Sunday, September 30, 2012

Lady in Waiting

I've been sick. Last Wednesday my voice was a mere croak. I had three days off school and thought ah ha - that'll keep the worst at bay, but on Friday night my throat started to hurt a lot. Yesterday was so long and miserable. Today I managed a lot of napping, and a wee prowl around the garden with the camera. I feel so grouchy and irritable when I'm sick. Waiting, waiting, waiting to feel better.

On the bright side, I've been waiting for some time for this parcel. 
 Oh yes! My copy of Gertie's amazing sewing book has landed on my doorstep. This book is a guide to vintage sewing techniques, and contains a variety of full-sized patterns for vintage inspired clothing.
 I battled my way through producing a top and part of a skirt over the last few slightly hazy days. Mousie finds sewing very exciting. Here he is helping with arranging some fabric.
 I'll fill you in on my sewing activities in the next post, I hope. Meanwhile, Mouse and Miss Dog have loved the company. We now have two weeks holiday, which is just as well, because I have a long way to go before I feel like myself again.

Mouse gets a rather angry expression on his face, and attacks Miss Dog's head. Why? Because he can.
 Mr Mouse with jaws wrapped around Miss Dog's face. Miss Dog is attempting to gently scrape him off with her paw.
 Actually, I think Mouse is furious about all of the hideous gas Miss Dog has been emitting since we bought her a big bag of a food she has never had before. Oh dear. Sometimes when I'm ill my sense of smell goes into superhero mode, which is VERY unfortunate given the current air conditions. Mouse is trying to tell Miss Dog to pucker up and take it outside.

The garden is looking very pretty, with beautiful colours and textures everywhere.

 I'm anxiously awaiting the first rose bloom. The aphids are not prepared to wait. I need to take some firm action.
Christmas lilies. So beautiful and a reminder of family times.

 I spotted a bright green katydid on the fresh maple leaves.

I found a herd of snails grazing on my globe artichokes. I'm not keen on squashing them and generally throw them vigorously over the back fence into the cemetery, but there were just so many that I felt worried that they would return en mass and destroy my vegetable seedlings. I was wishing for a few chickens to help me to dispose of them.

I'm so proud of my wonderful Mum and Dad for another champion daffodil bloom. They have cleaned up in the competitions this year! They won champion in both National Shows. They'll be back tomorrow for a night, so I'm hoping to be feeling a million times better. I haven't seen my darling Zanny in ages either and need to spend plenty of time with her over the holidays. Then there is digging for victory, and now sewing for victory as well. I'm feeling impatient for my germs to abandon ship and leave me in peace so that I can get busy!

Sunday, September 23, 2012


I had a fantastic, busy, creative weekend. The weather was glorious. I decided that I needed to really focus on the garden, so didn't do anything horsey. I still love you Zanny! I can send her some of these to keep her going until next weekend. 
 This is the last of my carrot crop. Most of my carrots have been for the horses, but they are tasty for us too. Tonight I grated two into some couscous, along with some lemon juice, chopped capsicum, spring onion, a crushed garlic clove, salt and pepper. I tossed some roasted peanuts in too. We love couscous. I tried the pre-flavoured type, but it is pretty salty and artificially flavoured, so I'd rather prepare my own.

Kermit the (Prickly) Frog was watching over proceedings in the back yard. So were Mousie and Miss Dog. Today I planted some chili pepper and bell pepper seeds, and popped two red capsicum seedlings into the greenhouse.
 I cleared out any overgrown veges, including the carrots, from the raised beds, and spread out the lovely rotted horse poo evenly. My veges are going to love their nutritious homes. I planted some lettuce seedlings. I always start with a punnet of seedlings, then the rest of my salads are grown from seed. You can see my spinach and rainbow chard in the closest bed.
 The sprinkler stand is one of two Johnny made. At the moment the watering can is doing all of the work.

