Saturday, March 30, 2013

Easter Weekend.

Hello Bloggy friends, I trust your Easter weekend is going well. Who knew that monarch butterflies liked saffron (or nectar at least) out of Autumn crocuses?

Every Easter lately we have been to the Rotary Used Book Sale. This morning we  went again. WE also contribute books to the sale.
 Here is what I purchased. They were quite a bit cheaper than last year. R also got 7 books.
I can't tell you about any of the books yet, but will if I enjoy them. The magazines are so cheap at 10 quilting ones for $1.
 What I am reading at the moment is "The Dovekeepers," by Alice Hoffman.
 Set in 71 AD when people had to flee Jerusalem from the Roman attack. They trudged the mostly barren desert to live in the castle atop the high hill at Masada.  Their story is told by 4 different women during the days of their seige. I am 3/4s of the way through the book and am compelled to find out what happens although I know almost all perish.
I have made a tiny bit more progress with my quilt. Just a couple of rows.
 We have been busy putting in the firewood,. 2 full truck loads in the shed now. We harvested all the white Niagara grapes on Thursday and made most into juice.
We kept the best to eat.
  We have both been cooking as we are getting together with family members tomorrow at Waihi Beach
 Yesterday R made us a little treat.( here's my half )  It took him ages but was very tasty.
 Hot buttered chestnuts off our tree.
 This an up close of one of the very pretty carnations I was given as a thank you gift last week.
 There were 13 or 14 different colours, some singles, some spray carnations. Not much smell though. They were partly in bud when the arrived, beautifully and carefully packaged, so they will last for some time.
 Easter Greetings to you All! Stay safe. Be happy.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Vegetables -A - Plenty.

Further to yesterday's post, here's the veges I prepared to have with our roast. Then R said, "wait we have more ," and rushed off and picked an aubergine ( egg plant ) his favourite . I discovered the newest row of green beans was ready to pick so, added to the pile of beans. So it turned into this-
 What a feast, roast pork and 9 veges. The beans were boiled but into the roasting pan after the meat went: Rua potatoes ( not grown that variety before ); kumara; courgette; parsnip( they are big enough to use I discovered ) carrots; pumpkin; red capsicum and aubergine . ( we didn't have dessert ! )

 We also have ready lots of silver beet; red onions and spring onions and tomatoes 
 R went and picked 64 tomatoes and boiled them up for most of yesterday afternoon and ended up with 4 small containers of tomato paste.
 It is so good having all this wonderful produce to eat but we do have a slight problem that we are running out of storage space. We recently changed our very, very old deep freezer for a new one which is proving to be slightly smaller and it is full. We have pickled some stuff and dehydrated some too but don't like waste so will have to give some away.
 Planning for next year :- Less tomatoes, less basil; more beetroot; more whipper snapper peas. The quantity of sweetcorn was about right. If we were to feed ourselves for a whole year we would have to do a lot of bottling I think.( and have 36 hours in every day ).
 It occurred to me this morning with the days getting shorter and mornings chillier, maybe I should start making soup.
 We should soon get a few feijoas and  we are still picking avocados for our own use and soon there will be kiwifruit and of course walnuts and macadamia nuts.
 Has anyone else grown anything exciting this Summer that we could add to the variety we already grow? ( swedes? turnips ? )

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Satisfying Weekend.

