Sunday, May 30, 2010

Sewing in the Sunshine.

As soon as I have posted this I am off outside to my red seat for some sewing in the sunshine. The day started cold and damp but now is nice in the right spot outside. I need to handsew a black cat onto a ball; my eyes wouldn't see it last night. Black is now hopeless for me unless I sit in natural light.

 Look at this; the scones this morning turned out fluffy and yummy. I used a recipe that freezes well apparently, using cream and lemonade. I also sat and finished the book I was reading this morning. ( not going to recommend it - probably might offend some people. )
At the moment R is off trying out his new mower. He traded the old one in which was similar but a bit smaller and older but the same type. It had done hours of work mowing parts of the orchard and surrounds.

Even after all that rain the Lucullia is bright and attracting bees.


Saturday, May 29, 2010

Rightly or Wrongly....

Rightly or wrongly..... I decided to have a go at quilting the "Butterfly Enclosure, " quilt myself. The reason being, I need the practise and to pay someone else to do it when I am not that thrilled with it swung the decision. So,on Thursday, backing fabric all washed, I enlisted some help from R to straighten all the layers ( found a clean broom useful )and crawled around the carpet while I pinned the 3 layers ( cotton/ bamboo batting ) together.
 Here I have started stitching in the ditch around the straight lines working from the centre panel first then out to the borders from there. Surprisingly, so far, so good.
Yesterday was so wet in the morning that it was surprising that 29 ladies came to P and Q group. I got there really early and had the heaters on, so we had a pleasant day which became fine by home time.
S one of our newer members, but already a good helper, has years of experience ( is / was a trained Elna technicion ) and has done commercial sewing for 20 years, gave a really informative talk on "Getting quilts to hang straight and how to straighten your fabrics."
R a quilter of only 4 years, but prolific, told us of her quilting journey so far. I asked her to pose with one of her many quilts. This cat one is such fun.

I just have to show you this quilt that N has finished the top for. It's for a friend who wanted a quilt with "The Lady of Shalott," on it. Wow!

 So far during May we have had 267 mls  or 10 . 5 inches of rain! ( that's what happens in BOP ( Bay of Plenty ) whatever we are getting ; sun; wind or rain we get plenty of it at one time )
Right now is a slack time for us on the orchard so apart from gardening ( leaves! ) and shelling nuts we have time for hobbies; R's  medical appointments; renewing drivers licences( mine ) and all those extra things.
 In R's case, buying a new big ride on mower ( Huslter ), that he will spend hours using over the next few years.

Have a happy weekend everyone and those in the Southern hemisphere I hope you stay dry and warm.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Mundane, but Beautiful..

Yesterday we had to go to a meeting in the local hall. So with my umbrella and camera I walked back for exercise and saw these.( a basket fungi )

Filtered sunlight through yellow leaves.( someone else has to clean those ones up! )
Back home I saw this - a Nursery web spider's web full of babies.

And what is this?

The Culprit! What culprit?
When we went out yesterday R noticed the back tyre on the car was slightly flat, so we went in the truck. Today he put some air in it and went down to have it checked at the garage. This is what was found. I simply can't remember how long it is since we had a flat or punctured tyre. ( glad about that and also that it didn't let me down somewhere when I was alone......cause although I used to know how to change the tyres it's been so long - could I still ?)

Something sweet to end with. The first sprig of Wintersweet (Chimonanthus praecox ) I found flowering out near the mail box. It is a seedling I planted there 2 years ago. ( Doing that enabled us to cut out the original 30 year old bush behind the clothes line that had got huge and messy and scruffy and dropped leaves everywhere.) The first whiff enhaled really takes me to a happy place in my's amazing that such an insignificant dull coloured waxy little flower can smell so good.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Rain and Leaves.

