A week of all sorts :)

Last week we inherited a cat (from one of the kids) meet 1 year old Mittens -seen here in a photo on his second day looking rather worried about one of our dogs. He has settled in nicely and has become a garden cat, he would rather play out there all day than be inside.

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This week I have had my 7 year old granddaughter visiting. On her first day we went to watch sheep being shorn at the farm Roger works at. This was really interesting and we both thoroughly enjoyed it. A friend of mine is about to start classes in spinning so hopefully we can go and see her doing this at some stage as another step in the process. The second day we went to this beach to throw a message in a bottle into the water. This beach is down the back roads of our town about 10 minutes away and this is how many people generally use it – none. I take the dogs here often and am alone virtually every time.

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We did this last summer also, and yes, I do feel guilty because as she said “Basically we are littering aren’t we Nana?”

She wanted to do it again as last year it was found a week later 20 minutes drive from where it was thrown in and I received a text to say so. We found the tiniest glass jar we could, about 2″ high and she wrote her message, threw it in the water and it disappeared. We have a rule here, if she wants to do this we have to go along and pick up all the rubbish on the beach first as a price to pay.

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This is her this morning, retrieving her message from the lady whose husband found it – in the next beach down the shore, amongst seaweed while he was looking for starfish or something. They were as excited as we were and also took photos. It was alot of fun but I don’t know my conscience can stand to do it again, I am so pleased it was found! This couple was lovely and wanted to meet her, the lady wrote a message on the back for her and popped it back in the jar. A really nice experience for all really.

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This week I have been drying vegetables for homemade soup mix to add to fresh in winter. We purchased 1.5 metres of aluminium fly screen netting to cover our oven racks. I had a misadventure with my dehydrator a few week back so it will be a wee while before it’s back in service.

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These are Worcester berries we found out last year while watching River Cottage. It was supposed to be a gooseberry bush when we bought it! This is our first harvest off them and they are not so nice but apparently beautiful cooked with apples so they have been frozen for doing just that.

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Huge field mushrooms picked mid-summer!!Image

Last weekend Roger went garage-saleing and found these for me which I love. They are very heavy metal but I have no idea what metal they are. They were $5 for the set.Image

And because I don’t think I have ever shown a photo of me, this is one taken recently 🙂

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Second month of summer and busy…busy!

I must apologise for my lack of posts 🙂 I got an email from dear Robbie asking if I was ok just as I came on to do one. We have had visitors for nearly a month, different ones coming and going and I have also been relieving at work so things have been a tad busy. There’s alot going on in the garden but I have done little preserving yet (though I have done beetroot) it’s early days and we are just enjoying all the fresh food. Tomatoes, cucumbers, capsicums, chillis etc still have a ways to go and won’t be ready for another month or two.

The garden.

Mr QAL has planted beans for Africa and we have picked 8 kg so far without even starting on the second lot of plants (or 3rd!!)They are beautiful ones we plant every year because they yield so much, are small in size to freeze whole and are sweet and tender. The breed is Cabot.

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The second harvest of carrots is being pulled up tomorrow. These have grown beautifully this season.Image

The garlic harvest on Roger’s homemade drying rack.Image

The first lot of onions are ready to come out.Image

Pumpkins are doing there thing across the only piece of lawn left in the back yard. This was where I sunbathed but no more!

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The first decent bunches of grapes on our vines. These were planted two years ago and now growing all over the bottom pergolas.

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One of two rock gardens has been ripped out and replaced with more herbs and two passionfruit vines to grow against the house in the only spot we could grow them. It doesn’t look much at present but will fill out nicely. Roger informed me proudly after this, when the next one is done there will be nowhere you could step on our property that doesn’t have food growing within a metre 🙂 Image

The garden is flourishing with hot sunny days and many wet ones which we don’t normally get. We have one woeful crop this year, our potatoes haven’t done so well. The first were tiny but still edible, the second lot a little better and only the third crop were half-pie decent. We have no idea why this happened.Image

A gift 🙂

Roger’s sister has recently been to stay. She is a nun working in Salvadore, Brazil. I have enjoyed listening to her stories of her life there, she has a garden full of banana trees and wee monkeys. We see her only every few years and this was her first stay here. She was terribly excited to see her brother’s garden and skited much on our behalf to the other relations who dropped by. When she left she gifted us this, a worm farm 🙂 Yet to house worms but they live down the road so not long.Image

Our garden shed

When I was taking photos it occurred to me I have never shown you this, our garden shed. We bought this our first summer, the only shed here was an old container which became our chook house very quickly. We are fortunate to have an underhouse basement that is very large but a way from the garden. We searched an online auction site here and it took some time before this came up…it was a pigeon coup full of pigeons. We got it for $60 and Roger and a friend bought it home, barely fitting on the back of his ute. The pigeons were rehoused to a relation and we got a shed with lots of wee cubby holes very cheaply. Image

Chickens!!