So far my weekend is going very well.  This is what I could see out the bedroom window as I had a hot drink and read a chapter of my book before getting up.( the sun on the Viburnum -  the reddest tree so far this Autumn. )
 The sunshine pouring in across the garden.
 If I go a little closer this is how the garden has changed since I showed it last. Loads of wind anemones flowering and big cream marigolds.
 Yesterday afternoon and again today I have been fitting in some sewing progress on my quilt.
 12 rows  in pairs of the same colour.
 The first 4 sewn together. This is much harder than the first 2 stages as I must have them meeting exactly. So a tiny bit of tweaking happened.
 A lot of very careful pressing is required. Every row must lie pressed in the opposite direction to it's neighbour in order for it to nest in snugly. The bulk at the points would be unmanageable otherwise.
 So on the sewing front, so far so good. Progress has been made. How good to be able to say that!
 Meanwhile other things have been happening outside.
 This tree ( at the front ) is a Sydney Christmas tree ( that flowers later in NZ ) Cerapetalum Gummiflerum. It's  35 plus years old and not planted by us. It is quite attractive in flower but causes us much angst when its tiny dried bracts fall and blow everywhere - particularly inside the house.
 The back has a sharp little stub that pricks bare or socked feet just like a prickle.
 We decide as soon as the big BBQ was over and before it started falling we would remove it. Well we've been busy and it got a march on us ...but today was the last for it.
 R has a lot of experience at felling trees and knows how to use the tractor to guide the direction a tree will fall. Not a lot of leeway here as damage could be done if it goes the wrong way.
 He got it spot on! As it was quite large ( 30 foot plus ) and had to be dragged away down the drive trunk first he cut it in half. 

 He made it roll off the garden by the way he placed the rope then dragged it away....
Down to the carpark where the firewood stack is. It has some useful wood in it ( this is the first half then the second followed just right too. Well done that man...very little damage to the garden.
 See it's hardly missed. Just a gardening stint by me now to clean up underneath and no more ouches as we step on one of those damn prickly flowers. ( we hope ).
 The rest of the time we have both been harvesting...the walnuts are falling, the tomatoes are splitting  and rotting with the rain -  so pick more before they do too; the red capsicums are excelling themselves with at least 12 more ready. Some got pickled yesterday...we might have to give some away. Sometimes we don't quite get the quantity right.( as in a bumper crop ) of some things and not so much of others. ( my beetroot were pathetic! )We are still picking some beans, lots of courgettes still, lovely silver beet, lots of  potatoes,  kumara, onions  and carrots. The  parsnips aren't quite big enough yet but look amazing. The corn is now finished. So, it's  busy, busy time in the kitchen, but we are managing to fit relaxing things like sewing, reading, games and tree felling  around all the work that growing your own yummy produce requires. Tonight we just fancied a roast so we can eat some of those veg and know that we did the work and that's why it tastes so damn good!

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Places to Visit with Visitors.

For the last week we have had visitors, one from UK, so have been taking them around the local sights.
 Pilot Bay in Tauranga Harbour when a cruise ship is leaving.
 Looking at Ohiwa Harbour and Ohope beach on a sunny day.
 Watching fresh water bubble up from a spring below, at Hamurana Springs. 
 Seeing our late afternoon shadows in the water.
 Walking through and gazing up at these magnificent Redwood trees in the Grove at Hamurana. ( sequoia Sempervirens - native to North America. ) 
 Seeing the first Autumn tints in the glow of sunset.
 Feeding this group of ducks ( a different lot ) at McLaren's Falls Park.
 Having this little helicopter land on our loading area to take our 79 year old guest for a flight around the district.
She just loved it . That's how blue our sky was at 9.30 this morning. ( it's quite cloudy again now - maybe more rain? )
 She has now flown to Auckland for more adventures. We will see her once more at Easter before she flies home to Somerset. I hope I am as happy and adventurous as her if I reach 79. For us it is now back to work - but every thing is quite damp. Since the drought broke  we have over several days and nights now had 45 mls of rain. The whole BOP has taken on a green tint again. WE also had fun playing Kubbb on the lawn, having BBQs and meals out
 The red nerines are flowering up the dry hill.
 I still have 3 vases of flower from the tables at the wedding, mainly the curly green chrysthanemums and a few lisianthus. They won't hold much longer. We are still picking beans and lots of courgettes and tomatoes although the rain has split some.
This is a poor photo but is proof that I did get some sewing done about a week ago - more to follow on that soon.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Gentle Raindrops.

