Friday 29 December 2017

My poor neglected blog.

I hope you all had a good Christmas. We certainly did. 
It was very busy but fun. 
We have been very busy over the last few months and my blog has been very neglected.
I'm so sorry.
So what was I busy with? The garden of course and lots of secret stitching.
I'd better do a bit of a catch up.
But first, look what my lovely son Joe made me for Christmas.
What a beautiful bench. He worked very hard and got it finished just in time. The thick layer of varnish he put on it is still curing. It sits beautifully into that shady little corner.
The garden is growing well and I'm freezing loads, because we just can't eat enough veg to keep up.
I'll look into doing a picture update for that soon.
First the crafty stuff.
I made ornaments for a few friends and family members this year, some I showed way back in August. You have to scroll down to see them.
 Some more recent finishes are this kitty,
And this cute wee doggy for two special friends
And I finished this beautiful cherub for my own tree. I plan to stitch her sister in a green robe, before returning to stitching my Spring Queen.
Claire and Debbie made beautiful ornaments for me and each other. I'll get photos of them and share soon. LOL I really am out of practice, my camera was always near at hand but seems to be hiding at the moment.
Last but not least, and in this photo, not properly finished my Christmas gift to my lovely pal Janice and her husband Mick. As many of you know, Janice and I met when she visited me on my home island, the Isle of Man, we have been good friends ever since, so when I saw this cross stitch design in a magazine I knew I had to stitch it for them.
I even found some Manx legs fabric to finish it. And I assure you, it is on a wee quilt frame and looking good in Janice's home. You can see it here on her blog.
Right, the beetroots I roasted will be cool enough to handle now, time to peel them and get them into the freezer as I already have a huge bowl in the fridge.

I wish you all a happy and safe 2018.

Wednesday 25 October 2017

More garden doings....

But first some very exciting news!
I'm going to have another grandchild next year. 
My son Jiffy Jonathan and his beautiful girlfriend Josie are pregnant.
To celebrate I made this cute wee blanket, it's just big enough for a Moses basket and really didn't take long to make.
Very soon it will be on it's way to the Isle of Man, along with one or two other items from my Granny collection. 
The weather is still rather changeable here in Timaru, one day it's warm and sunny, the next we are back to cold and wet. But Tony and I have dodged the showers and spent some more time in the garden. One of my tasks has been to get my herb garden going. This year I have opted to keep it in the back porch in order to leave a little more room outside. It's a dry but grey day today and difficult to get nice photos, sorry.
Speaking of outside, things are starting to look green out there, the veges we planted earlier this month are growing well and in some cases too tall for the cat/bird/butterfly proofing.
 Behind the veg bed my Peony tree is looking somewhat overcrowded by it's neighbour. I'm not sure what that is beside it, but it's days are numbered. It is blocking sunlight from my veggies and messing with the peony, so it will be going.
 Further along the garden, behind the greenhouse, next doors clematis is putting on a beautiful display.
 And just on the other side of the path you can see some of the results of my supermarket freebies!
My little garden watermelon, cucumbers and courgette are all potted into troughs and placed so that they can ramble along and down the bank. Hopefully they will do ok there. We will need to ensure we keep up the water though
Yes, that is a bunch of old tyres you see under my greenhouse!  The back of the property slopes away to the fence line, our predecessors in this house had pulled out some of the gardens and built up a solid surface to sit a trampoline on. It was done using old tyres and crusher dust and was a great stable platform ready for us to pop a green house onto.
 Things are looking promising inside the green house too.
The tomatoes are looking strong, there were two extras which we potted, I'll find a spot outside for them once things get a wee bit warmer.
 On the other side of the space as you know, I've been planting capsicum and chilli peppers.
s well as the usual varieties of capsicum I have added my candy cane red and another one called mad hatter. 
 There are still one or two little garden seedlings almost ready to be planted out.
Back outside, we finally got the long bed weeded. Phew! That took a lot of effort.
It#s still looking a bit battered and worse for wear, but is recovering.
Mr H has finally agreed that while bare earth looks very nice, a good mulch is a great way to lessen the weeds!!
 There are even some flowers appearing!
 In other areas, there are still jobs to do. The fennel I grew from my little garden last year has survived the winter. Although we didn't really enjoy eating it, it is a pretty plant and I decided to keep it as an ornamental, it will be moved from it's current spot just as soon as I figure out where to move it too!!
And finally I went to a craft market at the weekend with Debbie and came home with plants!
From front to back I have two podophylum, a hosta and a trillium. (The mint has been there for a while) All are awaiting their instructions! I'll keep you posted on where they go in!
We have a landscape gardener coming along this evening to take a look at the front of our property. We want to make some changes and need help with that bit!! At the moment it looks like a weed infested battlefield! Tony dug out the old fence and gate posts and then we got stuck! We know it needs to be levelled off, and new path and probably a lawn. Hopefully the landscaper will be able to help us out with some ideas and make it look easy as he transforms it!!
I'm off to sort out a new crochet project.

