Tuesday, December 31, 2013

The last Day of the YEAR.

Some Scores .(Leanne likes these. ) From our home grown produce.
 Nuts shelled so far this years. Walnuts = 22.444 kilos.
Macadamia nuts = 3.332 kilos. There is one bag left of unshelled walnuts and the macs are still being picked up and dried.
 We have lots of other crops ready too .Whenever I write a list of what we are currently growing I always forget something, but this photo taken a couple of days ago will show that some of the gardening efforts have paid off. We are currently eating freshly dug agria potatoes; the tomatoes are just beginning to ripen daily; the scarlet runner beans are excelling themselves but will soon be caught up by chef's choice beans; the first row of peas is all but finished the second not far away; the courgettes were slow but now are producing; the strawberries were disappointing but have improved; the avos are picked as needed every few days; the radishes have grown well with all the rain ( over 100 mls since Christmas! ) so did the lettuce - a few too many so some were composted;( from my flower borders ).
 Things we don't use all that we grow are all the herbs ; rhubarb and silver beet.
 We have also got lots of basil for pesto a bit later; capsicum ( slow ) egg plant and sweet corn nearly ready. So at the moment if we had to live solely off our own efforts we would survive.
 Books. I have just had my reading list out as I am about to start a new book.
 It weighs 886 grams and has as many pages. It won the Booker prize this year. R gave it to me for Christmas. I will let you know how I find it.
 While I had my list out I went through it and picked out the book I enjoyed ( and learned a lot from ) the most this year..
" The Various Flavours of Coffee," by Anthony Capella. is my winner.
Last Sunday, a very wet day here, we went over the hill ( round it actually ) to visit family in Te Aroha. Along the way I spotted this perfect specimen of a Yucca, on the out skirts of Paeroa. On the way back we stopped so I could take a photo. I really like the form and have many years ago painted one. ( It will die when it finishes flowering )
 Today I think I get to put my sewing machine back on the big bench...who knows I may even get back to some quilting....
Finally ....
Best Wishes for a "Happy New Year."  May 2014 be a productive and pleasant one for all my Bloggy friends.
( I do not make resolutions but have a few goals for the year mainly around giving myself more time for the things I love doing. )

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Season's Greetings.

 Season's Greetings to all my friends, in many countries of the world. May your Christmas be happy wherever you are and whatever you are doing.

This little mouse at the top of our tree is very old. R's brother gave it to us shortly after we were married for our tree. It is now a little moth eaten and stained but it is still  being placed on our tree.

Monday, December 23, 2013


Today has been a day of Celebrations.
I made my sandwiches,

 sorted my hat, picked my flower, washed my china cup saucer and plate. wrote my card and wrapped my gift.
One of my "Quilting friends," was being given a surprise 80th Birthday party. Her actual  birthday is the 26th so she didn't suspect a thing.
 Here are the 8 other guest including the party girl.( difficult to tell which one might be 80.  2 others here are 79. ) All quilting ladies. Sorry I am not in this photo as I am taking it. I will get one from someone else with me in it.
 The combined age of these ladies is 600 years!
 It was a lovely celebration and remained a surprise for her till she arrived.
Today also happens to be our 46th Wedding Anniversary, so we are off out for late dinner...as if I need it after all that eating but Today is an exception.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

A Favourite.

Lemon honey has always been a favourite of mine. I don't make it often these days but will want it as an option if I make a pavlova for a Christmas dessert. It's sharpness cuts through the sweet. ( it can be mixed with or served with whipped cream for a gentler approach.)

   It's calendar receiving time . How lovely to get one with reminders of places we visited 2 years ago.

We drove through Cheddar Gorge so got a different angle on this view.
 The calendars we mostly receive are from firms we use like the kiwifruit pack house, so the usual things on them look like this.
 I have already had to write in appointments for January, on the one that will hang on the wall near the back door....which get seen frequently by both of us.

 Although they have been coming for months and months painters arrived yesterday to paint parts of the house ( mainly barge boards ) and the container...so I am living in a fish bowl with that feeling someone is watching you. I can put up with that so long as they are very careful where they put their ladders and scaffolding and don't trample too many plants in the garden or spill the paint. Best for me not to watch actually.

The Nerd is due here at 9 am . Already the new computer has a problem...it's BIOS is corrupted....as the start button is also sticking I think it may be shorting out some how...any way it makes start up a long and annoying process...so fix it please. It happened the same day we paid the bill!

Last Friday was our final day for P and Q for the year with a shared lunch and some show and tell. D finished this charity quilt made from Bandanas, cut into strips.
 Another member had finished this huge quilt. Hard to get it all in a photo. Wow...what a lot of work
We also got some members to fill the gaps on the Committee!
 I got a copy of the Australian Homespun magazine with my bandana quilt in it! The NZ Quilter mag  also arrived and is still only glanced at...it will keep till I can put my feet up. But no sewing has happened just too busy...it too will keep.
My first sowing of grass seed I showed a couple of posts back failed to come up so I have resown it with new seeds and am trying to water it several times a day in the hot sun it dries out quickly ( better planted in Autumn I know ).
 Things on the to do list are moving...some off it others onto it...the Christmas mail has all gone b so that was a relief I didn't think it was going to happen...some will get it by email.
Something that made me pleased recently was the naming of the New Zealander of the year. It was jointly won by 3 deserving young women. Lydia Ko the golfer; Eleanor Caton the Booker Prize winner and Lorde the singer. All very good role models for other young folk. Go girls!

