Garden rivalry

What a delight in the glasshouse this morning! Some friends and I have a little friendly garden rivalry going on... I have tomatoes before Christmas!

Dad and I have all out competition organic versus spray and synthetic fertiliser. I have to concede he beats me with carrots hands down but I think I've got him on tomatoes, cucumbers, zucchini and garlic this year. He's been buying his in!! Enough of that or I might sound like I'm gloating and Mum tells me pride comes before a fall gillybean. Look forward to seeing how everyone else's gardens are going and arranging a few swaps.


Special present.

I might be feeling a bit over emotional with my boy and my darling both going away, because I had a terrible day at work. I think I'm being tested.

This made my day though! A present from an extremely crafty cleaver friend.

Friend, what you don't know is that the skirt which you used for the spotty stockings use to belong to my Grandmother who was spot mad. I wanted to wear the skirt but it didn't suit me and I wanted to make something but wasn't inspired, so I let it go. This softy is especially special because with your busy life you made it for me and it has those spotty stockings which remind me of my very special Grandma. Thanks, it's just wonderful.X

In relation to my problem at work I can see that sometimes letting go can be the most rewarding thing to do.


A few weeks ago my " skatey boy" went to the West coast with his Dad, the weekend just gone he got down the East Coast to Kaikoura. None of the other kids have that adventurous spirit like their Dad so R gets to see alot of the country side. The purpose of their trip was to purchase a caravan for L to live in while he works in Reefton about 3-4 hours drive from here. Houses are too expensive to rent or buy so that seemed like the best option for now. I will stay up here where the children are settled and have a lot of opportunities. R likes to take photos on his journeys and his Dad is happy to make a few stops along the way. The salt lakes above and seals near the main highway.
I've been at home making a little progress on my cleaning and sewing. I saw the little dancing tutu over on Melissa's blog and decided that it would make a good rainy day activity. I think mine would have looked better with more tulle but it's pretty expensive in our local sewing shop. This one will probably be for my niece visiting over summer.

It did serve to inspire me though, so I ferreted through my fairy fabrics and settled on some shiny stuff for a skirt for PJ. Engrossed in sewing, I didn't notice she was due home from school so didn't get it put away before she spied it, so it won't be for Christmas. She can wear it for her school prize giving tomorrow night which I will miss as I will be fare welling the teen off to Adelaide. I may make her a bag for Christmas with the leftovers.


sillybean, sillyseason (or something)

Red currant jelly

I wanted to post pictures of all the cute Christmas presents I'm making. Problem is I'm experiencing something similar to "writers block" except with sewing. It happens to me often and usually resolves itself 24 hours before a deadline or after I've had a jolly good clean up.
A gift from my friend's mum. THANK YOU!!
and the pile of fabric which should really be Christmas presents by now.
With the end of the school term looming I've barely sat down all week, leaving me absolutely no desire for cleaning up. I've been to school performances and prize givings, Christmas party's and meetings, play dates and interviews, packed a kid for camp and done the washing when he arrived home. So, I'm pooped!

Next week, my "teen" flys to Australia on his own for Christmas with my brother. I'm a little freaked out, it will be our first Christmas apart. I decided to send him because our small town has a lot of bad influences on teenagers, drugs and alcohol mainly. A boy a few years older, from a good family round the corner, has been sent to jail after getting into trouble with the law and a couple of T's freinds broke into their old primary school a month ago which sent me into a panic thinking, if those great kids are making stupid choices with dire consequences what can I do to keep my boy safe a little longer? Answer: send him to my brother away from bad influences. Is 14 too young to drink alcohol? I think so, but T got an invitation to an end of year party from a girl I don't know, so I rang her parents to make sure they were all going to be supervised and thank goodness asked "there won't be alcohol available will there?" turns out "yes there is". He doesn't hate me for saying he can't go, thank goodness. Why make alcohol available at 14? I know I'm getting old and I'm glad that I'm un cool. I was 14 and pretty stupid once too, perhaps that's why I'm so determined to protect my kids.

Just to make things a bit more challenging L has applied for a job out of town, which means we'll only get to see him on weekends. I feel happy for him that a job has come up that he's really keen on, but I have some concerns about our kids. Watch this space I guess.

And...The red head is driving me nuts!!(we both went to "time out" this morning) He's 2 a half I know, what do I expect? But just between you and I he's much naughtier than the big ones were. I wonder if it is because they got the odd little smack when they were naughty? What do you reckon "spare the rod spoil the child"? It's against the law to smack now so we'll see won't we? I'm not looking foward to him being 14!

