Thursday, September 30, 2010

Shopping, sewing and prowling around

What a lovely day I've had. We got up early today so that we could zip into Riccarton to purchase a new couch and two chairs in the Farmers half price on furniture sale. They are chocolate leather and very like our existing couches. After the earthquake Johnny sat on the old pull out couch and the bottom dropped out of it. He is calling it an "arsequake". We decided that it was time to update. The chairs will give us some more seating in the living room, where we like to sit around with visitors during the day time. Plus we can move them into the lounge as required. Unfortunately we have to wait until January for delivery, but at half price, we're not complaining.

Johnny had business to attend to at work, so I took a drive over to the wonderful new quilt/craft shop "Stitch" on Colombo Street. It is a treasure trove of gorgeous bright fabrics, and some in softer tones as well. It is very modern and fresh with lovely trims, books, a small selection of lovely knitting yarns and a space for classes. The owner, Fenella, is lovely and was so helpful when I was choosing fabric to finish off my (mostly) Kaffe Fassett quilt that I started about 18 months ago. The green fabric is an alarmingly acid green with tiny cerise dots. It is for the inner border and the binding. The cerise fabric behind it is called "Venetian Glass" and is for the larger outer border. I've been busy piecing it all together this afternoon as Fenella worked out all of the measurements (in metric- thank goodness) so I just needed to whip out the rotary cutter and sew it together. It is extraordinarily bright- not everyone's cup of tea (more like a glowing glass of Midori), that's for sure. I can think of several of my loyal readers who would be horrified if it entered their more subtly decorated abodes. However I can still remember the first moment I caught a glimpse of Kaffe Fassett's home in one of his magnificent books. I wanted to move in immediately. I so admire and enjoy the elegance of more restricted colour schemes, but I am so drawn to colour that I can't help myself.
On the embroidery front, I immortalised a pansy that caught my eye in the garden. I am making it into a brooch. Here it is before I removed the marking pen.

This daffodil caught my eye, so I picked it and photographed it for Mum. It is even lovelier in real life.
My tulips were looking happy in the pots on the deck outside the Poppy Black Studio.
Miss Dog and I took a walk break in the middle of crafting this afternoon. I wanted to prowl past the hellebore border down the road to check whether there are babies to be stealthily collected with a spoon and doggy poo bag. Yes indeed, there are plenty to be harvested if I get up early at the weekend when there are not many people around. I also wanted to visit the old cemetery at the other end of the village.

I enjoy checking out the inscriptions on the gravestones. The creation of beautiful monuments seems to be a disappearing art. You can see that there is damage to some of the graves from the earthquakes. By the way we had a 4.5 quake today which gave the house a bit of a shake. On the way back from our walk Miss Dog and I got caught in the rain. We never get caught in the rain! Was it because of my immoral thoughts about "acquiring" baby hellebores from a public garden? Or was it because Miss Dog and I ignored the dog ban and walked through the domain? As soon as we emerged from the domain the rain started. Slowly at first, then pelting down. Just as I started to run who did I hear coming up the road to rescue me? My lovely Johnny. When I asked him how he thought we was going to find me out and about, he said he was just going to drive the streets until he spotted me. Now that is how wonderful he is.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Making the most of Monty

Today has been a celebration of Monty time. He is looking surprisingly well today, and we had some fun with him out in the garden. He visited our wonderful vet, and we've got some more powerful painkillers to give him, so hopefully we can keep him as comfy as possible over the next few days. He has lost a lot of weight. But having lots of cuddles, sleeping in the sun and being smothered in love is the best way to spend your last few days. Look at my lovely boys (and the black crocodile) out in the sun.
No flowers are safe when Monty is around! I've always had to put bunches of flowers out of his reach.
It is so lovely in the sun. He looks deceptively well.
I've very pleased with myself in the crafty department. Here is my latest passion.

These are the first three pansies I have stitched out of Diana Lampe's Embroidered Pansies. I am utterly fascinated by the delightful faces of pansies. I've got hundreds that have self-sown, so there are so many different shapes, colours, patterns and sizes. They are promiscuous breeders. These embroidered poppets are the size of a standard cotton reel, as I drew around one as a stitching guide. I think I did a pretty good job for my first go. You know you are onto a good thing when you wake up in the night and want to get up to do some more sewing! I do have a bit of trouble seeing to do such detailed stitching under artificial light. I feel a bit guilty sitting around doing embroidery in the daytime though. I won't be feeling guilty when I've got a collection of these made into brooches to choose from.

