Sunday, May 27, 2012


Mmmm Dream chocolate. Good stuff. Johnny bought some today. We've been having a home day today. I did a wee bit of quilt making, and then made banana muffins with chocolate bits. The Crafty Neighbours came for morning tea, and my muffins were a hit. How very domestic of me! I got outside and did some tidying up in the garden as it was lovely and warm today. Miss Dog had a play date with her friends Meg and Molly. When I was over visiting with her she was busy munching on a toothy jawbone, which was utterly disgusting to see. She was grinning like the jaw bone. Yuck.

Yesterday I had an extremely grim headache, with accompanying eye-pop effect. Last week was a particularly stressful week, and I think my head is hurting as a result. Yes, it still hurts today. We decided to go out to the farm after lunch yesterday as Viv was available for a ride on Jack with Zanny and I. I really didn't know how I would go with the headache, but had faith that Zanny would take the pain away, which she did. While I was with her there was no pain at all. Amazing. I also had a chat to this darling gentleman:
Oscar, aka Dambala. Viv was a bit doubtful that he would want to have anything to do with me, as he hadn't been ridden for over a week. But he whickered when he saw me, and came over. Once he had given me a thorough sniff he let me give his face a good rub and looked very pleased indeed. I am very privileged to be one of a very select group of people that can get anywhere near him in the paddock. Oscar is currently the top eventing horse in the country as he won the 3* class in the last major Three Day Event, and has now qualified for the 4* event in Adelaide later in the year. He is worth an extraordinary amount of money. Let's just say you could buy a house for the same amount. I was scared that people might steal him, but Viv laughed and said no one could catch him to steal him! 

I had a wonderful relaxed ride with Viv, who was riding darling Jack. He is yummy with a big kind face and a lovely rotund figure. We always have a good girly chat about our worries and Viv passes on her wise words. Zanny calmly strolls along and Jack looks for things to create dramas about. We  both agreed that he wasn't ready to run the gauntlet past the crazy chicken lady's house yet! 

 Last night we watched this:
We really enjoyed the original Swedish version, and this was equally good. The original had subtitles, so this remake was a little easier to follow, I think. Rooney Mara was outstanding as Lisbeth Salander. She is such a pretty thing in real life, and the transformation was incredible. A ghastly haircut and bleached eyebrows really transform a girl! Some scenes required a lot of commitment from her as there were some brutal moments, and the rude stuff was incredibly real. Plus she got various bits pierced for the job. And smoked. Yuck. Daniel Craig was a pleasing addition for me because I think he is gorgeous. I am a big fan of the book this is based on, and the sequels, and look forward to the next two movies. Rooney and Daniel are contracted for both movies. Awesome. 

My poor head still hurts. I'm hoping for a better week, and will be focusing on all of the good things that happen. Life is precious, and it isn't worth worrying about petty things. 

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Seeking inspiration

I'm on the prowl for gorgeousness to inspire me. Having spent two days off school with my throat sandpapered by the germs that have set up a fortress in my head, I've had a bit of thinking time. Well, sort off. I got my mind back at about 3pm today and realised I was on the mend. Yay!!!! Yesterday was a right off. It was a hunkering down deep in my bed kind of day. The sun was shining but I was chilly. Today, after a decent sleep-in, I was ready for some useful activity. I do enjoy a good sew when I'm poorly, providing I'm upright and don't have a headache. So I worked hard on joining the remaining strips of the Forty Wishes quilt, part 2. I used to just hold the strips together, but now, in the interests of a neater result, I pin each strip carefully, before sewing. Tedious, but it makes sewing speedy. I also did some work on Mum's quilt, which has been a bit of a spanner in my works,  but is now progressing nicely. 

I had a wee peep at the Sanderson website, and was surprised to find a very small selection of fabulous florals. I was expecting many gorgeous options. I like this leafy pattern, which comes in various soft coloured backgrounds. 
 This pretty floral caught my eye, on the soft blue background.
 And there is something delicious about these painterly roses on white.
 I will continue the search for fabulous fabrics and wallpapers. Of course, I can't go past Cath Kidston for a wide array of designs that I love. I must pick out my current favourites sometime. I'd love some new ideas for hunting grounds (websites), so let me know if you've got any favourites. I was a bit letdown by Laura Ashley.

