Monday, 11 September 2017

Spring Explosion

It never ceases to amaze me how after just one week of warmer (well, warm for us, about 20 degrees ha ha) weather, the dormant trees just know that it's time to start stirring.  Nature is truly amazing.
This is the almond tree, it is smothered with flowers and the beginnings of teeny tiny nuts, and now it has burst into leaf.  That's one of the big male roos on the other side of the fence, having a nice rest in the sun.
 These lovely pink flowers are from the Angel peach, a flat, white fleshed peach.  This is the tree that has given me the most grief with leaf curl, so I am crossing every finger and toe that it will not be a big problem this year.  Apparently our climate is the main issue, cool and damp spring weather is the harbinger of doom for leaf curl.  We shall see, they are lovely peaches to eat, evidenced from the dozen or so we got a couple of years ago, here's hoping.
 And these pretty white flowers are apricot blossom.  This tree thankfully isn't troubled with leaf curl, and it has an explosion of blossom this year so maybe it's an apricot jam making year!
The chooks just love foraging in the orchard.  They are very useful, there is not a grasshopper to be seen, and very few weevils.  I didn't think the chooks would eat weevils, those ones with armour plating, but I know when a chook has found one from the crunching noises :-)
Once the weather changes it's time to get busy outside.  Steve has put in a mammoth effort this week in the vegie patch.  He spent ages weeding, then cultivating the soil and barrowing in heaps of heavy, wet, smelly, wonderful cow poo to enrich the soil. 
We seem to grow rhubarb very well here, and the plants were massive and getting way too thick.  Oddly it never seems to die off in winter for us, so regardless of the leaves and stems, Steve put some muscle into digging it all out with a big garden fork, then broke it up into smaller crowns, thinned them out and replanted them in newly cow pooed soil.  I potted up the spare crowns to give to some friends.  It's looking a bit limp and sad for now, but already it is sending up new leaves so all good.
 The spring planting has begun.  We need to be careful we don't plant too early in our cooler climate otherwise seedlings languish and often rot.  Steve has just planted some tomatoes and he has built them a little house to harvest the sun and keep off the worst of the wind.  I'm doing a load of various seed planting into tray today and I'll keep them out the back in the sun pocket near the kitchen window, so within a few weeks there will hopefully be tiny leaves sprouting.
The garlics have been sitting quietly through the winter, growing very very slowly.  They are suddenly looking greener and taller so they should put on a big burst of growth over the next few months.
 This bed in the corner of vegie patch is smothered with chickweed that we hadn't got around to removing.  Under all that lot we had planted a few puny asparagus crowns last year, and we'd all but decided that they'd died.  But what's this!  We did a doubletake when we saw this tall thing waving around, it's asparagus!  Just one mind you, but we are excited :-)
I busied myself weeding that bed so we could admire our one asparagus stem better ha ha.  After a careful dig around we found a couple more crowns so there is life in the asparagus bed yet!  Alas we are not allowed to eat any until at least next season, but it's still good knowing it's there.
 The olive is budding up.  This year we are determined to get some olives before the parrots decimate the tree, so it's getting a net thrown over it to keep them away.  Who'd have thought a bird would enjoy eating a revoltingly bitter olive, but they do!
 My cliveas are coming into flower.  Gosh I love these so much, the bank of them under a big peppermint is getting bigger and bigger as the years go by.  They are looking really healthy this year, possibly because the last load of cow poo was positioned not far from them, so the cliveas got the benefit of that in their soil reach.
In the shade of cool, damp forest of peppermint trees I am still finding patches of these delightful, teeny tiny fairy toadstools.  Little glints of red amongst the leaf litter.
 Finally, after weeks of stalking them, I managed to get a nice posed photo of the male Splendid Wren in full blue plumage.  Normally he turns his arse towards me whenever I take his photo, but not this time.  Isn't he beautiful!
 And a close up.
 With the rising of the day's temperatures, the next beastie to awaken was Voldemort The Younger, the King Skink.  We think he hibernated inside this old couch that sits outside our bedroom window.  He loves to spend his days sunning himself on the top of the arm of the couch, and Neo just loves sitting with his nose pressed to the glass watching. Voldemort The Elder, the largest one, is over at the shed, he likes to hang out under the hoppers full of chopped firewood.  There are smaller Voldermorts inside the shed too.  We like them :-)
 I haven't done much crochet this week, I feel guilty doing that when the weather is nice.  I need another week of rain to get it finished!  I am currently on row 6 of 10 of the border, this particular row is very slow going so once I'm over the row 6 hurdle it shouldn't take too much longer to finish..... nearly there....
Okay, I've finished my cuppa and now I'm heading out the back to plant some seeds in pots. 
Til next time  xx