Wednesday 11 October 2017

A Rainy Day Update

 I really do need to get out into the garden, but the weather is just awful again, so dark and wet, so instead if any one wants me today, I'll be right here, warm and dry and stitching away.
I managed to get a wee bit more done on Spring Queen this week, but I'm still not half way down the first page. She is going to take a while to complete.
The weather may be keeping me indoors most of the time, but I have popped out with the camera to get a few pictures. Do you recall I mentioned a candy cane capsicum? The plant is still tiny, but here is the label showing the expected pretty fruits
While I was shopping for lawn food I came across a pile of these pretty bags and they were filled with Daliah tubers/bulbs. There were pinky/purple bags like this one and reddish/orange bags, I'm hoping this means I will get pinky /purple flowers if I actually manage to plant the poor things.
Then I get a pretty bag to use for what ever. Bonus. 
My super market little garden is going strong and even if I don't get outside, I will have to make time very soon to go into the shed and do a little potting on, some of these are out growing their fibre pots.
I have beans, spinach, red onions, lettuce butternut and even a watermelon sprouting.
So pleased with the results so far.
On a recent trip outside I noticed some new friends. This iris was always here but has never flowered for me, it just popped leaves up each spring, that was it, show was over. I was delighted to spy this pretty flower out there and took a quick photo. Oh and as you can see, the peonies are all revved up and ready to flower too.
It's also the first time this yellow iris has popped up. I planted a whole bunch of bulbs last year and this year I am seeing some reward for that. The big strapping leaves to the left of my yellow friend are another iris that was here in the garden when we inherited it. It has never flowered for me yet, but I hope that it will one day.
The daffys may be finished, but the blue bells are putting on a wonderful display.
And so is this! I have no idea what this purple flower is, but in spite of it being pulled out last year by and over enthusiastic weeder, it's back again this year.
Do you know what it is?

Wednesday 4 October 2017

Then and Now

Just a quick update, to show my very slow progress on my Spring Queen cross stitch.
The last time I showed her she looked like this image, which I shared on 20th September.
As I mentioned last time our garden life has made a seriously large hole in our crafting time and not a huge amount has happened. I have however managed to get some stitching done and here is what M'Lady's dress looks like now.
While I was stitching away the other day I was thinking to myself that the contrast in the shading of the dress is a little extreme, yes, we would see shadows in the folds and creases of the fabric, but would it really be that dark in there, given how light the light areas are?
Then I remembered thinking the exact same thing the first time I stitched her.
I wish I had remembered sooner, then maybe I might have tried my hand at converting some of those darker shades to something a little lighter.
Ho Hum...
Although it is a beautiful day, I'm feeling a wee bit under the weather today, so I'm going to stay indoors and stitch.
Then when himself gets home, we will be bottling his third home brew beer. The last one was very, very good. I couldn't drink a whole bottle, too fizzy for me, but very nice all the same. Hope this one is good too.

Monday 2 October 2017

More garden goings on.

