Sunday, August 26, 2012

Almost Spring!

I had such a wonderful day today. It was so warm and beautiful, with a slight balmy breeze. My first activity, after eating leftover pear and blueberry sponge pud for breakfast (shame there was no cream left over), was heading out to visit my darling girl Zanny. 

Zanny was extra pleased to see me because her breakfast was late, and she made the mistake of thinking I was about to deliver it. She didn't seem to mind being caught and taken to the stable yard, especially when I stripped off her cover and started getting rid of handfuls of loose fur with a curry comb. I love scraping the big clumps of fur out of the curry comb and throwing them on the ground for nesting birds to collect. Mrs Zanny was in a jolly mood, and we took a leisurely stroll out along the road. The local sheep farmer was tailing lambs, which resulted in lots of crying wee lambies and distressed mummies. Zanny decided that crossing the road was enough avoidance, but Shadow the foxy, who loves coming out with us, turned tail and headed home as we approached. 

We didn't go too far, because Zanny's comfort is important with her foal due in December. When we got back I spent some time chatting with Viv while Zanny had a graze in a fantastic grassy area by the hay shed, and Viv noticed her flank moving in and out in a weird way. Can you believe I could actually feel the foal moving its leg in and out against her side, and could wrap my hand gently around it! Zanny didn't mind at all, because she had her mouth full of lush grass. I was thrilled. 

After lunch I got outside to do some digging for victory. 
 Actually weeding for victory was my main focus.
 Someone was helping me.

 I have decided that I need to focus on growing vegetables that we love or eat a lot of, and try to do that really well so I have a steady supply. At this stage lavish amounts of greens, tomatoes, peppers (chili and bell because they are so expensive), peas, onions, garlic, basil, cucumbers and pumpkins are on my mind. I need to grow things like corn in small amounts planted in succession. I'll plant beans because they are fun. It may seem silly to grow onions when they are always fairly cheap but I think they taste so much better freshly dug. Spuds are not much good to grow because they take up too much room in my modest patch. I'm sure I'll be tempted by all sorts of things.

On the topic of being tempted, take a look at these perfect little Labrador babies. They are nine days old and so delicious! They belong to the Crafty Neighbours. There are four boys and one wee girl.
 They have tripled in size since they were born, I think.
 Look at the wee tongues poking out. They were making wee puppy whining noises and hoping for a feed.
 Look at the wrinkles.
 Their wee ears are all squeezed up and appear to be as closed as their eyes.

 Mmm- milk? No, what a disappointment. The tiny little ear flaps are just adorable, as are the dear wee paws.
 Sadly, the puppies needed to be tucked back in their bed with their mother, who, I suspect, will never have a trim bosom again. I had to be content with admiring my front border, which is developing some bright spring colour.
 Johnny was muttering about his lawn last weekend, and I can see it does look patchy. We have had so much rain over winter I can't believe it has dry looking patches. I'm sure there will be some remedy. I love to lie on the lush lawn in the summer. In between bursts of weeding. No rest for the wicked.
I'm glad to say I'm feeling so much better now I have had some wonderful time in the sun. Spring is here in my garden. The rest of the country will be waiting a few more days until the official season change on the 1st of September. 

By the way, it is our wedding anniversary tomorrow. Love you darling!!!XXX

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Beautiful Day

Today dawned bright and sunny. We had the first day in months that we could classify as "warm". The temperature made it to 20 degrees Celsius. I was so happy. I've missed the sun.  

It has been two wonderful book days. I found these treasures at the Dove Bookshop in Bishopdale. They are second hand, but in perfect condition. 
 Then today we went to the village hall because there was a book sale on to raise money for the local church. It was a spectacular sale. We came home with two big bags of books. Lots of the books were new, rescued, I think, from earthquake damaged shops.