Tomorrow is going to be another lovely fine day. Sun for basking in. Monty will be happy. So will Miss Dog. And I'll be pleased to do another couple of loads of washing. Johnny is going to help Mrs CT make a ramp to get her elderly German shepherd up into the back of her car. Then we're going to Thyme Cafe for lunch. I'm glad Johnny is feeling better. The earth has been rumbling quietly today, so far, so we've hardly felt the aftershocks. You never know what will happen in the next five minutes.


Saturday, September 25, 2010


I'm as cheerful as this happy gang of pansies!
Who wouldn't be, with two glorious spring weeks ahead of me to craft, garden, get out and about and relax. Today I started the day with a walk over to the nature reserve. Miss Dog discovered she could scramble down the steep bank into the huge pond that only forms over a very wet winter. The pond is deep at the moment, and she looked like a furry black crocodile cruising around. We returned home to our sickly Johnny. I plucked some eucalyptus leaves from over the back fence and made a brew with them. I added a few herbs for good measure, and poured boiling water over them. Then I enticed the sickly critter to breathe in the steam while huddling under a towel. It seemed to help a bit. He has been up and about a little today, and is now in his sleeping bag on the couch.

Meanwhile, after I did a bit of school work, I headed outside and started playing around with my tiny seedlings, pricking out a rather large collection of tomatoes into individual pots so that they can grow into big, healthy specimens (well that's the idea). I planted nasturtiums, cabbage, broccoli, baby bear pumpkins and mixed squash seeds as well. The jalapeƱos have made an excellent effort to grow, and the very first capsicums and hot peppers are just peeping out. The basil looks like it is going to be a disaster.

Johnny got the macro lens out on the camera and I did some experimenting. The poets are just starting to appear.
Somehow the yellow poppies managed to self-seed the best and I've got a big mass of them. I love their crepey petals and hairy stems.
This is one of Mum's seedlings, I think. It is quite a peachy tone.
And look at the silver pear flowers. Gorgeous!
I planted quite a few anemones this year. Their flowers fascinate me. It is a shame they don't cross breed well and make a big assortment of colours.

And most precious of all, our darling Monty. Relaxing on the couch.

After the outside fun, I got two panels of fabric ready for hand quilting. I iron them, then sandwich a thin layer of batting between the feature fabric and a piece of boring/hideous fabric (which won't show when complete). I use a spray fabric adhesive to keep them together, and also use quilting pins around the edge to keep everything in place while I hand stitch. They are destined to become cushions, or possibly a fabulous piece of art on the wall. We shall see. I promise I will show you!

Tonight we are having a roast. I had better go and get it out of the oven so that I can feed the poor critter on the couch.

Lots of love to Dad, who has a horrible bout of the flu and couldn't go down to Te Anau for the daffodil show. So disappointing. XXXXX

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Eventful Weekend

After a rather challenging week, I had a wonderful weekend. The less said about school the better. On Saturday Johnny took me to the National Equestrian Centre to see Emily Butcher in action in a one day event. She had five horses entered. We watched Oscar, who is a beautiful white horse, complete his dressage event. I forgot to take a photo, which annoyed me a lot. He was gorgeous, but blew it at the end by being very naughty. There was a nasty man shouting at his daughter. Emily said there was almost a nasty woman shouting at Oscar as well. It was very exciting to see this horse in action. This is Southern Ben, who has competed in Badminton. He is looking a little disturbed because he is having his front legs iced after the cross country. He is coming back after a long injury break. He was one of only two horses competing in the Elite class.
Here he is with Emily on the water jump. Exciting!
Next time I'll take the good camera. I could have stayed all day but I had a date to go with The Crafty Neighbour to the Quilt and Craft Expo. I loved it, and returned home with a selection of Kaffe Fassett and Phillip Jacobs fabrics. I played with them on the table outside today.
I've got some pieces lined up for quilted cushions, and others for patchwork. I started working on a runner in red tones to go along the new TV bookshelf. By the way, Johnny built a matching bookshelf while I was out. It is fabulous. He is even more super duper clever!

No blog entry could be complete at this time of year without a few spring flowers. This is one of three blooms that have been overenthusiastic and produced eight petals.
Here is the border along the front. The skip bins on the house next door are full of bricks because the builders have had to remove all of the bricks because the earthquake loosened the mortar.
There are hundreds of pansies and violas in my garden. These blue ones caught my eye.
I experimented with some closeups today.
I quite enjoyed rolling around on the lawn getting some good angles.