Much as hubby loves his chickens I often wonder if they are worth the hassle!! Our chooks have been eating their eggs which is a really hard thing to break. Some suggest blowing eggs and putting mustard in, we will try this. Apparently in Brazil they burn their beaks with a lighter…we won’t be trying this! Roger came up with an idea though which we think has stopped them. When they escaped last time we found a eggs a few weeks later we hadn’t seen. Too old to eat they were put in a bowl and left in the garden. He put those back in the chook nesting areas and I imagine they got a very nasty surprise when they pecked those! We think this has stopped it but time will tell.

I hope other Kiwis and Australians are enjoying their gardens and all others are keeping warm, dry and well!

Other residents of the garden :)

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Hedgehogs used to be nocturnal creatures but we see them alot now during the day, it is though now there are few wild predators to stay away from that they are now adapting to daylight hours. This little man survived a terrible incident a few weeks back – hubby went down to the garden one morning and found him swimming in the bath of seaweed water we have there….he had climbed up onto the compost heap next to it (now removed!) and Roger found him worn out and very cold. He rinsed him off and bought him inside where he sat in front of a fan heater sneezing for a couple of hours 🙂 Once he had eaten and had recovered he was put down under the trees by the chook run.

Twice a day when we feed the chooks he comes out to eat with them. He lets Roger pick him up, doesn’t roll himself into a ball or show any fear, and appears to be very content living with the chooks…there are places he could get in and out but he stays.

We had relations from Australia staying last week who had two wee kids, one a four year old girl. They don’t get them there so she very much enjoyed seeing a different one sitting in the front garden one night eating his way through a large dog biscuit.

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We have a resident blackbird family. We think it is the same parents who every year nest in the macrocarpa hedge opposite our lounge windows. For four years we have been watching them go in and out of the hedge, we hear the male bird singing at the top of his voice for weeks when they are hatched and then watch as the babies eventually come down into the garden. They are now coming into the chook run when we feed the chickens as well, their parents get the food then feed it to the babies who are almost as big as them.IMG_3065

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I had a lovely experience last weekend when a homing pigeon came and sat in the garden with me for a couple of hours. It was a really hot day and he flew down beside me to drink from a puddle left by the hose.  I tried to tempt him to stay by feeding him chicken pellets and wild bird seed and he was content to follow me around the garden but Syd, our big black dog, frightened him away barking at him. I soooo wanted to be able to keep him – I dearly would like some doves but hubby does not, a stray homing pigeon would have done nicely!

Heart stones, mosaics and pictures.

I seem to have developed a preoccupation for hearts. I mentioned last month I had tried mosaics for the first time and readers asked to see them…I still have to grout the last one so hadn’t shown photos yet. We learn (I certainly do!) by trial and error, the pink one was my first ever and pieces were too far apart, The second a little better, the coloured one much better but still unfinished.

I collect heart shaped stones and rocks, they are everywhere. I decided to cover some of these for my first mosaic efforts.

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Two paintings I did for my granddaughter’s room at her Dad’s. One has yet to have to words put on. I shamefully copied these from a beautiful artist whose work is on the net and to whom I am no threat whatsoever, so I do hope she never minds! In the original the fairy is blowing bubbles and I substituted with hearts.

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About six months ago we bought a secondhand sewing machine for $25. I can sew for haven’t for many years so have been looking at it with some anxiety about using the thing. But a couple of weeks ago I saw these pieces of fabric in a thrift shop and bought them, I had visions of a basket of homemade hearts with maybe lace and some hessian. I don’t know where this things for hearts has come from, funny how things just develop within.

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My mum died a couple of months ago, when I saw this set in a shop window I decided to treat myself to something new…it took me all of ten minutes to decide to buy them lol. These 3 hearts represent my mum, dad and sister who have all passed in recent years. They are enamel with birds and roses on.

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Two hearts I found at the beach on Saturday, yet to find their place. Not perfect but heart enough.Image

When we moved here Roger was building the new bridge down the road, he’s a concretor by trade. We had no money to spare and he felt guilty because he hadn’t got me anything for my birthday. At work that day he made me this. It was our first year together and I was very impressed by this! Few men on a building site would stop to make their wife a large heart. Apparently the comments of his workmates were to the tune of “Oh man….that’s cool dude”, and “Your missus is a pretty lucky lady, mate” with a pat on the back.

