Saturday, December 31, 2011

They said it Would RAIN!

       Having had lovely fine weather over Christmas, when the forecast said there was to be heavy rain, we believed them. ( past experience has seen us have massive downpours with lightning and thunder on New Years Eve . ) So we raced and got outside things done before it started. All the washing for one thing. The orchard sprayed and fish fert applied to the ground under the kiwifruit vines all happened Tuesday  or Wednesday. Garden jobs too. R put in a wooden  edging and topped up with soil around my 6 experimental yam plants.( beside the new grass. )( looking good above ground but too soon to be growing yams beneath - they take ages. )
 He also planted out the basil plants he grew from seed.(  for our big pesto making later on )
 I'm glad we did as it started to drizzle late Thursday and has rained ever since. In the last 24 hours we have had over 4" ( 113 mls ) and it is still going. So lots of umbrella use to pick veges, clear drains etc.

These Zantedeschia ( coloured arum lilies )were looking good 3 days ago but this morning had face planted into the ground so I went with a brolly and picked them ( then washed them clean and have them in a vase ).

Meanwhile inside it has been great reading, playing, cooking and sewing weather. I got the sewing machine back on my bench( it spent Christmas in the cupboard )and started catching up on my selvage blocks.

Here I am building ( putting together ) my orange; and pink ones with some aqua blues next. Each block when finished makes 2 blocks when made into 1/2 square triangles with the plain white. I have finished 7 colours ( = 14 blocks ) so far.( just laid on the floor. )

5 by 4 will still be a small single size quilt so I may decide to go larger. That will depend on the availability of selvages.

Wishing You All a Happy New Year.
May 2012 be a positive Year for You .

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Lovely Gifts.

My ( only ) sister R always gives gifts that have several parts. This time I received a tiny 2.5" wooden sewing  acorn. It is made of NZ wood; Matai for the top and Rimu for the acorn. Inside are 2 tiny reels of cotton, a thimble and a needle. It was made by John Bradley fashioned on one his grandmother used to have. Very Cute. She also gave me some very fancy embossed notelets with the letter "A", and a book.

 I have started the book and went straight to the chapter written by Fiona Kidman about her friendship with Lauris Edmond who was my late Mother's cousin. In the foreword it says much has been written about friendship between men and women but much less has been said about the importance of women to other women. I think I am going to enjoy this book .( we crafty Blogger all know about the great friendship and support of other women don't we? )

Our 2 young ones spoilt us with shared gifts as well as individual gifts. We both got this.
We laughed that it said on the box a game would take 3/4 s to one hour. Yeah right. When we had a game with the young ones the other night it took us nearly 3 hours - we were all over tired.

Here is the detail of the beads and stitching on a 3 pocketed letter hanger from Thailand. I also got a wireless  mouse for my laptop.

This little special gift from J was as much of a joke as anything but the products seem good. ( P used the balm on a sore cracked toe )( to me the badger seem the wrong colour! ) It all started when we were on holiday in UK earlier this year. I wanted very much to see a badger in the wild and never did. When we left dear Ruby's place in Somerset,  she sent me home with this fabulous plate. It travelled safely in my hand luggage . It is Royal Worcester Porcelain and called "The Woodland in April," by Peter Barett.

R thinks "Badger,"  might become my new nick name. I'm not so sure.
 We were both given some lovely wine and olive oil and R gave me a new flash modern looking radio to use while I work in the orchard, but the batteries don't work so it has to go back to the shop to get sorted. I will show you it in another post as it has a face. Wasn't I spoiled?

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

What's Been Happening Here.

Late this  afternoon it has gone back to being just the 2 of us here.
It is too late to show photographic proof that the tree did get decorated....instead I will show you what I had on the side board in the lounge.The flowers are blue miniature agapanthus and white dahlias from the  garden. I bought myself a bunch of red carnations which I don't grow but are amongst my top 10 flowers, to go with them. They last well. Note the bright table runner and the old photo of my late Mum on her wedding day in 1938. To the right of the photo (cut off ) is a pile with all the Christmas cards and letters. 2 special cards in the photo came by hand with our young ones from lovely folk we meet in July when in the UK.
Christmas day went off well;  a bit of a blur for me - I went over board with the last minutes food purchases when I found 15 were coming. We are still eating out way through it all. The only waste so far is some fruit salad that went in and out of the fridge too many times. Meanwhile out in the garden things were getting neglected, so this morning I finally picked the huge cabbage weighing 1.8 kilos and some courgettes and broccoli.

