Wednesday, April 30, 2008

At home on the farm

It's a bit of a dreary day today. I've been inside working on my quilt, plus outside exploring with my loyal companion, Miss Dog. My sewing machine threw a hissy fit before lunch and I had to problem solve. I am pleased to say it is humming along again. All of the lower threads kept getting tangled on something, and the fabric wouldn't move along. I took out the bobbin case and gave it a good brush out. There was a surprising amount of lint in there! Once I reassembled everything it went happily again. Thank goodness.

Here are the fabrics I got yesterday. I love them. It is hard to find fabrics that I really love among the vast collections of fabrics for sale in quilting stores.

I couldn't resist taking this photo of Oscar. He is so sweet with his chocolate chip tummy and long, long legs.
That is not actually his tail making him look like Basil Brush, it is Lily's back and hip.

Miss Dog took several fungi hunting missions with me today. I am fanatical about fungi. Yes, I'm a little odd. Miss Dog gets into the creek at every opportunity. Daisy was tearing around with excitement in this spot earlier in the day when she accidentally fell into the creek. It was so funny seeing her suddenly disappear in mid wheelie. I had done so well keeping her dry up until that point. I have to admit, I wasn't too worried about Miss Dog having a swim because I caught her plunging her head down into something smelly and thought a swim might get rid of the stink. Cats are so lovely and fastidious compared to horrible hounds.

This is a bit of a spooky spot in the creek. The water passes through a tunnel. When we were small (and thin) we used to bravely crawl through the tunnel in our swimming togs. It is about 6 metres long. I was scared there would be spiders living on the inside of the tunnel. Yes, I know I'm ridiculously fond of spiders, but not ON me uninvited!

Here is Nanny with the Terrible Two. We were going to get the mail. Miss Dog loves Nanny, but we have to be careful because Miss Dog is awfully strong and boisterous. She'd send Nanny flying if she got silly around her.

Here is the view back up to the house. I love the house. It is over 100 years old. I grew up here on the farm. Mum and Dad have built on and improved the house as the family grew. There are 5 bedrooms plus the sun room, which used to be my room.

Here is the view from the same spot across to the cottage. It is a wee two bedroom house. Meg and Ryan lived there for a while before moving to Nelson. Mum and Dad had tenants at various stages, and Grandma and Grandad lived there for a while (not Nanny). We've had happy times staying there at Christmas. The little verandah is a fairly recent addition. Dad was a carpenter before he retired, so he is awesome at building stuff, of course.

Nanny is busy making an apple pie. She loves being busy. Mr B is busy playing X-Box games. Those are such time-wasters! I've almost finished quilting my first square quilt. I was interrupted by fungi hunting urges. I've got to make the most of the time here as we are going back to the city on Friday! Yes, Mrs CT. We'll be home soon. On Sunday we are planning a land-warming picnic. The land officially passed into our hands on Monday. I am sooooooo excited about building the house. Yay! It seems real at last! XXX

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Visiting Nelson with a sore back

I woke up with a sore, stiff shoulder, neck and back today. I'm feeling rather decrepit because my backside hurts too. I had a course at school a while ago and had to sit on a hard chair for a day. I think I may have bruised my tail bone. The trouble is that I have to sit down, but I'm trying to perch forward. Hope it is nothing (but of course it is compulsory for me to worry and worry).

Anyway, we went to Nelson and met Meg. We had yummy souvlakis for lunch. I was thrilled to find a dress reduced by over $100!!!! It is grey and black, which are not really my colours, but will be great over pants or with boots in winter for school. I got a couple of pieces of fabric, which I will photograph tomorrow. There was a lovely quilting shop in Richmond. It had some lovely Kaffe Fassett fabrics, but I needed more time to properly consider them. We checked out the Designer's Guild fabrics in a posh shop. I love the big camellia patterned one, but will only be able to have it if I can find it in an internet remnant store as it is horribly expensive. Mumsy got some fabulous Sanderson fabric at a hugely reduced price, but I am an internet purchasing amateur.

