Sunday, August 28, 2011


Don't you love it when you have a fun day and achieve lots? I certainly do. This weekend has been fabulous. I've managed to do some tidying up, gardening, quilting, baking, 'cello practise, socialising, horse riding, reading and blogging. What could be better?

We love little birdies visiting our garden (except when they poo on the washing). I felt awful about Jasper's indiscretion recently with the bird he caught/found. We decided that we would do our bit to help the local birds after the snowy weather, so we got a big, fat, seedy bird feeder from the supermarket. We're onto the second one in a week. Waxeyes are the main visitors to the nectarine tree feeding station. We see sparrows, various finches and starlings (or possibly blackbirds-they're speedy and shy). Mrs CT assures me that she makes her own bird feeders that cost less than the very economical $2.95 we pay, so that may be a project coming up. I've designed a bird feeding platform for Johnny to make too.
I was reading on the couch, spying on the birds and having a cup of tea when I took this photo of the gorgeous gerbera on the coffee table. So pretty. I decided that we needed a touch more colour (you can never have too much), and until the garden is filled with flowers again, potted plants would be perfect. I'm wondering how long I can keep this alive for, as my record has been less than exemplary with indoor plants, but so far, so good. I've got some polyanthus on the dining table too.
I'm very pleased that our entrance hall is so spacious because it is perfect for laying out and pinning my quilts. I tape the backing fabric flat onto the floor with masking tape, then lay the batting and top on. Then I pin with quilters safety pins every few inches. It takes a while, but I do like to see the lovely smooth pinned quilt all ready for machine quilting. I'm going to challenge myself with a loopy stitch all over the surface of this quilt, which I decided is called "Forty Wishes" because I'm giving it to myself for my birthday.
Yay- I used my greenhouse for the first time today! Well actually I just popped my gardening tool bucket in there when I finished a huge weeding effort along the back fence. The big yellow buckets are mineral horse feed buckets. They are going to house the best tomatoes in the land.
This was the view from inside my new greenhouse before my gardening onslaught. We are going to redesign the vegetable beds around the greenhouse. It is a shambles around there at the moment.

I'm off to ice the banana cake I made for lunches, then I need to practise my 'cello some more for my lesson tomorrow. I hope I'll get a chance to write again during the week. XXX

Saturday, August 27, 2011


Today has been beautiful! It is our wedding anniversary and I feel very lucky to have spent lots of time with my bestest friend Johnny. We've changed so much over the 17 years we've been married. It hasn't been easy for Johnny being married to me as I battled and struggled with my anxiety disorder issues for so long. Being well at long last makes me realise just how unwell I was and what a half life it was. Nevertheless, we managed to create this amazing life together. We're both plumper. One of us is balder, and the other has developed a rare skin condition resulting in blotchy red cheeks. But we love each other dearly no matter what.

Today Johnny spent some time in the back garden, and mowed the lawn. I had a little bit of time outside and discovered that Mr. Jasper is also a keen gardener. He not only enjoys digging holes in the garlic patch and fertilizing the wee garlic cloves that are trying so hard to sprout, but he likes to supervise when I'm working too. So I had two loyal companions assisting me today. Miss Dog is a keen assistant too. I bought some lettuce plants to grow in my greenhouse. I discovered that the lettuce seeds planted in a raised bed pre-snow have come up - I'm very impressed with their determination. We saw tomato plants but decided to resist for a little longer.

I had a very successful riding lesson today. Mr Sam was a delight and a character. He is looking better and I had lots of fun grooming the long winter hair from his coat, and smoothing his beautiful silky summer coat. I love the way he seems to smile when he looks at me. I have never seen him with his ears back in a nasty way. I worked hard on my canter today. It was hard work because Sam decided to try throwing his head around then pulling it down when cantering so that he could transition back to trot when he wanted to. Lazy boy. I stuck with it and worked on being the boss. We managed to end with a lovely controlled transition from canter to trot to walk when I wanted to (not Mr Bossy Britches). I was really pleased because I got Sam to happily go into the wash bay area for his hose down. Celine warned me that he didn't like the new wash bay at all, but I took it very gently and he went in and stood for me twice. I wondered if the clip clop of his hooves on the concrete reminded him of his days as a race horse. When Celine does jobs and I get Sam to myself I just love quietly pottering with him. I am totally in love with him.