Whoever thought we would be making a fuss about some gentle misty rain.......but we are! Overnight we got 6 mls and right now some further sprinkles. The weather forecast said we could expect rain on Sunday...but we don't mind how soon it arrives. This gentle drizzly rain will prepare the parched earth for heavier rain if we get it. I hope other parts of NZ are being as lucky as us. 
 Personally I am glad for it means a day off from the orchard - a catch up day - maybe even a sewing day (I did do a little last weekend.)
 See the raindrops on these beauties. R has just picked 7 and is applying the blow torch ( to get the skins off ) to them right make capsicum and cashew dip. Yum! 
 The recipe said 6 but one is damaged on the back so needed using, so 1 extra. We have a bumper crop.
 This morning I stayed in bed  till after 7 cause it was raining, but when I got up I looked out the office window and saw Miss Polly and her 2 teenagers peaking things in the garden.
 This is not a good photo...but I grabbed my camera without my glasses on to try and get the shot.
 It is blurry when I enlarge it so please excuse poor photo. I wanted to show you the size the 2 baby peacocks have grown to.
 Hoping to get closer I rushed outside in my nightwear without my glasses but to no avail they dashed down the bank and hid.

I was impressed with this container a vox box ( NZ made! ) that my flowers came in. It is a brilliant idea as flowers no longer have to survive out of water after the florist has arranged them.
 The card board outer is assembled and a strong plastic liner inserted and partly filled with water. I visited their website and found the range quite extensive lots of bright colours and a useful looking A4 size tray. ( click on the product range to see that ). Florists must be so glad someone invented this brilliant idea. Really great for hospital flowers - you know the one when you take someone flowers and then have to search the sluice room for a container to put them in.

Saturday, March 09, 2013

Living in a Florist Shop.

Thank you all for your lovely comments, Leanne, Jennifer, Molly, Deb, Sal, Nicky and Thimbleanna. Yes Sal, I will certainly send you a photo(s) as soon as the official ones are available. Nicky sadly no rain.....most of NZ is now in a very worrying state of drought. We need it desperately as do most farmers ( more on that later. )
    The reason for the heading, " Living ( happily ) in a florist shop," is that I have been for the past week since the wedding, the lucky sitter of most of the flowers from the tables , my own bouquet from the newly weds and also the spray I wore. Teal or aqua is not a very usual flower colour so the florist did well with additions to the white flowers in my spray. After one week in a blue Hogland glass vase it still looks great.
 The white rose buds have been removed ( and were the first to die in most of the flower vases)  but the white  lisianthus bud blossomed, the greenery is still holding. See how the florist put some touches of blue in it with  2 glass beads wired and a small cut down peacock feather. Cute eh. (  fairly amazing  to still be okay for flowers on short stems and wired. )

 This is one of the vases of table flowers still going strong one week later. This one sitting on my hearth  I have topped up the water in them all ( 6 vases ) daily and today changed it and removed any dying  flowers or debris ( mainly leaves) that were souring the water. Flowers that the florist used in these table centres  were lisianthus; alstromeria; roses; carnations and chrysanthemums; 

 Earlier in the week I couldn't resist thrusting my camera up close to some of the beautiful flowers individually to capture their faces. That Sunflower in the  top photo  was a lovely lemon.( not the usual loud sunflower colour ) 
The lime Chrysanthemum is a true work of art. ( that colour worked so well with the delicate pink flowers - mainly Lisianthus )
 I was so glad to see some of my favourite flower, carnations included. Who trimmed that delicate edge and tipped it in a darker colour  - takes my breathe away.
 The lovely flowers the newly weds gave me are this morning out of their cute vox box and just in a vase. The lilies were the first to go and this fab gerbra will be next.
Considering the hot hot days we have been having the staying power of most of these flowers is impressive. Sadly many of the girls could not transport flowers home  with them so I have been the lucky and nearest  custodian.
 My sister who was staying here last weekend also gave me this lovely potted Begonia, which is delicate as well as having flowers of an impressive size.
 So I have been having a floral week while getting back to normal around here. One final comment about the beautiful flowers would be, " where has all your wonderful perfume of yesteryear gone?"