Miss Sophie Dahl impressed me so much as a curvy model, and now she is a shadow of her former self, she spends time writing and cooking. Weird to think that the more she got into her cooking the thinner she became. She did have a kick start to her weight loss by catching a nasty illness in India, but she maintained a steady weight loss with good food and regular exercise. She has lots of yummy and easy to make recipes in this beautiful book. Only $5 brand new.
 You need a lovely cup of tea when you sit down for a good read. I rediscovered this treasure in my cupboard. I'm starting to think that my pretty china should be thinking about making an appearance, after keeping it safely stored through thousands of aftershocks.
 These are both New Zealand books.
 Inspiration for the Victory Garden.
 I've wanted this book for ages. I'd love to be a bit of a crafty minx. This book has masses of great simple projects in it.
 I'll show you some more treasures another day.

I decided that I'd pop into Terra Viva on the way home on Thursday. It has been tough going at school lately, as the winter has taken its toll. I like to keep myself going with beautiful things. The front garden is beginning to look gorgeous again, and I added some pansies and violas to fill gaps and to add some more interest.
 I just love these so much.
 I was excited to find this hellebore too. I've been admiring the double ones in the garden centres, but balking at the exorbitant price. This divine single one was lurking in the camellia border. I got it as a tiny seedling from a friend. I might have to move it to a more prominent position. 
 In total contrast, the anemones are sparkling brightly in the sunlight.
 I weeded all along the front today and popped in my new acquisitions. I told them I need action immediately because I really can't wait to see their pretty wee faces.

I rarely make pudding, as we don't really need it, however I'm a huge pudding fan. Tonight I decided that since I had the oven on, and some leftover cream (another rarity), I'd see what I could scrape together. I ended up making a pear and blueberry sponge pudding from the old classic GHB Cookbook.
 This looks pretty good.
 I was very pleased with how it turned out, although I would have loved lots more fruit and a lighter sponge. This sponge was rather sturdy and utilitarian, a bit like a tweed skirt and sensible lace-up shoes. I wonder if it would be possible to make a pretty tulle petticoat of a sponge.
Tomorrow we will be having another lovely day, according to the weather gurus. I am planning a visit to darling Zanny, and am hoping Johnny will come out for a drive and take some photos of us together. I hope she will be pleased to see me.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Funny little man...

Do I have the only cat in the world that requires a friend to stand near his ablutions facility while he does his business?

Miss Dog thinks he is a strange creature too. What on earth is going on back there?

Monday, August 20, 2012

The Victory Garden

As I mentioned yesterday, I have decided to build my own wee Victory Garden. I love the Dig for Victory idea, and see no reason why I can't be victorious in my own way, hopefully producing my own food for a healthier lifestyle and to save money. I have had lots of success growing vegetables, however there is lots of room for improvement, particularly in the area of producing a steady supply. 

So what is a Victory Garden? During the later years of World War One there was a widespread shortage of food, and a campaign was started to encourage people to grow food. In World War Two there was a widespread campaign which promoted home food production. War Gardens, or Victory Gardens were seen as important ways of boosting the morale of citizens at home, allowing them to support the war effort. I didn't realise that Victory Gardens were also a part of home life in Germany. 
 The posters were certainly encouraging. Look at these beauties!
 I found this piece of gardening propaganda from New Zealand.
 I'm not sure what this young man is doing at home in his overalls, rather than in uniform. He looks way too healthy to be left at home. I approve of the hat.
 I like this one. I haven't done much preserving, but it was a critical part of Victory Gardening. As you can see, she is a very patriotic American. I could wrap a New Zealand flag around me and work on storing my vegetables for winter too.
 This fellow must be an older gentleman. He'll be taking these home to the Mrs. so that she can cook up some delicious meals. I bet he has some chooks and rabbits in the backyard. Rabbit stew for dinner, with some nice boiled cabbage and carrots.
 I love the posters which show women in the garden. I hope to grow plenty of vitamins too. Imagine how exciting it would be to bring in a basket of veges like these. No wonder she looks happy. Not sure how she is holding the basket up with one arm. Must be the result of eating all of those vitamins.
 This is super-patriotic. Read this and you'd be running off home to dig up the lawn. I've produced some enormous daikon radishes and beetroot that would make excellent missiles. Too woody to eat though.
So that is my very basic introduction to the Victory Garden. I've currently got a rampant row of overgrown rocket, three Brussels sprouts plants, some spindly leeks, ancient carrots and plenty of herbs. Oh, and some mangy spinach and tiny rainbow chard plants. Time to be a Soldier of the Soil. Well, maybe next weekend. 