We went to Meg's house and she showed me some of her fabric stash, and latest purchases. She has got a fabulous skirt collection. Miss Stellar was so pleased to see us. I shamed myself (well, not really) by taking a dose of Meg's painkillers and having a nap until they worked. And work they did! I can now swivel my head both ways properly and only have a minor shoulder twinge.

I just started writing a grumble list. I've decided that I would be much better to write a few happy things down, so here we go:
  • We had a laugh because Meg got some fabric for a couple of dollars a metre at a temporary fabric outlet store and we saw a skirt made out of it on sale for $195 at a local designer's store. That's a good mark-up!
  • Merlin is a very happy rabbit. He is looking the best he has looked in ages.
  • I have almost finished the quilting of my first "squares" quilt. I am stitching in the ditch.
  • I got a great book about quilting that tells me all about various techniques, and show them step by step in photos.
  • I ate chocolate today.
I'll put a post in with photos tomorrow. Hopefully wont be grouchy too! XXXX

Monday, April 28, 2008

Off to town

Not too pleased with my little camera as it ran out of batteries just when I should have had it to take photos on our trip into Motueka. Never mind. Mr B and I are planning another expedition to Nelson tomorrow, and we got some really good batteries. Usually I use rechargeables, but since we are on holiday I haven't got a charger. I've got my big camera, but it is too cumbersome to lug around. I did have a fungi hunting foray when we got home from town, but I wont bore you with the hundreds of shots of my discoveries. I realise that fungi don't exactly inspire most people!

Look who I found on Mum's computer.

Oh Miss Dog, you were so tiny once! I had long hair because I didn't want to go to the hairdresser. It almost came to my waist. I still have a tendency to take the scissors to it myself. Note how she is looking away. She was such a difficult baby. I thought a wee Labrador would be a delight to train, but there were times when I was ready to put an add in the paper. She is a delight now, but is still a gallumphing twit at times because she doesn't know her own strength.

Take a look at this sweet wee thing. Daisy Dog, as small as the cats. Daisy was the (dare I say it) runt of her litter. She was much littler than her bonny brothers and sisters. She is still quite small compared to Miss Dog. Daisy was a much easier baby than Miss Dog. She does tend to pretend that her ears are strictly for decoration, and loves to roll in found smelling things. Miss Dog's coat is quite coarse along her back, but Daisy's feels so soft.

Gosh I'm glad those baby days are over! XXX

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Rain, rain and more rain!

It has rained all day today. Never mind. It has been snug as a bug inside, and refreshing when I took Miss Dog for a run around the paddocks. There was much excitement from one of us when I found lots and lots of fabulous toadstools, and even a few field mushrooms. This weather is perfect for fungi growth. So I think I might need to start another blog about fungi, and other fascinating things. I wonder if I can handle three blogs. Currently I am not really taming the chocolate baby, due to Nanny being chief cook around here.

Today we had a visit from the gorgeous Miss M. and her daughter Missy R. We were all very pleased to see them as it has been about a year since I last saw them, and they are back in the family fold once again. Long and complicated story! Anyway, Miss M. loves pretty floral things, so guess what? I've got plans for another quilt! I've got three underway. Here is the latest project. Yes, that is Henry helping again.
Just after I took this photo he proceeded to undertake a long and complicated bathing routine, involving a variety of complex yoga moves. Needless to say, he showed no respect for my careful placement of patchwork squares. This quilt is for Meg. I'm going to get the sewing machine dancing along shortly. I want to do a pink border (preferably a matching floral) and then a blue spotty binding.

On the subject of pretty things, these are my new pillowcases from Wallace Cotton. They came with a fabulous quilt, which I have already pressed into use due to the inclement weather. Nanny gave me these for my birthday, which is not until August, but I like to spread the celebration out. I'm intending to put them in my spare room at the new house, but will probably end up wanting to be in there all the time just so that I can look at them. Don't think I'm strange, but I'm seriously thinking of painting my studio the pink of the background of the pillowcases. Remember, it might look yucky on your computer screen, but in real life is so sweet.

