Thursday, January 31, 2013

Gazanias and more gazanias

Of all the plants we have planted out this spring/summer, gazanias would be the ones at the top of the list for the most.

Hardy during the hottest of summer days and good ground cover as well.

In this spot in our garden, the violas have been busy self seeding along the border - nice that they helped us out like this.

Grandmothers Bonnets have also found a home here and with a few geraniums we have planted at the back we now have more than just a gazania bed and we like it that way.

The gazanias we planted in this section were just seedlings and we knew the colours would be a surprise and we have not been disappointed.  Lots of orange ones but some lovely ones like in this image as well.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Work in progress - granny squares

On 27th October 2012 I wrote about my attempt to finally get around to using fabric from a Y2K swap from 1999.

Time for a progress report.  I have now made 20 of these 9 inch blocks, enough for a lap quilt.

I actually thought I had finished but I was alternating red and blue blocks but when I finished I had 11 blue blocks and 9 red ones so another red block had to be made - sigh.

Just some sashing to do now, so another progress report will be needed before all is finished.

I had 1,000 x 2.5 inch squares from the Y2K swap and I have now used 273 - only 727 to go.

It looks I will be making a few more quilts before I am finished with these pieces of fabric.

Of course, this does not take into account the other 1,000 pieces from the 3.5 inch Y2K swap I was involved with.

I am linking this post to:-

Freshly Pieced Work In Progress
Pigtales and Quilts Saturday Sharing
Confessions of a Fabric Addict Can I Get A Whoop Whoop

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

From my bedroom window - well almost

Whilst many are suffering severe winter weather in the northern hemisphere, here in New Zealand we are having long, dry spells this summer and some parts of the country are on the verge of being declared drought zones.

The summer holidays are drawing to a close for many.

This past weekend we observed this happy gathering of holiday makers on the river bank below.

They seemed to have small craft of every style and description, including car tyres and were making the most of the summery weather to venture off down the river together.

There has been activity down below most days.  Swimming, kayaking, fishing and all to be seen from my bedroom window - well almost.

Monday, January 28, 2013

A Mother's Favourite

Our Mum loved her garden.

She especially loved pansies and petunias and they were part of her annual ritual, buying, planting out, enjoying their flowers, clearing them out and then starting all over again.

Perennials were good too and one of her favourites was anemones.  She had some well established plants which yielded white flowers year after year.

When she moved to Taupo with us the anemones were left behind but when we moved to our current home we discovered we had pink anemones waiting to be part of our lives.

It is nice to have them in the garden again and nice to have a reminder of Mum each time we see them come back into bloom.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Free range eggs

We grew up on a 40 acre farm and life was pretty basic but we were never short of eggs and milk in our household.

Add a bit of flour and sugar and salt and we had basic ingredients for many a baking experiment.  Making one sponge cake after another, just to see if they worked, is one of my strong memories.

All of this was done on a coal range and it was never quite the same when we moved to suburbia and had to go electric.

Having our own free range eggs, growing up, was something we probably took for granted but in the life of suburbia it is nice to know that you can still buy free range eggs.

Even nicer if you can have your own hens to deliver.  Linda has often talked about us having a few hens of our own and this week her words became action and we now have four brown shavers on the point of lay and so we are happily expectant of eggs to come.

I am linking to Mockingbird Hill Cottage Favourite Thing Friday - thanks Claudia.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Look what I found in my letter box

 Last year I had the privilege of working with a lovely group of ladies on a Crazy Quilt Needlebook Round Robin.

You can see the results of that challenge here.

At one of our meetings I lent the ladies a set of CD's I had that related to crazy quilting and promptly forgot about them.

I went to the letter box the other day and was surprised to find a package from one of these ladies.

The forgotten CD's were being returned but along with them this most beautifully executed
pin holder, crazy quilt style.

It measures 2.75 inches or 7cm across - I am in awe as I gaze at it.

What a lovely inspirational treasure for me to have, to hold and to use - thank you Rayna.

Linking this post to Pigtales and Quilts Saturday Sharing.

Friday, January 25, 2013

The beans are running

Linda planted runner beans late last year.

December a very wet month, not much sunshine and not much growth in the beans department.

January is a different story, it has been very hot and very dry and all of a sudden the beans started running all over that frame and now we have beans and they are oh so nice.

We will have to be prepared to have beans as one of our main vegies (but that will not be a hardship) for quite a few meals just to keep up with them.

We have found runner beans to be very 'sneaky'.

You pick a cluster and you think that is all to be had in that place and then you turn and the sunlight catches on another cluster you never saw before.

