Happy holidays

At gillybean's garden the lead up to Christmas has been alternating between quite manic and then subdued. Today I spent half the day tidying my room and the rest of the day lying in it. I tried to upload more photos but haven't had any success today. So you will have to imagine the little pot pourri (from my garden) pillows inside these packets for the "fabulous Aunts" My Dad's older sisters; op shoppers and thriftier extraordinaries, creative cooks, inspiring crafters, self esteem builders and generally good examples of givers. The afore mentioned red Christmas stockings weren't up to scratch so were unraveled. I 'm pleased with these though, the wrapping is from old patterns from a German sewing magazine.

On the manic front the garlic is getting to that stage where it needs to be dug, I did some on the solstice and deduced it wasn't quite ready but must keep an eye on it now so it doesn't get mildew. The ones I dug need peeling, drying and plaiting. The red currants have been picked and stored in the freezer, but I noticed the blackbirds are feasting on the black ones. Poppy seeds are being collected in paper bags and plums picked to either be made into sauce or fruit leather. We're still harvesting heaps of cucumbers but only one tomato a day yet. Basil is rampant! Have fingers crossed for melons, can't believe we've had the longest day already. Weather's been HOT so the kids are swimming at the school pool heaps, the 6 week summer school holiday bliss has already worn off and I havn't even had a decent sleep in yet.

Quiet moments are being spent knitting and checking to see if the chickens have hatched. Also I'm desperately trying to figure out if I am meant to give up crafting and mothering full time and get a real job or WHAT!! Does Christmas and New Year do that to anyone else?

Our kids have had an early Christmas because their Dad has to work tomorrow. Santa will visit them tonight though. We will all go to Church tomorrow and then spend the rest of the day with family. I hope everyone who reads here has a lovely day whatever they are doing. Thanks so much for all the connection you've provided this past year while I've parented on my own, it's almost like having someone to talk to in the evenings.Thanks Christy for the Christmas card it made my day and if that picture is of one of your quilts I am in awe! Happy New Year to you all if I don't find the time to post before then.



In reply to Bonnie.
I find aphids often attack young or stressed plants. My tomatoes were a bit stressed for water in my glasshouse recently and were getting attacked. My first line of defence is to support the leaves with my hand and squirt the aphids off with a hose. Then I give the plant a good feed of worm wee or comfrey tea and a good soak with water and that often sorts them out. Squashing aphids is also quite satisfying. If that isn't doing the trick you can brew up a soapy water, garlic or rhubarb leaf spray for them. Exact recipes could be found in any good organic book, I'd just chuck half a dozen garlic cloves in boiling water, chop up a rhubarb leaf, cool and then add a dash of soap, sieve, dilute and spray. Probably diluting by 1:10 but to be honest I usually trust my sense of smell and stop adding water when it doesn't smell too toxic. Or use natural pyrethrum spray which you can make or buy, beware though it can kill the good bugs too. I have to confess I haven't bothered with these methods for a couple of years as the water and feed method usually works for me. Also establishing a good balance of other insects in the garden will help keep aphids in balance. Lady bugs and praying mantis LOVE aphids to eat. I catch them off my poor neglected roses and place them on the precious vege plants. I grow cleome, mustard and flowering herbs to attract the good guys into the garden. Also they love things like parsley, rocket, carrot and parsnip left to go to seed. Good luck hope you can find something here that works, perhaps others can add comments if they have any other suggestions.


You know it's full moon because:

Saturday 8am the sound that wakes you is a glockenspiel being practiced. Then siblings yelling at each other. Someone wants breakfast. At least it rained in the night, no watering today. Bird feathers on the floor, must vacume.
There's miles of housework to do, beds to strip and wash. Catch the skatey boy twice as he tries to slip off for the day. You try and stay calm when the teen challenges with "why do we have to clean up, why do we have to do dishes, why can't I go on the computer?'
You have to french plait the girl's hair for a performance at the old folks home.
A phone call from work, some one's complaining cos the water at the bach is not going. You feel like turning the phone off and not talking to anyone else today.
You overflow the washing machine because the teens sock blocked the tub! You rant and rave about socks to anyone still listening. Skatey boy's gone, girl's at the show. Fold a weeks worth of washing.
Investigate the beeping sound coming from the wash house. Washing machine is officially dead! Text husband with swear words. When no answer text mother with swear words. Go to the garden before doing something regrettable.
Why is teenager yelling and 3yr old crying? Pooh everywhere of course! Try a bit of lecturing, put one to bath and bed. Other one off quick smart sees mother's in a real mood.
Husband answers, not helpful.
Nothing inspiring for tea.
No one to talk to.
Count blessing again.
Chill a bit, wait for full moon to rise.

Thank goodness life's not perfect.


My partner L made my wee stall. Comes in very handy for selling or giving away the few extras. It use to have a lovely money box too but that was stolen so now we make do with a golden syrup tin (good recycling).


