Monday, October 29, 2012

Gardening Weekend.

Tritonias looking lovely. I have orange ones in another area which are much brighter. I prefer these pale beauties which look delicate, but aren't. 
A whole fine weekend meant we were able to do many gardening jobs.
This terracotta pot  got a makeover. In the centre is a blue Salvia which I hope will gain a little height before it flowers. Around it are lime coloured petunias and low growing blue lobelia. I have also planted a few nasturtium seeds which I want to climb the frame.( which colour I will get is a lottery ).
 Behind it a very in your face coloured cactus . ( not my favourite colour but it does well - it's old )
 I weeded a large area of the driveway on Saturday afternoon - the weather was positively Summery. Not so today....back to dull and cloudy, with odd glimpses of sun. We had a few gentle showers in the night and the 8.5 mls will water new plantings for us.

 R has almost got his new garden area down by the bell full with potatoes, kumara, shallots and the last few yams I remembered to save. They are never for sale as tubers to plant ( like potatoes ) and I always forget to save some before they all get eaten. I am quite surprised that where I grew my few last year some plants are appearing - I guess I must have missed some little ones. I will leave them and see what they do
 This little compact growing rhododendron called Cary Anne, got a ride in the wheel barrow 2 years ago and now is out near the front gate. It is obviously happy to be there and it gets seen. It was previously growing in the area of our garden that used to surround the dam that got trashed with the landslide. Gradually we are rescuing some of the plants that were left and relocating them as we don't wish to try and look after that large area that is no longer a feature, but is reverting to nature in the form of a mostly placid little creek strewn with logs and wild flowers and rushes and weeds.  Still more clearing needs doing here so it can be kept mown and tidy ( that only happens when we can fit it into our busy schedule )
 All my vegetable plantings are doing well. I now have beans up and the netting cover is keeping birds especially pukekos off. R erected a big wind break cloth fence around his new area.

At the moment I am reading "Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, " by Barbara Kingsolver. ( of Poisonwood Bible fame ) . I have known about this book for ages. Has anyone else read it? What did you think ?
 The parts about Monsanto and what is happening with food crops in USA is very, very disturbing.
It is the journal of her family's year as they try to live off what they grow or locally grown produce for a year. It challenges the world's attitude to food and farming...really makes one think about what we are doing ( or the big boys  are doing to) our world and the food chain. it is quite humorous in parts and has some recipes the family devised.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Thanks and Little Ruru.

Thank you all for the great response to my request.
 # 3 seems to be the winner by a narrow margin from # 6. I personally liked 3 then 5 then 6. R liked 3 and 6.
 I have always intended to make a jewel box design quilt as I have liked the ones I have seen. I will need to do some checking up but # 6 layout reminds me of that. In which case I will make another quilt in that design with selected batik or beautiful fabrics not scraps as I have here. ( I haven't had any further sewing time as we worked yesterday )
Little Ruru ( Morepork )
 Last evening just after dark we were in different rooms but both heard a muffled thump in the back porch direction. This little fellow a Ruru or Morepork had flown into the window and knocked itself out.
 It's heart was still beating but we feared a broken neck.
 We were ever so gentle. It's head wasn't flopping so that was hopeful. It seems semi conscious after a few minutes so we laid him on the wooden seat turned the lights out and went back inside.

 Some time later I went to check. I had to turn the lights on.... His claws were not quite right yet but the eyes were open.

He  ( she ? ) peeped at me through a container that was between us. I moved and whoosh it was off.
 I do so hope it is fully recovered today. I have never touched one before and as it it is my favourite night bird I was really concerned and delighted once it flew off . Up close the eyes are quite remarkable.

 We have had a visiting one many years ago that came to look in my son's window . He had been drawing a very realistic portrait of one for a conservation poster so we wondered if that had attracted the live one.

 We know lots live around here as we have many night time concerts. Sometimes 2 replying to each other. Sometimes on just hopefully calling and calling.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Which Quilt Layout?