 On Wednesday afternoon I moved from 2b to work in block 1 of the Kiwifruit and was alarmed to notice about 3 vines nearest the road end of the block were wilting ever so slightly. I pulled off 50 % of the fruit on them and we managed to string together all our household hoses to reach the vines. With a thorough soaking over many hours on 2 days  I am glad to say we have saved their lives. I hope none of the other vines start doing that cause we can't water them all. ( that was the most likely spot to have a problem) But it means the fruit is no longer sizing up and that will be a national problem for Zespri if the promising season turns into one of smaller than desired / needed fruit. We will have to start inspecting all blocks frequently and may have to consider reinstating our irrigation systems that hasn't been needed for so many summers that it is no longer in working order. We are so lucky to have our own ( now dwindling ) water supply.
 Still on the subject of Kiwifruit I have a little puzzle for you. What happened to these 3 fruit ?
 Leanne you have an advantage here as you know what R gets up to.
 These mysterious  star like little holes travel right through the fruit so they look the same on the other side. Needless to say these 3 hanging together in block 1 had to be removed and are not going on any overseas trip later in the year.
 I have promised myself a weekend at a slower pace. Yesterday I began pinning the half square triangles together or my zigzag quilt. My sewing machine is going to be reinstated on the dinning-room bench and I hope to sew for at least an hour this afternoon( if I can remember how ) Time will also need to be spent processing some of the wealth of produce we have ready in the garden. Time will also need to be spent moving hoses around all areas of our gardens.

 I know there are other events and weddings happening around Tauranga this weekend but I am now thinking rain, rain, rain. Please.
Also noticed this morning the first walnuts are beginning to fall. Autumn?

Monday, March 04, 2013

Fabulous Wedding.

On Friday our younger son married the love of his life at Mills Reef Winery. The day was clear, calm  and very hot ( 31degrees C ).The bride was absolutely radiant as I guessed she would  be. So beautiful!
 You know I won't be putting up all the family photos here.  I was not able to take the usual photos( being the Groom's Mother ), so only have a few I took when I could sneak the camera out of my bag. There was of course an official photographer.  I would like to share some of the parts that  made it an unforgettably wonderful 2 days.
 The bride made wedding favours for the lady guests herself, a pair of wine glass identifiers and the men got 3 Makana chocolates.
 Here are mine up close.
 I got the hairdresser to take a photo of her work on my hair. The flower indicates the colour I was wearing.
 I also had my make up done by a professional - a first for me. Really pampered!
 The food served was very yummy.  Firstly drinks ( including lots of water on such a hot day ) and  different canap├ęs were brought out while guests were mingling and family photos were being taken, then later inside in the air conditioned restaurant this was the menu from which the  guest could choose.
 I had the Kikorangi ( cheese ) , caramelised pear and walnut tart with petite salad,(very very nice, ) followed by the Fish . I loved the grispy sticky rice balls with it.
  For dessert it was an easy decision as I love lemon puddings, so had the Lemon Trio  ( a tiny cheese cake; a brulee and best of all a lemon / lime sorbet .( we all want the recipe for that! )
 During the proceedings both the Mothers were given a lovely bouquet of flowers. Here are mine.
The following day we had a big BBQ at our place - that's why I was toiling to get the garden looking neat and tidy. I did dessert and extra salads but for the main eating we called in these guys. Big Smoke BBQ
 They cooked chicken, steak and a selection of sausages and prepared 3 different salads. It was all set out on trestles in the shed (to the left). I didn't get the opportunity to count  how many folk finally turned up ( as I was busy )  but it was probably 70 - 80. ranging in age from 79 to lots of babies ( who all behaved wonderfully despite the heat ) We had a baby corner on rugs and quilts under a big tree.

There were trees and big umbrellas on the deck out to the right of this photo.
 My banner got hung on the clothes line along with balloons - but the heat popped them within an hour.
 The porterloo didn't get a lot of use as toilet # 3 but for peace of mind it was worth having  it. Country water supplies have been known to fail in the past especially when folk get impatient.( not this time )
 What a busy but wonderful time we have all had. Folk from  9 countries of the world travelled to be with our young ones on their special day. They have some awesome friends.  Nothing really went wrong, the weather was too kind, everyone was happy, the planning had been amazing.We are very blessed and we get along with the new in- laws very, very easily and have become good friends over the past couple of years. Maybe I will share some more photos when I get some.

 Probably we will get back to normal work tomorrow - a bit of a come down after such excitement.
 We wouldn't mind some serious rain now. We actually got 1 1/4 mls last night but the wind today as long since dried that up. So glad it kept the wind till today!