Garden notes Dec

The market on the weekend involved quite a bit of thumb twiddling. I noticed people were buying mainly fruit and veges. My stall was pretty quiet.
I guess the benefit of being in an economic downturn gives me the chance to really get it right in the garden to help with the budget. I'm waiting patiently for things to ripen:

and redcurrants nearly ready, they need bird netting to get a great harvest. I have about 8 plants of each as well as blackcurrants which ripen later. I'm even more determined with the berries this summer having read that eating black currants may help protect you from sunburn. That doesn't mean I'll be throwing away the hats and sunblock but we have alot of melanoma in our family so anything extra is worth a try. Currants are a great choice in the garden, they're easy care don't take up much room and seem to have quite a high yield for the amount of space they take up. I always freeze quite a few pounds of them for winter use. Can't say the same for the peas though. They were fabulous but none made it into the freezer. I've got one more plot to ripen and planted some more today, maybe I'll get a few in the freezer. Fresh is best anyway so it's time to think about what I want to be eating in autumn and winter it would be lovely to be self sufficient right through. Will hopefully make time this week for some seed sowing and more mulching in the garden. The seaweed's been working a treat.
Looking forward to the seed heads drying off so I can save the seed for bread and baking. It's a bit of a risk growing these as they often get stolen from the garden.

Not many raspberries are ripe yet these little yellow ones are a novelty and taste the same as the red ones.


I've hared it said that if you are an addict you often replace one addiction with another. I do have an addictive personality and having overcome some addictions in my life I'm seriously affected by an op shop addiction at this stage in my life. I can barely pass through town without popping in. (could be worse right?) Man I wish I'd replaced my old addictions with an exercise addiction though, I tried but it didn't catch on. So anyway got quite a rush when I found a funky kind of felted crochet blanket last week. It has taken up residence on a little sofa and pleases me every time I look at it. Kind of Kaffe Fassett ish colour combos I reckon.


Christmas is ment to be winter

It is so wrong to have Christmas in summer as it is in our hemisphere! Instead of slowing down and sitting by the fire knitting and sewing in the evening we're playing sport and BBQ ing, swimming and doing all those fabulous summer activities. In October I always have great plans for homemade Christmas presents but I can't keep out of the garden so they go by the wayside. Then all of a sudden it's December and the weeds are growing fast and the social activity is cranking up and I'm getting in a Christmas present flap. Thank goodness for the softies book I bought earlier in the year, I made my wee nephew in Australia the cosmonaut devil yesterday afternoon and the red head grabbed it up and said "it's mine" so that one's worth replicating. I'd love the 2nd book for Christmas. So .....I've altered my list in a panic as usual. Dad is getting a mushroom kit ( because I'd like one of them too and he's so hard to buy for) PJ's getting a sewing kit instead of the poor doll with no hair, the boys are getting (see previous post) stunt bike and tickets to crusty demons. (The 18 year old rat bag in me totally wants to go!!!!) Mum is harder she's such an awesome support I wish I could give her all her heart desires. Instead it may be an apron and one of the fabulous PJ Heath's wooden spoons. Perhaps a goat. (She's a born again Christian, story for another day)

The fabulous Aunts are getting a snazzy miniature stockings filled with goodies (red baby booties). PJ and the red head are getting ukulele's cos we all love music and I believe it opens lots of mathematical pathways in the brain. L and I have already bought ourselves a dinky little BBQ for the beach and a food processor for pesto so our joy will be through our kids. I have plans of an oilskin man bag for him too though. Do you think I can squeeze in a few extra hours before Christmas? If I have dark rings under my eyes you'll know why, I've been sewing till midnight, working at Dad's farm, getting up for the market, trying to be supermum and a good friend to boot. Happy Christmas to all and to all a good night.


Some stuff for my son.

To my son you are 12 today, I remember your birth well. I'm sorry that the next year or two was a blur in the post natal depression haze. I still feel the guilt of putting you in your cot and saying firmly "go to sleep" only to discover the next day you had a raging ear ache. You were a pretty content baby except in the middle of the night when you thought you were starving. Even back then you were a bit of a daredevil on your bike yelling "look Mum" to show me your skills. When you were 2 you nearly died from a bee sting. It was so sudden it was like being sucked into a parallel universe. One moment cooking dinner and the next calling an ambulance only to have them not answer me each time I asked if you'd be alright. You grew very close to your Dad when he became a house husband through injury and I went to work. You are an awesome talent, artistic and musical with an insane daredevil streak. The stunt bike you are longing to get at Christmas time is not being given to spoil you but because we understand that you seek thrills, Dad and I intend to let you experience the physical thrills you seek so that you may never seek them in drugs. Not much longer to wait for your bike. Please don't ask me to go on the tandem skydive with you either!


Tiger worms-look away if you're squeemish

In response to spinningayarn.

I have a fairly functional worm farm but am still learning too. I'd leave it till they come to the food before you add more food. See mine in the photo below they've eaten most of their food and are all working on what food is left there. Don't let them dry out and keep something over the top of it all cos they don't seem to like the light, it helps keep them moist too. I use a hessian sack or wet paper/cardboard. I get quite alot of little fruit flys in mine, I think it's because I over feed it a bit but have also read that it might need a very small sprinkling of lime, but haven't got round to it. They prefer mushy food but I give them all sorts. I never give them onion or citrus though as they don't like it. Mine seem to be enjoying a recent layer of shredded paper.

Hope that was some help.


Garden notes Nov

I would've liked to be crafting or gardening today but I was trying to be conscientious and finished off my work from last week and went to a meeting.

