Sunday, December 25, 2011

Christmas 2011

Christmas for us this year was about enjoying each others company as family.

Rick and James have come to share two weeks with us over the Christmas period and we have really enjoyed them being here.

Linda started off the day by baking us Christmas mince pies and we had a tipple of Drambuie to go along with our early taste treat.

A little break and then it was on with ham, eggs and fried bread for breakfast. Our leg of ham had been specially cooked for us and was extra delicious. To fry some to have with our eggs was very special - yum.

That was enough eating for a while but inevitably Christmas luncheon needed to be served.

Again Linda treated us with a very special Beef Wellington cooked to perfection.

We were fortunate to able to have new potatoes dug from our garden this morning as well as fresh carrots and beans from the local market.

Rick and James provided a bottle of Cabernet Franc which was very nice to top off the meal.

We finished up with some pavlova roulade and fresh strawberries marinated in cointreau.

This year we had a new centrepiece for our table. A silver plated candelabra combined with a flower bowl, a lovely op shop find that has now become part of our Christmas festivities. Bright pink carpet roses from our garden provided a lovely finishing touch.

We have had a lovely, peaceful Christmas and we hope it is the same for you.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

The Gift of Flowers

On Saturday we had friends around for a pre-Christmas lunch.

One of them, Moira, brought us the most beautiful bouquet of roses from her garden.

They seem like the old worlde varieties and have given us much pleasure as we have watched them open up over the last few days.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

More about poppies

From under one of our lemon trees we have this one poppy plant shoot up each year.

It is the richest red in colour, looks dark and luxurious and if you don't take a photo within the first 24 hours of it opening up you will have missed it at its best.

It is one flower you have to make the most of it when it shows its face because it does not stay for long.

Thursday, December 08, 2011

Only A Cat..........

She could have sat on my lap. There was plenty of room, really.

However, a cat is a cat and as I had my legs up on the footstool, CiCi decided she would much rather find a spot between my lower legs and supported by my feet on the footstool.

She must have felt quite snug but did not appreciate me taking her photo.

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

A New Camera

One of my sons gave me some cash for my birthday so I decided it was time to treat myself to a new camera.

My Kodak camera has served me well for five years or more but in this day of ever developing technology I felt it was time for an upgrade.

The Nikon S3100 is half the thickness and has a much larger preview screen, so those two elements alone make it well worthwhile.

I decided to go for a wander in our garden and take some photos of what's in bloom.

This calibrachoa continues to give us pleasure year after year and this year has some exceptional flowers, in quantity and colour.

We are trying to build up the variety of poppies in our garden and this year we have quite a few here and there.

This one was only planted this year and has an amazing amount of buds ready to bloom into scarlet red flowers.

These calendulas have added so much colour to the garden just outside our kitchen.

A great addition as they will be happy to come back year after year.

We have two large pots like this at the entrance to our home.

Linda's efforts have paid off. She planted them both with pansies and lobelias and they are looking so good and we hope they will last for some time to come.

These grandmothers bonnets are a new favourite of mine.

Planted last year, this plant has taken on new strength this year and rewarded us with an abundance of blooms.

We have planted more of these little wonders in another part of the garden and hope they do as well as these ones.

I am very happy with the camera, never mind that I would not have a clue how to use the software that came with it. I managed to work my way around that, fortunately.

Sunday, December 04, 2011

Cottage Garden Posy

The other day we had our Sweet Peas quilting group again. It was the first time they had been to our house in a while so it was lovely to regroup and to hear the chatter as we all caught up with each other.

One of the ladies, Andreena, brought us a lovely large posy of flowers from her garden - roses, lavender, carnations and more. It was really nice.

This yellow rose was part of the collection and I felt that the spiral of the centre of the flower was worth capturing - amazing.

Friday, December 02, 2011

A Funeral, A Wedding and then a Birthday

It seemed to me that having a birthday so close to significant other family events was maybe a bit much but such is life.

I have often pondered the words from The Lion King in recent times:-

It's the Circle of Life
And it moves us all
Through despair and hope
Through faith and love
Till we find our place
On the path unwinding
In the Circle
The Circle of Life

Yesterday marked my 63rd birthday. I was greeted by my sister, Linda, with a lovely early morning cup of tea and the suggestion that we eat out for breakfast. Yes, please, that would be nice.

We went to our favourite cafe of the moment, Picolos, and had a lovely cooked breakfast.

