Sunday, February 26, 2012

Busy Weekend.

After that wet spell we now have warm sunny slightly autumnal type days. This red nerine is one of many that will flower over the next few weeks. They seem to thrive in our conditions and I now have 100s.( in about 5 different sites, so some flower earlier than others. )
       I was not very popular when I asked if R would drive the truck for me to stand on the deck to cut off the low hanging branches on the 2 oak trees. Threatening to get some blokes in and pay them to do it seemed to do the trick. It took less than an hour. I didn't cut myself or fall off the deck of the truck and the sunlight is now getting through to the garden below much better. Thank you R that wasn't SO bad was it?
Percy Progress. Percy Peacock is now concentrating on pulling out the smaller feathers further up his back. He left me this little one would make a lovely quill pen if we still used such things. ( Loulee and Gina, some folk think it is bad luck to have peacock feathers inside. Folk in India where it is a sacred bird think it is very good luck. I have them inside and don't think they have ANY influence on good or bad luck that is just superstition.)  They look great in a vase so that is why I have them.
These are peaches called Flatto,. It is the first time I have seen them in NZ. We tried them when in the UK last July . They are very yummy and easy to eat. There were 5 in a long little cardboard tray.( I has been eaten so missed the photo ) 
 They are grown ( by the Paulin brothers at Clyde Orchard )  at Clyde in the far south of the South Island. They are called different things in different countries( Pan toa in China; Saturn in USA; Sweetcap in France. ) They are being sold at New world and Pak'n'Save supermarkets.
 It is a busy busy gardening weekend for me..... getting lots done...there is still lots to do.    Have a happy weekend everyone !

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Class Sample.

I made this mug rug as the sample to show the ladies tomorrow, so those who want something really easy to make next time we have P and Q can get my needs list and bring their fabrics and make one.
Just as well it rained or I wouldn't have had time to make this and write out the needs list for them.
 I have been having a real battle with Blogger. I have had to up date everything. Strangely it would work on my laptop but not here on my PC where I have my photos.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Selvage Quilt Finished.

 Yesterday I finished thinning fruit in Block 1.
 Yesterday I finished reading my 919 page book.
 This morning I finished sewing my selvage quilt.
Can you see the smile on my face? Finished can be a happy word or a sad word or a nothing word. Today I am using the happy version.

Then I tried hanging it on the clothesline.

It will be going to a really clever quilter with a computerised system to get quilted. I am very pleased to have it finished. Observations about it are it might be made of off cut ( selvages ) but it probably took more cotton and sewing time than any other quilt. When I finished I had just 18" of white thread left. ( shopping soon! ) The back of it is a nightmare of fraying edges and threads. I am wondering if it might benefit from the addition of a thin black ribbon sewn around the the block area. I will audition some when it is done. ( I think it is the left hand side that is worrying me where it has lots of white.)

Percy Peacock has finished too. Finished dropping all his long feathers. He is however still sitting up right by the ranch sliders every second day scratching and preening and leaving a variety of small feathers. ( where is he every other day ?) I have a collection of the long feathers and these small ones. Some are just delightful and fluffy. Some are brilliant colours.

 * I should add that (if you are a stayer ) the book I finished was worth the effort; you might like it.  " Ireland Awakening, " by Edward Rutherfurd.
( the part about the potato famine particularly in the town of Ennis where I have been was very ghastly. The deaths were the greatest in the West country  ( County Clare )  - the part of Ireland I liked the best for it's beautiful green countryside.
  It was interesting reading the ghastly history of amazing places I had been to last year: Dublin; Galway; Ennis and Dromoland castle.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Now on the Wall.

Last year when we were holidaying in UK we went to many interesting places. One that caught my imagination was Mevagissey in Cornwall. ( I wrote about it in August last year. )While we were there we bought this print by Simon Clarke that today finally got hung on the wall. It is such fun. Enlarge it so you can see, the sheep in the phone box; the eyes on the crays in the pots; the cows; the seagull and of course the dog making the sheep walk the plank. The print is called "Walking the Plank."
 More work by this artist can be seen by googling his name ( Simon Clarke - Quay Reflections Gallery or  )
 A street in Mevagissey.

 The shop window before we bought the print. It is partly shown in the right side . Another by the same artist is in the middle.

