Sunday, June 30, 2013

A new start

From the day they were born...
 Their mummies have looked after them so well.
 And today was the day they had to say "Goodbye!"
 It wasn't without anguish. "Mummy, where are you going?!!!!!"
 Actually, they were both off to a horsey five star hotel. A few circuits of their new accommodation, including a surprising galloping lap (Zanny, I didn't know you had it in you!), and the ladies settled in for some serious eating.
 The ladies are staying with our friend and co-owner of Tara. What a wonderful property she has. I was excited to meet her horses and two of her four pussycats. Take a look at this beautiful gentleman:
 He weighs over 8kg! He makes Mr Mouse look like a wee mouse (apart from his tail- Mr Mouse has a magnificent feather duster of a tail that is hard to beat). Mousie is heading for 6kg.
I also met the paddock mate horse, who is a clydie lady (or mostly- she might have a touch of something else in her breeding) and is so sweet. She has a huge head, kind eyes and a big bottom. Perfect. I also met the paddock mate's paddock mate. Long story. She is a tiny, plump miniature pony called Princess. Her wee ears peek out of her long fur and generous forelock. What a wee poppet!

It was heaven. Zanny and I will be resuming action soon, hopefully, riding in new territory. I thought a couple of weeks off to eat would be wise, but judging by her speedy display today, she is full of beans.  I  had a wonderful day, and hope the dear foals are not too miserable tonight. They have Ben to keep them company (read - in line). It was great to be able to share this big day- weaning, after seeing them come so far.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Production Line

The sun was shining on the crunchy white frosty lawn this morning. I decided to cook up a pot of soup for lunch. It was a difficult moment when I pulled up the first leeks from this year's crop. They were slender juveniles, with tender torsos that cut like butter. I had to add an extra fat shallot to make up for the lack of leek. 
 My recipe is very simple. For today's batch I used:

  • Two rashers of bacon, chopped up into wee pieces and browned.
  • Two fat shallots chopped (two medium onions would have given the same quantity)
  • Three adolescent leeks chopped.
  • Two medium potatoes cubed. 
  • Water to halfway in my big pot. 
  • One teaspoon of salt (and a little more to taste). 
I could have browned the onions but the bacon was already caramelising in the bottom of the pan, so I just added everything and gave it a good stir, brought it to the boil, then simmered until everything was tender. Johnny made some scones, so once those were cooked, I whizzed up the soup with my stick blender. 

 The scones are a fabulous recipe off the Chelsea Sugar website. They have chili sauce in them and no butter!!!! Well, no butter in the mixture, but plenty on top. John has made them twice and they have been crunchy on the edges and fluffy in the middle. Yum. The soup was delicious, and I've got more for lunch tomorrow. How domestic of me!

Today I have been sewing rather a lot because when I went outside to garden my hands froze, so I scurried back in. I have been constructing my new Portrait Blouses from Gertie's book, in a production line. Of course there have been the usual minor muck-ups, but I should have three new blouses before too long.
 Mr Mouse supervised from his pink tent.
 Miss Dog got all embarrassed when I tried to take her photo.
 She doesn't usually look anything like this. Her ears are usually forward and she has a hopeful look in her eye. After all, who knows when food might appear?

I thought you might like to see the latest sweet cup and saucer in my primrose collection. I had never seen this design before. It has soft mauve violets at the base of the primrose, and has hand painting on it. I need a side plate to complete the trio.

I really need to figure out how do display all of my pretty china safely. Any ideas? 

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Sun - thank goodness

Rain, rain, go away... And it did today, finally. I managed a trip out to the farm and was delighted to have some time grooming Zanny. Next weekend will be weaning time. The two foals are big, fluffy and gorgeous. I didn't get any photos due to the mob tendencies of the herd of ladies, so I had to be careful when in with them. They were all around the stable yard, and there were some high jinks going on. I even had to feed them carrots over the gate to avoid being trampled. Zanny enjoyed the first half of her brush, and then when Fergie started playing around she got all anxious about getting back to her. It was lovely to spend time with my special girl. She felt so warm and wonderful. 

