Monday, April 30, 2007

My 1st P & Q Retreat.

Over the weekend I spent 2 nights away with members of my P & Q Group at Retreat. My 1st ever P & Q Retreat. We didn't travel far, reasons being day visitors could also attend and older members didn't have to drive too far. ( The accommodation was also reasonably priced.) We stayed near the sea at Papamoa at a camp with the sort of facilities we required.
Some members of my group have been there many times before, and that's probably why some arrived earlier than we were asked to ...they wanted the best beds and they knew who snored....I didn't! I created a body else had ever been found asleep on the couch in the lounge in the morning with quilt and pillow! It was a sensible solution I thought after lying awake for 2 hours not being able to get to sleep or cope with my 3 other room mates all snoring...2 very loudly and not synchronised either.( one dear lady has had hip replacements and has to sleep on her back, bless her ). I was feeling desperate to sleep and had to do something. We did get a laugh next morning cause the worst offender arrived at breakfast and was asked if she slept well. She said she had but boy could that Ali snore! Hoots of laughter erupted cause the others knew I hadn't even been in her room! Luckily she could see the funny side! One other lady from our room said oh Thank goodness I had never known anyone to sleep so still as you! ( I wasn't in the bed ) Lots of laughing was a feature of the weekend.
22 ladies slept over; 35 attended in all some just for the day or the class that was taught on the Saturday. We did our own catering by all taking lunch and dinner dishes to share. ( far, far too much food! ) On the Friday night as a bonding exercise we all sat around the long dining table and made little stuffed cats with lavender sachets inside, that can hang by their tails. They can be hung on door knobs. That's my one with attitude in the photo .
On the Saturday 14 of us took a class with Tutor Natalie Murdoch ( she was at Symposium in PN in January this year teaching the same quilt - "Ooey Gooey Hearts" ) the class was held in a different room quite a wee way away from the main building. Normally folk take their cars down to the room as it's too far to drag or carry sewing machines....but it has never rained during class before. Unfortunately it didn't just rained; it was a deluge...the football field we had to drive across became a pond! The weather was like that on and off all day...... so some rather damp ladies started the day but gradually dried's really quite difficult unloading machines and gear from the boots of cars without getting water some where...impossible to hold an umbrella at the same time! We all probably got less sewing done than we might have had it been dry cause the room had no toilet and we had to get back and forth for coffee and lunch. Aren't umbrellas just wonderful things! One dear lady ( the chief snorer ) had made yummy hot cheese scones for us at morning tea. ( All is forgiven )
I will report more on the quilt we were working on as I progress with mine. Some ladies just made a table runner size but I am making single bed size so have a way to go yet. One photo shows the piles of 5" squares we were asked to bring the other photo shows steps 3 & 4. Step 2 being folding a 5" square in half and free hand cutting out half a heart shape. That is then sewn to a contrasting 5" block.( step 3 )
( step 4) is then to turn that block over and carefully cut the back out in a heart shape; then take that smaller heart and sew it to the front of another contrasting block. As I had over 200 squares already cut and bought 2 of the Tutors prepared packs; one yellow; one blue; you can understand mine is going to take a while. I know how to carry on and cut the blocks in half and then rematch them, then assemble them so it should be fine. More photos will follow as I get there. It really is a very simple procedure suitable for any level really.
During the weekend there were several spot prizes ( mainly FQs ) which was fun and there was one competition. Guess how many buttons are in the jar. Guess who won? My prize was the lovely little pair of stainless steel scissors in the photo with the cat. Lucky me! I didn't know I was good at that! One very tired Ali arrived home yesterday...much wiser about Retreats - I will be up with the play if I go next year!.....note to self - take ear plugs!

Monday, April 23, 2007

Paua Bag.

A couple of weeks ago if you remember I went on a shopping spree to spend the voucher my son gave me and came back with some lovely FQs and bag handles ( among other things ) and this weekend I got to use them as our Group had a UFO or Bag Weekend. About 22 ladies turned out; some finishing projects they had previously started and 11 of us making a button bag. One of our experienced quilters took a very informal and enjoyable class making a Country Button Bag.