A new bag?


Another garden post

Succulent fresh peas are on the menu every second night. I just wish I'd planted them every two weeks for a continuous supply! They're one thing that grows very easily in my soil, not needing any special attention, just water. It's great to grow things that don't need too much attention. Carrots on the other hand do not grow well for me at all. If by some strike of luck they germinate they usually get taken over by weeds or bugs, carrot fly ,grass grubs, aphids you name it and it will find my carrots.I need to arrange a friendly swap with someone who can grow them because for five seasons they've been pathetic.

I never did get around to sorting out the aphids in the tunnel house, partly because I'm busy and partly because these guys need something to eat. This is a paper wasp hopefully she and her babies will gobble up lots of aphids and grubs. She might also eat the juvenile lady bug on the fennel flowers though, which would be a shame because they love to eat aphids. I feel so much better about letting mother nature sort out the pest control. If only she'd give us a bit of rain as well.
I'm letting alot of plants go to seed, the predatory insects are especially attracted to the umbelliferae family including parsnip,dill, fennel etc. They get really tall making the garden much more interesting and colourful too.


Patchwork garden

This blog is being a little neglected as summer settles in and Christmas quickly approaches. Middle of summer is a stupid time to have Christmas, there's far too much to do in the garden to be inside sewing or even worse shopping in town. Motueka is a tourist town and a summer work destination so traffic is terrible at this time of year, a quick trip to town for groceries can take hours during the summer months. I have had a great week though, just not alot of spare time. There were heaps of garage sales on in the weekend and I'm rather pleased with the bright tea towels I got for 50c each. I was going to cut them up for bags but I'm getting quite attached to them the way they are.
I was also a winner on Sally Anne's blog! I haven't won anything for a long time so it really made my day when I read I had won. It was meant to be because my daughter gets called "sweet pea" on the rare occasions that's she's not driving me nuts! I watched her sing solo at a performance for the old folks club on Friday. I was so nervous for her, but she was amazing. Huge credit needs to go to her wonderful teacher who nurtured the shy girl who didn't even want to go to school to a point where she'll sing on her own in front of an audience. What a treasure she is.
I Love how the garden looks in summer, it comes together to remind me of a patchwork quilt. These views are from the top of the kid's slide. I am disappointed that a new plum tree I bought seems to have silverleaf. From what I've read nothing can get rid of it and it spreads very easily. I'll be devastated if I have to start cutting trees out.
Mating stink bugs got squashed today with a satisfying crunch. I am not a Buddhist gardener! The aphids in the tunnel house will be dealt to tomorrow as soon as I decide weather it's better to make a garlic spray with the last of last years garlic or pyrethrum spray which has the disadvantage of killing ladybugs too, which we don't want. Any suggestions would be welcomed.



The Fair at Neudorf vineyard yesterday.The setting was beautiful for wine drinking, listening to jazz and shopping for Christmas. I hear it was very expensive to get in but at least the money is going toward child cancer.
I LOVE Owen Bartlett pottery!!!! I can't afford it though. Kids to go to camp, birthdays, Christmas etc. One day though I shall have the spotty jug my heart desires. (Green below)

These country ladies took my fancy too. Not to buy, I'm one of these fair shoppers that goes around and says to myself "that's a good idea, I could make one of those" and never get around to it.
My bags looked better displayed at home, I can't quite get my stall to come together at the moment.


West Coast Real Estate

Beautiful one bedroom house, beachfront property, native timber throughout, secluded spot with awesome views.

" Skatey boy" loved the coast with his Dad, hut building and train spotting, it couldn't get better than that for him really.



L has taken "skatey boy" for a jaunt down the west coast to visit rellies and friends so I'm without my camera for a few days. Household dynamic will be a bit different with two away, I'm looking forward to making sushi, hummus, salad etc with the meat eaters away. The teen arrived back from camp with renewed appreciation for my cooking "YAY" he said he got very bored with all the processed food they took. DOUBLE YAY.I found a new to me blog today, check out Helen's writings and craftings. And surely everyone has discovered the Sew Mama Sew handmade holiday's ideas already? Time to start making some pressies.