 I got google images to show Mevagissey; there are so many lovely photos . The wharf area surrounded by the houses clinging to the hillside is typical of several seaside towns we saw.
Today it is raining steadily SO no orchard work and the plants are loving it. I'm off to sew right now!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Here's a Curly One.

When thinning the kiwifruit we find some strange shapes. Fans; doubles triples; quadruples even, certainly some vulgar shapes , many with male looking parts, but this just might be the cutest most ornate one I have found get. The line down the side of the fruit is called a Hayward mark ( these are Hayward variety kiwifruit and it is a mark peculiar to them ) An export standard fruit( which is what we aim to grow )  is allowed 2 thin, not deep lines with no protuberance or beak or curl. This one had 23 distinct lines and many curls. I love it and it is on show on our bench till it goes off. ( it has been out to show and tell with me, he he, the ladies loved it. )
        We have had a little much needed rain. There is drizzle again this morning. A little more ( 2inches ) would be good. ( good for the garden and the orchard and good for me cause I don't need to water, or fruit thin  and can have some inside time!!!)
Yesterday morning I got to sew for a while. This is the sum of the parts for my selvage quilt so far.

Now progressed to this stage. 20 blocks all joined. I did 4 strips of 5. That was straight forward. Getting the 4 strips joined and the seam matching exactly was not. I pinned and even adjusted a couple of the seams for a better fit. In the end I pinned the intersections then sewed just across each. After inspecting that they were matching to my satisfaction I then sewed the entire seam.That way where there was any extra to ease in it happened block by block. I might have thought that was challenging but getting the whole thing totally square was even worse. I pressed and trimmed till I thought the quilt will be small if I keep this up. I am now happy that each seam through the quilt is within a fraction of the same length and the same with the long seams. ( otherwise when I measured through the middle to cut my borders they wouldn't have fitted )My 12.5"  square ruler has a diagonal line which helps keep each block lying totally horizontal. Maybe I was being too fussy, but if things are slightly out it only gets worse at the next stage, which is to add all round some thin white strips before adding the piano key borders. Thank you Nicky, Jennifer, Meg and Molly for your confirmation of side seams first. Molly you will have to stop seeing fairytales everywhere. I really would have let you know if we had a diamond mine. Little people I could deal with. maybe it is them stealing time. ( someone else wrote a blog about the fact they were sure someone was stealing their time...I know the feeling. ) 

Thursday, February 09, 2012

Some Finishes.

Yes, some finishes but not the ones I'd like to be reporting on like I finished my quilt or even the borders. No. other work finishes.
 R's foundations got finished and the container got moved onto it. ( it wasn't level so he had to take remedial action - it's okay now. )
 A question;  what is a good colour to paint it and disguise it? ( I hope to grow climber up in front of it eventually. ( yes, I can see it tones with the orange canna flowers but it has got to be another colour. )
 R rang the crane hire on Tuesday to do the moving. They said. " yes, sure we will have a crane truck there at 9 am tomorrow."  The bloke turned up at 7.40 am. Just a tad early. Luckily we were up early. ( they must need the work? )
Another finish by Percy Peacock. He has dropped all the long tail feathers -  we have quite a collection. Actually I like the small fluffy ones he sheds. Will get a photo.
 Yesterday I finished my round of fruit thinning in  2B the largest kiwifruit block!     Yes!                            (Still other blocks to check out )
 Another finish. I had all the lawns mowed before 10 am. today. It is now very dry so it was mowing off rough seed heads, picking up gum leaves and bark - general tity up. Always give me a moral boost as things look tidy just for a short while.
 I finished all my library typing at the weekend so am happy with that.
My 4 borders are only 30 inches long. That's about half what the long sides need to be and two thirds the short ones. I just don't get much time these days as even after dinner I seem to have watering and garden jobs to do. I have currently dug up about 50 more red nerine bulbs that I want to shift to where they will be seen. A bit late doing it as the ones up the bamboo fence are just starting to flower. Yesterday I pulled a dead tree out of a bank that was blocking a path and very ugly and dumped it in the paddock where a certain bloke with a tractor will have to drag it away. I have to admit I was exhausted when I finished but it's done. There are so many jobs like that that keep getting ignored for more important ones. Blah! 
 Question: When attaching borders to your quilts do you sew on the long side first? I am sure someone told me a reason for that....if hanging the quilt it is less likely to stretch...or is there some other reason? ( yes I know to measure through the middle. )
Now some pleasant things. This part of the garden is looking productive.

