Sunday, January 25, 2009

Lovely Old Things

I am feeling deeply uninspired today. It is super hot, and Mr B starts school again tomorrow. I've got another 7 days of freedom (and prep for school), so I'm not too pleased to feel like I can barely drag myself from one end of the house to the other. Yesterday I had a super busy day. I got up and made a sponge for trifle making. Then I did house work, including whipping the sheets off the bed to wash them as soon as Mr B had got up. I assembled the bottom half of the trifle. It was made with boysenberries and blackberry jelly. About lunchtime I decided that I had to make one of my embroidered hearts for our lovely friend M's birthday. I usually potter over making them for several nights, but I worked like I was doing piecework in a sweatshop. Especially amazing since I was helping Mr Puppy's mum out by making up numbers at her Tupperware party. That took two hours, and surprisingly, was actually fun. Tupperware do make great products, and they last forever, however the prices are astronomical. I did order a cool lunchbox which will be perfect for school lunches over summer. Plus I won an egg separator in a competition. Anyway, once that was over it was back to the sweatshop. Somehow I managed to get the embroidery finished and the wee heart sewn up, stuffed with lavender and filling and fitted with its ribbon and button. Then I finished off the trifle and we rushed off to Mrs CT's place. There we had a lovely tea around the new dining room table. It felt like a big family meal. Mrs CT made a delicious coleslaw with produce from her little vege plot. Pop over to Canterbury Tales for a look. My trifle went down well. I'd like to experiment with individual ones, but a bit tricky when you never know who might be there. The little heart was a big success. M is a lovely, special person. Even though she has gone through terribly tough times, she is always there with wise words and an incredibly positive energy about her. She is going to have a amazing year travelling. I can't wait until she gets back and I can get her to practise her reiki and massage on me.

I can hear Mr B pounding at the earth around the back of the garage. He is starting work on steps. I can't see him staying out there too long. I've got curtains to make for my room. I have some pretty tablecloths to make them out of. I got sheets for the lining. I'm feeling way too sluggish to do anything much, and would love a swim.

I will leave you with some more of the china monuments on the graves over the back. I find them fascinating. They are on graves from the 1910's to 1020's, so have lasted a long time. I noticed the one with the iris on it was broken after the mower man had been, and I must see if I can repair it before it gets scattered.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Stormy Surprise

We had a wonderful evening last night! We had friends around for tea, and when we took a stroll to the cemetery for a little look this is what the sky did:

The huge rays of light were amazing, particularly since they were coming from behind Mr B, who took the photo. It looks like a sunrise, but is a sunset.

In the morning there was no sign of the weather to come. The sun was bright, and I got two loads of washing dry. Mr B went and got the wood for the deck outside my workroom. The ground on Dirt Mountain was far too hard to dig, and I half-heartedly tugged a few weeds from it. Monty spent a long time exploring the garden. Then this happened:

The clouds began to grumble, and then opened up, sobbing relentlessly upon the parched ground. Victory is mine, Dirt Mountain! Mr B and I are avid storm chasers (in our own minds). The lightening was fabulous across the city. Mr B set up his camera and got one of the most difficult shots a photographer can achieve, a lightening bolt.

While all this excitement was going on, I tidied my workroom cupboard, cooked corned beef and made a steamed pudding that we, as children, affectionately called Blob Pudding. Thanks to Mumsy for the recipe, which was a great success. For some reason I had an urge to make a steamed pudding, probably because it seemed a fitting accompaniment for boiled corned beef.
Off to school tomorrow for a bit of prep for the dreaded term start. I need to buy some new tops for school too. Not looking forward to that either. XXX