Tony and I took an extra day off this weekend and spent Friday together. We took an hours drive to Ashburton, where I would usually visit Annies Country Quilts. But not this time, this time we were out to look at garden stuff. We did make a couple of purchases, the most exciting of which is a candy cane capsicum!  It's only a tiny plant at the moment, but hopefully later in the simmer I will have pretty fruits to show you. 
On Saturday we applied ourselves to actually doing some gardening. This thin shady bed was a mess of weeds and old bark chip mulch. We have tried in the past to get it going with something a little prettier, but with little success. After some advice from a lovely helpful lady at a local garden centre Tony got stuck in with his shovel and removed several inches of bark, weeds and soil, then we applied a weed suppressing membrane. I know some gardeners will be horrified by that, but it's our garden! 
 It will not remain as bare black plastic, we have already planted a beautiful sweet scented Daphne who, we are assured will love her shady corner.
 And two feijoa trees. 
We plan to add a good thick layer of fresh bark chips, a large ornament of some kind and a few planters with something colourful in there too.
So while Tony was busy with the diggy, diggy, I was weeding in the lower bed and on the opposite side of the path. It now looks much more presentable. We plan to give this bed the same treatment in time, although I'll have to figure out what to do with all the bulbs that are in there. Fish them out as we dig, then into pots and tubs I guess. 
As you can see, it is still very early in the season, the daffs and winter roses are still going strong.
My fairy didn't mind the NZ winter and kept company with her pal the kiwi amid the weeds.
After Saturdays exertions, Tony especially didn't want to go back into the garden on Sunday, but it was a much cooler day and I managed to convince him it was a good day to get the veggies in.
The brocolli, cauli and cabbage are in the bed with the green net over it, there is room in there for more. Good thing too as my little garden from the supermarket is all starting to show signs of life and I'll need somewhere to plant it all! 
In the closer bed, under the black bird cloth I have spring onion, celery, beans, beetroot and raddish.
We both agreed that it felt good the get that done.
While we were busy working there I was looking into the flower bed on the other side of the green mesh, I could see that the huge winter rose I had inherited with the garden has put out a bunch of babies and is showing signs of spreading and covering the ground below the cherry tree.
Last year I had transplanted some winter rose seedlings into the same area and they are also looking good and thriving.  That was good to see. Hopefully we get a good dry summer and will be able to get outside and keep things a little tidier this year. 
We still have a third veggie bed to plant, and plan to fill it with sweetcorn. I'll need to go buy some seed. 
So that's the gardening news. On the craft front....
I really still haven't done a great amount. I managed a couple of hours with M'Lady, a few rows of crochet and I took up a pair of pants.  Not much at all really.
Maybe this afternoon I can achieve something.
But first, I'll be making cheese and herb scones, with fresh homegrown herbs.

Wednesday 27 September 2017

Garden Weather

Means less time for crafting.
But I am still finding time to sit with M'Lady and stitch in the evenings, and I managed to make a start on a new crochet project. Just something to fiddle with if I'm not in stitching mode.
 We have made a start on getting the garden into order. It was a dark wet winter here so not much tidying up happened over the cooler months, which means it all has to happen now.
You can see the freshly prepared beds in the background of this first photo.
 Next weekend, if the weather permits the plants you see above will all go into those beds. I have two each of Cauliflower, broccoli and cabbage. A punnet of spring onions and two sorry looking window sill parsley plants that will do just fine outside.
The local supermarket is once again giving away seedling kits with grocery purchases.
This year they have included flowers as well as veg and herbs.
 I had a few left over from last year too and have been busy planting my Little garden.
I haven't planted any flowers yet, I've been concentrating on food!!
We have once again planted our own tomato seeds which are still too small to go into the green house, but they are coming along nicely and will go out soon.
Already in the green house I have two chilli plants and two capsicum plants. 
I plan to squeeze in a watermelon!
That is one of the seedlings in my little garden. Looking forward to any fruit it produces.
Work has also begun on the flower beds, with a sea of weeds already pulled out and a whole lot more to be removed. We have some new plants to put in when that work is complete and some ideas for a problem area at the back of the house, more about that another time, when I actually have something to show.
I have a staff meeting at work today, which is always a PITA, as  once the domestics are done, I often have time to achieve quite a lot, but can't settle properly and find myself just pottering while I'm waiting for the time to leave.
I do wish these things didn't always fall on my day off!
So I'm off to finish the domestics then potter for a while, maybe make a start on some baking which I can pop into the oven once I'm home.
What ever you're doing today, I hope you have some fun time too. 