Today has been lovely and relaxing. I enjoyed some time sitting outside perusing my new books with Monty curled up on my knee. Then I got loose on my craft cupboard as it was a shambles, and sorted it out from top to bottom. The earthquake contributed to the mess, but I was largely responsible. I'm not known for being tidy! Then I cleaned my craft room and made Monty a new nest as he had made his old one yucky (don't ask).

Wish me luck for the last week of term. We haven't had an earthquake in over 24 hours. How does over 700 earthquakes over the last two weeks sound?

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Sunday socialising

Today was another day for being sociable. We went to D and A's house, then went with them to the big Riccarton Rotary Market. I started my Christmas shopping (wow) and got some herbs for my garden. I got a lovely pink flowered rosemary, catnip, a remarkable red and green veined sorrel, some chives and a beautiful rosy plum coloured bergamot. Plus D gave me five different violets, a veronica, a plum coloured heuchera, a bright orange geum, a clump of feverfew, a fuzzy grey plant I can't name right now and two gorgeous pink flowered strawberry plants (ornamental according to D). I've had lots of lovely bits from D's garden. She loves everything to stay in its own place, so does regular chop-backs. D and A have some wonderful shrubs and trees in their relatively small suburban garden. These were two of the highlights.
This magnolia is huge - a stunning big tree.
D couldn't tell me what this beautiful rhododendron is called. Any ideas? The colour is so intense and gorgeous. The photo doesn't do justice to the silky surfaces of the petals.
After we had lunch with D and A we returned home. Johnny helped The Crafty Neighbour make her first batch of mozzarella cheese. I planted my treasures and weeded the herb patch. Then we helped Johnny bring his latest masterpiece into the lounge. I wanted somewhere to put books, and to set up pretty displays on, plus we needed to relatively unobtrusively store the electronic stuff. Now that we know it looks fine we have to paint it. I had a rather unconventional idea that I wanted it to be emerald green, however judging by The Crafty Neighbour's reaction (brutally honest), I'm not sure that is such a good idea. The test pot is an alarming shade of true emerald. It would certainly be different. Jane Brocket- I hold you responsible for giving me many ideas for brilliant colour combinations that your average New Zealander would find terrifying. Kaffe Fassett- you should also take some of the blame too. I feel rather sad that it will probably end up a very neutral tone, partly because Johnny might make a matching bookcase, and two pieces of emerald furniture would be way too much.

School tomorrow. It is raining heavily, which we love to hear pelting on our wonderful iron roof.

Bye for now.
PS. Don't I have a clever husband!!!!

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Happy Day

Today the day started with Monty sitting on me yowling quietly. He was hungry. We persuaded him to sleep in for a little longer, and then the phone rang. The Crafty Neighbour was up and almost ready to go marketing and wanted me to go too. I scrambled to get ready in half the usual time (not easy when I don't believe in leaving the house without putting together a suitable ensemble from accessories to warpaint- to disguise the rather pallid canvas underneath). We zipped off for a prowl around the Riccarton Farmer's Market, which was excellent! It wasn't very big or busy today, due to the earthquake, but there was lots of lovely produce. The baking was especially good. I bought a delicious cheesy spicy bready/pastry stick for lunch, and two "beestings" (or "bumblebees") which are sweet bread flat buns filled with custard. They had a crumble topping and icing sugar dusting. Delicious. The Crafty Neighbour purchased fruit and veges plus some baking and a fancy pie with mussels and white wine to appease the child minding husband.

After our marketing activities we decided that a visit to Cottonfields was in order, but as it wasn't open until 10am we had morning tea then visited the wonderful bookshop at Avonhead Mall. I could have spent thousands, but managed to stop with three fabulous books (birthday money).
Jane Brocket's The Gentle Art of Quilt-Making - irresistible as I love her writing, her love of flowers and the glorious fabrics she uses. Especially the Kaffe Fassett fabrics. Her designs are simple and practical, and she has a refreshingly liberated approach to working. Her blog is Yarnstorm.
I've wanted this book ever since I saw his TV series. Lots of great ideas for herbs and other plants to grow and how to make concoctions with them. Great for the modern witch.
And look at this find. This is by the the lady who wrote the embroidery books that I base my stitching on. Pansies- heaven!! To add to the glory of this book there is a section on crocheted pansies. I find crocheting a big challenge, but imagine delicious posies of pansies on my lapel.
Johnny has made a purchase too. This t-shirt came from the Mr Vintage website and is a charity t-shirt for earthquake victims. He has had it for days- these business people work fast when there's a dollar to be made. For non-NZ readers, this shows the iconic cathedral in the middle of Christchurch as a seismic pattern. Johnny does not look this wide, by the way.
There is lots of bad news around the city, but I'm focusing on the arrival of spring. The first blossoms are appearing on the trees in our neighbourhood. Soon the street will be lined with them.
Here is my very special man. I'm making the most of every moment with him. His health is a cloud on my horizon that is worrying me greatly. He loves a cosy sunny spot.

