Sunday, March 30, 2008

The Good Life

I've had a very busy morning doing housework and cooking. I had a heap of tomatoes that Jim left here that needed eating up so I made a brew of tomato soup. That is an incredibly simple recipe. Lots of tomatoes roughly chopped added to finely diced onion with salt, pepper and herbs. This is cooked for ages then rubbed through a sieve to extract the skins and seeds. It is even yummer with garlic but I had used it all. It would make a lovely pasta sauce too, but I'd probably skin the tomatoes before cooking them down so I didn't need to rub the pulp through the sieve. I love the idea of being able to grow lots of my own veges and cook up pure, healthy concoctions out of them. Along with this goes making my own bread. Today I made a loaf of lightly herbed bread, and it was fantastic with the soup. The trouble with homemade bread is that we can never resist gorging ourselves on the loaf while it is still warm. My tummy is like a barrel! Sorry, I can't give you the exact recipe as I make it rather randomly. I always use dried yeast (never surebake), warm water and honey or sugar. Then I add olive oil, salt, seasonings and high grade flour. The amount of flour depends on how much water I happen to use.
These are my Laura Ashley strawberry cups. They are perfect for soup. I had to go to Australia to buy them. Actually, come to think of it, I would love to have some Laura Ashley fabrics in my new house. I will have to investigate. I am off to de-clutter the living room. Mr B has mowing and hacking to do in the garden. I have a cunning plan for a navy crocheted scarf that I might tackle after tea. Plus I've got to wrangle the bias binding for the NZ quilt. School tomorrow. Three weeks of term to go! XXX

Saturday, March 29, 2008

My first quilt almost finished!

This is my first ever almost completed quilt. I used New Zealand themed fabrics appliqued together and layered then quilted.

Oh, how I love my sewing machine. The automatic needle threader and thread cutters are features I wouldn't want to live without. I am using the free motion quilting foot. I popped it on in about 1 minute which was a surprise after I tried to use one on my old sewing machine.

Monty is making sure things are up to scratch.

This looks good enough to take a nap on.

Wait until I've finished, Monty! Now I just have to work out how to put the bias binding on (see, I told you I am an amateur), and I will have my very first finished quilt.

PS. We met with a builder for our new house today. He likes cats. A lot. I like him. Especially when I saw the cat hotel he built for his black and white furry gentleman. We saw some of his work for humans and were also impressed. He is getting quotes together for our build and we will meet again once that is organised. Mr B and I are thrilled. XXX

Friday, March 28, 2008

Monty Update

Great relief for Monty and me. An independent delivery in the dirt box today had everyone dancing with excitement. See, he is smiling! Monty says Dr. Geoff can keep away from his bottom from now on. Sorry Monty, Dr. Geoff loves to poke his thermometer where the sun doesn't shine, even though I suggested your armpit would be a more dignified option.

I've got a cold. I hate colds. I am greatly relieved to have resigned from Saturday morning orchestra for a while. I was overloaded with music to practise, and tired of getting up early on Saturday. I've still got my trio, and of course my lovely lessons with Jenny. It is easier to get enthusiastic about practising when I haven't got pages and pages of tricky orchestra music to plod through.

Tomorrow we are meeting with a prospective builder for our house. He is showing us several houses that he has built, including one that he just finished. We will be able to have a look inside that one. I'll report back soon!

I'm going to work on my native bush quilt shortly. I am quilting it at the moment. It is just small, about 1m x 75cm. I am using my common sense as I haven't actually been taught how to do it. I got some lovely cream fabric for the back of my traditional quilt so once that has been prewashed I can pin the layers together and get stuck into quilting that one. I have a plan to make 6 chair cushions for my dining chairs in faded vintage shades, plus my Cath Kidston inspired pair of quilts for Meg and I. Busy, busy!!! XXX

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Easter Fun (Mostly)

First the bad bit. Monty has been sick. He got dreadfully constipated and had to be sedated to have an enema. I took him back for a follow up and he still wasn't going poo normally. More medicine. Then I got really worried. I took him back today and it was really traumatic for us both. He had his poor little botty probed then he had a blood test (another shaved patch). That showed an elevated white cell count, so he is taking antibiotics. Plus he has mucked up chemical levels, one of which could possibly indicate a tumor. Dr Geoff says the other figures indicate severe gastroenteritis, so he will continue to treat for that and we will consider the other dreadful possibility once his tummy is sorted. He came home after a day in hospital and scratched the old couch thoroughly, so he must be feeling a bit better. He is cuddled up on my knee. I am sooooooooo worried about him. When you don't have children your pets can become incredibly central to your life. If I was a witch he would be my familiar.

We did have a fabulous holiday break with the family. There were no Easter eggs to be found in the shops, except for the ones that should be ashamed to call themselves chocolate. Never mind, I had plenty in the lead up, and Meg brought a few with her. I can't wait to build the new house because it felt incredibly crowded with four large lads lounging about, and only one bathroom.
We took everyone out to the ranch for a look. Here are my brothers sitting on our new fence. Trust them.

That's Cam on the left and Jim on the right. They are twins.

Here I am with Mr B. I got these jeans with a very flat, fitted tummy so that I can wear them under dresses. I shouldn't whine, but I have really piled on the weight lately. I love eating. Damn it.

Meg and I are checking out the plans. They are covered in coffee stains due to an unfortunate dog and brother related incident, which also involved my unfinished quilt. Quoting myself: "What were you doing putting coffee on the coffee table!!!!" I had to explain that what I meant was "What moron would put their coffee on the coffee table next to my pile of quilt pieces when the dog is around?????" Anyway, no real problem. Coffee stains are good for adding that special vintage touch. By the way, I finished piecing the top of my quilt. I hope to buy the batting and backing fabric tomorrow. Meg is my sister- do we look alike? No, not a lot, but we sound alike. Spooky.

