Monday, November 30, 2015

I am going to say it... I love my garden

8 Months ago we moved into a new house with a garden that had been neglected for more than a year. We know that because it was empty for more than a year before we purchased it. I knew when we looked around that we had some Peony's, Roses, a nectarine and two apple trees. The rest was a mystery. 
But what a fantastic mystery it has been. As each season has passed and we have added things into the garden, watered and pruned, slowly it is being revealed. The hellebores had me the moment they flowered in the middle of winter, peonies are amazing, the iris's stunning, the rhododendrons were spectacular and more things are just popping up.  
Every day I walk around and admire the garden and what is springing from it. I love the surprise, I love seeing what we are planting come to life and grow well.
I feel very fortunate to have such a stunning garden. 

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Victorian Festival and a weekend in Dunedin

Last weekend we took advantage of the Public Holiday to head off to Dunedin. This weekend always coincides with The Oamaru Victorian Fete. A great chance to roll out the costumes we made several years ago. (I know my costume is the wrong era but it is a costume I have so not point making another one).

In the gardens at Riverstone Kitchen

Not only were over half the people attending in costume, but Oamaru claims itself to be the Steam Punk capital of the world with Steam Punk HQ an amazing place to visit. So not only were there people properly dressed in Period Wear but there were amazing twists with the steam punk theme. A lady in a wheelchair had converted her whole chair into Steam Punk, with fake smoke coming out. It was fantastic.

Some of the crowd and the can can girls.
We spent the weekend with my sister and had a great walk down to Tunnel Beach in Dunedin. I was very worried about getting up the hill. But Aaron used that umbrella to tow me up. Could not have done it without him. Super Man!!
took a bit longer than that

The top of the tunnel

When we were there we found my niece's name carved in the sandstone from years ago. The boys spent a lot of time carving their names in too. 

The first night in Dunedin was spent at the brand new Distinction Hotel in Dunedin. The boys really enjoyed being posh. Within five minutes of being in the room they had the dressing gowns and slippers on and were clicking their fingers for service!!

Monday, November 16, 2015

Anyone else knitting in Fiji?

knitting with Alpaca
Suprise surprise, when we were enjoying 28 degrees in Fiji no one else was knitting!!! But I have two Alpaca wool hats to knit for Christmas. Anyone following my blog will know that I am making home made Christmas Crackers as presents this year. So everything needs to fit into that size. Of course there needs to be a hat, a joke, a toy etc. This is a mini version of a hat pattern I have made for Eli and Aaron but this is for a much smaller head.

See the normal adult version here.
I did laugh quite a lot making a woolly hat when we were getting sunburnt. 
I then have one question - when we came home how did the dog get into bed - Aaron Schulz!!!

Monday, November 9, 2015

I have a weekend to get a quilt made

On Friday night I went to hear William Thompson from Hope Homes International talk at a local church. This is the orphanage where I sent a pile of quilts over a year ago (6 years work). When questioned William advised he had room in his suitcase for some quilts. But I only had one made!!
Not only that but as I am away for work this and next week, there was only this weekend to get more made. So I looked through all my half finished stuff. So Saturday I started at 10am. I found these cut - scraps cut into pieces ready for a Plus quilt. (I like to call then Cross quilts) 
I worked out the size and had to cut another 10. Based on a finished 4.5inch size. Selected fabric and cut. 
By 11am I was laying them all on the floor getting ready to sew in lines. 
1pm and I was starting to flag. Plus needed to go to the shop to get batting as the shop closes at 2pm. Organised the boys and did a bit of gardening.

At midnight I was pinning all the quilt pieces together. I was at the point of giving up as the quilting and binding takes a long time. Then Kerryn messaged me from Australia to see how it was going. When I told her she gave some excellent advise, that I followed. Just stitch straight lines to get it done.  
I thought about that overnight and realised she was right but was still not sure if I would get it done. So stitching around each cross. But that still left quite a space in the middle of each piece which would wear. So I freehanded hearts, stars, flowers etc into each centre.  
Cross Quilt
By 3pm I had the quilting done and the edges trimmed. 
Hope Homes International
Oh my goodness, I finished!!! Patched, Quilted and Bound - finished at 5.30pm on Sunday.
Now I am spending a day catching up on my housework etc. 

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Companion planting

This gorgeous cauliflower is HUGE. About four times the size of my hand. I companion plant, I always have. Not because of the greeny reasons (better plants, less pests etc) but due to space. Anyone following my blog for a while will see that no matter how much garden I have it is never enough. So I squash veggies in amongst flowers and roses and vice versa. I love the surprises it brings. 
side sprouting cauliflower
I am an avid user of NZ Gardeners weekly electronic newsletter - Get Growing. The advice is good, there is interesting detail and I have adapted a lot in my garden due to their tips etc. I am now an avid follower of gardening by the moon cycle. But I disagree with an article they published last week about companion planting. They said "do not put brassica's with strawberry plants". Well in all the time I have gardened I find that my brassicas do best in a strawberry bed and so does garlic. 

The top photos is a huge cauli, just picked for tonight's dinner, grown in the strawberry patch. The cauli underneath is a variety called side sprouting. I thought it would give me a big heart and then do the side sprouts. But no, you can see a big heart developing and side sprouts at the same time. Now that is my idea of maximising space in the garden!

Friday, November 6, 2015

Family Food Friday - easy chicken soup

This food post really is about how to make homemade soup without the hassle of chicken bones etc.

I am guessing that most people do not need a recipe for soup, just the tips that make it easy. So I fry off diced onion, carrot and celery. Then I add enough water to fill my pot and grate in any left over veges that are just hanging around in the fridge (you know the ones that end up in the compost bin). Any leftover roast pumpkin etc is good too. This chicken soup is very yellow as I also grated in fresh tumeric when frying the onions. I love barley so I always add that to soups, but lentils are good too.

Instead of putting the chicken carcass or bones (always leftover from either a roast or a hot chicken you bought at the supermarket last night when you were in a rush for dinner), straight in the water I put a sieve into the soup pot and put the bones etc in that. Then when the soup is ready you just lift out the sieve and you are done. No mess, no bones left behind but the full flavour of the chicken is in the pot.

When the bones have cooled for five minutes you can remove any chicken from them and put that back in the pot.

I link to these places.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

A Scandi Christmas

For ages I have been meaning to make a banner - In a Scandinavian style - using reclaimed linen shirt (leftover from my hat) and red thread. So far I have a N and part of a O. I am beginning to think that it will not turn out how I had intended. But I will persist.

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Goodies on the washing line

I managed to get in a little stop at an Op Shop the other day (thrift shop for some of you). I found some 60's and 70's sheets for just $2 each. The pink flowery one was a double and brand new, from someone cleaning out a house I presume. It was all starched and stiff.
I have great dreams of using these for pretty tea dresses. Still haven't made the other sheets into anything so we will see.....

A gorgeous break in Rarotonga

Woo hoo, A holiday with no kids for 11 days. Bliss, relaxing and warm! BTW it was an early 20th wedding anniversary present to ourselves....