Look away if you don't like rats! A couple of years ago "skatey boy" was asked what he wanted for his birthday. Axolotls is the answer he gave me and "NO WAY" was my swift reply, have you seen these dreadful creatures? I saw one as a kid and had nightmares about them for years, "absolutely anything except an axolotl" I foolishly said. "OK then rats" Oh dear I did say anything else didn't I? Damn it! Surprisingly though they've quite grown on me, I wouldn't hold them but I do enjoy bringing them in things to eat from the garden. Ralph became a $130 rat last week, I knew I should have stuck to my plan of being a vet. He's recovering well from having a lump removed from his face, I know it is extravagant to spend that much on a pet rat but I couldn't break my kid's heart.

The last few weeks have been full on, I spring cleaned the house and had a garage sale on Saturday it didn't really go to plan though as the "red head" spent most of Friday night screaming, revealing at about 3 in the morning that his ear hurt. Suffering from sleep deprivation I decided to go ahead with the garage sale anyway as I couldn't stand the boxes of stuff around for another week. It went OK but I didn't set things out as nicely as I could have and packed up in a hurry to get the "red head" to the duty Dr. Ouch there goes half the profit. I'm glad the week's over, the "teen" goes to school camp tomorrow so I get three days break from being "so mean". His friends have been making some really stupid decisions lately and getting into trouble it's only been sheer luck that T has been away on the weekend's that they've got into mischief, so I have said they can come here and hang out instead of him going with them. Mean Eh!? I've always trusted him but that pack mentality is pretty strong, I'd rather know what he/they are up to at present. I hope I'm doing the right thing, L and I aren't quite in agreement about how to deal with it all but are just trying to keep him safe and out of trouble. I hope they're too worn out from kayaking and tramping to do anything silly at camp.

Absolutely no sewing or knitting happening in these parts, a wee bit of gardening. I have harvested the first zucchini from the garden and am using my spare moments to get little things like tying up tomatoes, mounding up potatoes, weeding and watering done in the garden. L's clothes drying rack is getting put to use to dry flowers for the garlic plaits. I think it will look cool as it fills up and will be great because I won't have to wobble on a stool when I hang things up.


Calendula cream 1

I'm pleased that a few friends are going to try the Halloween spider biscuits. Could you tell that the spider body is a raisin? I'm searching for Christmas edible ideas now for our Playcentre Christmas baking stall. Let me know if you all see any quick sure selling ideas, I'm thinking good old shortbread, truffles, gingerbread men and the like.

Somewhere in blogland late one night I saw the suggestion to do entirely handmade Christmas gifts. I wouldn't be at all popular with my kids if I included them but for friends and family it would be do -able. Basil in the garden will be ready for pesto. Herbal ointment for others.On a dry day pick a loosely packed jar full of herb flowers, petals or leaves. Calendula is a great one to start with as it is a good all round skin healer and is very gentle. Comfrey leaves could also be chopped, but because they are quite moist can often promote mould. Lavender flowers are good, strip them off the stalk. Others I use are yarrow, chamomile, elderflower, rosemary, st john's wort, native manuka and kawa kawa. I'm not a qualified herbalist so will not recommend certain herbs for certain ailments but there are many books you can get from the library and make creams for eczema, dry skin, cuts, scrapes, bites, hemorrhoids,massage etc.

Here I'll show the method, it's called cold maceration. Once you've packed the dry petals cover them in oil of your choice (not nasty old salad and cooking oil made in china) I have used olive, almond and grape seed all of which have their own healing qualities and little odour. Avocado would probably be lovely too. Use a skewer to get all the air bubbles out by going down the side of the jar and squeezing the petals back a bit, you might see if you look closely in the picture. Do this until you can't see any more bubbles rising, it's really important as the air promotes mould. Fill the jar right to the top and put a lid on. Set aside in a dark place for four to six weeks. The oils or constituents in the plant that are soluble in oil will be absorbed into your carrier oil. Start with a wee jar first so if you do get some mould growth you don't have to chuck away heaps. My teacher would check hers weekly and just scrape off any mould growing, you could do that if any occurs but the perfectionist in me couldn't cope with that. Another thing to remember when gathering herbs for medicine is to be in a serene or appropriate state of mind. Don't do it when you're stressed or angry as these energy's may be imparted onto your medicine. Sing, smile, pray, visualise, meditate or whatever is appropriate to you.

Next step in six weeks you'll need some natural beeswax, try the beekeeper at the local farmers market or the health food shop. Alternatively you could use the oil as is for massage etc or in aqueous cream but I'll go into that further later.


All Hallow's Eve

Not really a Kiwi traditionBut I quite like scaring them. I was going to do skeletal gingerbread men but ran out of time.
Spider biscuits provoked a good reaction anyway.