Well you may realise Country( colours ) isn't exactly me so I chose fabrics that delighted me with their bright and vibrant colours. ( We were allowed to use any colour way we wished ) Very quickly someone commented that mine were the colours seen in a NZ Paua Shell ( abalone ), so my bag became christened the Paua Bag. I kept forgetting to stop and take photos ( must have been concentrating really hard ) but the few progression shots here will give an idea how the bag took shape.

32 squares 3.5" were arranged into rows of 4 and sewn together . The strips of 4 were then sewn to each other side by side using a 1.5" strip of contrasting fabric.( 8 rows ) This was then laid onto the stiff needle point batting and basted with pins.
Beginning on the centre strips it was then quilted in the ditch up and down each side of the connecting strip, moving out towards the sides( then again from the centre going out to the other side ). The pins were removed and quilting down each strip in a zig zag then back up each row of coloured squares diagonally( leaving a cross ).
The batting was then trimmed to the fabric edge. With right sides together pin the bag matching the strips of contrasting fabric and sew the 2 ends ( short side ) together. (forms a hollow tube ).
Rotate the tube with right sides facing till each side of the bag has 3 rows of the coloured squares; this will leave a row of coloured squares at up each side. Pin then sew along the bag bottom.Now pull sideways the corners at the end of the base to make it like an envelope flap and stitch across the end. Now cut off the triangle of fabric this has formed.( exactly the same amount at each end ) The bag shape should now be able to stand on it's own.
An old button from your button box ( wish I had thought to look for and buy some Paua buttons ) is then stitched in the middle of each square. ( I think this could have been done by machine while the fabric was still a flat piece) . I didn't put any down the sides of mine as I knew I wanted to pleat the end to make a more secure and less gaping bag.
A lining was then made to match the outer; I put pockets on both sides of mine by using a double piece of fabric, later turned inside out at the end piece of fabric. (others did this in different ways depending how much fabric they had left.) The lining was then sewn down the short side and along the bottom and then sewn into the bag ( making sure it is the right way out )around the top of the bag.
4 little fabric tabs were made to join the handles onto the bag and were sewn into the right position depending on the size and type of handles.The handles have to be put on the tabs before sewing them down. I also made a fabric fastener( closure ) on mine so it can be closed.
A fabric binding strip 2.5" folded in half right side out and pressed was then pinned around the top of the bag and joined diagonally to itself( to make a flat joining ) It is pinned with the 2 raw edges butting up to the raw edge of the bag top. Before sewing on ( using the walking foot ) make sure the handles and any tabs are lying flat down the outside of the bag where they can't get caught in the sewing process). Sew the binding in place using slightly wider than the normal 1/4" seam to make sure all previous sewing is covered by the binding strip.
Fold the binding over and hand stitch into place. I them made a button hole in the tab so it closed over the top button on the bag side ( see photo ). I love the end result! We also did a lot of laughing! Great weekend.
* note in the photo where I am quilting a piece of mauve stuff. We were given it to try instead of gloves when quilting . It is grippy stuff intended for use in caravans or motor homes as a drawer and cupboard lining - to stop things moving ) It worked well holding the fabric. ( I guess it may be found in a hardwear store )*

Thanks for the comments re the kiwifruit. Oh it is such a shame if some of you are getting fruit that is not ripening well for you. You do know the trick of putting them in a paper bag ( not plastic it sweats ) with either a very ripe apple or banana and closing it to keep the ethylene that the ripening apple or banana is giving off inside the bag. The ethylene will hasten the ripening of the kiwifruit. [In the coolstores and reefer ships they have machines called ethylene scrubbers to remove the ethylene from the atmosphere so the fruit won't ripen before they are ready for it ] That is what helps kiwifruit ( and apples ) to be long shelf life fruit.
If you buy lots of fruit at a time you may wish to put just a few fruit in a bag and do this progressively so hopefully they won't all ripen at one time for you.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Kiwifruit Lesson.

