Friday, June 27, 2014

Finishing touches to a quilt

Just putting on the last bit of binding to my latest quilt "the Colors of Spring" 225cm X 270cm

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Shortest Day - it's Garlic planting time - and MATARIKI

The traditional time to plant garlic is on the shortest day of the year, this was 21st June, the Winter Solstice.

Garlic has a long growing season, and can be harvested when the tops are dry and fallen over, and here in NZ we usually look for that on the longest day of the year, the Summer Solstice.  It gives a very nice rhythm to the year, and has you looking out for the changing seasons and days of the year.

I usually buy garlic especially for planting, as the stuff you get in the supermarket may have been treated with a sprouting inhibitor and might not grow.  Just break the bulb into cloves and plant each with the flat side down, about 2 x the length of the clove in the ground.  They are gross feeders and like soil that is full of nutrients.  A bit of feeding throughout the year is recommended.

Matariki, the Maori New Year is also coming up on 28 June.  My young son came home with all kinds of information about Matariki. 

So for beginners here is MATARIKI 101

- Matariki is the first time in the year when you can see the Seven Sisters, the Pleiades, in the Southern Hemisphere sky.
- The are in Taurus and are one of the most famous star clusters
- There is a lovely legend about Matariki, that you can read about here:
- Celebrations around New Zealand include kite flying, hot air balloons and fireworks

Our family have some sky balloons which we might let off if the weather is cool enough so that we don't set any hedges on fire!

Monday, June 23, 2014

Please help Teens in NZ achieve their education goals

Every year up to 2000 NZ teens do not receive their NCEA results because their NCEA fees were not paid by their caregivers.

Imagine putting in all that work, and then not getting the reward?    Or knowing you have passed, but you can't use your marks to obtain a job?

I have started a fund on Give A Little, any small donation will be welcome and for each $76.70 that is raised one more teen can see a brighter future.

Please see this link to donate.

More information can be read in the news, here

Friday, June 20, 2014

The Smallest Orangery on the Planet

Does one orange tree in a glasshouse make an "Orangery"...I'm really not sure I can claim that!  Traditionally these were like a conservatory in the Victorian times, and I have visited some lovely ones in historic houses.

I have high hopes, there are flowers!

Now, Orange trees are sensitive and pretty allergic to frost, so I have already employed the "flowerpot heater" method for keeping the frost off.  In the glasshouse we still get things frosted, if the frost is hard.  So some form of heating is good.  I ummed and aahhhed about how to heat it without using a lot of electricity or effort.  And the flowerpot heater seems like the best course of action.

Last night all I did was light a candle at its base and this morning I lit the flowerpot heater.  The problem being that my tea lights only last 4hrs, which if I lit at 10pm at bedtime would only go till 2pm.  So I have ordered some 10hr lights on the internet, and eagerly await their arrival.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Sausage Making - inspired by a fellow blogger

I follow a blog by a lady who's daughter goes to school with my daughter.  She writes and I was totally inspired to see she had been making sausages!

Mark and I have talked about sausage making in the past, but with expensive $600 grinders and expensive plastic casings and it put me off when we got a book of recipes with added saltpetre and all sorts.  

But with the wonders of the internet I was able to buy a $74.99 sausage maker/grinder, and $15 casings from thecasingboutique and after thoroughly reading the blog by Debbie I felt armed enough to get going.

We used:

2kg Beef and Lamb, mixed in a random amount (about half and half)
500g Lamb Fat cut off chops
40g salt
a cup of mixed rosemary and thyme
1/2 c water
1/2 c red wine
2 cloves garlic
Casings: 30-32mm Hog, salted

We chopped all the meat and fat, then mixed in the salt and herbs and put it all through the grinder on coarse.  Then we hand massaged in the remaining water/wine and put it through on coarse into the casings.

This mixture made 435cm (4.35m) of sausages.  They smell delicious and we are going to have some of them for dinner!

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Large Flax - will they? won't they?

Several months ago now I had a phone call from my cousin, asking if we knew where to burn some flax.  

Being the avid gardener that I am, my ears burnt, and my brain sizzled, and sure enough soon I was in possession of a large trailer load of flax which had been dug out/cut up.

Some of it looked very sad, with little root and no hope...but some of it although not taken out of the ground with the thought of being replanted, looked hopefully still alive.  The first thing we did was start sorting through the trailer looking for bit with large rooty parts still attached.  Then we clipped the tops right down to about 1 foot high.

Once that was done it was off to plant them.

Now, look, they are sprouting new green leaves, (this rain helps), and looking like it is going to be a winner!

Thanks Alison!

Monday, June 9, 2014

Third time lucky

This is the third time I have knitted this garment!  first, I used another pattern in the same book, but it was a complicated, over 3 row pattern and it was using up wool fast.  So I unpicked the bit I had done and restarted a new pattern.  Yes, I finished the second one, sewed it up and everything.  But it was HUGE....I am usually a size 16 or 18, and I knitted the L (for large) size.  My tension was even a bit tighter than the pattern, but I forged ahead thinking if it was too small I could always diet :-)

But once on, it was like a jacket, large baggy sleeves, bulky at the back and not good!  so I methodically unpicked the whole thing, rewound the wool and started again.  This time I had my previous one to measure from, and I worked out I needed to knit the S (for small) size! never before have I been a 8-10, since I was about 12yrs of age.

Well, I also reshaped the sleeves, because even the small size started with the same amount (50 stchs) which would mean the sleeves would still be way too baggy.  I fudged it and started with 38 stchs, then gradually worked my way up to the same size armhole.  A tip from my sister, knit both the sleeves at the same time, then if you make a mistake you make it on both...and they will match.

I am pretty pleased with this!  it looks great and is exactly how I imagined it would be

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Peony Planting

It's a cool, overcast, looking like rain day here today, and I have been planting peonies.

They look like they should be dead! they were given to me by a friend when she was leaving her garden, and she used a digger to hoik them all out of the ground and then she chopped them up into bits with a spade.  The bits, surrounded by dry soil, sat outside at her house for a week before she arrived her with them all stacked on the trailer behind her 4-wheeler.  We unloaded them, and stacked them in a not-needed spot in the garden to await planting.

I have left them there for 2 weeks, and gradually planted them.  Today I put in 5 more, and it just about kills me....the place where I am planting them is stony as, and the only way to make a hole for a plant is to use a thistle grubber...or a strong man - he was not feeling well today and is not up to digging me any holes.

Then scrabble all the stones out, and put the chopped up peonies in, drag the soil around it and hope for the best.  

They all have red shoots (you can see in the second picture, tiny red bits coming up ) where, my friend assures me, the flowers will come from...  

I am already in anticpation of Spring, even though Winter hasn't put her worst bite on us yet.