Walk in the garden

If you came for a walk round my garden this afternoon I'd be pretty excited to show you everything that's happening. Down the back path past the chooks the raspberries are about to open their flowers and sunflowers and nasturtiums line the back fence, I hope the frost doesn't get them I heard on the radio there might be one tonight. The old ironing board recycled to become a table holds lettuce and beans waiting to be planted. Further down the fence a boysenberry is tied to the fence. I love all the flowers in the garden at present, most of them are white and hold promise of beautiful fruit and berries to come.
Cherries, their sight a real delight. Hopefully these promise fruit just after Christmas, a wee bit of time for me to prepare to stop the birds stealing them all. This will be their third season in the ground and the first that I'll be allowing fruit. The first two years I pick flowers off all my fruit trees so they can put all their energy into putting down good strong roots.
Elderflower opening, a beautiful scent. Some of these will be for tea and herbal cream some left to grow into berries.
A splash of orange, Calendula in the flower garden. Many people are asking me to repeat a herbal cream making workshop I did last year. I thought I'd go through the steps here on my blog as well for future reference. So if you want to join in, initially you'll need to find a patch of Calendula, Comfrey, Lavender, Elderflower, Yarrow, Kawa Kawa, Manuka,Chammomile or any other herbs you have growing which are soothing for skin or have antiseptic qualities, there are heaps. Have on hand ready for a dry day some olive or almond oil a clean glass jar with lid and some wooden kebab sticks. I think a good time for collecting herbs for storage is when the moon is rising or full but since it's been so wet we'll just go for a good dry fine day. I'll keep you posted.



Some pretty big weather events in Tasman in the last couple of weeks. I have to go over this bridge to get to work and town, it's pretty skinny and scary on a good day but it really freaked me out seeing the water up this high. I am a worrier, often asking myself, OK what am I worrying about? It may be a kind of comfort or habit to be worrying. The bridge collapsing while I'm on it is a fairly common worry as is our old shed blowing down onto the road and causing an accident, being too decrepit to insure makes the worry worse. So after the rain subsided the wind started and a couple of earthquakes shook me up for for good measure. It would be fair to say I've been in a state. It runs in my family, my dear Aunt doesn't go into "the Warehouse" in case there is an earthquake and every thing falls off the shelves and won't drive around rocks road in Nelson when it's raining in case the hillside comes down.
While I sewed for the festival the weeds grew thick and fast in the front garden so it looks more like a wild lawn with flowers in it at the moment than a cottage garden. Never mind I'm more into vege gardens anyway but it will need some attention I guess before all the weeds set seed. My sewing was worth it though, I got lots of nice comments at the festival and made some good sales. Lots of organically grown seedlings went to new homes too so I have alot more room to plant in the glasshouse now and a bit more time on my hands to get the garden set for summer. I had anticipated being alot less busy this week but it's not working out as planned either, I may need a holiday it's all becoming a bit of a slog. Roll on summer!
Fabric hunting is getting to be a huge challenge too I found 2 pieces in a small antique shop round the corner from where my Mum lives but I wouldn't want to buy at antique shop prices very often! The mushroom bit is from Spotlight the day after the festival, 20% off was too good to resist. I have a theory that the red cross ladies are getting all the yummy fabric before it goes out into the shop. I have been contemplating my career options in the last 6 months there are about half a dozen paths I'd bee keen to explore but nothing that I just know is right. Perhaps volunteering in the op shop would be a good way to contemplate?


Button stuff

Awhile ago I made myself this fabric brooch, it always annoyed me cos it didn't seem to have any character. It's been tossed around the living room and in and out of the toy box since then. Yesterday my "skatey boy" sat quietly and created his own version of the brooch without any input from me except to ask "can I use this material?' I think the boy has more creative talent in his little finger than I'll ever have. He was also inspired to make some button jewelery after spying a vintage jewelery book I got from the library. I made the cushion for him to display his work at the festival next weekend. We might have to whiz over to Nelson to buy some clasps for his necklace unless anyone has other ideas of a nice way to join the copper wire on the necklace?


Weekend waffle

There are not enough hours in a day for me at present. My time is being sucked up by meetings, community networking (sometimes known as coffee with visitors) and little extra things like Drs visits and dropping PJ at school. Ususlly she walks and I'm often still in my jarmies saying "whew" to my self "thank goodness they're all out the door". Often I go round and round in circles too as any Mum with kids can probably relate to, just when I finish the chores kids sweep in and create a new pile of something else to be done. They're excellent with helping out it's just that four busy kids + wet weather + small house = Clutter!!!!!!!! The garden hasn't had much attention, we've had very heavy rain and then when the weather comes out fine for a day I have to tackle the mountains of washing. It is great to have the rain though as I always have water issues in summer so hopefully the more we have from mother nature now, the less I'll have to worry about the well running dry in summer. If you're gardening in the top of the south watch out for those frosts this week if the rain clears quickly because it feels like we've had some late snow today.