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

A bit of good old-fashioned scrumping

Scrumping, according to the Wikidictionary, means to steal fruit from orchards, especially apples. It also has a more colloquial meaning, that has no place on this blog. For the past couple of weeks, Miss Dog and I have been doing recon in the local area looking for potential targets to plunder. Scrumping, in the broadest of terms, could involve accessing edible items (or possibly just useful ones) that are on the side of the road, not being used by anyone, apart from like minded scrumpers. So today I am going to take you for a little journey with Miss Dog and I on our morning walk.
The first thing we like to do on a walk is get doggy business out of the way. We prefer to use the reserve alongside the cemetery to attend to such things. We shall just avert our eyes while Miss Dog assumes the position and checks to see I'm not looking out of the corner of her eye. Lovely gum tree. Beautiful blue sky.
We both like to have a little look around the cemetery. Miss Dog is very respectful and carefully skirts her way around the graves.
On four of the graves are these exquisite china floral wreaths. The others were shaded by the trees, so I'll have to take a photo another time. The graves with these are around 100 years old, and look how well this has lasted.
Once we've paid our respects we exit the cemetery and head along the road. Today we found a sweet little nest. Hopefully it was well used by a birdie family in the spring. Mr and Mrs Bird had thought about waterproofing as they had little pieces of plastic woven into the natural fibres.
Now for some serious scrumping. Breakfast time. These are little cherry plums with sweet and juicy yellow insides, only slightly sour around the stone. I stuff a handful into my pocket and munch as we walk along.
Miss Dog and I disagree on the most important aspects of a walk. I believe a brisk walk and lots of interesting things to see are most critical. Miss Dog believes a leisurely wander with masses of stops for smelling interesting things, ranging from hedgehog turd to doggy scent trails, to be the best kind of walk. Today, for example, she was delighted to find the back leg of a rabbit that had met an unfortunate fate. It took a little persuasion to convince her that eating it on the spot was NOT GOING TO HAPPEN. Miss Dog also loves a swim when we are out. Not today.
Look who's looking at us! We also spot a donkey and three alpacas with summer haircuts (they look ridiculously skinny and have decorative tufts around their ankles). Oh and the chookies are bathing in the sunlight in their large run as we peek at them through the hedge.
Now we're heading back into the more populated area. Time for some more scrumping, but this time I'll stuff my booty into my pocket. Rosemary for the lamb chops tonight. We have to be a bit more surreptitious now. When new subdivisions are put in around the village the entranceways are always done with huge clumps of hardy plants. Sometimes they are natives, but I prefer the herby plantings.
The lavender is also ready to harvest, but I don't see anyone stepping up to do it, so I think it might go to waste if someone doesn't take action soon. In my pocket I've got a doggy poo bag. Miss Dog has already done her business, so I whip it out and stuff as much lavender as I dare into it before I look like I'm loitering with intent. We admire the modest but highly fragrant harvest when we get home.
We head home victorious. I'm happy because I've done my exercise and so has Miss Dog. Miss Dog is pleased because she sniffed hundreds of fascinating things and is about to get her breakfast. So now you've been around the big block with us. Thanks for coming. We'll take you another way sometime soon.
Just before I go, here is today's harvest. I've very pleased with the yellow courgettes as previous attempts to grow them have failed miserably. They are more temperamental than their green cousins. The spring onions look like chopsticks. This lot are going with some slightly squidgy supermarket tomatoes and will accompany the Scrumped Rosemary Lamb Chops. No, I didn't scrump the lamb. That would be very bad indeed, and I'm still to convince Miss Dog that sheep are actually quite a boring lot who like the quiet life.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Assorted Business

It has been a varied day today. Miss Dog and I went for a walk first thing. She was pleased that I let her paddle in the stream (more like a water race) that we found. I had to go on a mercy mission for Mr B to get him some devil's liquor (Coca Cola) as he couldn't continue his work on the deck without a liquid incentive. Fortunately it gave him the energy to go from this:
To this:
Miss Dog approves of the new development. She has that expression on her face because I cleaned out her ears moments before. One of them is quite gungy inside. She hates Mummy performing health related acts on her. Most health manoeuvres can be disguised as loves, but poking a finger with a baby wipe on it into her ears isn't exactly subtle. By the way, this deck is outside the master bedroom.
Poor Mr B has some yucky blisters, even though he taped up his hammering hand. He needs to wear protective gloves on his dainty deputy principal hands.
I got into a wee bit of gardening. I planted some more radishes after I decided that this lot were on the brink of going to seed. Aren't they a festive lot? Shame most of them are smaller than marbles. I'm fond of radishes. Jo Seagar has a recipe for roasted radishes in her cook school recipe book. Just roast them as you would any other root vege. Must try it sometime.
I'm rather proud of these babies. I put in two more rows today. They are little coriander plants. I am curry mad, and love coriander. Apparently some people have a taste aversion to it due to an enzyme or some genetic thing. They taste it very differently than other people. I think coriander is a bit of an acquired taste in plant form.
I also planted some more lettuce seeds. You can never have too many lettuces, especially with school starting again in a couple of weeks. Many salads required for lunches.
Monty had a busy time helping me to piece together the Kaffe Fassett quilt.
Shortly after this photo was taken he decided to leave my craft room when I popped out for a minute. When I got back I couldn't find two of the strips because he "wore" them down the hall to the bedroom. I got all of the central panel finished. Now I've got to decide on a border. I'm thinking of a plain fabric strip with a binding made of the leftover bits of fabric. Not sure if I will have enough because I used most of it on squares.

Monday, January 12, 2009

The Adventures of Hunca Munca

Here's the birthday boy, doing just what he wants to do on his special day. He is building a deck. Not really my cup of tea, but he is happy as a pig in mud out there working on his latest creation.
The ground is full of stones, which causes some challenges when digging.