Sunday, 3 September 2017

Little Bit O' This, Little Bit O' That

It's Fathers Day, happy day to all fathers everywhere, but especially to Paul, Steve and my dad xx  I unearthed this photo from the sixties of dad, looking amusedly at moi, the baby with the permanently grumpy face.  Do you remember this dad?
 Steve had phonecalls and gifts from his kiddies from afar, thanks Michelle and Paul xx
 Neo thoroughly enjoyed the gift opening process, and delighted in upending the mailing box and scattering packing stuff everywhere.
 The picture of innocence....
 I whipped up to Perth for a quick parents and children visit last week and while I was away, Steve busied himself restocking the woodpile that has become sadly depleted.  When I got home Steve got the chainsaw out and dropped a very dead, old, rotting Jarrah and was able to get some decent wood from it for the fire.  We have chainsaw rules here, you are not allowed to chainsaw unless someone else is here!
 I've been busy making batches of lime butter, which is a handy recipe if you have a gazillion limes and gazillion eggs.  The fabulous yolks from our hen's eggs make it really really bright yellow! Yummy :-)
 I'm still in the process of making orphan joey pouches, but my sewing machine has had a hissy fit and refuses to cooperate, so I think it might be time for it to have a service, as it is annoying the crap out of me.
 My crocheted blanket is all joined up, hip hip hooray.  Now I am working on the border, there are ten rows and I'm just starting row four.  Photos when it's finish, hopefully before the end of the month.
 Spring appeared for a few days, lovely sunshine and warmth.  The Splendid wrens are starting to colour up.
 And here's the female.  She may not be as pretty but at least she knows how to pose for a photo!  I love their red beaks.
 I spied this handsome Blue-tongued lizard trying to be incognito in the garden bed. 
 The best thing this week is that Patience's joey is finally having time out of the pouch, learning the hopping thing.  It's a scrawny little one but boy can it hop.  Not sure of the sex yet, I can't see a pouch mark on its belly so I'm thinking it's a boy, but time will tell. The joey is staring intently at a couple of magpies near the front door, not sure what to think of them, next minute the joey hopped right at them and scared them away!
 Sooooo cute!
 And here's a short video of this funny little joey
 The Hardengergias are looking lovely at the moment.  They grow wild here, I love the colour of their flowers as the vine makes its way up the trunks of the peppermint trees and around my shrubs.  Sometimes they get carried away and then it's off with their heads!
 This flower is rather insignificant, but the leaves are something else.  The plant is a citrus geranium, and the pungent aroma of citrus from the leaves is amazingly strong.
 After a couple of days of spring weather, the wind and torrential rain returned, we had over 20 mm in 3 hours the other day, and because the ground is so saturated, the creek went crazy.  It never looks much in photos, but this is the waterfall belting along, with the water right across.
 And this is the creek lower down, completely flooded and overflowing all over the paddocks!  A few hours later it has all calmed down, back to a gentle flow. 
It's still windy but the rain is settling down now.  I need the wind to settle too as I need to respray the stone fruit trees with copper to hopefully keep the leaf curl disease under control this year.  I managed to get one spray in last week when it was warm, but if I can get another done then it's extra insurance.  We would really really love a huge crop of stone fruit, pretty please! :-)

So, my mission for the next couple of weeks, while the weather slowly turns to spring, is to get my crocheted blanket finished, that's kept me busy all winter, and then I can turn my mind to more outdoor things.

