Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Welcome Little One

Today was a very special day because Tara had a beautiful filly foal. She had her this morning in daylight, which was a bit of a surprise.
Tara was tucking into a well deserved snack after a hard morning. She needed some help to deliver her foal safely as the wee one had a leg back. Tara is not a big girl, but her foal is going to be bigger than her due to the size of her husband.

 It was a huge effort to get those wobbly legs to work.
 Look at that amazing blaze! It is hard to tell what colour she is going to be.
 Wobble, wobble, wobble.
 Tara is an affectionate mother. The foal had to work very hard to find out where to get a drink, because Tara's tummy is pretty low compared to the height of the foal. Don't worry though, they had it all sorted out before too long.
I can't wait to see the beautiful pair again tomorrow. Hopefully we will have a name for her soon. She will look quite different by tomorrow, and will be getting used to those long, long legs.

--- It looks like she might be called Aria. Pretty, I think!

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Darling girl

Mrs Tara is still waiting for her foal to arrive. Her tummy is lovely and rounded. She is enjoying the company - Verve and Chili are in the next paddock. As you can see, she is pleased to see me, as usual.
She has a lovely, friendly face, and loves her carrots. With that ginger fur, I'm not surprised!
 I love to give Tara and Zanny a good massage when we get together. I think ladies carrying so much foal weight must get tired, sore backs. The seem to enjoy a rub anyway. Tara is a wee thing compared to Zanny. She is about 15 hand high. Zanny is over 16 hands.
 Tara always says "Don't go!!!" with her big brown eyes. Don't worry Tara, I'll bring the carrots and the brush tomorrow.
 We are into eating things from the garden. I got 6 peaches from my mini peach tree. I was quite proud, but the earwigs and birds had a bit of fun before I got there. I made the first batch of courgette fritters out of my scallopini (pattypan) squashes. Yum.
 And we've got some gorgeous lilies in the garden currently. These are just divine.
I have to start the planning for school tomorrow, so I'll be in town for some of the day. I much prefer life out of the city. We picked blueberries at the local berry farm a couple of days ago, and I made blueberry muffins and jelly with blueberries in it today. Plus had to wash Miss Dog due to a stinky run in with a melting bird feeder (one of those seedy lard ones). Mousie hasn't been feeling the best - let's just say I had to trim his lavish bottom fur, so I've been keeping an eye on him. He seems to be fine. After he 'helped' me to fold the washing and attacked me with his gentle paws vigorously, I thought he was looking brighter. I really enjoyed my peaceful domestic day. Shame it comes to an end tomorrow, but it will be good to get some planning underway with my fantastic new teaching sidekick. I'm team teaching for the first time ever, and have an awesome person to work with. We should have a lot of laughs and fun.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Showjumping Heaven

I had a very full day grooming at a showjumping competition in Ashburton today. I had to leave home before 6.30am to be in time to jump into the horse truck for the ride down. We took five horses today, and they were all so good. It was horribly hot by the afternoon, and I still feel like my face is on fire. My skin does not like heat at all, and glows like sun off a tomato on a very hot day.

The most exciting part of my day was meeting Eurosport Centavos, who is the daddy of Tara's foal. He is a huge, handsome black stallion, and I saw how quiet he looked, so introduced myself to him and his owner. Oh my goodness, he is such a spectacular horse!!!!! Tara is still waiting for her foal to be born, and we are all waiting anxiously along with her. I'll probably pop down to see her tomorrow for a wee visit.

Showjumping competitions usually attract a few stallion competitors, and I am so fascinated by their beauty and presence. The top stallions are incredibly impressive, with muscular bodies and such power. They are a rare sight out and about because there are so few horses left entire, and also because they can be very difficult to manage around other horses. Centavos behaved beautifully all day, and I was able to meet him just like any other new horsey acquaintance.

