Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Just in Time for Christmas.

 These lovely green feast peas are ready just in time for Christmas. R just picked 1.145 kgs.
 Last evening I also dug the first new season's Agria potatoes- very yummy as only freshly dug spuddies can be.
Some on the peas, here spread out on the bench, have little white spots or dings on them caused by hail that fell on Friday evening.
  As they were almost ready anyway it won't effect their eating or keeping quality.

 What it has made a difference to is the young kiwifruit.
 These are 3 I picked showing the scars where the hail stones hit. Today we have to start assessing the % damage for an insurance claim. ( this is our 34th crop and we have never had to do this before so pretty lucky I guess.)
The leaves in the upper canopy got shredded and have protected the fruit below to some extent, but not completely. The damage is worst along the sides of blocks and where there were gaps in the canopy. The male vines had just been pruned leaving quite open gaps.
 Leaves with this damage will not photosynthesise well.
 Luckily there is a large crop so we hope not too many will have to be thrown on the ground with hail damage. We have yet to see if the young avocados are damaged. ( it takes a few days for bruises to show ) 

 A dictionary definition of hail says:-
 pellets of ice that form when updrafts in a thunder storm carry raindrops to a high altitude where water  freezes and then falls back to earth. 

 Yep that's what we got: thunder ;lightning ;then hail and then rain. Only the hail did damage.

Sunday, December 13, 2015


Many New Zealand Christmas trees or Pohutukawa are flowering now. On Friday when I was at the NW Supermarket at Brookfield ( inTauranga ) I noticed this little beauty over the fence of the car park.
 It's the best one I have seen this Season.

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Jewel Box Quilt.

I have made a little time to do some cutting and sorting and stitching. I needed some work to take to the final  get together for this year, of our Patchwork & Quilting group, yesterday. 
Way back in May and June  I made a start on this Jewel Box ( or is it Jacob's Ladder ) quilt top. I had lots of squares left from my big Fabricated Flowers quilt. I had completed it to this stage, back then.
 This is quite small and I am now extending it. As long as I have most of the fabrics already used still available I can keep going. It is sewn together so I will have to add to the bottom in strips ( then maybe down one side ? )
 I did a little research and I am sure Jacob's ladder is exactly the same as Jewel Box? It's just the difference created by light and dark fabric placement. I prefer the name Jewel Box. ( some of these fabrics are like jewels )

 The Committee at P & Q have issued a Challenge for members to publicly list our 5 most "need to finish" UFOs. Some ladies apparently have large numbers of started but not finished projects.
 A few, like me, are finishers.........we are allowed to just list 2  - that's all I have got. This quilt and a wall hanging I am making from my own pattern from a photo I took.
 Some of the members generously offered to lend some of their unfinished  work!

 Donna Maree who is one of 3 members of our group who are also Bloggers showed me yesterday how she can post from her phone. I now might have a go at that cause I think my phone camera is superior to my older digital camera.  Tina also has a blog.
 Today we have drizzle in BOP. We need rain so hope it soaks in. 
 I hope you are all keeping up with your" to do lists?"

Tuesday, December 01, 2015

My Little Treat.

 Today everything is wet so most of the day has been taken up NOT by sewing or Quilting but by paper work. So having had enough ( my head hurts ) I went out and picked myself the first feed of home grown Strawberries. R isn't very keen on them so I don't need to share.
 We stayed out of the orchard cause when leaves are this wet we get wet  My broccoli plants told me leaves are still wet.

  Does anyone else out there do GST returns for a business? For ages now IRD  have been sending me little printed notes with my returns to please consider filing my returns on line. I checked with my accountant to make sure Banklink that we use would allow it. It  will, so I took the plunge and went to the website. What a procedure ....making recordings for voice recognition; ( by saying silly things you wouldn't normally say )  having user ids' and passwords  - yes used to those but with this many letters and that many numerals - They have to be written somewhere or I would not remember them! 
 They said it would be SO much easier. For Whom? Them?
 I will persevere I always do but  why must it all be more difficult.?

 WHAT if the computer or phone systems go down...we are up a creek without a paddle.
 Do I sound   grumpy? I guess I am.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

A Week that Flew By.

This morning we had our final  ( 2nd ) blow on of male pollen  using adapted leaf blowers and the female  kiwifruit are almost all set.  ( tiny fruit ) The weather has been perfect for the bees to do their job.
 On Wednesday and Thursday G & L came with their hydraladas and picked  almost 14 bins of lovely big avocados.  R and I did the ground picking. That meant I walked like a very pregnant lady for most of the day with the weight of a picking apron full of avocados around my neck. I tried to arrange it so I had to walk down the slope  to the picking bin, not up. Friday night and Saturday we had lovely RAIN. The timing was perfect!!!