See how tall the tomatoes have grown. The basil is really doing well now after a very slow start. The spring onions have shot away; the beans are flowering ( we have 2 other lots - the scarlet runner are right at the back - absolutely smothered in passion vine hoppers ) ) and the silver beet are out of site behind the basil. What isn't doing well is the corn and unfortunately V the water melon. They are both too slow and we can't work out why as we have been watering them.

 This morning I have noticed some lovely yellow flowers making bright spots in the garden.

Yes it is just a courgette flower but it looked very bright and inviting...and I'm not even a bee!

This vireya rhododendron - Sunny Splendour ( well named ) is looking very healthy and bright in the shadows under the big oak.
 I took 2 photos of it. See how the colour looks different depending which way the light was .

 It is going to have several flowers I am glad to's leaves are very dark and glossy. A lovely plant . There are 2 exactly the same quite close to each other but not doing the same thing at the same time.

And finally a complaint ( won't get me any where I know cause the culprit is not owning up.) WHO HAS BEEN PECKING MY BUTTERNUT?
Was it Percy or the pukekos?  They also pecked a lot of the little ones. ) Murder is in the air!

( I picked it and we have eaten half - it was very tasty.Luckily the patch up beside the garden shed has at least 20plus still doing well.)

Sunday, February 05, 2012

The Variety of a Weekend.

It is a long weekend here in NZ . For us I think it is project weekend. R is getting on with building the foundations so the container can be moved to it's final site. It's a bit warm but he loves doing this sort of thing. 8 by 2s on sturdy posts that were rammed some time ago. I did smirk to myself when he came in and said, "Don't know how that happened cause it measured it then cut it too short."   ( now  a quilter would have known; measure twice and cut once....wouldn't we? )
      I have been working on several projects. One is coming along very slowly cause I'm no typist. One of my jobs on the P and Q committee this year is being the Librarian (with M, she wants to learn ). I have done the job before 4 years ago and want to get it back on track. I still had in my computer the pages of the catalogue I had typed last time so now I am adding to that. I am deleting all the #s that have been discontinued and adding the new ones ( 60 haven't been added )  and trying to make it all consistent. I am also making a cross reference by content to a list that will help members to find books on a particular subject. It makes lots of sense to me but not to everyone ( yes teaching and good schooling all helps make some things second nature. ) We have about 600 books; magazines;  DVDs;  stencils and patterns. A wonderful resource for us all to share. I am keen that it runs smoothly and that items don't get lost or disappear. So my 4 typing fingers have been busy ( oh, how I wish I had learnt to touch type. )
   I have also been reading; gardening; cooking  (and today I hope sewing )

       About the quickest thing I can make is a batch of pikelets. ( drop scones in USA ??) Here is my recipe ( and probably yours too ) ( it's just a batter )
1 cup SR flour                                       1/4 tsp Bicarbonate of soda
 1 large egg                                         2 tblsps of sugar
1/2 cup of sour milk ( or add tsp vinegar to fresh milk )
melt 1 tblsp of butter.

 In a bowl sift flour and soda,add sugar, make a well and break in egg, then very slowly add the milk mixing as you go. it should be a thick batter. ( if you add to much and it is thin you will have pancakes ).( the amount of milk you need depends how big the egg was ) It should just be able to slowly run off a spoon. Lastly mix in the melted butter.
 Heat a heavy bottomed pan or electric fry pan and spray on  some cooking oi., When you think it is hot enough( just drop a teaspoon full to test the heat. ) drop  the mix off the end of a tablespoon evenly around your pan( see photo ) When bubbles break through the batter and pop, turn, ( with an egg slice or similar) the pikelets over and cook the second side. Then remove from pan and lay on a cooling rack. ( in a clean tea towel if you want them to stay fresh for a while.)
 These may be eaten with all sorts of toppings, sweet or sour. They are best eaten the same day but freeze well.