No one made fun of him but he wouldn’t have cared less anyway lol

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And just because I think this is pretty cool but apparently it has a hidden meaning for me only, lol, I am showing you my angel stone I found on the beach.

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Second hand – new to us!!

Regular readers know of my / our love of second hand and thrift shopping, we never buy new. After a long period of making do or going without we decided to go in to a car boot sale which is a regular Saturday morning event in town…..to treat ourselves our version of retail therapy 🙂 And we needed vegetable plants, this is the cheapest way to buy them. While Roger is far more likely to buy things that we are needing I tend to be rather more emotive in my buying – I like old or interesting things we don’t need. He comes home with useful bits and pieces, I often just come home with cheap but exciting “treasures” I can’t wait to put up somewhere.

This is what we got for $53, along with vegetable plants, coffees and a couple of hours entertainment poking around,  wandering in the sunshine listening to lots of good music and chatting to lots of people we knew. I also saw a very elderly couple drive right through someones stall then attempt to back back through it, turn around in a confined space right next to me and park to go and help clean up….they reminded me somewhat of Mr Magoo lol.

A 1970’s velvet patchwork look-a-like double bedspread. I stared at this for ages wondering whether I could justify the $15 and decided I couldn’t leave it for someone else when I just loved it.Image

A cow milk jug to replace one we lost in the quakes for $1

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Two painted wooden spoons – $1 and two old enamel folk art painted spoons $2

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 3 oven dishes to replace some broken ones, $11 for all

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A framed dry flower picture, not perfect but done by someone with care $6

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We were rapt with these, 4 very large jars for $10. This photo is quite deceiving, they are 12″ – 14″ high.

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A $5 beanbag for Bob which has never been used, I think he likes it 🙂

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 A pluggy thing? for the workshop and another sprinkler for the garden, $1 each

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These sprinklers are $30 new at least, we have 4 which we only paid $1 or $2 and all were barely used. I know many people who wouldn’t dream of buying secondhand stuff but this sort of buying suits us just fine. We can get old and charming, original stuff no one else will have and we can buy what we need on a low budget without stressing over how much it cost.

Back :) The second month of spring

Firstly, I want to thank you all who left messages on my last post, they were much appreciated and meant alot, thank you xxx

I have spent alot of time this last 10 days listening to music, painting canvases for my granddaughters new room and making mosaics with our broken china – still waiting for finishing touches or to be grouted but I will show photos of these when finished. Some good, quiet down time.

I have also been watching events in America unfolding and must acknowledge the hard times many (possibly some of my readers) are facing. These are difficult and uncertain days, I wish the best for those affected.

It’s the second month of spring here and the weather has been lovely. The garden is being filled up rather quickly – alot of potatoes went in around 6 weeks ago and have just been covered with pea straw. The windows and posts in this photo are for another glasshouse. They weigh a ton and we managed to get them off the truck to lay where they will be used.

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Carrots, onions, red onion and beetroot have been sewn, covered with chicken wire because we have a persistant chook run escapee.
ImageThe raspberries are setting fruit which is always really exciting to us, they are the first fruit we get here in summer. The boysenberry plant we put in last year is growing over an old seed drill and has put out suckers everywhere.

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Broccoli, lettuces, broad beans (edame), spinach, radishes, silverbeet (chard) etc are all being eaten now and in the glasshouse tomatoes are flowering!! There are still heaps of veg to go in within the next few weeks. We have access to corn and peas so grow neither at present. Image

The chooks get to go through the pea straw before it goes on the garden.

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And we are getting eggs for Africa. We had decided to sell these but have been giving them away and enjoying being able to do that so will carry on while we can. Later in summer I am going to freeze them for use over winter when we get none.

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I got my first award today, the Sunshine Award. I have to think about how to do it all but thanks to Shaun, who nominated me 🙂

I have decided to go on the Eat Right for Your Blood Type Diet. I am an A so it’s back to a vegetarian diet for me (after swearing off it!) and dairy and wheat free. We grow enough food over summer for me to give it 6 months to see if it makes a difference to both my weight and my fibro. Hubby is a dedicated meat eater and does “just likes normal food” so future recipes will be from both diets.

The week that was….reassessing things and SPRING has arrived

It’s been a week since our big earthquake and Roger has been home for much of it but returned to work yesterday and is working the weekend to catch up. Most of this week has been spent cleaning, firstly picking up all the broken stuff then keeping busy cleaning walls – you have no idea how grubby they are until everything is taken off them!!

