Sunday, March 25, 2018

Feijoas are Yummy!

 It's time to pick up and start eating feijoas.
 Well around here it is anyway. You either like or hate them.
( They have varied and intriguing patterns inside ) 
That bowl full was yesterday collection. So they don't remain on the ground too long ( especially if you have birds that like them ) I need to pick up every 2nd day. Our few trees have a good crop so we will have plenty to share with family.
 They can be cooked but only if you have a real  over supply. Best eaten just cut in half and scooped out with a spoon.
 Other countries where they call them different names ( pineapple Guavas - Australia ) they don't seem as popular or to do so well as here. We are lucky in Northern  NZ.
 I will eat my share and maybe more.
Heavy rain forced me to pick these dahlias up out of the dirt and rinse the blooms clean. They have recovered now and look vibrant on the kitchen bench.

Thursday, March 22, 2018


Yesterday I did my second walnut collection for this season. We are lucky to have a very prolific huge walnut tree.
 It is at the top of an incline so is well drained. I think it is a Wilson's Wonder  and is now 30 something years old.
 Nuts at various stages or readiness.

While growing and maturing the nuts are enveloped in an outer green skin.When ready they split the skin as shown in the top picture and the nut falls to the ground or if low down I pick it straight off the tree and take off the green shell. ( wear gloves as the juice stains. )
 The less time they spend lying on the grass the better.
I then bring them home and spread them out on an old sheet on the cobblestones in the sun. I do this every day for a week or more.
 We then both either shell them or store them in sacks  till we have time to do that .
 Once shelled and very carefully quality controlled we store them in the freezer. This way they do not go rancid. ALMOST all walnuts for sale are rancid which gives them a bitter yukky taste.( people think that's how they are meant to taste and it's not )  I will have to do many more pick ups over the coming weeks.
 This year I will be coveting my collection as we are getting ready to put our property on the market............ and this may be the last crop of nuts that are mine to collect.

 We are waiting for a contractor to come and reseed a slope of lawn up to the garden shed. Beside it is the nerine and orchid bed. I tidied it up and made a defined edge to seed up to.

Red  Nerines do exceedingly well in my garden.( pink and white ones less so )  I have them in several spots and the flowering time varies accordingly. The flowers are good in a vase. Their bulbs sit up atop the soil and like to be sun baked. The clumps build up and up. I have potted some up as I don't want to be without them.
 I wont be able to take my walnut tree or my copper beech tree both almost 40 years old, if we move to a smaller property but I can take a few garden favourites like bulbs.
 It is a hard thing we have to do...we have lived here 40 years.

Wednesday, March 07, 2018


Autumn means it is going to get cooler in the coming months. ( though you wouldn't think so the last few hot days. ) Today it's pouring down.
 I already had this wool, a lovely marled 4ply , to knit another jersey for Grandson. I'm using a tried and trusted pattern. It's strange how the wool always looks more interesting in the ball than when it's knitted.

 I am pretty much back to doing everything except Kiwifruit work.( Just keeping my arm plastered as per instructions and making sure I don't bump it. ) ( getting it wet is ok now .)  
  The garden got a growth spurt of weeds with me out of action for a couple of weeks. I've been trying to do a couple of hours weeding out of the sun each of the last few days. Mainly in the vege garden where produce is still growing.
 Some time ago I posted photos of Grandson helping with the planting of these gladioli. It was very late in the season to be putting them in. They have come up well but show no sign of forming flower buds. They are possibly too shaded, so I cut back the over hanging Luculia tree, put in more stakes to tie them up gave them another round of blood and bone and some sheep pellets and a thin covering of potting mix. I cant think what else to do to encourage flowering. Maybe some more worm pee. I scattered in a packet of Thumbelina Mixed Zinnias around their feet that might still have time to grow.
With the down pour we are getting today everything will be watered so that's one less job. I do however have to venture out to pick courgettes and beans and cucumbers.
 The passion fruit are finished now and were a big fruit the birds did not attack.

Thursday, March 01, 2018

Great Progress.

Great progress with my healing. Thanks for your encouraging comments Mary; Chooky ;Kiwi kid, Suzy; Rose Marie and Dianne, they gave me a boost.
 I got rid of the sling last Friday and yesterday was my final visit. All stitches, 18 from the graft and 8 from the incision were all speedily if a little ouchily  removed.
 I came away with a roll of Micropore tape to keep reapplying myself and that's it! I healed up like a youngster...liked that comment.
 The new graft is under this. I am keeping a stretch knit tube piece over the top but my wrist is so skinny it is only acting to keep the tape clean.
 I really enjoyed being able to get it wet in the shower. Of course I am going to continue to take very good care of it in the weeks to come.
 Even better the Path Lab  Synoptic report came back with the diagnosis  benign  Keratoacanthoma.  ( excision complete )
 I have googled that and seen photos of many of these growths and realise mine was in a unobtrusive place. Many folk have had them on facial sites - not so good.

