Saturday, July 27, 2013

Back in the saddle again

Today was the big day! I had Zanny shod yesterday and today I mounted up for the first time in about nine months. She was really happy about it too. 
I wore my back protector to give me confidence but Zanny was good as gold. She was a little anxious for a start because she hasn't been in the arena where she is staying before. I just let her walk around on a long rein until we both settled. Then we practised our stopping and starting, lining up with the dressage letters on the arena. 

Zanny didn't feel scary at all, and I was amazed how I adjusted so quickly to being up high again. I found that difficult previously, if I had a short break in my riding, We worked on our trot. She needs to go steadily as she tends to get quite fast if allowed to. I need to work on riding on the correct diagonal, sitting upright, and using my body to steady her.

We only had a short ride because I saw how her muscles quivered when she had to stand on three legs for a prolonged time while the farrier worked on her hooves yesterday. We are both so out of condition (and Zanny is the only one with a good excuse for that). Riding gives me some motivation to work on that. My back only pinged once, and when Johnny pointed out that I was hunching forward (the fetal position is my go-to position when unbalanced), I sat up tall and no more back pain! Considering how temperamental my back has been of late, I was very surprised. Riding is very good therapy!

These are the first pictures I have of myself riding Zanny, and I am really pleased to have them. I think we look great together.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Sun at last!

Today the sun came out and it was so warm that we had doors open to the outside world for the first time in ages. It was wonderful! 

I am excited to unveil one of our new bookcases. Isn't Johnny clever? He made two of these from scratch, and we painted this one with Annie Sloan Chalk Paint in Old White. The paint texture is soft and warm looking. It was easy to apply, and doesn't smell nasty like regular paint can do. We need to get another can to do the other one as we were assured this paint goes a very long way, so only got one can initially. Hmm. Not on MDF and pine. 
 I bought this pretty little butter dish a few days ago to add to my collection of floral chintz items. It is so sweet and has lovely proportions.
 I'll be arranging all sorts of things on the new shelves. Hopefully they stay put and don't go flying if the earth decides to throw us another good shake. Johnny is securing the shelves firmly to the wall. As you can see in this picture, he has added his special "earthquake" shelf trims so sliding objects should stop before dropping off. Maybe he can sell the patent to the people further up the country. We really are the shaky isles.
 I did a bit of work in the back garden today. Mainly pruning roses. I managed to come out without any prickles and scratches. There isn't a lot of action in the vege garden.
 The leeks are starting to fatten up.
 I like to have some greens growing all year around.
 My loyal helpers were there supervising, as always.
 My hellebores are so pretty this year.
 This is a self-sown one which popped up next to the bigger white clump. I'll have to remember to move it to give it some space. Pretty, isn't it?
 I love the smell of daphne.
 Fairy Blush is gorgeous at the time of year too.

 Mr Mouse was very excited to find his catnip among the other herbs. I'm sure he was encouraging it to sprout vigorously as the weather warms up.
Other bright news:

  • Zanny and Tara are looking well and are full of beans! Both girls can buck like rodeo broncos when they get excited. They must be happy to be free of their bossy, toothy foals at last. 
  • I finished all three of my Portrait Blouses so now I can wear cherries, cowboys on horseback or little biplanes whenever I like. 
  • Call the Midwife is on again. I couldn't be happier!

Thursday, July 18, 2013

A note

Just a little note to say "hello." We've been both very busy, and also very relaxed over the past few days. I have evidence of yesterday's rose pruning efforts as both of my index fingers have ouchy prickles in them right on the tips. When I start digging at them they seem to vanish deeper and deeper. It was worth it because I love pruning my roses, most of the time. I did say some very unpleasant things to one big rose branch that whopped me around the side of my face as I cut it.

We have been doing a bit of socialising every day, mostly with The Crafty Neighbours. Today we went to Rangiora to Femme De Brocante to pick up some Annie Sloan Chalk Paint and met up with my dear friend and Teacher Assistant for afternoon tea. Tomorrow I've got to pay Zanny and Tara a social call, which will also involve afternoon tea and plenty of cat love. I'm thrilled about that, of course. We also have a morning tea social call tomorrow. I'm keen to do some more on the garden, but Johnny has made me some gorgeous bookcases/shelves which require painting (hence the Chalk Paint), so I'm keen to get onto that too. Photos to come.

I saw some little lambs today! Spring is on the way. Well, September is officially spring, but I like to pretend that August is springtime as well. I have some plans in the gardens to make things prettier. I sort of tried to have box hedging around all of the garden beds at the front, but the hedging will obscure my view of my favourite garden treasures like my miniature daffodils, wee primulas and other special things. I am keeping the box hedges along the two sides but am taking it all out around the main beds and transplanting it to other areas in the garden. It is unusual here to have cottage gardens with recently built houses, but I love a glorious mass of flowers, with self-sown surprises popping up here and there. I do love a bit of structure as well, so have added in some standard weeping pears and Portuguese laurels. I thought the box hedges would be good too, but they are patchy and take away the excitement of seeing smaller plants along the front of my garden beds. I am loving having a green-waste bin to take away my weeds and prunings. I just can't keep up with composting everything I pull up or chop down.

I promise some photos next time! I'm excited to share my new shelves as Johnny has done a lovely job.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Chilly Start

Why are we stuck inside? It is the first weekend of the school holidays! We should be playing in the garden. 
 Time for a nap by the warm fire...
 ...with a good friend.
Sigh. So cold and windy. Put another piece of wood on the fire please.
 Bubble, bubble, bubble. Soup weather.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

To Darling Daisy

You were the sweetest and most gentle doggy ever. We will all miss your waggy tail and smiling dog face. It is heartbreaking, but we know you have had a wonderful, joyous life, full of love.