Tomorrow I'll get the camera out. I can't believe it is two weeks since my birthday. Time is racing by.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Disaster? ... No!

On Sunday I decided that Mr Ginger Jasper needed a lovely quilt all of his own. I wanted to create a very vintage looking creation, but didn't have the right things in the mini-stash. I'm all inspired by the amazing Hen at Henhouse (check out her divine blog in the sidebar). I LOVE the things she creates and does. Vintage all the way! Being the experimental creature that I tend to be, I decided that a selection of gingery fabrics might work, given a lack of other options. Mmmm, sounds foul to me too. I despise ochre and pooey brown colours. Yuck Yuck Yuck. However Kaffe and Phillip Jacobs seem to like them, and I did get them from a samples bin in the hope of finding a use for them.

I have to say I did have fun using the stack and slash method (known as hack and slash around here as my rotary cutter was as blunt as a butter knife). I loved all of the mixing and joining, seeing what would emerge with each cut. Unfortunately I hated the result. Poo and pink. Emerald and ochre. Orange and brown. Blerk. I decided that MY delicious pussycat would hate it as much as me. Fortunately I decided just to whip it together with a thick layer of batting (no fancy quilting) and I popped it under the table to see what would happen. I couldn't face the idea of folding it up after all of that work.

He found it within minutes. Mmmmm. Luxury. He's still there, fast asleep.

Now I can't wait to make him a pretty one to relax on when he supervises in my workroom.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Sun at last!

A few treats to show you today! I headed outside with the Happy Holidays quilt for a wee photo shoot. At this time of year the background is a bit rough, but the sun shone on the glorious colours of the quilt. The fabrics are all Kaffe Fassett or Phillip Jacobs apart from the cerise striped sashing and binding.
I found this big piece of fabric in the bargain bin at Stitch to use for the back of the quilt. It is lovely having a bright reverse.
I love the Big Blooms design and would like to lay my hands on some more. The pansy with the pink and blue back ground is one small piece of Big Blooms.
Look - the gold lace primulas stand out. This quilt has so much to look at.
The outer sashing is a bright orange vase design. I haven't used orange before because it reminds me of foul orange, brown and yellow combos of the 70's. This fabric is a whole different thing altogether.
Take a look at this! My new "going out" purse. Many years of use and inspiration in one fabulous creation. The flowers are felt and are embroidered onto the bag. The bag has leather handles and a gorgeous ditsy floral cotton inside. Very yummy! Thanks to my darling sister and her family.XXX. Can you see my current favourite pink jersey too? Raspberry and pink are currently interesting me very much.
Look- my very own Red Band gumboots! Thanks to Mrs CT. and family for these fabulous gummies. My old gumboots were driving me mad because they were losing structural integrity. Red Bands are the BEST farm gumboots in New Zealand. I like the shorter boot because I usually wear 3/4 length jeans and skirts at the weekend and like to just slip my feet into my gummies without messing around tucking trousers in or getting my skirt hooked up on the top of the boot. I can have my hands fully laden and still get my boots on in a flash.
Calendulas are beginning to appear in the herb garden. I scattered seeds that I collected.
This dear wee treasure fought its way through the snow to bloom. This is one of Mum's seedlings. Such a sweetie.
Grape hyacinths make me very happy indeed. They remind me of childhood because we always had them around in spring. I love their glorious blue. I bought masses of these from my old garden and have lots of lovely clumps of them.
My hero! Johnny, with me as his intrepid assistant, worked on putting together my greenhouse. As yet unnamed, and rather drafty at this stage, my greenhouse is a glorious structure, full of possibilities. I even mentioned the possibility of installing a couch, wee stove and a table, but Johnny said the instructions expressly forbid living in the greenhouse (in rather amusing and dodgy English).