Look- rosebuds in my garden. I did some serious weeding along the back in my mixed border. I sneak veges and herbs in among the flowering plants in the mixed border beds. And the odd deceased family pet too. I planted 10 wonderful oriental lily bulbs among the perennials and roses. Two went on Monty's grave, one for him and one for his sister Purrsia. I loved them both so much. Jasper has a plum tree, and Merlin, my big bunny, has the flowering cherry. That will be bursting into bloom shortly, with dainty blush pink tutus suspended from the branches.
 I've managed to get some sewing done this weekend too. I finished a long awaited quilt, and will show you later in the week, once the recipient has seen it. I am thrilled with it. I've got Christmas on my mind, and I have this delicious piece of owly fabric which is going to become a cushion.
 I'm working on another little wall quilt for use during the Christmas season. It will be made up of nine pinwheel blocks separated by sashes.
 The pinwheels are made by a very cunning technique, which involves placing two fabric squares right sides together. Sew around the edge (I use my 1/4 inch foot to keep myself on track). Carefully cut across the diagonals. You will end up with these once you open each quarter up.
Make lots and you can do all sorts of things with them. They should be lovely and square if you have been careful when sewing and cutting. You can make pinwheels or join them in different ways to make other patterns.

I also got some treats from Stitch yesterday, but I'll save sharing those for another day. With the holidays coming up I'm bursting with creativity. I'm determined to get a couple more quilt projects finished. Johnny has indicated some interest in working on the raised beds in the back vegetable patch over the holidays. He loves a project too. Mr Mouse says he would love to spend lots of time exploring in the garden, and Miss Dog will happily poke her nose into whatever I'm doing. We all hope for lots of sunshine. XXX

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Spaghetti cheese

Today is a macaroni cheese day. Well, actually, it is a spaghetti cheese day. For some reason, when I'm feeling extra tired, I love a bowl of cheesy, saucy spaghetti. Not just any spaghetti cheese. It has to be made by Johnny with his special trick of adding a little mushroom stock (from a good stock cube) to the cheese sauce. Now that is comfort food.

We have got tomorrow and then there will be one week left of term 3. Gosh the years are passing by fast. I was thinking today how much we look forward to home time, or Friday, or the end of term, when actually we are wishing life away.

On a brighter note. What is good around here at the moment?

  • Glee. The new season has started again. Love it, and am happy to admit it. 
  • Flowers. Spring is fabulous. 
  • The first rose buds. Rosa Banksia Lutea (spelling??) on the fence by my car park at school is showing a touch of colour. 
  • Sweetpea seeds germinating in the greenhouse. Masses of them. 
  • Game of Thrones. I love that too, although it was a struggle staying up late to watch it last night. 
  • Zanny has had a vet check and is looking perfect. 
  • Cath Kidston horsey products. 
  • Mouse thinking I'm his mummy. So cute. 
  • 1950s style dresses. I want to wear them all summer long. I need to make some first though. 
  • Stitch having a sale over the weekend. OH MY GOODNESS!!! 
  • Vege planting season. The poo beds await. 
  • Sewing. I have a little Christmas project underway. 
Now one of my favourite things to do is to have a laugh. I had a rather unfortunate incident the other day which caused rather a lot of hilarity. Unfortunately it did involve a bit of littering, which I am deeply opposed to, however, I'm sure you'll understand that I was in rather a tricky situation. 

Someone, who is lying on a couch not far from here, cleaned out the cat litter tray and put the bag of soiled litter on the boot (trunk) of my car instead of taking it out to the bin. It was raining. I jumped in my car in the morning and drove out of the garage, around some bends and corners, then when I was waiting at the first big intersection a man in a car next to me was gesturing to me and was pointing to the boot of my car. Oh no! There, lurking in a sinister manner, was the bag of cat poo and wee filled litter. I decided to drive around the corner and pull over safely to retrieve it. Unfortunately the bag had other ideas and disembarked in a spectacular manner onto the middle of the intersection. What to do??? Well, I planted my foot on the accelerator and zoomed away, disowning the waste products produced by my furry child. 

I can report that there is still a little evidence of my wee incident down at the intersection tonight, although most of the mess has vanished, probably tracked into the wheels of passing vehicles. Anyway, I am confident that no one is coming around to DNA test to match Mr Mouse to the unfortunate evidence. 

I hope there has been no flying poo in your week. 

Sunday, September 16, 2012

So much to show!

I've had two very busy weekends, and have a bit of catching up with the photos. 

Mouse has been busy too. In fact I think he is in a bit of a huff with me because he has eaten so much meat that I decided to pop some cat biscuits on his plate (the expensive kind) and he is not pleased at all. Right now he is curled up with Miss Dog, and pointedly ignoring me. 

As you can see, he gets on so well with Miss Dog. Or perhaps we could say, Miss Dog is extraordinarily tolerant. 