They are masters of camouflage in the greens department.

One of our favourite bean meals is a one pot meal that has a mix of onions, herbs, beans, new potatoes and bacon - absolutely delicious.

Fresh beans and new potatoes were dug from the garden this week expressly for this purpose.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Plum sauce completed

It took longer than I thought it would but we finally have plum sauce!

About 7 litres or 2 gallons has now been bottled and it is recommended that it be left to mature for at least a month before consumption so we look forward to the day when we can start using this lovely condiment.

Should you have the plums and the inclination this is the recipe:-

Digby Law's Plum Sauce
3kg plums
2 onions
3 cloves garlic
1.5kg sugar
6 cups malt vinegar (we used white vinegar)
2 tablespoons salt
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 teaspoons each of ground cloves, ground ginger and black pepper

Place all ingredients in a large pot, bring to the boil and simmer slowly, uncovered, until the onions are soft.
Strain out plum stones and discard (we decided to take out the stones before we started the process).
Blend sauce in a food processor until smooth.
Return to the pot, bring back to the boil, then pour into clean, sterilised glass bottles and seal.
Mature for at least a month, to allow the flavours to fully develop before using.

In this instance we had enough plums to double the recipe.

Handy tip - I used garden gloves when putting the tops on the bottles.  They were enough to allow me to hold the hot lids and get a good grip on the container for sealing.

Thanks to New Zealand Gardener magazine for providing this recipe - it is yummy.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Plums for sauce

Four years ago, for our first summer here, our plum trees were laden with fruit.

We made jam, we gave lots away and we made plum sauce.

There was enough plum sauce for us to enjoy and to share with others. 

The plum sauce has long gone and we have happy memories of it but since then the plum trees have failed to give us another crop.

Fortunately for us help is to hand this year.

Our friend Debbie has a bumper crop on her tree, enough that she felt she could share some with us.

Today Linda and I destoned them in preparation for making plum sauce and, as I write, the plums with seasonings are bubbling away on the stove top.

I will write tomorrow and let you know how we went with this venture.

It will be so nice to have home made plum sauce back in our pantry once more.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Circling New Zealand

Linda and I have been the recipients of a lot of left over scraps from someone else's crafting.

A lot of this fabric has had a Kiwiana theme and last year I embarked on making several Kiwiana theme fabrics in an attempt to destash.

This was the first quilt top I made in this theme but it has only recently been finished thanks to Linda's machine quilting abilities.

Part of the scrap stash was a stack of irregular circular pieces.

I stitched them to black background squares leaving a raw edge on the circles.  I then quartered the squares, mixed them up and sewed them back together again.

The quilt top had been maturing quietly in the cupboard waiting for an opportunity to be used which has presented itself with the need to send it to someone who has a terminal illness.

Linda did swirls within the circles and then used some lovely red and black variegated thread to highlight the black background.

We are happy to be sending it to its new owner.

I have to add that I still have a lot of these circles in our stash and hope to be finding other creative ways of using them.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Blue on blue

Further to my recent postings about my pink posy project I have now embarked on another project in blue and white.

Our sister, Barbara, is a collector of blue and white china and when she saw the pink posy she said she thought something similar in blue and white would be nice too, so it is underway.

Again, I used the Go Cutter to cut out all of the shapes except for the stems and then cut out the fusible webbing to match the shapes.

These have now been ironed to the white background and I need to machine applique them all.

I will report back once the applique work has been done.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Favourite things

One of my favourite things is watching flowers come into bloom season after season.

While at sister Barbara's home I was privileged to watch this lily plant come into bloom.

This is the third summer for this plant.  It has survived a transplant and is doing very well.

I am linking this to Claudia's Friday Favourite Things - thanks Claudia.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Project completed

I wrote about this project at Christmas time and gave myself the challenge to have it finished for the next Christmas.

Unbelievably it is the 19th January and it has been completed.

I have to say thanks to Linda for bringing it to completion.

This is the first time I have had anything to do with machine applique and really enjoyed the process.

After I finished my bit Linda got to work and machine quilted the background and made it into a cushion cover for me.

Sister Barbara loves all things blue and white so no prizes for guessing what colours the next project like this will be.

Linking to Quilting in my Pyjamas. 

Friday, January 18, 2013

Another puzzle completed

Yesterday we completed another 1,000 piece jigsaw puzzle.

We loved the the theme and it was very satisfying to bringing it to a conclusion even though there were challenges along the way.

The green areas were quite difficult to analyse and, as we often do, the sky remained the last section to complete.