The greenhouse really does look like it belongs in my vege patch. Some serious consideration will now go into reconfiguring my vegetable empire to make it all very functional and also aesthetically thrilling. More to come, I'm sure. Crossing fingers for fine weather tomorrow because we will be glazing the greenhouse if we can work outside. XXX.

Ps. My dressage competition has been postponed. No riding this weekend because Sam needs a rest after being stuck outside in snow for days. Poor darling boy. At least he had his "dressing gown" on under his waterproof cover, to help to keep him warm.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Sniffles and snuffles

We've had revolting weather this week. I rather liked the snow, but then it was rained away. It was pretty deep in the back yard.
I was at home sick again, feeling hot and clammy this morning, then all snuffly this afternoon. The weather was very grey, with intermittent rain. Yuck. I'm desperate for a bit of sunshine. All I wanted to do was work on my workroom. I made a list of possible Christmas present ideas earlier this week, and made a start today. I can't show you the finished article, or even tell you what it is going to be, but a few photos will show you the patching and quilting.

I started by making strips out of various bits and pieces from my little stash. I actually do have a very small stash of fabrics, which is a nuisance when I get inspired and have nothing that goes together.

With lots of cutting, sewing and ironing I created this. Working with bigger pieces is actually much less time consuming and fiddly than working with these wee ones. The wonky effect is quite typical of how I always operate- very shabby chic!
I had to do a bit of fiddling around to find the right bits to make quilted panels. I needed to join some bits of batting, plus I used some positively prehistoric calico to back the quilt sandwich. Someone else decided to do a bit of fiddling around of his own.

For some reason my creation was like catnip to Mr. Jasper.
One last rub before I went to give him a tickle and he sunk his teeth into my cardigan and jersey clad forearm, whilst raking me vigorously with his back paddy-paws. He then tore off through the house. No damage done, and he returned shortly afterwards, trying to pretend he was actually a very dignified gentleman.
I decided to practise the "loopy" machine quilting design, which I found surprisingly easy.

Of course I can't show you the finished article since it is a Christmas present, but it looks fabulous. I discovered that little squares (well, let's be honest, they are rectangles), take a lot of work. I've decided to try to learn a new skill, or to practise a tricky one, each time I create a new project. Apart from "loopy" quilting, I did my first lot of chain piecing, which was fun and quick.

I'm still sniffling and snuffling like mad but the weather forecast is good, so I might get some fresh air tomorrow. I want to show off the Happy Holidays quilt off in the sunshine, so hopefully I'll get a chance to take some photos of it tomorrow, now that it is complete. And you are in for a treat when I show you my delectable new bag! XXX

Thursday, August 18, 2011


I had the most wonderful birthday! Only problem is that Johnny (unwillingly) gifted me his cold germs and I decided to stay at home today rather than face my bunch of boisterous teenage preschoolers at school. I'm not sure if I'll go tomorrow as this particular cold comes with a nasty headache. Enough about that stuff!

When I got home on Friday I got a big surprise as Dad's ute was in the garage. My lovely Mummy and Daddy came for the weekend. Yay!!!! I really miss living close to my family, but I guess life has been like that for such a long time that I am used to it. I know how much fun I would have if I lived close to my siblings or parents.

I was thrilled to be able to share present opening with my wee nephew Henry, using the I-pads to communicate, who said "uh oh" when I ripped the paper. Sadly, due to ill lethargy, I haven't taken any photos of my gorgeous presents. I got the most beautiful bag from my lovely sister and family- a special limited edition Cath Kidston medicine bag. Amazing!!!! I got Visa prezzy cards so that I could go shopping. Great idea - better than a voucher because you can use them anywhere. I got a pretty green spotty scarf and fabulous blue spotted bowls. You know I love spots. Well, not the face kind, which still threaten at my advanced age. Johnny got me my greenhouse and Dad helped him to start putting it together. Unfortunately the weather has been shocking - snow, wind, rain and freezing temperatures. My dear wee greenhouse will have to wait for life outside.