Well wishes came by way of phone calls, text messages, birthday cards and the new way to send birthday greetings, I have found, Facebook - thank you everybody.

Cooked breakfast was lovely but there was more to come. Linda cooks a pretty smashing beef stroganoff and so that was on offer as well. The beautiful roses came from our garden and the platter the meal was served off was one from our Mother's kitchen - it must be more than 50 years old.

The 'mad' cat was a gift from a quilting friend of ours, Margaret. She is very creative and thought that rather than send us a sympathy card, she would make us a 'care' cat each and so this one is mine. They look so mad they do bring a smile to your face.

Thanks to The Lion King for reminding us about the Circle of Life.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

More Wedding Photos

Linda added some more wedding photos on her blog today.

This one that I took is of Barbara with her other daughter, Sharon, and son Zachary.

Barbara, arriving at the church.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

On Saturday we had a family wedding.

Our sister, Barbara, has worked at an opportunity shop for some time now, and amazingly this is where she met the new man in her life, Bryan.

Apparently there's not much you can't find in an opportunity shop if your prepared for the fun of the waiting game.

This is Barbara's second marriage and she was attended by her daughters and grandchildren.

Fiona and Zachary are here with Barbara bringing her to the church.

As you may have guessed from the images, this was a cowboy/girl theme wedding and hats were in abundance.

This was my only shot of the bride and groom but there were plenty of others taking photos so I hope the bride scored better from them than me.

Never too old for a new romance. I hope that Barbara and Bryan share many happy years together.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Our Mum

On Friday, 18th November, our Mum passed away - she was 92 years old.

It has been eight years since I came home to take care of her and that time just seems to have slipped away very easily. It has been a privilege to share the twilight years of her life with her.

Two of our brothers have been with us through the last days of Mum's life and it has been lovely to sit around the table for our main meal of the day as, inevitably, our conversations have drifted towards our Mum.

We have had a lot of laughs as she did bring fun into our lives with her interesting characteristics.

She was a very knowledgeable lady who loved to read, loved her music, watching Coronation Street from inception, loved the garden, New Zealand politics and keeping tabs on her ever growing family.

To the best of my knowledge this is the only photo we have of all of our family together.

From the left, Norman, yours truly, Dad with brother Bob sitting in front, then Linda, Mum, Barbara, Wendy and Alan.

Even in those days we were considered to be a large family and our Mum did well to bring us all up and keep us well occupied.

One of the things she instilled in us to keep us occupied was a love of reading. The daily newspaper was always there for us as well as a weekly supply of comics and magazines. Comics were frowned upon by school teachers in general in those days but Mum saw it as another means of encouraging us to read which it certainly did. You could always find a book to read and we all had our own personal favourites.

She also loved to provide puzzles, games and, in latter years, cryptic crosswords.

To this day if you were to observe our family life you would invariably see one or more of us reading, doing a crossword puzzle, in the garden or occupied with craft - all peacable activities which have contributed to us being a self reliant happy family cluster.

Thank you, Mum, for the richness you have given us in the lives that we lead.

Rest in peace - you deserve to!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Back in the day

Our local radio station has a retail advertisement which alludes to good old fashioned customer service and use the term 'back in the day' quite a bit.

Back in the day when I first began crazy quilting I made this project book for my sister, Linda.

At the time I had been involved with a number of e-mail craft groups who were doing themed swaps and through that I had collected a number of items featuring purple, pansies and this lovely calico print which is one of my all time favourite fabric prints.

Linda loves purple and pansies and so what better theme for this project book that I made.

This is a close up of the front cover.

Close up of the back cover.

I made project pages inside from pellon and it was inclined to cling to itself so I heat fused fabric pansies to the bottom right hand corners to assist with turning of pages.

Overall view of front of project book.

Overall view of back cover.

Sunday, October 09, 2011

Bouquets of Spring

On the river side of our property we have a finger of land that has a pathway lined by trees and it stretches towards and overlooks the Waikato River.

It is a short distance from our house and yet if you walk to end of the pathway you become surrounded by trees and it is almost like being in another place altogether.

At the moment you can stop and listen to the birds of spring and sense the flow of the river below - so peaceful and quiet, it is always a pleasure to spend a few minutes in this part of the garden.

For a while now one of the trees at the end of the pathway has been in blossom with a lovely soft yellow glow. The yellow can be seen at the centre back in this image.

Yesterday I went for a wander down the pathway to investigate the yellow blossom and broke off one of the branches.