How's that kiwifruit crop looking? Good actually....but how far away from picking is it? Well a few weeks at least. One of the jobs I do at this time of the year is keep tabs on how the crop is maturing. It is all looking good but what is going on inside the fruit? The sugar levels are building and so is the dry matter....that means it is starting to mature or ripen. How can I tell this? Well firstly it is the time of year for it to ripen; but also cause I'm Brix Testing some sample fruit using a refractometer.
This is how I do it.
-Go and select some fruit from different blocks of the orchard.( 10 this time )
-Bring them back to the kitchen bench and cut a thin slightly curved slice off each end.
-Squeeze a drip of juice from each of the fruit slices ( 2 drips total per fruit ) onto the prism of the refractometer. (2nd photo )
-Close the upper plate down to spread the juice right across the prism. Hold the prism up to my eye and toward a light source. It's not easy to see but there is a scale printed on the lens which tells the level of soluble solids ( sugars ) in the sample.( the same method is used for grapes in the wine industry )
- read the result for that fruit and record it.
- wipe the prism clean after each fruit sample.
- Add up the 10 readings and divide by 10 to get the average. ( and that the current brix level for our fruit ) ( Ours is progressing towards being ready but is probably about 2 weeks away. Cold nights ( chilling ) will make the levels rise fast. Rain will slow it down and dilute it. Frost will cause a scare cause the crop can get we want colder nights but not too cold!
( What I have described is simplified a bit as there are lots of rules about where to pick the sample from; time of day; number of fruit in the sample, but you get the general idea )
At one time many years ago ( 30) the 1st May was when kiwifruit picking started on some orchards but as more was learnt about maturity and taste the industry has used better methods to decide when fruit should be picked. When our crop is ready it will get " officially" tested for Brix levels and for dry matter ( different test using microwave drying ). Then after that we will wait our turn to pick. The packhouse has to allow only as much fruit as they can handle to be picked at any time so it is all organised by the packhouse facility...... often that means a lot of waiting. The waiting is hard as frost or wind could strike and ruin a good crop, so things sometimes get a bit tense. This is our 25 export crop! ( we have lived here 29 years now )
We have been eating some lovely fruit which I picked 2-3 weeks ago that were mower damaged or extra big or flat shape ( I just couldn't throw them on the ground to be mown up ....glad I kept them cause they are ripening up nice and sweet. )
Right now we get to catch up on other jobs like garden and firewood and nut collection and Autumn things...soon there will be leaves everywhere...the colours are great on Viburnums Dogwoods and Hydrangeas; the Oaks are just starting. Lovely still, calm, days. Mellow..... Long may it last. No storms please!

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Quilting and Blogging.

A year has gone by since I posted my first blog entry. This is the 128 th post in 365 days, and I still am enthusiastic about writing mine and reading Yours! By the very seasonal nature of an orchard things will happen again near the same time they did last year so I will need to make sure I don't just repeat myself. The quilting aspects of my life will be different as projects change and time moves on.

My copy of New Zealand Quilter ( issue 59 ) arrived with today's mail so now I will be sneaking off with a coffee in one hand and mag in the other, trying all the while not to read it too fast...trying to make the pleasure last....nah rip into it then reread it later!
Those of you from overseas who were in Palmerston North in January will see that the 2007 Symposium features in this issue; I also noticed on my initial browse that your name Kirsty get mentioned along with Jenny Bowker in the section entitled "Interactive Websites," ( page 48 ) telling how to look at your photos on Flickr ( Your famous, you're in print! ) ( again! )
Thanks for all your comments ladies! I love to see what you write!
I'm off with sacks now to pick up more walnuts, then back to something with less bending down! Happy weekend everyone!

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Real Women.

Real women....I don't think there are any such persons! ( is that as opposed to less than real? ) BUT as I really respect my dear friend Sooozii ( who tagged me ) I will try and give my own slant on this topic.
I guess RW are biologically usually female ( but come in all shapes any sizes, colours and creeds ). They are usually daughters of someone ( not always known ) but are not necessarily wives, mothers or sisters. Mostly they start out as little girls and just grow into beautiful creatures- metaphorically speaking. They accept who they are!
I was happy as a girl and as a teenager - growing up in the country I did a huge variety of things running, cooking, knitting, sewing, drawing, singing, making music, picking flowers the list is just too long to mention everything. But as my Dad had just 2 daughters and no sons I got to do farm things too. As the younger and more easy going child I was shed hand when sheep shearing was on; I held the axe while staples were nailed into fences; I shifted sheep and worked dogs and sometimes had to help my Mum milk our few cows if Dad wasn't there - she was scared of them so they played up for here. My Dad taught me how to shoot rabbits , drive the tractor, feed the chooks. I had my first garden at age 5, as my folk were great gardeners.
I was happy with who I was.