I'm trying to create some stock to sell at the upcoming Ngatimoti school festival, the progress in the evening when the children are finally in bed is slow. Some leather booties were this weeks effort: I'm making a few quick presents for friends,a zip up purse which I saw on Melissa's blog by Jessicah of Spinning a yarn is a quick way to use up little left over scraps of fabric. I was going to add a handle too but got visitors again and forgot. Thanks for the neat idea guys.


Short and sweet

Mum always said if you havn't got anything nice to say don't say anything at all. That's why I havn't posted for a bit. I have been reading though. Check out The Daisy Patch , a new blog where I'm looking foward to watching the progress in the garden and the needle felted creations. Some cool links there to cruise through too, Pea soup has super cleaver knitted fruit. I smiled at Sally Anne's pile of library books because that's exactly what I did when the weather was all wet and nasty. This is my pile:

A new baby whose brother and sister died in the yuckky weather is keeping PJ company.


Quick applique

Thanks to everyone for the warm wishes after PJ broke her leg. She is coping very well considering she cannot seem to get the hang of walking with crutches. We bought home a little wheelchair so that I don't wreck my back again moving her around. She has had parcels in the post and lovely visitors bring her little things to play with and colour in but seems to need me every half hour or so to help do something for her. I'm not a particularly patient person so it is testing me quite a bit. I have new found respect for parents of special needs kids. My Mum is a godsend. She's taken a day off work today to give me a little bit of relief. PJ adores being with her and she's much more patient and understanding than I am!
A friend requested a skull and x bones t shirt for a new born. I'm so pleased with the result. Instead of sewing the t myself I found a few white singlets at the op shop in fantastic condition and attached the applique to them. I prefer the little brown kiwi at the top, that image has been in my head for a couple of months when I was given the scraps of brown cotton. I hope they wash and wear well, I think I might even make one of those for myself. I do hope everyone else who is on school holiday break at the moment is getting a few moments to sew, craft, garden or steal a few moments peace.


Perfect Plans...

Spolied perfectly. Three sons and a daughter, the only one to ever visit the emergency room is my girl. First day of the school holidays, broken leg, cast to her thigh, too small for crutches and now Granny can't have her for the week as planned. That will teach me not to make plans for the most kid free constructive break yet and it might teach her not to play on the shed roof like her brothers when she's told she's too little.



I love early spring when the asparagus pops up. We've all had enough of our winter veges and the summer ones are nowhere near ready. My last few weeks have been quite unsettled I've been a real grump to everyone and I'm not really sure why. My theory is that I'm trying to do too much and not doing a very good job at anything which really frustrates the perfectionist in me. I'm exhausted at times so have tried adding a bit more red meat back into our diet thinking I might be low in iron, but also I've become more aware of how many convenience foods have crept back into our diet lately and wonder if it's preservatives and colourings effecting me. I'm in denial about coffee still that will be they last thing I try to get rid of. So this week as I went round the supermarket I realised there were not many things that I could purchase which were preservative and/or colour free. Some things surprised me too like yogurt and Vegemite. It will have to be a gradual change and we don't need to be really radical about it. One thing I can do better is utilise the garden and store the produce for winter. Currently I bottle quite a bit of fruit and freeze berries and tomatoes but I'm going to make alot more effort this year including drying a lot more fruit as I've even noticed dried fruit is not just simple dried fruit, some have preservative added. Where before these activities were just a hobby I'm going to make more of a commitment to them. I have a good lot of seedlings started, tomatoes for bottling, drying and freezing, sunflowers to feed the chooks and pet rats. Wouldn't it be nice to have a machine to take the shells off them? I've also decided to grow more pumpkins this year, last years ones were beautiful but I ran out a wee bit early. Every day now I bring the seedlings outside the glasshouse to harden off, this time of year a Woofer would be very helpful.

Spring has inspired me to make some different coloured bags I still haven't developed another pattern that I like as much as this one. I have quite a few ready to sell now but am putting off approaching outlets. It's mostly nerves but I don't know if I want to turn a hobby into a business.