Johnny is just the best husband in the world because he went and picked up my sewing machine today after the repair man called this morning. I am very excited to have it back. Strangely I haven't named my machine, even though I have had it for quite some time. It had a good overhaul and everything was realigned and reset, which was a good idea after the poor thing had been bounced and thrashed around when the earth moved repeatedly. I am looking forward to giving it a whirl tomorrow. Fingers crossed everything works to my satisfaction.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013


We jumped in the car after lunch and went for an adventure. We ended up here:
 As far as I can recall I have only visited Diamond Harbour once. It is a beautiful place.
 You can see Lyttelton across the harbour.
 It was quite a steep walk down from where we parked the car to the seaside. It was even steeper on the way up (or so I thought!).
 The shore is very rocky.

 There were a few sculptures lurking around.
 Mr Seagull was enjoying the lovely mild weather.
 I found a wee rockpool, and there were lots of interesting things to see. I found masses off little crabs under the rocks. They scurried away indignantly when I rudely uncovered them.
 I wish I had brought my togs with me.
 When we managed to climb back up the steep hill we forced ourselves to purchase an ice-cream. Mmm- hokey pokey. Then we hopped back in the car and drove around the bays to Port Levy, and had a big adventure driving over the "road" through the hills to Little River. I've never encountered a public road with grass growing down the middle. The road was around 20km long, all shingle, and one lane virtually all the way. Lucky we had Johnny's 4WD because my wee car would have been in big trouble. Anyway, it was lots of fun.

On the way home we took a wee drive around the area burnt by the big fire. We were so amazed that more houses were not destroyed. There are burnt areas around so many. The air is thick with the smell of fire. The paddocks close by are filled with mares and their dear wee long legged foals. Scary to think of them caught in the path of the blaze.

On a horsey note, Mrs Tara is now in residence down the road, a lady in waiting. When we did a drive by, Johnny commented on her curvaceous figure. Yes, she is magnificently rotund. I couldn't be more excited about the birth of my very first (partly owned) foal.

Yesterday we found another baby when we went for a drive into the city. We were stopped at a very busy multi-lane intersection when Johnny suddenly said there was a kitten on one of the traffic islands. I said we can't leave it there!!!!! I'm sure you can imagine my horror. I jumped out of the car and raced over, grabbed the wee thing and leaped back into the car. We then drove off, extremely wet, skinny and frozen kitten bundled up on my lap. The poor wee thing. We rushed it over to my cousin, the vet, and she and the vet nurses looked after it and worked to warm it up. It is a wee black and white boy with patches and a pink nose. He is much better today, hissing angrily and showing a bit of a spark. We decided that we couldn't take him (very tempting though), but he will be looked after and then rehomed when he puts on lots of weight. He has a bit of a way to go because he is a wee skeleton.

It was my darling's birthday a few days ago. Look what I found in his parcel, with my name on it:

Monday, January 14, 2013

Mouse helps

Mouse is a big help. He is always helping in my work room. Here he is modelling his new bonnet. I'm working on a top in the same fabric. It was going to be a dress, but it is so cute as a top that it is staying that way. My sewing machine has gone into the repair man for an overhaul because it has some issues. I am missing it A LOT!!!!
 Mouse is now having to help with scrapbooking and musical activities in my workroom. He likes to chew the corners of my pages.

Mouse also helps in the garden. He has discovered that my tiny little seedlings are no barrier to carrying out his ablutions. He has also discovered that I am not amused.
 He has used his initiative to help himself to his own dinner, straight from the pack. He pulled this big bag off the bench, chewed his way in, and had a small snack.
It has been so hot. Today was cooler, so I had a huge weeding session in the front garden. We filled the back of Johnny's 4WD and took it to the greenwaste dump. A huge effort. We've had a very serious fire in the farmland near to here, so I'm glad I have got rid of the dry undergrowth from my front garden how. Scary.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Hmmm- finished

Here's my finished shirtwaister dress, which is super comfy, but makes me look wide as a house. 
The main fitting problem is that the shoulders of the dress are sticking out at least an inch beyond my shoulders, then the tops of the sleeves puff out as well. There is also a lot of fabric puffing out across the back. Add the width of the shoulders to my ample bust and my head is dwarfed. I will still be happy to wear it around home, and, apart from the fit, I am pleased with how I managed to piece it all together. 