I could write a post about the weather; it has been so varied and unpredictable, with a small earthquake thrown in, but just 2 sentence will do. The weather sucks!
 I want to ask your advice and opinion please. 
Which of the following 6 layouts is most pleasing to the eye? I could live with all of them but have two I favour more than the other 4. ( my knees are worn out crawling around the carpet changing these, so I won't look for more feasibilities. ) ( but suggest them if you like and think I have missed a really good one! )
 This is # 1. 
Yes it has an obvious mistake in it. No I'm not being Amish I just didn't spot it till the photo was taken.

 This is # 2. ( it's one the other way around corrected )

 This is # 3. ( also with a mistake at the end of the front purple row )
( Using my camera as a quilting tool is a plus! )

 This is # 4. The obvious mistake in it REALLY stands out.

 This is # 5. ( it is the same idea as 4 but is in colour rows. )

 This is # 6.

 Thanks in advance. Here in NZ we have a long weekend. If the weather allows some gardening will take place. I am tired of thinning kiwifruit buds so none of that.( my neck needs to look down for a while ) Some reading; blog reading and sewing on another small project. I probably will need to do some cooking too. Can I get all that done in the 2.5 days I have left. We'll see. I hope you all have a happy weekend.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Nikau Palms.

R went across to kiwifruit block 4 today and noticed that the Nikau Palms by the creek were flowering. ( there is evidence that they have flowered before but we have never seen them). It's a very strange flower.
 Nikau ( Rhopalostylis sapida ) are the only palms native to New Zealand. They grow mainly in the North as they can get frosted. They usually don't flower till they are 30 years old, which ours probably are by now.
 NZ Native wood pigeons ( Kereru ) love the berries. (seen here at the bottom left.)
 These particular palms were grown by R's mother Betty from seed. The seed probably from the Coromandel area.  We have lots of pigeons here so hope to see them actually eating the berries.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Saturday Inside, Sunday Outside.

Compared with most places in NZ ( and Scotland I believe ) we have mainly escaped the storms. Some wind yes, but no more than we were having other days recently. Wet and windy Saturday was mainly spent inside doing this...
and this....
 The half square triangles were made to go with a left over block ( 2 actually ) I had that was lingering in my cupboard. Originally made about 5 years ago along with about 6 others in a purple batik with a plain mustard cotton.( at a midnight madness session at club ) I  really went off the mustard colour.( and knew I would hate it if I made it into the intended quilt ) I made a nice apron I wear out of one block; a cushion used 2 get the idea.  So I was trying to use up one more block BUT you knew it...I liked the half square triangles made with the same purple but STILL hated the mustard. So the block is relegated to the back of this quilt when finished along with it's mate. 
 I noticed when laying these blocks out on the floor that the purple seemed to be killing the other colours so I introduced some dark green and darlk blue to alternate rows. This may work. These are not yet sewn and there are other possibilities of layout. This I like most so far. It is in fact very like the little charity quilt I last finished.

 But today started chilly but has turned out fine and cloudy. So, although I had a list mowing all the lawns suddenly jumped to the top.5 things on the list, 3 crossed off and the day is not over. Off all the garden jobs I do mowing the lawn when it needs it is the thing that makes the quickest and most dramatic improvement.
 The Copper Beech tree is just coming into leaf. See the red tints.
 This is the area I worked so hard at weeding last weekend. It still has gaps but I have scattered cornflowers seed in the loose dirt and may get some more punnets of seedlings.
 I am very pleased with the Arctotis. Flamingo in the front and Burgundy Belle behind. They have sread out as good ground covers at the top of this very dry and wind swept bank. They only open in the sun.
 I am also very pleased with my radish and carrot repeat plantings.Still room for more.
 A splash of yellow and orange.The yellow vireyas are such good repeat bloomers.
 Right I am off the get those last 2 jobs done before I make dinner.

 I do hope you are all safe and not blown away or flooded. 

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Entertaining Old Friends.