My dad was into sport; so was I. I was a fast runner; a high jumper; a tennis player and netball rep and the nerdiest part of all I loved school! But I digress! I think I'm saying I didn't worry about stereotypes!

Perhaps I am a woman who can do male stuff when needed... (who says it's male stuff.) ( does that make me a real Woman? ) We have an orchard - I work - that's how it is.
I read somewhere that real women don't do housework - gosh I do all my own stunts housework and all. I have all my own parts but my eyes need help now and my hair isn't yet ready to be grey! I wear makeup cause it helps me feel good about my appearance which is what it is - just me! I wear old clothes when I am doing dirty work it makes sense. I wear comfortable shoes cause I love to walk. I try and keep fit so all by bits keep working as I like to see and hear and eat and drink and sleep. I have a nose that loves the smell of flowers and herbs and bread and coffee. (Make the most of what you have, never take any sense for granted! )
Qualities I hope I have ( real woman or otherwise ) :-
RW love "L " words To learn; to laugh; to live!
RW stand up what is right and just- they fight for the underdog if need be.
RW don't try to change others' thinking to be like their own on topics like politics or religion ( or not ). But they do encourage others to think, to extend to explore. ( whatever )
RW know what matters and accept what they can change and don't stress over what they can't influence.
RW have open minds ( and hearts ).
RW hate advertising and media that tries to make women to look and behave a certain way.( and get on their soap box about male domination in sport and TV coverage!! )
Finally Real Women treat people as if they were what they ought to be and so help them to become what they are capable of being!
Photo of me today real or otherwise. Anyone reading this who hasn't been tagged please feel free if you want to have your turn on this topic - maybe Joyce, Shirley and Pixie.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Movie and Old Books.

Yesterday was such fun!

We started off in a lazy unhurried way and went to the Mt to the 20th Rotary Used Book Sale held in a vast cool store..... missed the huge rush and queueing by getting there about 2.5 hours after opening. It has turned into a really big event,( photo shows about half the area ) with books of all sorts; magazines; CDs; sheet music and cassettes. We both did very well finding an array of reading and 5 CDs.( photo of mine here and DH did even better.)

Then we went and had lunch at the Classic Flyers ( where DH is a member ) then back across the bridge into Tauranga where finding a park was well nigh impossible because of the Jazz Feastival being held there.( many streets were blocked off ) With just a little patience we got a park and were just in time after walking a way to get into the movie I wanted to see.

Miss Potter. It was quite delightful with fabulous scenery in the Lakes District in UK. It was just a lovely natural story with Renee Zellweger being quite believable. I think Beatrix Potter would have approved. Apparently her"The Tale of Peter Rabbit," is still the best selling children's book of all time!

Of course I particularly liked the way Beatrix moved against the norms of her time to be a person in her own right!

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Tree Removal.

There has been all sorts going on around here. Last week we had 5 large trees removed ( for safety reasons )- all lifted out over garden or kiwifruit blocks without doing any damage.We had professionals do this lot. Today we had the big Chipper come and munch them up into a huge pile of mulch for us to put around the avocado trees after it rots down some.
This week I am on Jury Duty.That meant an early start yesterday and horrendous traffic to get there in plenty of time. On this occassion I wasn't needed so was back home after about 2 hours. Not needed today or tomorrow but might be on Thursday. It really stuffs up ones planning, but never mind. This is the 3rd time I have been called in the last few years - last time I got on. Hope they share it around a bit more cause the recompense is pitiful - still I would want a thinking sensible jury if it was me on the other end so I suppose one has to do ones public duty. I sat and hand sewed while I waited - some of those twiddling their thumbs commented that they wished they had thought to bring something to do! ( Just like "The Tale of Two Cities" - woman quilts in courtroom! ) Those things are always hurry up and wait!