I was prowling around in The Warehouse checking out the merino cardies when I spotted a pair of sneakers like these lurking on a table of shoes:
 Oh my goodness! I headed straight over to the shoe department and they had my size. In fact they had a size bigger too, which was a miracle in itself. The Warehouse is not known for brilliant quality, but all I hope is that they don't dye my feet blue or fall apart at a critical moment.

I'll be able to wear my new sneakers with one of my new blouses. Here they are all stacked up and ready to sew. I hoped to get on with some serious stitching today, but was having too much fun with horses and socialising to get around to working on these. They are all cut out, even the interfacings, so it won't take long to zoom along with my machine.

Speaking of socialising, Mr Mouse had his friend Molly May over to play last night when we had a casualty. Molly brought her family over with her to watch the rugby. She and Mr Mouse were playing chasing games when he leaped up and over the couch, onto the tea trolley with my primose china on it, and off again, leaving this precious cup split in half with the handle broken into three pieces.
 Thank you my darling, for fixing it with Superglue. I thought it was a goner. I was very sad, but who could be angry with this little man?
He didn't have a very good day yesterday. In fact he also blotted his copybook over the toilet because he was disgusted by the horrible rain and very wet ground. He didn't want to use his indoor toilet either. So he chose to wee in the middle of Miss Dog's new doggy bed. Then he stood in it. Fortunately he tolerated having his fuzzy legs and feet washed in the sink. He is usually perfect, so we were shocked at his disgraceful behaviour. I think he was rather shocked at the growly voice I used after he sullied the dog bed. He has never required much discipline before.

Sorry, this has all been a bit dull. Midwinter can be a bit like that. I did enjoy the feel of the sun today after almost a whole week of dreadful wet weather. We were promised a good fall of snow that never came as well. I am looking forward to seeing Mr Mouse dancing in the snow. His furry feet are perfect for exploring in the snow. The pads of his toes barely show. I should know, I had to wash wee out of his toe fur yesterday.

Mrs Zanny will be having a little break until the school holidays, then I'll be mounting up again. I hope we will be able to have some adventures at some stage. Good adventures, at a sedate, ladylike pace. Not thrilling, dangerous adventures. I'm a bit past that, and she definitely is.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Pretty Patterns

It has been a fun weekend. My wonderful sister came to stay, and we had a shopping day yesterday. We didn't exactly manage to shop up a storm, because we're not too impressed with this season's colours and designs. Let's just say, I don't always dress like your typical NZ woman. New Zealand tends to be quite a casual place, unless you are a high powered office worker. There are definitely plenty of people who love individual style, but it isn't really the norm to wear 1950's style dresses with cardigans and heels for everyday wear. Occasionally I find treasures, often on sales racks. I found this dress in a floral fabric that I decided would be sweet worn with dark tights and a matching dark cardigan (black, in my case, because I don't have a green one). I'll have to do a photo modelling the dress. It was reduced in price by $100, so I was exceedingly pleased that it fits. 
I was so pleased with Gertie's Portrait Blouse that I had to buy some more fabric to make some more. Take a look at these beauties!

Yes, very retro cherries on gingham. This is a cotton sateen with a touch of stretch. Apparently vintage styled fruit images are going to be a big trend for 2014. Better than another upcoming trend- the return of "grunge". Foul.
 I wanted a blue vintage spotted fabric, but there were no pretty blue shades available, so I got this cotton poplin with tiny biplanes zooming around all over it. So cute!
 And look at this fabulous cowboy fabric, which will make me smile every time I wear it with my jeans. I especially love the cactus plants between the rampant steeds.
 I have to get on with making these up. I was really tired today and ended up having a nap on the couch instead of doing more constructive activities. Annoying.

During the week I spotted this book when I was out and about and HAD to purchase it. I have Rosemary McLeod's From Thrift to Fantasy, which is a fascinating history of needle crafts in New Zealand. Her new book has projects in it, as well as a wealth of historical notes and images.
 The projects are all based on actual vintage patterns or images from Rosemary's extensive collection.
 I especially love the felt creations.

 And look at Mrs Bunny, who has a large skirt, which forms a tea cosy. She looks a bit concerned about steam rising in her nether regions.
 It is a stunning book which I am going to enjoy immensely. I love my craft books.