On Boxing Day we and the 2 young ones ( V's Mum stayed behind ) drove over to Te Aroha to have lunch with R's brother and his A and their 3 grown kids and 3 lovely grand daughters. It was a great catch up. J had not seen his cousins for quite some years and had never met the wee girls.
Last evening we met up again with all of V's family who had been here Christmas day for a Fish and Chip dinner on the beach. As it was windy and quite cold ( note all the clouds )we went to the inner harbour side called Pilot Bay.
 Here looking along to the Mt.

Here looking the other way. We were entertained with a large container ship coming in and later one going out. They seemed to move quite fast - luckily a smooth passage out of the harbour.

Some of the bunch with V's nephews at the front. We didn't stay till dark it was too cold.
* J our younger son and V his lovely fiancee ( recently returned from living in London ) have some more holiday time which they are spending with family and going to 2 weddings before they both go to Auckland to start their new jobs.( most of their gear is staying here ) Isn't that fantastic that they have both scored good jobs. Not the pay they were getting in London but pretty good for NZ. We are thrilled cause then they can start the process of buying their first house.
 Since the 16th of December when elder son and new partner were here we have had a full house, now quiet again, so back to the orchard for us tomorrow.We have enjoyed eveyone's company and met V's Mum for the 1st time. It is lovely that our quite small family is rapidly expanding.
 Yes I did get some gifts which I have had no time to enjoy yet - I will share them in the next ,post.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Christmas Eve.

Season's Greetings to ALL my Blog readers and Blog friends.  May you all have a memorable time over the next few days.
I am just off to bed now on Christmas Eve. It has been an incredibly busy day but we got there in the end. Everything I wanted to have prepared for tomorrow is done.( including the tree ) We are now having 15 ( not 5 as I thought ) here later in the day for the main meal.
 Today was a hot, clear, still day. We hope we get the same tomorrow.

May you enjoy laughter, fellowship, family and friends.
 Thank you Francoise, Dale, Jennifer, Leanne and Deb for your Good wishes.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Still to Do List.

The tree got left till last. We went looking to source one on the property which we often do, but none reached the required standard, so this little tree was bought for $20 just down the road. It has to stand in a small space because where we usually have a tree is this year stacked with packing cases belonging to our young sweeties recently returned from London. So decorating it tomorrow.
    I did however finish this mug rug to go with the lovely bone china mug. It is a birthday present for my cousin ( also on the 25th. )
The grower rep from our kiwifruit pack house called in with a calendar for us and trays of unsold kiwifruit, both gold and green. Zespri didn't manage to sell it all this year and it is better to give it back to growers than throw it out.I was happy to accept as we don't have any left that we kept at home.
We also popped down the road to the nearest eating place for lunch. It is  easy to be too busy to remember and do anything about the fact that today was our 44th Wedding Anniversary.( being on the 23rd of December it is a busy time every year; and that will never change ).
Tomorrow 's To Do list Just got suddenly longer with a sudden change of plan. I hope I cope.     

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Christmas Tree.

I was in the city briefly on Tuesday. This is the Christmas tree in Red square in Tauranga.