Goodbye our darling friend xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Pretty things

It has been good to make the most of the weekend. We had lovely warm weather, so getting out and about yesterday was a real pleasure. The Crafty Neighbour and I headed for Beckenham, then ended up in the central city. She was hunting for fabric to cover a vintage rocking chair, and I went along for the fun of it. It was very inspiring seeing shops I haven't seen before. Ever since the earthquakes I have been mostly staying at home or heading out to the farm at the weekend, rather than venturing to the shops. 

We started with Fabric House which was fantastic to visit and well worth a look because they have lots of beautiful fabrics, all arranged on bolts with matching colours. I could see many fabrics I would have happily used for curtains here. The ladies were very friendly and not pushy too. 

We had to have some delicious refreshments to keep our energy levels up, so popped into The Cupcake Collection which is a dear little shop filled with pretty vintage china and decorated in soft candy colours. I wasn't allowed to take photos around the shop, but could show you our cupcakes. Mine was called "Tall, Dark and Handsome." 
 The Crafty Neighbour had an apple and custard one, with fresh cream.
 Yum, yum, yum! As good as homemade, and happily, one was enough. They were very rich. The staff are immaculately presented with pretty aprons and bright lipstick, but I had a feeling the girl who served us wasn't quite as sweet as she appeared, which was a little unsettling.

I bought myself a couple of treats while we were out and about. I found this printed canvas picture. It is waiting for a permanent home on one of our walls.
 I was thrilled to find this gorgeous oilcloth bag. It is a bit smaller than my usual tote bags, so I'll have to cut down on the load of junk I carry around everywhere.
 I love the rose print. It looks beautiful on the navy background.
 This morning when I got up the sky was very pink. I'm not sure how pink the sky in this photo looks on your screen. It isn't as bright or pink as it was in real life. It was stunning.
 Mr Mouse has discovered my hair ties are heaps of fun. He carries them around in his mouth, and pounces on them like he's tormenting live prey.
 I found so much of his fur under the table when I vacuumed today. He must have been rolling around under there a lot. He'll be able to hide under the tablecloth now. I decided desperate measures were required because my MDF table top is so big I haven't got a tablecloth big enough. I pulled out a big piece of quilt backing fabric and flung it over. Now I'm going to give it a good iron and hem it so that it can stay. It is very lightweight, which is a bit of a problem, but I'll see about getting a white sheet to layer under it.
 Miss Dog is still all curled up like this as I type. She has enjoyed following me around, and helping me to fill the green big with garden waste.
 She helped herself to one of these this morning. They were in the paper bag they came in and she pulled the whole bag down onto the floor and (thankfully) took just one out to the deck to consume. It took her a bit of time to get the wrapper off, and seconds to gobble up the sweet. I wonder what she thought of the lemon sherbet flavour. They are one of my favourite sweeties.
 I made a wee display on the top of one of the bookshelves with my primula china and matching items. I hope Mr Mouse tiptoes when he explores up there. He likes to check things out.
Yes, the bookshelf is still unpainted, but I have plans to use some Annie Sloan Chalk Paint to decorate quite a lot of things around here. I'm going to do the dining room chairs cream, I think. They'll look much better. I've only got one week left of school this term, then two weeks to do stuff. I'm not sure what adventures we will have, but I'd love to spend plenty of time at home.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Homework for you...

I would like to introduce you to Voyage Maison.
I discovered their divine products at a brilliant shop called Sweetpea & Willow today, which is in Beckenham, Christchurch. You MUST visit the Voyage Maison website immediately, but remember the products are much more stunning in real life. Better than they appear on screen. I haven't been able to add any more of their product photos to my blog, so you have to do some searching yourself. They have a brilliant horse design, and the horses also appear on a farmyard print with other farm animals. The dogs are fabulous, and there are treasures like red squirrels and pheasants. The thistle design is particularly beautiful in real life. The fabrics are available by the metre, which they don't seem to say on the website. And some of the fabrics on the roll are available as both furnishing weight fabrics and as oilcloths (which are particularly amazing). I saw bags made up in the oilcloth today at Sweetpea & Willow. In fact if they had the horse print as a bag, one would have galloped home with me. Sadly not, but I got another amazing bag which is the Forever England brand. I'll give you a peek at that tomorrow. In the meantime, visit Voyage Maison and check out their very special designs. 

Friday, July 5, 2013

Oh lovely Friday!

Isn't it strange to be pleased that the forecast says rain for tomorrow morning? You know what that means. Sewing and other fabulous fun in my workroom. I've got plenty to go on with. I have the Portrait Blouses to finish, and hopefully I won't waste time with ridiculous stuff-ups. I'm good at those. Also on the upcoming projects list is a Princess Fiona outfit from the movie Shrek. To fit me. I was cast in the role while absent from school and totally defenseless. That'll teach me for getting sick. Even worse, I haven't got anything suitable to wear for the school formal, which is a glittering affair complete with evening gowns and dapper gentlemen. Unlike most teenagers, my students will be extremely disappointed if I'm not raring to go on the dance floor, and they'll be totally impressed with the fizzy drinks available. Maybe I should sew myself a big bright green satin evening gown with gold trim perfect for both the Shrek job and the formal. Do you think anyone would realise?