Sunday, December 30, 2007

Macadamia Nuts.

One of the jobs we fitted into yesterday schedule was picking Macadamia Nuts ( Beaumont variety mainly ) from some of our 10 trees. The trees are 25 years old and are planted near our top boundary fence. Most have a good crop of nuts which we had been forgetting to go and pick and DH saw 2 rats running away with nuts, so we thought we better get there and pick our share. You can leave them till they drop but by picking them we know they are fresh and will keep. They hang in bunches and easily come away from the branch. ( next year's tiny nuts are already there too )

We collected a full sack in less then an hour. Now they are drying in the sun on my trolley and a blanket. As they dry they split exposing the nut. All these outer husks then have to be removed , then further drying before cracking. We have a special cracker but it is still time consuming work - lucky they are so yummy. If you have only ever tasted them coated in chocolate ( YUK ) you have not really tasted them. We lightly roast them to bring out the flavour and add just a hint of salt. They are also good for crumbing and putting in baking. AND they are good for us!

On Christmas afternoon I started a scrap quilt project.( loosely based on my hearts quilt from last April).( I have a system where I save my usable scraps then have a cutting session. I iron the fabric and cut the" best use of," squares or strips from them. These are then put into containers for each different size. That way when I want a quick project some of the cutting is already done.)

I decided to limit the pallet to greens, purples and mauve with some small pattern and lights.The photo shows the stages.
Starting at Left top is a pile of finished squares.
1. ( TOP MIDDLE )On the base square ( in this case 3.5 inches - could be any size you like ), a free hand circle is then cut from a smaller contrasting fabric.( 2.5 ") and sewn on top. Raw edge. ( start sewing at the top - this gets hidden in the seam later and overlap where you finish sewing )
2.Turn this over and carefully pinch up the fabric and cut a circle away from the back being careful not to cut both. ( like taking the back away from applique )
3.( bottom left )This new salvaged circle is then used as the centre or 2nd circle on another square. This way the fabrics get mixed up for a scrappy look.[ so you have a square base with 2 circles sewn on top]
4.( bottom middle ) The squares are now cut exactly in half.
5. These halves are then mixed and resewn, 1/4 " seam, with a new partner...further mixing up the fabrics.
After that these now rectangular pieces are put in rows to form a quilt top - I haven't got that far get as I don't know how big it is going to be. With washing the raw edges start to fluff like chenille. Using these small sizes I am able to use up lots of 3.5 and 2.5 inch squares.
(Click on to enlarge photos )

Monday, December 24, 2007

Season's Greeting!

To All My Blog Friends, Best Wishes at Christmas. I have enjoyed your company this year!

Old and new forms of greeting.
One a wonder of the internet the other very old. Both expressing and conveying friend's Greetings.

The photo is of some very, very old unused Christmas cards. The 2 smaller ones on the right are of English origin judging by the pictures on them. The other 4 depict Birds of New Zealand.

(top left ) NZ Pigeon, (top right ) the Shining Cuckoo, ( bottom left )Takahe and ( bottom right ) 3 types of Parakeet.

The cards are very ornate with scalloped gold paper edging and shiny cord tassle. They have very flowery ( by today's standards ) messages inside. The are old treasures and the person who bought them originally must have considered them too good to send or write in.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

40 Years.

This is a real shoe, off a pony. It was chromed and given to me 40 years ago today, by Denise. She was the young daughter of the family I boarded with for 2 years when I was a young teacher in South Taranaki.
At 12 noon on a sunny day on the 23 rd of December 1967 DH and I were married at St. Andrews Church in Marton. He a young farmer, me a young teacher.
Why get married at such a weird time of year?
Well, It suited us. New Zealand shut for the weekend in those days! I didn't finish school till 2.30 pm on the Thursday afternoon of the 21st December. That gave me the rest of that day to drive home ( about 2 plus hours ) and the next day to get organised. We only had the school holidays till I needed to be back working and DH had to go into Military Annual Camp in the Army at Waiouru in the middle of January. He had been drawn in a ballot to do Military Service and every year had to attend an Annual camp . So we decided the best use of our time was to get married before Christmas, go on Honeymoon for a couple of weeks come back and I'd get everything sorted in our new home while he went off to camp. Strangely just about everyone we invited turned up so it can't have been that inconvenient. DH's younger brother was doing VSA work in Thailand and he didn't get there but everyone else we wanted to be there, was.
Our wedding was quite low key....we didn't want a big fuss.......My only elder sister had made a big drama of her Wedding and I knew that was her way of doing things - not mine. ( I knew exactly what I wanted, didn't change my mind or have any tantrums ).We didn't get Studio photos taken so just had some taken in the local park ( no I'm not sharing those ), but I have kept a few mementos like my lucky horseshoe; the guest list; and I still have my wedding gown and can still fit into it! I haven't stored it so well and some of the guipure lace on the train has discoloured. ( I still like the elegant design - nothing frilly for this girl .)
We had a party with friends on our 35th Anni but can't really afford that this time so we are going out to lunch shortly; just the 2 of us. We decided to have the day off !
I think that is a Ruby Anniversary....but I'm not expecting any ( ha ha ). Many of you reading this have already got to this milestone. I think in those days you were expected to get married, far more than today, and many of my friends from that same generation are still married. I wonder how many more we can clock up?