Here is another lovely visitor to our land.

We all decided that we needed to go to the botanical gardens to have a photo of the four siblings on the rocking horse playground feature. We have a legendary photo from our childhood. Unfortunately the poor old horse was nowhere to be seen. Jim found a couple of friends.
Jim and his new best friend, Mr Dinosaur.
Jim and the Victorian fountain. I love that fountain. Well I did until I saw some of the other photos the boys took with side-on Jim and spouting water. Naughty lads.
What else did we do? I bought 3 pairs of much needed pants and a dress/tunic thingy to wear over them. I worked on quilting my NZ themed quilt. We watched several movies including Shooter with Mark Wahlburg (yum), Ben Stiller's The Heartbreak Kid (don't bother) and In the Land of Women (excellent girly movie, I thought). The boys went to The Smashing Pumpkins in concert and had an awesome time. The support act was Queens of the Stoneage- their lead singer, Josh, is one of the most beautiful men to walk the planet, in my opinion.
I was terribly sad to have everyone leave. It feels very quiet around here, and I don't want to go back to school tomorrow. But I will, of course. XXX

Wednesday, March 19, 2008


Yes, here it goes, the new Muse album. It came with a DVD of their amazing performance at Wembly Stadium. Guess what has been blasting from our television for much of the evening (with me blasting along with the vocals despite hardly knowing a word).

I've been reading:

I have been an avid reader of Country Living since I worked in a book shop and used to get the out-of-date magazines once the covers had been ripped off for sending back to the supplier. I was a very innocent 18 year old when I first ripped the cover off an adult entertainment magazine and was exposed to exposed ladies (and men) for the first time. On to better, and prettier things, I love the raspberry pinks with the interesting green of the enamel jug on the cover of Country Living February. The New Zealand Gardener dared to present its face in gaudy orange makeup. I almost didn't buy it, but the inside was well worth the trauma.

Look what Alison from So Tread Softly gave me! It is so beautifully made. You must have a look at her website shop. She is planning to get stuck in and update it once the latest craft fair is over. She uses wonderful natural and vintage fabrics. This is going on my chocolate brown coat. It is quite a generous size so will look fabulous. Miss Ruby Two Shoes was wondering about my other So Tread Softly brooches. The fabric circles are made using a traditional technique and are called Suffolk puffs. They are sometimes used to make quilts. Alison sells them on her website, so everyone should get over there and buy one! Let's have a Suffolk puff revolution!

Remember this? I am working on the border of my first ever quilt. I did some cutting tonight after finding this pretty fabric in subtle colours.

I also found these. They are very fine cotton. The photo is awful due to an intept photographer (me). The one on the right is so Cath Kidston I feel like I am visiting her shop when I look at it. The other one reminds me of Pride and Prejudice. Can't decide what to do with them. They would make good hankies. Too nice to blow my snout on, but I would get to look at them every time I got a runny nose.

Finally I'd like to share Miss Dog with you.

She is eating MY pear. I was trying to be arty and include the pear in one of my photos. She helped herself when I was mucking around trying to focus. Lucky for me (and her) I had another one.

I am so excited about the Easter break. Jim arrives tomorrow. Then on Saturday Meg, Cam and Ryan arrive. Our wee house will be bulging at the seams with celebrating siblings. Just celebrating being together. I love my family! XXXXX

Sunday, March 16, 2008


Sorry everyone! School has been so busy, and I have been enjoying it so much that I have neglected my blog. I've got a bit of bloggy reading to catch up on. Awesome. We've had a bit of a blow with our house build, however I am really looking on the bright side. First the bad bit. The building company we had a contract with collapsed. So they have our deposit and we thought we had nothing. We do own the piece of land, so are very glad we didn't have a house and land package, which are very popular here. Hopefully we will get some money back, plus the company liquidator is handing over our house plans. So the good bit is that we are going ahead but are controlling the build ourselves. I am so excited because when you go with a building company you can be a bit restricted in choices, so now I am back to the drawing board with interior ideas, flooring, the designs of the kitchen and bathroom, handles etc, etc. Plus we can keep a closer eye on costs of things, and make economical choices and negotiate prices. The best thing is that instead of the company taking on the build and us standing back and going in when it is finished, we can involve our extended family and friends in the process. I want to look at eco-friendly options too- I'm sure you will all be pleased to hear that! Secretly I'm a bit of a greenie. I want to be able to say Dad made that, Mum helped me with that, that artwork was made by ____, my brother came and helped with ______ etc. So anyone who wants to contribute will be welcomed with open arms. Then it will be a real friend and family house! I love the idea. The style will be modern English country. Uncluttered and comfortable. And to Gigibird, I will be revisiting the Farrow and Ball paint chart for a rethink. With the building company we were restricted to 5 paint colours. Not any more.

By the way, I met the wonderful Alison, of So Tread Softly fame, yesterday. She is THE BEST!!!! We got on so well. I just love her sense of humour and sense of style. She is going to be so helpful with my house interior design, as she is definately a modern English country style girl. I can't wait to visit her beautifully renovated villa (if she doesn't move on to a new project first). She gave me one of her fabulous flower brooches. I must take a photo for you. She manages to create things with a gorgeous country feel that are perfectly constructed. Best wishes for your next craft fair, Al!

Bye for now everyone. I promise to update soon.
Ps. Alison, you should be looking for a new house project down here in Christchurch - preferably next door to me.