Miss Dog sends her greetings. She has taken over Daisy's chair and the cats are now daring to use the cat door while she sits there. Maybe she is invisible in her black furry disguise.

Oooh, Henry just brought us a present, and deposited it on the mat by the fire with a satisfied "Yeeeowl." A dear little mousie, unfortunately (or fortunately- depending on how you look at it) deceased. He went straight for the food bowl and had a munch. Maybe he didn't want fur between his fangs. Considering the weather, and the level of catly activity around here, it was a remarkable achievement to bring home a snack.

Here is Oscar making the most of a warm fire and cozy blanket.

Siamese Twins? No, just Lily and Henry having a hug.

Yes Mum, I've got the towel ready for damp cats returning from a quick foray into the garden.

It is just Mr B, Nanny and I at home now. Ryan is off to Canberra for a conference. Jim has headed back to the Bay for work. Meg is working tomorrow. Have a lovely week everybody! XXX

Saturday, April 26, 2008

The Custard Square Capital of the World

On the wharf at Mapua.

Today Meg and I went to Richmond to look at the shops, then we took a drive over to Mapua. We went to The Naked Bun bakery and got ourselves one of their legendary custard squares each. We have been having a debate over who makes the most delicious custard square in the world. Mr B and I are huge fans of the Denheath custard square, a skyscraper of a creation with what tastes like a custard cheesecake in the middle, topped with long shreds of coconut. Meg and Ryan assured us that Mapua spawns a custard square that could possibly challenge the Denheath. The Mapua custard square looks more traditional in form, but has a vast width (fortunate, given the unreasonable price one has to pay to take it away). The icing is passionfruit flavoured. The custard filling is where the Mapua CS excels. Thick and creamy, a pale butter in colour, it is utterly delicious. In fact, given the choice between the Mapua and the Denheath, I have to admit, I would choose the Mapua. So the best custard square in the world (so far discovered) can be found in a little seaside settlement, best known for being the home to a nudist camp and beach. Clearly nudists have high standards when it comes to baked delicacies.

Oh, so good!

Delicious is a shop well worth a visit. There was a not-very-nice smell in there (perfume and body), but masses of lovely things. They had built a boat in the corner where they had the children's things. It was odd to come across such a posh shop built in an old coolstore next to a wharf. Tourism must be very kind to the area.

The Cool Store Gallery was well worth a look too. There was quite an assortment of things. It made me think about screen printing. I must get some fabric paints and have a go. We've got a screen and squeegie thing at home. I'm sure you'll all be waiting for a post about that with bated breaths! What makes art worthy of selling in a gallery? What makes art art? You'd have to be pretty self-confident to display some of the stuff called art. Anyway, there were some lovely (and not so lovely) things in the Cool Store Gallery. Especially the jewelery.

Now Touch the Sea was the real treasure of the day. Although I didn't come home with any goodies from there, I would have loved to have had many items (saving money for The House). There were some lovely, reasonably priced ceramics, and their shop furniture made me want to grab a paintbrush and start beautifying my furniture at home.

Friday, April 25, 2008

ANZAC Day and Remembering Poppy.

Today is a day of remembrance for the New Zealand and Australian soldiers who fought in wars around the world. For us it is a day of remembrance for our grandfather, Poppy, who died on ANZAC Day. I planted a rosemary bush for him and I'm going to have a rosemary hedge along the path up to the front door at my new house. I never get tired of the smell of rosemary. I love running my hands along the sticky branches, leaving my fingers fragrant with the oil that comes from the spiky leaves. I think Poppy would be pretty impressed with my ideas for my new garden, which will be filled with edible and fragrant plants. He wouldn't be at all pleased about the roses I am planning to plant along the fences, because he detested the vicious spikes that reached out to grab him when he was gardening or mowing.