I enjoyed my home time so much, in spite of the dreaded lurgy. I'd be quite happy pottering on my sewing jobs and arranging my house and garden. But it is back to school I go tomorrow. And if things don't go too well:

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Germs be gone!

Oh dear. I seem to have been fighting a germy blitz from infected students and my throat is giving in to the onslaught. I've got a very irritating scratchy coughy throat, and Johnny seems to be heading down a similar path. Now anyone who has been subjected to my grizzles about colds before knows I don't suffer in good grace. My every cold is "man flu" and I really can't be bothered with a single day of viral induced illness. Colds get in the way of my policy of enjoying each and every day. Grrrrrr!!!

Yesterday was bitterly cold, and when I wasn't whining about being frozen and sick I was busy working on my "Forty Wishes" quilt.

I thought I'd better get on with it before I need to call it "41 Wishes." Originally I made it up as a single bed sized quilt, but realized that I loved the fabrics so much that I thought I'd turn it into a big quilt to go on the spare bed. I'm rather concerned about the machine quilting business, because I always do my own quilting, and this one is going to be a major operation to do. The Crafty Neighbour always gets hers professionally quilted, which looks fabulous, but adds considerable cost. I think I will worry about that once I have got the top panel done.

Today was fortunately a beautiful crisp, clear day. Glorious. I went out for a ride on my beautiful girl. Today we discovered the road gate was closed, and I managed to open it from horseback, no thanks to Zanny, who thought it was a very bad idea indeed. You see, I can't dismount just anywhere, because there is no way to get back up there without a mounting block (or similar item). On ponies we just popped back up there, but it is just too far up for me to lift my foot to the stirrup and then spring (ha ha) up into the saddle. And it is bad for her back too. So I just had to get that gate open, or we'd have to turn around. We managed in the end, and enjoyed a wander together. Shadow, the fox terrier, came along for a walk too, and had fun sniffing and snuffling everywhere. Zanny's tummy shadow looked very pregnant looking down from above.

I must say, I haven't got anything new and thrilling to report. Pasta bake sauce makes a fantastic vegetable bake (with a wee handful of pasta and lots of different veges). We've had several quakes in the past week, after a quiet period. My car failed its warrant of fitness in spectacular fashion, requiring a muffler repair, two new engine belts, two new tires and work on the rear seatbelts. Oh dear.

One new thing I did spot was this fabric, which is Harlequin Delphine:

The print is big and bold, and for some reason, I love it. I'm not a fan of grey or mustard, but for some reason, these work so well. There are two other colourways too, but I like the pinky shades of the flowers in these ones. I'm feeling a bit inspired to do some decorating. 

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Couldn't be better

I love weekends, as you know! This one was particularly lovely. Last week was pretty stressful, so it was fantastic to wake up on Saturday with two days of fun ahead. I headed into my workroom to finish the central panel for the Swimming Pool quilt. Not sure if it looks anything like lanes of a swimming pool, so I think it needs a new name. 
 There isn't a fabric in the strips that I don't find interesting to look at.
 I'm deciding about the sashes. I was thinking about a visit to Stitch, but decided that I've got plenty of things to go on with, and there are a lot of bills this month.
 Sometimes the best things are actually free. Our neighbour gave us this reject. It had not even been at her own place, but lurking at her rental property. It was delivered late in the day a couple of weeks ago, and I didn't inspect it until the next morning. When I looked out of the window I discovered that it has a face! Actually Kermit the Frog's face has been mentioned. I have no idea what it is going to do now that is is positively bursting out of the kettle that it resides in. Maybe the "eyes" will grow out until they are boggling. I'm guessing it could take quite some time. At least it has a smile on its face.
 Johnny won't be smiling when I harvest these beauties. I like Brussels sprouts because they are like dear wee perfectly formed cabbages. John does not.
Wow- look at my harvest of yams. I planted four tubers that had sprouted in the cupboard. I put them in a big plastic pot with garden soil. As you can see, my harvest was fairly modest, but I did end up with considerably more than I started with, and all for free. 