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Lovely Things.

Cards sent from friends and a lovely vase of Pohutukawa ( New Zealand Christmas Tree ) on the fire, are the only signs of Christmas approaching around here.
Today is wet so I got much needed catch up time; GST return done and bills paid, food shopping done ; lovely fresh veges picked ( peas, beans and courgettes - yum )and now time to blog.

I think some good luck has been granted me. Last Friday at the final lunch for my P & Q group I won the lucky number - the prize was a wee bear sitting in a coffee mug.( photo ). Yesterday the mailman bought me a package.DH gave me a funny look ( cause we had agreed not to spend money on ourselves at the moment ) and said " Did you order this book?"
"No I didn't! I think I might have won it !" Sure enough I had.
It had a letter telling me of my win. ( I only had to put my name on the back of an envelope !)
Kiwis have already had the opportunity to see the TV series Hunger for the Wild ( this book is based on it ). If it comes to others overseas I am sure you would love the New Zealand scenery and food content so do watch if you get the chance.

So aren't I the lucky one. It's a lovely book - smells nice, has recipes, story and great photos.

As it is hot here at Christmas time I think it is lovely to try and make decorations,have food and gatherings that suit the climate. Outdoors when possible. Snow doesn't feature so why should we pretend it does. I may still go and cut a Christmas tree from the shelter belts on the orchard, but am so far happy with our lovely Pohutukawas flowering all around the property.

I just have to mention last Monday. We both spent all day at a First Aid Course, doing CPR on dummies ( on a not so clean concrete floor ! ),applying bandages etc etc. We have to do it ( at $80 each ) as a requirement for Globalgap - which is what we get audited on to be allowed to Export Kiwifruit. ( things have got a little crazy), but apparently you customers in Europe and other countries demand it of us...... I bet you don't!

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Handmade Gifts.

When it was wet at the weekend I had time to cut out the parts for a purple bag for a gift. I have worked on it every night since to get it done and am pleased with the colours . It is gift for someone who wears lots of purple so I hope she likes never know with younger folk though.
The table mats are being my hand work at the moment. Then I will quilt them with a large star pattern.
It is fine again now with low cloud and working in the Kiwifruit is a bit like working in a sauna today. The little fruit are growing rapidly so I am on my first round of fruit thinning; taken off the mis-shapen or too small.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Perfume Fills the Air.

There is a competition going on in my garden to see which plant smells the best. Close to the house are 2 unusual Philadelphus , one climbing ( Philadelphus Mexicana ) and one miniature. Do they smell sweeter than the Port Wine Magnolia...I think so.
Down the driveway where you walked with me in Spring flowers are now of a paler colour, lots seem to be pale pink; 2 big bushes of Apple Blossom Flower Carpet Rose , a tiny late Azalea then a splash of brilliance from the day lily in the photo. Also my 10 year old Kalmia latifolia - Ostbo Red. My love of Kalmia comes from my childhood; my Mum and my Nana both had them in their gardens, the paler coloured one. The buds are surely made of icing from the star nozzle of a cake icing set! ( click on photos to enlarge )
37 mls of rain was just what we needed.The plants are all very thankful. The wee fruit are almost growing in size before our eyes. That's good! Of course that will mean more grass to cut and of course a new crop of weeds but that's the trade off.
Thanks to those who gave me feed back on our "For Sale," on the web site. Not a single buyer yet...partly it could be the wrong time of the year; everyone's too busy.
The rain gave me some catch up time; I cut out some more table mats to hand sew. We are going to friends at the Mt. for dinner tonight so that makes my heart glad, it will be fun! I just picked a big bunch of Charles Austin roses ( apricot colour ) for my friend Liz. She lives by the sea and has no roses in their tiny garden.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Completed Tasks.

