Wednesday 29 June 2011

Winter Wednesdays #2

Sometimes I can't help thinking of that line from The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe: "it's always winter, but never Christmas". Living in the southern hemisphere where winter is June, July and August, it can be a long, dreary time with no festivities to break it up. Luckily in New Zealand we do have a midwinter festival: Matariki.

Also known as the Maori New Year, Matariki celebrates the reappearance of the Pleiades constellation in our skies, which heralds the coming of spring. It's time to get together with friends and family, celebrate the harvest and have a nice meal, and also time to plan your garden for the coming season and determine how your crops will grow.

There are many ways to celebrate Matariki. I chose to make some golden star decorations - seven of them, for the seven stars in the Pleiades constellation (also known as the Seven Sisters). 

I made my stars by stamping and gold embossing onto clear heatproof acetate. Then I cut the star shape out with scissors, leaving a gap of about 1 mm because I found the embossing could flake off if bent. I added sparkle with some stick on rhinestones, and pierced a hole at the top for a thread (more embossing flaked off at this point, which annoyed me but I didn't have a punch tiny enough so had to use a pin). Then I threaded on some beads for more sparkle.

I hung the stars off my flower garland which is currently adorning this corner. They sway and catch the breeze, and reflect the sunlight - a small reminder that the days are now growing longer.
(Please ignore the giant crack in the wall - it's where our hot water cylinder tried to jump out.)

This was posted as a part of Hazel Dene's Winter Wednesdays series... for more ideas to celebrate winter, see this post!

Tuesday 28 June 2011

Seeds to share

I saved a few seeds from some of my tomatoes. Just cut a ripe tomato in half, scoop out the seeds, and spread them on a paper towel to dry. Don't forget to write the variety on the paper towel! I even made little paper envelopes for some of mine, but a paper bag would work just as well.

So I have some tomato seeds to share if anyone wants to try them. I'm happy to post them anywhere within NZ.

Abraham Lincoln
Large, firm red fruit.

Amazon Chocolate
Large brown beefsteak fruit, very tasty.

Brown Berry
Small brown cherry tomato, tangy savoury taste.

Sunset's Red Horizon
Red medium-large fruit, said to be frost resistant and resistant to cracking.

Yellow Pear
Small yellow, pear shaped fruit. Sweet and mild flavour. Plants tend to be very bushy.

Red Fig
Small red, pear shaped fruit. Vigorous and prolific, however the fruit were very quick to crack and split.

I also have some seeds of the pink Sunset Runner beans, these were just like normal runner beans but with pretty salmon pink flowers. (Note: these were grown next to white flowering cannelini beans, though according to Google they shouldn't have cross-pollinated.)

Just email me your address if you want some (it's on the left hand side of my profile page). It's hard to believe that the seed catalogues will be out next month... bring it on I say! Apparently King's Seeds will have a rainbow carrot mix, so that's definitely on my list! Along with some more mizuna for planting the potager edges. What's on your list this season?

Sunday 26 June 2011

Cozy cans

Apparently we are having a mild start to winter. Not that I've really noticed; cold is cold and dark is dark and winter is winter, in my opinion. So I got out my hook and yarn and made a cozy wrap for this pink geranium who is overwintering inside. Actually, it was a new hook and this was a new crochet stitch for me: Tunisian. It has a finished look similar to knitting. It seemed to take foreeever to do, but I persevered and was pleased with the finished knit-look result - the one thing knitting has over crochet is that you can do ribs! (Oh and socks.)

A final row of single crochet in pink.

And some vintage buttons to finish it off.

I potted up my fibre optic plant in the other cozy. Here they are on the windowsill with their friend the red cyclamen, who is outgrowing his little terrarium. One more can cozy coming up...

Wednesday 22 June 2011

Last week

Last week began with more earthquakes, more liquefaction, more mess. We have learned how to deal with this situation and so we pick things up, clean up, and try to move on. The piles of sand and mud are collected that very evening by council trucks working long into the night.

Mud and muck is piled outside my back door. The cat walks through it and tracks mud through the house. I wipe the benches with paper towels, because the water supply is off for two days.

Last week Jon's dad passed away. It was unexpected and we grieve his loss.

Garden flowers are confused. Bulbs and spring-flowering shrubs are blooming. I wonder what will be left, come September.

Saturday 11 June 2011

Weird Cat Behaviour #5


Couch diving.

Duck under the throw, grab the couch with your claws, and pull! Roll over, kick your legs out, get your claws into everything! Duck and dive, flip and skid. Grab the fabric in your mouth and make manic snarling, snuffling noises. Then get up, walk calmly away, and wash. Refuse to acknowledge the mess of throw rugs and shredded fabric left behind.

(Weird Cat Behaviour is an occasional series on this blog. For earlier posts, go here.)

Wednesday 8 June 2011

Winter Wednesdays #1

Here we are beginning another winter. Several dreary months ahead of cold weather, grey days, early dark, and did I mention the cold? Winter is not my favourite time, so I always make an effort to find and identify things I like about the season. I was thrilled to read on Hazel's blog last week that she is also attempting to find the joy in winter, by starting up a series of posts called Winter Wednesdays. So I thought I'd join in. I may not post every single Wednesday, but I'll definitely make an attempt to share some winter cheer!

 This is my kitchen windowsill, decorated in whites and neutrals in honour of the season.
 (Excuse the bad lighting in these photos... but hey, you know what time of year it is...)

Gorgeous wintersweet in a rustic cream-glazed vase.

These sweet little salt and pepper shakers were just $3 from Riccarton Market. I love the flower print and the coppery lids.

Chives for winter cooking (if they ever actually grow that is).

Seedheads and berries.

These are Starball Scabiosa. The seedheads make great decorations. They are a gorgeous parchment brown with a darker brown star shape in the middle of each floret. I grew them in the garden this year especially for winter decorating.

Not sure what these berries are, but I suspect the white rabbit knows. He looks like he's feasted on quite a few.
That's it for my first Winter Wednesdays post. Have a look at Hazel's post for more winter cheer!

Monday 6 June 2011


Today I spent a bit of time tidying the front garden in preparation for putting in some roses. I've never really known what to do with this bit of garden, it has two olive trees on either side and did have some ugly shrubbery filling it. I dug all the shrubbery out and removed the weedmat, then removed all the invasive grass that was growing through the weedmat (it's the kind that spreads by a long root).

Previously I'd planted bulbs under the olive trees, and freesias - they are all standing in a row like soldiers which suited last year's design, but when they've flowered I'll probably dig them up and distribute them a bit more randomly. There are also self-seeded poppies which might hide the roses while they get themselves established in spring. Eventually though, I will underplant them with catmint and pink carnations.

Meet the new ladies...
 Queen Elizabeth
A Grandiflora rose, with large elegant flowers on long stems which are good for picking. It grows quite bushy and vigorous. Seems not too prone to black spot, and flowers are lightly fragranced.

Claire Rose
An Austin rose with large frilly flowers. Fragrant and good for picking.

Sexy Rexy
Apparently everyone who's serious about roses grows Sexy Rexy! Not that I consider myself a roseophile, but it met my criteria - pink, fragranced and good for picking. It's also won numerous awards so hopefully it's easy to grow and doesn't need too much attention!
It will be interesting to see about the fragrance of these roses. I made sure each one I bought had "fragrant" on it's description, but after googling it seems to be one of those personal things. Some people can smell it and some can't. I will keep you posted though...


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