I have no idea what it is, possibly wattle, but it seemed a shame to have it on its own so I went for a wander through the rest of our garden.

A little bit of this and a little bit of that from various parts of the garden and our yellow blossom became part of a spring bouquet for our home.

Sunday, October 02, 2011

Sitting Ducks?

We sometimes wonder if we are 'sitting ducks' to the cats of our neighbourhood.

We have already been adopted by one cat 'CiCi' since arriving and regularly have visits from other neighbours cats who wander casually through our property as if they own the place. Some have even been cheeky enough to raid left overs from our cats eating bowls.

Yesterday we were visited upon by neighbourhood ducks. They even came right up to the window at our kitchen as if to say, 'When are you going to feed us?'

They have never done this before and we can only assume that the people who they usually visit were not home to oblige in the food department so they thought they would take a chance with us. Did they really think that we were 'sitting ducks'?

Friday, September 30, 2011

Pretty maids all in a row

Linda and I have been doing quite a bit of planting of annuals in the garden lately.

We have a tricky piece of garden on the south side which never gets any direct sun and is usually cold no matter what the time of year is. We have put pansies there before and they have survived quite well so this year Linda has made a planting en masse of pansies and violas. We look forward to seeing how they develop.

There is also a garden at the front of our house which gets lots of sun and our plantings there are beginning to reward us already. We have both been quite taken with the cluster of pansies in this image. The look so crisp and fresh and have beautiful colourings and markings and these three together put me in mind of one of my favourite nursery rhymes:-

Mary Mary quite contrary,
How does your garden grow?
With silver bells and cockle shells
And pretty maids all in a row.

I even remember a nursery rhyme book we had, when we were growing up, that had this poem accompanied by a picture of a lovely garden with pretty pansies along the border.

Maybe, subconsciously, images like this may still influence the things we do in the garden today.

Monday, September 26, 2011

More Free Form Embroidery - Again!

Over the past few weeks I have been including my miniature free form embroidery pieces in my auction listings on Trade Me one at a time and they have been attracting some interest.

This past week I made two more pieces, different but in many ways very similar and so this week I decided to list both of them at the same time.

I am asking people if they can spot the difference - can you?

Friday, September 23, 2011

Linda's Give Away

[DSCF1481%255B17%255D.jpg]If you like give aways on blogs you may like to take time out to look at sister, Linda's blog. She is celebrating having written 100 entries on her blog.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Time for the vegetable garden

Now, that's not very exciting is it - just a plot of earth.

Needs must be - the compost we have been making needed to be dug into the garden in readiness for planting out some seedlings.

The compost efforts have not been the best, to say the least, but there were worms in the midst, so something must have been done right.

Hopefully the garden soil will be better for our efforts and the vegetables we harvest this year will be extra yummy.
To take away from the starkness of the earth, here and there in the vegie garden the faithful violas are popping up and they really are delightful.

We have a need for violas in our flower beds so I think that some of these lovely ones will have to be relocated in the near future.

We have several of these bushes around the vegetable garden and it is good to see the blue flowers out again as the bees just love them and we need the bees for the processes of life to keep happening in our garden.

I went for a walk this morning to our local mailing box and there was a lovely sense of spring in the air with all sorts of flowers coming into bloom everywhere.

Suddenly I noticed the smell of chimney smoke and it seemed a complete contrast, spring in the air outside but still cold inside somebody's home.

Something nice and homely about the smell of chimney smoke but something extra special about the look and smell of spring in the air as well.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Where it all started

I have written a couple of times lately about my interest in creating free form embroidery projects, and in particular, my enjoyment in making these in miniature.

I realise, when looking through items in my stash that this type of work has appealed to me for a long time, it has just taken me quite some time to get around to doing it for myself.

The first time I did anything like this was for a crazy quilt retreat I attended in Australia.

All participants were asked to make their own name badge with a crazy quilt theme - well I may not have done any crazy quilting, but I did do the embellishment part.

The badge looks a bit marked and aged by now but still a happy momento of the occasion and a seed interest for me in miniature free form embroidery.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Plum Blossom

We have two established plum trees at our place.

The first year we were here they were heavy with fruit and before the season was over we were well into making plum jam and plum sauce. It lasted well but sadly now, is all gone.

Last year we looked forward with anticipation of a similar crop but it was not to be. We had about six plums from both trees.