This week I was lucky enough to win a couple of online auctions and went and picked up my goods on Friday. I love floral chintz china, and don't mind if the pieces are not perfect because I don't collect them as an investment. These Marguerite pieces also came with a cup and side place. I just need another saucer to form a second trio.
 It is a sweet pattern with a cheerful air about it.
 I also won the auction for this divine teapot. It has a repaired lid, but you can't see the crack unless you peer at it. It looks tiny here, but is a nice plump family sized teapot, and I adore it!
I'd never buy a perfect one at the market rate, because I am not an investor, and would worry too much about potential accidents with valuable pieces. I do have some mint pieces, but am happy to give some new life to gorgeous china that has had a bit of a sad life. 

I'm hoping for a fun week and there has been mention of snow later in the week. I'd love to have a couple of snow days at home. I could get those tops finished and take my cowboys out for a spin next weekend!

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Sewing the Gertie Way

Well, I took a bit of time to start feeling ok after my cold. In fact I haven't really been anywhere except the supermarket since last Tuesday. And the supermarket trip wasn't exactly a success because it was one of those times when everyone got in the way and I wanted to whack them all with my purse. 

I know it might seem silly to stay home from work just because of a cold, but my job is hard enough without feeling grotty and irritable. Plus I am always telling my students and their parents that sick people should stay home (if someone had followed this rule I wouldn't have caught the cold- grrrr!). 

So onwards and upwards. I was feeling so cluttered in my workroom and wasn't really enjoying my crafting and music space, so I had a good tidy up. I really needed to sort out the top of the piano. which had turned into a receptacle for anything and everything. Pre-earthquake I had some very precious things displayed up there and lost a few treasures when they became airborne. I have decided the time has come to move forward and take the risk of popping some things from the safe depths of my cupboard up there so that I can admire them. 

My piggy moneybox is one of my most treasured possessions as it is the object that I have had for the longest. John's mum gave me the gorgeous trio and my mum gave me the jug. I adore floral chintz china too. 
 I love this Mason's china saucer. The colours are so bright but soft at the same time. Cottonfields, which is a lovely quilt shop that I frequent, makes up these dear little "muffins" of fabric in coordinated colours and patterns.
 I am going to add ribbons to the button jars over the utilitarian rubber bands.

 Naturally, Mr Mouse considers it his business to supervise any activities in my workroom. I like to provide entertainment to keep him off the ironing board and my work table.
 I got back into Gertie's lovely book with mix success over the weekend. I am never quite sure how things will look on my body because I am very curvy, so it is a risky business trying something new. I always use super cheap fabric to make the first version of any new pattern (sort of a wearable "muslin"). Even following the recommended paper fitting, where the paper pattern is joined with strategically placed pins and fitted to the body, is no guarantee of a good look or fit. To be honest, I am reluctant to put paper under that much pressure because one thrust of my ample bosom and I've shredded the whole thing.
With some tweaks, and the assistance of the delightful Ruby (see below), my Gertie Portrait Blouse in seafarer print is a roaring success. I am ready to sail the high seas in a perfectly fitting garment, with only a few stitch wobbles. The last one I made had some crinkles at the neck and I am pleased to say I resolved those issues by re-cutting the facing pattern, matching it exactly to the cut out front and back necklines. 
 I'll take a photo next time I wear it.

On to my next project. You can't hold me back now. I decided that I HAD to have one of these blouses just to see what it would look like on me. After all, Gertie looks pretty cute in her one.
 It is the Bow Tie Blouse, and required some serious thinking on my part to do that neckline. A bit hard to see here, but it has buttons down the back, giving it a very vintage look.
 Now, remember I mentioned using very cheap fabric for the first model. This was leftover from another project. It was supposed to be a dress, so I bought quite a bit, and it is now two tops. Purists, don't read the next sentence. This is a polycotton. I am sold on these economically priced fabrics because they can be thrown in the washing machine and dry wrinkle free in no time at all.