Made it out to the garden when I got home though. Mowed the lawns and used the clippings to suppress the weeds. We had a good deal of rain and wind yesterday so it was a perfect time to put mulch on. I'd been putting off tying things up and I found almost everything tall in the garden had fallen down. Bit of a bummer, the poppies and sunflowers had been looking great. Fixed them up as best I could and took the laterals off my cucumbers . It's the first time I've done that. They just looked like they'd do better if I thinned them out a bit. Hopefully it will ward off the powdery mildew for awhile. I have arranged a trade with a friend of mine she gives me fresh cows milk once a week and I'm giving her fresh veges. It's a great incentive to keep up with all the work in the garden.

We're eating these lovely stripey beetroot in salads. Fresh peas, spring onions, cabbage, broccoli, a few potatoes, zucchinis and waiting patiently for raspberries , cucumbers and tomatoes. Still watering the garlic when necessary and looking forward to digging it up round Christmas. Sowed a few more carrot seeds, planting basil and melons and corn. Lady bugs are dealing to the aphids and I'm feeding everything with "worm wee" whenever I think of it. Should be sowing brassica seed but as we run out of water they get too stressed and then bugs attack so will leave it until January.



This weekend the fore casted bad weather didn't make it's appearance until ...... 9am this morning after I'd unpacked all my gear at the market.
Blessings though, it started softly, I had hot coffee, talked with happy people and after I packed every damp thing back into the car the stall holder next to me who had packed up too, gave me this delightful bunch of peonies. Aren't they divine?

I made a foolish mistake when we moved into our house. It had been vacant for two years so the gardens were a weedy disaster, there was evidence though that the house had been occupied by a keen gardener. Wild pumpkin plants amongst the long grass where my garden is now, little paper bags of seeds in the shed and bulbs which were still trying bravely in long neglected gardens. I vowed to myself to not disturb the garden too much to see what came up. I hadn't yet learnt patience (still learning) so it wasn't long ( a couple of days) before I started clearing the small garden outside my kitchen window. I found what I thought were the roots of helebore's which I'm not fond of underneath the thick grass and ruthlessly hauled them out. It wasn't till I saw a poor lone leaf of a peony pop up the next year that I realised I'd slaughtered peonies not hellebore's. #1 lesson -patience. Learned the hard way.
I'm also learning a silverleaf lesson at the moment, I might have mentioned (moaned) that I got a greengage plum from the nursery which had silverleaf, anyway I didn't recognise it straight away. The tree got mournfully cut out of my garden but not before it had spread the dreaded silverleaf spores around. I thought I must have spread it on my pruners but I found that it spreads by airbourne spores getting into winter pruning cuts. Trees are especially vulnerable if the weather gets damp while the cuts are fresh. ARRRRAH so now I must decide if I should cut the infected cherry tree out. Ouch. Then what do I do if anything thing else shows up with it. Decisions, decisions. So that's hard gardening lesson # 2 -get rid of silver leaf quick. Oh and #3 might be don't be lazy sterilize the pruners between trees just to be certain.

Flower still life again cos I made a mistake uploading.


Smiley side up

I was going to sit down and write how I'm feeling low and lethargic, but I guess to dwell on those kind of feelings gives them more power somehow.
Instead I'm reflecting, I'm resting and I'm making a smile. I am blessed too. I have four beautiful healthy children, my own home, food in my garden and I made my first sale in my Felt Shop today. So what's not to be happy and energetic about? THANK YOU if you read here.

The garden is taking off. Last year's scarlet runners are popping up, zucchinis, cucumbers and tomatoes are flowering. Beetroot is being grated into salads, succulent peas packed into school lunches and the stink bugs are mating on the mustard. I need some pantyhose from the op shop to start tying everything up. We had very strong wind yesterday which flattened lots of plants and ripped a window off teenage son's bedroom, frame and all. No insurance wood too rotten.

I spun the mermaid coloured wool, it's not plied yet I'm trying to decide weather I should ply it onto itself or spin some white or gray to ply it with. I have plied up some adorable forresty green I wish I had enough for a jersey for skatey boy but I think there will only be enough for the red head. It's waiting to be washed and wound up. So can you tell what I did all weekend?


Tracy is the winner. Thanks for commenting everyone, it is so nice to be introduced to new people and their blogs and to hear from old favorites who you wonder are they're still popping in for a visit?
I've had inspiration from a friend in the last few weeks and it's exactly what I need with my sewing machine away.
The spinning display at the school fair sparked an interest with my skatey boy. He hassled me until I got my wheel out and dusted it off. He spun some lovely crude wool. There is something very special about beginner spinner's wool the way it gets really fat and thin then very twisty and almost untwisted, gives it a great rustic charm. Teenage boy ofcourse couldn't resist a dig at younger brother I'm sure siblings cruel words must have a long term effect. Gosh it's tiring.
Anyway the wheel was out and I'd had an invite to get together to do some spinning yesterday so I guess it was inevitable that I would feel inspired too. In the 70s when we lived on a farm my Mum was a great spinner and crafter along with all the other things a farmers wife gets to do. I first learnt to spin after watching her wheel go round and round all my life when she was put in hospital for almost 8 weeks with complications of pregnancy which devastatingly resulted in the death of my younger twin siblings. I missed mum so much when she was away. I connected with her I guess by fiddling with her spinning wheel which I wasn't supposed to touch but I did lean to spin. She is a great crafty role model. Being with my group of friends yesterday reminded me alot of the get togethers I went to with mum as a child. Very enjoyable. Something about crafting with a group of women rather than on your own feels much more fulfilling. Afterwards I came home and dyed some mermaid coloured wool and sat up very late spinning.