After seeing myself in all of my busty glory, I went with Johnny to the mountain bike track at Mclean's Island and slogged it out for over 10 km. I'm actually not sure I can lose weight, as I just seem to slowly gain. I need to really knuckle down so that I can be lighter for Zanny. Wish me luck! I'm not holding out any hope for my boobs reducing in size! They have a life all of their own. 

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Slaving over the sewing machine

Yesterday was a beautiful day, so I headed out to see my lovely girls. Someone was letting off huge blasts with a shotgun, so Zanny was all stirred up and hardly registered her carroty treats. I snapped a couple of photos of the girls trotting around their lovely grassy paddock. Zanny is holding her weight so well, so I'm thrilled. She gives so much to her foals that she can get very skinny. 
 It is not like Zanny to be quite so excitable, but I have seen her after a good feed of spring grass and fermented hay (baleage, it is usually called- I think of it as rocket fuel for horses). There are lots of monsters in the bushes when she's had rich food!
 Unfortunately I didn't get any pretty photos of Tara as she was under the trees and kept moving towards me. Sweet girl. Next weekend she is probably going to the horse maternity farm, just like Zanny did, so she'll be up the road for visits. I can't wait to meet her wee one too, and I think she'll be ok about showing it to me.

I have been thinking about that horrid thing Grandma had on her wall a very long time ago, which was called "A Round Tuit." I remember feeling a bit irritated by it, but also knew it was rather clever. I am trying to get around to doing a few jobs I've had on the back burner. Remember my shirtwaister dress?
 Which comes from this fantastic book:
 Well, I finally got cracking today and now all I have to do is sew down the inside yoke and add buttons and buttonholes, and I'll be done! Believe me, there were a few moments when I had no idea what I was doing, the worst being when I tried to work out how to sew on the front facings. I tried to do it flat on my table but it didn't make sense until I put it onto Ruby, my dressmaker's model.
 I love the print as it is very vintage looking, as is the pattern. I've got a couple of fitting problems as there is a lot of fabric at the back bulging below the yoke, and the sleeves are a bit too puffy for my liking, which would be less obvious if the shoulders were a little narrower (mine are pretty narrow compared to the rest of me). The good news is that I can fix these issues if I make the pattern again.
 I had a tidy up on my sewing table, but there is still a lot of stuff in a small space. The pink round object in the background is a very cool cutting board that rotates like a lazy susan. It is for cutting shapes without having to move the template around (or yourself).

Of course Miss Dog and Mr Mouse were close by. Mousie loves the ironing board.
 He also loves the back of the couch.
He looks rather grumpy here, but he rarely is.

Miss Dog and I went for a walk this afternoon around the nature reserve and through the new subdivision nearby. I wanted to test out my new sneakers, as they have sat in their pristine glory since I purchased them well over a week ago. I was thrilled with them. My old ones hurt my feet. I'm starting my fitness regime in preparation for Zanny coming back into work (eventually). I need to work on my back too because that is my biggest impediment to improving my riding. It goes into spasms when I'm out walking. No excuses though- yesterday I watched Anthea Gunner, who is a paraplegic Paralympic dressage rider, trying out one of my horsey friends. She is overcoming an enormous challenge to ride, and she was amazing to watch. Very inspirational.

Another riding inspiration (of a different kind) is Jennifer Saunders, who was on TV last night with her Back in the Saddle programme. I loved it, and was incredibly jealous since I am temporarily grounded. I couldn't work out how she was so confident at being up there cantering around so quickly, until there was one brief comment about hunting made during her conversation with Princess Anne. Jennifer has a lovely dun horse and she must go out hunting on him, which would explain her confidence in the saddle after such a long break. Plus she can probably afford to buy a wonderful bombproof "schoolmaster," as lovely trustworthy, experienced horses are called. I'd love to meet her and her horse and have a good old horsey gossip with her.

