Friday, 29 August 2014

Ascending Feline

We've had the pleasure of visitors recently.  Mum and Dad came to stay for a few days and luckily they chose a week of perfect weather, so we went out for drives, visited Boston Brewery for a yummy lunch and pottered around our place.  It was lovely to see you xx
 Terry and Heather popped over for drinkies and then fishing the following day.  This fishing spot has been officially named "Broken Ankle", in honour of Heather who climbed up and down the very steep path back in March with a broken ankle, having rolled it right at the top of the hill.  This time, complete with metal plate and screws holding it all together she announced she doesn't know how she managed the climb with shattered bones.  We, in awe, agreed!  There were a few fish caught this time, the best of being Heather who caught a ripper orange wrass and Steve who caught a 40cm King George Whiting which was yummy.
 Neo has been weird.  He has decided that his presence is needed on all things high, including places he is not allowed, like the kitchen bench top.  He has never been on the benchtops before, or the bathroom cabinets, but it's as if something has pinged in his little head, and all previous good behaviour has now been rescinded.  The squirty bottle is working overtime in an effort to inspire good behaviour.  Little bugger.  Here he is being cute atop my rocking chair.
 And here he is on his new bestest spot, on top of the tall bookshelf.  He loves it up there, having worked out he can jump up from his cat tower.  We gave up trying to stop him and instead I have thrown his little quilt up there so he can be comfortable in his naughtiness.  :-)
 Work has continued a little slower on the retaining wall out the back.  Poor Steve has had to blow his brains out with geometry, trying to work out angles here, there and everywhere.  There is a set of steps going in around where he is up to, so he is trying to make it all fit.  It will be superb.
 Do you remember the photos of Brutus the gigantor kangaroo from last post?  I thought you might like to see him in full relaxation mode.  Makes you just want to sneak up and tickle his tummy hey.
One of things I brought to Albany from our Perth garden was my collection of cliveas that I'd been growing for years.  After the poor things struggling along in pots for three years, I finally put them in the ground at the end of last year, under a huge peppermint tree to protect them from the sun.  I'm so happy to see nearly all of them either in flower or in bud at present, it's the best they've ever done.  Very happy :-)
After the decent rain that we and most of south-west WA had over the last 24 hours, the creek is running nicely again.  It's been pitiful this year with the lack of winter rain, but Steve and I had a pleasant walk along the creek today, enjoying the gurgling noises of the water as it danced over roots and branches.
The house water tank is slowly creeping towards overflow.  Last year it overflowed before the end of July so it's definitely slower this year.  We've only had about 60mls this month instead of the average 130.  Here's hoping for a nice wet September!

Monday, 18 August 2014

Puppy Dog Eyes

With the unseasonably warm and sunny winter days comes rapid growth of the winter vegies.  I had a harvest day this week and was pleased with what I found beneath the soil.
 Much peeling and dicing ensued, then a quick blanch and a good long drain on towels.
 Then into little freezer baggies goes my stash of carrots, turnips, swedes and cabbage.  Plus two big jars of pickled beetroot.  That's the end of the turnips and swedes, but there are still plenty of small beetroot that need more growth before I pull those.  There are still heaps of carrots in the ground, nothing I love more than pulling a carrot whilst outside and munching on it after a quick rinse.  Same with the sugar snap peas, they never get to the frozen status, in fact they rarely even get inside the house!
 I love seeing my freezer like this, chock full of frozen vegies and serves of stews and stocks. 
 I made a batch of toasted muesli, thanks for the reminder Lesley!  I love homemade muesli and I am big on crunch so it has lashings of crunchy stuff in it such as slivered almonds and pepitas.  I refrained from adding fennel seeds, did that once, big mistake - too strong and you needed teeth like a horse to chew it!
 With the warm August our new fruit trees are a little confused.  Look at the almond tree, it has burst into flower and looks so pretty!  I've had this tree in a pot for 3 years and every year its roots grew threw the bottom of the pot into the ground so it got repotted into huger and huger pots.  It's a very strong grower.  We were worried that breaking off those roots that had gone through to pot would hurt the tree, but no, it's been in the ground a couple of months and you can see by the blossom that it is a very happy tree.  :-)
 One of the nectarines is at bud burst too, it's all so exciting!
 Whilst I was wandering the property I came across Brutus having a siesta.  He is HUGE, the biggest roo I have seen.  We don't see him very often, our place is filled with mums and bubs, but he wanders in periodically when he's feeling amorous.  I think he has the most beautiful eyes, puppy dog eyes.
But we have mucho respecto for this lad, I reckon he could rip a person to shreds if he felt like it.  So we keep our distance, and so does he.
 Steve's wonderful construction work continues.  He can be seen digging stuff, cutting stuff, measuring stuff, thinking about stuff and building stuff most of the day.
 Look at this corner that is finished, isn't it gorgeous!  I put the plants in yesterday, throwing caution to the wind.... we don't have the fence up yet to keep out the roos and rabbits, so these may well become a tasty snack, but we'll cross our fingers and hope there is enough good grass around for the hungry mouths instead.
 That same corner but looking from the back of the house.  I can see in my mind what I want this to look like, with various sizes and colours of plants, with some cascading over the edges.  I'm going to plant some diosmas on the top level, where the white sand is.
 Things are going slowly in the sewing room, with the sunny weather the garden beckoned.  Nonetheless my father-in-law's quilt continues.  I didn't have a piece of wadding big enough so ladder stitched two pieces together.  Neo supervised.  Neo also stole that reel of white thread a number of times and nicked off with it.
 Then he was fascinated with the scissors and kept whipping out a paw and trying to drag the scissors onto the floor.  Pain_In_The_Arse!
 Despite Neo's help I managed to make quilting decisions and started marking out circles.  This was the first attempt at quilting circles, I like the contrast of the circular quilting to the square piecing.
 Neo finally got fed up with being told off and having things taken off him, so he fell asleep on the ironing board.  He's so cute when he's asleep :-)
 If you go to the loo at our house, don't be surprised to see this under the door.  Neo is the toilet sentinel, he stands outside waiting, and if you are in there long enough he starts poking his paws under the door.  Weirdo.  One could say that I too am a weirdo for having a camera in the loo in the first place, but these sacrifices must be made for that perfect blog photo....
Did anyone see that massive moon over a few nights last week?  It was beautiful, and lit the outside up like it was dawn.