 Any way I am getting back to all normal activities and haven't missed my time amongst the vines. The garden however is looking a bit untidy.
Untidy doesn't stop the Autumn bulbs ( red nerines ) from flowering. They are early this year. Our temps have dropped dramatically -  Autumn I guess.

 Over the weekend the young ones were here. Grandson loves playing Poohsticks in the creek. The game of Poohsticks originated ( well calling it that anyway ) in A.A. Milne's The House at Pooh Corner. ( 90+ year ago in Hartfordshire  ) 
 On this occasion we didn't worry about playing it on the bridge we just dropped sticks into the little creek.
 Most floated, some got stuck on rocks and long grass, others wobbled on down the little rapids. No worry about him falling in here and we could stand in the shade. Sunday was sunny.

Monday, February 19, 2018

Trying to be( a ) Patient.

Thanks for the words of encouragement.
 Some things I can do left handed but many things I can't. Quite a lot of things need both hands.
 I can sew machine zigzag okay cause there is no precision needed and I cut the towel up earlier last week. I am making baby wipes.
 When I came home after surgery last Wednesday this is how I looked.
 I had an ugly  fast growing growth  ( possibly squamous cell carcinoma  ) ( result not back from path lab yet ) on my
right arm just above where the wrist bends. It grew in size while I kept getting referred to someone else then someone else......

 If you are squeamish stop reading / looking right now.

 Today I have been back to have it redressed and it's doing well.
 To make sure it was all removed a cm all round of clear skin had to be taken away.
 A full depth graft was taken from under my upper right arm....very good stretchy skin........ first use I have had for that sagging flesh!

  When the nurse had it exposed she was taking a photo of its progress so I asked to take one with my phone.
 This is what it looks like.
 An insect with too many legs?  

My upper arm just has a thin plaster across the stitches now and it has a lovely bruise running from the bottom of it. Stitches still in.

 I asked today if it was alright to type and write for a short while - yes. When the sling gets too sweaty ( most of the time ) rest your arm against your upper body if sitting down. and at night put a pillow under it.
 Definitely don't get it wet, don't chop or twist your wrist or lift anything heavier than a cup. Don't go near the orchard or garden ! 
 It will all take a while to heal and be very vulnerable to bumps so stay away from crowds.
 I will try and obey orders and be a good patient....I don't want the graft to fail or have to be redone.

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Rain, Rain.....

 Rain. Rain. Rain. These Asters were just beginning to flower and look quite bright and breezy...that was before the rain started. They don't look nearly so good mud splattered and with drooping heads.  Picking veges in the rain isn't much fun either.   Oh well.
 Yesterday I did a little stitch work. Yes, you read that right. I stitched! It was so long since I had worked on this Walkway wall hanging I had to start another lot of notes for myself about thread colour ; stitch length etc. At the moment I am thread painting. ( sort of ) securing all the rushes and bushes that have fine pointy edges.
 I will do some more today.
 On Friday we had our first P and Q meeting for the year. There because I didn't want to lug my machine I started putting together felt ball # 27. I could see to do that inside on another wet dull light day.

 From this coming Wednesday I may have to become left handed for a while. I have been trying to think ahead and complete  many jobs  that require right handed skills, or both hands .
 I will let you know how I go and what I am having done after that time - if I can type. Surely I can do that left handed...we shall see. 

Tuesday, February 06, 2018

Fun with Family.

A warm windy Waitangi Day here in NZ. I hope yours is going well!

 Over the last few days Grandson and his parents have been staying. He loves helping with jobs especially garden tasks...particularly with picking veges or fruit. Spotting them is a speciality.
 Beans are just the right height.
Deciding which of 4 watermelons to pick, ...and are they ready. No second chances with cutting a melon.
 As luck would have it it was perfect.
Juicy and delicious.
 Small yellow tomatoes were easy for him. His dad decided to get creative before taking a pic of how many we got.

 Making his own pleasing arrangement by slicing a banana onto his toast with almond butter.

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Very Hot in NZ.

January has flown by. It's been very hot. ( not usually our hottest month ) Some other places in NZ have been experiencing record high temps. Its about to turn stormy with very high tides. ( maybe some inside time  if it rains too) 

I have only sat and stitched about twice this month which means little progress has been made.
2 of the 5 fish hexagons that I have been hand blanket stitching ( the 2 on the left ) are done . The fish motif has been fused on first.

 The orchard has been needing lots of work - thinning the kiwifruit. It is hot and humid but at least in the shade.  We have a big problem with Passion vine hoppers which is going to spoil and reject lots of kiwifruit especially around the edges of the blocks.  They love the heat. We are not allowed to spray with anything that really kills them. We are trialling some new products next week which we hope will halt their progress and further generations of them.