Sunday, December 18, 2011


Like lots of you out there ( Molly, Wanda )I have had a go at making some mug rugs. The other day I couldn't find any nice bone china mugs ( that I wanted for gifts ) so had to get some everyday ones. I may still get a chance to go into the city and get some. Meanwhile these turned out okay. The second one better than the first .( only used a single layer binding on the first. )The backs are all Blue spot fabric.
I like the fabrics and the colours. Maybe if I get some mugs in other colours I will make some more rugs.
The weather has been dismal ; horrendously wet at times. We are only inconvenienced; other poor souls especially in the Nelson / Motueka area have had floods and slips and damage.We have recorded 205 mls in the last 5 days. We are so far behind with our kiwifruit work now it is laughable ( that is not the right attitude I know but it is beyond our control. ) I have how ever caught up with pre Christmas jobs.
In this household I mainly do the cooking but R likes to have a go from time to time - which I encourage. He has his own recipes and I have mine. He makes some very tasty things. ( main meals almost exclusively ) While it is so wet, R has been practising some of his vegetarian recipes .Over Christmas the meat eaters will be out numbered by the vegetarians here. That is fine by me, I only eat small amounts of meat, chicken or  fish any way.. So he set to and made Corn and Kumara Pie.
 It is a secret recipe he said when I asked.....what I can tell you is it has shallots, cream style corn and either ( milk, coconut cream or cream in it ) and a topping of cooked mashed kumara ( sweet potato ) with grated cheese on top...and probably some secret ingredients. In the photo it has bacon as well but this would be done separately when making it for vegetarians.

I am now picking a few beans for my row and we had the very last peas from the crisper . The carrots I did not grow. It made a lovely meal.

More fruit mince pies have been made; they need replenishing as we eat them.
 In this week's Listener there is a recipe for a walnut dip that sounds promising. I'll have to try that( having walnuts a plenty ).

 Sunshine now PLEASE!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Little Brooches.

I have now finished the 2nd little Christmas tree brooch. I got the idea from Jane's Blog and she got the idea from a magazine I have not heard of called Mollie Makes.
 Mine are probably smaller as they are for 2 little girls and my buttons seemed a bit dull, so having won a whole packet of very glittery little sequin type beads in our recent Chinese Auction at Club I used the bling instead.( use what you have on hand! )
 If you want to see how she did hers pop over and see. They just have a safety pin sewn to the back. As my felt already had iron on stabilizer on it ( from when I make my felt embroidered balls ) I didn't stuff mine. Also I was able to slip them inside a Christmas card to post so didn't need to make a parcel. They are actually more glittery than the photo shows.
The rain is holding up our work. R mowed where we were going to work this afternoon so the grass wasn't too long and wet but since then we have had another shower so the leaves are wet ( a large leaf can hold half a cup of water which usually aims straight for ones' neck )There is also an increased chance of the little fruit getting fungal disease.
 Sunshine NOW please.
 oh well there is always nuts to shell in the shed.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Rain, Power Outages and Devaluation.

Well it is just as well we worked like idiots all weekend as it has rained ever since. Not hard all the time, some just drizzle but it has kept us from working under the kiwifruit.
 See the raindrops on my lovely yellow Asiatic lily. A bright spot out the window on a very dull, cool day.
 Plenty else to do like making shortbread.
 I make the pattern on the top with a used plastic bullet rack, seen on the right here when it was uncooked.

 Just as well I cooked that yesterday and made scones this morning cause just before 1pm our power went off for several hours.( as it did over most, but not all, of the North Island. )
Unfortunately no power narrows the options of what to do. Jane I ended up cutting out and hand sewing some little felt Christmas tree brooches for my Great nieces. ( Will show in the next post )
*I forgot to say the cauliflower was delicious as were the first courgettes that I made into fritters and at last I picked the first handful of tiny yellow pear tomatoes. They have been really slow ripening ( or maybe I'm impatient...hope the bigger red will be ready soon.) 
Yesterday we got in the post our 3 yearly Notice of Rate Valuation.( from the Western Bay District Council. ) Perhaps more interesting than the drastic drop in capital value of our property was the accompanying letter of explanation.
The average drop in land value in the WBOP  is 22.2 %.
They say it is a national trend and is mainly because of the world global financial crisis, as well as the outbreak of Psa in the kiwfruit.
 All types of land use have been greatly devalued. Horticulture 37.5% ; Dairy 35.2 %; Pastoral 32.7 % ; Forestry 13.9 % and rural lifestyle 12.6%.
It then said it doesn't mean your rates will be any less.
 It's a strange world we live in. The dairy farms are doing really well, the unaffected kiwifruit land is producing just as before and the forestry blocks are supposed to be just what the world's atmosphere needs ( carbon credits )
 Unless one is buying or selling ( and we are not at the moment ), nothing has really changed except what a piece of paper says.
 How are your pre Christmas chores coming along ladies?  - some of you I note are doing really well!