Monday, December 09, 2013

Great Progress.

Great progress; giant strides even have been made with most of the new 8.1 computer operating system. The Nerd rang me this morning to ask how we were managing which was kind. He said he forgot to reinstall the printer which I have since done but not totally successfully.( it's working )( it's now too old for the operating system - haha! )
 Things I am glad about - it's quite a bit faster! It proved I am able to adapt and learn, then help someone else around here who has more trouble than me.
 Sorry Microsoft I now know those little ghosts I was talking about are" Charms," ( how lovely ) and thanks Helen I now have 3 ways of escaping or returning to my desktop.  I am laughing at the Apps I got free. Skateboarding; comics; metro twit etc. haven't yet tried Stumble Upon.
 I am working on resolving my photo editing dislikes ( thanks for your advice commentors ). I have yet to try and do 2 months worth of accounting on Banklink ( later this morning )  - that one is crucial.
 My trouble is I have an enquiring mind and always want to know why and how.                        
Yesterday afternoon I gave myself 2 hours sewing time! I haven't done any patchwork for about 3 weeks and was really missing it. So some straight forward piecing with lots of Maths involved. 
 I didn't have instructions on how to make stacks so just set about making each strip of 5 parts 24 " cut ( that equals 22 " sewn with  4seams ). I'm not sure if I want them as wobbly stacks or turned the other way round just as stripes. Anyway it was an experiment and can be turned into a small incubator quilt when it's finished. Last Tuesday night my previous little quilt was handed in along with 5 others to go to the hospital. ( one of our members works there.)
 Last week we had  over 6 " of rain. It was needed and should set us up for a while. I can imagine the weed growth that will come with it.The kiwifruit is crying out for work and the fruit is sizing rapidly.
 My lilies got so heavy they drooped to the ground ( now tied up ).
Have you ever looked closely at potato flowers. We have Agria with white flowers and next to them Heather with purple flowers.

 They have quite a distinctive smell.
 Something that really disappointed me ( and I emailed  Fiesta Bulbs and complained and got a reply, but no sorry )
I planted a new dahlia in the middle of my pink mauve and blue garden. It was a decorative type and pale pink and white, called Peaches.
 BUT when it flowered last week it is a very large yellow and red cactus type and looks really out of place where it is.
 Finally for  today look at this very simple meal we had where we grew everything but the lamb chops.
 New seasons agria potatoes, scarlet runner beans and greenfeast peas with very last pumpkin from last Autumn.
 Those of you who grow your own food will know just how good this felt and how good it tasted..
 Right back to work. 

Wednesday, December 04, 2013

Trying So Hard.

Interesting night sky .( the Land of the Long orange Cloud )
Since we had our operating system up grade on Monday I have had" brain fade, " several times.
 Windows 8.1 behaves very differently in may ways. One aspect  I struggle with is how to escape from full screen windows. Searching for the little Microsoft icon seems to be quite random.( either bottom left corner or as a ghost down the right hand side. )

 This morning I installed the zoom browser from the CD that came with my Canon camera. I have managed to get some photos onto the computer, but, from then on it behaves very differently ( I am not happy with how it works/ classifies photos ).I was so used to working with the HP programme that was so fast and I was completely used to it  after dealing with possibly thousands of photos.
 Could any of you tell me what photo programmes you use to edit photos and particularly to reduce their size for up loading here.
 Any one else using 8.1 I'd love to hear from you how you are getting on with it.
 My P and Q friend's funeral is in Auckland today. 4 of our ladies are going up. We had  a remembrance for her at our AGM last night.
 Which brings me to another moan. Last night about 26 members out of 70+ came to the AGM. We got 7 ladies who will serve on the Committee.  From the 2013 Committee the President is retiring as am I as Secretary and Librarian.the Treasurer has just gone to live overseas.   I have got people to take over my jobs but no one would be President or Treasurer. We have one more Friday meeting this year where we are going to lay it on the line to members that someone has to be in charge or we will fold. Do other groups / Guilds have this problem? 

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Lots of Changes.

 Let's start with something I really love. Carnations. My Otaki Pink with a beautiful perfume is flowering.
 It has been a mixed week, weather wise. The pollination is finished - just a mass of tiny fruit there now. So we were lucky with that. We are not advised to work with the kiwifruit vines when they are damp( psa spread ) so that has kept us away from the vines on some days this week. That's good, I get lots else done.
 I have replanted a small patch of lawn that had a curve, but is now straight - so much easier for me mowing. In an attempt to keep the birds from taking all the seed or scratching it around I have covered it with netting.