Friday I went to my Patchwork group and we had Gail V giving her "Quilt Journey." For those quilters unfamiliar with this term, one person gives a show & tell of as many of her quilts and wall hangings etc as she wishes right back to how and when she got started. Gail was happy for me to share some of those quilt here. It is really useful if someone has moved to us from another area or group and we haven't seen all her quilts. ( some of you others may recognise her? )
She has so much fabric she ended up making 3 quilts in a similar design.

 2 kids quilts.


 We have been  busy planting after a trip to the Garden Centre and purchase of more punnets of young seedlings. R decided to place the 2nd Bumble bee box we got  at the back of the vege garden near his tomatoes. I have stood for ages trying to get a photo of the bumble bees coming or going. Here is one where you get the idea .
 This one below where it was moving too fast for me.
 The door way to the box is similar to a cat flap. ( can be closed if you want to move them or lock them in.)
At the moment I am enjoying theses snow peas.( My second favourite type where you eat pod and all ) ; the Whippa snapper ones which plump up are my favourites. I planted a 3rd lot of them yesterday.

 I am watching these closely too to time my first pick of strawberries.

 They are doing so much better than last year.

The rain made some of the roses a bit sad ( temporarily only )as the weight of the wet blooms made them droop. Not so these flower carpet ( apple blossom ) ones. ( there are also some pink alstroemeria hiding in there ) ( spell checker just told me I mean astronomers  )
 You can't even tell where I picked this bunch from.
 I'm back out to plant some silverbeet now . All the last lot are bolting as is the parsley so I renewed that too. It is delightful gardening on a brilliant sunny day here in BOP. ( try and stay in the shade ) 
I hope you are having a great weekend doing whatever.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Beehives and Babies.

There was quite a good thunder storm on Saturday night when our beehives for pollinating the kiwifruit, were supposed to arrive, so they didn't arrive till just before 9 yesterday morning. 

 This year the hives are in just 2 places . 12 here and 12 down in the other big block. Situated in the sun and out of the wind as much as possible.
 There is plenty of work for the bees to do. Here female flowers are almost all out.
 They are getting straight to work. There will always be some that fly off to the garden instead. One stung me on my right index finger late yesterday afternoon when I was weeding. ( not it's fault - I didn't see it ). My usual treatment worked well. I had the sting removed using the sharp blade of my secateurs to scrape the sting sideways so very little got into me. ( don't squeeze the little bag part ) I then applied deodorant within a minute of getting the sting so my finger hardly swelled at all. Last night when it got a bit sore I reapplied deodorant. ( don't laugh; try it next time you get any sort of sting; it works wonders )
 I have never been stung working with the kiwifruit. The bees just seem to get out of my way if I get too close.

 You will need to look closely at this . Here bees are returning to the hives. All those little black dots are flying bees. The doorway is the slit at the bottom of each hive.

Yes I ( we )  have had another lovely visit with Grandson and his parents. He has grown a lot since last time.
 This is Grandson's right hand. You can see he needs a manicure. I tried and shortened a few using my glass nail file; but I wasn't much good at it and he wanted to keep moving so it would probably be best to do it while he is asleep.
 I took many many photos, so have lots to pick from. Here is one of him lying on the quilt I made him ( he has another lovely one a friend made him, so he uses both )
 Here he is exercising and communicating . He's a dear wee man.
 He is 7 weeks old.

I wonder if you can work out who this baby is?
The old black and white photo might be a clue.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Finished in 3 Days.

I began making a clutch ball for my Grandson on Sunday afternoon and it was finished last evening. Yea .
 The idea of this ball is all the nooks and crannies make it easier for little hands to grasp than a regular ball. It may be made in any size you like . The smaller the less stuffing required but it makes sewing the parts more tricky.

 Here are the stages of making one.
Cut a pattern for each of the 2 components. One shape is a triangle with one side curved up. The other is an ellipse ( the darker fabric seen here ) with pointy ends.The curve of the ellipse needs to match the curve of the triangular part.
 Cut 24 of the triangular parts and 12 of the ellipse. Each section of the ball has 3 parts sewn together.
 Here are the piles of 3 with the top wrong side to the triangular part. Sew a 1/4 " seam across the curved top. Then do the same again adding the 2nd triangular side. to the opposite  curve of the ellipse
 Here are 2 of the parts sewn up and turned right side out. If you look really closely you may see the unsewn section, where you turned it through and where you will then stuff it. Make the gap half way down one of the side seams avoiding the corners.( it's the bit that looks like it is bulging on the right of the bottom shape )

 This is one of the 12 you need to make, stuffed with light fluffy batting bits or similar stuffing which can be purchased. ) and the gap firmly hand sewn shut.

 This is the first stage of assembling the ball.The 4 on the right have had their tips sewn together. All 12 have to be fitted in to the same central point really firmly. ( a juggling act! )
 This shows 11 sewn in with the 12th having to go into the only gap left.

 There all sewn in , but a bit higgledy piggledy.

