Friday, December 31, 2010

Dear Diary.....

Do You keep a diary?  A book like this or an on line diary or a phone one? I find it essential.  Last year I left purchasing a new diary till too late and stuggled all year with a hard covered ring bound one that annoyed me. It wouldn't open easily and lie flat so for this year I got one early that is distinctive but also asthetically pleasing to use. It is soft with a wipeable distinctively patterned plastic cover . ( it has lots of blank pages at the back as well as the usual things one expects in a diary ) Being a ring binder pages can be removed too.
      I don't write" Dear Diary, " type entries, mine is a working document. It is a reminder for important dates, meetings; events and lists. ( yes, I do keep some other similar ones on the computer ) but this is much more portable, almost always with me if I am not at home.(like a bag and keys and money etc )   Unusually, I have written quite a bit in it already as I am planning for things happening later in the year. In 2011 we are going on our big holiday. Quite a commom happening for some people but not us. We have never been to UK ( or Ireland or France or Singapore ) before, but in 20011 we are have been paid for! So every time something springs to mind that I might wish to have information on while away I am adding it to this "must not be mis placed book." It's still 6 months till I need it all but I know how quickly time can fly by so, I'm not leaving anything to chance.
 I love and use lists . I enjoy keeping records. I love doing research, so this fits right in with my habits. I do NOT make New Year Resolutions.  R keeps a diary for orchard purposes and he keeps weather / rainfall records too. We have to keep some orchard records that are auditable .
* I suppose writing a blog like this is also a diary of sorts, with photos , and some but not all events and thoughts being recorded. Just one of the places I keep records of my quilting and handcraft projects.
        It is supposed to be raining but isn't so I have been watering newly planted things ( no surer way to make it rain ).
We have some lovely calendars to put up for 2011, with fabulous photos, maybe more on that for another post.

                                May I wish You all a Happy, successful 2011!

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Promises of Things to Come.

My waterlily in the big blue bowl has 3 buds at once so promises a good display. Probably not today as it is overcast.
The grape vine has a  good number of bunches which are sizing up well.

The persimmon tree has lots of fruit set - this is how they look just after the flower petals have dropped.

Tuesday was wet so I got lots done. Annabel would be pleased with me....inspires by my new book I made the walnut, pear and avocado salad ( having  to buy only the cheese and pears ). I also made another Christmas cake and loaf, more fruit mince pies   and focaccia bread. I needed to stock up just in case more visitors arrive..
Otherwise things are boring with us working under the kiwifruit vines every fine day.  We are slowly getting it done.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Lucky Me.

All you crafty ladies will understand why I love this gift so much. It's hand made by Marion Valentine ( Manawatu ) from New Zealand Alpaca wool and silk. It is a brooch ( quite large for that ) or could be pinned to a bag. I think it might be a Clematis flower  - it has 4 petals on top of 4 more petals. The colour is devine and has hints of purple and many shades of blue. My Sister gave me this along with a tiny piece of blue Hogland glass ( the same colour as the flower ) and 2 fat quarters. What a lovely gift.
           My other lovely gift ( that I asked for ) was Annabel Langbein's  "The Free Range Cook."
      Prabably because there are just so many cooking programmes on TV from every corner of the globe I am well over most of them, BUT this year on NZ  TV was the series from which this book has been made. Maybe it is because Annabel says she is a COOK not A CHEF that  I like what she makes. On the TV series the NZ scenery where she lives and collects her fresh ingredients was fabulous. Some of these same scenes are the illustrations in this book. The photography is amazing and the book cover just wants to be stroked - it smells nice too ( most important with a book )  Maybe its only drawback is its weight ( over 1.5 kgs ). I am currently reading it not just browsing and I intend to make some of the recipes..
If you don't know about this lady check out her website .   There are video clips about her garden that you can watch. She has a huge fabulous garden with many raised beds ( yes ) and grows fruit and nuts, buys local meat, seafood, wine etc. ( what a great NZ ambassador ! )
 She has to be a favourite with me along with Al Brown and Steve Logan.( for the same reasons )

Sunday, December 26, 2010

We Grew Some of our Dinner.

We had the lovely quiet restful day we wanted yesterday.( Eating, drinking ,walking, reading, talking, playing ) Before we were able to have our dinner we harvested these parts of it from out garden.
Not a big picking but enough for us. Then we dug the first plant on the row of potatoes.
Which looked better in the pot.

I then picked a bowl of strawberries and threw as many away with rots after all that recent rain.

Last weekend we were given some lovely Rangitikei lamb so we had that roasted, added some pumpkin, carrots, kumara, and parsnip and some green beans and  had a delicious Christmas dinner.
Yesterday morning we did some slightly more unusual tasks. We needed to go and pick some more avocados so they will ripen for New year, so we were over in the avo blocks on the tractor and I collected all these flowers growing in the mulch under and around the avocado trees( my garden weedings mainly) .All these  flowering happily  in the wild after all the rain.

I took them home and added them to my vase of red calla lillies on the sideboard.
While we were over there we also dug up this lovely Hosta which must have been cut in half with my spade and got thrown out with the weeds.  It has now come back to a new position in the garden it is such a pretty one.