The shadings of the sky were very subtle and I began to call them Fifty Shades of Grey. I have never read the book but I think it may be easier to read than putting these particular puzzle pieces together.

Never mind, we got there in the end and, at this point in time, it remains intact for us to enjoy.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Our Aunty Bettie

Our Mum was one of eight siblings and now there's only two left.

Aunty Bettie is in her eighties and I popped around to see her the other day.

She likes to keep active and is out and about most days, playing card games, lawn or indoor bowls and ten pin bowling as well as keeping in touch with people in the local community.

We chatted for a while and then she said she wanted to share her latest fun activity, Claw Arcade Games.

She is obviously quite talented at playing because she showed me the ones pictured and then she took me to the garage where she had seven bags of them, each with ten of these toys that she is going to deliver to the local hospital for distribution to children.

With fun activities like this I think she will be around for a few years yet.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Look what came home with me today

Yesterday I was out and about in Greerton and in one of the op shops I spotted this heart quilt.

Not sure whether to make the purchase or not, I took a couple of photos and emailed them to Linda for her opinion.

Always a risky business because some one could easily come in the meantime and buy but I felt sure it would still be there today and it was.

We will give it a wash and further perusal before deciding whether to re quilt it or to leave as is.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Another one completed

We continue to work on the jigsaw puzzles.

This time we decided we wanted a 500 piece one but they are not in abundance in the shops like the 1,000 piece ones.

In the end I settled for this one. Not sure if it was the flowers or the father and son but it really appealed.

Took us just over a day to complete.  It was nice to do a smaller one for a change.

Still, the show must go on. Bryan has photo recorded our completed effort and boxed it up again.

Last night Barbara found another 1,000 piece puzzle for us and we are under way again.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

My favourite things

Whenever I come to stay with my sister, Barbara, I am reunited with one of my favourite quilts.

Not that I made the quilt, Linda did that, but I did supply the fabric. Linda used one of our favourite quilt ideas.

On one of my trips to Dallas I scored a wonderful array of quilting fabrics from a garage sale within a quilt shop. I had such fun and even went back for more.

Amongst the fabric was some with a western theme which in turn became the inspiration for this quilt.

Barbara loves the western theme and even her wedding, just over 12 months ago had a western theme.

I have shared more links than I usually do in a blog entry and I have one more, thank you, Claudia, for your Favourite Things link party once again.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Jigsaw puzzle update

Yesterday we completed another jigsaw puzzle.

We chose a 1000 piece photographic one of an English country cottage. What a challenge that proved to be.

The clear blue sky was the biggest challenge of all but help was to hand. We had a visitor who also just happens to like doing jigsaw puzzles. By the time she left finishing off the skyline was relatively easy.

In no time at all Bryan had taken a photo record of the finished product and set about demolishing it. Three days in construction - half an hour in deconstruction - amazing!

Friday, January 11, 2013


Alstroemeria flowers have always been a favourite of mine.

Lovely in the garden and good value as cut flowers in a vase.

We are still gettting them established in our garden and our friend, Debbie, has been kind enough to give us some of the tuber surplus from her garden.

She has them in oversupply and we are glad to take any that come our way.

This year we have had quite a number flower in the garden but look forward to more in the years to come.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Jigsaw Puzzles

Something else our mother taught us to appreciate when growing up was jigsaw puzzles. Great way to while away a few hours on a wet weekend or during the school holidays.

On Saturday, when we had our family get together, Barbara had a jigsaw (a boy and a horse) in progress and various members took turns at progressing with it.

By that evening we received a text message to say the puzzle was complete.

When I arrived at Barbara's on Monday there was another one underway of a fruit and vegetable shop so we persevered with that and finished it last night.

They were both 1,000 piece jigsaws and today we have begun another of an English cottage

Tuesday, January 08, 2013

Spotted in Greerton

I am staying with sister, Barbara, for a few days in Tauranga.

Her local shopping centre has some lovely council gardens and the standard roses are in bloom at the moment.

The weather was extremely hot yesterday and I thought they may wilted but they were still looking very good when I spotted them this morning.

The lovely pink flowers were worth capturing as well.

Peace and tranquility

Part of the clearance on our property while our brothers were here has meant that we have views of the Waikato River that we don't usually get.

This spot is a little away from the house so I don't get to come here often but when I do it is so still and peaceful, I find it very relaxing.

There are houses in the distance on the right and walkways both sides of the river but very little noise or signs of activity.

I often think it would be nice to have a bench seat in this part of the property but I probably don't visit here enough to make it worth our while.
The house next door is up for auction.  It is elevated quite a bit above our property so you can only imagine what the views might be like from there.