 The parts now have to be firmly sewn together in groups of 4 like this.
 You may need to twist and turn them a bit to make them fit. After I had sewn the first 4 together I got some safety pins and made sure the other 3 groups of 4 were going to cooperate. Continuing sewing the ends of the dark fabric part together in 4s till all ends are secured. 

Here is a different angles.
 Not a project for a beginner sewer or the faint hearted.
 The first one you make is always the most mysterious. The ones there after go together more easily. Having a photo of the finished object also helps.

Sunday, November 08, 2015

Just Everyday Things.

Fresh orange zest was called for in my Christmas cake recipe, so I walked to the home orchard and found some lovely juicy late oranges. R used the rest to make another batch of ( his now getting famous with the neighbours ) marmalade.
 This is now cooked as one small cake and a loaf. I find making smaller sized cakes or loaves a good option for housing in containers and for sharing with others( give away ). I will probably make another lot in the next few weeks.
 This is a simple and wonderfully moist cake having a cup of orange juice in it.( I used to use a recipe that have crushed pineapple that also kept it moist ) but I like this better and we have our own oranges.

 We have far too much silverbeet needing to be used as it all now wants to bolt, so I have been making this.
 Battered beet leaves.
 Make any thin batter mix and season it well with herbs ( Thai spice mix works well ) Pull out the small pieces of leaf( that you have ripped up )and lie it flattish in a pan  & quickly fry in olive or avocado oil. It only takes about 2 minutes each side and comes out crisp. ( it is messy to make - use your fingers )  It does not stay crisp so eat immediately. Great as a starter finger food.
 I would recommend this as a way to get kids to eat silver beet.
 I have been doing hours of gardening and watering has now become necessary with new plantings. Today I weeded last year's wildflower patch. Some plants have self sown so I left them to anchor the small sloped patch. Some time during the Winter heavy rain washed gravel off the drive beside it down onto the garden. I have left that as it can't get any fuller. When I had most of  the weeds out I scattered 5 different packets of wildflower seeds . Most had been gifted to me.
 Then I stood for 40 minutes with the hose just misting as I didn't want to float  the seeds with  heavy hosing. I discovered I could hold the hose in my right hand and weed with my left. This had an added benfit of being able to wash any attached soil off the weed roots.

 The plants that were left are white alyssum, blue cornflowers, purple violas , coreopsis and some tiny poppies.
 Last year it attracted a lot of bees . It is right next to loads of rosemary so they don't have far to go.
 I have added some motifs to felt ball # 26 but I have mainly been outside.
All the old kiwifruit  stalk removal is finished. Hurrah! Now we are bud thinning which is much easier and kinder on my hands. Thus far we have a really good crop of Kiwifruit buds. Sam and Mae the official buds counters were in yesterday and left us with a great result. We are wise enough to know there is a long way to go between here and harvest but at this stage it couldn't look better. So here's hoping ........

 Off to hose some other parts of my garden now. I hope your weekend has been enjoyable or productive or both.

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Harvesting .

 I have spent much of today working in my garden. I started by harvesting, some silver beet that was heading to seed, a handful of broccoli side shoots, a lovely cauliflower 
( # 4 of 6 )  and some rather pathetic beetroot.
 Guess what we are having for dinner tonight?

Monday, October 26, 2015

Little Treats for Me.

Today as well as my usual treat to myself, which is my long black espresso coffee I make myself  every mid morning, I gave my nose another  treat. The smell of cloves  (perhaps) in the form of carnation perfume.(Dianthus Passion )
 The plant is doing so well I felt I could pick some without spoiling the display.
I put them in my Hogland glass vase on the bench and every time I go near I plunge my nose into them. The smell doesn't seem to get inhaled away luckily.
 I have other carnations and pinks and even sweet William but none smell as good.( maybe Otaki Pink does ? )
 This Sweet William is nearly as dark in colour.

Yesterday afternoon I weeded this , my Herb garden which is flourishing. The netting is over the 2nd sowing of snap peas.
 I also weeded this my part of the vege patch.
 Particularly the small Spring onions at the far end.

 Then I mowed all the lawns so I could take a photo like this.
 I love the lawn freshly mown.
 A few other garden spots are looking good.
 Pale pink tritonia growing up through Astelia Nervosa Westland. They both like it dry. The nearby Rimu tree  sucks all the moisture out of the soil here.
 The Hostas are all up. This is the biggest leaf one.( not my favourite but certainly big )

The 1st yellow gerbras.

 Lots of red alstromeria.
 Several patches of purple irises.

A miniature lemon rhododendron that has maroon leaves.
 So far the only bug ( pest ) I can spot anywhere in the garden is spittle bug which doesn't really cause any harm it just looks yukky, if you look really closely. ( I hope the bugs stay away, especially the passionvine hoppers and the bronze beetle which usually eats young growth like these roses.)
 I love my garden when it looks and smells pleasant.