Poppy was an extremely interesting character. He basically stayed at home for many, many years, with brief forays out for doctor's appointments, visits to family or (occasionally in later years) to op shops, which he loved. Poppy introduced me to a number of new foods, including sauerkraut, olives and blue cheese. As I got older I think he was quite impressed by my interest in food.

Poppy was a complex man. We always endeavored not to unset him in any way. He did, however, have a great sense of humour. Meg recalls him instructing us to call Nanny "The Old Trout", which, of course we did, without any idea what it meant. Poppy loved grossing us out by poking his false teeth out of his bewhiskered mouth in a sinister manner.

Another thing about Poppy was his passion for trees and his incredibly huge lawn. He kept a tally of the hours he spent mowing. Poppy had a methodical approach to mowing his lawn, and we always enjoyed seeing the long, straight strips marked out by the two different directions he would mow in. Much of it was done with a hand mower, and the section was over 3000m2. We had to take care not to thoughtlessly pluck leaves from the trees and drop them on the grass. This would lead to an interrogation to determine whether it was us or one of the local delinquents who had committed the indiscretion.

Although this post is all about Poppy, I will not be sharing a photo of him. He was a very private man, who seemed to genuinely detest having his photo taken. We are fortunate to have a few lovely ones of him, and also of his little friend, Paddy, a wee Jack Russell terrier. Instead of a photo of Poppy I have posted some pictures of the garden (and lawn) he created with Nanny.

In loving memory of Poppy XXXX

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Sisters together

Meg and Ryan arrived last night with Miss Poo. Today the boys were plotting and scheming to create an outdoor movie theatre. Apparently they have succeeded. I'll be out there in the cold later watching I am Legend. Ryan tells me that the dog will die and I will cry. I'll be going "It's only pretend, It's only pretend" over and over to reassure myself.

Today we all went into Motueka to have a look at the shops and buy a vast amount of groceries. Nanny believes in being prepared for any eventuality. Ryan is making a chicken pesto pie for tea. We are having checkerboard potatoes too. They are halved potatoes with their skins left on. The cut side is scored like a checkerboard. They are seasoned and brushed with oil or butter, then baked in the oven. The checkerboard pattern opens a little as they cook. I love them.

Sorry about the lack of photos of people. The ones I took were not all that flattering, and I promised they wouldn't end up on the blog. You can see me with the dogs. Meg called me The Dog Whisperer. More like the Dog Yeller when they are naughty. I'm sitting on the edge of a water trough. Lucky the furry hordes didn't tip me backwards into the water!

I love the colour of the shed by the daffodil patch. Mum and Dad grow zillions of daffodils. They are on a tour checking out Northern Hemisphere daffodil growing. Actually, I should raid Mum's photo files and find some photos of springtime on the farm to show you.

Ryan has been busy making his chicken pesto pie. Nanny says he is such a good boy. Well, she'll be saying that until she sees the pie. Most people trim their pies with pastry leaves, twists, and other assorted traditional items. Ryan, however, has adorned his with something I cannot even show you on my blog. Let's just say, his experience as a nurse has given him an excellent knowledge of anatomy. Lucky Nanny has a wicked sense of humour!

By the way, for my loyal American readers, I am ignoring the computer shouting at me about my English spelling. It really wants me to convert to American spelling. I'm standing firm. After all English Country Living is my favourite magazine. It is almost ANZAC day. More about that tomorrow. XXX

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

A few odd things on the farm

I am mad about fungi. I've been stomping all around the farm searching for interesting specimens. I've also found one or two other strange things on my travels.

This is a member of the Boletus (I think - I'd check but I'm scared blogger will gobble up my post if I muck around) family. Feel free to correct me. It can be identified by the underside of the cap, which has pores instead of gills. Very fascinating. Probably edible too, but I'm not game to have a go. This one grows in the company of silver birch trees. There is another species which is similar but more ochre and bright in colour which grows under the larch trees.

Now this item is a bit of a mystery. Can you tell what it is? Answer at the bottom of this post.