Sunday, 10 August 2014

Little Pink Toes

The weather has been amazing, lovely balmy winter days with plenty of sunshine.  The roos are wallowing in the good life - warm, thick winter coats to soak up the sun, plenty of lush, green grass, soft-hearted humans to breakfast them with a few grains, and a sunny paddock to while away their afternoons.  Life is good for a roo on the hill.
And of course with the land of the plenty comes new life.  There are many many fattening pouches to be seen, with little ones still too small to see the light of day.  One however, poked its tiny head out for a quick look.... soooo cute!
 Steve's construction of the retaining walls continues, he is doing a splendid job and I am enjoying daydreaming about a floral cottage garden, full of the scent of nectar with bees and tiny birds dancing about. :-)
Here we are at day's end, with the workman having downed tools and waiting for a beer.
Meanwhile, I have been busy making a bright and cheerful quilt for my father-in-law's bed in the nursing home.  Neo enjoyed helping me choose and position colours....
 And Neo also enjoyed supervising the construction, including doing his point exercises amidst the carefully laid out sequences of quilt blocks....
 Despite Neo's assistance, I managed to finish the quilt top with all the blocks in the right place.  I decided on a small black border to bring it all together.  Now for the quilting part, I'm sure Neo is looking forward to helping me carefully lay this out atop the wadding and backing fabric, helping me smooth it out carefully to pin it without any creases.  !! can just picture it can't you.....
 And after a hard day's sewing, what is a boy to do but relax...

Saturday, 2 August 2014

Chicken Psychology 101

Well, we still have five alive and healthy chickens albeit minus a few feathers :-)
I kept Angelina and Bridget in their yard in a yard for two days and noted the calm that had descended, so yesterday morning I took a deep breath and removed the wire.  My girls have had fits and starts of supremacy and thankfully the two new ladies have wisely decided it is best to keep out of their way as much as possible. 

I have made a point of keeping plenty of feed in their yard so there is no need for them to fight over food.  I also hung up bunches of cabbage and kale leaves for them to peck at, anything to keep them busy!  I did some yard rearranging, idea being that if the yard was a bit different then maybe my girls would not see it quite so much their territory.  I also thought that with some new stuff in there, then curiosity would win the day and my girls would forget about bossing the new girls.  I am trying very hard to out-think them! I also moved things around so there were as few corners as possible for one of the new girls to get trapped in by a bully.  And finally, I am keeping their gate open into the small adjoining yard of overgrown kikuyu grass, so that there are plenty of places for a feathered girl to be.
I spent the day gardening just near their yard, so I could keep an eye on them, but also as a distraction.  My girls know full well that when I garden, I throw any bugs I find into their yard.  So for a large part of the day they were lined up at the fence, forgetting that they had new sisters.  Oddly enough, Leanne is the worst offender for chasing them down and pulling out a few feathers, Leanne was at the bottom of the pecking order up to now, so she is obviously relishing her new found status!  So, the new girls for the most part keep out of the way, and my girls puff up every now and then and chase them, but it is nothing like the first day they arrived.  I think things will be fine.  :-)

I started digging out the next pathways in my garden, so after clearing the area of weeds and grass, I dig out the path shape and heaped up the new garden beds.  Worms and beetle larva were flung over the fence to the waiting crowd.
 Steve kindly barrowed in the limestone chips for me.
 And hey presto, a nice clean, easy to walk on path!  I'm looking forward to planting up the beds.  Ground cover herbs near the bench I think, so it smells nice when you walk on them to get to the bench.
 Steve, in the meantime, has his own big job.  Last week we had loads of timber delivered, for the planned retaining walls at the back of the house.  From a structural and insect-proof point of view, we ended up buying H4 treated pine.
 Here's the start of it.  There will be two levels of retaining walls, first level is about half a metre high and the bed will be a metre wide.  He's put in a wide strip of limestone chips for drainage along the front.  It will be a nice strong way to support the metre or so of hill that is directly behind the house.  It will be nice to have the first garden bed above knee height, not so much bending!  I can also picture a few dainty groundcovers hanging over the edges of the walls too.  :-)
 Meanwhile, here is the devil incarnate.  He is so adorable but god he is a fiend.  Just like a cat.  :-)
Oh yes, you know how six ping pong balls have been missing in our house for months?  Well I finally went and bought another six this week.  And of course you know what happened then don't you?  Yes, I found them all!  He had got them all stuck behind a tiny bedside cupboard in the guest bedroom, all in a neat little line behind.  So he's joyfully batting ping pong balls under all the furniture for me, then flopping on the floor and giving me the look, get them slave!