 The garden on the left is full of purple sparaxias  bulbs which mass flower  in the Spring and early Summer. I removed all the dead tops, before starting this little job The rocks are just to hold the netting down and will be removed when the grass comes up.
 The next change is with this computer. We had been advised Windows XP would no longer be supported by microsoft early next year and we should up date. We have been happily using it since 2006. So we got a Nerd in who was very friendly and helpful.....
 The short version is on Monday morning he will install a whole new bare bones hard drive with 5 terabytes of space - that will make Windows 8.1 work rapidly we hope.
 So we have been backing up everything we want kept - quite time consuming.
 So come next week we have to get used to a whole new way of doing things......
 On my lap top I have windows 7 so I will use that as a backup if we have problems.
 Fingers crossed.
 Yesterday I took the opportunity to make my Christmas cake( s). They turned out well.
 Yesterday I got some sad and disturbing news. One of our quilting group ladies who recently moved from here to Waiheke Is. is now in hospital in Auckland on life support after having a massive stroke. She is 69, and not expected to live. I last saw her and talked to her at the Auckland Festival of Quilts one month ago.That will be a huge shock for all the ladies in our group especially the ones who are older than that.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Ideal Pollination Weather.

 This is the doorway into one of 21 bee hives we have in the orchard for the Kiwifruit pollination.( they sort of crash land then crawl under the gap )( notice the one flapping it's wings  - they go so fast they are a blur )
 A bee foraging in a female Kiwifruit flower ( and in the process we hope distributing male pollen ). It has been a week of perfect weather - very hot and calm. That makes it easy for the bees to work. In that week about 75 % of the females have flowered. Small fruit just set are now everywhere.
Underneath the vines the ground looks like this.
 The already fallen petals.

 As an experiment we also have a box of bumble bees ( Bombus terrestris )
 in the avocado block.

 This we purchased and it now belongs to us. The 21 hives for the kiwifruit are hired and will return to their owners shortly once they have worked for us.
Today I photographed this fellow on my scarlet runner beans. Is it one from that box?( or one that was already living here in a clay bank? )
 It or another has set me some beans anyway.
 And some passionfruit. I think this is funny cause this poor plant is still growing in a bucket sized pot...waiting for it's frame to be built. We will give it lots of water and hope that they mature to eating stage. It is using a neighbouring Nandina plant to climb up.
 So although we are very hot we are very very grateful for such perfect pollination weather for all our crops.
 Some other photos.
 On Thursday Percy Peacock came to visit me under the vines and is altogether too noisy and cheeky. He would have taken my afternoon tea out of my hand if I hadn't shared with him.  A neighbour mainly feeds him now. He only comes back here when something has upset him ( a vehicle or noise usually ) or is in his patch. We don't see much of him and that's fine by me.
 (this is for you Meg)

This week flowering in the garden are Filipendula which are  so dainty.
 Brunsfelsai or Yesterday Today and Tomorrow.
 Early this morning the bird bath was looking quite inviting.
 For birds that is.  Pigeons ( Kereru ),  Tuis especially love it and sometimes Thrush and Blackbirds.  It needs replenishing quite often in this heat and with some splashing as the Tui  submerges at least 6 times at every bath.
 Sorry to report no quilting has taken place this week - can't do everything. I did go to P  and Q group on Friday but 4 of us  did a big Library audit instead of sewing.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Freshly Mown Lawn Sets it All Off.

The Summer garden is looking bright and smells quite good - I always think freshly mown lawn sets it all off. I spent the entire weekend mowing, weeding, watering and dead heading. Here are the results.

 Come for a walk around some of the garden.
Red velvet Sweet William.

 This large purple iris  is a favourite every year it flowers ( for you Sooziii I know you like them too )
 This is a new red Vireya called Red Mountain that I planted where we pulled the big flax bush out.
 Although bronze beetles have chewed many of my roses some like this simple white flower carpet escaped.
 A lovely low growing Azalea.
 The lettuce border I told you about when I planted it is already being eaten they did so well!( they taste best when grown fast. )( salad for lunch almost every day ! )

 The new leaves of the Golden elm always look fabulous when they are this intense chartreuse colour.
This sea of orange under the big oak is almost finished now.
 The yellow rose fence has 3 Graham Thomas bushes ( and some weeds ) ( I have a large bunch inside right now )
 Up close to Graham Thomas.
 This red border has Xeronema; Red Alstromeria and Kangaroo paws.

 Its hard to find a prettier face than Meg. She is one of  5 roses on the other rose fence ( along with 2 Charles Austin, Penelope and Eprez a Fleur Jaune )
 At the top of the drive is pink Sparieshoop rose with Apple blossom Flower carpet and alstromerias behind.
 I hope you enjoyed the little walk around the garden.
 Last night 21 bee hives arrived for pollination of the kiwifruit vines which are in full bloom - the smell is intense. I won't be putting any light coloured washing on the outside line during this time as it all comes in bee spotted ( and bee pee smells )
 We are very, very busy on the orchard at the moment. I haven't sewn a stitch in days - my hands are a bit rough from all the garden work and from constant cleaning with anti bacterial liquid while working with the vines that have psa spots.
 I am over half way with my mapping of every vine on the orchard and it's psa status. I have walked many kilometers in the process. back to work!