 We have been flat out trying to keep up with processing all the vegetables that are ready.
 This morning I made courgette soup which tasted quite good. I froze most of it. ( some days there have been 10 ready at once )
 I have been cooking beetroot. The sweet corn is all finished now but was tasty while it was young and fresh.
 I steamed this first Kamo kamo and put butter on it. Someone a while ago said they didn't know what one was so here is a pic to show the size  next to my secateurs. Its a member of the pumpkin family.

 I found this little preying mantis. It had changed colour which is unusual. Ours are just green normally.

 The gladioli we planted ( late ) are growing. 24 out of 30 so far.

 The fruit on the  2 new passionfruit are starting to ripen so that should be yummy.

 I have also been cleaning our cupboards and finishing or throwing stuff away. Making room which is good.  Even in the food cupboards.  I need to do my sewing cupboard next! My quilting mojo might be hiding in there.  It's certainly missing.

Most days I fit in some weeding of the flower garden, when its cool. The places in the shade are weeded most frequently.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Historical Fiction.

 Jenny Pattrick's latest book was a satisfying light read for me, as have her previous books been.
 Set in NZ in 1907/8 the joining of  the main trunk  railway line and the building of the Makatote viaduct is all factually correct ( Jenny does great research ) .
 Rose from her very first novel, The Denniston Rose appears as an older person in this book.
 I would recommend her books if you have not already found them. See her website 
 If you are familiar with the Main Trunk Line you will know what amazing engineering and impressive use of manpower took place building it and particularly the ingenious Raurimu Spiral. 
 This book should be available at your NZ library or Paper Plus stores.
 ( I hope she writes some more. ) 

 I showed the pic of the smaller lot in the last blog. They ripened up nicely after about 24 hours on the window sill and are sweet and tasty. Great for my breakfast. This is the best they have ever produced so I'll keep feeding them b and b and compost and lots of water.

 At the moment we are eating from our garden. I love making fritters so courgettes are great in them. We currently have tomatoes ( 6 varieties ) courgettes,  silver beet , spinach, corn cobs, beans, potatoes, spring onions, beetroot  and  cucumbers .

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Growing in 2018.

It has been a busy week since the young ones went home and a big storm left me extra cleaning up to do.
 The biggest oak tree particularly had twigs of leaves strewn far and wide. The lawn area was easily cleared with the lawnmower but the driveways and gardens still have pockets of now drying leaves. The good side of that storm was the big dump of rain we got. Bigger trees and vines are still benefiting but shallow rooted garden plants are once again needing extra water.
This large dahlia Zingaro is happy this year - it's third. Up till now it had failed to flower properly so may have lacked water. Anyway I am now pleased with it's display.
 Every second day I am picking blueberries . Not quite as large as bought ones but usable all the same. They too must have loved the big dump of rain ( 6 inches )
 The strawberries have really been good this season too.

 The gladioli mentioned in the last post are popping up;  19 so far.

 The 1st of the beetroot I planted earlier,  in 3 successions are now needing to be used . As they are cylindrical it only took 4 to fill a bowl.  ( Boiled in their unbroken skins: cooled ; peeled ; sliced and covered in a mix of vinegar some of the cooking juice, salt, mustard and a tsp sugar. ) Roasted and grated raw will also be options.

 We have lovely young corncobs ready Yum...just as well for dental floss.. 
 The beans are producing a small picking and  the 6 lettuces ready are about 4 too many.
 The same story with the cucumbers - twice the number we can use.( give some away ) 
( Salad 3 times a day perhaps )  As we have 4 producing courgette plants we have plenty of those too. I find them quite versatile. Just fried or grated with carrot and fried, roasted or in fritters. Picking them frequently and really lifting the leaves for any hiding is a must unless you want marrows.

 The peas are finished. Mainly eaten but a few got frozen.
 Finally R's tomatoes are ripening...soon I will be complaining about too many. 
 We lost lots of the plums in the storm but what remain are now almost edible.
 WE are watching with anticipation as butternuts crown pumpkins watermelon and kamokamo size up. Also looking very promising are the 2 newish passionfruit vines. ( over 100 fruit counted ) 
 10 days ago we had this little visitor  and also a normal coloured one about the same size. Everyone enjoyed seeing it gobble worms I pulled out of my worm farm for it.

The afternoons in the Kiwifruit vines  have been really hot. Thank goodness for the shade. Wind rub has been added to the defects I am now removing. Parts of the crop look really good, others a bit gappy but the fruit is sizing well with that rain.
 Never a dull moment, or should that be spare moment...there must have been as I have just finished reading, Leap of Faith by Jenny Pattrick.  (Review next post perhaps .)