Most of today has been fine. Yesterday we got a 4"deluge. A really stormy day. So when it wasn't raining after breakfast I got out with my mower to mow up some of these leaves.
 A bit later from another angle it does look better. I had to pick the ones on the chip up by hand.( but see how many still have to fall - moan )

This afternoon we went to the garden centre to see what fruit trees they had. The ones we want weren't there yet but we have ordered a nashi and an elephant heart plum.
 While there I saw some bargins. All the bulbs were reduced. I got 20 daffs for $8; a few more muscari and some white anemone bulbs half price.

This white Chrysanthemum was also half price.

I also wanted some instant colour for the space by the back door .

so got this cyclamen and a wee pot of miniature daffodils. ( my others  are no where near flowering yet ).

Sunday, May 23, 2010

The Butterfly Enclosure Quilt is Finished.

Finally " The Butterfly Enclosure, " quilt top is finished. Although it has been raining, in desperation to get a photo of the whole thing, I dried the clothesline wire and pegged the quilt up there.( it is a large single bed size )
Now I have a few decisions to make. Do I want to quilt it myself, ( by hand or by machine ) or shall I have it professionally done? Thinking; thinking.
The journey making this quilt has taught me quite a few things worth remembering.

* Sometimes just using up scraps or fabrics and cotton in my cupboard may not be the best solution.

*Don't buy pictorial or semi pictorial fabrics in charm packs or small sizes just cause you think they look nice.  ( Right from thre start with the squares used in the centres of the big styalised butterflies these fabrics did not play nicely together - they are still the part I don't like! - I should have cut them up! ) ( This was the 3rd time I tried to use them up. )

* Always put stabilizer under any single layer of fabric where you are trying to use a fancy stitch on the machine.

     * The adage measure twice ( or more  ) and cut once....or measure twice and sew once , is true.

        *        If you don't like how it is sitting now it won't get better - fix it straight away.

* I have a natural sense of colour, so if I don't really like certain colours together don't put them together - I'll wish I hadn't.

Thank goodness I'm a finisher or this could have lurked in the cupboard as a UFO forever more.( do you get the idea I am very pleased to say the word finished? )
 Maybe that last one, has helped me decide about the quilting.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Laughing at Myself.

It's wet and drab. Don't go out there! It's okay I won't...cause I have been indulging myself...I have sat here reading blogs for nearly 2 hours, while sipping a coffee and snacking on some crackers with cheese.

Just outside the backdoor in the wet this zygo cactus -  Schlumbergera truncata ( aslo called Christmas cactus: lobster cactus; in the northern hemisphere)-  is flowering brightly, despite the dull damp day.( damp is good.....we need to catch up with rain we didn't get earlier;  and I may stay inside! )
If it had been fine I would have finished doing this.....

...walking the Kiwifruit rows to find the fruit the pickers missed. I park the tractor at the end of a block then walk both ways up and back each row with my gloves on and a big bag to pick them into. I have just half one big block and one small left to go. It always makes me sad that some really exportable fruit get left behind. Friends don't mind cause then I share them around.
Well ,why was I laughing at myself...well it was my own fault.  I sewed and then unsewed ( yes you know the one with the quick unpick )Okay that was cause I didn't get it right. But the really funny one was the night before last sitting watching TV as I hand sewed some of those d....d butterflies. I loooked in horror as I saw I had sewn 2 eyes and some antenna to the bottom of one butterfly! Yes I could see the funny side ( end ) . I wasn't concentrating properly.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Quilt Progress.

My butterfly quilt now has the 3 parts sewn together.I have tried all sorts of edgings and stitching on the big butterflies and the little ones. Here I have hand button hole  stitched the wing edge which makes it stand out.
Here I have machine stitched all the details onto a small butterfly.

Some have machine stitching in a darker colour. I quite like all the methods I have tried so will use all  varieties. This is taking lots of cotton but that's okay. Progress is being made! I had sewing time!!! 

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Mixed Emotions.