Our kids have been very busy this week with their school production practices and performances. For PJ it's twice as busy with her tap dancing show in the same week so we've had extra practices for that too. Add in sport and their Dad home to get them over excitable I've not had much time to breathe or think quietly.
Tuesday morning was very disappointing I went to put my little plant stall out by the road and found someone had stolen the beautiful money box L had made me. It had been attached very securely to the cart so they must have been pretty determined. I'm not so worried about the few dollars they got out of it I'm just disappointed at the thought that it might have been someone in our small community. Later in the day a parcel from Christy at Lil Bit Brit arrived in the mail and cheered me up a little. Thanks Christy, perfect timing. I'm not sure weather to put my stall out again I have quite alot of plants still but might find room in the garden for them. I will miss the pocket money though.
I've done about an hour sewing and gardening this week, it feels very odd. Worse still I can't actually think what I have achieved. Perhaps the children have had quality time with me I don't recall any yelling or stressing this week.
The sewing machine is making a funny noise, tomorrow it will get a check up. I strongly suspect that the red head has stuck a pin somewhere he shouldn't have.
Add a comment if you fancy a new bag, (see previous post) I'll draw it after the weekend.


Garden and giveaway.

Teenage son said "why can't we get veges out of packets, you know cut up or grated, like normal people"? I hope an explanation about unknown sprays, fertilizer and goodness deteriorating as soon as veges are picked will one day sink in. He's heared it all before and might be just winding me up but I'll be so sad if he grows up not sharing similar values. I told him we're normal and they're not.

I got a parcel in the mail today from Pherenike of Sunshine dew.

I'm really looking forward to a few quiet moments to read the magazines, my budget doesn't often stretch to magazines so that was a treat. Seeds as well, excellent timing, I'm itching to do some more planting. See the cool little packets with horticultural text.

And finally some new bags and I thought I'd pay it forward with a giveaway. A zip up wool bag with a doily and button. It will vary slightly from these two cos I hope they will both sell this weekend. Just drop me a comment.


Solo mum

I'm wishing I was enjoying a wine, I've had a really full on few weeks. There's been very late night sewing for yesterdays fantastic Ngatimoti School festival, early morning watering and weeding (not enough mind you) in the garden, dehydrating kiwifruit for our Brooklyn School country Fair next weekend, Playcentre work and meetings, learning sign language and the associated homework. Whoops, I'll have to cram tomorrow morning. I'm not complaining though I really like to be achieving things so it's been a satisfying few weeks also. My mothering has not been up to scratch I must admit. I flagged the reading last week in favour of getting kids to bed early so I didn't throttle them. The red head drove me totally nuts on Thursday, none of my other kids are quite like him I'm convinced only mothers of red heads would understand he is into EVERYTHING! Has to fiddle, loves attention, displays a fantastic temper,is good at winding siblings up and at the moment not making it to the toilet on time. If I'd had him first I might have only had 1 child.
I'd love to show off the bags I made for the festival but no. 1 teenage son has been lending me his camera batteries for awhile now and decided last week to withdraw the favour so I shall have to buy some new ones. I will show when I make some more bags. Also the garden is worthy of some pics it's changing every day at the moment.
Any locals who are reading come and visit our school fair on Saturday at Brooklyn School there'll be food and entertainment,books, plants and crafts and stuff for kids too of course. If that's not tempting enough how about fresh whitebait sammies? We're fundraising for a new community pool.


Self sufficiency project

Living on just under half and acre of land clearly we'll never be truly self sufficient but I'm practicing in case my circumstances change. I dreamed, but wouldn't have guessed 15 years ago as we were traveling and living in a 1963 house bus that we'd be home owners now, so..... you never know.

I've updated my side bars to reflect what's happening in the garden. I reckon if L and I were retired we might be able to live out of our garden. I'd long for meat and fresh milk though. I grew up on 2000 acres so we ate lamb nearly all year round with fresh pork,beef crayfish and paua for a bit of variety, we didn't know how lucky we were. My Dad even kept beehives and we fished for eel and trout in the river. At my Mums side I learned how to spin wool and knit, dye using plants and sew my own clothes. They gave us an unforgettable childhood to which I'm truly grateful and wish I could provide to my own kids. They have everything but the space and security that I was raised with.

What we're eating fresh:broad beans, eggs, silver beet, lettuce, peas, spring onions, carrots, asparagus, grapefruit, oranges, lemons

What we're eating from stores:berry jams, pumpkins, potatoes, frozen berries, frozen tomatoes

What's still growing: strawberries, carrots, garlic, asparagus, broccoli, cauli, cabbage, onions, peas, giant red mustard, kale, tomatoes, cucumber, corn, celery, capsicum, sunflowers, potatoes, yams, kumara, beetroot, pumpkins

Seeds sown recently: chili, beans, more corn,

Herbs growing: fennel, basil, parsley, Korean mint, mint, sorrel, tansy, mother wort, mug wort, hypericum, Valerian, lemon balm, lemon verbena, dill, caraway, echinacea, elecampane, horseradish, comfrey, bay tree, sage, white sage, tansy and weeds

Fruit trees, vines and bushes: Plums, blackboy, golden queen and white flesh peaches, apricots, cherry, mulberry, elderberry, figs, lemon, grapefruit, mandarin, orange, hazelnuts, fejoias, thorn less blackberry, boysenberry, blueberries,red and yellow raspberries, red and black currants, nashi, nectarine, home grafted apple- "golden delicious", " Hetlina" apple, mini kiwifruit, prune plum, red skinned pear.