 We had a lovely phone call from the "SNOWY " UK last evening. and J emailed photos of the white Christmas they are having. Keep warm you Chilly Northern folk.
Tomorrow I will show you some lovely gifts I recieved.
 I just saw the first Dragonfly of the Summer (out the window ) in the herb garden.  I do love having them around.( perhaps my favourite insect, followed closely by bees and butterflies and ladybirds )
There appears to be just one large baby blackbird hatched in the nest in the grape vine.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Season's Greetings.


As we are the first in the world to get to Christmas (it is 6 pm on Christmas Eve as I write ) I would like to extend to all my many blog friends and also those who read this but don't have blogs , Happy, Happy Christmas to You! ( friends in NZ, Australia; England ; Canada; USA; Belgium; Iceland; Wales ;Scotland; Ilse of Man; Ireland and Finland and anyone else )

May you be happy and thankful for all you have where ever you are what ever you are doing. ENJOY!
*This week we have had visitors from England and Canada and New Zealand. All very glad to be here in NZ instead of in  the snow back home.
* We are going to be enjoying ( by choice ) some time out tomorrow just the 2 of us to eat and drink and read and relax - we need time out. That's how we spent Christmas 43 years ago...we were on Honeymoon. I am glad we had a meal out on Sunday cause as I suspected we certainly didn't have time to celebrate yesterday!
* I got my repaired glasses back yesterday, the BBQ gas bottle has been refilled.( Apart from some drizzly rain at the moment - sun tomorrow ) work has offically stopped around here at about 4.30 pm.  Best Wishes to Everyone!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Now Great Fungal Weather.

Anyone for a sauna? That's what we are getting now. The rain has stopped: the heat is on. I know you folk in the ( snowy ) Northern Hemisphere would love it but it's not actually good for our crops.We are at geat risk of losing fruit with fungal problems. My strawberry patch is the same. Commercial growers of strawberries have had their Christmas crop ruined.
 It is all go in the orchard. We have a gang in pruning all the male vines. ( letting in the light and air and sun - which is good! )This is how the ground looks.
R is mulching it up ( with the big mower behind the fergie tractor) right behind them to try and minimise the spread of fungal problems. This is what a male vine looks like after - short back and sides.
We are both working long sweaty hours to try and make up time lost during the wet.

I'm trying to show you the size the fruit has got to. But we have all sizes. The tiny, only just set ones, will never catch up. So lots for me to do.
It's a silly time of the year to be so busy but that's how it is ( and has been ) when Christmas comes during the summer time on a farm or orchard in NZ.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

And Still it Rains.

Since it began a couple of days ago we have now had 114 mls ( about 4.5 inches ) and still it rains. Enough already! To start with the garden and orchard was loving it but now as often happens in the bay of plenty we need it to stop. Time off from the orchard was good to start with but we will now be getting so far behind with our work. my new beans are now green and growing rapidly as are the weeds, grass and everything else.
 My sister and her partner have been here for  short visit and it rained the whole time. Didn't matter and the guys went for a short orchard walk with umbrellas during a lull this morning. We decide to go out for lunch before they headed back South.We went to the closest place to eat( The quarry ) ,then made a dash through the wet. They were busy but we all enjoyed our rather large lunch.( just a snack for dinner tonight I think )
Here are the starters we shared between 4.
 I then had snapper, R and D had fish chowder and R had scallop salad.
Very nice and lovely with new potatoes instead of chips!
 It's a while since we ate out and the service was great.. ( we probably won't bother going out again on Thursday  for our Wedding Anniversary, as it is always at an awkward time of year ( that won't change ) and if it is fine by then we will be working overtime to catch up. Someone said it might rain every day till Christmas...imagine that!
We are having a lovely lazy afternoon. I am catching up on my blog reading and correspondence.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Finished & Dispatched.

Yesterday I managed to get the binding sewn down on the Healing Hearts quilt, find a small carton for it and send it off to Shirley in Rangiora. I went to the couriers first thinking that would be the quickest way to the South Island.They  said, "that would be $29."  My mouth must have dropped open ...they said, " we fly everything down . Is it urgent?" " Not that urgent, " I replied."Try next door at Poste Haste they are a bit slower and charge less." They certainly did - $8.50 and it will arrive tomorrow afternoon.( Thursday )  Phew....(I nearly wasn't going to send it.) That actually made it far cheaper then sending it by  regular NZ Post. Good information to store away for another time. I hope N, and A  and M like how I used their heart blocks. ( I don't actually like calico in quilts )( Yeah, I know it's cheaper than other nice cotton fabric .)
I hope it gives someone down there who has suffered loss recently some comfort.
     Yesterday I also managed to break the arm off my glasses, so had to take those in for repair and they won't be back for several I am wearing my previous pair. I still got 3 hours work on the Kiwifruit vines done but at 6 pm it started spitting. Since then we have had 4.5 mm of drizzle over night , so everything outside is too wet to work with this morning. No problem as there is lots else to do at this time of the year. C cards all finished last night and sent, but nuts to shell and baking to do. My sister and her partner are coming up this weekend, so some spare room cleaning too. Yes, there is always cleaning to do. My copy of the NZ Quilter arrived yesterday so there is temptation at hand also.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Quilts and Veges.