Til next time xx

Sunday, 20 August 2017

652 Done, 58 To Go

Well, it's certainly soggy down here, soggy and cold.  We've had 100 mm of rain in the last week and lots of wind and lots of hail.  Today is drizzly and overcast, but oddly still, we've gotten so used to roaring winds outside that the quiet is strange.
The kangaroos are soaked, they just patiently turn their backs to the rain or hide in the bush.  Here's Patience with the every so cute baby Patience peeping out from the pouch.  I should think being a pouch joey would be rather splendid on a cold, wet, winter's day. 
I am still amazed at the amount of flowers in the winter garden.  My camellia is covered in buds and the first flowers are out, they are looking a bit hail battered but I really love this flower.
The back fence area of the back garden is finally starting to thicken up and gain a bit of height.  I absolutely love Diosmas this time of year, they are smothered with either pale pink or white flowers and look so cheerful.  The little birds love them too as it's a very dense plant to dive into for protection.
I shifted the worm farm to just outside the kitchen, much more practical.  Apart from worm castings, the other great thing is worm wee.  See the green container and the bucket?  They are full to brim with worm wee.  I don't know that it actually is 'wee' but regardless, it's a very nourishing liquid that is a by-product of the worms breaking down the food scraps, and the rain dilutes it and washes it through to the bottom level.  Normally you just turn on the tap to get the liquid but my tap broke years ago so I just hang the worm farm over the green container and it drips in.  It's a great liquid fertiliser for the garden.
We had a delivery yesterday, Steve was a bit excited.  We could hear the great big, old 8 ton truck off in the distance, slowly making its way up the hill, weighed down with its soggy load.  What could it be?
Up goes the tip up truck, emptying out our prize into a lovely, squishy pile.
Here we are, a delicious, huge pile of cow poo from the local dairy (Michelle, I know you are thrilled :-P)  Steve is as happy as a pig in shit, literally, ha ha.  We order a truck full of cow poo about every two years, it's wonderful stuff, we grow everything with it.  Steve uses loads of it in the vegie patch, I reckon the soil in there is at least 50% poo by now, considering the amount he has rotary hoed in there over the last five years.  He's revving up to do the spring planting and has just popped out now to plant another load of potatoes, so good timing.
Speaking of spring, which it's not, there is always one tree in the orchard that likes to jump the gun and burst into spring blossom when it's still well and truly winter.  Behold the almond tree, the big show-off.
Meanwhile, I've been spending most of my time inside, keeping warm by the fire, in a craft making frenzy.  We have been finding our hands have been getting so cold doing chores outside in the freezing wind, so I made Steve a pair of fingerless gloves.  They are a little bit loose but I'll adjust the pattern with the next pair.
Then I started making mine.  One down, one to go.  They are lovely and warm.
I chucked out our old wheat hot packs and made new ones.  We cannot live without these, we use them every single night in bed, we both like to sleep with our hot packs nestled in the small of our backs, so comfortable.
I also made a couple of channeled hot packs.  These are good if you are sitting in a chair and your back is sore, as they sit flat rather than a big bulgy bag.
I made another iPad cover, Mum, this is yours.  This time I attached the embroidery after doing the fabric cover, much better, it was so much easier to line it up straight!
You may be wondering what my blog title was all about.....652 done, 58 to go.  Well, that is the number of inches of slip stitch joining that is needed to connect all 42 crocheted squares together for my blanket.  Today I shall finish that joining, what a task it has been!  It has covered the entire dining table, which is the easiest place to do it, and I turn on my audio book, see the tiny pink iPad and baby speaker in the background, and slowly work my way through the joining.  The end is in sight, then on to the border.
Til next time... xx

Sunday, 6 August 2017

So I Don't Forget How I Made It!

This blog post is mainly for my benefit, I made something that I am ever so pleased with, and if I don't write it down I'll forget how I did it!  You might find it interesting too. 

You know my houses embroidery that I've prattled on about, well I finally finished it.  And this time I was determined to find a use for it, instead of yet another embroidery languishing in the drawer being useless.  My iPad cover is disintegrating so the lightbulb moment happened, and after much research and thinking and then doing, here it is, my new iPad cover!
 Here's the inside, isn't it pretty! 
 And here's what's going to stop the iPad from falling out, Velcro!
 It folds right back for easy use.
 I can prop it up both upright,
 and sideways.
 Now for the how I did it, so I don't forget. 
First I dismembered an unwanted hard covered book, using a scalpel I cut the pages away so just the cover was left.  Note to self, make sure the spine of the chosen book is at least 1cm tall so it sits properly over the iPad.