Take a look a this. Do you know what it is? Its common name is the Icicle Fungus. This is about 25cm across and looks like sponge. It is growing on the cut side of a big log that is leaning on a bank in the shade. I must get Mr B to take some photos with his macro lens. It is in quite a tricky spot, so I was lucky to find it.

Look out Mum and Dad! By the time you get back the house will be overgrown by jungle.

This bark is amazing! It peels back to reveal beautiful layers of colour. Mum, you would tell me what the name of the tree is. It looks like curls of chocolate.

Mr B and I have a lovely time taking photos together. He takes beautiful photos and I think we should have some blown up and put on canvas for our new house. No, he's not odd. Well, not usually.

Bloggy news:
  • Meg and Ryan came with Miss Poo tonight. The dogs seem to be able to tear around the paddocks in pitch darkness.
  • I got my cello out and had a lovely time practising, although I did have a turf war with Mr B over me using the lounge to practise. I won that battle. He just wanted the big tv.
  • I loved watching Hot Fuzz last night. It is a great British comedy/drama with plenty of hilarious action scenes. It made me laugh, which is the main thing.
  • The answer to the mystery object question above. That is (why, I have to ask?????) a fish skin hanging on the washing line. Mum and Dad, are you planning to make little fish leather shoes for your first born grandchild? I'm pleased that it is hanging right in the middle where no washing ever ends up.
I might post some people pictures tomorrow. We are planning to visit town and possibly Mapua, to seek out the legendary Naked Bun custard squares. XXX

Tuesday, April 22, 2008


Dear, darling doggy girls. They have been so happy together. Daisy is so easy-going and pleased to share her life with Miss Dog. They don't tear around like the do when Miss Poo comes to stay. Miss Dog and Miss Poo have some minor dominance issues that they like to keep on top of, so there is more playfighting and challenging each other when all three are together. Miss Dog is still dominant, but Miss Poo would love to be.
Today was warm and cloudy on the farm. We didn't do much apart from take photos and muck around. I made pizzas for tea and Nanny made a fruit salad. I am working on fungi hunting, and found some real goodies today, but more work to do before I've got a good collection to post. Right, I'm off to hunt out some pudding. John says Hot Fuzz is on tv later. That is a really funny movie, so I'll probably join him. I am putting off pinning the layers of one of my quilts together. I must get on with it, or I'll never get it finished. XXX

I've been tagged

I've been tagged by Kate over at Our Red House.
I have to write ten reasons why I like to blog.

  1. Because I saw Alison's blog So Tread Softly at my friend's house. I never even knew blogs existed before that. I was enthralled. That was why I started. I was inspired!
  2. I don't have any friends who are quite like me, getting into all sorts of crafty activities, and loving vintage stuff. Blogging lets me be a part of a community of really creative people.
  3. Blogging is often about home. It has made me more appreciative of my home as a creative nest.
  4. I love to write, and blogging gives me an audience.
  5. I love feedback, and get incredibly excited when a new person leaves a comment.
  6. I have a lot of fun taking photos. Blogging gives me a reason to get out with the camera.
  7. I enjoy reading back over what I have been doing. I sometimes go back to have another look at a photo.
  8. I've never been good at writing a diary. Blogging has turned into another hobby for me, and it is so pretty to look back on compared to hand-written pages filled with mistakes (I hate mistakes).
  9. I get to visit lots of other wonderful blogs.
  10. I find blogging lots of fun.
I am supposed to tag some other people now. I'm just going to say if you read this and you haven't written your list of ten things why you like to blog consider yourself tagged! You can leave a comment if you like, and I will come and check out your list. I am supposed to tag 5 people but this is what Alicia at Posy Gets Cosy did when she got tagged (and she is a blogging legend!).