The last week has flown by and not too much sewing or quilting was achieved. I did cut out more basic butterfly shapes for my quilt.
 In the evenings I have been adding to the felt embroidered ball ( not all successfully ) ( I did a couple of unpicks ) R said the hot air balloon was the wrong shape. He is right.  I just designed mine out of my head.....I should have had an elongated lower part above the ropes. I can't add that now but did enlarge the sides with another stripe each side.

So far this ball;  # 19 has : a capital A; a strawberry; some ducklings; a calf and a house on a hill.
Yesterday was our P and Q Group day. A good turn out again with lovely Show and Tell. We welcomed  3 visitors who all wish to join - that's good. 2 members,who for various reasons haven't been for ages, came; one with a beautiful small quilt using fabulous colours..... J said it has kept her sane while her husband has been having treatmnent and she has been sorting out their business. She just snatched an hour here and there. Things are looking better for them now.      Another young member arrived to tell us she had just been diagnosed with Breast Cancer but was being very positive about it. Yet another member had a hip replacement ( 2nd one ) on Wednesday and is doing well. Sadly at 2 pm a group of about 15 of us walked up the hill to the Catholic Church to the funeral of another club member's husband, then to her home afterwards.  
 At home; very much later ( did supermarket too )  there awaited a pleasant invitation  in the mail - Thanks Pam!
So certainly a time of mixed emotions!
 There are almost 90 ladies in our P and Q group and I know almost all of them quite well,( part of my job ) sometimes keeping up with the events of all their lives is a challenge, but I do care about them and want to support them, but it is no wonder some nights I don't get to sleep easily.
Lastily but not least... WE HAD RAIN! Much needed -  more than 2 inches over the last 2 days.Things are still damp and thundery today so maybe some sewing?

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Things that Make it all Worthwhile.

I must have been more tired than I realised as when I reread yesterday's post, just now,  I had to edit out about 5 typos....a sure sign for me that I was not quite with it. After 2 nights good sleep in my own bed I think I have caught up.
Here is some of the progress on the latest ( # 19 ) felt embroidered ball.
I have never done a hot air balloon before so that is another motif I can add to my supply. I have also put a capital A and a rather strange looking freisian calf on the other side, also new. This is in an attempt to personalise the ball for the baby by putting on things that she sees. ( A for her name; lives in a house on a hill, on a dairy farm where the hot air balloons fly over. )

Things that make it all worthwhile are the lovely "Thank yous."  I recieved this card from the UK this morning from the parent- father actually;  of ball # 18. Her Dad said she can grasp the ball already - pretty good for nearly 4 months. ( and he is going to email photos of the baby and ball - I will enjoy seeing that )
 Other things that make the effort all worthwhile are the hugs I recieved from ladies before they left Retreat and the emails of thanks sent after they got home.( for 6 ladies it was a 1st Retreat ).
Perhaps the biggest relief for me yesterday, was the Treasurer adding up the all accounts, and giving 3 ladies who were unwell refunds and we still only went over budget by $51. ( they only get full refunds if it is unavoidable or medical reasons )( that was after having to pay an extra $230 for further accommodation. )  One more person being able to come would have made a profit.  A record number attended as it was.

*You lucky girls going to Turangi in July will have much more up market accommodation and should thoroughly enjoy it.
* Late yesterday I started finding and picking the kiwfruit the pickers missed, ( they always miss some )( I have only done a few rows so far )  so will keep you some Laurie and there is still avos, so I must try and arrange a visit or visa versa.
* It is really clouding over, maybe we are actually going to get some much, much needed forecast rain....that would be grand.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Quilters' Retreat.