Yeah Ha

Yay for the first day back to school euphoria! 3 kids out the door with no fuss. 1 off to Montessori for a full day. Wicked! He was very particular, had to have his sunhat and sunglasses but threatened to cry and lay a guilt trip when I dropped him off but with a skillful bit of cajoling I made it out the door!

I got a wee taste of being me before I got whoopsie pregnant with the red head four years ago, it all went back to zero with a new baby. These child fee days seemed such a long way away but it hasn't been long really and I miss my babies, but I went swimming! I did heaps of lengths. When I got out I was weak and pathetic but I'm going to do an hour a week at the pool. Hopefully I can fit in some walking or biking too. I haven't done any exercise since I was at high school and am really looking forward to it. It's getting priority before the garden and craft cos I can't do either if I'm a slob.
Saved seeds- Indian red corn, cannelloni, horticultural bush beans, strawberry popping corn.

Even had time to poke a few late seeds in. I know the moon's for liquid feeding but better late than never. I collected some seaweed from kina beach on the way home . I had to check out my uncle's bach, it's a lovely wee holiday rental , check it out if you want to stay in our beautiful region.


Where are my scissors?

None of these scissors are the ones I'm looking for. Like my grandmother I'm very protective over my scissors. I have been known to scream upon seing someone else using them especially the current cutting favorites which I cannot find today. L and I nearly fell out once when I caught him using some to cut gasket paper when restoring his vehicle.( The grey handled pair from memory) Also asking me "why?" when I've just caught you in the act is not a good idea it usually triggers some manical ranting. So I've spent most of the afternoon looking, found quite a stash of retired sewing scissors and pinking shears, but not my supreme cutting pair. It's causing a little anxiety.
oh look there they are in the previous post. Damn why can't I find them at home.


Notes from a negligent blogger

Sometimes I compose really good blog posts in my head but they're long gone by the time I sit down. I'm very impressed by bloggers who can make even things like cleaning the oven sound fascinating, I should have payed a bit more attention during English at High school instead of filling a folder full of notes between my best friend and I or planning the weekends antics.

With the garden, I totally peaked at the wrong time so that when the planting moon was good I was exhausted. I got a few more seeds in but became disheartened as a few bad chooks escaped and scratched all the compost away from new plantings of lettuce, sunflowers and garlic. Everything needs weeding badly too.
Also each day I've noticed plants slowly going into decline along my back fence line, making me madder and madder. This morning I wrote a letter to the arrogant orchidist responsible and took photos as proof. As you can see he's been very heavy handed with "round up" possibly spraying it deliberately on my plants. It has damaged the mother wort, mugwort, some raspberries, a rose and grass on my side of the fence. All will recover but that's not the point. I have investigated and it's an offence under the pesticides act for his spray to go onto my property.

The plants are affected by going yellow at their tips. You'd have to lift your spray pretty high to contact the mugwort.
I'm so angry that i don't have words for it!

I'm working on letting it go and have done some sewing to make me smile.

PS. I looked for labels for this post and decided my "thinking" posts would for the most part be more appropriately labeled "ranting"


We've had fairly good frosts the last few nights. Not enough to ruin the asparagus but the zucchini and cannelloni beans that were waiting in the glasshouse got their leaves a bit burnt. I spent a beautiful day in the garden, I'd been getting withdrawal after the obsessive housework and visitors earlier in the week. I probably shouldn't have been gardening as the moon's not quite ready but I just stuck to squashing aphids on seedlings and transplanting the ones that needed it into bigger pots. I sorted out my messy piles of pots and trays finding heaps of snails which the chooks enjoyed. A wee while ago I planted out the first sunflowers, they have so far escaped frost damage and it's interesting to note the ones I planted with the rising moon are thriving while the others are a little crooked and getting attacked by aphids. I've been mounding up potatoes and making sure the peas get enough water so their little pods fatten up quickly. I need to get onto making some liquid fertiliser out of things like comfrey, nettles and seaweed as things are looking like they need to be fed. The worm farm is only supplying enough for the seedlings. There is a rampant hop plant in my garden! Last year I should have been more severe with it but I ignored it. It dropped alot of hop flowers which have composted beautifully where they fell but the great big underground runners are coming up everywhere so I also spent a good part of the day trying to pull them up. This week is primo for planting seeds, I'll be still sowing into pots in the glasshouse as the ground's not quite warm enough yet. I'll be putting in more sunflowers, corn, melons, basil and lots of flowers to try and attract those horrible garden pests away from my veges. I won't mention what's doing well incase a nasty frost wipes them all out tonight! When L brings the camera home I'll post some pics of what I've been sewing.