Firstly pick fresh flowers for the vases. These cerise ixias I don't care for in the garden but they pick and mix quite well. In fact the more I have tried to get rid of them in the garden the more they seem to multiply ( I do however love the white ones I have. )
 Luckily I had 24 hours notice that friends were coming for lunch today, so got some supplies.The last time these 2 lovely folk visited I forgot that M had recently found out he had Coeliac disease and I had prepared the wrong things to eat. Determined not to do that again I was left with the dilemma of what to have for lunch. When I analysed my list of recipes loads seemed to have flour in all it's forms as an ingredient.
 Finally I decided last night I would cook a whole chicken and have that  cold with salad and new potatoes.
 Still not out of the woods I decided to leave the salad all separate so everyone could choose for themselves.( radish, avocado and lettuce from our property )
 I also lashed out and bought some of these. "Perlas."  -  Pre -washed little gourmet potatoes. Very expensive but absolutely delicious. As good as your own freshly dug new ones.  With mint of course. 
 I did the same with afters . I put little dishes with dark chocolate; peeled segmented oranges ( ours ) strawberries; crackers and cheeses.
I included rice crackers. I didn't say anything but was a bit alarmed when I saw M eating the others crackers instead. I decided to say nothing .
 With a chilled bottle of Oyster Bay it all went down well. In no time at all it was 3 pm. How did that happen? I guess we can make up time at the weekend if weather permits.

 I am now making sure I keep rice crackers; rice flour; arrowroot; polenta and besan flour in the pantry. One of my favourite things to make is fritters ( all sorts ) and most of these with practise can be adapted.( to non gluten ) I know many of you prepare food for family with special dietary needs and with practise it becomes second nature.
 By the time I cleared up I decided it wasn't worth going to the orchard so I cut out some fabric; pressed some more; watered my new plants; went for a walk and generally had a day off ( sort of ). How was your day?

 PS Thank you all for your lovely comments ...I love hearing from you all.

Monday, October 08, 2012

Salad in the Making.

I get a thrill eating veges I have grown. Last evening to go with cold pork I picked this first salad for the Spring season from my herb garden. I added some home grown avocado. We didn't grow the potatoes (ours are all used up) and we didn't grow the meat.  Delicious none the less. ( red and green really do you well together!)

Saturday, October 06, 2012

Man at Work.

Despite the truly rugged day here we are getting things done. Yesterday and today R has been using the elder Fergie tractor ( and my one with the bucket scoop ) to make a new potato patch.
 He put a long ponga log  ( as in dead NZ ponga fern ) on the down hill side and moved all the dirt from last year's pumpkin patch here. He has planted Agria and Jersey Bennett so far.
 We may need to install protection from pukeko attack on them. ( as it is away from the house )  R has also been mowing grass and now cooking pork hocks. Busy fellow.

 Not to be out done I too have been cooking and cleaning and walking and washing watching. The sheets on the line got 2 extra rain rinses before I grabbed them in. Today the weather has gone like this. Early wake up call = thunder.  All day high high winds. Throw in some sun just to fool them and then several showers of rain to keep them on their toes. When I walked the wind hustled me and the gum trees positively threatened...don't walk near us or we will send a branch down to knock you to the ground. Really quite scary.
In case you wonder about the is made from a old rock crushing machine. It  has an awesome loud peel.
 The kiwifruit have new shoots this long on the end of each cane..... very vulnerable in this wind. We have been crush tipping between thumb and fore finger the end of these growths. If they are cut they just re sprout and have to be done again and again. I have been fruit bud thinning too.

 See on this growth,  there are 2 or even 3  buds together. I use my fingernail to leave just one. Ladies' fingers are best for this job at this early stage.
 Today I also went to inspect( hopefully ) the young fruit trees. 
 Yes, apple buds. It flowered last year then the wind broke the branch out so maybe this year.
 About 6 little nashi seem to have set.
 The new foliage is attractive too and the shiny spotted branches.
 For a touch of colour. The patch of Clivias are all but over grown and desperately need me to clear around them.
 *  Rugby at 4 am ? I think it can wait till it is repeated at lunchtime tomorrow Dale.

Wednesday, October 03, 2012

Traveller in a Green and Grassy Land.