Any takers?

Monday, January 07, 2013

Beyond our hedge

 Some readers of this blog have asked what lies beyond the hedge I wrote about the other day

It is difficult to get the perspective of the depth of the slope that leads from the other side of our hedge to the river beyond.

In the foreground there is evidence of some of the ridge being cleared so that our hedge does not look over grown.

Below that we have a belt of trees growing happily down the rest of the slope and down into the valley below.

In the distance is a walkway and the Waikato River.

Looking above and beyond our hedge the mountains, which, as part of our daily lives, continue to add interest as the snow of winter slowly disappears on the left.

In the foreground of the mountains to the right there is what looks like wispy smoke.

This is Mt Tongariro venting and has been doing so since an eruption in August.

Sunday, January 06, 2013

Family Gathering Update

We did it!

Seven of us together in the one place - from the left, Peggy, Norman, Alan, Bob, Linda, Wendy and Barbara.

The weather was picture perfect and we had a lovely day, yummy food and the best of company.  We could not have asked for better.

Barbara's daughter, Fiona, was there and took up the role of official photographer - she must have had five or six cameras - how times have changed.

Linda and I were able to give Bryan his quilt and feel sure it will be much used.

Saturday, January 05, 2013

Less is better

I was going to do lots of embellishments on my posy of flowers but after doing some stitching and then pulling it all undone, I decided that less is better.

In the end I have put petite gold glass beads in the centre of each of the flowers and have decided that is enough.

Linda has said she will quilt it for me and so the next time I post about this it will be finished cushion/pillow.

I look forward to the final reveal.

Friday, January 04, 2013

Family gatherings

It has been over a year since all of our siblings met up with each other.

Bob rang from Melbourne and said he was coming for a couple of days, Norman said he would come up from Christchurch while Bob was here and Alan was coming to spend time with us after Christmas so we have all three brothers here at the moment.

When Bob said he was coming I suggested a visit to go and see our sister Barbara as she has had her home renovated and I thought he might like to see the changes.

One sister to go, Wendy, and it just so happens that Wendy can make it with husband, John to join all of us for the day at Barbara's tomorrow.  We are very much looking forward to the gathering.

Barbara's husband, Bryan, is not well and so Linda and I got together and made the quilt photographed to give to him.  We shared the piecing and Linda machine quilted it on to coral fleece, so it is light, soft and cuddly.

This quilt design is becoming a favourite of ours.  We participated in making one for our friend, Rewa, in red, black and white. I made an autumn tone one for my friend, Cherie and Linda and I also made one for our cousin, Helen for her birthday.

Our thanks to Bonnie Hunter for providing this inspirational quilt design.

Thursday, January 03, 2013

Our changing garden

We were glad, when we moved here that there was an established garden.

In the area that is the rose garden there are some lovely bushes but not the Dublin Bay climbing rose.

Linda and I have both owned this plant at previous locations and this year we finally bought one to plant here.

It suffered a bit of die back at first but now has decided to come into flower.  Since this image was taken just a few days ago we have even more flowers on show.

The Dublin Bay is a lovely red rose, prolific in flowering and makes a lovely spread as it matures.  It is going to be so nice trained against the wooden retaining wall behind and we expect many years of flowering for our enjoyment.

Wednesday, January 02, 2013

Welcoming a new year

Yesterday the morning was lovely and cool and the day warmed up after 10am without becoming too humid.

We have had a lot of hot, sticky weather during December and it was nice to welcome the New Year with much nicer weather.

Our dining room provides lovely views to relax and enjoy our meals.  I cooked roast pork, roast vegetables (potato, sweet potato, carrots and parsnips) and broccoli. We washed that down with some lovely sparkly sauvignon blanc.

Linda also blogged about New Year's Day and you can see some more lovely images of the views beyond the hedge which I talked about yesterday.

Tuesday, January 01, 2013

Our hedge

The hedge on the south side of our property is the only barrier between us and the sheer drop on the other side.

Although not pictured here the hedge has a number of gaps and we have been wanting that to change.

Earlier in the year, our brother, Alan, raided the other side of the hedge and took some young plants and laid them out to start filling the gaps.

He said they would be established by the end of the year and true to his word this is so.

This section is looking very pretty with its lovely yellow flowers but this is probably the only time it will ever get to flower like this.

It has nearly reached the height of the rest of the hedge and so will start to need to be trimmed along with the rest next time around.

This week Alan has been busy filling in the rest of the gaps of the hedge and so we hope that by the time we see another New Year in the hedge will be all one.

Happy New Year everyone!