Saturday, December 10, 2011

So Much to Do; Not Enough Time!

During the week ( Tues evening )I have had the AGM of Tga Patchwork and Quilters Group of which I am an active member and our final session and shared lunch get together for the Friday ladies of this group.  Above are some of a lot of lovely quilts from Show and Tell.( none are mine )The AGM was the usual for us  (teeth pulling session ) of nobody wanting to go on the committee. Only 5 were staying on so 3 of us muggins who have all recently HAD turns put up our hands again. We now have 8 the minimum we can get by with. Who would think we have 95 members ( one dear lady deceased so she is excused Bless her Heart ). Anyway I am not ( this time ) in charge so should manage to be useful.( I could rant long and loud about that but will spare you! )
*** Thank you for your lovely comments. I  can now add to my list of poeple /flower plants names. Farm Girl has roses Margaret Merrill; Victor Borge; Mary Rose and H C Anderson.
Loulee has a sister called Nerine.
Meg suggested Lyndon ( tree ) to go on the male list. Thanks!
*** Molly I am making a quilt with the selvages - scroll back a few posts to see blocks laid out. I have now finished 8 different colours. 10 will be required for the quilt.
Yesterday was very hot. Today after some early showers we are back to much cooler. R mowed out the pea plants which had become very mildewy and dug their space ready for another crop. We frooze lots of the peas to have at Christmas time! See that new grass there to the left - oh boy did we stuff up. We should have let the weeds in the soil germinate then spray them out once or even twice before hydroseeding it.. So now every evening I am trying to do half and hour pulling out the worst weeds. The grass is brilliant and we know it wasn't the hydroseeding at fault cause everywhere else I have used the left over soil the same weeds have appeared.
( tomatoes and potatoes on the left in photo...still okay. I proved the egg raft was green smelly vegetable bugs( not psyllids! ))Quite a few tomatoes on the plants but none ripe yet.
My 6 yam plants are up on a tiny spare space beside the new grass . They need moulding up - tomorrow when R finds a piece of timber to put long the left side so the birds can't keep scratching the soil and compost away.
This yellow lily is teasing me. Every day I think it will open...but it sure shows promise. ( as does the pink one ).
The first of the coloured lupins is out.
Some things can be crossed off my list.
* I have all NZ posting parcels ready to go first thing Monday morning.
* We have the Christmas letter written and copies printed. Cards and addressing tonight perhaps.
* I have spent hours booking a rental car for son # 1 to use when he arrives in NZ, this week. Sure doing things on line is good ( but I am slow at typing ) and they have multiple pages. Some persons and firms were so nice and helpful; some just rude - But I was customer. Got there in the end I hope. Difficult when the person paying is not the person up lifting the car at the airport.  He returns to Oz before Christmas. 
********So glad son # 2 and fiancee are self reliant, plan ahead and don't give me these headaches. They too arrive in NZ this coming week.... I can't wait to see them.

 Lots to do before you all have too! This year should be way more interesting than we have had the last few years on our own.

Monday, December 05, 2011

Rain Means Change of Activities.

We got rained off at about 3 pm on Friday. Light showers on Saturday with a fine afternoon. Yesterday and last night we got heavier rain so now have add 2 was much needed. I think there will be more; judging by the clouds.( and the forecast )
 That meant lots of other things got done. Saturday might be one of the longest busiest I remember in a long while. Heavy rain woke me at first light so I got up and started in the kitchen. I made bread and Christmas cake. While they cooked I sewed more selvages to my blocks. In the photos the brown one in complete the other 3 red, yellow and orange are in progress. where I will find enough to complete the orange one I'm not sure. I just don't seem to have much orange fabric. In the afternoon it fines up so we got some careful spraying done around the driveway and steep gardens. That will save me so much time.I was totally exhausted but had that wow what a lot I got done feeling. So yesterday was much more leisurely.
Do you remember a week ago I showed an egg raft I found in the vege patch? They turned orange 2 days ago. This morning I opened the jar and looked with my 10 times lens. They were hatching. Using google images yet again I am sure they are NOT psyllid eggs. I think they are green vegetable bugs ( stink bugs )They have a shield shaped back and stripes.
This doesn't show it but they are alive and wriggling about. They will die as pests when I am finished observing. So so glad they were not psyllids....but I will still keep watching and inspecting( the psyllid eggs hang on a little string like a cherry or Christmas bauble, but are oval shaped. )