School holidays

I've got an obsessive need to de-clutter in the holidays, so that I feel in a tranquil space to sew. I should pretend I'm going on holiday so I don't get visitors in the first week. I managed to farm out the helpful children "PJ" and "Skatey boy" and have left at home "The red head " who's got earache again and the teen who refuses to get a job and hogs the computer all day.

Sew bags for Ngatimoti festival, keep house tidy and de -clutter a bit, make some progress on weeds, stay away from town and spending money, finish painting toilet, turn the compost heaps, help Dad at the farm, restock freezer with soup and muffins, try not to yell at kids, make some moves toward getting fit.

Man I need a month!


Garden notes Sept.

I've had two questions about a picture of a fennel flower I took last year. I've replied here as I get sent a "no reply" email address when people comment. Do any other gardeners know about allergic skin reactions to umbeliferae plants?

Washing machine is still not well. Living on borrowed time.

The garden has had my full attention recently, so much so that I think I'm forgetting how to have conversations with people. We ventured out to the Steiner Spring Fair today, what a magic day for it! Does anyone else forget how to have conversation after only talking to kids and plants all week?

I've been much more strict about following the moon calender gardening this year and the seedlings sown at the last two first quarter moons are thriving. It's last quarter at the moment so I have to resist the temptation to do anything except cultivate and prune. I have little tomatoes, sunflowers, capsicums (more than half of them got eaten by slugs tho), cleome, dwarf and cannelloni beans, zucchini and pumpkins all waiting nice and warm in the glasshouse for the weather to warm up outside. In addition I put frost cloth over them at night too. They're getting feed worm juice from the worm farm but I have had to resort to a bit of slug bait as beer traps and pot ash weren't working. It's not ideal but it's still vastly better than bought veges. I can handle eating capsicum for example that I know have been all organic except for one slug pellet when they were babies. What I really need is a couple of hedgehogs but even they have their pitfalls they eat chickens given half a chance. Carrots still elude me, last lot were eaten by either slugs or dug up by cats as they sprouted. No worries peas are flowering and asparagus is doing it's thing. YuM.

This is my constant reference in spring, helps me plan where to put everything in the garden. Highly recommended.

It's a work in progress, hopefully in a few years the garden will be so well balanced I won't need anything inorganic thus achieving my sustainable goal.

My morning routine in spring includes feeding the chooks, watering and walking round the garden watching blossoms and leaves grow. Sometimes I spend so long outside that I forget the kids need their breakfast and lunches made. For the first time in 15 years I have some consistent child free days as the "red head" is now enrolled two and a half days at Montessori. Blissss!



I get so stressed when my washing machine breaks down, usually every few years. It broke down on Monday, the guy was supposed to fix it Tuesday. He came out and replaced a part and left a reasonable bill but, I didn't get a load on until last night because I was behind with everything else. Skatey boy came in and said "Mum there's someone in the house hear that bashing?" We both looked at each other scared to death. I said "hold my hand we'll check it out" (Quite stupid looking back) Anyway it was the washing machine in what seemed to be it's death throw. Relief on one hand and gutted on the other. Called back said fix it guy who said he can't look at it till Monday. Pleading about four kids didn't sway him a bit either. Unfortunately he's the only appliance guy in our town and looking back it took him 3 goes to fix it last time too. I'm grateful they're all out of nappies to say the least. I have some cool bits of fabric that I'm dying to wash up too.

From left: cool old floral curtain, fab orange sheet, and a bit of "viyella" all found at the op shops today. As well as two super cheap bits from that Spot place. Red head boy needs new long pants and shorts, have you noticed it's so hard to find cool boy fabric second hand? Hopefully the washing machine will live again on Monday.



I visited Janelle's blog to catch up, reading this post bought a whole lot of memories flooding back about Masterton where I grew up. Castlepoint especially as it was where our family use to rent a beach bach for holidays. I remember huge sand dunes with wind blowing so had it felt like we'd blow away and the sound of the waves at night was like nowhere I've ever been since. Dad use to go diving for paua and crayfish nearby and we'd sit on the lawn gutting them surrounded by seagulls waiting for their share. It seemed like such a long trip to us, in those days I don't remember seat belts in the back of the car and my brothers and I would fight alot and stand on the seats. Probably why Dad gave a reward to "the first to see the sea". Being a farming family I think we used to go at really odd times of year. Christmas was shearing and hay baling and August holidays were lambing so I think it must have been in Autumn because I don't ever remember the weather being beautiful and the beach was pretty much deserted. I do remember Dad encouraging the farm shepherd to eat kina and us thinking it hilarious when he couldn't keep it down. Other places I remember were: the "crying onion" fish n chip shop, golden shears (shearing and wool classing competition). The horseshoe pub/restaurant where Dad use to take us to try and get us to use our table manners though I'm sure we thought we went there to play pac man and use the warm air hand dryers in the bathrooms. I remember the vet clinic near the train station, playcentre where mum took me a few times until I stuck a bead up my nose and refused to go back. I remember sitting in the car outside the pub with my brothers. Dad would bring us a packet of chips and a raspberry drink and we'd call out rude names to people walking past then we'd send our youngest brother in to tell Dad we needed another raspberry drink. We left when I was 11 but I remember going back as a teenager and working in a shearing gang going from Kaituna to Ekatahuna, I'd say it was my favorite job ever probably because I was young, fit and having a ball.