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Lilies and Lamingtons

Mouse had his first official garden outing today. It was relatively mild in the back yard, although it looked rather grim and overcast. Miss Dog and I kept Mousie company as he explored. He was pleased to have the back up because it was a wee bit scary out there!
 We've got some serious work to do to tidy up the garden for spring.
 Mr Mouse with his serious face on. Possible monster in the bushes.
 Exhausted after his busy morning.

 Barbara came around today and gave me a lovely lily for my birthday. She gave me a pink one another year, so this will make a lovely addition to the collection.
 As you can see, spring is on the way, thank goodness. The cold weather, including the heavy snowfall, has taken a toll on the garden this year. It has just been too yucky and discouraging to do much. Still, my wee friends are appearing.
 I have a lovely pink daphne, plus the white, both of which are in full bloom currently. I must get some more bushes because they are so divine. I need plenty for picking.
 The hellebores are at their best currently too. It is a shame that they are so shy, and hide their beautiful faces. I wish I had more, but I tend to be rather reticent about paying heaps of money for plants. I'd love some double ones.
This white one is forming a lovely clump. 
 I've got cheerful primula and polyanthus around the garden, although I really need lots more. They are such good value because a single plant, if happy, will merrily spread to make a generous family. This one caught my eye because of the tall stems above the leaves. Very pretty.
 Barbara also bought some lamingtons, which we had to celebrate my birthday. Told you I like my birthday to go for a good week or two. I put them on my pretty green cake stand.
I did some serious weeding and planting in the backyard today. I managed to fill our big wheelbarrow up twice with weeds and prunings. I'm pleased I didn't bust my back, so it must be getting a bit stronger. I decided that I wouldn't head out to the farm because of the dreary day. Zanny prefers to stay in the paddock on very grey days. She makes it pretty obvious. Frank, her horse friend, was out today, so I couldn't invite him out to brighten things up for her. 

I have some roses to move around the garden next weekend. I want to get two standard bay trees to replace  some roses that haven't really worked where they are because they grab you as you try to get past, and are a pain with the mower and wheelbarrow. I might mass plant something underneath them. I do like a bit of structure in the garden to build the cottage look around. 

This year I've decided to work on creating my own Victory Garden. Maybe this week I'll do some investigation of Victory Garden traditions. I'm banned from having poultry because they may put out an open invitation for vermin. Johnny gets remarkably furious about rats and mice in his territory. With my attack kitten, I don't think we have anything to worry about. I won't be having rabbits for eating either, which was a popular source of meat in Victory Gardens. 

I must go and work on some dinner for my darling. We're having chicken biryani with loads of vegetables. There should be plenty left over for lunch tomorrow. 

Ps. Johnny has expressed doubt about having enough room in the garden for my shepherd's hut. I am grief stricken. 

Pps. I haven't eaten a single lolly or chocolate since July. It is a miracle. Even the shepherd's hut tragedy will not sway me from my new virtuous ways. 

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Bits and Pieces

I've had another exhausting week. Last night we had the school formal, and, as I had four students attending, I was required to put on my glad rags and stay up far past my usual bedtime. I'm usually far too tired to do anything on a Friday night. I did have a lovely time, but am paying for it now. I had a bit of a nap this afternoon, and headed out with Johnny and Miss Dog for a very quiet ramble around the neighbourhood to get a bit of exercise. 

