till you like the taste.
 On this occasion mine needed hardly any oil. and I decided to leave the garlic out. Tastes divine!
 Cover and keep in the fridge or freeze it. Serve with home made lavash, crackers or vege sticks. Or use as a spread.

 My 7 so far appliqué flower blocks.

Number 7 is giving me trouble. The spotty fabric I am using for the leaves  is a bit linen like and is fraying madly. I don't have this trouble with the batiks, so must take more care next time to select by fabric type not just look.
 The smaller leaf is on. The other half done and there is a 3rd to go on the opposite side. Extreme patience is required by me.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Processing Extra Produce and some Quilts.

Good Morning Bloggy Friends, especially Kelly, Jennifer, Sue, Maureen, Deb Thimbleanna and Isabelle. I do so appreciate your comments and the fact you pop in to say Hi. It's good to meet some new commentors. Regarding the Hoya bella photo. Yes,Isabelle mine is growing outside in a very sheltered warm corner in a large blue pot. I have to feed it iron sulphate quite often or the leaves become very pale and yellowed. A dose of that watered in and it is soon bright green again. I think mine may have flowered twice this year? It is extremely sticky, so glad mine is outside. I think I have always had a soft spot for this plant as my Nana had a large one growing right along her veranda . ( in a chillier climate )I think I have a soft spot for many plants I first met in during my early years in my Mum's or Nana's gardens. I also got the gardening gene.

 As we had an abundance of Feijoas ( pineapple guavas ) I cooked and froze a couple of batches. I love looking at the various patterns the inside jelly part makes. It depends how well pollinated each fruit is, as to how many loops it makes. With Feijoas you either love or hate them. Have too many or not enough! I  couldn't help noticing the shapes were very like the flowers I am appliquéing.

 Here I am roasting some of my red capsicum to make into roasted capsicum and cashew dip. I love red capsicum!

 Outside signs of Autumn continue. I don't care for this colour of Wind Anemones but they do put on a good display. I much prefer my pale pink and really like the white ones. They are not nearly as invasive as these - I suspect original old double dark pink / cerise ones. The red tree is a Viburnum.
 On Friday at my Patchwork and Quilting Group we sometimes have a member give her Quilt Journey. Something I started back in 2010. We have listened to many since then.  This lady has been quilting for many years and started quilting mostly by hand but now uses the machine more. Her very first Grandmother's Garden type quilt remains unfinished.......
 She has made numerous quilts over the years; has  given a few away, but sadly keeps all her quilts in a cupboard - none on her beds or walls as she thinks her cat would spoil them. (I have a different opinion ) Her family have said they don't want them!
Here are a few I liked.

 This is a reversible wall hanging( or could be! )


 I also took a photo of my friend D's table mats she is making as a gift for a family. Just using up 2.5" squares she had. She is making  a set of 8.

 Meanwhile I have progressed a tiny bit ,working on appliquéd flower # 7. ( photo next time )

Friday, March 21, 2014

Autumn Tasks.

Autumn is a busy time. For this little ant it means scurrying about eating honeydew or sweet nectar on Hoya bella.( click to enlarge. )
 For these wasps on the grapes  it means getting stuck in and eating just as much fermenting juice as they can.
 Care is needed when picking the grapes. I have made one large batch of juice and will do more. Once even one grape is split or eaten the wasps take advantage and can get quite drunk. Roger has been going out at night to nests he has marked during the day and pouring petrol down the nests. Some that have horizontal tunnels are hard to kill. ( if left the nests can get quite huge )