We went to Thyme Cafe for brunch and will be off to Barbara's house for tea soon. I haven't been wasting time either today. I wrestled with the Christmas tree (yes, yes, I know I should have taken it down ages ago). Now the lounge looks very bare. Maybe I need to work on a display for the Chinese New Year.
I had a bit of a dig and tidy up in my vege garden. Now remember that this is a pioneer woman's garden. I'm making do with what I can find. My raised beds are wide fence palings screwed onto pegs. I'm putting one more in tomorrow. I attacked the "lawn" with the weedeater today. I love slashing things off with that. I put in Mr Cucumber and my black passionfruit today, as both were eager to start taking over the world. That's the spirit! I took the precaution of making a rabbit proof fence around them both, in case someone wants to be a vandal.

Someone else was making the most of the day. I felt guilty after waking her up when I was vacuuming, so I took Miss Hunca Munca out to play in the garden.
Here she is admiring the place where I just planted lettuce seeds. As she is rather fond of her greens, she is making sure everything is as it should be. The metal frame is part of a dear little seed raising house, minus the glass. I'm using it to stop Miss Dog from lying on the garden where the seeds have been planted.
Hunca thinks the compost bin smells very interesting.
And here she is checking out my second bin. Nosy little lady, isn't she!
So after such a fun time exploring she will be wanting a play outside every day!
Happy birthday to my darling Mr B. You are the best husband ever!!!! XXXXX

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Sour Lemons

I am of the strong belief that no garden is complete without a lemon. Fortunately my brother, Fisherman Jim, gave me a Lisbon lemon for Christmas. Having done a tiny bit of research, it appears that my lemon is one of the primary lemon producing varieties in the world (well, if you call California the world). It is more productive than the Eureka lemon, and is more of a classic sour lemon than the Meyer lemon so common around here. The Meyer lemon is allegedly a cross breed between a lemon and something sweeter like a mandarin.
Here are some inspirational photos to get my lemon tree into action.
I'm not planning to stop at one lemon tree. I'll definately plant at least a couple more, possibly in the front garden among the flowering plants. I'm not sure about an orange. They tend to be rather disappointing compared to those grown in more tropical climes. Grapefruit (the hardiest of beasts) are not popular at all with my tastebuds, so I'll give those a miss. Maybe a mandarin and tangelo would be good. And a lime. Oh, and a kaffir lime for the superb fragrant leaves. I can see the vast swathes of frost cloth I am going to have to drape everywhere from April to November.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Patching with Kaffe

Stop here if you are offended by bright colours. I happen to love colour, except for poo browns, ochre, mustard and steely grey shades. So when I visited Thimbles and Threads in Upper Hutt I couldn't resist grabbing a selection of amazing Kaffe Fassett fabrics to create a back-of-the-couch quilt for the lounge. I got my workroom tidy, emptied of boxes and ready for action. It is rather bare currently, and my desk is crying out for a good sand and paint in a pretty colour. However, it has been called into active service so musn't concern itself with frippery.

I carefully unfolded and ironed my precious fabrics.

Then proceeded to unleash my rotary cutter on them. Things were looking a bit dodgy as the blade on my cutter has gone a bit rusty and pathetic, but I pressed on, safe in the knowledge that rust couldn't possibly show up on fabric like this.

The best bit is laying all of the pieces out to make the design. As you can see, I like to keep my approach simple. Squares. Every hasty girl's friend.
In real life they look a little more sharp and clearly defined. Maybe the camera was overwhelmed by the sheer glory of the brilliant colours. The pinks, reds and oranges are not as lollyish. Iwas a little concerned that they wouldn't go together, but I should have had faith in Kaffe. He knows what he is doing with bright colours.
At this stage I have joined the pieces in each row together, and now I have to join the rows together. Then I have to decide on a border, which is going to be very tricky.
Other news:
  • Mr Bunny and Miss Dog are currently both denying responsibility for slashing (or possibly nibbling) through the stems on several of my climbing beans.
  • My tomatoes are doing very well, and I am imploring the cherry toms to ripen asap.
  • It is Dad's birthday today. Happy Birthday Big Daddyo! Hope the pavlova and homemade burgers were good. I am very jealous and wish I was there.
  • Miss Dog smells. We only bathed her three days ago. Any ideas???? Mr B doesn't want her in the house. It isn't her ears or her breath, or doggy farts.

Well that's about it for today. Bye for now.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Too Hot!