I managed to solve all of the problems this pattern threw my way. My sewing machine protested vigorously at being forced to make buttonholes. It is extremely difficult to unpick a machine sewn buttonhole.
 I found enough of these gorgeous vintage buttons in my stash. They look great, and the green perfectly matches the green of the print.
 I think Ruby looks very cute in my finished blouse.
 The bow (which makes the collar a beast to put together) looks rather prim and proper in a sweet way.
 It is just a shame I don't look anywhere as cute as Ruby in my Bow Tie Blouse. I look like busty matron. There is just such an expanse of unbroken mountainous chest under that bow. It fits fine, except for the lower back, which kicks out like a peplum over my backside. Maybe Gertie's does too- she has her one tucked in. I think the all-in-one body and sleeves really emphasise the width of my chest, and then it cuts in in quite a fitted manner at the waist, which would be great if it wasn't for the boob apocalypse above. I tried it with a cardie over the top and Johnny said I looked like a nana. I actually felt rather like a nun and just need a sensible skirt in navy, laceup navy shoes, tan tights, some nunnish headgear and the picture would be complete.

You can't win them all when sewing, and luckily I learned a bit along the way, and will have another weekend top. Actually it would look fab with my riding jacket when I'm having a formal riding wear day. Nun on horseback. Well, we all know Zanny is no nun. She is a trollop when she catches a whiff of her stallion husband. In my nun riding outfit I could be like a missionary all ready to convert wayward mares.

I managed to stab myself in between my little and ring fingers with a sharp knife today. As I got something out of the dishwasher it flicked the knife up and I pushed my hand straight down onto the vertical blade. It is only a small hole but quite deep because I looked at it and called out "Johnny I stabbed my hand and I can see bad meat!" At that point blood filled up the hole. Johnny got me to wiggle my fingers and declared no tendons or other important stuff had been hit, and did a lovely job dressing it. I haven't had a peek under the dressing yet, but I'm hoping all is well. Doctors can get a bit grumpy if you don't go and get wounds seen to and they get infected, but I'd hate to be like those idiots who go to accident and emergency departments with a tiny injury that requires a sticking plaster.

So what will be my next sewing project? I think I really want to try making sleeves for the Portrait Blouse pattern. I want to make blouses up in mid blue, navy and red spotty fabrics. And I've seen a sweet strawberry print on a bright blue background. I'm imaging a fleet of super-comfy tops that look great with jeans and cardies.

I'd be quite happy sewing all day long. Even when the end results don't go quite to plan.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Blogging Fun

I've just been playing around a bit with my blog layout. My wee blog is not a commercial enterprise, and doesn't attract heaps of comments (thanks to my loyal mum and sister I do get a few), but from the blog statistics, there seem to be a few mystery readers out there. I guess my blog is just a record of my passions and creations, and mentions a few adventures along the way. It doesn't really play to an audience.
 I have a lot of interests, which possibly counts against my blog because you can't guarantee every entry is about something readers are also interested in. I know some (odd and insane) people who find horses deeply scary and uninteresting???!!!! In fact, can you believe that some people don't even like animals?
 And gardening leaves some people totally bored.
 I know that when I go shopping with other people that I have very definite tastes, that are usually different from other people, even close friends.

 My blog is like a treasure chest I keep adding to. Who knows what will happen in the future, but I hope I am still recording special and not so special moments that interest me.
 Some moments are very special indeed. Like meeting Aria less than an hour old. So beautiful.
 There are lots of day to day less special moments like moaning about being sick. My blog always listens. By the way, I'm upright and sort of alert, after two days lurking on the couch. What a waste of crafting time. Usually I manage to make something when I am sick, but all I wanted to do was sleep.
 In my blog I have a record of the changing seasons. Even at the start of winter I can look back and take a peek at spring.

I hope you enjoy reading my blog. I'm not a talented photographer (could do better!), and I often start projects that never get finished. I am fortunate to have a wonderful family and very special husband. I work hard in a challenging job. Sometimes not much happens at all because I have this other working life that doesn't feature here, and that can take over a bit. But I'll just keep working away at using my blog to celebrate life and to inspire me to create, enjoy, learn and generally make the most of every day. I hope I can encourage other people to do the same.