Today I filled most of the second of my four big raised beds ready for planting. Our old neighbours popped in for a visit. We thought we had a whole packet of gingernuts to offer, but they must have run for their lives during the earthquake. Gingernuts are a sensible biscuit to have on hand because I only eat them with a cup of tea as I find them too hard otherwise. Apparently our old house lost it's chimney in the quake. I bet it has a lot of plaster cracks too. I don't think I have felt any aftershocks so far today! Hopefully the earth is settling.

Tomorrow I should have the new tv/book shelf that Johnny made today for you to see. I've got to decide what colour to paint it. Hmm, decisions.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Wee note

It has been a relatively quiet day today. I have to go back into school tomorrow as we have all been summoned by the principal. I want to retire even more than ever as I want to spend every day at home gardening, cooking and crafting. Especially gardening.

It has been settling down on the aftershock front. We hardly twitch at an earthquake now, after experiencing literally hundreds since Saturday morning.

I've been working on building my new garden (Merlin's Garden) over in the corner by the cherry tree. It is going to be a decent size, cutting across the corner of the yard, and will be planted with fragrant and interesting shrubs and pretty, special shade loving goodies. The soil is beautiful, damp and rich, with masses of plump earthworms. Merlin contributed plenty of fertiliser to the soil, and is buried under the cherry tree, so it will be his garden. Johnny is going to help me to level the ground that is not garden to make lawn. It is the remains of Dirt Mountain. I can't wait to have it all landscaped so that I can focus on making it pretty.

I made yummy lasagne for tea today. Don't tell Johnny - it had leek in it as I couldn't find any onions around here. It also had rainbow chard, cavolo nero, parsley, garlic, onion tops (from last year's interesting leftover red onions), oregano and thyme in it. Healthy. I called it earthquake lasagne because the sauce was a jar that had a popped top button in the earthquake, and Jamie Oliver's egg pasta sheets that had some earthquake damage too.

Must go to bed. Hope my car goes in the morning after having a big shake up. XXX

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Check this out

Before I go to bed- you've got to look at this website:

I can't believe how so many of the quakes are centred around our place. Amazing to be in the middle of all of this. Hope we don't get "the big one."


Gardening (aka Safer Outside)

Today the weather cleared so Miss Dog and I decided that being outside would be a sensible idea. Not much to see because the action involved seed planting and weeding, but I am very satisfied. Today I planted more garlic, lettuce plants and seeds, daikon radish (an experiment), beetroot, spinach and bok choy. I topped up the first of the new raised beds with lovely rich soil to make space. Lots of digging, and quite a few unhappy earthworms later and I felt very victorious. There was one big rumbly shake while we were outside. Miss Dog let out a barrage of barks to express her displeasure. I carried on digging.

Earlier today I decided to take Miss Dog for a stroll to see what we could see. A few headstones took a topple in the cemetery.
The pond has filled, which it didn't do at all last year. Some of the banks over at the nature reserve have crumbled, but there is very little evidence of earthquake activity.

The Ministry of Education have finally made up their minds to close all schools until Monday, after some ridiculous to-ing and fro-ing. Thankfully there is nothing else to report at this stage.

Cleaning House

Just pottering around cleaning and sorting. Johnny is furious because the Ministry of Education can't seem to get their act together over school closures as they keep changing their minds. I can't see why any school would want to be open when they didn't have to be, especially when Civil Defense have just announced another seven days of the State of Emergency for the area. I want to get some paperwork done, but have plenty of other good stuff to do, like wiping windowsills and dusting. I'd much rather be (hopefully) safely at home currently, than at work 30 mins drive away from home.

Decisions arising from the earthquake:
-We no longer want any tall bookcases around here, even though they can be screwed to the wall.
-No jars or bottles are to be stored high on the pantry shelves.
-Bottles of clean water are essential in an emergency- we'll keep some on hand at all times.
-Miss Dog is going to have to wear her bark collar again once the aftershocks are over (she is currently my warning dog).
-I'm not storing any pretty china on high shelves unless it is well stuck down.
-Always wear shoes in the kitchen after an earthquake (I got another glass shard in my foot this morning).
-Tiny holes in fingers can be hiding remarkably long shards of glass that will only emerge days later so don't underestimate them.
- Command Adhesive Hooks for pictures etc on walls can survive a 7.1 quake, so I can recommend them. Pictures leaning on the wall on shelves become airborne in a 7.1 quake.
-I'm going to have to display my pretty china and enjoy it as much as possible because the joy of having it may be fleeting.