It was soooooo hot today! I had to rescue Mr Bunny from his house and wet him down as he was a bit distressed (fine now though). Miss Dog and I couldn't go for our run. Monty had the best strategy- sleep, and I fitfully joined him for a wee while. No pictures. 
Just heat.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Holiday Heaven

Here I am making my second attempt to blog today, after the shift key got stuck down, which, according to the ever-patient Mr B, was the reason why the computer suddenly flicked through pages and lost my work. Grrrr. We couldn't find the draft anywhere, even though it said it autosaves. Anyway, onto less mundane matters. Here is the giant bite I took out of Dirt Mountain today. That is six wheelbarrows worth of soil extracted for my Digging for Victory campaign.

And here are the very appreciative baby leeks relaxing before starting to grow VERY FAST so I can eat them up in leek and potato soup, and other newly discovered leeky concoctions. These little treasures were leftovers from Mrs CT's own vege growing crusade. Check out her Canterbury Tales blog from my list.

These other beauties are today's Christmas voucher purchases. Mr Cucumber is my first ever cuke and I'm hoping I'm not too late getting him in. He cost the same as a supermarket cucumber, so even if he produces 2 fruit I'm in profit. I love cucumber in vinegar. Mad on it. Also featuring here are spinach, lettuce mixes and tomato food.

Take a look at this divine rose, a housewarming gift. It is Charles Austin. I had him in my first garden. He has a tendency to grow very tall and leggy, so I will have to exercise judicious pruning to keep him civilised. Mr B's dad was a fantastic rose pruner. He had his roses in perfect order year round.

Can you believe I actually got on the phone and invited people around for tea last night. They weren't exactly a scary bunch, just Mr and Mrs CT and Mr and Mrs Ferg. I put my new mixer to good use (thanks Nanny!XXX).

Can you guess what I'm making. Here's a closer look.

It could go two ways. But here's another clue.

Yum! Meringues. Much better than my last lot, which turned out like a bunch of saggy bums. Wrinkled and flacid. Here was another success of the evening. Even though I made enough grated carrot to serve a herd of hungry racehorses.

This was my twist on Jamie Oliver's carrot salad. It has three carrots, finely sliced mint and parsley, bottled red pepper (I'd use a chargrilled one if I had a freshy), sundried tomato and toasted sesame seeds. Onto this I put a lemon vinagrette made with olive oil, lemon juice, garlic smoked salt and pepper. Sorry Mrs CT, amounts are totally random depending on what you've got, but next time I would do less carrot and throw in more herbs.

Aren't these inspiring. Free range lemons. I picked these from the cottage garden on Mum and Dad's farm. They are lovely and juicy. I was given a lisbon lemon for Christmas (thanks Fisherman Jim). I'm going to put it in the corner where it can grow huge and I can easily cover it to protect it from frosts. I must find out if it is especially susceptable to frosts.

Finally, a look at my pantry door, with the very special present I got from Mrs So Tread Softly. I guess I'm going to have to take the Christmas treasures down sometime soon. Sigh...

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Return from Who Knows Where

Here I am, after a very long absence. My excuse? Building a house, selling a house, moving house and working. But now I'm back, and better than ever. The new house is fantastic- more of that to come as things change around here. But a sneak peek of Miss Dog on the deck. Mr. B built that with his own two hands, and help from me, his trusty sidekick.

I'm going to paint the table and chairs a pretty blue, I think. When I sit on the chairs I am rather concerned that the flimsy folding action is going to fail brutally and send me to the ground in a heap. I'll have to get Mr. B to cast his eye over them.

This is my nemesis. Dirt Mountain. Actually it is the source of lovely soil for my garden. It is much bigger than it looks in this photo. It looks quite tame and petite compared to the enormous pile that greets me when I look into the back yard. I moved two wheelbarrows full today to cover my spuds. They are growing well, even though I put them in late.

Things were fine in the vege patch in my two week absence while on holiday. All thanks to my water timer. These are fine looking examples of my vege growing skills.

I decided to make use of leftover building materials to give my purple king beans something to climb.
These are my pride and joy. Civilised and orderly tomato plants doing what they should. I have 6 Moneymakers and 6 cherry tomatoes. Who wouldn't be thrilled to come back from holiday to find these wee beauties?
Today I happily purchased a new electic mixer and a mini vac sucker with my Christmas vouchers. By the way Nanny, no problem with the voucher. I got the most powerful beasts that I could afford. My new mixer has a stand and bowl so I'm looking forward to making a pavlova. Maybe I will tomorrow. I blew up my old ones making lemon curd cupcakes. Who would have thought the dear cupcakes could have caused blue sparks and voluminous puffs of electrical smoke? Mr. B got busy in the kitchen and made his first batch of cheese while I weeded the veges- mozzarella - utterly delicious. Very creamy and sweet. Not too much of a kerfuffle, except for gathering the items required. He might start his own foody blog, so I won't steal his photos yet, just in case.
I'm off to work on my current embroidery project.