Sunday, September 28, 2008

Cherry Blossom Picnic

Today we had a picnic at the Japanese Memorial Gardens. The cherry blossoms were in full bloom but all little e was interested in was finding the chickens.

It may seem strange that there is a Japanese Memorial in rural New Zealand. It turns out that this area has a checkered past. The garden is stunning at the moment, in a very peaceful way.

Climate wise, it is a fantastic place for real cherries too. Each tree was humming with some very busy bees. A friend of mine has a commercial cherry orchard about 1 km from here.

We stop here regularly, not for the cherries but because there are 4 tame hens lurking around, waiting for bread. Little e knows this, so she was off to find them the first chance she had.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Ready to Plant

The garden beds are ready to go, so I am sitting with my feet up and trying to sort out what to plant. Any ideas?

Last summer I was given a care package from a keen gardener. She had put in some of the tastiest tomatoes I've had in long time. I am on the look out for some Black Russian seedlings to get into the soil in the hopes of recreating the wonder. The soil isn't quite warm enough so I have still got some time. There will have to be some cocktail tomatoes in there too, for little hands.

I've been reading about crop rotation, but am not sure if I want to commit an entire bed to brassicas. Maybe I will have changed my mind when the weather is turning cold again.

I could possibly plan my planting around a meal. I'm thinking of new potatoes, peas and strawberries for Christmas.

For now I am re-reading the Cook's Garden series. With 21 years between the first and latest books, they certainly stand up to time. They are written by three sister, one on the gardeing, one researching and one illustrating. Sure, the of varieties in the first book are limited by today's catalogs, but the advice is time hardy. I also like the researched histories of each salad plant and herb in the last two books. For instance, did you know that Shakespeare referred to rosemary 7 times in his plays and it was first reliably described by Pliny the Younger? None of which will help me to decide what to plant, but at least it leaves me feeling that people have been growing these things for a long time and will for a long time yet.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Getting Over It and Getting It Finished

It's been a slow week at Casa Seven Stitches. Little e is getting over tonsillitis and my dearest and I are falling in her wake with various colds. Though, I have been able to get some binding done and a quilt finished during one of her really long sleeps.

I think little kids should be issued flags. Ones that go up in the morning with messages like – “I may be chirpy right now but give me a hour at daycare and I'll be ready to come home”, or “plan to do something big ,cos I'm going to sleep for almost 3 hours”. I went in to check on her an innumerable number of times during the latter and feel really bad about making the call to go to work with the former.

Cuddles are wonderful, but right now I'm looking forward cuddles of the “I'm glad to see you” type rather than the other sort.

Little e is looking up and getting over it. She spent much of the afternoon running around with a friend and is back into her food. I think our respective cold have fallen by the wayside too.

The back, with real washing for authenticity

On the getting it finished front, I finished my first Jelly Roll quilt on Friday. I started it in a class in June and it is already taking pride of place on our bed. Just in time for all of us to snuggle under as we recover.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Strawberry Swap and a Random Act of Kindness

My Strawberry swap from Karen arrived safe and well. The box was filled with strawberry plates, buttons, recipe, a fabric bag and this wonderful table center. I think I will put that aside for Christmas. There was more in the box, but little e has whisked away the knitted strawberry and I haven't the heart to wake her while searching her room.

While I am thinking strawberries, we arrived home last week to find a small parcel of strawberry plants on the doorstep. I still have no-idea who they came from, but I can tell you, they will be put to good use. I think everyone deserves surprises like this.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Friday Thrifting

It has almost become a Friday ritual, packing up little e in the afternoon and carting her off to all the thrift stores, making my way North to pick up my husband from work. If I'm really organised I can take in 2 Salvation Army stores before their 4:30 close. I usually get waylaid in the first and have to pry little e away from the fridge of magnets that are not for sale.

There have been some treasures lately. This wonderful piece of lace would be one. The only damage being 4 small holes in the linen where the price tag was attached.

Little e adores this pair. I haven't seen and attached Mum and child for years. I'm not sure if you are supposed to cuddle them. The fur is so soft yet the bear is koala is hard and you have to watch out for those claws.

I also picked up this sweet recipe holder. I've yet to put a recipe in it, but it is handy for storing each weeks menu.

This weeks treasures included another Eloise Wilkin Golden Book, an awesome Norsewear Cardigan and a bunny glass for little e who is getting to grip with cups. For other thrifting treasures, take some time to look at the Hyena in Petticoats Thrifted Tuesdays. She finds the best stuff.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

My First Knits - Why I Might Have a Short Knitting Attention Span

As Gabes has so thoughtfully shared her first knits, I thought I should share mine. My first knits for my Barbie. My Gran patiently talked me through them. There was a book at our local library that I might as well have had on permanent loan from ages 8 to 11. I would pore over it for hours each time I got it out. I found it again at a different library and just had to get it out.