Starting where I left off on Thursday. Picking started by 8.30 am Friday and went smoothly. I wrote out all the documentation for the rest of the day and walked off the job at midday. In my absence they finshed just after 3pm with a satisfactory number of bins ( more than last year );  but the fruit size is slightly smaller because of the dry season.
     The car was mostly packed so after a quick shower I set of for Quilter's Retreat about 34 kms away by the sea at Papamoa but had to go via the supermarket to get the food. Everyone going to stay at Retreat has to take a main meal dish and a sweet that can be used for dessert or afternoon tea. People make wonderful dishes. The food I was getting was all the breakfast things and enough  bread rolls and salad ingredients for lunch for 38. I bought brands I use so on Sunday when we packed up anything unopened I took off the docket thus saving unnessecary expense.( I still felt the need to explain at the supermarket checkout that it wasn't all for me! )
 AS always at these event we all ate far more than we needed.( you want to try a bit of everything! ) The only item in the catering,  I totally mis calculated was milk. I purchsed 4 x 2 litres plus some soya. On Saturday afternoon I had to go out for a  further 4 litres.
It could have been this....afternoon teas ; morning teas; supper etc....but they are lovely times for sitting and chatting and getting to know each other more closely .When you see ladies just out of bed walking around in their dressing gowns you do see them as they really are. But chats over a first morning cuppa are so enjoyable. Most of us took the oportunity for lovely walks on the beach.  I did early both mornings. Another friend, with the same name as me, slightly older who is a tramper, walks at just my speed so we team up happily.
  In our club it has sort of become a tradition that a certain lady prepares a group task for us all on the first night. It is usually fiddly, challenging and often ....ummm gross. She spends hours preparing little kits for us all with what we will need to make -  in this case tea cup ladies seen here at a later time on the piano in the lounge.

I ended up with a pack with red hair, so did 3 others and we decided maybe they were sisters, so I took a family photo.

Mine is the one in the mug ( as I didn't happen to have a nice china cup and saucer with me.( she is now sitting here by my computer) (R just rolled his eyes when he saw it! )
On Saturday we ( the committee ) had organised a tutor and a class of 8 went to another more modern  nicely lit building to make "Kimonos, " with Tutor Sheryl. They walked up the garden for lunch and tea breaks and we all went down to seethat  they were making progress. Here is our lovely tutor in red and D is showing us her kimono so far.

 Here is S squaring her fabrics on the floor.

Ladies had all chosen different japanese fabrics for their project. Strange how that always happens, but wonderful as they all turn out quite differently.

Back in the main building where we sleep, dine and lounge we also sew. Machines on the dining tables and hand sewers and quilters in the lounge or outside. You can see from this photo ( taken during a tea break ) that space was tight.( almost double the number of ladies who attended last year ) ( probably my fault for promoting it too well! ) The numbers threw up some other sleeping problems ( bunks ) which I won't air here but I was responsible to resolve...and did but we now will make a loss instead of breaking even ! I wanted ALL happy campers.

Saturday night  - a double bill of DVDs for those who wanted. The Topp Twins, followed by Dirty Dancing.  Some of us had to sit on the floor so we could all see.

Outside the BBQ wooden seats were a bit hard but great for getting some fresh air or tea breaks.
Just before we left to return home we had a Show and Tell session, which is always one of the best times.  Personally I didn't get a lot done, nor did Camp Mother ( who has to be one of the world's most competent scone makers - so I watched and listened )  but that is fine. I worked on my felt embroidered ball. My sewing machine and butterfly quilt never got taken out of the boot of the car!  
A final photo of the quilt I liked best. Here S is machine appliqueing the flowers .

So that is  that for another year. I am having a quiet day doing camp washing, catching up with all our tomatoes and feijoas that contiued to ripen while I turned my back.

Thursday, May 06, 2010

Making a Start.

Kiwifruit picking time was revised yesterday. Start time 10am today ( Thursday ) - that time came and went. Eventually after a long wait for bins to arrive 2 trucks with 96 each arrived and some picking got done.( About 2 hours was wasted waiting for bins.) Picking started at 3 pm.
 22 pickers got 87 bins off before it got too dark at 5.30. Here are the bins arriving on a truck with a trailer.  Now I need to get to bed. Picking starting again 8 or 8.30 in the morning.

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Hurry Up and Wait.