 He is all grown up now. Almost.
 What a loyal little man. He is supervising some sewing. I have to keep reminding him that the iron is hot and dangerous, the sewing machine is very dangerous when it is going, and scissors, pins, my rotary cutter and lots of other things on my sewing table are not toys. He doesn't believe me. I have a very boring ironing board cover, but it heats up and helps me to iron. I'd rather have a pretty one, but this one does a better job.
 Spring has brought some very changeable and unpredictable weather. Johnny got some shots of the lightening storm we had recently.
 It is very tricky to time photos of lightening, so I think he is very clever.
 While the storm was rumbling and crackling above I made an apple and apricot crumble. It was so good. I used canned apricots and some random apples that were lurking in the fridge.
We've got a street adorned with blossom. 

 Our silver pears are just about to join the display.
 I've got lots of colour.

 Oh, dear. Then we got hail. Lots of hail.
 My poor garden.
 Then snow. The lawn had a dusting of white one evening.
I don't know what we'll have next. It was supposed to rain all weekend and we had two ok days, including some sun today. Just as well because I had horsey plans again. Yesterday I popped out to see Zanny, and when I took her cover off I was rather surprised by her girth, and decided that our riding times may be at an end until the foal is born. Her tummy just looked too fat to top with a saddle, and me.
I gave her a good brush and grazed her in some longer grass, which she was thrilled about.

Today was the first One Day Event of the season. I do have some photos, but you'll have to wait for those. We had five horses to look after, and they were all such a pleasure. We had our friend Lewis, who is an old hand at competing. We had little Billy, who is just a cutie. Johnny (horse) made an appearance. I think of him as a miracle horse because he recovered from a patella fracture. I was at the event when he did it, and thinking of his pain and misery that day still makes me cringe. We also had TC and Hurrah, who are both new to me, and were lovely boys. I had a very happy day because I knew what was required and was able to be very organised and helpful. I started dabbling in grooming early last year (I think?), and am still learning, but can do what needs to be done without being asked. Possible future career if teaching falls through!

I have been enjoying Hugh F. W.'s Veg Everyday TV series. I have had the book of the series for a wee while, and have decided to try to cram lots of vegetables into every meal. Tonight, in honour of Hugh I invented my own little feast for one with no meat.

I cooked one medium potato and one small kumara (NZ sweet potato) cut into big chunks (skins on) then mashed lightly with a fork and added some olive oil and a sprinkle of turmeric plus salt and pepper. I tossed a pinch of cumin seeds into a heated, dry pan until fragrant, and tipped in the potato/kumara mix. While those browned I chopped up a handful of spinach, and once the veges in the pan were browning well I threw the spinach in to wilt. Then I made a space in the middle of the pan and cracked two eggs in. One would have been sufficient. Once the eggs were set, with runny yolks, I slid the whole lot out onto a plate. Very, very tasty. You could spice it up more with some chilli or maybe a touch of curry powder. Some chunks of tomato cooked among the veges would have been good, and any root veges would be ok for the base, I think. Or pumpkin.

I must report in during the week with more photos. XXX

Monday, September 10, 2012

Horsey Weekend

Sorry for the lack of a weekend update. I was a bit exhausted after a very busy weekend. Next week looks like it will be just as busy, with a One Day Event on Sunday. The most important thing to do is to make time for my darling girl Zanny. Look how cute she is! 
 Of course, a good wash and groom is required, but at this time of year we are battling vast amounts of mud, pollen and shedding fur. Zanny would take hours to dry, so we just take her as she comes. I am amazed that I am still riding her with less than three months to go until her foal is born, but she really loves getting out with her friend Frank, so I am happy to oblige. It was horribly windy on Saturday, so we walked along next to the pine tree hedge on the opposite side from our usual walking track. Amazingly neither horse spotted any creepy nasties to spook at in the trees, so I was very impressed. Zanny is a bit stroppier with Frank than usual, and if he gets his face close to hers she gives him a mean look. Not like her at all so it must be hormones!

Johnny came out and got a lovely load of poo. My garden is very pleased.

On Sunday I had a special day. I was given a ticket to the Jeremy Steinberg Dressage Masterclass by Emily Cammock. Lucky me! Jeremy is the youth coach of the USA dressage team and he was a very engaging and entertaining coach and speaker. Some of the upcoming and top level dressage riders from the South Island had lessons with him as a part of the masterclass. No, Zanny and I were not invited to demonstrate. Most special for me was seeing my dear horse friend Oscar (Dambala) on show. He was the only specialist eventing horse there. He looked absolutely stunning, and was such a good boy for his first visit to the indoor RDA arena. Oscar naturally holds his head with his chin tucked in tight when he is feeling tense, so he needs to work on relaxing and bringing his face forward a little more so that he can see where he is going. Some riders believe in forcing their horses to hold their heads with their chins pulled right in to their bodies, which is very cruel and stressful. That includes some of the top international dressage riders.