 Percy Report.
   The other day I said we had found the first feather Percy Peacock had dropped. Well this morning he has just 5 long feathers left.
 Here are some of the moulted ones. ( we already had a jar full from years past.)
 He has been hanging around the house morosely ( I suppose because we are at the house not down in the orchard ). Sleeping on the deck.

 Of course he has left more than feathers...which I don't appreciate but will scrape up when dry and toss on the garden as fertiliser. I have also caught him looking in the glass ranch sliders at himself ... (thinking gosh my bum looks small like this! )

My patchwork friend D started Chemotherapy for a blood disorder on Thursday. I am worried how she will cope( she is too of course. ) So far she said the steroid she took on Friday kept her on a high and unable to sleep, but she is feeling okay so far. It is the beginning of a long journey. As her friend I can only be supportive,  certainly help with transport if it's ever needed, but a friend can feel rather useless at such times. She gets the same treatment next Thursday.
Goodness and sunshine in a basket. Note the one on the left has blight I think, but half was able to be used. These and any infected leaves are being taken off and burnt to stop any spread. ( the psyllid scare early in the season came to nothing I am glad to say )

 Also being harvested and eaten here are, 2 sorts of beans; courgettes; silverbeet; potatoes; lettuce; telegraph cucumbers spring onions and radishes. As there are so many avos ( from picking recently ) we are having them 3 times a day in some form ( on toast; in salads or as a starter with cottage cheese in the stone hole dribbled with a few drops of Worcestershire sauce. ) YUM! 
 Have a happy weekend Kiwis, and everyone else of course. Sorry about the snow, some of you are getting in Northern climes  - quite hard for us to visualise.

Thursday, February 02, 2012

COOL ( Country of Origin labelling )

We are what we eat. Right? This morning it was damp first thing so I was in the kitchen baking lavosh. ( using Annabel Langbein's recipe ) Where did the ingredients come from? The flour is from Australia ( I knew that -  most of our flour is from there ) the sesame seeds are organic from Ceres sourced from India the label says. ( thats' okay we don't grow sesame seeds here ) The water was from the tap and the olive oil was from a lovely bottle of cold press  Koroneiki ( from the far north of NZ given to us as a gift. - Thanks Pam ) and the pinch of salt was from NZ.
 The lavosh turned out crisp and lovely; I tried them  with a slice of tomato from the garden for with my morning coffee. SO why am I on about this?

 I read in the " NZ Farmers Weekly, " ( no apostrophe I notice )  that comes free to our mail box an article written by Alan Emerson about New Zealand brands we used to trust ( Heinz Wattie and McCain ) are mixing vegetables and fruit from overseas with New Zealand produce and calling it Made in New Zealand.
 Okay so what's wrong with that? A lot!
       We are exporters ourselves so know quite a bit about what is and isn't allowed. We have strict rules about what spray or products we are allowed to use if we are going to export kiwifruit or avocados.( and it has to be labelled ) Why therefore are we in New Zealand importing fruit and veges from China, South America, USA and Vietnam, into the country that has been sprayed with chemicals we are not allowed to use here.( food tested had one of 4 chemicals prohibited here. ) Last year NZ imported $700 million of fresh fruit and veges . $63 million from China -( garlic, pears and  grapes ) .  Supermarkets are now labelling ( mostly ) where fresh fruit and vegetables come from.
        What is astounding and I agree with Alan Emerson here is tinned and frozen vegetables and fruit can just be labelled Made in New Zealand and have ingredient from anywhere in it cause it was mixed and canned or frozen here in NZ.
 Apparently Talleys are the only frozen veges that are grown in NZ.     PRODUCT of  NEW ZEALAND is what the label has to say to tell us it was grown in New Zealand.
   More and more food from other places are being shared around the world because of free trade agreements.   White ware; clothes; shoes and  wine already have COOL labelling. Time for all our food products to be labelled with the truth, so we the consumers can have the right to know and choose for ourselves.
    It is such a good reason to grow just as much of our own fresh fruit, nuts and vegetables as we possibly can.
 There are 7000 growers of fresh fruit and vegetables in New Zealand, many of them selling their produce at a loss - that can't last for long can it?  Supermarkets are apparently still adding 100% mark up and in rare cases 800%.   Can that be true?  If it is, no wonder Local and Village / Farmers' Markets are proving to be so popular.
 Do you have an opinion about any of this?