Next, I stitched some pretty hand dyed fabric around the embroidery so there was sufficient fabric to cover the front of the book.  Then I attached felt (with heavy duty Vliesofix) to the back of the fabric to pad it a little, just to the size of the book cover, but I also had a margin of unpadded fabric to fold over to the inside to glue.  Note to self, it was really hard to line up the embroidery on the front doing it this way, it would be easier to do the plain fabric cover first, then perhaps glue the embroidery to that.

Then came the covering of the hard book cover, after carefully lining everything up, I lay the embroidery/fabric cover down, right side down, then sat the open book cover on it, inside up. Then I painted fabric glue thoroughly onto the extra margin of fabric and wrapped it round and glued it to the inside edge of the book cover, using multifolds in the corners and tugging it firmly so it didn't have wrinkles.  A piece of protective plastic over it, then weighed the cover down to let the glue set firmly.

Then I cut a piece of different fabric, a nice stripey one, for the inside, about a centimetre smaller all round than the book cover itself (plus extra for seam)....this made it big enough to cover the rough edges of the front cover fabric that I'd just glued.  I stitched together the stripey fabric to a piece of iron on Vilene (right side of stripey fabric and non-iron side of Vilene together, around the edge with a small seam, rounding the corners, leaving a gap for pulling it inside out.  After pulling it inside out so the right side of the stripey fabric was on the outside, and the iron-on part of the Vilene was on the inside, and using a wooden skewer to poke out all the corners and edges neatly, I ironed it so I ended up with a neatly edged, thicker piece of fabric. 

I positioned the stripey piece on the inside of the cover where I wanted it to be, then started positioning where the iPad should sit.  I worked out where I wanted the Velcro to sit....I used 2 four inch pieces of Stitch and Stick Velcro, one an inch from the top of the iPad and one an inch from the bottom of the iPad.  After marking the iPad with pencil, I stuck down the Velcro on the iPad.  To line up the other side of the Velcro that I needed to stitch down on the stripey fabric, I velcroed the pieces together, then rubbed the backs with a bit of charcoal, then pressed that down on the fabric when positioning the iPad, that worked well, it gave me just enough of a mark on the stripey fabric to know where to sew the Velcro on, which is what I did next.

Then the stripey fabric had to be glued to the inside cover of the book.  I set it in position first, then carefully, so it didn't shift,  folded it back and glued the spine section first (using fabric glue), and gradually worked out from there, finishing with carefully gluing right to the edges with a bit of glue on a skewer.  After smoothing the fabric out carefully, I didn't want it to shift and thus wreck the position of the Velcro, I again covered it with a protective piece of plastic, then weighed it all down for the glue to set.

That's it!  I'm really happy with it, a unique and individual iPad cover.  The embroidery is a bit crooked, which I was momentarily unhappy about, but in actual fact I rather like it, it's a bit quirky!  And there is no problem with using Velcro, I was a bit worried it wouldn't be strong enough and envisioned the iPad sliding out of the cover and smashing, but I needn't have worried, it is very strong, quite hard to detach actually!  But I'll only need to do that to take the odd photo.  The only thing I need to start remembering is to press the top button of the iPad when I'm finished to turn off the screen, I'm used to my magnetic cover doing that automatically.

And if you are still reading, then I have to announce that the 42 crochet squares are complete!  Well, except where that white space is ha ha, I decided to replace one that has been bugging me, it's almost finished.
 The joining of the squares has begun!  I am joining with a slip stitch join and liking the look of it very much.  It is a little slow to do but worth it, it sits nice and flat.  It was suggested to do the join in the same colour as the outer row of the squares, which are all the same, but when I did a test join of the same colour, Parchment, then did another test join of my favourite colour, Sage, I liked it much better using Sage.  It gives all the squares another tiny border and I like that effect, I love stripes!
 This joining will keep me out of mischief for a while!