 Of course my weekend would not be complete without a visit to Zanny. I asked Viv if she wanted to go for a ride with us, and she came on a big fellow called Jack. He is much sturdier than Zanny, and a bit taller too, but she outwalked him, no trouble. My girl loves to step out. Jack is a pretty quiet fellow, with a serious hamstring injury that has healed, but left him with a big dip in his bottom cheek where the muscle is basically gone. He will eventually find a special person to take him. He is a bit spooky and gave us all a fright when the pump turned on as we walked past, and then later when Viv flapped her hand in animated conversation. Viv told me all about Zanny's history. Don't read the next paragraph if you find horse stuff boring!

Zanny was the first horse Emily broke in, and lots of time was taken over her. She didn't belong to the Butchers at that stage. She then had a very brief career (one race) as a race horse, under the name "The Lemon" (a charming and optimistic name). She had a very tough time at one point when she had been turned out and neglected after her failed race career, and Viv basically rescued her because she was starving and riddled with worms and lice. What a horrible thought! Emily then rode her as an eventer and Viv rode her too. Then they discovered she is blind in one eye. She disguises it very well, and it was when light was shining into her face at night, and the blind eye didn't reflect, that they discovered her "disability." After that she had a foal (a gelding who now lives on the West Coast and is allegedly extremely ugly), then she had Lucy, who is now six, and very pretty. After that she got pregnant with undetected twins, and lost them prematurely about a month before they were due. She was distraught at the loss, and went off to somewhere else to be loved and ridden for a while. Then she had Frazer, who is about two years old now, and getting bigger every day. In between she did riding lessons, and now she is my girl (I'm allowed to think of her that way). I was excited because Viv said I might be able to ride her until September, and hopefully she will be mine to ride once she weans her foal and puts weight on again. How fabulous is that!!!! Viv thinks she could live for a long time because she has been so loved and looked after. I had a chat to Viv about horses dying because it is something that worries me terribly. How would I cope? Viv had reassuring things to say about that, even though it is a devastating time.

I had a great time hanging out with Viv and the horses. I helped with the feed out, met Chili, the new, extremely handsome fellow in the team, and had a tour of the new house, which Emily has just moved into. I got home quite late and we went for dinner and Mr and Mrs CT's house. Mrs CT was excited because she just got a new gadget which plays her old records and allows her to record them onto a memory stick, which can then transfer the music onto her computer.

When I got up this morning the sun was shining into my workroom and looking extremely inviting. Can you spot Jasper in the sun? He is down by his bed lying on the carpet.
 Actually I didn't get into the workroom at all except to practise my 'cello. I spent more time in the kitchen than I usually do. I had these to deal with.
 We make soup each week at school, and one of my students bought a bag of beetroot along, but my teacher assistants decided to leave it out of the soup. Good idea, imagine the beetroot juice on school uniforms. But we didn't want to cause offence by sending them home, so I adopted them. I've got a couple of recipes for beetroot soup. I based mine on Hugh F-W's one but didn't roast the beetroot. I zapped them in the microwave and attempted to peel them. The peels are supposed to slip off, but I needed to use a little more cunning to disrobe them. My fingers were a fetching cerise after washing them.
 The soup was even more cerise. This brew has two stalks of celery, a big fat onion, a carrot, two cloves of garlic and a sprig of thyme sweated in a little olive oil. After that cooked for a while I had managed to tame the beets, so tossed them in, along with some stock (two of those little jellified pots, one beef and one vegetable) and some boiling water. Once that had simmered for a while, I let  it sit for a while to cool just a bit, then whizzed it with my stick blender. It thickened up a bit, and ended up looking like a glorious crimson thickshake. Tasty too.
 And, as recommended by Hugh, I topped it with a teaspoon of creamed horseradish (sadly the jarred stuff could do with more kick) and a teaspoon of sour cream. Fantastic, and more filling than the more liquid soups. Definitely worth a try because beetroot are very easy to grow (into monsters actually) or are usually super cheap to buy. I've got three more serves set aside for lunches.
 While I was in a cooking mood, and had two elderly bananas lurking in the fruit bowl, I decided to whip up a batch of banana and chocolate muffins. Strange to realize that I have managed to leave half a bag of chocolate buttons alone. My tip: if you buy the crappy budget ones, they are fine in baking, but not tasty enough to snack on. These went down well when The Crafty Neighbour and husband came for afternoon tea. In exchange we got invited for roast hogget with all of the trimmings. It was a Mother's Day treat, and oh my goodness, it was a super delicious dinner.
I had a good chat to my lovely sister today, and my wee nephew, Henry, is taking after his Auntie. Today, when Mummy and Daddy were briefly occupied, Henry managed to gnaw his way into his mummy's Mother's Day box of chocolates and was caught munching on a chocolate. Apparently 2 1/2 year olds can look remarkably guilty with half of a stolen chocolate crammed into their mouths. He was still claiming ownership of the chocolates when I spoke to them later in the day. He is also showing a remarkably familiar trait of being clumsy. Sorry Henry, we don't all grow out of that! 