You guessed it. Kiwifruit Picking will now not be till Friday / Saturday. Did they let us know?  NO!  We rang this morning as no bins had arrived only to be told we were now delayed.
 R says I am to go to Retreat, as  this is beyond my control. He will pay to have someone else do my Documentation job.( I hope that person also cleans the toilet for the pickers and makes the coffee and all the others things I usually quietly do ) MURPHY was a B..... wasn't he! ( if it can happen -  it probably will! ) It may still rain and could be delayed even longer . I wonder if we will have to reapply the clean up spray?
     Yesterday I cooked all my food for retreat ( and for us for the next 2 days ) cause I thought I wouldn't have time today or tomorrow. So maybe I will show you the slice I made and give you the recipe.

Macadamia Nut and Cherry Slice.
* line a sponge roll tray with baking paper. Set oven to 200degrees C.
For the base: 2 cups flour; 1/2 cup icing sugar;
200 grams butter.   Rub butter into the other 2 ( or blend in food processor )
 When it's a crumbly mixture press into the lined tin. Bake 10 minutes or till just golden.

While it is cooking prepare the topping:
In a saucepan melt 25grams butter with 1/2 cup of caster sugar. Add 2 teaspoons of vanilla essence and
1 tablespoon of milk. Cool slightly then stir in 125 grams of chopped macadamia nuts and 125 grams glace' cherries.
 Spread this mix evenly over the base and return it to the oven for 15 or 20 minutes. Watch it doesn't burn... the nuts should be lightly browned.  Cool and cut into small slices. Enjoy.
Yesterday we also picked all these ripe guava and put them in the freezer to make into jelly when we get a chance. There are more to pick as they ripen. Here they are being washed in the sink.  Pretty eh. ( Lauri that's the little shrub you have outside your door - ours is now a quite big tree )

 Maybe I will go out to the shed and shell walnuts - the hammering may get rid of some of the frustration I am feeling. ( if I unpack the sewing machine I will probably muck something up )
Whatever will be , will be.

Monday, May 03, 2010

Plenty Happening.

A dull cool day ( by our standards ). The orchard sprayer is here putting the clean up spray  on the kiwifruit vines and fruit.( just takes off any waterstaining - but not sooty mould unfortunately ) That happens in the 24 hours prior to picking SO either later today or more likely tomorrow, weather permitting we will be flat out picking the Kiwifruit. 
 I do hope the weather holds and we get it done in the next 2 days as on Friday, Saturday and Sunday I am committed to being at P and Q Retreat. I am Camp Leader and doing all the shopping Friday for 25 ladies staying the weekend and catering for 47 on Saturday. I have had this awful feeling the picking was going to clash and I can't really get out of either - needed in 2 places at once; so fingers crossed it all fits in.( I didn't do the booking for retreat it is traditionally this time of year which means it always clashes with our picking -  blah! )  ( trying to stay calm and be very organised )
R found this tagged Monarch butterfly on the metal drivway this morning.  I have reported it's number to the site. It may have been released from the Quarry Park behind us is my guess - in which case it didn't get far at all. It is still alive and resting in the herb garden.
   A friend has asked me to make 2 felt embroidered balls for her; for 2 grandaughters; one just born, one 9 months old.  ( a commission! hehe. ) So that has got me busy. I had run out of already cut out pentagons in some colours of felt so had to cut more. Already I have one ball put together and stuffed . I am half way through putting the chain stitch edgings in.  We have had a fire the last 2 nights so stitching after dinner in the warm means it will get made quite rapidly. ( still takes at least 50 hours work for one ball ! )
 I had packed the sewing machine away in it's bag ready for Retreat and to clear the bench. Elder son and partner were here for the weekend and he wanted some trousers shortened, so I got it out again.  What are Mums for;  but he needs them for work so more than happy to help.
Younger son and partner V are away ( from London ) down in Eastbourne ( E Sussex ) for the long May Day weekend - hope they have a lovely time. Happy Birthday Dear V.  Miss you both.