Damage: Alot of broken china and glassware. I will NEVER collect old china again – the sound of it smashing all around you (as you are shaking terrified under a computer desk wondering if your whole house is coming down!) is awful. So, this is some of it waiting for insurance assessors to check it off. I had taken much of it down weeks ago with other quakes but had put some back 2 days prior to this, 5 weeks of living with stuff all around the floors seemed long enough. I did not expect a cabinet to fall on the nicer things I had left on the floor.

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This box in the front holds a very large china elephant my son gave me for my birthday when he was 18, 18 years ago. I was really upset to have this broken 😦

Our hot water cylinder sprung a leak so that needed replacing, we lost power downstairs so that needed fixing and our house has developed cracks all through like this:

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All in all our house did extremely well and I am grateful for that as others have lost their homes, many we know personally have not come out of this nearly as well…alot of sadness and stress in our wee community.

When we bought this house 7 years ago we bought it because it was cheap and had alot of potential. We live in two rooms of it really, most of the doors stay shut as rooms aren’t used. This week we camped in the lounge as the bedrooms are 2 stories up (too high off the ground for me in quakes) and we have felt really comfortable living in a smaller area SO, we have decided to put a small kitchen and bathroom (rooms are there just not fitted out) downstairs, live down there and rent the top out. This was our original idea when we moved here. It opens out into the garden and is pretty, has a lounge, one bedroom and another small one up a flight of steps.

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Spring has arrived in the garden 🙂

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Broccoli plants that were decimated by chooks and pruned off at ground level have recovered and the glasshouse is producing.

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The asparagus bed is shooting up spears, tomatoes are sprouting in seed trays and potatoes are just about to go in, the berries are all getting fresh new leaves on and the herbs are all taking off again. The strawberries are all weeded for the start of the new season and hubby is trying to build a rotary hoe out of parts picked up at different times.

The seasons come and go, Mother Nature can certainly create her havoc but winter is always followed by spring! And some things always stay the same, especially when they are made from wood or stone!!

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Also….we have found a market for vegetables, fruit etc that we do not need for ourselves. An Indian gentleman  and his extended family /community  wish to buy from us. He asked last year and we didn’t have enough but will do it this year 🙂

Home, after an earthquake today

Another big quake hit this afternoon 5 km from home – 6.6 and lots of aftershocks. Luckily no structural damage we can see yet, except the fireplace is not safe to use.

This, just a couple of rooms.

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I was home on my own and Roger arrived 30 minutes later. a neighbour came to check on me and took me to their place then we spent 2 hours on the front lawn, it felt safer. Two power poles needed work in the street and power was back on in 3.5 hours, those are brave men who climb lamp posts during earthquakes so others can have their power back!!

Not fun.

This photo shows the last 1000 (yep, thousand) earthquakes in the past month or so in our area 5 – 15 km from here

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Oh yay…. another ditzy kichen muck up!

I know how I come across on this blog – together, in control and always one step ahead of myself 🙂 🙂 I hope that’s how I appear in public, on a relatively anonymous blog where you can pretend to be anything you like. The truth is far from that I am afraid, I am none of the above but in fact hover between ditzy and even more ditzy.

No one would ever guess in a million years what I made today?! Custard flavoured coconut oil deodorant !! I am going away for a few days so thought I should make more deodorant, only this time with some of my pretty creme perfume in. You know the deodorant that SHOULD have coconut oil, baking soda and cornstarch? I used the last of my coconut oil, measured out the baking soda, measured out the cornflour, put a little perfume in, mixed in all the lumps (why is there lumps, never has been before??) Put it in the fridge to set, went to put the ingredients away only to realise I had used custard powder instead. If anyone likes to smell of custard and would like the recipe please do let me know 🙂 🙂 Always happy to share.

Anyways. I am off for a few days or more day after tomorrow (at least I do have time to buy more coconut oil and make something decent!) so you won’t be hearing from me…my mum is not very well. Catch in a wee while 🙂

I will leave you with this pretty picture I found:Image

Not so fun weekend at quarteracre

We have had swarm earthquakes for 3 days and got a 5.7 this morning and this evening with a 6.5. Lots of broken crockery (and jars of preserving)! and no power for 3.5 hours but we’re ok. We are sleeping in the lounge because we are still being rocked by aftershocks, except I am not sleeping.

Our capital city Wellington got hit pretty hard too, the quakes were centred 15 – 20 km from our little town Seddon (out at sea)

http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10901076