Monday, April 21, 2008

Autumn Colour

Today was another beautiful day on the farm. The light was lovely for leafy photos. There are hundreds of trees to choose from. The dogs and I had a fun time checking out as many as we could. They both had a swim before the frost had completely disappeared. Brrr! By the way Dad, your gumboots are not very watertight! We met a man called Ian and his two dogs, one of whom was very pleased to see the girls. He grazes animals across the road. He probably thought I was a bit odd with town clothes (for an impending trip for Nanny to see the blood sucker lady- actually read "city clothes" for "town clothes"- the people in town were giving me a few looks- might have been my bright red lipstick), big gumboots and an enormous camera. I thought he was very nice but rather odd wearing a bright purple polar-fleece jumper.

Take a look at this handsome fellow helping me with my latest project. No, this is not Monty, it is his cousin, Henry. Isn't he lovely? He did exactly what Monty does when I am sewing. Stuck his nose in to have a good look. This is my pink and green small quilt. I've pieced the main part of the top. It still needs fabric for the border. I don't want to start any long-winded projects because at this stage I've got no staying power and feel greatly gratified by quick results. But now I am determined to move beyond the big squares!


Oscar is coming to sit on my knee. Photo of him coming up when I snap a good one.
Other news (mostly for Mum and Dad):
  • Mum will be pleased to hear that the cats and Daisy are all well.
  • Mr Ram was trying out some x-rated moves on one of the ladies today, but she was being most prim and proper in response.
  • Auntie Marg came to visit today.
  • Nanny's blood test went well.
  • Merlin is enjoying his holiday, but has decided not to come out of his house much at all.
  • Miss Dog and Daisy are having a lovely time together. They are really sensible and were fine walking along with Nanny. They are just hanging out together when I'm not outside and the cats seem fine with it. They went in Daisy's pen together when we went to town.
I got tagged! I will respond tomorrow. I don't think anyone has tagged me before. Have a lovely week. I'm really happy XXXX

Sunday, April 20, 2008

I'm on holiday!

I'm on the farm, which is near to Nelson, at the top of the South Island. I grew up here, and love it with a passion. Mummy and Daddy are way over in Ireland today. We are helping Nanny to look after the farm while they are away. Today the hounds got together for some fun. Meg and I took several walks around the farm with them. We only had one "rolling in something gross" incident today. Miss Dog shamed me, but not as much as Stellar, Miss Poo, did last night when she found a rotting hedgehog carcass. Meg was furious with her, especially when she got a hedgehog prickle through her sock and into her toe! Ouch! Here they are having a noisy playfight over a stick.

And, of course, being Labradors they have to swim at every opportunity! Lucky the sun is shining so they all dried out. Plus they had a good wash (the stinkers).

This year has been a bumper year for fungi. I think I will do a dedicated fungi post sometime during my holiday as I find them so fascinating. These Fly Agaric toadstools are poisonous, but oh so pretty! There are lots under the silver birch trees. Well, there were lots until the dogs helped us to take photos and stomped on quite a few.

The nut trees are dropping their bounty. I might make some walnut brownies. I would NEVER buy walnuts from the shop because they are often rancid and nasty. These are fresh and delicious. The dogs can vouch for that.

Picking up sweet chestnuts can be a bit painful. I'm wearing Dad's gumboots, which are a big help. Look out for the prickles, Doggy-monsters! We are thinking of a way to roast them. We used to have long forks for the purpose. They are absolutely delicious.

Look at these beautiful berries. The colours are so fresh in the country. Nanny loves this photo.

What other farm (and other) news do I have:

  • The cats are good and Daisy is very happy to have visitors.
  • I am working on my green and pink quilt. The sewing machine is set up on the table and I've started piecing it. I think I had better move beyond squares soon so I can learn some new skills.
  • I picked some apples and Nanny made a lovely apple pie for tea. We also had a bacon and egg pie.
  • Nanny is great.
  • The 9 sheep look fat and happy.
  • The weather is so beautiful, although we had a frost this morning.
I hope you are all well! I am so relaxed and happy. I will try to post every day (unless we go for a long outing) during my holiday. I've go so many beautiful things to show you.

Ps. I never realised my blog would look so different on another computer. The colours look quite different on my computer. Sorry if they look horrid on yours! XXX