Much have I travelled in the realms of green
And many grassy farms and paddocks seen
 ( with apologies to Keats! )

 780 kilometres in the  27 hours we were away from home. Mostly on State Highway 1 , but part on the way back from our destination was on an alternative route; Highway 54.
( The most direct course home from where we were. )

 3 views  From Stormy Point Lookout. The top one looking South, the bottom one looking North.
 This is  in the Waituna West area; 343 feet above sea level;  looking out across the valley carved by the Rangitikei River in years past.
 If you look directly across almost to the horizon in the top photo is the place I lived for the first 17.5 years of my life in the Galpins Road area of Tutuaenui.
 The flatter country and river flats are some of the best farming areas in New Zealand.
 On a clear day it is possible to see the mountains ( Egmont / Taranaki  looking directly out and  Ruapehu looking North ) but not  yesterday; as the cloud cover was thick and there was blue haze.

 This trip I didn't take any time photographing the mountains when we went either way on the Desert Road.
( I got such good shots when down this way in June ) The mountains were partly hiding and visibility was abysmal at times. The same coming over the Kaimais late last evening. ( fog and rain )
 I don't intend telling details of the  funeral we went to, as my blog doesn't cover other's personal information. Instead I will relate the funny story of Jessie the cat.
 She looks right at home in the photo doesn't she ?
 Yes, we have met before, briefly at reception  in June when we stayed at the Motor Inn in Taupo. Did she remember? Surely not.
 She greeted us when we got out of the car, followed us to our ground floor room, climbed up on the couch - purred a lot and watched telly. A little later she looked around and must have thought, okay you have your bags in that room, I'll take this room and this lovely big bed. Even later still she sneaked onto our bed and because R encouraged her, I suspect, right into his side of the bed!
 When we checked out yesterday morning R mentioned there had been 3 occupants in our unit, but we are only paying for the 2 who booked. The girl at the desk, looked a bit startled till he explained the 3rd guest purred a lot and left black fur balls on the floor. It was then we found out her name was Jessie.  She also had a look in the car but the girl said she doubted she would have gone more that a few metres with us, as a car ride usually meant a trip to the vet - not her favourite thing.
 Reference: Liberty taken with the lines;
 Much have I traveled in the realms of gold
 And many goodly states and kingdoms seen

 which are the opening lines in John Keats poem " On First Looking into Chapman's Homer. "
 ( Maybe I just learned  too many poems, by heart at school! )

Monday, October 01, 2012

Spring Things.

  Spring .....Summer even yesterday. Today first  wet, then windy, now sunny and other words typical Spring weather. The wind is just strong enough to break new young growth and be destructive. There are plenty of surprises in the garden, new  things opening each day. We have several projects half completed but they will have to wait till later in the week. In the kiwifruit the first little bit of crush tipping needs doing. The garden clearing needs is looking so good and will make life easier with less for me to do. (photos when done ) Later today we are yet again heading off down country to another family funeral. Not sad for us but the life that has gone was a sad one...a wasted one in many ways. For this person ( younger than us ) drink played too big a part and lost him 2 farms and a very nice wife. 
 We will stay in Taupo  tonight again and break the journey. The return journey we will play by ear depending what time it all finishes.

 On Saturday J and V were here and J ( our younger son )  shouted us all dinner for R's birthday.
 It was at R's favourite restaurant. As always the meals selected varied.  Some being really good, other a little wanting. R was happy with all of his . Here is my asparagus soup with soufflé island . The taste was too subtle for me and a very tiny portion.....served on a huge plate with a little bowl depression  in the centre. That is the second time I have come across those plates.  (Cold plates with soup ? )
 One of us suggested maybe with all the cooking programmes on TV we are just getting too picky?
 My dessert however was delicious rich and yummy. I guess it is hard to win them all!.
 I haven't done a stitch of sewing since last week. I have however resown the gaps in my sugar snap peas where the pukehos scratched half out. They are now covered!. I briefly visited with oranges, 2 needy friends and had a quick catch up with another friend this morning......all of which gave me a happy feeling.
 I will be checking back in here on Wednesday.