Such a hectic fortnight! Ah, we get a weekend to catch up on all the normal tasks.
Photos are some of the things that got completed.
The bag is very quick and is just 2 identical linings of the Bucket bag. I cut 8 rectangles slightly larger than the normal bag and sewed as for the normal lining; only I made 2. ( if you don't know what I mean go back to where I made the quilted Bucket bag). When it is turned through at the end I didn't top stitch it, just ironed it and so it it reversible. I used all the same fabric but it could be done with different fabrics then reversing it would give a different look. Great for shopping or books or keeping folded inside another bag for times when you need more carrying space.Very washable too.
Kiwifruit pollination is almost complete. The young fellow in the photo is applying male pollen using a leaf blower. You can see the canister of pollen sitting on top obscuring his face. Twice we had gangs come through using this method. They very quickly walked along swinging the blowers from side to side blasting pollen into the air. If you are a follower of this blog you may recall a different ( and more expensive ) method was used last year. This was in both cases supplementary to the 15 bee hives - the inhabitants of which have been quietly humming around for the last 2 weeks. When the pollen is blown into the air they get extremely active , so working in the vines is a little precarious, but we know to look carefully and mainly the bees look out for us...if we get a hand to close they just fly off. The fruit set is looking very even and a good number.

The Avocado picking was completed by Thursday afternoon. 48 bins in total. The small fruit was left on the trees and may get picked late Jan or Feb if prices make it worthwhile.....they will have sized up by then. The trees already have next years crop pollinated and are still smaller than a pea. This morning I went through the containers of reject fruit I had put aside when levelling the bins and sorted them into bags to give away. I expect friends and neighbors to come and collect them if they want them, but it is surprising to me that some folk still expect us to deliver. This tough ol girl does not do that any more. DH still delivers to neighbors, cause he likes an excuse to talk. And no before any body asks the freight to send them ANYWHERE is TOO much. These are rejects only.

On Friday lunch time we had a party of English Teachers visiting from Singapore come with a Zespri Rep we know, to look around an orchard. DH showed them around and I met and talked to some when they finished. They were a friendly bright lot with excellent English. Percy Peacock, made an impression on them and featured in some of their photos. Very pleasant young visitors to have .

So far with the property being on the market we have had NIL lookers actually physically here but lots looking on line. It is not the right time to be selling and properties are just not moving they tell us. We are prepared to wait and know we are not ready to reduce the price. Our plan A is to ride it out. If in 6 months nothing has happened Plan B is too look at other options.....sub dividing....or pulling out all the avos and kiwis. I don't think that last plan is ethically sound I really don't, but maybe if we get that poor I might change my mind.

If you wish to look on line go to and then either put in ID # 167723 or got to the map and pick out BOP; then Tauranga; then Te Puna on the drop downs and look for a property with that ID #.

I'll be interested to know if you manage to find it , some overseas friends have been able to, including younger son in London who found it and the 35 photos quite interesting.

Another completed task was reading " Louise Nicholas - My Story" by P Kitchen and Louise Nicholas. Kiwis will know what that was about and although I knew all about it before I read the book it was still worthwhile but infuriating to know that all that went on here in the BOP in our country and that one of the blokes involved has just retired and gets a huge golden handshake. Justice was certainly not seen to be done! I think 3 of the others are still in prison for other crimes.

My next read just started is has been on our bookshelf for years and I had never read it...all 1275 pages of it. "Alaska," by James A Michener. I have read most of his other books so should enjoy it and I know I will learn heaps from it. It just might take me a while.
On Friday night we had some much needed rain....kind of it to hold off till all the picking and pollination was done.( warm was good for that! ) .......but lawns are browning and dust is rising so hope we get more. Our new potatoes are just yummy and I am getting quite a few strawberries, The peas are flowering so I guess its Summer! Still lots to do here but we are enjoying being able to decide how to spend our time this weekend.