Have a great week, and Happy Mother's Day to the mums in my life XXXX

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Back to normal

Thank goodness, my darling Johnny is back home and I feel that all is well in the world again. He had a good time at camp, and I was perfectly fine on my own, but I like it when we are together in our familiar routines. I had a bothersome headache all day, and it has finally left me after coming straight home after a meeting and going to bed for an hour or so. When I emerged Johnny had lit the fire and had tea organised. My headache has crept away into the dark spaces within my skull, and will hopefully leave me alone tomorrow.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Taking you for a ride

Today the weather was a bit chilly and overcast, although the sun did come out later in our ride. This morning we had brunch at Thyme Cafe with Mr and Mrs CT, which was fun and great food. I had salmon royale, which is like eggs benedict with salmon instead of bacon. Smoked salmon is right up there near the top of my favourite foods list. 

Zanny was very pleased to see me (and my carrot and apple treats). She seemed to be smiling the whole time we were together. Do you think she looks pregnant? Em said she was quite worried about her girth early in the pregnancy, but she has slowed down the expansion now. Her winter coat is fluffy but quite short, and because I am only grooming her once a week now, she isn't looking as shiny as she was in the holidays. Never mind. 
 Excuse the state of the saddle- it needs a good clean. This shows you how tall Zanny is compared to me because I pointed the camera directly from my face towards her. You are coming for a bit of a ride with me. I'm glad we've got a mounting block.
 Here we are, up in the saddle, ready to head out on our adventure. Look at those pricked ears. Zanny is excited too.
 This is the long driveway. I brushed that mane! What a scruff!
 Looking down. I thought you might get an idea how far up we are, but you can't really tell. It is a great view from way up here. I don't like to think about how far down it is because I know how much it hurts falling off. Don't worry, we're wearing a safety crash vest.
 We're off along the wide verges. There are roads like this all around the neighbourhood. You could safely canter along but we just did a bit of trotting and mostly walked.

 Well, we were out for over 1 1/2 hours because we headed past the crazy chicken lady's house and decided that we were having so much fun, so we just kept on going around the big huge block. I should have taken a photo outside the chicken place as well, but I was concentrating on all of the poultry everywhere, dogs rattling chains hidden under the trees, and flotsam and jetsam everywhere. Who would have a huge bin of potatoes just lying on it's side spilling rotting spuds everywhere on the side of the road? There is a tractor with trailer with three or four huge rolled bales of hay rotting on it. There were roosters engaging in cockfights, and a fleet of white hens strolling around on the road. Zanny was looking at everything but she didn't even twitch.

Anyway, when we got back I put her back in her paddock with a heavy heart. I won't see her for another week.

I got a little time to continue working on the fabric swimming pool. As usual, my loyal companion was right there. He does distract me from time to time by sitting up, kneading his paws and purring alluringly, and I can't resist a cuddle.
 The quilt is coming along. This one is so simple I feel like I'm cheating. The effect is rather glorious though.
My darling is off to camp for a couple of days this week. I will miss him sooooo much. I think he'll have a great time, and I can feel a bit independent managing without him. But I'll be really for a big hug when he returns.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Saturday Heaven