Self-portraits. Never a particularly successful idea. But I thought I'd have a go so you can see the new goggles in action. This is what I look like now because I'm peering over the top to keep an eye on The Antiques Roadshow. Together with a frown, this can be an effective student management tool. 
 Sorry, the lippy doesn't match the spotty scarf. Bad hair too. That's self-portraits for you. Disappointing reality checks.
 I have just realised that I have seen this episode of The Antiques Roadshow before. The friendly eyes peering over the top of my glasses have now become rather dark and irritated.

I'm still feeling in a birthday mood, which is because I got such lovely presents. I am especially excited by this beautiful book. Thanks Darling!
 The wonderful thing about this book is that, not only is it beautifully styled, the projects are stunning and achievable. I'll have the first thing I have made out of it ready to share soon.

I bought myself this mag as a birthday treat and I would highly recommend it as a great read for vintage and antique lovers. Jolanja, my ancient bunny, is finding some inspiration. Her arms are in a terrible state, so she needs help to turn the pages. Privately, I haven't told her I am at a loss as to what to do about her arms. The stuffing is completely gone from one, and the other is practically falling off. Her furry skin is so fragile now. She is a dear old thing, and I've had her since I was very little. Looking at those velvet shorts, I wonder if she was originally a boy and I forced my own prejudices upon her and made her a girl bunny.
 Back to the magazine, I am desperate to have one of these:
 I have always wanted my own little hideaway hut. This is a shepherd's hut, which is a wee hut on wheels, like a wooden caravan. The one featured in this story has a wee potbelly stove (oh how I want one in my hut!) and a big puffy armchair, a daybed, and a bed platform. It is tall enough to stand up in. Glorious. I'm sure there's room for one in the backyard. Whenever I mention it, I get comments about having a whole house to play with. But that isn't the point! I want my own fabulous little lair for playing in. Wouldn't it be fun?!

Look what Johnny found for my birthday.
 I have no idea how a plate can be carefully cut into a perfect butterfly without cracking it. This has a wee hanger on the back, and will flap its dear wings around the house until it settles somewhere on the wall.

I've got a very exciting book purchase coming from England in about three weeks (I hope). More about that when it comes. Let's just say Ruby will be casting off her rosettes and ribbons (no, before you ask, I did not win them, I was given them by Emily and Viv- it would be nice to be disinterested in getting prize ribbons because you'd won so many).
 Once that comes, I might be able to make use of this fabric. I believe it is some kind of man made fabric and has a fine crepe texture, with no stretch. It is rather sweet, I think.
 Now, there's no show without Punch. Mr Mouse has been an absolute varmint today. He woke up before 6am, and started pouncing on my face, which I was unable to ignore. Little devil. On the first strike he stomped on my eye, causing an alarming flash of light. Not sure why I got a flash of light, but perhaps it is an indication that eyes are not keen on being stepped on. From that point on, it was impossible to sleep, even when I pulled the covers over my head and hoped he would go away. I could have shut him out of the bedroom, but he has a loud voice and I knew there would be bellowing, no matter where I put him. He is growing like mad and eating like a full grown lion.

Pretending he is in prison. Attacking the guards through the bars. Note the paw. Huge compared to the rest of him.
 Mousie's coat is requiring less attention by me to keep it lovely and fluffy. His stripes are more clear, and we are getting more idea what his final colouring will look like. He has quite a creamy tone to the light coloured fur on his paws and legs. He really is an extraordinary little man.
 I'm absolutely sure this is not where I'd want to be. Mouse is diving in for a gnaw on Miss Dog's tail. He is getting his back legs going and kicking and raking her. Moments later she was standing up looking indignant, and Mouse had a determined glint in his eye and was looking for more trouble.
Mouse and Miss Dog are now companionably lying by the fire. I did tell Mouse if he decided to have a lovely nap today I'd be jumping on his head to keep him awake. He looks like butter wouldn't melt in his mouth now.

Not sure what tomorrow will bring. I'm still pretty tired. Zanny would love a visit, I'm sure. Especially if there are carrots and brushes involved. I'm hoping for sun. Lovely sun. I miss it.