Charles Austin, rose. ( it is often more apricot coloured, the camera is lying )
 I found the book I thought I had and am currently rereading it. It is a very small NZ publication  I got from Touchwood Books many years ago. It is called, "Gentlemen in my Garden," by  Fay Clayton.( ETY publications )I discovered I have a huge number of the mentioned plants in my garden. She tells the origin and meaning of many, many plants names.
 I did my own little study using my planting record book ( kept for the last 33 years of plants in this garden/ property. )I wanted to see how many plants had peoples' names.
 I have roses called Charles Austin,( David Austin named many of his roses after family members. ) Meg, Penelope, Graham Thomas, Sally Holmes and Cecile Brunner. I have a hosta called Thomas Hogg and Burtonii freesias. A Viburnum called Eve Price and a walnut  called Wilson's Wonder. Rhododendrons who are called Virginia Richards and Percy Wiseman and Princess Alice ( I remember her ). Then there is the guem ( how do you pronounce that? ) called Mrs. Bradshaw - she has a lovely red flowers at the moment. Her friend Lady Strathmore didn't do well and died out so no yellow guems.
              Of course there are in my garden many other ladies. The only Hyacinth I know was on TV but I do grow and know ladies called Erica; Rosemary; Rose; Violet ( Hi V ! ); Pansy; Iris; Poppy( I know a wee baby called that ) Holly; Veronica and lily. I expect I have missed some. Oh, yes Heather my own middle name. Do tell me if you think of some more. I note that it is okay to name females after flowers and plants but generally not males. Mr. Bean being about the only exception I can think of. Some trees are also surnames.   Please tell me of any you can think of.
Have a great ( busy I expect ) week.         

Friday, December 02, 2011

Growing Time.

Growing time. Growing( expanding) Time.  Both are applicable. I need more hours in the day but would be totally exhausted if it happened so maybe not such a smart notion.
    * Molly send your son over immediately, we'll put him to work.
   *Meg - I commented to Mary that obviously the pollen didn't get to her. "Nah," she said dragging on a smoke . So someone who does not  get affected by sissy things like allergies!!!!

I have been collecting macadamia nuts from under the trees and drying them on the trolley in the sun. The ones at the front have not yet split open their outer shell. They still have to be cracked after that.

I have been closely watching this cauliflower and marvelling at it's perfection and wrapping.

The first baby courgettes are sizing up. Yum! I can't wait to make fritters out of some.
I have pulled out going to seed parsley and missed radish to make room for more lettuce, 2 capsicums and a coriander. ( I don't much care for coriander but R likes it and the young ones coming soon do too.)

Yesterday morning I mowed all the lawns. Weeds and grasses were forming seed heads and the wind had left plenty of twigs and leaves for me to collect.The sight of freshly ( neatly ) mowed  lawns always makes me want to rush in for the camera to take photos while it's looking neat and tidy. So many things are flowering I can't keep up.

Filipendula is one of my favourites at the moment. So delicate, the leaves are fabulous too.

Usually I grow Iceland poppies ( Hello Gudrun )  but tried Shirley poppies this time. 

Meg the rose has a beautiful face too.
All these ladies in my garden!

This one is Sally.  While all the roses are beautiful I do have a problem with bronze beetles hiding in them and eating holes in the petals. You can see some evidence of it here at the bottom right corner. Some are so badly chewed they are totally destroyed. The only thing I can do is digitally squash them ( but they leap and drop to the ground). I dead head over a large bowl to try and catch as many as I can. We still have bees here so I can't spray with any insecticide. They overwinter under ground so are hard to get rid of.
 I started counting up how many flowers have people's names or is it the other way around, people have flowers' names. Many I know are named after the breeder or someone in their family. ( someone  wrote a book about "Ladies and Gentlemen in my Garden." I think I have it somewhere.