 R has resurrected the corn I showed all over the ground in the previous post. It may survive but won't be great.
 Yesterday  3 tree fellas ( fellers ) arrived to do the tree limbing we needed. They took low branches off the Rimu over hanging the deck. Rimu ( a NZ native red pine ) is the most prickly horrid leaf to handle. They dragged the branches across the lawn to get to the shredder and left a trail of little twigs so I had to remow the lawn ( quickest clean up method.)  They then took lower limbs off the 2 oak trees. Here Phil is roped to the tree. Limbs and chainsaws are raised and lowered by rope.
 All the branches got put through the mulcher. A very noisy job.
 Which left us with 2 piles of mulched wood to break down for future use as mulch or growing pumpkins on.
 The light is now streaming in. The only casualty was a few broken small branches on one of the yellow Vireya. ( it will regrow; it's just a bit lop sided. )( I am glad I took it's photo when it was looking pretty )
 The 3 guys them trimmed the cherries along the driveway and took all the lower limbs off the walnut tree so R can get under it with the hustler to mow. This meant I had to race out and pick all the walnuts not yet dropped off the lower branches I could reach. ( I have never picked them  un-split  before so will see how they go ) I am drying them in the sun. Today I will go back and collect what are now all over the ground where they worked. It may mean a slightly reduced crop but I still have lots from last year in the freezer. So YES Leanne - This year's walnut collecting tally has started. 434 so far. As a comparison last year I picked up 7621.

It has been such a fine Summer the pests have all thrived. I have spent 2 sessions cutting down/off the netting all the runner beans. Usually they are left so the roots go on adding nitrogen to the soil but this time they were so pest ridden I decided to take them out early. Firstly and during I sprayed with pyrethrum to kill white fly, vegetable bugs ; passion vine hoppers and other varied pests.  A job needing patience, while keeping  ones mouth shut so as not to in hale white flies.
 I am now off to finish the clean up outside. I will collect the small twigs etc in the flower garden - better for me to do it then blokes with big boots  - and then the walnuts. Did I mention we are back to that beautiful calm clear Autumn weather when harvesting and cleaning up are tasks that must be done. I have left the kiwifruit for a while because I got ahead! Yea! That gives me the time to clean up my garden ( and R's ) and all the other gathering jobs.It is good to be busy( within reason ).
****Before I go I want to say Hi to my commentors. I do so appreciate your interest - it encourages me to keep taking photos and rambling on here about country orchard life in BOP, NZ.****

Monday, March 17, 2014

Storm Allows Sewing Time.

We got off pretty lightly with storm damage compared with other parts of the country - as " Lusi, " swept down New Zealand during the weekend.
 The second planting of sweet corn got trashed. The rest  of the strong wind damage is just cleaning up of tree branches and picking up a few avocados from the ground.
 Please note everything here is green for St Patricks day.

 The storm kept me mainly inside so I got some appliqué done.  I was having trouble with the tight inside curve on this leaf  - the fabric frayed so undid it and made it a little larger.
 At Patchwork on Friday Anna  lent me a book called "The Art of Easy Appliqué," by Mini Dietrch and Roxi Eppler. ( published 1994 ) I am busy reading it for any useful tips. I suspect 90% of my difficulty may be my eyesight. 
I am going to hunt down a magnifier on a stand to use.The fact that I am using invisible thread doesn't help. This is flower # 6 almost finished.( out of 24 on the Kim McLean pattern. )

 On Saturday I braved the stormy weather and drove into the city  to the Memorial Service for our Patchwork  member who died 3 months ago. Her family came down from Auckland and played a video of the funeral service ( cause most of us didn't attend ) and people who wanted to say anything could. At the beginning the 11 year Grandson stood up and unaccompanied sang in a pure clear voice " If you need a friend, just call my name. " It had us all spell bound( and teary ) . He was such a nice confident boy ( who can apparently also play drums, guitar and piano. ) His Grandma would have been so proud! We were all given a jar of marmalade( with a little brandy in it ! ) made from the contents of our quilting buddy's freezer ( made up by her daughter ) which the family are still trying to find the bottom of.
 Our friend that died was a very down to earth nurse who had had ( 2 hips and one knee replaced ) quite a tough life but was a battler. She wanted her organs donated and so far 6 separate people have been helped . Both her eyes and her lungs and 3 other bits. She was the oldest to date lung donor in NZ at age 69. She would have been delighted with that info.
 Out in the garden today things are drying out and all the better for the 59 mls of rain we received. Here are some photos I just popped out and took.
 A big fat Bumble bee on Autumn Crocus.

 Some of many red Nerines flowering

Purple Asters.

                                   White wind anemone.
Vireya Sunny Splendour.