The book features the rather diplomatic terms "Teenage Dolls" and “11 1'2” fashion dolls” so I guess you could dress a Sindy too. The knits were largely in 4 ply with size 12 needles. By the time I had finished with it I think I had lost every pair of size 12s my Gran had and was beginning on the 11s.

The first attempt at the Bermuda shorts in homespun were interesting. My counting was a little off and the ribbing very rarely lined up.

Then it was onto the sleeveless vest. I had that pattern memorized and even on occasion made sleeves for it. I desperately wanted to be as well dressed as that Barbie in the picture. I would knit on the bus on the way home from school and could usually get a sweater finished in a day.

My inner geek had watched Mum planning out quilts in a maths book. I wanted one too. Soon my Barbie had carefully planned monogrammed sweaters and even an argyle one. I even went so far as to name each pattern with a pithy pun like in real pattern books. “Diamonds Forever” anyone?

There was one sweater that always took my eye and I figured that one day I would be good enough to try it. I could do fairisle, but the mere thought of 100 stitches had me scared, considering the jerseys only had 20 stitches. When I finally had a big enough stash, or at least enough colours, to give it a try it was the neck that had me confused. Gran kindly pointed out that something for a doll didn't need to be this difficult and suggested I give it a rest. That jersey has rested ever since.

I have never really been one for finishing the larger knitting projects. Baby cardigans are fine, but I still have the remainder of my attempt to knit myself a jersey. About 10 years ago homespun was very cool and I attempted a guernsey. I finished the back and two sleeves during coffee breaks working one summer. A year later Mum saw that I hadn't made any more progress and had someone finish it for me. This was a lovely thought but would have been even more lovely if the knitted realised that I had knitted the back. The jersey with two backs sounds almost Shakespearean in hindsight.

My knitting attention span still hasn't improved since those days, but I still love that book to bits.

Blogging Inertia

I have been suffering blogging inertia.

I had one really frustrating night when Blogger refused to accept my post. It appears that it had issues with pasting things from Open Office. Is this giving anyone else grief?

My dearest pointed out that I was over an hour each night on the computer. I thought he was exaggerating until I timed myself. I have to concede he was right, and maybe that was too much time. So, I took the week off.

But I'm back again. It was a nice week of just reading along and not feeling compelled to write anything. I have been getting some things done in the last week and will write about it all shortly. I even had coffee with the wonderful Janelle today. Also, if you are in the Wellington region, you have one more day to get to the quilter's guild Exhibition. Go on, you really must.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Christmas Pomanders - A Brief Tutorial

I have been thinking about getting ready for Christmas. These are quick to make, but would need to be made soon if they are to be dried for Christmas.

You will need
1 small orange (with minimal skin imperfections)
1 metal skewer
1/2 cup - 1 cup of whole cloves (best to get from a spice or bulk store as this will take about 3 small 40g supermarket packets)

Pommander in process with quarters marked and being filled in

Getting Started
Wrap rubber band around orange from top to bottom.

Using skewer, pierce skin to the depth of a whole clove (4mm, say) with piercing along the lines made by the rubber band.

Insert a clove into each hole.

Remove rubber band and place again to divide orange into 4 pieces. Pierce skin and place cloves along the new line of the rubber band.

Filling in the Quadrants

Pierce holes, about 6 at a time and place cloves, until each quadrant is filled.


Place orange in a warm dry location to dry until hard i.e. hot water cupboard or sunny window sill.

Check regularly for signs of mould. This can be given away by smell turing unpleasant or orange not drying out. To reduce chances of mould, choose your fruit carefull and try not to leave any piercing without cloves.

Pommanders from front to back - in progress, 2 weeks old and drying out and 3 yrs old

Once dried the pommander can be used as a decoration - with a ribbon to hang, or to scent the linin cupboard or wardrobe. I tend to tie a ribbon on them for hanging. Then I hang each one in the wardrobe and retrieve tham for the tree in December.

If dried properly the pommanders should last for a number of years however, the scent will fade gradually overtime.

The Pencil Roll Post - Not How I Planned It

I was in awe of the Pencil Rolls I've seen coming from the Pink Chalk design. I cut out the pieces to make one a few months ago and finally finished it on Friday. Then I thought about taking a photo. Little e spotted it first and while this isn't how I planned it, I will let the pictures do the talking.