During any spare moments I can find I have taken the 16 blocks that ladies handed into me last Friday ( to send to Shirley in Rangiora, ) and put them together with bright blue and gold sashing. It was a bit small and square so I have added some panels top and bottom. I am in the process of quilting it and will add a border in the same blue fabric. Then it can be on it's way South.
   Down in my extra patch of garden I was able to pick a small meal of broccoli from side shoots which have grown after the main head was picked a couple of weeks ago. The plants are really healthy still and going to have more. ( I like that )
 While there I saw that the beans I planted on Saturday are just up. Something had pulled 2 out -  grrrr.

I love being able to eat our own produce. In the last 2 days I have picked a big bunch of rhubarb, another bowl of huge strawberries some lettuce, the broccoli , silverbeet and some radishes. We have had some drizzle and looks like more rain coming. That will wash in the avocado fertilizer. The young kiwfruit is this size already.

 Such a busy time of year!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Today I've Been Spoilt.

Today was my last obligation as President of Tauranga Patchwork and Quilting Group. The ladies made a fuss of me with numerous hugs and thanks, some lovely cards; 2 gifts and these lovely flowers. I am hoping the Lizianthus will recover - the  tips drooped on the way home as it was so hot  here today and I came home via the supermarket. The flowers D ordered match my lounge and are Sunflowers, Chrysanthemums, Statis and Lizianthus with Hygdrangea leaves. The card the Committee had signed has Jill Maas Dolls on it. One of the presents I left unopened till a day when I need a little treat.
    We had a shared Christmas lunch then I started work on trimming and assembling some of the healing hearts blocks ladies had made. Thanks ladies.( I will show progess photos when I make some ). J has made a whole quilt top and decided to take it home and complete it, so she can send a finished quilt down to Shirley. ( I explained how Shirley was completely swamped with blocks to sew into quilt tops. ) I will try and make what I am working on into a finished quilt too.
 I am very much looking forward to a spell from running meetings and having the ultimate responsibility for the group. I hope to take more time to sew and look forward to being just a normal club member next year.

Thursday, December 09, 2010

Mrs. Blackbird.

Mrs Blackbird has made a nest in the grape vine beside the house. She is a real opportunist. My strawberry bed is covered with netting but she stands beside it or on it and reaches her beck in to peck any strawberries within reach. She got the small one in the middle of the bowl.
Her very rapidly built untidy  nest.( took only about 48 hours to build )

 It is too high up for me to see in but I thought it would have eggs so I held the camera as high as I could and took this photo. So 3 eggs at least.

Monday, December 06, 2010

Busy Monday.

Finally the hydralada came today and picked our small crop of avocados.The quality was good and the size of some like the one in my gloved hand, large. Avocados can be very biennial in their cropping and this was a down year after their record crop last time.
 It is 8.45 pm and just dark here. The bee truck has come to take all the bees in their hives home.Their job for us is completed, in both the kiwifruit and avocados.( They are transported at night so they will hopefully all be home inside their hives.) Thank you bees!
The Kalmia was looking at it's best today. (kalmia latifolia Ostbo Red ) I love the buds especially they look like icing decorations from a forcer.

Earlier this evening the sky was had many strange long cloud formatioms.

They gradually turned apricot and then just on dark, bright pink. It was quite an unusual spectacle.
It's been another very warm day, quite windy too at times and things are getting dry which means more time spent watering plants.

Thursday, December 02, 2010

Healing Hearts and Avocados.

I managed to get these 11 Healing Hearts blocks completed.
My friend D, made 6 too; in very different shades. All 15 are now making their postal way down to Rangiora, to Shirley and the others putting the quilts together down there. This afternoon as I worked under the vines I listened ( on the radio )to the very moving Remembrance Service held for the 29 Pike River Miners, who died. (Parts of it were repeated on the TV News tonight.) Well done Greymouth and every one involved. It was held on the race course.( I have stood on that ground when I was visiting there in 1968. I was there taking part in a Young Farmers and Country girls Stock Judging Competition.)
This year we have a much smaller crop of Avocados then we had last year. ( It was our record crop so far. ) Yesterday R and I did the ground picking of the avocados. The hydralada ( cherry picker ) was delayed ( bother! ) and now won't be able to do the high picking till Saturday.Here is how we do our part.

R does the reaching for the fruit using this long picker. It has a blade that cuts but also a grip like pliers that hold after the cut is made. He then turns and hands the fruit to me. Once I have a grip of the fruit he releases the picker's grip.

I then trim the stalk  close to the avocado and gently place it into the picking apron I am wearing. When the apron  gets full it is gently tipped into a large wooden picking bin.  Wearing the apron full makes me waddled when I walk, just like being heavily pregnant. At the end of this work some muscles are understandably sore. But it is a positive activity. Any avos that are badly marked or mis -shapen or damaged we put aside in a large plastic bin and bring home for our own use. We both LOVE avocados. They are a very complete food and very good for us. I have avocado on Vogels toast with vegemite for breakfast almost every day.