I'm not sure what tomorrow will bring, but I mustn't go off the boil with the dressmaking! So I will be learning how to make buttonholes on my sewing machine, and would be very pleased if I discover that it has an automatic button sewing on function as well. That would save some time, and then I might get around to working on another of my many unfinished projects.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Conquering the garden

I love to start the day with a cup of tea. During term time I haven't got time to sit down and enjoy a tea  before leaving home, but at the moment I've can sit down and take my time. Look at this great new gadget I got for Christmas:
 It is a teabag squeezer, so now I can give the teabag a good squeeze when I fish it out of the cup. I got a lovely new cup too. Thanks Mum!
 This arrived in the mail yesterday.
 It isn't a traditional cookbook as it has the story of traveling to Marrakesh, which is very interesting. I would like some photos to go with the recipes, but as the recipes seem to be easy to follow I guess you couldn't go too far wrong.

I spent most of the afternoon weeding today. My loyal animal companions assisted by keeping a close eye on proceedings.
 I managed to pull out quite a few weeds!
I cleared the weeds in the incredibly dry herb garden, and Johnny repaired the broken watering system, which means I can get some more herbs to tuck in among the survivors. Sage seems to be very happy in desert conditions, as it is looking vigorous compared to everything else. There was a lot of ripping, hacking and slashing in the garden today. I also planted some more basil and some cauliflowers to fill a gap. I love cauliflower. Mmm. Cauliflower cheese.

Well, not much excitement around here. And I'm loving it.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Taming the jungle

We had a busy day hacking and slashing our way through the overgrowth in the backyard today. Johnny mowed, which took a long time, considering most of the area is in gardens. He wasn't pleased because he struck a few dog mines concealed in the long grass. Yuck. 

When we left for our holiday everything looked quite petite in the vegetable gardens, but not anymore! I love growing tomatoes, but as always, my toms have turned into multi-limbed monsters in my absence. 
 I was excited to find some good sized basil lurking. I cleared a patch and planted some more basil seeds, along with lettuce, radish, rocket, rainbow chard, bok choy and beetroot.
 The red onions are expanding and we must start eating them soon because they don't keep like brown onions, and I have a fair number planted.
 The big new patch is looking glorious. Unfortunately my battles with the pea tepee came to nothing because the peas decided they were not climbers. I'm wondering if there is time to plant another climbing vegetable while the weather is warm.
 The cavolo nero is doing very well. It doesn't seem to appeal to the white butterflies like other brassicas, so I don't need to cover it. I weeded the onions you can just see in the left foreground. They are teenagers and are inclined to pull out with the weeds, so it took a while.
 There was a gorgeous moth on the celery. So far no sign of rust on the celery and it is the healthiest looking crop I have ever grown.
 I have used this fabric tie stuff for several years now. I need to buy some more, plus some more stakes. Bamboo stakes just don't do the job once they get a bit brittle.
 I planted seeds from a mixed pack of squash and got three green patty pan type plants. They will be good for stuffing and for grating to make fritters. I also like them cooked up with onion, garlic and tomatoes.
 I wasn't too pleased to find my oriental lilies turned out to be these yellow specimens. More like Asiatic lilies to me. Hmmm.
 Look apples this year! Awesome.
 I decided to have this garden border sorted during 2012, and now it looks really pretty, with lots of interesting plants, and some herbs and vegetables mixed in with the flowers.
 I was so pleased to get some pink wineglasses for Christmas so I sorted out a home for them, along with some pretty cups. It is a bit hard to see on my screen, but the glasses have a delicate pink goblet, and clear glass stems.
I have decided that sweetpeas are one of my favourite flowers, and along with deep plum coloured roses, they make a fabulous fragrant bouquet.
There is still so much to do around here, but the main vegetable gardens are now under control, thank goodness.