I'm on the lookout for a vintage white glass hen egg holder (the kind that looks like a chooky on her nest and is in two parts) to replace Grandma's one that broke.

Not the big one

I thought I would do updates as I go today. This morning has been rather interesting because there was a larger aftershock just before 8am. The geologists keep scaring us with talk of aftershocks up to 6.1 on the Richter Scale. It was only (to a seasoned earthquake rider like myself) 5.1 but it seems to have caused a lot of drama in the city because it was in a different place (near Diamond Harbour). It was longer, about 15 seconds. Here it was quite rolly and swirly, but city dwellers are reporting jerking. Plus the power has gone out again and there is more damage to parts of the city. The other aftershocks have been located much closer to us so they have felt stronger here.

It is raining here. I wanted to spend my day in the garden. Johnny is hoping to get a bit of sleep during the day today as he hasn't been sleeping well. He has popped into work briefly but will be home soon.

My thoughts go out to Chris of the Federation Coffee House- his lovely new business destroyed. He makes the best hot chocolates. XXX

Ooops- there goes another one! Gigibird - now would be a good time for me to hibernate until the end of earthquake season.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Shaking Still

Oh yes, the earth is still moving from time to time around here. One of the largest quakes was caused by me dancing for joy after hearing that I wouldn't need to go back to school until next Monday. Overnight we had several whoppers- 5.4 on the Richter Scale. We slept through one of them!!!!! Naturally everyone in Christchurch seems to be very jittery, especially when the "experts" keep saying we could have some bigger aftershocks. The epicentre of the quake has been revised to be between Rolleston and Burnham, which is considerably closer to here than originally thought.

Here we go again- Miss Dog is barking in horror, and cowering at my feet. Poor lady has had enough. She has been keeping really close to me. We seem to get lots of aftershocks at night. I don't know why, but is is extremely unnerving.

I thought you might like to see the sand volcanoes- something I had never heard of before. They are caused by ground water being forced up, bringing sand and silt with them. Some parts of town have deep layers of silt and water all over the gardens and streets.

These ones are at least a metre across.
Here's my poor old piano in my exceedingly grotty, but perfectly intact classroom. No piano should suffer such an indignity. It was the most significant movement in the entire school. I bet it made an enormous crash. Glad my home one stayed up.
Today I spend quite a while gardening in the front yard.

Here is another of my lovely pots.

Hope we have a quiet night!

Monday, September 6, 2010

A Monday holiday

Today and tomorrow are unexpected holidays. I'm naturally very pleased indeed. Today the crafty neighbour and I took a trip to look at nurseries. I was sucked in by the English Roses Brother Cadfael and Gertrude Jekyll. We are still having lots of aftershocks. In fact we have had around 100 earthquakes since the big one. The biggest two have been over 5 on the Richter Scale, and many others have been 3.5 to 4.5. The latest cluster (or swarm) occurred when I was cooking tea, which was alarming. Johnny and I popped into my school and saw my poor piano reclining on the floor. I don't know if it will ever be the same again.

Tomorrow we have another brilliant day off school. I shouldn't be rubbing my hands together with so much glee with all of the destruction around, but I can't help it. I love a day off.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

The Sunday after

It is evening here. The wind has come up and is furiously whipping around the house. There was just a boom and the house moved, but I don't know if it was the wind or another aftershock. Spooky anyway. Thank you for all of the contact we have had from friends and family. We have been so fortunate. We took a drive down to Lincoln today to Johnny's work and we crossed over what looks like a fault line across the fields and road. There are cracks across the road and furrows in the paddocks, along with lots of surface water that was forced up. There are also strange formations called sand volcanoes - circular low cones about a metre across where silty sand has come to the surface. That is about a km away from us. I am pleased that schools are closed for at least two days. I don't want to be responsible for 9 special needs teenagers until the aftershocks settle down. Plus the water is a problem and must be boiled. The sewers are damaged and we have been told to flush only when necessary. We are luckier than lots of people who have been digging holes in their backyards to use as toilets.

On a much brighter note, the garden has not been damaged at all by the earthquakes, although the wind might cause a few challenges. Here are some sights from around my garden.

Camellia Sasanqua- Fairy Blush
A little opportunist. So sweet.
Goodies in the seed raising house.
Pots on the deck.

A gorgeous bloom - label washed off.
Camellia Japonica - Nicky Crisp