Emily was very pleased with the progress Oscar made after a private lesson with Jeremy, plus the masterclass. He in in training for the 4* event in Adelaide later in the year.

 I think Jeremy was stepping over the rail in this photo, so he looks a bit funny. I love the expression on Oscar's face.
I also enjoyed watching some big dramas with one of the horses. I love a bit of drama when I'm not on board, and the rider looks super competent. There was bucking and rearing and all sorts of naughtiness, all because the horse was wanting his mate. When they brought his little friend in, the wee fellow started being bad too, also rearing and running away, so they brought another very quiet pony in to keep the paddock mate company. Crazy. That's one great think about Zanny. She doesn't care about leaving other horses and going off quietly on her own.

I saw two Grand Prix level horses in action too. They were so clever and beautiful.

I guess I realised that although dressage is the most suitable competitive equestrian activity for me, I don't think Zanny would enjoy the training, and I'd really need an expensive dressage schoolmaster, lots of money, and lots of time. Not likely!

Saturday, September 1, 2012


The first day of spring, and I am thrilled that it is finally here. My garden is bright and interesting again.   

Oh dear. Miss Dog keeps letting off horrifying clouds of cloying gas which are causing a great deal of distress to all in her vicinity. I wonder what she sneakily ate. 

Today we were judging showjumping at the training event at Mcleans Island, for Eventing Canterbury. It went very smoothly for us, thank goodness. Johnny and I did the judging together. He was the writer and I was officially the judge, but I was tired and I was so easily distracted that he had to keep me on the straight and narrow. Luckily it was super simple. 

This is Katie Rankin. She's one of Canterbury's top riders. 
 And here is Annabel Wigley, who has competed internationally, including at Badminton. Both riders are smiley and friendly. They were riding multiple horses, as usual.
 It was a bit chilly and the sun was out for only part of the morning. Brrr.
Unusually for eventing, only one rider fell off. Her horse, which is like a rodeo bucking bronco whenever I see it in action, reared up and fell back and she fortunately fell clear. It is so dangerous when they do that because riders sometimes get killed by being crushed when rearing horses fall. She was fine though. 

I'm planning to pop out to see Zanny tomorrow. I've got carrots from the garden for her. She'll be very pleased. Pregnant mares are ruled by their stomachs!

We popped across to see the puppies today. Sorry, I was so wrapped up in cuddles that I didn't take photos. They have doubled in size, at least, and their wee eyes are just open. One pup has started to bark! Someone got pooed on, and it wasn't me. Very funny. Puppies at that age don't seem too concerned about where they do a whoopsie. 

 I absolutely love our front border. The weeping pear trees are just about to come out in blossom. 

 There are now tulips out, and I'm sure the Dutch iris' will come out soon.
 We spotted the first blossoms on the flowering cherry trees along our wee street today. Wind, wind, stay away!
 I've been having a prowl around for pretty fabrics. Clarke and Clarke fabrics are available at Femme de Brocante, which is in Rangiora. I've also got one or two Colefax and Fowler fabrics among these.
 Big, painterly blooms are fashionable in furnishings currently.
 Look- cats! Not sure I'd use it for curtains, but maybe a cushion or apron.
 Roses and Pansies from Colefax and Fowler. I think this would be prettier in real life.

I rather like this one for elegant curtains.
Mr Mouse is curled up in his father's arms. He has had a very active evening, and has crashed. Apart from his early morning wakeup calls, he is the light of our lives at the moment. I can't imagine a better child. He adores his big doggy sister, and she is so good with him. I must try to get some photos of them wrestling, and of him straddling her head when she is lying down, and chewing her face. She just holds still and takes it. She is even used to the way he frantically launches assaults on her tail now. In fact we are all used to being ambushed wherever we go. However, as he is usually incredibly gentle most of the time, we don't mind at all. Dear little man.

I'm so thrilled to have my glasses now. I am consuming books frantically to make up for lost time. It has been a long time since I have been able to read for any length of time without headaches and horrible eye strain. I really recommend an eye assessment if you are a headache sufferer. My head has been miles better since I got my glasses.

I hope you are enjoying your weekend. XXX

Ps. I did a whole month without confectionery. I actually do have a bit of willpower!