Crafters ettiquette?

Along with the other decisions I'm trying to make at the moment I've been contemplating the summer market season here. I love to sew and create things for sale but I hate the feeling of having to produce things. A friend and I recently had a discussion about market ettiquette. You know how creative people go round the market and think, I could make that, sometimes they'll even rudely state it standing at your stall, but usually they never get around to it. Market people or "stallies" will usually happily buy off each other preferring to support local crafters and appreciate the same back. I spent many years keeping my garlic plaiting technique secret as I'd seen people try to imitate it but it never looked as good. A couple of years ago I shared it with a few people who I trusted in an effort to get over my trust issues. It felt really good to share something with friends. Sometimes though great ideas get copied! I'd be interested to know what others think about it because we feel there are certain unwritten rules. Are some items OK to imitate? I do lots of knitting and sewing for my stall so I take no offence if someone else turns up to an event doing something similar. I'd probably get the pip if it was someone I knew well, or it was a "signature item". A good number of my freinds are also crafters so I think that ettiquette just comes out of respect for each other now. Is immitation just a form of flattery?

Enter online craft land. How does it then work in the craft/blog world? Is it a similar friendship/ respect thing? I've noticed bloggers who visit each other often offer similar items for sale in their shops. I've noticed tutorials which ask that you make only for private use and some that don't. What's good craft/blog ettiquette?


Try felting

I wish I could really write. I haven't blogged because alot of what I have to say in spring is the same year in and year out. Blossom, seed, rain, sun, slugs, you know how it goes.

I've really been looking inward I guess, trying to decide how best to make myself happy while continuing to support my family. I feel like 15 years of mothering has been so rewarding but I need to also reward myself now and then too.

I've worked as a volunteer and an employee at Playcentre for many years. I've resigned from 1 of my paid days at Playcentre and it feels great! The other one I so love the people I come in contact with that I'm not ready to let it go yet.

I walked into Playcentre at 20 years old, shy and naive, I was greeted with open arms literally! Most of my closest friends I've met through playcentre, we've been there for each other through post natal depression, relationship trouble, financial highs and lows, moving and buying houses, having babies, discussing abortion, immunisation, religion, death, accidents, gardening, sewing, knitting and everything. I have no idea where I'd be now without my Playcentre family, that's why I find it so hard letting go. I know I have to start now cos in only two short years my youngest will be off to school.

This week the daughter I prayed for turned 7. The son who saved me got his drivers licence. I went to the movies with the Playcentre girls; saw "Mama Mia" and I LOVED IT! Wished I'd got up and danced. Was Pierce Bosnian serious?

We had a kid free craft day. For full time Mums it's such a luxury.

We dyed using the vinegar and food colouring method.Wet felted with thrifted fleece.

Tried needle felting with one who'd done it before,
and went away feeling totally inspired.

It's amazing just to get together and try it out. The results speak for themselves and what better way to spend a spring day than with new friends and old with good food and intentions.
PS. Broke my felting needle while waiting for photos to load. Bugger! PJ wanted me to put more hair on the dolls.


Garden notes

August has been full on with the weather and all the birthdays. I did my seed sowing earlier in the month with the first quarter of the moon. Alot of those seedlings are up and looking pretty healthy. We had a good spring rain this weekend quite warm and wet. I put all the seed trays out in the rain as rain is better for them than being watered by the hose. I think they get nitrogen from the rain?

While the "red head" was at Montessori this afternoon I potted on corn cockle, Phacelia, cornflowers and statice from their seed trays to punnets. They all help attract the beneficial insects into the garden. I separated and planted out some parsley and lettuces, then potted up my beefsteak tomatoes. My back gets sore at this time of year from bending over the seedlings and bringing them in and out of the glasshouse so they harden off. If you put them straight from the window sill or glasshouse to the garden the wind and cold is too much of a shock.I put some sweet peas into the garden too, scented plants remind me alot of my grandmother's garden. She had Winter sweet, Daphne, Freesias, Violets, Hyacinths, and Roses. I think of her when I smell any of those.

Kez asked me about frost cloth.It helps in spring to stop the frost killing plants. It's a loosely woven, white, light cloth which we get in our garden centres. We need to start alot of our more tender plants under it and things like young avocados and citrus spend the whole winter underneath it. In my old garden we used fronds of a native? fern commonly called "pig fern" draped over things to protect from frost. It was more aesthetically pleasing than the frost cloth.

The family sit on the sun room steps eating fruit and throwing the stones into this skinny wee garden next to the neighbours driveway. I let this apricot grow from seed and have espaliered it's branches about 3meters along the fence. This is it's 3rd or 4th winter and this year for the first time it has a couple of blossoms at the end of it's branches.

Giant red mustard, just because it looks so good.


Thank you : )

Thanks for all the birthday wishes, I feel a bit embarrassed really because I've been a bit of a non blogger lately, with pretty vague posts, no pictures and not alot of commenting. So I really appreciate people taking time to send me good wishes.

Take a peek at what else I got for my birthday. Beautiful spring/summery retro fabrics.

I've been making an effort to get some bags made:
This one though was cut out before winter out of an old wool skirt. I need to get cracking on some spring time ones now.