It was hard to get up this morning. I was in heaven snuggled up with my lovely Johnny. When I finally made myself emerge from my nest I discovered that it wasn't the kind of day for riding Zanny, so I had a shower, chatted to Mumsy on the phone, made a cup of tea then headed into my workroom for some focused crafting time. Of course I had the usual company. 
 Miss Dog was there too, but she didn't settle and was moving around lots because I was in and out and up and down. I've got a bit stuck on a project, so pulled out a new one that I knew wouldn't present any challenges at all. I have been hoarding a Kaffe Fassett Design Roll for the last few months and wanted to use it to make a quilt made of long strips, then framed like a swimming pool.  As you can see, the fabrics are all blue themed. There are twenty different designs with two strips of each in the pack.
 As we all know, ironing is essential when preparing to quilt. I faithfully ironed each strip then kind of sorted them out. Each strip relates in some way to its neighbours so that your eyes flow across the strips with no jarring points.
 Before I started joining the strips I decided that it was time for me to clean my sewing machine. I removed the metal plates and the bobbin race, discovering that it was like a giant belly button filled with lint. Shocking how much builds up in there! Plus there were lots of little bits of thread stuck in the automatic thread cutter, which explained why it wasn't working consistently. I used a clean, dry paintbrush to get all of the lint out of the crevices. The sewing machine man told me never to blow the lint out because some will end up deep into the machine. You can suck it out with the vacuum cleaner if you are careful not to have it on jet engine strength.
 I am planning to quilt this in wavy lines like water on the pool, in threads toned to match the fabrics. I am thinking of it as the "Swimming Pool" quilt, even though the lanes go across the width rather than along the length of the "pool." Maybe it will get a new name as I progress. Someone threw some flowers into the pool. There have to be flowers wherever I am.

Look what I got today! My very first pair of Converse All Stars in a very pleasing tone called Greener Pastures. I am after a pair of spotty navy ones, but when I tried these ones on to try to work out my size before ordering some online, I had to keep them. They were on sale too. They feel like a pair of slippers because they are super comfy. I will wear them with socks and my jeans. Johnny said I really need to get some special innersoles for my flat feet, because they have no support. That sounds like an expensive and complicated operation. Sigh.
 Johnny was feeling pretty grim with a headache this morning. He was probably having a reaction to all of the veges I have been making him eat. He confessed that he LOVES our cauliflower cheese, which is a great way of getting brassicas into him. Our concoction contains cauli and broccoli, so I really should call it brassica cheese. Anyway, he was sleeping on and off all morning, and when he got up The Crafty Neighbour and Miss B came over for coffee and cake. Some significant purchases were made by The Crafty Neighbour at Cottonfields and Sew Pretty during the week, so we had to do show and tell. She has some delicious fabrics in duck egg blue to make a new quilt project with appliqued roses. The roses are stylized and made of layers of fabric appliqued onto a cream handkerchief linen background, with leaves appliqued as well. Plus strips between the flowers I believe. We have quite different tastes and styles of working, but appreciate each other's work. This one is going to be a beauty. I hope The Crafty Neighbour gets a chance to get started on the new project.

Anyway, Johnny needed to buy trackpants so wanted to go to Dressmart (yes, strange). He got the trackpants, plus the cutest pair of bright red Puma sneakers, and I got my All Stars and two undertops, one in black and cream stripes and the other in red and white stripes. I actually wanted navy and white so that I could wear it under my blue cardies. Nope. None anywhere.

By the time we'd finished a good look around the shops Johnny was actually feeling a lot better (miracle). We got a small lamb roast and I cooked it up with pumpkin, parsnip, yams, kumara, and yams, plus a pot of broccoli, cauliflower and carrots. Yes, eight veges! The roast had garlic, thyme and rosemary studded on it. Fantastic. We don't do a roast very often, but I think we will have to change our ways. I love the idea of a family roast at the weekend, even if it is just the two of us.
Tomorrow I'm really hoping for good weather. I cancelled my lesson on Chief White Cloud because of my back, which turned out to be a good thing considering the weather. But Zanny and I will just be casually roaming with no cantering, so I shouldn't have a problem with riding her tomorrow without the energetic lesson on Chief beforehand. I've got more sewing to do, joining strips, and schoolwork to attend to. I'd better not sleep in too long tomorrow!