We were not the only ones who did not fare well with plums last year. When we told others what had happened to us they said it had been the same for them too.

This year the blossoms are there in abundance and so we wait and hope that once again we will have an excuse to get out the preserving pan so that we can make good use of the plums as they ripen for us.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Ah, those camelias..........

Yesterday I talked about flowers on fabric, today it is the real deal.

If anyone asked me to list my favourite flowers I probably would not give camelias a second thought, yet the ones in our garden this year are particularly delightful.

Their vase life is short but they are so lovely it is worth cutting them and bringing them indoors so we can share their beauty.

The previous owners were good enough to plant a variety of camelias and we are really enjoying the fruits of their efforts.

This camelia bush is particularly abundant with blooms and for all the cutting of flowers you would not even know any were gone.

The inside of the petals is the palest of yellows and this seems to reflect the colour of the stamens and in turn this gives a translucent effect to the flowers.

A pleasure to have around the house in vases.

After a week or so of glorious spring weather the rain has set in and so the flowers will drop or their petals will brown.

However, the sun will return, and with so many buds on the bushes we will have lots of camelias to pick before the season is over.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

More Free Form Embroidery

My latest favourite thing to do is to make these little blocks of free form embroidery.

The other day we had our quilting group, Sweet Peas, here and my intention was to make a quilt block. When I discovered that I did not have enough of the necessary fabric it seemed a much easier thing to do to make one of these.

The background lavender silk is approximately 5 x 3 inches. I backed it with fusible webbing and quilters muslin.

I found a strip of hand dyed lace that I had been carrying around in my stash for years and used that for the foundation. I then got out my silk ribbon scraps and threads and with a bit of stitching, mainly french knots and a few silk flowers my little picture was complete. Did not take too long at all really.

These finished blocks can be incorporated into crazy quilting, could be an embellishment for a handbag or framed for enjoyment.

A lot of fun and achievable. I am really enjoying making them.

Monday, September 05, 2011

Sunday, Sunday

Spring is in the air and with lovely weather forecast for Sunday Linda and I rose early to make the most of the day.

With breakfast done we prepared vegetables for our main meal of the day which was to be roast pork.

Linda also cooked up a batch of mince for freezing to make into pies at a later date while I hung washing out in the fresh spring air.

Then a visit to local plant shops to seek some instant colour for our garden. Three shops later and we came home with lots of plants and potting and compost mix.

Time for a quick cuppa and popping roast in the oven and we were out in the garden. Linda did preparation work in the garden and I followed up with planting.

We have two large green pots at the front of the house and Linda tidied these up and planted fresh pansy and lobelia plants. It all looked pretty sharp by the time she had finished and I can't wait for the flowers to start blooming.

By midday we had done our dash for the day and came indoors to finish off cooking the roast pork. By this time it was smelling pretty good and very tempting.

At last - reward for our labours - our midday meal was truly delicious.

A glass of red wine was enough to make a bit of drowsiness set in and make us have a quiet afternoon but not before I made a double batch of meatballs for freezing for a later date and Linda brought my washing in for me.

It was a lovely, rewarding day - here's to many more.

Sunday, September 04, 2011

Hearts and other things for Christchurch

It is a year now since the first of the big earthquakes hit Christchurch.

I have written before about the heart quilts that many have been making for families affected by the earthquakes but today I thought I would share another point of interest.

About two years ago, Countdown, one of our local supermarkets did a month long drive for people to make beanies and booties for newborn babies in the Wellington area.

At the time I knitted quite a few and after the drive was over continued to do more of the same. They were small projects and easy to do in the evenings while watching television with Mum but at the time I did not have somewhere to send them so they accumulated and ended up in my stash.

Recently, when our Sweet Peas quilting group met, one of the ladies shared that a local radio station was doing a drive for booties and beanies for newborns in the Christchurch area and so I felt, at last, I had a specific use for my knitting efforts.

I contacted Canterbury District Hospital and in turn received a nice thank you letter for items sent.

About a week ago our brother, Norman, sent us a box of carrots and parsnips from his garden and when I was putting the box out to the rubbish I happened to notice an article about hand knitted beanies for babies in Christchurch. Nothing specifically to do with the beanies I had made but lovely to see that this was a news worthy effort by the people of New Zealand.

You can read more about knitting beanies for the hospital and the internet abounds with free knitting patterns for newborns so if you have the urge apparently the Christchurch hospital needs about 500 beanies per month to keep up with the demand.