On my birthday Celine and I took Sam and Dresden out to Maclean's Island and I was very pleased to be able to show my skills to Mum, Dad and Johnny. He seemed very excited when we got there and I was a bit concerned that he might think back to his racehorse days and give me a bit of trouble. No need to worry, he got down to business and was a delight to ride. We did a bit of cantering so I was pleased with both Sam and myself. This weekend is my first competition, although the ground is really wet and it may be postponed. Given how I feel (a bit grim) I hope that is the case. Tomorrow I will have to go over to Celine's and get him groomed and plaited after school if it is on. Brrr the polar blast is still sweeping through.

On Sunday Johnny and Dad worked on the greenhouse, and Mum and I went shopping. It was heaps of fun and we visited Stitch which always makes me happy. Poor Mum and Dad got trapped here (not that I minded) on Monday and Tuesday because of the snow. I had fun baking bread and cooking soup and casserole to keep everyone well fed. They were supposed to travel up to Whangamata in the North Island to see Cam and his family (from now on he will be Farmer Cam as he and Mandy bought a wee lifestyle property and they have chooks and two pet lambs). Now they will go later in the year.

I had a brief play in my workroom today but spent most of the day sleeping. Photos next time! XXX

Ps. Jasper "caught" a poor wee finch and bought it inside to play with. I think it was very cold and had crashed as he can't jump up on the bed, let alone hunt prey. I warmed it up until it could fly then released it. Hope it is ok. Jasper felt the glare of my disapproval.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

One week in

I've had one week back at school, and apart from one or two dramas, it was lots of fun. I was annoyed at being too tired to do anything but blob from Wednesday to Friday nights. Monday and Tuesday I managed a little more activity. I finished stitching the binding on this quilt, which is called The Primroses Quilt. I purchased the fabrics from Primroses before it closed. It was a really pretty wee shop with fabrics, a few vintage goodies and haberdashery. Really shabby chic.
I fell in love with the pretty rose fabrics and can't resist spots. It is machine quilted - stitch in the ditch for the main panel, and free quilted in a cross pattern on the border.
I sewed a variety of pretty cream and mother-of-pearl vintage buttons at each intersection.
I really love it and if I had a baby girl she would be getting one of these for her cot. I've got it on the back of a chair to snuggle under on cold nights.

Last weekend Johnny put up flower pot holders on the fence and I potted up pansies and Sweet Williams. We bought three fence pot holders to try out from the Mapua Trading Company, and hopefully I can order some more as I'd like them all the way along the back fence. I helped Johnny to install some wires today. He has been steadily working his way along the back fence putting up wires so that I can grow climbing plants like roses and sweet peas. I would love some of those glorious large-flowered clematis to scramble up the rose bushes. One day.

On my screen the fence looks super blue. It is a more subtle blue-grey in reality.

Today I went for a riding lesson. Sam is still quite stiff and got upset when I started to try cantering, so Celine got on, and he was just as upset for her. She thinks he is stiff in his stifle area and may need some investigations. He is fine for walking and trotting, and I got him into a beautiful outline for much of my lesson. He is the kind of horse that will only go into the correct shape (neck curved elegantly and working from the hind legs) if you ride him correctly. Today I managed to co-ordinate legs and hands and so he relaxed and worked really well. I only had two reminders to keep my wrists in the correct position. I tend to roll my hands in so my palms face down, which alters the position of the bit. Exciting news though- in two weeks Sam and I are attending our first competition. It is a combined jumping/dressage competition, so Celine might jump him (or just canter around the arena area if he is sore) and I will do the dressage. We can't officially get prizes as I'm not doing both parts. Next weekend I'm supposed to have two rides as training, including one at McLean's Island at the National Equestrian Centre, but as it is my birthday, and Johnny won't tell me what he has planned, I'm not entirely sure about that. I won't be getting a horse for my birthday, but Sam is going to pretend he is mine for the day!