Wednesday 20 September 2017

A finish

I don't have a huge amount to show today, after my recent flurry of quilty activity and my sewing lesson at the weekend I've pottered on with other projects.
My finish is a crochet project I've been working on for some time, just using up yarn in my stash.
It's not a huge piece. Just big enough for a pram or bassinet. 
 Big stripes in two shades of oatmeal, and a pretty shell edging.
It just needs a Loulee label and it is done.
I've made a start on another smaller and probably slow crochet project, they are easy to take along.
I just grab my basket and go.
I've also been picking away at M'Lady, adding a few stitches each day, and hopefully quite a few more later today.
It was nice to work with the pink threads for a while after all those yellows and mustards.
Time to do the domestics, meet a pal for a cuppa then sit and stitch the afternoon away.
What ever your plans, enjoy your day. 

Monday 18 September 2017

Sewing Lessons

Yes, for me.
A long time ago, I used to do a wee bit of dress making, nothing too fancy, a few maternity items for myself, some pretty dresses for my daughter and even a wedding dress! 
Yesterday, with advice and support from both Debbie and Claire I got stuck in and made myself a shirt. It is the first time I have worked with knitted fabrics and also the first time I have used an over locker. 
I'm rather pleased with the outcome!
Might have to get my hands on my own over locker. Might be the first of many.
Today is most definitely a stay at home and sew type of day. It's rather wet out there!
As you know I have many projects to chose from, but didn't decide yet, what to do?

Thursday 14 September 2017

Two more finishes

My bitty rows quilt is just about done, I quilted it on my frame on Wednesday with a lose meander and included a few hearts in there too. The back does show some tension issues, but on the whole I'm really happy with it.
It just needs a hanging sleeve or tabs and it can take it's turn hanging in the hallway of our home.
Many of those bitty little scraps have memories of previous quilts.
Do you remember a couple of posts ago I showed this piece? It wasn't square, but I couldn't find another piece of chocolate fabric.  Well eventually another piece came to the surface in the scrap bin and I was able to get a slightly too skinny wedge to add to the end.
 It is still not square! The above image in an illusion. LOL
But I'm happy with it. It makes a great mat for my sewing machine, which I push away and pull toward me all the time. 
My old machine was quite light and easy to move. The skyline is a bigger girl and takes a bit more effort to move, so a wee mat is just perfect. Now she slides easily back and forward.
What to do next?
Watch this space.

Wednesday 13 September 2017

Ready for quilting.

My bitty rows quilt is ready for quilting!
The pattern does actually call for two more rows, one of pinwheels and one of friendship stars, but I have opted not to make them. I like it just the way it is.
I did make a few changes. When I made up the heart row I could also see butterflies and angels wings made using the same blocks. So they were added. 
I love the way this one has turned out, the blue sashing unified it beautifully and the second wider border finishes it off perfectly.
I did purchase enough fabric to add another border, but I don't think it needs it. 
I just need to sort out a backing and this one will go onto my frame for quilting.
Sew, what am I sewing now?
I have a new start, but I'll save that for another day.
My Spring Queen, or M'Lady, as I have taken to calling her, is progressing slowly.
 Here you see the folds in her gown. It will eventually become obvious that she is seated, with her knees to the right of this image and the differing shades are the folds in her gown.
I'm still working on page one of the chart, and  have a looooooong way to go.
This design is much larger than some of my more recent cross stitch pieces.
My day off today. I have loads to do before I can play.
What ever you're doing today....
Have fun and sew.

Sunday 10 September 2017

Ta, Daaaaa!

Spring Sprouts.
Designed by Edyta Sitar for Laundry Basket Quilts.
And sewn by me!!
All finished and hanging in my hallway. 
I love, love, love this quilt.
Santa bought me the kit a few years ago and last year I finally made a start on it.
It went on hold while I procrastinated over a huge quilt for DS Joe and is now finally finished, quilted and hanging. 
The bitty row quilt is coming along close behind.
Here is where it is up to.
I hope to get border rounds done today.
We'll see how that goes.
House work is pretty much done so nearly play time.