I've sort of been pottering in the garden in between working and trying to practice positive parenting. I planted some early seed potatoes which I plan to cover with frost cloth when they pop up, I put in some carrot seed, ever the optimist that one day I'll have a really good crop of carrots. I'm still holding off on planting alot of seed, the hardy herbs and sunflowers have popped up as well as the tomatoes and peppers on the window sill. I've been enjoying reading the New Zealand Gardener magazine lately the collector edition book at Christmas really got me hooked. The monthly magazine suggests to soak the glasshouse for a week to get rid of salts that might build up in the soil. I'm giving that a try as last year the glasshouse plants didn't take off very well and that might be why.


From the universe

In the free box at the op shop, a birthday present for me.

35 feels good.


Snow, tra la la

I guess I should have known that as soon as I posted my tra la la spring post we'd be hit by a huge snowy winter blast. L wasn't able to make it over the "Hope saddle" to get back to work because it was closed with 2 ft of snow for three days. Friends in Murchison said they hadn't seen it this heavy for thirty years.
Aside from the cold, the wet and the fear that the shed roof was going to blow off, life carried on as usual.
I feel grateful to have:
a shed still half full with dry wood,
celebrated 15 years of motherhood,
some seedlings coming up in the glasshouse,
a night out at a book party and laughing till my sides hurt,
a Mum who works all week then saves my sanity by having the two littlies for the night,
apricot blossoms so close to popping,
and 10 chooks laying 9 eggs a day.


Spent the week sowing seeds, skipping spring is in the air and swearing at the chook that got in the garden.


Growing in the kitchen

At a recent seed swap with friends I was also given some Kefir grains. You use them to make a fermented milk drink which is good for your digestive system. I didn't know much about it and let my first lot perish somehow, so now with a fresh batch of grains I'm determined to keep it growing this time. Here's some info I found on growing Kefir , but I'd love to have advice from anyone else who's using it. My friend didn't tell me to wash the grains each time so hopefully that is where I've gone wrong. The ever suspicious and fussy kids are not keen on the taste but I plan to sneak it to them in fruit smoothies as summer comes. My friend told me the Kefir is something that should be given, not sold so if I can keep mine alive I'd be happy to share with anyone who wants to try it. I see there are plenty of people offering it for sale on "Trade me" and through the web if you're further away.

Again I'm wishing I had a goat or cow to milk, maybe I spend too much energy in wishing and not enough time in making things happen!


Sowing or sewing

Helen made a good point about pruning, if the weather is nasty don't do it. Disease can very easily enter through fresh cuts. I try to do the pruning with the moon but not if the weather doesn't suit.

The new seeds arrived in the mail today, I can't wait to get planting! I'm holding off till the first quarter of the moon to give them a really good start. I bet folks have already got tomato and pepper seeds going but I have learned in my garden that the late frosts will set back all the early seedlings so much so that the late ones catch up.

A bit of distraction is needed so I've got a project on the go to keep me busy. Fingers crossed this dress suits me cos I love the fabric, I've been hoarding it for a couple of years!!!

And one more thing, does anyone eat Jerusalem artichokes? I roasted them the other night, all the kids said "Yuck" and I wouldn't go for them again unless I had no other root veges to choose from. I wondered if anyone out there had a better way of cooking them?


I've been playing with the layout and adding to my link list because everyone has probably had enough of garden photo's and goings on for this week. I just realised I haven't actually talked to another adult since Wednesday. I've been fostering friendships here though which is nice when it's too cold to go out.



Lance use to prune apple trees for a job, I found his tools today. I Love pruning!

It was a bit silly of me to not take Mum up on her offer to prune my roses though cos I still have alot of other pruning to finish.

Completed the biggest fruit tree this morning and my least favorite bramble, the boysenberry - they're so prickly. If you're turning a small section of land into a garden I'd leave these off the plant list unless you really love them. I've got four which I thought were going to produce enough berries to make jam, eat fresh , bottle and make wine out of but these four bushes take up as much space as the raspberries, require twice the effort in pruning and yield about half as much. I'd go for a thorn less blackberries and raspberries instead. Our single blackberry probably produces as much as those darned boysenberries all put together. To prune the boysenberries and blackberries cut out all last seasons fruiting canes and tie up the growth that came up during summer make kind of a fan. Easy. Peach trees I've got sussed too. Before......
When you select your tree or seedling from the garden centre have in mind the shape you want. All mine are vase shaped cos I reckon that's the easiest. You prune it to have four or five evenly spaced main branches. I like them to start low so they can be picked without a ladder. During summer I prune off alot of the new really fast leafy shoots and in winter I fix anything I don't like shape wise. Thin it out so there will be good airflow and sun reaching fruit to ripen. I shorten the end growth to try and keep the tree vase- ing out wards instead of upwards where I won't be able to reach the fruit. I don't let my fruit trees produce fruit for their first two years, picking off all the flowers so that they put all their energy into producing a good root system is worth it.
I found some buried treasures today too. Last year I didn't have room to put yams in, I've missed them, so I was pleased to find some wildings under some weeds. The Jerusalem artichokes are mammoth! I've grown them in the past for their ability to make a tall screen but these beauties will have to be tasted. I'm a bit nervous cos they don't look delicious.